HC Deb 31 January 1821 vol 4 cc221-2
Mr. Lambton

presented a petition from Durham signed by 3,340 inhabitants and agreed to at one of the most respectable meetings he had ever seen. The petitioners expressed their disgust at the late proceedings against her majesty. They also prayed for an inquiry into the proceedings of the Milan Commission. It was needless for him to say, that he gave his support to the contents of the petition.

Mr. Cumming

rose to present a similar petition from the lodge of Odd Fellows, No. 1, of Inverness, and No. 2, of Scotland.

The Speaker

begged to draw the attention of the House to this subject. A similar petition had been presented a few days since, but it was withdrawn. The question was not as to the wording of the petition, but as to the right of any society to present such petitions. He meant no objection to the society in question; but it was for the House to consider whether they were to receive petitions from societies unknown to the law. He was not aware, that there existed any precedent for receiving such petitions; but he, begged to call the attention of the House to the inconvenience, which would arise from such a regulation, however harmless the petition might be in itself. There were many such societies in this, and a much greater number in the sister kingdom. What, then, would be the feelings excited on receiving petitions from the Orange men, the Peep-of-day-boys, the White-boys, and the other slang names by which societies were designated? This, then, was the proper period for considering the question. The name of this society could not, of itself, give any offence to any party. He threw it out for the considera- tion of the House, whether it would not be better to have the petition withdrawn, for the purpose of altering the heading of it; as the alteration could be easy made by making it the petition of the undersigned individuals.

Sir John Newport

was decidedly against receiving the petition in its present form: he thought the admission of such a petition would be productive of calamitous consequences.

Sir W. De Crespigny

opposed the re ception of petitions from any lodges or societies not known to the law.

Mr. Calcraft

apprehended, that the reception of the petition might lead to a peecedent which, on other occasions, would be found highly inconvenient.

Mr. Abercromby

thought the subject worthy of mature consideration, as its determination might be the means of abridging the right of petition. It appeared to him, that this was merely a petition from private individuals who slated themselves to belong to a certain society. He did not wish to depreciate any opinion which had the sanction of the Chair, but he really thought, they ought not to decide hastily on this question.

The Speaker

observed, that the suggestion he had made to the House was not to decide the question. He merely called the attention of the House to the difficulty of the case, and therefore suggested the propriety of sanctioning the alteration he had recommended rather than involve the House in those inconveniences which he had indicated as the probable consequences of receiving the petition in its present shape.

Mr. Denman

observed upon the inconvenience of sending back a petition to a remote part of the kingdom for the purpose of being re-modelled, during which time the measure against which it petitioned might be passed, and thus the object of the petitioners be defeated.

Ordered to lie on the table.