Imágenes de páginas

that regard to the purity of testimony, who are bound to watch their conthat they had not put one question to duct with a jealous eye, and still him from beginning to end with re- more especially the conduct of the spect to his own conduct. With re- law officers of the Crown-is it to be gard to indulgences shewn to the pri- told us, sitting here in Parliament, soners, every indulgence was given to that private individuals may comthe other witnesses, as well as to Camp- mence actions such as have been debell. At the end of the trial, too, the scribed ? Şir, private individuals may prisoner M'Kinlay, after thanking the bring such actions as the law allows, court and jury, concluded with thank- or they may abstain from so doing; ing the Lord Advocate, “I wish to de- but we have a great and important clare,” he said, " that all liberty and duty to perform to the public, from indulgence was shewn to me in my which, I trust, we shall not abstain. confinement, which a prisoner can I do not mean to say, that the accuexpect under such circumstances,” sations against the learned Lord are Whether the witnesses chose clothes true, but I will say that they are made or books, their requests were indulged on such authority, that they must be as far as possible. He wished to received as true in this House, till observe, in conclusion, that by this they are contradicted: and they stand parliamentary discussion the noble to this moment uncontradicted even Lord was interfering with the admini- in statement, except by the statement stration of justice of the country. Not of the learned Lord, in this House. one of the prisoners was arrested or I will ask the House, I will ask my tried on the suspension of the Habeas learned friend opposite, (the AttorCorpus act. Every one of them was ney-General), if this evidence be not taken up on the common law of the true, whether he has ever, in the country—and an action lay against course of his experience, seen a single the prosecutor of the Crown for ha- case where perjury might be so easily ving acted wrongously, and thus he detected? Now, months after months was interfering with the remedy of have elapsed since this trial, on which these prisoners.

evidence was given, imputing to these MrJ.P.Grant said, “This is as grave learned persons things which, till now, a charge, and on a matter as vital to I did not believe any man would have the interests of the country, as ever allowed to remain uncontradicted. was preferred to Parliament The Yet no prosecution for perjury has learned Lord has said that my noble been brought. The learned Lord has friend, in bringing forward this mo- told us, that he acts as the grand jury tion, is interfering with the ordinary in Scotland; he had nothing therecourse of the law; and he has stated, fore to do but indict this man for perthat the persons arrested were taken jury; and I give him my word of up, not on the new law suspending honour, that he, the learned Lord the Habeas Corpus act, or the similar himself, could not be more pleased act in Scotland, but under the com- than I should have been, if the learned mon law of Scotland ; "and that the Lord had succeeded in rescuing from persons who think theniselves aggrie- this reproach his own character, and ved may commence criminal or civil the character of the profession to prosecutions. But is it any thing to which I have the honour to belong." this House, entrusted as we are with Mr Grant then went over the different the care of the lives and liberties of parts of Campbell's evidence. He inour fellow-subjects—with the super- sisted, that the sending him to Prusintendance of the courts of justice sia was a decided benefit, at a time when a workman in Glasgow could natures to this opinion, as it is the scarcely earn 4s., or 4s. 6d. a-week. pleasure of the House that I should A pair of shoes, he observed, had cer- do so. They are these, George Crantainly been given. Some expectations stoun. [Hear! hear!]-I hope the of money were held out; and the burn- learned Lord is satisfied-[Hear! ing of the paper in presence of the hear!] James Moncrief, John Archi. Sheriff

, could not lead to the conclu. bald Murray, Henry Cockburn, and sion, that there was nothing in it un. J. Rutherford.—[Hear! hear from fit to see the light. “ Now I take upon the ministerial side]. I do not permyself distinctly to say, that if the fectly understand the meaning of these witness did receive a reward, or the cheers, but I suppose they relate to promise of it, on condition of giving most of these gentlemen having been testimony, though nothing should be of counsel for the prisoner. But I will said as to what the nature of that tes- ask the honourable gentlemen oppotimony was to be, the witness was by site, if they really think this shakes the law of Scotland disqualified. If the authority of their opinion ?" With the learned Lord means to say it is regard to the knowledge which the the law of Scotland, that a witness to prisoner's counsel possessed of Campwhom a reward is promised for being bell's evidence, Mr Grant stated, a witness, is not disqualified to give Campbell had sent a detailed stateevidence, I will meet him, not with ment in writing of the facts, to which my own authority, but with what is he afterwards deposed, to one of his of much greater weight, the authority learned friends, counsel with him for of some of the most eminent counsel the prisoner. He contrived it in some at the Scots bar. An honourable and ingenious way; he believed it was learned friend of mine, desirous of not sent in a roll of tobacco.* He wished trusting entirely to his own recollec- to mention also, that at the consultations of Scots criminal law, has been tion of all the counsel for the prisonat the pains of obtaining an opinion, er, which took place before the trial, which I hold in my hand, signed by there was but one who believed it five eminent lawyers, whose names possible that the thing could be true. I do not think it necessary to men- It appeared to the rest impossible in tion.-[A cry of Name ! name !]. its nature, and like many other stories The opinion, to which I allude, goes to which the profession were accus. to state, that a person is disqualified tomed, one under which (to use the from appearing as a witness, if he is technical phrase) they expected the adduced by the party who bas pro- witness would break down. It bemised him reward; and that the only came a question whether the witness case which seems to make against should be objected to on the ground that opinion is the case of Home, of want of access. It was determined, mentioned in Burnet. But Burnet however, in the first instance, to obthey considered as incorrect, and in ject to the witness on that ground, their judgment of no authority.-- and, if they failed in that, to trust to [The call to name was repeated.] the examination in initialibus. I have no objection to read the sig

