HC Deb 17 February 1817 vol 35 cc368-84
Lord Cochrane

rose for the purpose of presenting a petition from the inhabitants of Narborough, in Leicestershire, praying for annual parliaments and universal suffrage, doctrines which, he had no doubt, would excite the indignation of an hon. and learned gentleman, who on a recent occasion had condemned them as chimerical and absurd. That they were chimerical and absurd, as had been stated, was mere matter of opinion, but when he heard an hon. member of that House designate those who supported these doctrines as included in two classes, the misleading and the misled, the designing and the dupes, he felt himself bound to say a Few words. Among the many authorities he might now mention, he should merely take one. Judge Blackstone had observed, that the law, in order to be binding on all, must be made by all, and that every man was supposed to be present at the making of a law, in consequence of his being represented. Now, if such was the case, if the law became only binding on those who were present at its being enacted, what was to be said of the great body of people who were not represented? What, he would ask, was to be said of Scotland, the country in which he was born, where out of a population of two millions there were only 2,700 electors? He maintained that the inhabitants of that country were not bound by the laws enacted here, as [loud cries of order! order!]—

The Speaker

apprehended such language was not parliamentary, and could not by any means be permitted in that House.

Lord Cochrane

said, that had the House heard his sentence finished, they might have thought otherwise.

The Speaker

—I am sorry to say the noble lord's sentence is already too complete.

