HC Deb 13 June 1855 vol 138 cc1911-37

Order for Committee read.


said, that in moving that the House go into step that might induce the working classes to resort to a system of "tick" or running into debt, instead of paying ready-money on the Sunday morning. Their Committee on this Bill he must appeal to the hon. Members for Newport (Mr. Massey), and for Finsbury (Mr. T. Duncombe), who had given notices of Motions—the first, that the Bill be committed that day three months; the second, to extend its operation to Great Britain and Ireland—not to press their Motions. With regard to the first, the Bill had been read a second time at a very early hour in the day, when it was quite competent for any hon. Member to have stated whatever objections he entertained to its principle— as, indeed, the hon. Hember for Lambeth (Mr. Wilkinson), and other hon. Members had done; and the House on that occasion determined that the principle of the Bill was one which it would accept, and, therefore, that its provisions should be considered in Committee. Under those circumstances, he thought the time was gone by for the hon. Gentleman's Motion. With regard to the Motion of the hon. Member for Finsbury, the subject had been frequently discussed in that House, which had always rejected the proposition; and it was, therefore, scarcely worth while to delay the progress of this Bill, which was to affect the metropolis only, by renewing the discussion on the larger question.

Motion made and Question proposed

"That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair."

Amendment proposed, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words, "this House will, upon this day three months, resolve itself into the said Committee," instead thereof.


said, that in moving that the Bill be committed that day three months, he must own that an apology was due to the noble Lord, the Member for Middlesex, for not having brought forward this Motion at a former stage, but he had been unavoidably absent on that occasion, otherwise he should certainly have done so; and, as his objections to the Bill continued in full force, he felt bound to state them now. His objections did not arise from any hostility to the objects of the Bill, for he was as desirous as any man could be to see the Sabbath decently and religiously observed. The various Acts of Parliament which had been passed since the time of Edward III., including the Act of Charles II., for the purpose of enforcing a stricter observance of the Sabbath, had generally a twofold object—to compel religious worship on the part of the people, and to insure an abstinence on that day from labour and from all worldly trades and callings; but one remarkable feature of this Bill was that the promoters of it disavowed that part of the case which contemplated a better religious observance of the Sunday. Indeed, Mr. Hayman, a gentleman who had taken a zealous part in promoting the measure, expressly stated in a circular which he had issued, that "it was absurd to attempt to make the people religious by an Act of Parliament." This point ought to be strictly borne in mind. This was purely a secular measure; it relinquished altogether any attempt at what was called Sabbatarian legislation, and it professed to have for its object simply to secure to the tradesmen and working-classes of London a day of rest from their ordinary labours. Whether they spent that day in innocent recreation, in attending religious worship, or in any less desirable manner was a perfect matter of indifference, so far as this Bill was concerned. [Hear, hear!] From the cheers of the hon. Gentlemen who supported the Bill he understood that this was a proper definition of the objects which they had in view. The first thing, then, which must strike every one was the partial character of the Bill. It affected the metropolis alone, without touching any of the immense hives of industry in the manufacturing districts, but he must say that if Parliament assented to this measure for the metropolis, it was a logical and necessary inference that it must soon be extended to the rest of the country. No doubt, however, if the Bill were meant merely as an experiment of a certain policy, the metropolis might be a very fit subject on which to try it, but if it were meant to stand on its own abstract expediency and necessity in reference to the metropolis, it was a most singular thing that the evils which it sought to remedy only existed in a very few districts of the town. In the great main thoroughfares there was no Sunday trading whatever, and it was only in certain districts, even according to the promoters of the Bill—in Whitecross-street, for example, in some parts of the boroughs of Lambeth, Westminster, Marylebone, and St. Pancras—that Sunday trading did prevail to a limited extent. Before asking the House to arrest the further progress of the Bill, he had made it his business to visit some of these districts—Marylebone, in particular—on a Sunday, and he had found that the shops which were open were mostly of a very humble order—such as milkshops, lollypop shops, to which to apply the term trading was almost a ridiculous exaggeration. Their condition belonged to a degree of poverty little above the condition of a day labourer. Last Sunday he saw a tradesman sitting in his back parlour pursuing with his family the usual peaceful avocations of the day, but ready to come into his shop to earn a penny if a customer came in. Such were the shocking scenes of which they had heard so much. It was stated that several attempts had been made to stop Sunday trading by means of a combination among the shopkeepers themselves, but that the refusal of three or four individuals, who persisted in opening their shops, prevented such an arrangement being carried into effect; and, therefore, that Parliament ought now to interfere to secure to certain tradesmen a day of rest, and grant them a Bill of indemnity against the losses they would sustain from abstaining from business on one day in seven. Legislation of that character, however, was unsuited to the genius of the present day, which discountenanced the principle of giving crutches and artificial helps to persons in the exercise of their callings. Tradesmen ought to be left entirely to their own individual guidance in such matters; and, if a man felt that he required recreation on Sunday, or had religious scruples to carrying on his business on that day, he ought not to object to make any little sacrifice that might be incidental to his pursuit of health or pleasure, or that might be involved in obedience to the dictates of his conscience. It was said that this Bill would inflict no hardship on the working classes, because they could easily make their purchases, if they chose, on Saturday night. But it was not a fair or accurate representation of the case to say that the labouring population unnecessarily persisted in making their purchases on Sunday in selfish disregard of the comfort of those with whom they dealt. It would not do, in discussing this question, merely to refer to the practice of the Messrs. Maudslay and Co. and other large firms in paying their workpeople on Friday or early on Saturday; they must rather take the rough with the smooth, and it would be found that many small employers and middle-men, who did not obtain their money till late on the Saturday, could not pay their workmen till an hour go advanced that in their jaded condition at the end of the week's labour they could not make their purchases that night, but must wait until Sunday morning. This was the effect of the testimony adduced over and over again before Select Committees; and, besides the ease of the regular workmen, there was a numerous class of costermongers similarly circumstanced, who probably had not a meal in their wretched dwellings on Saturday night, and who would, therefore, be left to starve if they could not buy food on the Lord's day. It was all very well for those who had larders in which to place their provisions, to lay in a stock of meat, bread, vegetables, &c., on Saturday for their sustenance on Sunday; but there were hundreds and thousands of honest, hard- working, and sober men in that metropolis who had only one room, or at most two, in which to lodge themselves and their families; and these poor persons would be obliged, if this Bill passed, to keep their food in the apartments in which they lived and slept, the tainted atmosphere of which would render it unwholesome by Sunday. The inconvenience of such a measure, therefore, would be greater to the buyer than it could be to the seller; especially seeing that it was not true that the traffic went on during the whole of the Sunday, because in the limited localities to which it was at present confined, the greater portion of it was practically over by eleven or twelve o'clock in the day. It was said that if they adopted this Bill the relations of master and servant would soon adjust themselves to its provisions; but there was no guarantee that anything of this kind would occur; and, if under such a measure the wages of the poor man should unfortunately continue to be paid late on Saturday night, nobody could deny that he would suffer a very serious hardship. Moreover, the present Sunday business was a ready-money business, and the House should be careful how it took any legislation that might have the effect of causing the publichouse to intervene and intercept that part of the working man's gains which ought to go to the legitimate trader; while, on the other hand, it might lead to the introduction of the truck principle, which had proved so objectionable in the manufacturing districts. When examined before the Committee of the House of Lords, Sir Richard Mayne, the Commissioner of Metropolitan Police, gave important and valuable testimony on the subject to which this Bill related. He stated that the reports of his force showed that Sunday trading was decreasing, and that there was now an improved observance of the Sabbath in London; and, while admitting that the Act of Charles II. was inoperative to repress Sunday trading, Sir Richard Mayne also said that he should look with apprehension on any attempt by law to effect that object, compulsory measures especially being, in his opinion, likely to aggravate the very evil they were intended to remedy. At one time he (Mr. Massey) was favourable to a Bill like that now before the House, but having more maturely considered the subject, he had come to the opposite conclusion, and was satisfied that it would be most unsafe and impolitic to pass a Bill so one- sided, so full of anomalies, and founded upon so many contradictions. Those tradesmen who had had the courage to shut their shops on Sunday, from a conviction that such was their duty, had not actually suffered pecuniarily in consequence; and, certainly, for a man to come to Parliament and ask it to help him to act in accordance with the dictates of his conscience, was neither very manly nor very English, and much resembled the conduct of those voters who complained of intimidation at elections. Again, legislative attempts to alter the habits of a people by direct enactment had invariably failed in their design. The rapid strides which society had made during the last one hundred years, gave the only real hope of improvement in that respect. The population of London, a century ago, was described by historians as being in a state of the most revolting depravity. The ignorance and debauchery of the lower classes were then such that the tradesmen pandered to their grovelling vices in the most barefaced and flagitious manner, posting on their shops placards, stating that people could there be made drunk for 1d., and that for 2d. they could get dead drunk, and be allowed to sleep upon clean straw for nothing; and, in fact, in most of the temples of debauchery straw was provided for those who were beastly intoxicated to lie upon until they had sufficiently recovered to be able to walk away again. In the latter part of Sir Robert Walpole's Administration, Parliament attempted to repress this profligate state of things by the strong hand, and in 1736, it imposed a prohibitory duty on gin, exacting also a sum of 50l. from the retail dealer for his licence, and forbidding a less quantity than two gallons of spirits to be sold. When this stringent law passed, the consumption of spirits in this country was 13,500,000 gallons per annum; but four years after its adoption it had increased to 15,250,000 gallons; and in 1742, when the Legislature at last saw that the measure was totally inoperative, and therefore determined to repeal it, the consumption had risen to the enormous quantity of 19,000,000 gallons. Parliament then went to the other extreme, and passed an enactment of a mere revenue character, together with a licence duty, only nomial in amount; but this new law was just as inoperative as the prohibitory Act which preceded it; and so it would be to the end of time. Legislative experiments to reform morals and manners never had succeeded and never would succeed. In conclusion, then, he objected to this Bill, because it would be distasteful to the majority of the working classes whom it would affect; because it belonged to a category of enactments which had been long obsolete, and ought now to be repudiated; because it would not accomplish the object which its promoters had in view; and because it was wholly uncalled for, the evil against which it was directed, if any really existed, being so extremely partial and limited in its operation that it would be better to leave it to be corrected by those causes which had been silently at work during the last hundred years, increasing the spread of knowledge and self-respect among the working classes, and inspiring them with a wholesome desire to win more and more the good opinion and confidence of those who were accidentally placed above them in the social scale.


