HC Deb 14 April 1842 vol 62 cc474-88
Lord F. Egerton

rose to submit the resolutions of which he had given notice, respecting receiving petitions. After the repeated discussions which the question had undergone, he would not detain the House by many observations. The object of his resolutions was twofold, namely, to open the doors of the House to petitions against taxes proposed for the service of the year, and, at the same time, to prevent that concession from giving rise to any undue interference with the conduct of that public business which was the main duty the House had to perform. The first five of his resolutions were of a formal nature, merely reciting the present practice of the House with respect to the presentation and reception of petitions. The sixth was framed for the purpose of meeting the views of the hon. Member for Finsbury, and those which he himself entertained. He did not anticipate any opposition to the resolutions which he had framed, and which, having been printed with the votes, had doubtless already undergone the consideration of hon. Members. It had been suggested on a former evening, that he had unnecessarily put himself forward with reference to this question, as if he were desirous of sharing the honour, whatever it might be, which properly belonged to his hon. Friend, the Member for Finsbury, for his exertions to obtain from the House an admission of the right of the people to petition against the Income-tax. He could assure the House and his hon. Friend that he had not the most remote intention of doing anything of the sort, and that he freely made over to his hon. Friend all the honour which was due to him. In the course which he had pursued, he had been influenced solely by a sense of respect for that House. He found the question in a state which was likely to exasperate the feelings of Members on both sides of the House, and he thought it one of those occasions, perhaps rare, when an individual possessed of no personal influence and authority, might, by bringing forward a proposition which had nothing to recommend it but its own merit, render a substantial service to the House. The noble Lord concluded by moving the following resolutions:—

  1. "1 That every Member offering to present a petition to the House, not being a petition for a private bill, or relating to a private bill before the House, do confine himself to a statement of the parties from whom it comes, of the number of signatures attached to it, and of the material allegations contained in it, and to the reading of the prayer of such petition.
  2. "2. That every such petition not containing matter in breach of the privileges of this House, and which, according to the rules or usual practice of this House can be received, be brought to the Table by the direction of the Speaker, who shall not allow any debate, or any Member to speak upon, or in relation to, such petition, but it may be read by the clerk at the Table if required.
  3. "3. That if the petition relate to any subject in respect of which there is any proceeding before the House, or any notice given, it be referred to the committee on public petitions without a question being put.
  4. "4, That if the question relate to any matter or subject which the Member presenting it is desirous of bringing before the House, and if such Member shall state it to be his intention 476 to make a motion thereupon, instead of such petition being referred to the committee on public petitions, such Member may give notice that he will make a motion on some subsequent day, 'That the petition be printed with the votes.'
  5. "5. That, in the ease of a petition complaining of some present personal grievance, for which there may be an urgent necessity for providing an immediate remedy, the matter contained in such petition may be brought into discussion on the presentation thereof.
  6. "6. That, subject to the above regulations, petitions against any resolution or bill imposing duties for the current service of the year, be henceforth received, and the usage under which the House has refused to entertain such petitions be discontinued.
  7. "7. That the said resolutions be made standing orders of this House."

The question was put on the first resolution.

Mr. Wallace

protested against making the resolution which prohibited discussions upon petitions, and which could be enforced only during the present Session, a standing order. He believed the old practice of debating upon petitions was, most advantageous, and hoped it would be again resorted to. The long debates which were now so much complained of were in some degree the result of the abolition of the practice of discussing petitions, for those Members who used to speak on petitions now spoke in debate. It was well known that, at present, the great guns never went off until ten o'clock, and the previous hours were occupied by the minor poets. He would divide the House upon the first resolution,

