HC Deb 08 February 1830 vol 22 cc213-5
Mr. Denison

presented a petition from the Corn Market in London, praying—first, for the repeal of the Malttax;—secondly, that the trade in Beer should be free;—thirdly, that there should be a reduction in the army, navy, and civil list; and fourthly, that the interest on a debt contracted in one currency should not be paid in another. The hon. member for Essex (Mr. Western) had, on the first night of the session, called on members to state the condition in which they had left their constituents; and he, in obedience to that call, had, with sorrow, to declare that the farmers of Surrey were in the most distressing condition; most of them living upon their capital rather than their profits, and many of them worse off than the very labourers. And as to the agricultural labourers, their distress was extreme. He was as much disposed as any one to do full credit to the obligations which the country owed to the duke of Wellington; to him they were all indebted for the repeal of the Test and Corporation acts, and for the emancipation of the Catholics; much, however, still remained to be done, and all the country looked for reduction—not the reduction of a few paltry clerks, but of such offices as the Lord-lieutenancy of Ireland, together with every other useless place and sinecure.

Mr. Brougham

said, though agreeing in the greater part of what had fallen from his hon. friend, yet he could not but deplore one observation which he had made and which certainly must have escaped him in the hurry of speaking. No one felt more strongly than he did the gratitude the country owed to the Duke of Wellington for a great portion of his public services, and more especially for the carrying of the great question of Catholic Emancipation. But with respect to the repeal of the Test and Corporation acts, the credit of that measure was due to his noble friend (lord J. Russell); and he (Mr. Brougham), therefore, could not sit still and suffer it to be said that the country had to thank the noble Duke for that measure. When the measure was brought forward by his noble friend, government opposed it; but after a majority of about forty in favour of it, the right hon. gentleman (Mr. Peel) withdrew his opposition, and certainly furthered the bill through its subsequent stages; and without the support of the Duke of Wellington in the other House, it was possible that the bill might have been there thrown out. These things were not immaterial, for in taking away the credit of carrying a measure, when it had been carried contrary to the fate which usually attended such measures, one motive that tended to induce public men to act was taken away.

Mr. Huskisson

said, he had to complain of the mistake which had been made in attributing to Mr. Canning a determined opposition to the repeal of the Test and Corporation acts: all that his right hon. friend had contended against was, the passing of this measure by itself, to the detriment of the Roman Catholic question, which was the more important one.

Mr. W. Smith

.—In private conversations which he had held with Mr. Canning, that gentleman declared that he would not oppose the repeal of the Test and Corporation acts when the proper opportunity for removing them arrived.

Sir R. Wilson

said, when Mr. Canning was asked whether he would assist in car- rying the repeal of the Test and Corporation acts, he expressed his unwillingness to do so, lest he might thereby injure the interests of the Roman Catholics.

Mr. O'Connell

said, the hon. member for Surrey had proposed the abolishment of the Lord-lieutenancy of Ireland. To this he (Mr. O'Connell) objected. There were seven thousand persons in Dublin living on the charity of three-halfpence a day; and if the duke of Northumberland did not spend his thirty thousand pounds a-year (which he drew from this country) among them, there would be many more in the same condition, or those seven thousand would be still worse off. If the hon. gentleman wanted reduction, let him begin with the lords of the bed-chamber, the lords of the Admiralty, or the lords of the Treasury, and he should have his most cordial assistance.

Mr. Hume

said, if the hon. member for Clare was right in his principle, every sinecurist would have a right to say, "continue my income, and I will spend it for the good of the country." [hear, hear] The only question was, whether the duties of the Lord-lieutenant could not be dispensed with: he considered that they could be, and that the office might be usefully abolished.

Petition ordered to be printed.

Mr. Wodehouse

gave notice of his intention to bring in a bill, on Tuesday the 2nd of March, to alter the act of the 59th of the late king, entitled "An Act to amend the Laws for the Relief of the Poor"—as it regards the rating of the owners of lodging houses, and to extend it to all houses, &c. let under ten pounds a year.

Mr. Wodehouse

also gave notice of his intention, after Easter, to move for a committee to inquire into the duties and regulations respecting sea-borne coals.