Debates anti Vroutbings in Varliament.
ouse of Commons, on Monday, a conversation arose on the sfatelih measures before it.
iv iv Ca questioned Sir Robert Peel as to proceeding with the Scottish Minh Bijk; and Mr. EWART put questions as to public business generally, &elating, the public to be dissatisfied with the " editio expursasta" of the Fac- toriesBtIlLSaissing information respecting the Poor-law Amendment Bill, the - - Mecleithistissi Courts Bill and the County Courts Bill, and animadverting on ,theJtials....Itims Bill. Sir ROBERT PEEL replied, that Ministers intended to 1i*e theirsinfluence for passing the Church of Scotland Benefices Bill in the '.,a4s6k6tConuisons. Sir JAMES Gitensus adverted to the seventeen or nine- teen nights expended in discussing the Canada Wheat Bill; the Arms Bill and the Factories Bill bed also been frequently before the House. The Poor- law Amendment Bill Ministers did not consider it indispensable to pass this session ; but with regard to the Irish Poor-law Bill they thought otherwise. The Ecclesiastical Courts Bill and County Courts Bill would not be aban- doned. Lord JOHN RUSSELL insisted upon knowing definitively what mea- sures would be abandoned and what not ; he complained that clauses in the Factories Bill relating to education were proceeded with, although they bad been told that the educational clauses would be abandoned; and he censured the delay which had taken place in introducing the Poor-law measure. Sir ROBERT PEEL referred to the increasing practice of continuing debates by adjourcments, as seriously impeding public business: he admitted that all the measures could not be proceeded with, and promised to make an early state- ment on the subject. Sir JASIES GRAHAM defended himself from a charge of breach of faith; explaining that the "educational clauses" of the Factory Bill usually so called bad been really withdrawn. At present, the only change introduced by the bill in the existing law of compulsory education was, that s, provision was made for inspection on the part of officers appointed by the Committee of Education. Lord JOHN RUSSELL disclaimed the imputation of breach of faith. In some further remarks, Mr. HUME attacked Government for pushing the Arms Bill and neglecting remedial measures ; Mr. STUART WORTLEY. for neglecting the Factories Bill and the Poor-laws Bill; Mr. REDHEAD Yon'; for delaying the Poor-law. Sir ROBERT PEEL made his promised statement on Thursday— There were twenty-four orders of the day on the paper; but he conceived that there would be no difficulty with several of the bills—thirteen of them were not likely to meet with any opposition. The bills to which, from the im- portance attached to them, the Government would give preference, and which they were desirous of being enabled to pass, were the Arms Bill, the Scotch Church Bill, the Irish Poor-law Bill, and the Export of Machinery Bill. If preference were given to these bills, it was of course extremely difficult to cal- culate to what extent the time of the House would be occupied in their dis- cussion; but he thought it probable they would occupy so much time that it could scarcely be expected that during the present session adequate attention could be bestowed, in that and the other House, upon the Ecclesiastical Courts Bill. Several opponents of the Factories Bill had expressed a hope that it would either be brought forward without delay, or that it would be postponed till another session. He could not undertake to bring forward that measure immediately ; and he therefore thought, that with respect to the Ecclesiastical Courts Bill and the Factories Bill, he might announce that Government would postpone their consideration till the next session of Parliament. Avery strong desire prevailed throughout the country that some measures should be adopted for facilitating the recovery of small debts and the local administration of jus- tice ; and though the progress of the County Courts Bill must depend in great part upon the despatch of the other business to which Government were de- sirous of giving precelence, be hoped that it might be passed into a law during the present session. The progress of two other measures, the Small Debts Bill, and the Superior Courts (Common Law) Bill, introduced by an honour- able Member oppmite, must partly depend on the ultimate decision as to the County Courts BilL The Law Courts (Ireland) Bill was likely to create considerable discussion ; and if that should prove to he the case, as be could not undertake to bring forward the measure immediately, he would be disposed to postpone its consideration until another session. Sir Robert summed up : Government proposed to give precedence to the Arms Bill, the Scottish Church Bill, the Irish Poor-law Bill, and the Export of Machinery Bill; they intended to post- pone the Ecclesiastical Courts Bill, the Factories Bill, and the Law Courts (Ireland) Bill; and he would postpone any announcement with respect to the County Courts Bill until some future day.
