HC Deb 07 April 1842 vol 62 cc5-20
Mr. T. Duncombe

rose to move— That the practice of this House, which precludes the presentation of petitions upon the subject of any tax or duty under its consideration, be discontinued. The hon. Member said, that up to the time when the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) made his financial statement, few individuals in that House, and much fewer out of it, were aware that it had ever been the practice of the House to refuse to receive petitions pending the progress of a bill imposing a heavy tax upon the people. But the public were more surprised when they found the Members of the reformed Parliament attempting to shelter themselves under an inconsistent and almost obsolete practice, by refusing to hear petitions which were presented to it by those very individuals who had placed them in the position which they Occupied. He was prepared to maintain and to insist upon the right of the people to address that House upon any subject which they might think proper. He contended that the people had as indubitable a right to address the House by petition upon the subject of taxation, as upon any other measure of general legislation relating to the rights, the liberty, or the property of the subject. He took his stand upon those broad grounds, and he was not prepared to compromise the principle in the slightest degree. It would be necessary to trace the origin of the practice in question, the source whence it sprung, the manner in which it had been enforced, and the instances in which it had been departed from. The House would observe that there was no standing order or rule whatever for the course which they were then pursuing in rejecting the petitions of the people; and he thought, When it was shown how the practice originated, neither the House nor the people could be otherwise than surprised at the slender grounds on which they presumed to reject the petitions of those who had placed them there to protect their property and their interests. It appeared from Hatsell's precedents, which he trusted the House would consider no mean authority, that this practice originated very shortly after the Revolution of 1688. The first time the right of petitioning appeared to have been questioned was in 1689. On the 15th of April of that year, a petition was presented from Protestant Ministers, praying for relief out of a particular revenue. A debate took place on the subject, and the House resolved that it was irregular and disagreeable to the House to prescribe how relief should be given, and the petition was then withdrawn. In 1796 a resolution was passed in a committee of Ways and Means for imposing a tax of 10 per cent, ad valorem on articles of woollen manufacture. A cloud of petitions was presented against it, and although the resolution was carried in the committee of Ways and Means, the bill was dropped in fact, the bill was never presented at all. It appeared, then, that in 1698, the House having felt the inconvenience of admitting petitions that had been presented in a preceding Session, peremptorily refused to receive those petitions on a tax then depending upon coal and culm. On the 20th of April in that year a petition was presented against the proposed tax, and was rejected by a majority of 112 to 99. It was clear, then, that up to that period the House was in the habit of refusing to receive petitions directed against any pending tax; but in 1704 the House departed from that practice. On the 14th of February of that year a petition was presented from various merchants and traders against a duty on calicoes, and the petitioners asked to be heard against the tax by counsel. This was refused, but the petition itself was ordered to lie on the Table till the second reading of the bill. On the 21st of May, 1711, it was proposed to raise 1,500,000l. by a duty on vellum, parchment, and cards; a petition against the duty was presented by merchants trading in Genoa paper, by stationers and haberdashers. That petition was not only received, but was ordered to be referred for consideration to a committee of the whole House on the bill. In 1732 the question was again raised. The agent of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations in that year presented a petition against the Sugar Colony Bill; the same objection was taken to the petition as in 1698; and a Mr. Winning-ton, who appeared to be then a great au- thority on the Ministerial side of the House, said the practice of receiving such a petition had never been allowed except on extraordinary occasions, as it had been found inconvenient that the time of the House should be occupied in discussing frivolous petitions. That objection could not apply at present. In those days petitions could be discussed, and sometimes one petition would occupy a whole evening, consequently nothing could be easier than to defeat a tax by petitions of that description. The petition was rejected by 140 to 112. In the year 1733 a petition was presented from the city of London, against an excise bill then pending. Sir John Barnard moved that the petition be not only laid upon the Table, but that the petitioners should be heard by counsel at the bar. Another long debate arose. Precedents were quoted on both sides. Sir John Barnard, S. Sandys, Gibbon, Bootle, Pultney, Esqrs; Sir William Windham; Watte Plummer, G. Heathcote, and Thos. Wyndham, Esqrs., spoke in favour of the rights of the petitioners; against the petitioners' rights were the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir Robert Walpole), Horace Walpole, Mr. Winnington, the Attorney and Solicitor Generals, Sir W. Younge, and Mr. Pelham. The arguments that they used against this right were the arguments used the preceding Session by Mr. Winnington—the fear of multitudes of petitions, which, debated separately, would impede the public business; and as to hearing counsel, that would be still more inconvenient against a tax. It ended by the petition being allowed to remain on the Table until the second reading of the bill, but counsel were refused by 214 to 197. On the following day more petitions against the bill came in from Nottingham and Coventry, which were ordered to lie on the Table, and the bill was subsequently dropped. Now this custom of not receiving petitions had certainly obtained ever since that period, with a few isolated exceptions in cases when the petitions had slipped in without the observation of the House. The question had never afterwards been discussed until the month of May, 1815. On the 1st of May in that year, a petition was presented against the then pending Property-tax Bill. That petition was certainly rejected; but it was rejected not only on the ground of its relating to a tax then pending, but also because it was supposed to be disrespectful and libellous in some of its allegations. Sir W. Curtis presented that petition; it was rejected by 107 votes to fifty-nine. The House would observe, however, that up to the present time there had been no rule laid down upon the subject, and it had always been left to the discretion of the House to receive or reject such petitions. From the year 1815 he would pass to what had occurred the other day. On the 22nd of last month he found that there had been offered to the House a petition from the parish of St. Clement's, Eastcheap; and also a petition from Royston against the proposed duty upon income. Upon that occasion the Speaker stated that it appeared by the proceedings of the committee of Ways and Means, published in the votes and proceedings of the House, that a tax upon income had been proposed as part of the Ways and Means for raising the supply granted to her Majesty for the service of the year, and that, according to the established rules of the House, no petition against a tax under consideration, for the service of the year, could be received by the House. The petitions were accordingly rejected. The right hon. Baronet demanded this tax not merely for the service of the current year, but for three, four, or perhaps five, years to come. But he would not ground his motion on a quibble like that; he would take his stand on the broad ground of the people's rights. What was the case in the present instance? On the 11th of March last the right hon. Baronet laid his budget before the House. By that budget he proposed to take four millions of money out of the pockets of the people; and on the Friday following, no sooner had the House got into a committee of Ways and Means on that budget, than the doors of the House were closed against the petitions of the people. Such a course was most unjust. It was no doubt a convenient way for an unpopular Ministry, but it was a practice not to be maintained without gross injustice. He did not know that there was any occasion for him to occupy more of the attention of the House. He would, therefore, not say more than ask the House to adopt the resolution now in the Speaker's hands. He would ask the House to do justice to the people, and would move in conclusion, the resolution which he had read at the commencement of his speech.

