§ MR. FERRAND
rose to bring forward the Motion of which he had given the following notice:—That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the mode adopted by the Poor Law Commissioners and their Assistant Commissioners in drawing up Reports, and their treatment of Boards of Guardians; and what control the Right honourable Sir James Graham, baronet, exercised over the Poor Law Commissioners and their Assistant Commissioners, during the time he held the office of Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for the Home Department:—Also, whether under the enforcement of the New Poor Law, wages have not been reduced; whether crime has not increased; whether a system of terror, instead of a system of kindness, has not been adopted towards the Poor; whether the favourable anticipations expressed in Parliament by the promoters of the New Poor Law have not entirely failed; and whether the principle upon which the New Poor Law is founded is not a direct violation of the Constitution of England.The latter part of it was, however, not moved by the hon. Member. The hon. Member said: In bringing forward this Motion, I have to ask for the indulgence of the House, more particularly because, in 1844, the House did me, what I felt at the time, have felt ever since, and shall continue to feel till the day of my death, to have been an act of cruel injustice. I believe I shall this evening be able to convince the House that I was justified in making use of the language I did at a public meeting at Leeds; and when I refused to justify the use of that language in this House, it was not from any desire to act offensively towards it, but from a thorough conviction that a great principle was at stake, and that I had no right to be called on to answer here for any remarks I had made out of the House on the conduct of a public officer. Sir, it is not my intention to enter into a discussion of the principle of the new poor law; another opportunity for doing that will speedily occur. But perhaps I shall be allowed to say, that nothing convinces me more of the rottenness of that principle, and the debasing influence it has had on the minds of the poor of this country, than the fact that it should have re- 529 ceived its death-blow in "a workhouse squabble." That law was the offspring of a "dark document"—Monstrum horrendum, informe, ingens, cui lumen ademptum,the existence of which, till it was dragged forth in this House, was positively denied; and so effectually has the law carried out the intention of its authors, that in the very union where it received its death-blow in a "workhouse squabble," the poor were not only reduced to live on the coarsest kind of food—the law so degraded them that they not only ate carrion—they fought for the stinking bones they were compelled to grind as manure for the fields. No wonder a spirit has sprung up in the country that has compelled a Government, including many of those who first carried it into execution, to acknowledge that the present system cannot any longer be enforced, and must be remodelled. But I can tell the noble Lord that no remodelling of this system will satisfy the people of this country; they will never rest till justice is done to their outraged feelings by a total repeal of this infamous enactment. Sir, in support of my Motion I intend to bring before the House the opinions of the Poor Law Commissioners of each other; and in doing so I shall quote only from Parliamentary documents, the truth of which no one can deny, for they have undergone a rigid cross-examination; and if their truth is denied within the walls of the House this evening, I assert that it will be a double reason why a Committee should be granted me. Let the House listen, then, to the opinions of these poor-law administrators of themselves, they being the body of men to whom the Legislature has unconstitutionally delegated the power of making laws, which the people of this country would be justified in resisting even to death. I challenge the late Attorney General to prove that the laws so made by these three Poor Law Commissioners are in any way binding on the people of this country: there has never been a law officer of the Crown who dared in this House to maintain such a doctrine; and till those law officers do assert within these walls that the laws framed and enforced by these Commissioners are binding on the people, I say it is their duty firmly to resist them. As long as I live, I will not, in my own neighbourhood, assist in enforcing those laws; and if called on in my official capacity as a magistrate, to assist the military force in quelling a riot that may occur in resisting 530 those laws, I would refuse to do so. But I will now proceed to lay before the House the conduct of the Poor Law Commissioners, as stated by themselves. Mr. Lewis, in answer 23,348 of the evidence taken before the Andover Committee, says—There is this disadvantage which may follow from not giving reasons for the suggested resignation of assistant commissioners, that the Commissioners may call upon assistant commissioners to resign without any reasons, or without sufficient reasons, if they exercise an improper discretion. On the other hand, reasons may always be found, if they do not exist, where persons are determined to do such an act.That is the code of morality and honour which guides the conduct of the Poor Law Commissioners towards their assistants at Somerset House. Mr. Chadwick says, that on the 30th of July he complained of some statement to Mr. Lewis, stated to be in most confidential communication with Sir J. Graham; but the only answer was, "You will get no redress from me." And what does the House suppose Mr. Chadwick complained of? Why, the late Secretary of State for the Home Department charged him with using harsh and cruel language in some of his official letters, while that language had not been used by him, but by Mr. Lewis himself. And was it not hard on Mr. Chadwick, who was doing the work of his superior officers, that he should, like me, be so unjustly, ay, and so untruly accused of being guilty of that which he had never committed? I now come to Mr. Parker's evidence. He was asked by the chairman what "duplicity" he alluded to, when he spoke of the necessity of making memoranda of conversations? And here I must, in justice to myself, call on the House to listen to what I am going to read to them, because it was struck out of the blue book. I think it ought to be stated why it did not appear, for if it had not been from an anxiety to screen an unjust attack on me, this evidence would never have been struck out of the report. Mr. Parker said, with regard to the statement of Sir J. Graham, that Mr. Mott visited the Keighley union voluntarily; that Mr. Mott notoriously received instructions from Mr. Lewis to go there: on this the chairman gave Mr. Parker a hint to confine his statements as much as possible to the Poor Law Commissioners. Mr. Parker was not to be beaten from the scent; but he has not told all the truth, though the day will come when he will have to tell it: Mr. Manners Sutton, the Under Secretary of State for the Home Department, at this 531 point requested that the room might be cleared; and then the pen was struck through this evidence, and it did not appear in the blue book. Why did Mr. Sutton object to that evidence going forth to the world, if he wanted the truth? I want no more than the truth myself: give me that and a clear stage, and I will beat you anywhere. But the House shall now hear the opinion Sir Frankland Lewis had of Mr. Chadwick: Mr. Christie, in No. 22,620, says—That is no answer to my question? Well, then, if you will have it, you must. Mr. Chadwick was an able man, but I thought him as unscrupulous and as dangerous an officer as I ever saw within the walls of an office.Yet this Mr. Chadwick, this "dangerous and unscrupulous officer," is still secretary to the Poor Law Commissioners. Why have they not dismissed him? Because they dare not; they know, if they dismissed him, he might tell what it is to the interest of the Poor Law Commissioners and their supporters to keep secret. Next I have got the opinion of the present Attorney General, of the late Secretary of State for the Home Department, as delivered in a court of law, and which, therefore, I think I have a right to read. There was a Mr. Jenkin Jones, who held a clerkship in the Poor Law Commission Office; he was excessively useful to the Commissioners, as he had set the office to rights when it had all got into confusion. Mr. Jenkin Jones thought he was not sufficiently paid for his services; and, thinking he could venture to do a kindness for a friend, he got him into the Poor Law Office as a clerk, for which he received a sum of money. Mr. Lewis examined Mr. Jones as to his connexion with this affair. As he said he had been guilty of a misdemeanor, it was his duty to have warned him that what he said would be used in evidence against him. But, no; he adopted the principle which had been carried out in the Poor Law Commissioners' office for years. He got in this way all the evidence against him he could, and then prosecuted him, he himself being the chief prosecutor. That was another instance of the fair play of the Poor Law Commissioners. On the trial, Mr. Jones was defended by the present Attorney General, Mr. Jervis, and before the Committee, in answer to question 25,195, Mr. Jones states this:—Mr. Jervis, who was my counsel, not being aware that I was standing close by him, addressed my solicitor in words to this effect: The Commissioners do not wish this case to go on, the At- 532 torney General does not wish this case to go on, but Sir James Graham has determined that Mr. Jones shall come into court; that man is a brute.I do not cite this with any intention of being offensive to the right hon. Baronet. I quote the fact to justify Mr. Jervis's language, and to show that his opinion was correct. I come now to the opinion Mr. Coode, the assistant secretary, gives of the conduct of the Commissioners. Poor Mr. Parker had fallen into disfavour with the Commissioners, and they determined to sacrifice him in order to save themselves. Mr. Coode, who had for some time perceived this attempt to rob Mr. Parker of his daily bread by a plot carried on at Somerset House, wrote to Mr. Parker in the following terms:—
§ "My dear Parker—Although I have seen symptoms enough of a shabby desire to truckle to newspaper clamour at your or anybody else's expense, so that the Commissioners, or rather two of them, can gain some credit by it, I am still amazed at the result as shown in your letter. It is wholly unknown in the office that they had any such intention, and I hoped that your decided tone had settled them. I need not say how thoroughly disgusted I am with the whole of them, nor how glad I shall be if their abominable conduct to you turns out to be as innocuous as your calculations seemed to justify; and it would be a real gratification to see their shabby design recoil on themselves. I was going out of town by this evening's mail train, to stay a fortnight; I shall, at all events, postpone it till Monday, in order to have the opportunity of seeing you and talking with you, if you think I can be of any service to you in any way. I really desire to be useful, and I do not know the way in which I would hesitate to do so. Therefore, pray do you, without scruple, prescribe to me anything that you wish; and, if I do not do my possible, count me one of the rogues fit to serve my present masters. I do not know your movements, but I shall call and see you to-morrow, at your house. Do not hesitate to be denied, if you like that better, or make any appointments, if you think we could converse with any advantage, for any time or place you may think fit. Meanwhile, believe me most truly yours,
§ "GEORGE COODE."
Now, that is the opinion of the assistant secretary, Mr. Coode, who had been a party with the Commissioners to all their scandalous acts—ay, and those acts will yet be made known to the world. Poor Mr. Coode! it was not long before he was sent about his business: this was rather too open and honestly spoken for those he served. I have thus given the House a number of opinions of the Commissioners; I will now give it three scenes—one in the House of Commons' Committee-room, one in the Home Office, and a third in a police court. I do not know whether the hon. Member for Finsbury No. 2, is pre-
sent; but the House will remember that it was that hon. Gentleman (Mr. Wakley) who put the question to the late Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether he would cause an inquiry to be made as to a report current that the poor in Andover workhouse were living on rotten flesh—that they picked and ate the flesh from the bones they were set to grind. The right hon. Gentleman jumped up horrified, said an inquiry should be made forthwith, and that he would send a communication to the Commissioners that night. The instructions having been given, a person most unfitted to conduct such an inquiry was sent down, namely, the assistant commissioner, who had the union under his care. However, in this case, I believe he honestly and fearlessly did his duty, and made a report which proved the statement of the hon. Member for Finsbury to be correct. He went to the Home Office, and had an interview with the Secretary of State. After some discussion with that right hon. Gentleman and Sir E. Head, who happened to come in during the conversation, the right hon. Baronet tried to induce two public officers to be parties to a statement that was untrue, for the purpose of deceiving this House. Here was the Secretary of State for the Home Department teaching two public officers the art of dissimulation, and a gross neglect of duty; for how could he expect them ever to perform their duty fearlessly afterwards, when he had himself asked them to agree to a false statement, for the purpose of deceiving the House of Commons? This is what the right hon. Gentleman said, after trying to get them over and to bamboozle them; he had said it would be "stock in trade for The Times for six months:"—
Now, what am I to tell the House about this business? It will never do to produce Mr. Parker's report and these depositions. I'll tell you what I'll say—I'll begin by adverting to bone-crushing in union workhouses; then go on to say that I lost no time in communicating with the Commissioners, who forthwith replied that no information of the practices mentioned by Mr. Wakley had reached them; that Mr. Parker had been directed to make inquiries on the spot; that I had had an interview with Mr. Parker, who verbally reported to me the result of his investigation; that some of the inmates of the workhouse of depraved appetite had taken meat off the bones; that when the guardians heard of it they directed an investigation by their medical man; that the other workhouse officers had been enjoined to be careful to prevent inmates of depraved appetite gaining access to the bone-store. If I say that the assistant commissioner made this
communication orally, that will possibly suffice. This report must not be produced; it must be treated as if it never had been made.
That was the evidence of Mr. Parker before the Andover Committee, and if it was not true, why did not the right hon. Gentleman go down to the Committee and prove it false? Because, in the first place, he knew it to be true; and, in the second, he would never place himself within reach of the Andover Committee. But what is it for this country to contemplate? The right hon. Gentleman has been Secretary of State for the administration of the poor laws for the last six years, the Commissioners have been his puppets, Mr. Lewis the go-between, who, day by day, received instructions from the Home Office, which, if the right hon. Gentleman would not shelter himself behind the screen of the secrecy of that office, he must admit. I have given a scene in the Home Office; I will now give one in the Committee room. On the 8th of August, 1846, Mr. Christie put to Mr. Parker the following question:—
Are the Commissioners in the habit of exercising control over their secretaries, assistant secretaries, and clerks, on the subject of giving evidence with respect to what goes on in the Poor Law Office?
Nothing could be more proper than that question. The Committee was appointed, not to blink the truth, not to screen the acts of public officers, but to make a searching investigation of them. What followed this question, so fairly put by the hon. Member for Weymouth? "Mr. M. Sutton rose, and with great excitement of manner said, 'I must have the room cleared if that question is put.'" The room was cleared; what took place I do not know, but here is a report of it on good authority, which I will read to the House:—
The room was accordingly cleared, and the Committee for a considerable time remained in consultation with closed doors. During the interval Mr. M. Sutton rushed out of the room, apparently in a very agitated state, and soon afterwards Mr. S. Wortley followed, as if in search of him. On the return of parties some minor points connected with the evidence were disposed of, after which the Committee adjourned. But no sooner did this take place than rumours began to spread, that the abrupt departure of Mr. M. Sutton was not without reason; and that the lengthened inquiry before the Andover Committee was about to terminate in a hostile message from Mr. M. Sutton to Mr. Christie.
Now, the Andover inquiry was brought to a close by that question, to which there has never been an answer; but this House
ought to have an answer, and if not the country expects one; and it will ask of its representatives, when they go to the hustings, how they could with any decency refuse a Committee that should elicit that answer? The hon. Member continued to read—
It is said the dispute arose in the following manner: Mr. M. Sutton, when the room was cleared, charged Mr. Christie with having put the question merely because he knew The Times reporter was present. Mr. Christie replied, that he treated the insinuation with contempt, and thereupon Mr. M. Sutton gave an intimation to Mr. Christie, which left upon the minds of the Committee no doubt that he contemplated sending a hostile message to the hon. Member for Weymouth. The Committee, we understand, discussed the propriety of communicating the fact to the Speaker (you, Sir), but we are not aware that they arrived at any decision on the subject. Finding how matters stood, Mr. Parker proceeded at once to the Westminster Police Court, and there, to the no small astonishment of the worthy magistrate [answerable for the peace of the country to the Secretary of State for the Home Department], who seemed at first to have some difficulty in grasping the full importance of the formidable application made to him, demanded a warrant against—[who? why]—the Under Secretary of State for the Home Department for contemplating a breach of the peace, by sending a challenge to Mr. Dougal Christie, M.P., with the view of fighting a duel. The warrant having been made out, a policeman of great size and apparent strength was commissioned to inform Mr. M. Sutton that his attendance was required at the Westminster Police Court; and so ends the last chapter in the history of the Andover Inquiry.
That was the scene in the police court. Now, Sir, I ask this House, with all gravity, is it right and just that you should refuse me a Committee of Inquiry, when a question was put to a witness before the Andover Union Committee, which, if answered, would have proved the conduct to be as cruel, as oppressive, and, I will add, as infamous as over disgraced any public office in this kingdom? I, Sir, am one of the victims whose character has been attempted to be destroyed by these very men—these Poor Law Commissioners—because I, within these walls, fearlessly, and to the best of my humble abilities, have endeavoured to do my duty. And now, after these scenes, you shall hear the opinions of the Committee itself:—
That on a review of the proceedings of the Commissioners with respect to the Andover inquiries, and towards Mr. Parker and Mr. Day, it appears that they have been irregular and arbitrary, not in accordance with the statute under which they exercise their functions, and such as to shake public confidence in their administration of the law.
