HL Deb 08 June 1848 vol 99 cc501-2

presented a petition from Mr. Robert Owen, praying that his plans for ameliorating the social condition of mankind may be fully and fairly examined. Mr. Owen was a gentleman who had ever entertained the most benevolent and tolerant views. He did not participate in the communist views of M. Louis Blanc and his colleagues. He was the advocate of peace. He stated that in the present excited state of Europe, when such a violent conflict was going on between the aristocratic and the democratic principles—a conflict which he (Lord Brougham) was happy to say was confined to beyond the seas, for we knew nothing of any such conflict here, for he believed there never was a time when republicanism was at a greater discount in this country than at this present moment; but this gentleman said, that truth could alone protect the people in their present half civilised state (that was his opinion) from the dangers by which they were surrounded, and he therefore again submitted his views on the subject of our political and social condition to the consideration of their Lordships. He said that by the creation of labour, plentiful means of subsistence might be found for the whole of the people. He (Lord Brougham) would take this opportunity of asking the noble Marquess, whether he had any means of ascertaining the extent and amount to which English capital had been invested within the last fifteen or twenty years in foreign trade, foreign loans, and foreign works in America, in Spain, in Portugal, in Belgium, and in France? He was constantly applied to for information on this subject. He wished to know whether the Government had any information, particularly with respect to France? A very short answer was often given. It was often said to these poor people who had lost their money—"It served you right for taking your capital abroad." If we were to have trade and commerce—if we were not to shut ourselves within a brazen wall—how was it possible for some capital not to go abroad?


I am afraid that I can give my noble and learned Friend but little satisfaction. We have no information on the subject. Government has no right to interfere with the application of capital. Much good might be done by means of private inquiry; but those means are quite as much at the disposal of my noble and learned Friend as of the Government.

House adjourned.