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mixed up the clergyman harmoniously with the rest of the constitution, and brought him constantly in contact with his parishioners. He hoped, as during the last year king William's statue had been stripped of its ribbons, the church would not this year be undressed of its property, by depriving the clergy of their territorial rights, and investing them with the shadowy substance given them by way of commutation in this bill; which would one time or other become a precedent for similar measures against the church in England.

ment, to modify the tithe system in Ireland, there was no hope of peace and tranquillity, either for the established church, or for the people at large. At the same time he must object to the principle of the compulsory clause.

Colonel Barry objected to the compulsory clause, but approved of the general principle of the bill, which he thought would be highly beneficial to the interests of the Irish clergy.

Mr. Abercromby thought, that if the compulsory clause were struck out, all the evils which the bill was intended to remedy would be left in full activity. If that clause therefore were rejected, he could not give his support to the bill.

Sir John Stewart deprecated the idea of raising obstacles to the fair operation of the bill, from which, with some modification, much good would result to reland.

The bill was then committed pro formâ.


Wednesday, May 21.

Mr. Secretary Peel said, that his right hon. friend (Mr. V. Fitzgerald) and his hon. and learned friend who spoke last agreed in nothing but in their desire that the bill should be withdrawn for the present session. He must, however, protest against the postponement of the measure, because he was satisfied that no additional information could be obtained thereby. Colonel Trench said, the great difficulty The argument of his hon. and learned lay in this, that the tithe was chiefly friend went to prove, that no commuta-payable by Papists to Protestants. He tion could be effected without danger had great hopes of the bill, which he under the auspices of the government, trusted would come out of the committee and yet his hon. and learned friend had more perfect than it was at present. declared, that he should have no objection to a commutation of potatoe tithe. With regard to the compulsory clause, it was not necessarily connected with the bill, and if the House should hereafter be of opinion that it ought to be omitted, the remaining parts of the bill might still be beneficially carried into effect. The right hon. gentleman entered into a variety of details with regard to the mode of collecting tithe in various parishes in Ireland, with a view of showing the practicability of an amicable adjustment between the clergy and their parishioners. He approved of the plan of appointing parochial commissioners; for it was impossible that the government could efficiently discharge the duties which would devolve upon the commissioners, from a want of local knowledge, and their limited acquaintance with parochial details. If this measure should not produce universal harmony and conciliation, much substantial good would, he believed, be effected by it. He therefore gave his cordial support to the motion for going into the committee.

INSOLVENT DEBTORS' ACT-WESTMINSTER PETITION FOR THE REPEAL OF.] Mr. Hobhouse presented a Petition, which was signed by between 2,000 and 3,000 respectable tradesmen of the city of Westminster. They prayed for a repeal, or a considerable alteration, of the Insolvent Debtors' act. The House was aware that from the time of passing that act, petitions had poured into the House from all parts of the country, praying for its repeal. The petitioners saw nothing in the existing law which could recommend its continuance. They did not merely complain of it, but they had taken the liberty of pointing out the manner in which they conceived the grievances it occasioned should be remedied. The petition had been very maturely considered at two numerous meetings of the inhabitants of the city which he had the honour to represent; and persons whose opinions Sir J. Newport agreed, that it would were upon most other occasions opposed, be most impolitic to allow the bill to had in this instance agreed upon the reremain over to the next session. He solutions which were embodied in it. The expressed his firm conviction, that unless suggestions to which he wished more some measures were adopted by parlia-particularly to draw the attention of the

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House were, that the laws relating to insolvents should be assimilated as much as possible to the bankrupt laws. The petitioners were of opinion, that the interests of the debtor and creditor would be better attended to if a meeting of the insolvent's creditors should take place within ten days after his commitment. At that meeting, two-thirds of the creditors should have the power of coming to a decision, which should be binding upon the others. They recommended also, that if creditors should be proved to have participated in the fraud of the insolvent, they should be subject to punishment by the commissioners of the Insolvent Court. When he stated that 3,000 individuals had taken the benefit of the insolvency acts, between the 1st of February and the 12th of March last, the House would see that the effect of the act was inconsistent with the protection due to creditors. He denied, on the part of his constituents, the truth of the representation that they thrust their credit upon customers. On the contrary, it required their utmost skill and address to guard against the artifices of persons who afterwards became insolvent. The petitioners recommended no severe measures, but such as, knowing the vicissitudes to which men in trade were exposed, they would themselves be willing to submit to if they were exposed to that necessity.

