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The National Petition

Volume 49: debated on Friday 12 July 1839

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rose to bring forward his motion on the subject of the National Petition. He thanked the noble Lord for his kindness and consideration in proposing to the House that they should suspend the other orders of the day, to allow him to take precedence in bringing forward this question. He also thanked the House for its kindness in agreeing to that proposition of the noble Lord, and he thanked them still more that on the 14th of June last they had listened to his address with patience and kind consideration. He was sure that the conduct of the House on that occasion would not be lost upon the people of England; nor upon the hundreds of thousands of upright and honest men who had signed the petition, and of whom he was now the faithful, the honest, but he feared the too feeble advocate of the petition which he had the honour to present to the House on the 14th of June. He then thought it his duty to read a portion, and he now considered it proper to repeat some part of what he had then stated. That great petition, unequalled in the Parliamentary History of England, was produced by the long sufferings, the injuries, the wrongs, the distress of the working classes of the people— not only of the working classes, but of the merchants, the manufacturers, the tradesmen, the farmers, and the labouring classes of England generally. It happened that he was much connected with these classes, and he gave to the petition that emanated from them his humble but very cordial support. For the last twenty years his opinion had been rooted and fixed that the Commons of England had not been treated with common justice and humanity. Many petitions had been presented to that House from Birmingham, complaining of the state of suffering in which the people were, but their petitions had been altogether disregarded, and that hon. House had refused, in several instances, not only to grant the prayers, but even to receive the petitions of the industrious classes, and relied on the representations of lawyers and gentlemen and the public press, instead of attending to the entreaties and statements of their honest tradesmen and artisans. These petitions had been refused in 1815, 1816, 1819, and 1825, and on subsequent occasions, when they complained of distress, and desired that House to take such steps as would mitigate their sufferings. The Members of that hon. House being far removed from want, were strangers to the sufferings which afflicted the working classes; and although the industrious classes had again and again told that House that it was almost impossible for them to obtain the means of subsistence for themselves and families by honest labour, and urged the House to take such steps as would improve their condition, it chose to turn a deaf ear to the prayers of the Commons of England. No man regretted more than he did the course that that House had thought fit to pursue, for if it had opened its eyes and ears, and had attended to the warnings given it, at the present time, instead of the people of England being the most miserable and discontented on the face of the earth, they would have been the happiest and most contented. He was quite sure that this happiness and contentment might be conceded to the working classes without doing the slightest injury or injustice to any human being who walked on the earth. Unhappily, however, that House had chosen to legislate in the dark—not, he believed, intentionally, because it was composed of noblemen and gentlemen of the highest honour and virtue, but because they had not a clear view respecting the matters they were dealing with, nor were they sufficiently well acquainted with the state of the country; he, therefore, said, that they had legislated in the dark, and were not aware of the misery and distress they were inflicting on the nation. The state of the working classes had been deteriorated greatly for the last twenty years, and hon. Members must not be surprised to learn that out of the miseries and sufferings of the people a spirit of discontent should arise. They believed that they would obtain relief from their present distress by having restored to them their rights which were possessed by their fathers; they had, therefore, determined to demand the restoration of their privileges, and intended to persist in using all peaceful means until they were restored to them. It used formerly to be said that England was the envy of surrounding nations and the glory of the world, and that the people lived more happily and contented than any other nation on the face of the earth. Things now were completely changed and no where was there such distress experienced, and the House could hardly be surprised that this distress should germanate and produce bitter fruit. He had presented to that House a short time ago the petition from 1,200,000 persons complaining of distress, and that all their previous prayers and complaints of their sufferings had been neglected. He should be sorry, in bringing forward the claims of these petitioners on the serious attention of the House, to use any language unworthy of a gentleman or a patriot, as he had no doubt that other Gentlemen in that House had feelings and sympathies as strong as his own; but wishing to do justice to the persons who had signed the petition as well as to himself, he hoped that he should not be regarded as being guilty of imprudence or presumption if he told the House that, although doubtless with the best intentions, it had legislated in the dark, and therefore had not worked out its objects in a proper manner. At the commencement of 1829 his honest neighbours applied to him and stated that they wished again to resort to the old bounds of the constitution in the hope that their sufferings would be mitigated and redressed. He said constantly to them that he was a man by no means given to change, or who desired extreme measures; let us continue to try the tree of the ancient constitution, let us see if it will not at length produce wholesome fruit that will afford satisfaction to the unhappy, miserable people of this country. They did wait, and they did try what could be done in the House of Parliament in 1829. Unhappily for the people, and more unhappily still for the safety of this country, that House disregarded the prayer of the people. They had demanded that the means of the industrious classes should be lifted up so as to be adequate to their burthens, or that their burthens should be reduced to their means. The House told them they were idle, and desired them to get back to their burthens. They were told that some of them kept four-wheeled carriages, and were better off than they ought to be. Then it was that they formed a political union, from which the petition which he had presented on the 14th of June had originated. But although the petitions of the people had for a long time been so utterly unattended to, he could not deny that there was virtue in the House of Commons which passed the Reform Bill; and although the people, after the greatest exertions, had succeeded in carrying that bill through the House, it had disappointed their expectations as well as his. If it had produced such a change as to leave to them the produce of their honest industry, they would have been content, but what were the fruits of the Reform Bill? The first fruit it bore was the Irish Coercion Bill, and the next was one more odious than any measure which had been passed since the Norman conquest—he alluded to the New Poor-law Bill. He would not say a word with respect to the Municipal Reform Bill, which had also greatly disappointed him. It appeared as if at every step further they advanced, disappointment and increased misery followed them, and the dissatisfaction of the people increased. At the same time he knew of no other remedy but further reform, and this was the opinion of the 1,200,000 who signed the petition that he had presented to the House. It was, then, his rooted conviction that there was no safety for the people, and no security for the law or the Crown, except some further great changes took place. The town of Birmingham commenced the political agitation in 1829, and it ceased there in 1832. It must be recollected that at that period Birmingham was very much excited, and what took place there at that time had a very great effect on the other great towns of England. But in 1832, after the passing of the Reform Bill, that large town, with the surrounding districts, sunk to rest like an infant on its mother's breast. How had they acted then? Were they prompt to take arms for measures of further reform? They waited until three Sessions of the Reformed Parliament had passed without there being the slightest hope of any amelioration in the condition of the people. They waited until 1837, in which year many friends (neighbours of his) waited upon him to take the lead in assisting in carrying out further reforms. He at all times was unwilling to be dragged into a prominent situation; but feeling that the demands of the people were just, he promised to go along with them. In that year all parties, Whigs, Tories, and Radicals, came to him and said, that as Lord Melbourne's administration had come in, it was better to wait and see what he would do. He knew nothing of Lord Melbourne, but trusting to his manly character, they again ceased all agitation—virtually they abandoned it; and in the mean time no less than three deputations waited upon the noble Lord demanding that the people should have the means of living upon the fruits of their honest labour. They described to the noble Lord and the Chancellor of the Exchequer the extent of misery that prevailed, and pointed out to them the means by which the evils under which they had so long suffered, might be got rid of. The noble Lord then said, that he doubted whether the same opinions were generally entertained, and that the men of Birmingham were not England. He (Mr. Attwood) took the liberty of telling that noble Lord that he would find that they would prove to him that the men of Birmingham were England. He cared not how or by what means the people of England were relieved from their distress, provided they were relieved. He would feel as grateful to see them relieved by the measures of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, or those of the noble Lord, as he would by measures of his own suggestion. They pointed out to Lord Melbourne and the Chancellor of the Exchequer the means by which they might give prosperity to the country under the present constitution without further change. Lord Melbourne reminded him that he, as well as others of greater influence and talent than himself, had frequently brought the subject of the revision of the standard of value under the attention of the House of Commons, but that the House had shown an unwillingness to attend to it. He then stated to Lord Melbourne they would endeavour to change the House of Commons; and so in the winter of 1837 he went home to his honest friends, and told them the result of that last effort to make the ancient constitution of the country give shelter and protection to the country. He told them not to endeavour to destroy the ancient framework of the constitution—not to touch the great principles of the constitution of the Crown, Lords, and Commons—and he doubted not but that they would ultimately obtain that justice and protection which had been denied them by the Government. That was the origin of this great petition. His friends in the winter of 1837 crowded around him again as they had done in 1829. He had said to them that he knew they had virtue, intellect, and knowledge, but that he did not know the people of England were with them, and that he would go to another part and see if other men thought with them, and were determined to act in the same spirit. Accordingly he went to Glasgow for the purpose of trying the feelings of the men of Scotland, and that was the first political meeting he had ever attended out of Birmingham. He had never been an agitator—he had never been a man wishing to produce excitement on the public mind beyond the extent justice required. When he saw the miseries of the people in Glasgow, he said, "We have now proof we are not alone—we have a right to interfere—and we have a right by every legal and powerful means to demand from the Commons of England all the rights and liberties our forefathers had." He did not tell them that an accession of liberty would necessarily give them an accession of prosperity, because this was by no means certain; but he trusted that they would succeed in the attempt to obtain a House of Commons to be elected by universal suffrage. If they succeeded, and he repeated that he hoped they would, they might commit errors; Errors might then be committed as they were committed now, and this House having gone to one extreme, a House created by universal suffrage might probably go into another extreme. But after watching this state of the country with more attention and more labour than most hon. Members had given to the subject, he believed that there were no dangers and no miseries that the people of England ought not rather to endure, in preference to submitting to the cruel and murderous operation which had pressed for twenty years together on the industry and honour, and security of the country. If he thought they were to sit down patiently and submit to these fluctuations, these "hot and cold fits," as an hon. Mem- ber had called them the other night; if he thought this was to be the destiny of England, and as he showed in print twenty years ago it would be; if be thought there was no other remedy, then the course that humanity devised ought to be adopted, to prevent the degradation of Englishmen at home, and the certain degradation of England abroad. He never uttered any sentiment derogatory to the law—quite the contrary. He never uttered any sentiment derogatory to the Church, to the privileges of the House, or to the aristocracy. All he had claimed for the people was the right of living by their labour. The 1,200,000 petitioners whom he now represented said they had a right to live by honest labour, but that this was denied them—that the fluctuations which had taken place had given them short seasons of doubtful prosperity, and long seasons of real adversity. They said that when their hopes were broken down by disappointment, after inquring into the causes of the national misery, they could find no cause in nature or providence—they said that the Almighty had been kind and beneficent to England above all other nations of the earth—that he had given it an heroic people, the most intellectual and talented people on the earth—that he had given it a fine soil and good climate, and every blessing of rivers and harbours; and yet they said they endured every misery after twenty-two years of profound peace; they, therefore, asked the right of living by their labour; and, if that should be refused, they demanded their ancient rights and liberties in the constitution, that they might see whether they could not make it work well, and answer the purposes for which it was devised, in the same manner that their forefathers did. The petition was signed by 1,200,000 men; there might be some women, but, he believed, having attended and watched the subject, that one million of men had signed their names, with their own bands, to the petition; therefore they were capable of writing—were the elite of the working classes. They were not vagabonds and thieves, as many were apt to call those who attempted to alter the laws, or who found any fault with the Legislature of the country. If they were, and their complaints were unfounded, it would show the dreadful state in which England was placed, when out of five or six millions, a million of men who could write their own names could be got to put their hands to a notorious lie. If these men could be taught to believe that they were miserable when they were happy, they would have arrived at a most disastrous state of things. In his mind, a petition like the present, signed by upwards of a million of souls, showed that there was great misery amongst the people of England which wanted redress. He trusted that the House would not treat this petition as the petition merely of the working classes, because he believed the whole of the middle classes were with them. In alluding to the middle classes he did not refer to men with small fortunes, and small fund holders or mortgagees, or those who had retired from trade; but he meant the productive classes, the merchants, the traders, and the manufacturers. He was perfectly convinced that the petition spoke the feelings of nine out of ten persons of this description. If a Gentleman went to his butler, or his gamekeeper, or his sycophant tenant, he might be told to the contrary; but no reliance could be placed on such persons. The fact could not be denied, that no positive distress in trade or agriculture ever reached the labouring trader or agriculturist that did not reach their employer. If, therefore, he showed that 1,000,000 of labourers were distressed, might it not with equal truth be said their employers were equally so? There was, no doubt, some property left in England, but generally speaking, the merchant and the manufacturer were as discontented as the workmen were. He repeated, the merchants and manufacturers were as discontented as the workmen; the merchant, indeed, dare not confess his situation. So long as the merchant had his last 10,000l. pride made him bold; when it was gone, despair made him bold; and hence it was all boasting and delusion, a whited sepulchre outside, all