HC Deb 15 December 1831 vol 9 cc255-7

Mr. Sadler rose for leave to bring in a Bill, which should have for its object to regulate the labour of Children employed in Mills and Factories in this kingdom. Having consulted with that branch of the Government, to the peculiar province of which matters connected with trade belong, and finding that it would be more convenient to discuss the question when the particulars of the measure which he proposed were fully before the House, he should decline entering into the details until the second reading of the Bill, which he understood was not to be opposed. He did this the more readily, because he felt that no time would be wasted by that course. He was happy in anticipating that his proposition would meet with no opposition, but that its success would be triumphant, as it was grounded upon principles of humanity and policy. All that he should do at present, therefore, was, to move for leave to bring in the Bill; and, if he were allowed to do so, as he hoped he should, he begged to mention, that he should wish to take the discussion on Thursday, the 27th of January, when he would state at large the principles upon which he founded his proposition, and the reasons which justified him in originating it.

Mr. Strickland

hoped, that the measure would meet with complete success, as there was no one subject in any point of view more important.

Mr. Poulett Thomson

confirmed what the hon. Mover had said, as to the feelings of his Majesty's Government with respect to the proposed measure. There was no objection to the introduction of the Bill, although it would be necessary that it should receive the most mature consideration. But he begged it to be understood, that his Majesty's Ministers were by no means pledged either to support or not to oppose the Bill, as they should deem it expedient when its provisions should be known to them; there would be full opportunity for the discussion at a future period.

Mr. Labouchere

expressed his hope, that if the Bill extended to the silk trade, the hon. Gentleman would have no objection to its being referred to a Select Committee, because there was a prevailing impression amongst the silk trade, that their case had not been fully heard by the last Committee, although the woollen and the cotton manufactures had been amply examined into. Therefore, if the Bill were intended to include the silk trade, he hoped there would be no objection to a Committee up-stairs.

Mr. Sadler

had no hesitation in declaring, that the proposition was so founded in humanity and in policy, that no objection could justly be made to it in respect to any particular trade. He hoped the House would spare the operatives the expense of making good their case before Parliament. He was sure that what he proposed would be found unobjectionable, and not requiring an exception on account of any one trade. He embraced every branch of manufactures in it, because he was sure that the operatives, with their children, now gave up as much of their labour as the human constitution could afford.

Mr. Labouchere

begged the hon. Gentleman would not suppose that he meant to give it as his opinion, or that of the silk trade in general, that that trade ought not to be included in the Bill; but the hon. Gentleman must be aware, that the silk trade was different from others, and he thought it would be hard upon the silk manufacturers, if they should be included without having been heard.

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