HC Deb 16 February 1818 vol 37 cc440-1
Lord Stanley

presented a Petition from the Owners and Occupiers of Cotton Mills in Manchester and the vicinity, setting forth,

"That the Petitioners have heard with concern that it is intended to move in the House the revival of the committee whose labours extended over so large a portion of the session of 1816, in inquiring into the condition of children employed in factories; that the minutes of the evidence taken before that committee are very voluminous, and contain a mass of vague and inconsistent charges, which it is impossible to distinguish from the truth without much laborious application or personal inspection of the factories; that the minutes contain also statements of facts confirmed by documents which, as the petitioners humbly conceive, establish beyond doubt the generally good state of the health, morals, and instruction of persons employed in factories, and that parliamentary interference for their protection is wholly unnecessary; that the petitioners, anxious that the truth should appear, did invite, previous to the session of 1816, such members of the House as are connected with the county of Lancaster to visit the several factories in the town and neighbourhood of Manchester, that they might, from actual inspection and comparison, form their own opinion, and be better prepared to appretiate the testimony which might be offered; and the petitioners humbly pray, that if the House require farther information upon the subject, they will be pleased to appoint a special commission of their own members, for the purpose of examining upon the spot into the actual condition of persons employed in factories, and of comparing it with that of persons employed in the various departments of the cotton and other manufactories."

Mr. Philips

observed, that the petitioners conceived themselves to have been grossly calumniated by statements which had been made by different persons, regarding the labour and the health of persons employed by them, and by propositions to interfere with them in the conduct of their own business. He was convinced that if members would read the report attentively, they would find that in the manufactories those employed were in as good health at least, as those in any other branch.