HC Deb 17 June 1851 vol 117 cc894-7

moved that the petition which he presented on Monday, complaining of the conduct of the officers of the Government at the last election for the borough of Harwich, be printed with the Votes. He now gave notice that he should call the attention of the House to the petition on Friday next.

Motion made, and Question proposed— That the Petition of Electors complaining of the exercise of the Government influence at the late Election, and praying for investigation [presented 16th June], be printed.


objected to the printing of the petition, and begged to appeal to Mr. Speaker requesting the right of hon. Gentlemen to declare whether it was proper for the House, considering that a petition complaining of the return for the borough of Harwich was under investigation, to have this petition printed. There was a similar case in 1834, when Sir Robert Peel and Sir James Scarlett opposed the reception of a petition of a like nature on the ground that it would influence the minds of the Committee appointed to try the merits of the return. He (Sir De L. Evans) thought the discussion proposed by the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Bankes) would be out of order.


said, the petition he had presented did not respect the seat or the election petition. The allegation it contained was a direct charge against the Government. He could not say whether the allegation was true or not; but he felt justified in asking for inquiry. Should the Government or any of their friends say that they wished for delay, he should not object to give it.


said, the petition directly stated that there had been intimidation at the last election, and the election petition also stated that there had been intimidation; therefore the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Bankes) was not correct in saying that this petition was simply against the Government; it was in fact quite germane to the petition affecting the validity of the election. Consistently with the precedent of 1834, and with common sense and reason, the House ought not to entertain a petition containing vague charges of influence and intimidation, when there was a proper tribunal for deciding the question whether the election had been properly conducted or not.


said, the question then only was, that the petition be presented with the Votes. Should the Government object to that Motion, he would take the sense of the House on it. He thought the charge against the Government made in this petition should be tried immediately.


did not apprehend there would be any objection to the petition being printed, but he thought it better that some time should be given before the discussion was brought on, to ascertain whether it came within the rules that had been laid down.


thought it desirable that the discussion should be postponed.


said, a similar petition had been presented this Session in relation to the Falkirk district of burghs. The House had agreed to the reception of the petition; but the hon. Member who presented it (Mr. Cobden) did not raise the question on it until after the Falkirk election petition was brought to a close. In the present case Mr. Speaker had announced that the recognisances for the petition complaining of the return for Harwich had been perfected, and therefore the election petition was in train of being investigated, and this second petition ought not to be discussed.


thought it would be a clear interference with the administration of justice to raise a discussion on the petition.


said, under these circumstances he would not press further proceedings, but he thought the petition ought to be printed with the Votes.


considered that the discretion of printing or not printing the petition should be left in the hands of the Committee on Petitions; and he considered that they would feel it their duty not to print it. If the discussion was not to come on, it would be premature to have the petition printed with the Votes, as that would, to a certain degree, interfere with the question before the Committee. It was important to adhere to the rule of taking no proceedings in that House relative to any matter which was before a Committee. He should oppose the Motion for the printing of the petition.


said, the object of printing petitions was to enable hon. Members to bring questions before that House; but as he understood that the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Bankes) did not intend in this instance to raise a discussion, he thought he ought to suspend his Motion for the printing.


said, that if his hon. and learned Friend were prepared to bring the subject before that House, he was completely justified in moving that the petition be printed; but as his hon. and learned Friend was not so prepared, it would be better to leave the responsibility of printing or not printing the petition on the Committee on Petitions.


, as one of the Committee, could only say that the petition should be duly considered on the morrow.


would with that assurance withdraw his Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.