HC Deb 10 March 1818 vol 37 cc930-45
Mr. Lockhart

rose to present a Petition, which he said was signed by 14,000 persons, inhabitants of the metropolis and its vicinity, complaining of the monopoly carried on in the brewing of porter by certain brewers in the metropolis. Some of the petitioners, he observed, were magistrates, and a great number tradesmen of respectability, but all of the petitioners were persons interested in the price of porter. They complained that the present price of porter was entirely too high, and that its quality was extremely bad, and this they attributed to the monopoly of certain brewers, who, notwithstanding the fall which had on one occasion, since the war, taken place in the price of malt and hops, the removal of the heavy war malt duty, and the abolition of the property tax, still kept up the price of their porter, alleging, as a reason, that they had a great stock on hand; but though that stock had long since been consumed, they kept up their high prices, and they were still advancing them. Now, when every article used in the manufacture of porter was, with some few exceptions, cheaper than at any former period, for a considerable time, they not only sold their porter at a dearer rate, but made it of a very inferior quality, so that this necessary article of consumption was no longer a nutritious beverage to the poor man, whose means did not allow him to seek for any other. The petitioners also stated, that the monopoly was caused by the principals of the eleven chief breweries in the metropolis, who met together like the partners of one concern, and fixed the price at which porter should be sold. It was said also, that the circumstance was mentioned in the report of the police committee; but he could not find that that committee had noticed the circumstance. He should, however, say, that if this monopoly existed, it was so dangerous in its nature and effects, so subversive of every fair principle of commercial speculation, that he hoped no man of character, honour, or fortune, in the city, would be found to be engaged in it. It was, if it existed as described, a species of monopoly which interested every member of the community; for there was no man who could be insensible for a moment to the consequences of giving an inferior kind of drink to the lower classes of people, and thereby driving them to the use of those liquors, the effects of which had been found so destructive to the morals of the community. The petitioners stated, and he agreed with them, that the whole of the evils complained of on this subject, arose out of that power which was vested in the magistrates, of saying, without any control, who should, and who should not, have their authority for selling beer. The power they exercised in this way, was not, in his opinion, recognised by any legislative enactments. With many of them, the right to exercise the business of a publican was not granted or withheld from any view to the public good, but from a wish to promote the interest of those who were their particular patrons and friends. Another complaint of the petitioners was, that the power of taking away licences was not regulated by any fixed rules with which those concerned in the trade were acquainted, but seemed to depend entirely upon the caprice or interest of the parties exercising that power. Why any man should, upon slight or trivial grounds, take away the means which another possessed of earning his bread, or why he should be deprived of that which was his only property, perhaps it would be difficult to determine upon any fair legislative principle. But that such abuses existed was proved from the report of the committee on the police of the metropolis. The remedy which the petitioners suggested, though without pointing out any in particular, was, that the trade should be thrown open, and that the power of the magistrates should be removed from the patronage and entire control over it, to the legal one of correcting its abuses. That instead of their own uncontrollable power, as to who was or who was not to exercise the trade, they should be restricted to the application of those legal remedies which were calculated to correct its disorders. This, in his opinion, would have the effect of removing all the principal grounds of complaint, as far as concerned the mode of licensing, and would go, in a great degree, to remedy-all the others; for if the victuallers were left to their own choice, without the terror of a magistrate's power hanging over their heads, they would deal with those brewers who gave them the best beer, and they would thereby destroy that mono-poly which it was now alleged existed. The high price of porter, and its very inferior quality, were another complaint made by the petitioners. It was his duty to recommend the prayer of the petition to the House, and if the allegations mentioned were found to be true, it would be the duty of the House to correct the abuses they stated. He would not say, of his own knowledge, that the monopoly existed as it was described; but if it did so exist, it ought to be put down, as it was against every principle of law and fair commercial policy. This petition, it ought to be observed, was not merely founded upon the authority of the petitioners themselves, it was borne out in some important parts by the report of committees on the police of the metropolis, who had paid most particular attention to the subject, as far as concerned the system of licensing, and the monopoly of victualling-houses by the brewers. This committee was also aided by the evidence of several brewers of considerable eminence. The committee stated, that they had observed the practice which had lately taken place of brewers becoming the proprietors, either by purchase or loan, Or mortgage, of a vast number of victualling-houses, and the proportion of houses so held by them in the metropolis, was nearly half the entire. This they describe as extremely injurious to the community at large. And in another place they observe, that the practice was also growing in the country, and ought to be put down, as most injurious. From this it appeared, that the petitioners were not without foundation in their assertions; for there was in these instances direct evidence of monopoly in several places. He conceived, on the whole, that the petition was one of considerable importance, and required the serious attention of the House.

