HC Deb 15 March 1844 vol 73 cc1073-155

House in Committee on the Factories Bill.

On Clause 2, the interpretation Clause being proposed,

Lord Ashley

rose to propose the amendment of which he had given notice. That, the word 'night' shall be taken to mean from six o'clock in the evening to six o'clock in the following morning; and the word 'mealtime' shall be taken to mean an interval of cessation from work for the purpose of rest and refreshment, at the rate of two hours a day, with a view to effect a limitation of the hours of labour to ten in the day. The form of my amendment (said the noble Lord) requires some preliminary explanation. I move it in its present shape at the suggestion of my right hon. Friend and the Government, though I fear that in adopting that course I subject myself to some disadvantage. The House will allow me at the outset to explain my amendment. I propose that the word "night," in this Clause, shall be taken to mean from six o'clock in the evening till six on the following morning, that will leave twelve clear hours during which work shall cease, and I propose further, that out of the twelve hours of day, there shall be two hours during which there shall be a cessation of labour; but that no person shall be affected by this amendment, except those who, under Clause ten, are guaranteed against night-work, children, and young persons under thirteen years of age. If I succeed in this amendment it will be necessary to make some corresponding alteration in the eighth Clause. The tenth Clause I propose to leave, as that will afford an opportunity of giving some relaxation through the summer mouths. During the winter months, that is from the 15th of October to the 15th of March, hours of labour are not to exceed ten, two being for meals; but during the summer months, that is from the 15th of March to the 15th of October, the hours to be twelve and two for meals, making fourteen in the whole. Now, I would say with a view to conciliate opposition, that though I shall be ready to propose, as I intend to do, to limit the labour of all young persons and children to ten hours in each day, I am yet willing to obtain that object in parts and by degrees; that is, I propose to limit the hours of labour for such persons to eleven hours a day from the 1st of October in the present year, and ten hours a day from the 1st of October, 1845. Nearly eleven years have now elapsed since I first made the proposition to the House which I shall renew this night. Never, at any time, have I felt greater apprehension or even anxiety; not through any fear of personal defeat, for disappointment is "the badge of all our tribe;" but because I know well the hostility that I have aroused, and the certain issues of indiscretion on my part affecting the welfare of those who have so long confided their hopes and interests to my charge. And here let me anticipate the constant, but unjust accusation that I am animated by a peculiar hostility against factory masters, and I have always selected them as exclusive objects of attack. I must assert that the charge, though specious, is altogether untrue. I began, I admit, this public movement by an effort to improve the condition of the factories; but this I did, not because I ascribed to that department of industry a monopoly of all that was pernicious and cruel, but because it was then before the public eye, comprised the wealthiest and most responsible proprietors, and presented the greatest facilities for legislation. As soon as I had the power, I showed my impartiality by moving the House for the Children's Employment Commission. The curious in human suffering may decide on the respective merits of the several reports; but factory labour has no longer an unquestionable pre-eminence of ill fame; and we are called upon to give relief, not because it is the worst system, but because it is oppressive, and yet capable of alleviation. Sir, I confess that ten years of experience have taught me that avarice and cruelty are not the peculiar and inherent qualities of any one class or occupation—they will ever be found where the means of profit are combined with great, and, virtually, irresponsible power—they will be found wherever interest and selfishness have a purpose to serve, and a favourable opportunity. We are all alike, I fully believe, in the town and in the country, in manufactures and in agriculture—though we have not all of us the same temptations, or the same means of rendering our propensities a source of profit; and oftentimes, what we will not do ourselves, we connive at in others, if it add in any way to our convenience or pleasure. Look at the frightful records of the London dressmakers—for whom do they wear out their lives in heart-breaking toil? Why, to supply the demands and meet the sudden and capricious tastes of people of condition! Here is neither farmer nor manufacturer at fault, the scene is changed, and the responsibility too—we must ascribe it entirely to the gentler sex, and among them not a little to our own intimacies and connexions. And here it is just to state, that if I can recite many examples of unprincipled and griping tyranny, I can quote many also of generous and parental care, and of willing and profuse expenditure for the benefit of the people. If there are prominent instances of bad, there are also prominent instances of good men. I will suppose for the sake of argument, that all are the victims, rather than the causes of the system; but whatever the cause, the condition inflicts a great amount of physical and moral suffering. I know I am arousing a fierce spirit of reply; be it so—"Strike me, but hear me." I shall altogether leave to others that part of the question which belong to trade and commerce. I am neither unwilling, nor perhaps, unable, to handle it; but I desire to keep myself within the bounds that I have always hitherto observed in the discussion of this matter, and touch only the consideration of the moral and physical effects, produced by the system, on the great body of the work-people. I am spared too the necessity of arguing the propriety or impropriety of interfering to regulate the hours of labour for persons under certain ages; the principle has long been conceded, and acted on by Parliament: our controversy can relate only to the degree in which it shall be carried out. I have never omitted an opportunity of asserting the claim I ventured to put forward nearly eleven years ago; and I return, therefore, this evening, to my original proposition. Sir, I assume as one ground of the argument, that, apart from considerations of humanity, which, nevertheless, should be paramount, the State has an interest and a right to watch over, and provide for the moral and physical well-being of her people: the principle is beyond question; it is recognised and enforced under every form of civilised Government. See what is done by the powers of Europe. Now, what has been determined by Russia in this matter? In a dispatch addressed some time ago by, I think, Count Nesselrode, to the then Secretary of State for Foreign affairs of this country—the noble Lord, the Member for Tiverton (Lord Palmerston), this subject is alluded to, and it is stated that, "the emperor admits the necesssity of supervision—considering," says the memorandum by the Minister of Finance, "that the number of children occupied in spinning mills is likely to increase every year, the Imperial government deemed it indispensable to take such preparatory measures as will lead to legislative enactments hereafter." Then follow many regulations respecting the moral and physical treatment of the children. In Austria, "the hours of labour are cruelly long, often fifteen, not unfrequently seventeen hours a-day. The question of shortening the labour of children is under discussion." In Switzerland, the regulations are very strict: "In the canton of Argovia, no children are allowed to work, under fourteen years, more than twelve hours and-a-half; and education is compulsory on the mill-owners." In the canton of Zurich, "the hours of labour are limited to twelve; and children under ten years of age are not allowed to be employed. The clergy are the inspectors, and the system of inspection is very rigorous." In France a bill has been framed almost on the same principles as our own, with the same restrictions. The system is, however, but imperfectly carried out, on account of defective machinery, but the principle is recognised; there are 1,200 unpaid inspectors. In Prussia, by the law of 1839, no child who has not completed his or her sixteenth year, is to be employed more than ten hours a-day; none under nine years of age to be employed at all. Now, if foreign powers consider it a matter both of duty and policy thus to interpose on behalf of their people, we, surely, should much more be animated by feelings such as theirs, when we take into our account the vast and progressively increasing numbers who are employed in these departments of industry. See how it stands: in 1818, the total number of all ages, and both sexes, employed in all the cotton factories, was 57,323. In 1835, the number employed in the five departments—cotton, woollen, worsted, flax, and silk, was 354,684. In 1839, the number in the same five departments was 419,590: the total number of both sexes under eighteen years of age, in the same year, was 192,887. Simultaneously, however, with the increase of numbers has been the increase of toil. The labour performed by those engaged in the processes of manufacture, is three times as great as in the beginning of such operations. Machinery has executed, no doubt, the work that would demand the sinews of millions of men; but it has also prodigiously multiplied the labour of those who are governed by its fearful movements. I hope the House will allow me to go through several details connected with this portion of the subject; they are technical, it is true; but, nevertheless, of sufficient importance to be brought under your attention. In 1815, the labour of following a pair of mules spinning cotton yarn of Nos. 40, reckoning twelve hours to the working day, involved a necessity for walking eight miles; that is to say, the piecer, who was employed in going from one thread to another in a day of twelve hours, performed a journey of eight miles. In 1832, the distance travelled in following a pair of mules spinning cotton yarn of the same numbers was twenty miles, and frequently more. But the amount of labour performed by those following the mules, is not confined merely to the distance walked. There is far more to be done. In 1835, the spinner put up daily on each of these mules 820 stretches; making a total of 1,640 stretches in the course of the day. In 1832, the spinner put upon each mule 2,200 stretches, making a total of 4,400. In 1844, according to a return furnished by a practised operative spinner, the person working puts up in the same period 2,400 stretches on each mule, making a total of 4,800 stretches in the course of the day; and in Some cases, the amount of labour required is even still greater. The House will now, probably, like to know how I have arrived at these conclusions. The calculations on which they are founded, have been made by one of the most experienced mathematicians in England. At my request he went down to Manchester, and himself made the measurements and calculations upon the spot. The measurements, I should state, were made in five different mills, spinning, respectively, yarns of the following numbers:—14, 15, 30, 38, and 40. In the mill spinning, No. 14 yarns, the least distance possible to be travelled over was seventeen miles per day; the greatest, possible, twenty-seven miles. In that spinning No. 15 yarns, the least distance was nineteen—the greatest twenty-nine miles. In that spinning 30, the least distance was twenty-four—the greatest thirty-seven miles. In that spinning 38, the least distance was fifteen—the greatest twenty-three miles; but this was a machine of an old construction. In that spinning 40, the least distance was seventeen—the greatest twenty-five miles. Now, the mules which are to be followed, advance and recede—as they advance the yarn is elongated;—and, by bearing this in mind, hon. Gentlemen may see how the calculations were made. The yarn is stretched in elongated threads, and the calculations were made thus:—In the first case, the least, the assumption is, that only one thread would be broken in each movement of the mule. In the second case, that which shows the greatest amount of labour, the calculation is made upon the assumption of four threads being broken. Now, it is almost impossible that only one thread shall be broken; and, on the other hand, it is very improbable that four threads should be in the same condition. We may, therefore, discard these extreme suppositions, and take the average of supposing two threads to be broken. On this assumption, then, the following will be the distances travelled:—In a mill spinning No. 14 yarns, twenty-two miles; No. 15 yarns, twenty-four miles; No. 30 yarns, thirty miles; No. 38 yarns, nineteen miles (old machine); and No. 40 yarns, twenty-one miles. While these calculations were in progress, the machinery was not driven at its full speed; it might have been impelled at one-third, at least, of greater velocity. But this is not all—there is another portion of the labour which is very oppressive, particularly to young persons—and to show its character, I will read a note made by the measurer upon the spot. I may also suggest that in estimating the fatigues of a day's work, due consideration should be given to the necessity of turning the body round to a reverse direction not less than from four to five thousand times in a day, besides the strain of continually having to lean over the machine and return to an erect position. The House will be aware of the great strain requisite, after leaning over the machinery, in bringing the body back to an upright position—it often happens, indeed, that the body is bent forward in the form of a right angle. Now, in the fine mills, spinning for instance No. 100 yarns, the distance travelled will be far less. It will only be fourteen miles; but then the House must bear in mind that though the distance is less, the labour is equal, and in some respects greater. The exertion of leaning over the machinery is in these cases much increased, by reason of the more frequent breakages, and consequent toil in repairing them. Some of the measurements to which I have alluded were made in the mill of a gentleman named M'Connell, to whom I must express my obligation for the kindness with which he offered every facility to the gentleman who went down to the manufacturing districts for the purpose. Mr. M'Connell stood by the measurer, and made calculations simultaneously with him. At the close of the work, they compared notes; and it was found that Mr. M'Connell's measurements gave a less distance than those of the mathematician. But when they came to inquire into the reason of this difference, it was found that Mr. M'Connell had left out of his calculation all the diagonal movements. He had calculated only the straight movements, without reckoning the immense number of paces which the piecer has to make on either side. Now, these calculations are substantiated by those of several practical men. The hon. Member for Oldham has himself measured in his own mill the distances travelled by the piecers; and the results of his observations he published in a pamphlet in 1836. The distance laid down by the hon. Member, is twenty miles. But I have still another authority. I submitted the case to the operative spinners of Manchester; and I have a document here, signed by twenty-two of these men, in which they state that twenty miles is the very least distance travelled, and they believe it to be still greater. I have another document sent to me in 1842, by another set of operative spinners, confirming what I have said, and stating that the labour is progressively increasing—increasing not only because the distance to be travelled is greater, but because the quantity of goods produced is multiplied, while the hands are, in proportion, fewer than before; and moreover, because an inferior species of cotton is now often spun, which it is more difficult to work. Well, now, I know that the measurements which I have stated to the House, have been disputed by a mill-owner of great respectability—by Mr. Gregg, a very well-known gentleman, with large capital, who carries on one of the most extensive concerns of this kind in Europe. This gentleman published his contradiction to the statement which I have made, in which he estimated the distance at eight miles; and I submitted it to the same mathematician who made the original calculation. The moment he looked at it, he said, "It is altogether inaccurate; Mr. Gregg cannot know anything of the matter;" and after speaking of the details, he thus sums up the question:—"Referring the matter to scientific considerations, Mr. Gregg's table must either be the result of some strange and most grievous blunderings, or of a gross perversion of observed facts, which though extremely rude and ill-chosen for the object professedly in view, could not, by any possibility, carry a fair and judicious inquiry so very far away from the truth, as to give only about one-third of the real distance." Now this is the toil imposed upon a very large portion of the population of the manufacturing districts—this is the labour imposed in the spinning-room. In the carding-room there has also been a great increase of labour—one person there does the work formerly divided between two. In the weaving-room, where a vast number of persons are employed, and principally females; an operative, writing to me, states that the labour has increased, within the last few years, fully 10 per cent., owing to the increased speed of the machinery in spinning. In 1838, the number of hanks spun per week was 18,000; in 1843, it amounted to 21,000. In 1819, the number of picks in power-loom weaving per minute was sixty—in 1842 it was 140, showing a vast increase of labour, because more nicety and attention are required to the work in hand. Now, Sir, it is no difficult transition from such a statement of daily toil, passed as it is, in crowded rooms, heated atmospheres, noxious gases, and injurious agencies of various kinds, to the following statement of physical mischiefs to the workers employed. Since 1816, eighty surgeons and physicians, and three medical commissioners in 1833 (one of whom, Doctor Bisset Hawkins, declared that he had the authority of a large majority of the medical men of Lancashire) have asserted the prodigious evil of the system. The Government Commissioners themselves furnish a summary of particulars:— The excessive fatigue, privation of sleep, pain in various parts of the body, and swelling of the feet, experienced by the young workers, coupled with the constant standing, the peculiar attitudes of the body, and the peculiar motion of the limbs required in the labour of the factory, together with the elevated temperature, and the impure atmosphere in which the labour is often carried on, do sometimes ultimately terminate in the production of serious, permanent, and incurable diseases. Doctor Loudon states— I think it has been already proved that children have been worked a most unreasonable and cruel length of time daily, and that even adults have been expected to do a certain quantity of labour, which scarcely any human being is able to endure. As a physician, I would prefer the limitation of ten hours for all persons who earn their bread by their industry. Doctor Hawkins says— I am compelled to declare my deliberate opinion, that no child should be employed in factory-labour below the age of ten, that no individual under the age of eighteen should be employed in it longer than ten hours daily. When I was myself in the manufacturing districts, in the year 1841, I went over many of the hospitals, and consulted many of the medical men in that part of the country. The result is contained in a note which I drew up at the time, and which is as follows;—Scrofulous cases apparently universal; the wards were filled with scrofulous knees, hips, ancles, &c. The medical gentleman informed me that they were nearly invariably factory cases. He attributed the presence of scrofula to factory employment under all its circum. stances of great heat, low diet, had ventilation, protracted toil, &c. Now the same evils are found to exist in other parts of the world where the same system is followed. A very admirable work was published a few years ago, by a French physician, Dr. Villermé, employed by the Academie des Sciences, to examine and report upon the condition of artizans. He states when speaking of factories in France, that In the operations of the cotton business, cough, pulmonary inflammation, and the terrible phthisis, attack and carry off many of the work-people; but numerous as are the victims of these disorders, their premature death seem to me less deplorable than the development of scrofula in the mass of our work-people in manufactories. Mark that: he considers death a less evil than the terrible prevalence of scrofulous disorder. Another effect produced by the system is an injurious affection of the eye-sight. Any person conversant with the cotton business knows how early in life the eye is apt to become so enfeebled as scarcely to be of any effective service. There is one more fact to which I wish to call the attention of the House. Those honourable Gentlemen who have been in the habit of perusing the melancholy details of mill accidents, should know that a large proportion of those accidents—particularly those which may be denominated the minor class, such as loss of fingers, and the like, occur in the last hours of the evening, when the people become so tired that they absolutely get reckless of the danger. I state this on the authority of several practical spinners. Hence arise many serious evils to the working classes; none greater than the early prostration of their strength, their premature superannuation, and utter incapacity to sustain their families by the labour of their hands. I will prove my assertions by the following table, from which you will observe that at the very period of life at which in many other departments of industry, men are regarded as in the prime of their strength, those employed in the cotton manufacture are superannuated and set aside, as incapable of earning their livelihood by factory labour. The ages above forty are seldom found in this employment. Now during the great turn out in 1831, from forty-two mills in Mosely Ashton, and in other parts of Lancashire, out of 1,665 persons who joined in that turn-out, there were between forty-five and fifty years of age, only fifty-one. In 1832, it appeared by certain returns from mills in Harpur and Lanark, that out of 1,600 persons, there were above the age of forty five, only ten individuals. In 1839, the returns from certain mills in Stockport and Manchester, showed that the number of hands employed in these mills were 22,094—Now of all that immense multitude, how many does the House suppose were above forty-five years of age? Why, only 143 persons; and of these, sixteen were retained by special favour, and one was doing boy's work. I have in my hand also, a list of 131 spinners made out in 1841, only seven of whom were above forty-five years of age, and almost all of these people had been refused employment. Why? Because it was declared that they were too aged for labour! I have other authority, too, to prove the state of matters in this respect. I hold in my hand a letter from a person who went down to Bolton to make returns for we, in which he states— I have just seen fifty reduced spinners, two are more than fifty years of age, the rest will not average forty years of age. One man, T.E., worked for sixteen years at Mr. O.'s mill; he is forty-three years of age; he has frequently applied for work, but is invariably answered, he is too old. The same evil exists in France, and other countries where the manufacturing system prevails. Dr. Villermé says:— There are few cities in which one meets with old people employed in manufactories, it is found to be more economical to pay younger workmen, though at a higher rate. In the year 1833, a letter was addressed to me by Mr. Ashworth, a very considerable mill-owner in Lancashire, which contains the following curious passage:— You will next very naturally inquire about the old men, who are said to die, or become unfit for work, when they attain forty years of age, or soon after. Mark the phrase, "old man," at forty years of age! As all spinners (he continues) whether young or old, are paid the same price per pound for spinning, the production of an old man is at greater expense by reason of the diminished quantity; this, and not ill health, may sometimes occasion his discharge."