HL Deb 12 June 1840 vol 54 cc1100-1
Lord Hatherton

, according to notice, presented petitions from the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal Company, and from the parishes on the line of the canal, in all about twenty, praying for a law to prohibit the carriage of goods on canals and railways on Sundays. The noble Lord said, he hoped the present Session would not pass over without a measure on this subject being introduced. That measure ought to apply to railways as well as to canals, for it would be unfair to restrain canal companies from carrying goods on Sunday, if railway companies were to be at liberty to do so. He was not prepared to say that he himself would introduce any measure upon this subject, and he thought it was a question which ought to be taken up by the Government. He had endeavoured to acquire the best information in regard to this matter, and the almost universal answer he had received to his applications was, that it would be advantageous to prevent the carriage of goods on Sundays. He was convinced that no person would object to a general measure. All that was wanting was a simple enactment requiring that no traffic should be allowed between an early hour on Sunday morning—he did not wish to prevent it during the night—until sunset. He hoped the noble Marquess at the head of the Home Department would take the subject into his consideration. The noble Lord then presented twenty other petitions to the same effect.

The Bishop of Lichfield

bore testimony to the evil and demoralising effects of Sunday traffic on canals. Boys attached to boats upon canals were polluted from the earliest age, and, owing to their being occupied on Sundays, there was no opportunity or chance of reclaiming them. A meeting had already been held in Staffordshire upon the subject, and the clergy were ready to lend their assistance in carrying into effect such steps as it might be deemed advisable to adopt. What they suggested was, that chaplains should be stationed along the lines of the canals.

The Marquess of Normanby

agreed with the rev. Prelate, that the Sunday traffic upon canals had a very demoralizing effect upon the adjoining population. He had only to observe that the subject was under his consideration, but he could not then pledge himself to any of the remedies that had been suggested.