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Mr. Wilberforce said, he was not sure whether the House would recollect that what he had said in his first speech, the hon. Gentleman had alluded to the insertion of the report complained of being paid for by certain persons. He had some reason to believe that this infinuhtion was intended to allude to him (Mr. Wilberforce); if so, he wished the hon. Gentleman to fay so candidly, that he might have an opportunity to say a few words to exculpaté himself from the charge, and if it was proposed to read the paper, fourge reafons against it.
Mr. Secretary Dundas said, he rose to speak immediately to the question before the House. He thought that the hon. Gentleman must now have attained the object he had in view in bringing in this complaint. It was certainly true, that misrepresentation was an aggravation of the breach of privilege in printing the proceedings of the House at all ; but the breach of privilege was that which the House had to consider. It was not the accuracy or inaccuracy of the reports, but the violation of the order of the House that was to be taken into view ; though certainly it was not to overlook personal feelings, and every man must be anxious not to be mifrepresented;' the privilege of the House was the great confideration on which they must act. If the hon. Gentleman was not content with itating the complaint, for the purpose of correcting an error, which probably would be corrected by what had now passed in the very fame paper the next day, the complaint must go a great deal farther than the hon. Gentleman might intend. Every other person who had published the proceedings alluded to, muft-likewise be called up. He thought therefore, that it would be better at present io withdraw the motion. If the object in view was the protection of the privileges of the House, this would be attained, as what had already taken place would shew that the House was determined to go the rigour of its privileges, if they were abused. If it was perfifted in no diftinction could be made; and those who had been equally guilty of a breach of the privileges of this House, as the printer in ques tion, would be equally liable to its animadversion.
Mr. Tierney said, that this case differed very widely from every other. The account was inserted several days after the conversation had taken place, and professed to corret other statements. As to the motion, he thought it belonged to the House to dispose of it. He should not withdraw it. He did feel it a malevolent attempt to excite animofities between VOL. I. 1758.
individuals, and he was convinced that its infertion had been paid for by fome persons in this view.
The Secretury of War said, that since this subject WIS brought before the House they had no option under their order with respect to the vote they were to give, and he hoped it would have the effect to correct a practice which he had even thought before he was in Parliament, and since he had been in it, both while he fat on the other side of the House, and on this, an intolerable abufe, materially affecting not only the dignity of the House, but likewise the interests of the country. These disadvantages, he faidl, resulted from it, independent of the misrepresentations fo juftly complained of. He hoped, therefore, that this complaint would operate as a check, and remove any false impressions as to the reasons which had induced the House to permit the practice. He assented to the motion not on account of the injuftice wbich the hon. Gentleman had fuffered, though he ihould not be less fenfible of the injustice done to him, than to any other member, but on the general ground, that a particular case of injustice was vastly subordinate to the great object of protecting the privileges of the House, which were violated by the publication of their proceedings at all. However the House had connived, and how long they might continue to, .connive, at the practice, he thould be forry that the matter should go off without the House giving an opinion upon the important question of these, privileges. He had stated his opinion on the gencral point. As to the misrepresentations complained of, it was impoflible to expect that daily subjecis of complaint would not occur when the situation of persons
concerned in the employment, and the influence of every kind to which they were subject, was considered. This pracrice had grown into a great evil, and it was but of recent origin; nor did he think that Parliaments, in former times, had been so ignorant of what was proper to be done with regard to the regulation of their privileges, and that it was only in modern times that we had discovered what was the proper course to follow
Mr. Martin said, he wished the matter to be now decided. There was no occasion for further warning after what had been said a few days ago by an hon Gentleman. He had long observed the misrepresentations which were given of what passed here; and he thought that those who wrote the reports made Gentlemen say just what they themselves pleased.
Mr. William Smith faid, that Gentlemen did not seem willing to observe the distinction between this case and others where misrepresentation might exist. However the orders of the House might consider the publication as the chief of. fence, Gentlenren's minds must take into consideration the intention with which a inisrepresentation was accompanied. If misrepresentation was an aggravation of the breach of privilege, the intention was an aggravation of that misrepresentation. A report made up in a few hours ought to be distinguished from an account which had been considered for several days, and he left it to Gentleinen to judge whether there was not here an intention to convert reports into a vehicle of attack upon the members of the House.
Mr. Jones said lie agreed that ihe publication of all reports, was a breach of privilege, and if any representation was to be given, it should be full, fair, official and legal. He thought that Gentlemen in power should turn their attention to this point. As to the particular merits of this question, he was not sufficiently master of them.
