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Commons Chamber

Volume 117: debated on Wednesday 18 June 1851

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House Of Commons

Wednesday, June 18, 1851.

MINUTES.] NEW WRIT.—For Bath, v. Lord Ashley, now Earl of Shaftesbury.

PUBLIC BILL.—Fee Farm Rents (Ireland).

The Truck System

begged to ask the right hon. Secretary of State for the Home Department, if he had taken any, and what, steps, in consequence of a memorial that had been forwarded to him by upwards of one hundred workmen employed in the mining district of South Staffordshire, complaining of the prevalence of the truck system in that district, and that one of the firms deeply engaged in this illegal traffic is that of Messrs. Dixon and Hill, one of which firm (Henry Hill) being a justice of the peace, not only sits and acts in petty sessions, but is assistant chairman of quarter-sessions, whereby the difficulty of the memorialists to obtain justice and to enforce the law is materially increased?

said, he had received the memorial in question on the 4th of June, and he immediately caused a copy of it to be forwarded to Mr. Hill, as it affected his character and conduct, to know if he had any explanation to offer. An answer had been received, stating that he (Mr. Hill) was perfectly unaware of these transactions, and although he had possessed a share in one colliery, he had never taken any active part whatever in its management, and did not now possess any interest in it, or in any coal or iron mine in South Staffordshire. (He Sir G. Grey) was afraid the allegation of the existence of the truck system in South Staffordshire was true; but the Act of Parliament provided that no magistrate interested in the trade could adjudicate in such cases. Therefore, although Mr. Hill was a magistrate, he would have no power of deciding, if he was so interested. He (Sir G. Grey) had written, in reply to Mr. Hill, that it was gratifying to find that he had no knowledge of these transactions, and it was hardly necessary to remind him that, as a justice of the peace, it was his bounden duty to see that no violation of the law took place.

New Writ For Bath

said: I rise, Sir, to submit a Motion to the House, which, in ordinary cases, though in all a matter of privilege, is also so much a matter of course, that it is usually made in a well-bred whisper by some Gentlemen on the right hand of the table, or by some Gentlemen on the left hand of the table; while the House at large knows nothing of the question, till you, Sir, in the full dignity of your voice and your position, put it formally from the Chair. I ask the indulgence of the House while for a few moments I deviate from that ordinary course; because the individual in reference to whom my Motion is founded is no ordinary man, and I hope, and I believe that I speak the sentiments of the House generally, when I say that Lord Ashley should not be withdrawn from the first ranks of this assembly, the scene of his labours and his triumphs, without some parting expression of respect and regret.

rose to order. He begged to ask Mr. Speaker whether the hon. Member was in order in making this Motion, accompanied by observations, without notice?

understood the hon. Baronet was about to move a new writ for Bath, in the room of Lord Ashley; and, if so, he was in order.

protested against the unusual course adopted by the hon. Baronet the Member for Oxford. The House had assembled to proceed with some Bills, and the hon. Baronet was occupying their attention with praises of Lord Ashley.

I had hoped that, even if I had had no right to address the House, the subject would have met with universal indulgence. But the services, indeed, of Lord Ashley are too recent, as well as too numerous, to require any detailed reference to them. The faithful memory of this House and the gratitude of the country will long record them. During the last fifteen years of Lord Ashley's Parliamentary life he has been emphatically the friend of the friendless. Every form of human suffering he has, in his place in this House, and especially every suffering connected with labour, sought to lighten, and in every way to ameliorate the moral, social, and religious condition of our fellow-subjects; and out of this House, his exertions have been such as, at first sight, might have seemed incompatible with his duties here. But he found time for all; and when absent from his place on these benches, he was enjoying no luxurious ease, but was seated in the chair of a ragged school meeting, of a Scripture Readers' Association, or of a Young Man's Christian Institution. I will add no more than that the life of Lord Ashley, in and out of this House, has been consecrated, in the memorable inscription of the great Haller, Christo in pauperibus. I shall conclude by moving, that Mr. Speaker do issue his warrant for a new writ for a Member to serve in Parliament for the city of Bath, in the room of Lord Ashley, now Earl of Shaftesbury.

begged to offer his humble tribute of respect to Lord Ash- ley, for his efforts to ameliorate the condi-of the poor.

was sure the House would concur with the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford in expressing admiration of the private virtues of Lord Ashley, and of the way in which he had devoted his time and talents for the advantage of his poorer countrymen.

Motion agreed to.

Sunday Trading Prevention Bill

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [30th April], "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," and which Amendment was to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words, "this House will, upon this day six months, resolve itself into the said Committee," instead thereof.

Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

Debate resumed.

said, he must complain of the obstruction which two hon. Members (Mr. B. Wall and Mr. C. Anstey) had opposed to the progress of the measure. Great care had been bestowed on the framing of the Bill, and he believed that no objection could now be offered to it except by those who objected to all legislation on the subject. There were at least 8,000 shops in the metropolis which were at present kept open on the Sunday, and in nearly 9–10ths of these cases the proprietors were anxious to have them closed, in order to enable themselves and families to attend places of worship, or to enjoy recreation, on that day. It was a melancholy thing to think of people being obliged to labour 365 days in the year without intermission; and the object of the Bill was to remedy that evil as far as was possible. He hoped, therefore, hon. Members would allow the House to go into Committee to consider the details of the Bill.

said, he must deny that this was a Bill of which metropolitan Members only were called on to express approval or disapproval. This was a measure totally uncalled for; and, as it now stood, it was simply so much waste paper. Let them see what the Bill was. It first set forth that it was expedient to make further provision for restraining and preventing the practice of Sunday trading in the metropolis. That was the proposition. What did the Bill do? By the first clause it made a sweeping statement—

"That if any person shall on Sunday, within the metropolitan police district, or within the city of London or liberties thereof, sell, vend, hawk, cry, or offer or expose for sale" [he did not know where they got all this phraseology], "or caused to be sold, vended, hawked, cried, or offered or exposed for sale, any goods, chattels, effects, matters, or things whatsoever."
That was the first sweeping clause, and with the fatality of the legal profession, the lawyer who assisted the hon. Member in drawing up this Bill proceeded to put his finger on little things—
"Or, if any dealer in meat, fish, poultry, game, or wildfowl, shall on Sunday, after the hour of ten of the clock in the morning, deliver or cause to he delivered, any meat, fish, poultry, game, or wild fowl at the residence of, or at any other place, for the purchaser thereof every such person, being convicted thereof before a justice of the peace, shall forfeit and pay any sum, not exceeding twenty shillings."
Supposing that clause was passed, it would be impossible to sell any thing whatsoever after ten o'clock in the morning; but his hon. Friend tried his hand at exceptions, which, if he might use the word, were of a very funny nature:—
"Provided always, and be it enacted, that the provisions of this Act shall not extend or apply to any apothecary, chemist, or druggist selling or vending, or offering or exposing for sale, or causing to be sold or vended, or offered or exposed for sale, any medicine, drug, or other article for medicinal purposes, nor to the exercising of any work of necessity or charity, or to cases of sickness and sudden emergency."
That exception was in contemplation of the provisions of another Act, to which no reference was made:—
"Nor to any person selling, vending, hawking, crying, or offering, or exposing for sale, or causing to be sold, vended, hawked, cried, or offered or exposed for sale, any milk or cream before the hour of ten of the clock in the morning, or after the hour of one of the clock in the afternoon."
Why should they except cream, which was a peculiar luxury in London, not derived from cows? They were to permit the sale of cream at any part of the day except between ten and one. Why did not the hon. Gentleman shut up the milk and cream shops? Surely these were luxuries, if ever there were any in the world. The exemption further extended to persons selling fruit and pastry, cooked or prepared victuals, and writing materials; so that a man might walk about London with quires of paper, pens, ink, wafers, envelopes, &c., and hawk them on a Sunday. It also pro- vided for the sale of any beverage, not being wine, spirits, beer, or other fermented or distilled liquor, other than beer sold at or under l½d. a quart. It was monstrous, that under the pretence of taking care of the public morals and the public health, persons should be permitted to hawk such rubbish about. The newspapers might be hawked about. Was a newspaper a necessary of life? The only reason why they were not interfered with was that the hon. Gentleman dared not propose to deal with the Sunday press. But the House would scarcely believe that by this Bill the exemption extended also to tobacco, so that cigars, or negrohead, might be hawked about with impunity. Now, after all these exceptions were made, he did not see what it was the people might not do. They might sell beef or any species of food before ten o'clock, and hawk other articles after one. It did nothing more than the present Act did. Another curious provision was, that the Bill should not extend to any licensed victaller, or keeper of a tavern or hotel. The hon. Gentleman professed to be anxious to provide a day of rest for the people; but where was his tenderness for the licensed victualler, the hotel keeper, or the keeper of a beer shop? He seemed to have no care whatever for those persons. It was said there were 20,000 persons in London who wanted to shut up their shops on Sundays. But if they were asked why they did not do so, what was their answer? "Oh, if I shut up my shop, my neighbour there, who sells the same articles, would have more custom, as he keeps his shop open." Now, would any one tell him that a man really cared about religion, and his soul, however much he might talk about such matters, when he would not shut up his shop because his neighbour might make a little more money by keeping open? If the shopkeeper was inspired with a regard for preserving the Sunday holy, he would shut his shop up without any enactment to make him do so. Let the shopkeepers start fair by an arrangement among themselves, for legislation would never do it. "Start fair" (as the Cornish clergyman said when the congregation rushed out of church to a wreck), "Start fair, beloved brethren, and give me time to get out of the pulpit." This was precisely what the hon. Gentleman wished; but the fair start could never be got by legislation of this sort. The fact was, the Bill was called for, or intended for, would-be pious persons. But would the House sanction such mockery, and such pretension to religion? Servants appeared in the Bill to be exempted from its operation. Then, how did the hon. Member propose to carry out the provisions of his Bill? Why, he would make it lawful
—"for every police constable acting within the metropolitan police district or City of London, or liberties thereof, without warrant, to seize all goods, chattels, effects, matters, and things whatsoever, which shall or may be hawked, cried, offered or exposed for sale in any market, highway, or other public place, or on any open ground whatsoever apart from the residence of the person offending, contrary to the provisions of this Act, and to convey the same to the nearest police station, and there detain such goods, chattels, &c., until application shall be made for the same by or on behalf of the owner thereof."
Now who was empowered to do all this? A policeman. He had nothing to say against the police. They were a very useful body of men, without whom London would not be what it now was. But it must not be forgotten what was the class of persons from whom policemen were drawn, and care must be taken that those persons did not convert the power they were entrusted with to their own selfish purposes. The right hon. the Home Secretary might recollect that he had called his attention to a case of that kind. But here in the Bill policemen were given absolute authority, and the onus was thrown upon the alleged offender of proving a negative, namely, that he had not hawked or exposed the articles for sale at the time stated. But how was he to prove that, when the accuser had only to swear to the act, unless he could show a clear alibi? So much for the power vested in policemen. Let the House now hear what power was given to the justices. The same clause enacted that if application was not made by the owner of the goods so seized and detained within three days—
"It shall and may be lawful for such justice to direct the same or any part thereof to be sold or disposed of as he shall think fit."
Why, the owner might be away, or in such a position that he did not know his goods had been seized; yet three days only and the magistrate might do as he liked with the property. If the House wished to pass a Bill to make Sunday a day of recreation for the people, would they set policemen prowling and stealing about the town and seizing this thing and that thing which any one might be hawking in the forbidden hours? Then the time must be defined— five minutes more or less would bring the act of hawking within the law; and a watch might be put on or altered to suit a purpose. And now he wanted to know why the enactment he was going to read had been introduced into the Bill—
"That in all cases in which it shall be necessary to prove any previous conviction against any person under this Act, a certificate containing the substance and effect only (omitting the formal part) of the record of the conviction of the previous offence, purporting to be signed by the proper officer having the custody of such record, &c., shall, upon proof of the identity of the offender, be sufficient evidence of the previous conviction, without proof of the signature or official character of the person appearing to have signed the same."
What was the consequence of this former conviction? In a case of a first offence the goods seized might be restored upon terms that should seem proper to the judge; but if he had been convicted before, then came the forfeiture of his property. [Mr. W. WILLIAMS dissented.] His hon. Friend apparently did not know his own Bill. These were monstrous provisions for a man convicted of selling goods on a Sunday. Suppose fifty pounds' worth of property was seized, the justice might at once say, "This man has been convicted before, and I will not only fine him twenty shillings, but confiscate all his goods." Such would be the result of his hon. Friend's Bill. Here was another objection to it. By the 9th clause it was provided that—
"In case any such penalty or sum of money, together with such costs as may be awarded, shall not be paid, then it shall be lawful for any justice of the peace acting in the metropolitan district or in the City of London, by warrant under his hand, to commit the party making such default to some common gaol or house of correction within his jurisdiction, there to remain for any time not exceeding 48 hours."
Now suppose a poor old woman was brought up for selling oranges a few minutes before the proper time, what was the consequence? She could not pay the twenty shillings' penalty, so she was sent to the house of correction, and there obliged to wear the prison dress, and subjected to all the degradations and humiliations inflicted on the worst of prisoners. By legislating in this way would they not be multiplying mischiefs, and would not such provisions tend to degrade the poorer population? He would first ask, was there a necessity for this Bill? and, next, did the Bill accomplish what the present law did not? He considered this to be an unwise and cruel measure, and he utterly repudiated it.

