HC Deb 02 March 1831 vol 2 cc1153-5
Mr. O'Connell,

in presenting a Petition from the inhabitants of Navan, in the county of Meath, complaining of abuse in the Irish Pension List, said, he intended to bring forward a motion on the subject at an early period. Pensions had, for a long time, been granted in Ireland without either the knowledge or concurrence of Parliament. It was a well-known fact, that a Mr. Leonard M. Nally had received from the Crown, for eighteen years before his death, a pension of 300l. a year, though he was uniformly retained as counsel for all persons who were prosecuted by the Crown dining that time. Petition to lie on the Table. The hon. and learned Member then presented a petition from the City of Cork, praying for Parliamentary Reform. It was with very great satisfaction he saw last night that Ministers had brought forward a manly and efficient plan of Reform, and therefore he was resolved to give them his cordial support, while at the same time he would take another opportunity of stating objections to some of the details of the measure in reference to Ireland, which he thought was not placed on the same footing of advantage as this country with regard to the changes that were to be made. The petitioners wished to see Vote by Ballot, and they called for frequent instead of septennial Parliaments.

Sir John Newport,

in supporting the prayer of the petition, took occasion to observe that he thought that the bill which the noble Lord had last night presented to the House was the most noble offer which had ever been submitted to Parliament, as it went completely to identify the House of Commons with the people, and to consolidate all the interests of the empire. To the assertion which had been made that the bill introduced, not Reform but revolution, he replied, that it was the best plan which could be devised for preventing revolution. The revolutionary principles which the bill contained were the revolutionary principles, of 1688, which identified the interests of the Throne and the Parliament with the interests of the people.

The petition laid on the Table.

Mr. Hunt

presented a Petition from Darlaston, praying that all Placemen and Pensioners should be disqualified from holding seats in that House; that Parliaments should be triennial; that when an individual was fairly elected by the people, he should be allowed to sit in Parliament without any qualification of property, as was the law of England previous to the Statute of Queen Anne; that elections should be freed from the influence of force, bribery, and corruption; and last of all, that Members should be chosen by ballot. He concurred in the prayer of the petitioners; and he hoped, old as he was, to see the day in which all placemen would be excluded from Parliament. Ten years ago hon. Members would have been as much surprised at seeing such a bill as was brought in last night by the Ministers of the Crown, as they were now at hearing his proposition to get rid of all placemen. He thought, that if the noble Lord's bill passed into law, the proposition which he had made would soon be carried as matter of course. The petitioners would be delighted to hear that Ministers had gone so far as they had done in their measure of Reform. For his own part, he would declare, that though he wished that their plan of Reform had gone further, he would give all the humble support in his power to what they had already done for the people. He would have given them his support had they only disfranchised one close borough, for even such a step would have been the establishment of a principle.

Lord W. Powlett,

in presenting a Petition from Sunderland, praying for Reform, observed, that he could not entirely support the bill which had been introduced last night by the noble Paymaster of the Forces. He thanked Ministers for the addition of four Members, which they were willing to make to the representation of the county which sent him to Parliament, but he thought that it would be a dangerous innovation to strike off so many boroughs at one blow. He thought that some respect ought to be paid to the rights of property which individuals had in those boroughs, especially as they had been sanctioned for many years by the law and usage of Parliament. He did not consider the reduction of the number of Members in that House at all desirable. He should give his cordial concurrence to that put of the bill which provided for the extension of the elective franchise, and for the diminution of the expenses of elections.

Sir M. W. Ridley,

in seconding the prayer of the petitioners, expressed a hope that the reformers would not, by any dissensions on the minor details of the bill, allow Ministers to be defeated on their great and essential measure of Reform.