* * "Old men of every description adhere to ha- bits contracted in early life; hence they are troublesome to manage, and often disagree with the overlookers—this may sometimes lead to their discharge, but it appears not unfrequently that they become disinclined to work, when the earnings of their families are sufficient to maintain them. Indeed! why, there cannot, I think, be more alarming feature in the case than the last mentioned fact—that men of perhaps forty should be maintained in idleness by the labour of their families. [Loud cries of "hear, hear," from both sides of the House.] But I have the additional testimony of a Government Commissioner, Mr. M'Intosh, who in his report in 1833, says— Although prepared by seeing childhood occupied in such a manner, it is very difficult to believe the ages of men advanced in years, as given by themselves, so complete is their premature old age. Now, Sir, I am the more inclined to rest my case with confidence on these Commissioners, because they were sent expressly to collect evidence against that taken by the Committee of 1832; and it is upon their reports, in considerable measure, that I will ground my appeal to this House. Now, let this condition of things be contrasted with the condition of agricultural life; and let us see how much longer is the duration of the working powers in that class of labour. In June, 1841, on an estate in Worcestershire, out of forty-two agricultural labourers, there were over forty-five years of age, twenty. Out of twenty-five on one in Lincolnshire, eleven exceeded forty years of age. At a place in Wales, out of thirty three labourers, twelve exceeded the age of forty, and seven were above sixty. At another estate in Lincolnshire, out of sixty-two labourers, thirty-two exceeded forty years of age. At one in Scotland, out of sixty labourers, twenty-seven were over forty years of age. Again, in England, out of thirty-nine labourers, twenty-nine exceeded forty years of age. On an estate in the Isle of Wight, out of eighteen labourers, there were found ten exceeding forty years of age. On another, out of seventeen seven were above forty years of age. On another farm, out of fifteen labourers, six were over forty years of age; and on an aggregate of farms in the neighbourhood, there were thirty labourers every one of them exceeding forty years of age! So that the total shows, that of 341 labourers, 180 were above forty years of age. Contrast the condition of these people with that of a multitude of 22,000, of whom only 143 were above the age of forty-five. There is yet another instance. On an estate in Dorset, in 1844, Out of 427 labourers, 118 are above forty-five years of age. And these men may go on much longer; for I can appeal to hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House, whether they have not known agricultural labourers, at the ages of fifty, sixty, and seventy years, still capable of working, and of earning wages. You will, naturally enough, inquire what becomes of many of these worn out and superannuated spinners and factory hands. A few may retire to other businesses; those who have by nature, a more vigorous mental and physical constitution, may, in some in stances, survive; but a large proportion sink into a state of pauperism and decrepitude. I hold in my hand a statement which will give the House some idea of the condition into which a vast mass of these people fall when it becomes impossible for them to earn their subsistence by factory labour. It will be borne in mind that the present system has prevailed so long, and is of such a nature as completely to have destroyed every idea of thrift and economy. The education both of males and females is such that domestic economy is almost wholly unknown to them; and it very rarely happens that they have the foresight to accumulate savings during the period at which they can work to subsist upon in the days of their old age. It will also be remembered that their strength is so wholly exhausted that they are unable to enter into any different active occupation when discharged from the mill; and that thereafter they sink down into employments, of the nature of which I will give a specimen to the House. In June, 1841, from a return which was presented to me, it appeared that in 11 auction rooms in Manchester, out of 11 common jobbers, as they are called, 9 were discharged factory hands. Of 37 hawkers of nuts and oranges, 32 were factory hands; of 9 sellers of sand, 8 were factory hands; of 28 hawkers of boiled sheeps' feet, 22 belonged to the same class; of 14 hawkers of brushes, 11 were factory hands; of 25 sellers of coal, 16 were factory hands—thus out of 113 persons pursuing these miserable occupations, 89 were discharged factory hands. I may add that upon a further examination being made, it was found that of 341 discharged factory hands, 217 were maintained entirely by the earnings of their children. In Bolton many discharged spinners were employed in sweeping the streets, and of 60 sellers of salt, and gatherers of rags, 50 were factory hands. In 1842 an inquiry was made in Manchester, and it was found that of 245 cast-off spinners, there were maintained by the earnings of their children 108. The rest were following such occupations as I have already alluded to, or engaged in begging, picking up dung, and other miserable avocations. With reference to these men I asked the question, how many may expect to be taken up on a revival of trade? The answer was, scarcely one; that the masters required young hands and unexhausted strength, and that they would rather take men of twenty-five than of thirty-five years of age—and Dr. Bisset Hawkins, one of the Commissioners in 1833, gives similar testimony, that The degree in which parents are supported by their youthful offspring at Manchester, is a peculiar feature of the place, and an unpleasing one; the ordinary state of things in this respect is nearly reversed. Sir, neither the existence, nor the consequences, of these destructive causes, have escaped the attention of continental writers and legislators. Their testimonies and their laws strongly confirm the opinions and statements of those, who, in this country, have so long urged, upon the public consideration, the perilous necessity of withstanding the further progress of such pernicious agencies. By the system we permit, the laws of nature are absolutely outraged, but not with impunity. The slow but certain penalty is exacted in the physical degradation of the human race, including, as it does, the ruin of the body, and the still more fatal corruption of the moral part. In the year 1840, a Commission was issued in France. A Report was made to the French Chamber of Peers, by M. Dupin, the Baron Charles Dupin, and to that eminent person I am indebted for the copy of the Report from which are taken the extracts to which I am about to refer. I hope the House will attend to the facts adduced by this Gentleman. We were desirous," says the reporter, "of ascertaining the amount of difference in force and physical power, between the parties which have respectively attained the age of manhood in the parts of France most devoted to agriculture, and those where manufacturing industry is more generally diffused. The councils of revision in the recruiting department exhibited the following facts;—For 10,000 young men capable of military service, there were rejected as infirm, or otherwise unfit in body, 4,029 in the departments mostly agricultural; for 10,000 in the departments mostly manufacturing, there were rejected 9,930. The reporter then proceeds to speak in detail. There were found," he says, "for 10,000 capable of military service, in Marne, 10,309 incapable; in the Lower Seine, 11,990 incapable; in L'Eure, 14,450 incapable. Now what is the comment of the reporter on this? I will take the liberty of reading it to the House, because of the solemn warning it conveys to all governments and nations. These deformities," he proceeds, "cannot allow the Legislature to remain indifferent; they attest the deep and painful mischiefs—they reveal the intolerable nature of individual suffering; they enfeeble the country in respect to its capacity for military operations, and impoverish it in regard to the works of peace. We should blush for agriculture, if, in her operations, she brought, at the age adapted to labour, so small a proportion of oxen or horses in a fit state for toil with so large a number of infirm and misshapen. Now, this is a return which I have once before quoted; but I quote it again, because it is so singularly adapted to our present position. We have no means of applying to our population the same test as that in France, because we have not the same courts for examination into the ability of people to carry arms; but if such Tribunals existed, I fear that they would set forth results far more digressing. If, for the comparatively short time that manufactures have been established in France, such terrible results are exhibited, what must be the case in England, where they have prevailed for considerably more than half a century? Just see what Dr. Villermé says. Dr. Villermé, having enlarged on the pernicious effects of factory labour, adds:— In examining men from twenty to twenty-one years of age, I found them physically unfit for the military service in proportion as they came from the working classes of the factory (classe ouvrière de la fabrique) at Amiens. 100 fit men required 193 conscripts from the middling class; 100 fit men required 343 conscripts from the working class. Is this all? By no means—we have, if possible, yet stronger testimony from Prussia. The Sovereign of that country thought fit to enforce a law of protection, for all under sixteen years of age, against more than ten hours' labour in the course of the day. What was the reason assigned?—here is the document! From the Official Gazette of Laws, 9th March, 1839. 'His Majesty was pleased to direct the attention of his Ministers to a Report from Lieutenant George Von Horn, that the manufacturing districts would not fully supply their contingents for the recruiting of the army, that the physical development of persons of tender years was checked, and that there was reason to believe, that in the manufacturing districts, the future generations would grow up weaker and more crippled than the existing one was stated to be—employed from eleven to fourteen hours daily, in excessive labour, frightfully disproportioned to the powers of persons from eight to eighteen years of age. Then followed an inquiry very similar to our own, which fully confirmed every statement; and the document proceeds— The preceding facts show that urgent necessity for legislative interference, felt by the King, to put a stop to such premature, unnatural, and injurious employment of the young operatives in factories. I need not detain the House by an endeavour to show, that similar or worse mischiefs must have arisen in our own country—I speak of those districts only where the manufacturing system has long and extensively prevailed; I know that the agricultural parts and hilly regions of Yorkshire and Lancashire still send forth a noble race of human beings. But let me here impress upon the House the necessity of deeply considering these important statements. The tendency of the various improvements in machinery is to supersede the employment of adult males, and substitute in its place, the labour of children and females. What will be the effect on future generations, if their tender frames be subjected, without limitation or control, to such destructive agencies? Consider this; in 1835, the numbers stood thus; the females in the five departments of industry, 196,383; in 1839, females, 242,296; of these, the females under eighteen, 112,192. The proportions in each department stood, females in cotton, 56¼ per cent.; ditto worsted, 69½ ditto: ditto silk, 70½ ditto; ditto flax, 70½ ditto. Thus while the total amount of both sexes and all ages, in the cotton manufacture, in 1818, were equal only to 57,323, the females alone in that branch, in 1839, were 146,33l. Now the following is an extract of a letter from a great mill-owner in 1842:— The village of—two miles distant, sends down daily to the mills in this town, at least a thousand females, single and married, who have to keep strictly the present long hours of labour. Seven years ago, these persons were employed at their own homes; but now, instead of the men working at the power-looms, none but girls or women are allowed to have it. But, Sir, look at the physical effect of this system on the women. See its influence on the delicate constitutions and tender forms of the female sex. Let it he recollected that the age at which the "prolonged labour," as it is called, commences, is at the age of thirteen. That age, according to the testimony of medical men, is the tenderest period of female life. Observe the appalling progress of female labour; and remember that the necessity for particular protection to females against overwork is attested by the most eminent surgeons and physicians—Dr. Blundell, Sir Anthony Carlisle, Sir William Blizard, Dr. Elliotson, Sir George Tuthill, Sir Benjamin Brodie, John Henry Green, esq., of Saint Thomas's, Charles Aston Key, esq., George James Guthrie, esq., Mr. Travers, Sir Charles Bell, Dr. Hodgkin, John Morgan, esq., of Guy's Hospital, Samuel Smith, esq., surgeon of Leeds, Doctor Young of Bolton, John Malyn, esq., Peter Mark Roger, esq., some time physician to the Manchester Infirmary. Here are some specimens of their evidence:— Is it not especially necessary to give protection from excessive labour to females when approaching the age of puberty?—Quite important, if they are afterwards to become mothers, quite essential. This is an universal opinion. Many anatomical reasons are assigned by surgeons of the manufacturing towns, that "the peculiar structure of the female form is not so well adapted to long-continued labour, and especially labour which is endured standing." Mr. Smith, of Leeds, declares:— This (the operation of the factory labour) occasionally produces the most lamentable effects in females, when they are expecting to become mothers. On the anatomical difficulty of parturition, he states— It is often the painful duty of the accoucheur to destroy the life of the child. I have seen many instances of the kind, all of which, with one single exception, have been those of females who have worked long hours in factories." "There is a foundation in nature," (says Dr. Blundell), "for the customary division which assigns the more active labour to the male, and the sedentary to the female"—"among savages, the woman is often the drudge. George James Guthrie, esq.:— Have you not been a medical officer in the armies of this country for a considerable length of time?—Yes. Would you sanction, for a continuance, soldiers being actually under arms for twelve hours a day for a succession of days?—Such a thing is never done nor thought of; a soldier is never kept under arms more than five or six hours, unless before the enemy. Is the female sex well fitted to sustain long exertion in a standing posture? It is not. Is it not more than ordinarily necessary to protect females against excessive labour, when approaching the age of puberty?—Certainly it is." "The ten hours," (he adds), "you propose to give to the children in factories, is the work you would not give to soldiers, even when soldiers are employed in public works; they would not then be worked more than twelve hours, granting them time for their meals; and for the work they would have additional pay. Now, Sir, mark the fearful superseding of adult workers; "the tendency of improvements in machinery," say all the inspectors, "is more and more to substitute infant for adult labour." Dr. Villermé, in his Tableau d'état physique et moral des ouvriers, urges the same results that "children anti women are employed instead of men." In one mill (1831) adults, 70; spindles to each, 104; piecers, 305. In the same mill (1841) adults, 26; spindles to each, 223; pincers, 123; being one-sixth, instead of one-filth as before, of the hands employed. In Bolton (1835) thirty-nine mills set up 589,784 spindles; the same mills set up (1841) 740,000 spindles; pieces to these spindles—(1835) 2,443; ditto in 1841, 2,426; spinners to them in 1835, 797; ditto in 1841, 727. Observe, too, the process of double-decking and self-actors—In 1831, twenty-three mills employed 1267 spinners (Manchester); in 1839, the same twenty-three mills employed 677 spinners; thus throwing out 590 spinners, without any abatement of productive power. In 1829, in Manchester, spinners, 2,650; 1841, in Manchester, spinners, 1037; thrown out entirely, 1,613. In 1835, 2,171 spinners worked 1,229,204 spindles: in 1841, 1037 spinners worked 1,431,619 spindles. Observe, too, that the labour is greatly increased upon children in all mills alike. In 1829, in the mill of Mr.—; spinners 70; spindles worked, 43,680; piecers, 230. In 1841, in the same mill, spinners, 26; spindles, 43,796; piecers, 134. In 1829, in a mill, spinners, 53; spindles, 23,800; piecers, 125. In 1842, spinners, none; spindles same number; piecers, 84. In 1829, in thirty-five mills, spinners, 1,088; spindles, 496,942. In 1841, in same mills, spinners, 448; spindles, 556,375; self-actors, 473, wrought by children and young persons only. A working spinner makes this statement, and it is a fair sample of the whole: "My wheels are trebled; the piecers reduced to eight; thus, two do the work of three. 