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any judgment with reference to the course I have pursue but if I put them in possession of the course I intend to purse The House on all sides have agreed that the question dirates itself into the construction of the law, and secondly, into tu of hearing the Honourable Member who will be affected in the decision of the House. The mode of hearing him i another consideration to be duly weighed. That these ze matters of great importance, requiring grave deliberation 3 cvident; and the best proof of this is the uniformity of feeling throughout the House in favour of postponing that deliberatio. All I wish is to draw the attention of the House to this pai: that although it is impossible for me to differ from the opinier of the House when I am able to wait for their deliberation; and although deliberation cannot be allowed to a Speaker in the Chair, yet my course has been to take that line which I conceive the laws of the country to point out, having the consolation to know that if I erred, the House, in its wisdom and cautior, would set me right, without any prejudice to the claims of any one of the parties whom my errors might possibly injure. This latter conviction, though it could not predispose to incaution or confidence, was a great source of consolation to me in pronouncing my judgment. With respect to hearing the individual at the table, I know not the prece dent on which any person has been heard, without the decision of the House that he should be heard under any circumstances, short of that of his being a complete Member of the House; and it was obvious that a doubt arose whether a person wise situated, and addressing the House from the table, would not subject himself, not as an Honourable Member (Mr. Sugden) supposes, to the fifth of Queen Elizabeth, but to the Act of Charles the Second. There were the grounds upon which I acted, and I have acted without prejudice to the case itself; but I do wish to be understood on what grounds ) hare judged it my duty to proceed upon one subject, namely, the oaths directed to be taken by the Members of this House before the Lord Steward, or before his Commissioners. Al who hear me, or who are at all acquainted with the subject
must be well aware that neither the Lord Steward nor Commissioners are officers of this House. The certifica received from them that the oaths have been taken by th Members of this House, in the manner and to the effect required by law, is all that is received by the House, and it is therefore impossible for the House to know in its aggregate character whether the proper oaths have been taken or not, or whether, the law has been strictly complied with. I have thought it my duty to make this statement to the House, and it is now for them to determine upon what course they shall think fit to pursue.
Mr. Tierney rose, and a little tumult or confusion which had arisen in the short interval immediately subsided into the most profound silence.-Mr. Speaker: If the question be, as all seem disposed to understand it, whether the Honourable Member for Clare ought to be heard at the Bar, or at the Table of this House ; of this I feel convinced, that if we do not decide it at once, we shall do a great hardship to the individual, and to all whose interests are involved, and our delay will be very little creditable to ourselves. The impression will be, that the House has not been able to acquire information how the case is to be met. If the motion of my Learned Friend (Mr. Brougham) is to be adopted, the Member fer Clare may be allowed, at the Table of the House, to state the grounds on which he hesitates to take the oaths proposed to him by the Clerk. Sometimes, nothing can be more fit than an adjournment; but to adjourn without knowing what the argument is, is what I cannot comprehend. The sooner the question is disposed of the better; and I see no reason whatever why we may not decide at this moment, whether or not he ought to be heard at the table of the House. What is the difficulty ?-Upon this question we ought to be prepared to come to an immediate decision. There were precedents of something being stated by persons hesitating to take the oaths at the table. The three precedents were short, and the Member for Clare might possibly assign a short reason for his hesitation. After a Member had been duly elected, and came a the bar in a regular way, the House in its own wisdom ough: to be able to determine whether he could take his seat. T. declare we don't know what to say, or what to do, in such a case, does not appear to me to be very creditable to ou wisdom. We should at least be able to give a scheme of what our objections are. At present there appears no difficulty, and the House is at least bound to make out its justification for not being able to decide such a question, without a postponement and time for study and comtemplation. We are adjourn under these circumstances : A Member comes to 3 duly elected, and tenders himself to sit amongst us; what do we say ?--simply that we don't know what to do; come to a on Monday, and then perhaps we shall know what to do least the Ministry will know what to do, and that is the same thing. The question ought, in my opinion, to be decided, not only with reference to the Hon. Member for Clare, but with respect to the dignity of the House, our character, and our right of proceeding in such cases independently. I have not the smallest disposition to interpose unnecessary objections for the question is really important; but in my opinion the House has all the necessary information before it, and we ought to come to an immediate determination.