apparently prosperous and happy, but within a charnel house of care, anxiety, misery, and despair. The merchants or manufacturers of England, if this question were put to them rightly—would answer rightly—"Why, we don't complain. Men without capital certainly are in bad condition, but men with capital can do pretty well—profits are not so large as we wish, but still we can go on." But let the House reflect on this case:—six months ago a bank at Liverpool revealed its affairs, and had on its books two bad debts from two houses to the amount of 800,000l. Now, if those two houses had been asked, before this disclosure, they dared not have complained—they dared not have said trade was bad— for if they had, they would have been asked, "Where, then, does all this enormous wealth come from—these immense factories—these new houses?" And if the truth had been declared they would have been ruined instanter. The noble Lord the Member for Lancashire put just such a question as this the other night, and he took outward appearance for realities; but if the two houses he had alluded to on being questioned, had told the truth, bankruptcy would have come on them. How little, then, could professions of merchants and manufacturers be depended on, whose distress was really as great as that of their workmen? He had been bred up in scenes so calamitous; hence be had directed his attention to the subject; and he did not scruple to assert, as he had before stated, that the masters suffered more than their men. There was a great deal said about profit-mongers drinking the blood of the labourers; but he affirmed that every merchant and manufacturer must be more than half ruined before he could meet the wages of the labourers. Only let the House think on the state of the manufacturers. It was not long since they were told, on no very doubtful authority, that not one manufacturer in four was in a solvent condition, if he sold off. Whenever the profits of the manufacturer ceased, his capital began to be swallowed up, and ruin soon followed. The first demand these petitioners made was for universal suffrage. He would not go into the political argument, but would merely say, that he believed universal suffrage was the ancient practice of our Saxon ancestors, and after the Norman conquest, that it had worked well—that it would, if again adopted, work equally well—for that it would produce a large and liberal spirit of legislation—render the working classes contented, and therefore attached to the aristocracy and the Crown. Next they required annual Parliaments. All he knew was, that the Bill of Settlement, which was the birthright of the people, and that was a serious word, a word of great moment, the Act of Settlement declared that Annual Parliaments were the birthright of the people, therefore it was that his constituents called for Annual Parliaments; but they also claimed Vote by Ballot. Now, he contended, and hon. Members would agree with him, that it was good logic that when the Constitution and the Bill of Rights guaranteed freedom of election—wherever the Constitution gave a right, it gave the means of exercising it. If he showed that they could not use freedom of election, he would say that it became a constitutional right, which the Queen herself had the power to confer without the interference of Parliament. Then, again, his honest friends claimed the wages of attendance for Members of Parliament. They found that to be the ancient law of England; and there were many instances of burgesses praying to be relieved from the payment of Members, because the tax pressed heavily upon them. His friends were of opinion that unless the Members of that House were paid, they could not have that class of men introduced into the House, men of that station and character which would enable them to be competent representatives of the wants and wishes of the Commons of England. They thought that the Commons of England ought to be the Commons of England—that it ought not to be a House of little Lords on the one side, and big Lords on the other—but literally and truly the Commons; not gentlemen of large property, who did their duty so far as that class was concerned, but were utterly unable to legislate for the industrious classes. He contended that men born in the clouds, and living in the clouds, could not understand the mere interests, and wants, and necessities of people living on the earth, therefore he thought they should pay the wages of attendance, in order that the Commons of England might send into that House men accustomed to the calamities of the people, and who would better represent the wants and interests of the great mass of the people. They thought that foxes ought not to represent geese—that wolves ought not to represent sheep—and that hawks ought not to represent pigeons. He believed that the man whose bread, and the bread of whose children, depended upon his labour, had as great a stake in the country as the Duke of Northumberland. He hoped they would consider the petition favourably—they had extended their kindness to him on the 14th June. Let them take the petition earnestly into their consideration, and it would not be thrown away upon the people of England. The people generally complained that their petitions had been neglected—that they had met with inattention, but upon the present occasion he trusted they would consider that the petition was the result of upwards of twenty years' suffering, and that the petitioners only cried for Universal Suffrage after they had seen the total failure of the 10l. franchise—that fruits which was so fair to the eye, but which had turned to dust and ashes in the mouth. He had always been an advocate for peaceable and legal efforts to obtain justice for the working classes, and he trusted they would determinately say, that the petition was entitled to every consideration. On the 14th of June he took the opportunity of stating that he had never encouraged physical force or any other force. He only said, "Unite together," and you will by legal and constitutional means obtain all that was wanted—by such means they must ultimately obtain the fruit of liberty and justice. He had always deprecated violence of all kinds, and he was thankful to the House for the opportunity they had afforded him on the 14th June, of stating so. He could not find that there had been a single life lost—not a gun had been fired, and he was justified in saying, that the mass of the people of England although discontented were not disaffected—although miserable, were not desirous of any change injurious to the Constitution, or injurious to the useful and beneficial privileges of the Crown. But they were desirous of a change, and he should not be doing his duty if he hesitated in saying that he thought they would have a change, and a very great change too. God forbid that dire necessity should compel them to effect that change by unlawful means; but 1,200,000 hearts that felt, and 1,200,000 heads that thought, ought not to be disregarded. Nothing would satisfy them but some large and generous measure. They also hoped, that that measure would be lasting—that they would not have prosperity today and adversity to-morrow. If the hands of the people were not to be set free from their trammels—if they were not to have the benefit of earning their bread by the sweat of their brow, and hundreds of thousands were compelled to beg for labour and then to be denied bread—if that was to be the condition of the people of England, it was his duty to tell the House, with all due deference and respect, that it was his rooted conviction, that the people of England would not submit to it, and that there was no army in this world capable of putting them down. The minds of hon. Members were, perhaps, better stored with history than his own, but he could not avoid calling to their recollection the situation of Louis 16th in 1787 and 1789. When Louis was asleep ruin was stalking through the land. In 1787 an individual who travelled through Burgundy and Champagne, found almost every gentleman's house burnt to the ground, and their owners murdered. Two years afterwards the Bastile fell. Charles the Tenth was hunting in the wood of Fontainbleau, when the Revolution took place, and the crown dropped from his head. The crown of James the Second was shaken from his bead. What was the position of the Queen of England at this hour? There was no one more attached to her than himself, for he considered her the cement which held society together, and which enabled all classes to meet together for mutual protection. In his mind the sanctity of the Crown was above all other human considerations. But the Crown of England was like other Crowns. It rested upon public opinion, and whenever public opinion should desert it, the Sceptre and Throne would be nothing. Let them look at the people. They were loyal, but they were discontented. If that discontent was to be allowed to continue and to increase, what would be the result? He would ask hon. Members whether they would not use their endeavours to allay that feeling? Would they wait? Would they shut their eyes and their ears till the enemy had literally entered into that House. A social volcano was opening under their feet, and they could not tell when it would burst. The little accident of a madman or of a boy firing a gun at Birmingham the other day, might have produced the most frightful consequences all over the country. He felt it to be his duty, therefore, to urge on Members of that House, to support his going into a Committee upon this petition. The petitioners complained of many injuries. They said they had been oppressed in many ways—that the blessings of God had been turned into afflictions instead of blessings. They told the House there must be a change. They said respectfully, but constitutionally, "there shall be a change, if they can by any legal and peaceful means produce that change." Now he would say they could. The danger was great; but when millions became discontented it was likely they should gather their masters with them into their own vineyard, and then they might erect walls around that vineyard which it would be utterly impossible for any power in this country to go against. There were 700,000 electors in England, who elected the great bulk of the Members of that House, and those electors were of the middle classes—none of them of the lower. If the question came to an issue, the House must not deceive itself, because if it were either to be a moral or a physical issue, the House was not to suppose, that the middle classes would join the aristocracy of the country, but might be sure, that they would throw themselves into the ranks of the working classes. When anarchy became spread throughout the country, if choice did not, necessity would, compel the middle to join the working classes. He knew, that English people were aristocratic in their characters. The very working classes were so, and only let them live and they would be content. God forbid, that he should be instrumental in altering that character; his desire was to place the aristocracy on a foundation that never could be shaken. But what did the working classes say? They said the House gave them the Corn-laws to make scarce the corn; they gave them the money-laws to make scarce the money. But 1,200,000 of her Majesty's subjects now said, that these things should be rectified; and he verily believed, that they had the power within themselves to rectify those great wrongs without illegality, and without crime. When he formed a Political Union, he took the opinion of Sir Charles Wetherell upon the step. That excellent man, because he never would entertain an unmerited opinion of a man, merely because he was opposed to him in politics—that excellent man and great lawyer said—"If I say this political union is illegal, I shall say that which I do not think is true; if I say it is legal, I may probably lead honest men astray, because I think the difficulties before them are so great, that it will be morally impossible to work out the principle without trenching on the law. I therefore say, I will take no fee and give no opinion." That statement, however, had been a most profitable opinion to him (Mr. Attwood) because he had guarded his steps accordingly. He saw those difficulties growing up, and both he and the petitioners were sensible of their surrounding them, nevertheless he was satisfied they could command victory peacefully and legally; and if in no other way, could command it by influencing the votes of the people who sent the Members to that. House. They might not do it immediately, but the time must come when they would. But he did not want them to do it in that way if it could be avoided. He, however, wished to know from the House what it was, if anything, which they meant to afford to the petitioners. If they would not go the whole length—if they would not give Universal Suffrage, would they give Household Suffrage? If they would not give Annual would they give Triennial Parliaments? If they would do nothing to increase the liberty of the people, would they do nothing to increase their prosperity? The petitioners said the House had the power to repeal the Corn-law; it had the power to repeal the Poor-law; it had the power to repeal the Money-law! Would it do that? If it would, it would greatly relieve the oppressed, without doing wrong to any one. He would, therefore, entreat the House to go into this Committee with him, in order to remove the sufferings of the petitioners. He for one never could believe, that the rights of the petitioners could be obtained till they had Universal Suffrage; but though hon. Members might not go so far as he would go, yet, by going into Committee, they might do much to produce contentment. But if they would not do that, if they would concede nothing in favour of the petitioners, they must then be considered as placing themselves in a situation hostile to liberty and prosperity. If the petitioners were only to be reproached, if they were only to be called the friends of anarchy, when in truth they only wanted to be able to work and to live like honest workmen in this great nation, according to the practice of a thousand years, and who had more right to an ample trade for honest labour than the Queen to her Crown, what was to be expected? When they approached the House with 1,200,000 tongues, was the House to remain indifferent, or was it to be supposed that the people could remain contented, when nothing was given to them but delusive hope today, and positive injury to-morrow? He felt grateful for the attention the House had afforded to him. The five points of the petition he most cordially supported, because he thought they ought to be granted. He verily believed they must and would be granted. He only wished he were equally sure they would produce the fruits that were expected from them. It was said there were other points insisted upon out of doors, but he knew nothing of them; he only went upon the five points in the petition. If misfortune should arise from unregarded injury, and if it should be thought proper in any quarter to have recourse to violent instead of lenient mea- sures, he hoped he did not overstep his duty when he expressed his conviction, that those Ministers, or that House, which followed a Polignac course would do wrong. Though the little finger of a constable might compel the obedience of a hundred of the bravest men who ever walked, yet the House must not believe, there was not to be a limit to that. Men were not disposed to throw away their own lives, nor were they disposed to take the lives of others. But if dead bodies should be carried about the streets—if rage and imprudence should usurp the place of prudence and of leniency, rage would beget rage, and there would not only be battle enough in England, but there would be a complete revolution before the most ingenious Ministers could have time to look round themselves. He made not this statement in the character of a threat, because there was nobody more desirous to avoid discord than himself; but having had the opportunity of addressing the House, he felt he should not discharge his duty, if he did not remind hon. Members that such might be the consequence; and if imprudence were to dictate the proceedings, he certainly did dread the direful consequences. The minds of men in Bristol, in Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, and all over the country, were at this moment in such a state of excitement, that if there should be the least outbreak, it must lead to a most serious and universally simultaneous one. By looking to a few of the towns from whence signatures to this national petition had come, the list would very curiously show how the names were connected with the existing state of distress. It formed a very good index to the poverty and discontent of the people. Even London, which was remarkable for its soporific character—was not quite asleep on this occasion. It had been alive, to be sure, when Sir Francis Burdett was taken to the Tower, but it had been asleep nearly ever since.—Nevertheless, on this occasion it did in a degree wake up, and he did sincerely trust that the result would be satisfactory. From all towns there was a large number of signatures, but most from the manufacturing towns, and having said so much, he would thank the House again for the attention he had received; he was not aware that by enlarging he should do any good; his anxious wish was, that there should be harmony and a conciliatory feeling between that House and the people. He begged to move that the House do re- solve itself into a Committee of the whole House, for the purpose of taking into consideration the petition called the National Petition, presented on the 14th of June.

