HC Deb 24 April 1817 vol 35 cc1309-10
Mr. Bennet

presented a petition from the traders, manufacturers, and mechanics of Wolverhampton, praying for a diminution of the present enormous rate of taxation, and a reduction of the expenditure. It was signed by upwards of 5,000 individuals, and stated, that, in that district, many had been reduced to extreme poverty, and others had actually perished for want of food. Perhaps in no district had the pressure of public calamity been more severely felt; for to such a miserable situation were the petitioners reduced, that they actually implored the House to afford them the means of leaving the country, and finding employment in some more favourable realm, where they might find employment different from that suggested by a noble lord whom he did not now see in his place, viz. digging holes in the earth, and filling them up again.

Mr. E. Littleton

said, he was informed by letters from some respectable gentlemen near that district, that the petition did not contain the sentiments of the inhabitants of that town, but had been signed by persons in no respect connected with it, and that there was actually a person who was employed to sign it for those who could not write.

Mr. Bennet

observed, that he never meant to say that it was the petition of any other persons than those who had signed it.

Ordered to lie on the table.

Sir W. Lemon

presented a petition from Cornwall, complaining of the bills lately passed, and of the conduct of the noble secretary of state for the home department, in neglecting to present in due time, and in mislaying, an address of the county to the Prince Regent, voted in December last; praying that he would call together his parliament, and recommend to it measures of retrenchment. It stated, that an address had been voted by the county to the Prince Regent, in last December, which was transmitted to the office of lord Sidmouth. No answer was received, nor any intimation that the petition was presented. When inquiry was made into this circumstance of neglect, the high sheriff was answered, that the address had been mislaid, and could not be found. The petitioners complained of this instance of neglect, and prayed for such satisfaction as it might be in the power of the House to grant.

Mr. Bathurst

rose to explain the seeming neglect complained of in the petition. On the 19th of December it was found, upon inquiry, that the address was mislaid. A letter was written on the 20th of December to the high sheriff, mentioning the circumstance, and asking for an authenticated copy, that it might be presented without delay. Having received no answer from the sheriff, the secretary of state wrote to a private gentleman of the county for an authenticated copy, which was soon received and laid before his royal highness. On the 20th of January the original was found, and was likewise laid before his royal highness. These circumstances should have been stated in the present petition, as they were known to the parties; and if they had been stated, would have removed the grounds of the complaint.

Mr. Tremayne

acquitted the noble lord at the head of the home department of any neglect in the affair.

Ordered to lie on the table.