§ Lord John Russell
, in consequence of what had been said upon the subject in another place, moved that there be laid before the House a copy of a circular letter from the Under Secretary of the Home Department, dated in October last, and addressed to the Mayor or chief officer of any boroughs contained in the schedules to the English Corporations Bill passed last Session.
§ Sir Robert Peel
said, the noble Lord had made the motion in the hands of the Speaker, partly with a view, he believed, that he might have the opportunity of soliciting from the noble Lord those expla- 763 nations regarding the appointment of corporate Magistrates to which he had referred on a former day. He trusted, therefore, as he availed himself of the motion of the noble Lord, in consequence of an intimation that the present would be a convenient time, that he should not be thought by those gentlemen who had notices on the paper preceding his own, to have improperly interfered with the ordinary arrangement of business. The point on which he wished for explanations from the noble Lord referred exclusively to the nomination of Justices of the Peace under the Act which passed last Session for the Reform of Municipal Corporations. It was not his intention to make any remark on the general effect of that measure, other than as it related to the functions of Magistrates appointed for the performance of the duties of Justices of the Peace. He believed it was admitted by the noble Lord, and by all who took part in the question of Municipal Reform, that there was and ought to be a clear distinction between the ordinary municipal duties of a Corporation and the duties committed to Justices of the Peace. That clear distinction had been admitted by no man more fully than by the noble Lord. While that noble Lord had contended, that with respect to the appointment of town-councillors, and other members of the corporate bodies generally, it was but natural to suppose that the political opinions of the constituent bodies would have influence, while he contended that such would be the effect of political feelings in those cases, he had fully admitted that political opinions should not interfere with the appointment of the municipal Magistrates. This distinction had also been clearly drawn, he thought, in the Report of the Commissioners of Inquiry, on which the measure of Municipal Reform had been founded. The Commissioners, in this Report, deprecated the party spirit which pervaded municipal councils, in the following terms:—"The party spirit which pervades the municipal councils, extends itself to the magistracy, which is appointed by those bodies, and from their members. The Magistrates are usually chosen from the aldermen, and the aldermen are generally political partisans. Hence, even in those cases in which injustice is not absolutely committed, a strong suspicion of it is excited, and the local tribunals cease to inspire respect. The corporate Magistrates, ge- 764 nerally speaking, are not looked upon by the inhabitants with favour or respect, and are often regarded with positive distrust and dislike." In another part of the Report the Commissioners say, "One vice which we regard as inherent in the constitution of municipal Corporations in England and Wales is, that officers chosen for particular functions are regarded as a necessary part of the legislative body. This notion appears to have originated in times when the separation of constitutional authorities was not understood; when legislative, judicial, and executive functions were confounded. The Corporations of England and Wales were originally framed on principles encumbered with this confusion, and have been modified, down to the latest changes, with a scrupulous observance of them." Thus the Report admitted the distinction between executive and judicial functions, and laid it down as a principle, that although party spirit could not be prevented from operating in the election of town-councils, it ought, so far as precautions could be taken, to be excluded from the appointment of municipal Magistrates. It was hardly necessary to attempt to enforce this position by argument, because he believed the truth of it was universally assented to on all sides of the House. He found on the part of the Members of the present Government, this doctrine admitted in full force. He found it stated by the Lord Chancellor in the course of the present Session, that the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, had but one object in view, namely, to correct any undue selection of town-councillors, when there appeared a preponderance of one class of political opinions on one side or the other, by infusing a few men of opposite political sentiments among them." The noble President of the Council also had stated with great truth and justice, that "good sense and good feeling would be equally manifested in the absence of all political bias in the selection of town Magistrates, and good sense and good feeling equally dictated that there should be an absence of all considerations of a political character in nominating these Magistrates when recommended to the Government." He (Sir R. Peel) could appeal, then, to the Report of the Commissioners, and to the declared opinions of the noble Lord opposite, and his colleagues, in proof that his assumption was a well founded one— 765 namely, that, as far as it was possible to avoid it, political feeling ought not to influence the nomination of Magistrates in corporate towns. Having thus stated the principle which had been laid down by Ministers, he was bound to tell the noble Lord opposite, that in many of these Corporate towns there did exist a very prevailing feeling that considerations of a political character had, nevertheless, been altogether excluded from the mind of the noble Lord in the nomination of many of these magistrates. This might probably be an erroneous impression; if it were, the noble Lord would thank him for the opportunity of removing so unpleasant an impression, by clearly stating the grounds upon which the various nominations had been made. The noble Lord would do him the justice to admit, that he had not brought forward his statement on this very important subject, without having given the noble Lord previous notice of the particular places to which it was his intention to refer. His object had not been to take the noble Lord by surprise, by making any statement on the sudden, but to enable him to give a satisfactory explanation, if he could do so, to those members of the community in the towns to which reference was about to be made, who felt dissatisfied with the appointment of the Magistrates in those towns, and who were under an impression, whether erroneous or not remained to be seen, that political feelings had been suffered to influence these appointments. It would be necessary for him to mention one or two instances, out of the many, of towns in which such impressions as those he had referred to, he had reason to believe, prevailed. Since the notice of his intention to call the attention of the House to this subject, had been given, he had received a number of communications from various places in reference to it, but he should only bring before the House those particular instances of which he had given the noble Lord notice. In the first place, he would take the town of Guildford, in Surrey; and he must say, that he could not at all reconcile the nomination of the Magistrates for that particular town with the principle which had been so clearly laid down by the noble Lord and his colleagues, to exclude, as far as possible, all political considerations from the nomination of Municipal Magistrates. In the town of Guildford it happened that the 766 Corporation was decidedly of Conservative principles; that was to say, that the vast preponderance of numbers in the corporate body there entertained Conservative views. After the passing of the Municipal Reform Bill in this House, and during its progress in the Upper House, when the Lords had altered that clause of the Bill which gave expressly to the town-council the power of recommending four magistrates to the nomination of the Crown, the noble Lord opposite declared, and in his (Sir Robert Peel's) opinion rather unwisely, that it was still his intention to consult the town-councils in reference to the nomination of Municipal Magistrates. But, supposing that he were prepared to admit the noble Lord was right in taking the opinion of the town-council in reference to the election of four Magistrates, still he could not reconcile the fact of the selections which had been made, with the noble Lord's declaration that the recommendations of the town-council should have great weight with him, because it appeared to him, that while there were cases in which the recommendations of the Town-council had been admitted by an entire and unqualified assent, there were many others in which the recommendations of the town-council had been arbitrarily rejected. In the Corporation of Guildford, as he had before stated, Conservative principles greatly predominated. According to his information, the common-council of that town had recommended to the Crown twelve gentlemen for the Commission of the Peace, expecting that the noble Lord should select, from the twelve so recommended, a sufficient number, they being of opinion that twelve magistrates would be unnecessary for such a town as Guildford. Of these twelve gentlemen, as he had been informed, nine entertained Conservative principles, and the other three were Whigs. From these twelve gentlemen the noble Lord had selected four persons to act as Magistrates for the town, namely, the three Whigs and one of the Conservatives. The proportion (in point of political opinions) in which the town-council had recommended the names of gentlemen for Magistrates was as three Conservatives to one Whig; but the ingenuity of the noble Lord had led him exactly to invert this proportion, for in selecting four Magistrates from the twelve persons recommended to him, he had taken all the three Whigs, and only one 767 of the nine Conservatives. Eight out of the twelve had been aldermen of the old Corporation; upon being told this fact, he had at first thought that the principle which the noble Lord had acted upon in this case was, that there being eight persons out of the twelve who had been members of the Old Corporation, and assuming, in accordance with his views of the ancient Corporations, that they must, therefore, be necessarily unpopular, it would be best to set all of them aside. This, however, could not have been the principle upon which the noble Lord made his selection; for, in fact, two of the gentlemen professing Whig principles, nominated by the noble Lord, had been members of the old Corporation, and that could not be the ground upon which the other gentlemen had been rejected. In this case a town-council, in which Conservative principles preponderated, had sent a recommendation to the Crown of a number of gentlemen, as town Magistrates, comprehending in the list a fair proportion of persons of Conservative and persons of Whig principles. After the observations of the noble Lord, on a former occasion, that he would attend to the recommendations of the town-council, it was surely matter of reasonable disappointment on the part of that Corporation to find the proportion of the recommendations they had sent in exactly inverted. So much for Guildford. He would next take the case of the town of Wigan, the circumstances of which case were precisely the reverse of the Guildford case; for in the Corporation of Wigan, Conservative principles were not predominant. He should adduce this case, however, for the purpose of showing that the same political feelings which influenced the choice of town Magistrates in Guildford, had operated in the choice of those for Wigan, for there he found that the Magistrates nominated were wholly of one class of political opinion—namely, Whigs; and those gentlemen of the town who professed other opinions, however respectable, were entirely excluded. For the town of Wigan eight gentlemen had been recommended to the Crown as Magistrates, all of whom were appointed. He did not for a moment wish to throw the slightest reflection on the personal character of any of these gentlemen, nor to impugn their individual fitness for the office; but he complained that the Government had departed from 768 the principle which had been generally admitted, that political feelings should not be permitted to influence the choice of Justices of the Peace. Of these eight gentlemen, it appeared that four were actively engaged in trade. Now in a manufacturing town like Wigan, where constant disputes were taking place between master-manufacturers and their men, he doubted the policy of appointing four persons actively engaged in trade for the purpose of settling those disputes. At least he, from his experience, should have hesitated before making such appointments, particularly as it must be part of their business to enforce the provisions of the Act for regulating the hours of factory labour. He had also been informed, that seven out of these eight gentlemen were active friends of the candidates at the last election of representatives for that borough; that two of them acted as mover and seconder of the unsuccessful candidate, and that five were zealously employed upon the committees of one or the other candidate, and were, throughout the election, very busy in canvassing for them. In short that, with the exception of one gentleman, the whole of the present town Magistrates of Wigan were, during that election, most actively (no question most honourably) engaged in promoting the return of candidates who supported one class of political opinions. Here then, was a case in which the recommendations of the town-council were entirely assented to, apparently because the whole eight of the gentlemen named, were persons warmly devoted to those political opinions which were espoused by the Ministers. He had been further informed that an application had been made to the noble Lord, by petition, imploring him, upon principle, to pause before he made such a selection, and expressing a wish that there should be exhibited in the choice of these judicial functionaries a fair and less exclusive representation of the various political opinions entertained by the inhabitants of Wigan, but that representation had not been attended to. He would next take the instance of a town differently circumstanced, in which also there existed a very great dissatisfaction upon this subject. He would take the case of the town of Rochester. In this town parties were very nearly balanced in the municipal council, for there were nine gentlemen professing one class of political 769 opinions, and nine professing another. Indeed, such was the perseverance with which each party adhered to their respective opinions, that upon repeated divisions in the attempts to elect a mayor and other corporate officers, and finally to adjourn, the numbers on every proposition remained nine for, and nine against, and no proceedings could take place, because the parties were equal. Under these circumstances, it was determined not to recommend to the Crown any list of persons for town Magistrates till the town-council was complete, and they could concur in a joint representation. The complaint against the noble Lord in this case was, that he had appointed certain persons to be Magistrates, not merely favouring gentlemen of one class of politics or another, but without even the recommendations of the town-council, that he had, in short, appointed Municipal Magistrates for Rochester, at the nomination of the hon. Representatives of that borough in Parliament. It was not stated that the whole of the six magistrates so appointed were of one party, but the proportion in favour of Ministers was not fewer than five to one, and there was, very naturally, a great feeling of dissatisfaction in the minds of the people of Rochester, that the noble Lord should have taken this step without waiting till the town-council was complete; and that having determined to take it, seeing the division of opinion in the town-council, he had not observed a corresponding proportion in his appointment of their municipal Magistrates. The proportion of political opinion in the town-council was closely balanced; the proportion observed in the selection of Magistrates was exactly five Whigs to one Conservative, which was fairly carrying out the principle which the noble Lord and his colleagues had avowed. There was another place in which he could undertake to say, very great dissatisfaction prevailed upon this subject—the city of Coventry. In this important and populous city, whose inhabitants were extensively engaged in manufactures, the political opinions of one class decidedly predominated; nearly the whole of the town-council entertained political opinions corresponding with those of his Majesty's Ministers. The town-council of Coventry, accordingly, sent up a recommendation of twelve persons for town Magistrates, and he (Sir Robert Peel) was assured that out 770 of these twelve persons, eleven, at least, entertained opinions corresponding with those of the town-council. It was very possible, when he spoke of Conservative opinions and Whig opinions, or any other class of opinions, that the noble Lord might ask how he defined such opinions or how he could undertake to say such and such Gentlemen entertained such and such opinions? He admitted, that it was somewhat difficult to apply an unerring test on these points, but, in order to approach at something like a solution of the question, he would ask how the respective parties voted at the preceding election? He was quite ready to admit that it was difficult—particularly for a stranger, acting merely upon communications, however trustworthy—to feel assured of the political opinions of any individuals. Trifling circumstances led men to range themselves under the banners of one party or the other and men changed their opinions and their parties, so that it might happen that occasionally opinions should be attributed to a person who had long ceased to entertain them. But as far as the fair and impartial administration of justice and the satisfaction connected with it was concerned, it must be admitted, that when it was found that the whole of the Municipal Magistrates who had been appointed by the noble Lord, or at least a vast majority of them, consisted of the particular persons who, at the last or the preceding election, gave their votes in a particular manner, favourable to the noble Lord's views, this was certainly a near approach to a test which might be depended on. The noble Lord, at least, must not be surprised that his course of proceeding excited in that part of the population which held different political opinions something like a feeling of distrust. He would repeat, that in the observations he felt called upon to make, he had no fault to find with the individuals appointed—he made no personal objection to them. His complaint was directed, not against any personal unfitness of theirs, but upon the partiality which characterized their appointment. Of the twelve Magistrates for Coventry, eight had votes for the city, and the whole of them had voted in favour of the sitting Members. The other four had not votes for the city; but one of them, a gentleman of high respectability, Mr. Gregory, was an unsuccessful candidate on the Whig interest for the county of Warwick at the last election. Another 771 of the four gentlemen, the Mayor of Coventry, was Mr. Gregory's proposer on that occasion, and the other two had been actively engaged in his support. Such