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On March 3d, the second read- be to suppress a particular soing of the bill, to prevent sedi- ciety calling themselves the Spentious meetings, was moved in the ceans, or Spencean philanthropists, House of Commons by the Solici- which, whether it employed detor General. Before he made his legates or not, was condemned by motion, he said he would briefly the very doctrines which it proexplain the reasons of its passing, mulgated. and the different enactments which After some severe remarks upon it contained. Of the various parts of the proposed bill, it was means employed by the fonentors read a second time, and ordered of discontent, one of the most to be committed. efficacious was to call together a On March 10th, on the motion number of persons, to inflame of the Solicitor General, this bill them by harangues, and to per- was recommitted. When the suade them that the evils of the clause was read, inflicting the times would be remedied by their punishment of death on such perapplication to parliament, which sons as shall not disperse after they had a right to force to com- being required so to do ;
Mr. ply with their demands. Those Guiney rose and declared it as his meetings the bill was intended decided conviction, that these to control by some regulations clauses, being abhorrent to the precisely of the same kind as those co:nmon sense and feeling of manadopted at other critical periods. kind, so far from having any tenIn the committee, however, it was dency to secure the public tranhis intention to propose a clause, quillity, would tend to bring the which he would now mention, as legislature into that hatred with it partly involved new matter, the people which the act alluded to. though by no means contrary to Sir James Mackintosh, following the avowed spirit and purpose of up this idea, said that unless he the bill. The object of the clause received a satisfactory answer, he was to prevent such meetings, would move to substitute transconvened by seven householders, portation to the punishment of from being adjourned to any other death. time or place than what should be The Solicitor General saw at first specified; for if that evil reason for the amendment sugwere not guarded against, it might gested by the hon. gentleman. be contended that the original As the object of the bill was to meeting having been declared le- prevent riot, it must be regarded gal, an adjourned meeting would as wise and proper to put the become equally so. Another ob- offence contemplated in the clause ject of the bill would be to prevent on the same footing as resistthe existence of debating societies, ance to a proclamation under the lecture rooms, reading rooms, &c. riot act. for admission to which money was Mr. W. Smith said, that there received. A similar measure was was no comparison between the enacted in 1796 and 1799 ; but offence against which the riot act neither of these touched the evil was directed, and that which is now as it existed in the societies now before the committee. The first formed. A further object would supposed that those against whom
it was aimed were violating the persons offending as above de. public peace, and committing scribed, Sir Samuel Romilly prooutrage. The second subjected posed to leave it out altogether ; those who did not disperse within contending that as at present an hour after proclamation, to the framed and understood, it might same punishment as if they had give some officious magistrates a been guilty of the most aggra- pretence for denouncing the most vated crimes.
peaceable and constitutional meetSir James Mackintosh, after va- ings, and would rather tend to rious observations had been made, occasion riot and confusion, than moved as his amendment, that to prevent sedition and rebellion. instead of the words “ shall suffer The clause was defended by the death as in case of felony, without ministers, who carried it by. 46 benefit of clergy," the words against 16. “ shall suffer transportation for
Sir James Mackintosh next pro• the term of seven years," should posed, that the exemptions exbe substituted in their stead. tending to lectures in the univerThe committee thereupon divided, sities, in the inns of court, and in when there appeared, for the Gresham college, should also inamendment 26; against it 70.
clude the East India college, and Sir James Mackintosh then said lectures in medicine, surgery, that he had another amendment chemistry, and all others bona to propose in that inportant fille intended for the improvement clause relative to public meetings. of learning, the sciences, and the As it now stood, a power was arts. This amendment was also given in the case of propositions, rejected. with the exception of the stirring up the people to hatred East India college. or contempt of the government or
All the clauses being gone constitution of this realın as by through, the House was resumed, law established. No man in this and the bill was ordered to be House would say that there was
reprinted any intention of using the word On March 14th, the order of government in any sense where it the day standing for the third might be confounded with admi- reading of the bill for the more nistration. But if that were true, effectually preventing Seditious what was the use of inserting the Meetings and Assemblies, Sir M. word "governinent?" The nse of W. Ridley, after a speech in which the word in this clause could have he declared it to be his duty to no tendency but to create the oppose the passing into a law an most dangerous misapprehensions. act wholly uncalled for by the He would therefore propose the isting circumstances of the counomission of the words or the try, moved as an amendment, to government,” leaving the passage leave out the word “ now," and to run, “or the con-titution of insert after the words “ be read this realm as by law established.” a third time," the words “ this day
After some conversation, this six months." amendment was negatived.
This being the last day in which On the reading of the next the two parties had an open field clause, for the apprehension of for contention, the principal force
of of each was mustered, though no should be inserted in the bill doubt could be entertained how "two or more justices,” which the decision would terminate. In was also negatived. fact, nothing was left but the He next moveil, that instead of mere repetition of exhausted ar- the words “constitution and goguments ; and Mr. Canning found vernment,” there should be init neressary to revert to former serted the word constitution" displays of oratory, by saying, “ It only; which was also negatived. is in this view only that we re- The bill was then passed. commend to the House of Com- On the 21st of March the House mons to pass the present bill; of Lords went into a committee not (as I have so often said, but on the bill relative to Seditious as cannot be too often repeated) Meetings. On reading the clause for the extinction of the sacred from the Commons concerning right of petition, but for its pro- what would constitute the assembly tection and preservation.” unlawful, Lord St. John observed,
After the amendinent ha: been that as the words now stood, if disposed of, the third reading the clerk of the peace should negwas carried by 1,9 to 44. ' A lect to communicate the notice reclause having been introducerl in- ceived of an intended meeting, to the bill by the Attorney Gene- signed by seven householders, to ral, enacting that it should not three magistrates, it might be extend to Ireland, Sir John New- deemed an unlawful assembly, port opposed it, with a view of although the persons calling it keeping down the Orange men; had complied in every respect but the original question was with the enactments of the clause, carried.