seconded the motion. The petition was one that was well deserving of the earnest attention of the House, as expressing the strong and ardent feelings of such a number of persons in favour of a reform in that House, as well as conveying their demand for a redress of the grievances under which they now suffered. The first question to consider was, did the House believe the allegations contained in that petition? Believing, as he did, the truth of the allegations in that petition—believing that they were deserving of the utmost attention—believing that if the prayers of the people were entirely disregarded, serious consequences might ensue, he felt it his duty to support the motion of the hen. Member for Birmingham. The petitioners complained of being oppressed by a load of taxes. Was that, he would ask, a false allegation? He believed that no hon. Member would undertake to deny that fact. Were the people, then, continually to suffer under the pressure of those taxes? They complained in that petition that the manufacturers were on the verge of bankruptcy, and the workmen starving. Now, he could, bear out that statement; it was perfectly true in every particular, and if any hon. Member bad any doubt of it, he had but to inquire in the manufacturing districts of Lancashire for its confirmation. In cotton, which was one of the principal manufactures of England, the consumption had been two thirds less up to this period than it had been last year. And what was the cause of that depression in the manufacturing districts? The bad legislation, or, at all events, the neglect of good legislation, in that House, was the chief cause of that suffering, and, therefore, the people had a right to demand redress at their hands. They also complained that they had been bitterly and basely deceived by the Reform Bill. He was one of those who had exerted himself to obtain the passing of that bill, thinking that if it were passed, the grievances of the people would be redressed, but in that respect he was disappointed. The condition of the people, instead of being improved, had become worse. Since that period they had passed a bill for coercing the Irish people, instead of affording them relief. They had given away twenty millions of the public money to procure the emancipation of the blacks, whilst they had people in their manufacturing districts at home in an infinitely worse condition. They had continued to refuse relief to the hand-loom weavers, as, indeed, they had refused all the demands of the poor. The feeling in that House appeared to be all in favour of those who possessed money, whilst the poor were utterly disregarded. The evils that existed could only be redressed by adopting the remedies which the petitioners proposed. Let the House grant the prayer of this petition. Let them enact an equitable property tax, by which the rich would be made to support the burthens of the State. But if they continued regardless of the petitions of the people—if they allowed their grievances to remain unredressed—he could assure them that the time was approaching that would shake the stoutest nerves.

said: Mr. Speaker, there was one part of the speech of the hon. Member for Birmingham with which I was extremely gratified, at the same time that I was not surprised, at hearing from him. I mean that part in which he denied all concurrence with those who have recommended the use of arms and physical force, and expressed his desire to obtain his objects by peaceable means, and his determination to discountenance any attempt to overawe by force, the laws of the realm. I say I was not surprised at hearing that sentiment from the hon. Member for Birmingham, it being only in accordance with what he has said on various occasions—both what he has addressed to this House, and I believe elsewhere. At the same time, the hon. Gentleman must he aware that those who have promoted this petition, which, I think, he has, with a very undue assumption, called the National Petition,—that those persons, I say, who have promoted this petition, have been found going through the country, from town to town, and from place to place, exhorting the people in the most violent and revolutionary language—language not exceeded in violence and atrocity in the worst times of the French Revolution—to subvert the laws by force of arms. We owe it to the good sense of the people in general, that they have not listened to such exhortations. Unfortunately, a certain number of them have been misled—not into entertaining particular opinions, for with their political opinions I am not now quarrelling, but into the assumption of a menacing attitude towards those who administer the laws, and towards the rest of their fellow-subjects who wish to live peaceably, and to conduct themselves according to the laws of the realm. Sir, the hon. Gentleman has discussed this petition chiefly upon questions of political economy, and of the social condition of the people. With respect to the political aspect of the question—with respect to the general political results of universal suffrage, annual Parliaments, vote by ballot, the want of qualification in candidates for the representation of the people in this House, the hon. Gentleman has not at any length addressed himself to the House. He has confined himself almost exclusively in his speech to the effects which he thinks would be produced by change in our representation, admitting every male person of full age to the right of electing Members of Parliament. In following that line I certainly believe that he is expressing the sentiments of a great number of those who have signed this petition. I wish to speak with every respect of those who conscientiously entertain this opinion. I wish to speak with every respect of those who, having bad no part in the excitement and attempt to take up arms which I have described, imagine that there would be some more prosperous, some more healthy, some more happy condition of the country, if universal suffrage were established as the law of the realm. But I do conceive, that at the bottom of all those opinions—at the bottom of the opinions of the hon. Gentleman who in this instance fitly represents those views—there is a most grievous error. The hon. Gentleman supposes, and in every speech that I have heard him make in this House he has supposed, that if you have a certain distribution of political power—if you have a certain representation, framed in a certain manner,—if you have a law enacted with certain provisions, then you can by your mere will establish enduring and lasting prosperity in a country. The hon. Gentleman says, "I wish for universal suffrage, because if we have not that, there may be a Parliament which will give us prosperity today, and adversity to-morrow." Sir, I cannot conceive any form of political government or mode of legislation by which you can insure to the whole community of a country a perpetual and lasting state of prosperity, or by which, in a country de- pending very much upon commerce and manufactures, you can prevent that state of low wages and consequent distress which at all times affect those who are at the bottom of the scale,—or prevent those alternate fluctuations from prosperity to distress which occur in every community of the kind. Look at that country which is sometimes held out to us—I think very falsely held out—as the country enjoying in its political and social state greater advantages than our own—I mean the United States of America. There they have universal suffrage. But will any man say that the United States have been altogether free from those fluctuations, or from distress; enjoying as they do advantages which we cannot—having immense tracts of wild fertile land in which their population who cannot subsist in towns may easily find refuge and a mode of living;—even with these advantages, which we with a large population pent up in narrow limits do not possess, is it possible for any man to say, that the United States of America have been free from the evils I have mentioned? Look even at the results in that country of what, according to the views of the hon. Member for Birmingham, should be additional advantages—an increase in the quantity of money and large paper credits. I find in a newspaper of this day an account of a periodical published in America—a sort of manual on the subject of forgery, called "The Counterfeit Detector and Bank-note List," intended to detect forged money—this publication shows that there are no less than 600 kinds of forged money in that country, many of these forgeries being of bank-notes of exceedingly small value. Could there be a greater evil than the existence of such a state of things to the poor and labouring classes? What could be worse than that the labouring man should be exposed to have the whole of his money taken from him by such forgeries, arising from over-speculation and undue extension of paper money? Therefore it is not by universal suffrage, or by any form of suffrage, or by any principle of representation, that you can, as the hon. Gentleman presumes, obtain laws which shall ensure lasting prosperity to the people. Now, Sir, with respect to the petition itself, as the hon. Gentleman had not entered into the larger political theories connected with it, I shall not do so on the resent occa- sion; but I shall make a few observations with respect to the petition, and with respect to the conduct of those who have promoted it. The hon. Gentleman says, there are more than a million of signatures attached to it. I own I am not surprised that a million of signatures have been collected, with the industry which has been employed in the collection in the present case, and the facility that there is both in asking and giving signatures. Major Cartwright at one time obtained, not to one petition, but to a number of petitions, no less than three millions of signatures, asking for universal suffrage. Now, observe how differently this number of a million is treated, according to the side it happens to be at. If it is said that there are a million of persons having a right to elect Members of Parliament, we are told that it is too small a number—too insufficient and contracted a number, to be entitled to choose representatives. Yet a million of signatures being collected by the means used in getting up the petitions, without any examination or sifting, we are asked to consider it as the petition of the people at large, and it is even called, in the motion in your hands, Sir, the National Petition. I deny, that this petition represents the sentiments and opinions of the people at large. In my opinion, the great majority of the people do not seek the objects contained in this petition. In my belief, the great majority of the people, divided as they are in political opinion, do not think that advantage would result to them from the adoption of those measures, but on the contrary, would be alarmed at the prospect of the prayer of this petition being granted by the House. I believe, that a vote of the House, agreeing with the hon. Gentleman to go into Committee, with a view to establish by enactment the objects of this petition, would create alarm and dismay throughout the country; not among persons in prosperity, the aristocracy or the rich alone, but among the labouring classes, and, indeed, every class in the community. Having stated so much with respect to the number of the petitioners, I shall now call the attention of the House for a few moments to the statements of fact made in this petition—statements I think alluded to by the hon. Member for Birmingham as statements which he considered correct. The petitioners say,—"We are bowed down under a load of taxes; which, not withstand- ing, fall greatly short of the wants of our rulers; our traders are trembling on the verge of bankruptcy; our workmen are starving; capital brings no profit, and labour no remuneration; the home of the artificer is desolate, and the warehouse of the pawnbroker is full; the workhouse is crowded, and the manufactory is deserted." I entirely deny that those statements are true. I appeal, to go no further, to the statements of my right hon. Friend near me with respect to savings'-banks in the country. You find that, comparing the sums lodged in the savings'-banks with the sums drawn out during the last year, there is a balance of more than a million in favour of the sums invested—those sums, too, being chiefly of small amount. Can such a fact be compatible with the statement that the warehouse of the pawnbroker is full, and the home of the artificer is desolate? Do not the savings'-banks furnish pretty good proof of the number of artificers in this country who are not only receiving adequate wages, but also looking forward to the future support of their families—are adding to the money in the savings'-banks by small sums out of the produce of their industry, saved by submitting to the privation of everything which could interfere with such accumulations? An instance was quoted at an early period of the Session of the savings'-bank of Glasgow, a manufacturing town. I myself have seen lately an account of a savings'-bank in the county of Devon, and both the accounts from the manufacturing town and the agricultural county show a great advance in the amount of money in the savings'-banks, which is, I think, completely decisive of the want of truth in the descriptions given in this petition. Considering the statements in this petition to be a very gross exaggeration of the state of the country—a gross exaggeration of the distress which pi evails—I am not about to deny that at this time, in a country like this, depending as I have said, so much on commerce, credit, and manufactures, and containing a population drawing their support from those sources, and liable to be affected by manufacturing inventions which from time to time deprive them of employment, by rendering useless that particular art or skill by which they had previously subsisted;—I am not about to deny that there are at this time, as I am afraid, there will be at most times, a num- ber of working men, industrious, sober working men, whose means are exceedingly scanty, and whose situation cannot be looked upon without commiseration. I certainly am not about to deny that; while I do deny, that the representations in the petition are fair representations of the state of the country, and while I think, that instead of adopting its recommendations we should look rather to those measures which this House is competent to take, from time to time, for the relief of the distress which exists, so far as distress can be relieved by legislation; but the hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham, and the hon. Member for Oldham, who seconded him, seemed to suppose, as they always seem to suppose, that this House is bound to listen to their own particular remedies; and if their own remedies are not listened to, they cry out that we commit great injustice to the people, because we refuse, not what the people want, but what the hon. Members for Birmingham and Oldham think would be for their benefit. I do not deny, that they may think these measures for the benefit of the people, and that they would establish prosperity; but I deny that because the House does not at once accede to their opinions, without consulting its own discretion as to whether those opinions are sound or not, it is therefore to be taken for granted, that the House refuses what is just, and what would be beneficial to the people. The hon. Member for Birmingham has always held that one of the measures—or, indeed, I should rather say the one measure—which can give prosperity to the country, is an alteration in the standard of value, and a great increase in the quantity of paper money. This is the hon. Gentleman's hope. Looking to a period before what he thinks our errors and misfortunes commenced, twenty-two years ago, and having seen that at that period prosperity prevailed while a great quantity of paper money existed in the country, he holds himself to a certain extent justified in believing in the necessary connection of the two from the experience of those years. But suppose you had universal suffrage; does the hon. Member for Birmingham believe, that those who have promoted this plan of universal suffrage will agree with him in the opinion which he has expressed? Does the hon. Member think, that those persons will be for those immense changes in the standard, for this immense quantity of paper money he is for issuing at once from the banks, and enabling the people, to be sure, to have a greater amount of wages, say thirty shillings, when they can only receive fifteen or twenty shillings at present; and at the same time paying, just in the same proportion, a dearer price for their loaf, their meat, and every other article of consumption. I will read to the hon. Gentleman what some of the Members of what is called the General Convention have signed their names to—persons calling themselves the leaders of this movement; as, for instance, Mr. Feargus O'Connor, Mr. Lovett, Mr. Collins, Mr. Frost, and many others. What do those persons professing to be the leaders of this movement, say on this subject?

