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12th February 1688. “ The House disagree the following session ordered to be brought in ; o with the Lords in their amendment of leaving and a third Bill passed the Commons in 1695, "out the eighth Article. But in respect of the and was sent up to the House of Lords, but " liberty given by the Lords in explaining that did not proceed there to a second reading. * matter; resolved, That the words do stand It appears further, that on the 4th June 1689, "in this manner; By prosecutions in the “ A Petition of John Topham, esq. was read ; “Court of King's-bench for matters and “ setting forth, That he, being a Serjeant at * causes cognizable only in parliament, and by “ Arms, and attending the House in the years * Jivers other arbitrary and illegal courses. “ 1679 and 1680, when several orders were * By which Amendment, your Committee ob- “ made, and directed to the petitioner, for the
serres, that the House adapted the Article taking into his custody the several persons of * mure correctly to the case they had in view ; sir Charles Neal, &c. &c. and others, for • for the Information was filed in king Charles “ several misdemeanors by them committed in
the Second's time ; but the prosecution was “ breach of the privilege of the House ; and * carried on, and judgment obtained, in the " after that the Commons were dissolved, the second year of king James.'
" said persons being resolved to ruin the peti* That the meaning of the House should be “ tioner, did, in Hilary term, the 33d or 34th made more evident to the Lords, the House “ of king Charles, sue the petitioner in the ordered, “That sir William Williams be “ King's-bench in several actions of trespass, added to the managers of the Conference ;" “ battery and false imprisonment, for taking i and sir William Williams the same day re- " and detaining them as aforesaid : to which
ports the Conference with the Lords; and, " actions the petitioner pleaded to the juris" That their lordships had adopted the Article - diction of the Court, the said several orders ;
in the words as amended by the Commons." “ but such his plea was over-ruled; the then * And corresponding to this Article of Griev- “ judges ruling the petitioner to plead in chief,
ance, is the assertion of the Right of the Sub- " and thereupon he pleaded the orders in bar to ject in the ninth Article of the Declaratory “ the actions : notwithstanding which plea and * part of the Bill of Rights; viz. “ That the “ orders, the then judges gave judgment " freedom and debates or proceedings in par- “ against him, &c.” [x Com. Journ. p. 164.] "liament, ought not to be impeached or ques- Upon the Report from the Committee of " tioned in any court or place out of parlia- Privileges and Elections, to whom this peti-' "ment.”
“tion of J. Topham was referred, the House * To which may be added, the latter part of Resolved, That this House doth agree with the sixth Resolution of the Exceptions to be " the Committee, That the Judgment given by 'made in the Bill of Inderunity, Journal, vol. x. " the Court of King's-bench, Easter term * p. 146, wherein, after reciting the surrender “ 34 Car. 2, Regis, upon the plea of John Topof Charters, and the violating the rights and “ ham, at the suit of John Jay, to the jurisfreedoms of elections, &c. it proceeds in these “ diction of that Court; and also the judg. * words : “ And the questioning the proceed- “ments given against the said Mr. Topham, at "ings of parliament, out of parliament, by the suit of Samuel Verdon, &c. are illegal, " Declarations, Informations or otherwise, are " and a violation of the privileges of parliament, * criznes for which some persons may be justly " and pernicious to the rights of parliament. * excepted out of the Bill of Indemnity." Whereupon it was ordered, “ That sir Francis
On the 19th of June 1689, the House or- “ Pemberton, sir Thomas Jones, and sir Franflered, “That the Records of the Court of “cis Wythens, do attend this House on "King's-bench, - relating to the proceedings “ Wednesday morning next.” [x. Com. Jour" against William Williams, esq. now sir Wil- p. 209. *** liam Williams, knight and baronet, late “ In consequence of this order, sir Francis ." Speaker of this House, be brought into this “ Pemberton and sir Thomas Jones, who had “ House, by the Custos Breviun of the said “ been two of the judges of the Court of Court , on Thursday morning next.” [x Com. “ King's-bench at the time when the judgment
“ was passed, were heard in their defence; On the 12th of July, “ The Record was " and afterwards committed to the Serjeant at "read; and the House thereupon resolved, “ Arms, for their breach of the privileges of " That the Judgment given in the Court of " this House, by giving judgment to over-rule
King's-bench, in Easter term 2 Jac. 2d, “ the plea to the jurisdiction of the Court of against William Williams, esą. Speaker of “ King's-bench." . (x. Com. Jour, p. 227.] " the House of Commons in the parliament Your Committee think it proper to state, "held at Westminster 25th October 32 Car. That sir Francis Pemberton and sir Thomas * 2d, for matter done by Order of the House of Jones, in defending themselves at the bar of
Commons, and as Speaker thereof, is an ille- this House for their conduct in over-ruling the gal judgment, and against the freedom of plea to their jurisdiction in the actions of Jay parliament.
