Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

1734-35

a, know every Circumstance, and are as capable of Anno 8. Geo. II. of the Motives or Arguments for or against most of stions that occur upon such Occasions, as any Meme his House : And when the People observe a Contrain our Determinations relating to such Affairs ; when serve the Right of voting at an Election given by this o one Sort of People, and in the very next Session,

that Right determined by this House to be in a Ferent Sort of People, they must conclude, that the nation of this Houfe in relation to that Affair did eed from Justice and Impartiality, but from private

or from Party-Zeal. This is the Conclusion they ceffarily form with Respect to those Affairs they nd can judge of ; and the Misfortune is, that they nce naturally conclude, that our Proceedings are goy the same Motives in those Affairs which they do y, nor can judge of. prevent an Effect so dangerous to our Conftitution elieve, Sir, one of the chief Motives for inserting le now read to you in the Act of Parliament, and

been taken to express it in Terms so strong and that it cannot, in my opinion, be evaded by any or Subterfuge. It is now the Law of the Lando; reasonable, that I hope it will never be altered or ; and a Law so plain, that I can make no Doubt, the last Determination of the House of Commons the future, be, in all such Cases, a Rule from

cannot depart. However, Sir, as some Gentlenot sufficiently apprised of this Law, or may enters that this House will not, in their future Determitriểly adhere to it, they may therefore put themreat Expence in bringing up Witnesses, and may great deal of your Time with Arguments to Thew, Right of voting at any Election now disputed, is not eople only, in whom it was declared to be by the nination of this House: This will be putting themgreat Expence, and taking up the Time of this no Purpose, since the last Determination of the Commons is now by Law established as a Rule, h we cannot depart, notwithstanding the clearest ny Usage to the contrary,

ought, Sir, to prevent Gentlemen putting them. ay needless Expence, as we ought to prevent their to take up the Time of this House to no Purpose, think this Law ought to be some way reviv'd, not hc Gentlemen in mind of it, but to sew them e resolved to adhere to it in the stricteft Manner ; only proper way for us to revive any Law, is by

coming

1734 35

Debate thereon.

Mr W. Plumer. 1

N'T H, Pelham.

Anno 8 Geo. 11. coming to some new Resolution in relation to it, therefore I

hope the House will agree to the following Motion, which is,' • That the Counsel at the Bar of this House, or before

the Committee of Privileges and Elections, be restrained * from offering Evidence, touching the Right of Election of • Members to serve in Parliament for any City, Borough or

Place, contrary to the last Determination in the House • of Commons ; which Determination, by an A&t passed in • the second Year of his present Majesty's Reign, intitled, An Ast for the effectual preventing Bribery and Corruption in the Election of Members to serve in Parliament, is made • final to all Intents and Purposes whatsoever, any Usage to the contrary notwithstanding.'

This Motion being seconded by Mr Sandys, and supported M: Sadys.

by Mr Walter Plumer : The same was objected to by Mr Mr H. Walpole. Horatio Walpole, Mr Henry Pelham, and Sir William Sir W. Yonge. Yonge, who did not directly oppose the Motion itself, but

proposed the Delaying of it a few Days, as follows.

Sir, • I must own, I have not lately considered the Claufe now read to you, and therefore am not prepared now to speak to it: But upon the first View, I take the Motion to be of the utmost Consequence, because I look upon it as a Restraint designed to be put upon the Jurisdiction of this House in the moft material Point, that of determining all Questions relating to electing the Members of our own House. I really never imagined, that the Intention of that A&, or of any Clause in it, was to restrain the House of Commons, with respect to their Determinations in Matters of Election ; for in all such Determinations I think we ought not to be under any Limitation, nor confined by any Rule ; and if there had been any such Intention, I believe this House would never have agreed to the Bill, or at least that Clause by which any such Reftraint was intended to be laid upon this House.

