HC Deb 13 July 1844 vol 76 cc761-75
Sir J. Graham

moved the Order of the Day for a Committee on the Poor Law Amendment Bill.

Mr. Hawes

objected to the course pursued by Government in arranging the public business for that day. He thought that when there was a specific meeting appointed for the discussion of a specific subject, that discussion should be commenced at once.

Mr. Wakley

had also to complain of the arrangements made by Government in the conducting the business of the public in that House. It was too bad that four hours of Saturday should be devoted to Government business after they had deprived the Members of the House of one of their Motion nights. He complained, that while every other measure was repeatedly discussed, a Bill the most important in its effects upon the whole kingdom, affecting as it did the interests of the largest class in it, had not been permitted the proper time for consideration. Such a mode of doing business could neither be satisfactory to the House nor to the public. He wished at present, if he could do so regularly, to direct the attention of the House to the 11th Clause in the Bill as affecting parish apprentices. Those who felt any interest in the condition of those apprentices were of opinion, that the power conferred by that Clause on the Poor Law Commissioners was not sufficient for their protection. Some of the children were bound at the age of nine, and were kept so till they were twenty-one years old, and he had heard, with a degree of astonishment which he could not express, that in some parishes the children were never visited by the parochial authorities, being left to the tender mercies of their masters and mistresses for a period of twelve years without inspection.

Sir J. Graham

was sure that the House and the hon. Member for Finsbury would do him the justice to believe that he always endeavoured to consult the convenience and wishes of hon. Gentlemen so far as he possibly could. The House would bear in mind that before Easter it was necessary to dispose of the Estimates in the Committee of Supply. Since then very important measures, such as the Bank Charter Bill, and others of primary consequence, had been very fully discussed both on the principle and on the details; and there was another measure connected with the interests of a branch of the working classes which had occupied for a long time the attention of the House. He could truly say, that he devoted the whole of his time to the public service, and he was always to be found in his seat during the despatch of business. He could say the same of his Colleagues, also, not one of whom was absent from the House while public business was going on.

Order of the Day read.

House in Committee.

Upon Clause 35, making it lawful for the Commissioners to declare parishes or unions combined, a school district, Colonel Wood complained, that as the Clause would only subject parishes to additional expense without securing any lasting advantage, the various union workhouses over the country ought each to contain a good school for the education of the children; and, if this were not so, then the Commissioners were responsible. Parishes had already been called upon to expend large sums on schools, and now they were to be called upon to form district schools; and what, he would ask, would be the description of children who would be placed in them? The poor would not permit their children to be removed to them, and those schools would therefore be left entirely to orphans and deserted children. He objected to the concentration of the children in this manner, and maintained that there was a distinction between such a system and that of the school at Norwood, or the military school. It was far preferable that children should be placed at schools where they would not be removed from parental restraint. Upon these grounds he trusted that the right hon Baronet would not press the matter at present, but postpone it till next year, so that hon. Members might consider the advantages of the proposed plan, and be enabled to ascertain that proper and efficient schools were not at present in existence in the union workhouses.

Mr. Cowper

hoped that the right hon. Baronet would persevere in supporting the Clause, because he conceived that it was impossible to have good schools unless they were large ones. Upon that point the success of the experiment at Norwood had removed all doubt. The only defect in the Clause arose from the want of provision for adequate inspection, and he hoped that that defect would be removed. He would suggest that Government inspectors should visit the district schools at stated intervals, and make a report, to be placed upon the Table of the House, in order that they might have some security as to the efficiency with which these schools were conducted. He believed that the gallant Colonel would not find a single good workhouse school in the country; at least, for one good one, 100 were bad; and, in some of them, it used to be the practice to tie up the under jaw of the young children, and then to administer punishment to them. The poor-rates of one parish could rarely supply the funds for supporting a schoolmaster properly qualified, and having a district school enabled the different unions to employ a good teacher. During the last year about 500 refractory paupers had been imprisoned in the Coldbath-fields House of Correction, and of all the persons so imprisoned the Governor had declared that the female paupers who came from the workhouses were the most incorrigible. The Justices appointed to visit the Houses of Correction of the county of Middlesex, in their Report— Express their regret that they should have to remark on the increasing number of women and girls who are sentenced to short imprisonments, for irregularities and refractory conduct in the workhouses of some of the populous parishes in this county, some of whom have been sent to prison ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, and even fourteen times, who seem to be utterly destitute and untaught, and whose conduct in the prison is indecent, violent, insubordinate, and outrageous in an unparalleled degree; whilst their circumstances and prospects after their discharge are lamentably desperate. To their augmenting numbers and distressful culpability and situation the visiting Justices entreat the special attention of parochial officers. In his opinion, it was most cruel that children should be sent into the workhouses, and there left destitute of everything which was needful for a child's instruction. The effect of this was a spirit of insubordination which prevented these poor creatures after leaving the workhouse and entering service from ever retaining their places for any length of time.

