§ Mr. Dent
moved for leave to bring in a bill for better regulating Recognizances entered into upon Petitions on Controverted Elections. The 26th of the king, he stated, had not provided an adequate remedy against vexatious petitions. It required the principal in a petition to enter into a recognizance of £200 and each of the sureties into one of £100; but though it required the sureties to give in their residence, it did not require that of the principal, so that there was generally much difficulty to find him in the event of the recognizances being forfeited. It was to obviate this difficulty, and to discourage vexatious petitions, that he proposed to bring in his bill, which, when printed, he should suffer to lie over till next session. One of the provisions of the bill would be to require of the petitioner to deposit £200 with the barons of the exchequer, which sum would be to be returned, if the petition should not be declared frivolous, or, if it should, to be disposed of, one half to the sitting member, the other to his majesty. That some such provision was necessary, would appear from what had happened in the case of the borough he represented. There had been no contest there, and yet a petition had been maliciously presented against his return which had been signed by 5 persons, not one of whom was at that time within 200 miles of the place. One was a barber, another a common porter, a third a day-labourer, and a fourth a jack-ass driver, and all had been bribed to give their signatures to the petition. The necessity of the measure would also be obvious from the circumstance, that of the 54 petitions which had been presented in the last parliament, 18 had been abandoned without any recognizances having been 1069 entered into, and of the 31 petitions presented this parliament, 7 had already been given up for want of recognizances.
could not help thinking that some regulation was necessary upon this subject. The practice of presenting vexatious petitions had become too frequent, and it was not proper that such libels upon the sitting members should be permitted. He hoped his hon. friend would take up the bill next session, when he assured him of his cordial support.—The bill was then brought in and read a first time.