Page images

Friday, July 20, 1838.

Minutes.] Bills. Read a second time :—Conveyance of
Estates.—Read a third time :—Administration of Justice
(New South Wales); Vagrant Acts Amendment.

Petitions presented. By Lord Glenelo. from Carnarvon, and by the Earl of Falmouth, from a place in Cornwall, for the Abolition of Idolatrous Worship in India.—By Viscount Melbourne, from Stockport, for the reduction of the rate of Postage; and from a place in Ireland, in favour of the Poor Relief (Ireland) Bill.—By the Bishop of Glocbster, from a place in his Diocese, against any further Grant to the College of Maynooth; from Honiton, North Shields, Warminster, Ottery, St. Mary's, Cambridge, Axminster, and many other places, for the Better Observance of the Sabbath; and from a place in Kent, for the Immediate Abolition of Negro Slavery.—By Lord COLCHESTER, from the Guardians of a Poor-law Union in Sussex, against Orders to prevent Paupers from attending the Parish Church.

Established Church (canada.)] Lord Wharncliffe presented a petition from the Rev. John Taylor, B.A., and rector of Woodstock, in the province of Upper Canada, complaining that the funds derived from the reserved lands in Canada, which were intended for the support of the Established Church there, had not been appropriated to that object. Much inconvenience and injury had been sustained by the Church in consequence, and the petitioner called on the Legislature to make a suitable provision for the Established Church in that country.

Lord Glenelg said, that the petition certainly deserved serious consideration, both on account of the high respectability of the petitioner and the importance of the subject to which it related. He felt every disposition to support and further the interests of the Established Church in Canada. If, therefore, the Government could not comply with the prayer of the petition, it did not arise from any indisposition or unwillingness on their part, but was to be attributed entirely to other and very different causes.

The Bishop of Exeter had not been aware, that this matter was about to be brought under their Lordships' consideration. He was, nevertheless, rejoiced, that it had been brought forward, and he was equally rejoiced at the temperate manner in which the noble Baron who presented the petition had pointed out the course which should be pursued in matters of this description by a Christian Government. This was a colony containing not less than half a million of British subjects, whose spiritual interests it would be in the highest degree criminal to neglect. It was unnecessary for him to dwell upon

the great encouragement which had been given to the inhabitants of this country to emigrate to that colony. Was it to be supposed, that they were to be induced to emigrate to a land which was to be cursed, by a short-sighted policy, with an insufficiency of Christian ministers? The sworn servants of her Majesty were bound to provide for the religious instruction of her people in the remotest portion of her dominions, as well as near the seat of Government at home; and from this responsibility there was no shrinking. The noble Baron, the Secretary for the Colonies, seemed to be very desirous to shrink from that responsibility ; but if such a position were once laid down, he should have no hesitation in declaring it to be one of the most dangerous doctrines that was ever put forward by a Minister of the Crown. All the responsibility rested with the noble Baron, as the head of this department; and he defied any noble Lord to refute, or even to contradict this assertion. The noble Baron who presented this petition had spoken strongly, but not more so than the occasion justified, of the necessity of having an additional bishop in Upper Canada. The noble Secretary for the Colonies admitted the importance, nay, he thought, that the noble Secretary had gone so far even as to admit the necessity of making this addition. But if this statement upon the part of the noble Secretary was sincere, why did he manifest any reluctance to pay the stipend of the bishop whom he thus admitted the necessity of appointing? Now, what was the conduct of the Government with regard to another personage, who was not a bishop of the Church of England, not a member of the Church of England, but the Roman Catholic bishop of Lower Canada? They did grant an allowance of no less than 1,000/. a-year to the individual who, at that time, was Roman Catholic bishop in Lower Canada. He repeated, that in spite of the determination of the Government not to continue the allowance of 3,000/. a-year to the successor of the Bishop of Quebec, 1,000/. of which he most munificently gave to the Bishop of Montreal, they did propose to Parliament, and Parliament met the proposition with assent, to give 1,000/. a-year to the successor of the Roman Catholic bishop of Lower Canada. It was also proposed to give to the English bishop of Quebec, not, indeed, the salary which his


their purport to be, that every spiritual person applying to the Bishop for a dispensation to hold two benefices should set forth in writing the value of those benefices, or the average of those benefices, for the three years previous to the application, together with the average amount of the population of each parish during that time, and the distance at which those benefices were separated from each other. The clauses also provided that these statements were to be verified to the satisfaction of the Bishop.

