HC Deb 03 May 1805 vol 4 cc593-4

—A petition of the freeholders of Middlesex was. presented to the house by Mr. Byng, setting forth, "that the votes of your hon. house on the 8th and 10th days of April last, founded on the tenth report of the commissioners of naval enquiry, has interested the whole nation, and no part of the nation more deeply than your petitioners.—We humbly crave the liberty of stating, that no measures ever yet issued from the commons of England which had diffused more gladness or raised more expectations than the said votes of April the 8th and 10th, declaring lord viscount Melville to be 'guilty of a gross violation of the law and a high breach of duty;' thereby supporting the upright and virtuous discharge of the salutary duties of the said commissioners, whose conduct has excited the gratitude and the confidence of the whole country.—That the renewal of the said commission is a subject of unfeigned joy to your petitioners; and that we entreat your hon. house to be careful to make the new law effectual, and adequate to its end. We pray your hon. house to attend particularly to those parts of the tenth report which have detailed the obstacles thrown by persons in office in the way of the investigation of the said commissioners, and to guard against their repetition.—We submit to your hon. house whether the subaltern agents of corruption will not be eager to shelter their contumacy under the example of their superiors, unless the explicitness and enlarged authority of the law defeat their artifices. Nothing, we are persuaded, could be more revolting to the public sentiment, or could more thoroughly disappoint the hopes of the country, than that, instead of inquiries real, honest, and efficient, a fallacious and illusory system should be allowed to be adopted, under which real guilt might elude detection, and the substance of earnest investigation be sacrificed to mere pretence and show.—Your petitioners humbly beg leave to state to your hon. house, that a civil action against viscount Melville and Mr. Trotter would not, of itself, be satisfactory to the public expectation. That a criminal prosecution against these delinquents is the real wish of the country; because the recovery of millions of money would not be of such real benefit to the people, as to see the justice of the law vindicated upon a great malefactor, with the same equal, impartial, partial, and inflexible sternness, with which it falls upon the poorest and most unprotected criminal.—Your hon. house, by the said votes of the 8th and 10th of April, has extorted the admiration of those most hostile to the character and construction of the lower house of parliament. By following up the spirit of those votes, your hon. house will secure the confidence and the affection of the nation, and the triumph of the English constitution will be complete.—We entreat you to proceed and finish your labours upon these points in a manner that may be worthy of your honoured and applauded commencement of the same. We beg of you not to cease till you bring viscount Melville to condign punishment; to expose delinquencies where-ever traced, and to make an example of guilt in whatever quarter it may be proved."—Ordered to lie upon the table.

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