Ordered to lie on the table.

SILK MANUFACTURE BILL.] The Lord Mayor presented a petition most numerously and respectably signed by many of his constituents, the working silk-weavers of Sudbury, against the re peal of the act called the Spitalfields act, and which had for its object to regulate the price of labour in that trade. His lordship stated, that they were apprehensive the consequence would be, to reduce their means of subsistence, and consequently to increase the poor-rates. The act had been passed in consequence of great disputes between the masters and men, and since that period the silk trade had flourished, and the men had been satisfied. At all events, whatever might be the original policy of the measure, it ought not to be interfered with without great caution, and opportunity for all parties interested to be heard fully on the subject.

Mr. Calvert recommended that time

should be given to the petitioners to state their objections to the measure.

Mr. Ricardo thought that this petition, coming from a district which was free, and praying that a restriction might be continued upon another district, was a most powerful argument in favour of the very measure which it opposed.

Mr. W. Smith thought, that as the petition concerned the interests of a large body of industrious and ingenious men, their opinions and even prejudices ought to be attentively listened to.

Mr. F. Buxton presented a similar petition, which, having lain for signatures only three days, had received 11,000. Females had not been permitted to sign, nor any person under the age of 20. It came from the journeymen silk-weavers of London and Middlesex. Its object was, to represent to the House the dismay and alarm which had been caused in the minds of the weavers of Spitalfields, by the bill which was appointed to be read a second time that day. It stated, that the journeymen weavers had derived great benefit from the effects of the existing laws, of which he thought they were competent judges, and which they said did not repress industry in any shape. It stated, that the poor-rates in the neighbourhood from which this petition came amounted only to 3s. in the pound; and it asserted, that the repeal of the present acts would increase them. If the right hon. gentleman who introduced this measure had been in his place, he should have requested him to postpone the further progress of the bill until the petitioners had been heard, as they prayed, by themselves or their counsel, at the bar of the House.

Mr. Hume said, he regretted that the right hon. proposer of this measure was not in his place, to vindicate the broad and general principle upon which it was founded. He was willing to give the petitioners credit for very honest inten→ tions, but he thought they did not understand the operation of those principles to their own advantage or disadvan tage. They thought, for instance, that the existing law had been beneficial to them, when it had, in fact, been, for the last forty or fifty years, diverting the trade to Sudbury and to other places. He was satisfied that, in proposing the present measure, his majesty's ministers had conferred a benefit on the country at large.

Mr. F. Buxton admitted, that the pe

titioners did not pretend to understand political economy-a science, the principles of which appeared to change every two or three years. All they demanded was, to be heard; and no reason had been given why the complaints of eleven thousand petitioners, whose interests would be affected by this measure, should not be attended to.

sideration of this measure, and afford the petitioners the satisfaction of knowing that he contemplated the repeal of the Combination act, and of several other statutes under which they suffered very considerably?

Mr. Haldimand said, he would support the bill introduced by the right hon. gen tleman, because he believed if the existing. acts were not repealed, the silk-trade in Spitalfields would be extinguished alto

Mr. Ellice said, he agreed that all the restrictions on trade which had been alluded to had probably better be re-gether in the course of a very few years. moved. But, how were they proceeding? He stated this, not upon any general They were, however, proceeding to re- principle, but as a mere matter of fact. move a law which, as the workmen con- An allusion had been made to the peticeived, afforded them protection, while tioners, as not understanding political they allowed the Combination act, and the economy; but the resolutions and the act against the emigration of artisans, to petition which they had agreed to at a remain in existence, which statutes, as public meeting, contained some of the every one knew, operated severely against strongest principles of what he supposed certain of the working classes. The they considered political economy that weavers undoubtedly believed that the were ever promulgated. They approved bill which was about to be repealed of the doctrine, that the magistrate should afforded them some protection; and they fix the prices, and that no one should saw none of those evils which the master-work for more or less than he settled. manufacturers apprehended would flow This was a monstrous proposition. The from suffering it to continue in force. price was not to be determined by the They were the persons chiefly interested; number of labourers, as compared with and he thought their call for some delay the demand, but by the magistrate; who, was not unreasonable. There were some it must be presumed, possessed some inrestrictions, he was aware, on the master-tuitive mode of judging what was exactly manufacturer, with respect to the mode of carrying on his business, but these were very easily evaded. It was said, that the existing act was a deviation from general principles; but where it suited particular interests, the House frequently deviated from such principles. That was the case with respect to the corn-laws, and the laws affecting other branches of trade, by which the workmen were grievously oppressed. So that the mere deviation from general principles, in this particular case, was not of itself a sufficient reason for repealing the act. The workmen were seriously aggrieved by the emigration laws, which prevented them from carrying their labour to other countries, as the master-manufacturer was enabled to carry his capital. Let it not, therefore, go abroad, that the House would interfere with those acts which the workman thought beneficial to his interests, and not redress the grievances which grew out of measures which he felt to be oppressive. He would ask the right hon. gentleman (Mr. Huskisson), whether he could not, without interposing any great impediment to the progress of this bill, give a little more time for the con

