Page images

at the time of the assizes at Nottingham. trates out of their dormancy, and that was It was said there was nothing like this to be effected by making them feel the bill to be found any where; whereas there severities of the law, for criminally négwere many cases analogous to this. The lecting their duty. power of magistrates under charter had Mr. Grey complained that the resolubeen increased where their power had tions of the committee were deficient in been found deficient. This was the case precision. They made heavy charges of the borough of Leicester; the magis- against the magistrates of Nottingham, trates there had a power of concurrent without specifying those parts of the evijurisdiction over parts of the country. dence on which the charges were supThe same case applied to Clitheroe, ported. He could not but consider the where the magistrates of the borough in- bill as a bill of disfranchisement. He terfere with those of the county, and this wished to know distinctly in what the principle was recognised in a statute of fault of the magistrates of Nottingham Henry 7th, which he cited. There was consisted? Was it in their want of also an Irish act, 38 Geo. 3rd, c. 73, by power, or their want of inclination, to which the magistrates of the counties can preserve the peace of the town! It had go to all the boroughs to convict thos not been proved that they were censurwho are guilty of selling spirituous liquors able in either of these respects. The contrary to law. The Coventry case was learned gentleman had spoken of the likewise analogous. All these showed lenity of the bill. Now what was the that parliament had interfered in the situation of the parties to whom this conduct of magistrates in boroughs, as boasted lenity was applied ? Are they not well as in places without charters, when men anxious that every part of their conthe public welfare could not be supported duct should be investigated. But, in the by these chartered customs. He must absence of all conclusive testimony against express an anxious wish, that independent them, labouring under a charge of the gentlemen should act for Nottingham ; most foul and atrocious kind, and denied and if that was not to be the consequence all opportunity or means of repelling, of the bill, it would be useless. But how they deprecated a measure which went could it be required, that a person who to deprive them of a most important conwas to act as a magistrate under the stitutional privilege. In whatever point authority of this bill, should take out a of view the subject was considered, the dedimus potestatem, for the purpose of remedy proposed was inadequate. Was merely running his head into a riot, with it meant to be said that the magistrates out having any means of preventing it? fomented disturbances? In support of so Magistrates had much to do in a quiet serious a charge, there was not a tittle of way, as well as acting on occasions of evidence. He had to say then, that duractual riot. He believed that if the House ing the absence of riots, there was no adopted this bill, they would adopt the evidence of the inadequacy of the magisbest means that had yet been offered to trâtes to preserve the good order of the remedy a considerable evil, and that the town. All that was therefore 'necessary magistrates would become, what they was, that additional power should be given ought to be, a protection to the good, and when the existence of riots rendered the a terror to the wicked.

ordinary police of the town inadequate to Mr. Peter Moore, in a maiden speech, the maintenance of tranquillity. He was said, that he thought the magistrates had therefore in favour of a clause to this effect. neglected their duty in this case. He Mr. Rose said, the bill was rendered had witnessed some riotous proceed- indispensably necessary, not merely by ings at Coventry. In the business recent occurrences, but by the successive of Nottingham there was much to la history of riots, which he could trace to ment, and much to correct; but he almost every former election at Nottingsaw nothing in the report upon this sub. ham, so far as 120 years back. In done ject which the magistrates of that town of these cases did it appear that the mawere not now competent to correct. He gistrates were competent to preserve thought that every necessary provision peace; and whether this incompetence should be made to prevent the recurrence arose from imbecility, negligence, or of the evil without overturning the con- want of sufficient powers, some measure stitution of the borough. There was no- appeared to be indispensable, whioh should thing wanting but to awaken the magis- secure the peace of the towa.

The bill was ordered to be committed Proceedings against James Trotter for on Monday.

Contempt of the Orders of the House.]

March 25. Lord Euston presented a May 3. On the order of the day for petition from James Trotter, now a prithe third reading of the bill,

