HC Deb 13 December 1830 vol 1 cc1044-6
Sir R. Peel

said, he had three Petitions to present on a subject of very considerable importance. The first was from Walsall, the second from the manufacturing districts of Gloucestershire, and the third, which was signed by 14,000 persons, from Bolton; and the petitioners prayed the House to take the necessary steps for putting a stop to the practice which prevailed in those districts, and which was rapidly extending, of paying wages in goods instead of money. They objected to the system on three grounds—first, because it gave an advantage to the manufacturer who paid in goods over him who paid in money; secondly, because it injured the retail dealer; and thirdly, because it tended to degrade the working classes. If the Legislature suffered the system to continue, it could not refuse to allow the workman who received his wages in goods to pay rates and taxes in the same materials. The practice was also very disadvantageous to the poor man, as it precluded him from the power of saving any thing whatever. In the justice of the allegations of the petitions he perfectly concurred; and he certainly should support the measure which would shortly be introduced to the House to eradicate this evil.

Mr. Cresset Pelham

believed, that much of the distress of the manufacturing districts arose from this system, and he should certainly support the motion of the hon. member for Staffordshire.

Sir Horace St. Paul

said, that as a friend to the people, he also would support the measure of the hon. member for Staffordshire, for prohibiting the truck system, to which, he was convinced, much of the distress of the working classes was to be attributed.

Mr. Hume

was glad to find that the hon. Member had become the friend of the people. It was an extraordinary circumstance, for he believed that the hon. Member had never given one vote to relieve the public from taxation, to which the distress of the country was mainly to be attributed. On the contrary, he had for twelve long years voted for every sort of extravagant expense which was proposed in that House. He denied that the truck-system had such a mischievous tendency as had been ascribed to it; and he was perfectly sure, that if the bill alluded to passed into a law, it would dry up one source of employment, and would add to the distress, instead of decreasing it. There could be no stronger proof that the truck-system did not cause the distress, than the fact, that distress and even disturbance existed to an alarming degree where the truck-system was not known; as for example, in Kent, Sussex and Essex. He was determined at all hazards to oppose the bill of the hon. Member as directly contrary to all the principles of free-trade, though he should not have made any observations at that time if the remarks of the right hon. Baronet had not tended to prejudge the question.

Sir Horace St. Paul

complained of the personalities of the hon. member for Middlesex. He could tell him that his parliamentary conduct had been as conscientious and as upright as that of the hon. Member. The course which he pursued was, he believed, as useful to the people, and tended as much to improve their comforts, as that of the hon. Member.

Lord Belgrave

hoped, that the master manufacturers would themselves adopt a liberal system for the benefit of the people.

Mr. Alderman Waithman

expressed his concurrence in the sentiments of the right hon. Baronet; but he would not then enter into the subject, as it would be fully discussed to-morrow. If the Bill were inconsistent with the principles of free-trade, that was in his eyes a great recommendation, for free-trade was very injurious.

Mr. Littleton

felt obliged to his right hon. friend for the observations he had made. His opinion would have great weight, because he was sure that he had not formed it rashly. He would not enter into the subject then, as it. would be fully discussed to-morrow. The measure which he intended to introduce differed materially from that which he brought forward last year.

Mr. Tennant

stated, that he was opposed to this injurious system of truck, but he was afraid that the hon. member for Stafford shire, in making a law to abolish it, would prevent the workman from the opportunity of making; the best bargain for himself that he could. He earnestly hoped, however, that some remedy for the evil might be found.

Petitions to be printed.