Sir G. Clerk

said, he was aware of the disadvantages under which any Member presented himself, who attempted to offer obstructions to the petitions of the people, and certainly no rule adopted for the mere convenience of the House ought to stand in the way of the most valuable of all the rights of the people. But those who had attended to the hon. Member for Finsbury, must have seen, that the practice now objected to was one that had existed from a very early period. Immediately after the Revolution, a great increase took place in the number of petitions presented, and it was soon discovered, that a very great inconvenience arose from receiving petitions against the money bills for the current year; and after a few years, the evil was found to be so growing, that the House, in 1693, came to a resolution that no petition should be received against a money bill under the consideration of the House, and intended for the service of the current year. All parties had since admitted, that this restriction was a salutary one; and he thought the House also had been extremely jealous in preventing such restrictions on the presentation of petitions going beyond that line which was originally drawn in 1693. There had been apparent deviations from that rule. Those deviations arose from doubts entertained by the House as to whether the bills under discussion, and which had been petitioned against were, properly, money bills, or rather only bills for the regulation of trade. If the hon. Member would look to the discussion in 1733, he would see that upon that occasion, when an Excise Bill was introduced by Sir R. Walpole for regulating the duties on tobacco, the point considered was, whether it were a money bill, or one merely for the regulation of trade. The precedents previous to that time were ordered to be read during the discussion upon the bill, when it was shown that in all cases of petitions against money bills before the House, the House had considered it its duty to refuse to receive them. The reason of the rule was a very plain one. If the House of Commons found it necessary, in order to raise a supply in committee of Ways and Means, to have recourse to the disagreeable alternative of imposing fresh taxes, there could be no doubt that the imposition of a fresh tax would be felt as a burden and a grievance by every class of the community, immediately affected by the tax. The House did not require to be informed by petitions that the people felt the imposition of those taxes to be a grievance. It was for the House to judge whether, after having voted large supplies to the Crown, and seeing no other mode of raising those supplies but by the imposition of fresh taxes, they were to desist from the course of proceeding which they had adopted, merely because it was felt by some individuals to be a grievance. After the rule had been completely established in the year 1733, an attempt was made at deviation from it, for, he believed, that in 1783, when an additional duty was sought to be laid on receipt stamps, the City of London presented a petition against the bill, and the petition was received under these circumstances. It was the privilege of the City of London to present petitions to that House by their sheriffs, who, for that purpose, came to the bar of the House. No Member stated the sub stance of those petitions, the petition was merely laid upon the Table, and read by the clerk, and consequently no question could arise as to whether the petition should be received, until it had been read by the clerk at the Table, for until then the House could not be cognizant of the contents of the petition. When, however, that petition had been read, an objection was immediately taken to it, and it was declared that it should not be received as a precedent for a departure from the rules of the House. Mr. Fox, on that occasion, than whom no man, in the then, or in the present House of Commons could be more jealous of the rights of the people, had said, that although he had considered the subject of petitioning the House of Commons to be an invaluable right of Englishmen, yet if they permitted every man to petition against every new tax, it would be impossible for the House to go on with the business. Mr. Fox even went still further, and said, that the more universally a tax should be petitioned against, the greater argument, in his mind, did that constitute in its favour; because it proved that the tax acted impartially,— that it was an equal tax, pressing equally upon all classes. This practice could not be attended by any inconvenience, because, if a tax were proposed, those who were affected by it had an ample opportunity of making their representatives aware of their feelings on the subject. He did not complain of the course which hon Members opposite adopted before the recess for the purpose of delaying the progress of the resolutions. They had taken that opportunity of the recess to ascertain the sentiments of their constituents; and, therefore, whenever they should come to a division on the subject, every Member would be as well prepared to state the sentiments of his constituents, as if they had had an opportunity of presenting forty or fifty petitions on the subject. No practical inconvenience could arise from a perseverance in this rule. The imposition of a new tax must be felt as a burden by all those who were affected by it and he would put it to the ingenuity of the hon. Member for Finsbury to suggest a new tax that would not increase the burden of some class or other of traders. But if they refused to relax the rule when a tax affecting only a class was concerned, how much more imperative was it upon them to enforce the rule in the case of a tax affecting all classes. It was for these reasons—because he heard no argument from the hon. Member for Finsbury, showing, that inconvenience had resulted from the rule—because it had been adopted by the House of Commons for 150 years, and had been found by all parties a very expedient rule—because it had not been rashly adopted by them, because it was likely to secure the rights and privileges of the subject and of the country; it was for all those reasons that he opposed the motion of the hon. Member, however easy it might be to introduce topics of popular declamation with regard to the rights of petition, it would, in his opinion, be very inconvenient to receive petitions on those occasions alluded to by the hon. Member, and would be very detrimental to the public service.