"Fellow countrymen, you have given abundant proof of your ardent desire for this trial (referring to the subject matter of discussion) and we are about to test the sincerity and solidity of your zeal. Amongst the number of measures by which you have been enslaved, there is not one more oppressive than the corrupting influence of paper money."
It goes on to say, that the corrupt system of banking and speculation defrauded industry, and that the great support of despotism and oppression were those fraudulent bits of paper which were dignified with the name of money. Supposing the hon. Member for Birmingham to have a seat, as no doubt he would have, as Member for Birmingham under the system of universal suffrage, and that he proposed immediately, as no doubt he would propose, this nostrum to cure all evils, how would he be surprised, if he were not before acquainted with this paper, to find that what he proposed as a remedy, was considered by all their leaders as in fact one of the greatest delusions and frauds by which the people had hitherto been oppressed. They went on to say,
"that this system of dishonesty which was unknown to our forefathers, was now sapping the moral foundations of the nation."
Non meus hic sermo. I might spend some minutes in endeavouring to show, that the hon. Member's prediction of the value of paper money is totally unfounded, and that on the contrary, the issuing of this quantity of paper money, while it committed a fraud upon every creditor in the country, would be in fact one of the means by which the labourers themselves would be deprived of the just reward of their labour. But I need not enter into an argument of that Sort, because I see that those persons who have signed their own proclamation, with regard to universal suffrage, are themselves much more strongly opposed than any one in this House, perhaps, and use stronger terms, certainly, than I am likely to use with respect to that which the hon. Member for Birmingham looks upon as a cure for all our evils, and which has induced him—having as he has said, no fancy for political changes, having no desire to see the institutions of the country changed—to propose this measure, in order to bring about what he calls a cure, but which those persons consider would be an additional and much greater evil pressing on the country. I do, therefore, ask the House not to agree to the proposal of the hon. Member for Birmingham. I conceive, that the hon. Member, and those who think with him in considering that the adoption of universal suffrage, or any other plan of suffrage, will place the labouring classes in a state of prosperity, are under a complete delusion. There are only two ways, as far as I can see, by which the position of the labouring classes can be improved. One would be by an increase of wages—an increase in the rate of wages—a higher reward for labour. Does universal suffrage tend to anything of this kind? Will universal suffrage have this effect? If the country remains in a state of tranquillity, I do not believe that it will have any effect one way or the other; but if there should be such a change in the institutions of the country as should drive away many of those who are the employers of labour, if it should drive capital from the country, if it should induce many proprietors no longer to employ the labour of this country, it would have the effect of increasing the number of labourers, and of diminishing the quantity of employment; and, therefore, so far from increasing wages, it would diminish wages. The only other mode by which many persons—although I must say, that the hon. Member for Birmingham is not one of them—hold, that the condition of the labouring classes can be improved, is, by a general distribution of all the property of the rich amongst the poor and the labouring classes. Upon this I need not argue. I believe, that several persons have been induced to sign this petition by the manner in which several very reckless demagogues throughout the whole country held out, that the property of the country ought to be divided among the people in general. That is, however, a proposition upon which I need not argue in this House. I am sure that every Member of this House, and I am sure that the great majority of the people, will agree with me, that a scheme of this kind would tend, in fact, not only to the destruction of all our institutions, not only to the destruction of everything that makes this country valuable; but that it would, in fact, and before any long time, be a source of ruin to the labouring classes themselves. I know not how, in any other way that can he proposed, the adoption of a plan of this kind can have a tendency to increase the riches of the labouring classes, to raise their means, or to increase their wages. I believe that a country like this, generally speaking, political freedom, commercial freedom, and religious freedom, tend to increase the riches of the country—tend to increase the riches of every class, by not directly growing riches, or directly creating property, but by allowing men to use their own energies, in their own way, by allowing them to use their own energies in industry, and thus leaving open a road to wealth, honour, and distinctions, and thus indirectly, but certainly, producing and creating property. Looking at the more general question, and saying, as I shall say, but a very few words upon that question, my belief is, that generally speaking, the institutions of this country, tend as much to freedom, tend as much to secure to the people as great a portion of freedom with, at the same time, as great a portion of security—as it is I will not say possible, but, as far as I am acquainted with it—as has ever been secured by any institutions to the people of any country in the world. I see no instance at this moment of any people existing on the face of the globe who do enjoy those two advantages to a greater extent. I may see greater political liberty in some countries, but is there the same security of person? I say, that the general predominance and supremacy of law is less strong and less fortified in those countries than in our country. In other countries there may be greater power there may be greater military force to repress anything like disturbance or the violation of tranquillity; but in those countries there is far less of that freedom to which I have adverted, so that I know not bow, by any great change in the institutions of the country, such as the hon. Member for Birmingham proposes, we can at all advance or promote the welfare of' the people of this country. I suppose that the hon. Member for Birmingham will hardly contend that adopting universal suffrage and annual Parliaments, as this petition proposes, the rest of our institutions will remain as they are. I do not suppose, that he will pretend that the monarchy, the hereditary branch of the legislature and various other institutions of this country, will remain in the same state, or that there would not be danger to all our other institutions if we adopt the large and democratical change which is now proposed. I need not say, after what I have already said, that I do not believe, that any such change, even if it could be peaceably accomplished—which no man can expect; if it could be accomplished in three days from hence, I do not believe that it would tend to the comfort and the prosperity of any portion of the people—I do not believe that it would tend to the welfare of the majority of those who have signed this petition. I cannot conclude without adverting to the means by which those who profess themselves members of the General Convention ask the people to carry their objects into effect. First of all, they state, that it is the unanimous request of the Convention, that the people should be urged, individually and collectively, to withdraw their money from the savings'-banks as well as all other banks. Secondly, that they should convert all their paper money into gold; that they should abstain from the use of all exciseable articles; that they should adopt an exclusive system of dealing; and that, in order to attain and maintain their freedom, they should exercise their ancient constitutional right of providing themselves with the arms of freemen. These are the modes by which these parties propose that harmony should be established in this country. This is the way in which the different classes of the people are to be induced to unite for the purpose of effecting the objects which these parties have in view. My own opinion is, that these are the exhortations of persons, several of them, no doubt, conscientious persons, but others very designing and insidious persons, wishing not the prosperity of the people, but exhorting the people, by those means most injurious to themselves, to produce a degree of discord—to produce a degree of confusion—to produce a degree of misery, the consequence of which would be to create a great alarm, that would be fatal, not only to the constitution as it now exists, not only to those rights which are now said to be monopolised by a particular class, but fatal to any established government. I do not say that I fear those who propose this plan. I am very sorry that delusion has been practised with as much effect as it has been, but if this proposition were presented to the great majority of the working classes in this country, I am sure they would see, as well as I do, that the adoption of this proposition would be most injurious to themselves. I believe that they will spurn the advice that has been tendered to them, and that all those designing persons who were about to eke out a profit, and to secure an income from those attempts and those delusions, will find that their trade will soon come to an end, and that the good sense and virtue of the people of England will be fatal to their schemes and their objects.

