§ Sir J. Newport
presented a Petition from a very numerous and most respectable body of the inhabitants of the City of Waterford, assembled at a public meeting, at which the Mayor presided. The petition was signed by upwards of 400 persons of all classes. They prayed that the Representation of the people in the Commons House of Parliament might be placed under constitutional control; that the Representatives of rotten boroughs might not be permitted to bear down the voice of the people; that Parliaments might be triennial, and that voting might be by ballot. With the main parts of the prayer of the petition he begged to express his entire concurrence. He was now, as he had been during twenty-eight years of his public life, a sincere advocate for Reform, 136 because he felt convinced, that without it the country could never be prosperous or happy. As to the vote by ballot, he could not say that he had yet made up his mind upon it; he would only say, that he had been decidedly opposed to it, but that many acts which he had seen with respect to elections had tended greatly to shake his opinion on the subject, and his mind was open to conviction respecting it. At present he would only add, that if he found that undue influence could be removed by no other means, he should hold himself bound to support the vote by ballot. The right hon. Baronet added, that in a few days he should have to present a similar petition from the Corporation of Waterford under its seal, which would show that in the City which he had the honour to represent, there existed no difference of opinion on this important subject.—Petition to be printed.
§ Mr. Littleton
said, that he had to present a Petition also for Reform, very numerously signed, from the inhabitants of the populous town of Walsall. The petitioners also prayed for a reduction of taxes—particularly for a reduction of the tax on newspapers. They also prayed for the vote by ballot. On this last part he did not feel it necessary to enter at present, but in all the other parts of the petition he cordially concurred.
Sir Ronald Ferguson
presented Petitions, praying for Reform in Parliament from Dunfermline, Cupar, Newburgh, Forfar, and other places in Scotland. The gallant General supported the prayer of the petition, and said, he was happy to see the people of Scotland rousing themselves, and proving that they were not indifferent to the all-important question. Some Gentlemen were opposed to the vote by ballot; for his part, he had seen so many of the evils of open voting, that he had long been a convert to the ballot, and he saw none of the evils which some hon. Members dreaded from adopting it.—Petitions to be printed.
§ Mr. Denison
presented a similar Petition, from the inhabitants of Godalming, in Surrey. The petitioners stated that the distress which was now felt in the country would not have existed but for the corrupt state of the Representation in the Commons' House of Parliament, where a a large proportion of the Members were returned by a comparatively few wealthy peers and commoners, and where the 137 aristocracy rather than the people of the country were represented. The hon. Member observed, that it gave him unfeigned satisfaction to have to present such a petition; and to find, after the many years during which this question was agitated, we had at last a Ministry with spirit and honesty enough to avow themselves the advocates of reform. He was not an advocate for any wild and visionary theories,—such as annual parliaments and universal suffrage,—but he would cordially give his best support, however feeble it might be, to Ministers in advocating a moderate and temperate, but efficient reform—a reform which would benefit all, and do injury to none.—Petition to be printed.
Mr. J. Loch
presented similar Petitions from the Freeholders and others of the county of Ross; from the Provost, Magistrates, and Town Council of Dingwall, and from the Royal Burgh of Wick. All these petitions, he said, prayed for a radical Reform, and shewed that the people in the further parts of Scotland took an interest in that subject.
said, he had been requested to support the prayer of the petitions, and he did so with cordiality. They afforded a practical answer to the allegation that the people of Scotland were not favourable to the question of Reform. It was now seen that petitions for Reform were pouring in from all parts of that country.
§ Petitions to be printed.