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dering justice cheap and accessible to all. | occasion. But, assuredly, if hon. Members Undoubtedly, the grievance of church- had voted for that petition, and had afterrates still remained unredressed, but it wards come down to the House with prowas a question on which there was a great positions that did not go so far as the division of opinion in that House, and it prayer of the petition, they would have was one which Parliament would still have more irritated the petitioners and have to consider. Nor could he agree in the given just cause to more discontent than eleventh of these resolutions, that no hope the refusal to receive the petition had ocwas held out of a redress of social and casioned. It might be thought the propolitical grievances at any future time. positions of the Chartists were beneficial During the present Session he was sure, in themselves-they might possibly have that no question that had been mooted a prospect of being proposed and carried; had been discussed in any other spirit but this he felt, that persons who armed than with reference to its tendency to do themselves to take away the property of away with social and political evils. As others even to the extent of assaulting the regarded many of those measures, there officers of the law, would by no means be were, no doubt, great party differences, satisfied with less than a change of places but on the other hand, when the House in society-that they would take the probecame satisfied, that any particular mea-perty of those who had property, and consure would be conducive to the removal of social and political grievances, there was no difficulty in passing such a measure. If any measures of the kind were proposed, he would be very glad to support them if he approved of them; but, at the same time, he would oppose them if he did not think them calculated for the good of the community. He would himself be ready at any time to bring forward any measures for the redress of political and social grievances, as he had already from time to time done. Looking at the acts of the Government during the last ten years, he really did not think indifference could be fairly charged against the Government. To assert that the Go-times when certain measures were more vernment had set their faces against all reform, was to commit a great injustice. The hon. Gentleman asserted that the House had refused to listen to the prayers of a million of her Majesty's subjects, but this was scarcely a fair mode of stating the case. The real question was, whether the House should adopt universal suffrage, annual Parliaments, and vote by ballot, and abolish all property qualifications for Members of Parliament. Those were the demands of the petitioners, and he had never heard those who advocated their prayer, state that they would be contented with any but the full measure of their demands. They never adopted any disguise as regarded their views. Nothing less
than the full amount of their demand would satisfy them. To those demands he was opposed, and, therefore, he had voted against the petition. They surely could not complain that he had deceived them in the vote which he gave on that
fiscate it to their own leaders; and he believed the object of those leaders was to get possession of as much property as they could, while they deluded the people by holding out great advantages to them, and to enrich themselves by spoliation, robbery, and depredation. That was his belief as regarded the Chartists, and, therefore, he thought it much fairer, when the subject of the petition was before the House, to declare his opinion that the greater portion of them were deluded than to support the prayer of their petition. With respect to the various points contained in the resolutions of the hon. Gentleman, there was no doubt that there were
peculiarly pressing on the attention of Parliament, for the remedying of some great grievances, and there were undoubtedly other times, when, together with the consideration of such measures, you must take measures to support the authority of the law and of the Government, and to maintain the institutions of the country. It was his conviction, in the course of the present year, that it was incumbent on him to take measures to maintain the authority of the Government both at home and abroad. The hon. Gentleman had made it part of his charge that the Government had maintained the authority of the Crown in Canada without having at the same time introduced any measure for the settlement of the differences that gave rise to the necessity for so doing. Why, some persons of very high authority, thought, that Government had proceeded too quickly to the settlement of the affairs of Canada. But the hon.