Sir J. Graham

said, a portion of the Clause, was a provision for the restriction of district schools to a diameter of fifteen miles. That limit he thought was sufficiently narrow to allow the parents and relations of children placed at these schools to visit them upon Sundays and other holidays. As to the question of postponement raised by the hon. Member for Brecon, it would be remembered that on an average thirty was the greatest number of children placed at workhouse schools, and that in practice the teachers were paupers. He could not see any thing inconsistent with the spirit of toleration or adverse to a good and practical education in these Clauses, and he hoped that they would not be postponed.

Mr. Wakley

was glad to hear the determination of the right hon. Baronet. From some fatality; or from the clashing of different interests, it appeared impossible to settle in that House the question of education for the poor, and the consequence was, that the poor of this country were the most ignorant upon the face of the earth. They were a right feeling and a right thinking people, but they had not the materials for thought. If the people had been properly educated, would they have the incendiary fires which they now had in Norfolk and Suffolk? When he used the word "education" he did not mean that it should be taken in its usual sense, for it was a well-known fact that many of the most learned men were the most stupid men on the face of the earth. They ought not to judge meanly of education; however, because they found that learned men educated at the Universities were often the dullest men in existence. The House often heard the term "hon. and learned Gentleman," and nothing could be more ridiculous than to see the way in which that term was sometimes applied. What he meant by the term "education" was the practical and useful accomplishments which would make the children of the poor useful members of society. He was opposed to the principle of centralization, but as it was the opinion of the House that that system should be retained, the Government should render it as useful as possible to the country, and in no respect could that be more useful than in superintending the education of the children of the poor, who had no friends or relations to protect them. The House would be surprised to hear that in the county of Middlesex, the metropolitan county of England, half of the informants of deaths at the Registrar General's office could not write, and that in the rural districts of the same county, ten out of twelve among those qualified to act as jurymen could not sign their names. Only a very short time ago, he knew a case of the master of a workhouse not being able either to read or write. He hoped that the Go- vernment would feel firmness to be one of the first qualifications of a good Ministry, and that they would persevere in supporting the Clause under discussion.

Mr. Stuart Wortley

said, that under the limitation which had been attached to the Clause by the explanations of the right hon. Baronet, he saw no objection to the powers invested thereby in the Commissioners. He agreed with the hon. Member for Finsbury that no greater boon could be conferred upon the children of the poor than to facilitate the establishment of such district schools throughout the country. If the limitation explained by the right hon. Baronet had not been introduced he would have been very unwilling to have placed in the hands of the Poor Law Commissioners the power of marking out the extent of these district schools.

Mr. Wodehouse

hoped that the right hon. Baronet would adhere to the course which he had announced, but he rose at present to take notice of the allusion which had been made to the fires in Norfolk. As the hon. Member for Finsbury had referred to the crime of incendiarism in Norfolk and Suffolk, he begged leave to remind the hon. Member that there were other parts of the country in which incendiarism was more common than among the people of those counties. In order, however, to let this be known, he trusted that the hon. Member would himself come down among them and give his opinion as to the crime of incendiarism, for there was none more competent to give an opinion on that subject than the hon. Member for Finsbury himself.

Sir J. Graham

explained, that the principle of the Clause could be in practice applicable only to the metropolis, and other large cities where the people were gathered in masses, and that it could not be carried into effect in rural districts. He had endeavoured to word the Clause in such a way as to produce that result. If, however, it was thought not sufficiently precise or stringent, he would very willingly make any alteration that might be desirable in order to leave no doubt, as to the intention of Parliament.

Colonel Rushbrooke

said, that no county in England was better furnished with the means of education by national and parochial schools than that which he had the honour to represent, and, therefore, it was not just in the hon. Member for Fins- bury to attribute the fires which had taken place in that county to the want of education. If inquiries were instituted, it would be found that incendiarism was not confined to that county.

