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of that fubject, when members were just returned from their electors, and knew their difpofitions.

Mr. Fox's petition was then read, and counfel heard and witneflès examined in fupport of it. The points which they laboured chiefly to eftablish were, that the high-bailiff was fun&us officio on the 18th, and that Mr. Fox's voters were fcrutinized moft rigorously, before they were fuffered to poll, through the whole of the election, but more particularly towards the conclufion of it. This was proved by feveral witneffes. The counfel concluded their arguments, by warning the Houfe not to feparate queftions of taxation and reprefentation, an attempt that had already cot this country an empire; and to beware of giving the inhabitants of Westminster a pretence to refufe the payment of taxes that might be voted, while they were unreprefented in parliament. The counfel for the highbailiff were preparing to reply, but pleading fatigue, and the latenefs of the hour, the Houfe adjourned.

May 31. The Houfe refolved itself into a committee of fupply, and Mr. Gilbert was called to the chair in the room of Mr. Ord, who had formerly prefided in that committee.

26,000 feamen, including 4,495 marines, were voted for the year 1784, and the ufual fum of 41. per man per month voted for their maintenance.

Sir Thomas Frankland complained that the commanders of fhips, at prefent, were children, and not men, a boy of fixteen, who had intereft, having been promoted to the rank of captain, before he had been twelve months at fea.

The House being refumed, the American trade bill was continued for one month longer.

Mr. Burke gave notice, that on Wednefday fe'nnight he intended to make a motion on that part of the King's fpeech which reflected a cenfure on the laft parliament.

Mr. Pitt wished to be informed of the tendency of the motion. He con

ceived that his Majefty's fpeech was longer a fit object for animadverfic fince it had already been the fubjec debate, and the Houfe had prefent an addrefs in confequence of it.

Mr. Fox begged leave to prefe petition from the electors of We minter, which was pretty nearly, tranfcript of his own petition prefe on the 25th, with this difference, in this the electors complained of being reprefented, and, therefore, fifted on not being liable to bear part of the taxes propofed to be la the fubject. This pofition Mr. maintained with his ufual ingen He recapitulated the feveral argum he had urged in fupport of his petition, and wished the Houle to collect that the prefent was not petition of an individual, butt a great and refpectable body tizens, who would not be juggled of their privileges and immunities

Mr. Dundas objected to the tion's being laid on the table

moved that it fhould be taken confideration with the other pet on the fame fubject then pending which he obferved it was men duplicate. This motion, after converfation, was carried withe division.

June 1. Mr. Moreton, from the India Houfe, prefented an accou the finances of the company, by of appendix to the account laid b the laft House of Commons.


This account was referred to fame gentlemen who had been pointed by the laft parliament to amine the account of which this the fequel, and Mr. Brett, Mr. Mr. Anftruther, and Mr. H. Du were added to the committee, or nomination of the miniiter, in room of Sir Grey Cooper, Sir G Elliott, and Sir A. Ferguson, whe the fate of political war, were no in parliament, and of Mr. R. S who had declined ferving*.

June 2. In a committee of fu voted the fum of a million

*The names on the committee now ftand thus: The Right Hon. W. Eden, Chairma Haffey, H. Bankes, Geo. Dempster, H. Beaufoy, B. Watfon, Lord Beauchamp, S.r Shuckburgh, P. Yorke, H. Strachey, H. Thornton, H. Dundas, John Call, J. At

C. Brett.

if to be raised by Exchequer of bad votes having been polled for Mr. Fox. To prove this they were proceeding to examine witneffes, when Lord North moved, "That no evidence be admitted on behalf of the high-bailiff that may tend to decide on the merits of the election." This was propofed under the idea, that to admit any evidence which might impeach the merits of the election would be to interfere with the jurifdiction of Mr. Grenville's bill. It was negatived after a tedious debate.