Mr. Macaulay

said, that anxious as the honourable Baronet had expressed himself to protect the right of the people to approach that House with their petitions, the hon. Baronet's speech seemed not the less to be directed against the right of petitioning generally. The people, the hon. Baronet said, had representatives to make their feelings known; but if that argument were to hold good, it was an argument against all petitions, and against their beginning business at four o'clock. If the hon. Baronet was right, they, the Members of the House of Commons, need not in future give themselves the trouble of coming down to the House before five o'clock. In proportion as a tax was felt to be more oppressive, more general in its character, was the right of petitioning to be limited? Why, what were the people to petition against, but what they felt to be a grievance. The hon. Baronet cautioned them against the practice of declamation on the right of petition. Now, he would ask any hon. Member whether he had ever heard the right of petition spoken of in more declamatory language, whether he had ever heard the peculiar, sacred, inalienable, hereditary privilege of the people more lightly spoken of than it had just now been by the right hon. Baronet. The only difference between the declamation of the right hon. Baronet, and that which he censured on the other side, being that the declaration of the right hon. Baronet was a prelude to an attack upon it, instead of an introduction to its support. He could conceive only two reasons that ought to lead this House to refuse to receive a petition. The first was, if the petition was worded in indecent or unbecoming language; and the other ground on which the refusal of a petition could be justified was, if the petition asked the House to do what it was not in its province to do. For instance, if a petition were presented, praying the House to interfere to stop an action of ejectment, the House might very well decline to receive a petition, praying the House to interfere with the jurisdiction of the courts of law. But was that the case now? What was the essential province of the House of Commons? When the Sovereign, at the commencement of a new Session, addressed Parliament from the Throne, on all matters of domestic or foreign policy, the Sovereign addressed both Houses of Parliament, but as soon as the question of taxation arrived, the style of the Royal Speech was immediately changed, and the Sovereign addressed herself only to the Gentlemen of the House of Commons. And what was the consequence of the rule on the present occasion? Why, the people, shut out from the House of Commons, were flocking with their petitions to the House of Lords! To the House of Lords, that might indeed reject, but could not amend the bill. Thus was the House of Commons interdicted from the exercise of its proper functions; and for what purpose? Under the ancient system, when discussions were liable to arise on the presentation of every petition, so that no Member could know when the public business was likely to come on, there might be some plausible grounds for the maintenance of such a rule; but under the altered practice—a practice of which he heartily approved, for it was a great and wholesome change, in favour of which he had felt much pleasure in recording his vote—under this altered practice, he would say, what advantage could there be in still retaining this rule But if the them hon. Baronet's respect for old precedents were so great, why did he not vote with those who had proposed to restore the old practice of debating on petitions. He looked upon the old practice as a very bad practice, and he felt convinced that if it had not been reformed, it would not have been possible for the people to obtain a fair opportunity to lay their petitions on the Table of the House. But now, when the presentation of petitions occupied no more time than was necessary to enable a Member to state their sub stance and carry them to the Table, no business could be obstructed by their presentation. Why, that very evening, while the Members were waiting in silence for the commencement of public business, a hundred petitions against the Income-tax might with ease have been presented. He had a number of petitions himself from Scotland against the Income-tax, and could have presented them all in the course of one minute. What was the consequence of their closing the doors against those petitions? Why, their constituents met, and passed strong resolutions against the proposed tax, and then called upon their representatives to state those resolutions to the House in one way or other. Instead of presenting the petitions of the people in a regular manner, hon. Members would be obliged to wait until the debate on the Income-tax came, and then they would have to rise and read those petitions and resolutions as parts of their speeches. He would do so for one. They could not be prevented from doing so, and it was the only alternative left them, when debarred from constitutionally placing the remonstrances of their constituents before the House. He had never voted with a more clear conviction of the justice of a vote than he should do this evening in voting with the hon. Member for Finsbury. The country was highly indebted to the hon. Member for Finsbury for bringing this motion forward. Whether the motion were carried or not, still the people would be indebted to the hon. Member; for if the motion were carried, the people would gain a valuable privilege; and if the motion were lost, the people would receive a no less useful warning.

Captain Hamilton

would vote with the hon. Member for Finsbury, if he thought the success of this motion could be attended with the least benefit to the people; but no such benefit could accrue to them He was surprised to find the Radicals support this motion. An hon. Friend of his, opposite, intended to propose a new reform bill. He would ask how many of the new constituency to be created by that bill would be affected by the Income-tax. The question was one in which those who were not directly represented in that House could have no interest whatever, as the tax would not affect them.

