HC Deb 18 July 1834 vol 25 cc194-9

On the question for the third reading of the Lord's Day Observance Bill (No. 2) being put,

Mr. Cayley

remarked, that he could not consent to a Bill which obtruded on the public the restrictions of past Acts of Parliament without the exceptions. He should propose a clause, of which he had given notice, which would have the effect of removing this blot from the measure. The hon. Member was proceeding to read his clause, when

Mr. Poulter

observed, that the proper time for the hon. Member to move the insertion of his clause would be after the third reading, on the question, that the Bill do pass.

Mr. Cayley

intimated, that he should not oppose the third reading; but would wait till the next stage of the Bill to bring his clause forward.

Mr. Poulter

said, that the hon. member for Yorkshire was much mistaken if he supposed that the Bill was intended for any other purpose than the suppression of Sunday trading. There was nothing in it to prevent any person taking exercise either by land or water. He trusted, therefore, that the House would agree to the third reading.

Mr. Hawes

had supposed, that the measure related only to a prohibition of Sunday trading, but, on examination, he found that it went a great deal further. In the first place, it called into operation the 29th of Charles 2nd, and put a stop altogether to Sunday travelling. Thus, even steam-boats would not be permitted, and he took upon himself to say, that unless the House encouraged innocent recreations among the poorer classes, it would be quite useless to appoint Committees to inquire into the best means of checking the growth of drunkenness.

Mr. Potter moved, as an Amendment, that the Bill be read a third time that day six months.

The House divided on the original Motion—Ayes 57; Noes 24: Majority 33.

Mr. Cayley moved the introduction of the following clause, by way of rider on the Bill:—"Provided always, and be it enacted, that nothing contained in this Act, or any Act heretofore passed, shall extend, or be construed to extend, to prevent any games of exercise, or other recreation in the open air, which shall not take place during the hours of divine service; such games not being played for money, or other value, nor carried on upon the premises of public houses or beer shops."

Mr. Baines

was opposed to the introduction of such a clause in this Bill. It was quite incongruous to the objects of the Bill, and it would be absurd to introduce it into it. It was an attempt to introduce an innovation, a like attempt at which had led to the decapitation of one Stuart, and to the final dethronement of that family. This measure had been petitioned for by upwards of 100,000 people and the effect of this clause would be to afford a toleration to the very worst sports on a Sunday. He was sure that every person who had a regard for the due observance of the Sabbath, and who desired that it should not be desecrated, would oppose such a clause.

Mr. O'Connell,

on the contrary, hoped that every one who had a regard for the due and proper observance of the Sabbath would support such a clause. What affectation it was, to talk of the indulgence of the people in innocent recreations and amusements as a desecration of the Sunday, as a violation of the due observance of the Sabbath! What greater and worse affectation it was to prescribe a moping melancholy as the proper observance of that day! What were the poor to do on the Sunday after they had attended to their religious duties? A man was not likely to sit the whole afternoon twirling his thumbs and even that might possibly be discovered by the microscopic eyes of holiness to be a desecration of the Sabbath. If a man under such circumstances were not allowed to indulge in innocent sports on the Sunday, what would be the consequence? Why that he would inevitably resort to the public-house or beer-shop to swill beer and meet the poacher, the gambler, and other depraved and abandoned characters. This clause merely went to afford the poor the opportunity of still indulging in innocent recreations on the Sunday. He was surprised to hear the hon. member for Leeds gravely inform them that, it was an attempt like this that led to the decapitation of Charles 1st. It was not, forsooth, because Charles bad endeavoured as long as he could to do without a Parliament, and that when he was obliged to assemble one he endeavoured to put an end to it by extruding by force a predecessor of the right hon. Gentleman in the Chair from his place,—it was not because Charles had been guilty of that and various other acts of tyranny that he lost his Crown, and finally his head,—Oh! no, not at all,—but, according to the hon. member for Leeds, it was because such a thing as the "Book of Sports" had been published in the reign of his father, of revered and pious memory, King James 1st. The "Book of Sports" lost Charles his head! The country was so melancholy just at the time, that the people with one accord said (such was the statement of the hon. member for Leeds), "We will not laugh," "we will not allow any one to make us laugh, and any one that tells us to laugh shall lose his head." Such a version as that given by the hon. member for Leeds of English history certainly was a rarity in its way. It was one of the "curiosities of literature" that should not be forgotten hastily.

Mr. Divett

said, that while he was anxious that the poor should enjoy themselves in innocent recreations on the Sabbath, he at the same time thought that it would be objectionable to introduce such a clause as this into the Bill. The effect of it would be, to show disrespect to those whose religious scruples induced them to seek for a more strict observance of the Sabbath. He trusted that the hon. Member would not press the clause.

Mr. Wynn

said, that he should vote decidedly in favour of the introduction of the present clause into the Bill. He would do so, as he was anxious to remove all impediments in the way of the innocent recreations and exercises of the lower orders, particularly after they had heard divine service on the Sunday. He did not believe that the indulging in such innocent amusements constituted any desecration of the Sabbath. On the contrary, he thought that a better offering could not be made to the Almighty than that presented in a happy and joyous people on the day of rest—on the Sabbath. He should be very sorry to offend the feelings of any class of the community on this subject; but if there was a portion of the people so anxious for a more strict observance of the Sabbath, let them act in accordance with their opinions, but do not let them force their opinions on others. Upon this subject he could appeal to the highest authority. The words of St. Paul were—One man esteemeth one day above another; another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. But why dost thou judge thy brother? Or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling-block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way." If at that, time there was a difference of opinion as to the holding one day more holy than another, surely, at the present time, men should be allowed to follow their own opinions, and no one should endeavour to force his particular opinion with regard to the observance of the Sabbath upon another.