Mr. T, Duncomhe

said, that nothing had fallen from him which could indicate the slightest jealousy, on his part, at the interference of his noble Friend. On the contrary, he felt indebted to his noble Friend, first for the vote which be had given upon a former day in support of his motion, and secondly, for having again brought the subject under the consideration of the House, With respect, how" ever, to the resolutions proposed by his noble Friend, he must say, that he did not altogether approve of the manner in which they had been brought forward, or the terms in which they were couched. The concession which had been wrested from Ministers might have been made in a more gracious manner, in as much as he had never proposed, that petitions against the Income-tax should be treated in a manner different from other petitions. What was the use of proposing a string of resolutions showing what had been the practice already adopted by a large majority during the present Session, when the question of having discussions upon petitions was raised by the hon. Member for Greenock? He was one of the minority who voted with the hon. Member upon that question. The existing resolution was tantamount to a standing order. He now came to the sixth resolution, which embodied the resolution which he had himself proposed the other evening. The sixth resolution of his noble Friend ran thus:— That, subject to the above regulations, petitions against any resolution or bill imposing duties for the current service of the year be henceforth received, and the usage under which the House has refused to entertain such petitions be discontinued. What was the use of the words "subject to the above regulations? "He objected also to the phrase "for the current service of the year," which was quite unnecessary, and would only narrow the concession it once proposed to make. After all he must admit, that this was not much of a feather-bed for the right hon. Baronet, on the contrary, it let him down hard and heavily upon the bare ground. On a former evening, he had voted with his hon. Friend the Member for Greenock, and if his hon. Friend went to a division, he should certainly vote with him again,

Mr. Aglimby

said, the resolution now proposed was a mere transcript of the resolution agreed to at the beginning of the Session. He wished to know whether a resolution could be put on. their records that was the same in substance as one that already stood there? The distinction between a resolution and a standing order he understood to be this—the one was the law of the Session, and the other was the law of Parliament. Was it competent for him, or for any other hon. Member, to move that a resolution similar in substance to the present be rescinded? [The Speaker: Certainly not.] It might be convenient for the House to treat the petitions of the people in the way it did, but he could not see the necessity of such a usage, nor could the people out of doors see the necessity of the usage. However low the abilities of hon. Members might be, they were sent to that House to speak for their constituents, and felt it their duty to do so. Not being allowed to speak on the presentation of petitions, they spoke during the principal debate, which they would not otherwise do. The right hon. Baronet had already taunted the House twice with there being only forty-four Members in the House while the debate was going on, and from that thin attendance the right hon. Baronet inferred that not much interest was felt in the subject of the debate. The inference was not correct, however; the fact was, that hon. Members absented themselves till the more serious part of the debate commenced. He attributed this inconvenience chiefly to the discontinuance of the old practice of debating on petitions. If petitions were allowed to be presented at another part of the day, they would find that those Members who spoke at a particular period of the evening would then express their opinions on the discussion of the petitions, and leave the evening to the great authorities of the House. He for one would never consent to have this resolution converted into a standing order,

Sir R. Peel

said, after he had fairly avowed that his opinion had been overruled, what occasion could he have for a feather-bed? He did not feel at all uneasy about his fall. He felt it of little importance how the resolutions were worded, and he could assure the House he had not suggested one single modification with a view to break his fall. He could not agree with the hon. Gentleman as to the disadvantages attending the practice which now prevailed. He thought that the rule which confined Gentlemen, who did not occupy a prominent political station, to debating on petitions, placed them in a much worse position than they were at present, when they took part in the general debates, The hon. Gentleman complained that the interesting speeches did not commence till a late hour in the evening. In that respect he could not agree with the hon, Gentleman. He had sat there, during the late debate, from the beginning of the evening, and he must say, some of the most interesting speeches which had been made during that debate had been made in that part of the evening. He had heard, for instance, the speech of the hon. Member for Leeds—a speech which displayed great ability, and contained powerful argument against his proposition. He had also heard the gallant Commodore opposite {Sir Charles Napier) make an excellent speech, and he had at the time observed to those who were sitting near him, that he had seldom heard a better speech on the sub- ject, Or heard an hon. Gentleman state his opinions more fairly; and he would be glad to hear the hon. and gallant Commodore more frequently on subjects of that kind. Then there was, on his own side of the House, the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool, one of the ablest speeches delivered during the debate. If the hon. Gentleman would only make the experiment of coming down there at an early hour of the evening, he could assure him that he would hear some excellent speeches. [Mr. Aglionby was scarcely absent a single evening.] He thought the hon. Gentleman could not have heard the speeches in question, when he spoke of the debates being without interest in the early part of the evening. Inconvenient, however, as the practice of adjournment was, a return to the old practice of debating on petitions would be still more inconvenient. If the morning was again set apart for the reception of petitions, and hon. Members were allowed to speak on them, the spirit of the debate would evaporate in the morning. The words of the resolution, "for the current service of the year," was perfectly in accordance with the present practice of the House.