Mr. Peel: I can attribute no blame to any one for delay nor does it in my opinion reflect disgrace or ridicule upon
the House to postpone the question. Neither upon this side nor upon the opposite side of the Chair is it denied that the question is important; and I can say that it is the general, nay, the uniform practice of the House, in discussing matters of much less importance, to give the Members adequate means and opportunities of coming prepared to the discussion, and of forming sound decisions. When a question of this description was to be brought on, due notice ought to have been given to Members in order that they might be prepared to discuss the subject-a subject which, in the present case, deeply affects the privileges and usages of this House. Surely, Sir, it caunut
: be deemed by any man unreasonable, to ask the short notice
of only two days before we determine so important a question a question involving the deepest privileges of Parliamenta question, whether a Member, returned to this House, may walk up to the Table and object to take the oaths, and then claim the privilege of being heard in defence of his violating the laws of the House, either on the floor, at the Table, or, if,
we refuse him that, at the Bar. But, Sir, having heard the : thoughts of the Members generally upon the subject, I can
only say, that the great discrepancy of opinion is, to my mind, an additional reason, and, I may say, a very strong reason, why we ought to adjourn the discussion. If this reasoning be at all well-founded, what objection can there be to adjourn for the short period of two days ? What injury, I ask, can this adjournment do to any of the parties interested ? and as to the House, if there is to be an adjournment, it must be acknowledged, that the period proposed is of very short duration. The Motion is, that the Honourable Member for the County of Clare be heard at the Table in explanation of his refusal to take the oaths prescribed to all persons in his situation. Now when this question is discussed on Monday, or on whatever other day the House may appoint, it is evident that it is perfectly competent for any Member to propose the day he shall be heard ;-whether the next day, or what day—if the question shall be resolved in the affirmative. I must confess, that I consider the result of the present discussion has been quite sufficient to prove to my mind that you, Sir (the Speaker), are not aware of any instance of a Member, not taking his seat, being heard at the table, without the previous resolution of the House to that effect. This, Sir, is alone an amply sufficient warrant for my opinion that the question ought to be postponed, and if a postponement be proper, I need not say that Monday determines it to the shortest period. Let the question be postponed, and it is evident that in the mean time no person stands pledged to any opinion. We shall come to the question equally unpledged, and with much better information.
Mr. Maurice Fitzgerald argued that nobody had objected to the postponement of the question before the House, but that was not what the Right Hon. Gent. opposite (Mr. Peel) bal to entertain. The Right Hon. Gentleman had proposed the postponement of the decision, but this postponement of the decision was no reason for the House not hearing why the Member for Clare had objected to take the oath. I beg the House to consider the dilemma in which they stand. A person duly elected approaches the Table of the House, and objects to take the oath which all other Members take, and without taking which they cannot take their seats. The exercise of a supposed right is suspended, and the person is injured if he is not allowed to state the grounds on which he refuses to take the oaths. He conceived that the rights of individuals would be promoted by allowing the Honourable Member for Clare to state what was the nature of his objections. Whether he was heard at the Bar or at the Table, he conceived to be of little consequence. He had heard no reason for the postponement for one moment of the question ; and unless the House were in possession of the Honourable Member's objections, he would not vote for that postponement. Possessed of the case, there might be a reason for postponement-it gave time for judgment; but he could not consent to a postponement of a case, when the House were not in possession of the data of that case. By such a proceeding the House would not only injure the Member claiming his seat, but they equally injured all his constituents. What would be the situation of the House after the postponement? They would have to begin at the same point at which they had begun.
Mr. Peel said, in reply to the observation, that the Member for Clare ought to be heard, the law determined the conditions alone on which he could be heard.
Sir F. Burdett said that the important question was, whether the Member for Clare should be heard at the Bar or at the Table of the House. It appeared to him that the House might be ripe for the decision, but not for the discussion, of · the question.