said, he rose for the purpose of recommending the hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. Williams) to withdraw his Bill; but in doing so, he begged it might not be supposed that he approved of the sentiments uttered by the hon. and learned Member who had just spoken; for, to the principle of the measure he (Mr. Spooner) was most friendly, and he wished to see it established. But he saw a great deal in the details of the Bill which would do no good, if it did not cause mischief. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck) inferred that the religion of a tradesman was good for nothing if he acted upon the principle merely that if he did not keep his shop open, his neighbour would get a little more money. The hon. and learned Gentleman knew little of the extent of that evil, and of the painful sacrifices a conscientious and religious man was obliged, by the rivalry of his neighbours keeping their shops open on Sundays, to make, if he had a wife and children to keep above want. At present it was easy to say, "Don't stay away from the church—you must make a sacrifice for religion;" but when there were two tradesmen carrying on business at neighbouring doors, one of whom refused to trade on a Sunday, and the other, less conscientious, was consequently, day after day, drawing away the trade of the former, it was easy to conceive how he must feel compelled, to some extent, to follow the course of his less conscientious neighbour. The Government was bound to secure to every honest man the Christian privilege of the full and free enjoyment of the Christian Sabbath; and one of the greatest mistakes that could be made was to promote the desecration of that day. He repeated he cordially assented to the principle of the Bill, and did not concur with the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck) in his mode of opposition. But when he saw the Bill so different from what it was when it went up to the Committee, and that the exemptions legalised more than the measure prevented, he could not support it, and he, therefore, requested the hon. Mover, by withdrawing his Bill, to relieve those who were advocates of the principle, but opponents to the details, from the position of appearing to vote against the principle. He would aid the hon. Member in any way to carry out his principle practically; but there were so many defects in the present Bill, that he urged him to reconsider it.

