페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

Davis.

[ocr errors]

appointed to consider the inatter. Having examined Mr. Chapter V.
McHugh and other witnesses, and considered various
documents, they reported that there was no difference of
principle between the cases of Mr. Wellesley Long, Mr.
Charlton, Mr. Whalley, and Mr. Dwyer Gray, and that
of Mr. McHugh, that the last-named's contempt was of
a criminal and not a civil character, that no distinction
could be drawn between cases of criminal contempt and
other indictable offences, and that the house was not re-
quired to take any further steps in the case.

On the 28th November, 1888, under an attachment order
Mr. Gent issued against Mr. Gent Davis, a member, he was im- Communi-

cation prisoned for contempt of court in appropriating and neglect- thereon, ing to pay into court money received by him as receiver see p. 118. appointed by the Court of Chancery.2

On the 9th June, 1903, Mr. Patrick Aloysius McHugh,

a member, was arrested and imprisoned under an attachDicHugh.

ment order for contempt of court made on the 19th April,
1902, and then communicated to the Speaker.3

It must not, however, be understood that either house
has waived its right to interfere when members are com-
mitted for contempt. Each case is open to consideration
when it arises; and although protection has not been
extended to flagrant contempts, privilege might still be
allowed against commitment under any civil process, or if
the circumstances of the case appeared otherwise to justify
it. By 2 & 3 Will. IV. c. 93, an Act for enforcing the
process of contempts in matters ecclesiastical, an exception
is made from committal for contempt of court in behalf of
peers or members of Parliament.

In January, 1873, the Court of Queen's Bench fined Mr. Members Onslow and Mr. Whalley, two members of the House of fined for contempt Commons, for a contempt of that court, when Chief Justice

Cockburn took occasion to state that the court would not

of court.

1 157 C. J. 300; Report of select committee on Imprisonment of a Member, Parl. Paper, No. 309, sess, 1902. As to what is criminal contempt see 32 L. R. (Ireland) 220;

15 L. R., P. D. 59.

: Judge's letter to the Speaker, 143 C. J. 488.

3 157 C. J. 175; 158 ib. 219; 123 Parl. Deb. 4 s. 309.

Chapter V. have been restrained by privilege from committing these

members, if it had thought fit.
But it is only in cases of quasi criminal contempts that Contempt

of court
members of either house may be committed, without an and privi-
invasion of privilege. Such a commitment, as part of a "*
civil process for the recovery of a debt, will not be resorted
to by a court, nor would it be allowed in Parliament.

On the 24th March, 1880, application was made to ViceChancellor Hall for an order for the committal of Mr. Fortescue Harrison, a member, for contempt, in not having complied with an order of the court for payment of certain moneys, and the delivery of documents to the liquidator of a company. The vice-chancellor, however, held that privilege protected a member, except in cases of a gross character, and that the contempt, in this case, was not such as to justify the court in committing a member. On that same day Parliament was dissolved, and Mr. Fortescue Harrison did not seek re-election. On the 15th April, application was again made to the court for his commit

ment: but the vice-chancellor held that privilege extended Duration of to a period of forty days after a prorogation or dissolution see p. 110. of Parliament, and as that time had not yet expired, he

refused to entertain the motion, on the ground of
privilege, and without reference to the merits of the case.”
A similar case affecting a peer had been decided, after full
consideration, by the judge of the Brompton County Court,
in 1879. On the same ground, Mr. Justice Vaughan Williams
refused an order of committal for contempt of court against
a member who declined to be examined pursuant to a sum-
mons issued by the court in a matter of bankruptcy, because
the member's conduct contained “no element of personal
contempt, or any offence for which he could be sent to
prison as a punishment.” 3

joritlige,

1 His Honour Judge Bayley (Westminster County Court) refused to grant an order for the committal of a member for non-payment of a judgment debt on the ground of privilege, Roport in Times, 10th

Feb. 1892; see also p. 119, n. 3.

? Times, 16th April, 1880.

3 Queen's Bench Division (Bankruptcy). In re Armstrong, ex parte Lindsay, Times, 8th Aug. 1891 ; Morrell, Bankruptcy Reports.

es,

wit suit

arrest.

Privilege of As yet the personal privilege of members, and the ancient Chapter V.

and privilege of their servants, have alone been noticed. These others. were founded upon the necessity of enabling members freely

to attend to their duties in Parliament. Upon the same
ground, a similar privilege of freedom from arrest and
molestation is attached to all witnesses summoned to attend Witnesses
before either house of Parliament, or before parliamentary liament, ***

before Par-
committees, and to others in personal attendance upon the see p. 424.
business of Parliament, in coming, staying, and returning;
and to officers of either house, in immediate attendance upon
the service of Parliament. In the early journals there are
numerous orders that all persons attending in obedience to
the orders of the house, and of committees, shall have the pri-
vilege or protection of the house. A few precedents will

serve to explain the nature and extent of this privilege.
Their free- Instances of protections given by the Lords to witnesses
dom from

and to parties, while their causes or bills were depending,
appear very frequently on the journals of that house.

