Added by Marjie Bloy, Senior Research Fellow, National University of Singapore, with thanks to Alan Heesom for the text of the document.
The Duke of Wellington made this speech, in answer to a question posed by Earl Grey as to whether the Tory government would introduce a measure for parliamentary reform. Part of the Duke's response was as follows:
The noble Earl [Grey] had alluded to the propriety of effecting Parliamentary Reform. The noble Earl had, however, been candid enough to acknowledge that he was not prepared with any measure of reform, and he could have no scruple in saying that His Majesty's Government was as totally unprepared with any plan as the noble Lord. Nay, he, on his own part, would go further, and say, that he had never read or heard of any measure up to the present moment which could in any degree satisfy his mind that the state of the representation could be improved, or be rendered more satisfactory to the country at large than at the present moment. He would not, however, at the present time, enter upon the subject, or excite discussion, but he should not hesitate to declare, unequivocally, what his sentiments were upon it. He was fully convinced that the countrry possessed at the present moment a Legislature which answered all the good purposes of legislation, and this to a greater degree than any Legislature ever [cols. 52-3] had answered in any country whatever. He would go further and say, that the Legislature and the system of representation possessed the full and entire confidence of the country - deservedly possessed that confidence - and the discussions in the Legislature had a very great influence over the opinions of the country. He would go still further and say, that if at the present moment he had imposed him the duty of forming a Legislature for any country, and particularly a country like this, in possession of great property of various descriptions, he did not mean to assert that he could form such a Legislature as they possessed now, for the nature of man was incapable of reaching such excellence at once; but his great endeavour would be, to form such description of legislature which would produce the same results. The representation of the people at present contained a large body of the property of the country, and in which the landed interest had a preponderating influence. Under these circumstances, he was not prepared to bring forward any measure of the description alluded to by the noble Lord. He was not only not prepared to bring forward any measure of this nature, but he would at once declare that as far as he was concerned, as long as he held any station in the government of the country, he should always feel it his duty to resist such measures when proposed by others. [Hansard, 3rd ser., vol. 1, cols. 44-53]
Last modified 11 March 2002