HC Deb 03 June 1822 vol 7 cc779-81
Mr. Coke

rose to present a petition from the hundred of North Greenhoe in the county of Norfolk, complaining of agricultural distress, and praying for a Reform of Parliament. The petition set forth, that taxation was the cause of their distress, and that the enormous sums raised by it were lavished to increase the influence of the Crown, by maintaining a corrupt majority in that House, once to keep up a large standing army for no other purpose than that of subduing the constitutional feelings of a justly indignant people. It stated, that the majority of the House was always ready to support any administration, however corrupt and tyrannical. The hon. member expressed, his concurrence in the prayer of the petition; and moved, that it do lie on table.

Mr. Fremantle

though the language of the petition was most insulting to the House, and moved, that it be rejected.

Mr. Curwen

said, the truth of some of the allegations in the petition could not be dented. It was notorious that seats in that House were bought and sold like cattle at Smithfield market. It could not be expected that the country would shut its eyes to these practices.

Mr. James

rose to notice a mistake into which the petitioners had fallen. It was not to keep up the influence, of the Crown, that such lavish acts were committed, and, he thought it almost high treason to say so. It was to maintain, the unjust influence of the boroughmongers.

The Marquis of Londonderry

said, that the tone of the petition was not only a tone of remonstrance but of insult, and the thought that the House, with a due regard to its own character, could not receive it.

Mr. Calcraft

could see nothing in the petition which was adverse to its being received. What it contained had often been repeated in that House, and doubtless would be again. Were they not accustomed to say that taxation was grievous? Was it not a fact that pensions and useless offices were kept up, by which many members were under the direct influence of the Crown? With regard to the standing army, he had always said that it was greater than was necessary for proper purposes; and it had been used, in some instances, under very suspicious circumstances. He thought his hon. friend had displayed a little too much zeal in moving for the rejection of the petition.

Sir. R. Wilson

said, that the hon. gentleman could not, as a man of honour, deny that seats in that House were bought and sold, to his own knowledge. He thought the petition ought to be received.

Mr. Wynn

had always considered that a petition ought not to be rejected upon any particular expressions or words which it might contain, but upon the general spirit in which it was drawn up. If he looked at the general spirit of the present petition, he thought it was plainly intended to menace and insult the House. It was a justification of rebellion, and it was received, the House, could never after venture to reject any other petition.

Sir J. Newport

thought they were bound to open as far as possible the doors of the House to the petitions of the people. By so doing they would best consult the dignity of the House. To a large proportion of what was contained in the petition he gave his assent. There were some words in it which he regretted; but they ought not to be scrupulous about expressions in a time of distress like the present.

Mr. Secretary Peel

said, there was a point of form which struck him as being objectionable in the wording of the petition. It was called a remonstrance. Now, if he believed it was uniformly the custom to call such applications petitions. He should not have considered this a sufficient reason for rejecting the petition; but, when he looked for the animus in which the whole had been drawn, up, and found this word "remonstrance," in conjunction with the language therein used, he had no difficulty in determining that it ought not to be received. He was convinced that it would form a rule that would lead to future petitions of a still more objection able nature. If the language it contained was not insulting to the House, he was at a loss to know what would be so.

Mr. J. Smith

did not believe many of the allegations contained in the petition, the one with regard to the army was together false. But he felt considerable difficulty in rejecting a petition of this kind; and he was determined not to do so by what had fallen from the right hon. gentleman who had lately accepted office. The right hon. gentleman had said, that before rejecting a petition they ought to be satisfied that there was an intended insult and this had not been made out in the present case. He believed there were many persons who thought every word in this petition be true. He, however, did not think so, and he knew the part which related to the army, to be grossly false.

The House divided: For receiving the petition 55. Against it 89.

List of the Minority.
Aubrey, sir J. Haldimand, W.
Abercromby, hon. J. Hamilton, lord A.
Brougham, H. Hobhouse, J. C.
Bernal, R. Hutchinson, hon. C. H.
Burdett, sir F. Hume, Joseph
Bennet, hon. H. G. James, W.
Bright, H. Kennedy, F.
Boughey, sir J. Lushington, G.
Birch, Jos. Macdonald, J.
Calvert, C. Marjoribanks, S.
Creevy, T. Monck, J. B.
Cavendish, lord G. Moore, Peter
Colburne, N. R. Martin, John
Crespigny, sir W. Dc Newport, sir John
Calcraft, J. Normanby, visct.
Duncannon, visct. Price, R.
Denison, W. Powlett, hon. W.
Davies, T. H. Pares, T.
Ebrington, visct. Ricardo, D.
Fergusson, sir R. Roberts, A.
Fitzroy, lord C. Russell, lord J.
Griffiths, J. W. Smith, G.
Heathcote, G. J. Smith, John
Scarlett, J. Williams, John
Tierney, rt. hon. G. Winnington, sir T.
Taylor, M. A. TELLERS.
Webb, E. Coke, T. W.
Wood, alderman Curwen, J. C.
Wilson, sir R.