Sir R. Peel

said, he should consider himself guilty of a gross dereliction of duty were he to take any other course than to meet this motion with a direct negative, and he hoped the House would support him in so doing, The rule was one established immediately after the Revolution, and it had been adhered to ever since. The question whether the House should receive petitions against money bills intended for the supply of the current year, was a question that had been discussed again and again, and that at a time when there were men in the House as keenly alive, as any that had succeeded them, to the maintenance of popular rights. The resolution to which they had always come was, to maintain so salutary a rule, and if the right hon. Gentleman now displayed so much zeal for the rescinding of that rule, it was certainly surprising that the right hon. Gentleman's zeal should never have been awakened while he was still in office. In 1840, the Chancellor of the Exchequer deemed it necessary to the supplies of the year to propose an addition of 10 per cent, to the existing taxes. Why did the right hon. Gentleman not then extend to the people the right for which he was now contending. [Mr.Macaulay: I never till lately heard of the rule.] The right hon. Gentleman never before heard of the existence of this rule! It is rather unfortunate for the public that he should not have obtained this knowledge till he was out of office. In 1840 the Chancellor of the Exchequer called upon the House, on considerations of public duty, to make an addition of 5 per cent, to all revenues of excise and customs, and 10 percent, on assessed taxes. If all those who had been affected by the proposed measure had attempted to obstruct its progress by the presentation of petitions, would not the Chancellor of the Exchequer have referred to this rule of 150 years standing? He felt convinced that he would have done so, nor would the Secretary-at-War have abandoned his colleague on such an occasion. At several periods this question had been raised. On the 29th of January, 1760, the maltsters of Ipswich petitioned against a bill then before the House for the imposition of a duty on malt, and when the question was put, that the petition be brought up, the question was negatived nemine contradicente, all parties being agreed that the rule was one that ought to be maintained. In 1783, when party spirit ran very high, a petition was presented against a bill then under consideration for the imposition of stamp duties on notes and receipts. The petition was presented, but on the question that it be brought up, the question was again negatived. In 1795, when the contest was going on between Mr. Pitt and Mr. Fox, and never had public feeling been more strongly excited than it was at that time; — well, on the 4th of March, 1795, when the strongest arguments had been used against the injustice of the war, this question again arose, in consequence of the presentation of a petition from certain dealers in wine, who prayed that the duty about to be imposed on wines might not be imposed upon the stock on hand. When the question was put, that the petition be brought up, it was again negatived, and negatived nemine contradicente. At a time when the popular party was led by such men as Mr. Fox and Lord Grey, these usages were adhered to and maintained. Neither by their votes, nor by their speeches, had those men attempted to obstruct the rule, and was it now too much to ask that the House of Commons would still adhere to a principle adopted immediately after the Revolution, and adhered to ever since. He would make no compromise on the subject. Even though he were assured that the greater number of petitions would be in favour of the Income-tax, he would still ask the House to adhere to the constitutional usage, and he could not help thinking that the greater number of the Members of the late Government would support him in his view of the case. The maintenance of the rules of Parliament formed an essential part of the security for the preservation of public freedom. The rights of the people did not depend merely on acts of Parliament, but also on the construction put upon established rules and usages. With respect to the rule under consideration, it was a sense of public convenience that had induced the House of Commons to adopt it, and a sense of public convenience had led the House of Commons to adhere to it. He felt confident he should be supported by a large majority in his determination to resist the attempt to break through this rule, but even if he stood alone he should feel that he was discharging a public duty in saying "no" to this motion.

Sir George Grey

said, the question was, one which ought not to have been converted into a party one, and therefore he regretted the more the warmth of language in which the right hon. Baronet had indulged. The right hon. Baronet had addressed an unworthy taunt against the Members of the late Government. The right hon. Baronet professed surprise at this new-born zeal for popular rights, and asked why his right hon. Friend (Mr. Macaulay), when he was a Member of the late Administration, and when the late Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed an increase of the duties of Customs and Excise—why his right hon. Friend had not then moved to have this rule rescinded? But could the right hon. Baronet show, that at that time any Member of the House tendered a petition against those taxes? or could he show that any such petition had been rejected by the House? If so, the taunt would have been just. But no such petition had he heard of during the late Government, though he had witnessed many in the course of the present Session. The Members of that House were sent there to watch over the interests of the nation; and if a tax was proposed, necessarily affecting those interests, were hon. Members to be bound by the practice of their ancestors, to reject all petitions against it, especially in a case in which, as his right hon. Friend had shown to demonstration, and whose arguments he had not heard answered from the other side, the reason which had influenced their ancestors was a reason that had utterly ceased to exist. At the time when the rule was made, a petition might be debated day after day, and the reception of it followed by a motion, that counsel might be heard at the Bar of the House against a tax that was proposed to be laid on. He could conceive, that such a course might be made the instrument of procrastination and delay, where a tax was absolutely required for the exigency of the current year, so powerful in the hands of a minority, as to form a sufficient ground for prevent- ing the reception of such petitions. But that argument did not apply in the present day. The inalienable right of the people to petition had been spoken of, and he greatly regretted to hear it that night praised in terms, while it was attacked in spirit. Precedents had been brought forward against the present proposition, but his right hon. Friend had shown, that by blindly following precedent, they would be adhering to a practice likely to produce a greater degree of public inconvenience than that which had induced their ancestors to restrict the right of the people to petition. Great complaints had been made of the motions for adjournment, and he alluded to this the more strongly, because in the motions before the recess, for the adjournment of debates on the Income-tax, he had voted with the right hon. Baronet; but if the right of the people to petition was to be restricted, and if constituencies were to be debarred from making their feelings known to that House through petitions, it would be necessary for hon. Members to protract debates to an indefinite length of time. [Cheers.] Let hon. Gentlemen hear the conclusion of his sentence before they cheered. It might be necessary to protract debates, not with the view which he utterly disclaimed of mere delay and procrastination, but simply because the only other legitimate avenue to that House had been shut against the people by an adherence to a practice which, however wise and necessary it might have been in its origin, was at the present time unwise, because unnecessary, and because it led to the greatest possible practical inconvenience to that House and to the country, by subjecting the House to repeated and protracted debates and successive motions for adjournment—a course which it was clear it was not to the interest of the country and the advancement of public business should be persisted in. In all sincerity, notwithstanding the cheers of the right hon. Baronet, he did deprecate such a course as he had described; he did deprecate these lengthy debates. He saw, from the adherence to the present practice, that consequences must arise which he deprecated and disliked. Not having heard the slightest reason advanced for the continuance of the practice, which appeared solely to rest upon precedents quoted in its favour, he should most cordially and cheerfully give his support to the motion of his hon. Friend.

