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verted elections,

justice and of a jury, try and adjudicate upon the charge Chapter

Ii. preferred. The Com- The most important power vested in any branch of the Parliament

and charges eir right legislature, is the right of imposing taxes upon the people, upon the of voting and of voting money for the exigencies of the public service. po supplies.

The exercise of this right by the Commons is practically a
law for the annual meeting of Parliament for redress of
grievances; and it may also be said to give to the Commons
the chief authority in the state. In all countries the public
purse is one of the main instruments of political power : but
with the complicated relations of finance and public credit
in England, the power of giving or withholding the supplies

at pleasure, is one of absolute supremacy. Right of Another important power peculiar to the Commons is that Controdetermining elec- of determining all matters touching the election of their own tions.

members. This right had been regularly claimed and exer- see p. 654.
cised since the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and probably in
earlier times, although such matters had been ordinarily
determined in chancers. Their exclusive right to deter-
mine the legality of returns and the conduct of returning
officers in making them, was fully recognized in the case of
Barnardiston v. Soame, by the Court of Exchequer Chamber
in 1674, by the House of Lords in 1689,' and also by the
courts, in the cases of Onslow in 1680, and of Prideaux r.
Morris in 1702. Their jurisdiction in determining the Jurisdic-

tion of the right of election was further acknowledged by Statute 7 courts of Will. III. c. 7: but in regard to the rights of electors, a 3

law, see p. memorable contest arose between the Lords and Commons Case of in 1704. Ashby, a burgess of Aylesbury, brought an action

at common law against William White and others, the
returning officers of that borough, for having refused to
permit him to give his vote at an election. A verdict was
obtained by him : but it was moved in the Court of Queen's
Bench, in arrest of judgment, “ that this action did not lie;"
and in opposition to the opinion of Lord Chief Justice Holt,
judgment was entered for the defendant, but was afterwards

White.

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Chapter reversed by the House of Lords upon a writ of error. Upon

this the Commons declared that “the determination of the
right of election of members to serve in Parliament is the
proper business of the House of Commons; that they cannot
judge of the right of election without determining the right
of the electors; and if electors were at liberty to prosecute
suits touching their right of giving voices, in other courts,
there might be different voices in other courts, which would
make confusion, and be dishonourable to the House of

Commons; and that the action was therefore a breach of Privilege, privilege.” In addition to the ordinary exercise of their see s. 86.

jurisdiction, the Commons relied upon the Act 7 Will. III.
c. 7, by which it had been declared that “the last determi.
nation of the House of Commons concerning the right of
elections is to be pursued.” On the other hand, it was
objected, in the report of a Lords' Committee, 27th March,
1704, that “there is a great difference between the right of
the electors and the right of the elected : the one is a tem.
porary right to a place in Parliament, pro hâc vice; the other
is a freehold, to which a man has a right by common law.”
Encouraged by the decision of the House of Lords, five Case of the

h Aylesbury
other burgesses of Aylesbury, familiarly known as “the men.
Aylesbury men,” commenced actions against the constables
of their borough, and were committed to Newgate, by the
House of Commons, for a contempt of their jurisdiction.
The contest that hence arose was closed by the prorogation
of Parliament, which put an end to the contest, and to
the imprisonment of the Aylesbury men and their counsel.
The plaintiffs, no longer impeded by the interposition of
privilege, and supported by the judgment of the House of
Lords, obtained verdicts and execution against the return-
ing officers.

The question which was agitated at that time has never Later cases. since brought the Commons into conflict with the courts of law. Complaints, however, have been made to the house, of proceedings in courts of law, having reference to elections ; 1

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II.

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and in 1767, certain electors of the county of Pembroke, Chapter
having brought actions of trespass on the case against
the high sheriff for refusing their votes, were ordered to
attend the house : but having discontinued their actions,
no further proceedings were taken against them. In 1857,
a complaint was made, by petition, that certain voters had
brought actions against the returning officer of the borough
of Sligo for refusing their votes at the last election : but the
committee to whom the matter was referred reported that
there were no circumstances affecting the privileges of the
house. In 1784, Mr. Fox obtained a verdict, with damages,
against the high bailiff of Westminster, for vexatiously with-
holding his return when he had a majority of votes; and
this proceeding, being clearly free from any question of privi-
lege, did not call for the interposition of Parliament. The
Commons continued to exercise (what was not denied to Adminis-

tration of
them by the House of Lords) the sole right of determining ihe clection
whether electors had the right to vote, while inquiring into 'at
the conflicting claims of candidates for seats in Parliament;
until, in 1868, the house delegated its judicature in contro-
verted elections to the courts of law, but retaining its juris-

diction over cases not otherwise provided for by statute. New writs Although all writs are issued out of chancery, every Issue of issued by

- writs, see order of the vacancy after a general election is supplied by the authority . use of of the Commons. During the sitting of the house, vacancies

are supplied by warrants issued by the Speaker, by order
of the house; and during a recess, after a prorogation or
adjournment, the Speaker issues warrants in certain cases

(see p. 636).
Expulsion But notwithstanding their extensive jurisdiction in regard
dong embers to elections, the Commons have no control over the eligi-
create dis- bility of candidates, except in the administration of the

laws which define their qualifications. No power exercised
by the Commons is more undoubted than that of expelling
a member from the house, as a punishment for grave

131 C. J. 211. 279. 293 ; see also 4 C. P. Rep. cases of the Mayor of Hastings, ? 146 H. D. 3 s. 1557 ; 112 C. J. Easter Term, 1786, and the Mayor of 310. 314. 340. Abingdon, 1847; Price v. Fletcher, 3 3 Hughes' Hist. 245.