The Petition was then brought up and read, and was as follows: To the honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in parliament assembled, the humble Petition of the inhabitants of London and its vicinity,

"SHEWETH—1. That your Petitioners are much aggrieved by the high price and inferior quality of the beer which is obtruded upon them in consequence of the supplying of that necessary of life being confined to certain privileged individuals and places.

2. "The high legal authorities have declared all monopolies to be against the ancient and fundamental laws of the realm, and injurious to the public—first, by raising the price of commodities; secondly, by diminishing their quality; thirdly, by impoverishing poor manufacturers.

3. "That the legislature has passed numerous statutes to punish such as are guilty of creating monopolies—particularly monopolies of the necessaries of life; and so early as the 2nd and 3rd of Edward 4th, very heavy penalties were imposed on victuallers who combined together to raise the price of victuals, extending upon a second repetition of the offence to the pillory, to the loss of an ear, and perpetual infamy.

4. "That, notwithstanding the illegality of such conduct and its injury to the Public, a monopoly in the supply of beer as of late years been raised in various parts of England; insomuch that nearly the whole custom of the metropolis is engrossed by eleven great breweries, whose principles act in combination-meeting together like the partners of one concern, and fixing the price at which beer shall be sold.

5. "That when the reduced price of malt and hops, of horses provender and labour, the lessening of the tax on malt, and the subsequent abolition of the property tax, enabled the brewers to make great reductions in their accustomed charges, they did not make such reductions, but kept up their prices, until after their conduct had excited animadversions in the House of Commons, alleging, as a reason for their doing so, that their stock in hand must be first disposed of.

6. "That so soon as the failure of the harvest in 1816 caused the price of malt to look up, and while their stock in hand was wholly unaffected by the rise in the materials, they revived the high prices of beer to the consumer, which prices they have lately still farther advanced.

7. "That beer as now made is so void of the nourishing and invigorating qualities which it formerly possessed, and is oftentimes so ungrateful and even injurious to the stomach, owing to the deleterious ingredients of which it is in some instances composed, that consumers are frequently driven to use a mixture of gin with it, to give it the semblance of strength and spirit, or still more prejudicially to the drinking of gin instead of beer.

8. "That these and numerous other evils are justly attributable to the monopoly which the great brewers have established.

9 "That this monopoly is produced and upheld by the unconstitutional power given to justices of the peace in their respective localities, to prevent any persons from vending beer, excepting such persons and in such houses as they please; a power which being subject to no human Control, and being exercised in many instances by needy or avaricious men, is naturally applied by them in preventing competition in trades in which they or their friends or patrons are interested.

10. "That a desire to prevent an unnecessary number of houses, the reason generally assigned for refusing permission to open houses, built for public-houses where the reasonable wants of the public require them, is evidently insincere; because the same licensers grant licences to public-houses in clusters where the interest of their friends is thereby upheld, although such houses can only be supported by allowing and encouraging bad practices.

11. "That the similar pretence, that competition is prevented in order that the landlords of the favoured houses may flourish, and not be induced through necessity to suffer disorderly conduct on their premises, is equally fallacious; because the owners of the favoured houses, who are generally brewers or spirit-dealers, always require premiums of their tenants, equal to the value of the monopoly to them, or an additional rent, thus Keeping the tenants profits down, however valuable the licence may be to the principal.

12. "That the supposition of correcting the licentiousness encouraged at some public-houses by denying licences for others, is only calculated to benefit the monopoly system: it being evident, in principle, that men will not drink less, or be less disorderly when drawn together in one house than they would be if divided among two or three; and notorious in practice, that some of the houses which command a superior share of custom and profit, are among those which are most injurious to the public health and morals.

13. "That such is the value, however, of the prohibition of competition, that thousands of pounds are frequently given for the consideration of a licence to a house, in other words, for permission to trade, which expense, together with the extra profits secured by the monopoly, fall upon the consumers, and become a grievous burthen to the lower classes of the community.

14. "That it is unreasonable to invest justices of the peace with the right of issuing exclusive powers for trading in victuals, when the issuing of such powers by the sovereign himself is declared to be void in law.