Questions from Mr. MACAULAY, FR GEORGE GREY, Mr. W. S. O'BRIEN, and Mr. BENJAMIN WOOD, drew forth other particulars. Sir ROBERT PEEL said that Government would not press the Prisons (Scotland) Bill if the state of business before the House prevented its progress; but he hoped that an op- portunity would be afforded this session of proceeding with the Municipal Cor- porations (Ireland) Bill. Sir JAstes GRAHAM said, that the postponement of the Ecclesiastical Courts Bill would probably make it necessary to renew the Act relating to the arrangement of dioceses recommended by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The laws relating to usury and stock in trade would be renewed for'one year.
On Tuesday, the Sergeant-at-Arms announced to the House of Com- mons, that on Saturday last he had received notice of an action at the suit of Thomas George Johnson Pearce, clerk of Mr. Burton Howard, who had been taken into his custody by order of the House in February 1840. He apprehended this action to have been brought in conse- quence of his having done his duty according to the orders of the House ; and he therefore prayed the protection of the House. On Wednesday, the ATTORNEY-GENERAL moved that the Sergeant- at-Arms be permitted to appear and plead in the action.
Mr. Tuomas DUNCOMBE moved an amendment— He regretted that Sir Thomas Wilde and Lord John Russell were not present to oppose the motion. The new proceedings bore out what bad been foretold when the Sergeant-at-Arms was permitted to plead in the action brought by Mr. Howard. They were then assured that Mr. Howard's son and Mr. Howard's clerk would both come forward with actions; and the moment the Sergeant- at-Arms appeared in this action, Mr. Howard's son would bring his action ; and where or how could this end ? Were they for ever to go on instructing the law-officers of the Crown to appear? Sir Robert Peel had objected to calling Mr. Howard to the bar of the House: urging that that was an ise- lated case, and that they should hear no more of such proceedings : but Mr. Duncombe ventured to say that this was not the last they would hear of by some hundreds. Why was it that these parties brought their actions against the Sergeant-at-Arms?—It was because they had seen the House wavering upon the former occasion : if they had brought Mr. Howard to the bar of that House, they would never have heard of this action; while the result of their present proceeding would be, that they would have no end to such actions. He moved that Mr. Pearce be ordered to attend at the bar of the House to- morrow.
Sir ROBERT PEEL would not renew a question which had been So fully discussed on former occasions— If the action proceeded, the jury gave a verdict, damages were awarded, and the Sheriff proceeded to levy, they would have all the difficulties to contend with which occurred in the case of Hansard, from the conflicting authorities of the House of Commons and a Court of Law, In the case of Howard versus the Sergeant-at-Arms, however, when the plea was put in the case did not proceed further, and no effect came of the action; and he presumed that it would be the same in the present case.
Mr. BLEwrr-r asked whether the action of Howard bad been put an end to by the usual process? The ATTORNEY-GENERAL replied, that since a plea had been put in by the Sergeant-at-Arms, no steps had been taken by the plaintiff; and he had dune nothing in the action. The original motion was carried, by 105 to 44.
CHURCH OF SCOTLAND.
In the House of Lords, on Monday, the Earl of ABERDEEN moved the third reading of the Church of Scotland Benefices Bill. Lord COT- TENHAM renewed his opposition to the measure, and moved an amend- ment which went to strike out all declaratory words. The LORD CHANCELLOR wished the merits of the bill to he attended to more than points of form ; as he approved of the object, the settlement of the great question in what manner suitable Ministers should be appointed. Lord CAMPBELL attacked the bill, and the Earl of ABERDEEN defended it. The Marquis of BREADALBANE declared that it would not give satisfaction in Scotland : although it should become law, it would not win back the 500 ministers and 1,000,000 of people who had seceded ; and as a patron he must protest against the measure, upon the general ground that it transferred all patronage from those whose property it was, and gave it to the Church. The amendment was negatived with- out a division, and the bill was read a third time. On the motion that it do pass, Lord CorrEzemAm, to record his strenuous opposition, moved the adjournment of the debate to that day three months : which amend- ment was negatived without a division, and the bill passed.
