HC Deb 09 February 1827 vol 16 cc412-3
Mr. Hume

said, he rose to present a petition, which was certainly couched in very strong language; but the letter by which it was accompanied expressed a hope, that the House would not cavil at strong language, when it came from men who were in a starving condition. The petitioners described themselves as "The (Starving Weavers of Blackburn and its neighbourhood;" and the petition set forth;

"That the starving petitioners, with the rectitude of injured men, presume to approach the House in order to lay before the House a statement of their complaints and wishes, to the end that the House may grant them that relief which their unmerited sufferings require: the petitioners, for many years, have suffered more than language can express, but within the last two years they have not had half food, of the worst kind, for their support, consequently hundreds of weavers, their wives and children, have died from absolute want of food: the petitioners, being able-bodied men, cannot earn more than 5s. per week each, and, with two workers in each family, averaging six souls, 10s. weekly is the whole for food, clothing, fuel and rent; and this scanty pittance the petitioners are necessitated to live upon: that the petitioners, with all due deference to the House, would respectfully ask, is the sum above stated sufficient for the moderate wants of a man? If it is not, then are they perishing for want of food. The petitioners humbly conceive, that they cannot bear affection to the House while that House manifests no disposition to relieve them: the petitioners are human beings, and worship the same God, wherefore then should they be so oppressed in their native land? Why should they, who labour sixteen hours per day, not obtain for that labour food and clothing for comfortable existence; there is a point when endurance becomes a crime, and to that point the petitioners have arrived: the petitioners cannot do much longer; they are dying daily for want of food, and to be silent under such circumstances would be highly criminal: that the petitioners have calmly and considerately examined into the causes which have produced such calamities to the working classes of this county, and are convinced that all have originated from the people not being represented in the House; that the national debt, the enormous church revenues, all the unmerited placemen, pensioners, sinecures, a standing army to murder the people if they complain, all the bloody wars that the nation has been plunged into, are all owing to a want of a reform in the House; the Corn Bill, that monstrous monopoly of the landed interest, and which bill was passed while the House was surrounded with soldiers, all may be traced to the people not being represented in the House: believing, therefore, that a reformed parliament, chosen by ballot, and by the whole of the population, would grant unto the people relief, the petitioners, as the forlorn hope, humbly hope, that the House will begin the god-like work by repealing the Corn Bill."

Ordered to lie on the table and to be printed.