15. "That it is equally unreasonable to authorize the said justices to 'disseize 'men of their liberties and free customs,' at their own will and pleasure, without being accountable to any human being, while the king on his throne is interdicted from 'hurting or injuring' the meanest subject, unless by due course of law; and is answerable for his acts in the persons of his ministers.

16. "That these extraordinary and unconstitutional powers, even in the purest hands, are wholly inefficient for the object -of keeping victualling-houses in good order; because they are only in action on one day in the year, when punishment, as regards the past, is easily got rid of by shifting the tenant, and as regards the future, it is as impossible for the licensers to know that such houses as they patronise will be well conducted, as it is that those which they refuse to license would be disorderly.

17. "That it is therefore equally in vain to expect an effectual control over public-houses, or a termination of the wrongs inflicted on the owners of houses, on victuallers, and on the public at large, under the present licensing system—a system which is proved to be all-impotent for good purposes, and all-powerful for bad ones—erecting a despotic control over the comforts, the property, and the rights of the subject, which is anomalous in the constitutional government of this country, and which is believed to be unknown in any other.

18. "That to produce a remedy, it is necessary for the magistrate's power to be removed from the patronage of the trade of victualling, to the correction of the disorders which sometimes arise out of it—from the exercise of their own uncontrollable wills, to the administration of legislative rules, equally applicable and extending to all, and in which the penalties are proportioned to the offences, and are operative immediately.

19. "That in as far as it is deemed expedient to restrict the number of public-houses, that end will be most fairly and beneficially accomplished by imposing a large duty on the licence to open any new house, thus diverting the value of the restriction from the pockets of the license-jobbers to the uses of the state.

20. "That with a large duty imposed on leave to open a new house, and due means provided for immediately stopping a trade conducted in a disorderly manner, no person would risk the capital necessary to establish a new trade, unless he could do it upon safe grounds, and therefore no good reason can be advanced against restoring to the public the benefit of a free competition, and to victuallers the common rights of their countrymen—namely, the liberty to carry on their trade in such places as they find most eligible (not being locally offensive) and to purchase their goods of such manufacturers as offer to supply them on the best terms.

"Your petitioners humbly submit the above propositions to the wisdom and paternal care of your honourable House, in the hope that your honourable House may restore to the public generally the right of a free trade in beer, and to the victualler in particular the protection of laws, instead of the wills of individuals, subject to such legislative regulations for the trade as shall be deemed conducive to the public welfare.—And your Petitioners will ever pray, &c."

On the motion that the Petition do lie on the table,

Mr. Charles Barclay

observed, that he never rose under stronger feelings than on the present occasion, and he regretted extremely that the hon. and learned gentleman had not delayed bringing forward the petition for at least a short time, that some of his majesty's ministers might be in their places to hear the explanation which he was anxious to give. The question was not only one which interested the people at large, as affecting one of the necessaries of life, but it was also important to the government, as a question of revenue, as the duties upon the beer brewed by the eleven principal porter breweries of London paid an annual duty of nearly 900,000l., nearly one-fiftieth part of the whole revenue of the empire.

He wished first to state to the House in what manner this petition had originated. About three months ago, in consequence of a most extravagant advance in the price of hops, and the continued high price of malt, the brewers were obliged to raise the price of porter one half-penny per quart. Very soon afterwards a string of resolutions appeared in many of the public papers, containing the most violent charges against the brewers, and stating that a magistrate of the county of Middlesex intended shortly to call a public meeting to take them into consideration. This magistrate, a gentleman of the name of Beaumont, afterwards signed a requisition, calling a public meeting, which was afterwards held at the Crown and Anchor-tavern in the Strand. At that meeting, which was not (as he was informed) very numerously attended, Mr. Beaumont came forward, and moved the very same resolutions which had already been advertised. They were, of course, passed without much opposition. In such an assembly, it was not very likely that the brewers, or any person inclined to speak in their behalf, would obtain a fair hearing; more particularly when the chairman himself opened the business of the day with as violent a phillippic as could issue from the lips of man against a class of persons of whose concerns and of whose conduct he was perfectly ignorant. The resolutions were again printed in all the papers, and after some interval of time a petition was framed in the very same words as the resolutions. Copies of the petition were left in various shops in the different parts of the town. Pla- cards were pasted up net only in the metropolis, but in the environs, announcing, in large letters, the necessity of "fair trade, and free trial;" men were employed to carry large hand-bills, upon poles, through the most crowded streets, and some bore copies of the petition itself, with pens and ink ready to induce the passengers to affix their signatures to it. He went himself into one place where the petition was left for signatures; and was informed, that the object of it was to re-duce the price of porter. So far, therefore, from being surprised at the number of signatures, which he understood from the hon. and learned gentleman amounted to 14,000, he was astonished that the number was not considerably greater. Mr. Beaumont afterwards printed the speech which he had delivered. at the meeting, a Copy of which he then held in his hand, and to Which he should beg leave to allude in the course of this discussion.