Lord Cochrane

proceeded. Such had been the opinion of the learned judge whom he had thought proper to quote. That such opinions as those of the petitioners might be entertained without their having any intention to subvert the constitution or established forms of the country certainly required no demonstration, and it was equally clear they might be entertained without any imputation being thrown on individuals. He had risen the other night in consequence of a pointed requisition made by an hon. and learned gentleman, that if any member thought the visionary theories of universal suffrage and annual parliaments could be maintained, he should show that they could. That requisition he felt himself bound to comply with, and had complied with, although he was then conscious to himself, and still was so, that he could not compete with the hon. and learned gentleman in words. He had then felt it necessary to state, that to the wisdom of the people he was more disposed to trust than to the wisdom of the House, persuaded that the people on every occasion decided coolly; that they decided wisely and brightly [[Hear, hear! and a laugh. He had also no hesitation in saying, that he was decidedly of opi- nion any system of representation was better than the present. But he would have expected that the hon. and learned gentleman would have felt for the petitioners, when he considered that he himself was not long ago of the same opinion, and had made an open declaration of them, in a speech, on a day which he (lord C.) could name, and would name, when that learned gentleman had not the good fortune to represent a rotten borough, as he did now. The day was the 23d of June, 1814, when there were strong expectations, he would not say by that hon. and learned gentleman himself, but by others, that he would be returned for the city of Westminster. This speech then delivered was certainly a sure criterion of his political opinions at that crisis, whatever they might be now; and of the genuineness of that speech he had sufficient proofs in his hands. The hon. and learned gentleman declared his opinions were firmly in support of annual parliaments, and suffrage co-extensive with taxation. He had seen that hon. and learned gentleman's words on paper, not taken from him by a reporter, who might be afterwards charged with having mistaken them; but written coolly and deliberately—And by whom? Why by himself, although indeed no name or signature was attached to the declaration. Soon after (a day or two) he was waited upon for the purpose of correcting his speech, when he, instead of correcting it, thought it less trouble, and much better for him to write it afresh, which he accordingly did. The hon. and learned gentleman at the present moment represented a rotten borough; but still he (lord Cochrane) had sufficient evidence to prove these to have been the opinions of the hon. and learned gentleman, and he would now read them from the speech written by the hon. and learned gentleman's own hand. But first, to put an end to all doubts on the subject, he wished to know whether the paper he now held in his hand was the writing of the hon. and learned gentleman. [Cries of Order, order!]? He hoped the House would hear with attention the then sentiments of the hon. and learned gentleman, which he should now read from a manuscript he held in his hand: "As often as we have required that parliaments should be chosen yearly, and that the elective franchise should be extended to all who pay taxes, we have been desired to wait, for the enemy was at the gate, and ready to avail himself of the discords attending our political contests, in order to undermine our national independence. This argument is gone, and our adversaries must now look for another. He had mentioned the two radical doctrines of yearly election, and the franchise enjoyed by all paying taxes; but it would be superfluous to reason in favour of them here where all were agreed upon the subject." Now, such were some of the words made use of on that occasion by the hon. and learned gentleman, and certainly he (Lord C.) knew no man who wore shoes or eat bread, who did not pay taxes; because though he perhaps did not pay them directly, they were laid on the articles he consumed by the person from whom he purchased them. But he would proceed in his extracts from the speech of the hon. and learned gentleman, aware that they must be very amusing to the House. "He suggested a fact for the use of such as might have occasion to defend their principles. It was one for the truth of which he might appeal to his hon. friend (Mr. Byng) the member for Middlesex, who knew, as well as he did, that there was a great improvement always observable in the conduct of the House of Commons towards the last year of a parliament, insomuch, that he had heard it observed, that more good was done in that year than in all the other five or six. The reason of this he should not presume to state; but some persons were of so suspicious a nature as to insinuate that it might be the knowledge of members, that at the end of that session they must meet their constituents, such of them as had any, and give an account of their trust." He says again, in another part of the same speech, after complaining of a toast given by mistake, and which had said, "a full, fair, and free representation in parliament," leaving out the people, "this is just what is done elsewhere. There is a full, fair, and free representation in parliament, we need not drink to that.—There is a full representation of the aristocracy, a fair representation of the landed interest, a free representation and a free ingress of the court, but not so much representation of the people. They are left out, as they were to-day. It must, however, be otherwise soon. While they bear the burthens of the state, they must, as of right, share in its government, and to effect this reform, all good men must now unite." Such were the sentiments of the hon. and learned gentleman, who was now falling so unmer- cifully foul on the friends of reform, charging them as deluding and misleading. There had, then, been three periods in the history of the hon. and learned gentleman when his opinions had differed. The first was, the time before he changed his opinions to that of annual parliaments, when he was neither among the misleading nor their dupes, but was an advocate for moderate and temperate reform. The second period was, the time he had made this memorable speech. And here he could not help alluding to the time when this speech had been delivered. It was when he (lord C.) had been expelled from the House, and when, consequently, a vacancy was expected for Westminster. He did not impute motives to the hon. and learned gentleman, but it was singular that this very period should have been selected as the most proper for making the speech. Any one, however, who knew that such a speech had at such a time been made by the hon. and learned gentleman, would have expected he would of course have been less severe on the reformers, instead of now pronouncing anathemas on their motives and characters; and it would therefore have, perhaps, been more prudent for the hon. and learned gentleman to have said less. With respect to an individual who had been noticed formerly as the source whence all these petitions, or the most of them, emanated, he meant major Cartwright, he begged leave to say, that he did not know a more disinterested or upright individual. Attached to the principles of no party, advocating neither the claims of one class or another, that venerable man had devoted his whole life to the cause of the people, and in defence of their best and most sacred privileges. He was proud to bear this testimony, having had the most satisfactory evidence from personal knowledge that this was the case. He should not now further trespass on their attention, unless he was compelled to say more, when he should produce more facts. He concluded by moving for leave to bring up the petition.