said, he was confirmed in his approval of the Bill of his noble Friend by seeing that the hon. Gentleman who had just addressed the House, and who had evidently devoted some care and attention to the subject, had not been able to make out a stronger case in support of his opinions than he had done. The hon. Gentleman entertained a decided and very natural opinion in favour of voluntary agencies, and against compulsion of any kind; and he had quoted, in favour of that opinion, an instance of what he (Lord Stanley) believed to be a very unwise interference on the part of Parliament, for the suppression of a popular vice, about 100 years ago. Now, that recital might be quite in place in a discussion on the Maine law; but as regarded the present question, it only showed— what, he supposed, none of them were inclined to dispute—that it was possible to legislate, with the best intentions, in a very injudicious manner. The hon. Gentleman had referred to the improvement which had taken place in the habits of the people of this metropolis, and inferred that that improvement was to be attributed entirely to voluntary and moral agencies. But he (Lord Stanley) apprehended that the hon. Gentleman had forgotten some agencies which were not of a moral or voluntary character, but which were very material in their nature—that he had forgotten, for instance, the effect of an improved police, of better lighted streets, and other material improvements introduced among us of late years. There was one objection raised by the hon, Gentleman to the Bill which was founded simply on a misconception. He had drawn a very pathetic picture of a labouring man, having but one room for himself and his family, and compelled to buy his provisions on the Saturday, and to keep them in that room until the Sunday. But had the hon. Gentleman read the Bill? Because the third clause of the measure made a careful exception in favour of all necessary articles of food, which were allowed to be sold before the hour of nine o'clock on the Sunday morning. That was a direct mode of guarding against that very evil which the hon. Gentleman wished to advert. When the hon. Gentleman quoted the high authority of Sir Richard Mayne, as a witness for the impossibility of carrying such a Bill as that into effect, he (Lord Stanley) had only to observe that he had great respect for the authority of Sir Richard Mayne, but that, before he accepted it upon such a question, he should like to know a little more specifically and definitely what the particular provision was which Sir Richard Mayne said it would be impossible to enforce. Violation of the law in some cases there, no doubt, might be, through the neglect of the police; all laws were occasionally violated; but certainly the hawking of goods about the streets, and the keeping open shops on Sunday—the particular offences against which this Bill was directed—were offences which could not be carried on in secret, and the detection of which Vas therefore easy. The hon. Gentleman bad told them that purchases must be made by the labouring classes on the Sunday, because they were not paid their week's wages until the Saturday night. Now, in the first place, he (Lord Stanley) would repeat that necessary purchases on the Sunday morning before nine o'clock were not prohibited by the Bill; and in the nest place he should observe, that he saw no reason to think that the masters would object to accommodate themselves to the proposed change of the law, and to make their payments to their workmen on the Friday night. What possible advantage could a master have in paying on the Saturday instead of the Friday? The only reason, he believed, why wages had been hitherto paid on the Saturday was, that the working classes thought— perhaps erroneously—that it was their interest to receive them on the eve of their only holiday. The hon. Gentleman seemed to apprehend that the Bill would tend to introduce a system of credit among the working classes in their dealings with shopkeepers; and he (Lord Stanley) readily admitted that such a system would be productive to them of the greatest evil. But he did not understand why that evil should arise. The hon. Gentleman had spoken of the public-house interfering between the labouring classes and their employers, swallowing up their earnings as soon, as these were received: but the fact was, that the public-house did so interfere at present, and that one of the great objects of the Bill was to remove that inconvenience. As far as the Bill would affect that matter at all, it would affect it in an opposite manner to that stated by the hon. Member, and would tend to decrease and not to increase the evil to which he referred. Another objection of the hon. Gentleman was, that the Bill was confined to the metropolis, and would not extend to the whole empire; but such a measure seemed necessarily to apply to great towns, rather than to a country district; but all that he (Lord Stanley) could say upon that point was, that he would be perfectly prepared to extend that experiment to the other towns of the kingdom, if it should be found to operate beneficially in London. There was nothing new in the practice of legislating in an exceptional manner for the metropolis, and they had at present on the notice paper of the House a Bill for applying a different system of local government to the metropolis from that which was adopted in other towns. He thought it was not unreasonable that when they were trying an experiment of that kind—for an experiment it was—they should be anxious to try it in the first instance in the locality in which the evil which they were seeking to suppress was most severely felt. Another argument used by the hon. Gentleman, in opposition to the measure, was that the number of people at present employed against their will on a Sunday was so small as to be hardly deserving of becoming the subject of legislation. But he (Lord Stanley) believed it was stated in the Report of one of the Committees which had inquired into that subject, that the number of persons so employed on the Sundays against their will exceeded 50,000—and this was not a number so insignificant as to be undeserving the consideration of the House. The hon. Gentleman further contended that the business transacted was so trifling as not to impose any considerable amount of labour; but it seemed to him (Lord Stanley) that such a circumstance could only serve as an argument in favour of the measure, because if the trade were in itself inconsiderable there was the less reason to think that it could not be dispatched on six out of the seven days of the week. Let the House observe that there was a difference between interfering with the opening of shops at a certain period, and interfering with labour. If they were to enact that the producing classes should not work on any day on which they had been accustomed to work, then the interference with industry would be to that extent an actual and positive diminution of the capital of the country; but when they declared that certain persons having to carry on a certain amount of trade should carry it on during six days and a limited portion of the seventh only, they would not diminish the amount of the traffic; they would merely limit the time within which the sales were to be made. The hon. Gentleman had in one respect done justice to the promoters of the measure; he had said that it was not conceived in a Sabbatarian spirit. That was, he (Lord Stanley) believed, a fact; and if he thought otherwise he would not support the Bill. He was opposed to any compulsory enforcement of what was called the sanctity of the Sabbath-day; but in the present case they were asked, not to enforce any religious observance, but to protect a national right—they were asked to protect ninety-nine men in a 100 who were anxious to close their shops on the Sunday, against one man in a 100 who wished to open his shop on the Sunday. In a large town where shops were contiguous to one another the pressure of competition was so urgent on the shopkeeper that it became practically impossible for one tradesman to close his shop on Sunday, except at a great loss, when his neighbour in the same line of business kept his open. He was confident that if it were possible to ascertain the feelings of the London shopkeepers upon that subject, it would be found that a very large majority of them were in favour of the Bill. His only fear was, that the measure, being reasonable and moderate, would be encountered by a hostility arising in opposite quarters. Some, like the hon. Gentleman, thought it went too far; others complained that it did not go far enough, and he held in his hand a paper, in which it was energetically denounced, not because it prohibited trading on the Sunday, but because it virtually legalised a certain amount of trading on that day. Now, that was not the view which he took of the matter. He thought they had combined all the advantages that could be attained by the measure; and while it proceeded on a renunciation of the Sabbatarian spirit, he believed it would give a fair reasonable protection to the tradesman, without inflicting an injury on the working classes; but that, on the contrary, the interests and character of the persons affected by the Bill would be benefited by the change.