entirely agreed with the noble Lord as to the fallacy he had pointed out, as pervading this petition—that political rights necessarily ensured social happiness, But although they did not approve of the remedy suggested by the Chartists, it did not follow they should not attempt to cure the disease complained of. He did not think they had, up to the present moment, clearly seen what the disease really was. He could not believe, that a movement which, if not national, was yet most popular, could have been produced by those common means of sedition to which the noble Lord had referred. Unquestionably, there was more or less of a leaven of sedition mixing itself up with all popular commotions; but he could not believe, that a petition signed by considerably upwards of 1,000,000 of our fellow-subjects could have been brought about by those ordinary means which were always in existence, and which, five, ten, or fifteen years ago, were equally powerful in themselves, without producing any equal results. It had been supposed, that the basis of this movement was strictly economical. He had great doubts of that, because he found, that where there were economical causes for national movements they led to tumult, but seldom to organization. He admitted also, on the other hand, that this movement was not occasioned by any desire of political rights. Political rights had so much of an abstract character, their consequences acted so slightly on the multitude, that he did not believe they could ever be the origin of any great popular movement. But there was something between an economical and a political cause, which might be the spring of this great movement, as the noble Lord must himself admit it to be. It might be mistaken, but all must confess, that it was considerable. The real cause of this, as all real popular movements, not stimulated by the aristocracy, and which, if not permanent, were still of material importance, was an apprehension on the part of the people, that their civil rights were invaded. Civil rights partook in some degree of an economical, and in some degree certainly of a political character. They conduced to the comfort, the security, and the happiness of the subject, and at the same time were invested with a degree of sentiment, which mere economical considerations did not involve. Now, he maintained, that the civil rights of the people of England had been invaded. There had been, undoubtedly, perhaps with no evil intention, perhaps from a foolish desire of following a false philosophy, and applying a system of government not suited to the character of this country, and borrowed from the experience of another—there had been, from whatever motive, an invasion of the civil rights of the English people of late years; and he believed the real cause of this movement was a sentiment on the part of the people of England, that their civil rights had been invaded. That sentiment had doubtless been taken advantage of by trading agitators, but it was participated by much more than agitators, and that discontented minority which must ever exist in all countries. He was not one of those who ascribed the people's Charter, as it was called, to the New Poor Law; but, at the same time, he believed there was an intimate connexion between the two. He ascribed the Charter and the New Poor law to the same origin to which they owed many evils they now experienced, and many more with which they were menaced, the consequences of which, if he were not much mistaken, might yet be severely felt by persons superior to those who had signed this petition. The origin of this movement in favour of the Charter dated about the same time they had passed their Reform Bill. He was not going to entrap the House into any discussion on the merits of the constitution they had destroyed, and that which had replaced it. He had always said, that he believed its character was not understood by those who assailed it, and perhaps not fully by those who defended it. All would admit this—the old constitution had an intelligible principle, which the present had not. The former invested a small portion of the nation with political rights. Those rights were intrusted to that small class on certain conditions—that they should guard the civil rights of the great multitude. It was not even left to them as a matter of honour; society was so constituted, that they were intrusted with duties which they were obliged to fulfil. They had transferred a great part of that political power to a new class, whom they had not invested with those great public duties. Great duties could alone confer great station, and the new class which had been invested with political station had not been bound up with the great mass of the people by the exercise of social duties. For instance, the administration of justice, the regulation of parishes, the building of roads and bridges, the command of the militia and police, the employment of labour, the distribution of relief to the destitute—these were great duties which, ordinarily, had been confined to that body in the nation which enjoyed and exercised political power. But now they had a class which had attained that great object which all the opulent desired—political power without the condition annexed to its possession, and without fulfilling the duties which it should impose. What was the consequence? Those who thus possessed power without discharging its conditions and duties were naturally anxious to put themselves to the least possible expense and trouble. Having gained that object, for which others were content to sacrifice trouble and expense, they were anxious to keep it without any appeal to their pocket, and without any cost of their time. To gain their objects, they raised the cry of cheap government—that served the first: to attain the second, they called for the constant interference of the Government. But he contended, they could not have a cheap and centralized Government, and maintain at the same time the civil rights of the people of England. He believed this was the real cause of the Charter; a larger body of the people found out that their civil rights had been invaded. They had invaded their civil rights. The New Poor Law Act was an invasion of their civil rights. They could not deny, that they had based that New Poor Law upon a principle that outraged the whole social duties of the State—the mainstay, the living source of the robustness of the commonwealth. They taught the destitute not to look for relief to those who were their neighbours, but to a distant Government stipendiary. They taught the unfortunate labourer, that he had no legal claim to relief—that the relief he should receive must be an affair of charity; and he believed, that the discontent such alterations had occasioned was really the vis inertiœ of which the active sedition of the country had availed itself—this movement for the Charter. He knew it would be said, that Gentlemen on that (the Opposition) side of the House, were answerable for the New Poor-law as well as others. He admitted it; but the people of the country did not visit its enactment with the same acrimony upon those who assisted as upon those who originated it; and for this reason, they could not forget that they assisted the party opposite to obtain power, and the feeling of disappointment, the vindictive sentiment was excited only by the Government and its supporters, not by those who were opposed to them, although joining in passing that bill. He thought their consenting to such a bill was a very great blunder. The fact, was, when the Tory party, shattered, and apparently destroyed, rose from the stupor in which they found themselves, they began to think they should have a slice of the cake and fruits of reform—that they should have some of the advantages of the cheap government system—and he believed they would yet rue the day they did so, for they had acted contrary to principle—the principle of opposing everything like central government, and favouring in every possible degree the distribution of power. He admitted, that the prayer of the National Petition involved the great fallacy of supposing that social evils would be cured by political rights; but the fallacy was not confined to these poor Chartists. He had confined to these poor Chartists. He had never passed and evening in that House that he did not hear some hon. Gentleman say, that the people were starving, and that the only remedy was household suffrage. Was that proposition less absurd than the prayer of this petition which had been so severely criticised by the noble Lord? The petitioners demanded annual Parliaments; but whether a man called for annual or triennial Parliaments, undoubtedly the change applied for was great in either case, and he did not think the noble Lord was justified in speaking in terms of derision. At least, it was futile to attempt drawing the line between the requirements of the petition and the suggestions of some of his own supporters. The fact, however, was, although the opinions of some of the supporters of the noble Lord's Government might be somewhat in advance of his own, they were still supposed to be perfectly compatible with the exercise of political powers by that class he had created, by whose influence he had obtained place, and with whose assistance he still hoped to retain power. But if the noble Lord supposed, that in this country he could establish a permanent Government on what was styled now-a-days, a monarchy of the middle classes, he would be indulging a great delusion, which if persisted in, must shake our institutions and endanger the Throne. He believed, such a system was actually foreign to the character of the people of England. He believed, that in this country, the exercise of political power must be associated with great public duties. The English nation would concede any degree of political power to a class making simultaneous advances in the exercise of the great social duties. That was the true principle to adhere to; in proportion as they departed from it, they were wrong; as they kept by it, they would approximate to that happy state of things which had been described as so desirable by the hon. Member for Birmingham. The noble Lord had answered the speech of the hon. Member for Birmingham, but he had not answered the Chartists. The hon. Member for Birmingham had made a very dexterous speech, a skilful evolution in favour of the middle classes. But although he had attempted to dovetail the Charter on the Birmingham Union, all that had recently taken place on the appearance of the Chartists before the leaders of the union newly-created magistrates, and the speeches by members of the convention within the last few days, led to a very different conclusion. There he found the greatest hostility to the middle classes. They complained only of the government by the middle classes. They made no attack on the aristocracy—none on the Corn-laws—but upon the newly-enfranchised constituency, not on the old—upon that peculiar constituency which was the basis of the noble Lord's Government. He was aware this subject was distasteful to both of the great parties in that House. He regretted it. He was not ashamed to say, however much he disap- proved of the Charter, he sympathised with the Chartists. They formed a great body of his countrymen; nobody could doubt they laboured under great grievances, and it would indeed have been a matter of surprise and little to the credit of that House, if Parliament had been prorogued without any notice being taken of what must always be considered a very remarkable social movement. They had now sat five months; their time had no been particularly well occupied, and he would just call to the attention of the House some of the circumstances which had occurred with reference to this subject. Early in the Session they had heard of lords-lieutenant of counties, noblemen and gentlemen of great influence, leaving the metropolis, travelling by railroads, putting themselves at the head of the yeomanry, capturing and relieving towns, and returning just in time to vote on some important division; and certainly he should have expected that some notice, at least, would have been taken of the occurrence by the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for the Home Department. A short time afterwards, the petition called the "National Petition," was brought forward by the hon. Gentleman. He called it the National Petition by courtesy. The noble Lord had been critical upon it—he said, it was not national; the noble Lord also said, he was at the head of the reform Government, which some ventured to think was not a reform Government. They should take titles as they found them; but it had a very good title to be called "national" when it was signed by a large portion of the nation. By a sort of chilling courtesy, the hon. Member was allowed to state the contents of the petition, but the noble Lord said nothing—he gave no sign, and it was only by an accident, he believed, they had been favoured with his remarks that evening remarks which showed great confidence in the state of the country, in the temper and virtue of the labouring classes—great confidence in himself and in his Government. He hoped the noble Lord had good and efficient reasons for the tone of confidence which he had assumed, and the air, he would not say of contumely, but of captiousness with which he had met this motion. The observations of the noble Lord would go forth to the world, and if the inference he drew from them were wrong, prompt justice would, no doubt, be done him. The noble Lord might despise the Chartists; he might despise 1,280,000 of his fellow-subjects because they were discontented; but if he were a Minister of the Crown, he should not so treat them, even if he thought them unreasonable. The noble Lord had his colonies in a condition so satisfactory—the war in the East seemed drawing to a close—his monetary system was in so healthy a state—that he could afford to treat with such nonchalance a social insurrection at his very threshold. Perhaps it was in vain to expect, whatever might be the state of the country, much attention from her Majesty's Government. Their time was so absorbed, so monopolized, in trying to make Peers, and promising to make Baronets, that but little time could now be given by them to such a subject as this; but probably in the recess, when cabinet councils would be held more frequently, they would give it some consideration. He believed that if they did not, and that if they treated it as a mere temporary ebullition, which was rather the result of a plethoric vein than of any other cause, they would be grievously mistaken; for the seeds were sown, which would grow up to the trouble and dishonour of the realm. He was convinced that if they persisted in their present system of cheap and centralized government, they would endanger not only the national character but also the national throne.

thought that the taunt which the hon. Member for Maidstone had thrown out against her Majesty's Ministers was scarcely justified by the circumstances of the case; for if the Members on the Ministerial side of the House had done little this Session, the hon. Members on the other side had done still less to forward public objects. He agreed with the hon. Member that there was a general discontent prevailing among the labouring classes, but must remark, at the same time, that it was impossible for the measures of any particular Government to have produced that organization of them which they saw existing at present. That organization arose out of deep and general discontent, and that discontent, he believed, was generated by the disappointed expectations of those who had cordially joined with the Government in carrying the Reform Bill of 1832. He believed that the people had expected greater and better results from that bill, than any which they had yet experienced, and that they, unfortunately, had been severely disappointed. Having suffered patiently for years, in the hope of obtaining relief, and having at length discovered that no relief was to be afforded to them, they had been reduced to a state of complete despair. As the hon. Member for Maidstone intimated that he had not read the petition recently, he had handed over to him a copy of it, and he had entertained hopes that the hon. Member would attend to its prayer; for he was sorry to say that the speech of his hon. Friend, the Member for Birmingham, who made the motion, and of the hon. Member who seconded it, and of the noble Lord who opposed it, had nothing to do with the prayer of the petition. That petition contained no prayer for a paper currency. Except so far as regarded cheap bread, the subject of currency was not introduced into the petition. Though the petitioners might have suffered by the New Poor-law, they said nothing about it in their present petition. The noble Lord had, therefore, not dealt fairly either with the petitioners or with their petition. They prayed for a change in the constitution of the Commons House of Parliament, and for an amended representation of the people within it. The petitioners came before the House with this prayer, and by this prayer alone ought they to be judged. The noble Lord had been accused of treating the petition, if not with contempt at least with captiousness. He had heard every syllable of the present debate, and he was bound to say that though the noble Lord might have thrown contempt upon the doctrines contained in the petition as being in opposition to his own, he had not treated the petitioners with any thing that bore the semblance of contempt or disregard. The noble Lord had asked whether universal suffrage would produce cheap bread or any other of the ameliorations which the petitioners required. Now, in replying to that question, he would tell the noble Lord what changes he, as well as the petitioners, expected to result from universal suffrage; and here he would observe, that it was not exactly fair in the noble Lord to mix up with this petition a bill drawn by the Lord knows who, and containing matters which would completely counteract all the objects which the petitioners were anxious to obtain. He concurred entirely in the principles on which the Charter, as it was called, was founded; and could prove, if need were, that some of the ablest men in this country had promulgated at least three out of the five principles which it contained. The petitioners stated that:—

"The energies of a mighty kingdom had been wasted in building up the power of selfish and ignorant men, and that its resources had been squandered for their aggrandizement."
They likewise stated:—
"That the good of a party had been advanced to the sacrifice of the good of the nation—that the few had governed for the interest of the few, while the interest of the many had been neglected, or insolently and tyrannously trampled on."
They added further, that
"They looked upon the Reform Act as the machinery of an improved legislation—where the will of the masters would be at length potential;"
And they complained that "they had been bitterly and basely deceived." Now, could any man lay his hand to his heart and say that there was not much of truth in these statements? Could any man say, that the House at present represented fully, fairly, and freely, the sentiments of the people of England? Why, it was notorious that at present the House was chosen by less than a sixth part of the male adult population. If he were to give the definition of a freeman, as it was laid down by Blackstone, Sir T. Smith, and the great Lord Camden, they would find that every one of these great authorities laid it down as a rule that taxation and representation ought to go together, and that no man could be considered as a freeman who had not a voice in the election of those representatives who were to make the laws under which he was to live, and were to impose the taxes which he was to pay. The Chartists said, that they were slaves, as they had no voice in the election of those who had the power to make laws affecting their lives, their liberties, and their petty pittances of property; and stated, that their sufferings arose principally from the source, that the laws were passed for the benefit of the few, and not for the benefit of the many. Now, could any one deny that the laws were partial, and administered unequally among the rich and the poor? Could any one deny that the taxation of the country rested principally on these 1,200,000 petitioners? They were the principal tax-payers, for the aristocracy took as much from the taxes as they contributed to them. He would now tell the noble Lord how universal suffrage would produce cheap bread. The masses would send to the House of Commons, men who would repeal the Corn-laws, and all the taxes which made food dear, and all the laws which benefitted the few and not the many. In calling for universal suffrage, the Chartists came before the House with the very best of precedents, though he must say, that if they took his advice, they had better lay aside the phrase "Universal Suffrage," and use the phrase "Extension of Suffrage," in its stead. He also wished that they would not call their meetings by the name of "National Convention," as that was a name which reminded men of events which every one must wish to forget. He must, however, remind the House that in the year 1779 and 1780 delegates were sent up to an assembly in London from no less than twenty-five different counties and from the cities of York, Bristol, and Gloucester, and the towns of Cambridge, Nottingham, Newcastle, Reading, and Bridgewater, and that various meetings of them took place on the subject or Parliamentary Reform—at several of which the late Mr. Pitt, the idol of gentlemen on the other side of the House, attended. He held in his hand the resolution they passed on the 20th of March, 1780, by which they called for the shortening of the duration of Parliaments to one year, and recited two acts of the reign of Edward 3rd, by which it was ordained that Parliament should be holden in every year once, and more often if need be. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen might laugh at that expression, and he knew what their laugh meant; but he had already seen two Parliaments holden in one year, and he had no objection to seeing that again. The resolutions likewise stated that during the whole of the reign of Edward 3rd, and during the first eighteen years of the reign of his successors, writs were issued for the meeting of Parliament once in each year, and sometimes twice in the same year. The meeting of delegates resolved in consequence to use their best efforts to obtain a law extending the suffrage very largely, and providing for the taking of the suffrage at the public expense. He further reminded the House, that on the 3rd of June, 1780, the Duke of Richmond presented a bill to the House of Lords, for the purpose of restoring to the people their right of voting for Members of Parliament. It was entitled, "an Act for declaring and restoring the natural, unalienable, and equal right of all the Commons of Great Britain (infants, persons of insane mind, and criminals incapacitated by law only excepted) to vote in the election of their Representatives in Parliament." The heads of that bill were, that "Parliament in future should last but one year, that the number of Members should continue to be 558, that every man born a subject of Great Britain, should be entitled to a vote at the age of twenty-one years; that every county should be divided into districts, and that such districts should be called boroughs." This bill then of the Duke of Richmond, carried out nearly every one of the five principles asserted at present by the Chartists. Again the friends of the people in 1792 formed an association and proclaimed almost the very same principles. He held in his hand a copy of the resolutions passed on the 30th of May, 1792, by that association, Mr. W. Smith, the late Member for Norwich, being in the chair. Of that association he believed that his hon. Friend, the Member for Middlesex, and the hon. Member for Hereford, were the only two survivors then in the House. He regretted that the hon. Member for North Wiltshire was not in his place, for he held in his hand an extract from a speech which that hon. Baronet had made on the 15th of June, 1809, and which went the full length of the present petition. On that occasion the hon. Baronet proposed,
"First, that freeholders, householders, and others, subject to direct taxation in support of the poor, the Church, and the State, should be required to elect Members to serve in Parliament; secondly, that each county should be subdivided according to its taxed male population, and each subdivision required to elect one Representative; thirdly, that the votes should be taken in each parish by the parish officers, and that all the elections should be finished in one and the same day; and, fourthly, that Parliament should be brought back to a constitutional duration."
The hon. Baronet then proceeded as follows:—
"I have stated fully and dispassionately, and I hope clearly and satisfactorily, to this House, and to the public, the remedy for all our grievances, which I have been so often called upon to produce. I have obeyed that call; in that, at least, I hope I have given satisfaction. The remedy I have proposed is simple, constitutional, practicable, and safe, calculated to give satisfaction to the people, to preserve the rights of the Crown, and to restore the balance of the constitution. These have been the objects of my pursuit; to these have I always directed my attention; higher I do not aspire, lower I cannot descend."
It was not uninteresting to observe the opposite definitions given of Universal Suffrage, by Tory and Radical writers. In Blackwood's Magazine, it was described as meaning
"The destruction of property, order, and civilization; impracticable in an old and highly peopled State; and necessarily ruinous to the security of life and liberty."
On the other hand, the Chartists asserted that
"To deprive any member of the community of his right to vote, in making the laws, or electing those who are to make them, was neither more nor less than an outlawry of such individual—putting him out of the pale of the Constitution—that it is, in fact, a robbery, if the least particle of his property is touched for the purposes of the community which thus excludes him—that a man deprived of his vote is, to all intents and purposes, a slave, for he is wholly dependent on others for life, and liberty, and comfort, which he is obliged to commit to the care and keeping of persons whom he despises, perhaps detests."
He held by this opinion; and in its support he would quote two high authorities—the noble Lord, (J. Russell) and Earl Grey. The noble Lord, in introducing the Reform Bill, said,
"In the ancient Constitution of the country, no man could be taxed for the support of the State who had not consented, by himself or his representatives, to such tax."
How could the noble Lord, after making that declaration to induce the House to pass the Reform Bill, now laugh at the demand for Universal Suffrage? Either the noble Lord must have a short memory, or he must have marvellously altered his opinions. Earl Grey said, speaking of the Reform Bill, and he (Mr. Hume) would apply it to the Chartist petition,
"I believe the measure to be one of peace and conciliation. In 1786 (the noble Earl continued) I supported Mr. Pitt in his measure for shortening Parliaments—and making the Douse of Commons more fully, fairly, and freely, representing the people."
If he were asked, would Household Suffrage give cheap bread? he would reply, that it would send into that House men who would better attend to the wants and interests of the community; and he would say openly, that he supported it, and had proposed it, as a step to a more extensive reform. The condition of the country rendered absolutely essential, in his opinion, some immediate progress towards further reform, and if household suffrage had been conceded, he believed it would have stopped much of the discontent that prevailed. He begged pardon of the House for having so long trespassed upon them, but he felt that it was most important to the best interests of the country, that when a petition came up, signed by 1,200,000 of the industrious classes, they should be treated with consideration and respect. They deplored the want of education, and complained that the house had neglected its duty, in spreading that enlightenment of the popular mind, which would be the best basis of a strong and good Government. They wished not to affect the interests of the aristocracy, or the stability of the Throne, but they wished to keep the aristocracy in their proper sphere, and to give the Commons of England their due weight and influence. He entreated the House to devise means of giving satisfaction to the now discontented masses. And he did implore the noble Lord well to consider if the Constitution would not be more endangered by resisting these demands, than by basing the Government on the suffrages of four or five millions of electors. If the noble Lord rejected these demands, he believed that the best institutions of the country would be perilled—but if every man in the country had a vole, he believed men would be sent to this House, anxious to correct abuses, and especially to control unnecessary expenses, and to give to industry its due reward. On these considerations, therefore, he should give his support to the motion.