Gentleman forgot that even if a measure that the great bulk of the community could for the union of the two colonies had been be satisfied? The people would only be carried, or any other measure for the set-worthy of being scourged if they were not tlement of the question, Government would dissatisfied until they attained the objects have not the less required, both for this essential to their well being, and until the and the next year, sufficient military force evils to which they were now exposed to repress the disturbances in Canada. were redressed. He trusted until this was For, to suppose that, by an Act of Parlia- done that they would continue to feel ment, you could at once not only satisfy, some discontent and cause uneasiness. He be it remembered, one discontented party, trusted that they would not allow the two but restore to harmony the two contend- Houses of Parliament to rest on beds of ing parties in Canada, and that, too, with- roses while they were exposed to so much out the aid of a military power, was a no- oppression and injustice. That House tion too chimerical to be for a moment was constituted to attend to the interests entertained. Taking, then, the whole ar- of the great mass of the people, and not guments into consideration, he entirely merely to uphold the privileges of any disagreed with the hon. Gentleman's re- particular class. The noble Lord had solutions. It was quite clear that the in- complained of the length of the resolutention of the hon. Member was not so tions, and of the shortness of his hon. much to get the consent of that House to Colleague's speech; but he thought that them, as to place on record censure both if matters were changed, and the resoluon the Government and the House. He tions had been shorter and the speech did not feel that either the House or the longer, the noble Lord would not have Government were liable to the censure been better pleased. He had prescribed which the hon. Member proposed to cast only three powders to the noble Lord last upon them, and he should, therefore, cer- year, but the noble Lord was equally distainly vote for going at once into the satisfied now when his hon. Friend gave business of the evening, and against the him twelve. On this subject, therefore, it resolutions. was a matter of considerable difficulty to please the noble Lord. The noble Lord said, that the success of measures that would have been found beneficial had been impeded by the Chartists, who had come forward and excited such a strong feeling in the country, and he added, that if different conduct had been pursued, it would have led to a different result. But what was the fact; the people had long petitioned for the ballot, short Parliaments, and an extension of the suffrage; but they had not got one of them, nor did there appear any disposition on the part of the House to concede them. What right, then, had the noble Lord to suppose that the people would have succeeded in getting a repeal of the Corn-laws from that House; and above all when he had said, with respect to the Reform Bill, that the framers of it had intended by it to give the landed interest a predominance in that House? [Lord John Russell-" No, no!"] At any rate, the noble Lord said, last year that he knew that that would be the effect of some of its provisions; and this was still worse, because it was a foregone conclusion. The people came to that House and said, that they wished to be put on a footing with the inhabitants of foreign nations with respect to obtain
Mr. Wakley saw nothing in the resolutions open to the objections of the noble Lord. Upon this subject he should regard himself as one of the most cowardly of mankind if he did not, in the face of the House and the country, declare that he considered the conduct of that House as infinitely worse than that of her Majesty's Ministers, and there was no ground whatever to justify the House in the course that it had pursued. The Ministers had every temptation to do wrong they met with every encouragement from the House in their bad proceedings, and they hardly met with support in their good measures. He did not think, therefore, that his hon. colleague would have been justified in placing the censure entirely on the Government. He did not believe that the people would get better treatment from a Parliament, constituted like the present, than they got this Session. He felt satisfied that it was not in the nature of the House, constituted as it was, to pass any great legislative measures for the benefit of the country. Hon. Members almost seemed disposed to treat the people like a set of untameable wild beasts. They seemed ever desirous that the liberties of the people should be abridged. Was it then to be expected
ing cheap food. But their prayers were directed to the great landed proprietors of England, who had such a powerful interest in keeping up the Corn-laws. These great monopolists, however, decided in their own case, and were judge and jury in the cause in which they were interested. Unless, therefore, the screw was put on them pretty tightly, was it to be supposed that they would yield? But was it to be supposed that hon. Gentlemen were so blinded to their own interests, that they would hold by the monopoly they enjoyed until the commerce of the country declined at such a rapid rate, that the remedy would come too late. Every person who reflected on the subject must know and feel, that whatever might have been the effect of the Corn-laws in past times, their tendency was to ruin the commerce of the country; and that, therefore, they must cause the greatest mischief to the community; for if they were continued, it was impossible that our manufacturers could maintain the struggle on such terms with foreign nations. Was it either just or reasonable that the landed interests should derive advantages from a monopoly at the expense of all the rest of the community? They had succeeded in many instances in deluding the farmers into the belief that the repeal of the Cornlaws would be followed by the rise of English agriculture. He believed that a number of the landed aristocracy never went into the country without going to some farm-house or other, and making a speech of that kind. They were very fond on such occasions, of describing the farmers as most intelligent men; but, when an appeal was made to that House, to enable the farmers to exercise their free judgment in the selection of their representatives, they were the most strenuous opponents of the proposition, and on no consideration would they consent to the measure by which the farmer could exercise his franchise freely, and according to his inclination. They always said, that it would be un-English, and a mode of voting that would be disgraceful to an honest person. The fact was, that the nation had been cajoled and deluded into a state of quiescence, which should not be allowed to exist. He said quiescence, for if the people were alive to their true interests, the landed aristocracy and that House, never should be allowed to have an hour's peace, until the Corn-laws