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r. Pitt moved for leave to bring in for the more effectual prevention uggling. He explained the obof his intended bill not to be parlar, but general - to introduce fuch iations into every branch of the ne as might be fufficient to overthe endeavours of thofe who d to live on the ruin of the public The outlines of it were to nd the hovering laws to the four -to prevent thips from carrying without a licence from the Adty-that fmuggling veffels, when captured, thould not be returned the building of fhips of a certain ription, upon the fmuggling fcale, be interdicted-that certain ds, fach as tea, &c. in fmaller isaad packages than were allowed ta, fhould occafion the forfeiture th fhip and cargo-that a mode earance fhould be adopted, to prethips from clearing out with , and afterwards going on the ggling trade. Leave was given. Fox brought up a petition from Westminster electors, praying to be by their counfel, in fupport of allegations of their former petiwhich being granted,

ard Mahon prefented another from high-bailiff, praying to be heard in own defence, fo far as the allegaof the former petition were inded to affect him, and alfo a petifrom other electors of Weftminster, sing that the high-bailiff might be mtted to go on with the fcrutiny, was ordered to be confidered the former petitions. Counfel were then heard in fupport Mr. Fox's petition, and that of the Ktors who efpoufed his caufe. They faced a variety of arguments, to se that the high-bailiff had acted egally, and contrary to all precedent, not having made a return to the efs' precept.

The counfel for the high-bailiff heard in reply. They refted the ence of their client on the informawhich, during the poll, had been avered to him on oath, of numbers

Mr. Atkinson, fecretary to the committee for conducting the election of Lord Hood and Sir Cecil Wray, being called to the bar, was afked "if he did not know of many illegal votes on the poll?" to which he could not answer of his own knowledge. He was next asked, "Whether he did not know of lifts of voters having been given to the high-bailiff, whofe votes, fince the clofe of the poll, he had found to be illegal?"

Mr. Fox objected to this queftion, as leading to try by ex parte evidence the merits of the election, which were to come before another tribunal, under the fpecious pretext of hearing witneffes in exculpation of the highbailiff's conduct. The lifts of voters in question, be they what they might, could derive no additional authenticity, by any enquiry fubfequent to the clofe of the poll, to juftify the high-bailiff in not having made a return, or in entering on a fcrutiny.

After much converfation on this point, Lord Maitland moved, "That the counfel be restrained from examining witneffes touching the legality of any defcription of votes, unless on queftions immediately relating to the exculpation of the high-bailiff"

This was oppofed by Mr. Pitt and Mr. H. Dundas, and defended by Mr. Sheridan, who contended, that if the admiffion of fuch partial evidence fhould prevail, he fhould not confine himself to the bare examination of evidence on vague affertions refpecting anonymous voters, but infift upon their names being given in, that the whole merits of the election might be investigated there, if the Houfe thought

itself competent to decide upon them, in violation of Mr. Grenville's bill.

Lord Mulgrave moved the previous queftion, and in terms of great warmth and afperity defcribed the poll to have been procraftinated by bafe arts and fhuffling tricks.

Mr. Sheridan retorted the charge, as more applicable to those who fhrunk from the impartial inveftigation of Mr. Grenville's bill, and expofed the indecent correfpondence that fubfifted between the high-bailiff and one of the candidates.

Mr. Fox reprobated Lord Mulgrave's language, as unworthy of a man of education, a gentleman, or a man of honcur, and being called to order, he declared, that if he could be furnished with stronger terms to exprefs his feelings on the fubject, he would adopt them, if not, he must repeat what he had faid. Lord Mulgrave explained, and the previous queftion was carried without a divifion. The Houfe then proceeded with the examination of the witnefs, which proved extremely tedious, as an altercation took place on almost every queftion that was propofed. June 3. Mr. Sawbridge, finding it the with of the Houfe that his intended motion refpecting a reform in the reprefentation of the people should not come on then, was willing to poftpone it till Monday or Tuefday next, and again defired to know if Mr. Pitt would take the bufinefs out of his hands.

Mr. Pitt profeffed his fincere attachment to the meafure, but thought it his duty to confult opportunity, and did not think the early stage. of the feffion at all calculated for the difcuffion of that fubject.