said, he could not agree to going into Committee on a petition which asked so large an alteration in the constitution, and one which appeared to him not at all calculated to lead to the end which the petitioners professed to have in view. He would have been willing to give to their prayer every consideration, if he believed that it was in any degree likely to forward their own object. They complained that they were suffering under deep distress. Nobody could doubt, who had read their petition, that they greatly exaggerated in their statements, and that these statements were not derived from the petitioners themselves, but were suggested to them by evil counsellors. Still, he lamented that he was obliged to confess the existence of great distress among the lower orders, and to relieve this distress he hoped and trusted that something might be done. He wished to turn from the political part of the subject, and to avoid entering into the interminable discussions connected with the corn-laws, and the currency, and the poor-laws. The petitioners required a remedy, of which he doubted the propriety; nay, he believed that the very fact of going into Committee on such a proposition, would tend to unsettle the public mind, and shake the confidence of capitalists in the stability of things. The population had increased six times more in the large towns than in the country? but no corresponding alteration had taken place in the provision for the comforts and improvement of the people. In Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, and other large towns, one in seven or one in ten of the population lived in great distress. No care was taken of the health of the people, who were crowded together in small damp houses, and filthy cellars without ventilation. Could any man doubt that Parliament had neglected the education and moral culture of the people? The Government was entitled to credit for the measures which they had brought forward, but they were generally marred in their progress. The Members of that House had used their power rather for their own aggrandizement, than for the benefit of the people. He hoped he should soon see them adopt practical measures for infusing foresight and providence into the habits of the people, which were so much more essential to them than to the higher classes.

I must claim the indulgence of the House whilst I express my opinions on this occasion; because having taken a decided part against the Chartists out of this House, I feel it to be my duty to declare, that I am favourable to the principle, but not to the details of this petition. I don't agree to the adoption of the entire Charter, but I think there is a portion of it which ought to be worked out. I cannot certainly consent to annual Parliaments. I am convinced, that if annual Parliaments were adopted, they would become so much a matter of course, that instead of creating the not and tumult which were apprehended, they would become, as in many places in America, matters of indifference, and not produce so good a selection as if they occurred less frequently. I candidly admit I am a thorough Radical Reformer, therefore I am for the utmost practical extension of the suffrage. I am not for an universal suffrage, because I consider it totally inapplicable to the existing state of society. The Chartists themselves do not mean universality of suffrage, though they seem to call for it; for they admit an exception to their demand, which does not exist in the East-India House and the Bank, by excluding females from the right of voting. But I confess the noble Lord did not, in my mind, state any argument against general suffrage, that is, a suffrage coextensive with the existence of freedom of action on the part of those enjoying it. I don't think that apprentices or servants should have a vote, or any one over whose opinion a direct dominion could be exercised; but within that limit (which is rather an extensive one) I want to know why any Englishman should be deprived of this right? I do not see in this country, as in the West Indies, a master class of one colour, and a slave class of another. If I saw in England a superiority of one class over another, in point of moral, physical, and intellectual power, I should assent to the dominion which is implied by the present state of things. But as the wealthy class does not possess any such advantage, I utterly deny the right of the wealthy class to call themselves the master class, and to make the poor the slave class, depriving them of all share in the representation or power of interfering in the making of laws. My hon. Friend near me (Mr. Hume) showed from the text-writers on our law, that taxation and representation were correlative. Indeed, so familiar is this principle to the mind of every lawyer, that the right hon. Member for Ripon (Sir E. Sugden) last night, dwelt on the cruelty of taxing the Canadians without allowing them the right of choosing their representatives. The man who is taxed withot being represented is robbed of his money, and what he is made to contribute towards the exigencies of the State, he does not pay according to the process of law. I should, then, place the poor man and the rich man on a perfect equality, being convinced, that if you deprive either of his vote, you rob him of his property by taxing him without his consent. Now, how does this question of the suffrage stand at present? What proportion of the adult population possess it? Why nineteen per cent, is the miserable proportion in which the people enjoy the franchise. The remaining eighty-one per cent. are deprived of votes. How is it in Ireland? Four per cent. of the whole adult population possess a right of voting—a contemptible minority of the people of Ireland. This is nothing imaginary. It is a serious—a real grievance. And when eighty-one persons out of every hundred are unjustly deprived of the right of voting in England, how can you expect peace, or contentment, or quietude as long as a topic of that kind, so powerful in itself, is left in the hands of any man who chooses to agitate the public mind? And can you imagine that we Irish agitators will not make use of the powerful argument with which we are furnished in the fact, that ninety-six out of every hundred persons in Ireland are shut out from all control over the laws? But you have adopted the fantastic principle of resting the right of voting on 10l. annual value, and you have been guilty of the preposterous injustice of vesting the franchise in inert matter, a house or a farm, whilst you disqualify the labouring man, whose wages amount to much more than your favourite standard. And after these things, you hope to be secure against popular attacks, conscious as the people are of the grievances which they endure, and their sense of their being embittered by the reflection, that they are incapable of removing them, because they are prevented from enjoying the right of voting possessed by their fellow-citizens. I shall not enter upon the topic of the ballot, though I am decidedly for it. I shall not allude to the question of qualification further than to say, that the absurd anomaly at present exists, that Members for Ireland and England are obliged to qualify, whilst those for Scotland do not qualify at all. As to the payment of Members for their attendance, it cannot be supposed that I should be very unfavourable to that principle, and I have therefore no hesitation in supporting it. But what I wish to impress on the House is, that your exclusive laws at present infuse fresh discontent into the sullen spirit in which it is natural to expect that the people, situated as they are, should give way. It unfortunately happens, that in every country the poorer classes, from being crowded into towns, from sickness, accident, and the variations of trade, suffer what are to them the greatest calamities. You aggravate this real and substantial grievance by imposing on those subject to it political inferiority. I am thoroughly convinced, that the present system of exclusive voting, and the aristocratic mode in which this House is elected, would have yielded to popular discontent, but for the conduct of the Chartists. If it had not been for the re commendation to use physical force—if it were not for the ridiculous folly exhibited in their scheme of measures, and particularly in the advice to go to the savings'-banks, and take out the money, I am persuaded that the demands of the people would have been in great part answered. What triflers and idiots these men must be! If they had any desire to accomplish the national objects of the people, they would advise them to save and deposit what they could of their earnings in the savings'-banks, instead of advising them to go and squander the money laid up there. Such folly could only have its source in the greatest depravity. They are the protectors of the aristocratic exclusionists in this country. Their violent proceedings have scared from their ranks the middle classes—the strength, sinew, and bone of society. Nothing is more familiar than to read in the newspapers now-a-days treasonable recommendations, for any recommendation to alter an existing law by force is high treason. This traitorous language has terrified all sober and quiet members of society, and at a time when popular opinions were fast gaining ground, these men have cut off the resources of persuasion and argument. I was sorry to hear the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) institute a comparison between aristocratic and democratic Government. In one respect, the noble Lord's answer to the hon. Member for Birmingham was perfect. That hon. Member looks forward to the establishment of the democratic principle as the means of obtaining his favourite paper currency, with a perfect freedom from fluctuations. The noble Lord showed that these fluctua- tions, and more, prevail in America, where the democratic principle exists to the widest extent. But the noble Lord should have been satisfied with that decided answer to one part of the hon. Gentleman's argument, and not have inveighed against democracy generally. Let me ask the noble Lord, does America furnish any discouragement to those who are favourable to the democratic principle? What other country can boast that it has paid off its national debt, and is free from all direct taxation? And proudly as the British flag floats, is it safer than the American? Is there any country more secure from foreign invasion? When, therefore, the noble Lord quotes America, I must remind him, that there are many pages in the history of that government which provide a direct incentive to increase the power of the democratic element. The histories of Greece and Rome, of Norway, and of Belgium, all shew the advantage of democracy. This principle cannot be of use, if it be not moderate in its demands, as well as peremptory. Within perfectly legal and strictly constitutional grounds, it was fortified against every attack. When so guided, it may be left with safety to control the public mind, and under such circumstances, I am convinced, that too much encouragement cannot be given to the people of England to insist that this House should represent the entire nation, and not a portion of it. The good sense which distinguishes the people cannot fail to be struck by the useless conflicts for office in this House, during which, even the cause of education is tarnished by the propagation of bigotry and bad feeling. I am ready to vote for going into Committee, being favourable to a considerable extension of the suffrage, ballot, a shortened duration of Parliament, the abolition of a property qualification, and to allowing such constituencies as please to pay the expenses of their Members. I am opposed altogether to every exertion of physical force in attaining these objects, more especially when I observe, that those who stimulate the people to violence, are most careful to remain at a distance when the army comes down upon the victims of their advice.