soner in the custody of the serjeant at Mr. Fox said, that he considered it arms, in consequence of not having calculated for the future undermining of obeyed the summons of the House to the laws of this country, by throwing an attend as a witness before the Dunfermadditional power into the hands of the line election committee. The petitioner executive. Was the bill formed under acknowledged his fault; begged pardon the supposition of guilt or innocence? If of the House; declared he had erred not guilty, there was no occasion for par- from ignorance; that his absence from liamentary interference ; if guilty, the home was a great detriment to his private laws were sufficient for their punishment. affairs; and prayed that he might be set If the magistrates in the execution of at liberty. The noble lord then moved their duty could not suppress such riots, that he be brought up on Monday, in the proper remedy would be, to enlarge order to be discharged.-Mr. Tierney their powers, by adding to their numbers, said, it was proper to consider how the according to the constitution of that body: rights of a petitioner might be affected, if but by no means by the addition of others, a material witness refused to attend. The where an eleclive magistracy had alone conduct of this man the House ought existed. It was a strong feature of the particularly to set its face against. It was constitution, that the magistracy of this more dangerous, as affecting the rights of country was divided between the ap- election, than even perjury or prevaricapointment of the crown and the right of tion. These could be detected, but noelection. The county magistrates were thing could compensate for a man's withappointed by the crown, and in towns holding his evidence altogether. If this the magistracy was generally elective. It man had been forthcoming, his evidence was said, that the inhabitants of Notting. would have made a most material alteraham were not interested in this subject. tion in the decision of the committee. Had men no interest in electing their He should therefore move, that he be magistrates, by whom they were to be brought up, in order to be committed to governed ? But you say the elective Newgate for six months. A long conmagistrates have not been able to do versation then took place, relative to the their duty. If Nottingham is said to be proceeding that ought to be adopted on riotous, other places were equally so. this occasion. It was at last agreed, That If the magistrates were guilty, let them J. Trotter should be brought to the bar be tried. But it was a new principle, of the House on Monday next. that if elective magistrates were guilty, those who had the right of election should March 28. James Trotter was heard be injured. He strongly objected to the in his defence. After he was taken from jesuitism of the proposition, not to im- the bar, lord Euston moved, “ That he pute guilt, and yet to punish by rendering be again brought to the bar, in order to men objeots of contempt. He objected his being discharged." to the bill as a precedent, which, if fol- Mr. Tierney considered this punishJowed up, would not leave a corporation ment as altogether insufficient. He could existing in the country. Riots had pre- by no means believe, that the prisoner vailed in almost every part of the coun- could have remained so long ignorant of a try; and if, which God forbid, the riots summons, from such high authority, as of 1780 should again happen, it would be the Speaker of the House of Commons, a ground for disfranchising even London. which was a thing that must have been

After a short debate, the question being spoken of, as a circumstance rather unput, That the bill be now read a third usual in the neighbourhood. It was much time, the House divided :

more likely, that he was absent from his Tellers

house to avoid being obliged to answer

some questians he might be asked, about YEAS

Mr. Attorney general 164 bribing a voter at Queen's Ferry. He
Mr. Bond

thought, that he ought to be committed NOES Mr. Grey

80 Newgate ; and should move a resolu. Lord Geo. Cavendish


tion, declaring the sense the House tentertained of his conduct, and should fol. The prisoner says that he was duly served low that up, by a motion for committing with the order for his attendance. Ignohim to Newgate.

rance is not therefore the plea on which Mr. Sheridan also thought an exem. be rests bis defence. He tells the House, plary punishment should be inflicted however, very plainly, that, if he bad upon him; he, himself, had confessed, known of the dangers of disobedience, that between the times of the service of he would, without hesitation, have comthe first and second warrants, he had replied with the order. The house were turned to his family, and yet he had called on to consider well the nature of paid no attention to the warrant he had such a defence. It ignorance of the seen.

danger of disobedience was, in this inThe Lord Advocate was against a stance, admitted, what could prevent the severe punishment, on the ground, that same plea from being set up in every there was no wilful contempt; but, that other quarter? Bribery and corruption the prisoner might have really thought were to be severely punished. But would he did not receive it till after the day on equally criminal, when, in consequence of which it specified, that he ought to attend: this absence, the existence of this bribery he thought his confinement, his being and corruption could not be established, brought up here, nearly 400 miles, and and individuals were deprived of their jast his expressions of sorrow, should weigh rights and privileges with regard to the with the House, against inflicting a severe national representation? If cases of this punishment.

nature were once suffered to pass with Mr. W. Dundas and lord Dunlo impunity, witnesses, on points of the thought, that under all the circumstances, highest importance, might be kept back, of what he had already suffered, and his and no redress for the injured party could situation in life, he might now be repri- be obtained. In certain circumstances, manded and discharged.