v. Topham, &c. defended the Judgment they * Resolved, That a bill be brought in to re- had given,
' by resting upon the nature of the "Ferse the said Judgment." [Ibid. p. 215.] pleading, and not by denying the jurisdiction
* This Bill was twice read, but went no fur- or anthority of this House; and sir Francis 'ther in that session :'-A similar Bill was in Pemberton expressly admitted, that for any
Jour. p. 171.)
- VOL. VAT.
thing transacted in this House, no other Court | Trin. 3 Car. I.] against the authority of such had any jurisdiction to hear and determine it. letter, in the court of King's bench, which i (State Trials.]
reported in the marg. of Dyer's reports, p. 60 Your Committee in the next place think it and in Latch, pp. 48 and 150. And shortly expedient to state to the House, that there are after the refusal by the Court of King's bench various instances in which persons committed to notice this letter from the Speaker, the parlia by the House of Commons have been brought ment was dissolved. There are, however up by Habeas Corpus before the judges and many other instances of this course of proceed courts of common law; and in these cases, ing after the Restoration ; and in the instance upon its appearing by the return to the Habeas of lord Newburgh (23 February 1669) the House Corpus that they were committed under the ordered the proceedings to outlawry to be staid Speaker's warrant, they have been invariably during the sessions, and the record of the exiremanded.
gents to be vacated and taken off the file. [ix 3.- Having stated these instances of the Com. Jour. p. 126]. manner in wbich the Acts and Commitments of The last instance which your Committee find this House have been brought into judgment in of such letters having been written, occurs in other eourts, and the consequences of such the lord Bulkeley's case in 1691, in which the proceedings; your Committee further think it Speaker is directed to write a letter to the prothoproper, and in some degree connected with this notary that he do not make out, and to the subject to advert to the course which was adopted sheriff of the county of Pembroke that he do for staying proceedings in suits brought against not execute any writ, whereby the lord Bulkemembers and their servants, while they were ley's possessions may be disturbed, until Mr. protected from such suits during the sitting of Speaker shall have examined and reported the parliament.
matter to the House, and this House take The Roll of Parliament 8 Ed. 2, affords the further order thereon. [x. Com. Jour. p. 537. earliest trace which your Committee has found | By the 12 and 13 W. 3. c. 3. this Privilege was upon this subject. It is a writ from the king curtailed; and further by Stat. 2 and 3 Apn, c. confirmatory of the privilege of being free from 18.–11 Geo. 2. c. 24.- 10 Geo. 3. c. 50. suits in time of parliament, and is in the follow- Lord chief justice De Grey says in Crosby's ing words : • Rex mandavit Justiciaries suis ad case, “ If a member was arrested before the . assisas, jurat : &c. capiend. assignat : quod“ 12 and 13 W.3. the method in Westminster
supersedeant Captioni corandem ubi comites “ hall was to discharge him by writ of privilege • barones et alii summonati ad Parl' regis sunt “ under the great seal, which was in the nature * partes quamdiu dictum Parliamentum dura- “ of a Supersedeas to the proceeding: The verit.' *[4 Co. Inst. 24.]