Well, then, I ask the Secretary of State for
the Home Department, are these men yet in office? are these Poor Law Commissioners yet exercising control over millions of our fellow-subjects, too poor to bring their cases before, or to claim redress in, your courts of law—who have no court to appeal to beyond this House—are you still keeping them in office? I demand from the Secretary of State for the Home Department an answer this night to that question. Are you going to screen them from any further inquiry into their conduct? Are you going to league with the late Government? Have you coalesced on this question too, and will you refuse me this inquiry? If you have, and you tell me you will refuse it, I know what the country will say—that you dare not grant it, because you are afraid of further exposure. The House will remember that, some three or four years ago, I brought under its notice an attempt of these same Poor Law Commissioners to erect a tread-wheel in the borough of Halifax, in the union workhouse there. I repeated that statement in this House, on authority which I knew to be correct. The late Secretary of State for the Home Department got up in the House and contradicted me in the flattest manner. At the very time he contradicted me, the specification of the plan and the estimates of the cost were recorded in the minutes of the board of guardians of that union; and a few days afterwards, Mr. Clements, the assistant commissioner attending the board, had literally the audacity to get a resolution passed by the board, condemning me for my conduct as a Member of this House. That was a direct breach of privilege. Having received information of what had occurred, from a member of the board of guardians, I thought it my duty to come down to the House and to protest against the interference. I had the right of freedom of speech, and I maintained that right. But how did the late Government act? The late First Lord of the Treasury, with that plausibility for which he is distinguished, made a certain statement to the House, and induced the noble Lord the Member for London to join him in screening Mr. Clements; and when I brought the question of that breach of privilege before you, you negatived your own privileges, and you crushed me. There was a division: you went into the lobby with a majority, and I with only six Members. And what was the result? You emboldened Mr. Clements; he became more audacious than ever. A short time
subsequently, he attended the board of guardians, and while sitting there, he had an altercation with the chairman, Mr. Weymouth, a magistrate and a gentleman; and it ended in this manner—he advanced towards the chairman, shook his fist in his face, and exclaimed, "What you said was false, and you know it was false." That was the treatment the Halifax board of guardians received from Mr. Clements, whom you protected for the purpose of crushing me, and when the point raised was breach of the privileges of this House. Now, having given a slight sketch of the opinions of these parties, who are empowered to make laws in this country, I will proceed to bring before the notice of the House the great Jenkin Jones' case, my object being to show how these Poor Law Commissioners conduct their business in their office. Before, however, I do this, I will draw the attention of the Secretary of State for the Home Department to some circumstances which occurred in Yorkshire a few years ago. The Poor Law Commissioners had issued an order to form Bradford into an union. I believe, and it was generally believed, that that order was illegal. They attempted to enforce it; the people resisted, rose up in mighty masses, and said, as they truly said, that the Commissioners had no right to make laws to govern them; that they were bound only to obey those laws made by the Parliament. The magistrates ordered in the military, and the military cut the people down in attempting to enforce an illegal law, if I may here use that phrase. Now, suppose the military had killed these people. They did cut several down, and used them, as I think, under the circumstances, with great mercy. But suppose that, by any accident, a man had been killed. Why, then, the magistrates who ordered the troops to fire, the officer who commanded them, and the troops themselves, were guilty of wilful murder. And yet it was these Commissioners who so acted, whom you still seek to screen and to protect. To return to Jenkin Jones. Having sold the office, and been induced by Mr. Lewis to make a statement which was used against him—finding he was going to be brought up for judgment, notwithstanding that he had been deceived into pleading guilty under a promise that he was not to be proceeded against, he writes a letter to the Secretary of State for the Home Department—and imagine a Secretary of State receiving such a letter as this from a pub-
lic functionary, who was at that time under process of indictment for misdemeanor. I shall not read the whole of the letter, for it is very long; but I will give three or four extracts. Mr. Jenkin Jones thus addressed the Secretary of State. He says—
I deliberately charge Mr. Lewis (I say nothing now of another of the Commissioners) with having acted in defiance and in contempt of a clause in an Act of Parliament especially framed to prevent the very act of which he has been guilty, and by the commission of which he has rendered himself liable to penalties, and to the forfeiture of his office.
He goes on to state—
Mr. G. Lewis assumed to act as Commissioner, and to exercise all the powers of the Commissioners, giving directions, and" (mark here the next expression) "conducting correspondence.
Where is that correspondence? Why do you not produce it? It has been destroyed; it has not been found. When Mr. Lewis was examined before the Andover Union Committee, and asked to produce this evidence, he replied, "I don't know where it is." No, he took good care that no document which should prove him to be guilty of falsehood should be produced before any Committee of the House of Commons. He conducted correspondence, said Mr. Jones—
And, issuing various orders under the seal of the board, with his own name affixed at the time, and the name of another Commissioner fraudulently added afterwards.
Then Mr. Jones gives evidence, on his examination, that this letter was written on May 9, before he received the message through Mr. Coode, which was on June 7. The letter proceeded—
I do not dwell upon the important public effect of such illegal issue of orders by any one of the Commissioners. I request your especial attention to the fact, that Mr. Lewis was actually committing the misdemeanor daily, during a portion of the period that he was industriously hunting up evidence to convict me. I am prepared to prove my charge (I have no wish to do so) upon the evidence of the Secretaries of State, who will prove that no delegation was issued. In my case, if guilty, I, a mere private clerk, at a salary of 200l. per annum, commit an offence against an Act of Parliament, of the existence of which, as God is my witness, I never heard, until after Mr. Lewis, in the most ungenerous and unjust manner, extracted all he could from me, to be used in evidence against me. Mr. Lewis, a highly responsible public officer, having a salary of 2,000l., ten times the amount received by me, and quite aware of the process of delegating the power of the Commissioners—it being the practice of the Commissioners, when they take their usual and recognised holidays, to obtain a delegation from one of the Secretaries of State—I submit, that the offence committed by him was manifestly committed deliberately and wilfully; and I feel that I am justified in saying, that legally he has been guilty of
a misdemeanor, and morally of a fraud upon the public, upon the Home Government, and upon both Houses of Parliament.
I ask, again, after this, is Mr. Lewis still a Poor Law Commissioner? If he is, do you intend that he should remain so? The country will demand an answer to that question; you may depend upon it they will, when they have heard all I am about to state to-night. Mr. Jenkin Jones went on to say—
That Mr. Lewis himself having committed a misdemeanor, and in the act of committing one whilst hunting up evidence to commit me, is manifestly an improper person to take the conduct of the proceedings in my case.
And to justify this charge, he gave further evidence to the Secretary of State. Mark that the right hon. Baronet cannot deny having received this letter; for Mr. O'Brien, or Captain O'Brien, his secretary, acknowledged the receipt of it. I can imagine the alarm of the right hon. Baronet on reading this letter. I have no doubt whatever that he immediately sent for Mr. Lewis, and said to him, "This is an awkward business of Jenkin Jones. He is going to tell all, depend upon it; he wont stop at an attack on you; we must take care what we are doing, for he knows a great deal." And so in this way, very probably, they talked the matter over; and it appeared that the alarm produced a wonderful effect both in the Home Department and Somerset House. On June 7th, Mr. Jenkin Jones receives a message from Mr. Lewis, the Commissioner who was in daily and confidential communication with the late Secretary for the Home Department, who was the go-between, as I said before. And what says Mr. Coode, as mouth-piece of Mr. Lewis? He says—
Mr. George Lewis has authorized me to tell you, that it was far from the wish of the Commissioners to injure you; that their only object was to trace out the truth of the matter; and that, having ascertained that none of their present officers are implicated, they are not desirous of pushing this case further; and if you adopt the course you were speaking to me upon, if you plead guilty, they will not push the matter further.
Well, then, this poor wretched clerk—this victim of Mr. Lewis and the Home Office, pleads guilty; they bring him up for judgment, in defiance of their solemn pledge to prosecute him no further, given by the men who thus had extracted the evidence which could convict him, and which, to hasten that purpose, they most infamously used. It is no wonder that the present Attorney General spoke in the language I have quoted to the House—it is no wonder his
indignation was aroused when he saw his client the victim to such a conspiracy. He was sentenced to twelve months' imprisonment; but Mr. Jones was not long in prison before he petitioned the Home Office—before he brought his case under the consideration of the right hon. Baronet, who had acknowledged the receipt of the letter, extracts from which I have read to the House; but now the Secretary of State takes no notice of the man's petition, and Mr. Jenkin Jones determines to stand it no longer. He writes a letter to Mr. Coode, who had delivered the message from Mr. Lewis. It is dated July 10th, 1845:—
§ "Dear Sir—It is nearly three months since I petitioned the Home Office. The draught of my petition was approved of by the Commissioners; and Mr. Lewis promised to take an opportunity of speaking to Sir James Graham in its support. In consequence of this promise, I purposely omitted alluding to the fact of my having withdrawn my plea, upon a promise of Mr. Lewis, that he would secure a lenient course, and a course that should not injure me, &c. As to those expressions, 1 took the precaution, in all my correspondence, to confine myself to the adopted expressions; and those were adopted expressions as contained in my original letter to Mr. Coode. Now, I must state candidly, that it is my firm conviction (my petition having been rejected) that Mr. Lewis has not spoken in my behalf to Sir James Graham. Perhaps he has not had an opportunity; you will, therefore, oblige me by asking him if he has performed his promise, and, if not, whether he will seek an opportunity of stating the facts to Sir James Graham. I am now almost indifferent about a mitigation; but I am not indifferent to the damnable fact that I have been entrapped and grossly deceived, and shall never forget the fact, unless I receive some satisfaction. I want to cease thinking of the matter; but that will never be the case, unless I obtain some mitigation, and that through the exertions of Mr. Lewis. The matter cannot, and shall not, rest as it is.
§ "Mr. DISRAELI asks: What was your sentence?—Twelve months' imprisonment.
§ "Mr. S. WORTLEY: Have you the answer to that letter?—The answer was a verbal one. I believe it was not in confidence; if so, nothing would induce me to betray it. Mr. Coode called on me, and seeing I had given so short a time—Tuesday at the latest—Mr. Coode stated I had better not do anything hastily; I had better wait a bit, and see what could be done. I was liberated almost immediately after, without making any application; nor do I know to this moment by what means I was so, but I was told I was no longer to be detained.
§ "Mr. DISRAELI: How long were you in prison?—Eight months.
§ "Mr. CHRISTIE: How long after you wrote this letter did you obtain your liberation?—I was liberated on the 23rd."
§ So Mr. Jenkin Jones was successful at last; but, remember, Mr. Jenkin Jones was not considered by his employers to 541 have been in the slightest degree injured by the incarceration. He had been clerk in an assurance-office, for he had left Somerset House; and when he returned from prison, the company presented him with 100 guineas, and reinstated him. It was thought this was enough; he was let out of prison, and the reasons for his having been sent there may be learnt from Mr. Lewis. Mr. Christie—and I must congratulate that hon. Gentleman on all the talent he exhibited in encountering the Secretary of State in screening this man—says to Mr. Lewis—
§ "You admit, that when Mr. Coode told you that about Mr. Parker, and the danger you were incurring from him, you might have said something about Mr. Jenkin Jones, that he had done you no harm. What harm could he have done you?—He was employed in the office, and had access to all the office documents. We had proceeded in a very adverse manner against him.
§ "I still want to know what harm he could have done you?—By the disclosure of official information. All persons who have been employed in a confidential capacity have it in their power to create inconvenience by violating confidence.
§ "Inconvenience is not injury. I want to know in what way Mr. Jenkin Jones, by means of his confidential access to the official documents of the Poor Law Commissioners, could have caused you injury?—I am not aware that I used the word 'injury.'
§ "You wish to restrict yourself to inconvenience, then?—In conversation I may have used the word 'injury'—to do harm to the office.
§ "Did Mr. Coode say any more than this, that Mr. Parker might inconvenience you?—I cannot remember the circumstances sufficiently to state."
§ Here I must break off for one instant to say that I never saw witnesses who adopted more ingeniously the non mi recordo tactics than some of the gentlemen examined during this investigation. It was very different when the Under Secretary put a question; "then," says Mr. Lewis, "I am quite certain." The memory was not always so good. Mr. Lewis says—
§ "I thought you said, yesterday, Mr. Coode stated that Mr. Parker was a man who would attack you in every way?—I cannot remember the precise words.
§ "Why could Mr. Jenkin Jones's, or Mr. Parker's access to official documents enable them to attack you?—Every person who has been employed in a confidential capacity in an office or in any other manner, has it in his power to make disclosures which may create great embarrassments and difficulty, and raise presumptions against the conduct of persons, which it may be difficult to remove without referring to other information which it is desirable not to produce."
Sir, the records of that office are destroyed. Why was this, if every thing was fair and above board? Mr. Lewis was the corre-
sponding agent of that office; but where are his private letters? I have a right to demand from the right hon. Baronet, who was in confidential communication with this man every day, where are they all? Mr. Lewis says he can't find them. Then, is it not the duty of the House to grant a Committee before which Mr. Lewis may be asked why they were destroyed, how they were destroyed, if they were burnt, or purloined, some of them still to be forthcoming? That is a matter which it is the duty of this House to inquire into. You know that there are documents in existence which you would give a good deal to have again; you haven't got them yet, and what is more, you wont have them. Now, listen again:—
After his (Mr. J. Jones's) plea of guilty," says Mr. Lewis, "I was absent from London for a time, and some communication was made to Mr. Coode, which induced him to write to me on the subject.
Mr Coode wrote a letter, and gave, no doubt, very correct information touching the case; but when Mr. Lewis is asked for this document, he says, "I have not the letter, but a copy of my answer, which I will read to the Committee." What a great deal of information the Committee got from that! The answer was—
It appears to me that the honour of our office has been sufficiently vindicated by the searching investigation into Mr. Jones's proceedings, which was made first by us, and afterwards by Mr. Reynolds.
The idea of talking of the honour of the Poor Law Commissioners' office! I will ask, where is Mr. Lewis's honour? Where is the honour of the man who inveigled this poor fellow into a confession of his guilt in having committed a misdemeanor, he himself having been daily guilty of misdemeanor, and of something not very creditable in obtaining Mr. Jones's confession? I say that Mr. Lewis is branded with dishonour by his conduct towards that man. Now, Sir, I have gone through Mr. Jenkin Jones's case; and I am now going to bring before the notice of the House some circumstances in which I myself am implicated. I have, on a former occasion, charged the right hon. Baronet with having prepared a statement for the House, in which he intentionally sought to deceive it; and I now again distinctly charge the late Secretary of State for the Home Department with making a statement to this House which at the time he knew to be untrue. I am going to give the House an account of the mode adopted by the Poor
Law Commissioners, and by the late Home Secretary, in getting up those reports; two of which were used, one to crush the hon. and learned Member for Bolton (Dr. Bowring), in 1842, and the other to crush me, in 1844. The person employed in that nefarious transaction was a man of the name of Mott, who formerly gained a livelihood by farming the poor in several large poorhouses in London, and by carrying out the cheap Malthusian doctrine of teaching the pauper to live on the coarsest sort of food, and that in the smallest possible quantity. He recommended himself to the authors of the new poor law, by displaying much valuable information as to the best manner of accomplishing this end, and in time he became an assistant poor-law commissioner. Dismissed from this office for reasons which you have never dared to tell the public, but which I will to-night tell both the public and the House, he still contrived to be kept in employment by Somerset House. He no sooner ceased to be assistant commissioner than he appeared in a new character—as the editor and publisher of The New Poor Law Circular, and under the sanction of the Poor Law Commissioners. At the same time, he published in his circular a statement purporting to be a communication from the Poor Law Commissioners to the Longtown union, of which the late Secretary of State for the Home Department was then the chairman, to the effect that the guardians would be sanctioned and allowed by the Commissioners to take a certain number of copies of this paper, as it would only relate to matters connected with the poor law. Well, Mr. Mott goes on under this patronage as a publisher for some time, and very soon, because no one would buy it, the paper became bankrupt. No wonder such should have been the result with any man having dealings with the Poor Law Commissioners. Then, in what character does Mr. Mott appear next? Why, as a partner in that den of horrors—the Haydock Lunatic Asylum, along with Mr. Coode, and with the knowledge of the Poor Law Commissioners. Good God, Sir! is not this disgraceful? Do you remember the harrowing details connected with that establishment brought before this House by the hon. Member for Finsbury? The distressing and painful statements made as to the treatment of the unfortunate people confined there? You have dismissed Coode, but you still keep the Poor Law Commissioners; and why? Because they
have influence with men in power—a course, this, utterly inconsistent with my notions of the old independent English spirit. My hon. Friend, however, completely smashed the head of that Haydock affair, though, to use an expression which, if I recollect right, my hon. Friend used, there was sent a trumped-up commission to investigate its enormities. I am now going to read an extract from a speech delivered by the late Secretary of State for the Home Department, to whom, at the time he made use of the language there contained, it must have been known that Mott had been guilty of base and dishonourable conduct. The late Home Secretary speaks as follows:—
But in regard to this subject I am not now about to cite the information of the assistant poor law commissioners; I am not disposed in the least to disparage those gentlemen. There are no persons upon whose reports, speaking from experience, I, for one, would be more disposed to rely with confidence.
