HC Deb 08 February 1810 vol 15 cc354-5
Mr. Byng

presented a Petition of the freeholders of the county of Middlesex, in full county assembled, setting forth "That, on the 6th of May 1793, a Petition was presented to the House, in which it is averred, that 307 of the honourable members for England and Wales only are not returned to parliament by the suffrages of the people, but are, though numerous breaches and evasions of the freedom of election, therein fully set forth, appointed by 154 Peers and Commoners, and that evidence in proof of the facts contained in such Petition was tendered in support thereof; and the allegations, so stated in the said Petition, still stand on the Jonrnals of the House uncontradicted; and that by the Statute commonly called the septennial act the same House of Commons may sit for a period equal to one half of the probable duration of human life, taken at the most favourable age; and that the right of the Commons to send representatives to parliament was, by our ancient constitution, vested in the freeholders and householders, and long parliaments were heretofore as unknown as the modern practice of members procuring their seats in the House by purchase, nomination, or by barter of patronage; and that every departure from this undoubted right of the people to a substantial representation in short parliaments was a violation of the fundamental principles of the constitution, and is a grievance dangerous alike to the liberties and property of the people: and that this deplorable state of the representation co-operating with the septennial duration of parliaments, has an alarming tendency to destroy that constitutional balance which ought to subsist between the three branches of the legislature, and threatens the free subjects of these realms with a tyranny more hateful and degrading than a despotic monarchy—the usurpation of our rights by an oligarchy of the proprietors of boroughs; and that the elective franchise ought to be entrusted to those, and to those only, who are likely to exercise it for the common good, which, by the act passed in the last session of parliament, to regulate the disposal of seats in the House, the petitioners conclude not to be the case in the venal or depopulated boroughs: in the wisdom and justice of the House the petitioners confidently rely, that the House will take their Petition into their early and most serious consideration, and will grant them such relief in the premises as shall be most consistent with that leading principle of our happy constitution, a full and free representation of the people in parliament."—Ordered to lie upon the table.