could not per- mit the discussion to terminate without saying a few words in reply to the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck). This was a question, whichever way the House decided, that ought not to be treated with levity or ridicule. This Bill, he believed, embodied the opinions of some of the best men in the metropolitan districts. He (Sir W. Clay) supported the Bill because he thought it would enlarge the comforts of the working classes. He had taken up the subject on no puritanical grounds; for even if the Sabbath was to be considered merely as a human institution, he still thought it ought to be preserved for the benefit of all classes, and especially for the benefit of the humbler classes. He had a deep conviction that some measure of this kind would do good —a conviction which he thought would be shared by any one who would carefully examine and consider the evidence of those exemplary persons who devoted themselves to administering religious consolation to the labouring classes—whose lives were spent among them—and who had the best opportunities of becoming acquainted with their wants, wishes, and opinions. He was aware of the difficulties which must be encountered in interfering with freedom of action; but every day there was with advancing civilisation an increasing interference with individual freedom of action. He gave full assent to the principle of the measure. He thought that the hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. W. Williams) deserved great credit for bringing before the House a measure that had required from him so much care and attention. The measure had been prepared with the anxious desire not to interfere with the recreations of the labouring classes; nor would it be found that its provisions extended to any of those persons who contributed to enjoyment and recreation on the day of rest. The Commissioner of Police, Mr. Mayne, who stated that the present law was inoperative, had thereby proved the necessity of the present Bill. Some of the provisions referred to by the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield had been introduced into the measure by certain Members on the Select Committee, with the view of rendering the Bill ridiculous, and causing it to be thrown out. He should divide with the hon. Member for Lambeth in favour of the Bill; for notwithstanding the censure passed upon the details, he believed that any well-grounded objections could be easily removed, and that it might be made a good working measure.

said, that the two last hon. Members who had spoken agreed in approving of the principle of this Bill, but differed most decidedly as to what that principle was. The hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner) described the Bill as one of sanctification of the Sabbath, while the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Sir W. Clay) said it was no such thing, it was merely a civil and political principle for the purpose of securing the means for a day of recreation. His (Mr. W. J. Fox's) objection to the Bill was, that it went upon neither of those grounds. If it was a Bill to provide for the sanctification of the Sabbath, why did it not strike at that upon which the Sabbatical law originally imposed its prohibition— a law not so much against trade as against work, and pre-eminently household and domestic work? That point was not at all touched. The Bill said nothing at all of the hundreds and thousands of cooks, housemaids, coachmen, footmen, butlers, &c., who were employed on that day. Until the people of this country, whatever their professed creed might be, were content to eat cold dinners on Sundays—to walk to church and walk home again, instead of riding in a carriage—priests as well as laymen—there was no chance of a real Sabbath Bill being carried. The question was liable to great doubt and contrariety of opinion; and here in this country, as in Scotland, there existed great difference in the understanding by different persons of what Sabbath observance really was. Would the Christian inhabitants of this land concur universally in the observance of the Sabbath day with that strictness for which one class of their fellow-subjects—the Jews—were so honourably distinguished? It seemed to him that the sects for whom this Bill had been introduced were the classes who loved the Sabbath much, but loved the shop more. They had great solicitude for the salvation of their souls, but still greater solicitude for the retention of their great profits. If it was not then really a Sabbath Bill, what was it? What regard did it evince for the numerous classes whose comforts it purported to promote? No clear and intelligent view of the wants of society was taken by the Bill. It looked only to shopkeepers and apple-stall keepers, and that House was asked to decide between the interests of those classes. He should view the securing the seventh day a complete day of rest as an immense good. But it was plain that if the many discontinued work, the few must continue to work. The question was large and interesting, and it would be worth while for a Committee of that House to inquire how Sunday might be secured to a labouring man as a day of enjoyment; but until that inquiry had been made, a Bill of this kind could not be successfully framed. The authority of Mr. Commissioner Mayne had been appealed to for the necessity of legislation. He held in his hand an extract from the reports of Mr. Commissioner Mayne on police matters, by which it appeared that in February last, in the different police divisions, no perceptible alteration had taken place in Sunday trading since the last report; and that account was repeated at other dates, while all the prior reports agreed that there had been no increase in Sunday trading, but, on the contrary, for several months of last year and the year before, the reports from the different divisions were either that there was no alteration in the Sunday trading, or that there had been a perceptible decrease. He thought that the people in general observed the Sabbath with great decorum and propriety; and if there were exceptions, they were such as were no justification for increasing the stringency of these restrictive laws. By reason of the inconsistency of the principle of this Bill with its details, he conceived that no good would arise from going into Committee upon it, and he should therefore vote against the Motion.

said, that the observance of the seventh day was not a mere Jewish rule, but antecedent to the Sinai code, and as ancient as the creation of the world itself. His constituents took a deep interest in the Bill, and he believed no metropolitan Member had opposed it. [Mr. T. DUNCOMBE: Oh, yes! last year.] The Bill of last year was not the present Bill. The hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. W. Williams) having introduced the Bill, consented to its being committed to a Select Committee; and in order that the Bill might not be defeated by vexatious delay, a compromise was entered into with the hon. Member for Salisbury (Mr. B. Wall), by which that hon. Member was allowed to introduce into the measure certain exceptions, many of which had been ridiculed by the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck).He therefore thought the hon. Introducer of the Bill had been hardly dealt with. He, however, joined in the request of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner) that the hon. Member for Lambeth would now withdraw the Bill; and he hoped he would take warning by what had happened, not next year to yield to the insidious suggestion of referring the Bill to a Select Committee. He hoped, in deference to the enormous number of petitioners, both tradesmen and workmen, in favour of the Bill, the hon. Member would reintroduce it next year.

