Skip to main content

The Truck System

Volume 117: debated on Wednesday 18 June 1851

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

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.