HC Deb 13 April 1818 vol 37 cc1298-300
Sir Samuel Romilly

said, he held in his hands a petition, signed by 120 persons, who described themselves as Burgesses of the Royal Burgh of Whithorn in Scotland. This petition, it was stated, contained a very accurate picture of most of the Royal Burghs in Scotland. From the magistrates and town council, who chose the delegates, by whom the representatives were returned, not being elected by the burgesses, but by one another, it was a perfect mockery to say, that the elective franchise was enjoyed by the burgesses. The petitioners stated, that although by the charter of the Burgh, the magistrates and town council ought to be elected out of the inhabitants of the Burgh, yet it so happened, that at present five only out of the eighteen of their magistrates and council were inhabitants. The petitioners stated, that they were not desirous of any innovations, but they complained of the abuses which had crept into the Burgh system; and they appealed to a peculiar statute, in the teeth of which these abuses had taken place. They stated, that they had heard with surprise, that the burgesses would be satisfied with the constitution of the Burgh, if the magistrates were subjected to an audit. They would only be satisfied with a real representation, instead of a nominal one, as at present, there being now no popular election; but the magistrates and town council, who were not chosen by the people, and among whom was a nobleman, and several gentlemen in the neighbourhood, nominating certain delegates, who, along with the delegates from certain other Burghs, nominated a representative to parliament. They contended, that it was a breach of the privileges of the House of Commons for a lord of parliament or lords-lieutenant of counties to interfere with elections.

The petition was ordered to lie on the table and to be printed.