HC Deb 18 March 1844 vol 73 cc1177-267

House in Committee on the Factories Bill.

The second Clause, with the Amendment proposed by Lord Ashley, having been read,

Mr. Warburton

said, he should not, on Friday last, have moved the adjournment of the debate, and prolonged the discussion on this question, but for the intimation that had fallen from the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary, who had admitted, that if ever a grave question had been discussed before the House, involving as it did the prosperity of the manufacturing and commercial interests of this country, it was the question then under consideration. The right hon. Baronet had also admitted, that to deputations of master manufacturers that had been with him at the Home Office, he had declared that the Government, on this question, intended to stand firm, and to adhere, in its main provisions, to that printed Bill which had been circulated for a long time throughout the manufacturing districts. Those deputations, it appeared, had quitted the Secretary of State with the full belief that the Government did intend to be firm in resisting the ten hours' clause. But for these circumstances he would not have moved the adjournment. He trusted to the assurance which had been given that, in regard to the main provisions of the Bill, the question was to be taken up as a Government question, so far as their adherents were concerned, and not left an open one. Not that he considered the Government Bill unobjectionable; for it violated, to a certain degree, the principles of free competition which he advocated—but of two evils he was prepared to accept the least; and when he found a Bill brought in by time Government containing a provision for twelve hours labour, and an Amendment moved to limit the hours of labour to ten, he chose the original proposal as the least mischievous; and he trusted the whole influence of Government was to be exerted to resist a provision which, in their opinion, would prove ruinous to our manufacturing prosperity. He felt some difficulty in arguing the question, not knowing whether to address himself to the premises of the noble Mover of the Amendment; or to his conclusions. The conclusion to which the noble Lord's premises tended, involved no less than the suspension of the whole of the factory labour now carried on by women and children in this country. The actual conclusion, however, as embodied in the Amendment, fell so very short of the premises, that they must be considered as independent of one another, and argued separately on their own respective merits. The noble Lord, in a considerable part of his speech, inferred an increase in the severity of the labour of the manufacturing classes from an increase in the productiveness of that labour. Now, unquestionably their labour had of late years been rendered more productive, by calling to its aid improved machinery, to a marvellous degree; but was the severity of the labour which had been so aided, to be measured by its increased productiveness? Upon that ground they might argue that the man who used a spade or a plough, toiled more severely than he who scratched up the ground with his fingers. This conclusion was most illogical. The noble Lord had referred to the insolubrity of the air in factories, this was true only of a small number, and was incorrect, if generally applied. A Commission had reported on the state of the dwellings of the operatives, both in London and the provincial towns. Some of the worst cases reported lay within a quarter of a mile of the House. Would this be a proper ground for prohibiting the inmates of those insolubrious dwellings, from labouring more than a certain number of hours? Each sort of handicraft employment had its own peculiar sufferings. Treatises had been written by learned physicians, one especially by an Italian physician, on the diseases peculiar to certain artists and manu- facturers. It was not difficult to draw highly-coloured pictures of the miseries to which each description of art is and was peculiarly liable; and thereon to found an argument for discontinuing those employments which could not be carried on without some alloy of evil. To what description of labour would not such a rule apply? The noble Lord had referred to the opinions given in 1833 by certain medical men, examined before Mr. Sadler's Committee; who stated that young children and females, if employed during a certain number of hours in certain descriptions of work, would necessarily be subject to serious physical consequences. That might be all very well as matter of opinion; but if the noble Lord would refer to the Report of the medical actuary, Dr. Mitchell, employed by the Commission of 1834, to draw up, from actual returns, a statement of the effects of factory labour, on the health of women and children, he would find a very different view of the case embodied in the following summary:— Taking, all in all, from the doouments brought before me, I have seen no grounds for warranting me in believing that factory-labour, in any material degree, differs in its effects on health from any other labour; and, at all events, the results ascertained from this long and laborious investigation appear to me to afford unanswerable evidence that the laudatory and condemnatory exaggerations of both parties are alike unfounded in truth. When Dr. Mitchell drew up that Report, he was aware of the opinions of the medical men, given before the Committee of 1833. The noble Lord had endeavoured to show that the duration of life with regard to persons employed in factory labour was much less than it is with regard to persons engaged in other descriptions of labour; and in proof of this, he had adduced the early period of superannuation in factories. Now, this conclusion was attained by taking the ages of those persons who at the time were actually working in factories. This was a fallacy which Dr. Mitchell and the Commissioners had exposed. They said, that it was on account of the cheapness of the labour of young persons, as compared with that of adults, and also because young persons, from their greater activity of body and greater delicacy of touch in handling delicate fibres, were more suited to the labour required of them, that they were preferred to adults in factories. Of the females, a large proportion, when they arrived at marriageable state, ceased to work in the factory; and with regard to male adults, the noble Lord had himself complained of their staying at home to take charge of domestic affairs, while their wives and children were employed at the factory. This would partly help to explain the low standard of age of the persons actually employed in this department of industry. But there was another point to be considered in reference to this part of the subject. A wonderful increase in our cotton manufacture had taken place since the year 1814, that is to say, during the last thirty years. That this was the case they might gather from the vast quantity of cotton-wool brought into home consumption at the present time, as compared with the quantity in 1814. The accounts given of these quantities did not quite agree, but taking a mean estimate, he found that in 1814 the quantity of cotton-wool brought into home consumption was 60,000,000Ibs.; whereas the quantity now consumed annually was about 500,000,000lbs. In the cotton manufactures, therefore, they could not take the increase in the last thirty years at less than six-fold. This, he thought, would go far to explain the great proportion of young persons employed in these manufactures; for taking the mean between zero and thirty, they would have fifteen years to add to the age at which children first entered the factory, to determine the mean age of the persons now actually labouring in the factory. These reasons would go far to explain why the average age of the existing factory operatives was not great. Another particular allegation was, that the females in factories were so injured in their health, by the nature of the employment, that they were not prolific. But medical men practising in the very places where manufactures were carried on, utterly denied the accuracy of that statement. Discarding therefore presumptive proof, and dealing only with facts as they existed, they really must not take it for granted, that the condition of the persons employed in factories was so desperate as the noble Lord would have them to believe. They had agents in 1833, in the employ of the Government, Commissioners of the Poor Law, and sub-Commissioners, who then made searching inquiries into all these matters. Under their agency at the period referred to, great exertions were made in certain parishes to induce agricultural labourers, for whom work could not be found in their own districts, to migrate with their families to manufacturing districts where the demand for labour was greater, and the wages were higher. These Commissioners in their first Report, stated the rate of wages in the manufacturing districts, for a family consisting of three or four members, to be at least double the best wages that a family of the same description could earn in the southern agricultural counties; and further, that the demand for labour at these wages was steadily increasing. A migration took place, in the first year to which he had referred, to a very considerable extent. Dr. Kay in his report had described the result of this migration both to the parishes from which it took place, and to the emigrants and their families; it proved most beneficial to both. The same thing went on for a series of three or four years, till about the year 1837, the year which was the commencement in the manufacturing districts of that stagnation of trade, and distress, of the reality of which the House and the country were fully convinced. He would describe the condition, after the tide of prosperity had turned, of some of the families that migrated. He would quote the words of a landlord residing in an agricultural district, and formerly a Member of that House, in preference to quoting the words of the Commissioners or sub-Commissioners themselves; because it might be said, that as they had encouraged the migration, they might think too favourably of its effects. The gentleman to whom he alluded was Sir Harry Verney, a resident in Buckinghamshire, who, in the year 1837, went himself to Wolverhampton and Manchester to examine into the condition of some agricultural labourers, who had migrated thither from his own parish. He states— The farmers are no gainers, in a pecuniary point of view, by the loss of those who desire to go, who are usually their best men. The gainers are the men themselves and the manufacturers who want them. I went myself to Wolverhampton and Manchester, and found my own poor labourers gaining three times what they obtained at home. Two of them came to see their friends, and I need not say that their visits stimulated others to desire to obtain similar situations. He might quote a variety of other passages from the reports of the Commissioners and the sub-Commissioners bearing out the same conclusion, and corroborating the statement made on Friday night last by the hon. Member for Durham, as to the rate of wages in the manufacturing districts. He found from those reports that the average weekly earnings of 100 families who had migrated under the superintendence of the Poor Law Commissioners themselves, had been in the first year 1l. 9s.d.; second year 1l. 14s. 1d., third year 1l. 19s.d. This confirmed the statement of the hon. Member for Durham, that the wages of the families in his employ ranged from 80l. to 100l. a year each. And with this increased rate of wages as compared with their previous earnings in the agricultural districts, no one could doubt that the condition of those who migrated was greatly improved. The noble Lord had dilated at some length on the moral condition of the manufacturing classes, and, no doubt, when large masses of people were congregated together, whatever their occupation and wheresoever their dwelling, their morals would, in some respects, be found to be less strict than the morals of a people usually are when the population is less dense. If, however, they subjected other occupations to the same searching examination as they had bestowed upon the factory operatives, they would find, taking all matters into consideration, results not very dissimilar. Take the case of the sailors, and the females with whom they associated—subject their lives to strict examination—will their standard of morality be found to range very high? His right hon. Friend (Sir J. Graham), formerly First Lord of the Admiralty, could tell the House something of the morality of Portsmouth Hard, if he chose to be communicative on so delicate a subject. Yet no one, because the morals of sailors were lax, and those of their female associates abandoned, proposed a Commission to scrutinise and lay bare their frailties. No one came forward to expatiate on the accidents and hardships of a sailor's life, and argue, from events inseparable from that mode of existence, that the axe must be laid at the root of the tree, and, that, unless we can lessen the hazards which our mariners run, and refine their habits, the present state and condition of nautical of airs must be abrogated. Why this abstinence from such attempts? Because all men knew the paramount importance of keeping up the Navy, and that our commercial and political greatness depends on our maintaining it. They tolerate a certain amount of evil for a greater amount of good; and who would say, taking the aggregate of good and evil that fall to the various states of existence, that the good did not in the main predominate. There was not a great building erected, a new Reform Club, or new House of Parliament in this city, that did not occasion fatal accidents; but no one argued from that that men should not become carpenters or masons, and called upon the House of Commons to pass a sumptuary law to force men, in the houses they build, to rest satisfied with what is low and humble. The appeal to our feelings in the case of the factory operatives might be more touching, involving as it did the case of females and children. The improvidence and extravagance said by the noble Lord to prevail among factory-people, must not be attributed to their being congregated together in factories. In the evidence taken by the Commission on the hand-loom weavers, the Rev. Mr. Brian, speaking of the Spitalfields' weavers, observed that from their manufacture being carried on entirely in their own homes, it might be expected that they would present a rare example of domestic felicity; but, on the contrary, from the unsteadiness of the employment, depending as it did on fluctuations in commerce and the caprices of fashion, no where were prudence and economy less habitually exercised than in the cottages of these weavers. Let them not suppose, therefore, that improvidence belonged exclusively to the inmates of factories; but compare their lives and habits with those of the other inhabitants of large towns, and the comparison will not be to their disadvantage. The noble Lord had asked, ought they not lay the axe at the root of the tree, and abrogate the system? What system? That of employing females and children in factories. This was his appeal to the House:— It is a perpetual grievance," (said the noble Lord) "constantly recurring among the complaints of the workmen, in all times of difficulty and distress. The system disturbs the order of nature and the rights of the labouring man, by ejecting the males from the workshop and filling their place with females, who are thus abstracted from their domestic duties, and exposed to the most insufferable toil, for half the wages that would be assigned to the males for the support of their families. "Every consideration sinks into nothing compared with the moral mischiefs which this system engenders and sustains. Education is all in vain, there is no national or private system which can supersede the influence of parental example and parental instruction. Such a system ought not to continue. And the hon. Member for Yorkshire also had said, "By this system the labour of the adult is superseded by that of children, and the labour of males by that of females." Were they prepared to follow these arguments to their legitimate conclusion, and to prohibit women and children from working in factories altogether. Or would they be content, as, to his astonishment, (after such arguments), he found the noble Lord would be, to diminish by one-sixth the hours during which women and young persons should be permitted to work in factories. Having considered the noble Lord's premises, he would in the sequel, confine himself to the Amendment, and endeavour to trace what if the Amendment were carried, would be its practical effects. Every Member who had hitherto spoken, seemed to have admitted, as the witnesses examined by the Commission of 1833 had done, that if they limited to ten hours the labour of women and children, the effect would be to limit to ten hours the labour of adult men. There was little difference of opinion upon this point, for that must be the inevitable consequence. The noble Lord was actuated by humane motives in endeavouring to restrict the labour in factories to ten hours, and expected nothing but good from his proposed restrictions; but would it not be as well to look into the arguments of the operatives themselves in favour of a ten hours' Bill for the purpose of discovering what consequences they anticipated from that measure? Those arguments were in evidence in the Report of the factory Commissioners of 1833, who say— It appears to be the general opinion of the operatives, that though wages may in the first instance fall, from reduction of the hours of labour, the artificial scarcity of commodities thus occasioned, will effect a rise of prices, and a consequent rise of wages, as well as an increase of work for hands which are now partially out of employ, by occasioning the erection of new establishments to supply the deficiency of production caused by the diminution of labour. They then quote the evidence of some of the operatives themselves, one of whom stated it as his opinion, that— The reduction of hours will operate as if you took away two men out of every twelve; and the effect would be to make labour scarcer. Within three months of passing the Bill, they would get the same amount of wages for the ten hours as they now got for twelve, with this further advantage to the community at large, that if the same demand for goods produced continued that exists now, it would call the unemployed into employment, and lessen the amount of Poor-rates," "That is my sole motive for supporting the thing." "I do not contemplate herein a rise of wages; but the same wages for a less degree of toil. Another operative said— If it should be found, when the hours are brought down to ten for all, that many are still out of work, the hours should be brought down to nine or eight, so as to give employment for all. It is better that all should work for eight hours, than that half should work for sixteen. I mean that twice the quantity of machinery should be used. Bringing down the hours to ten will rather raise wages than lower them. It would continue in the same way if it was brought down to eight hours. I think it would hold all through if you brought it down to one hour. The shorter time a man works, the more he will get for his labour in proportion. Certainly, it would be a greater expense to the masters to lay out money for more machinery than now, if they were working for such short hours. As soon as a master found that did not answer, he would give over buying machinery, and let the labour be done by hand. I conceive, in that way, machinery would find its level. Our Bill would not touch those who work by hand; and so he might get liberty to work more hours than those who work by machinery. I do not think this Bill would stop the progress of machinery much; it must be a shorter hours bill than this that would do that. When machinery had found its level in this way, the prices of goods must rise; there is plenty of room for that. I think that would be the end of it; because it has just been the reverse, that prices have lowered, while we have been working long hours. I do not think it would take as many customers out of the market as it would bring in from amongst those who (now) cannot afford to buy. There are various opinions; but I think this is the general one among us that I have told you. As many as twenty operatives who were examined before the Commissioners, gave evidence to the same effect, that they expected to receive twelve hours' wages for ten hours work. He could not conceive arguments more fallacious than those which he had just cited. In the first place, they all proceeded upon the assumption that the country had no foreign competitors. No doubt, if Europe was in the state in which it was in 1814, the addition of one-sixth to the value of labour, would produce comparatively only a trifling result. Prices would rise in proportion nearly to the diminished productiveness of labour, and extension of fixed capital; and neither capitalist nor workman would suffer to any extent. But now that many civilized countries were competing with them as manufacturers in every foreign market they would be running a great risk in adopting the course recommended. They should consider in how short a time a country could rise to manufacturing eminence, how brief a period was sufficient to effect a revolution in commerce. At the close of the last war hardly any cotton was manufactured in France. This country then manufactured 60,000,000lbs. of cotton wool. What was the weight of the cotton-wool manufactured in France in 1840? Why, more than twice the amount manufactured in this country in 1814, at the close of the war. It was 150,000,0001bs. In the opinion of several of the manufacturers examined by the Commission of 1833, the immediate effect of a limitation of the hours of labour would be to raise prices in the market of the world, though not to the extent of the additional cost of production in this country, occasioned by that limitation. The foreign manufacturer, having the command of labour not subject to any restriction, would reap exclusively a higher profit than usual from this temporary rise. This would be followed by an extension of manufacturing works both at home and abroad. The next result would be a fall to at least the former level of prices after the works thus extended bud come into operation, and then would arise a contest between the capitalist and the labourer which of the two should bear the burthen of that fall. As a certain consequence, the greater part of the ultimate loss would fall upon the receiver of wages. Mr. Ashworth, who was examined before the Commission in question, stated— The adoption of such a course would add to the profits of foreign manufacture, but nothing to our own. It would greatly stimulate the production of machinery to supersede human labour. The consequence would be decreased wages and want of employment; the ultimate abet would be a fall of wages. If this country, actuated by motives of humanity, made regulations for limiting the hours of labour at home, they could not expect that foreign countries would follow their example. What better prognostic could we have of the future conduct of foreign countries respecting factory labour, than by looking to their conduct respecting the abolition of slavery and the slave-trade? The country with the most free institutions in the world, continued the system of slavery, and persecuted the men who advocated its abolition. The noble I call stated that he would not consider this as a commercial question; but unless the noble Lord did so, he would not be considering it as a statesman. If they followed the principles of the noble Lord, and imposed restrictions upon cotton manufacture, what would become of the population of 931,000 dependent in Lancashire alone on manufacturing industry? The consequences would be most disastrous did they put down manufactures in that county to ever so limited an extent. The result of such a course would be also severely felt in the agricultural districts. Not less than 343,000 of the population of Lancashire, were persons not born in that county, attracted to it from agricultural districts by high wages, and depending on its manufacturing prosperity. How will pauperism increase in all the neighbouring agricultural districts, if you deprive the population of those districts of this source of employment? They might tell him that by diminishing the manufacturing population, they would diminish vice and immorality. It might be so; but he was confident of this, that if they diminished the number of persons who were raised above the necessity of supporting themselves by daily labour—if, by introducing distress amongst the manufacturing counties, they diminished the number of those who lived in affluence—although they might have less vice—yet, in a far greater proportion they would have less virtue. But if they restricted the manufacturing power of the country, how would they maintain the great colonial dependencies of Great Britain? Every day they had some new colony rising up and calling to them for support. The exports of cotton woven fabrics, taking them at their declared value, amounted in the year 1842, to 21,670,000l. Was it not obvious, that it was by the profit on the labour to which activity was given by the employment of manufacturing capital that the country was enabled to bear the great amount of taxation which the maintenance of its vast possessions required? If they discouraged manufactures in this country, other nations would quickly take advantage of the mistake, and obtain that pre-eminence in the civilised world which Great Britain, by her commerce and manufactures, had acquired. And if they once lost their commerce, and with it their naval superiority, he would ask how they were likely to be treated by their neighbours? They would be bearded, as they had formerly been, in their own bays and harbours by hostile fleets. The comforts of the people depended in no small degree on our supplying manufactures at a low cost. In what way but by offering these in exchange, are even tea, coffee, and sugar, once considered as luxuries, but now become necessaries of life, introduced into the cottages as well of our country peasants, as of manufacturing artizans? There were many minor considerations which entered into the question, and which had been adverted to by the Commissions of 1833. Contracts had been entered into between master and man, spinners had been engaged for fixed periods of service, and leases had been entered into by manufacturers, in the confidence that good faith would be observed towards them, and that no steps would be taken which would render the large investments which they have made unprofitable. The noble Lord, the Member for Sunderland, seemed to have his eyes open to the evil results of the measure now recommended by the noble Mover of the amendment, but he also seemed to think, as we had begun in an evil course of legislation, that there was no alternative but to pursue it. The Bill before them, as introduced by Government, was inconsistent with the principles which he had ever advocated; but of two evils he would choose the least; and if he could not arrest the progress of impolitic legislation altogether, he would try to defeat the amendment before the Committee, as a proposal pregnant with danger, in the best way he could. But the noble Lord had gone further with his alternative, and not satisfied with the ten-hour clause, believed that we must ultimately come to appoint local hoards of trade, to settle differences between masters and men in different parts of the country. He did think that the House ought to pause ere it sanctioned a course tending to the establishment of so great a nuisance as a multitude of petty legislatures. He had omitted to notice one defence which had been made of the ten-hour clause. It had been urged that, although it would reduce the number of hours, as much work might be done in ten hours as in twelve, by increasing the speed of the machinery. But, then, what became of the humanity part of the question? If the labour was already so severe, that the number of working hours must be reduced, by requiring as much work to be done in ten hours as was now done in twelve, the intensity of the labour must be much encreased. The more rapid the motion of the machinery, too, the more suited would the work he to the light activity of young persons, and the greater the number of that class which would be brought into the factories. Besides, other countries might work their mills with the same rapidity; and for twelve hours instead of ten; and then what became of the argument. The late Government had referred a question, akin to the present one, the condition of the hand-loom weavers, to a Commission, of which Mr. Senior and Mr. Jones Lloyd were members, and they considered it their duty- to state their opinion, what effect the laws prohibiting the importation of articles consumed by the operative classes had upon the comfort of those classes. They stated their opinion upon that subject; and he thought that they then, and he himself now, were justified in entering upon it, as the great question at issue, in either case, was what could he done to amend the condition of the working portion of the manufacturing population. The Commissioners stated that the effect of the Corn Laws was to raise the price of corn 20 percent. And seeing that the labouring classes consumed one-half their wages in the purchase of bread, the Corn-laws taxed those wages to the extent of 10 per cent.; and by thus taxing wages, those laws also operated to the prejudice of manufacturing industry, by diminishing the power of the whole mass of the labouring community to consume manufactures. The committee stated, that An increased supply of food would enable the weaver to subsist with rather less exertion on his own part, and to enforce rather less labour from his family. Why, this was the very object of the amendment now under discussion before the Committee. The report continues— The weaver might then shorten the long hours of labour, and allow his wife more time to devote to her domestic concerns. Why that was the complaint made of the present system by the noble Lord, that it did not allow of the wife performing her domestic duties. The report continued to state, that an increase in Ids means of subsistence would enable the weaver to "delay the age at which his children would be sent to the factory"—the precocious age at which children enter the factory, is one of the evils to the root of which the noble Lord would lay the axe. The report went on to state that, "on the other hand, the whole labouring population being required to spend less in food, would be able to spend more in clothing." A relaxation of the import duties on food, then, was what was recommended by those gentlemen who had full authority to investigate, and who did investigate, the whole subject. There were other suggestions made by these Commissioners for improving the condition of the operatives. One of them he would give the present Government the credit of having adopted. It was a measure which he had long advocated—namely, an abolition or reduction of the duties on foreign timber, the Commission recommended it, as conducive to the improvement of the habitations of the poor. Other questions to which the Commission had directed the attention of the Government, the Government had not yet dealt with, such as our trade with Brazils—our trade with the United States of America—our trade with those States of the North of Germany included in the Zollverein; they had recommended that we should put our commercial relations with these countries on such a footing as to create a mutual exchange of commodities to as large an extent as possible. They condemned, in general terms, the practice of impeding the importation from foreign countries of articles of consumption, and especially of corn; because such impediments restricted the consumption of our manufactures, increased the irregularity of the demand for the article to be imported, and tended to produce mischievous derangements of the currency. To remove those restrictions, was the way to prevent. the operative classes from pressing on the Legislature measures so impolitic as that now recommended, and to absolve them from the necessity of adopting that further evil, threatened by the noble Lord the Member for Sunderland, that of committing the buisness of legislating on the regulations between masters and workmen to local, selfish, and monopolizing boards of trade.