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Commons.

of members

ability.

Chapter offences; yet expulsion, though it vacates the seat of a
II.

member, and a new writ is immediately issued, does not
create any disability to serve again in Parliament. John
Wilkes was expelled, in 1764, for being the author of a
seditious libel. In the next Parliament (3rd February,
1769) he was again expelled for another libel ; a new writ
was ordered for the county of Middlesex, which he repre-
sented, and he was re-elected without a contest; upon which
it was resolved, on the 17th of February, “that, having
been in this session of Parliament expelled this house, he
was and is incapable of being elected a member to serve
in this present Parliament.”1 The election was declared
void: but Mr. Wilkes was again elected, and his election
was once more declared void, and another writ issued.
A new expedient was now tried : Mr. Luttrell, then a
member, accepted the Chiltern Hundreds, and stood against
Mr. Wilkes at the election, and, being defeated, petitioned
the house against the return of his opponent. The house
resolved that, although a majority of the electors had voted
for Mr. Wilkes, Mr. Luttrell ought to have been returned,
and they amended the return accordingly. Against this
proceeding the electors of Middlesex presented a petition,
without effect, as the house declared that Mr. Luttrell was
duly elected. These proceedings were proved by unanswer.

able arguments to be illegal; 2 and on the 3rd May, 1782,
Similar the resolution of the 17th February, 1769, was ordered to
tiken in be expunged from the journals, as “subversive of the rights
Jr. Brade of the whole body of electors of this kingdom." In 1882,
laugh's
€13, seep Mr. Bradlaugh, having been expelled, was immediately
203.

returned by the electors of Northampton; and no question
was raised as to the validity of his return.3

To expulsion, in former times, was added occasionally Disabilities disability of sitting in Parliament or of serving the state. inflicted by

te formerly On the 27th May, 1641, Mr. Taylor, a member, was expelled, the Com and adjudged to be for ever incapable of being a member

course

1 32 C. J. 229.

? See particularly the speech of Mr. Wedderburn, 1 Cavendish Deb.

352. See also 2 May, Const. Hist. 2-26 (7th ed.). .

3 38 C. J. 977; 137 ib. 62.

of mem

bers.

of the house. During the Long Parliament, incapacity Chapter
for serving in the Parliament then assembled was frequently
part of the sentence of expulsion. On the Restoration, in
1660, the house went so far as to expel Mr. Wallop, and
resolve him to be “made incapable of bearing any office or
place of public trust in this kingdom.” In 1711, Mr. Robert
Walpole, on being re-elected after his expulsion, was
declared incapable of serving in the present Parliament,
having been expelled for an offence. But these cases can
only be regarded as examples of an excess of their juris-
diction by the Commons; for one house of Parliament

cannot create a disability unknown to the law.
Suspension The suspension of members from the service of the house

is another form of punishment. On the 27th April, 1641, Mr.
Gervaise Hollis, a member, was suspended the house during
the session. On the 6th November, 1643, Sir Norton
Knatchbull was suspended the house during the pleasure
of the house. During nearly two centuries this form of
punishment was left in abeyance, no case of suspension
having occurred between 1692 and recent times. On the
25th July, 1877, it was laid down from the chair that any
member guilty of a contempt “ would be liable to such
punishment, whether by censure, by suspension from the
service of the house, or by commitment, as the house may
adjudge.” 5 And by the standing order of the 28th Suspension

uncler S.O.
February, 1880, suspension was adopted for the punish- No. 18, see
ment of offences such as disregard to the authority of the P. *
chair, or obstruction; and has since been imposed in

numerous cases.
Grounds of Expulsion is generally reserved for offences which render
expulsion.

members unfit for a seat in Parliament, and which, if not
so punished, would bring discredit upon Parliament.
Members have been expelled, as being in open rebellion ; 6

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"2 C. J. 158; also Mr. Benson, ib. 301 ; and Mr. Trelawny, ib. 473.

2 8 ib. 60 ; 17 ib. 128. 3 2 ib. 128,

* 3 ib. 302; also the cases of Mr. Frye, 6 ib. 123; Mr. Love, 8 ib.

289; Sir G. Carteret, 9 ib. 120 ; Sir J. Prettiman, 9 ib. 156; Mr. Cullingford, 10 ib. 846.

3 132 ib. 375. : Mr. Foster and Mr. Carnegy, 1715, 18 ib. 336. 467.

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