Изображения страниц

what would be the situation of the House? Witnesses and counsel would be in at tendance at a vast expense; and even if one of the three peers were absent, no business could be done. He contended, that no advantage would be gained by this compulsory clause. But his chief objection was, to the appointment of a commoner as a Deputy Speaker, by which he contended their lordships' judicial functions would be compromised.

tend, there must be a Deputy Speaker to preside on these appeals. It was objected, that this Deputy Speaker might be a commoner; but if he were, their lordships would not be in any new situation; for, in the very best times of the constitution, commoners had presided in their lordships' House. Even in the present day, the practice was by no means unfrequent. The noble lord then repeated his former objection to the impolicy of dividing the office of Lord Chancellor, from that of Speaker of the House of Peers. In conclusion, he said, that though the proposed plan was not free from objection, it was the only one by which they could get rid of the load of business which had arisen from the accumulation of appeals. He then moved the first resolution, with the verbal amend ment to which he had alluded.

Lord Ellenborough proposed, that only the names of the peers present on the first day should be put into the glasses to be drawn for attendance in rotation; by which means the delay which might arise from peers living at a distant part of the country would be avoided.

The Earl of Rosslyn argued in favour of the right of appeal to their lordships by the people of Scotland, and from thence the necessity of some measure by which the arrears of appeals might be disposed of. As to the objection against the presidency of a commoner, he main tained that it was without foundation, and cited several instances in which commoners had presided in their lordships' House for years. It was not, therefore, contrary to the constitution of their lordships' House, and their frequent practice, that commoners should be in the chair. But, even with the proposed alterations, he did not think their lordships could make any great additional progress in the despatch of the appeals before them. Still, something should be done; and he expected that a great deal might be done by some good alterations in the courts below. With respect to the compulsory clause, and the objection that three peers might have to hear a part of a case upon The Earl of Carnarvon repeated the which three others who had not heard the objections which he had made on a former whole might have to decide, he would night, against the establishment of a observe, that there was nothing to pre-tribunal, where a part of the case only vent the peers who should hear the first part from remaining till the case was concluded. The objection, therefore, on this head, was without foundation.

The Earl of Liverpool said, that after the first three resolutions were decided upon, he would postpone the considera tion of the others to a future day, by which time would be given for further consideration.

might be heard by those who might have to decide upon the whole.

The first and second resolutions were put, and agreed to without a division. On the third resolution, which went to make the attendance of peers compulsory,

The Earl of Liverpool said, that whatever might be done for the future regulation of appeals, it would be necessary to devise some plan to get rid of the arrears. Lord Holland said, he would not oppose The plan of giving five days a week to the resolution on the ground that the the hearing of appeals instead of three, House had not the power to make the would have that object. He had no ob-regulation. He admitted it was consistent jection to let the resolution stand thus:— The compulsory attendance to be temporary, and only until the arrears were reduced to 40 or 50, or any number to be agreed upon. Then, the question would be-if they were to have five days at tendance, could the lord chancellor attend consistently with his other important duties? He thought not. Indeed, this was not denied on any side. Then, if the lord chancellor could not at

with the constitution of their lordships House; but he doubted the policy of it. He did not think it would be equally efficient, as if peers were left to their own inclinations. The lords forced to attend might appear in their places, and answer to their names, and then leave the House, or, if they remained, they might refuse to vote, or to give permission to the Deputy Speaker to give his opinion, and thus the whole object would be defeated.

thought it would be better to leave the attendance to the honour, and sense of duty, of their lordships.

Their lordships divided: Contents 27. Not-Contents 11.


Tuesday, July 1.

BRITISH Museum.] The report of the committee of supply was brought up. On the resolution, that 40,000l. be granted to his majesty, towards defraying the expense of buildings at the British Museum, for the reception of the Royal Library, and for other purposes, and for providing for the officers of the establishment of the said library, for the year 1823," Mr. Bankes moved, as an amend ment," that the same be paid without any fee or other deduction whatsoever." This was agreed to.