Viscount Howick

rose to explain. His hon. Friend had misrepresented what he had said in the most incomprehensible manner. The hon. Gentleman had stated, that he (Viscount Howick) had maintained, that having adopted an impolitic course in 1833, they should, therefore, continue to persevere in it now—that Government having carried a measure involving a certain degree of evil, he (Viscount Howick) thought it therefore expedient, upon the whole, to sanction a measure involving s still greater degree of evil. Now, anything more utterly unlike what he did say it was impossible to conceive. What he said, was in answering the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Sheffield, and it was this—that he could understand arguments like his against interference with labour at all: that he could understand that it might be thought advisable to abstain from any such interference, but that that was not at present the question. He had continued to say, that the inquiries conducted by Commissioners and Committees of the House had gone to establish a real necessity for interference; that that was a necessity which existed in the opinion of Government as well as in his own—that a bill was founded upon that principle of interference, and that the question between the noble Lord the Member for Dorsetshire and the Government was, whether the proper number of hours of labour to require from women and young persons was ten or twelve hours a-day. He stated how difficult he found it to pronounce a satisfactory judgment upon this point, but that, if he were obliged to come to some decision, he thought—knowing what he did of the strength of the human frame, and the amount of fatigue proposed to be inflicted upon it—he thought that ten hours, making allowance for the additional time required in going to, coming from the mill, and taking meals—was as long a period of labour as women and children should be called upon to submit to. If they made a law to fix the maximum period, it would virtually fix also the minimum period of labour; thus, if they made a law, enacting that women and children should not labour longer than twelve hours, its virtual effect was, that they should not labour for a shorter period. But his hon. Friend had maintained that he had proposed to establish monopolising boards all over the country, with the view of passing local regulations as to the relationship between masters and workmen. Now, all that he had said about the matter was this—that in former times, incorporated bodies of tradesmen, or guilds, had been found to produce advantageous effects on commerce and manufactures. He had stated, too, in glancing very briefly at the subject, that he thought that if they determined to create corporate bodies of this description, a power of revision should be given to the Crown, as in the case of municipal corporations, over their acts. He did think that some authority of this nature would prove an efficient check to any disposition to rear up systems of monopoly which might be manifested by any such bodies.

Mr. Beckett

could not help expressing his surprise, that the discussion on this subject should have become one of profit or loss. He thought the question was whether there was cruelty, oppression, and evil in the system of factory labour, for without that the Amendment of his hon. Friend could not be entertained. The House could not interfere with the rights of trade or the freedom of labour, without some such accusation could be established. It was lamentable to have listened to the melancholy tale told by his hon. Friend; but at the same time he thought they were under deep obligations to his noble Friend for proposing a practical remedy, which almost every practical man agreed would have the effect of remedying the evil. How had the statement of the noble Lord been met? Had it been denied, excused, or palliated? It had been palliated by an excuse unworthy of that House to receive. It had been palliated by an excuse that the agricultural labourer was as badly off. Was that an excuse? The factory labourer was the only labourer within the power of legislation at present. By showing how they would treat him the House would show their opinion how labourers ought to be treated, and he would ask whether such an excuse, or palliation could be alleged as a reason why the House should not interfere in the case before them? The late restrictions had acted well, notwithstanding the outcry made against them, and they were now advocated by the great majority of the owners of machinery. The evils of factory labour were not disputed, but it had been said that the remedy proposed by the noble Lord would lead to great evils. The right hon. Baronet said, that the terms of labour were settled in 1833, and that it was not right to re-open that settlement. If that were the case, how did the right hon. Baronet himself justify the alterations which he made in the present Bill? The right hon. Baronet spoke of the violation of a principle; but if there were such a principle, it had already been violated, and the question was now one, not of principle, but of degree. The right hon. Baronet contended that twelve hours labour was requisite for the profitable employment of the factory. But the right hon. Baronet had taken very futile grounds for his calculations. He had spoken of machinery as lasting only fifteen or sixteen years, and that if the House reduced the hours of labour, there would be no profit or return on this employment. But he would appeal to the manufacturers of this country whether any of them had ever had any experience of machinery being worked for fourteen or fifteen years for twelve hours together? Such an employment for machinery was never heard of; and when the right hon. Baronet spoke of the remuneration for capital, which meant, of course, the interest for money, did the right hon. Baronet mean to take the year 1841, when the interest of money was 6 per cent., or in 1844, when it was not worth much more than 2 per cent? Or did the right hon. Baronet apply his proposition to new machinery, or to old machinery that had been fifteen or sixteen years at work? Such was the difference between different descriptions of machinery, and such the continuous alterations, that it was utterly impossible for the right hon. Baronet to found any calculation upon it. Why, there was a mode of combing wool recently adopted in France, and by a new invention the same work that was formerly done by forty men now required only one. It was, therefore, utterly impossible to make such a calculation as the right hon. Baronet attempted. The value of machinery depended upon the power of production, and the value of money upon the rate of interest. With respect to the main question, he regretted the course taken by the right hon. Baronet. He had applied to seventy firms in Leeds, and out of seventy no less than forty had signed a declaration in favour of a ten hours' Bill. The remainder were, generally speaking, in favour of an eleven hours' Bill; but there was not one which advocated a twelve hours' Bill—and of the Clergy in that town, out of 181 individuals of all denominations, there was not one who supported a twelve hours' Bill. The current of public opinion in that town, as elsewhere, was tending generally to a shortening of the duration of ten hours of labour. In Barnsley, there was not a man who worked more than ten hours. In Bradford, the same; and in Sheffield, in consequence of the absence of some moderate interference on the part of the Legislature, the Trades Unions had taken up the question, and the hours of labour were reduced to six; and he warned the right hon. Gentleman that, if the Legislature did not take some step, they might fear some evil consequences from the steps self-taken by the men who thought themselves degraded and oppressed. As to the main question, though he was a decided opponent of a twelve hours' Bill —indeed, he could not contemplate its passing, it would be disgraceful—yet he was not prepared at once to vote for a ten hours' Bill. So sudden a change might disrupt too violently commercial combinations; but (and the noble Lord had himself assented to it) he thought it would be better to have an eleven hours' Bill for a year or two previously to the restriction to ten hours coming into operation, so as to give the House an opportunity of judging of the effect of the restriction, and of interposing if it should appear to be injurious.