Mr. R. Palmer

did not think by any means that the system of the school at Norwood was one which ought to be carried out through the country. He was not certain that the degree of learning therein attained was necessary for the education of the people of this country or would conduce to their happiness. In a well-regulated parochial school every thing which was essential ought to be taught by a parochial schoolmaster and under the superintendence of the parish clergyman.

Mr. Bankes

was not indisposed to see any practical system of education carried into effect, but he believed that that now proposed was not practical. The state of the poor in the rural districts was not quite so deplorable as the hon. Member for Finsbury had represented it; and he spoke from his own experience of the decrease in the number of juvenile offences in the county which he represented from the increased care with which their education was attended to.

Mr. Hawes

was astonished to hear that the Clause was not to apply to the rural districts. No one who had taken the trouble to read the reports made by Commissioners of enquiry on the subject, or any other works throwing light upon the general condition of the manufacturing districts, could doubt for a moment that there was nothing more necessary for these districts than a good and cheap education for the poor; but on the other hand, his reading led him also to the conclusion that the rural districts stood as much in need of the schoolmaster as any other. It seemed to him to be matter of reproach and shame to the Government, that when all were admitting the importance of education, as the best source of order and obedience, they should step in and say that the Bill was to apply only to the poor of the most populous and crowded localities, and that where there was no opposition from Members representing the large towns, it was not to be extended to the rural districts. For what purpose this was done he knew not, but to stint the education of the lower orders in the rural districts appeared to him to be a cause of shame to Her Majesty's Government.

Sir J. Graham

said, he was very anxious to exclude all unnecessary heat from this discussion; but he could not conceive on what ground the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had thought fit to make an attack upon himself and the Government, namely, of shrinking from spreading education amongst any class of Her Majesty's subjects. The hon. Gentleman admitted, that it was a salutary principle that children should not be removed more than a moderate distance from their friends; and it was an inevitable consequence of that admission that the Clause could not be applied to the rural districts with due regard to the feelings of those concerned. When the hon. Member deliberately made a charge against the Government that they had framed this Clause for the purpose of giving to the population of this country a stinted measure of education he begged to tell the hon. Member that that was a charge which he could not substantiate with any regard either for truth or justice.

Mr. Hawes

did not understand the right hon. Gentleman, who said, that he would not make a certain statement if he had any regard for truth. Did the right hon. Gentleman mean to say that he was in the habit of making statements without knowing that they were founded in truth?

Sir J. Graham

intended to say, that if the hon. Gentleman meant to make a deliberate charge against himself or the Government, that they wished to restrict the education of the poor, he made a charge which he could not substantiate with regard either to truth or justice.

Mr. Hawes

said, that the right hon. Gentleman had somewhat altered his words. The right hon. Gentleman now said that if he had made any such statement he was not able to substantiate it; but it so happened that he had used no such words, and therefore the right hon. Gentleman was himself making a statement which had no foundation in truth.

The Chairman

was understood to say that the hon. Member having stated that he had not intended to make the imputation, the matter might be suffered to rest.

Sir J. Graham

said, that he never designed to give personal offence to any Gentleman in that House, but the hon. Gentleman had unnecessarily used a taunt against the Government, which did not appear to him to be justified by anything which they had either said or done, and which was not founded in fact. If he had used the word "untruth," it was an expression somewhat stronger than the rules of the House permitted, and to those rules he was certainly bound to adhere.

Mr. Hawes

said, no one had received more courtesy from the right hon. Gentleman than himself, and he was glad that he had now removed from his mind a painful impression.

Mr. Darby

said, the sole question was whether the principle of this Clause was or was not applicable to the rural districts. He was certainly of opinion that it was not. He hoped that his hon. and gallant Friend would withdraw his opposition to the Clause. He could not admit that education was neglected in all unions. He knew several union schools in which the children were admirably well taught. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Home Department was possibly right in the course which he had adopted; and if it were attempted to apply the Clause to the rural districts it would be a failure.

Mr. V. Smith

thought that in the rural districts such an education as was the object of this Clause was more needed than in the large towns. In the rural districts the education of the children was very much neglected. ["No, no."] He did not accuse any Gentleman of neglect in his own particular district; but he found the greatest difficulty in the parish in which he resided to promote education, and he met with every kind of obstruction. The interpretation which the right hon. Baronet put upon the Clause came upon him (Mr. V. Smith) by surprise. There was nothing in the Clause which could lead any one to think that the rural districts were to be excluded.

Sir J. Graham

proposed the omission of certain words, and the introduction of an amendment in line 25, which would enable rural parishes to unite for the purpose of forming district schools.

