§ Mr. Littleton
presented a Petition from the Archdeacon and Curates of the Archdeaconry of Stafford, and also from Burslem, complaining that the morals of the people had been much injured by the operation of the Beer Act, and praying for its repeal or modification. The petitioners considered it to be their duty to protest against that Act, and he must say, that he thought those who had petitioned against the Act had been harshly treated. It was certainly 483 true that the Act had produced more evils than was thought possible by its friends of whom he was one; and as the clergy were bound to take care of the morality of the people, they considered themselves justified in petitioning against the Act.
was most anxious that the poor should have a wholesome and nutritious beverage, and yet it was most important they should be kept from the public-house. He, therefore, thought it was an evil to allow Beer to be drank on the premises. The establishment of beer-shops in country parishes had introduced great evils, over which the magistracy had no check or control.
§ Sir Jacob Astley
said, he had just received a letter from a Magistrate in Norfolk, who had made the interests of the poorer classes the study of his life, and he said, that the country was in a state of confusion; there were constant quarrels, the morals of people were deteriorated, and and their families starving; the women all exclaimed against the beer-shops as the foundation of all these evils. He was afraid the new Beer Bill would not prove an adequate remedy for these injurious effects produced by the last.
said, these complaints arose wholly from prejudice, and were not deserving the attention of the House. He had never before heard beer was a deleterious liquor, likely to promote all sorts of immorality. He had always been of opinion that there ought to be a free trade in beer, and that the venders should only be obliged to give security against any breach of the peace, or disorderly conduct being committed on their premises.
§ Sir Richard Vyvyan
said, the hon. and learned Member was always ready to attribute improper motives to those who differed from him; no country gentlemen or clergymen wished to deprive their poorer neighbours of a wholesome beverage, or to interfere with their comforts. The wives and children of labourers it was who felt the evils, and lamented that the Act had been passed.
§ Mr. Hunt
said, the beer-shops in general sold bad beer, and the best alteration that could be made was, to prevent them selling any but what they brewed themselves. He had seen no petition from the wives and children of labourers against the bill; the petitions only came from the Magistracy and Clergy.
§ Mr. Littleton
assured the hon. Member, that in the petition he had just presented there was not the name of one Magistrate, but it was signed by every other respectable inhabitant of the place, without any exception.
§ Petition to be printed.