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advocated his cause, took occasion to ridicule the attempt to draw conclusions from the application of common forms of expression; but what, he would ask, could be more sensible or appropriate than to continue a clause according to the plain and obvious meaning of the words? He did not wish to detain the House with many observations upon a question which might, perhaps, from its nature, be thought more fitly placed in the hands of others, and he should, therefore, conclude by declaring that, in his opinion, they ought not to resort so much to the constructions of lawyers as to the feelings of public convenience, and that, above all, they ought, if they could, to rescue Parliament from the odious imputation of having framed their Act in terms expressly calculated to ruin one individual of that class whose penalties and disabilities they were pretending wholly to remove.
After a few words in explanation from Mr. Fergusson.
Mr. Batley said, that as the question was one of a purely judicial nature, he thought it was impossible any angry feeling could be raised from it in the breast of a single individual. The Bill in his opinion, was framed in such a manner as to leave no doubt respecting the exclusion of the Member for Ciare. The words of the second section were indeed too explicit to leave the slightest question on the subject.
Mr. Sugden then addressed the House, but in so low a tone that many of his observations were inaudible in the Gallery. We understood him to say, that although the Honourable Member might, as he declared, consider the Act to which he referred as an Act of Outlawry against him as an individual, still that was not a question which the House could entertain now. If that Honourable Person thought the Act was likely to operate in that manner, he should have made his objections when it was under the consideration of Parliament. He (Mr. Sugden) recollected, however, very well, when the Bill was before the House, and when they were in Committee discussing the clause which contained the words “who shall, after the commencement of this Act, be returned as a Member of the House of Commons,” that an Honourable Member rose in his
place (we believe Mr. S. Rice,) and declared, on the part: Mr. O'Connell, that if the House thought proper to ins those words he was not disposed to offer any opposition or do any thing to retard the progress of the Bill on account of the effect which those words might have on him. He (1.7
. Sugden) alluded to this now, because it was then the unad mous opinion of the Members of the House that those words did exclude Mr. O'Connell from taking his seat.
It had been said by several Honourable Members, that if a doubt was entertained on the construction of the Statute, Mr. O'Connel should have the benefit of that doubt. He, for one, could r. concur in the opinion that Acts of Parliament were to be c08strued according to such principles. He considered the duty he was performing as merely judicial. He cared not whether the decision did or did not exclude Mr. O'Connell. He looked at the case with reference to the words of the Act of Parliament, and feeling satisfied there was no doubt of their excinding that Gentleman, he was determined to give his vote atcordingly. It had been said that the Honourable Member for Clare had taken the Oaths directed to be taken before the Lord Steward. There was nothing, however, in the Act of Parliament which rendered it imperative that he should do so and even when he had taken it there was no information veyed by it to the House. There was merely a certificate declaring that the Honourable Member had taken a certain Oath. The Honourable Member for Montrose said that Mr. O'Connell had taken two Oaths, but he (Mr. Sugden) must really be permitted to say he doubted that fact [Mr. Hume repeated his assertion.] He begged the Honourable Member's pardon, but he really thought it would be found the Member for Clare had taken the same Oath twice. He alluded to the Oath prescribed by the 20th Section, and which might be taken in the Lord Steward's Office, and also in the King's Bench. That was not the time to enter into the discussion of the consequences attendant upon the course which the Member for Claré had adopted, but he apprehended that be had brought himself within the operation of the 5th of
Elizabeth, and that presuming him to be now expelled, the Honourable Member would, on his re-election, find himself not eligible to take his seat in the present Parliament. That, however, was, he repeated, a matter for future consideration. It had been made a question whether the 1st chapter of the Ist of William, or the 8th chapter of the same year, referred to Members of Parliament? The fact was, however, that they both related to Members of Parliament, and the 4th and 5th of Anne did not adopt them, but merely recognized the necessity of their being taken. At the present moment, however, the House had the power to dismiss the case, and so get rid of the necessity of considering the question of penalty, or of allowing any unhandsome advantage to be taken of their proceedings by persons out of doors. It was impossible, however, for any men, as lawyers, to differ upon the question of the Honourable Member's ineligibility to take his seat. They were asked to judge of the Act by its spirit, and by the intentions of the Legislature. The Act was as plainly worded, and applied itself as strongly and as deliberately, and in as business-like a manner to the work it had to perform as ary Act which had ever received the sanction of that House, and throughout the preamble and in every clause was framed to apply expressly to the election of Members to serve in Parliament. In the consideration of such an Act it was the clear and settled rule, that although the preamble might direct you as to the meaning and intention of the clauses, it was never allowed to overrule the distinct and settled meaning of a clause. What then was the expression of the second clause ? “ That from and after the commencement of this Act, it shall be lawful for any person professing the Roman Catholic religion, being a Peer, and hereafter returned as a Member of the Ilouse of Cominons, to sit and vote in either House respectively.” Now it was impossible to contend that these words were not introduced for a specific purpose, and that the right there mentioned was intended to be made general as to the l'eers, but limited as to the Commons. The oath was then prescribed, and the tribunal before which it was to be taken,