Lord J. Manners

objected to placing the schools for the poor under the authority of the Poor Law Commissioners. The hon. Member for Finsbury said that as long as they retained the Commissioners they ought to make the best use of them. But there ought to be some limit to that proposition. His principal objection to placing these schools under the control of the Commissioners was, because they had in the clergy of the country a proper, constituted, and consistent authority to which the education of the people ought to be entrusted. The effect of this Clause would be to spread over the whole country one general system of Dutch education, which would eradicate all those feelings of home and family affection, upon which the well being of the community mainly depended. The effect of this proposition would be to take the education of the people of this country out of the hands in which it had been vested by the old constitution of this country, and to place it in the hands of a body of lay Commissioners responsible only to the Council of Education, a body which he (Lord J. Manners) regarded with the greatest distrust. He also disapproved of those district schools, and the separation of children from their homes and their families. He trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would give up this Clause.

Sir J. Graham

moved an Amendment at line 25 of the Clause, which would enable rural parishes not in union to unite for the purpose of forming district schools.

Mr. M. Milnes

would not consent to such a system of education as the Bill would establish, neither would he leave the matter wholly in the hands of the clergy; for what had been the result of all the agitation, of all the zeal and all the energy which were evinced some time ago by the Church to promote education amongst the poor? Why the whole sum collected did not amount to half the salary paid to one out of any half dozen of the aristocracy of the country. If the Church did not do its duty by the poor with respect to education, it was the duty of the State to come in and supply the deficiency. The Legislature would not be justified in refusing to give all the education it could, because it had not the means of giving all that it would. He must, on these grounds, support the principle enunciated in the Bill.

Lord Henniker

said, that the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Wakley) had attributed the prevalence of incendiarism in Norfolk and Suffolk to the low state of education in those counties. There was, he maintained, no foundation for such a statement. Norfolk and Suffolk had been greatly improved of late years with respect to education, compared with what they formerly had been. As to incendiarism in those two counties, he must say that it had no more to do with the Poor Laws than it had with any hon. Member of that House.

Colonel Sibthorp

said, he fully concurred with the noble Lord (Lord Henniker) in denying the correctness of the statement, that the low state of education in Norfolk and Suffolk was the cause of incendiarism in those counties. He would not trouble the Committee by any speculations as to what might or might not be the cause of incendiary fires; but this he would say, that one of the effective means of preventing them would be, to let the people be well-housed and well fed, in addition to being well-educated. This would be a much more efficient remedy than the plan proposed in the Bill of turning Assistant Poor Law Commissioners into itinerant tutors for the purpose of imparting secular education.

The Committee divided on the question, that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause:—Ayes 26; Noes 103: Majority 77.

List of the AYES.
Aldam, W. Ogle, S. C. H.
Bowring, Dr. Pechell, Capt.
Brocklehurst, J. Philips, G. R.
Douglas, Sir H. Protheroe, E.
Duncombe, T. Strutt, E.
Etwall, R. Thornely, T.
Fitzroy, hon. H. Tufnell, H.
Fleetwood, Sir P. H. Wakley, T.
Grosvenor, Lord R. Walker, R.
Hawes, B. Warburton, H.
Knight, H. G. Wrightson, W. B.
Milnes, R. M.
Morris, D. TELLERS.
Muntz, G. F. Cowper, hon. W. F.
Napier, Sir C. Smith, V.
List of the NOES.
Adderley, C. B. Chute, W. L. W.
Arkwright, G, Codrington, Sir W.
Bailey, J, jun. Corry, rt. hon. H.
Baillie, Col. Cripps, W.
Bankes, G. Damer, hon. Col.
Baring, hon. W. B. Darby, G.
Barrington, Visct. Dawnay, E.
Bentinck, Lord G. Dickinson, F. H.
Beresford, Major Donglas, Sir C. E.
Blackburne, J. I. Douglas, J. D. S.
Bodkin, W. H. Duncombe, hon. A.
Boldero, H. G. Eastnor, Visct.
Borthwick, P. Eliot Lord
Botfield, B. Escott, B.
Bowles, Adm. Ferrand, W. B.
Bramston, T. W. Fitzmaurice, hon. W.
Bruce, Lord E. Forbes, W.
Buck, L. W. Forman, T. S.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Fuller, A. E.
Burroughes, H. N. Gaskell, J. Milnes
Cavendish, hon. C. H. Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.
Charteris, hon. F. Gordon, hon. Capt.
Chelsea, Visct. Gore, M.
Christopher, R. A. Goulburn, rt. hn. H.
Graham, rt. hn. Sir J. Patten, J. W.
Greenall, P. Peel, J.
Harcourt, G. G. Pollington, Visct.
Henley, J. W. Praed, W. T.
Henniker, Lord Pringle, A.
Herbert, hon. S. Rashleigh, W.
Hervey, Lord A. Rolleston, Col.
Hinde, J. H. Round, J.
Hodgson, R. Rous, hon. Capt.
Hogg, J. W. Rushbrooke, Col.
Hope, hon. C. Sheppard, T.
Hussey, A. Sibthorp, Col.
Hussey, T. Smith, rt. hon. T. B. C.
Jermyn, Earl Somerset, Lord G.
Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H. Sotherton, T. H. S.
Langston, J. H. Sutton, H. M.
Lennox, Lord A. Taylor, E.
Lincoln, Earl of Thornhill, G.
Lockhart, W. Waddington, H. S.
Long, W. Walsh, Sir J. B.
McGeachy, F. A. Wawn, J. T.
McNeill, D. Williams, W.
Manners, Lord C. S. Wodehouse, E.
Manners, Lord J. Wood, Col.
Maxwell, hon. J. P. Wortley, hon. J. S.
Meyhell, Capt. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Miles, P. W. S. TELLERS.
O'Brien, A. S. Young, J.
Palmer, R. Baring, H.
Mr. Borthwick

