HC Deb 16 May 1878 vol 240 cc33-5

wished to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department a Question of which he had given private Notice—namely, Whether the right hon. Gentleman was in a position to state to the House any particulars as to the riots which had occurred at Blackburn and Accrington, especially with regard to the outrages which had been committed on the houses of Colonel Jackson and Mr. Hornby, what steps had been taken to suppress those outrages, and whether those steps had been successful?


said, the Question of the hon. and gallant Member had anticipated one on the same subject which he intended to put; but he begged further to ask, If the Secretary of State for the Home Department would be good enough to inform the House what steps had been taken for the protection of life and property in the disturbed districts?


Sir, yesterday morning was the first time that I heard of these outrages, and of the burning down of Mr. Jackson's house. I immediately telegraphed to all towns where disturbances took place for full information as to the state of affairs, and asked what steps had been taken to preserve order. I found that the military had been called out before that time, and, in fact, before I received information of any rioting, though I am happy to say that no collision has taken place between the military and the persons inhabiting those districts. No one more deeply regrets than I do that the people should have committed outrages in any part of the country, and especially in my own county. The authorities are now, I believe, alive to the steps that they ought to take. I telegraphed again this morning that it was absolutely necessary that order should be preserved, and, at the same time, that I relied upon the greatest discretion being used on the part of the authorities in all those places where it was necessary to have the presence of a military force. I have received, within the last few minutes, the following telegrams, and, with the leave of the House, I will read them, as they give all the information I possess:— From the Chief Constable of Lancaster county.—Rioting has been commenced at Burnley, where there are one hundred police, who have been reinforced by two troops of cavalry and the infantry stationed there. No disturbances in the country districts elsewhere have commenced at present; but I am apprehensive about Darwen. Three men shot and wounded near Accrington by private individuals (not by soldiers); particulars not yet to hand. No effort is being spared to restore order and to avert the actual employment of the military. The area now affected is very extensive, and the police have been for some days largely reinforced from other parts of the country. Since telegram was sent this morning military force has been withdrawn from Darwen, by order of the magistrates, and the Chief Constable fears that serious results may ensue. That telegram was only received a few minutes ago, and I have not had time to reply to it. I have received the following telegram from the Mayor of Blackburn:— Peace since noon yesterday. Night passed very quietly. Shall keep present military force until strike is ended. No further excitement. The Mayor of Burnley telegraphs— Thanks for your telegram. Town is still disturbed; but we have a good force, civil and military. Letter by this post. The Mayor of Preston telegraphs— There have not been any disturbances at present, but an uneasy feeling prevails among the operatives. All possible precautions have been taken. The excitement appears to be subsiding. Will write report by next post. A telegram from Burnley, dated 2.40 to-day, says—"Quiet prevails. Military are patrolling the streets." I have received also a message from the Chairman of Quarter Sessions, saying that the magistrates are alive to the situation, and are taking every possible precaution.


gave Notice of his intention to-morrow to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether any effort on the part of Her Majesty's Government has been made, or is about to be made, to reconcile the unfortunate differences existing in Lancashire between the millowners and workers; whether it is true that in certain districts of Lancashire the operatives, having assented to the wages and conditions imposed by the masters, have notwithstanding been driven from their work by those very masters who have thus openly violated their own solemn engagements; and, whether, should the Government refrain from bringing about amicable relations between the millowners and the operatives, it is the intention of the Cabinet to proclaim the various towns where disturbances have occurred, as would long since have been done under similar circumstances in Ireland?


I have to acquaint the hon. and gallant Gentleman that the Question he has now offered to the House involves matters of argument, and it cannot be put in the form proposed to the Home Secretary.