Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE

Parliamentary Debates

During the Third Session of the Fifth Parliament of the

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, appointed to meet at Westminster, the Eighth Day of November 1814, in the Fifty-fifth Year of the Reign of His Majesty King GEORGE the Third. [Sess. 1814/15.

THE

HOUSE OF LORDS. in pursuits of agriculture. He did not

believe a system so calculated to augment Monday, March 6, 1815.

in every way the direct taxes of that PETITIONS RESPECTING Corn nature and description could have been Laws.] Earl Stanhope said, he had a devised; it was in fact taxing the people great number of petitions numerously upon compound interest. If their lordsigned, to present to their lordships against ships would proceed rightly in so important any alteration in the Corn Laws. One of a case, they would go into a consideration these, he said, was signed by between 9 of the principles on which the revenue and 10,000 persons; a second was signed ought to be raised, and to record those by about the same number; another by principles. These were his sentiments between 7 and 8000, and so forward : all upon points which he trusted their lordwere signed in a very short space of time. ships would, ere it might be too late, take Would that House of Parliament, in which into their earnest consideration. His lordthey were emphatically told the other ship then presented petitions from Whitenight, they should attend to the wishes of chapel, from St. Botolph, from the Towerthe people of Scotland, in the case of the hamlets, from Chatham, signed, as he Trial by Jury, refuse to attend to the observed, by a great number of true men wishes of the people of England, so gene- of Kent, as were two other petitions from rally and unequivocally expressed ? He Rochester and Deptford, also in the county hoped the House would keep in that sen- of Kent, and from several other places; in timent, and attend to the wishes of persons all about ten petitions.—The petitions out of doors, on a subject to which, he were laid on the table. trusted, their lordships would feel it their The Earl of Derby presented a petition duty to pay particular attention, and one from Great and Little Bolton, in the county that interested the individuals deeply. palatine of Lancaster, also against the He cordially agreed in the opinion ex-Corn Bill. His lordship observed, that, pressed by some, and these not merely though from his connexion with that distressed laborious persons, but persons place, he felt it his duty to present their in a most respectable line, that the change petition for the consideration of parliaproposed to be made, would make their ment, he by no means agreed in the present bad condition much worse, thai prayer which it contained. Thinking, as they might be said to fall out of the he did, that the measure now in its profrying-pan into the fire.' On this subject, gress was calculated to prove advatageous he should wish their lordships would take to the country, he should give it his supinto serious consideration those principles port, whatever unpopularity it might exwhich he had laid down, and in the con. pose him to. He was sure that the meascious confidence of support given to sure was not pregnant with the evils aptheir lordships last year for new-modelling prehended from its operation. If he the system with respect to those engaged thought it was, he would be one of the (VOL. XXX.)

(B)

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Jast men to countenance its adoption; and on the table. His lordship then presented he hoped the petitioners would give him petitions to the same effect from the parish the credit of acting to the best of his of St. Leonard's, Shoreditch, signed by judgment. The petition was most re about 18,000 persons in two days; from spectably signed, and was deserving of Wapping, from Plymouth, from Trowevery consideration.-Ordered to lie on bridge, and several places in the county the table.

of Sussex; in all about twelve petitions. The Duke of Susser stated, that he had The Earl of Darnley addressed the a petition to present to their lordships, House at some length upon the general praying also, that no alteration may be subject under consideration, which he made in the corn laws. In presenting seemed to think was still much misconit, however, he wished to be understood as ceived and misrepresented. He adverted giving no opinion whatever upon the subj. to some farther information that would be ject. When it should be under discussion, necessary to illustrate certain points he he would attend to what might be said had advanced in discussion on a former upon both sides of the question, and draw evening, and for which he intended to his conclusions therefrom, according to more. He would again beg leave to enter the best of his judgment. At the same bis protest against the use

bis protest against the use of any language, time, he would take this opportunity of in or out of the House, which might, from saying, that from his present view of the mistaken zeal, tend in any degree to irrisubject, there appeared lo him to be a tate those feelings which were already necessity for farther investigation, and he much misled on the subject. It was formust deprecate any thing like an attempt tunate, after what he had observed against to hurry a question through the House of the first part of a statement, that the nesuch primary consequence. He should act cessary effect of the measure to the con. upon the principle he had referred to, and sumer would be, to advance the average would pledge himself no further. His price of corn to 80s., that he could refer Royal Highness then presented the pe- io an important fact, which was so far detition, which was from certain inhabitanis cisive upon the subject, which was, that the of the town and neighbourhood of Ham- price of the best wheat that day at Markmersmith.