Mr. Brougham

said, it had often been observed, and indeed with great justice, that there was not perhaps a more painful and irksome situation, than that where a man was obliged to speak of himself. In proportion to that painful situation, and in compassion to it, the indulgence of the House had always been extended, and he hoped it would be so on the present occa- * sion [Hear, hear!]. He trusted it would rot, however, be thought that he was courting anxiously an opportunity of going into detail, or that, on the contrary, he wished to avoid such detail, for he felt it his duty to say, that he expressed his warmest thanks to the noble lord for the frank and open manner in which he had afforded him the opportunity of going into the subject. A more groundless aspersion had, he believed, never been brought forward against any individual. He did not accuse the noble lord, however, or those out of doors who had put the brief into his hands, of uttering any falsehood in the statement which had just been submitted to the House, but he decidedly accused them of rashness and imprudence, and of not waiting for only a few days longer, when they would have had a full and fair opportunity of hearing his opinions on this most momentous and important subject, and when they could then have found whether he was or was not inconsistent. Had those out of doors, whose tool the noble lord was, but waited those few days, they would then have known what his real sentiments on the question were, having, as the House well knew, reserved to himself the right of then speaking what he felt on the subject [Hear, hear!]. How then could the noble lord, how could they in whose hands he is, presume to know what were the opinions he (Mr. B.) had formed on this most interesting question? How did they know that he would not have stated his opinion then in the very terms which had just been read? That they should have ascertained Iris sentiments was a moral impossibility [Hear, hear!]. But the noble lord had given a misstatement of what took place, and he should now endeavour to give the House the particulars of the case. A dinner was given at the London Tavern to the friends of parliamentary reform, at which he (Mr. B.) attended, with his friend the member for Middlesex, with the late truly respected and much lamented member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread), with the member for Hertfordshire (Mr. Brand), and the member for Shrewsbury (Mr. Bennet). In the course of what passed there, some observations fell from him similar to what had been read by the noble lord. The chief motive he had in correcting what he had there stated was, to prevent the possibility of his words on this important question from being misrepresented. He then said, or at least meant to be understood as saying, what he still maintained, that it was consonant to the genius and spirit of the constitution, and expedient in every sense of the word, that the power of election should be limited to those who paid direct taxes. He corrected what he had said on the subject, as he was aware of the mistakes of reporters. He again repeated, and wished it to be understood, that what he then said the same he now maintained, viz. that the payment of direct taxes ought to be the limit of the elective franchise. He did not wish to compete with the noble lord, but this was his meaning when he so spoke.—He should wish to say one word upon what had been said respecting his advocating the cause of a moderate and gradual reform. Six years ago, it would be remembered, he had repeatedly said, both within and without the House, that it would be proper for those who wished for annual parliaments to unite with those who were more moderate, and thus secure a footing. There was no reason for their stopping short, and he did not hold it to be inconsistent in the friends of annual parliaments to unite with the more moderate reformers, and to obtain, in the first instance, a beginning. This was the opinion he then held, and he had never deviated from it. The noble lord was much mistaken when he supposed that the mere production of a speech delivered by him (Mr. B.) at a tavern, would make him swerve from the line of duty, merely from, the foolish and childish desire of keeping up an appearance of consistency. If he supposed him to do so, he was much mistaken. The House had heard him declare his intention to reserve his right of being heard, when the question was brought fully under the consideration of the House, and he could only add, that he would still reserve to himself that right, uninfluenced by any thing the noble lord had said. He again repeated, that when he spoke of the extension of suffrage, he meant it should be to those who paid direct taxes only, for he never dreamt of it going further. As to the miserable motives alleged to have actuated him, as if he could prostitute himself at one time to deliver opinions which were not the sentiments of his heart, for the purpose of being carried into the House on the shoulders of a rabble, and at another time to bend to prejudices he might have to contend with in the House, all he should say was, that he treated such charges with the contempt they deserved. The only pain he felt was, when he contemplated the folly and the madness of some wild theorists, and the base expedients and false practices they made use of to divide the people from the constitution, merely to gratify party purposes, and to compass objects in which the good of the country was neglected, while the interest of one or two individuals was the all in all [Hear, hear!]. This gave him more pain than all the noble lord had said or could say.

Mr. J. W. Ward

expressed his persuasion, from the long knowledge which he had had of his hon. and learned friend, that he was incapable of the inconsistency which had been imputed to him. There was one expression, however, in his hon. and learned friend's speech, to which he wished the House particularly to attend, in order that they might be on their guard against the commencement of a system which would eventually be destructive of every constitutional principle. His hon. and learned friend had advised those who were the friends of the most extensive reform to be satisfied if they made but a beginning—if they obtained but a footing on the subject. When the question of parliamentary reform should come to be regularly discussed, and when the House should be told, as no doubt it would be told, by the advocates of what was called moderate reform, that the alterations which they proposed were trifling, and could do no harm, he would remind them of his hon. and learned friend's suggestion, that a beginning, was at any rate advisable; and on the ground that the beginning of an inroad on the constitution was dangerous, would he firmly resist every proposition that might be made on the subject.

