§ Mr. Hunt
presented a Petition from the "Working Classes of Blackburn and its vicinity, in the county of Lancaster, praying for Vote by Ballot. The petition was respectfully worded, and signed by 6,421 persons, all of whom would be excluded from voting under the Reform Bill. The petitioners requested the House to consider the justice of their claim to the exercise of the elective franchise, and they stated it as their opinion, that the present Bill was not adequate to the just expectations of the people. They added, that the labouring classes were the only productive portion of the people—that they contributed the chief part to the enormous taxation—that they paid the interest of the National Debt, and that, therefore, they ought to exercise the elective franchise. The people, in his opinion, had an inherent right to what they asked for in this petition; and until their prayers were granted, the House might rest assured that peace or harmony would not prevail in this country. He had stated in the last Parliament, that the great body of the people were not satisfied with the Reform measure; but he was contradicted by hon. Members. This petition, however, was a proof of the truth of his assertion. He had a similar petition to present from Manchester, signed by 20,000 persons. The petitioners did not offer any opposition to this Bill; but they were not 652 satisfied with it. The petitioners had informed him, that they had been written to by Members of the House, who advised them not to present this petition; and they were told, that if they waited until this Bill was passed, the time would come for them to urge their claims, and there would then be little doubt of their success. He could assure the House, that he had not given advice, even to his own constituents, as to the course that they should pursue with regard to this Bill. They had been advised by other Members; but he refused to interfere in any way. He had always been a consistent advocate of universal suffrage, which he thought necessary to the happiness of the country; he did not mean to say that, by extending the right of suffrage to the heads of all families, content might not be given, but the people had been too long accustomed to ask for universal suffrage, it to be satisfied if they did not get it.
§ Petition to be printed.