HC Deb 30 June 1815 vol 31 cc1071-3
Mr. Lewis

moved the order of the day for the House going into a committee on the Bread Assize Repeal Bill.

Mr. Culcraft

wished to know, whether it was the intention of the hon. gentleman to press this Bill during the present session?

Mr. Frankland Lewis

said, he would be guided by the wishes of the House. His own conviction of the importance of the measure, however, induced him to think it was highly expedient it should be carried without delay. If it was postponed, he hoped gentlemen, would really pay attention to the subject, and not have she Bill delayed merely pro formâ.

Mr. Rose

said, his mind was made up on this subject; and if any assistance of his was necessary td carry the Bill through, he would most readily give it. It appeared to him, from every view of this question, that the assize of bread ought not to be continued in London; and this opinion he adopted; because he was satisfied that the returns of the price of flour, upon which the assize was fixed, were invariably false. He thought differently with respect to the country; however, in the country, the real price of flour could be obtained. If the power of setting the assize was not had recourse to, he thought it would be a great advantage that the power should be vested in the country magistrates.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

, under all the views which he had taken of this question, recommended to the hon. gentleman not to push the Bill beyond a stage in which it could be properly considered during the present session. He had no doubt, when the Bill was passed, that it would be productive of the most beneficial effects to the public; yet, as all sudden alterations were impolitic, he thought the postponement of the measure to a future period would tend; to remove those objections which; upon a first view of it, were, likely to arise.

Mr. Western

said, fee should feel extreme regret if the progress of this Bill was delayed, from a conviction that the public had been considerable sufferers, and still continued to be sufferers, under the Assize laws. He thought the evidence which had been submitted to the committee, from whence this Bill had emanated, afforded the strongest grounds for trying the experiment of abandoning the assize altogether.

Mr. Alderman C. Smith

thought the passing of the Bill would be a relief to the bakers, and that there never could be a more favourable time than the present, when corn was so low, for making the experiment.

Mr. Alderman Atkins

did not object to trying an experiment, but could not agree to parting wholly with the assize. He wished to see a fair principle of average fixed upon. He was aware that, respecting the assize, there was much prejudice against his opinions, which, though he firmly believed in them, he was not so presumptuous as to expect every one to agree to. If this Bill passed, there would be no authority left to say any thing as to the price of bread on the part of the public.

General Thornton and Mr. Preston

were in favour of the Bill. The Bill was committed, and read a first and second time.

Mr. Alderman Atkins

suggested that the magistrate should retain his power, to exercise it in such cases as he should think fit.

Mr. F. Lewis

objected to this, as being contrary to the object of the measure.

Mr. Alderman Atkins

then proposed as an amendment, that the Act should only continue for one year from the passing of the Act.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

hoped the hon alderman would not press his amendment in the present state of the House, there being but very few members present.

After a desultory conversation, in which alderman C. Smith and Mr. Western took part, alderman Atkins said he should not press his amendment then. He then proposed a clause to allow bakers to make bread of any weight, without binding them to a specific quantity in the size of the loaf, but merely to sell it at a certain price per pound. This clause was rejected, and Mr. F. Lewis proposed a clause for the continuance of the present size in the quartern loaves, &c. which was received and agreed to. The clause respecting distance, for the operation of the Bill, was filled up with the words "within ten miles." The other clauses were agreed to, with some slight amendments. The Report was then brought up, and ordered for further consideration on Tuesday.