HC Deb 22 April 1828 vol 19 cc13-4
Mr. Brougham

said, he rose to present a petition which was deserving of the serious consideration of the House. It was signed by the chairman and secretary of the delegates from the various Friendly Societies in Manchester and its neighbourhood, and prayed that the bill which was in progress might not pass into a law. He entirely concurred in the views of the petitioners. The retrospective clause in it was extremely objectionable. It was to this effect,—that if any society already enrolled should wish to make any alterations in their rules, they must make them under the provisions of this act, and be deemed a society within the meaning of the act. He was morally and legally certain, that if it passed into a law, it would be productive of endless litigation.

Mr. Hobhouse

said, he understood that the retrospective clause in the bill was proposed to be withdrawn; but there were other clauses highly objectionable, and the public opinion was decidedly against the measure. He objected to the clause for referring all calculations to Mr. Finlayson. Many people were by no means satisfied with the correctness of that gentleman's tables. At the suggestion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it had been agreed to withdraw the clause as to the qualification of trustees; but if so much of the bill was given up, it would certainly be policy to give it up entirely. The bill was very obnoxious to the persons who were immediately concerned in it, and the country had a deep interest in giving no check to the disposition of the lower orders to form themselves into benefit societies. The sum already invested in these societies throughout the kingdom amounted to no less than seven millions; and a heavy addition to the poor-rates would be among the earliest evils arising from any dissolution of them.

Mr. Courtenay

had no objection, as far as his personal wishes were concerned, to withdraw the bill; but part of the matter complained of was already law, under the bill of 1819; and unless the present measure were carried forward, there was no course by which the difficulties existing under that bill could be remedied.

Mr. P. Thompson

said, that the publicans were interested in opposing the bill, which easily accounted for the number of petitions presented against it.

Mr. Brougham

said, he did not object to legislation upon the subject, but he objected to this particular measure, because he knew it was obnoxious to the very persons whom it was intended to serve. The bill had a bad name among the lower orders; and he therefore thought that it would be better to withdraw it.

Ordered to lie on the table.