HC Deb 20 May 1830 vol 24 cc872-5
Mr. E. Davenport

presented a Petition from Mr. James Thick, of Cloudesley Square, in the county of Middlesex, in which the petitioner expressed his deep regret at the present state of the country, and lamented that nothing had been done by his Majesty's Ministers to give effectual relief to the people. He complained that facts had been misrepresented by individuals in that House, when they made statements illustrative of the situation of the country; and in proof of the general distress which prevailed, he adverted to the fact that in the parish where he lived there were 2,300 uninhabited houses. He prayed for the abolition of Branch-banks, and called for the formation of Joint-stock banks. He deprecated the system of emigration, and recommended Parliament to take some measures for the employment of the people at home. In conclusion, he prayed that he might be allowed to prove every assertion contained in his Petition at the Bar of the House.

The Petition laid on the Table.

Mr. E. Davenport

said, that as the statements contained in the Petition were very important, he would move "that it be printed."

Sir R. Peel

said, he thought it right to print petitions emanating from large bodies of men, but he would not encourage the printing of petitions coming from individuals. It was quite proper to receive them, but the printing of them stood on other and very distinct grounds. As the hon. member was a friend to economy, he hoped on that account, though the expense was trifling, that he would not press his Motion.

Mr. E. Davenport

declared that he would persist in his Motion.

Sir R. Peel

subsequently observed that his attention had been drawn to a petition presented on the 14th of May, from Thomas Ryan, of Thurles, in the county of Tipperary, and it was spread over three pages of the votes of Parliament. The printing of that petition cost at least three guineas, and the greater part of it was perfectly ridiculous. The petitioner among other things called on the Ministry, and a "better never directed the empire," to request of the Earl of Glengall to come over to his country and audit the county accounts one month at least previous to the Assizes, and entered into a variety of wild and extravagant matter. Now, he did not mean to contend that in no case should the petition of an individual be printed, but he certainly thought that the public ought not to be called on to pay for the printing of trash.

Mr. Alderman Waithman

was of opinion, that every hon. Member should be responsible for the petitions which he presented. Such petitions as that which had just been referred to were calculated to bring petitions in general into disrepute.

Sir M. W. Ridley

observed, that a considerable saving might be effected, not only with respect to the printing of petitions, but with reference to the printing of returns, many of which were useless; for example, a document had lately been laid before Parliament, consisting of 270 folio pages, which contained nothing else than the names of individuals, without one scrap of information concerning them. The document related to the burning of Hindoo widows.

Mr. E. Davenport

would be glad if some rule were laid down, by which Gentlemen might judge of what petitions were, and what were not, fit to be printed.

Mr. D. W. Harvey

said, that in many instances, where returns were called for, copies were printed of an entire series, when, in fact, a continuation of the documents already printed was alone necessary. There should be some office where Members might easily ascertain what documents were already laid before Parliament.

Sir Robert Peel

said, the librarian would at any time give Gentlemen that information.

Mr. Hume

was in favour of printing petitions and returns, from which much information was derived. They ought not to be so squeamish about a few pounds laid out in this manner, when, night after night, they voted thousands of pounds for less worthy purposes.

Sir Robert Peel

did not object to printing petitions as a general principle, but to printing any nonsense which an individual might choose to call a petition to that House.

Mr. O'Connell

said, he knew the petitioner Ryan, and he was really astonished that a man so discreet should have drawn up such a petition, but there were some points in it connected with the Grand Jury system in Ireland, a system which was loudly exclaimed against by almost every person in that country, which deserved attention, although coupled with matter that ought to have been omitted.

Mr. C. W. Wynn

said, if the Gentle- man who introduced this petition had read it, he ought not to have presented it; and if he had not read it, he had not done his duty. It was the duty of every hon. Member to see, when a petition was intrusted to him, that it did not contain any thing that was unworthy of the dignity of that House. Other parts of this petition were even more ridiculous than the portion which his right hon. friend had read. Such trash had never before been placed on the records of the House, and he hoped never would be again.

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