The House of Lords went into Committee on the Defamation and Libel Bill on Tuesday. The two first clauses were agreed to. The 3d clause enacted, that in any action for defamation the truth of the imputation should not be a defence, unless it were proved also that the publication was for the public benefit. Lord CAMPBELL re- marked, that at present the proof of the truth of a libel was an absolute bar to a civil action. This required change, because if one man libelled another by imputing any corporal defect, or by reviving a long-forgotten and heartily-repented offence, it was not fit that the proof of the truth should prevent the plaintiff from recovering damages. At the same time, the right of action ought to be barred if it was of importance to the public to know the facts forming the subject-matter of the libel. Upon consideration, perhaps the House might prefer to substitute for the words " of public benefit that it should be published," the others " that the public had an interest in being informed of the facts stated in the said imputation." Lord BROUGHAM asked what kind of " interest "; for it might be said that the public took a deep interest in all matters of slander and defamation—the more discreditable the better ; and it was remarkable also that the female sex felt a more lively interest in such matters than the male sex : they delighted in erecting them- selves into censores morvm, and in exercising the duties of the office with the utmost sincerity. The LORD CHANCELLOR thought, that on the face of the bill it ought to appear what sort of " interest " was intended, as well as who was meant by " the public." Lord CAMPBELL, allowing that he himself preferred the original words, gave an instance of the kind of interest which the public justly take in imputation : it was of public benefit that cases like one he had read some time since in the Times newspaper should, be exposed, and that the truth should be held an answer to any criminal prosecution : he alluded to the case of a man who advertised for governesses, appointed them to meet him at a par- ticular house, and subsequently employed all his arts to seduce them. The amendment was rejected. The LORD CHANCELLOR wished to in- sert words to enable the jury to decide " how and in what manner it would so prove beneficial to the public." Lord CAMPBELL concurred. The words " matters charged" were substituted for " imputation." The clause as amended was agreed to.
The 4th and 5th clauses were agreed to, with some verbal amendments.
The 6th clause rendered the publishing or threatening to publish a lible to extort money punishable by imprisonment with hard labour, for any term not exceeding three years. The LORD CHANCELLOR wished to extend the clause, by punishing the libel or threat to publish " with intent to extort money or any valuable thing." The amendment was agreed to ; and so was the clause, with the three next.
The 10th clause enacted that publishers of faithful reports of pro- ceedings in Law Courts, Police Courts, or Parliament, whether they should be incomplete or ex park or otherwise, should be liable to action or prosecution ; providing, however, that the enactment should not be construed to justify or apply to the publication of any blasphemous, sedi- tious, or indecent matter. Lord CAMPBELL proposed to insert words requiring that the report should be " without actual malice."
Lord BROUGHAM opposed the clause— He contended, that as there should be entire freedom of debate within the walls of Parliament, it was absolutely necessary that there should not be un- restrained power to the press to publish every thing said in Parliament. Practi- cally there was no necessity for the provision on that score, for there was no fear that the proceedings in Parliament would not be published ; and in the case of Wright, against whom Horne Tooke proceeded for publishing proceed- ings in Parliament reflecting on him, the Court of King's Bench held that it was a privileged publication, because it was for the good of Parliament and of the country that the publication should be made. He thought that Police reports did more good than harm ; but at the same time there might be abuse of that kind of publication—as in the case of parsons who made libellous state- ments to Police Magistrates on an understanding that they would be reported by a person who dared not publish the statements on his own responsibility. The publication of Parliamentary proceedings at present stood upon the best possible footing; for the power of interference was hardly ever exercised, while the know- ledge that such a power existed made it unnecessary to exercise it. Other countries held the same opinions with himself upon this subject. He had himself discoursed with men who were members of the French Conven- tion and the Constituent Assembly, and they always regretted the right which was assumed by the people, and deemed to be vested in them, to interfere with and publish the proceedings of those bodies. Toey said that they looked with envy and admiration at the better course pursued by the British Parliament, and believed that if they had followed the rule established in the Parliament of this country, and had retained to themselves the power of restraint both over the admission of strangers to the Houses of Assembly and also over the publication of their proceedings, they should not have had to lament the dreadful scenes which marred the fair prospects of the earliest days of the Revolution.
