§ Mr. Edmund Peel presented a Petition from Newcastle-under-Lyne, in favour of the Reform Bill, praying that it might be passed by Earl Grey and his colleagues, and praying the House to withhold the supplies till it had become the law of the land.1275
wished to take that opportunity of adverting to some misapprehension that had gone abroad as to what fell from the right hon. member for Stamford (Mr. Tennyson) on a former day. It had been produced by a remark from him (Mr. Hume), that he hoped the passing of the Reform Bill would be secured, and that certain individuals in public offices, hostile to it, would be removed as soon as possible. The hon. member for Stamford had mistakenly supposed that by this observation he (Mr. Hume) meant to recommend a creation of Peers at all events; upon that assumption the right hon. Gentleman made some observations which had been misunderstood, and which he should be happy to hear explained.
§ Mr. Tennyson
was happy also to avail himself of this opportunity of setting himself right on a point which had been extraordinarily misunderstood. What he had said had been made matter of calumny against him, both through the public Press and in private society; and it had been charged against him, that having on that day had an audience of his Majesty, he had made use of it for the purpose of counselling the King to take a course directly repugnant to that which he had throughout advocated. On the former day he had risen upon the impulse of the moment, and without premeditation, with the truest and most loyal feelings, having just quitted the presence of a Sovereign, from whom he had heard the most firm, patriotic, and dignified sentiments on the question of Reform, the import of which was, that his people should obtain a measure of Reform quite as beneficial and extensive as that before Parliament. He (Mr. Tennyson) had nothing to retract in what he had then uttered, nor did it require any excuse. What he then said, he now repeated—that if the Reform Bill could be passed without doing that which would be a shock to the Constitution, he should be the more rejoiced at it. Had he been a Minister of the Crown, he would have recommended what Earl Grey and his colleagues had advised, and if that advice were not taken—like Earl Grey and his colleagues, he would have tendered his resignation. It did not follow, however, that the Crown was to be blamed and calumniated for pausing before it took such a course. He hoped that the means had now been found of avoiding it, and he thought that all the friends of the Constitution ought 1276 to be grateful to his Majesty for having found them. He (Mr. Tennyson) had been one of those who had blamed the Government for not making Peers long ago, for general purposes and objects, without waiting until the necessity was apparent upon the particular measure. As to other calumnies directed against himself, he could only say, that in public or private he had never expressed any other opinion than that he had now offered. A plenary Reform was absolutely necessary at all events, and, in his judgment, it could not have been carried by the Duke of Wellington, or by any other man at the head of affairs, who had pledged himself to a contrary system. It was not necessary for him to say, that he could not offer to the King any suggestion opposed to the principles he had repeatedly avowed. There was only one other point on which he should touch, and which was, that he was said to be in treaty with the Duke of Wellington—that had been stated in the Morning Chronicle—and that there were some boroughs with which he was connected which had an interest adverse to Reform. Now was it possible, after a long life passed, and no inconsiderable sacrifices made, in favour of Reform, that he could do this? It was not worth his while to descend so far as to give this an answer, further than to say, that he had never been engaged with the Duke of Wellington, for himself or any one else, as to any Administration, or in any other negotiation, except with regard to some seats held by hon. friends of his.
§ Mr. Beaumont
said, that the final defeat of Reform, owing to the non-creation of Peers by Earl Grey in the present stage of the measure, would occasion a much more violent shock to the Constitution than could be produced by any addition to the House of Lords.
§ Petition to be printed.
§ Mr. Sanford
presented similar petitions from Frome, Selwood, and Chard, and said, that had not the Government retained office, he was ready to exercise the privilege of the House with respect to stopping the Supplies.
§ Mr. Briscoe
expressed his entire concurrence in the prayer of the petition, and said, that he had received instructions from his constituents to support their petitions to the same effect which had been intrusted to his hon. colleague, who had not as yet had an opportunity of presenting them.
§ Mr. Tennyson
wished to say another, word. He agreed with the petitioners and if he could now contemplate the rejection of that great measure, would certainly join in exercising the constitutional power vested in that House of refusing the Supplies. But he believed the Government now had the means of carrying the measure, and there was, therefore, no necessity for having recourse to that privilege.
had received instructions from his constituents, which were, that he should refuse any Supplies until the Reform Bill was passed. This was the best security they could have for its passing. The petitions did not say, "Do not give Supplies to the Duke of Wellington, or do not give Supplies to Earl Grey, but give no Supplies until the Bill is passed." A few days would suffice to show what would be its fate in the Lords, and he would wait to see that before he consented to grant Supplies.
§ Petitions to be printed.
§ Lord Morpeth
said, that he had a great number of petitions from the county of York, and two from other places, all of which had originated from the circumstances in which the country had recently been placed, and from which he hoped it had now happily emerged. The petitioners all concurred in the hope that the House would take means for the speedy passing of the Reform Bill in full efficiency, and that it should not be taken out of the hands of the friends who had originated it. He was happy in the hope that these petitioners would have leave again to unite the ideas of a parental King, a trustworthy Government, and the Reform Bill. The noble Lord concluded by presenting petitions from Halifax, and fourteen other places in Yorkshire, all praying the House to stop the Supplies until the Reform Bills were passed.
§ Petitions to be printed.