The 113th clause was struck out, and the other clauses were agreed to.

The Earl of Cawdor, who spoke in so low a tone as to be inaudible in the gallery, proposed some amendments, the object of which, as far as we could collect it, seemed to be the abolition of sinecure rectories with a view to their appropriation to the increase of small livings, and also the union of small parishes to large ones adjoining. He had in his own gift a parish which contained only seventy-seven inhabitants, which he wished to see united to a neighbouring living. The amendments which he proposed were in conformity with the recommendations of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.

Amendments were ordered to be printed and considered on the third reading. Report received.

Friday, July 20, 1838.

Minutes.] Bills, a first time:—Sale of Spirits Licences by Retail Act Suspension.—Read a second time t— Arms (Ireland); and Gunpowder (Ireland).— Read a third time:—Fisheries (Ireland); Fines and Recognizances (Ireland); Loan Societies (Ireland): and Public Records.

Petitions presented. By Mr. E. Tennent, from the Wesley an Methodists of Belfast, by Mr. J. H. Lowthbk, Mr. Briscob, Mr. Etwall, Sir F. Trench, Mr. W. O. Stanley, and Mr. J. Parkeb, several petitions, from various places, to put an end to Idolatry in India.—By Sir E. Wilmot, from Guardians of the Poor of the Union of Perchard, complaining of an Order not to allow the poor to attend the Parish Church.—By Mr. Young, from Spirit Dealers of Cavaa, complaining of Grievances.—By Mr. Fck Ldbn, several, from places in the North of England, praying for a Ten Hours Factory Bill.—By Mr. Gillon, from several Postmasters, complaining of tlio pressure of the Post-horse Duties.—By Sir D. Roche, from the Distillers and Spirit Dealers of Limerick, against the Spirit Licence Act in Ireland.—By Mr. G. Palmer, from the Marshal, and other OIRcers of the Palace Court, against the Imprisonment for Debt Abolition Bill, and praying for Compensation.—By Viscount Sandon, from the Corporation of Liverpool, against certain Clauses in the Imprisonment for Debt Abolition Rill; from the nolton and Leeds Railway Company, against the Mails on Railways Bill.

Hill Coolies.] Sir /. Graham wished to know whether her Majesty's Government had made up their minds as to the course which they intended to pursue with regard to the, East-India Labourers' Bill.

Sir G. Grey said, that the bill as it came from the Lords was in its details open to objections. In some cases certainly the bill would act as a prohibition, but in others it would amount to a legal sanction, and on the whole it would not effect the purpose for which it was intended ; i he therefore proposed to discharge the order, on the understanding that the Indian Government would prevent the emigration of labourers to the West Indies until there should be time for a full investigation of all the circumstances. It was most necessary that contracts should be put an end to, or rather the practice of making contracts should be stopped, when one class of the contracting parties were not aware of the position in which they were placing themselves. His right hon. Friend, the President of the Board of Control, was prepared to state that the prohibition could be enforced for a time, and arrangements could be made to render invalid any contracts not effected in the colony in which the labourer intended to settle, and not made with the sanction of a stipendiary magistrate.

Sir R. Peel desired to know if the hon. Baronet opposite was enabled to state that the Governor in Council did possess authority to prohibit the emigration of natives of the East Indies. If a person calling himself an agent were about to send 100 or 150 of them to the West Indies, could the governor prevent that?

Sir G. Grey observed, that the bill on the Table of the House was confined to emigration under contracts—that was the subject-matter on which the bill would operate. With regard to the powers possessed by the Governor-general, it was a matter to which his right hon. Friend, the President of the Board of Control had turned his attention, and when called upon he would give the House any information that might be required.

