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were reported with amendments, and afterwards read a third time and passed
The Incoine Duty Bill was reported without amendment, and ordered to be read a third time the next day, and the Lords to be summoned.
HOUSE OF COMMONS.
MONDAY, JAN. 7. The Speaker acquainted the House that he had received no fice from the Court of Directors of the Bank, that on and af ter the 14th infant, the Bank would pay in cash, during the usual hours of business, all fractional sums under five pounds ; and that on and after the first of February next, the Bank would pay in cash for all notes of one and two pounds value; that are dated prior to the first of July 1798; or exchange them for new notes of the same value at the option of the holders: the Speaker also acquainted the House that he had, agreeable to the act passed last feffion, for continuing the restriction on the calli-payments, caused the above notice to be inserted in the London Gazette.
The Amendments made by the Lords in the Indemnity Bill were read and agreed to.
A message from the Lords acquainted the House, that their Lordships had agreed to the Newfoundland Judicature Bill, to the bill for continuing the suspension of the Habeas Corpus, and to several Naturalization Bilis. · The lists prepared by the Clerk, agreeably to the provisions of the India Judicature Bills, were referred to a committee to examine and report the names of such menibers of that House as should occur more than twenty times in those litts.
HOUSE OF LORDS.
TUEDAY, JAN. 8. Several bills before the House were forwarded in their respective stages, read a third time and paffed.
CONFINEMENT OF COLONEL ĐÈSPARD, &c. Previous to the order of the day for the third reading of the Income Tax Bill being read, The Earl of Suffilk role arid called the attention of the 3 K 2
House to what had fallen from him on a former night, re- . specting the arrelt and confinement of Colonel Despard. Part of what he had stared at that time, he understood to have been perfectly correct; but with respect to a certain point, from what had since come to his knowledge, he was afraid be had, on account of previous milinformation, misated the fact, and he regretted that he should inadvertently be made the medium of sending forth any thing implying a charge against the cxecutive government, which was unfounded. But he had fince received a letter froin a person apparently well acquainted with the concerns of that Gentleinan; his
Lordship withing to convey what he meant to communicate to the House, in the language of the letter-writer, read an extract from the letter :-ihis set forth, in substance, that the writer had been acquainted with Colonel Despard while the latter was employed as superintendant at Honduras, and fpoke of his character as an officer highly respectable; that he was apprised of the circumstances of his arrest and confinement; that he was confined in a cell as cold as the open ftreet, and destitute of furniture ; that he was supplied only with the common prison allowance; but that about six weeks since, in consequence of an order from Government, he was taken out of such a disgraceful situation and removed into a more comfortable room. The point in which he had been milinformed, and which, in consequence, he had erroneoully Rated to the House was, his affertion, that the brother of Colonel Despard had been arrested and confined for some time through mistake, that he had since learnt was not the fact.: it was the Colonel himself that had been apprehended, but before the meature of fufpending the Habeas Corpus Act took place; and, after detaining him fix weeks, Government, not being able to fubftantiate any charge, had liberated him. Immediately after the bill palled last year, the Colonel was apprehended a second time, and had been confined ever since in Cold Bath Fields Prison in the manner before described until the period he had mentioned.
The writer of the Ictter from which he learned the furegoing facts, was, he confefled, entirely unknown to him. He had offered 10' wait on him and give him further information, but he had declined the interview. The letter therefore requiring no answer, the communication dropped. He would however put the circumstances of Colonel Despard's case, and the conduer of ministers upon the occasion, io tie fcdiogs and confideration of that House, and it whether, by
the powers entrusted to ministers at present, it might not be placed in the same situation? The circumstance of the CoIonel's being an officer of rank, and formerly conversant with all the comforts and luxuries of life, and he had on a former day stated, that from the high situations Colonel Defpard held in the army, he kept, and was entitled to keep, as Splendid a table as any, the most opulent, of their Lordships) was a matter of aggravation. He had not seen Colonel Der pard these 18 years, nor did he mean to see him, but he muft say, that it reflected much discredit upon those to whose department the superintendance of such affairs was entrusted, ihat such treatment to British prisoners, of any description, was tolerated; the more so, after what had been written and published by that excellent man and genuine philanthropist, ihe late Mr. Howard, was considered -a man whose humanity would not suffer himself to content himself with examining the state of the prisons of liis own country, but whose indefatigable efforts to do good to the most wretched of his fellow-creatures prompted him to explore the jails and dungeons of a great part of the continent. Therefore, though a Howard himself, he must do the memory of the worthy man to whom he alluded the justice to declare, that no person that ever bore his illustrious name, reflected more real honour on that and on the British nation.
