HC Deb 16 March 1830 vol 23 cc383-7
Lord John Russell

presented a Petition from Dursley, complaining of great distress, and asking for relief. Of 4,000 inhabitants, 1,500 were receiving support from the parish. The noble Lord stated his concurrence with what had fallen last night from the hon. Member for Northampton, as to the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He admitted that the reduction of taxation had been judicious; but he would recommend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to revise the whole system of taxation, with a view of adapting duties which had been enormously raised during a depreciated currency, to the present raised value of money. He would likewise take that opportunity of asking the right hon. Gentleman opposite, a question relative to the restrictions on the Malt-trade. He-would ask, what were his intentions, as he proposed to make no alterations in the Malt-duties, with respect to alleviating the burthen of restrictions under which the trade laboured.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

had received, during last year, a number of communications from gentlemen to whom the Maltsters had intrusted their interests. He had consented that those gentlemen should have an interview with the Commissioners of the Excise, with the intention of providing such regulations as, without injuring the Revenue, would give relief to the trade. They had come to an agreement, and a bill had been prepared accordingly, which he had not yet been able to introduce into Parliament, from the pressure of business. He would, however, lose no time in giving effect to those arrangements which, he understood, would be satisfactory to the parties concerned.

Mr. Portman

, as a party to the arrangement, hoped that the Bill would soon be introduced. He had lately seen several Maltsters on the subject, who complained very much of these restrictions, but though he wished the Bill to pass as soon as possible, he hoped that it would be printed and circulated some time before it was passed through that House. He wished that the parties interested in it should have an opportunity of examining it before it became a law.

Mr. Brownlow

took that opportunity of reminding the Chancellor of the Exchequer of petitions he had frequently presented, praying that the duties on Irish and Scotch Malt might be equalized.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

was understood to assent to the suggestion of the hon. Member.

Mr. Slaney

wished that the opportunity might be taken to revise the whole of the laws regulating the Maltster's business.

Mr. Bransby Cooper

said, that he hoped, if these laws were to be altered, that they would be arranged to the satisfaction of all parties. He would take that opportunity of expressing his conviction, that the measures last night proposed by the Chan- cellor of the Exchequer, would afford the country considerable relief.

Mr. Estcourt

, having also a Petition to present from Dursley, took that opportunity of confirming the statement con-corning the distress in that town made by the noble Lord. Besides the 1,500 persons mentioned as receiving relief, 1,000 others were unable to contribute to their support. Of seven factories, three were entirely shut up, and two were only working one day in three. There was another town in the neighbourhood equally distressed; he doubted if there were that prosperity in the woollen manufacture mentioned by the hon. Member for Bramber, and heartily wished it were true of the distressed people of Gloucestershire. It certainly was not the case among the petitioners; for, of a population of 5,000, 3,500 were receiving relief.

Mr. Irving

said, he could not, of course, deny the hon. Member's statements, but he was disposed to think that the cause of distress in Gloucestershire was, that the manufacture of woollen cloth was migrating from thence, and from the west of ling-land, into Yorkshire, principally on account of the cheapness of coal in the latter. In the same manner, the silk manufacture was emigrating from Spitalfields to the country. For this cause of distress he did not think there was any relief; at the same time, he repeated that the manufacture of cloth at Leeds was very brisk, and gave employment to a great many persons.

Mr. Dickenson

knew that the reverse was the case in the west of England, where trade was as bad as possible. He had received, that clay, a letter from a manufacturer, stating, that it was of no use embarking capita! in business, and that he meant to withdraw from the trade as soon as he could.

Mr. Cripps

said, that the information he had received was of the same character; and repeated, that many parishes were in such a state that they could not possibly support their own poor, and must be assisted. He was aware that the manufactures of the country were travelling to the north, and he should be glad to learn that the workmen went with them; and that they could anywhere find employment. Whatever might be said of the improvement of trade elsewhere, he knew that there was no improvement in Gloucestershire. It was impossible that tilings could remain as they were. The number of persons seeking relief was greater than could be relieved.

Mr. Slaney

was prepared to answer the statements of the hon. Member, but he would delay doing so till the proper period.

Mr. Cutlar

Fergusson thought it would be more satisfactory to the I louse if the hon. Member for Bramber also stated that the manufacturers who were doing so much work were making adequate profits, and that the men were obtaining good wages. He knew, from a very correct source, that the wages of the manufacturer in England were not above 4s. 6d. per week. In the west of Scotland, where the distress was not so great as in England, the wages were not above 5s. per week, He wished to take that opportunity of correcting a mistake which had got abroad, as to what he had stated on a former evening. He had never said, as had been supposed, that there was no distress in Scotland. What he stated was, that the distress among the agricultural labourers in Scotland was not equal to that among the same description of persons in England; but he believed that the distress among the landowners and farmers was quite equal to that of the land-owners and fanners of England, if not greater. In neither country were the wages of labour adequate to subsist the labourer, and the demand for his services was only partial and fluctuating.

Mr. W. Whitmore

deprecated such desultory remarks on presenting a petition, when there was a motion on the subject to be brought forward that evening.

General Gascoyne

thought the hon. Member for Bramber's statements were contradicted by the Petitions of the people then lying on the Table of the House. The hon. Member being without constituents, took it on himself to represent an unrepresented place. He had always a letter or two in his pocket from some town which had no representative to contradict his allegations. Whatever that hon. Member might say, he knew that turn which way he would, he heard complaints of distress sufficient to warrant him in saying, that the hon. Member's statements were not correct as a representation of the general state of the country.

Mr. Irving

explained, and reiterated his statements, affirming that his information was as good as that of any other hon. Member.

M. Fynes Clinton

asserted, that there never was a period when the distress of the manufacturers was so great as at present.

The Petition from Dursley, presented by Lord J. Russell, was then brought up and read, and ordered to be printed.

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