“ statute of William has now altered this, and There have been various modes of proceed- “ there is no necessity to plead the privilege of ing to enforre this privilege. In Dewes's “ a member of parliament." (3 Wils. Rep. Journal, pa. 436, 31 Eliz. 1588—1589, Friday 201.] 21st of February, your Committee find the All these acts merely apply to proceedfollowing entry "Upon a motion made by ings against Members in respect of their “ Mr. Harris, that divers members of this debts and actions as individuals, and “ House having writs of Nisi Prius brought in respect of their conduct as members of par« against them to be tried at the assizes in liament; and therefore they do not in any way " sundry places of this realm to be holden and abridge the ancient law and privilege of par“ kept in the circuits of this present vacation, liament so far as they respect the freedom and " and that writs of Supersedeas might be conduct of members of parliament as such, or “ awarded in those cases in respect of the pri- the protection which the House may give to “vilege of this House due and appertaining to persons acting under its authority. * the members of the same; it is agreed, that 4.-Upon the whole, it appears to your Com“ those of this House which shall bave occa- mittee, That the bringing these actions against “sion to require such benefit of privilege in the Speaker, and the Serjeant, for acts done in " that behalf
, may repair unto Mr. Speaker, obedience to the orders of this House, is "to declare unto him the state of their cases, breach of the privileges of this House. " and that he, upon his discretion (if the cases And it appears, that in the several instances ** shall so require) may direct the warrant of of actions commenced in breach of the privi“ this House to the Lord Chancellor of Eng- leges of this House, the House has proceeded “ land, for the awarding of such writs of Su- by commitment, not only against the party, but “ persedeas accordingly.”
against the solicitor and other persons concerned But the House used to stay also proceedings in bringing such actions; but your Committee by its own authority; sometimes by sending think it right to observe, that the commitment the Serjeant at arms to deliver the person ar- of such party, solicitor, or other persons, would rested out of custody; and sometimes by letter not necessarily stop the proceedings in such from the Speaker to the Judges before whom action. the cause was to be tried. of this latter mode That as the particular ground of action does of proceeding, your Committee find many in- not necessarily appear upon the writ or upon stances previous to the 3rd of Charles I. Your the declaration, the court before which such
acCommittee find a decision [Hodges v. Moor, tion is brought cannot stay the suit or give
judgment against the plaintiff, till it is informed | Report establish this Law of Parliament, upon by due course of legal proceeding that such ac- the ground and evidence of an immemorial ton is brought for a thing done by order of the usage, as strong and satisfactory as would be House
held sufficient in a court of law, for the estabAnd it therefore appears to your Committee, lishment of any legal right. (Appendix A.) That even though the House should think fit to Your Committee also beg leave to observe, commit the solicitor or other person concerned that the general power of Commitment was in commencing these actions; yet it will still solemnly asserted by the House of Commons be expedient that the House should give leave in 1675, and in their Resolutions of 1701 ; and y the Speaker, and the Serjeant, to appear to was also claimed by the House of Commons, the said actions, and to plead to the same; for and admitted by the House of Lords in the the purpose of bringing under the knowledge of most explicit terins, in the conference between the court, the authority under which they the two Houses, in the Case of Ashby and actad: and if the House should agree with that White, in 1704 ; although other points arising opinion, your Committee submits to the House, in that case were strongly controverted between Whether it would not be proper that directions the two Houses. (Appendix C.) should be given by this House, for defending Your Committee further state, that it has the Speaker, and the Serjeant, against the said been recognized by legal authority, and by the actions.
most solemn decisions of the courts of law on various occasions, whenever any question upon
it has been brought before them : SECOND REPORT.
