HC Deb 27 February 1818 vol 37 cc672-4
Mr. Alderman Wood

presented a Petition from the lord mayor, aldermen, and livery of London, in common hall assembled; setting forth,

"That the Petitioners have viewed with the deepest concern the continual encroachments that have been made upon the rights of the subject; they have been called upon to make sacrifices without bounds, and to submit to burthens and privations without example; they have evinced the utmost patience, fortitude, and forbearance under their sufferings, under a persuasion that upon a return of peace they should have witnessed a disposition, on the part of his majesty's government and the House, seriously to inquire into the cause of their sufferings, and to redress their grievances, to diminish their burthens, and to make such necessary reparations in the constitution as would remove the numerous and deeply-rooted abuses, and restore it to full vigour and energy; in all these expectations the petitioners have been unhappily disappointed, and, instead of seeing realized expectations so reasonably founded, at a moment of unexampled distress, when they were representing their grievances to the House, no redress was afforded them, nor were their complaints inquired into, but, upon unfounded alarms, raised and fomented by the hired emissaries of ministers, and for the purpose, as they believe, of stifling the complaints of the people and protecting abuses, and upon no other evidence than the partial documents furnished by ministers to secret committees, the great pillar of the constitution, the Habeas Corpus act, was suspended; that, as the grounds and pretences for such a measure, and in a time of profound peace, were without precedent, so they believe is the wanton arbitrary, oppressive, and vindictive proceedings of ministers without example in the annals of the country; the petitioners will not detail these oppressions, many of the facts have already been stated to the House, and are generally known; but, while they forbear to dilate upon the cruel and vindictive imprisonment and prosecutions of numerous individuals, which have ended in the defeat and disgrace of ministers, the petitioners cannot forbear expressing their decided impression that in the instances where convictions have taken place, those unhappy and deluded men had been led into the commission of crimes through the agency of those infamous and abandoned emissaries who had been employed; that they are farther convinced that the existing laws are fully adequate in those cases, and that, by due vigilance, those acts which led to the forfeiture of the lives of those unhappy individuals, might have been prevented; the petitioners submit to the House, that the justice of the country, and outraged feelings of the people, demand a full, impartial, and rigid inquiry into all the proceedings of ministers, both in obtaining and under the late Suspension act: that no inquiry before secret committees, composed partly of those ministers and placemen, can promote justice or satisfy the nation, and must lead to an inevitable conviction that those, who ought to be the guardians of the property, the liberties, and lives of the people, are guided by other motives and considerations than the welfare and honour of the nation; the petitioners therefore humbly pray, that the House will immediately institute a full, impartial, and rigid inquiry into the conduct of ministers, and all the proceedings in obtaining and under the late Suspension of the Habeas Corpus act, and that the said inquiry may be referred to such committees as are composed of such members only of the House as hold neither places nor pensions under the government, and that the House will not pass any bill of indemnity, nor preclude those who have been the victims of oppression from making an appeal to the legal tribunals of the country.

Mr. Alderman Wood

said, that the Hall in which the petition was agreed to was one of the most numerous he had ever witnessed, and that only four hands had been held up against the petition.

Sir W. Curtis

observed, that all he had to say was, that he had attended the hall in question, and that he disapproved of every word of the petition.

The petition was ordered to be printed.