was then the composition of the Municipal Magistracy of Coventry, although it was well known that in that city, various political opinions prevailed. There were in that town men of the highest respectability and influence, of different political opinions, but who were persons of one class of political opinions, and that class the one in unison with the views of the noble Lord. Such were the grounds of the dissatisfaction which was felt in the city of Coventry at the proceedings of the noble Lord in this respect. He would next take the case of the town of Leicester. The number of the Magistrates here was ten, and he was informed that of these ten, eight were actively engaged upon the committee of Messrs. Ellice and Evans at the last election, in opposition to Messrs. Goulburn and Gladstone, and that not one of the ten voted for either of the latter gentlemen. It certainly did appear from these cases, in the absence of all explanation, exceedingly difficult to suppose that political considerations had nothing to do with these nominations. The noble Lord, at least, must not be surprised, unless he could explain the matter satisfactorily that those who were excluded should feel some distrust in the elected, and some suspicion—not founded upon personal unfitness, but upon the fact that they all, with trifling exceptions, held one class of political opinions, and had all, at one time or another, been actively engaged in promoting the election to Parliament of persons who supported the present Ministry. Another case he should speak of was that of Plymouth, where eight gentlemen had been recommended to the noble Lord as Magistrates, and were appointed. Of these eight, it appeared that two were the Representatives for the town, both supporters of the Ministers, and of the others, five were actively engaged in supporting the noble Lord at the election for the county of Devon. The sixth gentleman had declined to act. Thus it appeared that the seven town Magistrates of Plymouth were all of one class of political opinions. There was another point to be remarked upon in this case. It had been expressly laid down by the noble Lord as a principle to be observed, that neither attorneys nor brewers should serve as Magistrates in the municipalities, yet it ap- 772 peared, not merely from private communication, but from the returns made by the noble Lord, that one of the town Magistrates of Plymouth was Mr. James King, a brewer. It remained to be shown upon what principle the noble Lord had made this exception to the rule the noble Lord had laid down. The last case to which he (Sir Robert Peel) should refer, out of the more prominent and important towns in which dissatisfaction prevailed upon this subject, was the case of the city of Bristol. In the corporation of that city, he believed conservative opinions greatly predominated, and the vast majority of the inhabitants of the city, were equally imbued with Conservative opinions. Notwithstanding this predominance, there was in the town-council a complete agreement as to the choice of names for Magistrates, and there was evinced an earnest wish—much to the credit of both parties—to exclude all electioneering or party feelings from the selection of town Magistrates, and though one class of political opinions was greatly predominant in the city, yet the prevailing party expressed a perfect readiness to exclude all political feelings and influence from the consideration of who should be recommended as Magistrates. A discussion took place in the council respecting the nomination of Magistrates: the two parties made some difficulty at first as to the principle on which the recommendation should be given; an amicable arrangement was at last effected; and it was agreed that each of the two parties should recommend twelve persons for Magistrates, making an aggregate of twenty four. The twelve names given in by the Conservative party were recommended unanimously by the town council. There was no division respecting any one of those names, nor any dissenting voice, with one single exception, raised to any one of them. There was some question upon individuals among the twelve gentlemen recommended by the other party, but upon the whole, the twelve so recommended were assented to by the council, and the whole twenty-four names, in consequence of this amicable and honourable compromise, were sent up to the noble Lord for selection. What was the surprise and indignation of that predominating party in Bristol who had consented to this arrangement, to find that the noble Lord's selection had been conducted on this principle—that he took the whole of the twelve who had been recom- 773 mended by the party whose opinions were in unison with his own, but excluded not less than six out of the twelve, named by those of the opposite party. He was at a loss to understand upon what principle the noble Lord could justify his exclusion of the other six gentlemen. It was supposed by some persons in Bristol, that the exclusion was on account of the parties having been members of the old corporation; but this could not be a valid reason, for it was shown that, in many cases, the noble Lord had not made the fact of parties belonging to the old corporations a ground for excluding them from the magistracy. It might, perhaps, be thought, that the reason for the exclusion of some of these parties was, that they had been members of the corporation at the time when the lamentable riots took place at Bristol, in 1831. But neither was this the reason, for it appeared that two of the gentlemen of the Whig party, who had been appointed as Magistrates, had also been Magistrates of Bristol, at the deplorable period in question. Mr. Bengongh was one of the gentlemen so circumstanced. Two, also, of the gentlemen selected from the Conservative list were acting as Magistrates of Bristol at the time of the riots; so the exclusion of the others could not have been upon either of these grounds. Some of the gentlemen excluded were men of the highest station and respectability. One was Mr. Daniel, a gentleman of such high character and worth, and who was so highly esteemed and respected by every one, that both parties had concurred in electing him as the Mayor of Bristol. Upon what principle was this gentleman excluded? Some one suggested the advanced age of Mr. Daniel; but this could not be the ground, whatever his age might be. In the cases of persons in Rochester and other places, the noble Lord had not considered age as any exemption from corporate office, and this could not, therefore, be made a ground of exclusion in the present instance. He had thus gone through a variety of cases, and he conceived them to be amply sufficient to entitle him not to complain of the acts of the noble Lord, but, at least, to call upon him for some explanation of the principles upon which he had proceeded in these nominations. When he found that in every case stated—and there were very many others of a precisely similar character—the noble Lord's preference had been given to persons holding his own political opinions, 774 to the exclusion of the best founded claims on the part of persons holding other opinions, he could not but think that there had been a complete departure from the principle that, in these selections, political considerations should have no influence. There could be no argument in defence of these proceedings, founded upon what might have obtained under the old Corporation system. The precise object of Municipal Reform had been, to do away with all such abuses, and it would, therefore, be no justification of these nominations, to say, that in the late Corporations appointments were made upon a similar principle; Corporation Reform was intended to put an end to all such proceedings, and to give the inhabitants of towns and cities full security that the administration of all their affairs, particularly the administration of justice, should be put upon an entirely pure and impartial footing, and that all political feeling and party spirit should thenceforward be excluded from the administration of municipal affairs, so that all classes might have the fullest confidence in the persons to whom the administration of their affairs should be intrusted. Nor would it be any answer to say, that in the case of county Justices of the Peace, one class of political opinions predominated. Hon. Members, on the other side of the House, often made statements as to the too exclusive character of the political composition of county Magistrates, but whatever might be the case in this respect, it formed no grounds for another party adopting a similar plan of exclusion in the case of the town Magistrates. If there were grounds for complaining of the selection of the county Magistrates, it was clear they had no right to attempt to counterbalance it by instituting a similar line of exclusive appointments in the towns. He need not refer to theory upon this subject; he had but to refer to the Report of the Commissioners, and the statements of the noble Lord and his colleagues, to affirm his position, that there was a distinction between the executive office and the judicial, and that as it seemed impossible to exclude political feelings from appointments in the former case, they ought, at least, to be excluded from the selections in the latter. He had stated a few cases which were at variance with this principle, and if the noble Lord could give a satisfactory explanation upon the subject to those par- 775 ties who desired to see a pure and impartial administration of justice in the cities and towns of England, his object would be more advanced, than if the noble Lord were to fail in giving that satisfactory explanation.
§ Lord John Russell
said, he certainly would much rather the right hon. Gentleman brought the subject under the consideration of the House, than that the charge, conveying an imputation on his Majesty's Government for the manner in which they had selected Magistrates under the Municipal Corporations Act, should be made where he had no opportunity of giving an explanation. With regard to this question of the appointment of Magistrates, it would be recollected by the House, that the first Bill introduced on the subject of Corporations provided, in conformity, as he and his colleagues thought, with the principle of the Report of the Commissioners, not certainly that a portion of the councillors of these municipal boroughs should themselves be the justices, but that the two powers should not be totally disjoined; and in order to give confidence to the inhabitants of the towns in the administration of justice, that the persons nominated to be placed in the commission of the peace should be persons who had been previously recommended by the town-council. That principle, up to the end of the discussions which then took place, he thought the most favourable to govern the nomination of the Magistrates. When the Bill was last in the House, when the amendments of the Lords were last discussed, it would be remembered that he stated, in conformity with what he understood, and with what, as was understood by friends and colleagues of his, had been stated in another place by those who framed and supported the amendment, that it would be as competent to the Crown, after the amendment was carried, to take the advice of the town-councils as it was for the Lord Chancellor to take the opinion of the lords-lieutenant of counties. It was partly on the faith of that declaration of his that a great majority of this House, who thought the virtue of the Bill had been a good deal impaired by the alterations, consented to adopt those amendments; that majority expecting that in the beginning, at least, the clause would be acted on in the spirit of the clause as it had been sent up to the Lords, and not as it had been amended by their Lord- 776 ships. Holding, then, to the opinion which had been declared by his Majesty's Ministers when they first introduced the English Municipal Reform Bill—holding also to the opinion which had been expressed on it by the House of Commons—holding, likewise, to the assurance which he had given to the House in order to insure its agreement to the amendments, he thought it necessary, in October last, to direct the Under-Secretary of State to write a circular to the chief officer, town-clerk, or town-council of the different boroughs contained in the schedules of the Municipal Reform Bill. That letter, after mentioning the precautions which such officers were to take in order to give due efficacy to the machinery of the Bill, concluded in these terms:—"I am likewise to request, that in case your borough is in schedule A of the Act, you will make it publicly known to the new council that any recommendation which they may think fit to make of persons qualified to be intrusted by his Majesty with the commission of the peace for the borough of which they are the governing body, will have its due weight with the advisers of the Crown." He directed these terms to be used, because he thought, while on the one hand they invited the town-councils to do that which was not strictly within the letter of the Act of Parliament—while they invited the town-councils to recommend persons who were fit to be Magistrates, they at the same time would reserve to the Crown the whole right and power of considering those recommendations, and of determining whether the persons so recommended by the town-councils were individuals who were fit to be recommended to his Majesty for the administration of justice in the various local districts. Acting as he conceived, in the spirit both of the Bill as it was originally introduced, and of the intentions of the House of Commons, as they were declared, he wrote for those recommendations to be made, not—as it had been most absurdly asserted by some, who must have been very careless in the inquiries they made on the subject—after knowing the result of the municipal elections—not while the town-councils were flushed with victory—but when he must have been totally ignorant of what might be the fate of the elections, and whether the great and overwhelming majority might not be of what the right hon. Baronet called the 777 Conservative party. Therefore, any assertions of the kind he had mentioned, however countenanced by an address carried in the House of Lords for any circular letter sent from the Home-Office on this subject in January last, were founded on a total misrepresentation and perversion of the conduct which his Majesty's Government thought fit to pursue, and, he must add, that such misrepresentation and perversion might have been avoided simply by the care of looking into the London or country newspapers of the time to ascertain the date of the circular. Well, then, the period having arrived when these elections had taken place, the town-councils of the various boroughs began to consider as to the recommendations which they would make to the Crown. So soon as some of these recommendations had arrived, it struck him the number of the individuals selected and recommended by the town-councils for Magistrates being very disproportionate, that he might adopt some rule as to them which would serve as a guide. He, therefore, sent for Mr. Blackburne, who had acted as the chief of the commission, and asked him whether, in his opinion, it was right to fix any limit to the number to be recommended? Mr. Blackburne told him that he thought it right to have a scale according to the populations of the different towns. He would not, however, advise such a scale to be strictly and invariably adhered to, but it might be adopted rather with a view to their convenience in fixing the number which might be fit for any particular town. The object was, that in general a certain number should not be exceeded. He would now show the House the nature and good sense of the recommendation of Mr. Blackburne. He had soon occasion to consider the representations received from some sea-port towns. In those representations it was stated, that several of the persons recommended were for a certain time absent from the town, and as they could not, like inland places, have the continued services of persons in constant residence with them, if a fixed number had been adopted by the Home-Office, they expressed a hope that there would be given to them a larger number of Magistrates than was allowed usually. He thought that a very valid reason. Now, with respect to the places which the right hon. Gentleman had fixed on as the subject of his observations; the first was 778 Guildford, and there he said the recommendation included nine Tories and three Whigs, but his Majesty's Government had contrived to alter the proportion, by selecting the three Whigs and only one Conservative. This statement proved to him the difficulty, which the right hon. Gentleman had himself suggested, of fixing a particular designation of politics upon a particular person. He would give an instance of this difficulty. He did not see the hon. Member for Exeter in his place, but he was sure, as far as concerned him, that he would not dispute what he was going to state. The case of Exeter was not a single instance, but was one out of twenty or thirty. He was informed by his friends there, of whom he had several, being intimately connected with that neighbourhood, that there were s me persons whom they wanted to be nominated by the town-council, who were rejected; of this rejection they somewhat complained, though they admitted it was difficult to remedy; but they said there were one or two persons who in their politics were so violent against everything liberal, that it would be a great mortification, and a source of considerable dissatisfaction to the whole of the Liberal party, if they were selected by the Crown as individuals to be placed in the commission of the peace. Now with respect to one of these names—there were about two, or there might be three—having had occasion to ask the hon. Member for Exeter what he thought of the recommendation of the town-council, as he had been told it contained some names that were exceedingly obnoxious, and that altogether it was not a fair list—the hon. Gentleman showed him a private letter he had received, in which he was informed, that in the opinion of his friends the list was a fair one, and there the person whom the Whig and Liberal party designated as so particularly obnoxious a Tory was marked down among the Liberals, or Whigs. This showed that it was not safe to say, that an individual belonged to a particular party, and was disqualified on that account to act in the commission of the peace. He was sure that their names and designations often depended more on the opinions of those who gave them than on the sentiments of the individuals themselves. He frequently saw one whom he should call a moderate Whig described by the Conservatives as a decided Radical, and by the Radicals as a 779 no less decided Conservative. In the case of Guildford there were several gentlemen who wished some individuals to be nominated Magistrates who had not been recommended by the town-council. It was earnestly desired that he should recommend to the Crown two persons in particular, of the highest respectability he believed them to be, and if they had been appointed he dared to say, that they would have discharged their duty with ability. He did not doubt their qualifications, but he refused at once to acquiesce in the proposal, because out of the twelve named by the town-council he found four who were perfectly well qualified for the office. He was told, on inquiring of several persons, that of the four named, two were Reformers and two were moderate Tories. That was the case in which the right hon. Gentleman said