HC Deb 27 April 1819 vol 39 cc1479-80

Mr. W. Parnell moved for leave to bring in a Bill for the Protection, Education, and Morals, of the Children employed in the Cotton and other Factories in Ireland. The hon. member proceeded to explain the objects which he wished to attain by it. Those objects were, the safety, defence, and civilization of the country. In order to effect them, he should move, that certain visitors be appointed, with power to investigate the internal state of the Irish factories, and report the state of education and morals, in which they found the children employed in them. He should then propose that one of those reports should be made to the secretary of state for the home department, another to the Society for the Suppression of Vice, another to the Society for the Education of the Poor, and a fourth to the Bible Society. Wherever these reports gave a satisfactory account of the attention which the proprietor paid to the moral improvement of those whom he employed, there he should propose, that the proprietor be exempted from the payment of the assessed taxes. Such an exemption would act as a stimulus to all the manufacturers, and, in his opinion, would be attended by the most beneficial results.

Sir George Hill

had strong doubts of the utility of such a bill; the hon. gentleman had not shown any grounds for it; there were no petitions before them on the subject, neither were there any returns of the number of factories in Ireland, nor of the number of children employed in. them. The hon. member wished, that several philanthropic societies, with whose existence a great part of the House was not acquainted, should have the power of entering into the different factories, and of classifying men and women according to their views and notions. This was so novel a proceeding, that some very extraordinary grounds should be shown for it. Then, if these societies were satisfied, and if they certified their satisfaction with the internal regulation of the factories, the proprietors were to be exempted from the assessed taxes. This was even more novel than the proceeding to which he had before alluded, and required, if possible, stronger reasons in order to defend it.

Sir John Newport

spoke in behalf of the bill. With regard to two of the societies, to whose existence the hon. baronet had alluded with such contempt, he was not, perhaps, aware that they had been recognized by the House, and that grants of money were annually made to them.

Mr. Croker

said, that upon a former occasion he had expressed his dissent to the enactment of any laws which went to benefit either England or Ireland separately; that dissent he must again repeat, because he could not see any reason for not extending a measure which was beneficial in one country, to the natives of the other.

Mr. G. Philips

objected to the resting of such power in Bible societies and societies for the suppression of vice. The state of things in Ireland must be very different from the state of things in England, if such a system could be at all beneficial; an attempt at compulsory education could not possibly succeed in this country, nor did he think it likely to prosper in the sister island.

Leave was given to bring in the bill.