'Self-acting greatly augments labour by the increased velocity of the machine, and the greater number of spindles apportioned to each piecer." Here, Sir, pause to consider the multitudes of females on whom this system must exercise its influence, and their great increase since 1835, Mr. Orrell's mill, (says the inspector, and will quote this as an example,)" at Heaton Norris, is by far the largest in Stockport. We are employing (says Robert M'Lure, the manager) altogether, in that mill and in connection with it (as carters, gas-men, and others) 1,264 bands at this time, of whom 846 are females. The whole number of looms is 1,300 all standing on one flat, attended by 651 females, and twenty-one males. But there is a reason for this substitution; I will show, by an extract from a letter dated in March, 1842, the motives that actuate some minds: Mr. E., a manufacturer, (says the writer), informed me that he employs females exclusively at his power-looms; it is so universally; gives a decided preference to married females, especially those who have families at home dependent on them for support; they are attentive, docile, more so than unmarried females, and are compelled to use their utmost exertions to procure the necessaries of life. Thus, Sir, are the virtues, the peculiar virtues, of the female character to be perverted to her injury—thus all that is most dutiful and tender in her nature is to be made the means of her bondage and suffering! But consider again, I entreat you, what a multitude of females it is on whom this system has its operation. Just survey the enormous increase since 1835. This is the further testimony of the Sub-inspector Baker, in his report of 1843. There are employed in his district more than in 1838, 6,040 persons; of these, 785 males; 5,225 females. The small amount of wages," says inspector Saunders, "paid to women, acts as a strong inducement to the mill-occupiers to employ them instead of men, and in power-loom shops this has been the case to a great extent. Now hear how these poor creatures are worked. Mr. Baker reports, as to Having seen several females, who, he was sure, could only just have completed their eighteenth year, who had been obliged to work from six A. M. to ten P. M., with only one hour and a-half for meals. In other cases, he shows, females are obliged to work all night, in a temperature of from 70 to 80 deg. Hence Mr. Saunders (1843) deduces the necessity of a law protecting all females, up to the age of twenty-one; adding, medical men invariably declare the urgent necessity of protecting from excessive labour all females up to that period of life. I found (says Mr. Horner, October 1843) many young women, just eighteen years of age, at work from half-past five in the morning until eight o'clock at night, with no cessation except a quarter of an hour for breakfast, and three quarters of an hour for dinner. They may fairly be said to labour for fifteen hours and a-half out of twenty-four. There are (says Mr. Saunders) among them, females who have been employed for some weeks, with an interval only of a few days, from six o'clock in the morning until twelve o'clock at night, less than two hours for meals, thus giving them for five nights in the week, six hours out of its twenty-four to go to and from their homes, and to obtain rest in bed." "A vast majority," says Mr. Saunders, in January, 1844, "of the persons employed at night, and for long hours during the day, are females; their labour is cheaper, and they are more easily induced to undergo severe bodily fatigue than men. Where, Sir, under this condition, are the possibilities of domestic life? how can its obligations be fulfilled? Regard the woman as wife or mother, how can she accomplish any portion of her calling? And if she cannot do that which Providence has assigned her, what must be the effect on the whole surface of society? But to revert to the physical effects. Mr. Saunders says in the same report:— The surgeon distinctly condemns such employment; though the effect may not be immediately apparent, it must haves tendency to undermine the constitution, produces premature decay, and shortens the duration of human life. No female," he adds, "ought to work more than ten hours, and that twelve hours produces severe injury to those in a state of pregnancy. He often witnesses the effect of so much standing when parturition conies on; adding;— Work in the night is the most injurious; it is unnatural, and not adapted to the constitution of women. Another surgeon of great experience, in Lancashire, writes to me that— After thirteen is the age when young women begin to be most susceptible of injury from factory work, and much more at this period of their lives than at the earlier ages. He proceeds to detail; "the effects of long-continued labour in factories become more apparent after childbirth. The infants are at birth below the average size, have a stinted and shrivelled appearance. I would take a score of factory births, and the same of healthy parents, and distinguish between them. Children are much confined by factory mothers to the care of others—opium administered to the infants in various forms—the quantity of this pernicious drug thus consumed would almost stagger belief—many infants are so habituated to it, that they can scarcely exist when deprived of the stimulus—immense numbers fall victims to hydrocephalus—mothers' milk becomes deteriorated—infants fed upon substitutes in her absence—hence internal disorders, of which the usual remedy is gin. Miscarriages very frequent, and all the physical and surgical mischief's of mistreated pregnancy—varicose veins produced by the continued evil practice—aggravated greatly in pregnant women. Again, troublesome ulcers of the legs, arising from varicose veins, which, in some cases, burst, and bring on a dangerous and sometimes fatal hæmorrhage. The practice of procuring abortion is very frequent even among married women. I have, moreover, the personal testimony of several females to the truth of these statements—they speak of the intolerable pain in their breasts by such long absences from children, and the suffering of returning to work within ten days of confinement. Look again to the effects on domestic economy; out of thirteen married females taken at one mill, only one knew how to make her husband a shirt, and only four knew how to mend one. I have the evidence of several females, who declare their own ignorance of every domestic accomplishment—the unmarried declare, "not a single qualification of any sort for household servants." The married; "untidy, slovenly, dirty; cannot work, sew, take care of children, or the house; cannot manage expences; perpetual waste and extravagance." But hear the history of their daily life from their own lips:— M. H., aged twenty years, leaves a young child in care of another, a little older, for hours together; leaves home soon after five, and returns at eight; during the day the milk runs from her breasts, until her clothes have been as wet as a sop." "M. S. (single) leaves home at five, returns at nine; her mother states she knows nothing but mill and bed; can neither read, write, knit, nor sew." "H. W. has three children; leaves home at five on Monday; does not return till Saturday at seven; has then so much to do for her children, that she cannot go to bed before three o'clock on Sunday morning. Oftentimes completely drenched by the rain, and has to work all day in that condition. My breasts have given me the most shocking pain, and I have been dripping wet with milk. I will conclude this part with an extract from a letter, dated February, 1840, by Dr. Johns, Superintendent Registrar of the Manchester district; an important document, when we consider that it was written to controvert some of my statements respecting the mortality of those districts:— Very young children (says Dr. Johns) are by the existing system, not sufficiently taken care of by their mothers; as regards themselves, during gestation, and their offspring, after childbirth—the women during pregnancy, continue as long as possible at their work; and sooner than they ought, they again attend the factories, leaving their infants to the care of ill-paid and unsuitable persons, to take the oversight of the children in their absence; nor ought we to omit that soothing drugs—the well-known nostrum—Godfrey's cordial, are often had recourse to, with a view to lull the troubles of the little unfortunates, and hence, perhaps, may be attributable to the improper use of narcotics, the frequent deaths from convulsions. It is most desirable that mothers should not be, if possible, abstracted from their attention to their helpless infants, certainly not during the period of lactation and teething. So much, Sir, for their physical, and, if I may so speak, their financial condition; the picture of their moral state will not be more consolatory. And, first, their excessive intemperance: Mr. Roberton, a distinguished surgeon at Manchester, says, in a published essay:— I regard it as a misfortune for an operative to be obliged to labour for so long hours at an exhausting occupation, and often in an impure atmosphere. I consider this circumstance as one of the chief causes of the astounding inebriety of our population. I read in a private letter from Manchester, 1843:— Intemperance is making progress; on Sundays there is more drinking than there has been for many years; the people who sell ale, &c., state to me that they never sold more on Sunday, nor as much as they now do. Mr. Braidley, when boroughreeve of Manchester, stated," that in one gin shop, during eight successive Saturday evenings, from seven till ten o'clock, he observed, on an average rate, 412 persons enter by the hour, of which the females were 60 per cent." Many females state, that the labour induces "an intolerable thirst; they can drink, but not eat." I do not doubt that several of the statements I have read, will create surprise in the minds of many hon. Members; but if they were to converse with operatives who are acquainted with the practical effects of the system, they would cease to wonder at the facts I have detailed. I might detain the House by enumerating the evils which result from the long working of males and females together in the same room. I could show the many and painful effects to which females are exposed, and the manner in which they lament and shrink from the inconveniences of their situation. I have letters from Stockport and Manchester, from various individuals, dwelling on the mischievous consequences which arise from the practice of modest women working so many hours together with men, and not being able to avail themselves of those opportunities which would suggest themselves to every one's mind without particular mention. Many mills, I readily admit, are admirably regulated, but they are yet in a minority—were all of such a description as several that I have seen, they might not, perhaps, require any enactments. But, to return, Mr. Rayner, the medical officer of Stockport, says:— It has been the practice in mills, gradually to dispense with the labour of males, but particularly grown-up men, so that the burthen of maintaining the family has rested almost exclusively on the wife and children, while the men have had to stay at home, and look after household affairs, or ramble about the streets unemployed. But listen to another fact, and one deserving of serious attention; that the females not only perform the labour, but occupy the places of men; they are forming various clubs and associations, and gradually acquiring all those privileges which are held to be the proper portion of the male sex. These female clubs are thus described:—Fifty or sixty females, married and single, form themselves into clubs, ostensibly for protection; but, in fact, they meet together, to drink, sing, and smoke; they use, it is stated, the lowest, most brutal, and most disgusting language imaginable." Here is a dialogue which occurred in one of these clubs, from an ear witness:—"A man came into one of these club-rooms, with a child in his arms; 'Come lass,' said he, addressing one of the women, 'come home, for I cannot keep this bairn quiet, and the other I have left crying at home.' 'I won't go home, idle devil,' she replied, 'I have thee to keep, and the bairns too, and if I can't get a pint of ale quietly, it is tiresome. This is the only second pint that Bess and me have had between us; thou may sup if thou likes, and sit thee down, but I won't go home yet'" Whence is it that this singular and unnatural change is taking place? Because that on women are imposed the duty and burthen of supporting their husbands and families, a perversion as it were of nature, which has the inevitable effect of introducing into families disorder, insubordination, and conflict. What is the ground on which the woman says she will pay no attention to her domestic duties, nor give the obedience which is owing to her husband? Because on her devolves the labour which ought to fall to his share, and she throws out the taunt, "If I have the labour, I will also have the amusement." The same mischief is taking place between children and their parents; the insubordination of children is now one of the most frightful evils of the manufacturing districts. "Children and young persons take the same advantage of parents that women do of their husbands, frequently using harsh language, and, if corrected, will turn round and say,'—you, we have you to keep.' One poor woman stated that her husband had chided two of their daughters for going to a public-house; he made it worse, for they would riot come home again, stating, 'they had their father to keep, and they would not be dictated to by him.'" This conduct in the children is likewise grounded on the assertion that the parents have no right to interfere and control them, since, without their labour, the parents could not exist; and this is the bearing of children, many of whom are under thirteen or fourteen years of age! Observe carefully, too, the ferocity of character which is exhibited by a great mass of the female population of the manufacturing towns. Recollect the outbreak of 1842, and the share borne in that by the girls and women; and the still more frightful contingencies which may be in store for the future. "I met," says an informant of mine, "with a mother of factory workers, who told me that all the churches and chapels were useless places, and so was all the talk about education, since the young and old were unable to attend, either in consequence of the former being imprisoned in the mills so many hours, and being in want of rest the little time they were at home; and the latter being compelled to live out of the small earnings of their children, and cannot get clothing, so they never think of going to churches or chapels. She added, when you get up to London, tell them we'll turn out the next time (meaning the women), and let the soldiers fire upon us if they dare, and depend upon it there will be a break out, and a right one, if that House of Commons don't alter things, for they can alter if they will, by taking mothers and daughters out of the factories, and sending the men and big lads in.'" But further, what says Sir Charles Shaw, for some years the superintendent of the police of Manchester—what is his opinion of the condition of the females of that town, and the effects produced, by the system under which they live, on their conduct and character?— Women (says he) by being employed in a factory, lose the station ordained them by Providence, and become similar to the female followers of an army, wearing the garb of women, but actuated by the worst passions of men. The women are the leaders and exciters of the young men to violence in every riot and outbreak in the manufacturing districts, and the language they indulge in is of a horrid description. While they are themselves demoralised, they contaminate all that comes within their reach. This will conclude the statement that I have to make to the House—and now, Sir, who will assert that these things should be permitted to exist? Who will hesitate to apply the axe to the root of the tree, or, at least, endeavour to lop off some of its deadliest branches? What arguments from general principles will they adduce against my proposition? What, drawn from peculiar circumstances? They cannot urge that particular causes in England give rise to particular results; the same cause prevails in various countries; and wherever it is found, it produces the same effects. I have already stated its operation in France, in Russia, in Switzerland, in Austria, and in Prussia; I may add also in America; for I perceive by the papers of the 1st of February, that a Bill has been proposed in the Legislature of Pennsylvania, to place all persons under the age of sixteen, within the protection of the "ten hours" limit. I never thought that we should have learned justice from the City of Philadelphia. In October last I visited an immense establishment in Austria, which gives employment to several hundred hands; I went over the whole, and conversed with the managers, who detailed to me the same evils and the same fruits as those I have narrated to the House—prolonged labour of sixteen and seventeen hours, intense fatigue, enfeebled frame, frequent consumptive disorders, and early deaths—yet the locality had every advantage; well-built and airy houses in a fine open country, and a rural district; nevertheless, so injurious are the effects, that the manager added, stating at the same time, the testimony of many others who resided in districts where mills are more abundant, that, in ten years from the time at which he spoke, "there would hardly be a man in the whole of those neighbourhoods fit to carry a musket." Let me remind, too, the House, of the mighty change which has taken place among the opponents to this question. When I first brought it forward in 1833, I could scarcely number a dozen masters on my side, I now count them by hundreds. We have had, from the West Riding of Yorkshire, a petition signed by 300 millowners, praying for a limitation of labour to ten hours in the day. Some of the best names in Lancashire openly support me. I have letters from others who secretly wish me well, but hesitate to proclaim their adherence; and even among the members of the Anti-Corn-Law League, I may boast of many firm and efficient friends. Sir, under all the aspects in which it can be viewed, this system of things must be abrogated or restrained—it affects the internal tranquillity of those vast provinces, and all relations between employer and employed—it forms a perpetual grievance and ever comes uppermost among their complaints in all times of difficulty and discontent. It disturbs the order of nature, and the rights of the labouring men, by ejecting the males from the workshop, and filling their places by females, who are thus withdrawn from all their domestic duties, and exposed to insufferable toil at half the wages that would be assigned to males, for the support of their families. It affects—nay, more, it absolutely annihilates, all the arrangements and provisions of domestic economy—thrift and management are altogether impossible; had they twice the amount of their present wages, they would be but slightly benefited—everything runs to waste; the house and children are deserted; the wife can do nothing for her husband and family; she can neither cook, wash, repair clothes, or take charge of the infants; all must be paid for out of her scanty earnings, and, after all, most imperfectly done. Dirt, discomfort, ignorance, recklessness, are the portion of such households; the wife has no time for learning in her youth, and none for practice in her riper age; the females are most unequal to the duties of the men in the factories; and all things go to rack and ruin, because the men can discharge at home no one of the especial duties that Providence has assigned to the females. Why need I detain the House by a specification of these injurious results? They will find them stated at painful length in the Second Report of the Children's Employment Commission. Consider it, too, under its physical aspect! Will the House turn a deaf ear to the complaints of suffering that resound from all quarters? Will it be indifferent to the physical consequences on the rising generation? You have the authority of the Government Commissioner, Dr. Hawkins, a gentleman well skilled in medical statistics— I have never been, (he tells you) in any town in Great Britain or in Europe, in which degeneracy of form and colour from the national standard has been so obvious as in Manchester. I have, moreover, the authority of one of the most ardent antagonists, himself a mighty millowner, that, if the present system of labour be persevered in, the "county of Lancaster will speedily become a province of pigmies." The toil of the females has hitherto been considered the characteristic of savage life; but we, in the height of our refinement, impose on the wives and daughters of England a burthen from which, at least during pregnancy, they would be exempted even in slave-holding states, and among the Indians of America. But every consideration sinks to nothing compared with that which springs from the contemplation of the moral mischiefs this system engenders and sustains. You are poisoning the very sources of order and happiness and virtue; you are tearing up root and branch, all the relations of families to each other; you are annulling, as it were, the institution of domestic life, decreed by Providence himself, the wisest and kindest of earthly ordinances, the mainstay of social peace and virtue, and therein of national security. There is a time to be born, and a time to die—this we readily concede; but is there not also a time to live, to live to every conjugal and parental duty—this we seem as stiffly to deny; and yet in the very same breath we talk of the value of education, and the necessity of moral and religious training. Sir, it is all in vain, there is no national, no private system, that can supersede the influence of the parental precept and parental example—they ate ordained to exercise an unlimited power over the years of childhood; and, amidst all their imperfections, are accompanied with a blessing Whose experience is so confined that it dues not extend to a knowledge and an appreciation of the maternal influence over every grade and department of society? It matters not whether it be prince or peasant, all that is best, all that is lasting in the character of a man, he has learnt at his mother's knees. Search the records, examine the opening years of those who have been distinguished for ability and virtue, and you will ascribe, with but few exceptions, the early culture of their minds, and above all, the first discipline of the heart, to the intelligence and affection of the mother, or at least of some pious woman, who with the self-denial and tenderness of her sex, has entered as a substitute, on the sacred office. No, Sir, these sources of mischief must be dried up; every public consideration demands such an issue; the health of the females; the care of their families; their conjugal and parental duties; the comfort of their homes; the decency of their lives; the rights of their husbands; the peace of society; and the laws of God—and, until a vote shall have been given this night, which God avert, I never will believe that there can he found in this House one individual man who will deliberately and conscientiously inflict, on the women of England such a burthen of insufferable toil. Sir, it is very sad, though perhaps inevitable, that such weighty charges and suspicions should he on the objects of those who call for, and who propose, this remedial measure. I am most unwilling to speak of myself: my personal character is, doubtless, of no consequence to the world at large; but it may be of consequence to those whose interests I represent; because distrust begets delays; and zeal grows cold, when held back in its career by the apprehension that those, whom it would support, are actuated by unworthy motives. Disclaimers. I know, are poor things when uttered by parties whom you listen to with suspicion or dislike; but consider it calmly; are you reasonable to impute to me a settled desire, a single purpose, to exalt the landed, and humiliate the commercial aristocracy? Most solemnly do I deny the accusation; if you think me wicked enough, do you think me fool enough, for such a hateful policy? Can any man in his senses now hesitate to believe that the permanent prosperity of the manufacturing body, in all its several aspects, physical, moral, and commercial, is essential, not only to the welfare, but absolutely to the existence of the British Empire? No, we fear not the increase of your political power, nor envy your stupendous riches; "peace be within your walls, and plenteousness within your palaces!" We ask but a slight relaxation of toil, a time to live, and a time to die; a time for those comforts that sweeten life, and a time for those duties that adorn it; and, therefore, with a fervent prayer to Almighty God that it may please him to turn the hearts of all who hear me to thoughts of justice and of mercy, I now finally commit the issue to the judgment and humanity of Parliament.

