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reward of meritorious services. It might be insisted that the session was too far advanced to allow this Bill to be conveniently passed.-He should only answer, that it could be never too late to accomplish an object of the utmost importance. The opposition uniformly afforiled by Ministers to this measure arose from a fixed determination, on their parts, to resist every species of reform, not only in this biit in every other system of policy: it was to this they owel their present stations, not withstanding the claim the country made that men should be provi led more adequate to meet the arduous circumstances of the times.
The question was then put that the Bill be read a second time.
The Lord Chancellor did not think the present a fit occasion for discussing the respective merits of rival Administrations; in leed the subject had already been satisfactorily de cided. The noble earl had asserted that the present Ministers were uniform enemies to all kinds of reforın ; such was by no means the fact; they opposed innovation, until it was fairly proved to be beneficial; and refused to destroy a system which for ages had secured happiness, until it were established that more happiness by a change could be produced. With rerard to the Bill before the House, the object of it was now obvious, though the measure itself, in many parts, was scarcely intelligible. His lordship's objection to it was, that it contained hardly a clause that could be executed: the real title should have been, “ A Bill to sweep away the whole power of the Crown, to grant any offices of any kind, at any time." This wise measure, as appeared by the schedule, was to destroy no less than 325 places. Of these the noble earl (Grosvenor) had asserted one-twentieth were sinecures. Where that information was obtained, he could not tell, and he would not take for it the bare assertion of any man. Such a Bill as that, the second reading of which was now moved, never met the eye of any lawyer that had lived since the establishment of law. His lordship proceeded to shew the folly, impracticability, and inutility of the Bill. Not satisfied with interfering with offices in the appointment of the Crown, it went on to deprive the Courts of Justice of those facilities without which the greatly increased business of those Courts could not be carried on.
The fees too, of which the officers were to be curtailed, were not, as they ought, to find their way back, into the pockets of the oppressed, and in general poor liti
gant, but were to form an addition to the consolidated fund. There was one absurdity which, above all others, seemed fatal to the Bill as it now stood, and which seemed interwo. ven in the measure, namely, that on the death of any one person enjoying a sinecure of 20001, a year, it was in the power of the Prince Regent to grant an annuity to the amount prescribed, not to one but to all the persons in Table A, of whom many may now be found in that House; so that instead of saving, a great increase of expenditure would be occasioned. As to the abolition or reduction of Cursitors of Chancery, and Filazers in the Common Pleas, be would venture to assert that neither the noble lord (Gros. venor) nor others who proposed the reforin in the offices, knew at all what the nature of the offices was. He concluded by moving to omit the word "now," and that the Bill be read a second time this day three months.
The Marquis of Douglas spoke in favour of the Bill, not that he did not say there were objectionable features in it. Let those offices, however, which were not sinecures, be struck out of it, and let the abolition of those which were really and wholly sinecures, be carried into effect.
Lord Redcsdule could not agree that the mere reduction of the salaries of public officers always led to economy. The present Bill went to regulate offices of the nature of which he, and he believed the House, were wholly ignorant
Lord Holland must support the Bill, merely on account of the stage in which it was. The observations of the noble and learned lord were so strong as not to be resisted, as far as the details were concerned; but they did not go in the smallest degree to affect the principle. None but those, therefore, who said that the principle was wrong, and that Sinecures ought not to be abolished, could consistently op pose the Bill in its present stage.
Earl Durnley was of the same opinion. He thought that no Administration that refused to recognise the abolition of Sinecures as a principle, could carry on the business of the country to advantage at the present moment.
Earl Grosvenor thought it unnecessary for him, after what had fallen from his noble friends, to trouble the House farther. He only begged it might be observed, that not a word) had been attempted to be said in opposition to the principle of the measure.
The House then divided, when the numbers were, for the second reading now 8-Against it 35. --Adjourned.
HOUSE OF COMMONS.
FRIDAY, JULY 3.