Mr. C. Buller

begged to remind the right hon, Baronet at the head of the Government that it was he himself, who had rendered the course of moving adjournments upon the Income-tax before Easter necessary and unavoidable by the course which he had adopted, of placing the House in a position that it could not receive petitions upon the question. He (Mr. Buller) had asked the Speaker if the rule against the receipt of petitions was absolute, and upon learning that it was, he had put it to the right hon. Baronet whether he would not postpone his motion for a committee of Ways and Means, that the country might have more than a week to express its opinion. The answer of the right hon. Gentleman was remarkable for its explicitness and brevity. The right hon. Baronet declined consenting to any delay, and he brought forward his resolution. In 1816, when the Opposition wanted to get a tax taken off, when there was a motion for its renewal— the objection was taken, that after the resolution for renewing it was once before the House no petition could be received. The Opposition of that day, however, insisted, and that great constitutional minister, Lord Castlereagh, showed that respect to the popular rights which ought to be imitated by the present Government, and he had the goodness to allow the question to be put off, and the consequence was that public feeling was expressed so strongly in petitions that the obnoxious tax was removed. On the present occasion a tax had been proposed, of which the public had been forewarned by no debate. The country had been completely taken by surprise. One week had been given to the people for consideration, and now the Government availed themselves of the rules of the House to prevent the voice of the country from being heard within its walls. He agreed with the right hon. Baronet in the general rule he had laid down, that hon. Members, when on one side of the House, should do that which they would do when on the other. It was a rule applicable to more questions than the present. It seemed, however, to him, that it was a contrast by no means discreditable to the late Government, to find that for the eleven years they had held office there had been no occasion for the people to petition against the imposition of any new tax. [Dissent from the Treasury benches.] He begged pardon. The occasion had arisen once, on the imposition of a per centage on the taxes; and then so little objection was felt to the tax. that no one petitioned against it. The only argument in favour of the expediency of the present rule was that which had been advanced by the hon. Baronet the Member for Stamford, which, as far as he understood it, amounted to this, that the people ought not to be allowed to petition upon a subject upon which they felt so acutely as in this, because they would probably petition too much. The rule was an absurd one; it might have done very well in the olden time when the voice of the people was not heard in that House, but it was unbecoming a Reformed Parliament, and unbecoming them as representatives of the people. It was a rule which could only be upheld for the purpose of preventing the people being heard in the most peaceful, legal, and constitutional manner.

Mr. Wallace

asked if they were not representatives of the people, and whether they were not component parts of the people? He thought the right hon. Baronet had never been heard to such disadvantage as in his speech of that night, for he had only referred to old usages and precedents. He claimed for the free constituencies of Scotland their undoubted right of petition; and he could tell those hon. Members who opposed his motion of the other night, that they were encroaching upon the privileges of the people. Members ought to have a right to state their opinions on the presentation of petitions. The right hon. Baronet was quite right in strictly adhering to the rule of the House which they were now debating, for if he had not, he would not have passed his Income-tax. The Table would have been loaded with petitions against it. They would have accumulated upon every return of post, and no minister would have been able to carry such a proposal, whatever might be his majority. He intended to renew his former motion next year.