said, it was his conviction that a great change had been going on during the last fifty years in the manners and habits of the people of the metropolis, and he was fully satisfied that the progress of civilising influences might be safely left to work out its own results without interfering by legislative enactments to put down Sunday trading. It was true, as the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) had stated, that this Bill was not satisfactory to a certain class of the religious world, and hon. Members must take care that in propitiating one class they did not offend another. The Sabbatarians were already remonstrating against this Bill as not being of a sufficiently restrictive character. They considered it a Bill of profanation and desecration, and said that it would positively legalise Sunday trading to an extent truly extraordinary, relaxing on the one hand what it professed to strengthen on the other, so that the ill effects of the law would be greater than its benefits. It would be well for those who insisted so strongly on the observance of the Sabbath to remember that the Mosaic Sabbath as a matter of public convenience, as well as a provision for public rest and instruction, had a great superiority over the present observance of our Sabbath. Taking the Sabbath from twelve o'clock on Saturday night to twelve o'clock on Sunday night put a complete stop to many things which were indispensable to the enjoyment and comfort of the people. The real original Sabbath commenced at sunset on the evening of one day, and terminated at sunset on the evening of the next day, and thus afforded the opportunity for a variety of operations which were most important to the well-being and comfort of society. If we would substitute our modern reckoning for the ancient computation, let us at least have some counterbalance either in the morning or evening for the necessary requirements of the day thus set apart. He did not believe, with the noble Lord, that conscientious persons would suffer from competition if they shut up their shops on Sunday, because, if a man were believed to be in earnest and to act from religious motives, what he lost in one direction he would gain in another. He would join himself to some Church, or sect, or congregation; and it was notorious that in many professions there were strong inducements to persons to connect themselves with religious bodies, finding, in so doing, profits in this life, as well as in the life to come. But whether they were repaid for their spiritual sacrifices or not, he did not think they had any right to call upon the Legislature to step in for their protection, and he considered the present Bill objectionable, not merely as affecting the interests of the working classes, but on account of the strange selection of topics to legislate upon. The Bill picked out trading exclusively for penalties and prohibitions, and left work, amusement, and occupation out of the question. But the cessation of labour on Sundays was still more important than the prevention of Sunday trading, and ought assuredly to be considered with it in any enactment like the present. The fact was that the promoters of the Bill shrank back from touching the question of labour, because they would then influence a more powerful class of society against them. They would then interfere with the gentry and clergy, with the members of clubs and coteries, with peers, and bishops, and archbishops. The employment of cooks, of footmen, and of grooms, and the use of carriages, were far more point-blank against the original anathema than the exercise of any of those trades which accommodated the poor man with the food and refreshment necessary for his comfort on the Sunday. The public would tolerate no measure on this subject which did not strike manfully, boldly, and conscientiously at Sunday work as well as trading, wherever it was carried on. To stop short of this was only a pitiful and sordid hypocrisy.