he had named three Whigs and one Conservative. He might accumulate instances of this kind till midnight, but he had surely stated enough to show that in their attempts to fix the designations of party, it was not safe to rely on the representations made by adversaries. Relying on the representations he had received, he believed that he had selected two on each side. He had no doubt they were all respectable men, but it did so happen, that amongst the others, there were some who were passed over because they were attorneys, and as attorneys intimately connected with the political elections of the borough ["Cheers."] That cheer reminded him he should state here, that it had been his rule, as the right hon. Gentleman said, generally to exclude attorneys and to exclude brewers. There were two reasons why he excluded attorneys; one was, that they usually had a great number of clients amongst the inhabitants of the borough, and therefore, they were liable to more suspicion; the other reason was, that they were often the conductors and managers of all the political elections of the town. With respect to that rule, he had departed from it in several large instances, but as regarded the appointment of attorneys, who were agents of a political party, he knew of only two instances in which he had departed from it. One was in the case of Chichester, the individual having been recommended by a noble Lord who often, he might say usually, voted against the Government. The other case was that of Leominster. The person appointed there, was recommended by another noble Lord 780 who always voted against the Government. Perhaps some would say that he went too far in appointing those gentlemen, but he did so only on receiving the strongest testimony as to their respectability. He believed the representations of those noble Lords; he was sure they would state nothing but what they believed to be strictly true; but in making an exception of that kind in favour of a person so earnestly opposed to the Government in politics, he surely afforded something like a proof that he had not settled this arrangement for the appointment of these Magistrates with a view to serve any political views of his own. The view which he took with respect to the political opinion of the majority was, that he ought certainly, in general, to attend to the recommendation of the town-councils; but when, owing to the council being equally divided, they had no opportunity of making a particular recommendation, he thought he had a right to the selection; or when, from affection, or from any other reason, the council had named only those who were of their own particular party, he felt that he ought to endeavour to place on the commission persons of different political principles. He had acted on that principle with regard to Liverpool; he advised the Crown to put into the commission five gentlemen who were recommended to him, and who were described as individuals who were not of what were called liberal principles. In the case of Hull, a long list was sent to him which did not contain one person of Tory politics. He appointed here two gentlemen who, as he was told, were certainly moderate in their views, but they were decidedly Conservative. In the Leeds list there was only one gentleman whose politics were Tory; he added to that one three others. To the list from Newcastle-on-Tyne, he added the late Mayor, a person, he believed, of great respectability. There were certainly some cases in which all the Magistrates appointed belonged to one party, there being no individuals of the other party named by the town-councils and he had not been able to select any others; but he believed, that in all instances the individuals were of great respectability, and fully qualified for the duties which would devolve on them. Among the places named by the right hon. Baronet, there was also Wigan. Having received a remonstrance as to the 781 manner in which the list from that town was composed, he sought particular information as to each of the individuals, and being assured of their respectability, he did not feel himself justified in rejecting them. He, however, desired inquiries to be made with respect to some other gentlemen who were named to him as persons whom it was desired to see appointed. As regarded Rochester, he received the recommendation of a large body of persons, supported by one of the Members of the town and one of the Members of the county, who assured him of their respectability. This was a case in which the town-council being divided, had made no recommendation whatever. Therefore, he thought himself fully at liberty to recommend to the Crown persons who were perfectly qualified to keep the peace, and to administer justice in that borough. If the time should come when the town-council would be able to act, he should be ready to attend to any recommendations which they might forward. The right hon. Baronet said, that in Coventry the Magistrates were all of one mind on political subjects. One of the Members for Coventry came to him at the Home-Office, and said, he believed that the persons named were all fit individuals to be in the commission of the peace; but, with respect to the last three or four on the list, as to their being men who entertained liberal political opinions, he could assure him that they were not. They did not, at all events, vote for that hon. Gentleman; the hon. Gentleman told him that they had voted against him, and in favour of the Tory candidate. If, then, they did not vote for the hon. Gentleman, and voted only for his right hon. Friend, it was evident they desired to keep open one of the seats, to allow one gentleman of the politics of the right hon. Baronet to be returned as representative for Coventry. Let him not be told, then, that these individuals were violent partizans. Let him not be told, that they were exceedingly liberal in their politics, when, there being two candidates in the field, two were supporters of Ministers, and two were supporters of the right hon. Gentleman, they did not vote for the two supporters of Ministers, but, having given one vote on one side, neutralized it by giving another vote on the other side. They might be liberal men—they might be very good men as politicians, but surely they were not such violent or ar- 782 dent partizans that they ought to be excluded from serving as Justices of the Peace. The right hon. Baronet made a complaint that the Magistrates for Leicester were all partizans, but he had been assured they were all men of great respectability. Then, as regarded Plymouth, he knew nearly all those gentlemen, and they were, he admitted, all of them, with the exception of Mr. Woolcombe, supporters of his, and decidedly liberal in their politics. He was perfectly satisfied as to their respectability, and knew that they were fully qualified for the duties intrusted to them. [Sir Robert Peel did not question the respectability of those gentlemen.] It appeared to him that unless that were questioned, there was no point in dispute, for surely the right hon. Baronet could not object to gentlemen being put in the commission of the peace, because they were not amongst his supporters. The Magistrates of Plymouth were all respectable men; he had made inquiries and satisfied himself that they were so, and the right hon. Baronet now declared that he did not raise a question on that subject; their respectability therefore was to be taken for granted. He was not prepared to say, that the Magistrates of the towns anymore than the Magistrates of the counties should be all of one side in politics on the contrary, it was better he should say that they should not be; but at the same time having declared that he would give great weight to those recommendations of the town-councils; having admitted they were competent to recommend, he would not set himself up as a superior judge, and say—"It is true you have recommended respectable men, I know them myself, and I know that justice will be safe in their hands; I know that no political bias will tempt them to swerve from the line of their duty; I know that they will be just, though in being so they must act against their political inclinations; still I am' not satisfied, and I ask the town-council to give me men of different opinions, and you must choose between Tory, Whig, and Radical, so as to furnish me with a fair compound of the whole" If he had said this, or anything like this, to the new town-councils, he would have imposed too hard a duty upon them; and even when they had performed this hard duty, he should have been told, as he was at present, that those he had put into the commission were Whigs, when they were not Whigs—and were Conservatives, 783 when they were not so. Therefore it was that he thought the advisers of the Crown were not bound to look at the politics of the individuals recommended to them as fit for the magistracy, nor to examine how each and all of them voted at the last or at any preceding election. If the advisers of the Crown were to make such examination, he did not know how they would be able to obtain security that the parties at the present moment entertained the same opinions which they had professed to entertain at the last election. There were among the representatives of the people many who had professed exceedingly liberal opinions at the last election, and who, since that time, had not been found acting in that House as the majority of persons professing liberal sentiments had a right to expect. Might there not be amongst the constituents of those representatives, men of the same sort—men who, because they had given a particular vote on a particular occasion, or because they had taken a certain part in some local affairs, had been set down as the partizans of strong political opinions, and yet had no strong feeling either one way or the other? [Sir Robert Peel: The brewer at Plymouth.] Yes, there was a brewer of the name of King appointed a magistrate at Plymouth. By the mode in which the right hon. Baronet reminded him of that circumstance, it appeared as if the right hon. Baronet took it for granted that he must he quite indefensible in appointing a brewer a Magistrate. The first case in which he had objected to the appointment of a brewer as a Magistrate was at Portsmouth. And no sooner had he made known that objection than he received a letter from the hon. Member for that borough, stating at considerable length the reasons why he thought it wrong for him, after the pledge which he had offered to the House of Commons, and also to the town-councils, to make the circumstance of an individual being a brewer a disqualification for the magistracy, especially when he was recommended as a fit person for it by the town-council, and when there were particular reasons why the town should repose confidence in his integrity and ability. In consequence of the representation thus made to him, he had inquired further into the matter, and the result was, that he had put a brewer into the commission of the peace at Portsmouth. There came into his department, subsequently, other cases of a similar description. In 784 some of them he did not exclude the brewer from the magistracy, in others he did. He did not exclude a brewer from the commission of the peace in Plymouth; and when the noble Lord, the Member for King's Lynn, (Lord G. Bentinck), who did not usually vote with Ministers, applied to him to insert in the magistracy a brewer of that place, he wrote back to him that he did not think it right, as a general rule, to insert the names of brewers in the commission of the peace, especially as there were several cases in which the law expressly excluded them from acting as justices; but that if the brewers of King's Lynn were, as he represented them, the leading men of the place, he would not exclude them from the magistracy on that account, if they were otherwise respectable and intelligent men. He had acted upon his rule with regard to brewers as he had upon his rule with regard to attornies, making exceptions to it whenever a special case was stated to him, or whenever a special recommendation of the individual was brought under his consideration. He had excluded a brewer at first from the magistracy, but when he received a strong recommendation of that individual, assuring him that he was looked up to with respect and confidence by men of all parties—that he had already been five-and-twenty years in the commission of the peace, and that everybody relied with the utmost confidence upon his impartiality in the administration of justice, he felt that a case was made out for the relaxation of the rule which he had adopted with respect to the exclusion of brewers from the magistracy. He came now to Bristol, and there the right hon. Baronet said, an agreement was come to by which one of the parties chose twelve, and the other chose twelve. He was not aware of any such agreement; he was never informed of it. He certainly did receive a great number of letters respecting the appointment of magistrates for Bristol, but none of them stated that fact. Of Course, any person in his situation, as well as any person in the situation of a Lord-Lieutenant, when any person was recommended as a magistrate, must go to some one or other, in whom confidence was placed, to consult them as to the individual in question. And the right hon. Baronet would think it strange, no doubt, if he went and took the opinion of a person with whom he was not acquainted, or in whom he had not confidence. The conclusion to which he came upon the information he received with regard to Bristol was, that there 785 were many of the persons recommended holding Conservative opinions who were proper individuals to be placed in the commission of the peace; but that against others there were reasons which were entitled to considerable weight. It would be disagreeable, it would be invidious, were he, with respect to Bristol, and in other cases, to state the circumstances affecting the individuals which induced him to pass over their names. He could not do so without entering into particulars with respect to those of Liberal as well as Conservative politics, which, though they would reflect no dishonour or disgrace on the parties, would nevertheless not prove a fit subject for public discussion. But as the right hon. Gentleman had mentioned, in particular, the case of Mr. John Daniel, he begged to be allowed to say a word in explanation of that matter. He had been informed that Mr. Daniel had, on several occasions, publicly declared that, at his present age, he found himself unequal to the conduct of public business, his memory having so greatly failed him that he could no longer rely upon it. That appeared to him to be a sufficient reason for not including Mr. Daniel in the arrangement which was to be made. His wish was, to appoint persons who were able to undertake practically all the duties of a Justice of the Peace; and he therefore did not think it advisable to put into the Commission, particularly when he had a choice of twenty-four, a gentleman who, perhaps, in the course of three or four years, would be quite unable to perform the magisterial duties of so important a district. Such were his reasons for the course he had taken with respect to the places to which the right hon. Baronet had alluded. It was a source of great satisfaction to him, that there were only eight towns that were made the subject of complaint; the number of magistrates appointed, according to the account presented to Parliament, being not less than 428; and there having been appointed since as many as 200 or 250 more. He would not pretend to say, that there had not been any persons omitted who ought to have been placed in the Commission, or that there might not have been some individuals appointed who had not the discretion, judgment, and character, which entitled them to such a position; but he could say, he did believe that on the whole this list of, perhaps, 600 and more Magistrates, was a list of respectable and intelligent men. It was certainly a list of which the majority 786 entertained liberal politics, but he believed them to be individuals who would not allow their politics to prevent them from doing their duty as Justices. He would not say a word in disparagement of the Magistrates of counties, or of the manner in which the Lords-Lieutenant of counties had exercised their discretion. He entertained a high opinion of the county Magistrates, and thought that the discretionary power was not altogether ill-placed in the Lords-Lieutenant; but he would again say, he did believe that the Magistrates of the towns would be found as intelligent and as able, well and honestly to administer justice as the county Magistrates were known to be. He would conclude by saying, that he was far from thinking that anything which the right hon. Baronet had stated in the course of his speech had shown that there had existed on the part of the advisers of the Crown the least disposition to sacrifice the ends of justice for the sake of their own political purposes.
§ Sir Richard Vyvyan
said, that the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, had risen for the purpose of replying to the speech of the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth. How had the noble Lord replied to the allegations and the arguments of his right hon. Friend? Many points had been alluded to by the right hon. Baronet to which the noble Lord had, it seemed, felt it unnecessary even to advert. He had not touched upon the case of Leicester. [Lord John Russell:—Yes I did.] The noble Lord had just mentioned it, and passed it over with the most becoming delicacy. What was the explanation of the noble Lord with respect to Bristol? The case of Bristol was the strongest that had been alluded to that evening; and he felt assured that neither the House nor the country would feel satisfied with the explanation which the noble Lord had given. He was sure that the noble Lord had stated nothing to satisfy them why a gentleman of the greatest respectability should be set aside in order to make way for some person of opposite political opinions. He had hoped, that when the noble Lord had stated that he had made that sweeping recommendation to the Crown, with respect to the appointment of Magistrates, that the noble Lord would have been able to show that, in this respect at least, he and his colleagues had lain aside that spirit of party which, most unhappily for the country, had too long prevailed in that House. When the noble 787 Lord rose to defend his conduct, he had expected that the noble Lord would have taken larger and more extensive grounds, and that he would not have shrunk for a defence into the circumstance, that in one place or another some Conservatives had been appointed. He had listened with attention to the speech of the noble Lord, and he did not appear to have answered the allegations in any respect which had been made against the conduct pursued by the Home Office in the appointment of Magistrates. The noble Lord stated that in regulating the number of Magistrates, they had been influenced by a consideration of the extent of the population of the place where the Magistrates were to exercise their functions. Now, how had the Government followed out this principle which they declared they had been guided by? In Bath they had appointed sixteen Magistrates to a population of fifty thousand. In Bristol twenty-four was the number named by the town-council, and eighteen was the number appointed by the Government to a population of a hundred and four thousand persons.
§ Lord John Russell
.—The hon. Baronet is mistaken as to Bath. The number of magistrates appointed to Bath is twelve.