Sir F. Burdelt rose to bring forward his promised motion, respecting the treatment of the persons confined for debt or crime in Lancaster Gaol. After commenting on the strong claims confined debtors had on that House, when petitioning for redress against the oppression of their gaoler, he proceeded to state the alledged merits of this particular case, premising one observation respecting the general system, according to which such gaols were regulated, and by which gaolers had a power of increasing the rigour or indulgencies of continement, that might be regulated so as to be most productive to his own emolument. He was therefore most anxious for a general inquiry into the state of the different gaols throughout the kingdom, to which he trusted that his motion would ultimately lead-(Hear, hear!) The circumstances which be had to communicate to tbe House were of a nature so important that he thought he would not be justified in keeping the information he had received in his pocket. He should state it therefore to tbe llouse, and at the same time bis authorities, not at all pledging himself as responsible for the truth of such statements, but rather calling upon the House to go into the investigation sought for, in order to ascertain whether the charges made were sapported by truth or not-(hear!)—and here he must say, from what he had heard from quarters that could not be doubted, of the character of Mr. Higgins, that if there was a gaol in England under a management bumane and attentive, he should have thought that that gaol was the Castle of Lancaster ; but character, however good, was admissible only in cases of doubt, and could not be allowed to be of any weight in investigation of facts. The three considerations to wbich the attention of the House would be naturally directed, were the conduct of the Magistrates, of the Gaoler, and, what was not least important in this case, that of the Coroner. Here he expressed an anxious wish that the duties of that office were discharged at all times in a manner suitable to their importance. With respect to the Magistrates, he thought their resolutions, censuring the motives of the complainants, and condemning the complaints themselves
as malicious, wicked, and without foundation, were drawn up in a manner that shewed great haste, a hurry to resent rather than coolly and deliberately to do justice; and that certainly appeared to him to betray great inconsiderateness. The Magistrates met upon the 6th of June, and continued, by adjournments, sitting till the 10th; their mode of ex: amining the complainants, he thought, extremely objectionable First, the gaoler was called up and examinel, his story heard upon the alledged charge, and then the prisoner was called up and desired to state his complaint in the presence of the gaoler. It appeared that this Mr. Higgins, the gaoler, held the gaol by a sort of family compact ; the father was the gaoler, one son the deputy, another the assistant deputy, and the third, the acting attorney for the debtors and others confined. This was in itself an evil, because members of the same family might act in concert, and by a system of mutual connivance shelter each other in their system of abuse and oppression-a collusion that was less likely to take place where those separate offices were held by persons independent of each other. The Magistrates also, in their resolutions, passed an eulogium on such of the debtors as had, to use their own language, come forward with a voluntary and manly expression of their esteem. Now lie (Sir F. Burdett) had been told, that this voluntary expression of esteem for Mr. Higgins had been industriously canvassed for, and actually purchased by Mr. Higgins, who had distributed small sums of money amongst the poorer debtors, under the pretence of distributing amongst them some charitable donations subscribed for their relief. It was too rather a suspicious circumstance, to hear prisoners called forth to give their evidence to what they could not know-the conduct of the gaoler for the last thirty years. The charges specified against Mr. Higgins First, his not having sent away the filth of the gaol for four successive days--bis not allowing the prisoners to receive within the prison coals, at a severe period of the winter, in small allow. ances or parcels, when their pecuniary means did not admit of their getting in their coals by larger portions :-another was, that several of the prisoners had been deprived of the usual county allowance, at the arbitrary discretion of the Magistrates--a discretion that he (Sir F. Burdett) contended, they bad no right to exercise. It appeared that on the day of the acquittal of Mr. Higgins, he gave the prisovers in his interest oaken boughs, with which insignia of triumph they paraded through the prison; in no way, he thought, conducive to the good order of the gaol. It appeared too, that a great part of the area of this gaol was appropriated to the convenience of the gaoler and his family, and not to the accommodation of the prisoners. It was also charged against him, that there were several apartments in the prison which had not undergone the personal inspection of the gaoler for so long a period as the last ten months. He had heard also, that Mr. Higgins had, among the Magistrates of the county, two relatives, brothers-in-law, as his sureties : it was, however, to be added, in justice to those gentlemen, that they had the good sense to abstain wholly from any interference in the late investigations-(Hear, hear!) He next adverted to the case of a man who had died in the castle of Lancaster, in consequence, as it was suspected by those who communicated the circumstances to him (Sir F. Burdett), of bad treatment in that prison. The deceased bad been guilty of homicide, and acquitted of the charge of murder, on the ground of lunacy--he had been confined for three years—the Saturday before his death, his screeches were distinctly heard throughout the prison, as were also the stripes wbich had provoked them. He was removed to a cell, from which throughout the greater part of the night his cries, though feebler, were audible. He died on the following Monday. The coroner's jury was made up of six of the poorest order of debtors, and six stonemasons, numbers of whom worked in the neighbourhood.. The inquest was taken without any naked inspection of the body, though the face bore visible marks of violence. The above circumstance be read from a letter signed Jacob Wilson Wordle, dated the 24th of May; who further stated, that the body was for some time after death a mass of congealed blood, and that several persons were anxious, even after its burial, that it should be taken up and re-examined. The writer of this letter represented Mr. Higgins as a person monopolizing in himself too many employments to attend to his duty as gaoler: he was a gaoler, a gardener, a manufacturer, a farmer, an alderman, and a captain in the Local Militia--(a laugh). Another charge was, that debtors who did not employ the sons of the gaoler in case they wanted the aid either of an attorney or a surgeon, were sure to suffer inconvenience on account of such neglect. He read a letter signed Jolin Spencer, in support of this part of the charge. Mr. Spencer had been, as he stated, for nineteen years a re