said, that the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Massey), who had moved the Amendment congratulated the House that this had not been made a religious question. But, although he (Mr. Seymer) agreed that the measure could not be regarded as a religious one, he was unwilling to look upon the Sabbath as a mere day of rest. He believed that it would not be for the interest of the working classes that it should be so considered, for he felt convinced that, in order to make that a people's day, it should first be made a Lord's day. They had been told that there were many parts of the metropolis in which such a Bill would not be required. It should, however, be remembered that those districts would not be affected by its provisions; but he believed there were other portions of the town in which it might most usefully be brought into operation. He had himself visited Houndsditch on Sunday last, at about eleven o'clock, for the purpose of seeing what was the character of the Sunday fair which was known to take place in that quarter; and he would tell the House what had been the result of his inquiries. With some difficulty he had entered a very crowded street, which led to the spot in which the principal mart was held. The first thing that struck him in the place was a large placard with the inscription "Liberty of the subject in danger," and containing an announcement that a meeting was to be held in reference to the Bill then under the consideration of the House. But what was that "liberty of the subject?" It was the liberty of buying and selling stolen goods on the Sunday during the hours of Divine service. The next thing that attracted his notice was a man calling in a loud voice upon the crowd around him to sign a petition in favour of Sunday trading. He could not say that he saw many persons complying with that request, and he believed that in point of fact a number of those present would have found it exceedingly inconvenient to sign their names and their places of abode. He had then seen a man addressing another knot of persons, and protesting amidst many disgusting and blasphemous expressions, that he made no distinction between religions, and that he was only anxious to do good for his fellowmen. But, unless that man's countenance greatly belied his character, he (Mr. Seymer) should be extremely sorry to trust to his humane and fraternal feelings. He had afterwards entered a large covered bazaar, crowded with persons selling every article except articles of food. He thought nothing but the pen of Dickens could describe what he saw in these Sunday bazaars. Having on one occasion met a policeman, he asked him if that state of things was to be witnessed every Sunday. The policeman said, "Yes, and I wish Lord Palmerston or Lord John Russell would come and see it." In the course of conversation the policeman asked him to pay a visit to the pick-pockets' exchange, where they sold the handkerchiefs stolen in the course of the week. He accordingly went, and saw wretched-looking men disposing of silk handkerchiefs that they never could have come by honestly. He was informed that many persons frequented the place in order to get cheap bargains. But it invariably happened that a man, on purchasing a handkerchief, was robbed of it by the confederates of the party who sold it to him, even before he left the bazaar. He was bound, however, to say he saw no outrage or violence going on. And, having remarked that to the policeman, his reply was, "Oh, yes, things go on pretty regular, except that there is some thieving." There could not have been less than 15,000 or 16,000 persons present. He knew men could not be made religious by Act of Parliament; but these were scandalous symptoms, and for that reason he should support the measure.


said, he should support the Bill because he believed the welfare of the working classes of London depended on a Bill of this kind, so that after a certain hour on the Sunday they might get an opportunity of having a holiday. There were certain classes in London—he alluded especially to the barbers, those who shaved the community— who it was perfectly well known had not for years had an opportunity of having their hats on. He denied that this Bill was for the interest of the trading classes; but, on the contrary, he believed it to be a Bill for the interest of the working classes.


