HC Deb 21 March 1838 vol 41 cc1116-9
Mr. Plumptre

, in moving the second reading of the Lord's Day Observance Bill, said it was one upon which a strong and growing feeling existed in the country. It was a subject beset with difficulties, to which he could not consider himself fully equal, but he felt bound to say, that he would not be diverted by any taunts or sneers from pursuing the course on this subject which he should think right. The subject of this Bill had been before a Select Committee in 1832, to the evidence given to which he would refer hon. Members. The evidence of Mr. Chambers, the magistrate of Union-Hall, of this metropolis, was most important. He said, that much of the crime committed in the district in which he acted as magistrate arose from the non-observance of the Lord's Day. The chief violators of the Sabbath were the bakers and the keepers of alehouses and beer-shops. Since 1832, up to the present time, the observance of Sundays, he was sorry to say, was not much better. He held a report of a society established in the metropolis for the better observance of the Lord's Day, and in it he found, that in one of the principal streets visited on a Sunday 219 shops were found shut and fifty open; in the next, thirty-four were shut and nineteen open; in another, thirty-two were shut and fifty-six open; and in another, seventy-two were shut and ninety-seven open. This was not, he regretted to have to add, confined to the metropolis. There was a growing feeling in the country for some measure on this subject; and although during the present Session there were not a great number of petitions presented on the subject, a large number, numerously signed, were presented in the last Session. In the Session before last 280,000 persons prayed to the House for the same measure. Societies were forming in different parts of the country, and amongst the clergy the strongest desire was evinced for legislation on the subject. In stating briefly the nature of the Bill he would say, that it was by no means so extensive in its operation as former Bills. It was a Bill for suppressing trading on the Lord's Day. It prevented the doing, or hiring, or employing persons to do, unnecessary work on that day. It compelled shops to be kept shut, prevented the holding of fairs and markets, the receiving and delivering of goods, and the performing of those transactions of a general nature which were designated by the word "business." The buying and selling of milk, the dressing of victuals in houses for the use of travellers, and other indispensable necessaries were provided for and allowed. If the Bill were permitted to go into Committee he should be happy to give the details all that calm discussion which they so well merited. He would not trouble the House with the other points. There were at least 100,000 persons engaged upon the canals and navigable rivers of this country who had sent forward most urgent petitions for relief from the present labour they are subjected to on the Lord's Day. They who had protected the negroes should protect these petitioners. He should have been glad had the Government brought in a Bill on the subject, as he considered it a matter of the greatest importance; for the happiness and prosperity of this country were closely connected with a practical attention to the precepts of Christianity.

Mr. Milnes

was anxious to express his opinion in opposing the motion of the hon. Gentleman, lest his reason for doing so might be misinterpreted. He was aware that public opinion was greatly excited on the question, and public opinion was, in his opinion, doing more than anything the hon. Gentleman could effect in the way of legislation. A class of persons came forward to ask for protection. Protection was a fair and plausible pretext, but it was sometimes very insidious; and no protection should be granted which would cause any unjust sacrifice. By preventing the baking-houses from being open the poor man and his wife would be prevented from going to church, in order to stay at home and prepare their victuals. He had no objection to any law compelling shops to be closed during divine service, but he would not support any Bill which prevented the poor man from obtaining the necessaries of life. Besides, the Bill could not be brought into operation without occupying a large body of persons in preventing a profitable trade from being exercised, who would themselves be breaking the Sabbath as much as those they were interfering with. He should oppose the motion.

Sir C. Style

most cordially supported the second reading. He did not do so from any idea that they would make men more religious, or instil into their minds a greater love of Christianity by any human legislation, but because he wished to preserve from positive loss those who did venerate the Sabbath, and abstained from worldly affairs on that day, and because he desired to take from any persons the power of compelling others to work for them. He thought the Bill of the hon. Member went that far and no farther; and therefore he gave him his best support.

Sir R. Inglis

thought, when the hon. Member (Mr. Milnes) rose, that he was about to second the Bill, instead of opposing it. The question had been so frequently under discussion, and he had so often expressed his opinion upon it, that he thought it unnecessary to delay the House, particularly, as he saw by hon. Members, that they were more anxious to divide than to debate upon it. But he was ready at any time to enter into the full discussion of the subject, and into a defence of the general proposition. He would give his support to the Bill of his hon. Friend, not binding himself to any single clause, but concurring in the general principle on which it was based.

Sir E. Sugden

intended to vote for the second reading, but if the Bill did not receive many alterations would certainly oppose it in Committee. The first part prohibited the employment of any, or hire of any person to do work or labour. According to that no man could employ his own servant; but what he particularly objected to was, that it did not provide for those necessary accommodations which the poor man was justly entitled to on the Sabbath day. A man labouring all the week could not go in a stage coach for a few miles out of town or take a little refreshment.

Sir S. Canning,

in giving his support to the Bill, felt called on to observe, that he would not do so if he thought it would weigh heavier upon the poorer than the other classes.

