HC Deb 20 June 1833 vol 18 cc1024-6
Mr. Cobbett

, after presenting a variety of other petitions stated, that he had also to present a petition which he was sure the House would pay great attention to, and he was sure that there was not one man in the kingdom who did not remember the name of Major Cartwright with blushes. Major Cartwright had left behind a name which a great number of persons were resolved should be always held in respect, and the petition was from the Cartwright Club. It was signed by twenty persons, and prayed for Universal Suffrage and Annual Parliaments. They had found the Reform Act did them no good, and they now wanted it to be carried further. They began by telling the House that it had no sympathy with the people. There could be no doubt that it was so—there existed no sympathy between the middle classes and the higher; and the nobility of this country made a grievous mistake when they neglected to take care of the interests of the working classes upon the occasion of the passing of the Reform Bill. Those who were the nearest to the nobility in rank naturally envied them, and the man who had money looked upon the ancient parks and castles, and listened to the sounding titles of the nobility with a feeling which alienated each class from the other. The man of money naturally said to himself, why should not I be a Lord? Not so the poor man; he was the ally of the Peer, and the interests of the higher orders would be safer in the hands of the lower than in those of the middle. Again, if they asked the working people, who were alone capable of defending the country from riots at home, or from the chances of war abroad—if they asked those people to stand forward in defence of the country, they would, of course, ask what country, and in defence of what? We have no property—we have nothing but the labour that lies in our carcases—we have nothing to defend. But give them their rights, and their language would instantly change. If he were a Lord, he would have a very different constituency from that under the Reform Bill. There would be no difficulty in taking votes with universal suffrage, and all who were called upon to defend the country, or were liable, ought to have the elective franchise. On the subject of Annual Parliaments, he could see no objection whatever either as regarded the electors or the elected. With Annual Parliaments, there would be no necessity for these now daily meetings, because to petition would be unnecessary when the Members could receive the vivâ voce directions of their constituents. There would be no petitions then, except on some very extraordinary matter. He thought if the King was to dissolve the present Parliament, and tell the people he should continue to do so annually, his Majesty would become the most popular of men.

Sir Harry Verney

expressed the opinion that the constant complaints, as now represented, respecting the distresses of the people were of the most injurious tendency; they were calculated to make all classes politicians. When persons were combining, and were travelling through the country destroying property, he could not forget that the hon. member for Oldham had pointed out where the torch ought to be really applied. He declared that there was no country in which justice was so equally distributed between the rich and the poor as in this country, and he hoped that the lower classes would not be unduly influenced by the hon. member for Oldham.

Mr. Philip Howard

would not follow the hon. Member at any length, and still less allude, as the last speaker had done, to the writings of that hon. Member; but he must say, that Annual Parliaments would represent the passions rather than the opinions of the people; under such a system canvassing would never cease, and enmities never subside; the ceaseless confusion ensuing therefrom would dry up the sources of labour, check industry, and consequently prove to be highly injurious to the welfare and interests of the working classes. Those who expatiated on the merits of the government of the United States should recollect, that in that country a portion of the population were actually in a state of bondage, and groaning under the yoke of slavery, whilst in England the peasant as well as the prince enjoyed the benefit of equal law.

Petition to lie on the Table.