HC Deb 10 March 1834 vol 21 cc1365-7
Mr. Hume

took that opportunity of putting a question to the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty (Sir J. Graham), relative to a subject he had introduced in his speech on the Corn-laws the other evening. The impression which had been made out of doors by the statement of the right hon. Baronet, relative to the case of the journeymen coopers, was very unfavourable to those men. He had, however, received a statement of the facts of the case, in which it was complained that Government had interfered between the masters and the men; and he wished to know, whether the right hon. Baronet had made any further inquiry in order to ascertain how far the demands of the latter were reasonable, and how far the masters had shown a disposition to accede to them. The right hon. Baronet had stated that the men had struck, although the masters had advanced their wages, and acted with great kindness towards them. The fact appeared to be, that the nature of the work, since an advancement of wages had taken place, was so much changed, that what was formerly done in five days now occupied six; and all they required was, that their case, in that respect, should be taken into consideration. Since the Combination-laws had been repealed, masters and men had gone on with considerable amity, and therefore he hoped there would be no interference between them of any third party. He wished to know whether the right hon. Gentleman had made any further inquiry on the subject?

Sir James Graham

had certainly made some inquires on the subject; but, having only returned to town late that afternoon, they had been of necessity limited in their extent. Although, therefore, they were not quite so satisfactory as he could have wished, the result of them was, that the statement he had given on a former night was quite correct. The men were now standing out for wages, which would amount to 2l. 4s. a-week, whereas they now received 1l. 19s; although certainly he must admit, that there was additional labour required, and therefore there was room for inquiry into the matter. He hoped the hon. member for Middlesex would move for the production of the correspondence between the Admiralty and the master coopers, which he should have no objection to produce, in order that the subject, which was undoubtedly of great importance in connexion with the trades' unions, might be discussed in a regular manner, and not in a mere desultory conversation.

Mr. O'Connell

hoped the hon. member for Middlesex would comply with the suggestion. A deputation had waited upon him, and, after considerable detail, had convinced him that one-sixth in point of duration and weight of work bad, by the present mode, been added to their labour. The human frame was not able for any continuance to sustain the great increase of exertion which was thus accumulated. The rise in wages was only in proportion to the increase of labour

Mr. George Frederick Young,

being practically acquainted with the subject, ventured to confirm the statements of the right hon. Baronet, and pledged himself, if the House went into an extended inquiry, to prove that while the journeymen coopers earned considerably more than the maximum quoted by the right hon. Baronet, they had been in the habit of exercising a most improper and intolerable tyranny over the masters, particularly in the taking of apprentices, &c, which operated most prejudicially to their interests.

The House then resolved into a Com-Committee of