Mr. Burke fpoke pointedly on the accommodated language of the minifter, and his unbounded confidence in futurity. If a reform was neceffary he wifhed to fee it adopted; if, on the contrary, it fhould be judged inexpedient, he wished the Houfe to fet it at reft by fome fpirited refolution. But why was a quetion of fuch magnitude, -on which had been lavished fuch a profufion of fincerity and patriotifm, kept in fufpenfe? If it was the voice of the people, as had been averred, why

was no attempt made to gratify the defires? When the minifter wa addreffes, on which he might proc to a diffolution of parliament, the were fo readily and liberally obtain that the cry of prerogative was echoe from one end of the kingdom to other. Eut in all these addreffes no fyllable about a more equal reprefen tion of the people, as if the had been more anxious to extend influence of the crown, than to fe their own franchifes.

The Houfe then refumed the bu of the Westminster election, wh tedious and uninterefting examina of witneffes in vindication of the bailiff's conduct took place, lafted till three o'clock in the mon

June 7. A petition, complain an undue election, was prefente Sir Watkin Lewes, but the nam the petitioners being written an parate piece of paper, which wata to the petition by a pin, it was be inadmiffible in that form.

Another petition was prefe complaining of the return of Surrey for the city of Hereford as Lord Surrey had been alfo ret for Carlisle, and Arundel, Mr. obferved that the petition ough have a very early hearing, fince thefe places must continue un fented until the merits of it were

Mr. Pitt and Mr. Fox thought as a member returned for two pl the return for one of which is petiti againft, is not obliged to make election for which of them he wi till that, petition be decided Lord Surrey might referve either lille or Arundel, while Hereford " be in difpute, and vacate the The Speaker remarked that they was new, and could not be immed decided. Next day, however, Surrey gave notice that he d intend to fit for Arundel, and a writ was iffued.

The Houfe then concluded t mination of witneffes on the minfler election, and the com the high-bailiff having famaed evidence, informed the Houft t client wished to ftate the great

he thought himself juftified in ng a fcrutiny. He was called to r accordingly, and read from a of confiderable length a minute at of his inducements. They chiefly from the information he ed of the many bad votes polled t. Fox, against whom feveral perefections, and much party matter terperfed in his juftification. fon as the high-bailiff had Mr. Adam moved "That the afk him whether he has any to deliver in the paper he has the har." This was oppofed by er and his friends, as unand improper. The paper, it 14, conilted merely of notes, hith the high-bailiff had fpoken a defence, and was not of a De fubmitted to the confidebe Houfe, becaufe it had not wn up with that view. It afer no purpofe but to enable en to find fault with particular as, and might be made the factions against the bailiff. wer to this, it was urged, that the paper before them would the Houfe to compare what had bed in evidence with the highdefence, and to fift into the in which they difigreed; that Bet to be confidered as defendelf from a criminal charge, but ing the reafons of his conduct as ng officer; that whether it d of evidence or juftification it quaily to be given in; that it be no injury to a perfon to dea written paper, which it had ought a benent to read; that no tion could be grounded on fuch ; and lastly, that the motion, ed, would not be compulfory. ed in the negative.

8. Mr. Sawbridge deferred his ded motion for a parliamentary as did Mr. Burke his motion King's fpeech.

Had the decifion established a precedent, by which returning officers might have regulated their conduct in future, this day's debate would have been of more importance. But as the majority admitted the neceffity of fome new law, to obviate the ill confequences of fuch a precedent, it is merely to be regarded as a fpecimen of political warfare, in which ftrength of argument muft fometimes yield to ftrength of numbers.

counfel on all fides having clofed evidence and their arguments on Wetminfter election, it now refor the Houfe to apply that ce and thofe arguments, and to determine by what mode it to a conclufion.

to be brought

Mr. W. Ellis opened the bufinefs. He laid it down as an undeniable maxim, that, in the exercife of the ancient prerogatives of the crown, derived from the common law, or coeval with it, the King, when he exercised them with found difcretion, was abfolute; and fince the conftitution had vetted in the King the prerogative of calling parliaments, and ordering them to meet when and where it should appear to him moft conducive to the public good, he inferred that his commands contained in the writs iffued to the fheriffs, for the election of members to fit in the Houfe of Commons, were peremptory, mandatory, and abfolute. For if it were left to the difcretion of returning officers to return the members or not on the day specified in the writs, the meeting of parliaments would not depend on the will of the King, whom the conftitution hath made the fole judge of the time when they ought to meet, but on the whim, the corruption, or the partiality of returning officers. Then fomething worfe might happen, than not having any parliament at all. Then there might be packed parliaments, which being the mere creatures of minifterial influence, might vote away the liberties and properties of the people. Hence he infifted that returning officers were bound at common law, as well as by flatute, to return the names of the members with their writs; and in this opinion he was fortified by the filence of the journals, which proved that our forefathers thought the order in the King's writ peremptory, mandatory, and abfolate, to return the members on or before the day fpecified in the writs; for in all the journals, there was not a fin le inftance to be found in which