were repealed. He was as convinced as he could be of anything, that this country must inevitably sink in the scale of nations, if the Corn-laws were not repealed. The House refused to sanction the motion of his hon. Friend to go into Committee, to take the Corn-laws into consideration, with the view of altering them, but he trusted that the demand would become loud and general for their total repeal; for he was of opinion, that there should be no protecting duty, and no restriction on the importation of food, but that it should come to every man as freely as the air he breathed. It should be recollected, that foreigners, as well as ourselves, possessed energy and intelligence, and they possessed all the means of manufacture, in an equal degree in this country; and was it to be expected, that we could run the race of competition in manufactures, with a millstone around our necks? It was most astonishing to him to see how quiet the people of this country were, under such a grievous injustice. He was sorry that there had been found people in this country, who had been alluded to, who could be so much in error, as to draw the attention of the working-classes from this important subject. He admitted that there might be some difficulty in making generally intelligible, or carrying into effect, a measure involving complicated theories, but he thought that it was almost obvious, that the greatest good would result to the working-classes from the repeal of the Corn-laws. He was sure, if public attention was directed to the subject, that these laws would not last three years longer. It might be supposed, that while the Corn-laws thus oppressed the people, they were to a considerable degree relieved from taxation, and that landed property was heavily taxed. But that was not the case at all. Every article that the poor man consumed, with the exception of water, was taxed heavily, while the richer classes were almost entirely exempt from taxation. The amount of the malttax in a single year, was 4,500,000l., and all this was derived from the working and middle classes. He believed that the people never would be content, until property was taxed. If the House would not repeal the Corn-laws, he trusted some means would be devised of raising and levying a tax upon property, and he hoped that there would be an effective agitation for this purpose, and h at thus
at least, some burdens would be placed | had been exposed to the most cruel sufferon the shoulders of the aristocracy. They ings, and only required to be treated with had constant demands made on them to justice. He knew that a great deal of afford relief to the agricultural classes, but dissatisfaction prevailed, and this would they had too great influence already, and continue until every essential wrong was the whole system of legislation in this redressed he would not encourage viocountry, was in their favour, while it lence, but he trusted the people would pressed most unjustly on the commercial continue to demand justice, until their and manufacturing classes of the nation. just grounds of complaint were removed. It was said that manufacturers had protecting duties in this country; true, but the manufacturers said, let the Corn-laws be repealed, and you may take off all those protecting taxes. He would conclude with entreating the noble Lord to promise before the Session closed, if he could do so with any regard to his sense of duty, that something should be done next Session-that he would hold out some expectation that some little thing would be done next year, on which the hopes of the people might rest during the vacation. He would not name or specify what should be done, but he trusted that the noble Lord would indicate in the House, that attempts would be made to do something for the people next Session. He should be very ungrateful if he did not thank the noble Lord for what he had done with respect to the post-office. It was a very great thing for the public, and he was sure that they would be grateful for it, but he feared that the working-classes would not feel the immediate benefit of it. He felt this, because he knew that they were too distressed, in consequence of the pressure of the Corn-laws, and were too much oppressed to be enabled to indulge in correspondence. It was not a pleasure to those classes to send accounts of their distresses and sufferings to their relatives; but let the Legislature give them a freer scope, and a greater power to act-make them more comfortable, and then their imaginations would soar into the regions of delight, and they would freely correspond with their friends. He, however, thanked the noble Lord for this boon, and he was sure that it would be productive of the greatest benefit to the community, which would feel grateful for it. He trusted, however, that the noble Lord would turn his attention to the situation of the working classes, and see whether something could not be done to relieve their condition. The people of this country were neither disloyal, discontented, nor sanguinary, and would not endanger either life or property; but they
