HC Deb 21 February 1837 vol 36 cc771-2
Sir Robert Peel

held in his hand a petition, the presentation of which, owing to the peculiar nature of the statement contained in it, he did not feel it right to defer; and although the rule of the House prevented discussion on petitions in ordinary cases, he was sure that the House, in the present instance, would permit him to lay the subject before them. The petition was from Dundee, and related to the case of six vessels at present beset in the ice in Davis' Straits, and praying the House would take into consideration the ease of the crews of these vessels, and that they would grant such sums as might be neces- sary to defray the expenses of their rescue. The petitioners complained, that the answers made by the Board of Admiralty to their memorials on the subject, had not held out that degree of encouragement to which they thought themselves entitled. He was perfectly certain, that no pecuniary considerations would prevent the House of Commons from interfering to any extent to which it was possible to interfere with effect. He earnestly recommended the prayer of this petition to the consideration of the Government, who, he apprehended, were more competent judges than the House of Commons of the advantages of immediate interference.

The Speaker

thought the petition irregular, as asking for a grant of money.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

hoped that no considerations of irregularity would prevent the House from entertaining the petition. He was ready to admit, that on such a question, no considerations of money ought to stand in the way, nor had they; the question which had presented itself to the consideration of his Majesty's Government was, whether the exertions of Government could be usefully made. Government had been anxious not to establish a precedent that parties who might go long and dangerous voyages, without taking proper precautions, would be entitled, upon their meeting with difficulties, to the interposition of the Government in their behalf. If the case were made out, he was ready to admit the charge was a most serious one; but if the right hon. Baronet would move for all the papers connected with the subject, he would be ready to go into the whole question. The documents on the subject would show that Government had acted with the soundest discretion.

Sir Robert Peel

, after the opinion given by the Speaker, would not press the petition.

Petition withdrawn.