and several other members of the house of commons, brought up a message, purporting that the house should attend the trial of lord viscount Melville, in a committee of the whole house, and requiring accommodation to be provided for them.
§ Lord Grenville
said, it was perfectly clear that accommodation for the whole house of commons could not be provided in that house; the only mode therefore to be adopted in consequence of the message from the commons was to address his majesty, praying him to provide a place for the trial of lord Melville. There were other points also relative to the trial, to which he wished to call their lordships' attention. It was of the utmost importance that, in the progress of the trial, all unnecessary delay should be sedulously avoided. It was due to the prosecutors as well as to the noble lord impeached, that justice should be attained as speedily as possible. It was due to the prosecutors that justice should be done without delay, if the defendant were guilty; it was equally due to the defendant that the expences of his defence should not, in case of an acquittal, amount to or exceed any fine which could be imposed upon him, if he were guilty. Those complaints, so justly founded, which were made against the delay attendant upon the trial of Mr. Hastings, ought, in this case, to be carefully avoided. Impressed with these considerations, he intended to move, when his majesty's answer to the address should be received, to refer to the committee already appointed to search for 558 precedents, to consider of the best means of proceeding in the trial without delay. There were, however, two or three suggestions which he would just mention to their lordships; the first was, that, the trial, when commenced, ought to be proceeded in from day to day until it was finished. If this mode of conduct were adopted, he was convinced it would go a great way towards attaining the ends of justice as speedily as possible, whilst, at the same time, the trial would, in that case, be in a greater degree assimilated to a trial in a court of law. Another circumstance to be attended to was, the hour of assembling, which, he thought, when fixed, ought each day to be rigidly adhered to, and no other business whatever to be previously entered upon. It would also be a great saving of time if some mode were adopted, or if some understanding took place, with respect to collecting the opinions of their lordships upon any disputed point of evidence, without their being under the necessity of retiring upon every such occasion to their chamber.—These suggestions he threw out for their lordships' consideration ; but whatever might be the mode adopted, he trusted the great object would be to proceed through the trial without any other delay than was absolutely necessary. He concluded by moving for au address to his majesty, praying that his majesty would be graciously pleased to give directions to prepare a place in Westminster-hall for the trial of lord viscount Melville.
§ Earl Stanhope
stated, that he was one of those noble lords who attended during the long trial of Mr. Hastings, during which he could not avoid perceiving that there was often a lamentable waste of their lordships' time. He trusted that the delays which had then occurred would serve as warnings to their lordships on the present occasion. He would venture to suggest one regulation, from which he thought much benefit would be derived: upon the trial of Mr. Hastings, it was customary for the house, whenever any objections upon points of evidence arose, to immediately adjourn for the day to the parliament chamber. Now he thought it very practicable and reconcileable to the strictest forms of proceeding, that their lordships should receive the objection, and proceed (if the progress of the cause did not essentially depend upon it), to determine the point next day, or at some convenient opportunity, without impeding the course of the proceedings. The 559 frequent adjournments at that time were felt to be a very great inconvenience. It was remarked, by a witty member of that house during the impeachment, that it was the only trial in which the judges walked whilst the trial stood still.—The motion was agreed to.