HL Deb 04 February 1859 vol 152 c106

presented a petition from emancipated labourers, and others, of Arnatto Bay, in the Island of Jamaica, complaining of a Bill having been passed, without due consideration and in great haste, seriously detrimental to their interests: the Bill related to the immigration of free labour, and the Petition prayed that the same might be disallowed. The petitioners complained that the Petition had been passed through the Legislature with such haste, that they had no opportunity of raising their voice against its enactment, They further stated that there was no want of labourers in that country, and that all attempts which had been made to obtain a further supply of them had proved absolute failures. The petitioners also complained that the introduction of these labourers lowered the rate of their own wages; and herein he could not altogether agree with the Petitioners, but it tended to make him lean towards their view if the Bill imposed taxes upon the Island so as to make them pay for a premium for this very importation. It was also a grievance that the work of the clergy was frustrated, as the immigrants introduced a vast amount of superstition and immorality; and they therefore prayed that their Lordships would, by an address to the Crown, use their influence to prevent the Royal Assent being given to the measure. He should not now go further into the matter, than give notice that he should on Monday ask a question of the noble Lord, the Under Secretary for the Colonies, as to whether the Royal assent had or had not been given to this Bill.

House adjourned at half-past five o'clock, Monday nest, half-past four o'clock,