Sir Archibald Colquhoun distinctly

• The fact was, that Campbell threw his statement, rolled up in a roll of tobacco, out of his window, to another prisoner, who was walking on the terrace before the windows of the rooms they were confined in; and that prisoner found means to send it to one of the counsel.

asserted, that there was not a shadow Lord Castlereagh clearly thought of foundation for the charges this night that no ground of inquiry had been produced; he denied that they were shewn; and that the conduct of the charges--they scarcely deserved so noble Lord, in instituting the prograve an appellation, since they rest- , ceedings, had been fully justified. ed upon

bare assertion or distorted This must be the conviction of every proof. The deposition of Campbell fair and unbiassed mind; it was estacontained numerous contradictions. blished by the proceedings on the He asserted that Mr Drummond had Bench, and indeed the whole course offered him the place of a gauger; of the proceedings went to prove the though at the time, he said, Mr Drum- fact, that a conspiracy of an extended mond was persuaded that his life was nature did exist in the neighbourhood in danger, and that he could not re- of Glasgow, where persons were bound main in safety in the kingdom. The together by secret oaths. Therefore, witness had said, that Mr Drummond unless the purpose was either to believed that he could not remain punish Campbell for perjury, or to safely in Glasgow, or in any other prosecute the Lord Advocate for the place. The deposition thus bore in- important steps he had taken, there ternal evidence of its own falsehood. could be no reason whatever for callThe deposition of Campbell was a ing the record. Campbell's evidence mixture of truth and falsehood, or had been considered by the Court abrather composed of scanty leakings solutely so incredible, that it could of truth, in an overflowing cup of not be entertained in any court of law falsehood. For his own part he was whatever. And because this man's completely convinced that the Lord evidence was considered totally unAdvocate had acted with perfect pro. worthy of credence in a court of juspriety. He had a right to promise a tice, was it to be deemed worthy of witness freedom from prosecution credit in Parliament, and made use he had a right also by law to send of there because it could be used no him out of the country at the public

where else? How could the House expense. This had been called a re- examine Campbell? Would they have ward, but he denied that it could be the vitiated testimony of such a man, properly called so. To send a person in order to put Mr Drummond on his into exile to protect him from his trial? would they take the evidence of enemies, was not reward. Mr Wynn such a man against such a character was clearly of opinion, that there was as Mr Drummond ? If the House lent room for enquiry. The question was, themselves to this sort of trick, and it whether the House would inquire was too much the fashion to get up pot into the conduct of a court of cases of this nature-he must conjustice—but how the servants of the tend that the testimony of individuals Crown had conducted themselves, so would soon not be considered credias to draw down the unanimous dis. ble on their oaths. approbation of a court of justice. It Sir Samuel Romilly strongly supwas said that the persons aggrieved ported the motion for inquiry. The might have actions against the Lord noble Lord had contended, that unAdvocate. It was right individuals less the facts were manifestly suffishould have compensation for indi- cient to warrant condemnation, there dual losses, but the House were should be no inquiry ; whereas the guardians of the public, and had a fact was, it became necessary to in. right and duty to see that public quire, because they did not know the functions were not abused.