Mr. Plumptre

said, that he would give the clause his most decided opposition.

Mr. Beaumont

was favour of the clause. Why should they legislate differently for the poor and for the rich? why should the rich be allowed to have their grand banquets, their iced champagne, &c., on the Sunday, while the poor man was prevented getting his dinner baked on that day?

Mr. George F. Young

was opposed to the introduction of this clause by way of a side-wind. It was utterly inconsistent with the Bill.

Lord Morpeth

was most anxious that the poor should enjoy their innocent recreations on the Sunday, but the introduction of such a clause as this would give offence to a large and religious portion of the community.

Mr. Warburton

was happy to say, that the games of cricket, and other such innocent amusements, still prevailed in "merry England." It was because the Magistrates were in the habit of interfering to prevent the poor from enjoying innocent recreations on the Sunday, that he would give his strongest support to such a clause as that now under consideration.

Mr. Maxwell

agreed with the noble lord (Lord Morpeth), and recommended the withdrawal of the clause.

Mr. Pease

was opposed to the clause; it would be better to leave the matter to the discretion of the Magistrates.

Mr. Poulter

said, that his objection to the clause was, that his Bill did not prohibit any sports that at present existed. This clause, however, would go to sanction them, and would give offence to that large and religious class of the community which had called for this measure.

The Attorney General

observed, that if this clause were adopted, it would go to sanction a fox-chase on a Sunday, for that might be included in the term "games of exercise." That was going further than the "Book of Sports" for James specified the games he permitted. It was to be observed, that it was those only who had attended at divine service that were permitted afterwards to indulge in them.

Mr. Mark Philips

observed, that the learned Gentleman's illustration was an important one. A fox-chase was an expensive amusement, accessible only to a few, and therefore not likely to be pursued on a Sunday; whereas those innocent recreations of the lower orders now in question could only be indulged in on that day. If the Bill attempted to interfere with the amusements of the people, he would give it his utmost opposition; if it did not, he thought this clause unnecessary.

Mr. Poulter

observed, that the Bill interfered with no species of recreation.

Mr. H. Hughes

said, that if the usual channels of information should communicate to the public to-morrow what had taken place on this occasion, he was sure that the people would be astonished to find those who called themselves their Representatives treating in such a way a Bill for the prevention of Sunday Trading, and endeavouring to ingraft on it a clause the object of which was the desecration of the Sabbath, and the turning into ridicule the Sabbath and everything connected with it.

Mr. Tennyson

was in favour of enabling the poor to enjoy their innocent recreations on the Sabbath, the only day allotted to them for that purpose. He should certainly vote for the clause. It would be a most unwise thing to legislate so as to render the Sabbath odious to the poor.

Mr. Thomas Attwood

hoped the clause would be withdrawn.

The House divided:—Ayes 37; Noes 31; Majority 6.

The Clause was agreed to.

Mr. Potter moved a clause to the effect of removing the penalties declared against waggoners, watermen, carriers, and drovers, travelling on a Sunday, by a statute of Charles 2nd.

The House divided:—Ayes 31; Noes 33; Majority 2.

On a verbal Amendment in the first line, the House again divided. The numbers were 33 on either side, and the Speaker, according to the usual courtesy, gave the casting vote in favour of the Ayes.

The House again divided on the question that the Bill do pass.—Ayes 31; Noes 35: Majority 4.

Bill thrown out.

The AYES on Mr. Cayley's Clause.
Beaumont, T. W. Philips, C. M.
Bish, T. Ronayne, D.
Blake, M. Ruthven, E. S.
Cayley, E. S. Ruthven, E.
Cayley, Sir G. Sanford, E. A.
Dillwyn, L. Scholefield, J.
Ellis, W. Scrape, P.
Evans, George Sullivan, R.
Ewart, W. Stanley, H. T.
Gillon, W. D. Talbot, James
Lynch, A. H. Talbot, J. H.
Martin, J. Tennyson, Charles
Nicholl, J. Torrens, Col.
O'Connell, Daniel Trevor, Hon. G.
O'Connell, James Walker, C. A.
O'Connell, Maurice Warburton, H.
O'Connor, Don. Watkins, C. A.
O'Dwyer, A. C. Wason, R.
Palmer, C. F. Wynn, Rt. Hon. C.
Potter, R.
List of the NOES on the same Clause.
Aglionby, H. A. Hughes, W. H.
Agnew, Sir A. Hutt, W.
Attwood, T. Johnston, A.
Baring, F. T. Lefevre C. S.
Baines, E. Mackenzie, J.
Bewes, T. Marryatt J.
Blamire, W. Maxwell, J.
Bolling, W. Morpeth, Viscount
Brotherton, J. Pease, J.
Campbell, Sir J. Pendarves, E. W.
Divett, E. Peter, W.
Ewing, J. Plumptre, J. P.
Forster, C. Poulter, J.
Gully, J. Wallace, R.
Harland, W. C. Williams, W. A.
Hawes, B. Young, G. F.
Hoskins, K.
List of the NOES on Mr. Potter's Clause.
Aglionby, H. Baines, E.
Agnew, Sir A. Baring, F. T.
Attwood, T. Bewes, T.
Blamire, W. Mackenzie, J. A. S.
Bolling, W. Marryatt, J.
Campbell, Sir J. Maxwell, J.
Cayley, E. S. Morpeth, Lord
Dillwyn, L. W. Murray, J.
Divett, E. Pease, J.
Ewing, J. Pendarves, E. W.
Forster, C. S. Peter, W.
Gully, J. Plumptre, J. P.
Harland, W. C. Poulter, P.
Hoskins, K. Sandford, E. A.
Jerningham, Hon. H. Trevor, Hon: G. R.
Johnston, A. Williams, W. A.
Lefevre, C. S.