said, if he saw any reasonable prospect by their going into Committee on this Bill that it would tend to the reduction of the minimum of Sunday labour within the metropolitan district, he should be very glad to consent to Mr. Speaker's leaving the Chair, with the view of entering upon a consideration of the clauses of this Bill. But he must say that he saw no such prospect whatever, for he believed that going into Committee upon this Bill would only be a profitless consumption of the public time. Under these circumstances he felt inclined to ask the hon. Member for Lambeth whether he was then prepared to state the course which he intended to pursue, because if it should appear that there was any intention of withdrawing the Bill at any future stage, it would be better that this discussion should be at once brought to a close. He did not cast the least blame on the hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. Williams) for the anomalies contained in the Bill, and which had been pointed out by the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck), for he believed that the subject was surrounded by so many difficulties that it was almost impossible to frame any measure on the subject which would not be disfigured by anomalies. With regard to what had been said by his hon. Friend behind him (Sir W. Clay), as to the evidence of Mr. Mayne the Commissioner of Police, whom he had represented as having said, in answer to a question by the Select Committee that had sat upon this subject, "The present law with regard to the prevention of Sunday trading is almost inoperative," he (Sir G. Grey) wished to observe that Mr. Mayne did not say absolutely that that law was a dead letter; what he had said was, that in certain cases that law could not be enforced. He was glad to say, that it appeared from the long examination of Mr. Mayne by the Committee in question, that there was now a manifest improvement in the metropolis with regard to the observance of the Sabbath. He must also observe that this Bill did not touch the most glaring cases of Sabbath violation. Representations had been made to him by the people living in the neighbourhood of Battersea Fields and other places, as to the violation of the Sabbath in these districts, by parties who assembled there on Sunday for the purpose of amusement. Such annoyances, in his opinion, might with great justice be summarily prevented; but this Bill left such matters untouched, whilst at the same time he believed it was open to the objection that it would legalise many acts which were now, he believed, contrary to law. He believed that this subject must be left to the good feeling of the people— and that the influence which might be exercised by persons in the upper ranks of life, each in their respective sphere, might discourage Sunday trading, and thereby endeavour to afford to the people the greatest possible enjoyment of the great day of rest. With regard to the Members of that House, he was sure they must all, after the discussion which had taken place, feel the great desirableness of making such arrangements in their households as would discourage the purchasing of anything on Sunday, without absolute necessity. He was sure that the hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. Williams) would feel perfectly justified in yielding to the appeal which had been made to him, because no rational man could believe that this Bill could pass during the present Session. In making that observation, he did not mean that the lion. Gentleman should reintroduce this Bill next Session, because he (Sir G. Grey) believed that the experience which they had year after year showed that there was an inherent difficulty in dealing with this subject.

was sorry the hon. Member for Lambeth had left the House, but trusted the interview which was taking place between him and certain Gentlemen from the south side of the Thames would induce him to accede to the request which had been made for the withdrawal of the Bill. A desire had for some time existed to legislate expressly for the metropolitan districts. Now, he thought it most desirable, if that House was to legislate on the subject of the observance of the Sabbath, that a Bill should be introduced applicable to the empire at large, confined solely to the district where the feeling for such interference existed. He would suggest to the hon. Member (Mr. W. Williams) the propriety of withdrawing this Bill, as he believed it had only been introduced in consequence of an election promise, and introducing a private Bill for his particular district, by which means the sincerity of the promoters of the present Bill would be tested. The chief constituent of the hon. Member was the highest dignitary of the Church, and perhaps some of the humblest were the tradesmen in the New Cut. Let the hon. Member introduce a Bill which would include these and all other parties in its provisions. He might be allowed to mention one singular case with reference to the observance of the Sabbath, which would not come within the provisions of the present Bill. A friend of his, passing through one of the most fashionable squares some time ago, on a Sunday, saw a barouchette drawn by a couple of slapping horses, and attended by two footmen in powdered wigs, stop at one of the houses. One of the footmen opened the door of the carriage, and instead of seeing some fine ladies enter, his friend was extremely mortified to observe two dogs, one an Italian greyhound and the other a King Charles's spaniel, placed in the carriage, and Juno and Tasso were then driven off, to the great edification of the spectators, to Hyde Park. Did this Bill apply to cases of this kind? Not at all; and such dogs might still continue to take their airing on Sundays. This was a partial species of legislation to which he decidedly objected.

would remind the House that this was a Bill recommended by the Select Committee; and what chance was there of carrying any future Bill of this description if the present measure were rejected? Let the House reject the Bill if they pleased, but let them deal with it honestly, and upon fair grounds. In every Session of Parliament the same complaints were made of the difficulty of dealing with the details of Bills of this kind. He urged the hon. Member (Mr. W. Williams) not to withdraw the Bill, because the Home Secretary had declared that the difficulty was inherent in the subject itself. He believed that before long Sunday legislation would be made an election question, and a metropolitan Member would not dare to ask an hon. Member having charge of such a Bill to withdraw it. The proposers of this Bill had been desirous to make every rational concession, and this was the return they received. Why did not the right hon. Gentleman (Sir G. Grey), who talked of the inherent difficulty of legislating on this subject, propose to repeal the Act of Charles II. relative to Sunday trading, for his arguments were just as true in regard to the statutes already existing on this subject as they were applicable to the present measure; and what could be so objectionable as to have statutes upon the Statute-book which could not be enforced? The House would then know that the only security for the observance of the Sabbath was in the moral and religious feeling of the people.