"Speaking from experience!" This was said on the 17th of June, 1842, the very day on which the right hon. Baronet drew out of the red box at that Table the report on which I, a magistrate, a country gentleman, was branded with ungentlemanly conduct in the parish to which I belong. I had been an acknowledged and serviceable Member of this House, and supporter of the Government of that day; for, previously to the production of that report, the right hon. Gentleman had thanked me for the services I had rendered; and, had he been animated by a generous, manly, and gentlemanly feeling, he would have been induced, before attacking me in Parliament, to say "Mr. Ferrand, I have received from Mr. Mott a report as to the state of your union; it attacks you as a local magistrate with encouraging legal disputes, that the lawyers may pocket the fees; it gives me grounds for charging you with advocating the support of the poor in terms of the 43rd of Elizabeth, in order that you might cheaply earn the title of the poor man's guardian." But no hint did I receive from the Secretary for the Home Department of the accusation which he meant to bring against me. Even the assassin, when he stabs yon from behind in the dark, may give you some chance of defending yourself; but not so the Secretary of State for the Home Department; and I must say, that to attack me in so unmanly and ungenerous a way was only a part and parcel of the character of the late Secretary of State for
the Home Department. I will come to the report on which that attack was founded by and by; but in the meantime, let me trace the course of Mr. Mott. Mr. Manners Sutton, before the Committee, asked Mr. George Lewis as follows:—
Some remarks have been made to the Committee with regard to a report which was prepared by Mr. Mott, and Mr. Gilbert, and Mr. Chadwick, upon the state of Bolton and of Macclesfield. Are you aware of the nature of the evidence on that subject which has been laid before this Committee?
Now, Mr. Chadwick had fairly let the cat out of the bag, and Mr. Lewis came down to the Committee in a towering rage in a day or two after to give his evidence in opposition to that of Mr. Chadwick. He states in reply to the question I have just read, that he had seen Mr. Chadwick's evidence on the subject, on which Mr. Sutton asks—
Have you any remarks to make upon that subject?" "The report," replies Mr. Lewis, "to which the Committee refers, was, I believe, substantially prepared by Mr. Chadwick, and was sent in with Mr. Mott's signature in April 1841.
Here you have the fact of Mr. Chadwick drawing up a report in Somerset House, going with it to Mr. Mott, and Mr. Mott signing it as a report drawn up by himself! Further, in answer to a question put by Mr. Christie, he states as the ground for believing this to be the fact, that—
Mr. Owen informed me, I think, that it had been copied from a draught in the office; but I think Mr. Chadwick himself states substantially that he had been the author of it.
It appears, then, that these Poor Law Commissioners keep a draught in the office, from which may be copied reports to suit the different parts of the country. Mr. M. Sutton asks, "Was that report sent in 1841?" and the reply is, "The copy I have is dated the 30th of April, 1841;" but he adds, in answer to another question, that there is in it "a quotation of some evidence which purports to have been taken on the 3rd of May, 1841;" and this report is given in on the 2nd of June. Such is the way in which these reports have been drawn up by Mr. Mott, and Mr. Chadwick, and the Poor Law Commissioners, and on which the late Secretary for the Home Department always relied "with so much confidence." We shall now see how the Bolton report was drawn up. The hon. Member for Bolton, it will be recollected, made certain statements in this House as to the condition of the poor in the Bolton union. They were most har-
rowing statements, and such as it was truly dreadful to contemplate; and after they had been made, and repeated two or three times, the late Secretary for the Home Department proposed to the Poor Law Commissioners that special commissioners should be sent down to Bolton to inquire into the truth of the allegation; and, accordingly, this man Mott was sent down. Well, how did he acquit himself? Mr. Phillips, the private secretary of the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department, had written to the Poor Law Commissioners, instructing them "to employ Mott to inquire into certain statements made by Dr. Bowring." Mott went to Bolton, but he never investigated a single case; he avoided putting himself in communication with those who could have informed him, and resided a short distance out of Bolton. The inhabitants employed a gentleman, Mr. Naisby, to bring witnesses before him to bear out the statements which had been made by their representative, Dr. Bowring, in this House. Mr. Naisby goes accordingly to the house in which he resided, and asks for Mr. Mott. The servant answers, "He is not in." "Are you sure of that?" is the next question. "Oh, yes, he went to London yesterday." Mr. Naisby accordingly retired from the door, and, looking up to one of the windows, saw Mr. Mott in the room. This is the man who was employed in 1841 to make this inquiry, and who drew up a false report against me in 1842. On the 24th of September, Mott sent a report of his visit to Bolton from Manchester. On the 30th of September that report was used by the late Home Secretary in this House, with a view to crush the hon. Member for Bolton. I was not then so well informed as I am now upon such matters, and, with other Members of the House, I cheered the statement of the Home Secretary. However, Mr. Ashworth, and other respectable persons in Bolton, were determined that these proceedings against their Member should not go on unopposed; and twelve witnesses were brought before the magistrates, who gave evidence proving that Mott's report was a scandalous falsehood. Nor was that all. On the 14th of December, 1841, the hon. Member for Bolton forwarded to the late Home Secretary a statement, distinctly proving that Mott's report was false, signed by Mr, Ashworth and several other gentlemen. That statement commenced as follows:—
We, the undersigned, inhabitants and rate-
payers of the township of Little Bolton, being the parties who instituted an inquiry into the condition of some of the labouring classes of this township in December of last year, feel called upon to notice some part of a report made by Charles Mott, Esq., to the Home Office, and printed by order of Parliament, the 6th of October, 1841.
They then proceeded—
We cannot but express our surprise and regret that a public functionary, holding the high and responsible offices of Assistant Poor Law Commissioner as well as Special Government Commissioner for inquiring into some particular cases of destitution, should have so far forgotten the trust reposed in him, and so far have wandered from the obvious line of his duty, as to impute unworthy motives to the parties who instituted the distressing inquiry. Nor has he been satisfied with imputing motives; he has ventured, without personal investigation of his own, without any effort to ascertain the truth of the statement made, to accuse us of partisanship and of misrepresentation, leaving the impression that we had invented or exaggerated tales of distress in order to serve a political and party object. We deny the accusation, and complain of the levity and carelessness in which it has been made.
And they concluded thus:—
But, from the best information we can obtain, we have good reason to believe that Mr. Mott himself never visited a single case, and certainly avoided putting himself in communication with those who, with much labour, had undertaken the painful duty of examining into the sad condition of the people. Signed—E. Ashworth, J. Entwisle, G. Knott, J. Lomax, J. Barry, T. Lee, T. Thomasson, J. Goodbrand, J. Haigh, J. Mackinnell, J. Vickers, R. Walsh, N. Wilson.
On the 15th of December, Mr. Naisby laid the evidence of the twelve witnesses before the Secretary for the Home Department—evidence given on their oaths, that the report of Mott was false; and all this took place long before the 17th of June, 1842. I must state that the late Home Secretary, notwithstanding these statements, still continued to shield Mott, and refused inquiry. On the 21st of January, 1842, Mr. Bolling, brother of the late Conservative Member for Bolton, wrote to the Home Secretary in these words:—
It is only when the assistant commissioner, leaving so legitimate and commendable a course of inquiry, deals in unfounded statements and slanderous insinuations, and when, moreover, the board under whose authority he acts ventures upon publishing them, that I feel called upon to draw your attention to the 'report and evidence.'
This counter-statement of 'Bristol's case' I offer in answer to the false and calumnious charges which the 'report and evidence' were manifestly intended to convey to the public; and I shall leave to you, Sir, the duty of ascertaining upon what principle of fairness the parties, whoever they may be, who took down the evidence, could
have proceeded, and by what rule of constitutional law or common justice the board of Poor Law Commissioners can sanction a mode of inquiry so completely partial, so flagrantly unjust.
And he added—
I have endeavoured to lay before you, as briefly as possible, those points of which I think I have just reason to complain in the published correspondence between the Home Office and the Poor Law Commissioners on the subject of distress in Bolton; and I confidently anticipate from that department of the Government over which you preside, such an investigation into the peculiar circumstances of that inquiry by the Poor Law Commissioners, as shall not merely do justice to the individual who feels himself aggrieved, but shall at the same time satisfy the public.
When the late Secretary for the Home Department received that letter, then I believe some communication was made to Mott with a view to an explanation. On the 3rd of March the hon. Member for Bolton moved for returns of the papers in this case, and they were granted to the hon. Gentleman, who has maintained an extraordinary silence on the subject ever since. But I recollect that there was a statement made by the late Home Secretary on the 26th of April, 1844, when I defended the attack I had made at Leeds. On that occasion he said—
I see the hon. Member for Bolton (Dr. Bowring) in his place, and he, I think, is acquainted with a transaction which may in some measure account for the removal of Mr. Mott.
I now ask the hon. Member for Bolton, what was it? [Dr. BOWRING did not wish to interrupt the debate.] Then I hope the hon. Gentleman will afterwards state to the House what were the reasons; because, if Mott had been guilty of such scandalous conduct in 1841 towards the hon. Gentleman, as drawing up a report which was false, and which had been used in this House for the purpose of crushing him, then I ask, in the name of common sense, and in the name of common justice, how could you (Sir J. Graham) have employed that man in 1842 to draw up a report against me, and use it in this House, without giving me one word by way of hint as to your intention, being convinced beforehand that this man had been found guilty of framing a false report against Dr. Bowring? I come now to the Keighley union case; and I think I have a perfect right to make the statement to the House which I now propose to make. I assert that the right hon. Baronet the late Secretary for the Home Department was guilty of a breach of agreement with me. I received a message from the late Secretary for the Home Department, within a day or two of making
my speech against the Anti-Corn-Law League, requesting my attendance at the Home Office. I went there, and the right hon. Baronet tried to induce me to withdraw my opposition to the Government on the question of the new poor law. I told him I was solemnly pledged to my constituents to oppose them on that point, as I was conscientiously convinced it was a cruel, oppressive, and tyrannical law, and nothing could induce me to withdraw my opposition. After a lengthened conversation on that and other subjects, we parted, on the distinct pledge that I was perfectly at liberty, without giving any offence to the Government, to follow any course I chose in opposing that measure. After having come to that understanding with the right hon. Baronet, I do think that there is scarcely an instance on record, in the history of the debates of this House, of a Minister of the Crown having taken such an unfair advantage of any Member. On the 17th of June, 1842, he drew out of his red box Mott's report, and said, "I, for one, speaking from experience, have perfect confidence in this report." And he went on to say—
I hold in my hand a report from Mr. Mott as to the present state and condition of this very union of Keighley, about which the hon. Member said so much… This report of Mr. Mott is dated the 23rd of April last. Mr. Mott says, speaking of this union—'Relief in aid of wages is generally given, and payment of rents to an alarming extent; the workhouses are not subject either to classification or discipline; all the errors of the old poor law are followed; the paupers insolently claim relief as their right. I need scarcely add, that the rates are fast increasing. To show the mischievous extent to which the practice of paying rents has arrived, I submit the following notice, which was brought to the meeting of the guardians by a pauper, and submitted on his behalf by one of the relieving officers:—'I hereby certify, that Edward Walton will be indebted to his landlord, the Rev. John Swire, one year's rent, 3l. 3s., on the 13th day of May next.' (Lord John Russell here said—'When was this?') Sir James Graham—'In April of the present year.'
Now it is perfectly true that this man did present this piece of paper, but it was kicked out as a matter not to be entertained; yet this fact is left out of the report! I will here mention a circumstance to the House worthy of notice, in connexion with this matter. There were residing there at that time four Whig magistrates, one of whom was the hon. Member for Bradford, and who had taken an active part in carrying out the poor law in the union; but so disgusted were they with the untruths told by this man, Mott,
that they have never entered the board since. Thus the falsehood of this man has driven from the management of the poor law four of the most respectable gentlemen in the neighbourhood. I will just mention another circumstance. Sir J. Walsham was employed to go down, at the suggestion of the late Secretary for the Home Department, to visit this union; but he got instructions to draw up a grand flaming report as to the horrible state of the workhouse, which was to be handed to the Secretary for the Home Department; in short, he was to come down on me with another slashing attack, which he did; but still the report of Sir J. Walsham contradicted that of Mott almost throughout. Now I come to the charges of the late Secretary for the Home Department. When he addressed the House, he turned round, and, pointing at me in an offensive manner, said—
Now, this is the result of the objection to the three kings of Somerset House; this is the result of a wish to revert to the local magistracy; those who can get an easy character for great humanity; those who can obtain the title of the 'poor man's friend'—this is the result of giving the power of issuing orders of relief, which are to be administered by third parties. Mr. Mott," the right hon. Baronet continues, "goes on to say, 'and I was surprised to find that an opinion prevailed among the guardians that their proceedings in granting relief were subject to the control of the magistrates.'
This the magistrates deny; they deny that they took the control of the union; they deny that Mr. Mott's report is a true report. The right hon. Baronet said.—
This report is dated the 23rd of April, in the present year, and this is the state of things in the north of England; the very district which is favoured by the presence of the hon. Member himself, and here you have the very word 'scale' adopted, which has, it seems, been exploded in the south.
Why, it has been proved that at Keighley this scale has never been adopted at all. The right hon. Baronet went on:—
So much for the Keighley union; and if I were not fearful of troubling the House too much, I would go further; for perhaps the hon. Member would like me to complete the picture of the Keighley union." Here there were cries of "Go on." He continued: "Well, I will go on. Having shown what is the mismanagement in this union, I will expose some of the jobbing that has taken place there. I continue to read from Mr. Mott's report. He says: 'Amongst other extraordinary proceedings of the guardians of the Keighley union, may be named the encouragement given to lawyers to create legal disputes.' My hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield complained of the manner in which the lawyers were excluded from all adjudication under the management of the existing law. Now we will see how they do
act when they are employed, not by the three kings of Somerset House, but under the authority of the local magistracy.
And then the right hon. Baronet read a statement in which there was not one word of truth; the whole of it throughout is a trumped-up falsehood, and was proved to be a flagrant falsehood even before the packed Committee on the Keighley Union, who were charged to inquire into, and report to the House, all the charges against the local magistracy. Now I ask the attention of the House to a circumstance which took place at that time—on that very day. As soon as the late Secretary of State for the Home Department had read this report, I rose and denied the truth of it. But there were parties who had given me information that the right hon. Baronet and the Poor Law Commissioners were in league. I received this between the 17th of June and the 20th; and on the 20th of June, three days after, I got up and said that the right hon. Baronet the late Secretary of State for the Home Department had, on the 17th, referred to a report from assistant poor-law commissioner Mott; that Mr. Mott had been sent down expressly for the purpose of getting up a case in favour of the Bill, and against the Keighley union—
And that a paid officer of the Government had, for a special purpose, produced a report containing unfounded charges, with a view of misleading the House of Commons.
