§ Mr. W. Smith
, in presenting a Petition from the Clergymen of the Wesleyan persuasion, near Dudley, praying for the abolition of the plan of paying wages in goods, observed, that the petitioners stated, that extreme distress existed in their neighbourhood, which they attributed, in a great measure, to that system, which they prayed the House to abolish. He supported the prayer of the petition.
§ Mr. Hume
said, he could not avoid entering his protest against the ministers of any persuasion whatever inflaming the passions and fostering the ignorance of the poorer classes. It was a departure from their sacred functions which ought not to he tolerated. The Truck System, so far from being injurious to the workmen, was one of the means by which the masters were able to employ them; and if they were not to adopt it, they could give them no wages at all. The sufferings of the poor, of which he was as sensible as any man, did not arise from the Truck System, but in a great measure from causes beyond the control of that House; and the petitioners would act more consistently with their sacred character if they were to make themselves masters of the subject, and in spreading sound information among the people, remove the causes of discord instead of promoting them. To-morrow, he hoped, the subject would be fully discussed, but he must, in the mean time, protest against clergymen going out of their way to petition that House on a subject of which it was plain they were very ignorant,
§ Mr. W. Smith
said, the observations of the hon. Member were so much at variance with the spirit in which the petitioner; came before the House, that he could no! avoid saying one word in their defence They expressly state in their petition, the they are much disinclined to meddle in political matters, but being continually made sensible of the distress arising from the system, they thought themselves: bound to lay their petition before the House. He was afraid it was rather the hon. Member who was ignorant of the 388 effects of this system, than the petitioners who dwelt in the neighbourhood where it was most prevalent.
§ Petition laid on the Table.
§ Mr. Littleton
presented a Petition from Ampney, Staffordshire, against paying Labourers' Wages in Goods instead of Money. The petition was agreed to at a large public meeting, and signed by 9,000 persons, and among them there was not one mark's-man.
§ Sir John Wrottesley
supported the prayer of the petition, and bore his testimony to the good behaviour of the petitioners.
§ Mr. Littleton
in presenting similar Petitions from certain Colliers in Staffordshire, from Wolverhampton, and from Uley, Gloucestershire, said, to-morrow, he had no doubt, he should be able to refute the opinion of the hon. Member for Mont-rose. The hon. Member also presented a Petition from the Liberties of Lington and Lane-end. The petitioners complained of Distress, and prayed for Relief. There was, however, one thing in their petition which he could not pass over in silence. The petitioners expressed their high sense of the patriotism and virtue of the Marquis Camden, in devoting so large a portion of the emoluments of his office to the public services, and regretted that an example so noble and so beneficial had not been generally followed. It formed, in their opinion, as it must, indeed, in the opinion of all who considered its importance, and the time in which it was offered, a rare tribute of public spirit and private virtue. The hon. Member added, that he would, at the same time, express the satisfaction he felt at the statements made last night by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. By removing the tax on beer, which was, in fact, a tax on barley, the agriculturist would be relieved.
§ The Petition was ordered to be printed.