By eleven of the Judges, in the Case of the Your Committee, resuming the considera- Aylesbury men. 2 Lord Raym. p. 1105. tion of the principal matters reserved in their 3 Wils. p. 205. foner Report, do not think it necessary to By the Court of King's-Bench-in Murstate all the various Precedents wbich are to ray's Case. 1 Wils. p. 299. 1751. be found of the exercise of the power of Com- By the Court of Common Pleas— in the mitment by the House of Commons for Case of Brass Crosby. 3 Wils. p. 203. 1771. breaches of Privilege and Contempt in gene- By the Court of Exchequer-in the Case of ral
, conceiving that to be a power too clear to Oliver. 1771. be called in question, and proved, if proof were And that this power of commitment by Betessary by the same Precedents, which they either House of Parliament, was further recog-. bare collected with a view to the point to nized by the court of King's Bench in the Fhich they have more immediately directed Case of Benjamin Flower, 8 Term Reports, p. their attention, and which Precedents are sub- 323, who had been committed by the House of joined to their Repo:t. (Appendix A.) Lords. And your committee have not found
The Cases which your Committee have se- the authority of a single decision to the conlected as most directly connected with the sub- trary in any court whatever. (Appendix D.) ject referred to them, are those for Commit- Your Committee also beg leave to state, that ments for Libel, an offence which tends to the Judges of the Common Law have considerexcite popular misapprehension and disaffec-ed Libels upon their courts or the proceedings tion, endangers the freedom of the debates in judicature as contempts and have frequently and procedings in parliament, and requires the punished the authors and publishers of them most prompt interposition and restraint. The by summary commitment. This appears from efect of immediate punishment and example is various instances stated in the Appendix (E.) required to prevent the evils necessarily arising which have occurred both in courts of law and from this offence, which evil it is obvious would equity. be much less effectually guarded against by Amongst the Judges who have concurred in the more dilatory proceedings of the ordinary those decisions, upon the power of parliament Darts of law ; nevertheless upon some occa- and of the courts of law and equity to commit Bons the House of Commons have pro- for such contempts, are to be found lawyers ceeded against persons committing such of the most distinguished for their zealous refences, by directing prosecutions, or by ad- gard for the liberiy of the subject, and the dressing his majesty to direct them, as appears most upright, able and enlighteneul men that by the Precedents collected in Appendix (B.) ever adorned the seat of justice; and the
From the series of precedents which your doctrines laid down by them all coincide with Committee find on your Journals, it will most the opinion solemnly delivered by Lord Chief Searty appear that the House of Commons Justice De Grey in Crosby's case, that the bare treated Libels as contempts ; that they power of conumitment is inherent in the bare frequently punished the authors and pub is House of Commons from the very nature of Lubers of them by commitment, whether its instituțion, and that they can conmit these authors and publishers were or were not generally for all
contempts." 's Wils. p. 198. berabers of the House ; and that this power Under all these circumstances, Your Combas been exercised at all times, as far back as mittee can have no hesitation in submitting their the Journals afford an opportunny of tracing decided opinion, that the power of commitment
And your Committee camot forbear ob- for a libel upon the House, or upon its members, serving, that the Precedents subjoined to their for or relative to any thing said or done therein,
is essential to the Freedom of Debate, to the In- | 11.-Precedents of the like nature, from the dependence of Parliament, to the security of the
Restoration to the Revolution. Liberty of the Subject, and to the general preservation of the State.
1660.—LENTUALL, a Member.- For words in This power is in truth part of the fundamental the House against the preceding ParliamentLaw of Parliament ; the Law of Parliament is To the Serjeant-viii Jour. 24. the Law of the Land ; part of the Lex Terræ, -DRAKE.- For a pamphlet reflecting mentioned in Magna Charta, where it is de- the Parliament; and impeached.-To the clared, that, « no Freeman shall be taken or Serjeant-viii Jour. 183. 185, 186. “ imprisoned but by lawful judgment of his -CRANFORD. Ditto, Ditto, viji Jour. 193. “ Peers, or by the Law of the Land;” and it 1661.-GREGORY and WITHERS.- For pamis as much within the meaning of these words, phlets reflecting on the justice of the House. “the Law of the Land,” as the universally ac- -To the Tower-viii Jour. 368.-They knowledge power of Commitment for con- were prisoners in Newgate, and were comtempt by the Courts of Justice in Westminster- mitted to the Tower, and ordered into close hall, which courts have inherent in them the
custody. summary power of punishing such contempts 1662—Green. Ditto, To the Serjeant-Ibid. by commitment of the offenders, without the intervention of a Jury.
1670_Woodward.-For a breach of Privilege Your Committee therefore are of opinion, against a Member, and speaking contempo That this power is founded on the clearest prin- tuous words against this House.-To the ciples of expediency and right, proved by im- Serjeantmix Jour. 147. memorial usage, recognized and sanctioned 1675.-HOWARD.---For a scandalous paper, by the highest legal authorities, and analogous and a breach of the Privilege of the House. to the power exercised without dispute by -To the Tower--ix Jour. 364. courts of Justice; that it grew up with our 1680.-Sir Robert CANN, a Meinber.- For constitution; that it is established and confirmed words in the House, reflecting on a Member, as clearly and incontrovertibly as any, part of brought to the bar, and received a reprithe Law of the Land, and is one of the most inand from the Speaker :-And for words important safeguards of the Rights and Liber- spoken out of the House-committed and ties of the People.
expelled. - To the Tower--ix Jour. 642. APPENDIX.