I stated this in the presence of the right hon. Baronet, and he never contradicted or denied it. I made this statement in 1842, in this House, and I repeat it now. I will tell the House and the right hon. Gentleman my reasons. I will not tell him all my reasons; I will tell him one; I have a great many more. One reason is, that, on the 24th of June, the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth got up and addressed the House in favour of the new poor law, during which I saw the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department bring forward a red box; and when I saw him do this, I said, "I suppose I am going to have another dose of Mott;" but, instead of this, he handed to the right hon. Baronet the then First Lord of the Treasury Sir John Walsham's report, pointing out to him only that part which related to the Bingley and Keighley workhouses, which the late Secretary of State had suggested that he should visit. The right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel), however, read to the House most
of the horrifying statements of the state of things in the poorhouses, living and dead confounded together, and said to me and to the House, "Is it not high time to interfere?" Why, Sir John Walsham had had previous instructions to go down and to draw up a report; and when I challenged the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) to deny it, he could not, but talked of a mistake. On the 27th of June, I declared that I knew several of the extracts which had been read by the First Lord of the Treasury from Sir John Walsham's report to be false, and that I was convinced Sir John Walsham had been sent down to get up a statement to use against me in the House of Commons; and I asked the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) whether he did not know of Sir John Walsham's having been sent down to the Keighley union previous to the debate? Mark! The right hon. Baronet the late Secretary of State got up, and, in rather a confused manner, said—
I will begin by answering that part which more immediately relates to myself, viz. that Sir John Walsham was directed to visit the Keighley union immediately before the present debate. After I had understood that some very strong objections had been taken to issue an out-door relief order for Keighley, founded on Mr. Mott's report, Sir John Walsham being in the neighbourhood, and not sent specially to Keighley, but being in the Burnley union, I suggested to the Poor Law Commissioners, in order to remove all doubt upon the subject, that Sir John Walsham should be sent there.
Now, it is an extraordinary circumstance, and not less extraordinary than true, that Sir John does not allude in his report to the subject of out-door relief; he never mentions it, except slightly and cursorily; but never speaks of any strong objections to it. Subsequently to this, Sir John Walsham was sent to visit the Keighley workhouse, and to get up a report upon that subject, if not by the order of the late Secretary of State, at all events with his cognizance. But what will the House say to the statement I am about to make? I moved for returns which would enable me to prove the falsehood of the reports; and the right hon. Gentleman the late Secretary of State for the Home Department said he would oppose the production of those returns. I appealed to the candour and fairness of the noble Lord the Member for the city of London; and he said, if I divided the House upon the Motion, he would support me; and I got the papers. What did those papers prove? Why the last day of the old poor law; and I now call upon
the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) to retract the charge he made against me—on the last day of the old poor law being enforced in my parish, the number of inmates in the Bingley poorhouse was twelve, and during Sir John Walsham's visit it was fifty-six. I now ask the right hon. Baronet whether he is ready to retract the charge he made against me? Well, a Select Committee was appointed on the Keighley Union, and I will tell the House the grounds upon which I feel justified in saying that it was packed. Sir Thomas Fremantle (who was then what is called "whipper-in") came to me with a list of the Committee, and said, "I am so convinced of the falsehood of the report, that I don't care whom you have on the Committee." I was then a novice in these matters; and I thought I could trust Sir T. Fremantle as a man of honour, and he packed the Committee. He asked Colonel Wood to be a member, but Colonel Wood said he could not, as he was going out of town; and yet Sir Thomas left his name on the Committee, and by the absence of Colonel Wood we had one member short in our way of thinking. On the 21st of July, before the papers were laid on the Table of the House, an order was sent to the Keighley union, with the signature of the Secretary of State, suspending the out-door relief order. Now, I will prove a part of Mr. Mott's report to be false. He wrote (on the 23rd of April, 1842)—
Gentlemen—I attended a meeting of the board of guardians of the Keighley union on the 13th instant, and I regret to have to report to your board that the proceedings of the guardians are very unsatisfactory; in short, they are entirely at variance with the provisions of the law and the directions of your board.
Why, the returns I moved for from the Poor Law Commissioners ought to have shown that the proceedings of the board of guardians of the Keighley union were contrary to the directions of the Commissioners; whereas the Commissioners, in their return, say that "they have no written evidence to show in what respect the said board of guardians have acted contrary to the directions of the central board at Somerset House:" so that they give a positive contradiction to the statement made by Mr. Mott in the very first paragraph of his report; and I should be glad to hear any hon. Member get up and say that the report of Mr. Mott is true. Another extraordinary circumstance connected with this case is this: they never issued but one order to the Keighley union,
and that was for its formation; and none of its proceedings were ever reported as unsatisfactory till an assistant commissioner was sent down only to find fault with it, and to draw up a report for the late Secretary of State. Now I come to another part of the proceedings. Before Parliament met again, Mr. Mott was dismissed, more than a year after he had been to Bolton. You kept him [turning to Sir J. Graham] till he had made his false report, and you got rid of him before Parliament met. I now come to 1844, when I made a speech in the town of Leeds. I said at Leeds that—
Sir J. Graham took steps to procure a report that was false, merely for the purpose of crushing a Member of the House of Commons, and dismissed the poor tool who had been the degraded and ignominious instrument in fabricating the report.
On the 26th of April, 1844, the right hon Baronet got up in the House, and said—
I have with the utmost diligence endeavoured to ascertain whether any communication, direct or indirect, passed between me and the assistant poor-law commissioner, Mr. Mott, as to the report used by me in debate; and I have been unable to find any trace of any such communication.
Why, I never said that any communication passed between the right hon. Baronet and Mr. Mott. At that time I was not aware that there were daily and confidential communications with Mr. Lewis, the Poor Law Commissioner, who had instructed his man to go down to my union. But a circumstance occurred which I will shortly bring before the House, which will justify me in my challenge to the right hon. Baronet.
I have endeavoured, also," the right hon. Baronet continues, "to find a trace of any communication on this subject between me and the Poor Law Commissioners, the central authority under which the assistant commissioners act, but I have been able to find none.
Now, let me ask the right hon. Baronet whether he kept a minute of the conversations between himself and Mr. Lewis at the Home Office, and of all hints, instructions, and directions he gave verbally to Mr. Lewis, for his guidance. I know he took too good care to do that. Mr. Chadwick, in his evidence, says—"I complained to Mr. Lewis, who was considered to be in most confidential communication with Sir J. Graham." Mr. Lewis himself says—"From conversations I had had with Sir J. Graham, I was led to believe" so and so. Why, it came out clearly before the Committee, from the evidence of those who "split" and turned traitors, that either Mr.
Lewis was the tool of the right hon. Baronet, or the right hon. Baronet was Mr. Lewis's tool. The late Secretary of State went on—
By my directions, the Poor Law Commissioners have searched their records to discover any instructions from them to Mr. Mott in reference to the Keighley union, and to the report of the 23rd of April, and I am authorized to say that they can find no record of any such instructions.
Mr. Lewis gave the House to understand that Mr. Mott's visit to Keighley was voluntary, of his own accord; and what will the House say when I tell them that Mr. Lewis has filed those very instructions, by which Mr. Mott was authorized to go down, as the groundwork of his action against me? Am I to be told now that these were voluntary visits? The country will say what it thinks of this. Here is a direct contradiction on the part of Mr. Lewis, in his examination before the Andover Committee. Either his original statement was not true, or Mr. Lewis has stated what was not true before the Andover Committee. Mr. Lewis said (Question 21,687)—
The Commissioners never, so far as I am aware, denied that they had instructed Mr. Mott to visit the Keighley union." The next question was, 'In fact, Mr. Mott did receive instructions from the board to go down?' The answer is, "I dare say he did.'
And I will produce evidence to show that he did receive instructions. In answer to another question, Mr. Lewis says, he is unable to find certain documents; and I have evidence to show that documents have been destroyed at the office; and I believe that when the late Secretary of State for the Home Department denied that there existed any instructions given by the Poor Law Commissioners to Mr. Mott, they were then in existence at Somerset House. The right hon. Baronet said—
Further, I have been most anxious to ascertain whether any verbal directions were given by me to the Poor Law Commissioners. My own recollection does not lead me to think that any were given, and the recollection of the Poor Law Commissioners is explicit, that they received no such directions.
I do not believe that the right hon. Baronet saw all the Poor Law Commissioners; he saw only Mr. Lewis, and what passed between them will not be known till the day of judgment. I say in this place that there were directions. Why, as the House recollects, in 1842 I charged the right hon. Baronet, in this House, with Mr. Mott's being sent down to Keighley, and he did not then deny it, though he did in 1844.
I am now going to read a document which is of the utmost importance to the vindication of my character; I refer to an affidavit made by a respectable gentleman, whom I never saw in my life till he volunteered to make an affidavit in my defence. Though opposed to me in politics, he said he could not stand by and see an honest Englishman trampled under foot. This gentleman, whose name is Barker, was in 1842 auditor of the Halifax union, and, having relinquished that office, the insurance company of Keighley, Bradford, and Halifax appointed him their agent. He, without any previous communication with me, except by writing to me to make the offer, made the following affidavit:—
Thomas Barker, of Halifax, in the county of York, maketh oath and saith, that he is now the agent of the Halifax, Bradford, and Keighley Insurance Company, but that he was previously the auditor of the Halifax Poor-Law Union, and held that office during the year 1842; that he has known Mr. Charles Mott for several years; that he was an assistant poor-law commissioner for the year 1842, and had the Halifax and Keighley unions under his superintendence during that year. That this deponent remembers the said Charles Mott inviting him to accompany him in his gig to Keighley from Halifax on the 13th day of April, 1842. That this deponent did accompany him. That as they drove to Keighley, the said Charles Mott informed him that he had received instructions to visit the Keighley union, and report upon the same. That deponent visited the said Charles Mott at the Haydock-lodge Lunatic Asylum (of which deponent believes that the said Charles Mott was part proprietor) about the time that the House of Commons voted the charge of William Busfeild Ferrand, Esq., M.P., against Sir James Graham calumnious and unfounded; and deponent says that he at that time heard the said Charles Mott declare that the statements of the said Sir James Graham, in the House of Commons, relating to the said Charles Mott's visit to the Keighley union on the 13th day of April, 1841, were false, and that the statements of the said William Busfeild Ferrand in the House of Commons were true, and that he had documents in his possession to prove this statement. And this deponent further says, that the said Charles Mott declared that he would publish the same, and prove the falsehoods of the said Sir James Graham, but that he was advised not to do so at that time, as another opportunity might occur when they would be more useful in vindication of his own character; and he further said, that he now believes the report was obtained for the purpose of being used by the said Sir James Graham in the House of Commons against the said William Busfeild Ferrand. And this deponent further says, that from the conversations which he has had with the said Charles Mott, he has never doubted, but always believed, that Sir James Graham issued, or caused to be issued, certain instructions to the said Charles Mott to visit and report concerning the said Keighley union.
Now this is a statement made upon oath
by a moat respectable gentleman, who volunteered his evidence—by a gentleman whose character will bear the strictest scrutiny—and by a gentleman who has never been convicted in this House, or out of it, of falsehood. I have now nearly done, but I hope and trust the House will show their kind indulgence towards me, for an attempt has been made to destroy my character; and if it had not been for a most extraordinary circumstance—if it had not been for a quarrel in the office of the Poor Law Commissioners, I might have died with my character stained with fraud and falsehood, and those that came after me might have gone to their graves injured by the report, the evils of which the late Secretary of State for the Home Department wished to lay at my door. I now come to the dismissal of Mr. Day; but, previously, I must call the attention of the House to that portion of the right hon. Baronet's speech where he says—
I ought perhaps to add that it was not in my power to dismiss Mr. Mott; he was under the Poor Law Commissioners, and I distinctly assert that it was not in reference to this report that Mr. Mott's dismissal took place. There was a reduction of the assistant commissioners from ten to nine, and the Poor Law Commissioners decided that Mr. Mott should retire.
Mark, "it was not in my power to dismiss." Now, at this very time, a very providential circumstance—indeed I may say a most extraordinary circumstance—occurred, by which the late Secretary of State for the Home Department robbed the assistant poor-law commissioner of his situation, in order that he might give it to his friend Mr. Twisleton; and this too was done before the right hon. Baronet made his statement, just alluded to, in this House. Mr. Day, who was robbed of his situation by fraud and falsehood, and who, at the time he received the notice of his dismissal, was visiting the district, on the receipt of that notice wrote the following letter to the late Secretary of State for the Home Department:—
Shrewsbury, 23rd January, 1844.
Sir—I beg to transmit for your consideration the enclosed copies of correspondence between myself and the Poor Law Commissioners, on the subject of my resignation of the appointment which I held as assistant commissioner under them. I should not have troubled you in this matter but for the reasons I stated in the conclusion of my final communication to them, being impressed with the conviction that my dismissal (for it is useless to disguise it under any other name) must have originated in the report which the Commissioners of Inquiry have made on the subject of the
Welsh disturbances. Should such have been the case, I have to request your serious attention to the observations with which I have accompanied my resignation, in the hopes that the question may be favourably reconsidered. In a case of such vital import to myself, I may perhaps be excused for observing, that as my resignation will reach Somerset House by the same post by which this is transmitted, I should esteem it a great and personal favour if you would request the Commissioners to delay the filling up my appointment, until you have had time to confer with them respecting it.
Now, listen to the reply of the late Secretary of State for the Home Department, for there is not one word of truth in it:—
"Sir—I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 23rd inst. I have to regret that you should be placed in the circumstances which you describe; but I beg to inform you that the Poor Law Commissioners alone exercise the powers of appointing or ceasing to employ their assistants: I do not interfere. A reduction of their establishment has been rendered imperative. I have conferred with them on the subject; they have selected you in the exercise of their own discretion, and I am not disposed to think it unsound. At the same time I must remark, that your ceasing to be an assistant poor-law commissioner in these circumstances, casts no stain on your character; it is in consequence of reduction; fault has not been imputed to you—I have, &c. "J. R. G. GRAHAM.
"Whitehall, Jan. 25, 1844."
§ Thus the late Secretary of State for the Home Department sends forth that which robs Mr. Day of his situation, and by doing so robs also Mr. Day's family and home; but what will the House say when I tell them that the right hon. Baronet has interfered in these appointments, and that the statement about the Poor Law Commissioners alone exercising the power, is utterly untrue? Now, I will prove this out of the mouth of Mr. Lewis, and I will ask the right hon. Baronet if he is prepared to brand Mr. Lewis with infamy? For if he is not so prepared, I do not think the right hon. Baronet can clear himself. For this purpose I will read a portion of the examination of Mr. G. Lewis before the Andover Union Committee:—
"Mr. CHRISTIE: Can you explain in any way the statement made by Sir James Graham in a letter to Mr. Day, on the 25th of January—'A reduction of their establishment has been rendered imperative. I have conferred with them on the subject; they have selected you in the exercise of their own discretion, and I am not disposed to think it unsound?'—Yes; I will state to the Committee the explanation which Sir James Graham gave to me of the impression he was under when he wrote that letter. He stated to me that at the time when he wrote the letter, he was under the impression that a vacancy was to be made to readmit Mr. Twisleton into the commission, as assistant commissioner. Mr. Twisleton had been 559 appointed upon the Scotch Commission of Poor Law Inquiry by Sir James Graham, with an understanding that as soon as that commission ceased he was to resume his post at the Poor Law Commission. The Scotch Poor Law Commission ceased about this time, and Sir James Graham was extremely desirous that his promise should be strictly fulfilled.
"Whose promise?—Sir James Graham's promise. He told me that when he wrote this letter, he was under the impression that virtually there were ten assistant commissioners, and that a vacancy was to be made for Mr. Twisleton. Certainly the impression was an erroneous one; he must have written without an exact recollection of the facts in his mind.
"Was the letter written without any reference to the Commissioners?—The letter was not seen by the Commissioners before it was sent.
"Mr. S. WORTLEY: Was there any communication upon the subject of the letter with the Commissioners before it was sent?—No; I have no recollection of any.
"Mr. CHRISTIE: When was the explanation given to you by Sir James Graham?—Some time in the course of this Session; at the time the subject was mentioned in Parliament.
"Mr. S. WORTLEY: Did you confer with him before that about it?—No, I think not.
"Mr. CHRISTIE: When did you first become acquainted with this letter, written by Sir James Graham to Mr. Day, putting his resignation on the imperative necessity of a reduction?—At the time of the publication of Mr. Day's pamphlet.
"Did not you then ask Sir James Graham what he had meant, or how he had fallen into this mistake?—I do not recollect that Sir James Graham explained to me at that time what was the origin of his mistake. I saw he had made a mistake.
"Do you remember ever calling his attention to the mistake at the time?—I may have called his attention to the mistake, but I do not remember his giving me any explanation of it; at the same time I cannot say positively that I did call his attention to the circumstance.
"Have not you been in the habit of constant and confidential communication with Sir James Graham?—I have been in frequent communication with Sir James Graham.