Sir J. Graham

Sir, I never rose to dis- charge any duty in this House which I considered at the same time more painful and more imperative. The pain, I must admit, is considerably increased by the eloquence of the address which my noble Friend has just concluded, and especially of the passage which marked the close of his speech. The noble Lord has asked whether any man will be found in this House to resist the proposal which he has thought it his duty to make, and he has appealed to considerations of justice and mercy, intimating, if not directly, at least by implication, that resistance to his Motion is inconsistent both with justice and mercy. I, on the other hand, having due regard to those sacred principles which my noble Friend has invoked, am bound, on my own part, anti on the part of the Government, to offer to the proposal of the noble Lord my decided opposition. It will be necessary for me to trespass shortly on the attention of the House, although I do not intend to follow the noble Lord through all the details which he addressed to the House. If I thought it necessary I do not possess the information which would be required for that purpose; but I think it incumbent, on principle, to resist the noble Lord's Motion, and it is my duty, thus early in the discussion, to state the grounds which have produced my decision on the question. The noble Lord said, the time is come when, in his opinion, it is necessary to lay the axe to the root of the tree. Before we do this let me entreat the Committee carefully to consider what is that tree which we are to lay prostrate. If it be, as I suppose, the tree of the commercial greatness of this country, I am satisfied that although some of its fruits may be bitter, yet upon the whole it has produced that greatness, that wealth, that prosperity, which make these small islands most remarkable in the history of the civilised world, which upon the whole, diffuse happiness amidst this great community, and render this nation one of the most civilised, if not the most civilised, and powerful on the face of the globe. My noble Friend begs us also not to turn a deaf ear to the cry of distress from the working classes. I entreat this House, indeed I need not urge it upon them, having seen the attention with which they listened to the remarks which my noble Friend made—I entreat the House carefully to weigh the subject now brought under discussion. There never was a greater subject, as it appears to me, considered in this House— the comfort, the happiness, the physical and moral condition, as my noble Friend has justly put it, of a large portion of the working classes, come under our notice this evening. Their wrongs are entitled to redress, if we can redress them; their feelings are entitled to indulgent consideration, even though we may be unable to redress their wrongs. I am aware their feelings are excited on this subject and I am satisfied that it is due to their feelings that this question, should be fully, dispassionately, and temperately considered. My noble Friend endeavoured studiously to steer clear of irritating topics not immediately connected with the subject of debate. Something like a cheer indeed, fell from the other side, on one occasion, when he glanced at the importation of foreign corn. Now may I beg the Committee for this one evening to exclude all such topics from their remembrance. I do not deny that the question may be in some degree connected with them, but there will be many other opportunities for debating these, and this subject is sufficiently important to he discussed by itself. I have said, on the one hand, that the physical and moral condition of a large class of the community is now brought under discussion, on the other hand justice compels me to say, the question of the commercial prosperity and manufacturing industry of this country is to-night materially involved in the question upon which we are deliberating. It was with some astonishment, therefore, that I heard my noble Friend declare, that he would discard all commercial views on this occasion, and treat the question as one purely of morals and of religious obligation. Nay, my noble Friend must excuse me for saying that when I listened to his eloquent appeal, and to his statement of facts as bearing on infantine and female labour, I will not say I thought there was exaggeration—but I could almost have believed that the necessary consequence of that appeal and of that statement of facts must have been to lead to the conclusion at which he arrived with respect to mines and collieries, namely, that females and infants should no longer be employed in factory labour. Now, allow me to beg of the Committee to consider. I have said the matter is most important; but still allow me to recall to the attention of the Committee how narrow comparatively is the question we are called upon to discuss. It is not whether females shall cease to be employed in factories, nor whether children shall cease to labour there—it is whether fe- males shall be employed ten or twelve hours in factories, and whether the period of infantile labour shall be eight hours in each day, or something shorter. At present, children cannot be employed longer than eight hours a-day; the proposition of the Bill now under discussion is, that instead of work in the forenoon or afternoon of each day, they may be employed ten hours on alternate days only, the others being vacant; or every day for six hours and a half. It is not, as my noble Friend in the earlier part of his speech justly remarked, a question of principle that we are now called upon to discuss, it is one of degree. I think it clearly unnecessary on the present occasion to enter at length into the principle. It was certainly a violation of principle that the Legislature should interfere in a case of this kind at all; that, however, was decided by the Legislature in 1833; and my noble Friend will excuse me for recalling to his recollection, and that of the Committee, that a very large portion of the facts he detailed, with respect to early superannuation, the evidence of deformity arising from infantile labour, and many of the cases of extreme distress most calculated to harrow the feelings, were facts collected by the Commission of 1831 and the Inquiry of 1833; and it was the statement of these very facts which led to the correction of the evils, and to the violation of principle I spoke of by the enactment of the existing regulations, which impose checks on the employment of the labour both of children and young persons. Though I do not wish to dwell on these details, I must notice some of the statements my noble Friend has made. In the commencement of his speech he alluded, with something like despondency, to his past labour; and at its close he answered some imputations upon his motives, which had been most unjustly thrown upon them. Sir, I believe my noble Friend's motives to be pure and benevolent in the highest sense. I do not believe that any public man ever laboured more honestly, more earnestly, with more entire singleness of purpose. So far from his having occasion to look back on his past career with anything like despondency, I think it is very much due to him that various mitigations of the most important kind have been sanctioned by the Legislature with respect to infantile labour, and that he has conferred a lasting benefit on the poor and helpless. I said that the original enactment was a violation of principle, made under the peculiar circumstances attending that labour, and I was a party to its enactment. There were several points to be considered, first, the close and constant inspection to which this labour is subject; next, the publicity of the reports, and the check of public opinion which is brought to bear on all branches of the system; then the limitation of time, most important even as it now exists, that no children under the age of nine shall be employed at all; and that between nine and thirteen no child shall work longer than eight hours; and that no young person between thirteen and eighteen shall work for a longer period, as it now stands, than fifteen hours daily, including one hour for dinner and two hours' cessation of labour, leaving twelve for the actual work. What is the general tenor of the measure which I propose, as it relates to children? A mitigation of time from eight to six and a half hours, a limitation of margin from fifteen hours to fourteen, still leaving twelve hours for work. My noble Friend has dwelt very much upon the improvements which have taken place in machinery, and the consequent increase of labour to the parties so employed. Allow me just to remark, in passing, that although the intention of the Factory Act was humane, and its operation has been partially such, yet I have no doubt whatever its practical effect has been to stimulate in the highest degree the improvement of machinery with a view to the displacement of manual labour. He described with great accuracy of detail, and in the most graphic manner, the working of the machinery—the self-acting mules, the double-decked system, and the distance to be travelled by each person, which he estimated at thirty-seven miles in twelve hours. My noble Friend behind me says, that is quite impossible; that was exactly the observation I was about to make. I do not think it possible that they could walk or run over anything like that space in the time mentioned, even if they chose their own ground. The hon. Member for Oldham, in one of his publications, arrived at the conclusion that the distance was nearly one-half less than my noble Friend makes it by his computation. My noble Friend made, in that part of his speech, a most important admission, which I call on the Committee carefully to bear in view. I have stated to the Committee that I am satisfied the reduction of hours in the Factory Bill, as it now stands, has had the effect of improving machines. I also think it has had the effect of accelerating machines. Now, my noble Friend made a most important admission when he stated that even the present machinery, without further improvement, was only put at two-thirds of the velocity of which it was capable; in other words, that the speed might be increased by one-third. Mark, then, it is as clear as possible, if you reduce the hours of labour by one-eleventh or one-sixth, the machinery will be accelerated to counteract the reduction of the hours of work, and in point of fact the labour will be more intense and severe. My noble Friend refers to early superannuation. Now, in the first place, I decidedly admit, that there was an excess of infantine and female labour injurious to health, and until the Act of 1833 passed there was no legislative restriction. But there are now stringent regulations, and I am not disposed to call upon the House of Commons to increase them, because I believe they are quite sufficient. Just in proportion as by improvement in machinery you increase the speed of that machinery, so you do make a call for increased strength on the part of those you employ, even to the displacement of the labour of aged persons, younger and more active persons being required to perform the duties. Then if your legislation be such that you again increase the speed of your machinery—if you offer a premium, as it were, for the improvement of machinery, my belief is, that you will still further displace those not now considered superannuated, and thus you will augment the evils you desire to cure. My noble Friend drew a comparison between agricultural and manufacturing labourers, and he did not, I am sure, draw that comparison invidiously. I must, however, express some doubt as to the physical fact stated by my noble Friend. I believe, when you take into consideration the exposure to the inclemency of the weather, and other disadvantageous circumstances which fall upon the agricultural labourer, that it may very fairly be doubted, whether on account of the vicissitudes he encounters, the chances are not, upon the whole, against the agricultural labourer, on the score of health, as compared with the manufacturer. But the House will consider whether it be of any practical advantage to discuss that point now. We have arrived at a state of society when without commerce and manufactures this great community cannot be maintained. Let us, as far as we can, mitigate the evils arising out of this highly artificial state of society; but let us take care to adopt no step that may be fatal to commerce and manufactures. The noble Lord complains of want of thrift among the manufacturing operatives. I have received two deputations, one from the master manufacturers and the other from the operatives themselves; and with regard to the first, I am sure that the Gentleman of whom I am about to speak will not be offended by the allusion. One of the Gentlemen composing that deputation is a master manufacturer, a magistrate, and, I believe, one of the greatest mill-owners in England. By thrift and economy that Gentleman, to his own great honour, and to the honour of the country he has benefitted by his industry, has risen to the high position he occupies in Manchester, from the rank, if I am not misinformed, of an humble operative. I also received a deputation from the workmen; and in regard to one of the persons who composed it. I must say that I was much struck with his remarkable intelligence, the clear and admirable manner in which he stated his case, the perfect propriety of his demeanour, and the dispassionate manner in which he argued every point that made against his position. I said to this person are you still an operative? He replied—No; I was lately; but by saving I have been able to take a share in a mill, and I am now a mill-owner to a limited extent. Still I am trusted by those who were my fellow labourers and I am here to represent them. So much for the result of manufacturing industry as testified in these two deputations, My noble Friend stated, that the feelings of many of the master-manufacturers was in favour of his proposal. I for one must say, that I am discharging a painful duty in resisting my noble Friend's proposition. If I consulted only my own feelings, I should support it, for all my sympathies and wishes, as well as those of the great majority are with the Motion. I speak in the strongest manner for myself on this point, and if I could bring myself to believe that my noble Friend's proposition is for the good of the country, and for the good of the manufacturers themselves, I should not have hesitated to support it. The master-manufacturers give an honourable and willing consent to the additional restraint this Bill imposes upon their useful exertions. They acquiesced generally, because they placed reliance on the assurance of the Government, that with reference to the question of twelve hours for all persons above thirteen years of age, the Government, after full, fair, and deliberate consideration of the case, were resolved to stand firm. I was aware that the Chamber of Commerce at Manchester would have taken up the question if they had doubted that the Government, in the discharge of their duty, would have resisted this proposition. I believe that there is not that unanimity upon the point, even among his workmen, which my noble Friend supposes. I am assured, upon high authority, that adult labourers, stimulated by the honest desire of earning as much as they are able, because wages are generally paid by piecework—so far from going to those masters where time is limited, invariably prefer the establishments where most work is done. This day I received three deputations from the working classes; one of them was in favour of the proposition of my noble Friend, but another was decidedly opposed to it, declaring even that the seventh clause, relative to the working of children, was objected to by many as inconsistent with their interests. My noble Friend stated that he would not enter into the commercial part of the question; but if I can show that the inevitable result of the abridgement of time will be the diminution of wages to the employed, then I say, with reference to the interests of the working classes themselves, there never was a more doubtful question before Parliament than this. The House will remember that the branches of manufacture affected by this Bill are dependent upon machinery. Such is the rapidity with which improvements are made, that no machinery can last more than twelve or thirteen years without alterations; and master-manufacturers have been obliged to pull down machinery that was perfectly sound and good to make the necessary alterations which competition forces upon them. Well, then, it is nscessary to replace machinery in the course of twelve or thirteen years. You are now discussing whether you shall abridge by one-sixth the period of time in which capital is to be replaced, all interest upon it paid, and the original outlay restored. Such an abridgement would render it impossible that capital with interest should be restored. Then in the close race of competition which our manufacturers are now running with foreign competitors, it must be considered what effect this reduction of one-sixth of the hours of labour would have upon them. The question in its bearing upon competition must be carefully considered; and I have been informed that in that respect such a step would be fatal to many of our manufacturers a feather would turn the scale: an extra pound weight would lose the race. But that would not be the first effect. The first effect would fall upon the operative. It is notorious that a great part of the power of the mill-owners, a power which alone justifies such legislation as this, arises from the redundant supply of labour. It follows that when a master is pressed upon by your legislation, he will compensate himself by forcing upon those in his employ a decrease of wages. I believe the large majority of intelligent operatives comprehend that proposition thoroughly. I have seen many, and conversed with them, and they have admitted that the proposal involves a necessary decrease of wages. In the report presented in 1841 by my excellent Friend Mr. Homer, who has discharged with the most honourable fidelity the duty of inspector of factories, there is information upon this point, and with the permission of the House I will read a passage—a single passage only—but one which goes to the root of the whole subject. Mr. Horner said: I have made an estimate of the loss a mill would sustain from working eleven hours a day only instead of twelve, and I find it would amount to 850l. per annum. If it were reduced to ten hours, it would be about 1,530l. per annum. Unless, therefore, the mill-owner can obtain a proportionately higher price for the commodity, he must reduce wages or abandon his trade. I have made some calculations as to the probable reduction of wages, and of the whole loss that would be thrown on the operatives. I make the amount in the case of eleven hours a day to be 13 per cent., and in the case of ten hours a day 25 per cent. at the present average rate of wages. Now, I believe this to be perfectly accurate. The question then arises, whether you shall create in the manufacturing districts one sudden general fall of wages to the amount of 25 per cent.? I believe that the adoption of the Motion of my noble Friend would produce that effect. Though I am most anxious to take every precaution with regard to infant labour—though I am as firmly resolved as my noble Friend to urge upon the House to put a limit upon female labour, still, upon the whole, I cannot recommend the House to adopt an enactment which limits the labour of young persons to a shorter period than twelve hours. My noble Friend has referred to foreign countries, but in these countries, if I am not mistaken, there is no limitation, direct or indirect, of adult labour. My noble Friend spoke in decisive terms upon the failure of health in the manufacturing districts, and offered most important considerations to the House bearing upon that part of the subject. But if I am not misinformed, it will be found when there is full work, even to some excess, on the part of adults—when there is full work and good wages, that health in the manufacturing districts is in a satisfactory condition. On the other hand, when there is short time—shorter time than is proposed by my noble Friend—short time caused by the failure of the demand for manufactured articles, and reduced to eight instead of ten hours as occurred about two years ago, then disease is rife in the manufacturing districts; then is the time when immoral habits are generated, and disease is their inevitable result. I believe the proposition of my noble Friend to be most humane in intention, but the Bill, as tendered by the Government, holding equal the balance between the employer and the employed does not meet with opposition from the manufacturers, and is not disapproved of by the workmen; and I believe, in its present shape, it will pass into a law without any great difficulty. The Motion of my noble Friend will invert all this, and should it be carried, the Bill will be violently resisted and will produce the most fatal consequences. I believe, moreover, so far from being advantageous to the working classes, my noble Friend's proposition would be ruinous to their interests, and fatal to our commercial prosperity, and though toy feelings and wishes are with him, my sense of duty never more clearly pointed out the course I ought to take, in reluctantly, but firmly, resisting his proposition.

Mr. Milner Gibson

had received, he said, many communications respecting the Bill before the House, and although there was not a complete recognition of the soundness of the principle that had been adopted in it, there yet was, so far as his knowledge extended, a willingness on the part of both the masters and operatives to take the measure which the Government had submitted to the House. When he said "take the measure," he did not mean that every matter of minute detail was fully approved of; but still, in reference to the important alterations proposed, as the reduction of the hours of labour for children from eight to six hours and a half, and the limitation of the hours of labour of young persons and women of all ages to twelve, the proposition had, he was informed, been received cheerfully by the master manufacturers, although he must admit without a full recognition of the principle of interfering with labour, which seemed to be adopted by many hon. Members. With regard to the proposition of the noble Lord, he could not say it was within his knowledge approved of by either masters or operatives. He had made it his business to ascertain to the best of his ability the state of feeling among the labouring people themselves upon this proposition of short hours of labour, and he had been told by many of the most intelligent and thinking operatives—men calculated to have influence with their class, and they considered that it would be an interference with the only property they had to dispose of, namely, their labour, and they could not agree to the proposition, whatever might be the urgency and necessity of working hard to earn a living, that they should be prevented from working twelve hours in a factory, if they found it fit and advantageous so to do. It might be thought that by preventing young persons, and women of all ages, from working more than ten hours, the labour of male adults was not interfered with. But that was not so. To enact that no young persons or women of any age should work more than ten hours was, in point of fact, to enact that no factory engines should be kept in operation more than ten hours. It was not simply dealing with the labour of women and young persons, but it was an interference with the labour of adults, and an interference also with that fixed capital so eloquently dwelt upon by the right hon. Baronet, the Secretary of State for the Home Department. What was the cure? They were diminishing in that manner the effective production of all the great staple articles of manufacture no less than 20 per cent. If they destroyed the profit of a manufacturer by cutting off two hours of labour, they, in effect, deprived the labourer of the means of earning his subsistence, so that, acting from the most benevolent motives, they might be inflicting the greatest of all possible evils upon the very class they sought to benefit. As the right hon. Baronet had alluded to the argument of not destroying the profits upon manufactures, he (Mr. Gibson) would read some remarks upon that point by Mr. Senior, a gentleman whose name would be of great weight with hon. Members. In 1836 or 1837, Mr. Senior, with some other gentlemen, went into the manufacturing districts with the view of ascertaining the effect of factory legislation, and making observations upon the factory population. Mr. Senior wrote a letter dated the 28th March, 1837, to Mr. Poulett Thomson to the following effect:— Under the present law, no mill in which persons under eighteen years of age are employed (and, therefore, scarcely any mill at all), can be worked more than eleven and a half hours a-day, that is twelve hours for five days in a week, and nine on Saturday. The following analysis will show that in a mill so worked the whole net profit is derived from the last hour. I will suppose a manufacturer of 100,000l.—80,000l. in his mill and machinery, and 20,000l. in raw material and wages. The annual return of that mill, supposing the capital to be turned once a year, and gross profits to be 15 per cent., ought to be goods worth 115,000l. produced by the constant conversion and re-conversion of the 20,000l. circulating capital, from money into goods and from goods into money, in periods of rather more than two months. Of this 115,000l., each of the 23 half hours of work produces 5–115ths, or 1–23rd. Of these 23–23rds (constituting the whole 115,000l.) 20, that is to say, 100,000l. out of the 115,000l., simply replace the capital—1–23rd (or 5,000l. out of the 115,000l.) makes up for the deterioration of the mill and machinery. The remaining 2–23rds, the last two of the twenty-three half hours of every day, produce the net profit of 10 per cent. If, therefore, (prices remaining the same), the factory could be kept at work thirteen hours instead of eleven and a half, by an addition of about 2,600l. to the circulating capital. the net profit would be more than doubled. On the other hand, if the hours of working were reduced by one hour per day (prices remaining the same), net profit would be destroyed; if they were reduced by an hour and a half, even gross profit would be destroyed. The circulating capital would be replaced, but there would be no fund to compensate the progressive deterioration of the fixed capital. It was clear that this principle of Mr. Senior's was sound, and if hon. Gentlemen would consider it carefully they would find it indisputable. The House would consider whether they would not, as the right hon. Baronet had expressed it, be affecting the safety and stability of the great staple manufactures, under the impression that they were legislating humanely for the working classes, while, in point of fact, the result would he that by the depreciation of manufactures, the greatest possible injury would be inflicted upon the operatives. The noble Lord had made a statement which had caused some surprise relative to the number of miles a piecer would have to travel in a factory, and had put forward calculations made by an eminent mathematician. But the noble Lord's mathematician had theorized upon paper only, while he (Mr. Gibson) had a statement made from actual counting and measurement of the number of steps made by a piecer. The same calculation and measurement had been made by several persons without concert, and they had all arrived at nearly the same result, which, however, was very different to that which had been come to by the mathematician quoted by the noble Lord. It was found that on a full day's work of twelve hours, the average number of miles traversed was not thirty-seven, but eight. The following was the passage: We caused, therefore, the number of steps made by the piecers to be counted, in a variety of mills, spinning every variety of yarn, from the coarsest to the finest numbers. As the experiment was tried by different people in Hyde, Stayleybridge, Manchester, Lancaster, Bolton, and other places, without any communication with each other, the general uniformity of result may be considered as a proof of accuracy. With regard to the old persons, the same gentleman who had been alluded to by the right hon. Baronet had assured him (Mr. Milner Gibson) that he had on his own mill persons who had been in his employ for forty years; and that some of the oldest persons he knew of in the neighbourhood had been factory operatives. The noble Lord would, he hoped, consider whether shortness of life might not be attributable to other causes than factory labour, and whether other influences connected with all large towns had not their share in producing the effect. In Manchester, and other large manufacturing towns, it would be found that the evil was attributable to other causes than factory labour, and that, in fact, the operatives themselves were the healthiest portion of the population of those towns. Habits of dissipation and other causes were to be considered, and he thought that the noble Lord had overrated the influence of factory labour in producing disease and shortness of life. He should be sorry to give expression to any heat on this matter, but he must complain of the noble Lord in one respect. While the noble Lord was depicting all the sufferings and evils endured by the unprotected poor in the factory districts—while he dwelt upon the total absence of all domestic comforts to the men, from the necessity of their wives labouring at unreasonable hours—and while he spoke of mothers dosing their children with opium, that they might themselves attend at the mills—while the noble Lord was urging these points, did it never occur to him to ask what was the cause of all this sacrifice of the domestic affections? How could the noble Lord reconcile the two courses he was himself pursuing—that of lamenting the necessity of the people to undergo all tins protracted toil on the one hand, while on the other he espoused a law which limited the field, and consequently diminished the remuneration of labour? But the description of the poor man was not a new one. Mr. Horner had long since spoken of the labouring classes of this country as little better than serfs. He said that a labourer could not be considered a free man, because he had not the free disposal of his labour. Had the Legislature done anything to put the axe to the root of this evil? He Mr. Gibson) was prepared to do so. It was not he who hesitated; it was the noble Lord, the Member for Dorsetshire. He (Mr. M. Gibson) was for increasing the field of employment, so that the labouring population might be able to take care of themselves, and not be driven to the necessity of working for such protracted hours. That appeared to him to be the right way in which the evil complained of by the noble Lord should be cured. He confessed, when he found hon. Members coming forward in that House, and expressing such great sympathy for the labouring classes, he was not quite ready to give them credit for sincerity on finding them, at the same time, so reluctant in making the least sacrifices on their own parts, in order to afford the people the enjoyment and advantage of a free market for their labour. Nothing was so easy as to sympathise and be generous at the expense of others. If the landed gentry really wished to gain credit for the welfare of the people, and for a desire to place the labourer in a better condition than he was in at present, they should come forward in a truly liberal spirit, and at once consent to a repeal of the Corn Laws. They should do their utmost to give full scope to the exertions of industry by widening the field of manual employment. With regard to the labour of children, to which the noble Lord had alluded, many of the evils which children were formerly liable to, were provided for and protected against by the present law. Children under thirteen years of age did not undergo any of the evils mentioned by the noble Lord. They were protected by the existing Factory Bill. The noble Lord had argued that he must legislate upon this matter by degrees; but partial legislation had evils peculiar to itself. This piecemeal legislation entailed evils upon the people, which deserved the serious consideration of the Legislature. What had been the effect of legislation upon the children under the age of thirteen years? Mr. Stuart himself stated that the effect of the system had been to exclude children under thirteen, and they were thus driven to a worse description of labour. And what had been the result? Had their condition been improved, or their morals better preserved? On the contrary thousands of them were picked up in the streets by the police. The noble Lord would experience great difficulty in carrying out his own principle. The reports before the House, on the condition of many other classes of the people, showed that there existed as great a necessity for Parliamentary interference in respect to them, as there did in regard to factories. The case of the young women employed by milliners and dress-makers most prominently presented itself to notice. Nay, if the system of inquisition were to be thoroughly carried out, he knew not a more likely case for investigation than that which might he furnished by the large establishment in Printing-house-square. Inspectors might fairly be appointed to inquire how many persons were employed in carrying on that great concern, and how many hours they laboured. By following up the principle, many of the strongest advocates of the present measure might become liable to a supervision and examination such as they would, he believed, be very unwilling to submit to. It was his impression that the end of this system of inspection would he to compel them to retrace their steps, and adopt the sounder principle of giving the labouring population the power of taking care of themselves. The noble Lord, the Member for Newark (Lord John Manners), visited the manufacturing districts last year. If the noble Lord were present he (Mr. M. Gibson) hoped he would tell the House what he witnessed, and what was the result of his own observation. He thought the noble Lord would say, that he found things better than he expected. Whatever evils might be ascribed to the drawing labourers from the agricultural districts, he believed it would be found that those who once came from those districts, and obtained employment in the manufacturing towns, never wished to return to their abodes. He knew of one instance where a man who had come from an agricultural district, declared, that after residing in a manufacturing town he would sooner be transported than go back to his parish. As the House had had a very painful picture drawn of the people employed in factories, he would just refer to what Mr. Senior, an inspector of factories, said on the subject. Mr. Senior, was a fair, impartial, and unbiassed witness. He was not a manufacturer; but was a scientific man. His words were:— The general impression on us all as to the effects of factory labour has been unexpectedly favourable. The factory workpeople in the country districts are the plumpest, best clothed, and healthiest looking persons of the labouring class that I have ever seen. The girls especially are far more good looking (and good looks are fair evidence of health and spirits), than the daughters of agricultural labourers. The wages earned per family are more than double those of the south. We examined at Egerton three of the Blidlow pauper migrants. Being fresh to the trade they cannot be very expert, yet one family earned 1l. 19s. 6d.; another, 2l. 13s. 6d.; and the other 1l. 16s. per week. At Hyde we saw another. They had six children under thirteen, and yet the earnings of the father and two elder children were 30s. a week. All these families live in houses to which a Gloucestershire cottage would be a mere outhouse. And not only are factory wages high, but, what is more important, the employment is constant. Nothing can exceed the absurdity of the lamentation over the children crowded in factories. Crowding in a factory is physically impossible. Bailey's weaving room, covering an acre of ground, had not space among the looms for more than 170 persons. He only read this to show that the factory population was not in so destitute a condition as represented by the noble Lord. If they would by their laws make the system of competition so severe, as to impose the necessity on the working classes to work themselves almost to death, to obtain the means for a bare subsistence, what right had they to complain of the evils that must necessarily arise out of such a state of things? But that competition must necessarily result from the present system of legislation. Labour it was true, was the condition of existence with the great mass of the population of all countries. But what they had to consider more seriously in the present case was not whether the labour of the people was severe, but whether they as legislators were justified—considering the competition for labour, and as a matter of public policy—to prevent the people from working as long as it was necessary for them to work in order to satisfy their own wants. If the Legislature limited the period of labour to ten hours a day, while labourers on the Continent worked twelve and fourteen hours, how was it possible for the English labourer to compete with the foreigner?