§ Sir Richard Vyvyan
.—That would not justify the noble Lord, for if the principle of regulating the number of Magistrates by the extent of population were to be admitted, if they gave twelve Magistrates to a population of fifty thousand, they ought at least to have allowed twenty-four Magistrates to a population of a hundred and four thousand. Independent of population, there were many other circumstances which entitled the city of Bristol to greater consideration. It had much more business than Bath—it was a great commercial town, it was a seaport, and a place of considerable local importance. The conduct of the noble Lord with respect to Bristol, and the absence of any satisfactory explanations, made it incumbent on him, as the Representative of Bristol, to rise in his place, and protest against the proceedings. He felt it necessary to allude to what had taken place in the case of Mr. Alderman Daniel. He had hoped that the noble Lord would have been able to give some satisfactory, or something approaching to a satisfactory, explanation on this point. The noble Lord had stated, that he objected to Alderman Daniel not on account of politics, but because he was too old to discharge the functions of a Magistrate in so extensive a place as Bristol. Now, what were the 788 facts? Mr. Alderman Daniel had been chosen by the corporation to be mayor of Bristol; that appointment was received with general satisfaction; and had not been carried into effect, merely because he himself had declared his own resolution to retire. To be chosen mayor over a population of one hundred and four thousand persons was no proof that, in the opinion of his fellow-citizens, he was unfit to discharge Magisterial functions. Mr. Alderman Daniel had been called the father of the corporate body in Bristol, and he could only look upon the refusal of the noble Lord to confirm his appointment as an evidence of the resolution of the noble Lord to make him out as one of those who were to be visited with the vengeance of the Government for having always consistently pursued a certain line of political conduct. The noble Lord had said, that he was in communication with many individuals connected with Bristol; would he inform the House who those individuals were? [No, no.] Would then that noble Lord inform him, whether he was or was not in communication with the officers of a liberal association formed at Bristol? Would that noble Lord inform that House why he had taken twelve individuals of decided politics one way, and rejected six individuals who were supposed also to entertain opinions of a contrary tenor, being at the same time persons of the greatest respectability? Respecting Mr. Daniel, it had been urged that he was too old to fill the office of Magistrate; and yet the noble Lord had appointed at Norwich, a Colonel Harvey, who was eighty-three years of age. But the noble Lord was well aware of Mr. Daniel's politics; he knew well that the gentlemen of Bristol had a considerable influence over their fellow-citizens, and that it was one of the few large places where there was a Conservative town-council. It was the only place almost in the kingdom in which the principle which the noble Lord wished to see carried out in. the Municipal Corporation Bill had not been carried into effect. It was the only place in which democratic, or, as they were now generally called, liberal principles, were not so completely predominant as they were at that moment elsewhere. When the original opposition to the appointment of Mr. Daniel was made by the Government, it was thought useless to offer any obstacle to its path; and Mr. Fripp was elected in the place of Mr. Daniel, without opposition, and, indeed, by the unanimous 789 voice of the town-council. But the noble Lord could not forget that Bristol was an offence to him, and to all with whom he was associated in the Government in the year 1830. What had occurred in the course of the trial connected with the riots at Bristol in that year? Why, a special verdict in favour of the then mayor, Mr. Pinney, who had been prosecuted at the suggestion of his Majesty's Government. In the year 1834 (towards the close of that year), when Lord Melbourne was at Derby, or some other central town, he received a deputation, which waited on him for the purpose of offering their condolence on his quitting office. In his reply to that address, the noble Lord spoke of Reform, and said that Municipal Reform was one thing which was wanted, because it was clear that the conduct of the Magistrates of Bristol rendered it necessary, the fact being, that previously to this occurrence, a verdict of their countrymen had acquitted the Magistrates of Bristol; and that acquittal certainly carried with it the conviction of those who were connected with the Home Department, of the grossest inattention to the preservation of the peace of the country, and particularly to that of the city of Bristol; of a grosser inattention on these points than could have been well conceived. Perhaps it was not necessary for him to go further into this particular matter, and he was not desirous to bring forward questions of by-gone politics; but this determination on the part of the noble Lord in the case of Bristol, to place in the situation of Magistrates a majority of those whom he thought devoted to his interests, or rather to the interests of his Government, rendered it necessary that the Representative of that city should rise in his place in that House, and protest against the course which had been adopted by the noble Lord. In reference to the lists which had been forwarded, a division took place in the Council upon three individuals who had been named, who were known to be men of what were termed liberal opinions, and yet they remained on the roll of Magistrates. Now it should be recollected, that in the Report of the Commissioners on the Municipal Corporation Bill, the Commissioners said:—The party spirit which pervades the municipal councils, extends itself to the Magistracy which is appointed by those bodies, and from their members; The Magistracy are usually chosen from the aldermen, and the aldermen are generally political partisans. Hence, even in those cases in which injustice is not abso- 790 lutely committed, a strong suspicion of it is excited, and the local tribunals cease to inspire respect. The corporate Magistrates, generally speaking, are not looked upon by the inhabitants with either favour or respect, and are often regarded with positive distrust and dislike.Had the noble Lord acted upon that principle? Had he not rather acted as a partisan, by admitting politics to interfere with the high and important functions with which he was intrusted? If the noble Lord were guided by the opinions of the town-council as to the Magistrates to be appointed for Bristol, should not the noble Lord have naturally entered into an examination of the objections raised in the town-council? Now about three of those who were connected with the noble Lord in politics, a division took place—and yet those three names, he could tell the House, were allowed to remain on the roll of Magistrates. He was not present when the right hon. Baronet brought this subject forward; nor did he know how he had applied his observations to the choice of some Magistrates made by the noble Lord, and the rejection of six individuals connected with Bristol. About a fortnight since he had received information from Bristol, that the noble Lord did not contemplate continuing on the roll those three to whom objections had been made in the town-council—a sacrifice was to be made of the opposite party, and six were to be rejected, as a compensation. He did not believe this at the time. He thought that the noble Lord would not go so far in injustice—he contended that the three would be rejected; but when he heard that the noble Lord had not rejected the three, but that he had rejected the six of opposite opinions to his own—when he found that the noble Lord had been carried so far by the spirit of partisanship, he said that he only waited for what he considered might be had, circumstantial evidence in proof, that in doing this the noble Lord was animated by corrupt motives. Any Minister of the Crown who, for the sake of promoting the party to which he belongs, does such acts as these, is guilty of corrupt motives. He was sorry that this question had not been postponed, as he had the strongest reason for believing he could give additional proofs why the noble Lord pursued the course that had been adopted by him. He did think that what had occurred on that occasion might tend to prove that the course adopted, last year in 791 the House of Lords, with repect to the power to be given to the towns of nominating Magistrates, was not calculated to be productive of all the good effects which had been anticipated from it. He was glad this opportunity was afforded to him of explaining his conduct upon another occasion. The other day, upon the division on the motion of the noble Lord, the Member for South Lancashire, respecting the Irish Municipal Bill, which had been read a third time on the previous night, and was sent up to the House of Lords, he had abstained from voting; and in doing so, he considered he was taking as decided a part as gentlemen who had voted upon the one side or the other. He objected to the giving great powers to the Crown in any instance; he objected to the taking any powers from the people, with which they were now vested. Now they saw the proof of giving to any Administration, of conferring on the Crown, the power of choosing Magistrates—a power which the people formerly exercised. Here was a case where the Tories, being the majority, to their honour, consented that the half of the Magistrates might be liberal. The people acted justly—the Crown unjustly. The noble Lord was the responsible Minister of the Crown; and when he spoke of the Crown, he only referred to the responsibility of the noble Lord, who had in this instance shown himself to be a partisan. The noble Lord stated, that he was not aware of what had taken place in the town-council. Then the noble Lord was badly informed; and he could not help saying, that it was most remarkable, when the noble Lord had declared it to be his determination to decide who ought or ought not to be rejected, he would take the recommendation of the town-council; and yet he did not attend in this instance to the recommendation of the town-council when it affected the appointment of those who were opposed to him in political opinions. He came back again to the question of the nomination of Magistrates, and he said, he never wished, with respect to the municipal institutions of this country, to take a power from the people which already existed. That power already existed in law, and was sanctioned by the constitution; but when the noble Lord or any other man took advantage of his position to head a party in Bristol, united for objects not defined, but which the noble Lord must have heard of, then he would say that the country, governed 792 by such Ministers, was on the road to revolution. It was a proof to the people of this country that there was no middle course to be pursued—that men would not be allowed to hold opinions without suffering for them, by the act of those who were not the Ministers of the Crown, but the Ministers of others than the Crown, and by whom affairs were regulated, whether in Bristol, London, or in Ireland, or, he would add, in any other part of the kingdom. Before he sat down, he would wish to call upon the noble Lord to state his personal objections against those Magistrates of Bristol who had been rejected. He called upon the noble Lord to name his adviser. The noble Lord might do so; because no objection was made to Mr. Daniel but one, and that was a personal more than a physical objection. He could not see why the House ought not to be acquainted with the grounds of the objection, and with whom they originated, when the noble Lord believed them in secret to be fabrications. He must say, that when the noble Lord rose to reply, he did expect from him an answer more detailed and more substantial, and that he would, at least, have defended the characters of those whom he had selected. He was disappointed upon that subject. What the noble Lord had said would go forth to the country. The effect must be, that the character of the noble Lord would not rise in the estimation of the public as a supreme Minister of justice; it would not rise in their estimation as an adviser of the Crown; nor would it add to the dignity and honour of the sovereign.
§ Mr. Bernal
very much lamented that the hon. Baronet had, in discussing this subject, been excited to what he must consider an unnecessary degree of heat. From the manner in which the subject had been opened by the right hon. Baronet, he certainly never could have expected, that it could have led to the imputation of corrupt motives. The tone adopted by the hon. Member for Bristol, was one not befitting the subject; for if the hon. Member for Bristol entertained seriously what he had stated—if he had felt seriously the sentiments which he had just given utterance to—he said then it was the duty of the hon. Baronet to come forward and impeach his noble Friend. A gentleman of the intelligence and ability of the hon. Baronet—the Representative of a city—the Representative of a large and populous constituency—the Representative of 100,000 793 persons—one to whom great responsibility and weight attached—how a Member so situated, could lightly attribute corrupt motives to a Minister of the Crown he did not understand. A person so situated should not seek to wound by an incidental shaft from his quiver. He certainly should not make such an attack in a partial discussion, but ought, distinctly and plainly, to bring forward such a charge in a manner that it could be dealt with by the House. He would wish now to call back the attention of the House to the subject opened by the right hon. Member. This unfortunate discussion, for debate he could not call it, must bring forward several Gentlemen from the various places that had been alluded to, for the House was ignorant of the facts stated, and the accuracy of the allegations that had been made. It was unfortunate that this should have occurred, as it prevented several hon. Members, whose Motions were on the paper, from bringing them forward. Reference had been made to the city which he had the honour to represent. In the case of the city of Rochester, the right hon. Gentleman had said, that five out of the six Magistrates who had been appointed, were Liberals. He would not mince the matter—he would boldly declare at once that the whole number—yes! all of them were men of liberal opinions. Three of them never had been electors for that city; and as to their opinions, they were not those of to-day, but they were those which they had through life cherished and maintained. With reference, however, to the Gentlemen who had been alluded to, he could only say, that there was no further recommendation made to the Home Office on their behalf than this—that he and the hon. Member for Kent accompanied a deputation from Rochester, who recommended, and most earnestly recommended, those gentlemen. Now in the case of Rochester, it was a well-known fact, parties were completely balanced in Corporation matters; there being" in the Town-Council nine on the one side, and nine on the opposite side. The consequence had therefore been, that they could come to no agreement on any question—everything was in fact nullified. They had not even, at this day, agreed upon the elections of Mayor or assessors. Therefore it was not to be expected that any recommendation could emanate from a body so consti- 794 tuted; and how, he would ask, could his noble Friend listen, as he would under other circumstances, to a recommendation of a Town-Council as the proper and competent body to recommend parties for his approval? Then, with reference to an understanding, which had been mentioned as having been come to with the Town-Council, he had received a letter begging him to deny the assertion altogether. He was directed to say, that no such understanding was ever come to; that of the parties named, two or three of those parties were Members of the Town-Council. There were two or three Magistrates under the old regime who would continue in office till the 1st of May. There were eight Magistrates of Rochester; the other two being the past Mayor and the last Mayor, who professed different political opinions. He would say, if those men were correct in their moral character, and had mental powers to decide on those various points which came under their notice, and the Town-Council joined in recommending those men to the noble Lord, he thought it was his duty to attend to that recommendation, always reserving to himself that discretion which, as a servant of the Crown, he ought to retain. If any blame or any censure were intended to be cast upon his noble Friend, he was ready to take that blame in this instance, entirely upon himself, and he called upon any hon. Gentleman to say, whether he considered that he (Mr. Bernal) had any cause for shame in the part he had taken. The case of Rochester was then a decided exception, and he did not know how an objection could be made to what had been done by his noble Friend, who had in this instance felt it to be his duty to exercise a proper discretion in the appointment of Magistrates for that place. An objection had been made to the course pursued towards Alderman Daniel, and the case of Alderman Baker was referred to. Now he could say of the latter that he was a gentleman of property, and of most active mind, but who, since his list had been transmitted, had been attacked with a serious illness; but who, when he had the pleasure of seeing him last year, was as active in mind and body as any Gentleman he saw before him, and, he would add, no man was more to be respected for his ability and property. He felt bound to say, that he saw nothing in the ap- 795 pointment of the Magistrates in connexion with the new Town-Councils to justify the attacks that had been made.
was not surprised that his hon. Friend who had just sat down should come to a different conclusion from him upon this question. He always maintained that the professing of particular political opinions should not exclude any person from holding the commission of the peace; and he only now desired that a difference of opinion from what predominated in the Government should not be deemed an insuperable bar to the magisterial office. The Government which consulted party politics in those appointments certainly did not do their duty. His hon. Friend who had last addressed the House said that representatives had a right to recommend to those appointments. No doubt the recommendations made by his hon. Friend were honestly and conscientiously made; but, however strong his impression of the fairness of his hon. Friend's motives might be, those who were not so well acquainted with him, and who knew the political opinions which he entertained might be apt to look upon his recommendation with suspicion. This must be particularly the case as regarded Rochester, where opinions were so equally balanced. He did not object to his hon. Friend's interference, but he did object to the acquiescence of Ministers, who, on so delicate a point, ought to have resorted to sources of information more free from the suspicion which must be attached to such a recommendation by all who had not the pleasure of knowing his hon. Friend as well as he knew him. If, as the noble Lord said, he made the recommendation of councils one of his principal motives in these appointments, how happened it that, whilst the recommendations of others were attended to, those from Conservative councils were neglected? With regard to the charge of taking by surprise, which had been brought against his right hon. Friend the Member for Tamworth, he would say, that it was the wish of the noble Lord opposite to have the question brought forward this evening. His right hon. Friend, not wishing to disturb the progress of business, by bringing it on in a Committee of Supply, gave notice that he should take another opportunity; and it was now before the House with the concurrence of the noble Lord. He would conclude by stating it as his opin- 796 ion that the explanation of the noble Lord was by no means satisfactory. From his own explanation, it appeared that he had laid down a particular rule for his guidance with regard to these appointments, and at the same time the noble Lord admitted that this rule had not been equally applied.
