HC Deb 24 May 1819 vol 40 cc671-2
Mr. Curwen

rose and said:—Mr. Speaker—The duty I am called on to discharge is one of the most painful I had ever imposed on me in the many and eventful years during which I have sat in parliament. I intreat the attention of the noble lord and the House to the statement I have to make on the part of the Cotton Weavers of the city of Carlisle. The petition is signed by upwards of 1,200 persons. It discloses a state of Suffering which cannot fail of commanding the pity and commiseration of all within and without the walls. They represent, that on working from 14 to 17 hours a clay, and that for six days in the week, their earnings do not amount to more than from five to seven shillings, and that many of them can obtain no work whatever. They state their families to be destitute of necessary food and cloathing, and a prey to misery and disease. Afflicting as is the present moment, the future presents no rational hope of amendment. They blame not their employers,—the depreciated state of the Cotton manufacture is the true cause of their sufferings. These industrious, honest, and unfortunate individuals, from their long, patient, and calamitous endurance, are so bent to the earth, so spirit-broken, as to be compelled to petition this House, as a boon, that which bespeaks the extinction of one of the most powerful feelings of the human heart. In despair of obtaining bread at home, they ask you to expatriate them—to convey them to your colonies. In ceasing to be inhabitants of Britain, it will yet be some consolation to promote the interests of the country that gave them birth,—grievous as it must be to sacrifice all ties of kindred and affection, rather than continue to exist on bounty, exhausting the sources of benevolence to preserve a miserable existence.—Such is the heart-rending representation that it is my duty to make, and deeply do I lament to have to bear testimony to its accuracy. What a contrast does this present to the exposition of the noble lord! Where are now his dreams of prosperity? Is this his boasted flourishing state of the nation? In what estimation are all the glories of the war to be held, when purchased at the expense of such extended anguish and misery?—It has unhappily fallen to my lot to be the first to supplicate the House to devise means for expatriating large bodies of the people. Painful and grating as this application must prove to the House, I fear, ere long, it will become but too familiar. The House cannot, I am satisfied, separate without taking into their serious consideration the present situation of the manufacturing population. I move you, Sir, that the petition be brought up and read.

The petition was ordered to lie on the table.