HC Deb 07 February 1842 vol 60 cc126-8
Sir R. H. Inglis

moved, the reappointment of the Select Committee on public petitions consisting of the following Members:—Mr. G. W. Wood, Sir E. Knatchbull, Mr. Greene, Mr. E. Buller, Mr. Brother-ton, Mr. 0. Stanley, Mr. Pusey, Mr. C. Howard, Mr. V. Stuart, Captain Jones, Lord Viscount Duncan, Sir C. Douglas, Lord Fitzalan, and Mr. Buckley. The hon. Gentleman added that he would however beg to withdraw his name, which had formerly been on the list, and to substitute that of Mr. Williams.

Mr. Williams

assured the hon. Baronet that his remarks were not intended to apply to him personally. He (Mr. Williams) entertained a high respect for the hon. Gentleman individually; but he conceived it his duty to maintain the principle for which he had contended. He suggested that the hon. Baronet should permit his name to continue on the list of the committee.

Mr. Wakley

hoped that the name of Mr. Williams would be retained on the committee, for he believed that hon. Gentleman would look after the Radical petitions. He had observed with deep regret that those petitions had not received that kind and generous treatment which had been exhibited towards other petitions. Upon looking over the names of the committee now proposed he thought the petitions to which he alluded were not likely to receive very favourable treatment.

Mr. Roebuck

wished to say a word in explanation of his previous observations, lest it might be supposed he had advanced any incorrect statements when he asked the hon. Member for the University of Oxford, to act on Conservative principles. According to the rules respecting public petitions there were four separate stages in which they might be discussed; but when the Reformed Parliament met, those opportunities of discussion were rendered less available, particularly by the order of the 3rd of February, 1833, which directed, that petitions should be discussed only between the hours of 12 and 3 o'clock in the day. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, was therefore in error, when he said, that it had anciently been the practice of the House not to allow discussion upon petitions. The hon. Baronet was, he believed, in Parliament when the celebrated question of the orders in Council was brought before the House, which was debated for six nights upon petition. He would assert—and he could appeal to the personal knowledge of many hon. Members to verify the fact—that fifty years back no question was proposed to the House, except that of adjournment, without debate; and certainly, for the last century or two, no less than four questions might be proposed to the House upon petitions on which they might be discussed.

Sir R. Peel

said, the question was as to practice, not as to form. He had not spoken of the forms of the House; because, according to those forms, a debate might occur on a motion being made that the petition do lie on the Table. Any Member might avail himself of his privilege in that respect. He could state that the practice of Parliament thirty years ago was not to debate upon petitions; and it would be found from the records of the proceedings of the House that fifty years since there were few debates upon the presentation of petitions to Parliament.

Mr. Williams

hoped that his name would be withdrawn from the committee, and replaced by that of the hon. Baronet (Sir R. Inglis),

Sir R. Inglis

expressed his willingness to accede to the wish of the hon. Gentleman, and to allow his name to remain on the committee.

Motion agreed to. The names of Sir George Clerk, and Mr. Williams having been added.