HC Deb 05 June 1817 vol 36 cc889-90
Lord Milton

said he held in his hand a Petition from certain of the most respectable inhabitants of Sheffield, in favour of a very humble, but a very numerous class of his majesty's subjects; a class, whose calamitous condition had long excited the compassion of every feeling mind. The petitioners prayed that House to take into its consideration the propriety of adopting some means for abolishing the practice of sweeping chimnies by the means of climbing boys. Though the lot of those wretched beings had frequently called forth the strongest sentiments of commiseration, yet the petitioners were afraid that nothing would be effectually done for their relief till the parliament interfered. He entertained the same opinion; but he apprehended it was too late now, to hope for any inquiry during the present session. He should, therefore, merely move that the petition be brought up, and express his hope, that in the ensuing session the subject would be brought regularly before the House.

Mr. Lyttelton

said, that the extreme sufferings of the class of persons for whom the protection of the legislature was now solicited, would, he was persuaded, make a deep impression when their case came to be fully investigated. All men of common feeling and humanity must be anxious to remove a practice, which entailed so much misery, and for which no necessity whatever existed. As to the practicability of employing machinery, there could be no doubt.

Mr. Stuart Wortley

concurred in the observations that had been made.

Mr. Fremantle

hoped the matter might be taken up this session.

Lord Lascelles

was of opinion, that if nothing more could be done this session, a resolution should at least be passed, disapproving of the practice.

Mr. Bennet,

said he had repeatedly intended to bring the case of this wretched class of boys before the House, and to originate a measure for suppressing the practice complained of. He belonged to a society which had for its object the superseding the necessity of employing boys in this way.

Lord Milton,

being encouraged in the idea that something might be done this session, would propose a committee, to whom this petition should be referred.— The noble lord then proposed a select committee, which was accordingly appointed.