Mr. Wakley

said, that if the present resolutions were adopted, the popular party would lose a very valuable privilege, and, under the circumstances, he did not see why any compromise should take place. If the present resolutions were adopted and converted into a standing order, they would be in a far worse position than they were at present with regard to petitions. His hon. Colleague, after his motion was lost on the first night, brought up a petition contrary to the rules of the House, but if these resolutions were passed, and made a standing order, that could not be done any more. No discussion could take place, because the words of the second resolution were, that "No Member should be allowed to speak upon, or in relation to, such petition," and, therefore, no incidental matter could be discussed or noticed, because the Speaker would desire the Member to take his seat, and he would be obliged to do so. He would, therefore, ask the right hon. Baronet, who frankly owned that he had not changed his opinion, but was over-ruled, to consent to the motion of his hon. Colleague, and that would be the frank and honest mode of action, and would give satisfaction to all.

Lord J. Russell

agreed with his hon. Friend who had first brought this business before the House, that the first resolution which his hon. Friend had suggested would be the best to adopt, and that it would be quite sufficient. The only difference between the two courses was, that the series of resolutions proposed by the noble Lord would convert into standing orders the present resolutions of the House, which the Speaker enforced during the present Session, and which were binding on the present Parliament. But, although he thought that the resolutions might be liable to some objections, he did not think them of sufficient importance to induce him to offer any opposition to the noble Lord. The hon. Member for Greenock, and the hon. Member for Cockermouth, were for renewing the old practice of speaking on petitions. But he did not agree with them in that particular, and he could not vote against an innovation which he had himself been instrumental in establishing. It appeared to him that a return to the former usage would lead to great inconvenience. Let them suppose a case with respect to the new tariff. Petitions against the tariff could be received; but if the old practice were enforced they might have debates upon the presentation of petitions upon any matter contained in the tariff, and no man could say upon what point the debate of the evening might turn. An hon. Member for Worcester might bring forward the case of gloves—another hon. Member might bring forward the case of boots and shoes—another hon. Member the case of copper and tin ores; at the same time, none of those debates could come to any practical end, nor could any one say at what time the business on the paper would be likely to commence. Even on the day which the right hon. Gentleman might happen to fix upon for the consideration of the tariff, it would be impossible to say, whether the debate would commence before ten or eleven o'clock. In order to remedy that inconvenience, the House had fixed a certain hour at which the presentation of petitions would cease, and the business of the evening begin Well, that got rid of one inconvenience; that of occupying the time of the House till ten or eleven o'clock on petitions. But still there was another inconvenience. So much time was occupied by debates on individual petitions, that many Members found they could not get their petitions presented at all. He could not, therefore, concur with those hon. Members who were for reviving the former practice of the House. He should certainly have wished that the noble Lord had contented himself with the sanction already given to the new rules relative to the presentation of petitions; but as the noble Lord thought that it would be desirable to put that resolution in a more formal shape, he should not oppose the course taken by the noble Lord; and he was, therefore, ready to support the noble Lord, and vote in favour of the resolutions before the House.

Mr. James

said, that he entirely concurred with the noble Lord. If they were to return to the old practice of debating petitions, they would have to bid farewell to Sessions of five, six, or seven months, they would have to sit from the 1st of January to the 31st of December, all day and all night.