Before, however, he came to the charges contained in the petition, he begged the House to recollect that it was expressly framed against the eleven principal porter breweries of London, and he should therefore confine his observations simply to the facts as relating to them. He was well aware that in the country the brewers acted upon a principle completely different from those in town. The public-houses almost exclusively in the country, were in the hands of brewers, a practice which he had before stated in this House, as in his opinion most injurious to themselves and the public. The petition now upon the table assumed this proposition: That in consequence of the present system of licensing, eleven porter brewers had obtained a monopoly of the whole trade of London; that they had combined together, and made enormous profits by selling an inferior article at an extravagant, price, and that in some instances they had adulterated their beer by the mixture of noxious ingredients. First, with respect to the charge of monopoly. Fortunately for him, this subject had attracted the attention of the Committee upon the Police of the Metropolis, which sat last year; and the brewers very readily came forward to give the committee all the information upon the subject which they were desirous of obtaining. The leading partners of three breweries, which brewed * See Vol.33, p. 1022. more than half the beer consumed in the metropolis, gave the following statements. The first, with which he was connected, that only one-eighth part of the houses in their trade belonged to them. The proportion of those in the same situation with Whitbread & Co., one-seventh. With Hanbury & Co., one seventh. Thus, out of perhaps 2,000 public-houses supplied by these three breweries, not 300 were the property of the brewers. He knew that it might be asserted, that there was a connexion between many of those which he considered as free houses and the brewers, by means of loans secured by mortgages upon the leases of their houses. But the House would observe this marked distinction between the two cases. Where a public-house was purchased by a brewer, the trade was secured to him during the term of his lease, but the publicans, who only borrowed a sum of money upon their lease, were at all times at liberty to purchase their beer wherever they pleased, as from the general custom of the trade in London, if they wished to go to another brewer, the money so borrowed would be paid for them. That frequent changes of this nature continually happened he well knew, and as an instance of it he need only state, that in the course of the last two years, the number of public-houses which had come to his house from other breweries, added to those which had left him, were equal to one-third of his whole trade. This system of lending moderate sums was productive of very great advantage to many industrious tradesmen, or persons just beginning in life, without any real injury to the public, as he could assure the House that one-twelfth part of a half-penny, or the 144th part of the price of a quart of beer, would pay him interest for money thus lent beyond his most sanguine expectations. The price, therefore, could not be lowered, if this system was abolished, and the improvement in the quality so small as to be perfectly imperceptible; for he was convinced that the most accurate judge could not distinguish whether the strength of porter was increased 1-144th part or not.

He would now revert to the subject of prices, and he should be able also upon this point to refer to the report of the Police Committee. It appeared by the evidence then given, that forty or fifty years back, and until the year 1799, porter had been sold for 3½d. per quart. Since that, government had added duties upon malt, hops, and beer, equal to ½.d, and the brewers had advanced 2d., being about 60 per cent. By the evidence given by his hon. colleague (Mr. Calvert) it appears, that the price of barley and hops had in that time increased 200 per cent, and the different charges for wages, horses, coals, repairs, &,c. from 100 per cent to 200 per cent. In his own evidence there is an account of the average prices of malt and hops, taken from the books of the House for 48 years. It appears that the price of malt and hops from

Average of Malt. Of Hops.
1769 to 1779 31s. 6d. per qr. 4l. 9s. 8d. per cwt.
1779 to 1789 33s. 9d. per qr. 4l. 4s. 3d. per cwt.
1789 to 1799 41s. 8d. per qr. 5l. 4s. 2d. per cwt.

During the above period the duty on beer was only 5s. 7½d., per barrel and the price 30.?. per barrel, or 3½d. per pot.

Average of Malt. Of Hops.
1799 to 1809 69s. 3d. per qr. 6l. 16s. 7d. per cwt.
1809 to 1817 8ls. 1d. per qr. 6l 1s. 7d. per cwt.
of 1817 86s. 0d. per qr. 151. 0s. 0d. per cwt.
and the present price is 84s 0d. per qr. 28l. 0s. 0d. per cwt.

