Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

are conscious of being a&tuated by fimilar motives theirselves.

Lord Cafikreagh impressed upon the House the very unpleasant situation Ministers would be in, were such a charge as that preferred, suffered to remain hanging over them. It would be impossible for them to serve ihe country with the energy requisite, unless their conduct were placed past all doubt. Moderate talents and good intentions, supported by the confidence of Parliament and the country, were infinitely preferable to superior talents not fo supported, and which, in inat case, could only exhibit a pi&ture of feebleness, which mighi occasion the empire to pesish in their hands.

Mr. rishton was against the order of the day and the pro.. pofitions, and defended the conduct of Ministers.

The Master of the Rolls, in a thort argumentative speech, defended the conducted of Ministers, and opposed the previous question, because the fair way was to come to a deci.. five vote. He said it was unfair to try the condnet of Mini. fters on the principles of those who opposed the treaty of Amiens. The part of Ministers in concluding the peace was arraigned, and on the same grounds their endeavours to preserve it. Ministers should be tried on the principle recognised and approved by almost the whole nation, ihat it was fit and proper to endeavour to put an end to the war.

Sir R. Pecle disapproved of the conduct of Ministers since ilie definitive treaty, and was for the resolutions. He said, that towards the latter end of the last glorious war, Ministers had received the national firm of army and navy in the best condition, but since that time a great part of the army had been disbanded, and the strength of the navy had been allowed to fall away. He did not think that Ministers were adequate to the present crifis.

The Secretary at Iar called for a decisive vote, on the same grounds with his colleagues. He said that the militia, and a certain portion of the army had been disbanded on peace; but he said that the military force of this country was never in a better state than it was at present. He defended the conduit of of the Admiralty. He showed that we had a paval force in every quarter fuperior to the enemy; and in Europe superior in that of the French by a much greater proportion than had ever happened on the breaking out of any war,

Mr. John Claudius Beresford, adverting to the conduct of France, observed, that at the moment when the Guvern.

ment

ment of that country was complaining of libels published in this country again France, a set of traitors were, encouraged and paid, at Paris, and a paper, entitled The Argus, actually set up for the express purpose of calumniating this country, and endeavouring to stir up rebellion in Ireland. He cenfured the conduct of Minilters, and supported the motion of Mr. Pitt.

Mr. Lee commenced an able argument in support of Mini. Iters, but the House became clamorous for the question. The hon. Member concluded with contending, that the war was a war of aggresion on the part of France, and was, Therefore, on our part unavoidable.

Mr. Shaw Lefevie said it was the bounden duty of the House to decide the point before it should separate : " for what," said he, “is an adjournment but a continuation of torture?" (Loud laugh; and a loud and universal call for the quefiion )

Colonel Eyre, Mr. G. Vanfittart, Lord Dunlo, and Mr. Leigh, were against the propositions. The House then divided Ayes (for the order of the day)

56 Noes (against it)

333 The House then resumed ; Mr. Pitt and several of his friends immediately went out; and afterward the question was put on the original inotion.

Mr. Fox faid, that it was not his intention to vote for the refolutions, though, at the same time, it was impossible for him to approve of the conduct of his Majesty's Ministers. He had expressed his opinion upon a former occasion, and he conceived that the time was past for moving a vole of censure opon their conduct upon the present subject, Yet he hoped ihat what had occurred would be a warning to them how they kept the House in future in the dark to the last moment. Mr. Fox concluded by paying some warm com-. pliments to Mr. T. Grenville upon his masterly speech, and by saying that he could not agree to a vote of censure, because he did not know but that the successors of the present Ministry might be more objectionable to him than the present,

Mr. Wilberforce said a few words; after which the House loudly called for the question, and a division took place upon the original motion of Colonel Patten : For it,

34 | Against it, 275 Mr. Fox and several of his friends retired without dividing,

Adjourned.

HOUSE OF LORD S.