Sir F. Burdett

trusted that few persons in the House would be found disposed to agree in opinion with the hon. gentleman who had just sat down. He begged leave to say, that it was a very weak argument to contend, that because any measure might be bad if pushed to extremity, it was therefore not desirable to adopt it as far as it would be wise to do so. He hoped that this kind of reasoning would not have the effect of inducing the House to refuse to consider the proposal for the introduction of so much reform as would remove them from the control of the executive government. Would it be justifiable in those who thought that all kinds of property should have its protection in that House, by conferring on the possessors of all property the right of nominating their protectors, to resist a proposition of that nature, because a large body of the people wished for a reform still more extensive? It was a most unfair way of stating the case, to maintain that the House ought, not to concede any thing, because much more than they might be disposed to concede was requited by a numerous body of the people. If the House adopted any measures by which the public purse should be in future effectually protected against the rapacity and extravagance of ministers, he firmly believed that the rational part of the community—the great bulk of the nation—would be satisfied. It was curious to observe the hon. gentleman so-fearful of the slighest alteration in the structure of parliament—so apprehensive of the smallest inroad on the constitution—sitting behind persons who had made the greatest inroads on the constitution; sitting behind those who, in effecting the Union with Ireland, had actually bought up the Irish parliament (a fact not resting on rumour, but offered to be proved in that House by the then Speaker of the Irish House of Commons), and had introduced a hundred Irish members into the British House of Commons. Surely that was a great alteration in the constitution. He would not argue whether it was a good or a bad one; but it was certainly singular to find the hon. gentleman supporting those by whose influence that great alteration was effected, and yet expressing his determination to resist the slightest attempt that should be made to wipe out the foulest and most disgusting blot that existed on the character of that House. With reference to the explanations which had taken place on the subject of direct taxation, he had no difficulty in saying that he was apprehensive the proposition for universal suffrage could not be considered as tenable, and he was persuaded that such a reform as would protect property, and protect the bulk of the community from oppression, would satisfy all who had rational views on the subject; and that then nothing more would be heard about universal suffrage. He deeply lamented that gentlemen who agreed in the general principle of the necessity of some reform, instead of keeping their own eyes, and directing the eyes of the public to the notorious fact that the members of that House were nominated by a very small body, and that less than two hundred persons actually nominated the majority of the House, acted towards each other with the hostility of the professors of different sects of religion; instead of uniting to obtain the abolition of at least that enormous grievance. It was much to be regretted that those who were all anxious to obtain a salutary reform, should thus waste their strength in acrimonious contention, instead of combining to obtain the great object in view.

Mr. Brand

said, that his hon. friend opposite (Mr. Ward) had been that night, it seemed, laying the foundation for the resistance which it was his intention to make to any proposal for reform, however moderate. His hon. friend had talked triumphantly of the expression used by his hon. and learned friend, that "a beginning" was desirable, as if that expression afforded any support to his argument. Of what was the beginning, recommended by his hon. and learned friend? Not the beginning of mischief.—not the beginning of revolution—but the beginning of moderate and rational reform. He therefore strongly protested against the insinuation conveyed in his hon. friend's remarks. He agreed entirely with the hon. baronet in regretting the differences which had arisen among those who were all the friends of parliamentary reform. It was a subject on which he had felt great anxiety ever since he had had the honour of a seat in that House. He lamented much this disagreement; and he particularly lamented the chimerical systems held out as if to divert the people, and impede the progress of that rational reform, which every true friend of his country must wish to see established. His hon. and learned friend had vindicated—he ought rather to say he had completely repelled, the uncalled-for and undeserved attack that had been levelled at him. He hoped that from this time until the general discussion on the subject, the noble lord would abstain from personal attacks on those who were desirous to co-operate with him, to a certain extent. He would support the question of reform to the extent which he thought beneficial, although perhaps not to the extent to which the noble lord was disposed to go. He recollected that when he brought the question of reform before that House, he had the noble lord's support, although not on the principle on which he himself maintained his motion; for he wished for reform, because it would weaken the hands of government, and strengthen those of the people; while the reason for support assigned by the noble lord was, that he wished to strengthen the hands of government.