to remove the Museum from its present situation. The library now in the Museum he was content to leave there; but, for the models and pictures, which ought to stand in the public eye and aid the public taste, Russell-street was not the proper place of deposit. If the House would build up the open wing of Somerset-house and suffer the models and paintings to be thrown open there, it would do that towards forming a public taste for science, which could never be effected by the mere purchase of the works themselves. The amendment with which he intended to conclude was one to which he imagined there would be no objection. He proposed to place the design and expenditure of the buildings, whatever and wherever they were to be, under the control of the lords of the Treasury. This was meant as no slight to the trustees of the British Museum; nor could it be considered as such. The buildings occurring in the departments of the Ordnance and Admiralty were subject to the control of the Treasury; and even the new Londonbridge, towards which the public had only contributed 100,000l. was to be placed under the same direction. He would move as an addition to the words of the resolution, but that it is expedient, before any such building shall be undertaken, that a general design, with plans and es

and subject to the approbation of the lords of the Treasury, of a suitable edifice for the reception of the several collections of the British Museum; and that the works which may, from time to time, become necessary, shall be erected in conformity with such general design."

Mr. Hobhouse said, that the hon. member for Corfe Castle had objected to his hint about placing the royal library at Whitehall, that the banquetting-room was unsuitable for such a purpose, from its construction as to windows, and from the impossibility of making reading-rooms near it. Now, the banquetting-room at Whitehall was 115 feet long by 60 broad, and 55 feet high. It was the largest room in England except Westminster-ball, and would contain the whole of the col-timates, be prepared under the direction, lection in question. He had his information upon this point from a gentleman whose means of knowledge were perfect; and the words in which that information was conveyed were these "The hon. member for Corfe Castle is as much mistaken as to the banquetting-room at Whitehall, as he was in supposing that marble could be burnt without the aid of a kiln." In fact, it was a little surprising how the hon. member had fallen into that mistake; because there was scarcely an ancient marble now remaining in the world, which had not been dug from some house or situation which had been consumed by fire. For himself, he still thought Whitehall incomparably the better place for the library; and was averse to spending money upon such a piece of patchwork as the British Museun).

Mr. Croker, on rising to move an amend ment, expressed his general assent to what had fallen from the hon. member for Westminster. He thought the British Museum a very ill-contrived, inconvenient, insecure building, and wished very much

Sir C. Long thought the hon. member's amendment quite unnecessary. The trustees of the British Museum would never have thought of building with the public money, without taking the opinion of the Treasury. The right hon. gentleman proceeded to defend the building and arrangements of the British Museum, and declared that the entertainment which the House had derived from the address of the hon. member for Bodmin on a former evening, they owed to the fertility of his invention, rather than to the accuracy of his statements. Room was certainly wanted; for sir George Beaumont had offered his collection to the Museum, and it had been declined, for want of a place to put it in. The gallery of which the hon. gentleman had so bitterly complained, had

been planned by Mr. Townly himself; and, with all due deference to the taste of the hon. gentleman, it was a matter upon which Mr Townly was likely to be, at least, as well instructed as himself. He should oppose the project for carrying the exhibition to Somerset-house. In the first place, he believed that there would not be space for the undertaking; in the next, it was evident that the cost of a building would be immense; and a further objection still was, that the foundation was a very bad one-so bad, indeed, as to be the reason why Somerset-house had never been completed.

Sir J. Yorke observed upon the great sums which had been laid out on the Elgin marbles, and the inconvenience of their present situation. He recommended that Somerset-house should be completed, the unfinished state of which was a disgrace to the capital and the country; and that a gallery should be added, in which these marbles might be deposited, together with what other works of art the money which the House should choose to vote would purchase. At all events, he trusted that no more money would be granted until a regular plan should have been submitted to the House, of the intended alterations. Mr. A. Ellis very much objected to sending the late king's library to the Museum, because he thought that two great libraries were not more than the metropolis required. He defended the committee of the Museum, from the reflections cast upon them by the secretary of the Admiralty, whose amendment he should oppose. He praised the noble and patriotic gift of sir G. Beaumont. The collection of Mr. Angerstein would be sold in the course of next year, and if not looked after, would very probably go out of the country. His intention was to move for a grant in the next session, to be applied, under commissioners, to the purchase of this and other collections, for the formation of a national gallery.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer justified the committee of the British Museum. He happened to be one of them, and was denied that credit for taste by his hon. friend, as a member of the committee which had been abundantly bestowed upon him as a lord of the Treasury. He did not conceive tha: it was a matter of course, that, because the lords of the Treasury were responsible for the raising and laying out of money, they were the most capable persons in matters of mere taste. For his

own part, he really dreaded the censures of his hon. friend near him; who, be it known to the House, considered himself, very justly no doubt, to have considerable taste in architecture. He certainly thought that Somerset-house, which was a noble pile of buildings ought to be finished; and at some other time he might, perhaps, move for a grant for that purpose. But as to building, there he must be excused-he was afraid of falling under the criticism of his hon. friend, who would be apt to apply to him the epitaph on sir John Vanbrugh

"Lie heavy on him, earth, for he
"Laid many a heavy load on thee."