said, he could not but observe that the promoters of this Bill appeared particularly reluctant to discuss the Bill on its merits. The Bill was brought in without discussion or explanation, and, on the second reading, the noble Lord (Lord Robert Grosvenor) tried to coax the House against discussing it on that occasion, by stating that the House had already, on several previous occasions, affirmed the principle of a Bill for prohibiting Sunday trading. He should certainly take the sense of the House upon the question of going into Committee. The inhabitants of the metropolis objected to have experiments of this kind tried on them; let the case be reversed, and if the measure succeeded in the rest of the kingdom the metropolis would then think, perhaps, about adopting it. A great deal of trading went on in other large towns, and if the Bill were so perfect, why should the metropolis monopolise its benefits? He believed that if his proposition were agreed to, many hon. Members who now supported the Bill would combine to kick it out of the House. Where did the hon. Member for Dorsetshire (Mr. K. Seymer) derive the information that the goods he had seen exposed for sale in Houndsditch were stolen? If they were stolen, it was the hon. Gentleman's duty to inform the policeman of the fact, and give the thieves into custody; but he thought the hon. Gentleman would have been much better employed in attending his parish church than in spending his Sunday in Houndsditch. Having seen the iniquities he had described, the hon. Gentleman ought to have gone at once to the Lord Mayor, within whose jurisdiction they had taken place, and whose duty it was to put a stop to them. Why should the House interfere if the Lord Mayor did not? He objected to the Bill, because it was much more stringent than any which had previously been brought forward, and he thought that if any measure on the subject was necessary it ought to be introduced by the Government. The noble Lord the Member for Marylebone (Viscount Ebrington) had supported the Bill upon sanitary grounds, upon the principles of political economy, and also upon religious grounds; and certainly this was a religious question, or else it was no question at all. The supporters of the Bill resorted to a cowardly evasion upon this point; they told the House that they rested the Bill on purely secular grounds, while they told the Sabbatarian party that their object was to put a stop to the desecration of the Sabbath, at all events, after nine or ten o'clock; and if they could once get in the thin end of the wedge they would soon abolish Sunday trading altogether. The Bill was founded on the 29 of Charles II., although it altogether ignored that Act, and was much more stringent in its provisions; for instance, all proceedings under the Act of Charles II. were to be commenced within ten days after the offence had been committed, but by this Bill any proceedings might be commenced within three calendar months. Any person convicted under this Act, if he had no money to pay the fines, might be sent to the House of Correction for fourteen days; by the Act of Charles II. the penalty for non-payment was imprisonment in the stocks, and it applied both to rich and to poor. The Act of Charles II. was still in force, and any one using carriages or servants and not going to church on a Sunday was at this moment liable to be put in the stocks. Why did they not repeal that Act and place the whole subject on an intelligible footing? He certainly thought the Sabbath was needlessly desecrated in the metropolis. He saw no necessity for the Sunday afternoon trading which now took place, and, upon religious grounds, he should be glad to see trading put a stop to, except in some perishable articles, such as milk, after half-past ten or eleven on Sunday morning; but his objection to this measure was, that it would prevent numbers of the poorer classes, who did not receive their wages until late on Saturday night, from providing themselves with the necessaries of life on Sunday morning. No man's trade ought to be allowed to interfere with another man's devotions, but he saw no reason why the poor should not be allowed to supply themselves with necessaries up to half-past ten on the Sunday morning. He should vote for his hon. Friend's Amendment; but if the House went on with the Bill he should try and persuade them to extend its provisions to the whole country.


said, he disliked the insinuation contained in the title of the Bill, that its object was to prevent unnecessary trading on the Sunday. In point of fact, unnecessary trading on the Sunday could only be trading by the rich. But there was a positive necessity for many of the poor to trade on the Sunday. In addition to the reasons stated by the hon. Member who had just sat down, let the House remember that there were no less than 150,000 families in London who inhabited only single rooms. Those people could not buy anything that was liable to become corrupt in the course of the Saturday night. If they were to bring in a honest Bill to shut up the clubs on Sundays he would not oppose it, but he would not support this Bill, which appeared to him unjust in every way.


said, he had received numerous communications from that part of the country with which he had the honour to be connected, all strenuously opposed to the further progress of this Bill. The whole tenour of their representations was, that they would gladly support any Bill which would prevent unnecessary trading on the Sunday, but they considered that the exceptions in this Bill militated against the principle of the measure. Concurring in this view, he felt it his duty to oppose the further progress of the Bill.


said, many of his constituents were in favour of the Bill, and many were against it. But he had a conscientious objection to the Bill, which he thought was a mistaken piece of legislation. He was as much opposed to Sunday trading as any one, and he believed that it was continued rather in deference to the people, who were accustomed to Sunday trading, than in accordance with the wishes of the shopkeepers who keep their shops open. He considered this to be quite a religious question, and if it was, then he agreed with his hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury (Mr. T. Duncombe) that this measure did not go far enough. The hon. Member for Dorsetshire (Mr. K. Seymer) had spoken of a particular district, but he apprehended that was a district inhabited principally by Jews.


said, he had not taken any part in the discussion, because he had, on a previous occasion, stated his concurrence with the principle of the Bill, and he would now only repeat that he should support the Motion for going into Committee. The objection taken to it by the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. T. Duncombe) were objections which ought to be considered in Committee, as they appeared to resolve themselves into a question of whether nine or half-past ten o'clock was the time after which trading should be prohibited. Some of the petitions presented by the hon. Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck) were not against the Bill itself, but against the exceptions it contained. He thought it would be unwise to omit these exceptions, because the Bill did not rest upon the religious obligation to observe the Sabbath, but must be regarded rather as a police regulation to secure the greater part of the Lord's day as a day of rest for the poor. It ought not to be extended to the whole country, because many towns had police regulations of their own with which it would interfere, and, in his opinion, it had been very properly introduced by a noble Lord who represented a metropolitan county, and who wished to relieve a large number of his constituents from the obligation of sacrificing a day which ought to be a day of rest and recreation, if not of religious observance, to the bulk of the people.


said, he should support the Amendment, because he preferred to be guided by the opinion of Sir Richard Mayne, rather than by that of the extraordinary policeman to whom the hon. Member for Dorsetshire had referred, and it was Sir Richard Mayne's opinion that any attempt to deal with the subject by legislation would only aggravate the evil. The hon. Gentleman had referred to the attempt some man was making to obtain signatures to a petition, but was there not in London a regularly organised system of petition mongering? Was there not a paid secretary and a staff for every agitation that was raised, who went about pestering people for signatures to petitions upon subjects they knew nothing about? There were from 30,000 to 50,000 poor people engaged till twelve o'clock every Saturday night in the streets of London in the sale of small articles, and why were they not to be allowed to purchase necessaries upon a Sunday morning? The rich were the greatest violators of the law. Why, there lived not three hundred yards from the Queen's palace a rich fishmonger who employed fifteen persons every Sunday, from early in the morning until sometimes ten o'clock at night, in carrying fish to Peers, Bishops, Judges, Members of that House, and persons of that class.