During the above period, the duty on beer was 10s. per barrel, and the price from 35s. to 55s., at which last price it now stands.

Now, from these statements the House must be convinced, that there is not the least foundation for that part of the petition complaining of excessive prices, and if Mr. Beaumont had fairly quoted the facts, he could not have persuaded the meeting to have agreed to his resolutions. He would just refer to the copy of Mr. Beaumont's speech to show the House the nature of his misrepresentations. He states, that in July 1803 the brewers raised the price of beer although no alteration had taken place in the price of malt. He ought to have known that the advance of price was owing to the war duty upon malt having been laid at that time at 16s. per quarter, and taken upon the stock in the possession of the brewers. Mr. Beaumont afterwards professes himself at a loss to account why the brewers reduced the price in July, 1816, when the price of malt and hops was dearer than the preceding year. The answer is as obvious as the former; the war malt duty was then taken off, and consequently, there was an immediate reduction in the price of beer. In another part of his statement, in order to make his charges more plausible, hops are quoted at 25l., when the price was from 12l. to 14l., and again at 13l. 13s. when they were only 9l. Togo back no farther than in the last year his (Mr. C. Barclay's) evidence before the police committee, when it was manifestly his interest to have quoted the highest price of malt, if indeed he could have been guilty of making a misstatement to serve any temporary purpose; he states the price at 86s. Mr. Beaumont in his speech states it at 105. Such were some of the grounds upon which Mr. Beaumont had moved a vote of censure upon the brewers! But Mr. Beaumont had also accused them of raising the price of porter, when their stock in hand could not have been affected by the advance which had taken place in the price of malt and hops. He would assert without fear of contradiction, that the public had participated in the benefits afforded by the stock in hand. They must have paid, during the whole of the last year, a higher price, had not the brewers held large stocks of malt and hops bought in the preceding year. This would be easily understood when he stated the price paid for malt in 1816: 64s. per quarter, including the war duty of 16s. per quarter, and the price paid last year, was 86s. without the war duty. But he must observe, that the stock in hand ought not fairly to be taken into account in the question about prices. Those brewers only, who had a large extra capital, could afford to purchase stocks for the ensuing year; and, it would be most unjust to the smaller capitalists, to require them to sell at a price which would be productive of serious loss, when compared with the existing prices of malt and hops. He wished also to draw the attention of the House to another circumstance, that the price of malt was not the only criterion. The quality was a most material consideration; and hon. members must know from their own experience, that the malt of the present and preceding years was very inferior to that of 1816.

He was aware that, in answer to these statements, he might be told, that one of the eleven porter breweries of London had advertised, that in deference to the opinion of the public, expressed at the general meeting at the Crown and Anchor Tavern, they had reduced their prices ½per quart, and thus appeared to admit that the former price was excessive. He would request the attention of the House to this point, for a stronger argument could hardly be used in favour of the breweries. This brewery (the Golden Lane) was established by the public about the year 1803. A capital of 355,000l. was raised by shares of 50l. and 80l. each. In a concern of this nature, it might be readily supposed, that the proprietors, acting, as they believed, upon patriotic motives, would be amply satisfied if they received the common interest of 5 per cent; an interest which he was sure the House would not consider as a fair remuneration for persons embarking their property in a trade upon which their maintenance and future fortunes were to depend. The Golden Lane brewery, therefore might perhaps be able to undersell the other brewers. But what would the House think of their conduct when he stated, that no interest whatever had been paid to the proprietors for many years. That, in addition, they had so reduced their capital, that by the market price of the shares, the loss might be estimated at little less than 250,000l. For such a brewery, therefore, to reduce the price of beer was a deception upon the public. But the public was not to be so deceived; They knew that there was no other means of enabling this House to undersell the rest of the trade, than by selling beer of an inferior quality; and, he (Mr. C. Barclay) had no hesitation in saying, that he believed this to be the case. He knew that some of the publicans also were in the habit of selling their beer 1d. under the market price; but when they did so he believed that they mixed either water or table beer with the porter; and so strong was this conviction in the minds of those with whom he was connected, that they often refused to supply those publicans who acted in this manner. He dented that there was any combination amongst the brewers, to make unfair charges upon the public; and from his own knowledge he could assert, that upon various occasions, the principal breweries had been the means of preventing any rise in the price of beer, and of lowering it at an earlier period than could be well afforded by the smaller houses. A strong proof of this may be drawn from the list of the brewers of London and the quantity brewed by each for the last nine years in the police report, by which it appeared, that during that time six of the smaller breweries had been obliged to join the larger houses in order to save their capital.

