HC Deb 03 February 1831 vol 2 cc122-4
Mr. Michael Angelo Taylor

rose to present a Petition for Reform, from the inhabitants of Durham. In that city the Tight of election was in the Corporation, but there were a great number of inhabitants, not in the Corporation of that city, of great respectability and influence, who had a fair claim to vote for Representatives. The petitioners prayed that the House would do away with rotten boroughs, and diminish the expense of elections, which was now sometimes so great, that few persons could afford to stand a contest. They prayed, too, for the extension of the present limited franchise. He shared fully in the sentiments expressed in that petition, his feeling in favour of Reform being no new feeling with him—no new idea; he had been a reformer for many years. It was to him, indeed, a subject of great satisfaction to reflect, that if Reform had been granted a great many years ago—if it had been granted when Earl Grey proposed it in that House, oceans of blood and countless treasure would have been saved to the public. He hailed it as a good omen that the question of Reform at present was pressing itself on the consideration of men in all parts of the kingdom, and he trusted that the good sense of the House would be shown, by treating favourably the arguments for Reform, and by supporting the measures of Reform that might be brought in unanimously. He would not trouble the House further, reserving him- self for the time when the subject should come properly under discussion, when, if the House would allow him, he would address it.—Petition to be printed.

Mr. Cutlar Ferguson

said, he had several petitions to present, praying for Reform in Parliament, and he was sorry he did not see in his place his hon. friend, the member for Edinburgh, who, if he had lately visited that part of the kingdom, if he still maintained his opinion that there was no feeling in Scotland in favour of Reform, must be much surprised at what he had heard and seen. From all the information which he had received, the feeling in favour of Reform was spreading most rapidly, and was almost universal. He must say, that the meetings in Scotland had been so numerous, that Gentlemen must see, that their own private interests, if they had private interests, must give way to the public good. The feeling in Scotland was, that the landed interests, the real owners and occupiers of the land, were not sufficiently represented; and that the large population of wealthy towns were not sufficiently represented; and that feeling would, he supposed, have great weight with the House in giving the people a full and fair Representation. The first petition he would present was from the Commissioners of Supply, Justices of the Peace, and Freeholders of the County of Kircudbright. These petitioners stated, that they had not before petitioned, because they had no hopes that their petition on this subject would be attended to; but that, now there was a Ministry pledged to Reform, they had hopes that their wishes would be gratified, and they trusted to the Ministry to redeem its own pledges, and fulfil their hopes. In their hopes and in their confidence he participated. As a Representative of a Scotch County, he must say, that he was willing to see an extension of the elective franchise, but he was not willing to support any extension of that franchise which would militate against the political condition of the landed interest, particularly in Scotland. He hoped there was no plan to militate against that interest; if there was, he should oppose it. He conceived that the Representatives of Counties should be sent to Parliament by the landed interest, and any proposition of Reform which went to give that interest such a power, he would support. The petitioners also prayed for retrenchment, and they called on the House to reduce all salaries, and to retrench every unnecessary expense in the most unsparing manner. They considered it a great hardship, when the price of all their produce had fallen one half, that the salaries of persons in office should be continued to the full extent to which they were formerly raised. They begged the House, therefore, to institute an inquiry into the subject, and also to abolish all sinecures. They recommended, that persons who had retired from the public service should be fairly remunerated, but they prayed that the House would reduce the expenditure to the lowest point possible, consistent with justice. He cordially concurred in their prayer, but he hoped Reform would not attack the bosoms of families. He wished to see the services of all public servants properly considered, and he hoped all persons who had duties to perform would be adequately rewarded. The hon. Member concluded by presenting the petition from Kircudbright, which was read and laid on the Table. That petition, the hon. Member said, was from persons who already possessed the elective franchise, and they prayed that it might be extended to those who possessed it not. The petition he had then to present was from parties who had not the franchise, and prayed that they might have it. This petition was from the heritors and occupiers of land in the parish of Kelton. He also presented a third petition, from another part of Kircudbright, and stated, that there was no part of the country which did not share the feelings expressed in these petitions.—Laid on the Table.

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