Sir G. Grey

said, that as most of those hon. Members who had preceded him in the course of the debate on his own side of the House, had addressed it in opposition to the Amendment proposed by his noble Friend, he would as shortly as possible state the reasons which induced him to concur in the Amendment. In adopting that course he could assure the Committee that he was very far from being insensible to the difficulties which surrounded the question, and which, to his mind, rendered it one of very serious doubt and embarrassment. He was bound also to admit, that the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman Opposite against the Amendment of his noble Friend were entitled to great weight, and he was not prepared altogether to deny the force of the observation, that the arguments of his noble Friend, and the facts upon which he based his proposition, were such as, if carried out to their full and legitimate extent, would lead to a more comprehensive conclusion than that which was involved in the proposition for which he asked the assent of the Committee. But, if that were so, he was bound to say that on the other hand he could not but perceive that the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman himself and of the other hon. Gentleman who had addressed the House, in opposition to the Amendment of his noble Friend, and especially those of his hon. Friend the Member for Kendal, were directed much more against any legislative interference — against the principle of affording protection to any class of labourers in factories by legislative restrictions—than against the limited, and, as he thought, reasonable proposition now submitted to the House by his noble Friend. They were warned as to the danger, in dealing with this question, of crippling the manufacturing energies, and impairing the commerce of this country. The force of that argument he was ready to admit, for the interests of those classes whom his no- ble Friend was anxious to benefit were intimately bound up with the commercial prosperity of the country; but he could not see a shadow of an argument to prove that the charge of involving our commercial interests in danger was only applicable to the Amendment of his noble Friend and did not apply to the principle of the Bill submitted to the house by the Government—a principle which had long ago been decided by the Legislature and acted upon for a series of years; even now, when a Bill was brought into the House to amend the law upon this subject, it was open to all hon. Gentlemen who held the views of his hon. Friend the Member for Kendal to take the opportunity of objecting to the second reading of that Bill, or of raising a discussion upon it on the question that the Speaker leave the Chair in order to reconsider that principle, or to ask the House to reverse its former decision. No such course, however, was taken, and he thought, that in the present state of the proceeding it would be unfair to raise that general question. He had a right, then, to assume that, in the opinion of the Legislature, some legislative protection was necessary for the operative classes now working in factories, And the real question was, how far ought that legislative interference to be carried — how far it could be carried consistently with safety—and how far for the interests of the operatives on the one hand, and the interests of the country on the other, it was requisite that they should carry it, and at what point they should stop. As to the main subject, there was at present no difference between the noble Lord and the Government. His noble Friend did not ask the House to go beyond the Government, and to comprehend other classes in the Bill not already comprehended in it, and the simple question upon which they were now called upon to make up their minds was the question, whether the period during which young persons between thirteen and eighteen, and women of every age were to be employed should be twelve hours, or ten hours, exclusive of the period of going to and from the factory, and exclusive of the time for meals. Upon that question an important observation was made by his noble Friend, the Member for Sunderland, who stated that this act practically fixed the maximum of actual labour in the factories, and the question then was whether that period should he ten hours or twelve hours for women and young children. Now, in favour of ten hours they had a host of facts, if facts were necessary to prove what he should think was a self-evident proposition—viz., that twelve hours in the cases of women and young children was a period of excessive labour. He was far from maintaining that factory labour was in itself more destructive to health, or tended more to shorten life, than the other ordinary occupations in which the labouring classes were employed. He rested his vote upon no such supposition. He was very far from imputing to the mill-owners a disregard to the interests of those who were in their employment, and he was glad to hear the facts stated the other night by the hon. Member for Durham, which proved in a variety of instances that, under good management and proper conduct, health and comfort were secured in connection with that employment; but they were now called upon to legislate for the mass, and to say whether, when asked to fix a limit to the labour of women and young persons throughout the factories of this country, that limit should be ten hours or twelve. Could any one deny that the period of twelve hours' labour, from day to day, amounted in fact to an absence, on the part of those so employed, of from fourteen to fifteen hours from their own homes, calculating the time they were going to and coming from the factory. Was there a single authority that did not say that the present amount of labour was injurious? Look at the report of the Factory Inspectors—those gentlemen, whose opinions were laid before the House for its information, and were entitled to great respect and attention, from the extensive experience they had had in these matters, and the honesty and integrity, evinced by their reports, with which they had discharged their duties. What said Mr. Horner, in one of Ids reports?— The subject has been repeatedly mentioned to me by some considerate and humane millowners who know the evil of such a system, and wish to see it put down, and they have urged me to represent to the Government the propriety and necessity of preventing by law that women of any age should work more than twelve hours a day. Those were the observations made by Mr. Horner to the Government: and what did Mr. Saunders say upon the same subject in his report of the 20th October, 1843? I am equally well satisfied that persons are employed as adults for very long hours, physically unfit for the work they are called upon to do, and often unwillingly on their part. In this remark I refer principally to females who have just completed the age of eighteen. And in his further report of the 15th of January, 1844, he distinctly spoke of cases in which factories had been overworked, and referred to medical opinions on the subject, some of which had been quoted by the noble Lord. He said, The question of reducing the hours of labour generally for all young persons to eleven in each day, and limiting the working hours to seven o'clock in the evening, instead of eight o'clock, has been freely and frequently canvassed Its advocates increase in number, and in the strength of their desire to see it carried out. It would be impossible for me to express too strongly my conviction of the ultimate advantages to be derived from it. That was Mr. Saunders's statement in the most unqualified terms against this Bill, which would render twelve hours the period of work for young persons. But he also expressed his decided opinion hat further protection was indispensably necessary to females working in factories. And when they looked to the fact of the very large number of women, and that number still, he feared, increasing, employed in factories, they must bear in mind how materially their withdrawal from the performance of all social and domestic duties must affect, not merely those individuals employed in factories but also the great mass of the population of the manufacturing districts. The arguments and facts adduced by his noble Friend showed the great extent of that evil. It might be alleged that his proposal would fail to apply an adequate remedy; but it was not because they could not entirely eradicate the evil, that they were not to endeavour to diminish it. Were they by a legislative enactment to declare that excessive labour was necessary to the continuance of our commercial greatness, for it was clear that no other plea could justify it? The noble Lord's proposition would withdraw those individuals for two hours more from the factories and to transfer them for that time to their homes, and could it be doubted that that would be a great mitigation of the evil, which no one denied to exist under the present system, and which would be con-tinned under the sanction of the Bill now before the House? He thought that in connexion with other physical and moral ameliorations of the condition of the people, the proposal of the noble lord would produce most beneficial results, and he seriously apprehended that without it all other means of amelioration with respect to this large class of the population would be comparatively useless. The right hon. gentleman had expressed a strong apprehension of the probable danger that might arise from the proposition of his noble Friend. He thought that apprehension of danger was entirely conjectural, anti, though he had listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman with all that attention that was due to what fell from hint, and he had heard every argument that had been addressed to the Committee on the same side, yet he had not heard the slightest reason alleged, which would lead hint to conclude that interference was perfectly safe up to twelve hours, but that the moment you passed that limit everything was fraught with danger. They had the opinion of the Inspectors of Factories that twelve hours were too much. There might be some medium between that anti ten hours, and he understood the hon. Gentleman opposite, the Member for Leeds, to have proposed a gradual approach to ten hours. To this he should not object, but he thought it would be nowise to depart from the proposition of the Government and adopt eleven hours unless a further reduction was afterwards to be made to ten hours. Such a course would leave the subject open to all the agitation that now existed upon it; and might perhaps equally dissatisfy the mill-owners, and those who were represented by the noble Lord. He thought it of great importance, in dealing with this question, that they should look to the reasonable wishes and feelings of the great mass of operatives, who were deeply interested in this subject. The right hon. Gentleman stated that he had seen a deputation from the manufacturing districts, who were anxious to support the noble Lord's proposition, and a counter-deputation of delegates from operatives, who were anxious to see it rejected. He (Sir G. Grey) had also seen persons from the manufacturing districts on tins subject, and he supposed that other hon. Members had done the same; and, from all he could learn, he believed that there did pervade the great mass of the population an anxious desire to see the proposition of his noble Friend carried into effect. From a conversation which he had had with four persons who represented the wishes and feelings of the operatives upon this subject, he was of opinion that they were fully competent to take a just view of the question and did not entertain those wild and extravagant opin- ions which may have been advocated by others, and which some ascribed to them. He put to them distinctly the question of wages. They said they were prepared to meet it, and considered that the diminution of wages if it took place, would be amply compensated by the advantage which this proposition would give them. But there was one consideration which, he confessed, weighed more with him than any other on this question; he referred to the growing Opinion of the mill-owners themselves. His noble Friend stated, that above 300 mill-owners were advocates of the proposition which he now submitted to the House. He could not believe, looking to the vast interests those gentlemen had in this subject —he believed the noble Lord said that some of them were owners of some of the largest establishments in the country—that they would be in favour of the proposition of his noble Friend, if it did involve all the serious risk and danger which it was alleged would be involved in it. Their opinions weighed greatly with him. And when he remembered that the noble Lord the Member for South Lancashire, who was not peculiarly liable to be influenced by any sudden popular impulse, and who represented a large manufacturing constituency, after having given his deliberate attention to this subject, was decidedly in favour of the proposition of his noble Friend, it was impossible for him to conclude that the proposed amendment must be rejected on the ground of its certain tendency to injure the manufacturing interests of the country. With regard to the argument—the chief one against the noble Lord—the argument that his plan was fraught with risk and danger, he must refer to a valuable pamphlet published by Mr. L. Horner in 1840, with a view to show that foreign countries had followed our example with regard to factory legislation. He stated distinctly in the outset of that pamphlet, that in the year 1833 those very same arguments were used almost precisely in the same terms as now against the legislative interference then suggested. It was said at the time, that ruin must be the necessary consequence of any legislative interference. That interference, however, took place; and he took upon himself to say that that prediction had not been verified. And what was the inference Mr. Horner drew from that? He said, let the House in future receive with caution these prophecies of risk and danger, when they are called upon to legislate. He did not say that these predictions were to be altogether disregarded; but let them not be deterred by vague apprehensions of danger, which might be alleged against all change whatever, from satisfying themselves whether the proposition of his noble Friend could or could not be safely carried into effect, and whether the interests of the operatives might not be reconciled by those means with the interests of the country at large. Then again, the period of twelve hours appeared to be entirely arbitrary; whilst the period proposed by his noble Friend for the work of the young persons and women, was the period ordinarily observed in other occupations in which the great mass of the operatives of this country were engaged—not by virtue of any legislative enactment, but by virtue of arrangements existing between the masters and those who were employed with reference to the interests of both, and to the ordinary powers of the human frame. He was fully sensible of the objection that, by placing this restriction on the period of labour of women and young persons, a Ten Hours' Bill would be enacted for the whole working population. All he could say upon that was, that between the noble Lord's proposition and the Bill of the Government there was in this respect, no difference of principle. Their Bill professed to include the same classes whom the noble Lord asked protection for; and, therefore, if the noble Lord's proposition was a ten hours' Bill for the whole population, the right hon. Gentleman's Bill was a twelve hours' Bill for the same population. It was not, however, absolutely certain that such would be the consequence. On this subject, Mr. Saunders, in his report, said— Instruct male adults in the business, and employ them whenever the necessity of night-work is forced on you. If the trade is not profitable enough to enable the mill occupiers to do this, and whatever restriction is imposed be applied equally on all in the trade, I do not doubt that a remedy will be found, and the demand for goods so equalised over the year, as to make it desirable to erect a little more machinery for the purpose of meeting that demand." He did not attach much importance to the objection he had mentioned; but it applied in principle to the Bill of the Government as much as to the amendment of the noble Lord. At the same time he should be sorry to see any direct interference with the right which the adult male population had to carry their labour to the best market. As he had said, this question was one of considerable difficulty; the course which this debate had taken, showed that it was not one of a party character. It was a question on which each individual must make up his own mind, and decide on his own conviction of what was best. He must, however, add, without any intention of saying anything on a subject foreign to this debate, that the difficulties by which this subject was surrounded, were very much increased by the unwise and impolitic restrictions on trade, which were persevered in by the House, at once limiting the field of labour, and raising the price of the first necessaries of life to the operative population. He had come to the conclusion which he had adopted after much consideration, and though he might not feel the same degree of certainty with regard to it which had been expressed by others more conversant with the subject—he was satisfied that the evidence greatly preponderated in favour of the proposition of fns noble Friend, and to that proposition, accordingly, he would give his support.