the proper rate. Their observations on machinery were equally unsound; and their complaint, that, if the present bill were passed, the wages of the Spitalfields weaver would suffer the same reduction as had taken place in Coventry and elsewhere, was really absurd. Their argu ment went to this-that the rate of wages there should continue the same, whether the price of provisions remained as it was now, became lower, or was doubled. Whoever drew up that petition had made out a better case for the repeal of the present bill, than those persons had done who had petitioned the House to effect that object. It was a remarkable circumstance, that since that bill had been passed, the rate of the weaver's wages had risen, but had never fallen. No instance of a fall had occurred, although the wages in other branches of the trade had been reduced. Some years ago the masters had called for the repeal of this bill; and he believed there were very few of them at present who did not wish for its removal.

Mr. Ricardo said, in answer to what had fallen from an hon. gentleman, that if they waited until they could, at one

with those who pointed out the folly of these regulations; but, in doing them away, it would be well, if possible, to carry with them the feelings of those who now wished for their continuance; and he did not know of any mischief that could arise from the delay of a few months which could be compared with the benefit that would result from showing the petitioners that the regulations were, in fact, the worst that could possibly be devised for them. Why could not the subject be

instances where inquiry before a committee of the House had effectually removed deep-rooted prejudices, which could not have been eradicated but for such inquiry. The restrictions on the use of machinery in the West Riding of Yorkshire, and the regulations with respect to the stamping of woollen cloth, were some years ago considered by committees of that House; and though the prejudice against any alteration was very strong, yet when the propriety of a revision of the law was made apparent, it was effected without opposition. Therefore it appeared to him that some delay was advisable.

stroke, destroy all restrictions on trade they would never effect any useful alteration. The hon. member for Weymouth had observed, that the petitioners knew nothing about political economy, the principles of which seemed to change every two or three years. Now, the principles of true political economy never changed; and those who did not understand that science had better say nothing about it, but endeavour to give good reasons, if they could find any, for supporting the existing act. He most as-referred to a committee? He could state suredly would not utter a word that could be injurious to the manufacturing classes: all his sympathies were in their favour: be considered them as a most valuable part of the population, and what he said was intended for their benefit. But, why should this particular trade come under the cognizance of the magistrate more than any other? Why should he interfere with this particular branch of the trade when many other branches of it were not under his control? The law only applied to the weavers. With respect to all other parties connected with the trade the magistrate had no jurisdiction whatever. Why should he have the power to fix the price of labour, more than the price of bread, meat, or beer? Delay was asked for. Now, he saw no use or advantage in delaying the measure. The hon. member for Norwich called on the House to delay the bill until next session. But, what reason had he given for the postponement? No one whatever. He merely said, "I think the existing measure is a very bad one for the workmen, but there is an extraordinary prejudice in its favour amongst the weavers, and therefore I would delay the measure until that prejudice is removed." Why, at the end of the next session they would be in exactly the same state as at present; the prejudice would be found to exist as strongly as before. He there fore hoped that his right hon. friend would proceed with the measure, and refuse any application for delay.