MONDAY, JUNE 6. CONVICTIONS BY JUSTICS OF PEACE. Lord Sheffield said, he submitted for their Lordships' consideration, a bill in ituled, “ An Ad to regulate the forms of convictions by Justices of the Peace, and to render such Jora rices more late in the execution of their office."-In respect to convictions, he observed, the principle of the bill had been adopted in every instance where a summary jurisdiction was given during the last 40 or 50 years. He wilhed the same principle and advan age to be communicated to the facutes of the same nature passed previously to that period, and he flattered himself, that, with the assistance of the House, ir might be rendered generally useful. He observed, it was well known to their Lord thips, that Justices were originally merely confervators of the peace, and ibat in a course of time an infinity of other buliness has been imposed upon them. Not a feitions passed which did not add some new duties, and, unfortunately for them, among the rest a summary jurisdiction, in those cases where the expence of the common law would prevent the punidhment of offences. It must be admitted at ihe same time, that in very many cases, were it not for fummary jurisdictions, it would be impossible to give effect to the laws of ihe couniry; but the Justices are required, under a penalty, to draw up a conviction, and it mult be according to the form prescribed by the common law, that is, a complete technical record of the whole proceeding. These convi&tions being attended with great difficuliy, the ends of public justice were defeated, and the Legislature found it necessary, during the lalt and the present reign, to annex a peculiar and much Thorter form of conviction to those salutes which gave a fum. mary jurisdi&tion; but in respect to laws passed previoully there is no provision, and it is become a maxim, that not Otie conviction in a thousand, if attached, could stand; and he knew the case where, after upwards of thirty years experience, when application was made to respectable Members of the law to draw up a conviction, they agreed in the opi. nion that has just been stated, namely, that not one in a thousand would stand if attached; and where a barrister of diftinguilhed talents and experience in such matters was con. sulted, he said, scarce an attorney in England could draw up i convi&tion, and that none but a special pleader was capable of it. He could not believe that it was the intention of the Legislature to place the law and the magistracy in such a predicament--a fixed form of convi&tion is neceffary to proteet both the law and the magistrate againit the practices of those whose trade it is to prevent the due execution of the law. It would be neceffary to pass some fuch bill as is proposed if it were only to correct the imperfections in the forins of convictions annexed 10 acts passed during the last 40 or go years: on examination it is found that they are defective in no less than fiv-three instances or alis of Parliaineni, and he was affured that others might be pointed out. His Lord. ship said it was a marier of great importance that all judicial proceedings, when the guilt is clear, fould not be qualhed for want of form. These unseemly niceries, as Loid Hale calls them, fend many hundreds back upon society every year, ene: uraged thereby to repeat their offences. ---Many offenders escape justice, not because they are not guilty, but because there is a word to liule or a word too much, or some technical inaccuracy in the inode of proceeding. The magistrare, although i here is not the least ground to suppuse oppreli n.or ill intention on his part, and not the slightest doubt of the guilt of the offender, is liable, on the suggellion of persons who are a disgrace to the profession of the laws, to be brought from the mi ft dittant part of the kingdom, from the last parith in Northumberland, before the King at Westminster, where al:hough the court may with to protect the magilisale, the proceeding mult, of course, in many inliances be qualhed on account of fone mere inforinality; and the Judges cannot preserve the magiilrate from an action of irespass on the part of the culprii, alihough ihe uprightness of the one and the guilt of the oiher are perfeélly evident. Every circumstance lo revolting and discouraging ihould be done away, und every means to encourage men of consi. deration and property to undertake an office which at present is troublefoine and disgusting in the extreme, so much fo, that it is with difficulty genilemen can be found to act as magiltrales, and inany exsenlive diftrias have not a lingle magiftrate: unless the dignity of ihe office is supported, unless it is proiected it must fall into the hands of those who mean to give themselves a linle consequence, but who will always Suffer the culprit to escape rather than risk a legal proceeding on the quibbles of the law, with the most worthless of iis professors. The prelent bill does not propose to give the Justices, in any case, a power of conviction, where it was Vol. IV. 18.2-3.

pable

I

not

not before given them by particular statutes.- I gives the advantages pofTeffed by flatules palled within 40 or 50 years, namely, a form of conviction io those which passed previ. oully to that period. The purpose of the bill is to put an end to the uncertainties and inconsistency apparent on the face of the several existing statutes, by some of which it is declared, that convi&tions shall not be quathed for want of form, though no form is prescribed ---by others forms are prescribed, but it is not declared that they thall not be quashed for informality, and in the instances where forms are prescribed, they appear inadequate, incomplere, and entirely different from each other. The forms in the schedule are drawn upon the principle of shewing that in the convic. tion of the offender, all the rules required by the common law, for ascertaining the guilt of the accused, have been complied with, but without explicitly stating all the minute facts and circumstances of the case. Clauses are in feried-first, al. lowing Justices to use either the form here prescribed, the feveral forms already prescribed by existing acis, or any other form sufficient in point of law; and secondly, expressly reserving the right of appeal as existing under the statutes : clauses are also added, giving the right of appeal to the Quarter Sessions, in all cafes, where the conviction is made in the form prescribed by the schedule; and also, giving power to the Judge who tries any action against a Justice, in confequence of any conviction whatever, to ceriity on the record, that such Justice had a good ground of proceeding; in which case a verdia thall be given for the defendant, for which suggestion the courtry is obliged to the Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench. He concluded by saying, it is presumed there is nothing in the proposed bill, the least inconsistent with the general principles of law for the adini. nistration of justice, and for the protection of those who administer it uprightly; but that, on the contrary, the regulations suggested will facilitate those purposes on which the internal peace of the kingdom so peculiarly depends.

The bill was read a first line and ordered to be printed.

The Duke of Norfolk, who had recently entered the House, called the attention of their Lord thips to a circumItance which he deemed to affect the privilege of Members of that House.

The Lord Chancellor, before his Grace proceeded further, observed, that the matter was of that peculiar nalure, that it was customary strangers should be excluded during the

discullion

« ZurückWeiter »