Sir J. Graham

I am particularly anxious to trespass on the indulgence of the Committee for a very short time, in order to explain the view I am compelled to take of this question, especially after the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. If the House will give me credit for the sincerity of the expression of any wish, I cannot state too strongly my desire to exclude from this discussion anything of a party nature, but at the same time it is my bounden duty. with reference to tins subject, and especially after the speech just concluded, to bring certain facts to the recollection of the House. It might be supposed from what had been said in the course of this evening's discussion, that the proposition contained in this Bill—that the labour of young persons in factories should be limited to twelve hours—was a new one, originating with Her Majesty's present advisers; such is not the fact. It has been inferred, and I frankly admit the inference, that twelve hours will also be the limit for the labour of adults as well as young persons. The right hon. Baronet who has just sat down says, that Mr. Saunders has thrown some doubt on the question whether the limit imposed on the labour of children and young persons is practically the limit for that of adults. If there be any question with respect to its being incidentally a limit on the labour of adults, in frankness I must say, that the proposition I have now made on the part of the Government, absolutely limits the labour of females to twelve hours. If there be any doubt that a limit on the labour of the young will be a limit on the labour of adults, there can be no doubt that this Bill, enacting a limit with respect to females employed in all the great branches of manufacture, will practically impose a limit on the labour of grown persons generally. This it must be observed, is a most important point in the argument, and I wish to explain what fell from me the other evening, inasmuch as it may seem to have been inconsistent with this admission. I then stated as a fact, that wherever labour beyond the limit of twelve hours could be obtained in factories wrought by machinery, there, both men and women, actuated by the love of gain, had manifested a most earnest desire to avail themselves of the opportunity to labour beyond that time. This may appear at variance with the admission I have just made as to the practical limitation of working; but it is explained in this manner;— The great staples of manufactured articles, especially of cotton and worsted goods, are wrought by machinery, requiring for their production the conjoined labour of grown persons and young persons. But there are purposes for which this joint labour is not indispensable, and the fact is, that in that portion of the work which can be performed without the labour of young persons, when a part only of the machinery is worked, precisely in tins portion, both men and women have shown great avidity to be employed. If it were not for legislative interference, the natural desire of gain, the great moving power of human exertion, will lead both men and women to exert themselves to a degree far exceeding that which is proposed, namely, the limit of twelve hours. But now, to turn to another part of the question. It is one of the evils of a departure from principle, that when once this has taken place, the ground of principle is no longer tenable. I admit to the hon. Member for Leeds, that the question of principle has been already decided, and we are now arguing a question of degree. The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down said, why choose twelve instead of tens and he has spoken as if the House were now about to make a choice for the first time; his argument, if unanswered, may produce an impression on the public mind as if the limit has now been capriciously selected. I am sure the Committee will pardon me if I very shortly trace the progress of legislation on this subject, as it is not unimportant to the question before us. Before 1802, there was no limit whatever with respect to the labour in factories of children, young persons, and adults. The first legislative enactment applying to the subject, bears date in that year. The Act of 1802, deals only with apprentices, and by that it is provided, that apprentices in factories shall not work for a longer period than twelve hours. This is the first exercise of what may be termed an arbitrary discretion on the part of the Legislature; it interfered, for the first time, in behalf of the most helpless part of workers in factories; and, therefore, those who most required its protection—parish orphan apprentices. Proceeding on the necessity of the case, it interposes for the purpose of fixing a limit of twelve hours out of every twenty-four, as the maximum for the labour of apprentices. Thus the law stood from 1802 to 1819, a period of seventeen years, when an Act was introduced to make further provision for regulating cotton-mills. The Act of 1802 applied only to apprentices; the Act of 1819 went further, and provided that no children should be employed under nine years of age, and that persons between the ages of nine and sixteen, should not be allowed to work more than twelve hours a day, preserving the limit of twelve hours out of the twenty-four, but extending protection from apprentices only to children under the age of nine. Six years afterwards an Act was introduced for the regulation of cotton-mills, and it provided, that no person under sixteen years of age, should be allowed to work more than twelve hours, on five days of the week, nor more than nine hours on Saturdays. Twelve hours were the precise limit, then, as now, but the limitation of working nine hours on Saturday was then introduced for the first time. So the law remained, until 1831, when the right hon. Baronet the Member for Nottingham (Sir J. Hobhouse) actuated no doubt, by the most humane motives, sought to extend the protection of the former Act, and provided that no person under twenty-one, should work in the night, that was, between half-past eight in the evening, and half-past five in the morning, putting an end to working by double spell throughout the night. The right hon. Gentleman also provided that no person under eighteen years of age should work more than twelve hours, again retaining the limit of twelve hours, with one and a half hour for meals, the hours of work being exclusive of meal time—that is to say, twelve hours to be the fixed limit for labour, with one and a half hour for meals, the factory to be open for fourteen hours, and children under nine not to be employed at all, and to be allowed, when above nine years, to work for twelve hours. I have now gaud the changes of the law from 1802 to 1831. In 1833 the noble Lord, the Member for Dorsetshire, for the first time, proposed the limitation of hours from twelve to ten. Let it be observed, so far from twelve being a capricious arbitrary limit, I have shown, that from 1802 to 1833, it had been invariably preserved, and it was never proposed to alter it until my noble Friend, in 1833, introduced a measure for the limitation of labour to ten hours. At that time, I had the honour of being one of the advisers of Her Majesty, with several noble Lords and hon. Gentlemen whom I now see opposite. The Ministers deliberated on that proposition, and gave it their best attention. The late Lord Sydenham was then Vice-President of the Board of Trade, and represented that department in this House. Again, no one will assert that a more humane man than Lord Spencer, who was then at the head of his party in this House, could be found in the community, or one on whose nature the harrowing statements of the noble Lord, the Member for Dorsetshire, were more likely to produce a strong effect. I know how anxiously Lord Spencer deliberated on the question at that time; but, the identical proposition now before the House being then brought forward by the noble Lord (Lord Ashley), Lord Grey's Government had to determine whether they would acquiesce in it or not; and, on referring to the Debates, it will be found that Lord Althorp, then the head of the Government in this House, in conformity with the decision of the Cabinet, resisted the Motion of the noble Lord; and Mr. Poulett Thomson, then representing the Board of Trade, urged in the strongest manner precisely the same arguments against the measure which I addressed to the House on Friday last, when I spoke on the subject. That right hon. Gentleman pointed out, that although the intentions of the noble Lord were most humane, though the facts on which he rested his conclusion were most distressing, yet, taking a dispassionate view of the policy of the proposition which he had introduced—considering not merely what concerned the replacement of the capital embarked in manufacturing establishments—though such considerations were not to be disregarded—but the more humane, the larger, the proper view on a subject of this kind, namely, the interests of the receivers of wages, the Government unanimously decided that the proposition must he resisted. My noble Friend took the sense of the House on the question, was defeated, and dropped the measure. My noble Friend, Lord Althorp, then took up the subject, and passed that law, which from that time to the present has regulated factory labour. The Noblemen and Gentlemen whom I see opposite, and who formed part of that Administration, did then concur in the opinions which I entertained, which I have ever since entertained, and the cogency of which I do not think can be resisted. It will, perhaps, not be inexpedient that I should trace the course of legislation since that period. The Act of 1833 placed the silk manufacturers on the same footing as the cotton, wool, and flax manufacturers, and in the following year a Bill was proposed by Mr. Poulett Thomson and Lord Howick to alter the provisions of the Act of 1833. It was, however, a measure of minor importance which dealt with silk, but there was no reduction in the hours of labour for cotton prepared. In 1835, however another Bill was brought forward of quite a different aspect by the hon. Member for Ashton-under-line (Mr. Hindley) and the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Brotherton), by which it was proposed gradually to reduce the twelve hours of labour for young persons by half an hour per annum till 1839, when the period of work would be limited to ten hours a-day. That was in effect the same measure as the proposition of the noble Lord. The right hon. Baronet, the Member for Nottingham, on the part of the Government, having previously dealt with the subject, and gone as far as he thought prudent in extending protection to the younger and more tender persons under eighteen, and in certain circumstances also from eighteen to twenty-one, said, that he would not oppose the introduction of the Bill, but on the understanding that it was not to be proceeded with that Session, carefully guarding himself against being understood to Assent to the principle of the Bill, either on his own part or on that of the Government. The Bill made no progress in that Session, and in the following year, I believe, it was not brought forward. But at this stage a most important circumstance occurred; another Bill was brought forward by Mr. Poulett Thomson and Lord John Russell, then the leader of the Government in this House, to explain and amend the Factories Bill. Now, would it be believed at that time there was no intention whatever on the part of the Ministers of the Crown still further to limit the labour of grown, or even that of young persons, but that the object of the measure then introduced was exactly the reverse? By the Act of 1833, which was to be brought into gradual operation, the hours of labour of children under the age of thirteen years were limited; but this limitation did not take effect till 1836. In that year, as I have stated, a Bill was introduced by Mr. Poulett Thomson and the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) to repeal that provision of the Act of 1833 to which I have just alluded, and therefore to permit children between the age of twelve and thirteen to work for twelve hours, notwithstanding the Act of 1833, which provided that after this year no person between twelve and thirteen should work for a longer period than eight hours. I am not stating this invidiously, and I do not know what. is the intention of various hon. Members whom I see opposite, and who were then in the House; but it is quite clear that at that time they had not receded from the conclusion to which they arrived in 1833, that twelve hours were a reasonable time for the daily labor of young persons. There was a division on this point. I voted with the noble Lord, though then opposed to him, and the majority—a small majority—remained with the noble Lord, and those who were then his Colleagues; but, as it seemed, Government did not think it expedient to press the measure. So the matter stood until 1838, when a Bill was brought in by the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Taunton (Mr. Labouchere), then filling a high place in the Board of Trade, and Mr. Fox Manic, who was then Under Secretary of State, the noble Lord, the Member for London, being the Secretary for the Home Department. By this Bill it was proposed to enact that children were not to work more than nine hours a day, and young persons not more than twelve hours, still adhering to the accustomed limit, which had been kept up since 1802. In 1839, a Bill was again introduced by Mr. Fox Maule and Lord John Russell, which was almost identical with the Bill of 1838; young persons were to work twelve hours a day. In the Committee, the noble Lord the Member for Dorsetshire, thought it necessary to make the same proposition as in 1833, and he moved that the blank in the clause be filled up with the words "fifty-eight," instead of "sixty-eight," which, practically, would make a reduction from twelve hours to ten hours a day. I cannot state more briefly or forcibly the objections to this Motion, than they were stated, where I find them on record, in the speech of the noble Lord, the Member for London, who, in 1839, the last time the question had been discussed, opposed the very proposition which is now before the House. The noble Lord's speech was so short that I may venture almost to read the whole speech:— It 'seemed to him, that the noble Lord (Lord Ashley) had not answered the question put by his hon. Friend, the Member for Wolverhamption (Mr. Villiers) namely, whether, having reduced the hours of labour, the noble Lord could provide at the same time that the same remuneration should be given for the shortened hours of labour? Now, this is exactly the answer to the delusion which still prevails—that for ten hours' work twelve hours' wages will be given. This is an idea which has always prevailed among the working classes; and it is a delusion so gross that the House is bound to exercise its protecting care, and not to mislead them by a measure, resting on such false expectations, and which will most certainly be followed by such fatal disappointments. The noble Lord went on to ask, "Does the noble Lord mean to carry his principle to the extent of fixing wages by law, or does he not?" At that time it had not struck the noble Lord that it was possible to do what the noble Lord, the Member for Sunderland, suggested, that, though they' could not be fixed by law, yet they might be fixed by local boards of trade, acting under the authority and control of the Secretary of State. [Viscount Howick: I never said they might fix wages.] I certainly understood the noble Lord to say that local boards might be appointed on the same plan as the Council of prud' hommes in France, with the sanction of the Executive Government, by which all questions of trade might be regulated, and I concluded of course that the most important which could be discussed between masters and workmen—that of the rate of wages —would not be excluded. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) in the speech I am quoting went on: If he did mean to do so, the Committee knew, of course, the impossibility of adopting such a course; and if he did not, the Committee must know that whatever shortened the hours of labour, and with the present high price of provisions, reduced the rate of wages, instead of being a proposition of humanity, would be a proposition of the greatest inhumanity. Therefore, as he thought the proposition, if carried into effect, would be cruel in its operation, he must vote against it. Although I was at that time opposed to Her Majesty's Government I was present on that occasion and voted with my former Colleagues, maintaining to the utmost of my power the opinions so ably expressed by the noble Lord, the Member for London. I hope I may be permitted to read some of the names of those Gentlemen with whom I had then the honour of dividing, in a majority of 94 to 62. On that occasion I had the pleasure of voting with the right hon. Sir George Grey, with Mr. B. Hawes, who now appears inclined to support the proposition of the noble Lord, with the right hon. Sir J. Hobhouse, with Viscount Howick, with the right hon. Mr. Labouchere, with Viscount Morpeth, with Mr. F. Maule, who was one of the Tellers, and though last, the most important, with Lord John Russell.* I have now traced the course of legislation up to 1839. In 1840, a Committee was appointed, to investigate the question, and in 1841 another Factory Bill was introduced consequent on their report, according to which children were not to work more than seven hours a day, and young persons not more than twelve hours, thus strictly adhering to the old *See Hansard, Vol. xlviii., Third Series, pp, 1883, 1885. limit, deliberately sanctioned by five or six Parliaments, and as many Governments, and never vet departed from by any Administration; but which the right hon. Gentleman opposite, by his speech, would lead the public to suppose was now for the first time capriciously adopted by tier Majesty's Government. That Bill was brought in by Mr. F. Manic and Mr. Sheil I will now briefly advert to some of the topics which have been discussed since I last addressed the Committee, and first, in this respect, the opinions of the Factory Inspectors. I place the greatest reliance on the authority both of Mr. Horner and Mr. Saunders. In the passage quoted by the right hon. Baronet, Mr. Saunders seems to be of opinion that a period of twelve hours is too long. I do not think any evidence of this kind can be produced as to the opinions of Mr. Horner; but I have felt bound in a matter of such vast importance, these gentlemen being persons of high authority in this matter, knowing well the feelings and interests of the working classes, on the one hand, and of their employers, on the other, to put the question to them, whether they believe the adoption of a ten hours' Bill will be conducive to the interests of the operatives and the manufacturers? and I can now state, on their authority, that the passing of a ten hours' Bill will have the worst effect on the interests of the working classes, properly considered. I am bound to admit that since I last addressed the House several great authorities have pronounced in favour of the Motion of the noble Lord; first there was one of the Members for the southern division of Lancashire (Lord F. Egerton) who expressed himself favourable to the proposition. Then came one of the Members for the West Riding of Yorkshire (Mr. S. Wortley), and the noble Lord, one of the Members for Liverpool (Lord Sandon), has declared for it, and, in my estimation, by no means the least authority, my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds (Mr. Beckett). But after all, this is a matter to be decided by reasoning, and not by authority, and I cannot persuade myself that anything which fell from those high authorities can countervail the weight of argument which appears to be against the proposition. My hon. Friend the Member for the West Riding, says the consent of the mill-owners of that division of the county is very generally given to the proposition, and the hon. Member for Leeds, stated that most of the mill-owners of the West Riding, connected with the woollen trade, are favourable to an eleven hours' Bill. Let me remind the Committee that the question now before it is, whether they will agree to a ten hours' Bill. It is right that this point should be clearly understood. With respect to a large branch of the woollen manufactures of the West Riding, machinery of a comparatively cheap and simple description is used, the workmen being paid by the piece, and his masters not being anxious to work a greater number of hours than is absolutely necessary for the demands of the trade. Thus to them the matter is comparatively indifferent. But, in the more expensive manufacture of worsted, where the higher species of machinery is in use, where great capital is vested, there will be found no great inclination among the mill-owners to reduce the hours to ten. The same observation applies to the great staple of the cotton manufacture. Speaking on the best information I can obtain, I believe the cotton manufacturers, who generally use expensive machinery requiring a great outlay, and from the constant improvements which are made in it, an early renewal, as well as the worsted manufacturers, will, ninety-nine out of one hundred of them, implore the House not to make this alteration. ["No, no."] The hon. Gentleman denies it. I have taken pains to inform myself, and I feel sure that what I have said is a fact. There is an hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Fielden the Member for Oldham we believe), who was most favourable to a ten hours' Bill, and if it were possible for him to keep up in the race of competition, and work his people only ten hours a day, the warm feeling of his heart would prompt him to do so; but, as matters stand, that hon. Gentleman, I have been informed, avails himself now of the full privilege of the law, and invariably works his labourers twelve hours a day. I admit, that this is the effect of competition. I did not say as I appear to have been understood, that it is necessary for machinery, in consequence of improvements to be replaced once in every sixteen years, but rather once in twelve or thirteen years, and I quoted the opinion of Mr. Horner on the point. In that gentleman's report for 1842, at page 81, there is a statement made by one of the most extensive mill-owners in Manchester which I will read to the House. The passage is as follows:— The improvements in machinery are so constant and rapid, added to the changes in trade which render particular kinds of machinery entirely useless, that in the cotton manufacturing business the whole value of the machinery ought to be repaid to its owner in twelve or thirteen years at latest. Now, whether it were in sixteen or thirteen years that the machinery will have to be replaced, there is a certain amount of dead capital embarked in that machinery; and if by the proposition of my noble Friend, we abridge one-sixth of the period in which this capital will have to be replaced, in proportion as we diminish the time in which the whole machinery is allowed to work, the period for its necessary renewal remaining the same, we demonstrate practically the fatal loss on the fixed capital embarked. I have before said, that I will advert to one, the only means of escape open to the mastermanufacturer—the only means to prevent loss falling upon him, if the proposition of the noble Lord is carried which I hold to he the most important part of the argument. I am satisfied, in the present state of the market of labour, that the master-manufacturers, if the proposition is carried, will be able, under present circumstances, and at the present moment, to transfer the loss from themselves, the stronger party, to the labourer, the weaker party. The House, I know, dislikes calculations, and it is indeed difficult to state them with clearness and precision. I feel it, however, necessary to allude to one or two facts. On the former evening of the debate, I quoted some statements by Mr. Horner, which I verified to the best of my power, and I still believe that the immediate effect of assenting to the proposal of the noble Lord will be a reduction of 25 per cent. upon the wages of the operatives. Observe, then, if that be the state of the case, if some of these labourers are in that comfortable position I heard, with so much delight, stated by the hon. Member for Durham the other evening, whole families of them earning—as that hon. Member stated he knew of his own knowledge, for they were in his own works—93l. a-year, if I am right in the position of the decrease of wages consequent upon the noble Lord's proposition, what will be the effect of that proposition upon those very families of labourers now receiving 93l. per annum?—why their wages will be reduced to 70l. A more disastrous proposition than that can hardly be entertained. If I am right, it is our duty to pause; and all I ask on the part of the Government is, that the House should adhere to a law which has prevailed in the country for forty-two years—that twelve hours of labour shall be the limit. I will not encumber the argument by considering other and minor propositions as to restriction; but if I am right, and if the effect of the noble Lord's proposition will be to reduce those families now fully employed by the hon. Member for Durham, at an average rate of 93l. down to 70l. I ask what will be the excuse for such legislation. This House is probably the most highly educated assembly in the civilized world, we fully understand these matters in all their bearings, and all their consequences in this chain of cause and of effect: and as Legislators we are bound to weigh them well. It is the duty more especially, of every Government to weigh all these considerations; and every Government which has weighed them has taken the course I am now recommending to the House. In my estimation a fearful responsibility is connected with this question—the ruin of the country may be the speedy result of a wrong decision; and I, for one, am not disposed to share in the responsibility I should incur by supporting the proposal of the noble Lord. If the House will permit me, I will endeavour to trace the course of the argument by which, as I think, I can show that the inevitable effect of this measure of a ten hours' Bill will be a reduction of 25 per cent, on the wages of the operatives. I will first take a case mentioned in Mr. Horner's report for 1842, page 79, which was the estimate of the fixed charges of a cotton-mill at Manchester, employing 520 hands, and amounting to 1,914l. 8s. The statement was, that if a mill worked less than sixty-nine hours per week, there would be a loss to the manufacturer of 2l. 16s. 10d. per hour. I will suppose the reduction proposed by my noble Friend to be from twelve to ten hours a day, in other words, sixty instead of sixty-nine hours per week and then multiplying the 2l. 16s. 10d. by nine, will give 25l. 11s. 6d. weekly loss upon this head. Mr. Horner's statement is, that in the mill in question, there are 170 operatives employed at 15s. per week, and 350 at 10s. per week. Thus, the weekly wages paid in the mill amounted, in the first class, at 15s., to 127l. 10s. and in the other class, at 10s., to 175l. The total weekly wages amounts, therefore, to 302l. 10s. The amount of weekly loss, therefore, on account of fixed capital, will be nearly one-twelfth of weekly wages; and, it is a conclusion that cannot be escaped from, unless the fallacy be adopted, which, I fear, has imposed upon many of the working classes, that twelve hours' wages will be paid for ten hours' work—that a reduction in wages Enlist be exactly commensurate with the reduction in time, and that the master manufacturers must reduce wages to the extent of one-sixth. I will, however, put it at one-seventh, and let that point be recollected —a positive reduction in wages of one-seventh. The amount of weekly loss on account of fixed capital is as one-twelfth in proportion to wages. Add one-seventh to one-twelfth, and the total redaction of wages will amount to nineteen-eighty-fourths of the wages now paid equal to a little less than one quarter, but more than one-fifth, or to somewhere about 23 per cent. I believe, that the calculations on the subject irresistibly prove, that the practical inevitable effect of passing the proposition of the noble Lord, will be, in the present state of the commercial world, equal to a reduction in wages in the cotton and worsted trades, greater than one-fifth. In matters of this kind, hon. Gentlemen will admit that Mr. Poulett Thomson's opinion is of authority. Mr. Poulett Thomson said it would be better for the master manufacturers to have a duty of 2d. per lb. imposed upon raw cotton, than to have this proposition for a reduction of time from twelve to ten hours carried: and Mr. Poulett Thomson said, that in many cases such a proposal would inflict a loss of 100l. a week upon the master manufacturers. The hon. Member for Kendal has forcibly put forward the point urged by me, that the conclusions of the noble Lord are at variance with his premises. He ought not in consistency to stop short; he ought to prohibit female labour in factories. The noble Lord has absolutely prohibited female labour in mines and collieries, and the labour of any child under ten years of age. The noble Lord the Member for Lancashire felt the force of that sentiment when he exclaimed, "Would to God we could prevent females from entering the factories altogether." As a matter of wishes and of feeling, I may take the same view; but speaking practically of the state of the manufacturing, districts, assuming that the position I have taken regarding the reduction of 25 per cent. upon wages from reduction of time is well founded, I am bound to ask myself the question—shall labour be reduced from twelve to ten hours, to be followed by the certain evil of reducing the wages, not only of the woman but of all her children, and of her husband 25 per cent. That is die consideration—that is the balance in which to weigh it. I am convinced a measure more injurious to the peace and blessings of civilised life in that community, and more fatal to the real interests of that class cannot be adopted. My noble Friend the Member for Liverpool has declared his object to be to equalise labour—that he is desirous to place labour on the same footing throughout the kingdom, and that ten hours' work shall be the limit of human industry. That is a most ominous warning. This is but a small step if indeed we are to deal with the whole labour of this great community. I must say, that a more disastrous course of legislation never has been entered upon. My noble Friend has said, he wished to equalise the distribution of labour, and that legislation had tended to that end. Now, any Gentleman practically acquainted with the subject will be able to say, whether, although the Legislature in 1834 might, to a certain extent, have protected children, and secured young persons against excessive labour, legislation had thereby tended to equalize the distribution of labour. I assert on the contrary, that it has had a directly contrary effect. The effect has been to drive children from that kind of labour which has been regulated by law to other labour in the immediate vicinity which has not been touched by legislation. I have been informed that 35,000 children are employed in calico printing; that they are worked without limitation of time, they begin to labour at six years of age, and they work fifteen hours a day, even night labour is not prohibited. So far, therefore, from the tendency of legislation being such as has been stated by my noble Friend, it has been directly opposite. There is a congestion of labour where there has been no legislation; there is a depletion of labour where there has been interference. In consequence of this very competition in infantine labour in branches of trade untouched by law, there is great difficulty and inconvenience in carrying the law into effect in those manufactures, with which we interfere. I have now gone through those various topics and I have troubled the Committee at much greater length than I could have wished, but I was desirous of showing to hon. Members and to the country, that Her Majesty's Government does not resist the natural wishes of a large body of the labouring classes without having given the fullest deliberation to the question or without sufficient reasons in their own minds for participating in the views of every successive Government, which on its responsibility, has attended to this important subject. I will now conclude with one or two general remarks. I think, that in politics, as in morals, there is a retribution inherent in the course of affairs which is clearly perceptible in matters of Government, and I have never yet seen an instance of a wide departure from the principle of sound legislation which has not, sooner or later, produced confusion and created inextricable difficulties. I am also decidedly of opinion that every such departure is not only calculated to create confusion and difficulty, from which there will be no escape, and for which it will be hard, if not impossible, to find a remedy, but that it will be fatal to the interests of those whom it was originally intended to serve. Above all, I must impress upon the Committee, that if the stringency of certain restrictions be increased it will be necessary to relax others of a countervailing nature; the subject is delicate, it is like a house built of cards, from which one can not be removed without danger to the whole fabric, and evils maybe created which I tremble to contemplate, but certainly, foreseeing those evils, I am bound with the whole power and influence of the Government to guard against them.