Lord A. Hamilton,

adverting to the observations which had been made by Mr. Ward, thought that the hon. gentleman might have abated somewhat of the severity of his observations, and might have expressed himself in terms of less decided hostility against all descriptions of parliamentary reform whatever, from the recollection of his having formerly supported, the other side of the House, and sat by the side of Mr. Fox and other distinguished individuals, who had maintained the cause of rational reform. When the subject should be regularly brought before the House, and when he should be called on, in common with every other member of the House, to give his opinion upon it, he should state the reasons which convinced him that reform to a certain extent was indispensable to the well-being of the country.

Mr. Ward,

in explanation, denied that there was any inconsistency in his sentiments on the subject of parliamentary reform. He knew it was very natural for so distinguished an individual as the noble lord to be ignorant of the opinions of an individual so little distinguished as himself; but he thought he was entitled to require that the noble lord should not misrepresent that which he did not know. He appealed to those who knew what his conduct was when he sat on the opposite side of the House, on the question of parliamentary reform, even at the hazard of the displeasure of some of his best friends. At that time he as strongly, as earnestly, and as sincerely pronounced an opinion against parliamentary reform as at present.

Lord A. Hamilton

explained. All that he contended was, not that the hon. gentleman had actually supported parliamentary reform, but that the recollection of his former connexions should have prevented him from contending that all those who supported moderate reform had some ulterior object in view.

Mr. Canning

was not anxious to prolong the discussion, but some things had occurred in the course of it, on which he wished to say a few words. An hon. baronet had deprecated all differences of opinion among the friends of parliamentary reform; and indeed with good reason, for the poor reformers seemed really about very seriously to quarrel. It was very natural that some of their more prudent friends, when they observed demonstrations of that nature, should advise them to keep their differences of opinion in the back ground, for the present at least, until the necessity of reform had been actually admitted by the House, when they might be brought forth with a greater chance of success. The House had that night heard at least six different projects of reform. The hon. baronet's was, he believed, the fifth; and thinking probably, that enough had been said about the subject, and that all these political haberdasheries should not be prematurely exposed, but some samples reserved for future exhibition, the hon. baronet advised that the show should end for the present. For himself, he earnestly entreated every hon. gentleman who had brought a pocket plan of reform with him, to open it, in order that the House might compare one with the other, and be prepared to say, in the discussion which was to take place after Easter, which they preferred. The only concession they were called upon to make was, to give up the House of Commons as it stood, and as soon as that concession should be made, they would be immediately admitted to the view of a beautiful variety of experiments, out of which it would be impossible that they should not be enabled to adopt one that would be highly satisfactory. Not having been in the House at the outset of the discussion between the noble lord and the hon. and learned gentleman, he could give no decided opinion on the serious difference which seemed to exist between them. But, as far as the question of reform was concerned, he really thought the noble lord had been very hardly used. He advised the noble lord to stick to his own plan. Although it was ruin; although it was confiscation: although it was desolation; it was at least founded on principle. For what was it that it was proposed to gain by reform? A great additional strength to the constitution by winning the hearts of the great body of the people. Now, if the signatures to the different petitions were counted, the majority would out of all size be found to be for universal suffrage. He knew very well that the suggestion of universal suffrage was now brow-beaten by the very persons, who during the first fortnight of the session rebuked those on his side of the House who ventured to condemn it. The cause of this change of opinion, he would not profess to assign. His own opinion remained unchanged. If adopted, it would be followed, not only by the ruin of that House, but by the subversion of the constitution. But still, were he asked if universal suffrage was not a direct deduction from the principles maintained by all the advocates of reform generally, he would reply that it certainly was. He was, therefore, decidedly for opposing the beginning of a system which must end in national destruction. The debate of that evening had, in his opinion, been very advantageous; and he was persuaded that the country would feel much obliged to his hon. friend for not allowing the expressions used by the hon. and learned gentleman opposite to pass, without taking the opportunity of warning the House against the danger that would inevitably result from giving way in the smallest degree to any of the plans which were in contemplation. The principle of all those plans, whatever might be their details, was, that the House of Commons was not at present adequate to the discharge of the functions which belonged to it by the constitution. This was not a little blot, as the hon. baronet bad alleged; but a broad principle, pregnant with the most fatal consequences. He, and those who thought with him, said, that the House of Commons was adequate to the discharge of those functions; that it represented the opinions of the people; and that it protected their interests. On the six or seven plans of reform which had been produced, the House would have leisure to meditate until the discussion which was threatened after Easter. He trusted they would beware of giving way a single step. If they did so, they must recollect that they would do it not for the adoption of any definite system, but that they would pass from a deep to a lower, and from the lowest depth into inextricable confusion.