objected to the whole Clause as it now stood. Centralization had been found very offensive when applied to the relief of the poor; but it would be found much more so when applied to their education. The principle on which it was based would, if carried out, sap the foundations of the parochial system throughout the country, and in a short time be fatal to it. For these reasons he would move the rejection of the Clause. The real question which the Committee had to decide was, whether it was probable that the effect of this system would be such as they all earnestly desired it should be. He did not think it would. In his opinion there ought to be a schoolmaster in every parish. When they looked at the state of education in England, it was astonishing to reflect upon the moral condition of the people. We offered them nothing like the educational advantages afforded to those who lived under the sway of Continental governments. Our Church should take the matter in hand. Much would be done if her pastors were only to make it a rule to catechise the children every Sunday in their different churches. But this was a subject which he might pursue to too great a length, and he would, therefore, at once conclude by moving, as he had intimated his intention of doing, "that the Clause be expunged."

Mr. Henley

considered that the Church of England ought to be at the head of the national educational institutions of the country. This was the first time, he believed, that it had ever been sought to establish a national system with which the Church had nothing to do, and he would not give his sanction to the establishment of a principle which seemed to him to be so objectionable.

Sir J. Graham

denied that this Clause propounded any new principle. He intended to suggest a deviation from the present wording of the 38th Clause, which would, he hoped, more forcibly carry out the intentions of the framers of the Bill. As the law at present stood the guardians of the different unions were at liberty to appoint chaplains to preside over the schools. He had always contemplated that that permission would have been very generally taken advantage of. There appeared, however, to have been some doubt upon the subject, and his object now was to introduce a provision into the 38th Clause which would render it imperative upon guardians to make such appointments. The words of his Amendment would run thus:— That every district board acting for each such educational district, shall appoint, with the consent of the Bishop of the diocese, at least one chaplain, being a clergyman of the Established Church, as a salaried officer, to superintend the education of the children in such school.

The House divided on the question, that the Clause stand part of the Bill:—Ayes 107; Noes 1: Majority 106.

List of the NOES.
Manners, Lord J. Borthwick, P.
Ferrand, W. B.

House resumed.