Sir G. Grey,

in explanation, begged to observe, that nothing had been further from his desire or intention than to introduce party feelings into the present discussion, and he felt confident, that nothing which had fallen from him had exhibited any such intention as that which had been imputed to him. The right hon. Baronet who had just sat down had charged him (Sir G. Grey) with inconsistency in the course he now proposed to take as compared with that which he had taken in the year 1839. The right hon. Baronet ought to have some charity as to inconsistency, when he himself looked back at past events. But it could not be forgotten that upon the question now under discussion there had been a great deal of new information afforded during the interval which had taken place since 1839, and no regard to inconsistency should induce him (Sir G. Grey) to reject the light which had been thrown upon the matter. On looking at the division list of 1839 to which the right hon. Baronet had adverted, he found that the noble Lord, the present Secretary for Ireland (Lord Eliot), and the right hon. Baronet, the present Paymaster of the Forces, (Sir E. Knatchbull), both voted in favour of the motion of the noble Lord, the Member for Dorsetshire.

Mr. M'Geachy

It is with considerable reluctance that I venture to trespass on the indulgence of the House; tirst, because I am fully aware of the great difficulties which beset this question; and, next, because I may appear to trench upon the province of the noble Lord, the Member for Dorset, who has for so many years devoted himself to this subject. Still, in the present posture of affairs in this country, I feel it is my duty to speak out upon this question. Sir, I deem the noble Lord of great value to the country at the present moment amidst the wretched materialism of the age. There he sits, a proof that principle does exist—that every man has not his price—there he sits self-excluded from office, because he deemed the acceptance of office inconsistent with that entire devotion of himself to the cause of the poor in which the best years of his life have been spent. I honour that noble Lord, because I believe that he is as ready to inquire into the condition of the Dorsetshire labourers as of the factory children; and I regret that the hon. Member for Stockport did not, on a previous evening, move for a simple inquiry into the state of the agricultural labourers without prejudging the case; though I cannot but congratulate the hon. Member on the altered tone of his remarks, a tone, which if truth, as I am bound to believe, be his object, will far more surely advance his cause, than that in which his remarks in this House are not unfrequently made. I greatly regret that the Government has not on this occasion introduced a Ten Hours' Bill — (more especially as three of its Members, if I am rightly informed, voted on a former occasion in favour of such an enactment)—instead of leaving it to what I trust will prove a majority of this House to bestow so great a boon on the operatives of this country. On one Member of the Government, at least, a Ten Hours' Bill has an hereditary claim. Five and twenty years ago the first Sir Robert Peel said before a Committee of the House of Commons in speaking of a Ten Hours' Bill:— Such an unlimited and indiscriminate employment of the poor, consisting of a great proportion of the inhabitants of the trading districts, will be attended with effects to the rising generation, so ruinous and alarming, that I cannot contemplate them without dismay, and thus the great effort of British ingenuity, whereby the machinery of our manufactures has been brought to such perfection, instead of being a blessing to the nation, will be converted into the bitterest curse. Sir, I cannot agree with the right hon. Baronet, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, to narrow down the question merely to one of two hours of time. The whole principle of interference is involved, and the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman are as potent in favour of sixteen hours of labour as in favour of twelve, and he appears in the position of one, who confesses that an error has been committed in interfering with labour at all; and that a right principle has been broken in upon. I have not risen on the present occasion, prompted by the desire of making a speech, but because I feel bound honestly to express the opinion I entertain on this difficult question. The present Government came into power in 1841 upon the shoulders of the people—no bribery—no corruption—could have given it so large, so overwhelming a majority. The Government, had it identified itself with the wants, the wishes, and the feelings of the people, might have been the strongest England has ever seen. But what has been their course? Vigorous and energetic in opposition, they have been most cautious in power. Last year, indeed, the right hon. Gentleman, the Home Secretary, held out the olive branch in the shape of a Factories Bill, containing the education clauses, but it was received with scorn and indignation, The dignified apathy of the Church on the one hand, and what I must call, the fanatical intolerance of the Dissenters on the other, threw out the Bill, the factory children were abandoned to their fate—and were left without education, a standing proof of our most unhappy divisions. I do not blame the Government for their conduct with respect to that Bill, for although they might have taken a bolder course, I believe they acted honestly, uprightly, and to the best of their ability. Now, the Government has identified itself with the New Poor Law, and the right hon. Gentleman announces his intention of carrying out the principles of a law, which avowedly cannot be carried out in the manufacturing districts, and which recent disclosures shew can as little be carried into effect in the agricultural parts of the country. Now, in what I am about to say, I do not mean to allude to any one Government in particular, but I would ask, What lesson do Governments teach the people? What but this? the benefits of agitation! Since 1829, when the Roman Catholic Relief Bill was granted avowedly not a safe act of justice, but as a concession to intimidation—to the Reform Bill, when Ministers of State did not think it inconsistent with their duty to receive deputations from 150,000 political unionists, when Bishops and Peers were threatened by the Prime Minister—down to Welsh riots and Chartist insurrections, redress of grievances has followed agitation, and agitation will therefore press upon the Legislature. Is not this a painful state of things? The time, I think, has now arrived, when truth should be spoken. In the midst of unprecedented wealth, this country is steeped in suffering. The great masses of the people, for whom, as Christian men, we are bound to live, are unable by honest labour to gain a subsistence for themselves and their families. By the Poor Law they have been forced to fall back upon their own resources—with what effect the increasing pauperism of the country too plainly shows. The principle of amassing wealth has been indulged in, and has gone on, and what is the result? What is now the state of the people? Every inquiry that has been forced upon us shows the urgent necessity for legislative interference; and the people wait in hope. There is scarcely a part of the labouring population, that does not call for au inquiry into its condition, The people wait patiently, in the hope that something will be done, that inquiry will not be all, and I do solemnly call upon the Government, great as the task may be, to act, and to realize as far as it is possible, the just expectations of the people. And here I cannot but express my satisfaction at the observations which fell in the early part of this debate from the noble Lord the Member for Sunderland, and which I think have been greatly misrepresented in the course of this discussion. However I may differ on political questions from that noble Lord, I cannot but admire the originality of his views, and the manifest honesty of his purposes. The organization of labour is the grand political problem of the day—and it is clear that if the present course is to be persisted in—if we are merely to let things alone—and to leave all to demand and supply—if one part of the community is to go on preserving profits, and improving machinery and to do no more— whilst another class is preserving game and improving breeds of cattle—the people meanwhile starving in the midst of plenty, the sport of capitalists and the slaves of reckless speculation, it needs no prophet to arise to foretell that such a state of things cannot last. It is because I believe that a ten hours Bill is a step in the right direction, and a remedy for a portion of the existing evils, that I support the motion of the noble Lord. I have listened with some regret to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department, who stated, as I understood him, that he had been waited upon by a deputation of mill-owners, who represented to him, that if Her Majesty's Ministers would consent to their proposition to oppose the Amendment of the noble Lord the Member for Dorsetshire, they would withhold all opposition to the right hon. Gentleman's Bill. [Here Sir James Graham made some remark to the hon. Member, whose position was so immediately behind the seat of the right hon. Gentleman, that not a word could be heard even in the body of the House.] I should be very sorry to misrepresent anything that fell from the right hon. Gentleman; but I understood the right hon. Gentleman to express himself to that effect. Now what is asked by those who support the Amendment of the noble Lord is really very reasonable. They only ask that the day's labour of women and young persons employed in factories shall be reduced to the usual hours of labour in other parts of the country. I am at a loss to understand why it is perpetually referred to on this particular question, that the people employed in factories are under some mistake as to the object. and tendency of this measure, and that they consider they are to receive as high a rate of wages for the diminished hours of labour as they receive at present. This is entirely a misstatement. In an appeal to Members of Parliament, issued by the delegates of the factory workers of Lancashire and Yorkshire, who are now in London, they state— We have this morning (March 16th) carefully read over the debate, and considered Lord Ashley's speech, paragraph by paragraph, and we now affirm from our own knowledge, that every statement made to the House is substantially correct. Permit us to beg of you not to listen to the plea of a reduction of wages, which has been set up on our behalf by those who profess to be our friends. We are quite prepared to leave the question of wages to find its own level, and also to make the sacrifice—nominal as it must be for the sake of preserving the health and morals of our children and sisters. Shorter hours may produce a reduction of wages; and even if it does, we are prepared to show, that the increased domestic advantages, by which we should be enabled to take our meals at home instead of taking them to the factory, would fully compensate for the nominal reduction of wages, which it is said, a limitation of the hours of labour would produce. There is one thing very difficult to deal with, when arguing the question as to the diminution of wages. The argument assumes a double-faced character. It is a complete "Janus Bifrons." One day the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson) describes the manufacturing districts to be far happier than any other portion of the kingdom—quite an Utopia —and the next he represents them as miracles of woe, and states, that if the Legislature were to enact, that no woman or young person should work more than ten hours, it would in effect prevent all factories from working more than ten hours; and the hon. Gentleman then draws the inference; and indeed asserts, that "the effect of the noble Lord's proposition would be to stop the whole manufacturing processes of the country"—and those who support the noble Lord are represented as wishing to lower the condition of the operative. These certainly are very strong statements, and require investigation. I have looked into the Debates of the period, and I there find that just the same arguments were used, and the same prophecies uttered as to the ruin to our manufactures, when Mr. Sadler first mooted this question in Parliament. Bit now let the Horse say, whether previous restrictions on the hours of labour have operated to the injury of our trade, to such an extent as the hon. Gentleman seems to anticipate. I will quote for this purpose, a passage from a Report presented by Baron Dupin to the French Chamber of Peers in 1840. The first Act of Parliament, says Monsieur Dupin, that interfered with factory labour, was in June 1802. That date was very remarkable; for it was at that very time, that in consequence of the general peace Great Britain was brought into competition with the other manufacturing countries of Europe. But England did not hesitate to step forward, even at that moment, to prevent the continuance of such excessive labour of children; and that, too, in the most considerable branches of her industry—the woollen and cotton manufactures, which from that period constituted the largest proportion of her exports. Experience has proved, says M. Dupin, that in showing herself superior to the fears, and menaces, and sophisms of a sordid cupidity, and following the dictates of humanity, England in no degree sacrificed the future prosperity of those branches of industry which she then subjected to restrictions. The increase of her exports of cottons and woollens between 1800 arid 1839, in spite of the effect of the protection afforded by law to the children (mark this) has been 155 per cent., while in all the other articles, taken together, the increase has been only 11½ per cent. It appears to me, that those who oppose the Amendment of the noble Lord, go to the extent of opposing all restrictions on labour; for it is impossible to see where the line between interference and non-interference is to be drawn. The opponents of the noble Lord maintain, that all evil is to be cured by an extension of trade—this is surely but the old cry of commercial cupidity—give—give. Non missura cutem nisi plena cruoris hirudo. With no corrective principle introduced, how is it possible that the extension of trade which has coincided thus far with the increased sufferings of the operatives, should prove a panacea for all the evils of which he complains? From 1814 to 1841, increase of trade and increase of suffering have been identical: one of the greatest evils of the present system is, that it works up the young, and casts out of employment the adults. The effect of the admission of children into a trade is to reduce wages. The number of children affords the best criterion of wages. This is a fact well known to the operatives, who find that according to the number of children employed in their respective trades is the amount of wages the adults receive, and in many trades care is consequently taken by the workmen to regulate by the admission of apprentices. At Sheffield, for example, in the Plated Trade, the proportion of boys to adults is 16 per cent. These men are, perhaps, the first class of operatives in the kingdom. In the Edgetool Trade, the proportion of boys to adults 12½ per cent. Here also the men are well off and receive good wages, whereas in the Spring Knife Branch the proportion is 25 per cent.; where, except the best workmen, the men are very badly off. In the Glasgow Cotton Mills, the proportion of minors to male and female adults is 167 per cent. In the Lancashire Factories 158 per cent.; and in the Flax Manufacture the proportion is 425 per cent. There is one point with regard to the employment of agricultural labourers in the manufacturing districts, to which, as it has been adverted to by the hon. Member for Manchester, I wish briefly to call the attention of the House. It has been stated by the hon. Member, that those agricultural labourers who have migrated into the agricultural districts, are permanently employed; but I believe that the experience of the last half century will establish a very different conclusion for one of the great disadvantages of manufactures is, that they do not afford permanent employment. Take, for example, the Cotton Manufacture—now the great staple manufacture of the country; and observe its progress during the last half century. In 1788, there was a severe depression—from 1793 to 1799, the depression was such as to threaten its total destruction, again, in 1803, 1810, 1816, 1825, 1829, and in 1836, which continued up to last year. There were thus nine periods of depression in forty-eight years, lasting on the average about three years; so that in this the most prosperous branch of British maim-facture, twenty-four out of forty-eight years have been periods of great privation and suffering to the operatives. The re- suit, however, of our manufacturing system is curious. It has brought down the operatives to the lowest state of degradation and misery, whilst the Mill-owners have attained to a degree of wealth unknown in any other country in the world. I have now only to thank the House for the kindness with which they have listened to the observations which I have felt it my duty to offer; and to express my earnest hope, that a majority of this House will vote, as I find myself reluctantly compelled to do on this occasion, against the proposition of Her Majesty's Ministers, and in favour of the Amendment of the noble Lord the Member for Dorseishire.