"Did not you think that such a mistake as that made by Sir James Graham might involve him in difficulty?—Yes; at the same time I cannot say that I did point out the mistake to him, and I certainly do not recollect that he made any explanation of the cause of it to me before the present Session.
"Perhaps you were glad of sheltering yourself under Sir James Graham's reason?—No; because there was an inconsistency between his reason and the reason which the Commissioners had stated.
"When were you first aware of this promise made by Sir J. Graham to Mr. Twisleton?—I was aware of it at the time."
§ Here, then, I have proved that the right hon. Baronet made a distinct promise to Mr. Twisleton, but what that promise was he (the right hon. Baronet) has refused to tell. Could you [said the hon. Member addressing Sir J. Graham] not have rewarded him (Mr. Twisleton) without also 560 robbing poor Day of his daily bread? I now come to one of the worst cases against the late Secretary of State for the Home Department, which is made evident from the following letter from Mr. Day:—
"Shrewsbury, April, 25, 1844.
"Sir—I beg to recall your attention to your communication of the 25th of January last, relative to the correspondence between the Poor Law Commissioners and myself. You therein state as follows:—
"'A reduction of their establishment has been rendered imperative. I have conferred with them on the subject; they have selected you in the exercise of their own discretion, and I am not disposed to think it unsound.'"
"At the end of the then quarter, viz., on the 31st of March, I accordingly transmitted my resignation as assistant commissioner. On the 5th of April, however (barely within the time that a communication of the fact could have been made to Dublin, and an answer received), Colonel Napier is gazetted 'Deputy Adjutant General for Ireland, vice Colonel Wade, who resigns;' and on the 18th of that month Colonel Wade is sworn in in my place.
"The 'reduction,' therefore, in the establishment of the Poor Law Commission which you have stated was imperative, had evidently no relation to any reduction in the number of the assistant commissioners. It can have been required only for other purposes, and those purposes now appear to have been the effecting a new distribution in the military arrangements of Ireland.
"That the direction for the reduction has proceeded from yourself, and that the discretion of the Commissioners was limited merely to the selection of the individual to be reduced, as fully proves that my dismissal resulted from no personal considerations unfavourable to myself, as your own admission, that 'you had conferred with them on the subject, and that fault was not imputed.'
"But the mere deprivation of an office which I was originally solicited to accept, and on account of which I have suffered inconvenient sacrifices, is not alone of what I complain. The way in which it has been effected, has been as ungenerous as unjust. It has been attempted to make it appear the result of incompetency on my part, and to colour the proceeding with the imputation of inefficiency. These are not words of course. No other ordinary meaning can be attached to the expression of the Commissioners, that the 'public service required my resignation,' and that 'their sense of public duty' compelled them to exact it.
"Surely, Sir, this is neither a manly nor even an honest mode of proceeding. It cannot have been sanctioned, much less have been suggested, by yourself. But still it is part of the same transaction; and I retire from the commission under an imputation against which even your own suggestion, that my removal is 'in consequence of reduction,' can be now no longer advanced.
"I beg then, once more, respectfully to ask you to reconsider the matter, to restore me, not to a commission, in which the very fact of my dismissal must disable me from acting with advantage, but at least to the position from which I have been displaced; to grant me some equivalent for the sacrifices I have made, and to prove by some 561 further employment that the confidence of the Government is not withdrawn from me.
"I do not think it right to close this communication without mentioning that I have been in correspondence with the Duke of Wellington on the subject, having considered that so much of this transaction as has been connected with the War Office must have been under his cognizance.—I have, &c. "WILLIAM DAY."
So that on the very day when the right hon. Baronet came here to deny my charge against him, and when he said that it was not in his power to interfere with the Poor Law Commissioners, the right hon. Baronet had that very day received a letter from Mr. Day, charging him with saying that which was not true; and subsequently the right hon. Baronet came down to the House to repeat that which he had untruly stated to Mr. Day, with Mr. Day's letter lying at the Home Office. Here we have Mr. Day branding the late Secretary of State for the Home Department with having wilfully written to him a letter which was untrue, a letter which robbed him (Mr. Day) of his situation; and when such is the case, surely can any one say that such a course is just and proper? Can any honourable man say that this was a proper mode of proceeding? But what is the answer of the right hon. Baronet to Mr. Day's complaint? I will read it to the House:—
Whitehall, April 27, 1844.
Sir James Graham presents his compliments to Mr. Day, and has the honour to acknowledge the receipt of his letter of the 25th instant.
The patronage of Sir James Graham is very limited, and he much regrets his inability to hold out to Mr. Day any expectation that it will be in his power to meet his wishes.
Now, if the right hon. Baronet could have produced the slightest reason for justifying the language he wrote to Mr. Day when he had robbed him of his situation, the right hon. Baronet would have alluded to what he had before written to Day, and have allowed that it was untrue. But poor Day was sacrificed for Colonel Wade! As to Colonel Wade's appointment, there is a most melancholy circumstance connected with it, whether bearing any relation or not to the matter of the appointment, I will not venture to express an opinion; but the fact is, that Colonel Wade not long after that appointment dropped down dead while visiting an union workhouse. The next quotation I shall make from the speech of the late Secretary of State for the Home Department, is that where he says—
There was a reduction of the assistant commissioners from ten to nine, and the Poor Law
Commissioners decided that Mr. Mott should retire.
That this was the case does not appear from the answers given by Mr. Lewis to the questions put to him by Mr. Christie, when before the Andover Union Committee. Mr. Christie asked—
"Was Mr. Mott's resignation, about which you have been asked, in pursuance of this Act of Parliament requiring the reduction to nine?—Yes; that is my recollection of it.
"Who succeeded Mr. Mott?—Mr. Clements.
"Then how did Mr. Mott's resignation make a reduction?—There were two assistant commissioners in the district for the time.
"Who were they?—Mr. Mott and Mr. Clements.
"When did Mr. Clements come over from Ireland?—It was some time in the summer of 1842, I think.
"When did Mr. Mott cease to be assistant commissioner?—He ceased to be an assistant commissioner at the end of the year 1842.
"While Mr. Mott and Mr. Clements were together in this district, were not there ten assistant commissioners?—There were.
"Did not Mr. Clements come over from Ireland for the express purpose of succeeding Mr. Mott?—He came over with the view of replacing Mr. Mott when Mr. Mott resigned.
"Till Mr. Clements came over from Ireland, there were only nine assistant commissioners in England, I presume?—No; I believe there were not.
"He came over for the express purpose of replacing Mr. Mott in his district, I understand from you?—Yes.
"He did succeed Mr. Mott?—Yes, he did.
"When he succeeded Mr. Mott, the number of assistant commissioners still remained nine?—Yes.
"Will you explain, then, how Mr. Mott's resignation was in pursuance of the reduction prescribed by that Act of Parliament, which was a reduction to nine?—It was in pursuance of it in this manner: at the time that the Act came into force there were ten assistant commissioners in England, and it was incumbent upon us to reduce that number to nine; we made that reduction by calling on Mr. Mott to resign."
§ And Mr. Lewis was cross-examined at considerable length on this point, and exceedingly closely too, but without shaking the question of Mr. Christie in the slightest degree. But a circumstance has occurred since this evidence was given, and rather a singular one—viz., that Mr. Lewis has added a note to explain away this portion of his evidence; and I want to know what right Mr. Lewis has, after undergoing an examination from the hon. Member for Weymouth, to go into his secret closet and add a note for the purpose of explaining away that examination? I will make one more extract from this evidence, and then I shall have done; and when the House have heard it, I do not think they 563 will refuse my demand, but will grant my application for a Committee of Inquiry. The quotation to which I refer appeared in The Times of August 13, 1846, where the following answer of Mr. Lewis appears to a question from from Mr. Christie:—
§ "Were there any peculiar reasons for calling upon Mr. Mott to resign? — The Committee will excuse my answering that question.
§ "The room was then cleared for some time. On the re-admission of parties, the question was withdrawn."
§ Now as Mr. Lewis on that occasion requested the Committee to excuse his answering that question, will the late Secretary of State for the Home Department answer it? Will he tell us to-night what peculiar reasons there were for calling upon Mott to resign? Mr. Lewis says, "The Committee will excuse my answering that question." But I can answer that question. It was because Mr. Mott had drawn up a false report against me that they were obliged to get rid of him, to prevent him bringing up that which they (the Poor Law Commissioners) did not wish to be brought up in this House. But I have reason to ask that question still, and until it is explained to this House and to the country, I have a right to repeat that question. If, however, they are prepared to answer this question properly—if they have the courage to meet me fairly in the witness box—they will come into a court of justice, and be prepared to undergo a rigid examination, and honestly tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; but if they do not do that, I shall retire from that court with my honour unstained, whilst they will leave it with infamy and disgrace. The hon. Member concluded by submitting his Motion to the House.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
Sir, I came down to this House prepared to deal with the Motion put on the books by the hon. Member for Knaresborough, after considerable deliberation, embracing a large question of public policy, mixed up also with a personal accusation affecting myself; and under a notice—somewhat unusual—that it was the intention of the hon. Member for Knaresborough to allege against me a high crime and misdemeanor. I believed that such was the Motion which would be put from the chair, until the hon. Member undeceived me; and I feel, therefore, I shall best consult the convenience of the House, and not violate their wishes or 564 their feelings, if I deal separately with that part of the case affecting myself personally, and do not enter into the other question of general policy. The hon. Member for Knaresborough, in the course of his speech, has departed from the terms of his notice; he has given up the question of general policy, and confined himself exclusively to a personal attack on me. Sir, I had thought that my retirement from the service of Her Majesty, and my return to the private station which I now occupy, and have occupied for many months, during which period I have observed the strictest silence—giving no cause of offence to any man; I had thought that these altered circumstances would have mitigated that bitter hostility with which the hon Member delights in pursuing me. I have been disappointed in that expectation. I know that the position of the hon. Gentleman is peculiar, and I make allowance for it. The hon. Member, indeed, lays claim to some indulgence, being under an indictment for a misdemeanor; and under these circumstances, as he himself most justly observed, all statements made by the party so indicted are to be received with peculiar allowance. I think it is only right to call the attention of the House to the circumstances under which the hon. Member has delivered his speech. I shall attempt, then, in my reply to that speech, to answer him deliberately and firmly, and I hope also temperately; but the topic is in no way new to this House; for it is that which the hon. Member for Shrewsbury designated, in 1842, as the "great Mott case." I will first call the attention of the House to the circumstances which led to the introduction of this topic. The allegation then made, and since reiterated, was, that I and one or more of the Poor Law Commissioners conspired to obtain a false report, for the purpose of injuring the hon. Member for Knaresborough in the performance of his Parliamentary duties. In 1842 the hon. Member for Knaresborough had not reduced the allegation into this substantive form; I shall, therefore, confine myself, first, to the report of Mr. Mott, and then to the report of Sir J. Walsham. The hon. Member has stated, that these reports were referred to a packed Committee; but, if I recollect rightly, the hon. and gallant Member for Marylebone pressed the hon. Member for Knaresborough, at the time, to insist on a Committee for testing these reports; but the hon. Member for Knares- 565 borough did not then think it expedient to accede to the request; and, failing that suggestion, the hon. and gallant Member himself moved for a Committee of Inquiry. Now the first allegation that the hon. Member has made with respect to the Committee is, that it was a packed Committee. I will read the names of the Members, and the House will judge for itself. First, there was the hon. and gallant Member who moved for the Committee, Sir C. Napier; then the hon. Member himself, who, Sir, was a member of this Committee, which he now states to have been packed; who attended it, and who had ample opportunities of examining any witnesses whom he thought fit to call, and of cross-examining any witnesses to whom or to whose evidence he might have objections; and I must add, that Mr. Mott was called as a witness before that Committee: then came Dr. Nichol, Mr. Childers, Sir J. Pakington, Sir J. Trollope, Colonel Wood, Mr. Manners Sutton, Mr. W. Williams, Mr. Aldam, Mr. Grimsditch, Captain Pechell, Mr. Bolton Clive, Mr. Colville, and Mr. T. Duncombe. These Gentlemen were the members of that Committee — a Committee designated to-night by the hon. Member as a packed Committee. Now, Sir, having mentioned the names, let me read to the House what was the report of that Committee — a report which has been designated to-night as a trumped-up falsehood. Allow me to read to the House what is that report with respect to the two charges which the hon. Member has made. The hon. Member's first charge is, that the report of Mr. Mott is false. His second charge is, that Sir John Walsham's report is false. The report of the Committee tells us, separately, what is the character of these two reports of those gentlemen. It says, that the report of Mr. Mott has been borne out in all its important particulars by the evidence of all the witnesses who had been brought forward to contradict it. That is what the Committee said of Mr. Mott's report. With respect to Sir J. Walsham's report, the Committee declared that no attempt had been made to impugn its general accuracy; nor had it been impugned in its details, except in one or two trifling particulars. That was the report of the Committee, which the House were now told was a trumped-up falsehood. [Mr. FERRAND: I did not use that expression.] I took down the words at the time—I made a note of 566 the expression, and I certainly thought the hon. Member had used it. [Mr. FERRAND: I said it was a trumped-up report. I did not use the expression trumped-up falsehood.] If the hon. Member retracts the expression, I will not insist on it. I am not here to quarrel with the terms in which the hon. Member indulges — I make allowance for his excitement; and whether he said the report of the Committee was a trumped-up report, or a trumped-up falsehood, matters little. Certainly the hon. Member said the Committee was a packed Committee; and I thought he meant to convey, that the Committee being packed, their report was false and unworthy of your confidence As to his assertion, that these reports of these two assistant commissioners were false—in that the hon. Member is directly opposed to the opinion of the Select Committee of which he himself was a member; and it is for the House to judge whether, with the excited feelings which the hon. Member has described as animating him, his account is to be received as correct; or whether the House will not rather give some credit to the report of their Committee, constituted, as I have stated, the hon. Member himself being one of the Committee — when he examined the witnesses, and had every opportunity of bringing forward the charges, in the presence of Mr. Mott, which he has now preferred, but which he then failed even to mention. So stood the case in 1842; and so it remained until 1844. In the spring of 1844, the hon. Member, at a public meeting held at Leeds, in a speech he made, thought fit to go one step further than he had gone in 1842. At that time he went no further than to state that Mr. Mott had made a false report; but, on the occasion referred to, the hon. Member went one step further still, and proceeded to allege that Mr. Lewis and I had conspired to obtain a false report from Mr. Mott, for the purpose of crushing him. Sir, on finding this charge made, I thought it my duty, in my place in Parliament, and in the presence of the hon. Member, to call the attention of the House to a declaration made by an hon. Member, so materially affecting, not only my personal honour, but the unstained purity of the office I had then the honour to hold in Her Majesty's service; and I denied, on my honour, the truth of the charge; using that mode of assertion which has been always regarded 567 here—may it long continue! — as solemn as if an oath were taken by the Member making it. I offered the hon. Member every opportunity he could desire to substantiate his charge, if he adhered to it. The hon. Member, the House will recollect, on that occasion, utterly refused to submit to the jurisdiction of the House, demurred to this House as a fair tribunal to investigate a charge made by one hon. Member against another, and withdrew from the House, not retracting his charge, but declining to substantiate it by a Parliamentary inquiry. Now, Sir, it stands recorded in the Journals of this House, that the accusation made this night by the