lane, had fallen 5s. per quarter. This, he Lord Grenville said, he had likewise trusted, would have its due effect upon the several petitions to present to the same public mind, which was misled on more effect, and those so numerously and re. than one point connected with the subject. spectably signed by landholders, as well | Of these were the 'asserted facts, that the as others, that he trusted their lordships quartern loaf would rise, were the price at would be fully convinced of the extreme sos., to 16d. or 18d. On this head, he bad impropriety of precipitation and hurry, advanced that, in his opinion, the quartern in dealing with a question in which so loaf, under any fair operation, ought not great a proportion of the population of to exceed is. To bring this part of the the country took so deep an interest. subject more fully before the House, he The first petition which he begged leave would move for accounts of the average to present to their lordships was from the price of wheaten flour, and the average merchants, manufacturers, cotton spinners, price of the quartern loaf, during the last and others in and about the town of Mano ten years; which he doubted not would chester, signed by 52,000 persons. Con- shew that under no fair operation, the sidering the great respectability and num- price being at 80s. that of the quartern ber of those by whom this petition was

loaf hereafter would exceed a shilling. signed, he thought it would be proper to There was one other point to which he move that the petition be read at length. I would claim the attention of their lordThe petition was accordingly read, and ships, namely, to a false assertion which stated the mischiefs which, in the opinion bad been made, including a gross absurdity of the petitioners, would result from a -that the object of those who advocated perseverance in the proposed alteration in the pending measure, was to raise the price the corn laws, by raising the price of proof corn permanently, so as to make the visions in general, sending skilful workmen subsistence of the people dearer hereafter. out of the country to France, the United | He, for one, would declare in the face of States of America, &c. and ultimately their lordships and the country, that if he proving highly injurious even to the thought or believed that this or any other owners of land. The petition was laid measure would have such a permanent

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

RESPECTING

THE

no

effect, he would not support it. On the report precedents of the proceedings in contrary, he in his conscience believed the other cases. effect would be ultimately very different. The Earl of Liverpool said, it was likely He would repeat, that if he thought it petitions would be sent up in the course of would have the injurious effects alluded a few days. to, he certainly would not vote for the It was agreed that the subject should be measure. The noble earl concluded by 1 deferred to Thursday se'nnight. moving for accounts to the effect above stated, which were ordered to be laid be. fore the House accordingly.

HOUSE OF COMMONS.

Monday, March 6. HellESTON ELECTION BILL.] Lord PETITIONS

CORN Grenville wished once more to call the Laws.] This being the last day for reattention of their lordships to the proceed ceiving private petitions, the Speaker enings on the Helleston Election Bill

. As tered the House at a quarter past three, it now stood, he thought it must lie unno. and formed a House immediately after liced on their lordships table till evidence prayers. After some private petitions had was produced. Last year petitions were been received, numerous petitions were presented both for and against the Bill; presented by different members, from this year there were none on either side. nearly all parts of the kingdom, praying One course that might be adopted in this that no alteration might be made in the situation, was to send to the Commons for Corn laws.

minutes of the evidence on which they Mr. Caldert, on presenting the petition · had proceeded. He did not mean it to be from the borough of Southwark, observed,

considered as evidence upon which their that the shortness of the time had only lordships were to act, but merely as a way enabled 7,500 inhabitants to sign it; but of obtaining information. He was not there was doubt that the petition prepared to recommend any proceeding which would be prepared for another in preference to another, but perhaps the place, would be signed by more than three appointment of a committee for the pur- times that number. He took that oppor. pose of investigating the matter might be tunity of adding, that the object of this preferred.