Mr. John S. Worlley

thought the object of his noble Friend had been misstated: he did not propose to place any restriction on labourers in factories; he merely proposed to apply a restriction to the time of labour of a certain portion of the persons employed. The hon. Gentleman who had just addressed the House had alluded briefly to the Corn Laws. If he abstained following the hon. Gentleman on that topic, he trusted the House would not suppose that he admitted or admired the soundness of the logic of the hon. Gentleman. ["Hear, hear."] Hon. Gentlemen might cheer, but they were not warranted in the inference that he was afraid to enter into that argument on a fit occasion. But on the present question, he thought it right to adopt the recommendation of the right hon. Gentleman (Sir James Graham), and to separate it altogether from topics of an irritating and party nature. He could not help expressing his deep regret that the right hon. Gentleman should have thought it necessary to express himself so decidedly hostile to the Motion of his noble Friend. It was now eleven years since his noble Friend first pressed this question on the attention of the House. He supported it by such incontrovertible facts, by such circumstances, and by such strong proofs, as induced Parliament to depart from a principle to which, at all other times, it would be most anxious to adhere—the principle of abstinence from all interference with the disposal of labour. During the eleven years the statute had been in operation, it had given satisfaction to those concerned in its operation; and he believed, that if the question were now to be put to them, whether they thought that the Factory Act should exist, or whether the factories should be without any legal regulation at all, their opinion would be decidedly in favour of the operation of the present Bill. The real aim and object of his noble Friend was not to interfere with the disposal of labour in factories, but to bring the duration of that labour to such a point as might be considered fair and reasonable. It was impossible not to feel the unnatural state in which labour was now employed in factories. Male labour was superseded by the labour of women, and adult labour was superseded by the labour of children. The main objection to his noble Friend's Motion was, as to the extreme danger there was of its working prejudicially to the manufacturing interests of the country. There might be, perhaps, some plausibility in that argument; but did not the House recollect, that precisely the same argument was used before the passing of the existing Act? They were always told, that it would ruin the manufactures of this country, and destroy their power of competition with foreign nations. Still legislation did take place, and still English manufactures did flourish, and he believed that the law had produced a good effect without any injury to any party. Hence he was disposed to argue that they might now venture to take a further step in the right direction. The risk, he believed, would be none if it were properly taken. No danger need be incurred either to trade in-descry, or manufactures. The right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) had said, that this measure if adopted would control adult labour. So far as women were concerned, the law, as it now stood, applied to them; but it would not affect male adults. Another objection was on the ground that, by limiting the amount of human labour, a great acceleration would be given to the improvement of machinery. Even if that were so, he (Mr. J. S. Wortley) was not aware that any great injury would be done by it, because, in proportion as those improvements were introduced, was the probability that trade would extend, cheapness follow, and a greater demand in other branches of human labour be created. But, even supposing the measure of his noble Friend were to restrict in some degree the labour of the people, still they would not be without compensation from the effect it would have to lessen the duration of labour. The right hon. Gentleman spoke also of the reduction of the amount of wages as a serious objection to this measure. But the right hon. Gentleman and the Legislature had already been repeatedly told that even were there to be some reduction in the wages, there would still be on the part of the workpeople a readiness to face and encounter such a risk, and that they would think themselves repaid by the relief they would experience morally and physically, in the curtailment of their hours of labour. If the work people were not opposed to this reduction of time, so neither were all those whose capital was embarked in manufactures. There was a large portion of master manufacturers who were favourable to the principle which his noble Friend was endeavouring to carry out. Two years since a petition was presented by himself from near 300 of the mill-owners in the West Riding of Yorkshire, in which they expressed their conviction that such a measure in no degree endangered the interests of the manufacturers. He hoped, therefore, that legislation would proceed further with this restrictive measure. Considering the circumstances and the state of society in the manufacturing districts, and the equity of the present claim upon the Legislature, he firmly believed that much time could not elapse before it would feel itself compelled to adopt a measure of this nature.

Mr. H. G. Ward

No man in this House has listened with deeper attention to the noble Lord than myself; and certainly I am bound to say, that all my feelings and all my sympathies have been in favour of the course which he has proposed. But when I come to weigh the consequences of that course—when I come to look not only to the interest of the one class whose cause the noble Lord is advocating, but to the interests of the many classes which this measure would materially effect—I feel that I cannot adopt the principle of interference advocated by the noble Lord—above all, to the extent he would carry it, without incurring the greatest possible responsibility as regarded the general welfare of the country, and, more especially, as regarded the whole manufacturing interests of the Kingdom. It is impossible to have listened to the argument of the noble Lord, and especially to the description he gave of the state of degradation and misery which existed among the labouring classes in the manufacturing districts, without wishing that it was in the power of Parliament to apply an efficient remedy. But will any body say, that this House can apply a remedy? Will anybody deny that we may most seriously aggravate the evils by attempting to cure them? The argument of the noble Lord, if legitimately carried out, goes against the system of manufactures by human labour altogether. It is not merely a question between a twelve hours' Bill and a ten hours' Bill, but it is in principle an argument to get rid of the whole system of factory labour. The noble Lord said that the system would become aggravated unless restrained. Where is that restraint to stop? Would a ten hours' Bill do it? Would an eight hours' Bill do it? Would any such system cure those domestic evils of which the noble Lord so feelingly complains? Will it restore the mother to her children, that might enable her to perform those maternal duties, the want of which now exposes those children to the evils of idleness, and to all the vices and immoralities that ensue from neglect? Would it stop the increase of the people? The noble Lord has pointed out evils—if there be any evils—arising from the manufacturing system altogether, and not merely arising from the time to which the labour of the workpeople extends. But if we interfere with one class of manufactures, how can we deny the duty of interfering with all? And if I can show 10,000 worse cases than those which the noble Lord has pointed out, how can the House escape the difficulty of either involving itself in general legislation upon the subject of labour, or in the inconsistency of legislating partially? I can show among my own constituents that there are descriptions of labour which are inevitably fatal to those engaged in them within a certain limited period; yet there are persons who feel themselves forced into it, and who incur all the danger, for the sake of the immediate advantages it brings with it, of death being its almost certain result. The hon. Gentleman who has just addressed the House has exhorted Gentlemen on this (the Opposition) side of the House to abstain from mixing up the present question with any party or irritating subject. It is not because it is a party or irritating subject that we are opposed to it. We might with the greatest case turn this into merely a Corn Law debate; but we have not come to do that. But when the noble Lord proposes a most important measure for regulating human labour, in consequence of many evils which he states to result from the excess of toil on the part of women and children, I, without wishing to mix the question up with any party or irritating subject; have a right to ask what is the cause of those evils which the noble Lord wishes to remove? What is the cause which obliges the people to labour to this excess? There is no inborn love of work within them. No man, except from necessity would devote himself to toil. Their lot, as it happens to be cast in the different ranks of society, does not necessarily deprive them of the love of enjoyment and of leisure. I believe that there is as much natural affection and as much desire to retain the woman in her own proper domestic circle among the working classes, as there exists among ourselves. No, it is not from a difference of nature that men and women and children toil during a long period of hours, but it is necessity that compels them to do so. Such is the pressure of that necessity upon the working classes, more especially, that you find men driven to do things, which, when we come to reflect on the consequences, strikes us as almost criminal, and as casting a blot on the social system; and then it is that we are induced to look to legislation as the means of affording some remedy for the evil. Poverty is enacted by the law, and then other enactments are necessary against the consequences which poverty compels men to resort to! If it be said, as it has been said, that no allusion ought to be made to I the Corn Laws, the answer is, that by the admission of all parties they materially affect the demand for labour. It is upon the permanent demand for labour that the wages and the comforts of the operative classes depend. No doubt, it may be fairly argued, that one class of labourers may be injured by the repeal of the Corn Laws. The noble Lord (Lord Ashley) said, that even his motives had been doubted, and I thought it possible that he might allude to me; and as I never say out of the House what I am not ready to repeat in it, I will remark that much as I admire the beautiful benevolence of his character, and the touching sincerity of his humane feelings, yet I see him shrink from going to the bottom of the question, and he deals, therefore, rather with symptoms than with the disease. That is my conviction. I do not say that his remedy will not cure some evils, but I believe with the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham), that the first effect of this Bill will be produced upon wages. Where population is as redundant as ours—where such difficulty is often experienced in obtaining employment, and where at times, there exists such earnest anxiety to procure it, I believe that wages will be the first thing to feel the effects of this measure. As Mr. Horner says, labour is free in name, but it is not free in fact; capitalists can obtain a supply of it when they want it, and if, by any means, you sharpen competition, and render it necessary for the profitable car- rying on of their trade, that they shall have everything at the cheapest rate, the first thing they will do will be to reduce the wages of those they employ. When I am called upon to examine the question as the noble Lord has brought it before us, I must look not only at what he says but at what others have said. There was a meeting the other day in Leeds, and a very enlightened and intelligent Gentleman, Dr. Hook, the vicar of Leeds, gave his view of a Ten-hours' Bill, and what did he state were the objects in view? If those objects, as he mentioned them, could be realised, we should have nothing short of an earthly Paradise in this country. Dr. Hook wished that women should be released from the necessity of labouring at all, and this would be a most desirable condition of things if it could be accomplished. Would to God that such a blessed state of things could be created! The business of women," said he, "is to make home happy and comfortable to man; after the man has earned sufficient for the support of his family, not by overworking, but by such moderate labour as may enable him to prepare Ins own mind and give instruction to his children, he ought to return to his cheerful and contented fire-side. These are the objects we have in view. We may suppose such a state of affairs in a most prosperous community, where a man at the end of his moderate day's labour shall be able to repair to his family circle and spend the evening in the company of his wife and in the education of his children; but I do not know in what part of the world such a condition of society exists, and I am quite sure that it has never existed in any part of the history of this country. Dr. Hook and Mr. Oastler tell us that a Ten-hours' Bill is a panacea for all evils; but I will ask any man whether the noble Lord in his speech showed a single ground to make us believe that the measure now under consideration will contribute in any degree to the attainment of the end in view. I do not wish to go at all at length into the question; but I oppose the Bill from a strong desire to benefit the operative classes, and from a perfect conviction that interference of this kind will be utterly fruitless. No manufacturer can carry on his trade unless he can obtain a remunerative return for his capital; and admitting the truth of what was said by the right hon. Baronet, that a well-regulated self-interest is the great moving principle with the world, you can- not expect manufacturers to neglect it. I believe that the House could not enter upon a task more fraught with danger than to make an attempt unduly to restrict the hours of labour, since it is founded upon a false principle of humanity, which in the end is certain to defeat itself.

