Sir J. Yarde Buller
moved that the Committee on the West-India Mails be instructed to send for and examine the commissioners appointed to inquire respecting the port to be selected for the arrival and departure of steam-vessels conveying the mails to the West-Indies. Those gentlemen were willing to attend, but they did not think they ought to volunteer their evidence; and the Committee did not think they ought to send for them; but it was, in his opinion, highly necessary that those who had inspected the ports and reported thereon, should be called upon to explain that report, but he would not press for the attendance of the Gentleman connected with the Post-office.
§ Mr. Freshfield
thought that they ought to understand upon what principle such a course was to be adopted, because it would be unusual for the House, having little information on the subject, to control the discretion of a committee, which had full powers to examine witnesses and call for documents.
§ Captain Pechell
thought that the hon. Member for Devonshire had better leave the matter in the hands of the Committee.
§ Sir T. Cochrane
objected to any interference with the commissioners. It would put those gentlemen who had been appointed, as it were, judges in this matter in an unfair and unfavourable position to call them before the Committee.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
had waited for the explanation of the Members of the Committee. He understood that they had decided not to call before them 1351 these parties, whom they ought at the very first to have called. He had opposed the appointment of the committee as inconvenient; and he had been surprised at the course which they had pursued, and he hoped that such an expression of the opinion of the House would be given as would induce the Committee to re-consider their decision. There was no objection on the part of the Government or those gentlemen to their examination, but they properly refused to thrust themselves upon the committee. Not to have called these gentlemen was like omitting the character of Hamlet from the play of Hamletߞ it was the most extraordinary purse that could have been pursued.
§ Captain Pechell
said, that the supposition was, that the Government objected to their examination.
said, that the feeling of the Committee was, that they ought not to put those gentlemen on their trial before the Committee, but he had not felt that objection; and now, that it appeared that the Government had no objection to their examination, he should renew his motion in the Committee.
§ Mr. C. Wood
hoped the hon. Baronet would not press his motion, but that the Committee would exercise the power they possessed of sending for the commissioners, since they had no objection to be examined.
§ Motion withdrawn.