said, that ever since the days of Sir Andrew Agnew he had been opposed to this sort of contemptible legislation. The hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Hindley) said this question was to become a hustings one, and that he (the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne) would undertake to say that no Member for the metropolitan districts would dare to show his face if he were not in favour of this Bill. He (Mr. T. Duncombe) denied that the metropolis was in favour of this Bill. The working classes, almost to a man, were opposed to it. Only that afternoon a deputation had waited on him who represented the order of "Old Friends." [An Hon. MEMBER: Odd Fellows.] No; "Old Friends." This society was composed of the working classes, and numbered in the metropolis upwards of 40,000 members. He had asked them what they thought of this Bill, and if they were in favour of it? They replied, "What, in favour of that absurd measure? No, you will not find twenty men among us in favour of it." And yet it was alleged by the hon. Member (Mr. W. Williams) that this metropolis of 2,000,000 concurred in the Bill. He would ask the hon. Member if he had not, some time ago, attended a meeting of 2,000 persons, where some very rough questions had been put to him about this measure, and where, after some discussion, he had confessed to these 2,000 gentlemen that he really had not understood the Bill previously as he understood it then? The hon. Member had been rather anxious to get out of Cowper-street that night. He (Mr. T. Duncombe) said, with the hon. Member for Marylebone (Sir B. Hall), "Confine your Bill to Lambeth." He was sorry that the Lambeth people were so singular a race. Let the hon. Member confine his Bill to that archiepiscopal dis- trict, where a better system ought to prevail. There were conflicting interests in regard to this Bill. There were the interests of the upper classes and of the lower classes, and if they had wished to get at the merits of the question, they should have taken evidence in the Committee. They had not examined one of the working classes; else, they might have got some valuable information as to who the Bill would affect the interests of the labouring man. It was said that no opposition had been offered by the working classes; but they should remember that during the six days they had no time to petition that House. There were various classes, such as shoemakers, who did not receive their wages till twelve o'clock on the Saturday night, and how could they at that late hour purchase their provisions for the following day? They knew also that since the extension of railways, builders and other parties sent workmen many miles into the country, and these could not get home with their wages so as to be able to procure the necessaries requisite for their families before the shops closed on Saturday. No evidence regarding persons so circumstanced had been taken by the Committee, who had merely consulted the interests of cant. If this were an important subject of legislation, it was the duty of Government to take it up; but the procedure which had been enacted in connexion with the matter from year to year, was a perfect farce. The Bill was brought in by a private Member; certain stages were gone through, and then it was thrown overboard. He remembered the right hon. Member for Ripon (Sir J. Graham), when in office, having met this subject with a similar answer to what the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey) had that day returned. He had very justly said it was almost impossible to legislate on the matter—it was surrounded with so many difficulties. A great majority of the people of the metropolis, he felt assured, would echo the sentiment. Let them leave the matter in the hands of the people themselves, and let the rich show a proper example. The people had no wish to desecrate the Sabbath, and would be glad to promote as much as possible the diminution of Sunday labour. He would vote, as he had always done for the last twenty-six years, against this species of legislation.

believed that the prime motive which had induced the hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. W. Williams) to introduce this Bill was his desire to fulfil a certain promise, which was extracted from him at the Lambeth hustings, with reference to the prevention of Sunday trading in that district. He did not understand the exception which it made in favour of three-halfpenny beer. It seemed to be holding out a premium on the sale of bad beer. He (Mr. Trelawny) thought it was very extraordinary that people could not be trusted to observe the Sabbath properly without being compelled to do so by such an ill-drawn measure as this. He could not give it his support.

intended to divide with the hon. Member for Lambeth, if he should press for a division; at the same time, he thought the hon. Member would exhibit a wise discretion by withdrawing the Bill for the present. He (Mr. Alcock) was content to rest his support of such a measure as this on the ground that no impediment whatever should be placed in the way of the working classes enjoying at least one day of rest in the week.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 42; Noes 77:Majority 35.

List of the AYES.

Alcock, T.Harris, R.
Baird, J.Hastie, A.
Barrow, W. H.Humphery, Ald.
Beresford, W.Kershaw, J.
Best, J.Lacy, H. C.
Brotherton, J.Lockhart, W.
Buxton, Sir E. N.Lushington, C.
Child, S.Manners, Lord C. S.
Clay, Sir W.Masterman, J.
Clifford, H. M.Meux, Sir H.
Cowper, hon. W. F.Morris, D.
D'Eyncourt, rt. hn.C.T.O'Brien, Sir L.
Duncan, G.Perfect, R.
Dunne, Col.Pigott, F.
Edwards, H.Robartes, T. J. A.
Evans, W.Seaham, Visct.
Farnham, E. B.Stuart, Lord D.
Fellowes, E.Thicknesse, R. A.
Galway, Visct.Verney, Sir H.
Grenfell, C. W.
Grosvenor, Lord R.


