§ Lord Althorp
moved that the Report of the Committee of last Session, appointed to inquire into the printing expenditure of the House, should be printed.
§ Mr. Littleton
said, that the Report would be found to contain very valuable suggestions as to the printing of petitions. That expenditure formed no small item in the expenditure of the House. The expense of printing the appendix to the votes amounted, in five years, to 12,000l. In the last year it amounted to 2,000l., but it was not probable that it would amount to so much this year, as there were not so many exciting topics afloat. There was no other way of diminishing the expenditure connected with the printing of petitions than by having all petitions referred to a Select Committee, whose business it would be to arrange and classify them every week, or every fortnight, so that an abstract of their contents might be prepared—a species of information which was not only due to their constituents, but which it would be highly desirable to bring within 228 the reach of every Member of that House. The present great and useless expenditure in printing petitions was incurred, because, in many instances, hon. Members who presented them moved for their being printed in order to gratify local parties, while, in other cases, Members seemed to think that, having presented a petition, they should exercise the right of having it put upon record. Upon all these points the Report of the Committee of last Session contained most valuable suggestions.
§ Sir Robert Peel
concurred in thinking that the suggestions contained in the Report were of a most valuable description. He thought, however, that it would be better to let the law and practice of Parliament remain as they were upon the subject of petitions until that Report had been printed and read by hon. Members, in order that they might be able to determine what alterations it would be desirable to introduce. He did not mean to object to the alterations proposed by the noble Lord; but he repeated that it appeared to him, that it would be better to let the law and practice of Parliament on the subject remain the same for a fortnight, and that then the House should come to a decision upon it.
§ Mr. Wilks
said, that he for one would never consent to waving the privileges possessed by Members on the presentation of petitions, unless the whole system with regard to petitions should be altered. The printing of petitions was often the only means of imparting most important matters to large and important constituencies. He agreed with the right hon. Baronet in thinking that, whether they should adopt or reject the suggestions contained in the Report of the Committees, the law and practice of Parliament should remain the same until they had the means of taking those suggestions into consideration.
§ Motion agreed to.