1680.-YARington and GroomE.--For a pam
phlet against a Member.-To the Serjeant APPENDIX (A.)
Lix Jour. 654, 656.
1685.-Cooke, a Member.- For words in the PRECEDENTS of COMMITMENTS for Words and
House. - To the Tower-ix Jour. 760. Publications, Speeches, &c. reflecting on the Proceedings of the House.
III.-Precedents, fc. from the Revolution to
the end of King William. 1.- From the beginning of the Journals, to the Commonwealth.
1689.-CHRISTOPHER SMELT.-Spreading a
false and scandalous report of sir Peter Rich, 1559.-TROWER.- For contumelious words
a Member.-To the Serjeant, 29th July-x against the House.—To the Serjeant-i Jour.
1690.-W. BRIGGS.-Contemptuous words and 1580.—Hall, a Member -For publishing a
bebaviour, and scandalous reflections upon book against the authority of the House.
the House and upon Sir Jonathan Jennings, To the Tower, also fined and expelled
a Member thereof.–To the Serjeant, 18th i Jour, 122, 124, 125, 126, 132.
Dec.-x Jour 512. 1625.—MONTAGUE.—For a great contempt 1691.-Richard Baldwin.-Printer of a against the House for publishing a book
pamphlet entitled, “ Mercurius Reformatus," traducing persons for petitioning the House. -To the Serjeant-i Joor. 805, 806.
reflecting on the proceedings of the House.
-To the Serjeant, 9th and 21st Nov.1628.-Lewes. For words spoken against the
x Jour. 548, 558. last Parliament.-To the Serjeant-i Jour,
1693.-William SOADER.–Affirming and re922.
porting that Sir Francis Massam, a Member, 1628.- ALEYN. For a libel on last Parlia
was a pensioner.—To the Serjeant, 9th ment.--To the Serjeant-i Jour. 925.
Mar.-xi Jour, 123. 1640.-PIERS.–Archdeacon of Bath, for abusing the last Parliament.—To the Serjeant
1695.-Sir George Meggot.—Having scan. ï Jour. 63.
dalized the House, in declaring that without 1640.--PRESTON.-Scandalous words against
being duly chosen be had friends enough in this House. — To the Gatehousemi hour. 71.
the House to bring him into the House.
To the Serjeant, 27th Dec.-xi Jour. 371. N. B.---The King did not leave London till the 1696.-JOHN MANLEY.--A Member, for words 10th of January 1641. In the year pre
in the House.-To the Tower, 9th Nov. ceding there are very many cases of strangers
xi Jour. 581. committed for contemptuous words spoken 1696.-Francis Duncombe.--Having declaracainst the Parliament.
ed before two Wilosses ibat he had distri.
buted money to several Members of the 1768-Josepu THORNTON.-Giving directions House, and afterwards denied it before a for sticking up the above-mentioned paper. Committee of the House.—To the Serjeant, - To Newgate, 10th Dec. 5th Jan.—xi Jour. 651.
1771.--Henry BALDWIN, Thomas Wright. 1696.-JOHN Rre.—Having caused a libel, -Prioling the Debates, and misrepresent
reflecting on a Member of the House, to be ing the Speeches of Meinbers. To the Serprinted and delivered at the door.
To the jeant, 14th March-xxxiii Jour. 258, 259. Serjeant, 11th Jan.-xi Jour. 656.
1774.-H. S, Woodfall.–For publishing a 1699.- Joux HAYNES.-For being the occasion Letter highly reflecting on the character of of a letter being written, reflecting upon the Speaker.—To the Serjeant, 14th Febru. the honour of the House, and of a Commit. ary—xxxiv. Jour. 456. tel.-To the Serjeant, 24th Jan.—xiii Jour. 1805.-PETER STUART.–For printing in his
Paper libellous reflections on the character 1701. -Tuomas COLEPEPER.—Reflectious up- and conduct of the House.—To the Serjeant,
o the last House of Commons.-To New- 26th April- 1x Jour. 217.
APPENDIX (B.) said crimes.