Lord F. Egerton

said, in explanation, that in adding the words "for the current service of the year," of which the hon. Member for Finsbury had complained, it was his intention to meet the case, which had already occupied much of the attention of the House.

Mr. Roebuck

said, that it was clear the addition of the words for "the current service of the year" would narrow the proposition of the noble Lord. The more large the proposal the greater number of petitions it included, and of course narrowing the proposition meant bringing down the number of petitions. There would be a smaller number of petitions presented on questions affecting the revenue. The motion of the hon. Member for Finsbury being lost by one, the noble Lord comes forward with resolutions not confined to the question, whether such petitions be presented or not, but travelling back to a resolution of the House affecting all petitions whatever. The noble Lord and the House had found that petitions must be presented, but they declare that it is inconvenient they should be discussed. The noble Lord came forward to cover the retreat of his friends with a string of resolutions, granting them (the Liberals) the honour of their victory, but depriving them of its substance, thus reversing for Ministers the order of English proceedings, by which it was usual to gain the victory and lose its substance; and following the course of foreign diplomacy by which it was usual to lose the victory and gain the substance thereof. In proving the right of presenting petitions to the House at present, he believed they were only fighting for shadows. If they placed the right hon. Gentleman in a minority to-night, they would gain nothing by it, for the right of petitioning had become a farce, or had passed away.

Viscount Howick

said, if the right of petitioning had become a farce, it was through having been abused by speeches as utterly useless as that of the hon. and learned Member for Bath. The resolutions virtually included every petition that could be offered; and as to the right of speaking on their presentation, why, if the old practice were revived in that respect, the business of the House could never be got through. Nor could the evil be obviated by having, as was sometimes suggested, early sittings; for that only led to a greater evil—the introduction of a great many statements utterly without foundation into the House, when no one was present to hear and contradict them. Petitions now, by the rules of the House, received every attention that could be of practical utility; and when any petition was presented on which it was wished to raise a discussion, a most easy course was open for the attainment of that object. Any change in the practice could only tend to indiscriminate and useless speech making, which would waste the public time as much as did speeches like that just delivered by the hon. and learned Member.

Mr. C. Wood

suggested an alteration, to provide, on the one hand, for the reception of petitions on matters not before the House (as to which he thought there was a little ambiguity), and, on the other, for the rejection of petitions, nor irregular in form, but on matters of which the House positively declined to take cognizance.

Sir G. Clerk

conceived the proposed amendment would add to the utility of the resolution.

Mr. O'Connell

said, although he had a strong feeling that petitions were not done entire justice to, he felt as strongly that it would never do to permit a revival of the old practice of indiscriminate debating on petitions being presented.

Sir T. Wilde

was at a loss to see why the House need be involved in a discussion of this nature, when they could get rid of the difficulty by rejecting the first five resolutions. Those resolutions related to the question whether petitions should be debated or not. The other resolutions merely related to the question whether certain petitions should or should not be received? He thought the best course would be to declare that those petitions were to be received according to the rules of the House, and to give up the first five resolutions as superfluous. It was well known that any Member who thought proper might give notice of his intention to bring any particular petition under the consideration of the House; on those occasions there was, generally speaking, a pretty full attendance of Members acquainted with the subject, and this was a mode of dealing with petitions which appeared to him greatly preferable to the practice of suddenly bringing forward petitions at a moment when no person except the Member presenting them knew anything of the matter.

The House divided on the first resolution—Ayes 268; Noes 46: Majority 222.