said, he must beg to explain, in consequence of the reference made to him by the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary, that he had stated that the objection taken to the Bill by the petitions he had presented was, that it would increase the present amount of Sunday trading.


said, he objected to the Bill, because he believed it to be unnecessary, and directed against a particular class. If a similar measure were directed against another class he should think there was some sincerity in the promoters of the Bill. For instance, if the noble Lord who had charge of the Bill, and whose kindly feeling and sincerity none could doubt, would only direct his attention to that class more especially to which he belonged, and correct their errors, rather than those of the working classes, he thought he would act more advisedly. When he went into Hyde Park on the Sunday he found numbers of persons, even Members of that House, advocates of that measure, riding in their carriages with their servants attending them; and he could not go to the Zoological Gardens but he saw the same thing. It appeared to him that that which was wrong in the working classes must surely be wrong in the upper classes, and if he should see the noble Lord legislating against these things, he thought it would be much better. With this view he objected to the Bill as an unnecessary piece of legislation. He believed, firmly and conscientiously, that were the upper classes to set the working classer a better example, much more effect would be produced than any such legislation as that which was now proposed.


said, that he had introduced the Bill, not at the instigation of his own class, but in compliance with the wishes of a number of the inhabitants of this metropolis, principally of the trading and lower classes, whose petitions, signed by upwards of 50,000 persons, had been presented. Anticipating some such observations as those which had just been made by the hon. Member for Leicester (Sir J. Walmsley) he had, in order to see what was the example set by the higher classes in this matter, caused to be ascertained the number of carriages and horses that were in Hyde Park on Saturday and Sunday last, and also the number of omnibuses and cabs that passed a certain point in Piccadilly on the same days. The results were these:—On Saturday there were in Hyde Park 1,936 carriages with one horse, 2,199 carriages with more than one horse, and 1,740 saddle horses; on Sunday there were 1,698 carriages with one horse, 854 with more than one horse, and 413 saddle horses. The two last numbers represented the means of conveyance principally used by the higher classes. As to omnibuses and cabs, the means of conveyance used by the middle and lower classes, the results were—On Saturday, 1,228 omnibuses, and 3,047 cabs; on Sunday, 1,040 omnibuses, and 2,600 cabs. In this respect, therefore, a very good example appeared to be set by the higher classes, and thought it was a sufficient answer to the observations of the hon. Member for Leicester.


said, he thought the statistics about omnibuses and cabs went to prove that the middle and upper classes did not observe the Sabbath so well as the lower classes of the population. It had not been shown that all clubs were closed on Sundays. He considered the Bill very injurious, and should therefore support the Amendment.


said, the great evil was, that labouring men went to the public-house on Saturday night instead of to the market. If there was no market on Sunday morning, it would be of great advantage to them, and he believed the payment of wages on Sunday morning was the exception and not the rule.


said, before putting the question, he must inform the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. T. Buncombe) that it was not competent for him to move an instruction to the Committee, as the hon. Member for Newport (Mr. Massey) had a previous Amendment on the paper, which must first be taken. In case that Amendment should not be adopted, it would be competent for the hon. Member for Finsbury to move his Amendment, though he might move it on the bringing up of the Report, or on the third reading.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 158; Noes 51: Majority 107.

List of the Ayes
Acland, Sir T. D. Goodman, Sir G.
Adair, R. A. S. Greaves, E.
Anderson, Sir J. Grenfell, C. W.
Bailey, Sir J. Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.
Bailey, C. Guinness, R. S.
Baird, J. Gurney, J. H.
Barnes, T. Gwyn, H.
Barrington, Visct. Hadfield, G.
Barrow, W. H. Hall, Sir B.
Bateson, T. Hamilton, Lord C.
Baxter, W. E. Hastie, A.
Bell, J. Hastie, Arch.
Berkeley, C. L. G. Heathcote, Sir G. J.
Bethell, Sir R. Heathcote, G. H.
Biddulph, R. M. Heathcote, Sir W.
Bignold, Sir S. Hervey, Lord A.
Blandford, Mar. of Hindley, C.
Bouverie, rt. hon. E. P. Horsman, rt. hon. E.
Bramley-Moore, J. Howard, hon. C. W. G.
Brotherton, J. Hudson, G.
Buck, G. S. Hughes, W. B.
Butler, C. S. Ingham, R.
Butt, G. M. Irton, S.
Cardwell, rt. hon. E. Jermyn, Earl
Carnac, Sir J. R. Kendall, N.
Cayley, E.S. Kershaw, J.
Cecil, Lord R. King, hon. P. J. L.
Challis, Mr. Ald. Langton, H. G.
Child, S. Laslett, W.
Cholmondeley, Lord H. Lee, W.
Clifford, H. M. Leslie, C. P.
Coles, H. B. Liddell, hon. H. G.
Colvile, C. R. Lisburne, Earl of
Coote, Sir C. H. Lockhart, W.
Corry, rt. hon. H. L. Luce, T.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Mc Taggart, Sir J.
Craufurd, E. H. J. Malins, R.
Crook, J. Mandeville, Visct.
Crossley, F. Manners, Lord J.
Davie, Sir H. R. F. Miles, W.
Davies, D. A. S. Milligan, R.
Davies, J. L. Michell, W.
Dent, J. D. Moncreiff, J.
Drumlanrig, Visct. Morris, D.
Duncan, G. Mulgrave, Earl of
Dunlop, A. M. Naas, Lord
East, Sir J. B. Neeld, John
Ebrington, Visct. North, F.
Egerton, W. T. Northcote, Sir S. H.
Egerton, E. C. Oakes, J. H. P.
Ewart, W. Packe, C. W.
Ewart, J. C. Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J.
Farnham, E. B. Palk, L.
Farrer, J. Palmer, Robert
Ferguson, Sir R. Peacock, G. M. W.
FitzRoy, rt. hon. II. Pennant. hon. Col.
Floyer, J. Percy, hon. J. W.
Foley, J. H. H. Pritchard, J.
Follett, B. S. Pugh, D.
Forester rt. hon. Col. Repton, G. W. J.
Forster, C. Ricardo, O.
Freestun, Col. Robartes, T. J. A.
Freshfield, J. W. Robertson, P. F.
Fuller, A. E. Russell, Lord J.
Gardner, R. Russell, F. C. H.
Gaskell, J. M. Russell, F. W.
Gladstone, Capt. Sawle, C. B. G.
Goddard, A. L. Seymer, H. K.
Shelley, Sir J. V. Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.
Shirley, E. P. Waterpark, Lord
Smith, A. West, F. R.
Smollett, A. Whitmore, H.
Spooner, R. Winnington, Sir T. E.
Stafford, A. Woodd, B. T.
Strickland, Sir G. Wyndham, Gen.
Stewart, Sir M. R. S. Wynne, W. W. E.
Stuart, W. Wyvill, M.
Tollemache, J.
Tudway, R. C. TELLERS.
Verner, Sir W. Grosvenor, Lord
Waddington, H. S. Stanley, Lord
List of the NOES.
Bentinck, G. W. P. Maguire, J. F.
Berkeley, H. H. F. Miall, E.
Biggs, W. Moody, C. A.
Bland, L. H. Morgan, O.
Bright, J. O'Brien, P.
Brockman, E. D. Otway, A. J.
Coffin, W. Pechell, Sir G. B.
Cogan, W. H. F. Pilkington, J.
De Vere, S. E. Powlett, Lord W.
Divett, E. Price, W. P.
Drummond, H. Ricardo, S.
FitzGerald, Sir J. Scobell, Capt.
Forster, J. Shafto R. D.
Fox, W. J. Smyth, J. G.
Gallwey, Visct. Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W
Goderich, Visct. Steel, J.
Headlam, T. E. Sullivan, M.
Heard, J. I. Thompson, G.
Heyworth, L. Tyler, Sir G.
Higgings, G. G. O. Walcott, Adm.
Horsfall, T. B. Walmsley, Sir J.
Hutt, W. Welby, Sir G. E.
Lowther, hon. Col. Wilkinson, W. A.
Lowther, Capt. Wyndham, H.
Mackie, J. TELLERS.
M'Mahon, P. Massey, W. N.
Maddock, Sir H. Duncombe, T.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