He thought the situation of the Museum not so very objectionable. As to the argument, that the library was not open to all the world, he thought that was rather an advantage than otherwise. The models of antiquity ought to be as open as possible to the examination of artists. Certainly, a national Museum ought to be magnificent, and the present building was not the best calculated for that effect: but, where could they select a situation in which they could command the same space of ground? He entirely disapproved of the proposal of the hon. member for Westminster. He was glad to see the attention of the House directed to this subject, and hoped that early in the next session, they would not only be able to afford the money, but that a plan would be matured which might be thought worthy of the subject.

Mr. Baring supported the amendment. He considered the mixture of antiquity, books, natural history, and marbles in the Museum, to be a most jumbling and incongruous arrangement. The works of art should be in a gallery by themselves. There were collections now purchasable, which could never again be come at by the public. Vast quantities of valuable works had been thrown into the hands of individuals by the French Revolution, which must in the nature of things return again to the great cabinets and collections. And really, for a country of such inordinate wealth and power as this to be without a gallery of art, was a national reproach. He highly approved of the spirit with which this subject was now taken up, and of most of the projected arrangements; especially that of purchasing the rich collection of the late Mr. Angerstein.

After a few words from Mr. H. Gurney

and Mr. W. Smith, the House divided on Mr. Croker's amendment: Ayes 80, Noes 54.

MR.G.ROWAN-COMPLAINT AGAINST A MEMBER.] Mr. Brougham rose again to present the petition of George Rowan, complaining of his having been dismissed from his office of collector of excise, and accusing colonel Crosbie (a member of the House) of having received money from several persons for procuring situations for them; having inquired into Mr. Rowan's character, and having found that he was a man of veracity and good reputation, and one whose statement, prima facie, he was bound to consider as entitled to credit. But here he must observe, that on presenting a petition, a member could not be held answerable for the accuracy of its contents. If he believed the party to be entitled to credit, he was bound to present the petition, and could not be held answerable, as if he stood up in his place in parliament and made the same assertions on his own authority. He had done all that he could effect, by cautioning the petitioner, that in making a charge against any member, he was bound to make good his charge, or be prepared to suffer the punishment which awaited a breach of privilege. He moved that the petition be brought up. Upon the motion, for laying it upon the table, an opportunity would be afforded for discussing its contents.

Mr. Wynn opposed the bringing up of this petition. It contained charges against an hon. member of that House, which, if true, would expose him to a criminal prosecution, and the constitution had provided a proper tribunal for the investigating such accusations. If the House should proceed upon the petition now before it, they could only do so by examining witnesses as to the truth of the allegations, and afterwards directing the attorney-general to prosecute. This they could not do without expressing an opinion upon the subject; and he called upon the House to consider, with how great a prejudice they would afterwards send a person to his trial by a jury. Another ground of objection was, that his hon. and learned friend had not stated that this charge had been brought before the notice of the public functionaries, whose duty it would be to prosecute. On the part of the government, he could state, that there existed no disposition to screen VOL. IX.

any person who should commit such an offence as was here charged; but he did think that, at that period of the session, it would be highly unjust to allow charges to be brought against a member, when the House could not investigate them, even if they should be convinced of the propriety of doing so.