petition was not to entreat consideration The Earl of Liverpool entirely agreed whether 76s. or 80s. were the fittest price, with the noble lord on the subject. He but-decidedly to pray, that no alteration agreed, that if the case was made out, the whatever might be made in the corn laws. principle of the Bill should be adopted; Mr. Barclay presented one from the the more so, as he objected to the more manor of Clapham, signed by 7,700 general measure called Parliamentary Re- persons. form. If the House should go into the Mr. Blackburn presented ten petitions consideration of the Bill, he would carry from different parts of Lancashire ; into the discussion no prejudice or pre- amongst them was the petition from Mansumption on one side or the other. "He chester, which was signed by 54,000 in. saw no objection to sending a message to habitants. On this being presented, the House of Commons, for the information General Gascoyne took occasion to ohon which they had passed the Bill. They serve, that when he had commented on might then summon the witnesses called the unpopularity of this measure in Lan. before that House, and proceed to examine cashire, an hon. member for Lancaster them on their own authority. The evi- had said, that the people were rather dence might be the same, or it might be friendly iban adverse to it. He would very different; but, in either case, they only ask whether the many thousands of would be guided by their own judgments. names signed to all the petitions from He agreed it would be better to wait a few those parts, did not prove directly the days longer.

contrary? The Earl of Lauderdale suggested that The petition from Manchester was a message to the effect proposed was sent ordered to be read. It set forth the une. to the House of Commons last year. They quivocal and unanimous opinion of the might now send for any additional evi- petitioners, that the Bill was the most un. dence. As to the other alternative of ap- advised and injudicious measure pointing a committee, he thought it the brought forward : that the petition.rs best, particularly if it was directed to were convinced it would have the effect

ever

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

of raising the price of labour, and dimi- / was, that the more the measure became
nishing the demand for our own manu- known, the more generally it was exe.
factures. It alluded to the great improve- crated and condemned. The people were
ments in the cotton machinery on the con not to be cajoled by such arguments as
tinent, by which an important rivalship that the Bill would give them cheap bread:
would exist towards us, that could not fail they knew better; they knew the thing
to undermine our manufactures, if this was impossible; and, considering the
measure were passed into a law; the pe inevitable consequences of the measure,
titioners therefore viewed it with ihe he boped the House would not suffer it to
greatest alarm, and prayed it might be proceed further.
rejected.

Mr. Philips said, that the petitions before Sir Robert Peel said, that it was not them were a complete answer to the idea without some uneasiness he rose on this that the minds of the people were changed. occasion. He thought the petition must Upon no question were their opinions so show the unanimous opinion entertained unanimous. It had, indeed, been said that of the Bill in this large manufacturing popular clamour was raised on this occasion, town. He begged the House also to ob- which was rather a curious term from a serve, that the petition was not urged by representative to his constituents. At all any wantof attachment to the government; events, the present petition had no ten. for during the most pressing periods of the dency to inflame, it was argumentative war, the people of Manchester had ab- and rational; it came, in fact, from a stained from all complaints, because they quarter not remarkable for public meethad hoped that the return of peace, when- ings; for the practice at Manchester was, ever it might arrive, would cause a cessa. if a requisition was transmitted to the tion of their burthens. He had witnessed proper officer to convene a meeting, a their feelings on former occasions with counter one was also sent by a greater great uneasiness, as they arose from a want number of persons, and consequently no of bread; but when they were told that meeting was assembled. This practice he it would be injurious to publish their com- strongly reprobated; it went to discounplaints, they submitted to their hard con tenance the fair and constitutional expresdition with the most praiseworthy silence. sion of public feeling. What rendered He considered the present Bill as the most the present petition of greater value was, injurious and unprecedented measure that it was signed by those who heretofore which had occurred in his time, as it went objected to general meetings. A great to affect an immensely numerous and loyal deal had been said of the sufferings of the body of people, who had supported go- agriculturist. On this point he would only vernment by their labour and the advan- say, that an artificial extension of what tages derived from its exercise. Was it, was called their protection would increase then, to be endured, that ministers should their sufferings. Whatever public evil lend themselves to such a measure? He existed, the manufacturer bore his part of would tell them that they had but one the pressure: his wages were getting interest to consult, and that was, to sup- lower, as the petition stated, and were port the labourer in manufacturing in. likely to continue so.