Gwyn, H.Williams, W.
Hamilton, G. A.Hindley, C.

List of the NOES.

Baring, H. B.Childers, J. W.
Barrington, Visct.Divert, E.
Beckett, W.Dodd, G.
Bouverie, hon. E. P.Duckworth, Sir J. T. B.
Bowles, Adm.Duncombe, T.
Boyle, hon. Col.Estcourt, J. B. B.
Buck, L. W.Fergus, J.
Buller, Sir J. Y.Fitzroy, hon. H.
Butler, P. S.Forster, M.
Campbell, hon. W.Fox, W. J.
Carew, W. H. P.Freestun, Col.

Fuller, A. E.Patten, J. W.
Geach, C.Pechell, Sir G. B.
Granger, T. C.Pilkington, J.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.Prime, R.
Guest, Sir J.Roebuck, J. A.
Hall, Sir B.Russell, F. C. H.
Hatchell, rt. hon. J.Scholefield, W.
Heneage, G. H. W.Sibthorp, Col.
Henley, J. W.Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Henry, A.Smythe, J. G.
Heyworth, L.Sotheron, T. H. S.
Higgins, G. G. O.Spooner, R.
Hope, Sir J.Stansfield, W. R. C.
Hume, J.Strickland, Sir G.
Lawley, hon. B. R.Stuart, Lord J.
Leslie, C. P.Stuart, H.
Lockhart, A. E.Thompson, Col.
Long, WTrelawny, J. S.
Mackie, J.Tyler, Sir G.
M'Taggart, Sir J.Villiers, Visct.
Melgund, Visct.Waddington, H. S.
Morgan, H. K. G.Walmsley, Sir J.
Moffatt, G.Wawn, J. T.
Mullings, J. R.Westhead, J. P. B.
Mundy, W.Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
O'Connell, M. J.Wynn, Sir W. W.
O'Connor, F.


O'Flaherty, A.Anstey, T. C.
Palmer, R.Wall, C. B.

Words added: Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to: Committee put off for six months.

Landlord And Tenant Bill

Order for Committee read.

said, he wished to explain that the object of the first two clauses of this Bill was to give compensation to landlords in cases in which a tenant for life died after having sown part of the land which he held, and before the crop was reaped. In such cases, by the present law, executors were entitled to reap such crops without paying any rent from the day of the tenant's death. The Bill passed through the House last Session, with the clauses which now formed part of it, but the Bill was eventually lost. His object was, that there should be a continuance of the existing tenancy up to the end of the current year, except in some cases, for which he had provided. In some cases, if the growing crops were seized under an execution under the present law, the crops might be seized without payment of the rent. Now, he had introduced a provision to meet this manifest injustice, to the effect that the landowner might be paid for the use of his land. The 4th clause related to agricultural fixtures, and he believed it would effect an improvement in the state of the law with respect to them. His object was simply to amend and reform the law where it had been found defective.

thought, generally speak ing, the Bill was a good one, but he disapproved of the 4th clause. It empowered a tenant to remove farm buildings erected during the period of his tenancy, whether detached or otherwise—a principle heretofore unknown to the law of this country. He hoped due vigilance would be exercised by hon. Gentlemen opposite over this clause.

said, the object of the Bill seemed to be to assimilate the law between farmers and tradesmen. He understood his hon. Friend (Mr. Mullings) to say he would guard the provisions alluded to by the hon. Member for Rochester (Mr. Bernal) by requiring the assent of the landlord. Tradesmen could remove buildings erected for the purposes of trade, such as brick walls, &c. He thought the principle of assimilation of farmers and tradesmen, on the whole, a good one; but it was necessary, as he had already said, that such a provision should be properly and carefully guarded.

thought it to be regretted that, when hon. Gentlemen brought in good and useful Bills, they should afterwards attach provisions to them of a most objectionable and questionable character. A portion of this Bill was excellent, more particularly if it had stopped at the 3rd clause; but the 4th clause ought by no means to meet the concurrence of the House. Interference, generally speaking, between landlord and tenant, was to be deprecated, as it more frequently occasioned confusion than relief. The question of "fixtures" had been for a long period a constant source of litigation, and this Bill would still further embarrass it. He thought it was better to leave the law as it now stood, than to render it more indistinct and unintelligible than it now was. He hoped the hon. Gentleman would withdraw the 4th clause.

said, it might be desirable to improve a farm with the consent of the landlord; but he being only tenant for life, could not bind his successor, and in that case it was important that the tenant should be allowed to erect these buildings on just terms—namely, that he should be allowed to remove them at the end of his tenancy.

suggested, that if there was no objection to going into Committee, it would be better to discuss the clauses in their order.

would recommend to let landlord and tenant alone. If landlord and tenant could not agree, let them separate, but let them do so without the cumbersome interference of that House. The words "with the full consent of the landlord," ought to be introduced in the 4th clause.

said, he could not let pass the observations which had been made in this debate without entering his protest against them. With regard to the 4th clause it contained all that justice required, in providing that the tenant should in no way injure the buildings belonging to the landlord, and that he should leave them in as good a condition as they were in when he entered. That provision protected the landlord from injury; but he saw a disposition in that House to refuse the tenant any just concession as to his rights. ["No, no!"] Then let them agree to this clause. He had seen many Bills brought forward for the establishment of tenant right, and they had every one been rejected. He believed the desire of the landlords was to keep the tenants in that state that they would have no rights of their own, and thus keep them in a state of submission to the landlords.