hon. Member, and which he then made, and which I think he has had an opportunity to prove, if it was possible to be proved—it stands recorded, I say, on the Journals of the House, that that accusation, in the opinion of this House, was unfounded and calumnious. On this part of the case, Sir, common candour will admit that the presumption at least is strongly in my favour. But though from time to time the hon. Member, after the solemn vote which had been thus recorded against him, has referred in his place as a Member of this House to these circumstances, preferring such reference to any attempt to prove his accusations—still he abstained for a time from repeating the original charges; but at length, in July or August I think, he boldly reasserted these charges, and at last ventured on a more substantive form of reiteration of them than he had ever made in the interval. The hon. Member in two letters which, he addressed to The Times newspaper, went a good deal further, and asserted more than in his oral charges he had hitherto ventured to affirm. Upon the appearance of these letters, Mr. Lewis, at once took the opinion of counsel on the question, whether those letters were not indictable? Sir, the hon. Member has stated, if I mistake not, on a former evening, that he wrote those letters from an eager desire to bring the point at issue to the test. But if the hon. Member had felt that eager desire, he would, I should suppose, have been ready to acknowledge himself the author of those letters. Now, I am much misinformed if, for three weeks after application was made to him to know if he was the author of these letters, the hon. Member did not avoid making any answer; and Mr. Lewis was consequently compelled to send spe- 568 cially his attorney to the hon. Member to put directly and orally to him the question as to the authorship of those letters; but even then when the question was put to him personally the hon. Member declined to answer till he had had an opportunity of coming to London; and it was not until two days after that personal application had been made to him, that he acknowledged that he was the author of those letters; and it was not until The Times had consented to produce the original letters, and thereby to prove that the hon. Member was the author of them, that the hon. Member acknowledged that he had written them. So much for bringing the question at issue to the test. Then a motion was made on the part of Mr. Lewis, before the whole Court of Queen's Bench, that a criminal information should be filed against the hon. Member. The hon. Member combated the proceedings for making absolute the rule nisi; he resisted to the utmost of his power, and at last the court decided that the rule against the hon. Member should be made absolute. And here I may observe that the affidavit which the hon. Member has very much relied on to-night was used in the Queen's Bench in the course of the last argument, on the rule nisi, when there was no possibility of making an answer to it, but it was used before the judges of the court; and nothing but the respect I bear for the even flow of justice, and the consideration that I should be highly culpable if I interfered in the slightest degree with the current of its administration, prevents me from citing to the House some of the observations that were made by the Lord Chief Justice, when he delivered the judgment of the court, that the rule must be made absolute. I will not read that judgment; but I may mention that I have filed a statement on oath—I have placed my affidavit on the files of the court, where it is open to traverse, contradiction, or answer—solemnly denying the truth of the charge that I was a party in any conspiracy whatever for the purpose of crushing the hon. Member. But the hon. Member says, that the real nature of these transactions will never be known until—I do not like to repeat the expression—until the day of judgment; but I assure him that before the day of judgment comes, and before a verdict is delivered, an opportunity shall be given to the hon. Member, of the most unexceptionable kind, for 569 proving in the fullest manner what took place between Mr. Lewis and myself with respect to the whole affair. I am ready to appear as a witness in a court of law, and to be examined on every portion of these transactions, so far as I have been concerned in them. Sir, I court that inquiry; and having made this declaration, and considering that this matter is pending in a court of law, and that Mr. Lewis entered into security to proceed with the information three or four days before the Session began, though I am not indisposed to give the hon. Member any advantage he may wish for, I think, nevertheless, that to enter in this House into details on this matter on which I may be summoned to give evidence as a witness in a court of law, would be a course that would be quite inconsistent with a proper regard for the pure administration of justice. Under these circumstances, I hope the House is satisfied that my conduct with respect to Mr. Mott has not been what the hon. Member has described it to be; and I assure the House I am not unprepared to give the fullest information in my power, at the proper time and before the proper tribunal. Still the hon. Member has dwelt upon some points on which I wish to offer a few words. The hon. Member said, "Where is the honour of Mr. Lewis?" I say, that Mr. Lewis has taken a step to vindicate that honour, and taken that step which the hon. Member says he most desired. The hon. Member has appealed unto Cæsar—"unto Cæsar thou shalt go." Mr. Lewis has appealed to a court of law to say, whether he has in any respect departed from the honour and honesty that ought to distinguish a servant of the Crown; and whether that which has been pronounced by this House a false and calumnious charge when directed against me, be not, according to the verdict of a jury of his countrymen, in the case of Mr. Lewis, a false, foul, and indefensible libel. There is another case on which I should wish to make a remark; I refer to the case of Mr. Jenkin Jones, who pleaded guilty to a charge of having bartered a public office for some corrupt consideration. Now, the hon. Member has not hesitated to introduce a passage from the evidence taken before the Andover Union Committee, in which Her Majesty's present Attorney General appears to have expressed, at the trial of Mr. Jones, an opinion of me which is more remarkable for its brevity and for its severity than for 570 its courtesy. But, allowing for the latitude of expression used by counsel, and for the irritation of the moment under defeat, I should be most unwilling to attach any importance to an opinion so pronounced. I regard it as the effect of an impetuous temperament giving frank expression to angry feelings. But, passing from this, I may mention that I did act on that occasion upon the advice of the then law officers of the Crown, of my ever-lamented Friend, the late Sir W. Follett, and my hon. and learned Friend sitting below me (Sir F. Thesiger). I cannot detail to the House, for I do not know, what passed between this person (Mr. Jones) and his immediate employers, the Poor Law Commissioners; but that which came to my knowledge was, that he had been proved guilty of having corruptly trafficked in the appointment to a public office. This was acknowledged by the party accused; and, regardless of every other consideration, I declared that I thought he ought to be brought up for judgment. The court having sentenced him to a year's imprisonment, I think I should have ill discharged my duty to the Crown, in the case of a public servant who was convicted of having corruptly bartered a public office, if I had advised the Crown to remit that punishment—at least before a large portion of it had been suffered. I should, I think, have betrayed my duty, if I had advised any remission of the punishment before eight months' imprisonment at least had been suffered. As to that case, I can say that I advised Her Majesty, as a Minister of the Crown, without favour or affection, to do that which I considered would be most conducive to justice. I acted, if I may be permitted to say so, with perfect indifference, and what I did was altogether founded on a consideration of my bounden duty as the responsible adviser of Her Majesty. I now wish shortly to explain a matter to which I have already referred in my place here, and to which the hon. Member has again called attention tonight. I speak with reference to a question which the hon. Member for Finsbury put to me at the close of the Session of 1845, with regard to the practice of bone-crushing in the Andover union workhouse. The question was first put, I believe, by the hon. Member for Finsbury within a week of the close of that Session. I directed immediate inquiry to be made into the matter. The person employed to make that inquiry by the Poor Law Commission- 571 ers was Mr. Parker, who happened at that time to be the assistant commissioner to whose district the Andover union belonged. I think I am accurate that the interview between me, Mr. Parker, and one of the Poor Law Commissioners, Sir E. Head, took place on the morning before the prorogation, or the day but one before the prorogation. It was, therefore, all but impossible for me to present to the House Mr. Parker's written report before the prorogation of Parliament. It has been said that I wished to suppress that report. Now, the suppression of that report was not within my power; because, being made to the Poor Law Commissioners, it was on the records of their office, and therefore its suppression by me was impossible. But I did think then, and I think now, that the production of that report on the last day of the Session, when no explanation of it could be given, and no mitigating circumstances could be stated, and to have allowed it to have gone forth to the public in the absence of the explanations which ought to have been simultaneously promulgated, would have been unfair; and I was on that ground led to form the resolution to which I came, not to present the report to the House at that time, but to give the verbal explanation to the hon. Member which I did give on the last day of the Session. In that I may have committed an error of judgment; but I am sure that I acted from a regard to my duty as a public servant. And then a Gentleman, in the public service, acting under the order of his superiors, and confidentially communicating with the Secretary of State, says he takes a note of what took place, and that note is used eight months after the conversation took place by an hon. Member in his place in this House. That note pretends to be an accurate account of what took place. Now, I speak from memory only, without any such memorandum to refer to; but I think there are expressions in that note attributed to me which I did not use. I leave the House to judge in the matter. Sir, something has been said as to my not having courted examination before the Andover Union Committee. The fact is, I remained in London for about three weeks after my resignation of office. The Committee might have summoned me; it was not for me to tender myself as a witness. If any statements or explanations had been made to the Committee by other witnesses, which were not perfectly satis- 572 factory to them, I was all that time ready, at a moment's notice, to have attended them; and I should then have given to them the same account of these transactions which I have now given to the House. The House, therefore, will not, I trust, draw any unfavourable inference against me because I was not examined as a witness before the Andover Union Committee. With respect to the report of Mr. Mott on the Bolton case, I certainly have no very distinct recollection of the circumstances of that case; but I do remember the hon. Member for Bolton making a statement in this House respecting the distress prevailing in the year 1841 among a portion of his constituents, and I believe that it was in his capacity as assistant commissioner that Mr. Mott made that inquiry. I had every reason at that time to think that that report was strictly accurate; but statements were made in this House which certainly did throw a certain degree of doubt on that report; and on the Poor Law Commissioners making the reduction from ten to nine assistant commissioners, although I certainly can say that in the distribution of their patronage, neither directly nor indirectly have I ever interfered, yet on that reduction being made, the Poor Law Commissioners may have confidentially stated that which led them to prefer to part with one rather than another of those assistant commissioners. It was certainly not at my instance that any one of the assistant commissioners has been dismissed. I now come to the case of Mr. Clements. With respect to Mr. Clements, the matter has been already debated in this House. The noble Lord at the head of the Government took part in that debate, and only six Members in a very full House joined with the hon. Member in thinking that there was any one imputation resting on Mr. Clements. I rely upon the opinion of the overwhelming majority of the House against the hon. Member, who then had, unfortunately, only six Members willing to vote with him, and who this evening found it very difficult, I think, to find a single Member disposed to second his Motion. It remains only for me to notice the case of Mr. Day. The House will bear in mind, that towards the end of the year 1843, the Commission which had been appointed to inquire into the state and causes of the disturbances in South Wales made their report, and it was quite obvious that among the circumstances which 573 had led to those disturbances the administration of the poor law was one of the most prominent causes. Now, I must observe, that it is one thing to impute blame, and another to take precautions that the management to be adopted shall be such as to cause a good feeling towards the administrators of the law in delicate and difficult circumstances. But, there was some imputation on the administration, and I thought that it would be advantageous if there were some change in the South Wales poor-law district. I communicated that opinion to the Commissioners at the end of December, 1843, and the moment I heard that there was likely to be an opening for a Commissioner who would exercise superior discretion and ability, the position of Mr. Twisleton was brought to my recollection. It was at my request that he had relinquished one of the most important and beneficial situations under the Commission — that of assistant commissioner for the metropolitan district; and he did so at my particular intreaty, and for the benefit of the public service. My right hon. Friend below me (Sir R. Peel) will remember the eminent services and the great assistance which Mr. Twisleton rendered to the public in the year 1842. The hon. Member has thought fit to impute to Mr. Twisleton some corrupt proceedings with respect to the town of Paisley; but I have never heard before of any such imputation. I only know, that under the most difficult circumstances, he, with exemplary fidelity, discharged the difficult duties allotted to him. Mr. Twisleton was no political friend of mine: he was appointed by the noble Lord opposite, when his Friends were formerly in power; and it was only my conviction of his merit, after seeing his fidelity and his ability in the execution of very difficult duties, that led me to impose upon him the difficult task of an inquiry into the poor law in Scotland. I have already said that he then held a most advantageous position; I asked him, for the public good, to give up that situation, and to go into Scotland to perform a most confidential and disagreeable duty. There was the greatest uncertainty whether he would be able to resume his position; but I gave him an assurance on my part, that when the opportunity occurred, he should not be overlooked. When, therefore, I saw that owing to the change in the Welsh district there was likely to be an opening, I did ask the Poor Law Commissioners to remember Mr. Twisleton. It 574 appeared, however, that the business in Scotland required him to remain till Easter; and it was subsequently the wish of Mr. Twisleton, at the expiration of his period of service in Scotland, to take a tour abroad. The Poor Law Commissioners were intimately acquainted from past experience with the merits of the late Colonel Wade, and in the exercise of the discretion vested in them by law they did remove Mr. Day, and did appoint Colonel Wade. Now, Sir, I really do not think that I have omitted a single point in the long and protracted speech of the hon. Member; and I hope and believe that I have not been betrayed into a single angry expression with reference to this subject. I repeat that the matter of the conspiracy, by obtaining false reports, to crush the hon. Member, cannot rest in its present state. Fortunately an appeal has been made to the right tribunal; there, and there only, can I enter into the fullest explanation on that particular point with respect to Mr. Mott, which the hon. Member has again raised; and there I shall be ready to appear to give that more full explanation, which my sense of duty prevents me here from giving.
§ DR. BOWRING
said, that as reference had been made to a case in which he had taken part, he would state the facts, which were very simple. In the year 1841, he had called the attention of the House to the extreme suffering which afflicted the community he represented; and he had made a statement which had undoubtedly induced the right hon. Baronet to say that if such a state of things existed in the borough of Bolton he ought to institute an immediate inquiry. That inquiry was instituted, and Mr. Mott was the commissioner sent down to conduct it. Certainly that gentleman did not conduct the inquiry in a manner to satisfy him or his constituents. They thought that he had not made the inquiries he ought, that he had not seen the individuals he ought to have seen, and that he had not examined the parties he ought to have examined. The papers were printed by the House, and showed that the duties had been very unsatisfactorily discharged by Mr. Mott. He had, undoubtedly, made complaint of that circumstance; he was not aware that he had made any representation to the right hon. Baronet; but he did make a representation to the Secretary of the Poor Law Commissioners, that nothing could do more discredit to the Poor Law Commissioners than their conduct in the matter of Mr. 575 Mott. Of Mr. Mott he had heard nothing for a long time after, nor until the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) had appealed to him as being acquainted with the circumstances of his (Mr. Mott's) dismissal; and he certainly thought that the dismissal of Mr. Mott was an admission that his (Dr. Bowring's) statements were true, and that Mr. Mott's representations were not; and he thought that what the right hon. Baronet said upon that occasion had put him in the situation in which a Member ought to stand with his constituents and the public, and that the dismissal of Mr. Mott recognised the truth of his (Dr. Bowring's) assertions.
