HC Deb 03 February 1817 vol 35 cc176-7
Lord A. Hamilton

rose to present two petitions upon this subject, one from the inhabitants of Kirkintilloch, the other from the borough of Rutherglen. The noble lord observed, that the peculiar circumstances under which he then addressed the House, required that he should say a few words before he moved that the petitions should be brought up. Short as was the space of time since parliament had assembled, it had yet called forth from the opposite benches, a strong and decided opinion against every species of reform. This expression was certainly elicited by petitions of a different tenour from those which he had to present. The petitions with which he was entrusted neither desired annual parliaments, nor universal suffrage; he hoped, therefore, they would not be identified with any such productions. Both these petitions lamented the exorbitant expenditure of the public money; they stated the harassing situation of the petitioners, whose distress was so great that no exertion of labour or industry within their reach could supply them with the necessaries of life. They concluded by praying for a reform in parliament, by which a fairer representation of the people might be had. They did not presume to suggest any plan, but they warmly hoped the House would adopt such a one as appeared calculated to redress the grievance complained of. In presenting these petitions from Scotland, he felt it his duty to call the attention of the House to the state of representation in that country. Whatever opinion prevailed in England on the subject of an alteration in its representation, there could, he presumed, be none as to the imperative necessity of such a change in the representation of Scotland, in a rational and practical sense. What would the House think when they were informed, that a man in Scotland might possess 10,000l. a year in property or in land, without being entitled to vote for a member of parliament? The petitioners asked for an inquiry commensurate with the misery they endured. He must say, therefore, without any disrespect to other parts of the united empire, that petitions from that country were entitled to the peculiar consideration of that House.

The petitions were then read, and ordered to lie on the table.