Mr. Wilberforce wished again to know whether the hon, Gentleman who brought this matter forward alluded to him in any part of his fpeech? He had alked the hon. Gentleman before, to which question there was no answer given, Whether that was to be considered as an affirmative or negative he could not say; but he could inoff folemnly affure the House, that he had no more to do with the insertion in lart Wednesday's Times, than the hon. Gentleman himself. With regard to the question now before the House, he had to observe, that there were other papers in which misrepresentations of the groffest kind, and hat upon this very subject ; not only to the general heads of the subject, but also on what he bad himself Itated with regard to a point about which he confelled he was very anxious, he meant the character of the noble Lord who had been alluded to in the debate, and who had been named that night. He happened to take in two papers, of which that in question was one, and he feared there was as little truth or accuracy in the one as in the other, so far as related to the debates of that House. He stood in a particular fituation in regard to the question now before the House, He, certainly declared it to be his opinion, that it became the House, for the credit and the character of individuals in cere. tain respects, but for the great object which the House ought always to have in view, for the character of the House of Commons, and for the safety of the constitution of the coun
try, it was incumbent on the House to provide some remedy against that great and growing evil, the misrepresentations of the proceedings of Parliainent, which had been suffered of late to rise to a height too great to be allowed to continue. Certainly all that had passed since had not contributed to alter his opinion. But although this article now complained of by the hon. Gentleman might be liable to censure, yet he must observe, that to take this paper, and this only, as one that ought to be the object of censure, would be a very unfair and curtailed mode of proceeding, and it would appear like injustice it the House did not take other papers as well as this. But with regard to the fort of reflection that had been calt upon him, he could not help observing, that there seemed to be a disposition in some Gentlemen to take notice always of the manner in which he spoke his sentiments in that House, and it was rather insinuated, as if he was actuated by some angry motives ir. what he said. He thought this a little extraordinary to come from some Genilemen who had for a long time been acquainted with him. Perhaps from a natural warmth of temper, he was led sometimes to speak in a manner that was more acrimonious than he might with; his motives, however, were always the same, and all his conduct was to one point, namely, the good of the public. Howeves, he muft leave this to the sentiments of those who of late, as well as of former years, knew the most of him. Be there things as they might, he should always express his opinions freely, and now that he was upon this subject, he thould take the liberty of saying, there was a very common pracfice in that House, which, for its honour and dignity, he wished to be discontinued. The members of that House were in the habit of speaking of one another in a fulsome stile of compliment, in a way that might perhaps please some bv-standers, but which neither aided the debate, nor had the least tincture of sinceriiy in it; and the very members them-, felves who used that sort of language in the House, treated it cvery where else as empty found and trifling nonfenfe. This was a habit that was no credit to the House, and he, for one, wished to see it set aside, and the language of fincerity adopted. He wished Gentlemen to speak the truth upon thele points, as well as others, diftinaly as they felt and not to give way to an unmeaning or shallow style of compliment upon one another. With respect to the question now before the House, he could only say, that he really never wished to put a stop to the fair statement of the proceedings of Parlia
ment. It had long been a desire with him, that they should be accurately given to the public; and he should look back with pleasure on the moment of his life, in which he was aware he had been in any degree instruinental in bringing about that desired object. But he must again repeat, that if any notice was to be taken by the House of the inaccuracy of newspapers, this paper thould not be the only one, while there were others, equally faulty, that were taken no notice of whatever upon this head of complaint.
Mr. Tierney said, that the hon. Gentleman misconceived him very much, if he thought he had any particular enmity against ihe paper of which he had just complained ; quite the contrary; he had no such enmity ; but he thought it his duty to state this as an unwarrantable publication, not, as it regarded what he had said, but as it regarded what others, much more important in the estimation of the House, said, if the hon. Gentleman could few him any other paper, in which there was the same account as that, of which he was now complaining in the Times, he should think it his duty to bring forward that paper also; but this was the only one he knew of that had this account.
Mr. Wilberforce said, that he did not think there was any other paper that had this account in it; but having looked at two papers, which he took in, and having examined them for the reason he had stated already, he was ready to say, they both contained gross inisrepresentation of what palled in the House, and although the account of which the hon. Gentleman complained was not so accurate as it ought to be, 'yet it was not só inaccurate as the first account to which it referred.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer thought it would be much bester to defer this debate, as it involved a point of great importance-namely, the mode in which the matter ihould be disposed of, for on the question of the standing order there could be no difference of opinion ; but on the other points many arguments ouglit to be urged, and when they came forward no doubt the House would give to them the attention they should merit; but he thought ihat could not now be done consistently with the convenience of the House. He would observe, however, in pafling, that if any determination was come to upon the paper now produced, the House owed it to its justice to adopt the fame with regard to others. He thought that after the long connivance of the House at the publication of its procecdings, and the very gross abuse of that connivance, in a perversion of them in some respects, in every case