Lord Francis Egerton

I shall preface the few observations I intend to make by an avowal that I mean to vote for the Motion of my noble Friend. In my estimation he is an object of envy for the high character which his long, unwearied, and consistent exertions have earned for him in all parts of the Kingdom. He is the more an object of envy, from the perfect confidence and strong conviction he feels as to the result of the measure he has brought forward. I confess, that after having listened to his admirable speech with great attention, I have not arrived at the same confidence and conviction: it is often on a balance of probabilities, and on a balance of probabilities only, that we are compelled to act; and looking at the state of public opinion in the country, and at the laws triumphantly passed, adopting the principles of interference with labour, I have come to the persuasion, that what is now proposed will be more efficacious for good, than any other course we could pursue. The observations of my hon. Friend, the Member for Sheffield (Mr. H. G. Ward), are liable to this objection, that he goes on the principle of total non-interference. I am aware, that some persons of strong heads and clear understandings, whom nobody more respects than I do, have deprecated interference as bad political economy: this principle, however, has been departed from, and the question now is, whether we can revert to the principle, or whether another measure shall be added to the course of legislation in an opposite direction to that which we have hitherto adopted. The hon. Member for Sheffield asks whether the Bill of my noble Friend would obliterate the evils essentially connected with the system of manufactures? I am not aware that my noble Friend has declared any such unattainable object. To apply an absolute remedy to all the evils detailed by my noble Friend with so much feeling and ability may be, and very likely is, impossible; but surely it is possible to apply some mitigation to those evils. I for one should be glad if by any proceeding we could prevent a woman from ever entering a factory again; I know and acknowledge that it is out of the question, but at the same time it appears to me that by passing a law under which a woman shall be required to stand only a smaller number of hours in a factory instead of a longer, you gain at all events something, if not a material advantage. The hon. Member for Manchester, on the authority of a learned Friend of mine out of the House, has drawn what some think a flattering picture of the state and appearance of women, especially young women, employed in the factories. Of course their appearance varies in different localities; but I believe the statement is, in many respects, not inaccurate. I have myself been struck by the same thing and in my own neighbourhood. I have often had occasion to pass factories at the time when females have come out to take their meals by the side of the public road, and I may almost say, that I know no prettier sight. Certainly it was not such as to lead a stranger to condemn the factory system; but I think, if my learned friend, Mr. Senior, had followed them into their cottages, he might not have found his opinion always confirmed. Those who are engaged at work preserve an appearance of health and cheerfulness; but, on entering cottages, with the interior of which I am somewhat acquainted, I have seen girls, once of great strength and beauty, who, at a certain age, have one by one dropped out of the factory. I have asked them whether they had anything to complain of in their treatment, and they have answered no—that they had been well treated by their master, who had perhaps risen from their own ranks of life, and was disposed to pay them every due attention; he was a very kind and considerate man; but they added that they had been unable to stand at work for so many hours—that twelve hours had proved too much for their strength—that their chests had become affected, and that their mother had therefore been obliged to take them away. This was the case with two girls in the same family, and I am informed that it has continually occurred. A passing observer is not able to judge of the effects of labour upon young persons. My hon. Friend, the Member for Sheffield, says, that if we pass this Bill, it will be necessary to apply a remedy to the evils of other employments more injurious to health than factories. I think we should do so when we can; and the principle reason for a Factory Regulation Bill has been, that you are able to carry it into effect. I am aware that the labours performed by the fork-grinders in the town with which my hon. Friend is connected is most destructive of health. Others, who are better acquainted with the subject than I am may not agree with me, but I can hardly admit the right of a parent to train up his children to such an occupation. In this instance, if it were possible, we ought to apply such remedies as can be invented, so as to enable those who now die at thirty to live out the natural period of existence. I admit therefore, the principle stated by my hon. Friend. You ought, if you can, to extend your legislation to such cases; but we are in a great measure stopped by the impossibility of accomplishing the earl. My right hon. Friend the Secretary for the Home Department has opposed the Motion with great ability, and upon strong grounds. He has stated what I believe will most probably be the effect of the measure—the diminution of wages. At first visionary expectations were entertained upon this subject, and expectations which I think visionary, are still entertained. My hon. Friend (if he will allow me to call him so) the Member for Oldham told us formerly what passed between him and a body of men, during the Chartist outcry. He asked them what they wanted, and the answer was that they wanted twelve hours' wages for ten hours' work. I am afraid that this may still be one of the visionary expectations indulged, in connection with the Measure before the House; but I think that a diminution of wages will follow. I was prepared to believe that this consideration had been a good deal overlooked by some of the parties who desired the Bill, and I am bound to say that as far as my communications have gone, I have been undeceived upon that point. I never met with more rational or reasonable men than some of those I have seen upon this subject. They admit at once the probability of a reduction of wages; but they had balanced the probabilities, considered the evil, and were prepared to meet the consequences. It is partly upon that ground that I am disposed to consider the question in the light I view it. I admit that the present state of interference with factory labour is far from satisfactory, and I am very far from thinking that any sweeping measure, if you will have it, will be any great advantage. It is possible that the necessary diminution of wages, in the first instance, will be mitigated by additional activity and increased energy on the part of the operatives at the end of their day's work. I have always been told that when the hours are long, labour is carried on inactively and heavily, and perhaps better, if not more, work may be turned out with shorter hours. If I am wrong upon this point, I shall be glad to be corrected by practical men. The hon. Member for Manchester has spoken of the advantages factory labourers in some respects enjoy; and Mr. Senior supports this opinion; but I doubt if such be the fact in my own neighbourhood, especially during the depression arising out of the state of the American market, or, if you will, out of the Corn Laws. At all events, I am not of opinion that it can be said that factory labourers invariably have the advantage: on the contrary, a man in a good position on agricultural property, seems to me to have a better chance of permanent employment than a factory labourer. As to the great question incidentally introduced, I do not wish at all to dwell upon it, though I admit the right of hon. Members, if they think fit, to make this another Corn Law Debate. I do not, however, apprehend that the discussion of this Bill will derive any benefit from the introduction of so wide a question, but with the opinions held by the hon. Members for Manchester and Sheffield, it would certainly be too much to expect that they should not advert to it They must act upon their own opinions with respect to the Corn Laws, and I must act upon mine, differing as I do materially from them as to the advantages of Corn taw Repeal. I am not aware that it is necessary for me to say more in explanation of the vote I shall give, and I know that it will be received with great dissatisfaction by some Gentlemen in the part of the country where I live, from whom I differ with great regret; and without undue egotism, I may be allowed to observe that I am not liable to the reproach of being a landed gentleman, standing up to deal with other interests but his own. If a diminution of wages be the consequence of this measure, I believe that nobody will be more directly sensible of the change than I shall be; even in an agricultural point of view, as far as I possess land, I am entirely dependent upon the manufacturing market. I have therefore felt, and shall feel again, any decrease of consumption. I have only indulged in this reference in order to rescue myself from the imputation of being opposed to interests because they are not my own.

Viscount Howick

confessed, that since he had had the honour of a seat in that House, he had never known an occasion upon which he had experienced so much difficulty in making up his mind as to the vote he should give. He saw on both sides of the question considerations so weighty, that it had not been without very great hesitation, indeed, that he had arrived at the conclusion which he should endeavour to state to the House. On the one side it appeared that ten hours per diem was no inconsiderable portion of labour to require from women and young persons; for, if to that were added the time consumed in going to and from the mills, and the time necessary for meals, they could not reckon less than twelve and a half hours out of the twenty-four as being taken up away from their own homes—that was even in the event of the amendment of his noble Friend being carried. It certainly did appear that that was a very large portion of the day to be so occupied by women and young persons. Then, on the other side, it was perfectly true, that by agreeing to that amendment, wages might be reduced very considerably, and the parties for whose benefit this alteration was intended might in reality and in consequence be exposed to very great hardships. He was afraid it was also true, as had been stated by his hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, that though this Bill nominally applied only to women and young persons, yet that indirectly they were legislating for adults of the male sex, and that if they prohibited young persons from working more than ten hours they would render it practically impossible for the mills to be kept going beyond those hours. Then it was true as his hon. Friend the Member for Manchester had also stated, that if they adopted this principle in one trade it might he, with equal advantage, applied to others. There was no doubt that in many other trades and branches of industry abuses prevailed not less to be deplored than those then under the consideration of the House; but, in answer to that, he (Lord Howick) would remark, that the question was not whether they were to establish a principle of interference or not. He quite felt that that I louse was not, perhaps, very well qualified to decide upon questions as to the regulation of labour, but, on the other hand, they had adopted the principle; for, whether he voted for the amendment or for the Bill he equally took upon himself to decide what was the number of hours during which people ought to be engaged in labour. Upon that part of the subject he could not help remarking that the whole of the arguments of the right hon. Baronet, the Secretary of the Home Department, would have been quite as applicable if the question had been between twelve hours and fourteen, instead of between ten and twelve. He apprehended that the question had really resolved itself to this—having found it necessary to interfere, they had only to consider, knowing what they did of the capabilities of the human frame, and looking at all the authorities that could be obtained upon the subject, whether they should establish, as the term of labour in factories for young persons, ten or twelve hours. Upon the whole, when the question was put to him in that shape, he must say that he thought ten hours was as much as they ought, with propriety, to allow He had come to that conclusion, under great apprehension as to what might be the result, and, after duly weighing the subject, he did think that the balance was in favour of shortening the long hours of labour. The hon. Member for Manchester had stated that, if they took that decision with respect to factories, they should be called upon to carry the principle farther. He was aware that such must be the case: for he did think that inquiries of late years had established the conclusion that they could not entirely rely upon the principle that men were the best judges of their own interests, and would always do that which was best for themselves. The reports which, of late years, they had had from various Commissioners had shown that there was great need for regulation. It was found that great abuses existed both as to the number of hours of labour exacted, and in other matters, against which neither masters nor workmen as individuals had practically any power of struggling. In the hope of increasing their profits particular persons were sometimes induced to extend unduly the hours of labour or to introduce some other objectionable mode of carrying on their business, by doing so they obtained so great an advantage over their competitors, that the latter were in self-defence compelled to follow the example that had been set, and thus abuses became established, which the great majority of those carrying on particular branches of trade might deplore, but none acting singly could venture to abandon. This he thought a very serious evil. Its origin was intense competition, and they could not hope effectually to remedy the evil unless by some means or other they could diminish that intensity of competition which was now animating the capitalist and the workman. That could only be effected by enlarging the field of their employment, by breaking down those artificial barriers and restrictions by which it was now hedged in and confined. Unless they were prepared to do that, they must expect to see that intensity of competition which he (Lord Howick) believed to be the origin of the whole of the evil, become daily greater and greater. He feared he could not expect that Parliament would now, (though ultimately no doubt they would) consent to adopt the step which was the only effectual cure for the evil; but it did not follow though they could not remove the evil altogether that they might not do something to palliate it; and it certainly did appear to him that, in the absence of that more complete remedy which He should wish to see applied, it might be advisable to take measures to check the abuses which under the stimulus of intense competition did arise in the mode of carrying on certain great manufacturing branches of our industry. With that view he was prepared to vote for the adoption of that measure, and, adopting that measure, he thought it would be more perfect in the shape proposed by the noble Lord opposite, than in the shape proposed by Her Majesty's Government. At the same time he could not help observing that this discussion, and every similar discussion made him feel more and more painfully how incompetent that House was to deal satisfactorily with questions of that description, and he could not help thinking that in adopting that Bill they were recognising principles which they ought to carry out further. It at least deserved the consideration of Gentleman upon both sides of the House whether they might not, to a certain degree, meet the difficulty which they experienced of introducing the necessary regulations with regard to trade, and do something by which the parties interested should themselves choose the regulations which were required. It did not appear to him altogether impossible to form some body in which the interests both of the masters and of the men should be represented, which should have authority to frame regulations for carrying on those branches of industry which Parliament was confessedly incapable of itself framing with advantage. The guilds and corporate trades in the Middle Ages possessed a power of that kind, and though in the sequel, no doubt, they became liable to great abuse, they were in the outset of great advantage in encouraging the first seeds of trade and civilization. Similar bodies he believed might now he created with advantage, proper precautions being taken to guard against their degenerating into a mischievous monopoly, while a power might be committed to their hands for making regulations upon this subject. He was the more impressed with this idea when he saw how the trades' unions had flourished in this country, and had maintained themselves even in spite of severe laws against them, as well as when those laws were relaxed. That fact seemed to his mind to afford no slight ground for concluding that they had arisen out of a necessity for some system of organization of those trades and branches of industry; and it certainly appeared to him that it would be a very great advantage if for these unions not recognized, though very properly no longer prohibited by the law, and exercising a power really resting upon intimidation, they could substitute corporate bodies, having a legal authority, and composed not exclusively of one class, but of the two classes of the employed and their employers. Some such bodies might he thought be formed, all together, bodies whose powers should he strictly defined and regulated, and in which not only the working classes, but their employers should have a share of authority; the whole to be placed under the supervision of the Crown. Though this Bill might pass into a law, he trusted that, with reference to the future, some organization of the kind he had alluded to might be adopted, by which without bringing before Parliament details with which it was unfit to deal, regulations might be made not only with regard to factory labour, but that of other trades also; the subject was important, and he hoped would receive the serious consideration of some Gentlemen more able than himself to come to a practical conclusion upon the question, whether it might not be possible by some such means as he had suggested, to meet the difficulties of regulating the mode of carrying on some of the great branches of industry in this country.

Viscount Sandon

would trouble the House with only a remark or two. Some hon. Gentlemen seemed to ascribe the whole difficulty of this subject to the want of free trade in corn But other countries, such as Prussia and the United. States, which had no Corn Laws to complain of, were just as much compelled to protect the working population as we were, against the infliction of long hours. Again, this very question of the limitation of factory labour to ten and a half hours was proposed in 1815, by the late Sir R. Peel, a Gentleman competent to the subject beyond all others, before the present Corn Laws were enacted, or at least had come into operation. Resting on these two simple facts, he thought it was impossible for those who resisted legislation upon this subject to say that the evils to be remedied were caused by the absence of free-trade in corn. He conceived the course proposed by his noble Friend was an experimental one, but there was great reason to hope that it would be successful. He believed that with some of the great manufacturers of this country the principle of this Bill had been in favour for some time past. In Leeds he believed many manufacturers never worked more than eleven hours even now, while their neighbours worked from twelve to fourteen hours; still the manufacturers of Leeds were able to compete with their rivals. His belief was, that the Bill would have the effect of equalizing labour, so that instead of working by fits and starts, the labour would be extended over the whole year. That would be of an immense benefit to the factory labourers. It would be far better for them to get only 12s. a-week regularly, than to earn 16s. and 18s. now and then. Their houses and families would be better provided for and made more comfortable, while they would not have so much idle time to visit the alehouse at one time, nor would they and their wives and children be overworked at another. What he wished to see was the workers in factories placed on the same footing with regard to hours as all other workers. The agriculturists might be taunted because their labourers were not better paid, but not that they were overworked. The women went home an hour earlier than the men, and came later to work. The hours of labour for men were from six o'clock in the morning to six in the evening, except in harvest time, when extraordinary exertion became necessary. They only asked for legislation in favour of women and children, and they had no right to interfere with the labour of others, but, if the effect of this measure should incidentally be a reduction in the hours of labour to the adult man, he should not regret it. The House should recollect that they were dealing not with the ill-paid weaver, but with the well-paid spinner, whose wages could better bear some reduction if necessary for this great improvement in their condition. He believed that the manufacturers themselves would not suffer by this reduction; many, no doubt, were apprehensive of the effects; others not. A few in favour should outweigh many apprehensive,—their work would be better done. All men were apprehensive of the effect of changes forced upon them in their own business. Let them remember the alarms expressed on the occasion of the Tariff. Yet how much of that alarm proved to be ill-founded. He thought it most desirable for the House to come at once to a final settlement of this question, which had been long agitated, and would never cease to be agitated, for the working men could not be insensible to what was due to their wives and children. It was an agitation, which in its nature could never cease and never ought to cease. Steps must be taken to render the extension of our manufacturing system compatible, as it might be, with the best interests of order, society and religion. For these reasons he was prepared to go the length of the noble Lord, the Member for Dorsetshire.