Sir R. Peel observed, that the Session had now considerably advanced. If the East-India Labourers' Bill were dropped, it would be necessary to have security given that for two years emigration should be prohibited. He should be content with two years as that would give time for


geographical position, but mainly from the superior nature of the employment, and the better habits of the working people." So much for their bodies; what was the state of their minds? No less than sixty clergymen, either by documents or in person, had declared the vicious and awful condition of those districts, and the utter hopelessness of any efforts to impart to people engaged in factory-labour anything like moral or religious instruction. In 1835, a petition was presented from 200 Sunday-school teachers, declaring that it was quite impossible, even on the Sabbath-day, to convey to their minds, being in so wearied and exhausted a state, any religious or moral instruction whatever. He would quote several extracts from the evidence given before the committee by Mr. Sheriff Allison, of Glasgow: —Mr. Sheriff Allison said,

"I would recommend that the hours of employment of workmen should be peremptorily fixed at ten hours a-day. I am quite sure that this would have the best possible effect, both upon the spinners, and in particular upon the piecers and the factory children; and I am quite sure it is the only thing that can possibly be done which will ever remedy the evils to which the inferior class of labourers connected with cotton factories are exposed."

When asked whether he considered "this mitigation of labour as a sine qud non with respect to any improvement of the manufacturing population,"

"I think," he said, "it is decidedly; I am quite sure, that all attempts to improve the condition of the factory children would be nugatory without it."

And he added in answer to this question,

"Do you see any means whatever of securing the peace and the happiness of those people, and the peace and happiness of the empire, except by giving to the children both the time and the means of a moral and religious education?"

"I think not; unless they can get the means of moral and religions education, and time for it, and unless the habits of moral depravity, which now overspread the skilled classes from the operation of those combinations, are removed, I am perfectly certain that the existence of the British empire will be overthrown, that the moral pestilence will overturn entirely the social state of the country, and I see already around me every day in Glasgow that we are just to be considered as standing at the gate of the gteat pest-house. 1 see the labouring classes depraving to an extent under ray eyes which I cannot find lanVOLXL1V.

guage sufficiently strong to impress the committee with."

This was neither more nor less than an ample fulfilment of the prophecy uttered before a Committee of the House of Commons in 1816, by the late Sir Robert Peel, when giving evidence in support of a bill to limit the hours of factory labour.

"Such indiscriminate and unlimited employment of the poor, he said, will be attended with effects to the rising generation so serious and alarming, that I cannot contemplate them without dismay; and thus that great effort of British ingenuity, whereby the machinery of our manufactures has been brought to such perfection, instead of being a blessing to the nation, will be converted into the bitterest curse.

Did the noble Lord opposite, then, think that this question was to be evaded? Did he believe matters of this kind could be forgotten by the people because they were not listened to with attention in that House? It was utterly impossible. The evil was increasing daily and hourly; and unless they addressed themselves to it speedily and effectively, it would assume a magnitude which they would never be able to master. It was not bis business to enter into any statement of the comparative merits of the ten or twelve hours bill; but looking to the measure which had been introduced and passed by the present Government, he did require a full and final answer as to their intentions with respect to it. If it were good, let them enforce it; if bad, let them mend it; if it were unnecessary or dangerous, let them repeal it. But to leave the law in its present condition was equally unwise and absurd. It not only withheld just protection from the factory children, but by pretending to do so deprived them of the sympathy of a deluded public. In 1833 he introduced a measure nominally called the Ten Hours Bill; it met with great support in the country, upwards of 100,000 persons having signed petitions in its favour. The Government then felt something must be done, and they introduced a bill which was substituted for his on the ground of its superior humanity and higher moral pretensions. In particular it enacted, that no children under eight should be employed in factories at all, and that those above that age, and under thirteen, should be worked only forty-eight, hours a-week. Those who employed the children were also


« PreviousContinue »