they might be kept back to prevent a Mr. Foz said, that when he looked to most material subject from being brought all the circumstances of the case, he felt to a full and fair investigation; and, in strongly the propriety of inflicting some other instances, this absence might be very signal punishment on the prisoner useful to conceal the existence of pracfor the crime of which he had been found tices which no principle of our constituguilty. He could not, indeed, conceive tion could sanction. 'Under such circumhow any man who had the smallest re- stances, it was only necessary for a candispect for the privileges of the House, or date, however corrupt the manner in the importance of a free and fair election, which his election was carried, to calculate could possibly think of voting for the the expense of keeping back material motion of the noble lord. He had no witnesses, and then the whole business of difficulty in saying that, in a moral point election would become a matter of mere of view, prevarication and perjury were calculation. On this plain ground, he crimes of a more atrocious kind than that was decidedly hostile to the original moof which the prisoner stood convicted ; tion. It appeared to him that a case of but it was to be considered, that there manifest guilt had been made out against were laws to which these crimes were the prisoner, and therefore he should give amenable, and that the institutions of his hearty concurrence to the amendsociety had attached to them a punish- ment. ment adequate to their enormity. Was The Chancellor of the Exchequer dwelt it, however, so with the crime of which on the importance of preserving the prithe prisoner had confessed his guilt. If vileges of the House, and said, he could it was not to be signally punished, where not consent to allow the prisoner, under was the case to present itself when seve- all the aggravating circumstances of the rity of punishment was to be employed ? case, to be discharged without a more If the House were so far wanting to exemplary punishment. He confirmed themselves as to suffer this . crime to and illustrated the arguments of all the escape with impunity, there was no longer former speakers on the same side, and in any protection for the rights of indivi. the course of his argument discovered duals in the exercise and enjoyment of the extent of his knowledge of parlia. the highest privilege of a free people mentary proceedings. What was the case now before the House? Mr. Rose contended for a punishment,

in the present instance, far more severeits object to generalize the law with rethan a simple reprimand. The crime was gard to certain penal offences, and to one pregnant with evil, and no time ought adapt it equally to every part of the to be lost in showing the public that it was united kingdom. Among other provisions, one which the legislature were determined he had introduced several to meet the to punish with severity.

defects and diffieulties that now lay in the Mr. T. Grenville delivered a warm way

of conviction for several offences of speech in support of an exemplary pu- the most criminal nature. One went to nishment. He supported, with filial en constitute an assault with intent to comthusiasm, the spirit and tendency of that mit murder, a capital felony, whereas at bill, from which the public has derived present it was only a misdemeanor. such important advantages. A motion Another to make the attempting to fire a such as that which had been originally gun or pistol, with intent to kill, although brought forward was one which would the attempt failed by the weapon's missdisgrace the Journals of parliament, and ing fire, by flashing in the pan, or other he therefore earnestly conjured the noble accident, a capital felony. A third, to lord to withdraw it.

constitute the administering poison with Lord Euston's motion was negatived: intent to destroy, also a capital felony. after which, the chancellor of the exche- Another to relieve the judges from the quer moved, “ That so much of the mi- difficulties they labour under in respect to nutes of the evidence taken before the the trial of women indicted for childselect committee, as relates to the said murder, in the case of bastards. At James Trotter, be laid before the House;" present the judges were obliged to strain which motion was agreed to.

the law for the sake of lenity, and to ad

mit the slightest suggestion that the child April 4.

After a short debate, the was still-born as evidence of the fact. House, on the motion of Mr. Tierney, Upon this point, the law, as it now stands, came to the following resolutions : “ That is so severe in a constructive view towards James Trotter, now in the custody of the the mother of a bastard child, supposed Serjeant at Arms,'having been duly sum- to have been murdered after its birth, that moned by the Speaker's warrant, and also in case of such child being found dead, by an order, signed by the chairman of or being made away with, the proof of the select committee on the Dunfermline, the mother having previously concealed &c. election, to attend to give evidence her pregnancy, is to be taken as sufficient before the said committee, and having to convict of the murder. A clause was disobeyed such warrant and order, by not therefore inserted in the present bill, reappearing in pursuance thereof, bas been pealing the law as it now stood, and reguilty of a breach of the privileges of enacting a proviso, requiring that evidence this House.” And it was ordered, nem. should first be duly admitted, that such con. That the said James Trotter be, for bastard child was, or was not, born living, his said offence, committed to Newgate. previous to the final decision upon any

- Trotter continued in Newgate until the trial. Another provision went to the pu6th of May, when he was reprimanded nishment of those guilty of administering and discharged.

drugs and potions to procure abortions.