The House divided:—Ayes 139; Noes 68;Majority 71.

List of the AYES.
Acland, T. D. Farnham, E. B
Ashley, Lord Fielden, W.
Bagge, W. Filmer, Sir E.
Bailey, J. Forbes, W.
Bailey, J., jun. Fremantle, Sir T.
Baines, E. Freshfield, J. W.
Baring, F. T. Gaskell, Jas. Milnes
Baring, hon. W. B. Gladstone, W. E.
Barrington, Viscount Glynne, Sir S. R.
Barron, H. W. Goulburn, rt. hon. H.
Bateson, Sir R Greene, T.
Bell, M. Grimsditch, T.
Bentinck, Lord G. Halse, J.
Bethel, R. Harcourt, G. S.
Blackburne, I. Heathcote, Sir W.
Blair, J. Henniker, Lord
Blakemore, R. Hodgson, F.
Boldero, H. G. Hodgson, R.
Briscoe, J. I. Holmes, hon. A'Court
Broadley, H. Hope, G. W.
Brocklehurst, J. Houstoun, G.
Bruges, W. H. L. Hughes, W. B.
Buller, E. Ingestrie, Viscount
Buller, Sir J. Y. Irton, S.
Burr, Higford Johnstone, H.
Burrell, Sir C. Jones, J.
Byng, right hon. G. S. Jones, W.
Calcraft, J. H. Jones, T.
Canning, rt. hn. Sir S. Kemble, H.
Chapman, A. Kinnaird, hon. A. F.
Chisholm, A. W. Kirk, P.
Chute, W. L. W. Knatchbull, Sir E.
Clive, hon. R. H. Langdale, hon. C.
Conolly, E. Lascelles, hon. W. S.
Corry, hon. H. Lefevre, C. S.
Courtenay, P. Lennox, Lord A.
Craig, W. G. Lister, E. C.
Dalrymple, Sir A. Litton, E.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Lockhart, A. M.
Duncombe, hon. W. Long, W.
Egerton, William T. Lowther, J. H.
Ellis, J. Lushington, C.
Estcourt, T. Lygon, hon. General
Etwall, R. Mackenzie, T.
Evans, W. Macleod, R.
Mahon, Viscount Round, C. G.
Master, T. W. C. Round, J.
Maunsell, T. P. Rushbrooke, Colonel
Miles, William Rushout, G.
Miles, P. W. S. Shaw, right hon. F.
Mordaunt, Sir J. Shirley, E. J.
Morpeth, Viscount Sinclair, Sir G.
Morris, D. Smith, A.
Nicholl, John Spencer, hon. F.
Pakington, J. S. Stewart, J.
Palmer, R. Stuart, V.
Palmer, G. Style, Sir C.
Parker, R. T. Sugden, rt. hon. Sir E.
Pease, J. Teignmouth, Lord
Peel, rt. hon. Sir R. Trench, Sir F.
Pemberton, T. Vere, Sir C. B.
Pendarves, E. W. W. Walker, R.
Perceval, Colonel Welby, G. E.
Praed, W. M. White, A.
Pringle, A. Whitmore, T. C.
Protheroe, E. Williams, W. A.
Rice, E. R. Wood, Col. T.
Rice, rt. hn. T. S. Worsley, Lord
Richards, R. TELLERS.
Rolleston, L. Plumptre, J. P.
Rose, rt. hon. Sir G. Inglis, Sir R. H.
List of the NOES
Aglionby, H. A. Horsman, E.
Aglionby, Major Howard, P. H.
Alston, R. Johnson, General
Archbold, R. Langton, W. G.
Barnard, E. G. Leader, J. T.
Barry, G. S. Lynch, A. H.
Berkeley, hon. H. Marshall, W.
Bewes, T. Marsland, H
Blake, W. J Martin, J.
Blunt, Sir C. Milnes, R. M.
Brodie, W. B. O'Brien, C.
Brotherton, J. O'Connell, Dan.
Busfield, W. O'Connell, John
Clements, Viscount O'Connell, M.
Clive, E. B. Paget, Lord A.
Collins, W. Pattison, J.
Dalmeny, Lord Pechell, Captain
Davies, Colonel Philips, M.
Dennistoun, J. Redington, T. N.
Divett, E. Roche, W.
Duke, Sir J. Roche, D.
Duncombe, hon. A. Salwey, Colonel
Dundas, C. W. D. Smith, R. V.
Dundas, hon. T. Standish, C.
Elliot, hon. John E. Stuart, Lord J.
Ellice, E. Tancred, H. W.
Evans, G. Thornley, Thomas
Ferguson, R. Vigors, N. A.
Ferguson, Sir R. Wall, C. B.
Finch, F. Westenra, hon. H. R.
Fitzsimon, N. Williams, W.
Grote, G. Wilshere, W.
Hall, B. Woulfe, Sergeant
Harvey, D. W. TELLERS.
Hawkins, J. H. Hume, J.
Hayter, W. G. Wakley, T.
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