wished to apply to the House that the ordinary rule with regard to the presenta- 206 tion of petitions might in his case be dispensed with, as he had a petition to which he desired to draw the attention of the House, which had peculiar reference to the question which had been adjourned for debate from last night. There was another ground, however, on which he appealed to the House, which was, that it was his intention on a future day to found a motion on the petition, and he therefore desired to obtain leave that it should be printed. It was from Mr. Rigby Wason, and referred to the Committee on the Ipswich election, and having read it through, he believed there was nothing in it which could be deemed to be an infringement of the orders of the House. It contained nothing which impugned the motives of the Committee, nor did it allude to the decisions of particular individuals. The prayer of it was, that, considering the decisions contrary to those which had formerly been given, and some of them contrary both to law and common sense, the House would inquire into the means by which they might be prevented from being hereafter acted upon as precedents; and also that the House would adopt some measure by which an improvement of the law as regarded election petitions might be insured. Under these circumstances, therefore, he desired that the petition should be printed, but he desired first to read its substance to the House. The hon. Member read the petition, which, having stated the formal facts with regard to the petition, went on to allege that there were certain decisions come to by the Committee which, without impugning the motives of the Committee, were not, in the petitioner's judgment, legal. In order to exhibit instances, he stated, that one voter was struck off because he was a parish constable, and another instance of a deputy returning-officer.
§ Petition to lie on the table.
§ Mr. T. Gibson
rose and said, that he thought the House would be unable to do strict and impartial justice to both parties unless the evidence taken before the Committee was brought before the House He hoped, therefore, that some hon. Member who had sat on the Committee would move, that the evidence should be printed. With regard to the decision as to the special constables, it was a unanimous vote, and could not be considered a 207 party decision, and it was a decision, in point of fact, upon the plain construction of an Act of Parliament.
§ Mr. Jenkins
said, that as Chairman of the Committee, he had intended last night to move for the production of the minutes, but he had been prevented doing so by his understanding that the hon. Member for South Essex would have moved for them. He was most anxious that the minutes should be produced, in order that the conduct of the Committee might be vindicated; and he, therefore, moved as an amendment to the motion of the hon. Member opposite, that they should be laid on the table.
§ Sir R. Heron
wished distinctly to state that he did not wish to impugn the decision come to on the occasion alluded to. He happened to have voted in the minority, but the question was exceedingly difficult to decide, and he was by no means satisfied that he gave the vote in the way in which it should be given. He was no lawyer, and he gave his decision conscientiously and to the best of his abilities, but he did not mean to assert that his judgment was perfectly right. There were opposite decisions of Committees on this point; he did not, therefore, impugn the proceedings that had taken place, but it showed how bad the practice was when there were such contradictory decisions.
Mr. Williams Wyun
did not object to the motion under existing circumstances, but after the accusations brought against the decisions of the Ipswich Committee, the house could not deny the Members of it the opportunity of making public their proceedings.
§ Petition to be printed.