§ Earl Cawdor
, in presenting a Petition from Prendergast, praying that that town might be included in the borough of Haverfordwest, said, he wished to take that opportunity of observing, in relation to that borough that if the Reform Bill had taken care of his interest, as had been asserted in another place, it was without his knowledge and participation. He was willing to bear any responsibility that justly attached to him, but he must say, that he knew nothing whatever of the provisions of the Bill till they were explained in the other House of Parliament. The noble Lord added, in reference to that Bill, that he was ready to make any sacrifice which that measure might require; that he was determined to support that measure, not from the love of change, or for ulterior objects, but because he hoped and trusted that the certain effect of that Bill would be, to render impossible any ulterior objects which any person might have in view ever being effected.
The Earl of Winchilsea
rose to present a Petition from the county of Kent, signed by the High Sheriff. on behalf of the meeting at which it had been unanimously adopted, praying that their Lordships might pass the Bill which had been introduced in the other House of Parliament, for effecting a Reform in the Representation of the people. As the petition was exceedingly short, and in order to meet the objection which had been started by the noble Duke opposite, he would move 981 that the prayer of it be read to their Lordships. The petition, which prayed that their Lordships would pass the Bill in all its parts, having been accordingly read by the Clerk, the noble Earl proceeded to state, that it had been unanimously adopted at a most respectable meeting of the freeholders of the county of Kent, and the signature of the High Sheriff to it was a sufficient proof that it had been adopted unanimously; for if a single voice or a single hand had been raised against it at the meeting, that officer could not have signed it, as he had done, on behalf of the meeting. He remembered himself, on the occasion of a public meeting in the county of Kent, having raised his hand against the petition which was proposed, and thus having prevented the Sheriff from signing it on behalf of the meeting, as it had not been adopted unanimously. But in this instance the petition had been adopted unanimously, not a single voice had been raised against it, and it had therefore been signed by the High Sheriff, and it might be justly taken by their Lordships as expressing the sentiments of the people of Kent in favour of the measure of Reform which had been introduced into the other House. He was aware of the inconvenience of the practice of discussing that subject on the presentation of petitions; he should therefore refrain from going into that discussion until the proper occasion should arrive for it, which he sincerely hoped and trusted would soon be the case, when the Bill now in the other House would be laid upon their Lordships' Table. He could not, however, avoid expressing his cordial concurrence in the prayer of this petition, and he was convinced that the feelings and sentiments embodied in that petition, adopted at a public meeting of the county of Kent, convened by the highest constitutional authority, for the purpose of considering this subject, were the sentiments and feelings entertained by the great body of the people at large. The people of Kent, as well as the people of this country at large, did not support this measure, because they considered it a revolutionary measure, as it had been unfoundedly denominated by its opponents; but they supported it because they wished well to the constitution of the country. He concurred with the great majority of the people of this country in giving his cordial support to this measure of Reform: that it 982 was revolutionary he totally and entirely denied, and he contended that it was a measure which was supported by persons as much attached to the institutions of the country as those individuals could possibly be who had brought forward such a charge against this measure, and who had adduced no arguments to prove that such a charge was well founded. In what single respect, he would ask, did that measure go to take from the prerogative of the Crown, or from the privileges of that House, or what did it do more than restore to the people those rights and privileges to which they were justly entitled? He should not proceed further on this occasion, as he hoped that the opportunity would soon be afforded to him for expressing his opinions more clearly and fully on this momentous question.
§ The Marquis Camden
said, that he was one of those who thought that that House was the most befitting place for a peer of the realm to express his sentiments upon that or any other public question. Acting upon that principle, he had not attended the meeting from which this petition had emanated. Although, however, he had not attended this meeting, he could state, from the connexion which he had with the county of Kent, that a great portion of the inhabitants of that county were not in favour of the Reform Bill now in progress in the other House.
The Earl of Winchilsea
said, that the noble Lord seemed to object to his attending a public meeting of the people ["No, no, "from the Marquis Camden.] He attended there as a freeholder of the county of Kent; and he would say, that, attending therein that character, he felt as proud of it as the highest honour to which he was entitled. The noble Lord had asserted that there was a great diversity of opinion on this subject in the county of Kent. He was sure that if the noble Lord had attended the public meeting of the county at which this petition had been unanimously adopted, he would have come to a different conclusion as to the opinion of the people of Kent on this subject.
§ The Marquis Camden
said, that he did not at all object to the noble Lord's attending the meeting in question. All he said was, that he thought that that House was the best place for a noble Lord to discuss such matters.
§ Petition laid on the Table.