The Duke of Portland said, that after what had been said, it was absolutely necellary for him to say a few words, and a very few they should be. Had he imagined that the subject, after what lately passed respecting it in another place, would have been that day agitated in that House, he would have brought down official documents in his pocket, to prove that all the aliertions of the noble Earl were founded' on misinformation. So far from the complaint that neglect was shewn on the part of Government, to the representations respecting Colonel Defpard's inconvenient fituation being true, the fact undeniably was, that as soon as a representation was made ta his office, immediate attention was paid to it, and orders were given for his being removed, and every accommodation compatible with the nature of his case was afforded. The discussion of subjects of that nature in Parliament unnecellarily, and without good evidence of facts, could do no good, but must lead to much mischief; but as so much had been said in both Houses, he fincerely withed that the matter might undergo a regular investigation, by which means alone the real facts could be ascertained.
The Earl of Suffolk said, that he must rise in consequence of what had fallen from the noble Duke, and contradict the affertion, that immediate attention was paid to the application of Colonel Despard, respecting that Gentleman's litúation. He had dined, the preceding day, in company with a Gentleman who had made much enquiry into the circumnstances of the case (Mr. Courtenay); he did not know Mr. Courtenay was to be of the party, their meeting, therefore, was purely accident, but that Gentleman had assured him, that every word he had stated in the House of Commons respecting Colonel Despard's situation was true, and that he was able to bring complete proof of it; and that not only one application had been made by Mrs. Despard to represent her husband's situation, but several, so long ago as April, again in May, and again in Junc laft, both to the Duke of Portland and Mr. Wickham, and that little or no notice was taken of them, till very lately; and that ever after his removal from his cell, he was denied wine or any spirituous liquors, and was but meanly accommodated; and that it was not until Mr. Reeves's visit to Colonel Despard, and perfonal enquiry into the case, that the hardships were alleviated. The result reflected much credit on Mr. Reeves ; and his Lordship expressed his firm belief, that the statements of Mr. Courtenay were correct, and that Colonel Despard's representations were not attended to by Government until the period above-mentioned.
Lord Grenville faid, he conceived it neceflary to say a few words in consequence of what fell from the noble Earl. Every noble Lord must agree, that all prisoners fhould be treated with as inuch lenity as should be consistent with the safety of their respective situations, and the objects of their confinement. The benevolent exertions of that great philanthropist alluded to by the noble Lord was entitled to every commendation, in consequenee of whose writings, and the mild administration of the systein of the British Government, the prisoners of our nation were placed in a situation far superior to those of any other country on the face of the globe. With respect to the particular case in question, he would caution the noble Lord and the House against placing too much stress on information derived from anonymous letters, or from common report. For his part, he had authority for saying, and on investigation he was certain it would turn out to be the fact, that on the first complaint, on the part of Colonel Despard, which reached the cars of Government, the
grievances, if any existed, were immediately removed. And, confidering that to be the true state of the case, he conceived that any further present difeutlion of the business would be irrelevant and improper.
Lord Halland said, he thought it necessary to remark upon some points which had fallen from a noble Secretary of State. That noble Lord said, that under the present adminiftration of the British Government, prisoners were better off in this than in any other country. To that statement, however, he could not accede; neither could the noble Lord say, that prisoners detained on suspicion of practices against the state were not treated with more severity than prisoners committed for other offences. He had understood the other night, that under the present act no persons were meant to be detained, but with a view that, and certainly persons in the situation of the Gentleman in question, thould not be confined more ftrictly, or treated with more rigour, than was necessary to prevent an escape. He would go farther, and say, that a prisoner detained only for the purpose of being tried thould be treated with more lenity than one convicted and detained for purposes of punishment. He expressed his surprife that a noble Duke had not touched upon the point of Colonel Despard's being taken up previous to the suspension of the Habeas Corpus A&, and released for want of Government be. ing able to fix any crime upon him. .
The Lord Chancellor said the House mult feel the propriety of his pu.ting an end to so irregular a conversation in which moble Lords thought fit to state in that Houfe circumstances, and to make use of expresfions which they could not dwell upon or use in any other place with impunity. The effect of this kind of conduct was obvious. Already the halty and indifercet manner in which the subject had been taken up by some perfons, it did not fignify where, had produced very unpleafant effects, and the operation of the speeches made in that House would be, not to allay those feelings which fome how or other had been excited in the minds of the prisoners, but to ens crease the disorderly behaviour that had for some days past been observed to prevail among them. It did not happen to him to be much in the way of hearing any thing of the case of the particular Gentleman who had that evening been alluded to; but he had been informed, and he gave full credit to the statement, that government took the earliest means in its power, consistent with discreet policy, to remove whatever inconvenience or hardfhip ihe Colonel had suffered. The noble Lord iind stated that