Mr. Brougham hoped that he should be allowed to offer a few words. He was fully aware of the difficulty which had been pointed out; namely, that of turning the course of criminal justice into that House; and as a general principle, he could not but assent to his right hon. friend's observations. But there was another and not a less important difficultythat the House should avoid the imputation of being too slow in receiving charges against its own members. Here was a distinct charge of the abuse of patronage by a ministerial member of a county. In the case of lord Melville, he had been censured by the House for an indictable offence, and the House had afterwards directed his prosecution by the attorneygeneral, although that mode of proceeding was afterwards abandoned for that of impeachment. His right hon. friend would say, that this was in his office of public treasurer; but there was another case-that of Thomas Ridge, a member of the House in 1710, who was a brewer, and a contractor with the Victuallingboard; but not, therefore, a public functionary. He contracted to furnish 8,000 tuns of beer, and delivered only 3,000, having received payment for the whole. The House examined into the charges, expelled the member, and followed up that proceeding by an order to the attorney-general to prosecute. So that he was sent upon his trial, not only with the vote of the House about his neck, but under the additional weight of their sentence of expulsion. Of so little importance did he (Mr. B.) consider this, that he thought a man could not go into court with a better chance in his favour, than a prosecution by the attorney-general, in pursuance of a vote of the House. He thought, notwithstanding the difficulty which he admitted, the House could not refuse to receive the petition. When a day should be fixed for its discussion, the attorney-general might be directed to prosecute, and thus the difficulty would be got rid of.

Mr. Wynn said, that the House, being the guardians of the public purse, could 4 S

not discharge that duty without proceeding as they had done in the case quoted by his learned friend.

the charge had given greater pain to no individual (his hon. colleague excepted) than himself. He trusted that he had now removed the impression which the partial quotation of his letter had occasioned.

Mr. Brougham was sure that what his right hon. friend had just said, would establish the futility and groundlessness of the suspicions which he had felt himself under the painful necessity of repelling. He could confirm every statement which his right hon. friend had made. He regretted, however, that he had not known that his right hon. friend wished the whole of his letter to have been suppressed, or he would not have read the extract from it. As to reading the whole of it, his right hon. friend would see that he could not have done that, without distinctly disclosing who was the writer. As to the petition, he was merely actuated by a sense of duty in presenting it; for he had never been more plagued about any thing in the whole of his parliamentary experience. The House was, however, bound to protect its purity. It was bound to guard against the abuse of the

have with his majesty's government. He did not think, therefore, that the House would do its duty, unless it received the petition. What it should do with it when it had it, was another question.

Mr. Maurice Fitzgerald said, he rose with great pain to speak of the conduct of an hon. gentleman who was his own colleague. He was compelled to do so, in consequence of an allusion which had been made to him in the speech of his learned friend on Friday last, and which had been made public. He had been applied to by his learned friend as to the character of the petitioner: and, feeling that he had no right to refuse the information required, he had communicated it in the terms which his learned friend had read to the House. He had added, however, that as there had been election jealousies between his friend and those of colonel Crosbie, he wished to avoid any interference in the business, and particuJarly requested that his name might not be mentioned. Whether this did or did not preclude his learned friend from mentioning his name, the House would decide; but he must now state that it was his intention he should not do so. Not that he wished to conceal his having given the petitioner a charac-influence which the members of it might ter, but he wished not to lend any cor roboration to the charges which had been made, In this spirit he had written the letter which had been quoted. He was satisfied that his explanation would be sufficient to gentlemen who heard him, on whatever side of the House they sat; because he knew that personal feelings, in matters so delicate as that of which he was speaking, were held by them paramount to all political inclinations. It had been hinted to him, that it might elsewhere be believed that the petition had originated with him. To those who knew him, it was enough to say that such an imputation must be, of its nature, false. If he had thought it necessary to make any charge, he should not have disgraced himself by adopting indirect means. So far from encouraging the charge, he had abstained from all correspondence with the petitioner, whom he had not seen for some years; and he had not replied to his letter, because although he knew that, in the county in which they both resided, any correspondence would be construed into an encouragement; and he had written confidentially to a friend of his, desiring he would have it understood that he was no party to the affair. He concluded by saying, that

Colonel Crosbie embraced that opportunity of saying, that the impression on his mind originally was, that the hon. and learned gentleman had received the information he possessed from his colleague. He now, however, felt satisfied that such was not the case.

Mr. M. Fitzgerald said, that there was a phrase in the petition, relative to the dismissal of the petitioner, which he would be glad to explain, in order to prevent any misapprehension to which it might otherwise be liable. It was stated that, whatever were the merits of the trial, the means employed against the petitioner were base and treacherous. This did not apply in any manner to his (Mr. F's) colleague, nor to the parties concerned, and least of all to the government. It referred to a former petition presented by the petitioner, when he was dismissed from office in 1817, in which he complained, that his dismissal took place in consequence of a conspiracy among persons in his own employment, at the head of whom was a clerk he had dismissed for pecula

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »