HC Deb 26 February 1827 vol 16 cc650-1
Mr. Hume

said, he held in his hand a petition, which had been agreed to at a numerous meeting of the inhabitants of Manchester. The petitioners stated, that they had endured great privations and distresses, from the fall in the rate of wages, and that they had endured them with patience and forbearance; but they could not behold with indifference such a disregard of the condition of the suffering working classes as was manifested in the proposal to give the duke of Clarence an addition of 9,000l. a-year to his income. The petitioners begged to suggest, that if it was absolutely necessary that the duke should have a larger income than the junior branches of the royal family, in consequence of his proximity to the throne, the best method of creating the necessary increase would be, in the present state of the country, to reduce the incomes of those junior branches, and leave his royal highness in possession of the income he enjoyed now. The petitioners also stated, that they had no prospect of any increase of wages, or of the means of existence, from the increase of commerce. Their only hope was founded upon a reduction of taxation; and they implored the House, by checking the disposition to improvident grants of all kinds, to endeavour to carry that object into effect.

Mr. John Wood

said, he was perfectly satisfied, that, if greater time had been allowed, the table would have been crowded with petitions from all parts of the kingdom against the grant. He implored the House to recollect, that, although the people, thus placed in the extremity of distress, were quiet, they were not indifferent to a vote which seemed to be a mockery of their situation. They were not so absurd as to suppose that any relief could be given them by abstaining from that grant. They did not suppose that their sufferings could be aggravated by the giving away of a sum of 9,000l.; but they did think, that in the situation in which they and the country were placed, a vote to that amount was a mockery of their sufferings, which might well have been spared. At a time when an equitable adjustment was mentioned in that House, and when the country was about, as it were, to take the benefit of the Insolvent act, he thought the proposal of any additional income to the royal family exceedingly impolitie. It was, indeed, as if a debtor on the eve of a bankruptcy was to give a splendid entertainment, and to say to those who might remonstrate upon the impropriety of such extravagance, "Oh, my debts and embarrassments are so great, that the sum I am now spending cannot make a difference of one farthing in the pound to my creditors." The grant now proposed might not aggravate the sufferings of the people; but, in the eyes of the working classes, it possessed an appearance of insult and heartless indifference, which ought to be avoided.

Ordered to lie on the table.