MR. EGERTON ALLEN, &c.) (Pembroke
I beg to ask the Chairman of the Public Petitions Committee whether he is aware that the number of signatures marked on the Petition against the Established Church (Wales) Bill from inhabitants of Tenby (No. 20,156) was 1,672, whereas the number counted was 1,546; whether he is aware that the rector of Tenby, and three curates, and Dr. D. A. Reid, churchwarden, signed the Petition (No. 20,148) from the clergy and laity of the rural deanery of Narberth as well as the Petition from the inhabitants of Tenby; that the rectors of Begelly, Yerbeston, Crunwere, Jeffreston, and Lawrenny, and the vicars of Martletwy and St. Issell's, signed the Petition from the rural deanery of Narberth as well as the Petitions from their own parishes respectively; and whether he will advise the Committee en Public Petitions to call the attention of the House to all eases where the same people sign more than one Petition with respect to the same Bill?
§ * SIR C. DALRYMPLE (Ipswich)
The Committee take no cognisance of the number of signatures endorsed upon a Petition by the petitioners themselves, but report to the House the number officially counted in accordance with their Order of Reference. It is a fact that the persons mentioned in the second part of the question signed more than one Petition; but the Committee hold that it is permissible for a person to sign in an official capacity, even though he may have signed as a resident in the district from which a Petition emanates. In reply to the third part of the question, the difficulty of giving effect to the suggestion would be very great; but the Committee will report to the House any case that may be brought to their notice that does not come within the exception to which I have referred.
* MR. EGERTON ALLEN
Is every member of a Rural Deanery, clergyman or layman, entitled to sign in an official capacity?
§ SIR C. DALRYMPLE
The case is one that rarely occurs. We hold that the petitioners who signed the second Petition were within their rights.
§ MR. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN (Kent, Tunbridge)
Is it not a fact that one Petition was for inhabitants of various districts, and the other for the clergy of the Rural Deanery?
* MR. EGERTON ALLEN
I may say it is not a fact. [Cries of "Order!"] I did not intend to cast any reflection on the hon. Member. I am sorry I chose my words so badly, and I withdraw them. Of course, I only meant to say that the Petition on the face of it was from the clergy and laity.