Mr. Bright

said, it is with unfeigned reluctance that I rise to speak, having so recently addressed the House at some length, but being intimately connected with the branch of industry which is affected by the proposition now under consideration, and having lived all my life among the population most interested in this Bill, and having listened most attentively for more than two hours to the speech of the noble Lord, the Member for Dorsetshire, I think I am entitled to he heard on the question now under discussion. I have listened to that speech without much surprise, because I have heard or read the same speech, or one very like it, on former occasions, and I did not suppose that any material change had taken place in the opinions of the noble Lord. It appears to me, however, that he has taken a one-sided view, a most unjust and unfair view of the question; it may not be intentionally, but still a view which cannot be borne out by facts; a view, moreover, which factory inspectors and their reports will not corroborate, and one which, if it influence the decision of this House, will be most prejudicial to that very class which the noble Lord intends to serve. The right hon. Baronet, the Secretary for the Home Department, who is, I presume, the promoter of this Bill, should have given the House some reason for the introduction of a new Factory Bill. No such reason has yet been given, and I am at a loss to discover any grounds on which it can with fairness be asserted that the Bill now in operation has failed in its effect. I know the inspectors affirm that it cannot be fully carried out. Every body who knows any thing of the manufactories of the North, knew when it was passed that it could not be fully carried out; and the proposition now made, is to render this impracticable Act more stringent. In a trade so extensive, employing so many people, carried on under circumstances ever varying, no Act of Parliament interfering with the minute details of its management, can ever be fully carried out. I am not one who will venture to say that the manufacturing districts of this country are a paradise; I believe there are in those districts evils great and serious; but whatever evils do there exist are referable to other causes than to the existence of factories and long chimnies. Most of the statements which the noble Lord has read, would be just as applicable to Birmingham, or to this metropolis, as to the northern districts; and as he read them over, with respect to the ignorance and intemperance of the people, the disobedience of children to their parents, the sufferings of mothers, anti the privations which the children endure, I felt that there was scarcely a complaint which has been made against the manufacturing districts of the north of England, which might not be urged with at least as much force against the poorest portion of the population of every large city in Great Britain and Ireland. But among the population of Lancashire and Yorkshire, where towns are so numerous as almost to touch each other, these evils are more observable than in a population less densely crowded together. I can prove, however, and I do not wish to be as one-sided as the noble Lord, I can prove from authorities, which are at least as worthy of attention as his, the very reverse in many respects of what he has stated as the true state of those districts. Now the Committee will bear in mind that a large portion of the documents which the noble Lord has quoted, have neither dates nor names. I can give dates and names, and I feel confident that the authorities I shall cite are worthy of the deepest attention. I must go over the grounds of complaint which the noble Lord has urged, and although I may run the risk of being a little tedious, yet considering that for two hours or more I have listened to the charges which he has made, I do think that, connected as I am most intimately with the population and the district to which the noble Lord has alluded, I have a right to an audience for the counter-statement which I have to make. Now, with respect to the health of the persons employed, and I will speak more particularly of the Cotton trade, with which I am more immediately connected, Mr. Harrison, the inspecting surgeon for Preston says:— I have made very particular inquiries respecting the health of every child whom I have examined, and I find that the average annual sickness of each child is not more than four days; least not more than four days are lost by each child in a year in consequence of sickness. This includes disorders of every kind, for the most part induced by causes wholly unconnected with factory labour. I have been not a little surprised to find so little sickness which can fairly be attributed to mill work. I have met with very few children who have suffered from injuries occasioned by machinery; and the protection, especially in new factories, is now so complete, that accidents will, I doubt not, speedily become rare. I have not met with a single instance, out of 1,656 children whom I examined, of deformity, that is referable to factory labour. It must be admitted that factory children do not present the same blooming, robust appearance, as is witnessed among children who labour in the open air; but I question if they are not more exempt from acute disease, and do not, on the whole, suffer less sickness than those who are regarded as having more healthy employments. This was the statement of a man who had for a long time been inspecting-surgeon in a district where there are a large number of mills, and it may he taken as a fair criterion of the rest. In the analysis of the Factory Report, page 16, I find the following statement:— In conclusion, then, it is proved, by a preponderance of seventy-two witnesses against seventeen, that the health of those employed in cotton mills is nowise inferior to that in other occupations; and, secondly, it is proved by tables drawn up by the secretary of a sick club, and by the more extensive tables of a London actuary, that the health of the factory children is decidedly superior to that of the la bouring poor otherwise employed. From the Factory Inspectors' Reports in 1834, I have extracted the following testimony, and no doubt this evidence is quite as good as if it had been given this year; for from that time to this there has been a progressive improvement in everything relating to the management of the factories of the north of England. The general tenor of all the medical reports in my possession confirms Mr. Harrison's view of factory labour on the health of the younger branches of working hands. It is decidedly not injurious to health or longevity, compared with other employments." Then, in page 51, Mr. Saunders says, "It appears in evidence, that of all employments to which children are subjected, those carried on in factories are amongst the least laborious, and of all departments of in-door labour, amongst the least unwholesome," Mr. Horner says, "It is gratifying to be able to state, that I have not had a single complaint laid before me, Maher on the part of the masters against their servants, or of the servants against their masters; nor have I seen or heard of any instance of ill-treatment of children, or of injury to their health by their employment." And on the 21st of July, 1834, speaking on the employment of children, he says:—"And as their occupation in the mills is so light as to cause no bodily fatigue, they would pass their eight hours there as beneficially as at borne; indeed, in most cases, far more so. It was further proved in the evidence of the Factory Commission, that the height of boys and girls employed in agriculture, whilst it exceeds materially that of those employed in mines, does not sensibly exceed that of those employed in mills, and it was tried in the case of upwards of 1,000 children. As to other trades, the noble Lord alluded to the condition of the milliners in this metropolis. I have some extracts from the Report with respect to their condition, but at this late hour I will only detain the House by reading a few of them. It is supposed that there are about 15,000 young women employed as milliners in London; and I believe that is about the number of young persons employed in all the factories under the Factory Act. That Report says:— In some of what are considered the best regulated establishments, during the fashionable season, occupying about four months in the year, the regular hours of work are fifteen, but on emergencies, which frequently occur, these hours extend to eighteen. In many establishments the hours of work during the season are unlimited, the young women never getting snore than six, often not more than four, sometimes only three, and occasionally not more than two hours, for rest and sleep out of the twenty-tour, and very frequently they work all night." The Sub-commissionersays—"The protracted labour described above is, I believe, quite unparalleled in the history of manufacturing processes, I have looked over a considerable portion of the Report of the Factory Commission, and there is nothing in the accounts of the worst-conducted factories to be compared with the facts elicited in the present inquiry. I have also the evidence of Sir James Clark, the eminent physician, who says, "I have found the mode of life of these poor girls such as no constitution could long bear. Worked from six o'clock in the morning to twelve at night, with the exception of the short interval allowed for their meals in close rooms, and passing the few hours allowed for rest, in still more close and crowded apartments—a mode of life more completely calculated to destroy human health can scarcely be contrived, and this at a period of life when exercise in the open air, and a due proportion of rest, are essential to the development of the system." The Sub-Commissioner says—"The evidence of all parties establishes the fact that there is no class of persons in this country, living by their labour, whose happiness, health, and lives, are so unscrupulously sacrificed as those of the young dress makers. It may, without exaggeration, be stated, that in proportion to the numbers employed, there are no occupations, with one or two questionable exceptions, such as needle grinding, in which so much disease is produced as in dress-making, or which present so fearful a catalogue of distressing and frequently fatal maladies. The protracted hours of factory labour, it has been said, arises from the working of machinery, and to some extent that is true; but here, where only the needle and thread are used, the hours are longer than in the worst-regulated manufactories in the north of England. On my way down to the House this afternoon I met a Gentleman well known to most of those I am now addressing. He communicated to me a fact on this painful subject which has come under his own knowledge within the present week. A girl, only seventeen years of age, with whom a premium of 40l. had been paid to a fashionable milliner at the West-end, for three-years' apprenticeship, has from this day four weeks only been allowed about two hours' rest out of the twenty-four. A week ago she worked from two o'clock on the Saturday morning to eight o'clock on the Sunday morning without any time of rest—a period of thirty hours. This Gentleman, who stood in the relation of guardian to the poor girl, has taken her away from her situation in consequence of the dreadful cruelty practised upon her, and which was also in- flicted upon her unhappy companions. I will not name the Lady for whom the dress was made, in the making of which these poor creatures had worked for thirty hours; it would be matter of astonishment to the House and to her, and it would give pain to one to whom I would not willingly be the cause of suffering. But it is important that you should know that these things are so; and however much you may be disposed to interfere with labour in the Factories, yet be assured there are circumstances most grievous and calamitous which are pressing upon the labouring population of this Kingdom, and which this House will do wisely to inquire into. There is something even worse than working twenty-two hours out of the twenty-four, or none would submit to it—there is such a thing as starving to death, and all the horrors that arise from absolute want; and let not the House suppose that if they pass the Clause now before them, they will do more than plaister over the sores which their own most unjust legislation has created, instead of endeavouring to renovate the constitution and going to the root of the disease, which is as well known to the Queen's Ministers, and to many hon. Members on that side of the House as to the Gentlemen by whom I am surrounded. I come now to another part of the question, to another of the fearful catalogue of charges brought against our manufacturing system. The noble Lord has drawn a terrible picture of the loss of limbs and of life in the factories. I ask honourable Members opposite to listen attentively to the statements I am about to make, for I am persuaded that on this subject the most extraordinary misstatements and the grossest exaggerations have been received for truth. The noble Lord has mentioned Mr. Greg, and a higher authority on these questions cannot be appealed to. I have received a letter from that Gentleman, from which I will read an extract:— It is difficult to understand how the belief of serious accidents, much less fatal ones, being so common in mills, as to justify special legislation, can have arisen. I believe it to be not only unfounded in fact, but contrary to every body's experience. In our own mill, at Quarry Bank, which has been now in action seventy years, and employs 400 hands, we have never had but one single limb lost (and that by play), and not one single life lost inside the mill, whilst no less than four fatal accidents have happened, in my own recollection, within twenty yards of the mill in play hours. I have no hesitation in saying that a single carter is exposed to more danger than 500 persons in a mill. I hold a farm in Hertfordshire, and had not been in possession two years before one of my carters was killed. Indeed, I may truly say, that upon my two farms, together 600 acres, I have had as many fatal accidents in three years, as in all our mills, with 2,000 people employed, in all my experience. The noble Lord has stated that he could bring from infirmaries and dispensaries accounts to justify his statements. These accounts are most uncertain, for they do not state how the accident occurred, but only what was the occupation of the person to whom the accident had happened. Mr. Greg, for instance, told me that two men who worked for him had quarrelled at a public-house, and each man had a leg broken, and these men were entered at the infirmary as factory hands. Mr. W. R. Greg, the brother of the last gentleman, after sending me some documents, says.— In confirmation of the result to which these papers point, I may mention that in my factory at Bury, we have had only two fatal accidents during the seventeen years it has been running, one of these was our carter, who was run over by his own cart on the high road. The other was a dresser, a man of fifty or sixty years of age, who was found drowned in one of the reservoirs adjoining the mill. It is capable of proof—in fact, proofs have been laid on the table of the House, that factory labour is less injurious, and less liable to accident, than almost any other known. Forty people were swamped in one coal mine the other day: and last year more persons were killed in one moment in the Government powder works at Waltham, than in all the factories of Bolton and Stockport in two years. Another letter, from Mr. J. R. Barnes, of Bolton, states— Our establishment was commenced fourteen years ago, and we have had no fatal accident, and but one serious one, from a young man's hand being so injured by a main shaft, that amputation was necessary. I have also a statement from Mr. Samuel Ashton, a large manufacturer, and brother of the gentleman to whom the right hon. Bart. (Sir J. Graham) has referred. He says, that from 1819 to 1830, he employed 400 hands; from 1830 to 1835, 900 hands; from 1835 to 1844, 1200 hands; and that amongst all these no fatal accident has occurred during the whole of this period. Mr. Thomas Ashton says, that from 1817 to 1824, he employed 400 hands: from 1824 to 1830, 800 hands; from 1830 to 1835, 1200 hands; and from 1835 to 1844, 1400 hands, and that in all this period only two fatal accidents had occurred, one of which was in the case of an over looker, and neither of which could any possible precaution on the part of the proprietor have prevented. Messrs. J. Howard and Co. state that from 1820 to 1844, they have employed 560 hands, and only one fatal accident has occurred, and that in the year 1820, none since then. Mr. A. W. Thorneley has for many years employed from 600 to 1000 persons, and has had no fatal accident in his mill, but has had one carter killed. In the concern with which I am myself connected and which has been at work for thirty-five years, and now employs upwards of 500 persons, only one accident has occurred which terminated fatally, and that cannot fairly be charged upon machinery, and during the whole of that period no other serious accident has taken place. The reports of the coroners in the districts of Manchester and Stockport, fully bear out these statements of private individuals. From these reports, it appears, that from February, 1842, to February, 1843, in the Manchester district, not one person has been killed by anything connected with shafting in a mill, and only two by machinery in factories; and in Stockport, during the same period—in fact, during the last two years—no person has been killed by machinery, and only one by shafting, although this district includes twenty-eight townships, and is a principal seat of the cotton trade. When the House considers how many mills there are in these districts, and the tens of thousands of persons employed in them, I think no Member can leave the House this night with an impression that there are more lives lost in cotton manufactories than in other employments; on the contrary, he must, I feel assured, be convinced that there are fewer, and that the statements of the noble Lord and his party are gross and unfounded exaggerations. Amongst carters there are far more fatal accidents than from all the factories of the United Kingdom. I could bring facts which no man could dispute, from all the manufacturing districts, to support these statements, and it appears to me to be merely trifling with legislation to establish a public prosecutor, as is intended by this Bill, for accidents occurring in mills, when it may be proved beyond dispute, that, considering the num- bers employed, there is a smaller loss of life in them than in any other mode of employment open to the great mass of our population. Now I will not detain the House with more than a single remark about the cruelties which it has been alleged are practised by millowners on their workpeople, for the absurdity of such a charge must he manifest to all who take the trouble to reflect. In the Factory Report, the Commissioners state, that,— To the charge of cruelty brought against the mill-owners, they can give the most decided and unqualified denial. It is not only not true, but cannot generally be true. That individual instances of ill-usage do occur, is doubtless true; and they will occur so long as man is actuated by human passions; but they are exceedingly rare, more rare, indeed, than in any other occupation in which children are employed. It is notorious, that the persons employed in mills, and in cotton mills especially, obtain a higher rate of wages than most others of the operative classes, and if they are thus better paid they must necessarily be more independent, and more able to resist aggression; and as they work generally along with their parents or relations, they have an additional security against ill-usage of every description. The charge of immorality produced by factory labour is as groundless as that of cruelty inflicted, for, in page 201 of the Report, it is stated:— As to the immorality said to be engendered by the factory system, the whole current of testimony goes to shew that the charges made against cotton factories on this head are calumnies. On a former occasion the noble Lord brought a charge against the character of the working population of the town of Leeds. Were his statement a fair one, the condition of that town must be horrible in the extreme. Happily the charge was a most unfair one; and in a letter dated June 13, 1843, and referring to that charge, the then Mayor of Leeds says,— In the appalling statement made by Lord Ashley of the degraded moral condition of Leeds, he quoted a passage from the Statistical Report of the Town Council, to shew how many juvenile offenders were brought before the Magistrates for the borough, and by implication how immoral must be the general character of society in Leeds and similar large towns. This passage is an extract from a Note which I myself appended to one of the tables on 'Crime.' I am well acquaited with the moral condition of the people, and you have my authority for stating that the inferences attempted to be drawn from that paragraph are entirely unwarrantable. That in a considerable community like Leeds there should be a large number of young delinquents, must be at once admitted. Most of them are the children of idle and profligate parents, who are attracted to a large town by the various resources which it offers to enable them to escape regular labour. They do not belong to the working population of the district. They pursue chiefly a life of vagrancy, or adopt such eccentric modes of obtaining a livelihood as serve only as a covering for various acts of mendicancy or petty theft. Their children form no proportion of the juvenile population of the borough, nor of the aggregate amount of children employed in factories. To refer to these unfortunates as a type of the whole community of young persons, is as absurd as it would be to select as specimens of the physical vigour of the rising generation of operatives, the feeble and stunted children of a parish workhouse, who for the most part are the offspring of vice, and the heirs of disease. "Lord Ashley also quotes the evidence of an active police-officer, Mr. Child, in support of his dark picture of the moral condition of our town. No one can be better informed as to the worst features of our social state than that useful functionary: but to select his testimony in illustration of the general inquiry as to our moral condition, is obviously unreasonable and unfair. The particular facts stated by him are no doubt painfully true, but they furnish no information, as to the moral circumstances of the entire community, much less of that particular class of it, the young people employed in factories. "Why did not these impartial Commissioners inquire from other parties, besides police-officers, as to the tendency of factory labour upon our youthful population? Why did they not advance from the constable to the Magistrate, or to the Magistrates' clerk? If, indeed, the latter had been examined in relation to this important investigation, a very different result would have transpired. You have my authority for stating that the young people employed in factories are seldom brought before our local police tribunals; and the criminal youths so prominently referred to by Lord Ashley, as an important part of our local population, are not those who have been educated in our Sunday-schools or are trained to labour in our factories, but the miserable and neglected children of the most reckless members of society, who have had the most imperfect education, and who have been at an early period initiated in the habits of indolence, profligacy, and vice. The noble Lord on this occasion has not said much about the education and religion of the manufacturing districts. From his speech one would suppose such matters were altogether unheard of there. It may therefore be worth while to mention a few facts bearing on this. It has been ascertained that more churches and chapels have been erected, in proportion to the population, in the manufacturing districts than in the city of Westminster, or in the whole of this metropolis. The returns show that places of worship in the manufacturing parts of Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cheshire, and Derbyshire, afford sittings for 45 per cent. of the population, while in the metropolis it is only 30 per cent. In the northern districts the increase of population from 1800 to 1841 has been 127 per cent. while the increase of sittings in places of worship has been not less than 219 per cent. I can also refer to educational efforts and progress in connection with several of the large manufactories. One of these at Darwen employs 1382 persons,—619 males and 763 females,—of whom 912 can read well, 435 can read a little, and only thirty-five cannot read. In another manufactory at Rawtenstall there are eighty-one boys and seventy-five girls in a school supported by the proprietors of the works. In the schools on the premises of my friends, H. and E. Ashworth near Bolton, there are 316 children attending the day-schools, and 615 in the Sunday-schools. It would be well for the landholders to look a little at these and many similar cases, and to take example from them, rather than engage in the work of throwing obloquy on the manufacturers of the north. On this point I will read to the house an extract from a letter from a Gentleman of the first respectability, and which I have received to-day. It refers to a meeting recently held in the town of Ashton-under-Lyne on the subject of education:— The meeting to which you refer was composed solely of the friends and members of Dissenting congregations in the town of Ashton, who were desirous to aid in the effort now being generally made to promote the great cause of education among the labouring classes. On that occasion 2,007l. was subscribed by the parties present, 200l. of which was from the operative classes,—viz. spinners, weavers, and other hands employed in mills. Subscriptions are still proceeding amongst those members who were unavoidably absent, and the whole amount will reach 3,000l., of which sum the operative classes will contribute 250l. Now, can the noble Lord, or any one else, produce a similar case from the agricultural districts? I venture to say that no such case can there be found. For the character of the manufacturing population I may also refer hon. Members to the Report of the Commission sent down to Stockport in the month of January, 1842. I will read the concluding paragraph of that Report, and anything more conclusive as to the merits of the working classes of that town, I cannot hope to discover. In the course of these enquiries, the general character and condition of the operatives employed in the cotton trade have been peculiarly the objects of our observation. We have seen that, in an ordinary state of the trade, those of the operatives who are employed, (as the mass of them are), in connexion with steam-power machinery, appear to command, by the value of their labour, the means of enjoyment of the comforts of life to an extent and degree unknown to a large portion of the population of this country; and there is little doubt, that persons so circumstanced must consume, in a degree which far exceeds the proportion of their numbers, the natural produce of this and of foreign countries, there by contributing largely to the prosperity of other classes of their countrymen, as well as to those sources of revenue by which the national liabilities are in a great part sustained. "We find, in connexion with the large earnings of this class, industrious habits of no common stamp, regulated and secured, in great measure, by the peculiar nature of their employment; and a degree of intelligence already much in advance of other classes of the working people, and still growing with the general growth of popular education. It appears, also, that when in the enjoyment of prosperity they avail themselves, to a great extent, of the advantages of Provident Institutions, and that, partly through this, and partly through other circumstances, equally creditable to their character as a working people, they avoid almost altogether dependence upon Poor rates. On the recurrence of general distress, we find them neither a pauperised mass, nor readily admitting pauperism among them; but struggling against adversity, beating far and wide for employment, and in many cases leaving their country for foreign climates, rattier than depend upon other resources for subsistence than those of their own industry and skill. Those among them who have not been able or willing to leave a place, where at present their labour is of little or no value, have been found enduring distress with patience, and abstaining, sometimes to the injury of health, from making any application for relief; while others, who have been driven re- luctantly to that extremity, we have seen receiving a degree of relief sufficient only to support life, often with thankfulness and gratitude, and generally without a murmur or complaint. We feel assured that the sufferings of a population, whose general character and condition are such as we have endeavoured to describe them, will meet with sympathy and consideration from all classes of their fellow subjects; and that the interests of that branch of trade which has furnished such a population with employment, will be held entitled to peculiar attention from the Legislature of the country. And in drawing the attention of the House to this remarkable extract, I affirm, fearlessly, that if the Commissioners say no more than the truth, the statement of the noble Lord can only be considered as a most unfair and exaggerated picture of the factory districts and the factory population. I have also in my possession a note from Mr. W. Chambers, of Edinburgh, one of that distinguished firm from whom so much that tends to inform and to elevate the artizans of this country has proceeded, in which he states, that of 85,000 copies of their "Chambers' Journal" sold weekly, not less than four-fifths are disposed of in the manufacturing districts. Lanarkshire and Lancashire afford the greatest number of readers, the latter county alone taking more than 20,000 copies, while to Dorsetshire probably not fifty copies are sent. But in making these statements to the House, I am not about to deny the sufferings and the wrongs of the manufacturing population. Before I had the honour of a seat in this House, I was one of a deputation that more than once had an interview with the right hon. Baronet on the subject of those sufferings and those wrongs. What I contend for is this, that as respects the remuneration for labour, and the state of society, and the general comfort of the population, the cotton districts may stand a comparison with any other in the kingdom. I could give ample proof of this, but I will confine myself to only a few facts. It has been stated that a large proportion of the females employed in mills are married, but the returns to which I will ask your attention will shew that this is not the case. If all the noble Lord said on this point were true, if the cases he stated, but for which he gave no authoriry, were the rule, instead of being, as I am sure they are, the exception, such a state of things would go far to justify interference of an extraordinary description on the part of the Legislature. The first case to which I ask the attention of the House is that of the concern in which I am a partner, and I have no reason to suppose that it presents a more favourable view than that of my neighbours. We employ 518 persons, and their ages and amount of wages are as follows:—

Males. s. d.
13 to 16 69 employed.—Average Weekly earnings 6 6
17 to 21 69 employed.—Average Weekly earnings 8 10
21 & upwards Females. 131 employed.—Average Weekly earnings 16 0
13 to 16 84 employed.—Average Weekly earnings 6 3
17 to 21 106 employed.—Average Weekly earnings 8 3
21 & upwards 59 employed.—Average Weekly earnings 11 11
Total. 518 persons.—Average Weekly earnings 10 1

Thus it will be seen, that whilst between the ages of 13 and 21 years, the females are 190, and the males only 138, yet that of those above 21 years of age, 131 are men, and only 59 are women: thus proving beyond dispute, that after that period, which may be termed a marriageable age, the women are to a very large extent withdrawn from factory employment, and remain at home engaged in their domestic duties. I have another case which gives nearly the same result. From an establishment near Bolton, belonging to H. and E. Ashworth, I have the following statement. They employ 675 persons above the age of 13 years, and 98 children under 13 years, working short time; in all, 773.