List of the AYES.
A'Court, Capt. Buller, E.
Acton, Col. Bunbury, T.
Adare, Visct. Burrell, Sir C. M.
Ainsworth, P. Burroughes, H. N.
Allix, J. P. Busfeild, W.
Antrobus, E. Byng, G.
Arbuthnott, hon. H. Campbell, Sir H.
Arkwright, G. Campbell A.
Bagot, hon. W. Cartwright, W. R.
Bailey, J. Cavendish, hn. G. H.
Baillie, Col. Chelsea, Visct.
Baird, W. Chetwode, Sir J.
Baldwin, B. Cholmondeley, hn. H,
Baring, hon. W. B. Chute, W. L. W.
Barnard, E. G. Clay, Sir W.
Barrington, Visct. Clayton, R. R.
Baskerville, T. B. M. Clements, Visct.
Bell, M. Clerk, Sir G.
Beresford, Capt. Clive, hon. R. H.
Beresford, Major Cochrane, A.
Bernard, Visct. Cockburn, rt. hn.Sir G.
Blackburne, J. I. Colebrooke, Sir T. E.
Blackstone, W. S. Colvile, C. R.
Blakemore, R. Courtenay, Visct.
Bodkin, W. H. Cowper, hon. W. F.
Boldero, H. G. Craig, W. G.
Botfield, B. Cripps, W.
Bramston, T. W. Currie, R.
Broadley, H. Dalrymple, Capt.
Brotherton, J. Damer, hon. Col.
Browne, hon. W, Dawnay, hon. W. H.
Bruce, Lord E. Denison, E. B.
Buck, L. W. Dickinson, F. H.
Buckley, E. Dodd, G.
Buller, C. Douglas, Sir H.
Douglas, J. D. S. Hogg, J. W.
Drummond, H. H. Holdsworth, J.
Dugdale, W. S. Houldsworth, T.
Duncan, G. Holmes, hon.W.A'Ct.
Dundas, F. Howard, hon. J. K.
Dundas, D. Howard, Lord
Dundas, hon. J. C. Howard, hon. E.G.G.
Du Pre, C. G. Howick, Visct.
East, J. B. Hutt, W.
Easthope, Sir J. Irton, S.
Egerton, W. T. Irving, J.
Egerton, Sir P. Jackson, J. D.
Egerton, Lord F. James, W.
Ellice, rt. hon. E. James, Sir W. C.
Ellice, E. Jermyn, Earl
Eliot, Lord Johnson, W, G.
Estcourt, T. G. B. Johnston, A.
Evans, W. Johnstone, Sir J.
Farnham, E. B. Johnstone, H.
Fellowes, E. Jones, Capt.
Feilden, W. Kirk, P.
Ferrand, W. B. Knatchbull, r. h. Sir E.
Filmer, Sir E. Knight, H. G.
Fitzroy, Capt. Labouchere, rt. hn. H.
Fitzroy, Lord C. Lambton, H.
Fitzroy, hon. H. Langston, J. H.
Fleming, J. W. Law, hon. C. E.
Follett, Sir W. W. Legh. G. C.
Forbes, W. Leicester, Earl of
Forester,hon.G.C.W. Lemon, Sir C.
Forster, M. Lincoln, Earl of
French, F. Lindsay, H. H.
Fuller, A. E. Loch, J.
Gaskell, J. Milnes Lockhart, W.
Gill, T. Lowther, hon. Col.
Gladstone.rt.hn.W.E. Lyall, G.
Gordon, Lord F. Lygon, hon. General
Gore, M. Macaulay.rt.hon.T.B.
Gore, W. O. Mackenzie, T.
Gore, W. R. O. Mackenzie, W. F.
Goring, C. M'Geachy, F. A.
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. Maher, V.
Graham, rt. hon. Sir J. Mahon, Visct.
Granger, T. C. Manners, Lord J.
Greenall, P. Marsham, Visct.
