HC Deb 23 March 1830 vol 23 cc785-7
Mr. Denison

presented a Petition from the freeholders, inhabitants of the County of Surrey, agreed to at a public meeting regularly convened and most respectably attended. The Petition was moved by one of a class of persons which, he was afraid, was rapidly diminishing—he meant the class of English country Gentlemen. It complained of extreme distress, arising from excessive taxation, of which it prayed for a great reduction, declaring that what had been already done was not sufficient —for great retrenchment in all public departments, and for a Parliamentary Reform. The hon. Member entered into a view of the causes of our present distress, ascribing it to the vast sums we had expended during the late war; subsidizing all the powers of Europe, from Naples to Russia, and to the Bank Restriction Act of 1797. We were now paying the price of those proceedings. They had led to the inundation of the country with paper money; and, subsequently, to the revulsion of 1819. He did not join with some of his friends near him, in wishing to have the currency again depreciated, though he thought that was a subject which wanted further investigation. When he considered too, the great liabilities of the Bank of England, he was rather fearful of what might be the consequences should any convulsion, of which there were not wanting signs, occur on the Continent, He hoped, therefore, that the Government would take the subject of the Currency into its serious consideration during the recess, for the sooner it was discussed, with a view to having it placed on the same footing in the three kingdoms, the better. He thanked the Ministers for their late reduction of taxes, but thought they ought to go further, and much diminish the public burthens. Perhaps, too, a banking system somewhat similar to that of Scotland might be advantageously adopted, with some little alteration, to adapt it to this country. If that were done, and the weight lightened which lay on the springs of our productive industry—with a great reduction of taxation, particularly if the tax on Soap and on Candles, and on Malt, were repealed— with a reduction, too, of salaries, and the diminution of our colonial expenses, he thought the energies of the country would yet bear it through all its difficulties; and that the people might again be prosperous and happy.

Mr. C. N. Pallmer

begged to add his strongest testimony to the respectability and unanimity of the meeting which had passed the Petition just presented. The House would observe, that this petition was the first which had been presented since the Chancellor of the Exchequer had made his exposition of the financial intentions of the Government. It would appear that the reductions proposed were considered as by no means sufficient to meet the exigencies of the country. He, for one, was far indeed from undervaluing those reductions. He appreciated highly the principle upon which they had been made,—namely, the relief of the labouring population. It was a great been that the poor man's beer should be made cheap, and especially that it should be unaccompanied by licence regulations, which would bring it to his domestic circle; but it must not be forgotten, that to enable him to enjoy his untaxed beer in his own house, the legislature must untax the fuel which he requires to warm his cottage, and the candle which serves to light it. He hoped that the result of that evening's debate would further the great objects of relieving the public distress; that it may be placed in the power of a committee to call for reductions, and to sanction his Majesty's Ministers in the severity of any retrenchments, and the boldness of any reductions, which may be required of them; above all things, that it may urge upon them the practicability of equalizing those burthens which they may not be able to remove, and by a fair and equal tax upon property, to make all classes contribute to the public exigencies, especially those who were seeking untaxed comforts in foreign lands.

Mr. C. Pallmer

then presented a Petition from the workmen at Barn Elms, complaining of the pressure of the existing distress. That was the residence of a great politician, and great political economist; and the petitioners had entered into some details which were not unworthy of the notice of the House. They complained of the plans to give them relief by emigration, stating, that of the 11,000 parishes in England and Wales, 1,004 did not possess each 100 inhabitants. It was not, therefore the excess of population, but of taxes, which caused their distress. They stated, that the money paid for the relief of the poor did not amount to 6,000,000l. sterling, per year, while the taxes levied by the Government amounted to nearly 60,000,000l. They complained, too, of nearly 7,000,000l. being annually allotted to churchmen and others, each of whom received as much as 200 labourers. In conclusion, they entreated that the grievances of the people might be inquired into and the taxes reduced.

Petition laid on the Table.