Great manufac. dustry. Was it intended that we should turing and commercial distress prevailed, for the future only live on the produce of to the vital injury of those undeniable our land ? If so, what would become of sources of national wealth and prosperity. the resources from our manufactures, when the petitioners had further stated, that our machinery should be lost? He was artisans were rapidly emigrating to France; persuaded our manufacturers would not sit and what would not be the consequence still and see their trade frittered away and of an increase of those emigrations ? The destroyed : they would go abroad and hon. member concluded by adverting to exert themselves where their labour would the enormous increase of the manufacbe properly appreciated, and enable them turing population of Lancashire. In the to procure the necessaries of life. He, year 1690 it amounted but to 234,805; however, yet hoped, that as the injurious it was now 828,000. Such an increase tendency of the measure must now be was entitled to the serious reflection of evident, it would not be suffered to proceed, the House. but that ministers would convince the Mr. Cawthorne said a few words in ex. anxious multitude that they were alive to planation of his former opinion, relative to their real and vital interests. The fact ihe change in the people's minds upon the

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

subject of this Bill. To the measure he measure having no other effect but that of had given his conscientious support. He raising a considerable revenue from the denied that it was precipitated through consumers of bread for the purpose of the House, having been fully before them raising the rents of land-[hear, hear!) He during a week's discussion. The hon. congratulated the House on the short delay baronet had referred to the manufacturer's which had already been gained. If it had suffering, but the general support of the not been for the adjournment, for one day, poor feli decidedly upon the landed interest

. which he had been fortunate enough to The hon. baronet should have observed, succeed in obtaining, on a former stage, that he had not been much a resident in at three o'clock in the morning, the citithat part of the country. He did not zens of London would not have had an know, perhaps, that considerable relief opportunity of stating their sentiments to bad been afforded to the people during that the House, before this important period in period of distress to which he had alluded. the discussion. The great city of West

General Gascoyne repeated his previous minster, where the two Houses of Parliaobservations, and said, that the proof of ment were held, had not even yet been their truth was to be found in the 118,000 heard on the subject. The hurry with signatures and upwards, from that county which the measure had been carried alone,

through, had prevented them from yet Sir R. Peel replied to an observation having a representative from that great which fell from Mr. Cawthorne, respect- city in the House. The absence of one ing his not having an accurate knowledge of the members was sufficiently accounted of the opinions of the people of Lanca. for; but the other member, ihe worthy shire, in consequence of his not having baronet, who had always been such a zearesided for some time in that county, by lous defender of the rights and liberties of asserting, that although he had been par- the people, would no doubt be anxious to tially absent from the county, he would come forward on such an important occahave the hon. gentleman understand that sion as the present; and he must, at least, his great capital had been constantly em- bave been on the road from the moment ployed in it, and had contributed to the that he heard of the measure. The dissupport of the people, whose sentiments tant parts of the country had been taken he could not but know as well as any man. by surprise ; they thought the subject had

Sir William Curtis rose to present a Pe. | been set at rest last year; and many of the tition, signed by 40,000, and upwards, of towns, from the precipitate manner adoptthe merchants, bankers, and traders of the ed, had not yet been able to express themcity of London. There never was assem selves. It was not enough, in an imporbled a more orderly meeting; attempts tant question of this kind, in which the were made to introduce extraneous topics whole community were so deeply intefor its consideration, which the good sense rested, to have long discussions in that of the assembly altogether rejected. It House; it was their duty to give the was composed, said the worthy alderman, people time to express their sentiments. of all parties in the city, Whig and Tory, To every attempt he saw to hurry this High-church and Low.church, Dissenter measure, he should give his decided

opand Non-conformist. The worthy baro- position. net contended that the representatives of Mr. Alderman Alkins said, that so far the people of England should not shut from the signatures to the petition being tbeir ears to the people's voice.

only 40,000, upwards of 10,000 had signed Sir James Shaw warmly applauded the it on Saturday. He had on Friday night temper of the meeting from which the earnestly intreated the House to postpone petition emanated. It was carried with the the second reading of the Bill; but the uimost and most unexampled unanimity. result was known. It really seemed as if

Mr. Baring wished to take this oppor- the purpose of this precipitation was to tunity of saying that he believed a more prevent the petition from receiving three numerous, respectable, and unanimous times the number of signatures that were meeting had never been assembled, than already affixed to it. [No, no,' from difthat at which the present petition was ferent parts of the House.) At all events, agreed to. He entirely concurred in the he said, it had that effect. The unanimous sentiments stated in that petition. He proceedings which had lately transpired, believed that the measure now in progress fortified the view which he had originally through the House, was substantially a taken upon this subject. This petition,

« PreviousContinue »