Males. s. d.
13 to 16 126 employed.—Average weekly earnings 4 8½
17 to 21 97 employed.—Average weekly earnings 9 5⅜
21& upwards 136 employed.—Average weekly earnings 21 2¼
13 to 16 113 employed.—Average weekly earnings 4 8
17 to 21 135 employed.—Average weekly earnings 6 7
21 & upwards 68 employed.—Average weekly earnings 8 9½
In all 675 persons.—Average weekly earnings 9 5⅞

Of the 98 short time hands, 49 are boys, and 49 are girls; their average earnings for the half week's work being 1s. 6d.

Here again we have between the ages of thirteen and twenty-one years, 223 males and 248 females, whilst above twenty-one years, there are 136 men and sixty-eight women, she wing that at twenty-one years, or thereabout, the women are withdrawn from factory employment, and betake themselves to household and family duties. But the rate of remuneration is a subject well worth enquiring into; and how do we stand in this respect? I allude to the concern of which I am a partner from no wish to boast, many establishments in the trade being superior to ours in almost every particular, but because I am well acquainted with the facts I now produce. We have near our pemises fifty-one cottages, whose fifty-one families are all employed by us. In these fifty-one cottages there are 314 persons, and of these 166 are employed, being about 6⅙ individuals, and 3¼ workers in each cottage. The average weekly earnings of each of these 166 workers are 11s., and the average weekly earnings of each family are 35s. 9d., and the average annual income of each of these families is 92l. 19s. The account furnished me from other mills is equally favourable, and I am quite sure equally true. H. and E. Ashworth's statement shews a list of sixty-nine families; the average number of individuals in each is 54/7; the average number of workers in each is 25/7; being in all 228 individuals, and 115 workers. The average weekly earnings of each worker are 11s.d.; the average weekly income of each family is 33s. 4d., and the average annual income of each family is 87l. 7s.d. From Messrs. Whitehead and Brothers, of Rawtenstall, I have the following returns:—These Gentlemen employ 342 persons, and I may remark that in this case there is the same withdrawal of women from factory employment above the age of twenty-one years. In thirty-two cottages there are in each, on the average, six individuals, and 3⅓ workers. The average weekly income of each of these families is 33s.d., and only one of these heads of families has received parochial relief, and that one a widow, whose means of living were for a time taken away by the destruction of a mill by fire. Of the 342 persons they employ, the average weekly earnings are 9s.d. I know that to read over these details is tedious to the House, but they are facts most important for this House to be acquainted with, and I cannot with a due regard to my duty as a Member of it, and towards that vast branch of our national industry with which I feel it an honour to be connected withhold them. From Messrs. Eccles, Shorrock, and Co. of Darwen, I have the following statement:—They have 54 families, including 396 individuals, and 230 workers; the average number in each family is 71/3, of workers 42/3. The average weekly earnings of these 230 workers are 10s. 7d.; the average weekly income of each family is 45s. 1d.; the average annual income of each family is 117l. 7s. 9d. From J. R. Barnes and Sons, of Farn worth Mills, near Bolton, I have the following statement:—They have 81 families, including 442 individuals, and 197 workers. The average weekly earnings of each worker are 12s. 9d.; the average weekly income of each family is 31s.; the average annual income of each family is 80l. 12s. Now, very few of all these families have ever received parish relief; from enquiry made in the case I have given from Rawtenstall, out of 32 families, only one has received such relief, and out of the 51 families I have mentioned connected with our own concern, I believe only three have received such relief; and these are cases in which distress of no ordinary kind has driven honest independence to this resource, and when my brother made the inquiry necessary to enable me to state these facts, he was careful so to make the inquiry as to avoid wounding the feelings of those, by whom a character for honest independence is held in the utmost eseeem. What a contrast does this present when compared with the state of things in Dorsetshire, and some of the neighhouring counties, where one in seven or eight of the whole population, including nobility, gentry, clergy, bankers, professional men, farmers, merchants, and traders, and labourers of every class, is almost invariably receiving parochial assistance. I will now call the attention of the House, and especially of the Members for the county of Suffolk, to a fact which I trust will silence the cry of injury done to farm labourers by a removal to the manufacturing districts. My friends, H. and E. Ashworth have been slandered over and over again, because they engaged some of these labourers, for whom in their native counties the only choice was the Union house or starvation. Let us see how the case really stands. One of these labourers, Samuel Rudlen, came from Suffolk in the year 1836. His family then consisted of 10 persons; his earnings as farm-labourer were 8s. per week; his eldest boy, about 14 years of age, 2s. per week; next younger (cow boy), 12 years, 1s. per week; parish allowance one peck of flour worth 1s. 4d.; 10 persons to 12s. 4d., or 1s. 2d. 4/5 per head per week. Now his family consists of 11 persons, and they earn altogether 55s. per week, or 5s. per head per week. Several families came from the south about the same period and under similar circumstances but the chief part of them having so far improved their circumstances as to enable them to remove to other mills or localities have done so whenever they saw a chance of receiving a higher rate of wages. Similar cases might be afforded with regard to labourers from Buckinghamshire and other counties. I think I have now said enough with regard to this part of the subject—apparently too much for hon. Gentlemen opposite, who appear only anxious to hear and applaud one side, and many of whom have not even heard that. But notwithstanding all these facts I admit there are evils, serious evils, and much distress in the manufacturing districts; many are still out of employment, and in many branches of trade wages are low. We have violent fluctuations in trade, and periods when multitudes endure great suffering and it becomes this House to inquire why do these fluctuations occur, and what is the great cause of their suffering. I attribute much of this to the mistaken and unjust policy pursued by this House, with respect to the trade and industry of the country. Hitherto manufacturers have had no fair chance: you have interfered with their natural progress, you have crippled them by your restrictions, you have at times almost destroyed them by monopolies, you have made them the sources of your public revenue, and the upholders of your rents, but at your hands they have never to this moment received justice and fair dealing. I do not charge the noble Lord with dishonesty, but I am confident if he had looked at this question with as anxious a desire to discover truth, as he has to find materials for his case, he would have found many subjects of congratulation to counterbalance every one which he would have had reason to deplore. The noble Lord and hon. Gentlemen opposite, when they view from their distant eminence the state of the manufacturing districts, look through the right end of the telescope; what they see is thus brought near to them, and is greatly magnified; but when they are asked to look at the rural districts, they reverse the telescope and then everything is thrown to the greatest possi- ble distance and is diminished as much as possible. That great hardships were once practised in the manufactories of this country cannot be denied, but a most gratifying change and improvement has taken place since the time when the respected father of the right hon. Baronet (Sir R Peel) was so largely connected with them. But this change has not arisen from legislation in this House; it has sprung from that general improvement which is observable throughout all classes of the community. The treatment of children in schools is now rational and humane,—formerly it was irrational and cruel; the treatment of lunatics in our asylums was once a disgrace to humanity,—now, how great is the change; the prisoners in our gaols feel the influence of this growing sentiment in favour of gentler treatment; and the spread of civilization and consideration for each other among the people has done infinitely more for the weak and helpless than all the laws which this House has ever passed. I do not charge the noble Lord with being actuated by feelings of malice in his conduct towards the manufacturers of this country, but I do believe him to have been, and to be now, grossly imposed upon by the persons upon whose information he relies. I can tell the noble Lord that he will never obtain credit for the statements he makes, unless he can obtain them from more honest characters than those he has hitherto employed. I know that one of these individuals has published many statements respecting the manufactories of the north, some of which are wholly false, and most of which, I believe, are grossly and malignantly exaggerated. I have in my hand two of these publications one is "The Adventures of William Dodd the Factory Cripple" and the other is entitled "The Factory System," and consists of letters addressed to the noble Lord,—both books have gone forth to the public under the sanction of the noble Lord. I do not wish to go into the particulars of the character of this man, for it is not necessary to my case, but I can demonstrate, that his books and statements are wholly unworthy of credit. Dodd states that from the hardships he endured in a factory, he was "done up" at the age of thirty-two, whereas I can prove that he was treated with uniform kindness, which he repaid by gross immorality of conduct, and for which he was at length discharged from his employment. I have in my possession letters written by this individual, in which he states that the noble Lord and his party had used him as long as they could get any thing out of him. He said also, that the noble Lord had given him dinners at his own house, and that when he applied for a small balance due to him, the noble Lord had written him an angry letter, recounting the dinners he had eaten at his table. He had also stated that the noble Lord had shown him to his visitors as a cripple, as a specimen of what the factories were doing for the population employed in them. I do not wish to dwell upon this point, but I am free to tell the noble Lord, that unless he employs agents more respectable his statements and his professions of benevolence will ever be viewed with suspicion by the manufacturers of the north and I may add, that others who are thus employed, are in no degree more respectable or more creditable than Dodd. I beg the House to remember that Lancashire, the seat of the cotton manufacture contains a larger population than any other county in the United Kingdom. It has a population of 1,600,000, of whom not less than 900,000, or 56 per cent. on the whole, are in employment and in the receipt of wages, and without doubt a larger number are there employed than on any other equal surface in any part of the globe. The labourers employed in the cotton trade are more steadily employed and better paid than in any other trade in this country. I admit this people have suffered severely, but they have struggled manfully with the adversity which has overtaken them, whilst we have been foolish enough to permit the existence of monopolies and injustice, enough to have destroyed for ever the energies and the prosperity of an ordinary people. In addition to these monopolies, we have taxes most oppressive and unequal. The tax on raw cotton alone amounts to 50l. to 100l. per week on many manufacturing establishments; that with which I am connected being thus burthened to the amount of 75l. per week; and as four-fifths of all these manufactures are exported, and compete with foreign manufacturers who pay no such tax, the whole amount of it must come out of the profits and the wages of those engaged in the cotton trade. The noble Lord, the Member for Liverpool, says, he is most anxious to improve the condition of the working classes; he points to more education, a higher state of morals, better food and better clothing, as the result of the adoption of the proposition now before the House. But there is one thing that noble Lord has failed to prove; he has failed to show how working only ten hours will give the people more sugar. The noble Lord is the representative of the sugar monopolists of Liverpool, and, after voting to deprive the people of sugar, he is perfectly consistent in denying them the liberty even to work. The people ask for freedom for their industry, for the removal of the shackles on their trade; you deny it to them, and then forbid them to labour, as if working less would give them more food, whilst your monopoly laws make food scarce and dear. Give them liberty to work, give them the market of the world for their produce, give them the power to live comfortably, and increasing means and increasing intelligence will speedily render them independent enough and wise enough to bring the duration of labour to that point at which life shall be passed with less of irksome toil of every kind, and more of recreation and enjoyment. It is because I am convinced this project is now impracticable, and that under our present oppressive Legislation, it would make all past injustice only more intolerable, that I shall vote against the proposition which the noble Lord, the Member for Dorset, has submitted to the House.

Lord Ashley

I think the House will feel that in some measure I have a right to make one or two observations on the remarkable speech of the hon. Gentleman: I will thank the hon. Gentleman to explain that charge against me which he has insinuated, and which he said he would not pursue. I will not allow it to pass. I therefore throw myself on the indulgence and on the protection of this House; and I do request all hon. Gentlemen present to exert their influence, as members of this House and as gentlemen, to make the hon. Member for Durham pursue his charge, and state his case.

Mr. Bright

What is the charge the noble Lord alludes to? I told the noble Lord, that the instruments he carried on his operations with were not worthy of his cause or of him. I am prepared to maintain that assertion. I make no charge against the noble Lord: I tell him that I think he is much misled by these men. I am prepared to prove that those agents of the noble Lord are of a character, that I would not take their evidence with respect to agricultural matters; and I think it is not fair that it should be taken with respect to manufacturing matters. If the noble Lord wishes to have information respecting manufacturing affairs, nineteen out of twenty, nay, all the respectable manufacturers in Lancashire would be willing to give it him.

Lord Ashley

What, no charge? No "unpaid balance," I suppose! No "cripple paraded for exhibition!" Well, if the hon. Member says he has made no charge, and, if before the assembled Commons of England he is prepared to assert that he made no charge against me, I can assure him with satisfaction, that the matter may there rest. But those who heard the hon. Gentleman's statement, can best judge whether a charge were made; and those who hear me can best judge whether the hon. Member had the courage to maintain it. But let me appeal to the House: I ask, did I in the course of a long speech which the House was kind enough to listen to, say anything to provoke personal feeling? Did I utter one single sentence calculated to exasperate a single individual, or throw into the discussion of this great matter sentiments or expressions unbecoming so sacred a subject? If the hon. Gentleman thinks that his course of proceeding is the way in which he can maintain his own case, I must say that I am extremely sorry for it, because I think it is not suited to the dignity of the subject, not suited to the assembly in which we sit, and not suited by any means to that most respectable society of which the hon. Gentleman is a member.

Mr. Bright

; The noble Lord is entirely mistaken. I say the noble Lord Lord is entirely mistaken if he supposes that I judge of his character by the character of the men in whom I tell him to put no trust. I tell the noble Lord plainly, that I have letters in my hand, which will prove all that I have stated. I will hand them to the noble Lord with pleasure. I will go further, and tell the noble Lord, that the individual who wrote the letters I hold in my hand, offered, for a sum of money, to sell a friend of mine a large number of other letters, which that friend of mine was, as I think, too fastidious to lay hold of. I tell the noble Lord not to trust these men. I have always thought that the noble Lord was honest in his convictions. I have always said so, both in public and in private; but I repeat that the instruments that he has worked with are not worthy of him or his cause. That is all I have to say. [Cries of "Read."] Here is the first extract. It is from a letter bearing date

"November 8, 1842."

"As I had strained at a gnat, it was clear to them that I should not do to swallow a camel. In other words, had I allowed their ill-feeling to vent itself, and come before the public under my name, I should have wrote a very different book from that which I produced, and even that I am almost ashamed of."

[An hon. Member: "What has that to do with it?"] This is the manner in which I was taken hold of to serve party purposes, the work I was employed on, the hopes and expectations held out to me, the insignificant wages I received, and, now that they have got all out of me that they can, the manner in which I am cast off for ever.

In the same letter there was this passage:— In order that you may know what sort of a man he is (a person of the name of Jowett, and connected with Lord Ashley), I will tell you what were the orders I received from him previous to visiting your place last year. He told me—'You must go to Turton and get all the information you can concerning the works of Messrs. Ashworth—they are show mills. The Ashworths are deep, cunning people, and you must take particular care not to come into contact with them or their people.' Thus you see I was to stroll about the vicinity of your mills, and get into the company of your people, and by treating them with beer or by other means, was to get the information I required, and if from one whom you had cast off, so much the better.

In another letter there occurred this passage:— In my necessity I wrote to Lord Ashley, stating my circumstances, and asking for a remittance of a small balance due for services rendered.

Here (said the hon. Member) I beg it to be understood that I don't believe a word of this. Why, would I convict the noble Lord upon evidence which I do not credit, and which I would call upon him not to believe if it was used against myself? Due for services rendered—and in reply I received a very angry letter, saying,"—these words (said the hon. Member) are in inverted commas—'saying that I had no claim on them—that my employment was a mere matter el charity—that I had received so much money,' and he even recounted the dinners I had received at his Lordship's table, and told me of the condition I was in at the time he took notice of me, and other matters equally galling. It is clear that party only used me as a tool, and having made all the use of me they can, send me about my business. If I was clear of the party I could a tale unfold, hut, circumstanced as I am this would be my ruin.

"Now, mind," said the hon. Member, "I bring no charge against the noble Lord of intentionally doing wrong. I say so sincerely. My friends know that in private I have always spoken of the noble Lord with respect, and I can assure him that it was with sorrow I learned that he was employing agents who were not trustworthy. There are other letters from a man named Jowett, which be offered to sell for 35l. to a particular friend of mine, but my friend refused to buy them; and I Can tell the noble Lord circumstances with respect to other persons, which would lead him, I am sure, to form the same conclusion, that they are not trustworthy. And now I only hope that it is clearly understood that I have not said one word that is derogatory to the character of the noble Lord. I repeat, I have much respect for the noble Lord, but I am as much interested in this question as he can be, and I thought it better for the cause, and fairer to the noble Lord himself, that I should state these things to the world from this place, than that I should write a letter to the newspapers, or publish the statements in a pamphlet. I regret it if in stating these things I have said a word that could be considered derogatory to the character of the noble Lord. I know I am of a warm temperament, but I mean no personal insult; I desire merely to state facts."

Lord Ashley

It is high time, I think, that this sort of interlocutory matter should cease. I assure the hon. Gentleman on my part that I willingly accept his explanation. I am ready to believe that he meant nothing that was personally offensive. It is perfectly true that I was acquainted with Dodd, and it is perfectly true also that he called on me in London. I received a letter from him in which he stated, that he had been injured whilst working in a factory. He afterwards called on me, and certainly I never saw a more wretched object, He had lost his hand, and I may say had almost lost his shape. He hardly looked indeed like a human being. I certainly assisted him, and as far as refreshments went he had them, not with me, but I told him that if he chose to come when the servants dined he might have some dinner with them. He afterwards went down into the manufacturing districts, and from there he wrote me some letters; but I assure the hon. Gentleman that I never except once quoted a single fact from any one of his communications. Certain facts regarding him have since come to my knowledge, and I am certainly inclined now to think that he was unworthy my kindness.*

Mr. Warburton

said, that the matter seem to have taken a new shape. He There fore would move that the Chairman report progress, and ask leave to sit again.

Motion agreed to.

House resumed.—Committee to sit again.

House adjourned at one o'clock. *The following are extracts from the letters referred to by Mr. Bright. In a letter to Messrs. Ashworth of Bolton, under date September 26, 1842. Dodd writes:— "You are, Gentlemen, from personal observation, acquainted with my unhappy situation, you are also, I have no doubt, aware that my case has been laid hold of by Lord Ashley and his party in furtherance of their own views and objects; that I have been held up to public view by these philanthropists (?) as an object of charity, and as an instance of the cruelty of the manufacturers, and you will be surprised when I say that after all this fuss, I have been extremely ill-used by them. I have no blame to attach to Lord Ashley, except being misled, and induced to act contrary to his promises, by a man of the name of Benjamin Jowett, the man of all work for the ten hours' Bill party, and he is also the author of a pamphlet called "The Conspiracy," in which work your name and that of Mr. Greg, of Ashton, is prominently set forth. This man Jowett is not the friend of the working classes, and he deserves to be shewn in his true colours. He has injured me to a great extent. I should most willingly undertake to show the factory operatives and the public, that he and his party are not to be relied on; and was I to state the facts I am in possession of, it would, in my opinion, disperse the junta of which he is the organ; but this exposure would destroy my present source of living, and my future prospects, by setting all my friends against me, and without I was protected by some other parties, it would involve me in inevitable ruin." "October 1, 1842. "The manner in which I was taken hold of