HC Deb 22 April 1812 vol 22 cc721-2

Six Petitions of Roman Catholics—of the county and city of Kilkenny; the county of Roscommon; the county of Kerry; the city and liberties of Londonderry; the county of Clare; and the town and county of Carlow,—were presented and read; containing the same allegations and prayer as the Petition of several of the Roman Catholics of the Queen's County, in Ireland, which was presented upon Thursday last.—Ordered to lie upon the table.

Sir George Hill,

on presenting the Petition from the Catholics of Londonderry, said; "It is my duty to present to this House a Petition from the Roman Catholics of the city and liberties of Londonderry, and I beg leave to take this opportunity of correcting a misstatement which has appeared in the public prints of yesterday, namely, that I had declared it to be my intention to present a Petition against the Roman Catholic claims. On the contrary, I said I had received a Roman Catholic Petition to present from the city and liberties of Londonderry, and that Petition I now hold in my hand. It is true, Mr. Speaker, that I have the honour to represent a constituent body there, of nearly 1,000 voters, exclusively Protestants; and it is also true that I have not any Petition to present from them against the Roman Catholic claims, nor do I wish to receive from the Protestants of Londonderry any such Petition. I may be permitted, however, to know well what are the sentiments of my constituents; and, therefore, although I have every feeling of respect and kindness towards the subscribers to the Petition I hold in my hand, I cannot support its prayer. Our system in my part of the world has been, and I had hoped, would have continued to be, to let our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects urge their own claims, in their own way, without any active interference against them on our part out of parliament, and wishing that those claims should be submitted to a full and impartial discussion in parliament, and be decided there upon their own intrinsic merits. I did, therefore, on a former night, deprecate any assumption of fact which, I am convinced, is unfounded; such as, that a majority of the Protestants of the north of Ireland were favourable to the Roman Catholic claims; and which statement, I feared, would have the effect of promoting Protestant meetings, to declare their sentiments, and petition on the subject, against the Roman Catholic claims, and thereby interrupt conciliation and harmony between them and their Protestant neighbours, which ought to be objects with every good man to encourage. That I have adopted this principle in my own person with some effect, I trust, will appear evident from this Petition having been entrusted to my care, although I promised to the petitioners that I could not support their claims. I do, however, with confidence assure the House of Commons, that it is subscribed by a peaceable, industrious, and loyal body of Roman Catholics, and is well entitled to a respectful reception from this House."