Mr. Tierney

said, that whatever construction of the legislature some persons might propose, whatever projects of unattainable advantage they might suggest, he would not lend himself to any of them, when a real and practical benefit was all that he wanted. He must declare that he conscientiously believed that, in the present constitution of the House of Commons, the interests of the people were not consulted to the extent to which they ought to be consulted. What particular remedy it might be advisable to apply, he would not now consider. But he could assure the right hon. gentleman, that although he was desirous of making the House of Commons gradually and practically a truer representation of the people, beyond that he would not go. As to the right hon. gentleman, he believed that he was the only man in his majesty's dominions who maintained that no practical good could result from any alteration whatever in the constitution of that House. That any one, and more especially a right hon. gentleman in power, should feel alarmed at a great and theoretical proposition on the subject, was not surprising; but when the right hon. gentleman declared, that he viewed with jealousy and apprehension every suggestion for reform, however moderate and practicable, he was persuaded that he would not in that House find a seconder of such a declaration. As to the question of annual parliaments and universal suffrage, if the noble lord required any thing more to convince him of the propriety of desisting from being the advocate of propositions of that nature what had passed that night ought to operate still more forcibly on his mind than any previous circumstance. The noble lord had heard the right hon. gentleman call on him to go on. He, who hated all reform, implored the noble lord to persevere in that which he knew could never succeed. If, after this, the noble lord should continue to be the friend of annual parliaments and universal suffrage, he (Mr. T.) should not think that he was consulting the good of the people, but that on the contrary, without intending, he was playing into the hands of their enemies. One word more. The right hon. gentleman had treated with a sarcastic kind of humour the wish expressed by an hon. baronet, that the noble lord and the hon. and learned gentleman, and the other friends of reform might make up their differences. Why was this sneer? Had the right hon. gentleman a monopoly in making up differences? [Hear, hear!] How did the right hon. gentleman and those about him contrive to make up their differences? After that specimen of reconciliation, surely no difference of opinion, however wide among the friends of reform might not with facility be adjusted [Hear, hear!]. The hon. gentleman opposite (Mr. Ward) had laid in his claim, whenever this subject came to be discussed, to sound the alarm to the country, in conse- quence of an expression which had fallen from his hon. and learned friend. And what was the amount of the hon. gentleman's objection to this expression? That if any thing were reformed, the door would be opened to the mob and to unlimited reform! This doctrine he feared was entertained on other descriptions of reform, besides parliamentary. There was reason to fear that a late surrender by a noble marquess began to be considered as a dangerous beginning. He had no doubt, that among a certain class of individuals the honourable step taken by lord Camden, was held to be the most mischievous proceeding on the subject of reform that had hitherto taken place, opening a door to the mob into which they would rush, and then who could tell whose place or salary would be safe? For himself he felt perfectly convinced, that while the noble lord on the treasury bench was making a very rational speech the other evening in favour of practical economy, many who were seated near him, viewed him with extreme horror, as uttering sentiments essentially injurious to the public service [a laugh]. The effect of this alarm had, indeed, been in some degree apparent; for all at once the career of reduction had stopped short; and no hope seemed to be cherished that the splendid example of the Prince Regent would be further followed. We were to be perfectly satisfied with what had been done. It was rather extraordinary, considering the alarm expressed by the hon. gentleman opposite, lest any reform whatever should be entertained, that he should have been at one period chairman of a committee on sinecures, by which it was declared, that it was not necessary that two paymasters should receive one salary. It was surprising, considering the sentiments now avowed by the hon. gentleman, that he could ever consent to be a party to a declaration so dangerous to the constitution [a laugh].

