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which he had in view would tend to prevent. It had been proposed, during the last session, to choose the members, to whom a private bill was to be referred, by ballot; but this had not been considered an eligible mode, on account of the occasional and unavoidable absence of commercial and other gentlemen from the House. Another plan had been suggested, certainly more practicable, though less constitutional, viz., to refer the bill to a commission of inquiry; but he strongly objected to such a departure from old established regulations and practice. The safer and more practicable course would be, to adhere to the present custom; but, should any case of decided abuse be alleged to have occurred in a committee, then an investigation might take place. Under such a system irregularities might occur: yet he conceived that one great cause of complaint would be entirely obviated; and the advantage resulting from this plan would be, that it would render it unnecessary, in the case of a number of private bills, to have recourse to select committees at all. It unquestionably was most desirable that some alteration should be made in the present system; for, under the existing regulations, a committee on a bill from Wiltshire required no fewer than 194 members; while from Cardiff no more than seven were necessary; for the county of Somerset the number was 176; and for Hampshire 266. He proposed to remodel the list for the counties, to secure impartiality by taking only one half of the committee from the county in which the bill originated, to make attendance compulsory, and to prevent the chance <£ aW$e by creating a standing
committee of appeal. His scheme was embodied in the following To* solutions:— ■■'■« niih.ihiM
"1. That the present distribution of counties in the several lists, for the purpose of forming committees on petitions for private bills, and on private bills, prepared under the direction of the Speaker some years ago, has, from the great inequality of the numbers of members contained in such lists respectively, and from other causes, been found not to answer the object for which it was framed.
"2. That with a view more nearly to equalize numbers, and to correct too strong a prevalence of local interests on committees on private bills, it is expedient that a new distribution of counties should be made, containing in each list, as nearly as may be, 120 members, one-half only, or thereabouts, to be taken from the county immediately connected with the object of the bill, and the adjoining counties; and the other half from other more distant counties of Great Britain and Ireland; and that the members serving for such counties, and the places within such counties should constitute the committee on each bill.
"3. That Mr. Speaker be requested to direct a new distribution of counties to be prepared, in such manner as shall be approved of by him conformably to the principle of the foregoing resolution. 11
"4. That every committee on a private bill be required to report to the House the bill referred to it, with the evidence and minutes of the proceedings. >• ■,.'.„ Ii„ri •
"5. That a committeebeappoint-ed, to be called, 'The Committee of Appeals upon Private Bills,' which committee shall consist of all the knights of the shire, all tho, members for cities, and such other members as may be named therein; so that the whole number appointed to serve on such committee shall amount to 200 at least. :■■■ .;; ff\ 6l ;That where, any-party interested in a private bill, who shall have appeared in support of his petition, by himself, his counsel or agent, in the committee upon such bill, or where the promoters of a private bill shall be dissatisfied with any vote of the committee upon such bill, and shall petition the House, setting forth the particular vote or votes objected to, and praying that they may be heard, by themselves, their counsel, or agent, against such vote or votes, such petition shall, together with the report of the committee upon the bill, and the minutes and evidence taken before such committee, be referred to a select committee of seven members of the House, to be chosen by ballot from the Committee of Appeals upon Private Bills, which select committee shall hear the arguments of the parties complaining of, and also of the parties supporting, such vote or votes, and shall report their opinion thereon to the House.
"7- That whenever a petition shall be presented, complaining of any vote of a committee upon a private bill, the House shall fix a day whereon to ballot for a select committee, to which such petition shall be referred; upon which day, at a quarter past four o'clock, or as near thereto as the question which may be then before the House will permit, the Speaker shall order the doors of the House to be locked, and the names of the members composing the Committee of Appeals upon private bUls being written upon separate pieces of paper, and put into the
glass, the clerk shall draw therefrom the names, until seven members of such committee who shall be then present, and who shall not have voted in the committee upon the private bill to which the petition refers, shall have answered to their names ; which seven members shall be the Select Committee to whom such petition shall be referred, and such Select Committee shall meet for business the following day at eleven o'clock, and continue to sit, de die in diem, until they shall have reported upon the same, and that only one counsel or agent shall be heard in support of the petition of any one party, ...
"8. That no member of such Select Committee shall absent himself therefrom during its sitting."
