HC Deb 21 April 1836 vol 33 cc18-22

Sir Andrew Agnew moved for leave to bring in a Bill to transfer the markets now held on Saturdays and Mondays to other days in the week.

Dr. Bowring

objected to the introduction of a measure of such importance without due notice.

Mr. Pease

thought the measure would be most beneficial, and it should be recollected, that the power to alter these fairs and markets would be placed in the hands of the Magistrates.

Mr. Warburton

objected to the Bill, which would go to alter the charters of most of the corporations of England.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

thought, that the hon. Baronet did not deal fairly with the House, for he obtained leave to bring in one measure and he proposed two. The second bill went to change Saturday's and Monday's fairs and markets. To such a proposition, he must most decidedly object, as one which would tend to introduce the utmost confusion and disorder in the internal trade of the country. He must also observe, that the hon. Baronet would be apt greatly to prejudice his other measure, when it was found, that in this he had gone so much beyond anything which could have been expected from the previous discussion. He had no objection to let the matter stand as a notice, in order to its full and fair discussion; but he could not consent to a postscript, which, like other postscripts, contained the most important part of the communication. Let the House have due notice of the matter, and he should have no objection to its full discussion.

Sir Andrew Agnew

begged leave to withdraw his motion.

Mr. Harvey

considered, that the hon. Baronet had no right to withdraw his motion without the leave of the House, and he would prefer, that the House should come to some decision on it at present. It appeared to him, that the objection which had been raised against this motion, savoured much of the hypocrisy which some hon. Members had talked of with reference to measures of this description. For his own part, he objected to this on the same ground that he opposed the last measure, that was, because he thought it much better to leave the question of the due Observance of the Sabbath to the moral influence of improved education; and it excited his surprise, that the right hon., the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who voted for the last measure, should oppose this. If the observance of the Sabbath must be enforced by legislative enactment, the principle upon which those who supported the last motion voted,—then let every other consideration give way, and let that observance be strictly enforced. But it did appear very like that vice to which he alluded in the outset—that hon. Members should support one measure for enforcing the observance of the Sabbath, and object to another which had the same object, merely because it might interfere with their temporal concerns. As long as the proposition was an abstract one, and did not interfere with private interests, religion, of course, was to be respected; but the moment it touched fairs or markets, it then became a question between cattle and Christianity, in which the interests of the latter must of course give way. This shewed the total absurdity of any legislation on the subject. To what purpose was it, he asked, that 3,000,000l. were annually expended in the payment of a spiritual police to arrest and check the progress of vice and immorality, if after all this expenditure, it was necessary to resort to coercive legislation, in order to make men religious? He was, he repeated, opposed to all measures of this description; but upon the grounds on which the hon. Member supported the last motion, he must say, if the religious principle was a good one, let it not be interfered with by the number of cattle which might be sold at Smithfield or Islington on certain days.

Motion withdrawn.