HC Deb 16 December 1830 vol 1 cc1213-7
Mr. Hume

presented a Petition from Southampton, complaining of general Distress, and praying for Reform and Retrenchment. The hon. Gentleman stated, that the petition had been confided to him, because the electors of Southampton could no longer place confidence in their own Members, who had made pledges to them, but had not redeemed them. He was extremely happy to have the honour of presenting this petition, as he looked upon it in the light of a species of reform, to choose a Member of that House who would do his duty, when they could not trust to those who represented the place. This petition was signed by 1,649 individuals, and was almost unanimously agreed to at the meeting where it was proposed. The petitioners complained of the pressure of tithes, of the manner in which they were exacted, and of their inequality. They also pointed out the many evils which were entailed on the country by the Poor-laws. They prayed for a reform in Parliament, and the most rigid retrenchment. The petitioners also called the attention of the House to the abuses which had crept into the Church; among which they stated, that the Rector of St. Mary's, Southampton, received 2000l. per annum from that rectory, and 1000l. as the head-master of a public school; and that he did the duties of neither office, but lived in another county. They also pointed out the case of a clergyman who received 1,600l. a year from a neighbouring parish, in which he did not reside. These were adequate causes for the prevailing discontent. He trusted that this petition would meet with more attention from Government than many other petitions of a similar nature had received.

Mr. Hoy

complained of the statement of the hon. Gentleman in saying, that he had lost the confidence of his constituents. The fact was, that the petition which had been presented was one proposed as an Amendment by one lawyer, and seconded by another. When he mentioned the profession of these gentlemen, he did not do it invidiously, but only to show that at all events they were not persons of first-rate consequence in Southampton. It was likewise worthy of notice, that one of these gentlemen had been agent to his opponent at one election, and the other had written to him (Mr. Hoy) requesting to be employed at the late election, with which request, however, he had not complied; besides which, he thought that if the hon. Gentleman would take the trouble to inquire, he would find that the petition was by no means signed by the majority of the electors of Southampton. He also assured the hon. Member, that he had given as independent votes as any ever given by the member for Middlesex, and that he despised not more the man who voted always at the will of a patron, than him who voted with a view to what might occur to affect his popularity at the next election. The hon. Gentleman, however, was very fond of setting himself up as the censurer of the whole House, lecturing every person on his course of conduct. He thought the hon. Member had no right to take another to task for the votes he gave. He had taken on himself to tell them that he would have no Minister of State in the House; next, he would have no East-India Director, no Bank Director—in short, he would have no director there but himself. Nor was this the only course he adopted in his search after popularity; like a true Indian sportsman, he shot at everything, from an elephant to a snipe, setting himself up as redresser-general of grievances, and receiver-general of petitions. He (Mr. Hoy) did not pretend himself to be able to compete with the hon. Gentleman, but he could not help wishing that some sarcastic giant would arise, or that this political Quixote, in some of his numerous sallies to redress real or imaginary grievances, would tilt against some windmill, and then his only task would be to write his epitaph, which should be— Procumbit humi Bos.

Mr. Hume

said, that the hon. Member could not have paid him a higher compliment than calling him the redresser of wrongs. It was to redress the wrongs of the people that he came to that House, and he could assure the hon. Member that none of those who laughed at his joke were more pleased with it than he was. As to the respectability of the petition, he should leave the hon. Gentleman to settle that question with his constituents. This he knew, that it was signed by the Mayor, and delivered to him by the Mayor's brother. With respect to his courting popularity, he knew that no instance could be cited in support of such a position, and he would give the hon. Gentleman, and the right hon. member for Armagh, who had so heartily cheered him, a week to think of an instance. That the right hon. Gentleman should have cheered the attack that had been made upon him did not surprise him; for he had ever shown himself the patron of every abuse that had been brought forward, and the perpetual and interminable supporter of every corruption. If, however, what had fallen from the hon. Gentleman had afforded amusement to the House, he had no objection. All he had to complain of was, that the House should think so much of sarcasm and folly, and be so insensible to the real business of the nation.

Mr. Goulburn

said, that as he had been appealed to, he would mention one of the cases where the hon. Gentleman had not always shown himself impelled by that feeling for which he had been so ready to take credit. In citing that instance, he would go no further back than to almost the last transaction of the last Session of Parliament. It was well known that he (Mr. Goulburn) had last Session brought forward a measure for throwing open the trade in beer. On the first discussion of that measure, the hon. Gentleman had concurred in the proposition; but in a subsequent stage of the bill he had recorded his vote against it. It was true, that between the first proposal of the measure, and the period of that vote, the hon. Gentleman had become a candidate for the county of Middlesex; but he would not take on himself to say what influence that circumstance might have had on the transaction.

Mr. Warburton

said, that when this charge had been brought against his hon. friend, he thought that he (Mr. Warburton) had given a full confutation of it; for he had stated, from his own certain knowledge, that his hon. friend had entertained doubts on the subject many weeks before that vote was recorded, and long before he had any idea of becoming a candidate for Middlesex.

Mr. Hoy

said, the hon. member for Middlesex had taken to himself personally what, he had intended in a general sense. He could assure the hon. Member that he should willingly bear his testimony to the indefatigable zeal with which he acted in what he conceived to be for the interest of the country.

Mr. Maberly

said, he rose to answer one of the most unfair attacks he had ever heard made. The right hon. member for Armagh had last Session received the same explanation that his hon. friend (Mr. Warburton) had furnished to the House now. He was able able to state, that the hon. member for Middlesex had made up his mind to vote as he did, before he even thought of becoming a candidate for Middlesex. It was, therefore, a most un- fair charge, to impute such a motive to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Goulburn

appealed to all who had heard him, whether the first attack had not been on the part of the hon. member for Middlesex? Till that attack had been made, he had taken no part in the debate beyond cheering what had fallen from the hon. member for Southampton: on account of that cheer, the hon. member for Middlesex had thought proper to say that he was the patron of every abuse that was ever brought forward. The hon. Gentleman had challenged him to mention one instance of his inconsistency; and he had therefore stated what had occurred on the Beer bill, of course leaving it open to explanation, if it was susceptible of it.

Sir John Newport

deprecated one hon. Gentleman imputing motives to another hon. Gentleman.

Petition to be printed.