§ Lord John Russell
rose to explain. If any fault had been committed in bringing on this discussion to-day, that fault, certainly did not rest with the right hon. Member for Tamworth, but was owing entirely to himself. He had been informed by the right hon. Baronet that he intended asking some questions with respect to the appointment of Municipal Magistrates, and perceiving that those questions materially affected himself in respect to his conduct as a responsible Minister of the Crown, he certainly felt most anxious that those questions should be heard and disposed of before the holidays. The noble Lord then proceeded: I have no right, nor do I pretend to any right, to find fault with the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir R. Vyvyan) for having uttered the expressions which he has thought proper to make use of. As a Member of Parliament, the hon. Baronet has a perfect right to use such expressions in respect to the conduct of a responsible Minister of the Crown. But I do say that I shall have a right to find fault with the hon. Baronet, that I shall have a right to cast censure on the conduct of the hon. Baronet as a calumniator, if having accused me of corrupt conduct, he does not immediately, and without loss of time, bring that question to a decision. I am ready to abide the issue of that decision, knowing as I do that that charge of corrupt conduct is false and unfounded.
§ Sir Richard Vyvyan
, First of all I admit that I used the words "corrupt conduct;" and that I used them in reference to the noble Lord. I did accuse the noble Lord of corrupt conduct; and I used the words corrupt conduct in this sense, namely, in the case where a Minister of the Crown acts with partiality in a matter of justice, when he uses the powers with which he is invested corruptly for the advancement of the interests of his party. Now I repeat, that the noble Lord's conduct ever since he has been a responsible Minister of the Crown, has been more or less calculated to advance the interests of the party to which he belongs. I mean 797 this in the same full and entire sense of he words in which I ever meant it.
§ Mr. Poulett Thomson
, I am at a loss to know what the hon. Baronet, the Member for Bristol means? If he means to say that my noble Friend, and the Government to which he belongs, have acted so as to advance the interests of their party, meaning by those words the great interests which are so well understood to be connected with that party—that is, the interests which he, my noble Friend, and his party have ever considered just and right—then I fully admit the charge of the hon. Baronet. But if the hon. Baronet means, what the words indeed seemed to imply both to me and other Members in the House—if the hon. Baronet means to insinuate that my noble Friend and the Government, in making these appointments, have been actuated by corrupt motives, then let the hon. Baronet declare that the words he has used came from him in a moment of heat and excitement, and nobody will make more full allowance for words uttered under such circumstances than myself. Let the hon Baronet do this; or if not, let him follow out the charge in a manner which becomes him as a Member of Parliament—let him adopt that course which an honest Member of Parliament is bound to follow, and let him lay upon the Table a particular and distinct accusation against my noble Friend and the Government to which he belongs. One of these two courses is open to the hon. Baronet, and one of them he will take, unless he means that very little care and very little attention indeed shall be paid to anything he may hereafter say.
§ The Speaker
I beg to say a few words. So far as concerns the rules of the House I have felt under very considerable difficulty on the present occasion; but it is desirable that this matter should not be suffered to remain without being brought to some clear understanding. I will first state my apprehension of the circumstances of this case. I heard the hon. Baronet state, that the conduct of the noble Lord had been corrupt, and hearing those words, I was in doubt whether the hon. Baronet did not mean to say, that the noble Lord had acted from corrupt motives. Understanding the observations in this sense, my first impression was, that I should rise and remind the hon. Baronet that no hon. Member was not justified in attributing 798 motives to another hon. Member. But the hon. Baronet has since followed up those words by an explanation which at once put an end to my doubts; for it appears to me from that explanation, that the hon. Baronet, in using those words, intended to exercise his right as a Member of Parliament, to prefer a distinct, precise, and grave charge against the noble Lord; and I am bound to say that, to the best of my judgment, such a charge is not one to be explained away by a general statement such as that last made. A grave charge, that the noble Lord has exercised corruptly, his powers with reference to matters touching the administration of justice has been made, and it is for the hon. Member for Bristol to determine whether a charge, so grave and distinct, can be explained as he has explained it, or whether it mean what the words imply.
§ Mr. Hume
said, that he had risen several times in the course of this discussion, when, if he had been fortunate enough to have caught the Speaker's eye, he intended to have moved, that the words used by the hon. Baronet opposite should be taken down. He had risen at the very moment the words had been uttered for that purpose, because he thought the words of such importance that they ought to be brought under the notice of the House. He really did regret the tone and temper the hon. Baronet had displayed. He did not complain of the right hon. Member for Tamworth, who had done no more than was his right, to express himself upon parts of the conduct of the Government which he thought objectionable. The noble Lord bad stated, upon testimony not to be contradicted, that he determined upon a rule for his conduct before he knew the turn that the elections would take, and had thus shown his fairness. He gave the noble Lord credit for the manly way in which he had asserted, that his opinion, as to the parties whose recommendation in the appointment of Magistrates should be taken, had not been altered since the Bill was sent into the House of Lords,—when has said that though, by the letter of the law, the election was left to his Majesty, he would take into full consideration the recommendations of the councils of the different boroughs. These were strange times; at least he thought they were when he heard the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for the University of Cambridge, declare it to have been al- 799 ways his opinion, that the selection of Magistrates should be made indiscriminately from persons of different opinions in politics. Where were all the Irish Members when he made that assertion?—and how had the complaints which were made, year after year, and month after month, of his appointments when he filled the office of Secretary of State been disposed of. The hon. Baronet, the Member for Bristol, said, that within a few years party spirit had she in itself in the boroughs. Had that manifested itself within the last few years? What had the conduct of the Tory Government exhibited but party spirit,—one would have supposed, considering the virtuous indignation with which the hon. Baronet attacked the present proceedings, that party spirit was utterly unknown to him and his friends. This was one of the wonders of the age. Where had he been that all the proceedings of his party had so suddenly escaped his memory? Did the hon. Baronet, the Member for Bristol, think that his Majesty's Ministers would be doing their duty to themselves or the country, if, refusing to listen to the voice of the people, they were to put the nomination of the Magistrates into the hands of their opponents? Did he think that, brought into the Government, on the shoulders of the people, they could possibly display any greater act of weakness, than to appoint individuals of the opposite party, who, the very first moment they had an opportunity, would use their influence to thwart all their plans for the benefit of the country, and to oppose those by whose kindness they were appointed? In this respect the whole system upon which the Government had proceeded, during the present and the last Session, was opposed to the opinions of the public, and those of their best friends. It was the duty of the noble Lord, as a Minister of the Crown, to support liberal measures, to keep out of the hands of his opponents the means of thwarting the Government, and to refrain from adopting such a trimming course of policy as must offend his own friends, without giving satisfaction to his opponents. He was as anxious as any man to see the sources of justice unpolluted; but when he saw the opposition now made to Government, and saw the state of the counties, crowded with Tory Magistrates—when he saw Lord Lieutenants using the power placed in their hands in opposition 800 to the measures of his Majesty's Ministers—the noble Lord, he must say, should take care not to place additional power in the hands of the party represented by hon. Gentlemen on the other side. He agreed with the right hon. Baronet, that nothing could be more desirable than that the Magistracy should act in accordance with the wishes and feelings of the community; but would hon. Members, who found fault with the course adopted by the noble Lord, say that this had been the case in past years? No. Was it the case in the old boroughs? It was not, and this was the source of the dissatisfaction which prevailed in them. The hon. Baronet had spoken of the weakness of his Majesty's Ministers with respect to Bristol, but there the evil of the rotten corporations was exhibited. If the Magistrates of Bristol had acted in accordance with the feelings of the people, the disturbances would never have risen to any height. What could be more necessary than that the Magistrates should have the respect and confidence of those over whom they were to preside, and among whom they were to administer the law?—and what could be more praiseworthy than the disposition the noble Lord had shown to comply with the wishes of the people? The case of Leicester had been alluded to. He had received a letter from that place the other day, written under the idea that the proceedings there would have been made matter of complaint here. Was there no partiality then shown in the selection of Magistrates at Leicester under the old system? The whole of them were out-and-out Tories, enemies to Reform, and supporters of every kind of corruption; using not only the property legitimately placed at their disposal, but the property of the public, in forwarding their own party views and objects; and so grievous was the burden imposed upon the inhabitants by these means, that there was not one of the old rotten corps left as soon as the opinion of the people obtained any influence. By a statement he held in his hand, it appeared that the amount of the assessment of the Tories, who voted in this election, was 15,000l., while that of the Liberals amounted to between 17,000l. and 18,000l.—and the Liberals had swept away the old rotten corporations, and had placed in their stead members of the council who were never yet contaminated by any cor- 801 rupt proceedings whatever. Out of these including the alderman, there were twelve members of the Church of England, and the rest were Dissenters,—and what was their recommendation? They recommended six Dissenters, and four members of the Church of England as Magistrates. Did the hon. Baronet think that the noble Lord acted improperly in approving of the recommendation?—[Sir Richard Vyvyan.—Yes.] There was no other hon. Member in the House who would agree with the hon. Baronet. It was impossible that any blame could be attributed to the noble Lord. In the county of Leicester, with the exception of one or two Liberals the Magistrates were Tories to a man. It had been stated by an hon. Member, now the mayor of the town, that his father, one of the oldest of the Magistrates, had been excluded by party spirit, and was excluded to this day. Before the hon. Member for Bristol tells us to look at the appointments made in the towns, let him look to the state of the counties. The Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk had designated his Majesty's Ministers by all the opprobrious names possible, telling the people they were unworthy of their situation, and talking about producing a revolution. Why was not Colonel Woodhouse struck out of the Commission? When we see certain persons taking an avowedly hostile part, it was too much to expect the House to listen, as it had done, to the statement which had been made, without feeling indignation. Let the hon. Baronet, the Member for Bristol, go on with his charge. He challenged the hon. Baronet. After what the hon. Baronet had repeatedly said, he could not consistently retract; he was bound to go on, and he hoped the hon. Baronet would impeach the Ministers.
§ Sir Robert Peel
, with respect to the charge brought against him of having brought forward this motion out of his turn, to the prejudice of other hon. Members who had entered motions for to-night, hoped he might be allowed to explain in order to show that that charge was not well founded. The facts were these:—He gave notice last night of his intention to bring this subject forward, and at the same time stated, that it would probably be very late before he should be able to do so. The noble Lord, the Secretary for the Home Department expressed his anxiety that the subject should be brought 802 on to day and he (Sir R. Peel) acquiesced, at the same time stating that if any hon. Member objected to this course he should at once defer his motion.
§ Mr. Richards
reiterated the charges against the Government in respect to these appointments; and accused not only the noble Lord the Home Secretary, but the whole party, of corruption. He charged them all with conspiracy, with a settled design against the constitution of the country, with an intention to change the monarchical Government of the country into a republic. Much had been said of changes in opinion. Now, he was persuaded that it was much more candid in a man to change his opinion when he was convinced it was wrong, than blindly to adhere to it. Surely when a man had discovered that what he took to be pearls and diamonds were nothing better than French beads and Bristol stones, he was at liberty to proclaim his error. In the debate of last night.—"Why, I rose (said the hon. Gentleman) several times last night, and did not get an opportunity of speaking;"—there was one expression which he was most anxious to refer to, and which was used by the right hon. Gentleman in the debate of last night.
§ Mr. Richards
resumed: well, then, I'll suppose the observation to have been made use of by the right hon. Gentleman in some speech uttered by him.
§ Mr. Ewart
rose to order. He put it to the hon. Gentleman and the House, whether it was not out of order for the hon. Gentleman not only to refer to a speech in a debate of last night, which had no connection with the subject of the present discussion, but even to go the length of inventing a speech for the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He, for one, could never consent to have the public time thus wasted when business of importance was to be brought under the consideration of the House.
§ Mr. Richards
I admire much, Sir, the economical feeling, if I may so term it, of the hon. Gentleman opposite with regard to the time of the public, particularly when I recollect that he so constantly wastes that time with the most useless motions. I have not addressed a single speech to the House for a considerable time, but the hon. Gentleman opposite speaks ad 803 nauseam. Night after night the meagre powers of the hon. Gentleman are almost incessantly called into requisition, and he now gets up to stop me when speaking in order. I beg to say, Sir, that I know the meaning of order, and the value of order, quite as well as the hon. Gentleman. I will suppose, then, Sir, that the right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) expressed this sentiment—"The object of this measure, the municipal, is to give power to the majority of the people." Now, Sir, I say, that is not the principle on which the British monarchy is founded, and if self-government and popular election are to be introduced into all our institutions, why are not the House of Lords elected?
§ Mr. T. S. Duncombe
rose to order, and called upon the Speaker to read the question before the House.
§ Mr. T. S. Duncombe
continued: now I put to you, Sir, to say whether the arguments of the hon. Gentleman, with respect to the monarchy and the House of Lords, have anything to do with the question before the House?
§ The Speaker
said, that if the hon. Member for Knaresborough made the supposition alluded to for the purpose of introducing or reviving the discussion which had terminated at an early hour of that morning, he was out of order. But if he considered his supposition pertinent to the question before the House, he was quite in order.
§ Mr. Richards
I bow with great deference to the decision of the Chair; and I quite agree with you, Sir, that that's the point. My objection is, that the order before us has arisen from revolution. The hon. Member continued to observe, that it did not yet suit the tactics of hon. Gentlemen opposite to have the King elected, though out of doors the election of the House of Lords was a subject much agitated. Talk indeed of the imputation of corrupt motives as a high crime and misdemeanour where an hon. Gentleman, who was a conspicuous Member on the other side of the House, dealt in a wholesale charge of corrupt motives against the body of noble persons who were as independent, as anxious for the happiness of the people, and for the conservation of the monarchy, as that House. He admitted, that he did not rise for the purpose of speaking to the question before the House; 804 but he believed the sense in which the expression complained of by the noble Lord was meant to be understood was, that he had used his influence for the purpose of promoting party objects.