facts. The learned Lord had told the House, that the trial of M•Kinley how to disqualify himself where he proved the fact of unlawful oaths ha- did not choose to give evidence. ving been administered, because the When the learned gentleman, depreverdict against himwas not proven.” cating a communication between the And so the learned Lord had presu-Crown and its witnesses, had repremed, that the House of Commons, in sented him to say, that he would not its ignorance of Scotch law, would be on any account communicate with his induced to believe that “not proven" witnesses, the learned gentleman had meant “proved!” He had indeed as. fallen into an error, for he (the At. serted, that by the expression “ not torney-General) must communicate proven," the corpus delicii was consider with his witnesses-must be informed ed to be proved; and that nothing was what they had to allege-or he could wanting but the bringing home of the not know with safety when to proseguilt to the panel. But the House cute or when to abstain. He had not must see clearly what the verdict of said, that he never communicated "pot proven” implied, that in the opi- with witnesses : he had only said nion of the Court the party was nei.. he never communicated personally: ther guilty norinnocent: that they con- other communication he must have, sidered there was no evidence to esta- or he should never know how to problish the facts alleged. It was clearly ceed.-As to the imputation cast on laid down in all the great law writers of the learned Lord, he should have Scotland, in Hume, Erskine, and Mac- given the same advice as the learned kenzie, that“not proven" amounted to Lord had done. If he had been told an acquittal : not indeed an honour- that a witness could not appear, lest able acquittal, but an absolute dis- his life, or that of his wife, should be missal from the charge brought for- in danger-whether right or wrong, ward : that it was equivalent to the others mightdetermine-but he should "non liquet” of the Roman law. The certainly have considered it his duty noble Lord had said it would be too to say, assure him of protection.” much to call on such a person as Mr This was not tampering with witnessHome Drummond to answer the tes- es. It was doing a duty which the timony of such a witness; but he (Sir public prosecutor owed to public jusS. Romilly) said, he would, when jus- tice. tice required it, call on Mr Drum- Lord A. Hamilton replied, when mond, or even the noble Lord him. the motion was negatived, though self-he would say that the noble Lord only by the majority of 136 to 71. was wholly unfit for a judicial inqui- The contests relative to the con. ry, if he was ignorant, that no man, stitution of the Scottish burghs ocbe he who he would, whether Mr H. cupied, in some degree, the attention Drummond or the noble Lord him- of Parliament, though that quarter self, could avoid being bound on oath was not yet mainly looked to as the to answer when called on for the pur- source of redress. A motion, made poses of justice. There was no one by Sir Archibald Hamilton on the so high in this country as to be screen- 13th February, had even for its im. ed from the obligation of answering mediate object to censure the manto such a charge.

ner in which the new set had been The Attorney-General thought he given to Montrose. The act and clearly saw in the account of that warrant of his Majesty in council Campbell, the artful story of a cun- had taken to itself the privilege of ning and designing man, who knew granting a change in the set of the


constitution of the burgh ; and this, that if the measure had been consihe contended, was a usurpation of dered unconstitutional, redress might an illegal power and although he have been sought in a court of law, was ready to admit, that the altera- ' or in the Convention of Royal Burghs. tion was an improvement, and a be- With regard to a general change in nefit to the burgh, yet he must ob- the constitution of Scottish burghs, ject even to a benefit, if it was con- although this might not have parliaferred through the medium of a mentary reform in view, it could not usurped and unconstitutional power take place without in a great measure in the Crown. He had endeavoured having that effect. It was not beto avail himself of legal authority lieved, that there was any such genein Scotland by every means in his ral discontent as had been represented. power; and he could find no authori- The only real grievance consisted in ty, dead or living, which would sanc- the want of a control over the finances tion this extraordinary power in the of the burgh, and the Lord Advocate Crown. At the same time, he con- had a bill in preparation, for the exdemned strongly the constitution of press purpose of remedying this evil. the Scottish burghs, and particularly Lord Archibald did not attempt to the system of self-election in the ma- push his motion to a division. gistrates, a practice contrary to all On the 10th April the Lord Advoreason, sense, and justice, and to cate introduced his promised bill beevery principle of the British consti- fore the House. The measure he had tution. Indeed, it was an abuse of in contemplation was one which would such a nature, when applied to a cor- partially revive the obsolete laws of the porate body which had duties to per. country, which called the magistrates form, that the wit of man could not to account for the revenues in the contrive a mode better calculated to Court of Exchequer. In addition to produce the most domineering arro- this, it would impose upon them an obgance in these municipal governors ; ligation to submit their accounts annuand, in the helpless governed, the ally, and that they should also be exmost abject state of subjection and posed to theburgesses to consider of the servility. In several burghs in Scot- expenditure ; and if they saw grounds land, the magistrates, if they chose, of an improvident expenditure, they were, year after year, self-elected in should have a right to complain. But perpetuity. In most, the matter of this might not in certain cases preelection was so managed, that it vent the misapplication of the funds amounted to the same thing. In by the magistrates, or from their enother burghs, the magistrates were tering into speculations by which di. not bound to reside, and, in fact, did lapidations might arise. He should not reside, and were rarely seen in therefore propose, that the Court of the burghs, whose concerns they pre- Exchequer, on the complaint of five tended to manage, except once a burgesses, should have the power of year, to be re-elected. He declared controlling the actual expenditure. positively, however, that his views in Lord A. Hamilton was happy to hear no degree extended to any general the learned Lord admit the existence plan of parliamentary reform. Lord of a defect in the constitution of the Castlereagh and the Lord Advocate Scottish burghs; but thought the prereplied, that, in the case of Montrose, sent measure calculated to afford only there was a complete unanimity and a partial remedy. The petitioners acquiescence in all parties concerned; complained, not merely that they had

« AnteriorContinuar »