HC Deb 04 June 1851 vol 117 cc399-400

said, he had several petitions to present from ten different municipalities in South Africa, praying for the form of constitution which had been promised them by the Imperial Government. He wished, however, before doing so to have the opinion of Mr. Speaker as to whether he could properly present these petitions under circumstances which had arisen. The House would be aware probably that papers had recently been laid on the table containing a despatch from the Governor of the Cape of Good Hope, and in which despatch it was represented that the signatures to these petitions were mostly fictitious; that the petitions were got up in an improper manner; that the whole proceedings were characterised by a want of principle, and that the parties had been able only by the assistance of the press to practise a deception on the House. What he wished to know was whether with such representations from the Governor of the colony in reference to these petitions, he should not subject himself to animadversion if he presented these petitions, without some previous inquiry as to their genuineness. He was not willing to withdraw these petitions because he believed he could prove that they were genuine by evidence now in London, and in the course of two or three days, provided a Committee were appointed for the purpose.


said, the hon. Gentleman was quite right in calling attention to the circumstance that there was some question as to the authenticity of the signatures; but if he had made inquiries, and was satisfied himself that the signatures were genuine, he would be perfectly justified in presenting the petitions.


said, he had satisfied himself that the signatures were genuine. [The hon. Gentleman then presented the petitions which were ordered to lie upon the table.] He begged now to give notice that he should call the attention of the House to-morrow to the allegation of the Governor of the Cape of Good Hope that the petitions were fictitious, and got up for the purpose of deceiving the House.

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