He would next advert to the charge, that deleterious ingredients were mixed? with the beer. He believed that the charge, as affecting the eleven breweries named in the petition, was perfectly groundless. He could answer personally for one house; and he thought he might venture to do so for the others. There were certainly convictions which had taken place against some of the very small breweries both in the country and in the metropolis, but he would ask the House, whether it were probable, that in the large houses, where such drugs, if used, must be brought in large quantities, probably in cart loads: when the penalties for using them were from one to five hundred pounds, when the still greater penalty of ruin by the loss of trade, if such a conviction were to take place, would be incurred; when concealment was next to impossible amongst the numerous persons employed and who were continually changing, and in a place visited at all hours both of the day and the night by different excise officers—He would repeat the question, was it probable that any tradesman would dare to encounter such a risk if his own honesty and principles were not sufficient to prevent him? He could speak from experience of the effect that such conduct would produce. A scandalous and false report had been circulated through the town, within the last few weeks, that in the house with which he was connected a seizure had been made by the officers of the excise of various prohibited drugs. The alarm that such a report created was so great, that many of the publicans who were supplied from his house, could not sell a barrel of porter, and inevitable ruin must have been the consequence, had he not been able most fully to contradict it by a public advertisement.

He now trusted, therefore, that he had convinced the House, that the charges contained in the petition of the monopoly of the eleven principal porter brewers of London were unfounded, that so far likewise from having made unfair advances in the price of porter, they had often been the means of keeping it down, and that it was next to impossible that they should be in the habit of mixing deleterious ingredients in their porter. The petitioners asked for free trade and fair trial. There was no person in the House could be more anxious for it than himself. The House would perceive, from what he had already stated, that it must be his interest to support this part of the petition. But he believed that in a great degree it already existed in London, and that by no alteration in the system of licensing could porter be sold either cheaper or better in quality. But the petitioners for the pur- pose of obtaining a free trade, asked the House to pass a law by which any person might open a public house in any situation he might choose, paying a heavy duty for his licence. Before the House entered seriously into the discussion of this proposition, he requested them most earnestly to recollect the great mass of property it would affect. He did not here speak of his own interest or that of the brewers. The measure would, in his opinion, he rather beneficial to many of them than otherwise. But there was a class, and he was happy to believe a very numerous class, of persons, who would be seriously affected by such a proceeding. He meant the free publicans residing in houses of their own, free in every respect whether they had borrowed money of the brewers or not. These persons had paid large premiums for their houses, considering that by the existing laws, they had purchased fairly and legally a property which could only be wrested from them by their own misconduct. He estimated that the value of the property thus held by publicans supplied by his house was not less than 500,000l., and he therefore on their account and for their interest called upon the House to protect a property which had been fairly procured and could not by any argument be proved to be injurious to the public interest. He was sorry to have trespassed thus long upon the patience of the House, he thanked them for the kind indulgence with which they had listened to him. He had been very anxious to give every explanation in his power, and at the same time to correct the misstatements contained in the petition which, from the manner it had been framed and the extraordinary system which had been adopted for procuring signatures, he could not consider as the genuine sentiments of the 14,000 persons who had signed it, but of Mr. Barber Beaumont—of whom as he knew nothing he should say nothing.

Mr. Dickinson

observed, that as this matter came so very unexpectedly before the House, and as there was a great deal of private business, which it would be very inconvenient to delay, he hoped the necessity of adjourning the debate till tomorrow would be felt. With that view he should move that the debate be adjourned till to-morrow.

Mr. W. Smith

said, he differed toto ccelo from the hon. and learned gentleman who presented the petition, in the view he had taken of the question. He agreed in the propriety of adjourning the debate, but thought the matter could only be settled in a committee, where he anticipated the allegations of the petitioners would be found to be false.

Mr. C. Calvert

said, he would not press the subject upon the House, as it seemed to be the general wish that the discussion should he adjourned; but he could not avoid observing, that he had never heard such a tissue of false imputations against any body of men, as that which was contained in the petition. He, for one, concerned, was most anxious that a committee should be appointed to ascertain the truth, if any there was in the allegations.

The debate on the motion, That the Petition do lie upon the table, was then adjourned till to-morrow.