• It is for this Reason, Sir, that I have always imagin'd, and still think, that the Claose now read to you relates only to Returning Officers, and was designed as a Direction to them, what sort of Persons they were to admit to vote at any Election ; with respect to which they were by this Clause obliged to take the last Determination of the House of Commons, as a Rule to be inviolably observed by them at all succeeding Elections. This, Sir, I must ftill think, is all that was designed by the Clause ; for it is certain, that if in all future disputed Elections, we were to take the lat Determination of this House as an infallible Rule for our Conduct, a very great Injury would thereby be done to a great many Cities and Boroughs in England; and I cannot

imagine

1734 s.

imagine that it was ever the original Intention of any Act Anno 8. Geo. 11. of Parliament to do an Injury to any one, much less to great Numbers of his Majesty's Subjects.

However, Sir, as I have not lately read or considered the AA, I will not now pretend to be pofitive in my opinion, and therefore I hope the honourable Gentlemen will agree to put off the Consideration of this Motion to some sort Day, to Monday next if they pleafe, that other Gentlemen as well as myself may have Time to consider it, before we are obliged to give our Opinion in a Case which is certainly of great Consequence.' To this it was reply'd by Sir Joseph Jekyll :

Sir, • As I had the Honour to be a Member of this House Sir J. Jekyll

, when the Clause now under Confideration had the good Fortune to pass, I well remember the History of it : This Clause was not originally in the Bill, but was put into it by the other House, and I believe, with a View to prevent the Paffing of it; or at least that it was the Intention of those who &rft contrived this Clause ; for they imagined that this House would never agree to such an Amendment : But when the Bill came back to this House, the Gentlemen who pro. moted the Bill were so justly fond of it, that they chose to agree to all the Amendments made by the other House, and this among the rest, rather than lose so good a Bill. Indeed as to this. Clause they had a very good Reason for agreeing to it ; for tho' it did lay some Restraint

upon the Jurifdi<ion of this House in Matters of Election, yet the Majority of the House then thought it a reasonable Restraint, and even a necessary Restraint, in order to prevent, in Time to come, that frequent Contradiction in our Determinations with respect to Elections, which had in Time pait greatly contributed to the giving People a contemptible 0. pinion of all the Proceedings of this House.

· The Clause now read to you, Sir, is so full, and conceived in Terms so plain and easy to be understood, that I am surprised to hear any Gentleman defire an Hour to consider of it ; but I am still more surprised to hear any Gentleman, cípecially a Gentleman who has often attended the Committee of Elections, say, he imagined this Clause was intended only as a Direction to Returning Officers, what Sort of People they were to admit to poll at any Election ; because this very Direction was given by Act of Parliament many Years ago to all Sheriffs and Returning Officers : So long ago as the eighth Year of King William's Reign, all Sheriffs and Returning Officers have been prohibited, by an A& then made, to return any Member to serve in Parliameat, contrary to the last Determination in the House of VOL. IV.

N

Commons,

1734-35

Anno 8. Geo. 11. Commons, as to the Right of Election for such Places ;

and therefore it would have been ridiculous to have inserted in a late A&t such a Clause as that now before us, if no more had been intended by it, than to give the same Directions to Sheriffs and other Returning Officers, which were given to them by a former A&t then in full Force : But, without any such Consideration, the Clause before us is in itself so clearly expressed, that it is imposible to mistake its Meaning ; and as the honourable Gentleman intends nothing by his Motion but to prevent Gentlemens patting themselves to a needless Expence, and giving this House an unnecessary Trouble, I can see no Reason why we should make any Difficulty in agreeing to what he has proposed.

