§ MR. GRIFFITH - BOSCAWEN (Kent, Tunbridge)
I beg to ask the Chairman of the Committee on Public Petitions whether the Petition from Pwllheli against the Welsh Church Suspensory Bill has been destroyed by order of the Committee; and whether, before arriving at their decision, the Committee gave any opportunity to the vicar of Pwllheli and the Committee who got up the Petition to be heard in defence of their action; and, if not, would he explain the reason?
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon, &c.)
I would ask the hon. Member who replies to state whether the Members of the House who brought forward this charge and the Members of the Committee who supported them were not in the first instance favourable to such an inquiry as is indicated by the hon. Member; whether the Chairman of the Committee did not say that after a careful examination of the Petition itself he had come to the conclusion that the intrinsic evidence of manipulation afforded sufficient confirmation of the charge against it; and whether he did not consequently propose that it should be rejected?
§ MR. BYLES (York, W.R., Shipley)
In the absence of the Chairman of the Committee on Public Petitions, I have to say that I have made inquiry, and I am informed, first, that the Petition in question has not been destroyed at all, either by order of the Committee or otherwise; secondly, that the reasons which the Committee had for arriving at their decision were stated in the House publicly after our meeting last Wednesday week by the Chairman of the Committee (Sir C. Dalrymple) and in our Report; and, thirdly, that the vicar of Pwllheli was not given any opportunity of being heard by the Committee, who, indeed, did not attempt to hold any judicial injury. With regard to the questions by the hon. Member for the Carnarvon Boroughs, it was felt that the primâ facie evidence brought before the Committee justified them in believing that it was not a bonâ fide one with regard to a large number of the signatures, and it was thought that the best course to recommend to the House was that the Petition ought to be rejected.
§ MR. GRIFFITH - BOSCAWEN
Will the hon. Member inform the House what the reason of this decision was?
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
Am I right in believing that the Committee have no objection to inquiring into this matter, if the vicar of Pwllheli and his promoters desire it?