HL Deb 19 July 1820 vol 2 cc551-3
Lord Erskine

called the attention of the House to a petition from the corporation of London, observing, that he did not wish to give any opinion upon the subject matter of the petition; his opinions were to be known from his vote and conduct in parliament. The House had been in the habit of giving such a latitude to the receipt of petitions, that it became very difficult for any peer of parliament to say what petition, worded respectfully, they would not receive; and he would find it still more difficult to determine what might be the opinion of the House, when the petition tendered was not from any individual, but from the corporation of London. He did not, therefore, feel himself authorized to refuse, as a peer of parliament, to present this petition.

The petition was read, and lord Erskine moved that it do lie on the table.

The Lord Chancellor

said, it was for their lordships to determine, after hearing the allegations in the petition, whether such a petition should lie upon the table.

The Earl of Lauderdale

said, that the petitioners assumed to themselves to know that the bill of Pains and Penalties originated in the secret committee; now he, who was a member of that committee knew of no such thing. The bill of Pains and Penalties did not originate in the secret committee, that committee having no knowledge whatever of it, but was brought forward by his majesty's ministers upon their own responsibility.

The question was put that the petition do lie upon the table, and negatived.

The Earl of Lauderdale

said, that according to the established practice of parliament another motion now became necessary, and he therefore moved that the petition be rejected.

The Duke of Hamilton

urged the House not to go the length of rejecting the petition, as no greater objection could be made against it than might have been stated against many other petitions, which the House had received.

The Lord Chancellor

said, that the city of London had no more right to interfere in the judicial proceedings of that House, than any other city or town. If they were to allow of such an interposition from one quarter, they must expect it from every other, and in that case, it would be infinitely better for the public that their lordships should altogether surrender their judicial functions.

Lord Redesdale

thought the expressions used in the petition, with reference to the secret committee and the bill of Pains and Penalties sufficient cause for its rejection.

Lord Holland

said, that the learned lord had almost convinced him, contrary to his previous opinion, that the petition ought not to be rejected, as if the House were to make a practice of appointing secret committees, he should think it perfectly proper that such a practice should be complained of on behalf of the people at the bar of the House; nor did he see any objection to the expressions used respecting the bill of Pains and Penalties. But there was one allegation in the petition, which was decisive with him that it could not be received, and that was, the assertion, that the whole of the evidence referred to the secret committee, consisted of the depositions taken before the Milan commission. This was an assertion, which, if the petition were received, must be taken as a fact, but of which, nevertheless, he as a peer of parliament, had no knowledge whatever. Upon this ground, therefore, he felt that the petition could not be received.

The petition was then rejected.