HC Deb 20 February 1838 vol 40 cc1360-2
General Johnson

presented a petition for the abolition of the New Poor-law, from the inhabitant householders of a town in Yorkshire (the name of which did not reach us). The hon. and gallant Member said, that he ought to inform the House that the parties to this petition called themselves remonstrancers, instead of petitioners in the usual way, but as the petition did not contain anything that was disrespectful to the House, he trusted he might be allowed to lay it on the table.

The Speaker

said, it was clear that the petition was not worded according to the regular form, and it would be for the House to decide whether it ought to be received or not.

Mr. Warburton

thought, that as it concluded with a prayer, the petition ought to be received.

Mr. Borthwick

said, that though he was favourable to the object of the petition, yet he thought it so important to adhere to the regular forms of the House, that he should oppose the reception of the petition on the ground of irregularity. He hoped, however, the hon. and gallant Member for Oldham would consent to withdraw it.

General Johnson

was understood to decline to do so.

Lord John Russell

thought, that as this paper was not in the form prescribed by the House, the hon. and gallant Member had much better withdraw it now, and present it again in an amended form.

Sir R. Peel

observed, that if the parties to the document were not aware that they were departing from the rules of the House, there might be some ground of excuse, but as that did not appear, it would be better, in his opinion, to adhere to the usual forms.

The Speaker

observed, that there was nothing in the petition itself that could induce the House not to receive it. But in point of form it was a remonstrance, and not a petition, and if this were received, he could not say what sort of remonstrances might hereafter be sent up.

Mr. Aglionby

said, that many petitions subscribed according to the forms of the House, but which in the body contained severe remonstrances, were received without objection. This document was respectfully worded, but announced itself to be a remonstrance; and he could not see why a difference should be made, or that this document should be rejected on so trivial an objection.

Mr. R. Palmer

said, he was inclined to adhere to the forms of the House. He, however, joined in the recommendation to withdraw the document for the present.

Sir G. Strickland

said, that as the document prayed the House to do certain things, he thought that prayer brought it within the meaning of a petition.

Sir T. Fremantle

said, that he had looked at the document, and found that it contained no prayer at all. It was simply a remonstrance against the Poor-law Act, and did not conclude with any prayer. If it prayed the repeal of that Act, then the House might take cognizance of it; not being so, he thought it ought not to be received.

Mr. Rice

hoped, the hon. and gallant Member would consent to withdraw it for the present. It was signed by one individual only, on behalf of himself and others, and therefore the hon. and gallant Member had only to communicate to that individual that the House, on a point of form, and not from any indisposition or disregard to entertain its object, could not receive it, and therefore to suggest an alteration, putting the document in the proper shape.

General Johnson

said, he did not think that the parties from whom it emanated would be at all disposed to make the alteration suggested; and therefore he did not feel justified in withdrawing it.

Mr. Borthwick

expressed his determination to divide the House.

The House divided:—Ayes 10; Noes 200: Majority 190.

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