In 1640, Sir Pierce Crosbie, sworn as a witness in Lord
Strafford's cause, being threatened with arrest, was allowed
privilege,“ to protect him during the time that this house
examine him." In 1641, it was ordered that Sir T. Lake,
who had a cause depending, should “have liberty to pass in
and out unto the house, and to his counsel, solicitor, and
attorney, for and during so long time only as his cause
shall be before their lordships in agitation ;” and many
similar orders have been made in the case of other parties,
who have had causes depending, or bills before the house.?

On the 12th May, 1624, the master and others of the felt. makers were ordered, by the Commons, to be enlarged from the custody of the warden of the Fleet, for the prosecution of a bill then depending, “till the same be determined by both houses." 3 In the same manner, privilege was extended to persons who bad petitions or bills depending, on 22nd

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Chapter V. and 29th January, 1628, 23rd January, 1640, 3rd May,

1701, and 11th May, 1758.1 Numerous instances bare
occurred, in which witnesses, who have been arrested on
their way to or from Parliament, or during their attendance
there, have been discharged out of custody; 2 and the same
protection is extended, not only to parties, but to their
counsel, solicitors, and agents, in prosecuting any business
in Parliament.

The last case that need be mentioned is that of Mr.
Petrie, in 1793. That gentleman was a petitioner in a
controverted election, and claimed to sit for the borough
of Cricklade. Having received the usual notice to attend,
by himself, his counsel, or agents, he attended the sittings
of the election committee as a party in the cause. He
was arrested before the committee had closed their in-
quiries; and on the 20th March the house, after receiving
a report of precedents, ordered, nem. con., that he should
be discharged out of the custody of the sheriff of Middlesex.4
Witnesses, petitioners, and others, being thus free from Protection

ofwitnesses arrest while in attendance on Parliament, are further pro- and others

ta from suits tected, by privilege, from the consequences of any statements an

which they may have made before either house ; and any tation, Iwriminat- molestation, threats, or legal proceedings against them, will ing ques. tions put to be treated by the house as a breach of privilege. The Protection titnesses,

of witsee p. 87. House of Commons resolved, 26th May, 1818, “That all nesses, &c.

witnesses examined before this house, or any committee

thereof, are entitled to the protection of this house, in Clerks und respect of anything that may be said by them in their omoers of the house evidence; "5 and persons who punish, damnify, or injure er deace

be witnesses before committees of either house of Parliament

Wines without on account of their evidence may, under the Witnesses leare, see P. 431,

11 C. J. 921. 924 ; 13 ib. 512; 28 tection is given by courts of law, ib. 244; 2 ib. 72.

even in arbitration cases, to wit? 8 ib. 525; 9 ib. 20. 366. 472; 12 nesses, &c., Court of Q. B. in banco, ib. 364. 610; 66 ib. 226. 232; 90 ib. 7th Nov. 1857. 521.

• 48 C. J. 426. : 88 L.J. 189; 92 ib. 75. 76 ; cases 573 ib. 389 ; see also debate on of Mr. Gardener and of Mr. Douglas, East Retford Disfranchisement Bill 9 C. J. 472; 24 ib. 170; 26 ib. 797; (1828), 18 H. D, 2 s. 970. 27 ib. 447. 537. 548. Similar pro

And moles

(Public Inquiries) Protection Act, 1892, be convicted of a Chapter V.
misdemeanour, fined, imprisoned, and condemned to pay
the costs of the prosecution, as well as a sum by way of
compensation to the injured persons.

On the 23rd November, 1696, “ A complaint being made
that Sir G. Meggott had prosecuted at law several persons
for what they testified, the last session, at the committee of
privileges and elections," it was referred to that committee
to examine the matter of the complaint. It appeared from
their report, 4th December, that Sir G. Meggott had thought
that he might lawfully bring the action ; "but as soon as
he was better advised, he desisted, and suffered himself to
be nonsuited, and had paid them their costs." Notwith-
standing his submission, the house agreed with the com-
mittee in a resolution, that he had been guilty of a breach
of privilege, and committed him to the Serjeant;1 and, the
same year, under similar circumstances, the house committed
Mr. Gee to the custody of the Serjeant, for prosecuting at
law certain hackney coachmen for petitioning the house.?

On the 8th April, 1697, the Lords attached T. Stone, for striking and insulting a witness, below the bar, who bad been summoned to attend a committee, and directed the attorney-general to prosecute him for his offence. On the 5th March, 1710, on the report from a committee that John

Hare, a soldier, was afraid of giving evidence, the Commons Protection resolved, “that this house will proceed with the utmost nesses, &c. severity against any person that shall threaten, or any way

injure, or send away the said J. Hare, or any other person
that shall give evidence to any committee of this house ;”
and on the 9th February, 1715, a complaint being made
that C. Medlycot, Esq., had been abused and insulted, “in
respect to the evidence by him given" before a committee,
the person complained of was committed to the custody of
the Serjeant.

On the 28th February, 1728, it was reported to the house,

of wit

1 11 C. J. 591. 613.
2 Ib. 699.
3 16 L. J. 144.

16 C. J. 535 ; 18 ib. 371; see also Mr. Goold's case, 12th March, 1819, 74 ib. 223.

« 이전계속 »