HC Deb 18 March 1833 vol 16 cc729-30
Mr. Marshall

presented a petition from Leeds, signed by 18,800 persons, praying for the Abolition of Slavery. He considered the present petition was a proof that the interest that had been taken by the people of Yorkshire in the abolition of slavery had not in the least diminished.

Lord Morpeth

, in rising to support the prayer of the petition, observed, that it might be considered obtrusive on the part of Members for counties to come forward to support the prayer of a petition from boroughs in that county; but he considered that if, at any time, the Member for a county was justified in coming forward for this purpose, it was on the presentation of a petition from the most important town in the West Riding of Yorkshire—a community that had been more prominent in their opposition to negro slavery than any other part of the British empire.

Mr. Cobbett

said, that how far members for counties might be justified in supporting the prayer of petitions coming from the boroughs in the county they represented was, in his opinion, a question that had much better not be discussed, for every Member had a right do on that point as he liked. With respect to the matter of the petition, his constituents wished as much as any set of men could do that negro slavery should be abolished, but they had expressed their desire, and he thought it was reasonable before that abolition took place, to know whether the Negroes were fed worse or clothed worse than his constituents were. His (Mr. Cobbett's) opinion was, and he knew something of the matter, that they were both fed and clothed a great deal better than the working people in England, Ireland, and Scotland. He should like that some Member, when the Bill should be brought before the House, should submit some statement which would show the comparative modes of treatment in the two cases. He was aware of the zeal of many Members, and that some bad cases had been produced merely to suit their particular views. He was confident that many Members had been much misled on the subject. For his own part, he had told his constituents that he would vote for the Bill, merely to please them; but if the House went into an examination of the mode of treating negroes in the West Indies, and the mode of treating the poor people of England, Ireland, and Scotland, he was sure that it would be found that the letter were by far the worse off.

Mr. Andrew Johnstone

said, he was in the Committee appointed last year, and he was of an entirely different opinion from the hon. Member.

Petition laid on the Table.