HL Deb 18 August 1835 vol 30 cc626-8
The Marquess of Lansdowne

presented a Petition from Oswestry, in favour of the Corporation Reform Bill, and praying that their Lordships would pass it in an unmutilated state, as it had beeu sent up from the other House of Parliament.

Lord Brougham

feared that the petitions with this prayer, came a day too late. The petitioners asked, that the Bill should be passed unmutilated, whereas even now, it had been mutilated and mangled in a thousand places already. He had presented a petition from the inhabitants of Truro, which stated that the Corporation there did not represent the wishes or the feelings of the inhabitants. The petitioners said, that there never was a measure of Reform which was so loudly called for as the Municipal Reform Bill, and that, of all places in the kingdom, Truro was most in want of it.

Lord Ellenborough

said, that with respect to Oswestry, the revenue of that place was but 25l. a-year; that the whole of that revenue was expended in paying constables, and that there were only two Magistrates in the town, who did the business for nothing; so that he could hardly conceive how the Bill could improve their condition.

The Earl of Devon

said, that the noble and learned Lord opposite had stated, that the Bill had been mutilated and mangled. He did not agree with the noble and learned Lord, and he had now in his hand a petition from a large number of most respectable persons, inhabitants of Exeter, expressing their gratification at the conduct pursued by their Lordships' House. The petitioners wished that the right to choose Common Councilmen in their city should be somewhat extended; but they made no complaint whatever against their Corporation. He was aware that a petition of an opposite kind had recently been presented from some inhabitants of Exeter. All he could say about that petition was, that in a large town there would always be a great many people of one way of thinking, and a great many of another. There was no complaint against this Corporation, nor against the management of any trust. Yet upon this subject it had been stated, that there had been considerable misappropriations of the revenue in the hands of the Corporation. It was there said, that the sum for which the Corporation was indebted to the charities, amounted to 17,000l., and that it had misappropriated the funds of the charities of which it was the trustee. Now that was a matter of fact. It was said, "hear the other side," and he said so in this instance. He held in his hand a statement from the proper office in Chancery, from which it appeared that certain parties had charged the Corporation with misappropriation of trust funds. Inquiries had been directed in the usual way, and it was found that the Corporation was not indebted one farthing in the way alleged, and that there had been no misappropriation, and the Corporation was ordered to have its costs paid out of the fund. That was quite decisive on the question.

The Marquess of Westminster

wished to know, whether that petition was agreed to at a public meeting, or at a hole-and-corner meeting.

The Earl of Devon

could not answer whether it was agreed to at a public meeting, or what definition his noble Friend gave to the words hole-and-corner meeting. All he could say was, that the names attached to it were most respectable, and the residences of the persons signing it were annexed. He ought to add, that it was not a petition from the Corporation nor from persons connected with it.

The Marquess of Westminster

said, that he suspected it must have come from a hole-and-corner meeting, or was a hole-and-corner petition, which meant a petition privately carried from one place to another, to get as many signatures as possible in that way.

Lord Poltimore

spoke of the great respectability and number of the petitioners, whose petition from this same city he had presented a few evenings since.

Lord Brougham

felt quite sure that the petition now presented was not agreed to at a public meeting—if it was, he should like to possess it, for such a rare petition as one of this kind, agreed to at a public meeting, deserved the honour of being framed and glazed as a curiosity. He had never seen such a petition yet.

The Duke of Wellington

had got such a petition, which he should present, and then tender to the noble and learned Lord. It was a petition from Hastings. It had been some time in his possession, and he had delayed presenting it, as he believed the noble Viscount opposite had one of an opposite kind from the same place, and he wished them to be presented together.

Lord Brougham

acknowledged the great kindness of the noble Duke. That was just the way with curiosity collectors. When they found that a brother collector wanted a curiosity, they never failed to supply him with one. He should certainly beg their Lordships to let him have this curiosity, though he had some suspicion that the less this rarity was looked into, the better would it be for its reputation. It might turn out like Martinus Scriblerus's shield, to be but a brass vessel after all, and its glorious polish might altogether rub off with a little cleaning. He feared that he should not be long in possession of it as a curiosity of the kind he had wished for.

Petition laid on the Table.

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