HC Deb 12 August 1831 vol 5 cc1260-1
Lord Morpeth

presented Petitions from the Churchwardens and Overseers of the poor of Leeds and Halifax, against the Settlement by Hiring and Service Bill. He wished to know from the hon. Gentleman who had introduced the Bill, whether it was his intention to press it during the present Session?

Mr. John Weyland

said, the object of the Bill was, to promote a free circulation of labour in the agricultural parts of the country, and that the measure would not affect the manufacturing interests, and he did not understand what reason they had to petition against a measure which was not to affect them. He was extremely reluctant to relinquish the Bill, but if he found no chance of making any progress in it in a few weeks, he should withdraw it, with the intention of bringing it forward at another opportunity.

Mr. Estcourt

hoped the hon. Member would persevere with the Bill, and not think of abandoning it, because certain manufacturers, in a particular part of the country, thought proper to oppose it. Those persons who were acquainted with the situation of agricultural labourers, well knew the evils they endured were much increased by the present laws of settlement. The object of the Bill was, to give the labourer a free market for his only commodity, labour, and the House might find time to discuss a measure of so much importance.

Mr. John Weyland

intended to persevere with the Bill, if the business of the House would permit his doing so: if the hon. Member could obtain him an opportunity for forwarding his measure, he should be happy to avail himself of it. He hoped that some day might be set apart for the consideration of the important subjects connected with the existing state of the agricultural labourers.

Mr. Sadler

knew the petitioners were men well acquainted with the interests of the country, and he thought their objections to the Bill worthy of the consideration of the House.

Mr. Heywood

recommended the hon. Member to postpone his Bill, until an opportunity could be had, to obtain for it that full consideration which its importance deserved.

Lord Morpeth

felt it necessary to move that these petitions be printed, in order that the House might have an opportunity fully to appreciate the arguments of the petitioners, as the hon. Gentleman was not disposed to withdraw his Bill. The petitioners did not so much object to its general principle, as to that clause which confined the operation of the measure to towns the population of which did not exceed 1,000 persons.

The petitions to be printed.