Sir John Hanmer

said, this was a matter which materially affected his constituents, and he wished to say a very few words. He should always be jealous of limiting the right of the people to petition. He could not say he had much respect for the Parliaments of William 3rd., for they were bribed, rotten, and corrupt. He should give his vote for the motion of the hon. Member, honestly and fearlessly, be- cause, in so doing, he thought he should best discharge the duty he owed to the people who had sent him there as their representative.

Mr. Wakley

said his constituents were nearly unanimous against the Income-tax, while they admitted there were advantages likely to arise from the other part of the financial scheme. The right hon. Baronet had made a very weak speech, and it was because he had not the semblance of a case. Was the right of petitioning a valuable and constitutional right or not? Hon. Gentlemen who voted against the motion of his hon. Colleague ought in honesty to follow it up by a motion that the right of petitioning was useless and ought to be discontinued; because, if the privilege was ever useful at all, it was when the question before the House was to take money from the pockets of the people. The right hon. Baronet had observed the strictest secrecy with regard to his plan, and having done so he ought now to give the people an opportunity of expressing their sentiments. The right hon. Gentleman's proposal affected every class, and yet but six or seven days were allowed to consider it, and no sooner was the resolution submitted than the doors of the House were closed against petitions. Nothing could be more unfair and unconstitutional. He trusted the right hon. Baronet would be in a minority, though he could not hope he would go out of the House alone.

The House divided—Ayes 136; Noes 167: Majority 31.

