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theume; the necessity in which they orignate, and the purposes for which they ire exercised, are materially different. Both houses of parliament poises* a complete and exclusive judicature upon all subjects concerning their respective privileges; the violation of which has ever been considered as a distinct offence, cognizable Ooit in the respective houses of parliament, and punishable by their sentence ; and this was demonstrated by ao many precedents,that the difficulty was in selecting authorities, not in discovering them. These positions Mr W. Wynn established by facts drawn from the history of parliament, > by the doctrines which the ablest 1 lawyers have laid down.
," he then continued, whether the House of ■ docs at this hour possess the f imprisonin g those who either insult iu members for their parliamentary conduct, or degrade and vilify the character and proceedingsof the house itaelf; and whether that power, if it be- known to the laws, shall be enforced by such methods as are necesaary for its legal exercise? Until the whole foundations of our law be subverted, there is but one issue on which such a question can be tried. If such a power be now first claimed and exits origin must be shewn in act, expressly intrbation; if, on the i has been uninand the in'exertion are coeval with the records of parliament itself, it is for those who contend against it to shew by what act it has been abrogated. As well might a man be admitted to dispute the power of parInment to make laws, as the privilege sv wkich alone it is enabled to exe
cute that function with dignity and independence. There have been many instances, and many more will probably occur, when the publication of a libel on an individual member may subject him to popular insult, or when that apprehension will deter him from the discharge of his duty. The attainder of Lord Stafford, the most unjust and disgraceful act that ever received the sanction of the legislature, was carried simply by the terror which resulted from posting up the names of its principal opponents as enemies of their country. JBy these means even the bold spirit of Lord Capel was intimidated into what, in the last moments of his life, he repented, as a coward consent to what his conscience disapproved. In all such instances, speedy and summary punishment is requisite, or, before an example can be made, the mischief which it is wished to prevent will have attained its utmost degree, It is indeed only under the existence of such a privilege that the practice of publishing the debates could subsist. Were this controul removed, the language of all public men would be continually misrepresented, not, as now too frequently happens, by error or inadvertency, but by wilful perversion, according to the violence of party, or malevolence of personal hostility. This must lead of necessity to a great public evil,—to the closing the gallery of the house, and debarring the people from all means of learning, through the press, the conduct ot their representatives, and of correcting any misconceived opinions of public affairs, by the superior information and judgement of those by whom they are discussed in parliament."
Consistently with this view of the
subject, Mr W. Wynn mo- ture, would be destroyed for ever,
June 8. ved some resolutions, that and the commons would retain no
whoever presumed to com- privileges but what the lords should, mence or prosecute any action against by their judgements on different oc. any person for acts done in obedience casions, think proper to admit them to the orders of the house, any such to. He did not propose that the persons, and all attornies, solicitors, house should immediately proceed to counsellors, and serjeants at law, so- commit the solicitor, after the origiliciting, prosecuting, or pleading in nal offence had been overlooked; but any such cases, were guilty of a high if, after the resolutions for which he breach of the privileges of the house; moved, these actions should be prothat the actions commenced by Sir ceeded in, then it would undoubtedly Francis Burden, were for acts done be necessary to commit every person in obedience to the orders of the concerned in carrying them on. house; and that the proper officer of "This," Mr Wynn continued, " is the Court of King's Bench should the latest moment for the assertion of be ordered to attend the house on the our privileges. What then is now to morrow with all records and proceed- be done? Recur to that principle ings on the said actions. "Were which governed the practice of your ministers," he asked, "prepared for ancestors,—the principle that the prothe consequences to which the mea- ceedings of the House of Commons, sures they had adopted might lead? in matters of privilege, shall not be and did they intend that the com- questioned by any other tribunal. For mons should carry the question by the preservation of this vital princiwrit of error before the other house pie new measures must be taken, if of parliament, and that they should new measures are necessary; and who, humbly sue for their privileges at in such a case, would hesitate to make the bar of the House of Lords? for a precedent, if it were true that none before the lords the question would could be found? But there are preultimately be brought, either by the cedents in our journals; in three cahouse, or by those who resisted its ses * the house has ordered the reprivileges. Perhaps it might be said, cords of the inferior courts to be laid that the lords would beascarefulof the on the table, and has directed the obprivileges of the commons as of their noxious proceedings to be then taken own. On the contrary it appeared, off the file and destroyed. Many per that it was from the other house of sons, however, there are, who think parliament that the privileges of the that these measures are indeed the pro commons had experienced the most per course, but not themost prudent; severe and frequent attacks ; and if it that they are too strong for the preshould once be established that the sent moment, and that we should now commitments of the House of Com- conciliate. But the opportunity for mons could, by appeal, be brought attending to such considerations is under the judicature of the lords, the gone by. Many instances there unequality which has hitherto subsisted doubtedly were, where common prubetween those branches of the legisla- dence and good sense would induce
• Those of Lord Newburgh, 1669 ; the Middlesex Justices, 1726; and the Comnitment of the Messenger by the Lord Mayor, in 1771.
the members of the house to pass over offences altogether. Of such a nature, perhaps, in the opinion of many, was the paper of Mr Gale Jones, when it wai originally complained of; but when it had been once regularly noticed, and by a formal complaint forced on the attention of the house, no member could doubt any longer as to the course to be pursued, or could hesitate to concur in the vote which the house finally passed upon that occasion, however he might have been disinclined to the original agitation of the question.