Mr. Labouchere

never rose to address the House with feelings of greater pain and anxiety. It was painful to him to separate himself on this occasion from persons whose opinions he highly valued, and with whom be was accustomed to act. But it would be more painful still, conceiving the question before the House to be one of as great importance as could be discussed, and seeing the formidable opposition which had been raised against Her Majesty's Government for pursuing the same course which, whether in office or in opposition, he had himself pursued; it would, he said, be more painful still for him to shrink from giving the Government, both by his voice and by vote, all the support he could give them under the circumstances. The right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, in the speech by which he introduced this measure, divided the subject into two very distinct portions. The first consisted of a very lengthened appeal to those who sat on the Opposition side of the House, and more especially to those who belonged to the late Government. Now, he confessed if no other argument could be offered to him than that of consistency, he would at once throw it to the winds. If more mature reflection and subsequent information convinced him that he had been wrong in the course he had formerly pursued—and he was far from denying that subsequent information had been obtained—but if these things had produced on his mind the same effect which they had produced on the mind of his right hon. Friend, the Member for Devonport, and other hon. Members, be should feel it his bounden duty not to shrink from the avowal of that change of opinion, and of acting upon it. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir James Graham), after addressing him- self to the consistency of hon. Members, afterwards resorted to the arguments of the question, and he must say, that those arguments appeared to his mind so convincing, that it was impossible for him not to concede to their force. This was no new question. It had been discussed and decided in various forms and manners in the House of Commons in Committee, and commented upon by Commissioners of the highest knowledge and most competent experience on questions of this description; and they had all uniformly come to this conclusion, that they recoiled from the measure which the noble Lord, the Member for Dorsetshire, recommended. The point before the House was a very simple one, but it was as important as it was simple. It was this, whether they would take a step, nominally, by this Bill, of restricting the labour of young people and women to ten hours, but practically and really of diminishing the working of factory mills within that period. That was the question; one which had been frequently urged upon the Legislature, but which hitherto had, after mature consideration, been rejected. And after what he had heard be was not surprised that the Legislature, Commissioners and Committees, should have paused before they determined to take such a step. Some Gentlemen argued in this manner. They said, that we were not upon a new and untrodden path—that we had already sanctioned interference with factory labour, and therefore they seemed to think that we could not go on too rapidly in that direction. Now, he must confess that he drew a very different conclusion. He knew that they had entered upon a new, untrodden, and very perilous path; and it was therefore, that he wished to walk upon such a path with caution. It was not enough to ask him, whether he thought it right that a woman or young person should be employed twelve hours a day. He wished to God he could prevent it! He wished there was no necessity for such labour. He was satisfied it was not for the good of the person himself, if viewed as an isolated individual, and one separated from all other circumstances. But that was not the question. In all human affairs good and evil were mixed together; and the Legislature would act an unwise part, and be guilty of inhumanity towards those classes whose interests they were called upon to protect, if they did not take into consideration all the circumstances that were involved in this question. Some hon. Gentlemen had asked, was there such a great difference between a Ten Hours' and a Twelve Hours' Bill? You have (said they) already, by the Factories Bill, limited the working in mills to twelve hours a day; can it, therefore, be so very dangerous to limit it to ten hours? He would tell the House why he thought, in passing the Twelve Hours' Bill, they comparatively acted upon safe ground, while, in taking the course now asked for, they would be acting perilously. In 1833, it was found, practically, in well-conducted manufactories throughout the country, the people were not employed more than twelve hours a day. That being the case, and being convinced by experience, that factories could be conducted upon that principle, he was not unwilling to consent to an enactment, which so long as it did not interfere with that principle, should establish regulations with respect to the labour of children: such as working by relays, and adapting their work to a system which had never been established before. No doubt this, to a certain extent, increased the charges upon the manufacturers, but still there was no interference with the power of working their mills, if so pleased, for twelve hours a day. This, he would submit, was a very important distinction between the existing law and the proposition put forth by the noble Lord. In arguing such a question as this, they could not confine their views to this country alone. They must look abroad. It was a question not merely as it affected those engaged in the home trade, but as it also concerned those engaged in the vast manufactures that were designed for foreign trade, and who were subject at every step to severe competition with foreign manufactures. What was the case? He believed that there was no country in the world, where there existed cotton manufactures, in which the common period of labour was less than twelve hours a day. The noble Lord the Member for Dorsetshire, expressed his incredulity upon that subject. He should be glad to learn from the noble Lord whether there existed any law in any country in Europe, except in England, that prevented the mills working more than twelve hours a day, and whether, in fact, mills abroad were not worked twelve hours a day? He could mention one country, a very important country, and one of the most dangerous rivals the English manufacturers had in the cotton trade—he meant the United States of America. He would rather refer to the United States for the sake of his argument, because that was not a country where competition was so intense as to drive the population to subject themselves to an intolerable degree of labour. A very respectable Gentleman connected with the cotton manufacture in that country was asked what was the number of hours persons were employed in the mills. He answered, that the actual number of working hours averaged throughout the year at least twelve hours, in some seasons nearly fourteen hours, while in some little more than eleven hours. The House would from this perceive that they were incurring much greater danger in limiting the hours from twelve to ten than in fixing certain regulations for the work during the twelve hours. By the present proposition they would be going quite upon a new ground, and incurring a very different hazard from what they had hitherto incurred. The existing law merely regulated infant labour, taking care that there should be no cruelty to children employed in factories, and that opportunity should be afforded them to obtain education; but it left the mill owners full liberty to work the whole twelve hours. It was quite plain the effect of the proposition of the noble Lord would be a diminution of wages. No one who had any acquaintance with the manufacturing districts would undervalue that effect. The periods when distress and squalid misery pervaded the manufacturing districts were not those when men and women and children worked long hours, but when there was no employment for them. That was the time when disease was rife and when ruin abounded; and if by legislation they should produce permanent stagnation of trade and employment in this country, they would inflict more evil and misery in a week than any extra labour would inflict in the course of a year. They were told, that the manufacturers had no wish to be interfered with. They were, no doubt, much like other persons. Nobody liked to be interfered with. He was willing to admit that many apprehensions entertained and many opinions expressed by the manufacturers as to the effect of the present Factories Bill were unfounded. But that was no reason why their representations should be unattended to, if they were supported by reason and good sense. He could not regret, with the hon. Member for Kendal, that Parliament had ever undertaken to regulate factory labour. On the contrary, he was satisfied, as far as expe- rience had shown, that Parliament had conferred a most important benefit upon labourers by enacting regulations in factories, and he believed that the manufacturers themselves were convinced that such had been the case. He also believed that the success of our legislation had been adopted as an example by other countries, and he for one could not give his assent that Parliament should turn back from the attempt to afford that protection to the infant population in the manufacturing districts which had hitherto been so successfully 'afforded to them. With regard to the effect of our example on other countries it was important that they should not take a hasty step op this subject. For if they took an unwise step in legislation on this matter, it was not very likely that foreign countries would adopt it. By previous legislation they only attempted to regulate labour. People congregated in masses admitted of the possibility of this, but that did not apply to other places; therefore, though successful in manufacturing districts, the same legislation would not be applicable elsewhere. But there were circumstances connected with manufacturing labour which ought to make them particularly cautious how they pushed the principle of regulation to an unwise and dangerous extent. He thought they ought to avoid the introduction of any subject upon which there might exist a difference of opinion, which might interfere with a dispassionate consideration of this important question; but there was one important subject he could not help adverting to. They had in this country established a system under various forms, and to different extents—he would not say whether wisely or unwisely—to protect different interests. But there was one interest they could not protect. It was the great manufacturing interest, which depended for its existence upon the export trade. If protection was a good, it was still a good which they could not extend to that interest. They had to struggle without protection against all foreign competition. This was a reason for acting with great caution before they interfered with that important interest. He would take the liberty of warning the House that if they passed this measure, and took this legislative step, they would have to pass many other measures, or else they would see injury and ruin follow to the interests of this country, which it would not be in their power to arrest or remedy. He would not follow the right hon. Baro- net (Sir James Graham) in dwelling upon the effect which the adoption of the proposition of the noble Lord would have upon wages, profits, and the general trade and interests of the country. But he found a statement made so ably in the first Report of the Commissioners appointed to inquire into this question in 1833, that he would read a passage from it to the House. The Commissioners stated in the Factories Report of 1833, that, There might, indeed, if the restriction of the hours for working in mills where machinery was used in this country was adopted to the extent proposed, he, in the first instance, a rise in prices caused by a scarcity of manufactures, but that rise could not, in the nature of things, be of long duration. This temporary rise of price, combined with the competition with foreign manufactures, would necessarily produce extension of existing works and require new ones to be built. This increase of works, stimulated by an advance of price, would destroy the proportion of supply and demand, and the consequence would then be most disastrous to the manufacturers and their workmen. These events would be different in different descriptions of manufacture, but the ultimate result to all would be a great reduction of profits and wages. This short statement contained the whole of the case, which he would not weaken by any arguments of his own. He knew that those who took the course he was now pursuing were open to the charge that they did not act upon their own principles. He avowed it. He avowed that he had sanctioned interference with labour contrary to general and abstract principles under certain circumstances. Cases might he brought before them of so shocking a nature, and so outrageous to the feelings of humanity, that he would listen to any argument for affording a remedy. Nay, he would rather, in such eases, act from impulse than from reason. With that view he supported his noble Friend, the Mover of the present Amendment, the year before last when Ids noble friend proposed to prevent women being employed in mines. But while legislating in that direction, it behoved them to do so with the greatest caution; for in every step they took, there was the greatest danger that, with the best intentions, they might inflict the severest blow on the manufactures, trade, and prosperity of the country. Upon these grounds he was prepared to take the same course now that he had taken on a former occasion, and offer every opposition to the Motion of his no- ble Friend. He confessed that the arguments used by hon. Gentlemen in support of the Amendment had not been urged in so confident a tone, or with such clearness of view, or with so positive an assurance that in their judgment the greatest evils would not follow the adoption of the proposition of his noble Friend, as to relieve his mind from all anxiety as to the consequences of that course of procedure. Upon these grounds he must abstain from taking any share in the responsibility of supporting such a proposition, while he was quite prepared to submit to any degree of unpopularity in giving his opposition to it. He did it with pain, because he admitted many of the evils that had been set forth by his noble Friend, and to which he would be glad to apply a remedy if it could be done without the risk of incurring greater mischiefs in their stead.

Mr. Colquhoun

said, the objections of the right hon. Gentleman, accompanied, as they had been, with such arguments as he had advanced, were sufficient undoubtedly to make one hesitate before differing from the conclusion which the right hon. Gentleman came to, especially when supported by so high an authority as that of the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department. But yet he could not help calling the attention of the Committee to an argument which fell from his right hon. Friend, when he stated that a blow was about to be struck at the manufactures of this country, if the proposition of the noble Lord should be carried; a blow which he described would take effect in two ways—first, by affecting the profits of the manufacturers, and, secondly, by reducing the wages of the labourer. Now, it was a remarkable circumstance, that, upon a question pregnant with so much danger to themselves, a great body of master manufacturers should have given their support to the proposition of his noble Friend. It must be admitted that the manufacturers were competent to understand their own interest, and yet they deliberately declared that they were anxious to support a reduction of two hours' labour daily in their factories. His right hon. Friend (Sir J. Graham) had said, that this representation came from the manufacturers of the coarser and plain description of woollen goods, but not from the manufacturers of the finer sort of fabrics of worsted and cotton. He assured his right hon. Friend that, amongst the 300 manufacturers there were at least 100 (and he had heard the number stated as high as 150), who were engaged in the finer woollen fabrics, requiring the more costly machinery, who had petitioned for a ten hours' Bill. He had asked the hon. Member for Frome, where the most expensive clothes were manufactured, what was the case in the town which he represented, and with which his family was connected? The answer was—"We have all along restricted our labour to ten hours, without injury to the capitalist, without suffering to the labourer, and with benefit to both." These practical facts he put in contradiction to the distinction drawn by his right hon. Friend. It would be presumptuous to attempt to follow minutely the deliberate calculations of his right hon. Friend; but it deserved remark that they were founded upon the authority of one of the factory inspectors. Now he had consulted another factory inspector of equal ability and means of judging, and he found that that gentleman considered the calculations of his colleague entirely erroneous. Therefore, if the object were to frighten the Committee, by such calculations, from the Amendment before the House, he would venture to re-assure the Committee in its confidence, and, upon data quite as sound and satisfactory, contend that the anticipated results would not follow. Another point pressed by his right hon. Friend, with his usual weight, was, that the loss felt in the first instance by the capitalist would ere long fall upon the labourer. Upon this point he (Mr. Colquhoun) begged to direct the attention of hon. Members to the opinion of a practical manufacturer of Bradford, a district where the woollen trade was carried on to a great extent, and in the finer fabrics. This opinion was contained in a letter addressed to the hon. Member for Leeds; and so far from expecting that the abatement, if this Amendment were carried, would amount to 25 per cent., he had arrived at the conclusion, upon the most deliberate and well-informed calculations, that it would not be more than 2 per cent. But whatever that abatement might really amount to, it was quite clear that the operatives of Lancashire and Yorkshire had calmly and attentively considered it, and they said that they were willing to accept a smaller annual income, on condition that they were relieved from an excess of toil which deprived them and their families of the bloom, vivacity, and vigour of youth. They preferred 75l. or 79l. a year instead of 89l. or 93l., according to some hon. Members, be- cause, with the lesser sum, they would be allowed some hours of reasonable rest and enjoyment. Was the House then prepared to say, "We will condemn these men, women, and children to a degree of labour exceeding their strength, for the sake of an income exceeding their wants?" If the operatives were willing to forego smile of their comforts—to relinquish some of their simple luxuries, in order to avoid paleness in their children and premature age in themselves, was it for Parliament to assert that they should not be permitted to exercise a discretion—should not be allowed to relax from toil, but should be compelled to earn wages they did not demand? The interests of the operatives were linked with the fortunes and prosperity of England. He frankly confessed that in 1833 he had voted against the noble Lord; but after the experience of ten years, after the corroboration which the statements of the noble Lord Ltd since received from Mr. Horner and others, he was prepared to say that the arguments of the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department were not sound, and that our manufactures and commerce by a ten hours Bill would not be exposed to danger. If, after ten years' experience, Ministers laid upon the table such a Bill as that now under consideration, it seemed to him (Mr. Colquhoun) to afford a conclusive argument in favour of the Amendment of the noble Lord. The Bill fixed that the labour of females and children be limited to twelve hours; but in 1833 they shrunk even from that limitation, and yet it had been found that it might be adopted without danger to the operative, the manufacturer, or the trade of the Empire. When, according to the clearest evidence and to the analogy of other employments, ten hours' toil was fixed as the utmost of which human strength was capable, it required more than the baseless calculations of his right hon. Friend to show that an Amendment with that object ought to be rejected. He was satisfied that a result so necessary to humanity, peace, and social well-being would be attained by the Amendment, and for that reason he would vote in its favour.