§ MR. DISRAELI
As the two principal speakers in this debate have done me the honour of referring to my opinions on this subject, I hope the House will allow me again to touch the "great Mott case," to which the right hon. Baronet the Member for Dorchester has alluded. On the present occasion, as upon the last—which I believe will be nearly three years ago—I have not had the advantage of any previous conference with my hon. Friend the Member for Knaresborough. The Resolutions were shown to me when I entered the House; I was then told that my hon. Friend had made up his mind to withdraw the latter part of them; and in that respect I do not think there is any difference of opinion as to his discretion. I am bound to say, that upon the subject generally I have formed an opinion very different from that of my hon. Friend the Member for Knaresborough. I have endeavoured before briefly to explain that general opinion; and, having since been a member of the Andover Committee, I am, perhaps, not the less qualified from forming a judgment upon it. The House should never forget the circumstances of this case, and the subject with which they are connected. The great change in the law of Elizabeth, with respect to the maintenance of the poor, which has occurred in our time, is a subject constantly before the public for national criticism and for political modification. It is impossible to deny that it is one of those subjects on which public opinion should be viewed with indulgence, and on which the public expression of the opinions of public men ought not to be looked upon captiously, especially of those public men who took up opinions which were unpopular in this House, who were unconnected with any party in the House, and who if they went into a division, would have gone into 576 a sorry division; such as that to which the right hon. Baronet the late Secretary of State for the Home Department referred in a spirit so constitutional, but in which, seeing his present position, he may some day find himself. The poor-law question, is a question of charity, and we ought to look charitably upon all discussions connected with it. Let me take the position of the right hon. Gentleman himself. He was a distinguished country gentleman before he held any office in Her Majesty's Government. He formed a decided opinion upon an economic and most important question. Whether that opinion were right or wrong, if men had not taken it up, the great change would not have taken place. I therefore always, from the first, believed that the right hon. Gentleman, as a country gentleman, or as a distinguished Minister, was, upon this subject, entirely sincere. He thought this great change was necessary. He was a member of the Committee, the report of which recommended this change. He supported it with great ability when it was introduced; he very naturally supported it when he became a Minister of the Crown, not only as the representative of philosophical and political convictions, but as a man does when invested with power. He was determined that the change should be carried into effect; and he was determined to uphold it when it became the law. In that I see nothing but conviction and sincerity of conduct. But there are always two opinions upon the same subject; and when we see a man like my hon. Friend the Member for Knaresborough—not brought into power by a great party, but supported by the sympathies of his neighbours, who are opposed to this law—who is a man of honest convictions—who, whatever may be alleged against him, speaks out of this House, as I know, whatever others may think, what he says in it—when we see my hon. Friend coming to this House, and opposing himself to the opinions of the majority, although they think him outrageously in error, I do say that opinions upon this subject uttered by such a man, should be received with indulgence, perhaps even with kindness. As to this particular case, I do not agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Knaresborough. I see two sincere individuals, the one a right hon. Gentleman, recently a Secretary of State, who is attacked; the other, the hon. Member for Knaresborough, who is to be punished. Those two individuals represent opposite 577 opinions; but I cannot help remembering that the one has been a powerful Minister, supported by a powerful party, and the other is an isolated individual, who has had no party to support him; whose only solace and whose best reward has been the sympathies of people out of doors. Under these circumstances, I think it would have been just to have viewed the conduct of the Minister, whoever he might be, who had to carry this law into effect, with anything but a captious spirit. So also do I think that the individual who opposed the Minister of that particular administration of the law, should not be held up as a person whose conduct ought always to be impugned, and whose motives always maligned. With respect to what the right hon. Gentleman said in his chief answer, or rather reason for not giving an answer, to the charge of my hon. Friend, that this was not a proper tribunal where this case ought to be settled, I entirely agree with him; but let me ask the House where was this question first originated? Was it before the Lord Chief Justice of England, to whom the right hon. Gentleman appeals? No! Let us not forget the remarkable circumstances under which a solitary Member was brought before the self-appointed tribunal of this Assembly. You had then an individual the most powerful Minister that England has seen for a century, and who might have remained the most powerful Minister, had he not, as Hippocrates says, in one of his chapters in which he accounts for madness, been placed in those circumstances in which "too much prosperity may make a man insane;" you had that powerful Minister, with that devoted phalanx—that Macedonian army, ready to vote according to his nod—arrayed against this solitary being, who chose to express what might be erroneous, but were his honest and profound convictions. Had he the chance which any man in the House of Commons, whatever his politics may be, generally has? Could he appeal to a generous Opposition to support him? On the contrary, the Opposition at that time mainly consisted of a particular and predominant interest, which, whether right or wrong this individual had peculiarly offended. You were at that moment virtually governed by the manufacturing party in this House. Between the Government of that day and that particular interest, there was, though not announced, a virtual alliance. Many there were, who, in giving a vote against the Member for Knaresbo- 578 rough, remembered they were punishing the denunciator of "Devil's dust." These were the circumstances under which the House came to a resolution which still remains upon our Journals; but, I say, not to the dishonour of the hon. Member for Knaresborough, but to the discredit of the House of Commons. Such language, in such a form, ought to be kept for high criminals. You should not punish a man in his position for idle words. When I turn to your Journals, and see a man expressing his convictions upon a subject of great national interest, because he may express himself against one of the most powerful individuals in the country in language too strong, denounced by a resolution of the Commons of England, I cannot say it will be for your historic reputation; I doubt whether it will tell for your political courage. And now you come forward again and say, this question has been settled by a decision of the House, and that it is finally to be adjudicated upon by another tribunal. The main fact I do not deny. I cannot conceive for a moment that my hon. Friend the Member for Knaresborough could possibly have supposed that under the present circumstances the House of Commons could have interfered in his favour; and I take it as a confirmation of that opinion, that my hon. Friend did not consult me on the subject, because, if he had, I should have told him that it was totally impossible, in the present state of this question before the Court of Queen's Bench, to appeal to the House of Commons. The right hon. Gentleman stops the question at once. But I take it, after what has passed, there will be no delay in the decision. I take it also, after what the right hon. Gentleman stated, that not only himself will appear in the witness-box, but Mr. Lewis also. I will not notice the minor points of this case; such as what the right hon. Gentleman said about Mr. Twisleton. That point he seems to admit. It appears to me that however you regard this case, it ends all in the conduct of one—I should be sorry to use harsh language towards any one who is absent, or under affliction, but I say one—disreputable individual. It is "Mr. Mott said this," "Mr. Mott wrote that." He is ready to swear that the Minister of the Crown engaged him to do that which that Minister says he was not engaged to do; and he is ready to swear that he was engaged to do something, whilst the hon. Member alleges the contrary. Then we have a right to ask, is 579 the word of the right hon. Member for Dorchester worth more than the word of Mr. Mott? I must say I prefer the word of the right hon. Gentleman to that of Mr. Mott; but saying that sincerely, I think I may also say, I prefer the word of the hon. Member for Knaresborough to that of Mr. Mott. Mr. Mott, the poor-law guardian, or Mr. Mott, the keeper of a madhouse, is not a person entitled to the gratuitous admiration of mankind. But what, after all, is this to the House of Commons? Why this scandalous House of Commons' quarrel? The entry of these things on the Journals, does not tend to elevate the character of this House. It is a House of Commons' quarrel, which has arisen from misconception, misunderstanding—from awakened prejudices and heated passions, which must exist in popular assemblies. How painful that the Lord Chief Justice of England must come forward to vindicate the honour of one of our chief statesmen, or even to punish the honest and hon. Member for Knaresborough, who thinks all this time sincerely that he has been fighting the cause of the people! We are told that this question is to be settled by the Court of Queen's Bench. No doubt, if the knot be worthy of the divinity, the question will soon be solved. But be that as it may, I cannot but feel that the decision of any court of justice, though it may substantiate the truth, will not elevate our character in the opinion of our constituents. I rose, however, to express my hope—to which I am sure my hon. Friend will respond—that after the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, and the fair challenge he made, he will not ask the House of Commons to come to any decision upon this question.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
I think there has been a slight misconception of the real merits of this case. In spite of the philosophical reasons and the deep research of the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, I think there is not a very true conception of this matter. It strikes me that it comes before this House in a very small form. A Member of the House of Commons charges a Minister of the Crown with corrupting and suborning an inferior officer, and sending him into the country in order to fabricate a false report to destroy the character of a Member of this House; and then we are told this ought never to have come before this House. The hon. Gentleman says that this subject is one of the most important economical considerations of the 580 Government. I should like to know whether the hon. Gentleman, although he used half a dozen words when one would suffice, did not mean to say that this is a very important subject for the consideration of the Government of this country, and particularly as regards the poor. I am willing to take the matter as he represents it. It is the administration of a very unpopular law which the hon. Gentleman described, or rather did not describe, for he talked only in vague generalities, of an unpopular law affecting great interests in this country; and, among others, the great body of our poor countrymen. The application of this law is said to be corrupt—basely corrupt—by a Minister of the Crown, so as to bear unjustly upon the poor of this country. I want to know whether the House of Commons is not the place in which such a charge should be entertained? If a Minister of the Crown is guilty of such base conduct, is it not a subject for us to entertain? Is it not our special mission to protect the poor against such proceedings—I use the words "base proceedings"—on the part of any Minister of the Crown? The right hon. Gentleman was so charged by the hon. Member for Knaresborough. The House of Commons takes it up. That Macedonian phalanx, which the hon. Gentleman chose to mark with the finger of scorn, voted upon that resolution nemine contradicente, stating that the charge was calumnious against a Minister of the Crown. The hon. Gentleman himself who speaks of that Macedonian phalanx was one of those who so voted. ["No!"] At the time to which the hon. Member for Shrewsbury refers, he sat behind the Minister—that powerful Minister at whose beck and call the Macedonian phalanx, now rendered so memorable, was prepared to act. People shook their heads, but that would not alter the state of the facts.
§ MR. DISRAELI
I spoke in favour of my hon. Friend the Member for Knaresborough. The Speaker upon that occasion did not see the hon. Member for Lincoln rise, and, therefore, it did happen that I had no opportunity of voting, because in fact there was not any formal division; but I certainly intended to vote as I have stated, and I should have so voted if the Motion had been pressed.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
resumed: This is not the first time the hon. Member for Shrewsbury has spoken one way and voted another. What I look at is this: I see recorded upon the Journals of this House 581 a Resolution, setting forth that an hon. Member has uttered a calumnious observation upon a Minister of the Crown, a Secretary of State; and I find the hon. Member for Shrewsbury saying, that he intended to vote against that resolution. Now, I venture to affirm, that if a question be put, and that I intend to vote against it, I should take care that the House did not separate until I should acquire an opportunity of recording my vote. We all know that the accusation brought against the Secretary of State was a false and calumnious charge. But no matter what subject may come under discussion in this House, there are men who will twist and turn it to their own purposes: these I call men of one idea. The currency will occupy exclusively the mind of one man; this quarrel between the hon. Member for Knaresborough and the right hon. Member for Dorchester may for a time fill the thoughts of another; but the conduct of the late Prime Minister is the leading idea with the hon. Member for Shrewsbury: he cannot help bringing into every discussion his old favourite topic, censure and condemnation of the right hon. Baronet who recently was at the head of the Government. This one idea he drags into every discussion; and whenever he gets up, be the occasion what it may, he never can sit down till he has had a fling at the right hon. Baronet. This figure of the Macedonian phalanx—his most recent, yet not his most happy effort—is one which cannot fail to remind all who heard the hon. Member of this material fact, that the hon. Member himself was in that phalanx for a time one of the most faithful and devoted followers of the right hon. Baronet; that with him and for his support the hon. Member's spear was levelled, and his shield locked; that he firmly maintained his position so long as danger did not impend, but the moment that any ground for serious apprehension arose, he instantly ran over to the enemy's camp. It therefore ill became the hon. Member for Shrewsbury to talk as he has done of the phalanx to which he himself belonged.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
It appears to me that the hon. and learned Member for Bath, either Quixotically takes upon himself to avenge every wrong, or, in his legal capacity, to pronounce an opinion upon the law of every case. This subject will finally be decided in the Court of Queen's Bench; but that does not prevent the hon. and learned Member from pronouncing an 582 opinion upon it, nor does the peculiar turn of his own mind preclude him from accusing others of being always under the influence of a leading idea. He thought the right hon. Baronet the late head of the Government a great authority upon one great system; and he thought that with the hon. Member for Shrewsbury the leading idea is enmity to the late head of the Government: what foundation is there for statements of this kind? I can assure the hon. Member for Bath, that the course which he takes in public is as little qualified as anything well can be, to impress upon the mind of this House, or on that of the community at large, the opinion that he is in public the same kindly-disposed and honourable man that I have reason to believe he is understood to be in private life.
LORD J. RUSSELL
The hon. Member for Shrewsbury has told us that just as he was coming into the House he learned that the hon. Member for Knaresborough had abandoned one moiety of his resolution; and I am sure it was quite apparent, from the speech of the hon. Member which the House has just heard, that if the other moiety were to be dispensed with, the hon. Member for Shrewsbury would have been equally well pleased, and would have thought the forbearance of his hon. Friend, whom he now supports, equally judicious. I confess that for my part I never knew a Motion less to the purpose—less applicable to the business that has really been brought before the House. The hon. Member for Knaresborough has brought forward a Motion compounded of various questions which have been already decided by this House. The merits of those questions have already been stated over and over again. The grounds upon which proceedings connected with them rest, have been already deliberately considered; and the House has arrived at an almost unanimous decision respecting the charges that have been brought against the late Secretary of State and the Poor Law Commissioners, imputing to them that they conspired to produce a false report for the purpose of imposing upon Parliament. The hon. Member for Bath says truly, that that was an almost unanimous vote of this House. So far then as the House is concerned, the whole question has been disposed of; and there appears to me to be a peculiar impropriety in now bringing it forward here, inasmuch as we all know that the question has been formally brought before a court of law, and the future decision of it cannot 583 be made a breach of privilege. The case was fully heard by the House; and the House came to a decision upon all the facts. With such grounds only in his possession, or accessible to him, it does not seem to me that the hon. Gentleman was entitled to eke out his invective by the assistance of documents which were brought under the consideration of the Committee appointed to inquire into the case of the Andover union. Now, in making this Motion, and in bringing forward those documents once more, the hon. Member has by no means succeeded in showing us why there should be any further inquiry. There is, however, one observation, which cannot fail to strike the mind of every one with reference to all the points under consideration, namely, that the hon. Member was not entitled to use Mr. Coode for two purposes. When he quoted Mr. Coode as an authority, he read a letter from him, impugning the conduct of the Poor Law Commissioners; and next he referred to the misconduct of Mr. Coode, as proof that the Commissioners are to blame. The hon. Member can scarcely be allowed to quote Mr. Coode both ways. The House, I am sure, must feel as I do, that, at the inquiry before the Committee on the Andover Union case, an officer, subordinate to the Poor Law Commissioners, did not act with that fidelity which the Government and the public had a right to expect. I must say I do not understand how the business of the Home Office, or that of any other department, can be carried on, if undersecretaries are to behave in similar cases in the manner which the gentleman employed by the Poor Law Commissioners has behaved. With this brief reference to the subject, I dismiss all the charges founded upon the evidence given by that subordinate officer. As to the poor law itself, whether it were a wise measure or an unwise measure—whether it were merciful, or whether it were tyrannical, even if it were the most cruel law that ever was passed—nothing remained for the right hon. Baronet the Member for Dorchester, being then Secretary of State, but to carry out the existing law. He was bound to act fairly under it; and I fully believe that he did act fairly in the administration of the powers intrusted to him under that statute. In saying this, however, I am quite ready to assume that the hon. Member for Knaresborough is as perfectly sincere as the hon. Member for Shrewsbury represents him to be; but it does not follow that because of 584 his sincerity we are to support him in bringing forward accusations in this House, imputing corrupt conduct to public functionaries who exercise great trusts. I think the evidence published on the subject has been decisive with the House and the country.
§ SIR R. PEEL
I certainly had no wish whatever to take any part in the present discussion; and I considered that it would be more dispassionately disposed of in that other place to which I understand it is now to be referred. I, therefore, should not have risen had the hon. Member for Shrewsbury not said that I had exercised the power with which I lately was intrusted, for the purpose of doing an individual wrong. I hope if any one believes that charge to be well founded, that he will refer to the record of those transactions, and from the ascertained facts of the case decide if I ever made use of the power which I possessed to do any wrong whatever to the hon. Member, or to any other person. The hon. Member for Shrewsbury says that the hon. Member for Knaresborough preferred a charge against the Secretary of State, and that I, for the purpose of crushing an independent Member, exercised the influence which he supposed then to have been at my command. This I rise to deny, and to invite those who entertain any doubt upon the subject, to examine the evidence. But another charge has been made: it is said that the hon. and learned Member for Beverley, as chairman of a Committee appointed to try the merits of a controverted election, was induced by the Secretary of State, not only to influence the proceedings of that Committee, but that the Secretary of State procured a false report from that Committee, through the agency of the hon. and learned Member for Beverley, to be presented to this House. The hon. Gentleman accused that hon. Baronet with having conspired, contrary to his oath, with the right hon. Baronet. Here are the words:—That Mr. Hogg, the Member for Beverley, and a Member of this House, as Chairman of a Committee to try and determine a petition from Nottingham, complaining of the return for that city, had aided Sir James Graham in unseating Mr. Walter.That is the second charge. It accuses the Secretary of State with having prevailed on Sir J. W. Hogg to violate the sacredness of an oath—to do what? To give an unjust decision in removing Mr. Walter from this House. These charges were 585 noticed not by me; but it was asked whether or not the object of these charges which had been so preferred would remain silent under them? The hon. Member for Beverley came forward, and my right hon. Friend also came forward, and indignantly denied the charge. It then became my duty, holding the position which I then filled, to give advice to the House; for who ever held my situation as a Minister of the Crown, to whom the House did not look to originate and advise proceedings under such circumstances? If any hon. Gentleman will refer to the record of those proceedings, he will observe that I advised the House to act with the greatest caution. First, I advised the House, when the charges were first preferred, to come to no decision whatever at that time. I advised delay. I know that many persons thought that delay was unnecessary; but I was most anxious that the hon. Gentleman should do that which it appeared to me at the time certain that he would do—that he would at once admit that the charges were unfounded, or else that he would attempt to sustain them. Instead of that, however, the hon. Gentleman repeated the charges, but declined to sustain them. I again advised the House to pause, that the hon. Gentleman might have notice given him to appear. A second delay accordingly took place; and when the hon. Gentleman did appear, he repeated his charges, declined to substantiate them, but expressed his determination to adhere to them. There was then, in my opinion, no other course open to the House of Commons to pursue, than to pronounce an opinion on what had taken place. It appeared to me that the Secretary of State would subject himself to almost universal reprobation, and certainly to the reprobation of this House, if he were left open to the charge of having interfered with a gentleman occupying the situation of a Chairman of a Committee and a Member of this House, and having induced him to violate his conscience and his oath, in order to effect the exclusion of a Member of this House. It became then my duty, the hon. Gentleman having declined alike to retract or to substantiate his charges, to move these resolutions. I believe the noble Lord the Member for Newark (Lord J. Manners) did intend to dissent from those resolutions; but he abandoned that intention. I must at the same time say, that so far from these resolutions having been passed in consequence of the exercise of 586 any power I might have over those with whom I was then connected, although two or three Members of this House might be inclined to dissent from them, I do not believe any resolutions ever passed this House which carried with them more of the universal assent of the House. So far from there being any vindictive feeling with regard to the hon. Member for Knaresborough, my firm belief is, that there was scarcely a Member of this House who did not wish to be relieved from the position in which he was placed, by the hon. Gentleman himself coming forward and relieving us from the necessity of passing the resolutions, by retracting the charge he had made, or by endeavouring to substantiate it. These were the circumstances under which I proposed the resolutions to which reference has been made; and if the hon. Gentleman did intend to prefer any charge against me of using any power I possessed to his prejudice, I am sure the feeling of the House, after the statement I have made, will be that I am blameless.