Cases since 1697, of PROSECUTIONS at LAW IV.–Precedents of the like nature, from 1701 against Persons for LIBELS, &c. upon the
House of Commons or any of its Members;
and whether by Order ur Address. 1703.- JoAN TUTchin, Joux How, BENJAMIN BraGG.--As Author, Prioter, and Publisher 1699.-EDWARD STEPHEN.--Libel on the of a printed paper, enlitled, “ The Observa- House, and on an individual Member.-By tor," reflecting upon the Proceedings of the Order, 27th February— xiii Jour. 230. House. —To the Serjeant, 3d Jan.-xiv Jour. 1701.–ThomAS COLEPEPER.–A Letter to the
Freeholders and Freemen of England, as1704.—JANES MELLOT.–False and scandalous persing the House.-By Order, 7th February reflections upon two Members. To the Ser. -xiii Jour. 735. jeant, 9th Mar.-xiv JQur. 565.
1702.-MR. LLOYD.-Aspersing the character -EDWARD TIEOBALDS.-Scandalous reflec. of a Member.-By Order, 18th November tions upon a Member.-To the Serjeant,
-xiv Jour. 37. 2d Mar.-xiv Jour. 557.
1702.--DYER.-Misrepresenting the Proceed1719.-SAMUEL BUCKLEY.—As Printer of a ings of the House.-By Order, 26th Febru
pretended Memorial printed in the “ Daily ary-siv Jour. 207, 208. Courant," reflecting upon the Resolutions of 1740.—John Meres.-" The Daily Post.”the House. --To the Serjcaot, 11th Apr.-- Higbly and injuriously reflecting upon an xvii Joar. 182.
act of Government, aud the Proceedings 1715.-E. BERRINGTON, J. MORPHEN.--As of both Houses of Parliament.-By AdPrinter and Publisher of a pamphlet, entitled, dress, 3d Dec.—xxiï Jour. 546. “The Evening Post," reflecting on His Ma- 1750-Author, Printer and Publisher.-Pubjesty and the iwo Houses of Parliament.- lishing paper, entitled, “ Constitutional Que. To the Serjeant, 1st July-xviii Jour. 195. ries,” grossly reflecting on the House. By 1729.-RICEARD CORBET.-Reflecting upon
Address, 220 Jan.-xxvi Jour. 9. the Proceedings and the authority of a Com- 1751.-Authors, Printers and Publishers. The mittee. - To the Serjeant, 31st Mar.-xxi case of the Honourable Alexander Murray. Jour. 307.
--Aspersing the Proceedings of the House, 1733.--WILLIAM NOBLE.--Asserting that a and tending to create misapprehensions of
Member received a pension for his voting in the same in the minds of the people.-By Parliament.--To the Serjeant, 19th Feb. Address, 20th Nov.-xxvi Jour. 304. xxii Jour. 245.
1774.-Author, Printers and Publishers.- Pub1740.-WILLIAM Cooley, John MERES, JOHN lishing paper called the “ South Briton,"
HUGAES.-As Author, Printer, and Publisher reflecting on the House.—By Order, 16th of papers reflecting upon His Majesty's February-xxxiv Jour. 461. Government, and the Proceedings of both 1788.-Authors, Printers and Publishers.Houses of Parliament. Cooley to Newgate, “ The Morning Herald, The Gazetteer, and 24 Dec. ; Meres and Hughes, To the Ser. New Daily Advertiser."-Grossly reflecting jeant, 30 December-xxiü Jour, 545, 546, on the House and the Meinbers, and tending
to prejudice the defence of a person answer1746.-SANUEL JOHNS.--Author of a printed ing at the Bar.-By Address, 8th February
paper containing impudent reflections on xliii Jour, 213. the Proceedings of the House.—To the Ser- 1788. Authors, Printers and Publishers.-jeant, 13th May-XXv Jour. 154.
“ Review of the Principal Charges against 1768.- Dennis SHADE.-Sticking up a paper Warren Hastings,” &c. -Highly disrespectlo inflaine the minds of the people against ful to His Majesty, and the House ; and the House. To the Serjeant, 9th of Decem- indecent Observatinns reflecting on the nober-xxxï Jour. 97.
tives which induced the House to prefer the