HC Deb 06 April 1814 vol 27 cc423-5

Mr. H. Davis presented a petition from certain master manufacturers of the city of Bristol, praying that so much of the Act of the 5th of Elizabeth, cap. 4, as inflicted penalties on persons exercising trades to which they had not served regular apprenticeships, should be repealed—Ordered to lie on the table.

Mr. P. Moore

presented a petition from the manufacturers of Coventry, praying that that part of the 5th of Elizabeth, cap 4, which inflicted penalties on persons exercising trades to which they had not served regular apprenticeships, should be rendered efficient. He should merely move "that the petition do lie on the table;" but, before he sat down, he wished to inquire of the learned gentleman (Mr. Serjeant Onslow) who had given notice of his intention to introduce a Bill on the subject, whether he meant, in his proposed measure, to confine himself merely to the repeal of that part of the 5th of Elizabeth which sanctioned those penalties, or to do away with the Act altogether? He also wished to know, whether the learned gentleman intended to push his Bill through the different stages in the present session; or, having introduced it, to let it he over till the next? In his opinion, a committee ought to be appointed, in the first instance, to examine the whole of the petitions that had been presented relative to the 5th of Elizabeth, and also to look into the provisions of that Act.

Mr. Serjeant Onslow

said, most unquestionably he did not mean to go beyond the terms of his notice, in the measure he should introduce. He had stated, explicitly, the part of the Act that he wished to have repealed, and he had not since altered his determination. With respect to the second point of the hon. gentleman's interrogatory,—"Whether he intended to hurry the Bill through the House" he would answer, that he certainly did not. But the hon. gentleman seemed to forget, that the present period was, virtually, almost the commencement of the session and that very important business was yet to come on. He (serjeant Onslow) undoubtedly did wish to have the sense of the House taken on the Bill before the session terminated. And this, he thought, could be done without any imputation of hurry. In the last session the Treasurer of the Navy (Mr. Rose) had presented a petition from a great number of persons who were desirous that the penalties should be continued; and moved for a committed to investigate the allegations of the petitioners. A committee was granted—it sat from day to day—and the evidence adduced before it was printed. He (serjeant Onslow) inquired of that right hon. gentleman, whether he intended to found any motion on this evidence? And, understanding that he did not, he stated, at the close of the last session, that he would himself submit a motion on the subject. Soon after parliament met, he gave notice of a motion for the 30th of November; but, in consequence of a number of gentleman, who represented large manufacturing districts (particularly the hon. member for Yorkshire) not being then in town, he postponed it till the 22nd of February, and had finally put it off till the 27th of the present month—knowing that a call of the House would take place between that period, which would ensure a full attendance when the proposed measure came to be discussed. That the country was not unprepared for it, was evident from the numerous petitions which had been presented in favour of it. Petitions of that nature had been received from Leeds, Birmingham, Hudddersfield, Bristol, and many other populous neighbourhoods. Several petitions had also been presented against it. How they were procured he did not know; but the language in all of them appeared very nearly the same. With respect to the principal trade carried on by the constituents of the hon. gentleman, it would not be at all affected by the new Bill, because, it was already guarded by a variety of enactments, totally independent of the 5th of Elizabeth.

Mr. P. Moore

said, it was very true, that his constituents (the freemen of Coventry) were obliged by act of parliament to serve a regular apprenticeship, before they could carry on the business alluded to by the learned gentleman. Now, they were alarmed, lest by the proposed Bill they should be deprived of a right which they had long enjoyed. They therefore were anxious that the Bill should not be hurried through the House.

The petition was ordered to lie on the table.