"As soon as that complaint was made, and unavoidably adopted, the country could not be deceived by any pretences to conciliation; nor would they have attributed such a conduct to any other motives, but those of unworthy cowardice. Was it likely, that those persons could be conciliated, who had directed their attacks against the House of Commons, simply because they thought that, at the present moment, this was more vulnerable than either of the other branches of the legislature? They would laugh to see the hpuse affect moderation, by abandoning what for ages hid been its only guard and defence. It was much the same sort of pledge of conciliation and peace, which a great country was formerly called upon to give to its enemies, by surrendering the whole of its fleet. The moment of conflict was not that for concession, even 'if concession were, on other grounds, adviseable, instead of being ruinous and destructive. These were times, when it was necessary to rise above the dread of temporary unpopularity."
Mr Wynn then adverted to the recent loss which that house and the country had sustained in the death of Mr Windham. t« We should recol
lect," he said, " the great man whose loss we all have so lately deplored; who pursued his course firm and undeviating, frequently in direct opposition to the pre vailing clamour; who, when the spirit of the nation was sunk to the lowest ebb of degradation, when the populace had actually drawn in triumph a French general through the streets of London, stood forward, almost alone, and raised their spirits by his own. To the stand then made by that illustrious person, and the small phalanx which rallied round him, it was to be attributed, that the ancient fortitude of the country was restored; that during seven years of war which had since occurred, we had heard of no petitions for eace, no unmanly complaints of the eavy and unparalleledburthens which it had been necessary to impose. Were my lamented friend now here, it would have been unnecessary for any other person to have brought forward this question. To imitate the strain of eloquence with which he would have enforced it, the felicity of illustration with which he would have adorned it, was impossible ; but to emulate his determination and intrepidity, is in the power of every one. For myself," Mr Wynn concluded, " whatever may be the determination of the house, I am desirous to be able to state to my constituents that I have endeavoured to my utmost to preserve, uninjured and unimpaired, those privileges which they have intrusted to my hands, and which I feel to be the privileges, not of this house only, but of all the commons of England."
Mr Perceval replied to this able and manly speech, "that Mr Wynn argued upon the assumption that the tribunals would act contrary to the law of the land,—an assumption which the house ought not to make. Neither ought the house, after having agreed to plead, to commit the inconsistency of resolving to punish the persons concerned in prosecuting the action*. Thepresentresolutionsought not, therefore, to be passed, because they tended to overturn all that had been done. Earl Temple and Mr Adam supported Mr Wynn's motion, which was, however, negatived by 74 members against 14. And here those proceedings of the session terminated to which Sir Francis Burdett had given rise. His conduct, from the commencement of the session, had been in the highest degree reprehensible; it had been a scries of direct, premeditated, and systematic insults to the House of Commons. If a regard for the liberty of the subject, and the law of the land, had been the real mo
tives of his conduct, he would have rested the question upon the case of Gale Jones,—a case which all parties thought hard; for though, when it had been brought before the house, the house could not proceed otherwise than it did, most persons agreed in wishing that his conduct had never been made the subject of complaint. But it neither suited with the vanity nor the views of Sir Francis, that Jones should be the object of popular attention ; he put himself iorward, and thrust Jones out of sight,and throughout the whole of the subsequent proceedings, acted not like a man who loved and respected the laws and institutions of his country, but like a demagogue performing an insurrection, as soldiers fight mock-battles in a review, for tht purpose of trying his strength against the government..
Budget. Army, Ordnance, and Naval Estimates. Affair of Captain Lake, Lord Melville's Motion respecting Troop-Ships.
Thi supplies voted for the year were 52,185,0001., of which the Irish proportion was 6,106,0001., leaving for England 46,079,0001. The ways and means which were provided left a surplus of 141,2021. These included a loan of 8,000,0001., at 41. 4s. and S*d. per cent., terms even more favourable than those of the preceding yeaT. The annual charge to be provided for was 970,8331. It was proposed to meet this from the surplus of the consolidated fund, which, owing to the additions and regulations made in the stamp duties in 1S0S, was unexpectedly great.
"There was no reaMay 16. son," Mr Perceval said, "to apprehend any thing like decay in our finances; the more we looked at them, the more reason we had to be satisfied with their growing prosperity. In that very year, when men of great authority anticipaedafailure, there had actually been a very considerable increase. The official value of the imports was 36,255,2091., nearly five millions fflort than in the most prosperous yearof peace. The exports of our manufactures amounted to 35,107,0001., between eight and nine millions more •tan they were in 1802. The ex.
ports of foreign goods was nearly four millions less than at that time, but the average proved that the country was greatly progressive in prosperity; and this was seen in our external means and strength, as Well as in our internal resources, as hadhappilybcen •hewn to the conviction of the enemy. It was but a few years since that enemy declared that all he wanted was ships, colonies, and commerce ;—he had lost all his commerce, all his colonies, and his few remaining ships were pent up in their ports. This, too, was the enemy whose measures were represented as founded in wisdom, and executed with ability; while the government of this country had been uniformly charged with weakness, ignorance, folly and imbecillity. But the orders in council, the vilified measure of this vilified ministry, had reduced the receipts of the customs in France from two millions and a half to half a million, a diminution of four-fifths of the whole amount."
Mr Huskisson was little satisfied with this statement. "Was it possible," he asked, "to go on adding from a million to 1,200,0001. every year to the public burthens, and could we hope to continue the war in this