Greene, T. Martin, J.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Martyn, C. C.
Grimsditch, T. Master, T. W. C.
Grimston, Visct. Masterman, J.
Guest, Sir J. Miles, P. W. S.
Hale, R. B. Miles, W.
Hamilton, C. J. B. Mitchell, T. A.
Hamilton, W. J. Mordaunt, Sir J.
Hamilton, Lord C. Morgan, O.
Harcourt, G. G. Morris, D.
Hardinge,rt.hn.Sir H. Morison, General
Hardy, J. Mundy, E. M.
Hatton, Capt. V. Murray, C. R. S.
Hawes, B. Napier, Sir C.
Hay, Sir A. L. Neeld, J.
Heathcoate, Sir W. Neeld, J.
Henley, J. W. Neville, R.
Hepburn, Sir T. B. Newry, Visct.
Hill, Lord M. Nicholl, rt. hon. J.
Hill, Sir R. Norreys, Lord
Hinde, J.H. O'Brien, A. S.
Hodgson, R. O'Brien, W. S,
Ord, W. Stanley, Lord
Owen, Sir J. Stanley, hon. W. O.
Packe, C. W. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Paget, Col. Stanton, W. H.
Pakington, J. S. Stewart, J.
Palmerston, Visct. Stuart, Lord J.
Peel, rt. hon. Sir R. Stuart, W. V.
Pendarves, E. W. W. Strutt, E.
Philips, M. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Pigot, Sir R. Thesiger, F.
Polhill, F. Thornhill, G.
Pollock Sir F. Trench, Sir F. W
Praed, W. T. Trotter, J.
Price, R. Turner, E.
Pringle, A. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Protheroe, E. Vere, Sir C. B.
Pusey, P. Verner, Col.
Reade, W. M. Waddington, H. S.
Reid, Sir J. R. Wall, C. B.
Rice, E. R. Welby, G. E.
Rolleston, Col. Whitmore, T C.
Round, C. G. Wilbraham,hon.R.B.
Round, J. Wood, C.
Rushbrooke, Col. Wood, Col.
Russell, Lord J. Wood, Col. T.
Russell, C. Worsley, Lord
Sandon, Visct. Wortley, hon. J. S.
Scarlett, hon. R. C. Wrightson, W. B.
Sheppard, T. Wyndham, Col. C.
Shirley, E. P. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Sibthorp, Col. Young, J.
Smollett, A. TELLERS.
Somerset, Lord G. Fremantle, Sir T.
Sotheron, T. H. S. Baring, H.
List of the NOES.
Archbold, R. O'Connell, D
Bernal, Capt. O'Connell, M.
Blake, M. O'Connell, M. J.
Blake, M.J. O'Connell, J.
Blake, Sir V. Pechell. Capt.
Blewitt, R. J. Plumridge, Capt.
Bowring, Dr. Powell, C.
Bridgeman, H. Rainsbottom, J.
Butler, hon. Col. Roche, E. B.
Chapman, B. Roebuck, J. A.
Cobden, R. Seale, Sir J. II.
Crawford, W. S. Somers, J. P.
Curteis, H. B. Strickland, Sir G.
Dennistoun, J. Tancred, H. W.
Duncombe, T. Thornely, T.
Ewart, W. Wakley, T.
Ferguson, Col. Wason, R.
Fielden, J. Wawn, J. T.
Jervis, J. Watson, W. H.
Leader, J. T. Wilde, Sir T.
Marsland, H. Williams, W.
Moslyn, hon. E. M. L.
Murphy, F. S. TELLERS.
Norreys, Sir D. J. Aglionby, H. A.
O'Brien, C. Wallace, R.