There was another crime highly atrocious, Lord. Ellenborough's Maiming and which was not capitally punishable by the Wounding Bill.] March 28. Lord El. laws of Ireland ; namely, that of a man lenborough reminded the House, that he setting fire to, and burning his own house, had, on Friday last, moved to postpone with intent to defraud the insurers; for the committal of the chalking bill for Ire. this species of arson, the capital punishland. He had done so, to introduce to ment only attached where the fire extheir lordships a bill, for the purpose of tended to the house of his neighbour; explaining and amending the Coventry but as it was a crime not only calculated act, under which no man who wounded, to defraud one set of men as much as maimed, or defaced another, could be that of forgery, or of sinking a ship at convicted, unless the lying-in-wait

, with sea, but with incalculable danger to the a view to commit the offence was proved ; lives and properties of a whole neighbourand for want of that sort of proof, an hood, and consequently fraught, as much atrocious offender had recently been ac. as any act could be, with the very essence quitted at the Old Bailey. It had also for of criminality, namely, deliberate inten


tion and malice prepense, it was as de counteract this scheme, that they were servedly to be ranked amongst capital first obliged to increase their issues. The crimes in Ireland, as in this country. bank of Ireland had, in spite of surroundThe bill was read a first time.

ing difficulties, of foreign invasion and

rebellion, still kept up its credit, and Debate in the Lords on the Irish Bank given great accommodation to the public. Restriction Bill.) May 3. On the order He attributed the unfavourable state of of the day for the second reading of the exchange in a great measure, to the inbill,

crease of the public debt, which was now Lord King delivered his sentiments 40 millions, although in 1797, it was but fully on the subject. He considered, that 7 millions. it was those restrictions, which, by encou- Lord Auckland entirely coincided with raging an enormous issue of bank notes, what had fallen from the earl of Limehad produced their depreciation, and rick; he therefore supported the bill, finally the rate of exchange so unfavour- which was read a second time. able to Ireland. Country banks had not done so much mischief as was usually May 5. On the committal of the bill, attributed to them; on the contrary, they Lord King again adverted to the rate had afforded great accommodations to of exchange between the two countries, the public, and he believed they were a the unfavourable state of which to Iresalutary check upon the Bank of England, land, he attributed to the depreciation of which was now much more careful and its currency naturally arising from the exvigilant, as to its notes, than probably it cessive issue of bank notes, which were otherwise would have been. The coun- the circulating medium. He concluded, try banks were also an excellent cheek by moving a clause, that the governor and to forgery, which would seldom be de- company of the Bank of Ireland, should tected, if there were no other potes circu- be obliged, upon demand, to pay their lating than those of the Bank of England. Dotes in English bank notes. In Ireland, during the year 1797, the The Marquis of Sligo said, it was imnumber of notes issued, amounted to only possible to add such a clause as this, to a 600,000l.; and now there were no less bill for restricting payments in specie ; as than 2,600,0001. in circulation. This was the Bank of Ireland could not get those a circumstance which sufficiently ac. Bank of England notes, without paying counted for the balance of trade being so guineas for them. Such a clause would unfavourable. He thought the directors militate against the whole principle of the of the Bank of Ireland had grossly abused bill. As to the rate of exchange, it perthat discretionary power which had been haps carried with it its own remedy: vested in them; he should therefore move the exchange operated as a tax upon im. a clause in this bill, that the Bank of Ire- ports, and a bounty upon exports. He land should be obliged to pay their own admitted the very unfavourable circum. notes in those of the Bank of England, stances in which Ireland now stood; but which would prove a check on the enor- he hoped, that better prospects would mous issue they had lately made. He soon appear. thought there ought not to be two stand- The Earl of Limerick also disapproved ards of currency in the countries which of the clause, which was negatived. were now united; he should not, however, propose that such a clause should Debate on Lord King's Motion respectoperate sooner than six months from the ing the Financial State of the Country.] present time.

May 13. Lord King rose to call their The Earl of Limerick defended the attention to the papers which had for conduct of the directors of the Bank of some time been in their lordships' hands. Ireland, who had been prudent, as well as It was a subject of the last consequence, vigilant in the discharge of their duty. that the erroneous ideas which had been The first great increase in the issues of spread among the monied interest, and the bank of Ireland, was in consequence the public in general, in consequence of a of an effort of the conspiracy that was noble lord's statements, should be corthen forming, to distress the government rected. With this view, he had for some by a run upon all the country banks, time been anxious, that the situation of which must necessarily also produce a the country, with respect to its finances, run on the bank of Ireland; it was to miglat be clearly ascertained. The noble

« PreviousContinue »