The resolutions were adopted with the general approbation of the House; the only one, on which a division took place, being that which provided that every petition complaining of the decision of a private committee should immediately be referred to a committee of appeal. Mr. Calcraft, who, with lord Milton and Mr. H. Bankes, doubted the necessity and utility of the resolutions altogether, opposed this one on the ground that the real business of the House would be incessantly interrupted by the hearing of these petitions, and the appointment of these committees; but the resolution was carried by 44 votes against S2.'"
On the same day, Mr. Pelham, member for Shropshire, brought forward the most extraordinary proposal that ever was made within the walls of St. Stephen's. Adverting to the great increase of wealth and population in the principal towns of the kingdom, their distance from the seat of legislation, and the expense of sewing
up to London witnesses and deputies whenever their interests were at stake, he gravely moved, "That it is expedient the Imperial Parliament should be occasionally holden in capitals other than London"—that is, in Edinburgh and Dublin. Of course no person was found to second so crude and impracticable an idea. It would have been as expensive to carry deputies and witnesses from Middlesex to Dublin or Edinburgh as to bring them from Dublin or Edinburgh to London. Such a migration implied a transference of the Court, and the Court establishments, to the temporary capital, and it would have been necessary to conquer physical impossibilities. How was the English bar to be carried to Edinburgh, for a session of parliament, to argue cases of appeal before the Peers, and be practising, on the same day, in the courts of Westminster? How was the chancellor to sit as judge at Lincoln's Inn in the morning, and preside in the evening, in the House of Lords in Holyrood? How were the Attorney and Solicitor-general to move the King'sbench at 10 a. m., and at 6 p. m. be replying in Dublin to a speech just made by Mr. Brougham, who, a few hours before, had returned from a trial for libel at Guildhall? One of the satires on the bubble schemes of 1825 was a Joint-stock company for propelling stage coaches and their passengers through a tube, in which a vacuum had been created, at the rate of an hundred miles per minute. Until this, or some equally efficient application of mechanical power can be discovered, a proposal like that of the hon. member for the county of Salop will continue to be impracticable.
The attention of the House of Commons was drawn to what seemed to be a violation of its privileges, by its members being summoned to serve on juries, and being visited with penalties for failing to appear. Mr. Holford, member for Queenborough, stated (20th February) that he had been so summoned on a jury in the Exchequer; believing that he was exempted by his parliamentary character, he had paid no attention to the sub-poena, and the consequence was, that he had been fined for non-attendance. Mr. Ellice stated that he had been fined under similar circumstances. A difference of opinion prevailing in the House as to the right of exemption, Mr. Scarlett thinking that all persons were liable to be called on to discharge the duty of jurors, and Mr. Wynn and Mr. Peel arguing that the duty of a member of that House was paramount to all other duties, the matter was referred to the committee of privileges. The committee next day presented their report, stating their opinion that it appeared to them to be an undoubted privilege of the House, that no member should be withdrawn from his duties as a member of the high court of parliament, to attend on any other court; and that the right to refuse attendance upon juries had been repeatedly asserted, of which three instances were cited in the report. The privilege thus claimed certainly seems to follow from the same principles which are the foundation of other unquestioned privileges of the Commons. The civil duty of serving as a juror, is not higher than the civil duty of paying a debt; yet a member cannot be called from his duty in parliament to answer to civil process. Such process like the sub-poena is in the name of the king; and so is the royal proclamation by which parliament is convoked, and which imposes a more general and imperative duty. Besides, it seems to be more than doubtful, whether it would not be a manifest breach of privilege to commit a member to prison because he refused to pay the fine imposed upon him for non-attendance as a juror: and if so, then the court issuing the sub-pcena would have no means of asserting its jurisdiction, and the whole House of Commons might be in contempt from one end of the session to the other.