Sir, I have listened very attentively to the whole of this debate, and certainly not less attentively to the amusing speech of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down than to those of any hon. Members by whom he was preceded: and I agree entirely with the last observation of the hon. Gentleman for having expressed his intention upon rising not to speak to the question; he has certainly persevered very strictly in that intention. I do not rise, Sir, to make any observations however upon that speech, for I hope I shall not be guilty of wasting the time of the House, which is so important to the nation, in a manner so utterly superfluous and unnecessary. I rise for another purpose, namely, to endeavour, if possible, to obtain some explanation of a certain statement made by the hon. Member for Bristol, which does appear to me to rest in a degree of obscurity, under which, for the dignity of the House, his Majesty's Government, and the welfare of the people, it ought not to be suffered to remain. When I listened to the speech of the hon. Baronet, I entertained an opinion respecting it, which I had the satisfaction of hearing confirmed by you, Sir. It did strike me that if it were the intention of the hon. Baronet to impute motives of corruption to my noble Friend, as a Member of this House, it was the duty of the Chair, in compliance with Parliamentary usages, at once to interpose and prevent the continuance of such observations. At the same time I agreed with the assertion, that though this charge was of a most grave nature, it was perfectly competent to the hon. Baronet, nay it was his duty, to prefer it, provided he was in possession of information to substantiate such a charge—namely, a charge against my noble Friend, of having exercised the powers invested in him as Secretary of Stale, which rendered it peculiarly incumbent on him to watch over the administration of justice, for improper purposes—of having, in fact, corruptly (for that was the expression) perverted those powers for the advancement of party interest. Now that was the charge which I understood the hon. Baronet to make: and before I go farther, I respectfully take the liberty 805 of asking the hon. Baronet whether he intends to come forward, and to substantiate the charge which he has made against my noble Friend? [Dr. Lushington sat down, but Sir R. Vyvyan not rising, he rose and continued.] The hon. Baronet is silent. Good God! Sir, what sense must the hon. Baronet have of the feelings of justice—what must he think of the opinion of the country, or how does he estimate the value which every man attaches to character? The hon. Baronet does not pretend to say that by the evidence, at present in his possession, he can establish the charge which he has made; for what does it amount to but this—that because certain individuals named in the list sent up to my noble Friend have not been accepted, but others substituted for them—upon such grounds, without even ascertaining what was the information which guided the conduct of my noble Friend, the hon. Baronet thought fit to impute to him motives of corruption. I ask the House what graver charge can be preferred against a Minister of the Crown, than to say, that regardless of his solemn duty, by allowing the very source from which justice flows to be poisoned, he had not for the public good, but the advantages of the party to which he belonged, placed in situations of public trust and confidence, individuals whom he believed to be not fit and proper persons to be intrusted with such privileges? I want to know whether that charge is to be advanced without proof? I wish to know whether it is a matter of no importance to my noble Friend to have his character thus assailed? I wish to know whether the House will bear with common patience to hear any one Member of this Assembly so attacked; while, when the hon. Baronet, when asked to substantiate the charge persists in a silence, which is tantamount to a refusal to do so, and which I tell the hon. Baronet is more—it is tantamount to an admission that he is incapable of substantiating it? Now Sir, (God willing) thus should the case go forth to the country:—That the hon. Baronet has charged the noble Lord, the Secretary of State, with a corrupt abandonment of his duty, has declined to produce any proof; of his charge, and then has adopted a course which I never, since I had a seat in this House, saw pursued before towards any individual Member—namely, declined to retract, or boldly come forward to maintain his assertion. Now then, Sir, 806 let the country judge; let the people of England know, by the example of the hon. Baronet, what a love of justice penetrates his heart. The justice he has shown my noble Friend—let that be the bright example to be followed by the Administration, upon a greater scale: make charges and refuse to support them. Let the House look at the responsibility which rests upon any person holding the office of my noble Friend, and then ask, whether he is not entitled to be treated with something like candid consideration? Let the hon. Baronet place himself in his situation: here is a new and an extensive measure coming into operation, and my noble Friend is intrusted with the delicate and, undoubtedly he must admit, the difficult task of selecting persons most fitted for filling the office of Magistrates. Why, if it is considered a sufficient proof that an appointment is improper, because the Member for the borough chooses to consider it so, and if it is sufficient upon these grounds alone to impute corrupt motives to my noble Friend, I say it is utterly impossible that justice can be done; and that a more effectual method cannot be pursued to deprecate the administration of justice in public opinion, than to give rise to supposition that there is cause for believing they were appointed by the Government for corrupt motives. Sir, unless the debate had taken this course, I should not have risen at all. I detain the House no longer. I only express my hope and belief, that one good effect at least will follow from what has occurred this night; it will be a warning to hon. Members, who think appointments not precisely according to their own wishes, before they dare to impute corrupt motives, they will perhaps examine a little into the feelings of their own hearts.
§ Mr. Williams Wynn
observed, that he was always most anxious to restrain hon. Members from trenching upon the forms of the House. He was quite willing to admit that the phrase which had occasioned the present discussion was somewhat opposed to the rules of the House; because though the terms "corruption and corrupting," were, strictly speaking, Parliamentary; and though he believed they were in this instance meant to convey an imputation of using the influence of the Crown unduly, for the purpose of promoting the interests of a particular party, they 807 certainly in common acceptation, bore a meaning beyond that—namely, a charge of promoting personal views and objects. But at the same time, in the heat of debate, and according to the common usage of Parliament, he must say that it was not unusual to stigmatize appointments which ran exclusively in one current of selection, and which were made, not so much with a view to the administration of justice, as for the promotion of party purposes [Hear, hear!] That was the interpretation which the expression of the hon. Baronet fairly bore; and the words could not, in his opinion, be reasonably supposed to be beyond that offensive. [Mr. O'Connell smiled.] He would not be deterred from attempting to prevent the unpleasant consequences of acrimonious expressions, by the merriment of the hon. and learned Gentleman, who seemed to regard such feelings somewhat lightly.
really I think I have a right to interfere. Nobody deserves less or cares less for the taunts of the right hon. Gentleman than myself. The hon. Member who sits near me said something which made me laugh. I believe I ought to have laughed at the right hon. Gentleman opposite, but I did not.
§ Mr. Wynn
resumed. All he would say in reply to the hon. and learned Gentleman was, that his heart was not so seared to the effects of acrimonious expressions as that of the hon. and learned Gentleman, and if it were, he had no vow registered in heaven to protect him against the consequences. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by saying, that the expression so much commented upon, was one which had been used with reference to every administration within his recollection, and merely meant that the noble Lord had improperly consulted the interest of his party in the appointments complained of.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
was always ready to acknowledge the authority of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Wynn) in all matters concerning the rules of that House; but on this occasion he thought he should be able to prove that his right hon. Friend had committed mistakes of no ordinary description. He begged to call the attention of the House, and of the hon. Baronet, to a distinction which it was very natural should be clearly understood by Parliament. He 808 held that if the words which had been applied to his noble Friend, had been used with respect to any Member of that House the Chair would be bound to interpose, and at once declare the expression to be disorderly. But the case of a Minister of the Crown was different. Here there was no breach of order, no ground for personal complaint, in having such a charge made. He did not touch the question at all as a personal one. The orders of the House were entirely beside the question. The accusation did not so much affect the hon. Gentleman and his noble Friend, as it gave rise to an imputation upon the responsible Minister, which he was willing to believe was thrown out under the influence of excitement, and which he thought he could show the hon. Gentleman that he ought not to adhere to. Here he would remind the House that the hon. Baronet's explanation would have been quite satisfactory if he had confined himself to the phrase which he first uttered. He stated, that the object of his noble Friend was to advance the interests of his party in making those appointments. Nothing could be more true. The whole course of his public life was directed to one object, namely, to advance the interests of his party. No man in that House, or out of it, had contributed more to raise the character and advance the interest of his party than his noble Friend, to whom they were all strongly attached by the ties of affection as well as esteem. If the hon. Gentleman had confined himself to that expression, and had not been induced—partly from supposing, perhaps, that the zeal of those hon. Friends by whom he was surrounded called for some bolder declaration, and it might be partly from a little irritation caused by the laughter with which his first announcement was received at his (the Ministerial side of the House)—to make a distinct and separate charge of corruption against his noble Friend in his individual capacity. It was not to be wondered at that his noble Friend should, upon such an accusation being brought against him, have given to it (at the same time that he challenged the hon. Baronet to substantiate it) as pointed and direct a denial as was possible for him to offer under any circumstances. What showed that the hon. Gentleman was led astray, in making the charge which he had preferred was, that with respect to Bristol, he had forgotten. 809 altogether the explanation given of the rejection of Alderman Daniel of Bristol, namely, his avowed disinclination to undertake the discharge of such public duties as the office of Magistrate imposed. But was the case thus brought under the notice of the House limited to Bristol? Certainly not; there were several corporations in a similar position. In the case of Cambridge, the number of names of the returned was infinitely greater than that of the selected. There was, to be sure, a great deal of complaint and harping about the matter; but, on the average, the balance of opinion was in favour of the discretion which his noble Friend had exercised. But it was said, that in considering the lists, his noble Friend had only consulted one side. If so, whose fault was it? Were the doors of the Home-Office closed against any representation that might be made, or had his noble Friend shown any disinclination to give access to any Members of that House who expressed a desire to consult with him on the subject? It was notorious that the reverse was the fact. If there was any truth, then, in the assertion, that the noble Lord had acted on party representations, the fault rested not with the noble Lord, but with those Members who, imagining that they could trump up a fine case for the House of Commons, neglected to avail themselves of the fitting occasion to offer their opinions at the Home-Office. With respect to the question which had evidently arisen out of the speech of the hon. Baronet, the Member for Bristol, he had only to observe, that in his opinion the noble Lord had no alternative left, and that it was incumbent on him, viewing the charge as one of a personal nature, to treat it in the manner he did. It might be said that it was not possible for the hon. Baronet to bring forward the matter in a specific shape; but the assumption of that position placed the case in a much worse point of view than previously. If the hon. Baronet could not bring forward the matter in a specific shape, it was obvious he was altogether unjustified in making the accusation as he had done, the aspect of a specific charge. Feeling convinced that it was wholly out of the power of the hon. Baronet to reduce his accusation to any tangible form, he would not offer the alternative of a public charge; but he did offer, nevertheless, an alternative, of which the hon. Baronet was bound, by every principle of honour and justice, to avail himself—that of publicly admitting that, in a moment of inadvert- 810 ence, he had said that which was incorrect and erroneous. If the hon. Baronet declined making this admission, the country must be left to judge of the case as between him and his noble Friend.
§ Viscount Sandon
contended that the case under consideration was one of no private or personal nature, and that the hon. Baronet could not, with any justice, be expected to make the admission sought of him. Of the noble Lord in his public capacity, the hon. Baronet, in his public capacity, had expressed an opinion upon certain official acts, and it was certainly the first time he had ever heard of a Minister of the Crown being so delicate and thin-skinned as, upon a general charge of corruption being made against him, to demand of the party adducing it to bring forward some specific charge, or admit that he had given expression to an assertion which was not founded in fact. To say that a Minister of the Crown, in the exercise of some particular duty, had acted from motives of corruption, would be unquestionably a specific charge; but when the hon. Baronet merely gave it as his individual opinion, that the general policy pursued by the Government, to which he was opposed, was corrupt, there was no charge implied which deserved the consideration of a moment. All that the hon. Baronet had said of the noble Lord was, that in the performance of the duty of his office he had consulted his own party in preference to that opposed to him, and that the noble Lord had done so even his own Friends admitted. There was no charge of corruption in this; and it was nothing more than every Administration had in turn been exposed to. The Administration of Lord Grey had repeatedly been accused of giving too much preference to their own party in the selection of Lord-lieutenants of counties; but the Members of that Government had never deemed such accusations worthy of even a reply. With regard to the policy of giving the Secretary of State for the Home Department a discretionary power to alter and amend the lists sent up from the town-council, he thought there could not be a difference of opinion. The discretion was undoubtedly a good one, and he did not hesitate to say that, in some respects, the noble Lord opposite had made a good use of it. In the case of a Corporation he might, for instance, mention that upon twenty-four names of extreme liberal poli- 811 tics being sent up for approval, the noble Lord had recommended to the town-council the policy of altering the list by the insertion of five names of more Conservative principles. It was said on the other side, "Look at the Magistracy of England; see how Tory it is." To that he answered, "Look at the gentry of England, the body from which the Magistracy was, or ought to be, selected, how Tory it is." It was an undoubted fact, that the Magistracy of England was for the most part Tory; but when it was considered that Tory politics were the politics of the great body from which the selection was made, there was nothing unnatural or surprising in the circumstance. He did not see why the hon. Baronet should be called upon to retract the phrase he had used. He thought the hon. Baronet had a right to maintain the view of the noble Lord's conduct be had taken, if he thought it justifiable; and that the House had no right to call upon him for any retraction or explanation whatever. Before sitting down, he must be permitted to observe, that it was with some surprise he had heard the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets—that hon. Member who, of all the House contained, was least liable to the imputation of being mealy-mouthed in the concoction of charges of corruption or imputation of dishonest motives against those to whom he was politically opposed—rise in his place to lecture the hon. Baronet for the speech he had made. Undoubtedly it was not an unusual occasion to witness those who indulged in a particular failing denounce it in the case of others; but frequent as was the occasion, it seldom failed in exciting such surprise as he had felt upon hearing the observations of the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets that evening.
§ Mr. Charles Wood
thought, that if the hon. Baronet would consent to repeat the speech of the noble Lord who had just sat down, and with him say that all he meant by his observations was to suggest that the noble Lord had given a preference to his own party—a preference of which he disapproved—the House ought to feel satisfied. As the hon. Baronet's words now stood, they certainly went much further than the noble Lord represented them; and if the noble Lord's version of the hon. Baronet's meaning was the correct one, it was in every sense incumbent on him so to declare it.