House in Committee.

Clause 1, which provides penalties for selling, offering, or exposing goods for sale.

MR. MASSEY moved to insert the words, "after the hour of ten o'clock in the forenoon."


said, he could not consent to the insertion of words which would destroy the whole principle of the Bill. It was his belief that great numbers of the working classes would never purchase what they wanted on a Saturday evening so long as they knew they could do so on Sunday morning, and this was a Bill to put an end to Sunday trading.

Amendment negatived.


said, he would propose to add at the end of the clause— Provided always that no person of the Jewish race and religion shall in any case whatever be liable to any of the penalties inflicted under this Act. He thought particular indulgence ought to be shown towards a class who were unwarrantably excluded from that House, notwithstanding that their entrance was wished by great numbers of Christians who returned them as representatives. The Jews were the truest and most conscientious Sabbatarians. No class was to be compared with them in the observance of rites and ceremonies. They consequently deserved to have their conscientiousness recognised, and to be freed from penalties which would fall with greater propriety on those who for profits' sake desecrated a day which they pretended to hold sacred. The Jews were the observers of a law which was most distinct and most complete in its evidence. It did not rest, like the Christian law, upon inference, tradition, and the practice of Churches. It was a clear, distinct, positive enactment, and the Jews acted up to it. On some accounts it was very convenient that there should be some persons holding one day sacred, and others another. The operations of society could not be suspended entirely on either day, and there were those of whose services they could avail themselves in the one case and in the other. It was a common benefit that there should be Jews as well as Christians in the population, and an observance of Saturday as a sacred day as well as the observance of Sunday. This clause, without his Amendment, imposed on the Jews penalties for a conscientious adherence to their religion, and was in opposition to all the tolerant legislation of late years and that reverence with which the Jews and their religion ought to be treated. In order to secure something like impartiality, and to prevent the Bill being open to the charge of intolerance, he trusted the Committee would consent to the Amendment.


said, he objected to the Amendment, on the ground that they were legislating for the better observance of the Christian, and not of the Jewish Sabbath; in other words, that they were legislating for the whole community, and not for any particular class.

Amendment withdrawn.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 2, which provides that every sale shall be a separate offence,


said, that it was not in the Bill which the House of Lords considered sufficiently stringent. If the Committee wished to make the Bill more obnoxious, they could do so. He should only call attention to the fact.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 3, which provides that the provisions of the Act should not apply to the sale of any medicine, drug, or article for medicinal purposes.

MR. T. DUNCOMBE moved to insert after the words "medicine, drug, or other article for medicinal purposes," "nor to the exercising of any work of necessity, or charity, or in cases of sickness or sudden emergency." Those words stood in the Bill which the House of Lords sent down, and he could not understand why they were omitted.


said, the words proposed to be introduced excepted something which did not fall within the Act.


thought this clause altogether objectionable, as inviting inferentially the infringement of existing Acts of Parliament, by excepting many things the sale of which on Sundays was now prohibited. He recommended that the clause should be left out, and another clause afterwards brought up, specifically legalising the sale of those articles clearly necessary to be sold to the public.


said, the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. T. Buncombe) was quite right in saying the words he proposed to insert were in the Lords' Bill, but he believed it happened in this way— that Bill prohibited work, and therefore excepted works of charity, but, when the part prohibiting work was struck out, the exception, by an oversight, was allowed to remain.


said, he thought it important that the words proposed should be inserted.


said, he made no objection to the proposition, but thought it was undesirable to incumber the Bill with unnecessary provisions.


said, he thought the best way would be to read the clause thus—"That the provisions of the Bill should not extend nor apply to the selling, offering, or exposing for sale of any medicines, drugs, or any article for medicinal purposes, or in cases of emergency or of charity."


said, he would suggest that the addition of the words "charitable or" after the word "article" would meet the difficulty.


said, if the Committee would pass by the clause and allow him to confer with those who had drawn the Bill, if he found the Bill did not really carry out the wishes of the hon. Member for Finsbury he would propose words to that effect upon the Report.


said, he was so completely at issue with those who drew the Bill that he would not trust anything to them. He held some of those parties in the highest contempt. It appeared that there had been some 1,400l. subscribed in four months—nice pickings for the gentlemen who had got up the greatly exaggerated statements which had been put forth. As for consulting with them, surely the House was competent to decide for itself. As the proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Greenwich (Mr. M. Chambers) would meet his object, he was willing to withdraw his Amendment, and substitute the addition of the words proposed by the hon. and learned Gentleman.