, agreeing in much of what had been said by others who had preceded him, would state briefly the course he intended to take. He would vote for going into Committee, in order to see what could be done there in this important matter. Although he did not agree to all the demands of the Chartists, he retained firmly his often declared opinions. He agreed to four out of the six demands of the Chartists. He disagreed from Universal Suffrage, but agreed to Household Suffrage. He disagreed from Annual Parliaments, but he was decidedly favourable to Triennial. He agreed to Vote by Ballot, and paid Representatives. He agreed also to no qualifications for Members, and he sat in that House without being required to produce a qualification. He agreed to equal representation as being sound in principle, and was prepared to admit, that where 1,200,000 of thinking men had signed a petition to obtain these things, it would be gross presumption in him to say, that this House should not go into Committee on the question. Though he did not think it at all likely, yet if these men, and those who advocated their cause, should show to him in Committee, good reason for going against his opinions with respect to Universal Suffrage and Annual Parliaments, he would change those opinions, at the same time, it was right to say, he saw very little chance of this. He, however, sincerely believed, that with Triennial Parliaments and Household Suffrage all the benefits desired could be obtained.

said, though he considered it little better than high treason to call on the people to arm, still he hoped the time would soon come when the country would respond to the call for further reform, which was sure otherwise to be carried with a vengeance. He was quite sure the middle and lower classes would not be satisfied until they were fully and fairly represented in Parliament, and he could tell the House, that a very strong feeling existed on the subject, to his own knowledge, in the North of England. He had no hesitation in saying, that in consequence of the great number of useful reforms denied to the country in another place after they had been conceded by that House, the people had got into a state of desperation, and entertained no further hope of redress from Parliament. He thought her Majesty's Ministers entitled to the gratitude of the people of this country, and he hoped they would be enabled to carry out their good intentions towards them very shortly.

rejoiced to perceive the grounds that had been taken by the petitioners. He had not heard a single argument against the justice of their claim. They demanded an undeniable right, and if that were withheld from them, they were entitled to exemption from taxation. If hon. Gentlemen opposite did not think fit to concede that undoubted right—the right of representation—to 1,200,000 men, they should be prepared to adopt the alternative. He heard no Member allude to the foundation of the evils under which the poorer classes laboured. It was the National Debt. Until there was a House so constituted as that it would grapple with that evil, the country could gain no real relief. Whether it were the Corn-tax or the all-swallowing monster of the Consolidated Fund that swept away the resources of the people, made little difference. To give them satisfaction they must be relieved from taxation; and the best way to bring about that result would be to give universal suffrage, that was, every man of twenty-one, unattainted by crime, being allowed to vote. The remainder of the petitioners' claims would be granted according to the wisdom of those sent to administer the laws.

intended to vote in favour of the Committee, and what the gallant Member who had just spoken had said should not deter him, though he must say, that if anything was likely to excite alarm and distrust in the object of the motion, it was the sort of language which the hon. Gentleman had held with respect to the national debt.

rose and said, that he had said nothing that implied an intention of dealing dishonestly with the public debt; he had only spoken of the necessity of grappling with the national debt.

said it was precisely that expression of "grappling" of which he complained, for he knew that it would be misunderstood and would be construed in a sense likely to alarm the public creditor. Now, he would not allow that unguarded expression of the gallant Gentleman to bring discredit on those who voted for the motion; and, therefore, if he meant anything that could in any way affect the public credit, he should consider it a mere individual opinion, and in no way connected with the justice of considering the petition before the House; and he begged to remind the House, that opinions of that kind were just as common among those who abjured the objects of this petition as among its friends; and in proof of this, he begged to allude to what he had heard himself during the debate on the Corn-laws, when a country Member said, that, if the Corn-laws were repealed, he, for one, should be ready to laugh at the idea of preserving faith with the public creditor; and he was sure that no Member could be more opposed to the extension of the franchise than that hon. Member. He wished, therefore, to note that this question of breaking faith with the public creditor was the notion of a few individuals; but by no means the opinion countenanced by any class or political party, whether the working class or any other. He, for one, was ready to say, that if his vote to-night could be identified with the erroneous views of some of the advocates of the petition, or could be supposed to associate him with those who would disobey the law or invade the rights of property, there was not a man in that House who would be more opposed to it. This, however, he did not consider a consequence necessary upon going into a Committee to take the subject matter of the petition into consideration; and he really could not help placing himself in the position of the petitioners, and judging of them as he would be judged himself, and that was, by what he did pray for in his petition, and not by what others might choose to say he intended to ask for. Now, these petitioners really only asked of the House to do what, if they were in earnest themselves, they could not think them unreasonable in doing; for the petitioners heard and read of what the Members of that House said of each other—they saw them occupied chiefly in bandying from one side to the other every kind of reproach, and charging each other with gross neglect of duty, or with the wilful intention of promoting their own interests at the expense of the country. The people, then, who might be considered as the lookers on, suffering themselves, beginning to inquire into the connection of their own condition with the laws and institutions of the country, were not unnaturally led to believe, from what they saw and what they endured, that the only remedy for their grievances was, a different constitution of that House. They had its authority for its own inefficiency, and they had their own suffering, and the doctrines of those in whom they trusted, as reasons for some change. He regarded this motion as nothing more than asking the House to take into consideration the remedy which 1,200,000 people proposed for their own sufferings. Now, really, if there was anything in the argument against a measure that it was not supported by petitions, which was frequently stated, he could not conceive how a measure, supported by such a gigantic petition as the present, could be so disregarded as for the House not to enter into a consideration of its merits. He put himself, then, in the place of the petitioners, and feeling that they had great wrongs, and. that the House did not consult the general interests of the country as it ought and might, if differently constituted, he thought he should be guilty of great injustice, not to say inconsistency, after the opinion that he had on more than one occasion expressed of the conduct of this House, if he did not vote for, at least, considering the allegations and remedies suggested by the people in their petition.

was understood to state that he should not support the proposition for going into Committee to consider the petition, because he believed that the only effect of such a proceeding on the part of the House would be to give rise to hopes and expectations in the public mind, which would certainly be disappointed. He did not pretend to say how far the elective franchise might, in time, be extended in this country. He believed the question to be an extremely difficult one; but this he would say, that there was an overwhelming majority in this country totally opposed to universal suffrage, and that being the leading feature in the present petition, he should hold himself as acting exceedingly wrong if he were to consent to go into a Committee where that subject was to be discussed.

, differing from the hon. Gentleman, who had just sat down, did not consider that he should be practising any deception upon the people if he consented to go into this Committee, because this was not the first instance that had occurred within the walls of Parliament in which Members not agreeing to the full extent in certain principles laid down by petitioners, had still felt themselves justified (practising, as he maintained, no deception) in admitting them in a degree. He agreed with the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Oswald) to this extent, that he was not prepared to go all the way with the petitioners. He was not favourable to universal suffrage, nor to annual Parliaments; but thought that the suffrage ought to be extended, and the duration of Parliament limited to three years. But because he differed so far from the petitioners, was he therefore to refuse to enter into the subject-matter of the petition at all? He should support the Committee, because he thought a full and fair representation of the people necessary. He did not put it on the ground of abstract right—(he did not know what abstract right meant)—but he was favourable to going into Committee, because he believed good representation conduced to good Government, and bad representation to bad Government. If he thought that the giving a more extensive suffrage to the people would lead to cancelling the national debt, he should be the first to resist it; but he did not believe that it would be followed by any such result. He knew that there was a vast number of small fund holders who were deeply interested in sustaining the national debt—he knew also that there were a vast number of the same class who were adverse to tampering with the currency. For that reason it was, that he was not afraid of extending the representation, and certainly not averse to taking the subject-matter of the present petition into consideration in Committee.

wished to know whether the hon. Member for Glasgow was anxious to have it proclaimed to those who elected him that he was opposed to the whole of the six propositions set forth in the petition? Did the hon. Member mean to say, that because he could not support the whole of these propositions, therefore he would not go into Committee with the hope of obtaining one. Was that the line of conduct which the hon. Member meant to pursue to obtain the applause and the approbation and the confidence of his constituents at Glasgow. It did not follow because the hon. Member was opposed to some of the propositions contained in the petition, that therefore he should refuse to go into Committee to consider them in conjunction with others to which he might be induced to assent. He was not one of those who thought that the noble Lord, the Home Secretary, had treated this subject with any degree of levity or unkindness; he thought that the noble Lord's speech was a kind speech, and, for the most part, a very conciliatory speech. Entertaining the opinions which the noble Lord was known to do, he thought he had treated the subject with the utmost fairness. There was, however, one remark of the noble Lord's which he very much regretted to hear him make; he meant the remark which applied to the wages of the labouring classes. The noble Lord said, he did not think that the working people were in such a state of distress as was represented in the petition, and he mentioned two counties, the one agricultural, the other commercial, to prove the accuracy of his statement. The noble Lord made the county of Devon his agricultural illustration. He (Mr. Wakley) should have thought that the noble Lord would have been one of the last men in the House to make a reference to that county. He should have thought that the noble Lord had had enough of Devonshire. The noble Lord, however, selected that county as presenting a proof of the sufficiency of pay to agricultural labourers, and in support of his argument alluded to the increased amount of deposits in the savings-bank at Exeter. But whatever the increase in the amount of those deposits might be, he was satisfied that they could not have been made by the labouring people of the county, and he was inclined to think that there were some parties in the country who were extensively lending themselves to frauds on the savings-banks. He thought that the deposits of which they heard every day as being made by the labouring people did not come from the pockets of that class of persons. Did the noble Lord know what was the actual amount of wages to agricultural labourers in Devonshire at the present moment? Did he know what it had been for the last five or six years? If he did not, he would tell the noble Lord that, at the present moment, and for years past, the rate of wages had only been from 6s. to 7s. a week. This at least he knew to be the fact in one part of the county with which he was well acquainted. And did the noble Lord believe, that a man with a wife and family to support, and receiving only such an amount of wages, could afford to make any deposit in a savings-bank? The thing was perfectly preposterous; and he hoped that another year would not be allowed to pass over without the appointment of a committee to examine these matters fully, and to let the House and country know what were the causes which led to this inadequate remuneration of the labouring poor. He repeated, that in those parts of the county of Devon with which he was acquainted, the rate of wages to the agricultural labourers did not exceed 7s. a-week. He made this statement advisedly, and with a perfect knowledge of the case. But leaving the county of Devon, and extending the inquiry to other parts of the kingdom, what was the state of wages in the neighbourhood of the metropolis? He had some conversation a few days ago with a farmer, resident within ten miles of London, who told him, that after thirty years' experience, he had never known the labouring classes to be in such a state of complete poverty and utter destitution, as at the present moment. He was speaking of a farmer at Greenford, within ten miles of Oxford-street, who told him that the labourers there and in the neighbouring parishes were lying about in sheds, barns, and outhouses. [An hon. Member: They were harvest men.] Yes, they were harvest men. He knew that. But was that the condition in which the House wished the industrious classes to be placed. Here they were, sweating and toiling day by day under a burning sun, and where was their resting-place at night? a barn, a shed, an out-house, covered with rags, and suffering under a degree of poverty which it was not in the power of language to describe. He was not going to detain the House. Enough had been said on the subject to show that the House ought to go into an inquiry on the subject. But the House would not inquire. Then what was the use of the present discussion? He wished the country to know what were the chances of its obtaining relief from that House. It was said, that it was not good to give the people the right of legislating. If that were so, why did the House, as at present constituted, hold fast to power with such extraordinary tenacity? Why did it not give the people the power of legislating for themselves? But no; the House carefully and pertinaciously abstained from adopting such a course. He was not one of those who would lead the people to endeavour to obtain a remedy by the shedding of blood; he would not encourage or sanction a delusion; but he would say this to the people—"Do not waste your energies by presenting petitions to the House of Commons; do not present petitions where they cannot be discussed upon presentation;" for, if he had twenty petitions in his hand, he should not, according to the present practice of the House, be allowed to speak upon one of them. A gag was placed upon the mouth of every Member who ventured to present a petition. Therefore, if he were addressing the people out of doors, he should say, "Form associations—discuss your grievances—make known your wants, and make friends, not enemies, of your neighbours. Try to win by constant temperate discussion, and constant complaint, the confidence and goodwill of the middle classes of society, and join with them in such demands as shall at last have an effect upon the Representative Assembly." Such would be his advice to the people; but, as at present constituted, he believed that they might as well address the rock of Gibraltar as the House of Commons. It was a mockery—a delusion, which he, for one, would never encourage. As long as the people endeavoured to make an impression upon the House of Commons, as at present constituted, so long would they be directing their energies to a wrong quarter.