Mr. W. Smith said, the reason why he called for delay was, to allow time for the prejudices of those who disapproved of the bill to subside, or be overcome. In conversing with some of the petitioners, he had found them prejudiced, but reasonable; and if delay were granted, perhaps those prejudices might be removed, and the bill be passed without opposition. Mr. S. Wortley concurred in opinion

Mr. G. Philips wished the measure not to be hurried through the House. It ought to receive a calm and deliberate consideration. He thought the existing act was injurious to the workmen; but, on that very account, he thought delay ought to take place, because he was desirous that the necessity of the repeal should be manifested to the workmen themselves. It was said, that the combination acts were injurious; but it should be recollected, that there was now a bill before the House to put an end to them. No body of men had suffered more than the Spitalfields weavers; and, in his opinion, their sufferings had been chiefly occasioned by the law which the right hon. gentleman wished to repeal.

Mr. Huskisson said, there was one singular feature in this discussion; namely, that not one of those who had taken a part in it, had contended for the principle of the bill which was about to be repealed; and yet, when not a single member was disposed to maintain the proposition, that the principle was a good one, they were asked to appoint a committee to investigate this subject. What would be the use of such a proceeding, when every man was precisely of the same opinion? He had heard many complaints from time

Mr. Calcraft was of opinion, that it would be unadvisable to proceed further in this business, without giving the petitioners an opportunity of being heard. Let them first be heard, and then the House could decide upon the merits of the case-that a course which, though it should ultimately prove adverse to the view at present taken by the petitioners of their interests, would, he had not a doubt, be acquiesced in by the parties at issue.

to time, that government would take no two professors of that science maintained responsibility upon themselves, but left different opinions. With respect to the every alteration in the law to others; but combination laws, and the law relative to on this occasion, where they could with emigration, he admitted that they required great propriety assume a certain degree revision. That, however, was a very comof responsibility, gentlemen were anxious plicated subject; not a plain and simple that they should throw it upon a com. one like the present. It might be fit for mittee. They were required, either to the consideration of a committee, but grant delay to the next session, or to could not be assimilated to the subject of refer the subject to a committee up stairs. the bill which had given rise to this dis Now, with respect to delay, honourable cussion. The bill which he had brought gentlemen very much deceived themselves in did not affect the general laws of the if they supposed that delay was likely to land; but merely a law which applied produce any alteration in the feelings of to a particular district, and gave to it the petitioners. This was not a new undue advantages which other places did matter of discussion and inquiry between not possess. It was one of those unwise those who now were petitioners and the departures from sound principles which government. He appealed to his right ought to be got rid of as soon as possible. hon. friend who was recently at the head He should persevere in moving the second of the Board of Trade, whether this sub-reading of the Silk-manufacture bill that ject had not, year after year, been evening. brought under discussion. It had been repeatedly considered by the operative weavers on the one side, and the exe cutive government, anxious to do away an act which was obnoxious to the interests of the country, and to the welfare of the parties themselves, on the other. When the present act was passed, there was no silk-manufactory in any part of the country except Spitalfields; and if it had not been for the prohibition against the importation of silk, the law would not have remained on the Statute book for fifty years. But the case was now wholly altered. There were silk-manufactories in many parts of the country; and, if the present law were suffered to remain in force many years longer, the whole trade would be absorbed by them, and the manufactories of Spitalfields would be inevitably ruined. In that case, though they might repeal the law, that measure would come too late; for it was extremely difficult, when a branch of manufactures was once removed from a particular place, to bring it back again. Upon all these grounds he should feel it necessary not to hurry the bill through the House, but to press it forward consistently with the accustomed forms of parliament. At the present moment there was a dispute between the masters and the journeymen: the one body wanting to affix a certain price on particular articles; the other contending against it. Who, then, was to decide? Why, the magistrate, who knew nothing about the subject, and who might as well be called in to decide on a mathematical problem, relative to which

Mr. S. Rice said, that he was requested by one of the most respectable persons engaged in the silk trade in Ireland, to express a hope that the bill would not be hurried in its progress through the House. The Irish silk-trade suffered regulations analogous to that carried on in Spitalfields, with the additional control of the Dublin society.

Mr. F. Buxton called the attention of the House to the standing order, which precluded them from receiving any measure for imposing a new restriction upon trade, or altering any thing relating to trade, without its being previously submitted to a select committee. With respect to the disputes among the workmen, he had the authority of Mr. Hall, who had resided forty years in Spitalfields, to say, that within his memory there had only been two instances of applications to the magistrates by the workmen.

Mr. Huskisson said, that at that moment an application to the magistrates was pending respecting the price upon the manufacture of a particular article. With respect to the standing order, whatever

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