HC Deb 14 August 1835 vol 30 cc501-4
Mr. Wilks

presented a Petition, agreed to at a numerous and respectable meeting of the inhabitants of the City of Lincoln. The petitioners expressed their gratitude to that House for passing the Municipal Reform Bill. They felt, however, the most serious alarm at some intimation s which reached them that the Bill might possibly be unsuccessful in another place. They prayed, therefore, that the House, as constitutional guardians of the liberties of the people, would take the strongest steps of which the Constitution allowed to ensure the passing of the measure in all its integrity. He trusted the Members of that House would sympathise with the feelings thus strongly expressed by the petitioners; and, if it should become necessary, that means would be taken to ascertain what were the opinions of the people upon the measure, no matter by whom those opinions might be contravened.

Colonel Sibthorpe

did not mean to impeach the respectability of the petitioners but he felt confident the petition did not express the sentiments of the inhabitants of Lincoln generally, or of the most respectable class of them. He presented some time back a petition from Lincoln, most respectably and numerously signed, of an opposite tendency. The petitioners alluded to what was passing in another place. He gloried in the upright and decided manner in which that House exercised their privileges as an independent branch of the Legislature. He trusted their names would go down to posterity.

Mr. Sinclair

said, there were parts of this petition which seemed to deny the power of the other House to re-model the measure of Corporation Reform. He was glad that it had been put into the crucible, and that many of its most noxious and objectionable ingredients would come out completely altered in form, that the radical scum would rise to the surface, and, being removed, would render the whole more inoffensive, and more in unison with the taste of the minority in that House, and the majority in the other.

To lie on the Table.

Mr. Ewart

presented a petition in favour of the Municipal Corporation Reform Bill, which had been agreed to at a public meeting held in Liverpool, and to which 12,000 signatures had been affixed in the course of two hours. The petitioners prayed the House to exert the constitutional powers that belonged to it in asserting the rights of the people, and in preventing any mutilation of this Bill. An hon. Member opposite had talked of the "scum of society." Now, he begged to inform the hon. Member that this petition was signed by the most respectable inhabitants of Liverpool. He trusted that the House would attend to the prayer of the petition, and not permit the mutilation of the Bill in the other House, where it was a present undergoing that process.

The Speaker

said, the hon. Member must be aware that he was irregular in making those allusions.

Mr. Ewart

said, he was only answering what had been said on the other side. He would maintain that it was the bounden duty of that House to preserve the Bill in all its integrity.

Mr. Sinclair

justified the allusion which he had made to the other House of Parliament, on the ground that it was made in reply to imputations cast upon their Lordships from the other side of the House. He did not consider an attempt to swamp the present House of Lords by a new creation of Peers as a constitutional exercise of the powers intrusted by the Crown to the Ministers.

Mr. Thornely

said, that he had been requested by his fellow-townsmen to support the prayer of this petition, for no other reason, as he supposed, than that they had observed that he was present in his place on the first day of the Session, that he had not been absent from it since, and that he had given his vote regularly in every division. It was a remarkable fact that the respectable meeting of 10,000 persons from which this petition came had determined that they would not address the House of Lords on this subject. He was sorry that the House of Lords did not appear inclined to go along with the House of Commons; and that the people who elected the House of Commons, did not seem inclined to go along with the House of Lords. He thought that if their Lordships only saw the extent of the manufacturing and commercial establishments of the north of England, they would have some difficulty in explaining why those who contributed so much to the power and grandeur of the empire were not fit persons to be intrusted with the privilege of managing their own affairs under the proposed system of Municipal Reform. The petitioners expressed the utmost confidence in the discretion and energy of the noble Viscount now at the head of the Ministry; and he was sure that if the noble Viscount and his colleagues only acted with their usual energy and decision on the throwing out of the English Municipal Reform Bill, supposing such an event unfortunately to happen, they would establish their popularity more securely and more extensively than any of their predecessors in office had ever done.

Mr. Arthur Trevor

protested against the practice, now unfortunately too common, of alluding so pointedly in that House to the proceedings, or the anticipated proceedings, of the House of Lords. He did not know on what authority the hon. Member for Wolverhamton felt himself justified in declaring that their Lordships were either ignorant of the feelings or indifferent to the welfare of the people of England. It was in his opinion most irregular and unjustifiable for hon. Members to cast imputations upon the House of Lords, which had as much right as the House of Commons to deliberate on every measure that came before it.

The Speaker

said, the hon. Member was mistaken in supposing that the hon. Member for Wolverhampton had been guilty of any irregularity. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton had expressed his regret that those who had signed this petition had refused to send it to the House of Lords. That was no irregular interference with the privileges of their Lordships.

Mr. Cresset Pelham

was inclined to give every credit to the ingenuity of the town from which this petition came, especially as it appeared that the inhabitants knew how to affix 10,000 names to a petition in two hours. He thought that there was too strong a sympathy between London and Liverpool to leave the latter town perfectly independent.

Petition to lie on the Table.