During the session, acts were passed restoring the Scottish peerages of earl of Carnwath, earl of Airiie, lord Duff, lord Elcho, and the baronetcy of Threipland of Fingark — all titles which had been forfeited by rebellion in the precedingcentury. Theonly expression of disapprobation of these acts of grace came fromlord Milton, who avowed that his opposition to them was founded upon political sentiment. He said, that, from the first moment these bills were introduced into parliament, he had entertained an opinion, probably confined to himself, that they were measures which ought not to be allowed to pass. The individuals interested might, for aught he knew, be most meritorious characters, and qualified to grace any rank to which they might be elevated: nevertheless, he must say, that the restoration to titles forfeited, not for treason against the crown, but for treason against the liberties of the subject, was a selection of cases, in his opinion, little entitled to approbation. If a bill had been brought in for the restoration of all titles against the effects of attainder,
whether incurred during the sway of the Brunswick family, or of any preceding dynasty, he would have been the last man to oppose such a proposition ; but it was a little too much to select for peculiar favour those whose only claim was their having stood in rebellion to the constitution by opposing the revolution, and aiding the cause of tyranny and arbitrary power. Why was not the duke of Buccleugh restored to the dukedom of Monmouth? Why were not similar forfeitures restored? He confessed that the selection which had been made appeared to him to be most unfortunate. He would not say, that it betrayed a disregard to the liberties of the people, but he would say that it was injudicious; and if, in that opinion, he stood alone, he should not be ashamed of his singularity. All that he lamented was, that he had not stated his objections when these bills first made their appearance. He could not sit down without intreating the individuals whose interests he might appear to oppose, to believe that he had not the slightest intention of objecting to them personally. It might be advisable to create new peerages for them; but he could not concur in the removal of the attainders in question. Sir John Newport, likewise, expressed his regret that similar acts of grace had not been extended to old Irish families of the greatest honour and highest respectability. Mr. Peel replied by the simple statement that these reversals of attainders had commenced with that of lord Edward Fitzgerald, and that he himself had made the motion that the descendants of lord Stafford should be restored to their family dignities. A question connected with the constitution of the House of Commons was raised by a proposed increase of the salary of Mr. Huskisson as President of the Board of Trade, to enable him to resign the office of Treasurer of the Navy. Prior to the year 1782, the duties performed by the Board of Trade were not under any systematic regulations, and the individuals composing it received no stated salaries. In 1782 many of the arrangements connected with it had been altered by the reform of Mr. Burke: but the mode adopted to remunerate the president was, to pay him scarcely any thing in that capacity which required from him services of the greatest difficulty and importance, and award to him what was deemed compensation, under some other character. A few years ago, a fixed salary of 2,000/. had been attached to the office of vice-president; but that of president remained upon its old footing, the person who held it receiving nothing from it but receiving along with it another office for which a stated salary was allowed. Mr. Huskisson, who at present filled it, was paid by the salary of 3,000/. which he received as Treasurer of the Navy. It was now proposed to disjoin the offices; to'give the President of the Board of Trade a distinct salary of 5,000/. per annum, and not encumber him with the duties and responsibilities of any other office. This, it was said, was necessary, because the duties of the office required the undivided attention of the person who might fill it; and the sum could not be reckoned too high for a situation of so much labour and importance.
By all parties in the House, the most willing homage was paid to the great talents of Mr. Huskisson,
and the high value of his public services; nor did any member insinuate that the remuneration proposed was too large. But the proposal, when moved by the chancellor of the Exchequer in a committee of supply (6th and 7th of April) was met by a very decided opposition on the ground that the disjunction of the two offices was unnecessary, as no active duties were attached to the Treasurership of the Navy, or, at all events, its duties might, without inconvenience, be transferred to the paymaster, the real officer in that department; that by adding 2,000/. to the present salary of the Treasurer, or giving 2,000/. a year additional as the salary of''the Presidency of the Board of Trade, the same amount of remuneration to the individual holding both offices would be made up, at'a smaller cost to the public; and, above all, that the scheme of disjoining the offices was merely a cloak for the introduction of a new placeman into the House. Instead of one member holding both with 5,000/. a year, there would be a President of the Board of Trade with 5,000/., and aTreasurer of the Navy with 3,000/.
Mr. Huskisson himself said, that, whether it arose from incapacity of mind for the duties required to be discharged, or from whatever other cause, he did feel considerable anxiety and hardship arising out of the union of the two offices. It was altogether erroneous to suppose that the occupation of the Treasurer of the Navy was merely to pay money. He was called upon to exercise his discretion in every instance of a demand, and to sift the grounds of every claim. Much anxiety, likewise, he could not help feeling in that character,