Can Gentlemen be serious, Sir, when they say that this House is not to be confined by any Rules ; that we ought not to be under any Restraint, with respect to our Determinations about the Election of our own Members; and that this House would never have agreed to the Clause, if any such Thing had been intended > Our Determinations in such Cases are, 'tis true, supreme and final ; but surely, Sir, even in such Cases we are confined by the Rules of natural Justice and Equity, and likewise by the antient Cuftoms and the Laws of the Kingdom. Let a Court of Judicature be as absolute and supreme as can be imagined, yet I should have a very bad Opinion of the Judges of that Court, if they confined themselves to no Rules, nor even to those Laws they themselves had before made for their future Conduct. I do not know but some of the Cities and Boroughs of England may have been injured by the laft Determination of this House, and in such a Cale it is a Hardship to make that injurious Determination absolute and final as to them in all Time to come

me ; but if there were any such injurious Determinations made, it is the more neces. sary by a Law to put a Stop to them. The Hardship is already put upon them ; the Law is already passed ; it is now one of the established Laws of the Kingdom, and cannot therefore be altered or amended by any Resolution of this House: It is not the first Time that a Hardship has been put upon particular Men for the Good of the Society in general ; but in this Case, if any City or Borough has been injured by the last Determination of the House of Com. mons, and that Injury fix'd upon them by the Law now under our Consideration, they may apply to Parliament for Relief, and will certainly obtain an Ad of Parliament for that Purpose, which is the only Method by which they can now be relieved ; so that the Hardship, if any has been put upon them, cannot come under our Confideration in the present Question.

: However,

1735

However, Sir, tho' I do not think it at all necessary to Anno 8. Geo. II. take a Day to consider of the present Motion, yet I shall not be againft it ; because I wish it were made a standing Order of this House, that no Motion should be taken into Consideration or agreed to the fame Day it is made : For this Reason I shall not be against adjourning the Debate 'till Monday, according to the honourable Gentleman's Desire ; and I agree to it the rather, because I hope when the Motion has been fully and maturely considered, it will be unanimously agreed to: But, on other Occasions, I hope those Gentlemen will thew the same Complaisance to others, and will not infift, that any Motion they may hereafter think fit to make thall be immediately taken into Confideration ; for if this should be made a Rule for one side, and not for the other, it would be as partial a Method of Proceeding as was ever practised by former Parliaments in their Determinations about Elections.'

It was ordered accordingly, that the farther Confideration of that Queltion should be adjourned to the Monday Morning next, when the Motion was amended thus : « That the • Counsel at the Bar of this House, or before the Committec • of Privileges and Elections, be restrained from offering E

vidence, touching the Legality of Votes for Members to • serve in Parliament, for any County, Shire, City, Borough, • Cinque-Port, or Place, contrary to the last Determination

of the House of Commons : Which Determination, by an * Ad passed in the second Year of his present Majesty's

Reign, intitled, An A8 for the more effectual preventing Bribery and Corruption, in the Ele&tion of Members to serve ' in Parliament, is made final to all Intents and Purposes

whatsoever, any Usage to the contrary notwithstanding.' And then it was agreed to without any farther Debate.

March 19. Upon the Motion of Mr Sandys, it was oro brough: in, for lider'd, That Leave be given to bring in a Bill for the better miting the Number fecuring the Freedom of Parliaments, by limiting the Num- House of Commons, ber of Officers in the House of Commons ; and Mr Sandys, Motion. Mr Wortley, Mr Howe, Sir John Hynde Cotton, Mr Watkin Mr Wortley. Williams Wynne, and Sir William Lowther, were ordered Mr Howe. to prepare and bring in the same.

March 21. The said Bill was presented to the House by liams Wynn. Mr Sandys.

April 16. The Report from the Committee appointed to the Belohoticons of inquire into the Complaint relating to the Poft-Office, being pointed to inquire taken into Consideration, the Resolutions of the said Com- relating to the Postmittee were as follows ; viz. I. That the Privilege of frank- Office. ing Letters by the Knights, Citizens and Burgesses, chosen to represent the Commons in Parliament, began with the erectN 2

irg

A Bill ordered to be

Sir John Hynde

Cotton.
Mr Watkin. Wil.

« AnteriorContinua »