Mr. Fielden

said, the speakers opposed to the proposal of his noble Friend (Lord Ashley), to substitute six for eight in the clause under discussion, had all uttered the old story, that ruin would succeed to our commerce and manufactures if the reduction of the hours of labour from twelve to ten per day in factories were enacted, that was, if the hours of work in factories were made conformable to the hours worked in most other branches of employment. He denied that any such consequences would follow such a step; nay, he went further, and maintained that the manufactures of the country would be rather suspended and those engaged in them ruined by a continuance of twelve hours' labour per day, than by a reduction of the hours to ten. He went further still, and would say that eight hours would be more preservative than ten, and that the factory system of employment would not be what the steam-engine ought to make it, if it was to benefit mankind, until its use, where masses of human beings had to accompany its motions, was restrained to eight hours a-day. The speakers opposed to his noble Friend's Amendment all expressed their sympathy for the hard lot of the factory workers, but said, there was no help for them; that their condition would be worse if their prayers for shorter hours of work were conceded. The cry of ruin to manufactures and commerce had always been raised when it was proposed to abridge this slavery; and yet though it had been abridged, manufactures and commerce had flourished under the abridgement, if increase of production, increase of commerce, and increase of mills and machinery are its indications. All the efforts to curtail the hours of labour in factories had been met by this cry, and all had been falsified by experience. In the case before the Committee an act of humanity and of justice was sought to be obtained for the factory worker, and the objection to it, in his opinion, was dictated more by love of mammon than of mercy or sound policy. The hon. Member for Manchester had said that the master manufacturers of that town, and the most intelligent of the factory-workers were opposed to any restriction of the hours of labour below twelve per day. Was that so? He had great confidence in the working men, and he had in his hand a copy of a petition presented to that House last July by thirty two delegates, which he would read to the Committee. It was— The petition of the Lancashire Factory Operatives, in delegate meeting assembled, humbly showeth, that your Petitioners, to the number of thirty-two, have met as delegates from the various factory districts within thirty miles of Manchester, to consider the provisions of the Factory Bill now before your honourable House. That your Petitioners submit to your honourable House that no Bill for the regulation of mills and factories will be efficient which does not prohibit all persons under twenty-one years of age from being worked more than ten hours in any one day, for five days in the week, and eight hours on the Saturday; and as it is desirable that an immediate abridgement of the hours of labour should be adopted, your Petitioners will not offer any resistance to any measure which provides for a reduction of the hours of labour. Your Petitioners humbly submit to your honourable House that they are resolved never to relax in their exertions until a ten hours' bill becomes the law of the land. That your Petitioners also submit to your honourable House, that as no child should be allowed to work in any such mill or factory until it has completed its tenth year, that your Petitioners implore your honourable House not to pass any law which would encourage or establish the working of relays of children against the adult workers in factories. Your Petitioners, therefore, pray your honourable House to pass such a Bill with as little delay as possible, arid your Petitioners will ever pray. Signed, on behalf of the Meeting, "THOMAS PITT, Chairman." That petition spoke for itself, it contradicted the assertion of the hon. Member for Manchester, as to the feeling of the factory workers, and he (Mr. Fielden) believed that it embodied the sentiments of the greater part of the working people in factories. The hon. Gentleman considered the commercial part of the question, which his noble Friend (Lord Ashley) did not go into, to be the most important part of it, and he referred to Mr. Senior and others, who went down to Manchester in 1836, and who, in March, 1837, wrote to Mr. Poulett Thomson, to the effect that if the hours were reduced by one per day, the net profits would be destroyed, and if by one hour-and-a-half the gross profit would be destroyed; but the hon. Gentleman omitted to tell the Committee that Mr. Senior had qualified his assertion; that he said, "If, therefore —prices remaining the same — the factory could be kept at work thirteen hours instead of eleven, by an addition of about 2,600l. to the circulating capital, the net profits 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—profits would be destroyed." The Committee and the hon. Gentleman must see that Mr. Senior's conclusions were all based on the supposition of prices remaining the same, and that, if prices did not remain the same, his conclusions were good for nothing. Without attempting to prove that prices would remain the same, the hon. Gentleman concluded that the longer hours system was, on Mr. Senior's authority, essential to gaining any profit, gaining profit was essential to the existence of manufactures, and that the existence of manufactures was essential to enable the manufacturing population to gain their bread—conclusions that were incorrect unless it be true that prices would remain the same. But the hon. Member ought to have seen the incorrectness of these conclusions, for he said that, if the ten hours instead of the twelve hours was enacted, the production of manufactures would be diminished 20 per cent. He denied that they would be diminished by anything like that extent; but suppose they were diminished one-fifth, that is, suppose there were one-fifth less of goods manufactured, then, if there be any truth in the position so often maintained by the hon. Gentleman himself, and so often heard in Parliament, that prices depend on supply and demand, prices would rise; and, if the supply of goods, when lessened by one-fifth, was not adequate to the demand, manufacturing establishments would be increased, more people would be employed, and the demand for them would be greater. This would cause a rise in their wages, and increase their powers of consumption. As to the feeling of the master-manufacturers in regard to a ten hours' Bill, he received last year seven petitions from master spinners and manufacturers of Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Todmorden, Huddersfield, and their vicinities, alleging the importance and necessity of a ten hours' Bill, and praying the House to pass one limiting the labour of all between the ages of thirteen and twenty-one to ten hours a day for five days in a week, and eight hours on Saturdays. These petitions contained one hundred and ninety signatures, many of them being men whom he knew, and also knew were amongst the largest consumers of cotton in the kingdom. They anticipated no evil consequence resulting from such a measure, but, on the contrary, declared it to be their decided opinion that it would confer a great benefit not only on the working classes, but also on their employers and on the public; and amongst the names to these petitions was that of Mr. Jacob Bright, the father of the hon. Member for Durham, and of his brother, Mr. Thomas Bright. That the feeling in favour of a ten hours' Bill was rapidly on the increase he had no doubt. There was no "bit of a Parliament" now in Palace-yard, as in 1838, to oppose such a measure, therefore, those formerly opposed to it were at least quiescent, and the number of those in favour of it was increasing and was speaking out. He (Mr. Fielden) would call the attention of the Committee to a few extracts from a little pamphlet sent to him on the subject, entitled "Inventions and Hours of Labour," by William Kenworthy, dated Brookhouse-mills, Blackburn, Nov. 19, 1842. Mr. Kenworthy was partner with Mr. Hornby, of Blackburn, a brother of the hon. Member for that borough, in a cotton-spinning establishment, where, he believed, about 1,500 hands were employed. He was a practical man, and his opinions were entitled to great weight. Mr. Ken-worthy said:— Englishmen are proverbially industrious; they cannot live in a state of idleness; yet occupation is wanted by a great number of hands who are willing and able to work; and this state of things exists, too, in the face of the lamentations of suffering thousands, who cry out, with all their voice, for relief and relaxation from excessive and too greatly prolonged labour in the noxious and contaminating atmosphere of our manufactories. The question has oftentimes been asked, What is to be the antidote to the evils of invention?' The answer is plain and self-evident, viz., give shorter hours of labour to those at present employed, and we should then soon be enabled to find work for those who are idle. It may be said that shorter hours would necessarily increase the cost of the manufactured articles (the net weekly wages remaining as at present), and that thereby we should not be able to compete with foreigners. Let us not entertain such puerile notions; but let us rather fairly discuss and investigate the subject. The question will have naturally arisen—are the work-people to receive the same wages for ten-and-a-half hours labour per day as for twelve? To this we may reply, that the price of labour like all other commodities, is regulated by the supply and demand; and therefore labour, it may be said, will regulate itself; and, as shorter time will employ more hands, there is no reason to suppose that the price of labour would be lower. Let us suppose that, under the regulation which I now suggest, wages should remain as they now are, that is, that the same net amount of wages be paid for sixty hours as for sixty nine; and let us then ascertain the difference which would be made in spinning a pound of yarn, or in manufacturing a piece of calico. The cost of spinning a pound of cotton into yarn is now reduced to an almost incredibly low rate. Thirty-six's maybe said to constitute the principal count for manufacturing shirting, printing cloths, &c., in this country; and it is well known that the cost of carding, preparing, roving, and spinning this count, including all wages, is reduced to about 1¼d. per pound, The expense, interest, of capital, wear and tear, depreciation of machinery, &c., will amount to the same sum, making the net cost of spinning 36's amount to the enormous sum of 2½1d.! Many old concerns may not be able to spin at so low a rate; but, if we affix the amount at 3d., it will be within the reach of all. Therefore, if this he the rate of cost for 69 hours' labour and wages, interest, wear and tear, &c., are to remain the same for 60 hours as for 69, the cost must necessarily he increased in the same ratio that time is diminished; that is, the cost will be increased from 60 to 69—say 1–6th more. But the amount of wear and tear, oil, gas, &c., will be lessened in the same proportion. Taking these circumstances into consideration, we may safely assume that ⅜d. per lb. will amply suffice for the difference in the cost caused by the adoption of short time. Again, a piece of good 9–8 66 36 inch cloth, of 25 yards, can be manufactured for 20d., including all wages, interest, wear and tear, depreciation, &c.; and, if the amount of wages and expenses is to remain the same under the system of working shorter time, we must add 1–16th, or say 3½d., to the cost: but, as before, the cost of power, oil, gas, wear and tear, &c., will be proportionably lessened; so that, if we say 3d. per piece more, we shall find it fully adequate to cover the increased cost of manufacture. Now, the cost of the yarn, as previously shown, would be ⅜d. per lb. more than at present; and, as this description of cloth requires about 51b, of yarn to the piece, the whole increase of cost would therefore be—on 51b. of yarn, at ⅜d., 1⅞d.; on 25 yards of cloth at 3d.,d. Let us, however, assume 5d. as the increased cost on the manufacture of 25 yards of cloth, which is less than ¼d. per yard. Therefore, the difference of ⅜d. per lb. on yarn, or ¼d. per yard on cloth, is the mighty difficulty that we have to overcome, in order to afford to our factory hands that respite from physical toil which is so imperatively demanded, and to save our country from ruin by foreign competition! How abominably absurd and inconsistent it is that the suffering thousands, who have so often called and patiently waited for the redress of their grievances, should have their miseries protracted under the delusive notion of the dangers arising from foreign competition! Are we so near ruin, that an advance of one farthing per yard on our cotton cloth would irrevocably seal our fate? If so, how important an element of national prosperity, is the labour of these poor people! How praiseworthy is their exemplary patience under their complicated sufferings! But we are all conscious of, and daily experience, fluctuations in our cotton and cloth markets; and these often make a much greater difference in the cost of goods than that to which we have already adverted, as consequent upon a reduction in the period of labour. These fluctuations may be caused by speculations—by fabulous reports respecting the cotton crops—and by many other com- binations of circumstances; still, not a word is said about being ruined by foreign competition on these accounts. To effect this object, Mr. Kenworthy says this:— To master cotton spinners, manufacturers, and millowners in general. As a commencement, let us unite, and with one voice, pray the Legislature for an Act fixing the maximum period of labour in our establishments at 60 hours per week, or at ten hours and a half per day from Monday to Friday inclusive, and seven hours and a half on the Saturday. By such an enactment those now unemployed would be placed in a position to procure an honourable and comfortable livelihood—cheerfulness and contentrnent would be restored to the domestic hearth—and with the enjoyment of an extended system of religious and secular instruction, a decided moral and intellectual improvement would he soon manifested in every manufacturing town throughout the land. Ho thought he had now shown that the feeling of the masters and of the workmen was not faithfully described by the hon. Member for Manchester, and that a great many of those masters, with the writer of that pamphlet and himself, had no fear of the evil consequence of doing an act of humanity, which purely individual interest should not be allowed to frustrate. As for the hon. Member for Durham, nearly the whole of his speech consisted of what he thought an attack on his noble Friend (Lord Ashley), and the other parts of his speech, if they proved anything, went to show, that the comforts of those engaged in the cotton manufacture were such, that if a ten hours' Bill be conceded, and a reduction in the wages followed equal to the reduction in the hours of work, they would not be subjected to any hardship thereby, for he stated that their style of comfort was higher than that of any other class of work-people—that they were the highest paid. The hon. Member for Durham had stated, that the noble Lord (Lord Ashley) was completely deluded with respect to the state of the manufacturing districts, and that he took a one-sided view of the question, a view not borne out by the Reports of the Factory Inspectors. He was convinced that his noble Friend was not deluded, and he would take an instance to show that the delusion was on the side of the hon. Member for Durham, according to the showing of a Factory Inspector. Speaking of accidents that occurred in factories, the hon. Member attempted to impress upon the House a belief that five times as many occurred to carters as occurred by the machinery in mills, and amongst others, he alluded to the district of Stockport. In the Factory Commission which sat in 1840, the subject of accidents at Stockport was inquired into, and Mr. Trimmer, Sub-Inspector of Factories under Mr. Howell, in answer to a question on the matter, said:— I can give a return from the Stockport Infirmary. I have taken some pains in collecting for the last three years from the books of the Stockport Infirmary the number of factory accidents. The number of accidents from March, 1837, to March, 1838, in Stockport, was 120; from 1838 to 1839,134; from March, 1839, to February,1840,86 accidents; out of which 36 were owing to their being caught, whilst cleaning the machinery, the machinery being in motion at the time. In the report of the Stockport Infirmary for the last year, there is the following passage:—'The Committee cannot conclude their report without stating a fact which has painfully impressed their minds during the past year; they refer to the manner in which accidents generally occur in our cotton-mills. Almost all the accidents that have come under the notice of the Committee, have happened in consequence of the cleaning of machinery while it is in motion. It is earnestly hoped, that the owners and managers of our manufactories will adopt effectual means for the discontinuance of so dangerous a practice.' The practice has not been discontinued, because in the following year, when the cotton-trade was very bad, there were thirty-six accidents in Stockport, owing to cleaning machinery while in motion. Mr. Trimmer was asked if he could give information of the character of the accidents? His answer was,— In some instances they have thrown the people wholly out of employment. They have lost their limbs, or their hands. In cases of childen they have lost two or three fingers. He was asked,— Are you aware of any accidents of the kind in which the millowner has maintained the person, and endeavoured to make every reparation in his power? His answer was,— I have heard of cases where they have given them a little money to buy a horse to go about with sand." "Have they also, during their illness, allowed them part of their wages?" — In one instance where a girl was caught by the hair, and scalped from the nose to the back of the head, the manufacturer gave her 5l. She died in the workhouse." "Don't you think that little children are exposed to a very great hazard, particularly female children with their flowing garments, in going round from one part of the mill to another?"—I think they are. There was a case occurred very recently at Stockport, where a girl was carried by her clothing round an upright shaft. Her thighs were broken, her ancle dislocated, and she will be a cripple for life. He was asked,— What do you think would have been the cost of boxing off that shaft? His answer is, — A few shillings." "Would that have acted as an impediment to the due working of the machinery?"—"No. Thus he had shown, that the hon. Member for Durham himself was deluded, at any rate so far as regarded Stockport. The right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) had told the Committee that he would give his decided opposition to the proposition of the noble Lord, not on the ground that the noble Lord asked for anything unreasonable, for the right hon. Gentleman declared that his feelings were with the noble Lord; but (and it surprised him to hear it) because the noble Lord's proposition would lay the axe to the root of the tree of the commercial greatness of this country; that to restrict the labour of females and young persons in factories to ten hours in the day would destroy the commerce of this great and civilised country. He was ashamed to hear this declaration from an English Minister of the Crown. He almost wished the declaration might not pass beyond those walls. Was it come to this? Did the greatness of England depend on suffering a continuance of the misery, cruelty, and depravity that the noble Lord had laid bare to the House in that debate? If so, he wondered the right hon. Gentleman could talk of the civilization or the greatness of our country. Surely the picture that the noble Lord had drawn was a picture of barbarism and decay. But the right hon. Baronet was much mistaken. He could assure him that no such consequences as he anticipated could result from acceding to the noble Lord's proposal. He had looked into the commercial and manufacturing results of the Acts to abridge factory labour step by step; and he found that increase of manufacture and commerce had always followed restriction, though that restriction had always met with the same opposition in the same terms as the present proposal. He would give figures to prove it. In 1819, when the labour of children in factories was reduced by Sir Robert Peel's Act to seventy-two hours a-week, the consump- tion of cotton was 109,000,000 lbs. In 1831, when the hours were reduced to sixty-nine hours a week, the consumption of cotton was 262,000,0001bs. In 1833, when the labour of children under thirteen was reduced to forty-eight hours a week, the consumption of cotton was 287,000,0001bs. In 1840, the consumption of cotton had increased to 458,000,000 lbs.; and, in the last year, the consumption had increased still more. The increase of power for turning machinery between 1835 and 1841 was 53½ per cent.; and the increase in the number of hands employed in the same period was 21 per cent. Those facts spoke for themselves, and they proved that the right hon. Baronet's argument was untenable. The right hon. Baronet had referred to a statement of his relative as to the distance travelled in twelve hours by male piecers, and he rebuked the noble Lord for having named thirty-seven miles, the calculation of a mathematician; but his noble Friend had given the extremes of that calculation, and had contended for the average. He (Mr. Fielden) had examined the matter for himself, and had been satisfied that the distance he named was correct, that was twenty miles in the twelve hours. This he still maintained, though Mr. Greg had arrived at a different result, as was said by the hon. Member for Manchester. The distance was one mile and two-thirds per hour, and a common observer, seeing one of the piecers at work, would not think he travelled a less distance in twelve hours; but was not the bare fact of their being on their legs for that period daily enough to convince any one that their labour was irksome and excessive? The right hon. Baronet had told the House, on a former occasion, that we owed an eternal debt of gratitude to the working people, and even on that occasion be said, that he reluctantly opposed the Amendment. His decided opposition to that humane proposal was a singular method of showing his gratitude. He (Mr. Fielden) trusted that the House would not be influenced by the right hon. Baronet's example, but that they would imitate the noble Lord, the Member for South Lancashire (Lord F. Egerton), the noble Lord, the Member for Liverpool (Lord Sandon), the noble Lord, the Member for Sutherland (Lord Howick), to all of whom he (Mr. Fielden) returned his sincere thanks for the support they had given to his noble Friend, whose steady perseverance in trying to lessen the hours of toil endured in factories entitled him to the thanks of his country, and be had great pleasure in supporting the Amendment.