§ Mr. CHRISTIE
I am anxious to be allowed to make one or two observations before the close of this debate; and even if the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir J. Graham) had not alluded to the subject to which I am about to refer, I should have taken the opportunity of saying what I am now about to state. One or two other points have been adverted to in the course of the debate, on which I wish to make a few observations; but I can assure the House I shall do so very briefly, as I am suffering from illness, which precludes me from occupying their attention for more than a few moments. The right hon. Baronet opposite has to-night complained of the production, by me, of a memorandum of a conversation between himself, Sir E. Head, and Mr. Parker, without his having received any previous notice of my intention to produce such a document. The right hon. Gentleman made the same complaint at the time I produced the memorandum; and if I had then thought as I now think, I should then have said what I am anxious now to say—that I ought to have given the right hon. Baronet notice of my intention to produce that document, and that the memorandum contained several colloquial expressions which the right hon. Gentleman would not have used except under the conviction that he was speaking confidentially; and that the publication of such colloquial expression was calculated to do him serious 587 injustice. The right hon. Gentleman has said, that a charge has been made against him that he had wished to suppress a report, in the sense of destroying it. I can say, for myself, that I never made that charge; but, speaking of the suppression of the report, I used the word in the sense in which the terms suppressio veri is very commonly used. He withheld the report made by Mr. Parker, and gave the House no reason to suppose that such a report was in existence, but spoke only of a conversation with Mr. Parker. I think it right to take this opportunity of saying—and I purposely deferred saying it till the Andover Committee had closed their investigation and made their report—that for the error which was committed in the production of that memorandum, I alone am responsible. The memorandum was placed in my hands by Mr. Parker, with a variety of other papers relating to his case, for the purpose of giving me full information on the subject. I exercised my own discretion entirely as to the use I made of them. I did not consult Mr. Parker on the subject. He was not aware of my intention to produce the memorandum, and it is due to him that I should take this opportunity of saying that he was in no way responsible for the production of the memorandum to which I have referred. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of Mr. Parker having made that minute of conversation, as if implying a complaint that Mr. Parker should have made a minute at all. Now I speak in the presence of several other members of the Andover Committee, and probably most hon. Members of this House have read the evidence taken before that Committee, which has now for some time been published; and I must say, with regard to the making of that memorandum—I am sorry to be obliged to express such an opinion—I think Mr. Parker was led to make it from a feeling which I fear was not entertained exclusively by him, but which prevailed among the subordinates of the poor-law office—a feeling of insecurity and of want of confidence in his superiors. The noble Lord has alluded to the evidence taken by the Andover Committee, and especially to some portions of Mr. Coode's evidence; and he stated, apparently amid the general concurrence of the House, that that evidence led to the conclusion that if the subordinates in other public departments were to act as the subordinates of the Poor Law Commissioners had acted, it would be impossible that the busi- 588 ness of such departments could be carried on. I fear there is another conclusion to which the same evidence must lead—that there was generally entertained by the subordinate officers of the Poor Law Commissioners a feeling of a want of confidence in, and want of respect for, their superiors. I do not understand that the hon. Member for Knaresborough has mentioned Mr. Coode as an instance of a bad appointment made by the Poor Law Commissioners. [Mr. FERRAND: No.] The noble Lord, therefore, laboured under a mistake on this point. I understood the hon. Member for Knaresborough to state, that Mr. Coode had been dismissed by the Commissioners subsequently to the evidence given before the Andover Committee. [Mr. FERRAND: For writing a letter.] But the Poor Law Commissioners were not aware of that letter till after Mr. Coode's dismissal, so that it had nothing to do with his dismissal. The right hon. Gentleman was led by some of the remarks of the hon. Member for Knaresborough into the case of Mr. Day, and I think he made a sort of defence of the Poor Law Commissioners with regard to their calling upon Mr. Day to resign. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the character of the poor-law administration in Wales as being one of the chief causes of the Rebecca riots; and I believe I am not misrepresenting the right hon. Gentleman when I say that he has to-night rested the call for Mr. Day's resignation on the ground of an indiscreet and harsh administration of the poor law, which contributed to produce those riots. This defence was not made by the Commissioners before the Andover Committee in the distinct manner in which it has been made to-night by the right hon. Gentleman. I am not at all anxious to take the House into the subject of Mr. Day's resignation; but after what has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman, I trust I may say, that the Andover Committee—(presided over by the noble Lord the Member for Devonshire, who originally voted against the Motion for Inquiry, but who, on the last day of the Committee's meeting, stated that what had transpired before the Committee had led him to believe that his vote had been a wrong one)—a Committee which did not consist of a majority of anti-poor-law members, came without a division to a resolution, which was proposed by the hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich (a gentleman certainly not unfriendly to the Poor Law Commissioners, and a strong friend of the poor 589 law), that after the fullest consideration of Mr. Day's statements, and those of the Commissioners, they considered that the Poor Law Commissioners had entirely failed to justify their call for Mr. Day's resignation. The case of Mr. Jenkin Jones has also been mentioned, and certainly no one can complain of the remarks made on this subject by the right hon. Gentleman. He said nothing but what he was obliged to say by the remarks of the hon. Member for Knaresborough. But as the right hon. Gentleman has stated that Mr. Jenkin Jones pleaded guilty to a charge of having bartered a public office for a corrupt consideration, I do think it only just to Mr. Jones to ask every Member of the House to look at the evidence before the Committee, and to see what were the circumstances under which Mr. Jenkin Jones pleaded guilty to the charge. I would also ask them to bear in mind these most important facts, which were mentioned by the hon. Member for Knaresborough—that at the time of his being sentenced to a year's imprisonment, Mr. Jenkin Jones held the office of actuary to an insurance company; that he had invited the directors of that company to appoint a committee for the purpose of inquiry into the whole case; that before that committee he produced all his papers; and that the directors, responsible as they were to a large body of proprietors, who generally scrutinize with extreme vigilance the proceedings of their directors, having made the investigation courted by Mr. Jones, came to the determination to keep the office of actuary open for him till he was released from his imprisonment; that they then reinstated him in his office; that he still holds it; and that upon a recent occasion a very flattering resolution was passed by a large body of the proprietors, approving of his conduct, and that resolution was accompanied by a very valuable present in acknowledgment of his services. The hon. Member for Knaresborough fell into more than one mistake in his many allusions to the evidence taken by the Andover Committee. He made one mistake, which I am anxious to correct, relative to a matter affecting Mr. Chadwick. He referred to the printed evidence, in which Mr. Lewis speaks of a report, bearing the name of Mr. Mott, having been drawn up by Mr. Chadwick, and goes on to say that he had heard, from a clerk in the office, that the draught report was in Mr. Chadwick's handwriting. The hon. Member for Knares- 590 borough jumps at the extraordinary conclusion that there was a sort of stereotyped report which was brought out on all occasions, with some additions or alterations, to make it apply to particular localities. I need not say that this is a complete mistake: the draught report referred to as being in Mr. Chadwick's handwriting, was the original copy of this particular report. And though the report bore Mr. Mott's signature, there was no impropriety in Mr. Chadwick having assisted in the preparation of the report, because he had been sent down by the Poor Law Commissioners to assist Mr. Mott in the inquiry. The hon. Gentleman has frequently alluded to questions put by me in the Andover Inquiry Committee. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman is of opinion that I joined in the charge that Mr. Mott was sent to make a false report with respect to the Keighley union. Now, whatever questions I might have put on that subject, I never entertained the idea that either the right hon. Gentleman or the Poor Law Commissioners sent down Mr. Mott to make a false report. The report might, or it might not, be false; but all that the evidence before the Committee went to show was, that one Commissioner, Mr. Lewis, had sent down Mr. Mott to make a report. And there is a very great difference, as the hon. Gentleman must be aware, between giving instructions to make a report which may turn out to be false, and giving instructions to make a false report.
§ SIR C. NAPIER
said, that as the hon. Member for Knaresborough had designated the Committee on the Keighley Union as a packed Committee, he begged to say, that he (Sir C. Napier) moved for that Committee; but he did not do so until after the hon. Member had continually dragooned the House about the Keighley union, and said, that before such a Committee he would prove all his assertions to be correct. As no one appeared ready to indulge the hon. Member, he, though a young Member then, certainly did propose that a Committee should be appointed to inquire into the allegations. Being a stranger in the House at that time, he asked either the noble Lord now at the head of the Government, or some other Member, to point out proper persons to be appointed on the Committee. Certain names were given to him; and Dr. Nichol, he thought, on the opposite side, appointed other names. The hon. Member for Knaresborough was appointed 591 one of the Committee, against his opinion; for he thought that the hon. Member ought to have been summoned as a witness. This happened four or five years ago; but he did not recollect that the hon. Member for Knaresborough made an objection to a single Member. He was almost certain that the hon. Member made no objection; and yet, after five years had passed, the hon. Member stood up and called the Committee a packed Committee, and the report drawn up by Dr. Nichol a trumped-up report. The hon. Gentleman did make a counter report; but he was only supported by two or three Members; and all the assertions made by the hon. Member were proved to be utterly groundless. He did not believe that the report was a trumped-up report. He thought it a fair report; and there were only one, two, or three Gentlemen on the Committee who made the smallest objection to it.
did not intend to prolong the discussion, after the manly, able, and candid manner in which the right hon. Gentleman had met the charge against him — a manner in which that House and the country delighted to see a charge met, whether true or false. The hon. Member for Knaresborough had, however, made statements with respect to one with whom he (Mr. Villiers) was connected, and for whose honour he felt a deep interest; and he could not help recalling the attention of the House to those statements before the Motion should be disposed of. The hon. Member had stated that Mr. Lewis, the Poor Law Commissioner, induced a man to confess his guilt, for the purpose of using that confession against him on a public trial by indictment; and he had also said, that Mr. Lewis destroyed documents for the purpose of preventing falsehoods being disclosed. He (Mr. Villiers) did not deny, that any Member of that House had a right to impugn any public functionary for the manner in which he acted; and, if the charges could be proved, he did not deny the hon. Member's right to make them. If true, he was bound to make them, but he was also bound to establish them. Yet the hon. Member did not produce one tittle of proof to show the truth of the charges he had made against Mr. Lewis; and he (Mr. Villiers) defied him to produce one. He believed that they were utterly false; and he believed, that of all the calumnies uttered, in or out of the House, none were more destitute of foundation, or more foul than these. He said this with 592 perfect sincerity; and he could only suppose that the hon. Member had brought forward these calumnies for the purpose of wounding the feelings and insulting a person not present. Believing that the hon. Member had intended to insult and injure one who was absent, and thinking that one unjustly attacked ought to be defended, he had risen with that object. He could not notice the attacks made in the way in which he should wish to do in that House, because he might disturb its order; and if he were to notice them out of the House in the manner he should wish, he believed that such notice would only be received with indifference by the hon. Member. But he was anxious that the public, who would hear of the charges, should also hear the answer. The hon. Gentleman had also charged the Commissioners on another point, which he (Mr. Villiers) believed to be destitute of foundation. He had stated distinctly, that Mr. Mott was engaged as partner with another man in keeping a madhouse—that he was obliged to fly from his creditors—that he became insolvent, and could not pay his debts—and that, after this, the Commissioners appointed him to a situation of 800l. Now, he (Mr. Villiers) did not believe that the Commissioners appointed Mr. Mott to that situation after having discovered him to be the keeper of a madhouse, or to be insolvent; and he conceived that there could be no better proof of the charge not being true than that the appointment in question was not in the hands of the Poor Law Commissioners. He called attention simply to these statements, in order that the public might see that they were wholly unfounded and unsupported.
§ MR. FERRAND
, in reply, said, all he required was, that he might have a speedy and fair trial; and now that the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) had pledged himself to stand in the witness-box—and he only wished Mr. Lewis would do the same — he had no wish to prolong the present discussion, or to divide the House on the Motion. After that pledge, he would undertake not to say one word more on the subject until the trial took place. He requested that the trial should take place speedily, and that no unfair procrastination should be allowed. He had reason to complain that this had not been the case long since. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton had said that he (Mr. Ferrand) had charged the Poor Law Commissioners with appointing Mr. Mott to a certain situ- 593 ation. Now, he (Mr. Ferrand) believed that his expression was that they had sanctioned that appointment. Mr. Mott's appointment required the sanction of the Poor Law Commissioners, and being perfectly aware of that, he felt convinced that he had used the word "sanctioned." With respect to the documents which he alluded to as having been destroyed in Somerset House, he repeated that Mr. Lewis said that he could find no documents with respect to certain questions brought before the Andover Committee; and he had made use of the expression that he had destroyed private letters which he had written as Commissioner. There was no justification for this, because Mr. Lewis was bound by Act of Parliament to keep a record of all proceedings, whereas there were no records to be found with respect to many questions brought before the Andover Committee; and Mr. Lewis had himself admitted that he could not find them. With respect to Jenkin Jones being induced to plead guilty, he had stated that Mr. Lewis had induced that individual to make a confession, and on the confession being made, he was promised that he should not be punished. Nevertheless, the statement was made use of against him. He appealed to the hon. Member for Weymouth whether such was not the case? The right hon. Gentleman had said he had had an opportunity of examining Mr. Mott before the Committee; but that was not so. Mr. Mott had been merely called in, and asked by the Committee whether he denied any of the statements that had been made. The right hon. Baronet had also said that he had made use of the expression "a trumped-up report." Now, it happened that the same phrase had fallen that night from the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. T. Duncombe), who had been a friend of the right hon. Baronet in his younger days. He had also attacked him for delaying to give a reply to Mr. Lewis's solicitors, when they applied to know whether he was the writer of the letters in The Times. The fact was, he considered it his duty, in the first place, to write to the Editor of The Times, requesting to know whether he should be justified in giving up his name as the writer of the letters until he had obtained a guarantee from Mr. Lewis indemnifying The Times against being also proceeded against if he did so. He waited until he heard from Mr. Dobie, the solicitor to The Times, that he had obtained such a guarantee; and on the afternoon of the day he received it, he 594 wrote to Mr. Lewis's solicitors, expressing his regret for the delay, and stating the reason for it, at the same time instantly confessing that he was the author of the letters. He denied that he had ever imputed corrupt motives to Mr. Twisleton. He had said he had gone incognito to perform certain services for individual Members of the Government: and in that language he had been borne out by the evidence taken before the Committee. The right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) had stated that he (Mr. Ferrand) had repeated the statement he made at Leeds. He denied this. All he had said was that the report of his speech in The Times was correct, and that he stood by it. He denied on that occasion the jurisdiction of the House, and had refused to plead to its jurisdiction. With respect to what had fallen from the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. C. Villiers), he had no intention of saying anything that would render necessary the interference of the Speaker. He would not be so foolish. All he would say was, that he was prepared to stand by any language he had uttered, either in the House or elsewhere. After what had passed, he should be glad if the House would allow him to withdraw his Motion.
§ SIR F. THESIGER
rose to assure the hon. Member for Knaresborough that there would be no delay at all in the trial of his cause. If the hon. Member would only plead as speedily as possible to the criminal information, the case would be set down for trial, and would be taken in its due course, for it was evident it could not be taken out of its regular order. The cause would be put down on the record list for trial in London, and would be tried as speedily as the business of the court allowed.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.