HL Deb 04 March 1831 vol 3 cc5-7
The Lord Chancellor

stated, that he had a variety of Petitions in his hand, praying for Parliamentary Reform. On that subject he would imitate the proper and prudent example of the noble Lords who had alluded to it the other night, and would abstain, for the present, from making any observations on the plan of Reform now under consideration in the other House, reserving himself till the question should come regularly before their Lordships for discussion.

The Duke of Buckingham

begged to interrupt the noble Lord, to inquire if these petitions prayed for the Ballot?

The Lord Chancellor

could not undertake to say that he had classed the whole of the Petitions, but a great part of them was from Scotch Counties and Boroughs, and he was not aware that any predilection for the Ballot had prevailed in that country. If it had extended to that country at all, it was certain that it was not generally prevalent. His Lordship then presented Petitions, praying for Parliamentary Reform, from St. Pancras, the borough of Ferres, from Petersfield, from Ludlow, from Lyme Regis, from Newburgh, in Fife, from Roxburgh, from St. Luke's, in Middlesex, from Fain, from Thurse, and from different places in Yorkshire and other Counties—in ail thirty-one. He had to apologise to the very respectable and numerous persons by whom the petitions had been signed, in thus reading them like a catalogue, instead of presenting them one by one, and having the prayers of them read in the ordinary manner. But he trusted that he should be excused, when it was considered, there being such a multitude of these Petitions brought forward, and in the course of being brought forward, that their Lordships would be overwhelmed with them, and a great deal of valuable time would be lost, if the ordinary course were to be followed.

The Duke of Norfolk

spoke as follows: I am anxious, my Lords, to avail myself of this opportunity, publicly to express the high pleasure and satisfaction which I have derived from that excellent and admirable measure of Reform which his Majesty's Ministers have introduced into the other House of Parliament—a measure remarkably calculated to ensure the public confidence, and a general attachment to the institutions of the country. It is a measure which cannot fail to prove highly satisfactory to the nation, since it will be one of the best guarantees that could be devised for the public prosperity, and for the liberties and the happiness of all classes of his Majesty's subjects. There is already proof that it has been regarded with high satisfaction by the country, for a Common Council has been held this day in London, and a Meeting in Westminster, for the purpose of conveying to his Majesty's Ministers the sense of gratitude entertained towards them by these most important portions of the community, for the comprehensive and effective, yet wise, moderate, and prudent plan of Reform which they have submitted to Parliament; and it is worthy of remark, that the addresses were agreed to unanimously. It is to be regretted, that much excitement and irritation has prevailed in this country of late, in consequence of distress among the humbler and poorer classes, but nothing could be better calculated to allay these feelings than such a measure as this. I myself have always been a friend to Reform. I have been so from an early period of my life, as is well known to my noble friend at the head of the Administration. I am one of those who must suffer some loss from the adoption of the plan of Reform now under comsideration; but still I rejoice that such a measure has been brought forward; and I shall rejoice still more, if it should be passed into a law. I would gladly sacrifice ten times as much as I shall be called on to sacrifice, for the sake of a measure which will form so admirable a safeguard for the liberties of the subject, and is so well calculated to promote in every way the best interests of the nation.

The Petitions presented by the Lord Chancellor were then laid on the Table.