§ EARL RUSSELL
moved (according to Notice)—That a Select Committee be appointed to whom all Petitions presented to this House shall be referred, with Instructions to the said Committee to report whether any of the Petitions so referred ought to be printed for the Use of this House.689 It very frequently happened that the Petitions presented to the House contained matters of great importance, and which would be of great use to their Lordships in subsequent discussions.
§ LORD REDESDALE
thought that the adoption of the proposal would entail considerable expense with no corresponding advantage, for the Petitions would very seldom be read by anyone. It was open to persons who desired publicity to be given to a particular Petition to print and circulate it for the benefit of the public and of the Post Office. It was likewise in the power of any noble Lord to propose that a Petition be printed, in which case the House would decide whether it was advisable that it should be done. The question had been discussed on previous occasions, and it had always been thought better to adhere to the existing practice. He should like to hear the opinion of noble Lords on the subject; because there could be no objection to deal with it according to the general sense of the House.
§ EARL STANHOPE
gave his cordial support to the proposal. He was of opinion that the printing of Petitions might, in many cases be very useful. The only doubt he entertained was rather as to a point of form. The noble Earl proposed that the Committee should report to the House what Petitions should be printed. Now, he thought it would be a great saving of time if the Committee should have power at once to order the printing of such Petitions as they might think advisable. Such, he believed, was the case with the Committee of the House of Commons.
§ THE DUKE OF SOMERSET
said, as he understood the proposal of his noble Friend (Earl Russell), it would not interfere with the power which any noble Lord had now of moving that a Petition be printed.
§ LORD LYVEDEN
approved the suggestion made by the noble Earl opposite (Earl Stanhope) that the Committee should have power to order Petitions to be printed.
§ THE EARL OF MALMESBURY
said, as far as his own opinion was concerned—for this was not a Government question—he saw no objection to the proposal of the noble Earl (Earl Russell) except that it would entail some expense. At the same time, he thought some Petitions might be very usefully printed. At present the public were under the impression—not a very 690 wrong one—that very little attention was paid to Petitions presented to Parliament, and, perhaps, the adoption of this Resolution might give a new impetus to the presentation of such addresses. As to the proposal of the noble Earl, interfering with, the right of any Peer to move that his Petition be printed, he apprehended it would have no such effect. The fact that a Peer had made a Motion to have his Petition printed, if the House agreed to it, would supersede the necessity of the Committee ordering the printing of the same Petition.
§ EARL RUSSELL
said, he had no objection to adopt the noble Earl's (Earl Stanhope's) suggestion that the Committee should have power at once to order the printing of Petitions.
§ LORD REDESDALE
thought the practice of printing Petitions might be very much abused. A person might present a pamphlet in the shape of a Petition, and have it printed at the public expense. He only hoped when the Petitions were printed that their Lordships would read them.
THE MARQUESS OF CLANRICARDE
said, that the Committee, of course, would exercise a discretion with respect to the Petitions that should be printed, and he thought that power might very well be given to them.
§ After a few words from Lord STANLEY of ALDERLEY,
§ Motion amended, and agreed to.
§ Resolved, That a Select Committee be appointed to whom all Petitions presented to this House, other than Petitions relating to Private Bills, shall be referred, with Instructions to the said Committee to direct the printing for the Use of the House of such Petitions as they shall think fit.—(The Earl Russell.)