Mr. T. Attwood perfectly agreed in all that had been said by the hon. Member who had just sat down, and only regretted that the other hon. Member for Finsbury, had made his resolutions so long. The discontent that prevailed amongst the working-classes, arose from the want of employment. or low wages, or both. It happened that when the people of England had full wages, they only got half work; and when they had full work, they only received half wages. There must, therefore, be something vicious in the state of society, to lead to such a result. There must be some great organic disease of the body politic. The noble Lord had addressed the House very much in the tone of a very excellent man who had been his predecessor in that House as the representative of the Government, who on one occasion said, in reply to a complaint of distress, that he was surprised to hear any person make such an observation in that happy land, as he had never heard of it before. This was Lord Spencer, who complained that any one should assert there was distress in that happy land. This reminded him again of an old lady, who was sitting down to an excellent dinner during the riots of the Luddites, and who exclaimed, "How can people do so in this happy country, where God Almighty. provides such plenty." Persons who had large incomes in the funds, or held mort gages, were always exclaiming that England was the envy of surrounding nations, and the admiration of the world. It might be so to these mortgagees and money-mongers; but it was not so to the suffering labouring population. He would remind the House of what had brought the monied aristocracy into the powerful situation which they filled. He was sure, that the noble Lord, from his appearance, knew what he was about to say. About twenty years ago, this monied aristocracy, by means of a legal quibble, got this great advantage to themselves, and th1 haved like Nicholas of Russia. not, like Alexander, fix th
certainly this was the effect he produced. In spite of that, however, he should support the resolutions proposed by the hon. Gentleman near him, because they were. clear, and distinct, and true, and because he thought it important the House should admit them to be so; because he thought the proceedings of the House were not worthy of the purposes for which it was assembled; and because he thought that its first great step towards repentance was to admit its sin. There might be some persons who thought that the course which the Legislature had taken was the right course, and it was well that the British public should know what legislation was thus thought right; but he, for one, thought that the course which had been pursued in the House-he said it without casting any reflection on the Government, or any particular portion of the House-but he certainly thought that, as a general result, the course which had been pursued had a tendency not to raise, but greatly to lower the House in the estimation of the country, a result which every right-thinking and patriotic mind could not but regard as a most serious evil. He thought there was something in the mode of legislating
standard at five shillings in the pound, nor do what the right hon. Member for Tamworth should have done, fix the standard at ten shillings, but, unhappily, they went back to the ancient standard. They, by some hocus pocus, persuaded the Legislature to change the paper money of ten shillings in the pound, to the old standard of gold. They could not at first persuade the landed interest to consent to this, but they succeeded at last by giving them the Corn-laws, and then they were allowed the money law they required. They said, we will shut out all foreign corn, and see how we shall all prosper, for you will keep up your rents, and we shall keep up our dividends. A member of the aristocracy told him a short time ago, that things would not go right in this country, until the merchants were driven back into the city [oh, oh !]. He dared say that was an aristocratic cheer, and he must observe, that he wished his hon. Friends behind him, would behave as well as his hon. Friends, or opponents, in front, for he found that he constantly met with better treatment from his political opponents, than from his political friends. The peer and the baron had laid their heads together, and driven the weakest to the wall, making the labourer suffer in his wages, while they divided all the benefits between themselves. Grinding poverty was the disease under which the country laboured, and until this was relieved, no coercion would repress the discontent of the working-classes. He hoped, that amid the many dangers which threatened the country, the noble Lord would hold out some expectation to the people, that he would next Session introduce some measure, by which they might earn fair wages for fair work.
Mr. Villiers said, there was considerable analogy between the course taken by the hon. Gentleman who spoke last and that of the Chartists at their public meetings. The hon. Gentleman was always repeating the opinion that he received more favour at the hands of hon. Gentlemen opposite than from Members of his own side of the House. The fact was, that there was something so singular in the matter and so eccentric in the manner of the hon. Gentleman, that he contrived to throw discredit and ridicule on almost every question he touched upon in the House. He did not say, of course, that this was intended by the hon. Gentleman, but most
something in the nature of the legislation itself-both what had been done, and what had been left undone, which was calculated to produce this most undesirable effect, and he considered it well to have this review of the conduct of the House drawn out and presented to the House and to the country, that it might be seen what were the omissions which had to be remedied. There were only two ways in which they could allay the discontents of the country, and restore its confidence in that House. The first was for the present House to legislate for the people as it ought to legislate for them; or that there should be included such a sufficient number of the people in the constituencies who were stated to be represented in the House, that on the people might be justly cast the blame, if the legislation of the House was bad. He thought it highly doubtful whether the first of these objects could be thoroughly carried out in the present constitution of the House, under the existing franchise, and mode of exercising it, which gave the aristocratic interests a great preponderance over national interests. At present he believed that all the sinister, all the sectional interests were represented in the