HC Deb 29 March 1831 vol 3 cc1142-3
Mr. Hodgson

presented a Petition from New-castle-upon-Tyne, complaining that the number of Freemen in that town would be diminished, by the proposed Reform Bill, from 5,000 to 2,000. They were favourable to the principle of the Bill, but they prayed against that part of it which would disqualify so many of them.

Sir C. Wetherell

said, that the very respectable body from which this petition emanated, were very naturally anxious to preserve their rights, and as they, a very numerous constituency, were desirous of preserving a franchise which, as being more extensive, was less valuable than a right enjoyed by a small constituency, it was to be inferred that they were hostile to that general and sweeping disfranchisement contemplated by the Bill before the House. He hoped that other boroughs, following the example of this, would consider well the consequences of the Bill, and give a hint to their Members to oppose it. Indeed, he had reason to expect this, when the provisions of the Bill became more generally known.

Sir M. W. Ridley

said, that at the meeting at which this petition was agreed to there were 400 or 500 free burgesses pre- sent, and not a word was said by any of them against the principle of the Bill, but they thought the continuance of the rights which they enjoyed not inconsistent with that principle.

The Petition read. In moving that it be printed.

Mr. Hodgson

said, though he fully concurred in the principle of the Bill, and would do nothing to endanger that principle, yet he thought it by no means inconsistent with that principle, that the franchises of large towns, with a constituency so extensive as to secure their independence, should not be disturbed.

Petition to be printed.

Mr. Hodgson

gave notice, that when the Bill went into Committee, he would move a clause to the effect he had just mentioned.