HC Deb 29 March 1833 vol 16 cc1235-6
Mr. Cobbett

on presenting a Petition from Richard Newsham a soldier of the 53rd regiment, complaining of unjust treatment, and praying the House to investigate his complaint observed, that the hon. and learned member for the Tower Hamlets presented a petition from an officer the other day, complaining that he had been oppressed by a Court-martial, and he had done himself much honour by the manner in which he had brought it forward. The hon. and learned Member would not do himself less honour by taking up the case of this poor man, who had received 600 lashes for the most trivial offences. They were all of opinion that flogging was improper and yet here was an immense quantity of flogging for no offence. First this man was flogged and received 300 lashes because he had not had the proper kind of paper to wrap his ammunition in, and next he received three hundred lashes because the officer did not like his looks. This was in his opinion a most cruel case and as the statements of the petition were supported by affidavits, he particularly wished that the petition should be printed, and he must complain that the power of ordering that, had been taken from the House and intrusted to the Committee. The House granted 16,000l. a year for a Museum for the pleasures of the rich, while it grudged 4,000l. a-year for printing the petitions of the people.

Mr. Littleton

, the Chairman of the Committee for classifying the petitions, &c., said that nothing had transpired to prevent the petitions being printed; and there was no objection, that he knew of, to petitions being read, but he must deny the right of any parties to have their petitions printed. As to the printing of all the petitions presented, the practice was absurd. When they were printed Members never read them; and he had received from fifty Members their approbation of the present plan—. of the abstract which the Committee prepared, and which was regularly printed. He had not heard from any one complaints that partiality characterised the proceedings of the Committee. Had the hon. member for Oldham sat in the House formerly, he would not have complained of the present plan, the former plan having been utterly useless.

Sir Ronald Ferguson

wished that the petition presented relative to the flogging of Newsham should be taken into the serious consideration of the House, because, if the contents were true, it was a disgrace to the army of this country; but he thought he might venture to say that no officer would dare to inflict 300 lashes for no other offence than that of having used improper paper to wrap up ammunition.

Lord John Russell

stated, that he should institute an immediate inquiry into the case, and mention the result to the House.

Mr. Cobbett

was about to make some remarks in reply, but the Speaker intimated that it was three o'clock the usual hour of adjournment, and left the Chair so that the petitions presented by the hon. Member could not be read and laid on the Table.