thought the Bill would be very injurious unless words were introduced to prevent the buildings being erected without the consent of the landlord.

considered the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale (Mr. S. Crawford) was fraught with danger. The rights of property were the basis of society, and it was dangerous to interfere with them.

said, that the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) mistook the object of the Bill. The object was to enable landlords who had not the whole estate to make agreements.

said, the hon. Member for Rochdale had spoken of the feeling of the landlords. As an Irish landlord he believed the Irish landlords were willing to adopt the principle of this Bill, and to allow their tenants the value of any unexhausted improvement.

House in Committee; Mr. Bernal in the Chair.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2.

considered that as this clause was likely to cause litigation he should object to it.

said, that by this clause the duty of nominating an umpire was, in certain cases, thrown upon the Attorney or Solicitor General; but if this duty were imposed, there ought also to be a provision enabling the Attorney General to pay the umpire for his trouble.

suggested that the provision for appointing an umpire be struck out altogether.

suggested that it would be better to leave the law as it at present stood. He, therefore, thought it would be better to strike out the clause altogether.

said, he had practical experience of the evil of the present state of the law. He was an executor of a deceased clergyman who had farmed 400 acres of glebeland, and he was obliged to keep on the farm in order to make the most of the emblements; and, consequently, until the growing crops were disposed of, the new clergyman was deprived of hisincome. This was an evil which ought to be remedied.

said, that he thought the executor could dispose of the crops either by valuation or by public auction. The difficulty was, therefore, imaginary, for the parties could make an arrangement.

Clause struck out.

Clause 3.

said, he hoped the Committee would not alter the law as it at present stood, which placed the landlord and creditors on the same footing. Now, it was proposed to give the landlord an advantage which would prevent any execution creditor from having any remedy by distress against corn growing on the land. He therefore hoped that the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mullings) would not press the clause.

said, the clause was necessary to prevent the landlord from losing his rent, and he should therefore press it to a division.

said, he understood that the rights of creditors would be materially affected by the clause.

said, if one execution creditor could come in and have a preference over other creditors, that might be a reason for altering the law of debtor and creditor. It appeared to him that it would be better to adhere to the existing law, which was fair both to the landlord and the execution creditor.

said, that the rights of landlords had recently been materially narrowed. He defended the clause, because he thought it would give them a fair protection against execution creditors.

said, he was afraid that the clause would force landlords to put in distresses quarterly when they were apprehensive of losing their rent.

said, that if landlords put in distresses quarterly, the effect would be, that before long the whole law of distress would be abolished altogether. He must protest against any system which would give an unfair preference to landlords over other classes.

said, that the preference given to landlords had excited great discussion in Scotland and England. The report of the Devon Commission went, he thought, to the same effect; and he suggested that the law should be left as it was, inasmuch as any attempt to bolster it up by a new enactment might lead to its being abolished sooner than it might otherwise have been.

said, that in Ireland anybody could seize crops except the landlord, who was continually cheated by fraudulent acknowledgments.

objected to the retention of the words "or otherwise," which might be construed to give landlords other remedies beyond distress.

could not assent to the alteration of the law of distress proposed in the clause. By the Act of 1846, the power of seizing the growing crop was in Ireland taken from the landlord; but it was left to the ordinary creditor having an execution against the goods of the tenant. It was stated that facilities were thus afforded for collusion, as against the landlord. If that were so, the remedy should be sought in the opposite direction, and the right of seizing the unsecured crop had better be taken away altogether. Undoubtedly it would be fairer to take it from both creditor and landlord, than to leave it to one, and not to the other. So long as the creditor retained the power, the landlord would seek to regain it, and so long the farming class would feel that they were in danger of having the old harness of prædial vassalage fitted on them as before.

Motion made, and Question put, "That the Clause as amended stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided: — Ayes 71; Noes 41:Majority 30.

Clause agreed to.

moved the insertion of words, rendering the previous consent of the landlord necessary for the tenant to remove any buildings or fixtures which he might have put up.

Amendment proposed:—

"In page 3, line 28, after the word 'Act,' to insert the words 'with the consent in writing of the Landlord for the time being.'"

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided: — Ayes 82; Noes 23: Majority 59.

Several verbal Amendments were then made in the clause, which was then agreed to, and ordered to stand part of the Bill.

then moved the following now clause:—

"That if any occupying tenant of land shall quit, leaving unpaid any arrear of tithe rent charge for or charged upon such land, which he was by the terms of his tenancy or holding liable to pay, and the tithe owner shall give or have given notice of proceeding by distress upon the land for recovery thereof, it shall be lawful for the landlord, or the succeeding tenant or occupier, to pay any such arrear and any expenses incident thereto, and to recover the amount or sum of money so paid over against such first-named tenant or occupier, or his legal representatives, in the same manner as if the same were a debt by simple contract due from such tenant or occupier to the landlord or tenant making such payment."

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

House resumed; Bill reported as amended.

The House adjourned at five minutes before Six o'clock.