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a returning officer had ventured to return members, after a general election, on any day after the writ was made returnable. It had been attempted, through the whole courfe of the examination, to juftify the high-bailiff for his difobedience of the King's orders, conveyed by the writ to the fheriffs of Middlefex, and by the fheriffs' precept to him, by his oath, which bound him to make a confcientious return. Those who reafoned fo muft prove that there was a difference between the oath taken by a fheriff and that which binds an inferior returning officer; for otherwife this abfurdity would follow, that the King's commands to the fheriffs would be peremptory, while the bailiffs would be left to act at difcretion. In arguing thus, he meaned not to detract from the facred obligation of an oath. Returning officers were not the only perfons who were bound to pronounce judgement according to confcience. Judges and juries were bound by fuch oaths, and yet they were not permitted to fpend as much time as they pleafed in forming their judgements. In all cafes of life and death, the law allowed no longer time to juries for that purpofe, than a man may live without food or fleep; yet it would hardly be faid that a returning officer would do more mifchief in making an undue return, which might afterwards be amended, than a jury in unjustly convicting a prifoner, whofe verdict would be final, and without appeal. The high-bailiff's claim for time to fatisfy his confcience appeared to him very ill-founded, becaufe in the whole courfe of a long parliamentary life, he had been taught to think that the poll was conclufive evidence to a returning officer, as well


as against him. As to what he has been told about unqualified votes, was fo very vague as not to defe attention. If fuch loofe evidence wr once admitted, it would always be i the power of the unfuccefsful cand dates to prevent the return of more fuccefsful adverfaries, by fugge ing to the returning officer, that nomb of unqualified perfons had been mitted to poll for them. For reafons, he fubmitted to the H the following motion: That The Corbett, Efq. high-bailiff for the and liberty of Westminster, having ceived a precept from the fhe Middlefex, for electing two men to ferve in parliament for the faid and having taken and finally clofe poll on the 17th of May laft, bein day next before the return of the to the faid sheriffs, be now forthwith to make a return precept, and of the members che purfuance thereof."

Mr. Anftruther feconded the ne and quoted ftatutes to prove names of the members ought returned within the time fpecified according to the exprefs com contained in the writs. Fro known law of the land, that court of election fhould, by any dent, be fuffered to break up, an adjournment, it can never vived under the authority fame writ or precept, he contend poll and fcrutiny were fyno terms; and that as the one must edly be closed on or before the day fpecified in the writ, the of courfe could not be carried on that day. It was alfo fuppo Sir James Erfkine, Mr. Pow Lee, and Lord North.

*The 23d of Henry VI. chap. 15, which fays "The King, confidering the prem erdained by authority aforefaid, that every fheriff, after the delivery of any fuch writ to hi fhall make and deliver without fraud a fufficient precept under his feal to every mayor and &c. of the cities and boroughs within his county, reciting the faid writ; commanding them faid precept, if it be a city, to choose by citizens of the fame city, citizens; and in the fame and form, it it be a borough, by the burgeffes of the fame, to come to parliamentfame mayor and bailiffs fhall return lawfully the precept to the fame theriffs, by indentura the fame theriffs and them to be made of the faid elections, and of the names of the tard cin burgefles by them fo chofen, and thereupon every sheriff shall make a good and righthi return fuch writ, and of every return by the mayor and bailiffs, &c."Then follows a penalty flicted on every returning officer retufing to return the perfons elected.-And in another patt point out still more clearly, that the return ought to be made on or before the day taxed for ing of the new parliament. The words are thefe- "Provided always that every citizen, and bargefs, to come into any parliament hereafter to be holden, in due form cha nat returned as alore is faid, fhall begin his action of debt aforefaid, within three months fine parliament commenced."

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