The country societies were pointed out "as principally to be found in the neighbourhood of Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham, Mansfield, Derby, Chesterfield, Sheffield, Blackburn, Manchester, Birmingham, Norwich, Glasgow, and its vicinity; but," it added, "they extend, and are spreading in some parts of the country, to almost every village." The report of the Commons went over much the same ground, dwelling particularly on the Hampden Clubs as avowed engines of revolution. It dwelt on the acts and activity of the leaders, of the numbers which they had seduced and were seducing, the oaths which bound them together, and the means prepared for the forcible attainment of their objects, which were the overthrow of all rights of property and all the national institutions, in order to introduce a reign of general confusion, plunder, and anarchy.
In the House of Lords on the 24th of January, 1721, five directors who had been called before them were arrested and their papers seized. By what had been drawn from them, it appeared that large sums had been given to people in high places to procure the passing of the South Sea Bill. Lord Stanhope rose and expressed his indignation at such practices, and moved that any transfer of stock for the use of any person in the Administration without a proper consideration was a notorious and dangerous corruption. The motion was seconded by Lord Townshend, and carried unanimously. The examination being continued on the 4th of February, Sir John Blunt refused to answer their lordships, on the plea that he had already given his evidence before the Secret Committee. A vehement debate arose out of this difficulty, during which the Duke of Wharton, a most profligate young nobleman, and president of the Hell-fire Club, made a fierce attack on Stanhope, accused him of fomenting the dissensions between the king and his son, and compared him to Sejanus, who had sown animosities in the family of Tiberius, and rendered his reign hateful to the Romans. Stanhope, in replying to this philippic, was so transported by his rage, that the blood gushed from his nostrils. He was carried from the House, and soon afterwards expired.
The second reading of the Bill was not opposed, but Lord Francis Egerton, with Sir Robert Peel's concurrence, moved that the committee should be empowered to make provision for the abolition of corporations in Ireland, and for securing the efficient and impartial administration of justice, and the peace and good government of the cities and towns in that country. The Tories thought it better that there should be no corporations at all, than that their privileges should be enjoyed by the Roman Catholics. The motion was lost by a majority of 307 to 64, and the Bill ultimately passed the Lower House by a majority of 61. In the Upper House a motion similar to that of Lord Francis Egerton was moved by Lord Fitzgerald, and carried in a full House by a majority of 84. Other amendments were carried, and it was sent back to the Commons so changed that it was difficult to trace its identity. Lord John Russell said that it contained little or nothing of what was sent up: out of 140 clauses, 106 had been omitted or altered, and 18 new ones introduced. He moved that the amendments of the Lords be rejected, and that the Bill be sent back to the Upper House. The motion was carried by a majority of 66, the numbers being 324 to 258. But the Lords refused by a majority of 99 to undo their work; and upon the Bill being returned to the Lower House in the same state, Lord John Russell got rid of the difficulty by moving that the Bill should be considered that day three months.