HC Deb 02 July 1888 vol 328 cc75-6
MR. SUMMERS (Huddersfield)

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether his attention has been called to the great inconvenience that is caused to Members and Petitioners by the Rule that the prayer to every Petition must be written, and not printed or lithographed; and, whether there is any reason for retaining the Rule in question; and, if not, whether he will take into consideration the advisability of proposing to rescind it?

THE FIRST LORD (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)

Questions similar to that of the hon. Member have been raised during past years, and on each occasion it was decided that lithographed or printed Petitions to this House should not be admitted. If the Rule was relaxed the number of Petitions would be largely increased, and petitioning would probably fall into the hands of organized bodies, to the detriment of the spontaneous exercise of the free general right of petitioning. I have reason to believe that the subject has recently been under the consideration of the Select Committee on Public Petitions, of which the hon. Baronet the Member for Walsall is Chairman; and it would probably be for the advantage of the House if he would state the conclusion at which his Committee have arrived.


said, the Committee of which he was Chairman had considered this question. They were quite sensible of the inconvenience to Members and Petitioners of the present Rule; but they feared that any relaxation of it would tend to lower the value of the right of petitioning, and to prevent it from being any longer regarded as the expression of free opinion.