HC Deb 21 February 1831 vol 2 cc780-2
Mr. J. Wood

said, he had three very important Petitions to present, praying for Parliamentary Reform. The first was from Downton, in Wiltshire, and the petitioners stated that the whole of the electors of that borough consisted only of six individuals, who were tenants of one noble Lord, and that, on the day of election, the practice was, for his Lordship's agent to go round with a bag of parchments, which were distributed among the parties to ratify their qualification. Having served this purpose, the parchments were re-deposited in the bag, and carried away by the agent. This constituted the whole of the proceedings. The next Petition was from the inhabitants of Stockport, in Cheshire, and they stated, that within a distance of twenty-five miles around them, there was a population consisting of no less than 900,000 souls, all of whom were without Representatives. The third Petition was from Rochdale, and was very numerously signed. The individuals from whom this petition came expressed an opinion, in which he entirely concurred— namely, that whatever measure of Reform might be brought forward by his Majesty's Government, it must be ineffectual and unsatisfactory, unless it embraced Vote by Ballot.

An hon. Member said, that, at a public meeting, recently held in Berkshire, the Earl of Radnor had expressed himself most anxious that his patronage should be taken away from the borough of Downton.

Mr. J. Wood

said, he entertained the highest respect for the Earl of Radnor, and he was far, very far, from imputing any blame to that estimable nobleman. The system was what he blamed, and not the individual.

On the Motion that the Petitions be printed,

Mr. O'Connell

complained of the extremely late hours to which the sittings of the House were prolonged. It was utterly impossible, with such a practice, that the public business could be properly gone through; and, therefore, it was his intention to move, to-night, that the House should adjourn at half-past eleven unless an understanding were expressly come to, that they should rise at twelve, at the latest.

Mr. H. Gurney

was of opinion, that no business could be gone through if hon. Members persisted in the practice of making speeches, upon mere incidental questions, upon the presentation of petitions. The modern practice of doing that was the cause why the House was able to transact so little real business.

Mr. Alderman Waithman

thought, that nothing interfered so much with the public time as the practice of making long speeches on the presentation of petitions.

Mr. O'Connell

repeated what he had already stated, and observed at the same time, that, in future, hon. Members would be deterred from filling the Chair, if they were detained in it to endure a fatigue which must wear out the most robust constitution.

Sir M. W. Ridley

said, the House possessed sufficient power to prove to the hon. member for Waterford that it disregarded his taunts and threats of interruption. If the hon. Member persisted in the course he proposed, he (Sir M. W. Ridley) hoped to see him speedily defeated by a Resolution of the House.

Mr. Hume

felt quite surprised at the tone in which the hon. Baronet spoke, as there was nothing whatever to call for it in what had been said by the hon. member for Waterford. His own opinion was, that no public business could possibly be well done after twelve o'clock, and, therefore, if an adjournment was moved, he should certainly support the proposition.

Mr. W. Duncombe

must protest against the manner in which this discussion was provoked by the hon. member for Waterford, at an hour appointed for the reception of petitions. If the hon. Member desired to put the question to the test, his proper course was, to bring it before the House in a regular manner.

Mr. Hunt

said, he had no idea that he, and others who agreed with the hon. member for Waterford upon this subject, should be thus lectured with regard to it. He had no idea that Standing Orders should be kept up if they were not observed. If that were not done, it would be better to get rid of them altogether. The complaint about long speeches came with a very bad grace from the hon. Alderman. He (Mr. Hunt) was present the other night when the hon. Alderman made a long speech which drove nearly all the Members out of the House. He certainly would support the motion for an adjournment at twelve o'clock.

Mr. Warburton

suggested, that the further discussion of this question should be postponed.

Petitions to be printed.

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