The Marquis of Londonderry
said, that having observed in the public journals that a petition to the King, concerning points of the gravest State policy, had been agreed upon by certain persons styling themselves the Council of the National Political Union, he wished to know from the noble Secretary for the Home Department whether he had felt his duty to present that petition to his Majesty? He was the more induced to ask for information on this point, because he imagined, from the allusion to illegal associations in the Speech from the Throne, that a petition proceeding from such a body would not be acceptable to his Majesty.
§ Viscount Melbourne
said, he would state the course which he had always pursued with respect to petitions presented to his Majesty from bodies styling themselves Political Unions. Any of the learned Lords near the noble Marquis could have informed him, that a body was not necessarily illegal because it styled itself a Political Union. There was no law, either statute or common, which made a Political Union illegal. The object which these Unions had in view, and the means which they adopted for carrying them into effect, made them legal or illegal. The petitions which he received he always, if properly worded, submitted to his Majesty as the petitions of the individuals by whom they were signed, without recognizing or disavowing the assemblies by which they were voted. With respect to the particular petition to which the noble Marquis had referred, it was couched in such terms that he felt it his duty not to lay it before his Majesty.