Resolution agreed to. The other resolutions to the 7th agreed to.

On the 7th resolution, "That the above resolutions be made standing orders of the House," being put from the Chair,

Mr. Aglionby

said, this was the resolution to which he and those hon. Gentlemen with whom he generally had the honour to act objected most strongly. The hon. and learned Member for Worcester, to whom the House was indebted for the valuable observations he had made that evening, seemed to be at a loss to understand the reason why these resolutions should be introduced at all; it was a work of supererogation, and could have no other meaning than that the noble Lord and the hon. Gentlemen who supported him would not grant any concession of popular rights without at the same time doing all in their power to restrict those rights. ["Oh ! oh !"] He said that advisedly. Why had these resolutions been introduced if not to do away with those upon which the House had acted before? But why were they to be converted into standing orders Would that add dignity to them? Or was it not intended to make them more binding and stringent? Believing that to be the end in view, he must oppose this last proposition. The noble Lord had dragged the House into a second division on this subject by bringing forward these resolutions, and he believed that their object was, coupled with the last one, to prevent the people exercising some power which the noble Lord and his supporters thought they possessed. The rule upon which the House acted before was found to be sufficient; and he would venture to ask the right hon. Gentleman in the Chair, whether he had ever found any difficulty in keeping hon. Members within proper bounds? He had never seen any instance of an hon. Member, on presenting a petition and exceeding the rule, not stopping on the instant that he was apprised of his mistake by the Speaker. To persist in carrying this proposition would be to show the people that when Ministers were all but beaten▀×as beaten they would have been if hon. Members had continued to present petitions▀×then they would acknowledge the right which the people possessed. Although the right hon. 'Baronet did not give up his opinions, he acknowledged that a majority of only one was insufficient to enable him to carry the question in the long run, and that it would not be just or wise to continue a contest which inconvenienced public business. That feeling was largely expressed by the House, but more extensively still out of doors, by thousands and tens of thou- sands. But why not acknowledge popular rights without fettering them with most obnoxious and unjustifiable conditions? Had a different course been taken the concession would have been gratefully acknowledged out of doors, but it was made in a way which would make it despised. It would be said that they had granted that which they could not withhold, but still they strove to repress the privileges of the people. He believed that many hon. Members who had voted in the majority on the last occasion would not vote in favour of these resolutions being made standing orders, and if many of them expressed a wish to go to a division he would not shrink from the responsibilty of taking one, but he would not suffer his feelings to force him into a useless division.

Mr. Curteis

said, he was inclined to go further than the hon. Member for Cocker-mouth, and would move, instead of the motion now before the House, "That the said propositions be made and considered resolutions of this House." If that was not the way to frame his motion, he would put it in any shape which would declare that the propositions already agreed to should be made not standing orders, but resolutions of the House.

The Speaker

intimated, that they had already become resolutions of the House.

Mr. Wallace

said, he thought he should not pursue the course he had declared he would, for it was quite evident to him that hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House, those who had been in office, and those who were now in office, were united in a wish to put a stop to the petitions of the people being received. He believed it, because he could easily conceive that it would be more convenient to official men to exclude those petitions, as they would then be able to fix the business for their own accommodation, so as to go away early to dinner; and not only that the believed, also, that they were glad to restrict the liberties of the people. The speech of the noble Lord, the Member for Sunderland proved it; and he was glad, that the noble Lord had spoken out that night, for if his constituents were of that character, which he supposed them to be, the noble Lord would himself be taken to task for that speech in the, proper place. Were he one of the noble Lord's constituents, he should be glad to have to execute that task, on the public hustings. He was astonished to hear such a speech from an avowed Reformer. He knew to whom they were much indebted for that reform, which was now, it appeared, almost destroyed; and should regret exceedingly, if a noble Lord in another House should get up in his place, and give expression to similar sentiments.

Mr. Lambton

protested against the unfair speech of the hon. Member against the noble Lord during his absence. [Mr. Wallace: I did not know the noble Lord was absent.] The character of the noble Lord stood too high to be affected by such observations, and his regard for public rights was too well known to be disputed.

Mr. Wallace

repeated, that he did not know the noble Lord was absent, or he would not, perhaps, have said what he had said; but he begged to adhere to every word he had said. He would not refrain from repeating his remarks at a proper opportunity.

Lord J. Russell

denied the existence of any such understanding between hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House, as that to which the hon. Member for Greenock had alluded. That hon. Gentleman was quite mistaken in supposing that these resolutions would prevent discussion; and as to gentlemen in office going home to dinner when they pleased, he did not find it so when he was in office, nor did he think the right hon. Gentlemen opposite found it so now.

Resolution agreed to.