§ Mr. Thomas Duncombe
felt quite assured that the present debate had assumed a character not contemplated by the right hon. Baronet who introduced it, and that no one present more regretted the cause of the discussion than that right hon. Baronet himself. With respect to the subject more immediately before the House—he meant the accusation of the hon. Baronet the member for Bristol—his opinion was, that no retractation ought to be called for. It would be quite unworthy of him to retract; but, nevertheless, he thought he ought to be called upon to say whether or not he would substantiate on some future day the charge he had made. When he heard the hon. Baronet's speech, he confessed that, as an anxious supporter of the present Government, he had felt some apprehension there was some ground for a charge against the noble Lord, and upon the hasty reflection of the moment, he had caught at the conclusion that the noble Lord had abused some prerogatives of the Crown, or violated some Act of Parliament, and committed some deed of flagrant injustice in seeking the advancement of his party; but upon its subsequently appearing that the "head and front of his offending" was contained in the fact, that he had declined to appoint an old superannuated Tory to the magistracy, that there was no prerogative of the Crown abused, no Act of Parliament violated, and no deed of injustice committed, he felt more inclined to treat the whole affair as a subject for ridicule, than attach to it the importance it had since received. Upon the general subject to which the discussion related, he would not detain the House further than to give a piece of advice to the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth. That right hon. Baronet, in the course of his observations, had declared that he always judged of a man's principles by the nature of the vote he gave upon the occasion of elections for Representatives in Parliament, or, in other words, that he always set down as Tories those who voted for Tory candidates, and calculated as Whigs and Radicals the supporters of individuals representing those principles. Now this he could assure the right hon. Baronet was a most fallacious test, and he should advise him not in future to take it as a standard. Perhaps a better exemplification of his position could not be afforded than was supplied by the case of the hon. Member 813 for Knaresborough. It so chanced that he (Mr. Duncombe) was intimately connected with that town, and could boast of knowing the political feeling of almost every individual composing its constituency. Now, if the right hon. Baronet were to judge of the political sentiments of the constituency of Knaresborough by the votes which the hon. Member had given, he would arrive at a totally erroneous conclusion. It would, doubtless, appear somewhat singular to the House, but such was the fact, that almost all the constituents of the hon. Member to whom he alluded, were Radicals—and moreover, that they had voted for the hon. Member under the impression that he was a radical, and in consequence of the Radical professions he had made to them at the hustings. Such being the case, he recommended the right hon. Baronet not, in every instance, to judge by the votes of the Members of that House, but rather to look to the character and conduct of the constituents themselves. The speech of the right hon. Baronet that evening was chiefly intended as a sop to the old corporators. He could almost fancy he heard that expiring body whisper into the ear of the right hon. Baronet, "Why do you not make a better fight for us in the House of Commons. You are throwing us over in Ireland, and neglecting us wholly in England. Surely you might make something like a stand for us in our last grasp, and try to put a few of us into the magistracy." How far the right hon. Baronet's appeal was likely to prevail with the noble Lord, he of course knew not; but he could not refrain from saying, he hoped and trusted it would not avail with him. Certain he was it ought not. Let the noble Lord persevere in the course he was pursuing—let him continue to appoint men of liberal principles, and he would have the double satisfaction of securing the welfare of his country, and at the same time entitle himself to the gratitude and well-merited praise of the public.
§ Mr. Richards
wished to speak in explanation. He did not doubt, for one moment, that the hon. Member believed what he stated with regard to him and his constituents at Knaresborough; but he could assure him, and the House (and for corroboration he appealed to his hon. Colleague in the representation of that borough, who fortunately chanced to be 814 present, and was well aware of all the circumstances attendant upon his election), that the statement the hon. Member had made was altogether unfounded in fact. [No, no.] Well, he would put it to the proof—he now, in the face of the hon. member for Finsbury who made the charge, and of the House who had heard it, put it to his hon. colleague to say, whether he had been returned for the borough of Knaresborough as the advocate of Radical principles? and, furthermore, whether he had not upon the hustings totally and distinctly repudiated those principles? These questions he required his hon. Colleague as a personal favour to him to answer, and sure he was, the answer they would receive would be satisfactory to his feelings. With regard to the political interests of the constituency of Knaresborough, he had but one word to say. The hon. Member for Finsbury was in the habit of mixing so much with the Radical party, that he believed it predominated everywhere; but he could assure him, that if he knew anything of the constituency of Knaresborough, it was so far removed from radicalism that it would not for a moment support the advocate of Radical principles. He might further observe, that the people of Knaresborough desired Reform as he did, and in the sense of the word adopted by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, that was to say, that those Reforms which were useful, safe, and calculated to promote the happiness and well-being of the people of England, but not such organic Reforms as must lead to revolution, anarchy, and democratic sway. He called upon his hon. Colleague to answer the questions he had put to him.
§ [There were loud calls for Mr. Lawson, but the hon. Member, though present, did not rise.]
§ Mr. T. S. Duncombe
should be quite ready to retract anything he had stated respecting the hon. Member for Knaresborough (Mr. Richards), if his hon. Colleague would rise in his place and state to the House that the hon. Member's votes in Parliament were not totally inconsistent with the professions he had made upon the hustings.
§ [The calls for Mr. Lawson were renewed, but the hon. Member kept his seat.]
§ Mr. Ewart
rose, but the call for Mr. Lawson still continued. When silence was restored, he proceeded to say, that if 815 the hon. Member for Knaresborough (Mr. Lawson) felt disposed to respond to the call made upon him, he was willing at once to make way for him. As the House, continued the hon. Member, is not to have the benefit of the hon. Member's evidence, I will proceed with my observations, nothing doubting the existence of those Reform principles which the hon. Member for Knaresborough professes, and of which, in theory as well as practice, he has given so many illustrious instances. Sir, I rise, as I think every hon. Member ought to rise, when he differs upon a moral point with another hon. Member, and state his sentiments thereupon. I understood my noble Colleague to say, that every hon. Member might charge another hon. Member with corrupt motives if he considered them corrupt. To that doctrine I can by no means subscribe, for according to that, any man might accuse another of corrupt motives and criminal conduct, and then shelter himself under a definition of what he "considers" corrupt motives or criminal conduct. If the hon. Baronet, the Member for Bristol, or any other hon. Member accuses any Gentleman in this House of corrupt motives, he is bound to take one of two courses, either to retract or prove his charge. Now, Sir, hon. Members in the course of this debate, have made a serious charge against the noble Secretary for the Home Department: viz., that to a certain extent, he has advanced those to the Magisterial bench, who are members of his own party, and yet they seem most strangely to have forgotten that right hon. Gentlemen on their side of the House have set him that example for years long past. Thus, by a marvellous inconsistency, overlooking their own conduct in censuring the conduct of their opponent, I hope I am guilty of nothing discourteous when I remind my noble Colleague that in the short period of interregnum before the Administration of the right hon. Baronet opposite was formed, one of the first things done, was to appoint all at once, per sallum, seven Tory Magistrates for the Borough of Liverpool. That is now an historical fact; it is not to be denied. I firmly believe, that it is for the interest of justice, that the Magistrates should be in consonance with the feelings of the people. I am quite sure, also, that never will justice be well administered in this kingdom under the system of unpaid Magistrates. 816 Therefore, I applaud sincerely the conduct of the noble Lord; his conduct has not only been justified by the example of his opponents, but by right reason and sound policy. And I feel convinced that the result of this night's debate will be far from adding to the credit of those who have attacked him; and will redound to the honour and the merit of the course which this Administration has boldly pursued; a course which they sincerely believe to be the just course, and one which will be fully justified by the people of England.
§ Mr. Williams Wynn
in reference to what had fallen from the hon. Member who had just sat down, upon the subject of the appointments to the Liverpool Magistracy, said, that for those appointments he, in capacity of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, was entirely responsible for having made them. In justice to himself, however, he was bound to observe, that before making them he had submitted them to the Earl of Derby, the Lord-Lieutenant of the county, and two of the Judges going upon the circuit, who all concurred in describing the individuals nominated as fit and proper persons for the situation.
§ Viscount Sandon
said, he certainly was consulted on the occasion of the appointments in question; but he could state that they were made without any reference to political or party feeling.
§ Mr. Ewart
was quite aware that the immediate author of those appointments was the then Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. It was, nevertheless, the act of the Administration, at that time existing, and the right hon. Gentleman had not at all disputed the correctness of his assertion as to their being all Tory Magistrates.
§ Mr. Roebuck
although, Sir, since I have been in this House, I have become so hardened, as never to feel any astonishment at anything which is done in this House. Yet, I confess my feelings on this night have been somewhat tried, at seeing the right hon. Member for Tamworth after having spent a long life in supporting a system which was based upon exclusion, on a sudden seized with a most wondrous fit of virtue, and taking upon himself the office of grand protector of justice! Until the Magistrates began to be appointed by the people, he only cared about the political opinions of those appointed to the 817 Magistracy so far as to ascertain that they were not of opinions opposite to his own. It is notorious that the right hon. Baronet all his political lifetime has appointed none but Tory Magistrates. And is it anything then but sheer hypocrisy, that he should come forward under the pretence, forsooth, of caring about "justice?" It is nothing more than pretence; the true meaning of it is, that he feels at last the people have got the better of him. It is not that he imagines justice is about to be perverted: no such thing. He sees the power in which he has so long participated gliding away from him; he finds that the Tory domination is departing for ever; that the people of England are coming at length to the election of their own Magistrates; and then, Sir, he begins to talk about "justice!" Accustomed as I have been in this House to strange scenes, never till this night did I behold anything so audacious (I use the word advisedly) as this pretence, extraordinary and shallow as it is, of caring about justice, at the moment when the right hon. Baronet finds it impossible to preserve that system of Tory domination over the people which he has so long exercised. And, Sir, let me ask why this virtuous indignation, this pretence of justice, should be confined to the Corporate towns? Why is it that those hon. Members on that side of the House, who rise with such wrathful ardour to point out three Whig Magistrates and only one Tory in the borough. And why do they not, in the same admirable spirit of love for justice, rise and point out twenty Tory Magistrates and not one Whig Magistrate at all in county B? Oh! no sir! that would not exactly suit their purpose! But when the right hon. Baronet comes forward to accuse Gentlemen on this side of the House of partisan feeling, why does he not look back over his own past history? Has he never been "a partisan" of a domineering party in this kingdom, which has now fallen before the people of England? And is it not somewhat too late for him to come forward now under this shallow pretence of justice? For what is it, Sir, of which the right hon. Baronet complains? That in a large town, the majority, the large majority of the inhabitants believe that men of a particular opinion in politics are more likely to administer justice according to the general feeling of the inhabitants of the town than men of the politics of the right hon. Baronet, Sir, I am of that opinion; and 818 more than that, Sir, I am quite sure, that the right hon. Baronet himself, if he were in a majority, would say the same, with respect to his opponents in politics. I want to know by what criterion we are to determine who are to be the Magistrates in any town? The right hon. Baronet admits he has nothing to say against their private character; are we to travel about inquiring who is a Tory, and who a Whig? No Sir! but having found out first who are the men capable of filling the office, it is an important element then, in the consideration of the persons best fitted to be intrusted with the administration of justice, to know who are the persons most likely to inspire the people with a belief that justice is fairly administered to them. Why, Sir, the right hon. Baronet is called (and I believe justly in some degree,) "an enlightened statesman." Now, Sir, as such I put it to him to say, whether it is not an important element in the administration of justice that the people should believe that justice is administered to them? Did I not hear him say the other night, when pleading for a minority, that they should have that justice administered to them which they believed to be justice? And then, Sir, I should like to know, whether or not the large majority are not to be considered? Whether we are not to ask what they will believe to be justice? Has he been able, in all that formidable list which he has this night enumerated, to point out one single instance of an appointment to the Magistracy in a town, the majority of whose in habitants did not believe justice would be administered by the person so appointed? And if not, what is his declamation about Whigs and Tories, but a sheer pretence? What is it but a party clap-trap, which he ought to know, and does know, is a shallow fallacy only likely to pass current among his willing supporters? He knows, Sir, as well as I know, that it is a fallacy by which the people of England will not be misled; which is only fitted for the temperature of this House, and thank God, Sir, only fitted for one half of this House. Now, Sir, again I ask the right hon. Baronet, what it is that induces him, having so long filled the office of Home Secretary, to come forward at this critical moment, and complain of injustice being done? Are the persons appointed less respectable than preceding Magistrates? No; that is admitted by himself. Are they in any way whatever impeachable in their private or public character? No; that also was granted 819 by himself. Are they opposed to the Government? No. For what more would he himself ask for them than private and public worth and respectability, and their being friends of the Government? Would not he himself, if he were at the head of the Government, come to this House, and say, "These persons are all fitted for their office, and I have confidence in them?" And would not these be considered by him good reasons for appointing them to the Magisterial office? And now he comes forward, and having all his lifetime conferred appointments on persons of his own politics, though they might be opposed to the people, and though they might be not likely to do justice, he finds fault with the noble Lord for having done that which I, for one, am heartily glad he has done, appointed persons congenial to the people as well as in the confidence of the Government. I never was so delighted in my life as when I heard the attack of the right hon. Baronet. I was quite convinced that the noble Lord had been doing his duty, for whenever he does do his duty he is sure to give offence to that side of the House, and as soon as I hear praises and soft speeches from that quarter, I begin to fear that mischief has been done. A noble Lord opposite said, that all the gentry of England were Tories; but what we want to know is, not what the gentry of England think, but what is the feeling of the boroughs to which these Magistrates have been appointed, and whether the majority of the inhabitants in those boroughs believe that those magistrates will do them justice, that is the question; and it will go forth to the public, that no person has said, (and nobody could say it) that the majority of the people in these towns believe that the Magistrates that have been appointed, will not do them justice. The contrary is evidently admitted to be the case. Sir, upon a former occasion, in opposition to the right hon. Baronet, (who in my humble opinion did not succeed in controverting my arguments) I attempted to show, and brought forward some very apt illustrations in support of my reasoning, that the appointment of Magistrates by the majority, was the only proper and efficient mode of appointing them. Now what is the ground of attack upon the present occasion? That Magistrates have been appointed in accordance with the feelings of the people, and not in accordance with the wishes of the right hon. Baronet. If the noble Lord, the Home Secretary, had fol- 820 lowed the example of the right hon. Baronet, he would have appointed his own partizans exclusively; but the noble Lord did not do that, he chose those persons whom the majority of the people said were fit to be intrusted with the administration of justice. That, Sir, is the right mode of electing Magistrates—there is nothing which freed from popular control, will not become vicious; and I want judicial officers, like every other officer, subject to popular control, aye, and vigilant popular control too. Then we shall not have Tory-ridden counties, and Tory-ridden corporations; we shall not then, have the bench so disfigured by Tory Magistrates, and injustice done under the pretence of "defending the British Constitution! "Sir, I have been so troubled with these pretences of the opposite side, by their extraordinary and virtuous indignation, that I was unable to contain my feelings upon this occasion. I will end with a prayer for those whose immaculate love of "justice" has been so often expressed—that a real love of justice may once and for ever enter into their hearts.
§ Sir Robert Peel
begged to be allowed to say a few words in explanation. A part of what had fallen from the hon. Member for Bath was utterly inconsistent with fact; another part was founded on a gross misrepresentation of his opinions and conduct; and the remainder exhibited as flagrant a proof of at least as much hypocrisy and simulated love of justice as the hon. Member had attributed to him.
§ Mr. Roebuck
observed, that if the right hon. Baronet was going to speak against him, he hoped the House would allow him to answer.
§ The Speaker
stated that, according to the orders of the House, no Member, except under peculiar circumstances, was entitled to make a second speech. The House, however, would permit any hon. Member to speak a second time if it were necessary.
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
observed, that the hon. Member for Bath had accused his right hon. Friend of being influenced by hypocritical motives; and therefore, in his opinion, his right hon. Friend was perfectly in order and had a right to vindicate himself.