Lord CAMPBELL thought that the words which he proposed to intro- duce would tend to restrain that abuse. The LORD CHANCELLOR Un- derstood that practically no inconvenience arose from Police reports, as the reporters evinced a sound discretion. He pointed out that the clause was inconsistent with a standing order of the House, against the admission of " strangers." Lord Camrsitu, thought that the sooner
the standing order was got rid of the better : many of their stand- ing orders were constantly violated, and he believed that their Lord- ships would be very greatly mortified if they were not violated. Lord BROUGHAM deprecated incidental discussion on their old standing orders ; which ought to be carefully, cautiously, and discreetly dealt with. On a division, the clause was rejected, by 11 to 5. Clause 13th, empowered parties entitled to recover damages and costs against newspapers to do so against the securities given to the Stamp Office, if the defendant should be unable to pay : Lord CAMPBELL pro- posed to withdraw the clause, with the 14th, relating to the same sub- ject, as unnecessary ; the existing law already authorizing such a pro- ceeding, though the fact was not generally known.
The remaining clauses passed through Committee, and the bill was ordered to be reported on Friday.
NEW WRIT FOR DURHAM. Jo the House of Commons, on Monday. Mr. HODGSON HINDE moved that the Speaker be directed to issue a new a nit for Durham City, in the place of Lord Dungannon. Mr. HUME objected to the issue of a writ, until an opportunity had been afforded to Members of be- coming acquainted with the nature and extent of the bribery committed at the late election. He believed that nearly all the electors who voted for Lord Dungannon received U., and that at the general election both the Whig and Tory Members paid half a sovereign to each voter: an end ought to be put to that system of corruption. Mr. HINDE denied that there was any evidence of extensive bribery; only three persons admitted that they had received 1/. at the late election. Mr. THOMAS BUNCOMBE thought that no case had been made out for suspending the writ. The inquiry showed the beneficial opera- tion of the new law; and the unseating of Lord Dungannon would have a useful effect. In the course of some further discussion, the suspension of the writ was opposed by Sir ROBERT PEEL, Lard Joust RUSSELL, and Lord ASHLEY, the Chairman of the Committee. On a division, the issue of the writ was carried, by 145 to 17.
A NEW WRIT FOR AYRSHIRE was 'ssued on Thursday.
" No HOUSE." On 'Wednesday, Mr. T. BUNCOMBE moved, that as there was " no House " on Tuesday, the dropped notices of motion should have pre- cedence of orders of the day on Thursday. Sir ROBERT PEEL said he had come down at twenty minutes past four o'clock, and was quite surprised when he found there was no House. The members of the Government had the weight of their official duties on their shoulders ; and he thought that the other side were equally responsible for " making a House." After a sharp discussion, in which the responsibility of making a House was bandied from side to side, Mr. BUNCOMBE withdrew his motion.
hum ARMS BILL. The Committee on the Arms Bill (Ireland) was re- sumed in the House of Commons on Monday ; the discussion on clause 24th being continued. Mr. BERNAL moved the insertion of words to limit domi- ciliary visits to cases in which two Magistrates should be present. Eventually the amendment was !ejected, by 91 to 46; and the Chairman reported pro- gress ; the Committee to sit again on Thursday. The Committee proceeded on Thursday, renewing the discussion on clause 24th. Lord JOHN RUSSELL proposed to limit the domiciliary search for arms to districts in which there was reason to know that disturbances were prevalent ; and, in accordance with that suggestion, Mr. Ross moved the insertion of words limiting it to " proclaimed districts." Lord ELIOT remarked that most agrarian crimes were committed by persons coming from a distance, and arms could easily be concealed in counties that might be excluded from the mea- sure. After some disputation, the amendment was rejected, by 81 to 26. Several other amendments, principally moved by Lord CLEMENTS, were re- jected. To one moved by Mr. M. J. O'CONNELL, on clause 26th, reducing the maximum punishment for possessing " illegal arms " from seven years' trans- portation, to three years' imprisonment, Ministers assented. Clause 34th having passed, the House resumed.
