HC Deb 28 July 1859 vol 155 cc538-9

informed the House that certain petitioners who had complained of undue Elections and Returns for Kidderminster, Kingston upon Hull, and New Windsor had signified their intention not to proceed with their respective Petitions.


said, that, as the petition which had just been withdrawn was presented against his hon. Colleague and himself, he hoped the House would allow him to make a few observations. He begged to enter his indignant protest against the present system of election petitions, and against the manner in which petitions were promoted, presented, and withdrawn. He thought it was high time that the House should devise some means by which to ascertain those which were bonâ fide, and those which were sham, frivolous, and vexatious. As the law now stood, nothing was easier than for any individual actuated by feelings of petty pique and malevolence to get up a petition, and subject the successful candidate to considerable annoyance and indignity. As regarded the Windsor election, he ventured to say few elections were conducted more fairly. His own canvass resembled a tri- umphant ovation; and, although he was called away in the middle of it on account of a severe domestic affliction, yet such were the enthusiasm and warmth of feeling on the part of his kind and generous friends that he was returned in his absence. 352 votes were polled in his favour out of 523 votes recorded. However, being obnoxious to a small clique, he was threatened in the early part of his canvass with a petition if another gentleman holding the same political opinions as his own should come forward as a candidate; and this threat was repeated to him by a young gentleman in the legal profession not overwhelmed with briefs or discretion, with this interesting addition, that he would give his gratuitous services against him. There was one other very remarkable feature connected with that petition, and which was that it originated in the rather distant town of Preston, and was put in as a cross petition by the Member for Preston, and the same gentleman who entered into recognizance for that entered into recognizance for Windsor at the same time, place, and hour. He need not assure the House that he treated both these threats with the most perfect indifference, and that up to that day he had not engaged the services of any of those eminent nisiprius gentlemen always available on such occasions, and that he had not paid one single farthing towards the withdrawal of the petition. He hoped the hon. Member for Sandwich (Mr. Knatchbull Hugessen) would carry out his promise to introduce a Bill on this subject, and in that case the measure should receive his earnest support.