List of the AYES.
Ackers, J. Byng, G.
Aglionby, H, A. Byng, rt. hn. G. S.
Aldam, W. Cavendish, hn. G. H,
Archbold, R. Christie, W. D.
Bannerman, A. Clay, Sir W.
Baring, rt. hn. F. T. Cobden, R.
Barnard, E. G. Colebrooke, Sir T. E.
Bernal, R. Collins, W.
Bernal, Capt. Colvile, C. R.
Blackstone, W. S. Cowper, hon. W. F.
Blake, Sir V. Craig, W.G.
Blewitt, R. J. Crawford, W. S.
Borthwick, P. Dalmeny, Lord
Bowring, Dr. Dalrymple, Capt.
Brocklehurst, J. Denison, J. E.
Brodie, W. B. Dennistoun, J.
Brotherton, J. D'Eyncourt,rt.hn.C.T,
Browne, hon. W. Dick, Q.
Buller, E. Divett, E.
Burroughes, H, N. Duncan, Visc,
Busfeild, W, Duncan, G.
Ebrington, Visct. Philips, M.
Ellice, rt. hon. E. Pigot, rt. hon. D.
Elphinstone, H. Pinney, W.
Ferguson, Col. Ponsonby,hn.C.F.A.C
Fielden, J. Powell, C.
Ferrand, W. B. Protheroe, E.
Fitzroy, Lord C. Pulsford, R.
Fitzwilliam, hn. G.W. Rawdon, Col.
Forster, M. Rennie, G.
Gibson, T. M. Ricardo, J. L.
Gill, T. Rumbold, C. E.
Grattan, H. Russell, Lord J.
Grey, rt. hn. Sir G. Scholefield, J.
Guest, Sir J. Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.
Hall, Sir B. Sibthorp, Col.
Hanmer, Sir J. Smith, J. A.
Hastie, A. Somers, J. P.
Hatton, Capt. V. Somerville, Sir W. M.
Hawes, B. Stanley, hon. W. O.
Heathcoat, J. Stanton, W. H.
Howard, hn. C. W. G. Stewart, P. M.
Howard, Lord Stuart, Lord J.
Howard, hn. E. G. G. Stuart, W. V.
Howick, Visct. Strickland, Sir G.
James. W. Strutt,E.
Johnston, A. Tancred, H. W.
Labouchere, rt. hn. H. Thornely, T.
Lambton, H. Tufnell, H.
Langston, J. H. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Leader, J. T. Villiers. hon. C.
Lemon, Sir C. Vivian, hon. Major
Macaulay, rt. hn, T. B. Vivian, hon. Capt.
McTaggart, Sir J. Wakley, T.
Mangles, R. D. Walker, R.
Marshall, W. Wallace, R.
Martin, J. Ward, H. G.
Morris, D. Wason, R.
Morison, General Wawn, J. T.
Murray, A. White, S.
Napier, Sir C. Williams, W.
Norreys, Sir D. J. Wilshere, W.
O'Brien, J. Wood, B.
O'Brien, W. S. Wood, G. W.
O'Connell, M. J. Wrightson, W. B.
Paget, Lord A. Yorke, H. R.
Palmer, G.
Parker, J. TELLERS.
Pechell, Capt. Duncombe, T.
Philips, G. R. Buller, C.
List of the NOES.
Acland, T. D. Bradshaw, J.
Acton, Col. Broadley, H.
Adare, Visct. Broadwood, H.
Antrobus, E. Bruce, Lord E.
Arkwright, G. Bruce, C. L. C.
Ashley, Lord Buller, Sir J. Y.
Astell, W. Burrell, Sir C. M.
Baillie, Col. Campbell, A.
Balfour, J. M. Chelsea, Visct.