On the Motion that the Committee have leave to sit again on Monday at twelve,

Mr. Wakley

rose and spoke as follows: I have been a Member of this House for nine years, and during that time I do not recollect that any hon. Member has had occasion to complain of any personal remarks made by me upon him. My object has always been to confine myself to the question before the House, and never to utter a single word that should give any individual offence. I cannot say that the same conduct has always been extended to me. On one occasion, only, however, have I complained to the House. But when hon. Gentlemen permit themselves to descend, in the course of discussions on public affairs, to refer to the private life of other hon. Members, and to cast imputations upon them in those relations, that in a course so contrary to the honour and dignity of the House being pursued, it becomes the duty of the Member so referred to, to require an explanation in the presence of the House. Sir, it occurred to me in the course of the discussion in Committee on this Bill, to make some observations on the state of education in Norfolk and Suffolk—did not I also (added the hon. Gentleman, turning round to the hon. Member sitting on the bench beside him) allude to Middlesex? For I had no intention to make any invidious distinctions in the matter; I had no intention in the remarks I made to suggest any reflections upon any individual whatever. Sir, I have had during my life some difficulties to contend with. I came to this town unknowing and unknown. I fought my own battle, not always an easy one; and I have a family of children—sons. The remarks which the hon. Member for Norfolk used at the conclusion of his speech were these—I am certain of them for I took them down at the time:—"No one is more capable of giving an opinion on the subject of incendiarism than the hon. Member for Finsbury himself." Now, Sir, it seems too horrible to suppose such a thing, as that the hon. Member intended these words to apply personally to me; that any hon. Member in this House, without being provoked by any remark of mine, Should apply such remarks to me. I know, Sir, that every man who has been engaged in the work of reform, as I have been, must be prepared for attacks on his public character. But I was not prepared to expect an unfair attack on my private character in this House. Sir, I never fought a battle unfairly in my life. Sir, there is not an act of my life, from the first moment of my existence, that I would not court inquiry into. And if any Gentleman desires to go into such an inquiry, I will give him every facility in my power for pursuing the inquiry in the most minute manner. Sir, these observations were applied to me publicly in this House; and if I did not dare to ask for an explanation of their meaning, and to court investigation of their truth, I should not dare to enter within these walls again. I could not again presume to face this body of hon. Gentlemen. Sir, I am therefore quite ready to go into an inquiry into the matter to which it is possible the words of the hon. Member may refer. I have nothing to fear from inquiry; but I have everything to fear from insinuation, when insinuation is made the vehicle of the foulest calumny that was ever cast upon the character of any man. At all events, there is but one proper mode in which I should deal with this matter. I do not pretend to make this matter the subject for private quarreler dispute with the hon. Member, for I have nothing to fear from publicity. I think I have a right to ask the hon. Member what meaning he attached to the words I have read to the House, as applied to me; and before call upon him to do so I will state to the House the circumstances to which I believe they were intended to refer. Sir, it happened that I had the misfortune once to have my house burned. I brought an action against the insurance company in which I was insured, for the loss. They resisted that action; it went to trial, and the result of that trial was, that every farthing which I went against the company for was given me by the jury. The present Lord Denman was my counsel; Lord Tenterden was the Judge who tried the case; and after the trial one of the jurymen, who was himself a proprietor in the office, joined with some of my friends who had taken up the matter, and they subscribed the money to pay my expenses as between attorney and client. Sir, these are facts recorded in the papers of the day. Sir, I suffered very much then; and I have since suffered much from aspersions which have been cast upon me in reference to this case. I have been most shamefully and cruelly used; and I trust that the House will not think that under the circumstances I have unnecessarily trespassed upon its time in calling its attention to this matter. I have made this appeal with the greatest possible pain—with the greatest possible reluctance—as you may readily suppose. I believe I mentioned that every farthing was recovered from the office and was paid. I throw myself, therefore, not on the humane consideration of the House, but upon its sense of justice, and I ask the hon. Member to state the meaning of the words he used, and which he applied to me, and I call upon him further, for my sake, if he knows anything of a reproachful nature against my character—if from any source or channel whatever he has heard anything injurious to ine—I call upon him not to shrink from declaring it, but on the contrary to state it to the House without the slighest reservation.

Mr. Wodehouse

immediately rose and said—I rejoice, Sir, that I have afforded the hon. Gentleman an opportunity of giving a distinct explanation upon the matter he has alluded to—a subject which I think has already remained too long in doubt. I have no hesitation in saying that I did refer to the transaction upon which the hon. Gentleman has given this explanation. After that explanation I must say that I feel it to be my duty, as a gentleman, to tender him an apology on those grounds, and upon those grounds alone. I understand the hon. Gentleman to say, that there was no fact connected with this transaction which has not been brought to a satisfactory conclusion. Sir, I tender him my apology on those grounds, and those grounds alone; but I must now be permitted to say that the hon. Gentleman himself, and those with whom he acts, and those who take a similar course with him, are too lavish in accusing landlords of selfishness, and I take this opportunity of declaring that these accusations are such that we are not able to bear them any longer. I do not know whether I am called upon to make any further remark, or any further apology to the hon. Member, and I trust that the House is satisfied with what I have stated.

Committee to sit again. House adjourned at a quarter past five o'clock.

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