presented a petition from the inhabitant householders of the Borough of Southwark, agreed to at a meeting convened by the high bailiff, praying for a return to triennial parliaments, and such other reform in the representation of the people as to the wisdom of parliament should appear to be best calculated to secure the rights and liberties of the people; and praying also for economy and retrenchment.
§ Mr. Barclay
thought that the House would do well to follow up the system of economy and retrenchment recommended in the petition, if it wished to regain the character, which he regretted to say, it 643 had lost with the country. With respect to triennial parliaments, he thought, however specious in theory, they would be found of no benefit whatever in practice. He hoped the House would not be deterred by any popular clamour from coming to such a decision on this subject as in their judgment they might think most conducive to the interests of the empire.
Mr. Serjeant Onslow
approved of the petition in so far as regarded retrenchment, but not in so far as it called on the House to go into a committee for the purpose of an inquiry into the reform of the constitution of the House. He never would give his consent to the House going into any such committee till he saw some plan of reform to which he could give his assent. He had paid much attention to the subject of reform, but he had hitherto seen no plan of reform which was not fraught with danger to the liberties of the country.
presented a petition from Church-Stretton, Salop, in favour of reform. He did not support the doctrine of annual parliaments and universal suffrage, but he would not contend that nobody else should. The spirit of the constitution allowed differences of opinion. Let that which was good be defended, and that which was wrong be defeated by argument. The report of the secret committee threw calumnies on the people of England. He would say, that a more loyal body did not exist than the people of the place whence this petition came.
§ The petitions were ordered to lie on the table.