Baring, hon. W. B. Chetwode, Sir J.
Barrington, Visct. Chute, W. L. W.
Baskerville, T. B. M. Clerk, Sir G.
Beresford, Major Cochrane, A,
Botkin, W. H. Cockburn,rt.hn.SirG.
Botfield, B. Codrington, C. W.
Cole, hon. A, H. Lincoln Earl of
Collett, W. R. Lindsay, H. H.
Courtenay, Visct. Lockhart, W,
Cripps, W. Lowther, J. H.
Damer, hon. Col. Lowther, hon. Col.
Darby, G. Lygon, hon. General
Dawnay, hon. W. H. Mackenzie, W. F.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Maclean, 0.
Douglas, J. D. S. Mc Geachy, F. A.
Drummond, H. H. Mainwaring,T.
Duffield, T. Manners, Lord J.
Dugdale, W. S. Marsham, Visct.
Duncombe, hon. A. Martyn, C. C.
Du Pre, C. G. Master, T. W. C.
Eaton, R. J. Masterman, J.
Emlyn, Visct. Meynell, Capt.
Escott, B. Milnes, R. M.
Estcourt, T, G. B. Morgan. O.
Farnham, E. B. Neeld, J.
Fellowes.'E. Newry. Visct.
Feilden, W. Norreys, Lord
Filmer, Sir E. O'Brien, A. S.
Fitzroy, Capt. Packe, C. W.
Fitzroy, hon. H. Patten, J. W.
Fleming, J. W. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Forbes, W. Peel, J,
Forester, hn. G. C. W. Pigot, Sir R.
Fuller, A. E. Plumptre, J. P.
Gaskell, J. Milnes Polhill, F.
Gladstone, rt.hn.W E, Pollington, Visct.
Gordon, hon. Capt. Pollock, Sir F.
Gore M. Praed, W. T.
Gore, W. R, O. Price, R.
Goring, C. Pringle, A.
Graham, rt. hn. Sir J. Reade, W. M.
Greenall, P. Reid, Sir J. R.
Greene, T. Repton, G. W. J.
Grimston, Visct. Richards, R,
Grogan, E. Rose, rt. hon. Sir G.
Hale, R. B. Round, C. G,
Hamilton, C. J. B. Russell, C.
Hamilton, W. J. Russell, J, D. W,
Hamilton, Lord C. Ryder, hon. G. D.
Harcourt, G. G. Sandon, Visct.
Hardy, J. Scarlett, hon. R. C.
Hawkes, T. Seymour, Sir H. B.
Heneage, G. H. W. Sheppard, T.
Henley, J. W. Somerset, Lord G.
Hepburn, Sir T. B. Somerton, Visct,
Herbert, hon. S. Sotherton, T. H. S.
Hodgson, F. Stanley, Lord
Hodgson, R. Stewart, J.
Hogg, J. W. Stuart, H.
Houldsworth, T. Sturt, H. C.
Holmes, hon. W. A'ct, Sutton, hon. M. M.
Hope, hon. C. Tennent, J. E.
Hughes, W. B. Thompson, Mr. Aid
Ingestrie, Visct. Trevor, hon. G. R.
Jermyn, Earl Trollope, Sir J.
Johnson, W. G. Trotter, J.
Johnstone, H. Vere, Sir C. B.
Jones, Capt. Verner, Col.
Kelburne, Visct. Vernon, G. H.
Knatchbull,rt.hn.SirE. Wilbraham, hn, R. B
Knight, H.G. Wood, Col.
Lawson, A. Wood, Col. T.
Liddell, hon. H. T. Wortley, hn. J. S,
Wyndham,Col. TELLERS.
Young, J. Fremantle, Sir T
Young, Sir W. Baring, H.