Mr. Lyttelton

had heard with considerable pain the personal attack made by the noble lord on his hon. and learned friend, and with great satisfaction the complete manner in which his hon. and learned friend had vindicated himself. Adverting to the observations made on his hon. and learned friend's speech last week, he observed, that his hon. and learned friend was not liable to the imputations cast on him by the noble lord. All that his hon. and learned friend contended was, that propositions maintaining that annual parliaments and universal suffrage were the birthright of the people, had been put into the mouths of ignorant persons, in direct contradiction to all historical testimony. There was also a sort of oblique attempt on the part of the noble lord at intimidation, unless his hon. and learned friend and those who thought with him went the length of the noble lord and his friends. For himself, he was quite ready to share in any odium which might attach to his hon. and learned friend for his conduct on this important question. He trusted that there were none who, like him, espoused the cause of moderate and constitutional reform, but would be the same. The worst enemies of true reform were those strange, unconstitutional, and he would say, designing innovators, whose advocate the noble lord was, and whose seconder and supporter was the right hon. gentleman opposite.

Lord Cochrane

assured the House that had the hon. and learned gentleman in the observations made by him on a former occasion confined himself to the reprobation of his (lord C.'s) conduct, he would have been the last man to make the statement which he had that night made, and which he had felt himself called upon to make, because the hon. and learned gentleman's censures, instead of having been so confined, had been bestowed on the most honourable characters, and on almost the unanimous voice of the country, which the hon. and learned gentleman had maintained was divided into only two classes; the deceivers and the deceived. It was on that account that he had quoted the hon. and learned gentleman's former opinions, in order to show that he ought to have been less severe, and he was happy to observe the good effect of the step which he had taken in the altered tone of the hon. and learned gentleman. He was in the recollection of the House, that nothing personal had originated with him. He had merely stated, that triennial parliaments would only reduce, and not remove the existing corruption; and he had that evening quoted, in support of that statement, the hon. and learned gentleman's observation, that in the last year of every parliament, more benefit accrued to the public than during all the preceding years of its existence. It was his firm conviction, that unless the House discussed the subject with the deliberation which its importance demanded; unless every part of it should be fully and fairly investigated; unless the doors of the gallery should remain open during the whole of the proceedings, that the public might, in the usual manner, become acquainted with—[a loud cry of order!]. Unless a full, and free, and open discussion should be entered into on the question which the right hon. gentleman and the hon. gentleman behind him, declared ought not to be at all entertained, the country would consider that it had a most serious cause of complaint.

Mr. Brougham

denied that he had at all altered his tone on the subject. He had repeated that night what he had said last week. He had not altered his tone either to the noble lord, or his abettors, and he never would do so; and he begged the noble lord to receive that as his final avowal on the subject. The noble lord had introduced one topic in the observations which had just fallen from him, that was enough to stagger the stoutest friend of true reform in that House. The noble lord had alluded to a certain influence to be exercised over that House; not the influence of well disposed persons; not the influence of the wishes expressed by the people in their petitions, but another description of influence, which appeared to him to be of the nature of intimidation. Warm friend as he was to the cause of parliamentary reform, he held that that cause must be supported by other means than this. If there should appear any symptom of such a proceeding on the subject, he should not have the slightest hesitation in resorting to one of two expedients in order to counteract it; either to move the adjournment of the discussion sine die, or to prevent all possibility of that influence being used in the way to which the noble lord had alluded.

Lord Cochrane,

in explanation, denied any intention of intimidation. He was only anxious that the House might fully consider the important subject that would be brought before it.

The petition was ordered to lie on the table.