HL Deb 09 February 1818 vol 37 cc215-6
Lord Holland

apologized to their lordships for troubling them with a few words on a subject which he had not the opportunity of bringing regularly before them. A petition had been transmitted to him, in order to be presented to the House, which he regretted to say he had unfortunately mislaid or lost. The petition itself, and the circumstances under which it was to be presented, were of great public importance. It had been the wish of the petitioners, among whom were many highly respectable persons, that it should be presented to their lordships House in time to be referred to the secret committee. It had been sent to him for that purpose by Mr. Taylor, of Manchester, and he still hoped that he might receive another copy before the committee made their report. He felt it, however, to be his duty, thus publicly to acknowledge his negligence, and express his regret at not being able to comply that day with the wish of the petitioners. Though he had not read the petition which reached him with sufficient attention to recollect its contents, yet, having had access to another petition from the same persons, intended for another place, he was able to state to their lordships its general purport. The allegations it contained were very strong; and coming as they did from persons of respectability, they merited the attention of their lordships. The petitioners stated of their own knowledge, that all the disturbances in that part of the country, and all disorderly proceedings which had attracted the public notice, had been the work of hired spies, informers, and agents of the government. The petitioners had, from their local situation, opportunities of ascertaining the facts they stated, and had made it their business to inquire into and trace the disturbances to their source; but when, in the course of their investigations, they pointed out any individuals as objects of suspicion, they either disappeared from that part of the country, or if carried before magistrates were soon released. He could not vouch for the truth of these allegations, but they were stated by 26 persons of respectable character, who were most anxious of supporting their statements by evidence at the bar of their lordships' House, or before the committee.