did not intend to have taken part in the present debate, and should not have done so, if it had not been for what had fallen from the hon. Member who had just sat down, in reference to the speech of his hon. Friend, the Member for Glasgow (Mr. Oswald). The hon. Member said, that his hon. Friend must take the consequences of that speech, referring, as he supposed, to the effects which the speech was likely to entail upon him amongst his constituents. Now, he apprehended, that the hon. Member for Finsbury, when he threw out that observation, was labouring under a complete mistake as to the general feeling in Scotland concerning what was called the Charter. In consequence of what had transpired, he felt himself called upon to declare, that the feeling of the vast majority of the people of Scotland was not in favour of, but in decided opposition to, what was called the People's Charter. He was the more convinced that he was right in that conviction when he referred to the county of Perth. The delegate appointed to represent that county and the county of Fife in the National Convention, as it was called, withdrew himself from that association as soon as he perceived the precipice to which it was approaching, and was no longer a member of the body. The people of Scotland entertained undoubtedly strong political feelings; but they had, at the same time, a sense of the rights of property, and took a warm interest in the happiness and comfort of the bulk of the community. The hon. Member for Finsbury had stated, that the people were induced to urge the prayer of the present petition, and to insist upon the adoption of the Charter, because the wages they earned were inadequate to the support of themselves and their families. He was sorry to hear that that was the case in England; but he was happy to say, that in the country to which he belonged the wages of the agricultural labourer were such as to enable him to maintain himself and his family in comfort. The only additional advantage which he would demand for that class of the population in Scotland would be the establishment of savings-banks; with respect to which, as they existed in England, he thought the hon. Member for Finsbury had fallen into some mistake. At all events, the hon. Member differed very materially upon that point from those who advocated the Charter: for the hon. Member said, that there was some conspiracy—that others than the labouring classes were putting their funds into these banks, whereas the supporters of the Charter made it one of the grounds of complaint—one of the proofs of the depression and distress of the labouring classes, that the deposits in the savings'-banks were diminishing, and, if the present state of things continued, threatened to become infinitely less. He should not have been led to address the House upon this subject at all, except to state publicly his own belief, that the people of Scotland were generally—or, at all events, a vast majority of them—opposed to this Charter, and that they were lovers of good order, which good order, he believed, the promoters of this Charter would do all they could to subvert.

said, the House had no just idea of the state of the agricultural labourers if they judged from the nominal wages given them. There were other circumstances to be taken into consideration which would exhibit a very different picture. Taking 7s. a-week as the customary wages, though in very few parishes it stood at so low a sum, it was usual to give liquor also, which made it equal to 8s. a-week, and which ought to be taken into calculation as diminishing the grievance, as a labourer believed that he kept up his strength by this. But where these low wages were given, and a labourer was constantly employed by a master, it was common to let the labourer have a cottage at a very low rent, or at no rent at all. It was common also to give fuel, which was a very great consideration. No greater improvement had taken place in the last ten or fifteen years, than to allow the labouring man, with his children, to cultivate a small strip of land, which the farmer ploughed, and into which the tenant put his seed. These things were common in the country. It was usual with him to ask the farmers whether they allowed their labourers task-work, by which they might earn 10s. or 12s. per week, instead of 6s., of which the House had heard, and in many cases this allowance was made. It was not fair to take the actual amount of the labourers' wages from the statement made before the guardians. He had known instances in which 6s. was the amount said to be received by the labourer, but, on inquiry, it turned out that the wages actually received amounted to 11s. 3d., the labourer having had a cottage allowed him, which he let out to another and received the rent of it. He did not state these facts with any desire to keep wages low, for earnestly did he wish to see them much higher, but he was desirous that the statement of the labourer as to the amount of his wages, should not always be implicitly relied on.

concurred in the view taken of this question by his hon. Friend, who had just addressed the House. It was perfectly true, that besides the actual amount of money wages, the labourer had cider allowed him, and also commonly a cottage rent free, or at a very low rate, in addition to which, it was usual to let him have his wheat at a reduced price. This gave him an actual amount of payment for his labour of from 10s. to 15s. per week. He fully concurred in the statement of the noble Lord as to the amount of deposits in the savings-banks.

thought there ought to be a property tax. The noble Lord the Secretary for the Home Department had charged the Reformers with having made up their minds for a division of property. That he denied. They wished for no man's property; and if the House would only act honestly, they would hear of no further Chartist meetings. What they protested against was the aristocracy putting their hands into pockets that did not belong to them. They complained that taxation was not equal; they said that that law which compelled a poor man to pay as much for his pipe of tobacco as the rich man paid for his segar; which compelled a poor man to pay as much for the postage of his letter as the rich man; and which in fact compelled him who earned only 8s. a week to pay as much for every article he required for his use as the man who had 15,000l. or 20,000;l. a-year, was unjust. The Chartists wished for nothing but justice—they only desired that they should not pay more than a fair share of taxation. Unless the House acceded to the inquiry now asked for they would not do justice to the petition.

The House should be made aware of the real state of the case of the deposits in the savings'-banks. They amounted altogether to 22 millions, but of these only two millions consisted of deposits of sums under 20l.; and when it was considered that there was a temptation to the moneyed interest held out by Act of Parliament of 50 per cent. more than was offered in any other public security by putting money into the savings'-banks, he was to be told that the labourers of England were prosperous because twenty-two millions appeared in the savings'-banks. He would recommend the people, if this single petition were not attended to, to meet in every parish in England and Scotland, and send up petitions from each to the House, and then it would be seen what the working classes could effect. He trusted the House would see the propriety of going into a Committee to investigate, if not to agree, upon the points mentioned in this petition of 1,200,000 honest, hard-working men. Hon. Members would then prove that they were actuated by honest and conscientious motives, and that some faith at least might be had in them. And besides all this, if the House should consent to go into Committee, that evidence of a disposition to entertain the wishes of their fellow subjects would go a long way towards soothing the disappointments that the petitioners had hitherto suffered.

The House divided: Ayes 46; Noes 235; Majority 189.

List of the AYES.

Aglionby, H. A.Blake, M. J.
Bearaish, F. B.Bridgeman, H.

Brotherton, J.Milton, Viscount
Browne, R. D.Molesworth, Sir W.
Collins, W.Muskett, G. A.
Currie, R.O'Connell, D.
Duke, Sir J.O'Connell, J.
Duncombe, T.Ramsbottom, J.
Easthope, J.Roche, E. B.
Ellis, W.Rundle, J.
Euston, Earl ofSalwey, Col.
Evans, G.Scholefield, J.
Fielden, J.Somerville, Sir W. M.
Finch, F.Turner, W.
Grote, G.Vigors, N. A.
Harvey, D. W.Villiers, hon. C. P.
Hector, C. J.Wakley, T.
Hindly, C.Wallace, R.
Hodges, T. L.Warburton, H.
Jervis, S.Williams, W.
Johnson, Gen.Wood, Sir M.
Leader, J. T.
Lushington, C.

TELLERS.

Marsland, H.Attwood, T.
Martin, J.Hume, J.

List of the NOES.

Acland, Sir T. D.Childers, J. W.
Acland, T. D.Chute, W. L. W.
A'Court, Capt.Clay, W.
Adam, AdmiralClayton, Sir W. R.
Ainsworth, P.Clerk, Sir G.
Alsager, Capt.Clive, E. B.
Alston, R.Cole, Viscount
Ashley, hon. H.Courtenay, P.
Attwood, W.Craig, W. G.
Baillie, Col.Crawley, S.
Baines, E.Dalmeny, Lord
Baker, E.Darby, G.
Bannerman, A.Denison, W. J.
Baring, F. T.Dick, Q.
Baring, H. B.D'Israeli, B.
Barnard, E. G.Divett, E.
Barneby, J.Donkin, Sir R. S.
Barrington, ViscountDowdeswell, W.
Bentinck, Lord G.Duffield, T.
Berkeley, hon. C.Dugdale, W. S.
Berkeley, hon. C.Dundas, F.
Blackstone, W. S.Du Pre, G.
Blair, J.East, J. B.
Blennerhassett, A.Eastnor, Viscount
Bolling, W.Egerton, W. T.
Bowes, J.Elliot, hon. J. E.
Bradshaw, J.Estcourt, T.
Briscoe, J. I.Estcourt, T.
Broadley, H.Evans, W.
Brodie, W. B.Farnham, E. B.
Bruce, Lord E.Ferguson, Sir R. A.
Bruges, W. H. L.Filmer, Sir E.
Buller, Sir J. Y.Fitzroy, Lord C.
Burr, H.Fitzroy, hon. H.
Burroughes, H. N.Gaskell, J. Milnes
Byng, rt. hon. G. S.Goddard, A.
Campbell, Sir J.Gordon, R.
Canning, rt. hn. Sir S.Gore, O. J. R.
Castlereagh, ViscountGoulburn, rt. hn. H.
Cavendish, hon. G.H.Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.
Chapman, A.Greene, T.
Chetwynd, MajorGrey, right hon. Sir G.

Grimston, hon. E. H.Palmer, C. F.
Halford, H.Palmer, R.
Handley, H.Palmer, G.
Harcourt, G. G.Palmerston, Viscount
Harcourt, G. S.Parker, J.
Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H.Parker, M.
Hastie, A.Parker, R. T.
Hawkins, J. H.Parnell, rt. hn. Sir H.
Hayter, W. G.Patten, J. W.
Herbert, hon. S.Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Hill, Lord A. M. C.Pemberton, T.
Hobhouse, T. B.Perceval, Col.
Hodgson, F.Philips, M.
Hogg, J. W.Philips, G. R.
Holmes, W.Pigot, D. R.
Hope, hon. C.Pinney, W.
Hope, H. T.Plumptre, J. P.
Hope, G. W.Polhill, F.
Horsman, E.Powell, Col.
Hoskins, K.Power, J.
Howard F. J.Praed, W. T.
Howick, ViscountPrice, Sir R.
Hughes, W. B.Price, R.
Hurst, R H.Pryme, G.
Hurt, F.Pryse, P.
Hutton, R.Pusey, P.
Ingestrie, ViscountReid, Sir J. R.
Inglis, Sir R. H.Rice, E. R.
Irton, S.Rice, rt. hon. T. S.
Irving, J.Rich, H.
James, Sir W. C.Richards, R.
Kemble, H.Rolfe, Sir R. M.
Kinnaird, hon. A. F.Rose, rt. hon. Sir G.
Knatchbull, rt. hn. Sir E.Round, C. G.
Knightly, Sir C.Rushbrooke, Colonel
Labouchere, rt. hon. H.Rushout, G.
Langdale, hon. C.Russell, Lord, J.
Lascelles, hon. W. S.Russell, Lord C.
Law, hon. C. E.Rutherford, rt. hn. A.
Lemon, Sir C.Sandon, Viscount
Lennox, Lord A.Sanford, E. A.
Liddell, hon. H. T.Scarlett, hon. J. Y.
Loch, JamesScrope, G. P.
Lockhart, A. M.Seymour, Lord
Lowther, hon. Col.Shaw, rt. hon. F.
Lowther, ViscountSinclair, Sir G.
Macaulay, T. B.Slaney, R. A.
Mackenzie, T.Smith, R. V.
Mackinnon, W. A.Somerset, Lord G.
M'Taggart, J.Stanley, Lord
Mahon, ViscountStanley, hon. W. O.
Manners, Lord C. S.Steuart, R.
Marshall, W.Stewart, J.
Mathew, G. B.Stuart, W. V.
Maule, hon. F.Stock, Dr.
Melgund, ViscountStrangways, hon. J.
Mildmay, P. St. JohnStrutt, E.
Morpeth, Lord Visct.Sturt, H. C.
Norreys, LordStyle, Sir C.
Norreys, Sir D. J.Surrey, Earl of
O'Brien, W. S.Talbot, C. R. M.
O'Ferrall, R. M.Teignmouth, Lord
Ossulston, LordThomas, Colonel H.
Oswald, J.Thomson, rt. hn. C. P.
Packe, C. W.Townley, R. G.
Paget, F.Troubridge, Sir E. T.
Pakington, J. S.Turner, E.

Verner, Colonel.Wodehouse, E.
Verney, Sir H.Wood, C.
Waddington, H. S.Wood, Colonel T.
Walker, R.Wrightson, W. B.
Wall, C. B.Wynn, rt. hon. C. W.
White, A.Yates, J. A.
Wilbraham, G.Yorke, hon. E. T.
Wilbraham, hon. B.

TELLERS.

Williams, R.Stanley, E. J.
Williams, W. A.Freemantle, Sir T.
Williams, T. P.