HC Deb 19 February 1833 vol 15 cc950-1
Mr. Plumptre

presented a Petition from Broadstairs, praying for an Act to compel the better observance of the Lord's Day.

Mr. Cobbett

said, that a number of petitions had been presented on this subject, but he had not heard the prayers of any of them read.

The Clerk read the prayer of the Petition at length, complaining of the profanation of the Sabbath which at present prevailed.

Mr. Cobbett

did not see anything in the prayer of the petition which the law had not already provided for. Perhaps the petitioners did not know that there was a law in existence which inflicted penalties on persons who carried on their ordinary calling on the Lord's Day. As to preventing profanation, he was sure that no law could be passed which would better effect the purpose than the laws now in being; and he was also sure that any further law on the subject would be productive of more mischief than good.

Mr. Gillon

thanked the hon. member for Oldham for having called the attention of the House to the subject, and expressed his concurrence in the statements made by the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Warburton

could not agree with the Report of the Committee of last Session on the subject. If that Report had merely declared that the labouring classes should not be called upon to work on the Sabbath, it would have met with his concurrence; but when it appeared that the object of the Committee was not only to put an end to all amusement, but to all that exercise so necessary to the smoke-dried population of large towns, he felt quite unable to concur in such an object. He thought that the Committee ought to be re-appointed, for the last Committee had taken evidence only on one side. Now evidence ought to be taken on both sides of the question; and he thought it would then appear that many of the statements made before the Committee of last year were wholly without foundation.

Mr. Hume

recommended hon. Members to read the evidence of the Bishop of London upon the subject, which entirely concurred with the views he had taken, and did not sanction the measure about to be brought forward.

Colonel Torrens

was convinced of the impolicy of any measure which tended to destroy the necessary recreation of the labouring population.

Mr. O' Connell

felt satisfied, that they could not increase piety by Act of Parliament; nor could they enforce the love of God by legislative enactments. There were statutes at present in existence which inflicted punishments on those who carried on their calling on a Sunday. The morning of a Sunday, by a man of religious feelings, might be devoted to his religious duties, but the afternoon of that day was required by the labouring classes for relaxation. The course that had hitherto been pursued, tended very much to drive men into public houses.

Mr. Wilks

recommended the re-appointment of the Committee.

Lord Ashley

said, the deliberations of the Committee had been conducted with no view of abridging the recreations of the people. Their sole object had been to protect the conscientious observer of the Lord's Day.

Petition laid on the Table.