§ The Earl of Aberdeen
called the attention of the House to the subject of Mr. Hogg's protest against the Report of the rest of the Municipal Corporation Commissioners, and begged to ask the noble Viscount at the head of the Government whether he meant to lay it on their Lordships' Table or not.
§ Viscount Melbourne
said, that as to the protest of this learned Gentleman, if he had not agreed with the rest of his brother Commissioners he should have made a separate Report. This was not like the case of the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the state of the Scotch Universities, for their protests were made to the rest of the Commissioners and formed part of the Report; here that course had 721 not been followed. In the present instance the Chief Commissioner had said, that it was not his duty to receive such a protest or to send it to his Majesty, and he had therefore declined to receive it. He (Lord Melbourne) was not, therefore, aware how he could reach the protest or lay it before the House. It had been suggested to the learned Gentleman by a noble Lord opposite that the Commissioner might petition the House on the subject, and embody the substance of his protest in a petition. It certainly was open to the learned Gentleman to pursue such a course, but their Lordships would say how far such a recommendation, tending to create so much prolixity in petitions, was to be encouraged. In his opinion the practice had been carried quite far enough, if not a great deal too far.
§ The Earl of Aberdeen
said, that he wanted the protest of Mr. Hogg to accompany that of Sir F. Palgrave. He had presented by his Majesty's command, the Commissioners Report to the House. Sir F. Palgrave's protest accompanied it, and now he wanted to sec what was in that of Mr. Hogg, he wanted to know what was the difference between the opinion and statements of Mr. Hogg and of the rest of the Commissioners. Of that Gentleman he knew nothing, but he saw him appointed to an important duty, and therefore presumed that his opinion was deemed worth notice, or he would not have been appointed. If his protest should be of a nature resembling that of Sir F. Palgrave, which was appended to the Report, it would be exceedingly important that their Lordships should be in possession of it; for without it they would lose much valuable information.
§ Viscount Melbourne
said, that in his opinion the Chief Commissioners had acted erroneously in receiving the protest. He did not see the noble and learned Lord the Chief Baron of the Exchequer present, or their Lordships might perhaps learn that he had moved for a criminal information against Mr. Hogg in the Court of King's Bench.
§ Viscount Melbourne
No; it was for his conduct as a Commissioner. The noble and learned Lord being then at the Bar, had acted as Counsel, so that perhaps his statement was hardly to be received in such a case. As to the protest, it was evidently the interest of the Government to produce 722 it, if they could; for its non-production would have a worse effect than the protest itself; but he did not know how he could compel its production.
§ Lord Wharncliffe
said, that he knew nothing of Mr. Hogg, and had never heard his name till recently. That Gentleman had, however, been sent down as a Commissioner, and now he sent in his protest, the Chief Commissioner refused to receive it. He should certainly make further inquiries into the subject.
§ Lord Lyndhurst
said, that Mr. Hogg was a member of the Northern Circuit, and he had always considered him a very respectable person. With respect to what had been said as to the criminal information, the noble Viscount should have told them what it was for. He thought he was right in saying that it had either been refused or discharged—[It was refused]—and therefore it was to be presumed that the acts on which the application was made did not afford a sufficient ground for the charge. Mr. Hogg's inquiries were among some of the most important towns referred to in the Report. When the Report was about to be drawn up, he was not only no called on to be present, but he was not allowed to be present with the other Commissioners. He believed that when his Majesty appointed certain persons to be Commissioners, and to report to him on any subject, his Majesty intended that all the persons included in that Commission should assist in making the Report. How were they to know that the arguments laid by Mr. Hogg before the Secretary of State, if suffered to be laid before his brother Commissioners, would not have altered their opinions? It was altogether unjust to exclude Mr. Hogg's opinions, and the reasons on which he founded them. He was clearly of opinion that they ought to have the opinion of the Gentleman in question laid before them; because before they entered upon an inquiry of so important a nature as that which was about to take place, it was highly desirable that they should be in possession of every species of information that was calculated to lead them to a correct conclusion.
§ Lord Skelmersdale
thought it was of the utmost importance that they should have laid on their Table, before they proceeded to legislate upon the measure, all the evidence which could be collected and all the opinions which could be procured from persons whom either inquiry or talent rendered competent to form one. It so hap- 723 pened that Mr. Hogg was one of the Commissioners sent down to the part of the country with which he was connected; and, when he stated to their Lordships that in consequence of the refusal of the Commissioners to embody in the general Report the opinions and evidence contained in the particular Report sent in by Mr. Hogg, he was in entire ignorance of the justice and policy of the measure as regarded the cases of several individual boroughs in the county to which he alluded, he put it to the House whether he was not justified in calling for its production? One of the towns to which Mr. Hogg was sent was Liverpool; and unless his opinions were brought forward, the House would be deciding without knowing whether circumstances justified the application of the measures to that particular Corporation. He was, therefore, glad to hear his noble Friend promise that steps should be taken for the production of the Report in question; and should his noble Friend find it necessary, in furtherance of this promise, to make any substantive Motion on the subject to the House, he confidently trusted that that spirit of justice and impartiality which had ever dignified their Lordships' proceedings would secure him all the assistance he might require at their hands.
§ Viscount Melbourne
observed that notwithstanding what had fallen from a noble and learned Lord, it did not appear to be probable that the Report of the Commissioners would have been materially altered by any return which Mr. Hogg might have made. He entirely disclaimed having made an attack, or anything like an attack on that Gentleman.
§ The Earl of Devon
was decidedly of opinion that in some shape or other the House ought to have the required information. His Majesty had sent Commissioners to inquire into the state of all the Municipal Corporations in the kingdom, and on the Report of those Commissioners, one of the most important measures that had ever been submitted to the consideration of Parliament was founded. It could not be intended that that Report should be made by the persons who took only one particular view of the question. The object clearly was, to have the opinion of all the Commissioners, as far as they had pursued their several investigations. He was aware that there were technical difficulties in the way of obtaining the required information. If a distinct Motion were made for it, the Secretary of State must of necessity make 724 a return of nil; he not having any such information in his possession. Another mode of endeavouring to obtain it would be by appointing a Committee of their Lordships to inquire into the facts of the case. That had been done before; and this was peculiarly a case in which such a course might be advantageously resorted to; although he was aware that even that course would be attended with some inconveniences.