HL Deb 13 June 1834 vol 24 cc418-20
The Duke of Sutherland

, in moving the second reading of the Chimney-sweepers' Regulation Bill, observed, that it would be admitted, he believed, looking to every species of trade and avocation, that to which this Bill related, gave rise to more misery and wretchedness than almost any other. When formerly he had proposed a measure of this nature, there appeared to be no difference of opinion with respect to the propriety of removing the evil, which was on all hands allowed to exist. A general feeling prevailed that the system ought to be altered, that climbing-boys ought not to be employed, and that machinery should be substituted, if the change could be effected. Since that time, it had been proved that chimnies could be most effectually swept by machinery. At present the chimnies of not less than 150 public buildings were swept by machinery. In all those cases it was found that chimnies were better swept by machinery than by boys. The system had also been introduced, and was found to answer extremely well, in many private houses. It had been objected to the measure, that the use of machinery would lead to an increased rate of insurance. The contrary had been proved by evidence. It was stated before the Committee, that no notion was entertained on the part of the insurance-offices, of increasing the premium. Another objection to the Bill was, that it would throw many individuals out of employment. Such, however, was not the fact. By this Bill, no one would be thrown out of employment, but it would have the effect of fixing a limit to great oppression and cruelty. If the Bill were carried, a disgrace would be removed from this country. The noble Duke con- cluded by moving the second reading of the Bill.

Lord Kenyon

had had this question under his consideration several years ago, when it was referred to a Committee; and though he went into that Committee with a strong impression on his mind in favour of some such measure as the present, yet he left it fully impressed with the feeling that the welfare and safety of the metropolis required the assistance of climbing-boys in the sweeping of chimnies. The evidence given before the Committee which had lately sat, did not make out a case for the Bill. If read a second time, he should wish the Bill to be referred to a Committee up-stairs.

The Duke of Richmond

bore testimony to the advantageous use of machinery for the cleansing of chimnies in the public office over which he had presided. He would support the second reading of the Bill; it might then go to a Committee up stairs, and before that Committee the evidence of the master chimney-sweepers might be heard.

The Duke of Hamilton

observed, that this Bill was calculated to alter the whole system of building in the city of London. According to it, individuals must erect their chimnies after a particular fashion. This he thought was carrying legislation a little further than was necessary.

Viscount Melville

was in favour of sending the Bill to a Committee above stairs.

Lord Suffield

saw no necessity for postponing the second reading of the Bill. He had always remarked, both with reference to that and to the other House, that when a case was fully made out for any measure, which its opponents could not overturn by fair reasoning and just argument, they immediately appointed a Committee, as the best way of getting rid of it. That appeared to be the course now proposed. The master chimney-sweepers opposed the Bill, because, as they said, it would virtually tend to the abolition of sweeping-boys altogether. The Bill would not operate to such an extent, at the same time it went to mitigate a great evil. The master chimney-sweepers had, in some instances, attempted to prevent the use of machinery, by declaring that it could not be advantageously used. He knew cases, however, where master chimney-sweepers, who refused on one day to use machinery, found it answer extremely well on the next, when they were informed, that if they did not cleanse the chimnies by means of those ingenious contrivances, the servants of the parties who had applied to them should perform the operation.

Earl Grey

had no objection to the measure; but, in order that it might be duly considered, he wished it to be referred to a Committee. He had received a communication, signed by individuals connected with the Sun Fire-office, the Phœnix Fire-office, the Westminster Fire-office, the County Fire-office, the Globe Insurance-office, and the Royal Exchange Insurance-office, all deprecating the passing of this measure. They stated the impossibility of doing without the aid of climbing-boys, in cases where there were flues and other peculiarly-constructed outlets for smoke. Most of the other insurance companies, it was right to observe, were favourable to the Bill.

The Earl of Haddington

said, he had not offered any opposition to the second reading of the Bill; he had merely proposed that the second reading should be postponed till Monday, in order to give a noble and learned Lord who was absent an opportunity for presenting the petition which had been intrusted to him. Neither had he called for a Committee. With reference to the principle of the Bill, he thought, that in point of humanity it was most desirable to lessen, as much as possible the evil complained of.

The Bill was read a second time, and was referred to a Select Committee.

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