Amendment withdrawn, and the words, "or in cases of emergency or of charity" were added to the clause.

On the next provision, that the Act should not extend nor apply to "the selling, hawking, crying, offering, or exposing for sale of any milk or cream before the hour of nine o'clock in the morning, or after the hour of one in the afternoon."


proposed to strike out the words "hawking or crying."


said, he wished to know whether the Bill would interfere with an Act passed in 1836, whereby bakers were authorised to bake and sell bread up to half-past one in the afternoon of Sunday?


said, the Bill would not interfere with the Act of 1836, although the provisions of that Act were not exactly as the hon. and gallant Member had described them.


said, that, under the Act of Charles II., milk and cream were allowed to be sold during the whole day, as also was mackerel.


said, mackerel could be sold till nine o'clock in the morning.


said, if the sale of fish was restricted to nine o'clock, all the fish left unsold at that hour, or which might arrive later, would be stinking on Monday.


said, he must make an appeal to the Committee on behalf of the oyster interest; he hoped there was to be no further restriction imposed upon the trade.


said, he thought it would he better to retain the words "hawking or crying."


said, he wished to know why nine o'clock was the limit for the sale of milk, and ten o'clock for newspapers?


said, he should move that all the words after the word "cream" should be left out."

Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 12, to leave out the words "before the hour of nine in the morning, or after the hour of one in the afternoon."


said, that milk now came up by railway, and in some cases, might not reach London until after nine o'clock.


said, the object of the Bill was to relieve the poorer classes from excessive labour, and if milk was to be allowed to be sold during the whole day, persons would be kept the whole day to carry it out, and other persons would be sent out to fetch it. He could not see that the emergencies were so important as to require alteration in the hour.


said, he could not see why milk and cream should not be sold after nine o'clock.

Question put, "That the words 'before the hour of nine' stand part of the clause."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 133; Noes 69: Majority 64.


said, he would now propose to extend the hours of sale from nine o'clock until eleven o'clock.

Amendment proposed in page 2, line 13, to leave out the word "nine," and insert the word "eleven."

Question put, "That the word 'nine' stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 107; Noes 100: Majority 7.


said, the next exception from the operation of the Bill was in these words— "Nor to the selling, offering, or exposing for sale any newspaper or other periodical paper before ten o'clock in the morning."


said, he wished to know whether it was intended to make it illegal for a person who was going by a railway at half-past ten o'clock to purchase a newspaper, although if the train started at ten o'clock ho might legally do so? Nothing could be more absurd than such a description of legislation; and he should jive it his most strenuous opposition.


said, he would beg to point out the great inconvenience which might result from the clause as now worded. Supposing a second edition should be published after ten o'clock, announcing some important news from the East, such, for instance, as the successes of the allied squadron in the Sea of Azoff, were the public to be debarred from receiving that intelligence until Monday morning?


said, the effect of the clause would be to deprive a vast number of persons of the pleasure and advantage of reading Sunday newspapers altogether, and the clause would in effect amount to a total prohibition of the sale of newspapers on a Sunday.


said, that Sunday was almost the only leisure day which the working classes had for reading the newspapers, and he should at the proper time move the omission of the words "before ten o'clock in the morning."


said, he had all along intended to propose the rejection of all that part of the clause which referred to newspapers, and as there appeared to be a difficulty in doing so now he should move his Amendment on bringing up the Report. A newspaper was not an article of "necessity," and he considered that the public could well do without it on the Sabbath.


said, that there was not a single newspaper actually published on a Sunday. There were two issued on that day, but they were second editions only.


said, he thought that the argument of the noble Lord against the sale of newspapers, if worth anything, would equally apply to the working of railways and to the employment of steamboats on a Sunday. But it was clear to him that the observance of the Sunday was not the primary object of this Bill. Its provisions would still leave the clubs at the West end untouched. The Bill, in fact, was meant to affect only those who were not fairly represented in that House.


said, he thought it very undesirable to make the Bill too stringent in its operation. The House must take care what they were doing, otherwise they would most certainly defeat themselves.


said, if the suggestion of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner) were adopted, and the paragraph which excepted the sale of newspapers before ten o'clock on a Sunday was left out, the effect would be to prohibit the sale of newspapers on Sunday altogether.


said, he assumed that one object which the promoters of this Bill had in view was to prevent the humbler classes from resorting to publichouses on a Sunday. Now, it was a well-known fact that the people went to publichouses chiefly for the purpose of reading the newspapers. The way, then, to prevent their going to publichouses appeared to him to be to afford every facility for the sale of newspapers.

Question put, "That the word 'ten' stand part of the clause."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 169; Noes 53: Majority 116.


said, that by the division just come to it had been decided that the sale of newspapers should be excepted from the operation of the Bill up to ten o'clock in the morning; he would now beg to move that the words "in the morning be left out, and the words in the afternoon" be substituted.

Amendment proposed, in the same line, to leave out the words "in the morning," and insert the words "in the afternoon."

Question put, "That the words 'in the morning' stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 154; Noes 61: Majority 93.


said, he had a further Amendment to propose, the effect of which would be to enlarge the time during which newspapers might be sold. At a time like the present, when people were going mad after news from the Crimea, he thought it would prove too great a restriction to prohibit the sale of newspapers all day, after ten in the morning. He would move, therefore, that it be permitted to sell newspapers also "after two o'clock in the morning."


said, he must deprecate any further opposition to the clause, after the unequivocal demonstration that had just taken place.


said, he would recommend the postponement of all further Amendments until the bringing up o the Report.

Question put "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 62 Noes 140: Majority 78.

House resumed; Committee report progress.

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