HC Deb 25 April 1839 vol 47 cc511-2
Mr. G. Wood,

in presenting the report of the Committee on public petitions, said he had been requested to call the attention of the House to the fact of several lithographed petitions having been recently presented, and to ask the House whether they were of opinion, that as printed petitions were, by a rule of the House, rejected, lithographed petitions did or did not fall under the same rule?

Sir G. Clerk

did not think there should be any distinction made between them.

Mr. Warburton

did not see the common sense of excluding printed petitions. It was said that they were less likely to be the spontaneous act of the petitioners than manuscript petitions; but he could not see how that was the case, since the petitions, whether written, printed, or lithographed, were prepared by other individuals than the bulk of the petitioners themselves. He did not know, therefore, why they should make a difference between petitions which, merely for the sake of saving manual labour, were printed or lithographed, and those that were presented in manuscript. He hoped the reception of lithographed petitions would form a precedent for the reception of printed ones.

Lord Stanley

observed, that it was well known that a great number of petitions were got up, a considerable portion of the persons signing which were utterly careless, and sometimes utterly ignorant of their contents. Now, there was nothing more likely to draw contempt upon the whole system of petitions, and he much feared that the admission of printed and lithographed petitions would only increase that evil. The hon. Member for Bridport hoped that the reception of lithographed petitions would lead to the introduction of printed ones; he went to the opposite conclusion, and, adhering to the rule of the House, hoped that by checking their reception, they would prevent the introduction of petitions which, upon the face of them, were not the spontaneous petitions of the parties signing them. If they objected to printed petitions, they ought also object to lithographed ones. He saw no difference between them.

Mr. Hume

said, that, as admitted by the noble Lord, persons were frequently called upon to sign petitions which they did not understand. If so, what better means could be resorted to for rendering petitions intelligible than by having them printed? There were many persons who could not read written who could read printed petitions. Besides, if petitions of any considerable length were printed, hon. Members would be much more likely to read them. He always asked if he could have a printed copy, as he could read it much more easily.

The Speaker

said, that it certainly was necessary for the House to come to some decision upon the subject. It having been decided, by a resolution of the House, not to receive printed petitions, it behoved them to assign a reason why they should receive lithographed petitions. The object to be attained was, to put the House in possession of the real sentiments of the people; and as it was rather a matter of importance, perhaps some hon. Member would think it right to call to it the attention of the House.

Mr. Wood

gave notice of his intention to do so on Tuesday next.

Subject postponed.

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