IRISH MARRIAGES. In the House of Lords, on Thursday, the LORD CHANCELLOR introduced a bill to render valid marriages in Ireland between members of the Established Church, already performed by Presbyterian and other Dissenting ministers ; with an intimation that the Select Committee on the subject continued their labours, and hoped this session to introduce some general act.
THE COALWHIPPERS BILL. In the House of Commons, on Monday, the Coalwhippers Bill was carried on the second reading, moved by Mr. GLAD- STONE, and opposed by Mr. TWIZELL Walvis, by 50 to 9. The bill has been referred to a Select Committee.
WOOL-DUTIES. In the House of Commons;on Monday, on the motion for going into the Committee of Supply, Mr. CHARLES WOOD moved as an amend- ment, " that the House do resolve itself into a Committee of the whole Rouge to consider so much of the act 5th and 6th Victoria, c. 47, (Customs Act,) as relates to the ditties on the importation of foreign sheep and lamb's wool." The trade has been declining for a number of years, going back even before 1819. While the export of British wool has increased from 278,000 pounds in 1827 to 8,578,000 pounds in 1842, and the export of woollen yarns (made of a wool not subject to duty) has increased from 2,300,000 pounds in 1835 to 5.700,000 pounds in 1842, the export of woollen cloths of all sorts has fallen from 392,000 in 1839 to 166,000 in 1842. He believed that the country could not be mentioned to which our exports of woollen goods had not decreased. The im- port of wool at the high duty of ld. the pound has fallen from 32,000,000 pounds in 1838 to 17,000,000 pounds in 1842: the trade of countries tom- peting with us has increased nearly in the same proportion. The import of colonial wool, not subjected to duty, has increased from 10,000,000 pounds in 1838 to 18,361),000 pounds in 1842. The produce of the ld. duty has fallen from 135,000/. in 1838 to 76,0001. in 1842. The depressed state of Leeds is illustrated by the facts, that of 665 gigs, machines used in finishing cloth. last year, 381 were absolutely standing still, and 254 were working short time ; and that the amount of wages paid last year in the woollen-trade was less than usual by 434,0001. The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER opposed the motion. He disputed the value of the statistics quoted by Mr. Wood, since in no other trade is the importation so uncertain : the diminished import of foreign wool is balanced by the importation of colonial wool ; and the diminished export of woollen goods, by the increased export of mixed woollen and cotton fabrics. Sir ROBEBT PEEL admitted the strength of argument for reducing the duty ; but contended that the financial state of the country made it impossible to give up 100,000/. of revenue. The amendment was supported by Mr. WILLIAM WILLIAMS, Mr. SHEPPARD, Mr. GEORGE WILLIAM WOOD. Mr. B. DEBBI- sort, and Mr. W. R. STANSFIELD: On a division, it was rejected, by 142 to 70.
PRISON DISCIPLINE. Sir JAMES GRAHAM obtained leave, WI Thursday, to bring in a bill for the improvement of prison discipline. Its principat'ohjects were, to authorize the Prison Inspectors to make special reports or epoduct of Governors and Surgeons of gaols ; to enable the Secretary ItZto te- move those officers ; and to convert the Inspector of the buildin itiolsOus 0.%ii,
into an officer appointed by Parliament, with some change in the areangemtat
of his duties. 11,. 41+3 HEALTH or Towns. On Wednesday, Mr. MACKINNON withdrew; 'his Health of Towns Bill; trusting that Government would give their attention to the subject during the recess; but if they did not do so, he should introduce a bill next session. Sir JAMES GRAHAM said, the reason the Government did not act upon the report of the Committee was, that they did not think the evi- dence was sufficiently full and satisfactory ; they therefore appointed a gentle- man to investigate the matter.
THE LATE EARTHQUAKE IN THE WEST INDIES. In the House of Com- mons, on Thursday, the CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER moved a resolution for an advance of 150,000/. to the colonies of Antigua, St. Christopher, Nevis, and Mountserrat, on the passing of laws by the respective Legislatures of those Islands to secure the gradual repayment of the advance. He stated, that the total loss sustained by the inhabitants of the islands named was 200,0001. and 300,000/. The resolution was agreed to