HC Deb 12 August 1839 vol 50 cc195-6
Mr. Fielden

presented a petition from the Cobbett Club in London, praying for vote by ballot, universal suffrage, annual Parliaments, and the payment of the people's representatives. The petition was couched in rather strong language, and the hon. Member, is reply to a question from the Speaker, refused to make himself responsible for the language it contained, but suggested, that it might be read by the clerk at the Table, when the House might judge for itself, whether it would receive the petition or not.

The petition was read by the clerk. Amongst other such expressions it stated, that if the measures already enumerated were carried, the legislation of the country would be no longer conducted by "arrogant boobies and overgrown schoolboys."

On the question, that it do lie on the Table,

Lord J. Russell

said, that he should oppose the reception of the petition. The language it contained was not only disrespectful, but called upon the House in a threatening manner to pass certain measures.

Mr. O'Connell

thought it was not worth while to reject the petition: they could afford to laugh at it.

The Attorney-General

felt he was called upon to rise and state, that in his opinion the petition ought not to be received. It appeared to him, that the tendency of the petition was to excite to a breach of the peace. If it were not a petition it would be a seditious libel. The House of Commons were, of course, ready to receive the complaints of the people, but they certainly ought not to receive them accompanied by any threat.

Mr. P. Howard

observed, that the reception of a petition amounted to admitting, that the petitioners had assumed a legitimate and constitutional course. To allow the present petition to remain on the Table, would be a tacit sanction of the conduct of the petitioners.

Sir R. Inglis

said, that the petition was an impudent and deliberate attempt to ascertain what extent of insult the House of Commons would bear. He fully concurred in thinking, that the petition ought not to be allowed to lie on the Table.

Mr. Fielden

could not discover that the petition contained any threat. The petitioners stated what had been done by bygone Parliaments.

Mr. Shaw

agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, (the Attorney-general) as to the seditious character and tendency of the petition-Petition rejected.

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