§ Sir Robert Peel
would be the last man to throw any impediment in the way of the 821 hon. Member for Bath's reply. He had already stated that a part of what had fallen from the hon. Gentleman was inconsistent with fact. The hon. Gentleman had asserted that he had, in his official life, uniformly appointed individuals to the commission of the Peace with a view to political purposes. That he most distinctly denied. He had never done so in a single instance. He had never contributed to the appointment of a single individual as a Magistrate who—
§ Sir John Wrottesley
put it to the right hon. Baronet, whether it was desirable, under the circumstances of the case, to enter on such a subject?
§ Mr. Williams Wynn
observed, that when a personal charge was made against an hon. Member, the House always allowed the individual attacked to defend himself.
§ Sir Robert Peel
said, that whether or not he were permitted to proceed must depend entirely on the pleasure of the House. He had, however, scarcely ever heard a speech containing so much vituperative matter as the speech of the hon. Member for Bath, directed against a Member who was placed in such peculiar circumstances that he had no right to reply. Although, therefore, he was aware that he was trespassing upon the ordinary rules of the House, he solicited their permission to say a few words. The hon. Gentleman had declared, that as Secretary of State, he had rendered his official power subservient to his political views in the appointment of Magistrates. That he denied. He had never, directly or indirectly, done any such thing. When in office, he had had repeated applications from Members of Parliament on the subject; but he had never sought any political object in the appointment. The appointment of the county Magistrates rested, in fact, with the Lord Chancellor; but he had never used his influence or his connexion with that dignitary, to procure the appointment of individuals as Magistrates for political purposes. A part of what had fallen from the hon. Gentleman was founded on a gross misrepresentation of what he had said. The hon. Gentleman asserted that his (Sir R. Peel's) sole complaint was, that the people, having obtained power in the appointment of the Magistracy, were allowed to exercise it. That was not his complaint. His complaint was this: that where the people had exercised their power in the further- 822 ance of conservative principles, full weight had not been given by his Majesty's Government to their wishes. He had quoted the cases of Guildford and Bristol in proof of his assertion; and he had argued that if, where Liberal principles predominated, they were allowed their weight, the same ought to be the case where Conservative principles predominated. The hon. Member for Bath assumed that the people had a right to choose their Magistrates. In that assumption the hon. Gentlemen was in error. By the law, the people had not now the power of choosing the Magistrates. But the hon. Member would perhaps say, that because the town-councils, who were elected by the people, had the power of recommending individuals for the Magistracy, the people had an indirect influence on their appointment. Be it so. But if the doctrine was good as it referred to those who were of liberal principles, why was it not good when it referred to those of conservative principles? He had always doubted the policy of being governed in the appointment of Magistrates by either conservative or liberal town-councils; but if it was right to be so governed by a liberal town-council, it must be right to be so governed by a conservative town-council. He had mentioned the cases of Guildford and Bristol, however, to prove that that had not been the course pursued by his Majesty's Government. It was hypocrisy on the part of the hon. Member for Bath—at least equal to that which the hon. Gentleman imputed to him—to pretend that he was anxious to consult the voice of the people in the appointment of Magistrates, while he maintained the expediency of confirming the recommendations of those town-councils whose political opinions were conformable to his own, and of setting aside the recommendations of those town-councils whose political opinions were not conformable to his own. What was that but a simulated regard for the voice of the people? "When the voice of the people," said the hon. Gentleman, "agrees with my own opinion, let it be attended to; when the voice of the people and my opinion are dissonant, let the voice of the people be disregarded; overlook the recommendations of the town-councils; and overlook the expediency of popular control." He trusted that he had redeemed the pledges with which he had commenced his observations.
§ Mr. Roebuck
said, that although he was quite sure he had a right to reply, the defence of the right hon. Baronet had been so dull and weak, that of that right he did not think it necessary to avail himself.
§ Mr. Thomas Gladstone
said, that the borough of Leicester was by no means well pleased with the Magisterial appointments of the noble Lord; and he could inform the House, in addition, that an Address to his Majesty on the subject, signed by a great majority of the respectable inhabitants of the town, was ready for presentation at the first opportunity. Of the ten persons who had been appointed to the Magistracy in Leicester, nine had voted for his opponents in the last election for the borough. Of these nine, eight were very active supporters of their cause. Besides this, five of them were Socinians, one a Baptist, three were Churchmen, and one of them was of very doubtful character. He did not mean as to his morals, but the character of his creed; and he wished to be understood as casting no reflection on the gentleman. If that was not enough for the measure of the noble Lord he did not know what was. After a few more such specimens of it the constituencies of the country would be less than ever inclined to repose confidence in the Government. He had been identified with charges made against the noble Lord by the hon. Member for Bristol by the cheer he had uttered in support of it; but he wished to qualify that identification by an interpretation, similar, if not in terms, in strict sentiment, to that afforded by his noble Friend, the Member for Liverpool.
said, the hon. Baronet, the Member for Bristol, had stated, that the place which he represented was almost, if not quite, the only influential town in the kingdom where there was a Tory corporation, and it was upon the refusal of the noble Lord, the Home Secretary, to comply with the recommendations of that Tory corporation that the hon. Baronet founded his charge. Now, it did so happen that the place which he had the honour to represent was a large mercantile town, and a place of no slight importance, and there also, there was a Tory corporation. When that corporation was elected, he was strongly urged by the liberal party in the town, who were his principal supporters, to wait upon the noble Lord, the Home Secretary, and express the fears which they entertained, that the recommendations of the corporation, as regarded the appointment of Magistrates, would not be such as would give general 824 satisfaction. He waited upon the noble Lord accordingly, and had a conversation with him upon the subject at some length, and when he was again urged by his constituents to repeat the application, his reply to them was simply this—that the noble Lord had already given him the amplest and most satisfactory reasons why he could not interfere with the recommendations of a body which had been popularly chosen. He thought that this fact went far to contradict, if not to falsify, the accusations which had been brought forward against the noble Lord by the hon. Gentlemen opposite. If he stood in the situation of the hon. Baronet, the Member for Bristol, he would either manfully proceed with the accusation, or else candidly retract it.
—Sir; One word with respect to the magistrates of Leicester. I remarked that the right hon. Baronet made no personal charge against any of them. He indeed stated, that they voted against the sitting Members; but he went no farther. The hon. Member for Leicester has thrown a new ingredient into the debate. The hon. Gentleman has assailed them on account of their religious opinions. Now I did hope that we might have been spared such a subject to-night. Dissenters have as much right to be magistrates, or members of Town Councils, as the hon. Gentleman himself, or anybody else. I did hope that the days had gone by when a man's religious opinions were to be made a ground of charge or quarrel against him. Well, these gentlemen were unanimously selected by the Town Council of Leicester; and the only thing against them is, that they voted for the unsuccessful candidates at the last election. But was any of those who voted for them accused (however falsely) of bribery? If not, I don't see how it can be made a matter of accusation against any Gentlemen, that they voted on that side of the question. Sir; the debate to-night has assumed various shapes. We have had three kinds of public exhibitions—tragedy, comedy, and farce. The performance commenced with all the tragic dignity of an impeachment of a Minister. Then we had the amusing comedy, or interlude, between the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. T. Duncombe) and the hon. Member for Knaresborough (Mr. Richards); and, finally, we had the broad farce exhibited by the last-named Gentleman in his reply. But various and amusing as the topics of debate have been, I think it has also been very useful—useful in this, 825 that it has brought out the right hon. Baronet's (Sir R. Peel's) admission, that the popular voice ought to be respected in matters of municipal government. The substance of the right hon. Baronet's charge against the noble Lord is, that he has not made an equal selection of Magistrates, but that he has given an undue preponderance to those of his own party. If the noble Lord has done so, whose fault is it? It is the fault of the very party to which the right hon. Baronet belongs, because, as the Municipal Reform Bill passed this House, the Town Councillors would have had the power of nominating the Magistrates absolutely; and the Government, if it interfered at all, must have done so upon its own direct responsibility. As the Bill originally stood, the Minister of the Crown would have had only a negative veto upon the appointment of the Town Council, for the exercise of which veto he must in every instance have given a distinct and positive reason. The wisdom of another branch of the Legislature induced them to alter that part of the Bill; and the debate of this evening has given a pretty convincing proof of our superior wisdom in that respect. The complaint brought forward against the Government is, that they have given the Commission of the Peace to so many Liberals. I am obliged to the right hon. Baronet for making such a charge. It is an exceedingly useful charge, because, till now, the people of England did not know how much the Government has been doing for them. The right hon. Baronet has taken the trouble of informing them upon that point; and in that respect at least the people of England are very much indebted to him. The Government owe it to the country to take care of the Liberal interest; to see that it no longer shall be a crime for a man to be a Liberal. Shall that altogether prevent him from being put into the Commission of the Peace? The right hon. Baronet says—"Oh, I admit they are excellent men that are presented to you by the Town Council, but then they agree with you in opinion, and therefore they must be rejected." That is his logic.—Sir; The right hon. Gentleman, the Member for the University of Cambridge, vindicated himself by saying, that he never appointed the Magistrates of counties. Why, Sir, I have lived long enough to know that the Chancellor issues the Commissions; but I say the practice has been to appoint Tory Magistrates. I do not complain that it has been the practice of the 826 right hon. Baronet, whilst he was in office, to appoint Tory Magistrates. I do not know that there is any great ground of complaint upon that head. I do not complain that men have been appointed because they were Tories; but of this I think there is reason to complain, that men hare been appointed to be Magistrates who would not have been so appointed if they had been Radicals or Liberals. No matter what is said, this is the fact: in the counties of England, 99 out of 100—it has always hitherto been a total exclusion from the Magistracy, if a man dared to entertain Liberal opinions. It is so even at this moment. This, however, I do hope, will be one of the results of the present debate, that the Government will no longer see the necessity of attending to the recommendations of Tory Lords-lieutenant. In many instances I think it would be well to turn the Lieutenants themselves to the right about: but at all events this is evident, that hereafter the Government ought, in a degree, to keep itself independent of these recommendations, and then we shall not see elections influenced as they are by Tory Magistrates, owing to Liberals not having been put into the Commission in the numbers in which they ought to have been.—Sir; when speaking of the system that has been pursued in Ireland, I do not mean to impute any thing personally offensive to the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for the University of Cambridge: I speak of his Government. But really I have been turning the matter over in my mind for some time, and endeavouring to recollect whether, during the last five years, during which the right hon. Gentleman was Chief Secretary for Ireland, there was one man of Liberal opinions appointed to the Magistracy in that country. Now there might have been, but certainly I do not remember one. I am sorry he is not in the House, for I should like to ask him to tax his recollection upon that point.—Sir; I think this debate will afford two subjects for triumph to the Government. The first triumph for the Government is the publicity which will now be given to the fact, that they for the first time have nominated and given the Commission to a number of excellent persons, who joined with them in their own Liberal opinions. Their second triumph consists in the exposure which has been given to the pretence, that in the counties of England there has heretofore been fair play between Whigs and Tories. Every body knows 827 that there has not; but the fact is placed beyond dispute by the declarations which have been made by the hon. Gentlemen opposite in the course of the present debate.
§ Mr. Thomas Gladstone
, in explanation, denied that he had intended to make difference of religion a matter of reproach against any man.
§ Lord Granville Somerset
wished to know from the noble Lord (Lord John Russell), whether it was on account of the private character of the individuals named that the noble Lord had refused to sanction the recommendation of the Bristol Magistrates. He was the more anxious to have an answer upon that point, because in the early part of the debate words had fallen from the noble Lord, which induced him to think that the refusal had been grounded upon the private character of the gentlemen recommended, and with respect to some of them, he felt that the noble Lord had thrown out something like a very grave insinuation. He did not pretend to know all the gentlemen who had been recommended; but he knew two or three of them independent of Mr. Alderman Daniel, and with respect to them, he would state, that he defied the noble Lord, or any one else in that House justly, to state anything that could be properly regarded as reproachful against them. The noble Lord stated broadly, that he objected to them on political grounds. If the noble Lord assured him, that that was the sole ground of objection, he should rest perfectly satisfied; but, if the noble Lord had any accusation of a personal character to prefer against them, it was only right that the parties should know what those accusations were, in order that they might have the opportunity of satisfactorily explaining. He trusted that the noble Lord would give him a distinct answer.
§ Lord John Russell
said, that the noble Lord had quite misunderstood him, if he supposed, that in any explanation he had given of the circumstances alluded to, he had meant to charge those gentlemen with anything like unfitness for the office of Magistrate, or to insinuate anything of a personal nature against them. But in answering a question like that put by the right hon. Baronet, it was obviously impossible for a person, in his (Lord John Russell's) situation, to enter into the various reasons that had induced him to make such and such appointments. If it were possible, it would perhaps be highly impolitic. 828 As to the particular observations which had given rise to the noble Lord's remark, he did not make it with special reference to the council or Magistrates of Bristol. He had made it as a general observation. He had stated the reasons of objection only in one case, that of Alderman Daniel—but as to those of other individuals, it was quite impossible that he should come prepared to state the reasons for the appointment or rejection of any one whose name might pass through his hands.
§ Mr. Scarlett
referred to the circumstances attending the selection of Magistrates for Guildford, where, out of three persons put in nomination, a deaf person was selected by the Government. In the city of Norwich also, there was evidence of the prevalence of partisan policy. A list of twenty persons was prepared, in the framing of which the names of all the truly respectable and influential Conservatives qualified to act as Magistrates were studiously set aside, on a system of exclusive dealing no ways creditable to the operation of the Municipal Reform Act, and in their stead he found placed on the list only eight Conservatives, of whom two were barristers, two attorneys, two who declined to act, and two more who were superannuated. He considered the preparation of such a list for Norwich, positive evidence of great unfairness existing there in that respect; and he hoped the noble Lord would yet inquire and ascertain from intelligent and impartial persons who were really the fittest to be chosen for the important office of Magistrates in these corporations.
§ The Speaker
wished to express his hope, now that the sense of the House had been so fully developed on the topic before them, that the noble Lord would feel the propriety of acknowledging that nothing had been uttered by the hon. Baronet to imply a charge of a personal nature, or which would call for any further solicitude on the part of the noble Lord in reference to that portion of the debate.
§ Lord John Russell
was understood to say, that he did not retain any idea of personal imputation in the charges which had been brought against his official conduct in this affair.
§ Sir Richard Vyvyan
acquiesced in the Speaker's decision, that nothing personally invidious was implied in his charges against the noble Lord's exercise of power on this occasion.
§ Motion agreed to.