HC Deb 02 April 1818 vol 37 cc1182-3
Mr. W. Smith

presented a Petition from 400 persons engaged in cotton spinning, of Herod, in Ashton-under-Lyne; and another from Staley-bridge, signed by 4,000 persons employed in cotton manufactories, praying, that the Bill before the House, for regulating the hours of labour in the several branches of the cotton factories might be adopted. The hon. member boro testimony to the temperate and respectful language of the petitioners.

Mr. J. Smith

, in presenting a petition to the same effect from the workmen employed in the cotton factories at New Lanark, took occasion to observe, that he had had an opportunity of seeing the individuals who signed this petition at the manufactory where they worked, in the absence of their employer (Mr. Owen), and he could say that he never met with a more moral, well-conducted, or cheerfully industrious set of people, than they evidently were. These petitioners deprecated the system which prevailed in other factories of employing people for fourteen or fifteen hours each day, with only an interval of forty minutes to take their meals. They stated that they themselves, under a more humane and benevolent system, worked only for ten hours and a half each day, and were allowed two hours for their meals; adding that they did more work within the time they were employed, than those who were compelled to work for two hours longer every day, because they proceeded in their work with more zeal and activity for the benefit of the employer, from whom they experienced such kindness. Having seen those petitioners, he could declare that they were, without exception, the most respectable and intelligent individuals he had ever observed in the same walk of life.

The Petitions were ordered to lie on the table, and to be printed.