and would, in consequence, beOn the introduction of the pre- come subject to the punishment amble of the bill, Sir M. W. Rid- of death. The Lord Chancellor, ley moved the following amend- though he had no doubt that the ment: " Whereas assemblies of omission of the clerk of the peace divers persons collected for the would not invalidate the legality purpose of exercising their un- of the meeting, said that he had doubted right of offering petitions, no objection to an amendment complaints, remonsérances, de- which would render the clause clarations, or other addresses to more clear ; and it was agreed his royal highness the Prince that the words “in such case' Regent, or tu both houses, or should be omitted. to either house of parliament, Lord Hollund moved that the have of late taken place; and words "imposing the punishment whereas riots may
be apprehended of death" should be left out, as he from large meetings of persons considered it as glaringly disprosuffering under the pressure of portionate to the crime. This
at the present time.” amnendment was negativel. This amendment was negatived. At a meeting of the committee
Mr. Ponsonby then moved, that on March 24th, when the clause instead of the words “one or respecting licences to be granted more justice or justices," there to lecture rooms and debating saVol. LIX.
cieties was read, the Earl of Lau such a question required, and derdale observed, that the excep- which was anticipated in the tions from the operation of this House of Commons. We shall clause did not extend far enough, therefore refer to the proceedings and that there could be no objec- of the latter House for all that we tion to include among the excep- have thonght necessary to extract tions lectures merely on physical upon the general ground of discusscience. He then moved a clause sion, from the field of debate. to exempt from the operation of It was mentioned on the prethe licencing enactments, lectures ceding day that Lord Sidmouth had on anatomy, astronomy, chemis- introduced a clause into the bill try, or other branches of physical for the prevention of meetings science. The Earl of Liverpool within a mile of Westminster-hall. opposed the clause, on the ground He had since considered that the that it was not to be supposed that place for holding elections for magistrates, from any private Westminster was within its premotives, would prevent the de- cincts; and also that the borough livery of such lectures. The of Southwark did not form any of clause was put and negatived. the usual avenues to parliament.
An amendment proposed by He therefore proposed to withEarl Grosvenor to limit the du- draw the clause, and add as an ration of the bill to the first of amendment, “saving and exceptJuly 1817 was negatived.
ing in St. Paul's Covent-garden, Lord Sidmouth proposed a clause and the borough of Southwark.' to prohibit public meetings within This clause was adopted without a mile of the two houses of par- a division. liament when sitting, or of the The Earl of Liverpool then courts of justice when sitting at moved that the bill do pass ; on Westminster. After some discus- which the House divided : Consion, this clause was agreed to ; tents, 111; Non-contents, 23 : and all the amendments being Majority, 88. gone through, the bill was ordered The following protest of eight to be read a third time to-morrow. peers was entered on the Journals. On the 25th of March, the or
· Dissentient. Because it appears der of the day standing for the to us that this statute, in inflicting third reading of this bill, Loril the penalty of death, is unjustly Erskine rose, and began with the severe; that it gives to magisconsideration, first, what evidence trates a formidable and unnecesthe House had of impending dan- sary power, improperly controlling gers which justified the passing of the general expression of opinion, an act of the kind now before and interfering both with the pub. them; and sccondly, whether ad- lic and private meetings of the mitting all the facts collected hy people, in times of which we the report, the bill was either a consider the danger to be much necessary or a proper remedy. exaggerated, and which we think
It is evident that this was the call for measures of conciliation natural line of argument which and relief, and not for coercion,"
War Salaries of the Secretaries of the Admiralty.-Motion respecting
the Lords of the Admiralty.-Motion for a Committee on the Public Income and Expenditure, by Lord Castlereagh.— First Report of the Committee.--Bills for abolishing the Offices of Justices in Eyre, and for a Compensation for Civil Services.—Pass both Houses. Irish Peace preservation Bill.
SECRETARIES OF THE ADMIRALTY. made out to the sense of any man
that the time for which the in
creased salary had been given was February 17th, to call the what could fairly be understood attention of the House of Com- as a case of war? Lord Exmons to the increase made in the mouth was sent to Algiers in the salaries of the secretaries of the double quality of a negociator and Admiralty, in consequence of the commander.' When the attack war with Algiers, began with ob- was finally made and had succeedserving the different light in which ed, what did Lord Exmouth say? objects were regarded, according “Thus has a provoked war of two to the difference of the mind and days existence been attended with disposition of the person by whom a complete victory." A quarter's they were viewed. Having in- salary on the war establishment stanced the Prince Regent and was claimed by the secretary, for a Marquis Camden as those who war said by the commander 'who could relinquish a part of their conducted it to be of two days dusalaries, when the public service ration. If the commencement of required it, he said, with what this Algiers war was difficult to
, different eyes must the admiralty be settled, and had been settled or their secretary have beheld the wrong, its termination was no symptoms of the times, when they less curious : it was dated from conceived the autumn of 1816 the the reception of the treaty at the most convenient opportunity for Admiralty. These dates of the taking advantage of a single ex- fitting out of the expedition and
a pedition to bestow an increase of the arrival of the treaty in London salary on their servants. The might tally with the duration of ground on which this claim had the salary; but they could not be been set up was an order of coun- said to constitute the commencecil of January 15, 1800, by which, ment and termination of a war, on account of increase of duty in during the existence of which a time of war, the secretary and war salary might be claimed. The some other persons were to have navy pay-office, not thinking that an increased salary. But the the attack on Algiers constituted question was, had it been fairly this country in a state of war