HC Deb 24 May 1833 vol 18 cc65-7
Mr. Thomas Attwood

presented a Petition from the Birmingham Political Associations. Those petitioners related the injuries which had been inflicted upon that unhappy country, Poland, and deprecated the apathy of this country, while the struggles were going on. The petitioners pointed out the benefits which would result from a reinstatement of the kingdom of Poland to this country, particularly in an extension of their trade in British manufactures, and prayed the House to address his Majesty, beseeching him to co-operate with France and Austria in restoring Poland to the state of independence in which she was, prior to her partition in 1772. The hon. Member said, he thought that Russia had, by her tyrannic conduct, laid herself open to the indignation and military attack of all the civilized Powers of Europe, and that it was the bounden duty of all the European Powers to see justice done to Poland. Two years ago, if this country held up its finger, Poland would have been saved; and six months ago, if it had held up its finger, Constantinople would have been saved too; but now it might cost hundreds of millions to save Constantinople, unless, indeed, we were prepared to surrender the Thames to the Russians. He had also three petitions for the abolition of Slavery; from the Methodists of Lichfield, from some place in Staffordshire, and from Birmingham. While he concurred in the hope, that black slavery would be speedily abolished, he must say, that he believed the miseries of the white slaves to be ten times greater than those of the black slaves; and when they should accomplish the plan of giving to the black slaves a maintenance for three-fourths of their labours, he hoped they would deal out the same measure of justice in favour of the white slaves. He had also a petition from West Bromwich, complaining of distress, and also of the passing of the Irish Coercion Bill. If any observations that he ever uttered in that House should appear as going to extremes, he hoped they would be attributed only to a desire to see the poorer classes remunerated for their labour. He was desirous of securing the stability of the Church, of the Aristocracy, and, indeed, of all the institutions of the country; and when he could see the labouring population receive that for their labour which would enable them to support themselves and families in comfort, he should rest satisfied. He had only one remark to make, which was, that the country was divided into three great parties. Ultra-Radical, Ultra-Whig, and Ultra-Tory, and it was most extraordinary that all these parties should disagree on every subject except one, and on that they cordially united; they all agreed to make war upon the currency, by which they would pull down the fabric of society on their heads.

Mr. Divett

would give the hon. Member credit for his intentions, but he felt it to be his duty to protest against his doctrines—for views more mischievous never were promulgated by any individual. He had been pleased to talk about white slavery in England. He (Mr. Divett) would deny that white slavery existed; but if it did, the hon. Member did not take the proper way of relieving it, by exciting the poor people against their rulers. The hon. Member had spoken of three great parties in that House—he might have added a fourth, as he himself constituted another, being the Ultra-Union party—a party more dangerous than either Ultra-Whig or Ultra-Tory. The hon. Member had, some days ago, reflected in very se- vere terms upon the conduct of a Savings Bank at Exeter, and stated generally that Savings Banks cost the country more than it benefited by them. He thought such attacks came with peculiar ill grace from the hon. member for Birmingham, who professed to be the advocate for the working classes; there was no institution in the country likely to be more beneficial to that class than those Banks.

Mr. Attwood

replied, that he had stated nothing on his own knowledge, but on the assertions of a petitioner who informed the House that those Banks cost the country 27,000l. a-year, while the amount of deposits was 600,000l.; and he supposed the expenses had not been reduced. That money, in his opinion, could be better applied for the benefit of the poor.

Mr. Spring Rice

positively denied the statements of the hon. Member. Those institutions had been most beneficial to the country generally.

Petition to lie on the Table.

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