Sir R. Peel

I think the Committee will be disposed to give credit to Her Majesty's Government for the motives which have induced them to adhere to the proposition of my right hon. Friend, and to offer their decided opposition to the proposition of my noble Friend. Of any personal interest in so doing, I apprehend that we shall not be accused, and with respect to party interests, if we wished to consult those interests we should have taken a different course. It is impossible not to feel that we are on this question allied to those who have generally offered to us upon principle the most decided opposition, and that we are opposed on the other hand, to those who have given the present Government a general and almost unvarying support. But there are occasions when it is the duty of a Government at all hazards to oppose measures which it believes to be inconsistent with the permanent interests of the country. It is the first duty of a Government to overcome the temptation of obtaining temporary party support, and of conciliating party favour by acquiescing in a proposition which it conscientiously believes to be injurious to the permanent interests of the country. And influenced by that motive, and by that motive alone, we now discharge the duty of the Executive Government, and oppose ourselves to the wishes of men whom we highly respect; but whose wishes we believe would, if complied with, be highly injurious to those by whom this measure is urged, and for whose benefit it is intended. There are, or at least there were, until the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Fielden) spoke, only two propositions before the Committee—namely, the proposition made by Her Majesty's Government, which imposes restrictions upon the labour of children, which gives new facilities for education to those who have not the power of protecting themselves, and which also arrests the evil, where we find it, of the employment of female labour, prohibiting their employment in factories for more than twelve hours a day, but which imposes no restrictions whatever upon that which is the practical rule as to the employment of adults—granting twelve hours a day to be the rule as regards adults—that is in no respect interfered with by our proposition for preventing the extension of the evil, by preventing women being employed more than twelve hours a day. The counter proposition is, that we shall impose restrictions, nominally and theoretically, upon the labour of females and children, but practically and universally, that we shall prevent the labour of male adults, even with their own consent, for a longer period than ten hours. ["Oh, oh!"] The hon. Member who spoke last says, that proposition rests with no principle of humanity. I admit, in some respects, that the debate does not turn upon principle. We admit by our proposition the policy of restricting female labour, and of giving facilities to the education of children. But we do not interfere with adult labour. My noble Friend proposes to interfere with adult labour, but he by no means carries his interference so far as the hon. Gentleman opposite. The hon. Gentleman says there is no reason for ten hours; eight hours is a period which we ought to fix upon for the labour of adults and children, and therefore, there would be nothing to prevent hon. Gentlemen, if the ten hours' labour bill failed, from agitating for eight. The hon. Gentleman is a great authority on the question — he is practically acquainted with labour, and he says the time ought to be eight hours instead of ten. The day, he says, is divided by philosophers into three periods—eight hours for labour, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for sleep; and he would have us carry out by our laws that division of the day. If the hon. Gentleman be right he would leave ample time for the mother to attend to her domestic duties, and so far he has some argument in favour of his restriction, besides that natural one arising from the division of the day. The hon. Gentleman thinks that no good will be effected for the labourer, in consequence of the rapid improvements in machinery, unless eight hours be the time adopted in this Bill. But I do not think it necessary that I should now discuss the proposal of the hon. Gentleman; and it will be my duty to argue between the proposal for ten hours and the proposal for twelve hours. Let us first, then, consider to what extent the restriction of the noble Lord is to apply. The proposal of the noble Lord is, to apply to all labour in cotton, in wool, in worsted, in flax, and in silk. Now, the fact is, that at present, and for the last forty years, whenever there has been a demand for those articles, the time of labour has been sixty-nine hours a week. That is now the number of working hours in almost all factories, with the exception of certain branches of the woollen manufacture. [Mr. Hindley: The time does not exceed sixty-nine hours.] That is what I have said. The time is now sixty-nine hours by the law; and I believe that the universal practice is to work sixty-nine hours a week in the cotton manufactures, worsted manufactures, flax and silk manufactures. There are, however, I believe, some woollen manufactures in which the work is continued for a lesser number of hours; and I have reason to think that the same thing occasionally occurs in certain silk manufactures. But the general practice is to work sixty-nine hours a-week; that is to say, twelve hours on the first five days, and nine hours only on Saturdays. My noble Friend does not wish to alter the present arrangement with respect to Saturdays. But he proposes that there should be two hours less of labour on each of the other days, or ten hours less in the week; so that we should have fifty-nine hours instead of sixty-nine hours a-week of labour in those great branches of our manufactures, the cotton, the woollen, the linen, and the flax trades. I have seen the last returns of our foreign trade, which show the declared value of the principal articles of British produce and manufacture exported in the last year; and, if I recollect rightly, the value was about 44,000,000l. for the principle articles. And what proportion do you suppose that the value of the articles you are now about to deal with bears to the whole amount of 44,000,000l. The value of your cotton manufacture, including yarns, amounts to 23,500,000l.; the value of your linen manufactures amounts to 3,700,000l.; the value of your silk manufactures amounts to about 664,000l.; and the value of your woollen manufactures amounts to about 7,500,000l.; making a total of 35,000,000l. out of the 44,000,000l. of British manufactures exported, or five-sixths of the whole. So that by the proposal of my noble Friend, five-sixths of the exported manufactures of this country will be subjected to a new law, which is to provide that it shall not be legal to labour at them for more than fifty-nine hours, instead of sixty-nine hours, a week. Now, to what extent would that proposal go? There are about 304 to 306 working days in the year; but I shall take the number at 300, in order to facilitate the calculation which I am about to make. The Saturday is to remain untouched, so that the proposal of my noble Friend would extend to 250 days a year, which, at the rate of two hours a day, would make 500 hours a year, which my noble Friend would take from the time now devoted to manufacturing labour. Those 500 hours would be equivalent to seven weeks; and the result of the proposal would therefore be, that in all cotton, linen, silk, and woollen factories, there would be seven weeks a year less labour than at present. In point of time that is the effect. Your manufacturers, in their several branches exporting 35,000,000l. out of 44,000,000l. a year, are to enter under your new law into a competition with foreign manufacturers, and you are to enforce upon them the necessity of working seven weeks less in the year than at present. And what says the hon. Gentleman, the Member for Oldham? He says, that by the Act which we passed last Session for permitting the export of machinery we gave additional advantages to our foreign rivals in competing with our manufacturers. The hon. Gentleman has told us that our machinery is now exported, and that our mechanics and artizans are going abroad. Those are advantages which our foreign competitors possess. The hon. Gentleman does not propose to repeal the Act which permitted the exportation of our machinery. [Mr. Hindley: I objected to that Act.] You objected to it; and you are a great authority, I dare say, but there is a majority of both Houses of Parliament in favour of the Act, and it will be no consolation to the manufacturers who suffer from this competition, to be told that the hon. Gentleman is opposed to the exportation of machinery, unless he can prevail on Parliament to alter the law. The hon. Gentleman says that the wages of workmen would not be less if the hours of labour were limited, because there would be a rise in the price of manufactured articles. Why that certainly would be the natural consequence of restricting the hours of labour and reducing the quantity produced. The amount of manufactured produce would be diminished, prices would rise, and the manufacturers would it is supposed be able to give the same rate of wages. But how long would that be the case? By the system which it is proposed that we should pursue, we should give the foreign manufacturer an evident advantage. His material will not be increased in price, and he will come into competition with you, having all the advantages of your machinery when you have raised the price of your manufactures; he will take advantage of that, and you will suffer in the neutral markets, without the power of compensating yourselves for that increased cost. Suppose the cost of the articles is increased—suppose the establishments are extended—how long does the hon. Gentleman think the master manufacturers—the owners of the existing establishments, will be enabled to give the same rate of wages to their workmen? The rise of price may induce new competition, but when that new competition has come into existence, in one or two years, does the hon. Member think the masters will continue to give increased wages? The hon. Gentleman says the manufacturers will he inclined to take advantage of circumstances, and reduce wages to the lowest point. I am not of that opinion. But do you think that they will not try to maintain their profits at the expellee of the workman? Is it possible that under your new enactment for ten hours labour, the same rate of wages should be given as with a twelve hours' Bill? You do not give the same equivalent. Twelve hours' labour have a certain value, and you say the workman shall not have the option of giving more than ten hours. Would it not, then, be repugnant to common sense to suppose—speaking comprehensively—after the lapse of a few months, there being this competition, and the profits on account of foreign rivalry being extremely small, that the master manufacturer will not struggle for the maintenance of his profits, and try to obtain compensation for reduced time of labour, by falling on the workman? Depend upon it, it must be so. The sufferers in this case must be the workmen, who have to give a less amount of the commodity which is that in which they traffic—namely, their labour, than they gave before. If I could think that this would add to the comforts of the workmen, I should be disposed, I think, to relax the strict rules of political economy; but when I heard, the other night, the account which the hon. Member for Durham gave of the position of the workmen with whom he is connected —when he stated—and I presume he would not state facts, which if not perfectly true would be so easily capable of contradiction—when I heard him giving instances of workmen earning 91l. a year in the enjoyment of comforts—who, he said, he feared to ask whether they received parish relief, because it would have been an insult—when I hear that such is the position of the working masses in this country, I must pause before I give my consent to a measure which is to have the effect of mulcting them of a great part of the wages which they now receive. It is said that we are not to take foreign competition into account. I am told that this is not to be viewed as a commercial question. I am told that it is a question between mammon and mercy. I am to disregard the effect which legislation will have upon the commerce of this country, Why, Sir, if I could separate the two considerations—if the alternative were offered to me of pecuniary gain on the one hand, and the comfort and welfare of the labourer on the other, I should at once decide for the latter; but when we look to the commerce of this country, and the interests bound up with it, it is my duty as a legislator to take that commerce into consideration. Look at the amount of capital expended on the faith of existing laws in cotton manufactures alone—the thousands and tens of thousands congregated together and dependent on them for their support; and look at the consequences which must ensue to these people —not from severe labour, but from the depression of manufacturing prosperity, from the absence of demand for labour. I never shall forget as long I live the situation of Paisley in 1841 and 1842, with 15,000 or 16,000 men out of employ, offering their labour without the means of obtaining an equivalent for it, and depending on charity for support. Did I not see that with a depressed commerce there is an addition to the material sufferings of the people of this country infinitely greater than could be produced by twelve, thirteen, or fourteen hours of the severest labour? I do not underrate the effects of exacting a great amount of labour and if my wishes could prevail I would have women employed in labour only eight hours a day. The question, however, does not depend on our wishes and feelings of humanity. It is an entirely different question what I wish and what it is desirable to attempt to effect by means of peremptory enactments. Therefore, when I say I must consider the commercial view of the subject, it is not by placing the commercial gain in contrast with the comforts of the people; but I say that hundreds and thousands are dependent for food upon the prosperity of our commerce, and if any particular measure tends to increase foreign competition and to strike a blow at the permanent prosperity of these great branches of industry, I shall rue, when it is too late, the injury I shall have inflicted upon the working classes of this country by assenting to it. Therefore I repeat that it is utterly impossible I should disregard commerce, and consider humanity and morality alone. It is said, that those who advocate ten hours a day ask only to establish in these great branches of manufacture an equilibrium of labour, similar to that in other branches of employment, where, it is said, ten hours a day is the number. That is the truth with respect to some branches of agricultural labour. At some periods of the year, women certainly do not work in the field more than ten hours; but I think that depends rather on the circumstance that that particular kind of labour cannot be carried on at night, than on any forbearance on the part of employers; because, during the hay and corn harvest more than ten hours' labour are exacted. Should we be content with a law which prescribed ten hours as the period of agricultural labour at all times of the year, in spring and in harvest time? I apprehend such a law would be deemed a severe restriction on agricultural labour; see what would be the effect of such a restriction on cotton spinners. For four years there has been great depression in that trade, the millowner, however, partly from a sense of his own interest hereafter, and partly from humanity has continued his mill at work by which he has been losing money. It is necessary that he should do so or his machinery would get out of repair. He submits to the loss partly in order to give employment to those in his immediate neighbourhood, and partly in the hope that better times will return. A demand for labour follows, with it an opportunity for the master and the man to make up their losses; but your law interposes, you say "when there is a period of depression, I expect you to continue your machinery at work, although it may be unproductive of profit— pay low wages, just sufficient to support life and keep the labourer from starvation —but when a demand for labour arrives, I will make it impossible either for master or man to make up for lost time, or go beyond a certain amount of profit which my law fixes." I doubt the justice of such an enactment; I doubt whether it is for the advantage of the manufacturer, and I am sure it is not for the advantage of the man and his family, who by this interposition finds 30 or 25 per cent. taken from the 91l. a year, which but for that law he might have earned. What is this but levying a tax of 15 or 25 per cent. on capital and labour. I call upon the House to recollect what was thought of an imposition of 3 per cent., and to compare this with a permanent imposition of even 15 per cent, on the profit of capital and the wages of labour. I doubt whether the workmen do not cherish the hope that this restriction will not in its effects fall on them, but I believe the loss to the manufacturer will be much less than to the labourers, for the former will be able to obtain compensation by making reductions; but I doubt whether, by restricting the hours of labour, you will give the workman an equivalent for the loss of 15 per cent. You are going to apply this restriction to certain branches of labour, which are at your mercy, because they are congregated in large factories, and brought under your eye. I am now speaking on the assumption that this limitation is not necessary to be equally applied to other branches of industry; but never was assumption more erroneous. There are great branches of industry as to which greater necessity exists for interference than in the cotton manufacture. We should perhaps interfere there, but we cannot. "Why should we not," it is said, "notwithstanding, correct an evil which is tangible, and as to which we can apply a remedy, because there is another which we cannot? Let us restrict labour where we can apply our laws; at any rate, we do no harm if we leave untouched other departments of industry as to which we have no facilities for legislation." That is not a well-founded argument. After I have applied restrictions to one species of capital invested in a description of labour, I do not leave matters where I found them. I give a premium on that labour which I leave unrestricted; and I disturb the application of capital by subjecting capital applied to manufactures to peculiar and special restrictions, and by giving a premium on the application of capital to those employments which are not fettered by such legislation. What are those descriptions of employment I leave untouched by such legislation? Agriculture I put out of the question. It is said I cannot touch agricultural labour. I must say, however, that if I could carry my own wishes into effect I would prohibit a great deal of agricultural work carried on by women through the middle of winter, without reference to the inclemency of the weather. That women should be working from 8 to 10 hours, with no opportunity to change their raiment upon occasions, is surely sufficient reason for me to desire to protect them, and, if I could, to leave them to domestic engagements; and certainly, if I could by a wish effect this without injuring other interests, I should be disposed to do so. But I speak of labour employed in agriculture. I am going to restrict one species and to leave untouched another. What is the other species? Is it some small and unimportant department of employment? No. It includes the metal manufacture, the ironmongery, the japan, the tin wire, the screw, the nail, the pin-manufacture, everything passing under the name of Sheffield or Birmingham ware; earthenware, porcelain, glass, lace, hosiery, calico printing, bleaching and dying, paper-manufacture, rope and twine-making, leather glove-making, steel-plating, and, above all, dress-making and needlework. I am not going to touch these departments of industry. I am going to leave to the master in these manufactures the unfettered right to employ women and children at whatever period he pleases. Now I wish you could read the Report of the Commissioners on the employment of children in several branches of trade and manufactures, which has been laid on the Table within the last two years. By adopting this proposition, the House could only hold out a new inducement to give employment to women and children in other branches of trade and manufactures in contradistinction of the cotton manufacture. The Commissioners in their Report state: That in a very large proportion of these trades and manufactures female children are employed equally with boys, and at the same tender ages; in some, indeed, the number of girls exceeds that of boys; and in a few cases the work, as far as it is performed by those under adult age, is carried on almost entirely by girls and young women. Now I dare to say, that a great number of Gentlemen who hear me are not aware of the number of women and children engaged in some particular branches of manufacture, which it is generally supposed are chiefly carried on by men. This has struck me as being particularly the case in the manufactures of metal. One of the Sub-Commissioners said, I saw in some manufactories women employed in roost laborious work, such as stamping buttons and brass nails, and notching the heads of screws. These are certainly unfit operations for women. In screw manufactories the females constitute from 80 to 90 per cent. of the whole number employed. Thus:—Mr. James James, screw manufacturer states, that he employs about sixty men and 300 females. In the screw manufactory of Messrs. J. Hawkins and Co. there are thirty men and 102 women. Mr. S. Henn, foreman, of Messrs. F. H. Hyland and Co., screw-manufacturers, states that he has been in the screw-manufactory all his life; that in screw-making few children are employed—not more than 5 in 100. That the great majority of the work people are females, as many as 90 per cent.; and that some girls came as young as thirteen or fourteen, but generally from sixteen to twenty-three or twenty-four: Again, it appears that the number of females engaged in the manufacture of earthenware is very great. It is stated in the Report, From the returns received from Staffordshire it appears that, of the total number of workpeople employed in the principal establishments, the females above twenty-one years of age are considerably more than one-third; between twenty-one and thirteen, the number of the females nearly equals that of the males; and under thirteen the number of the girls is much more than one-half that of the boys; the exact proportions being, above twenty-one years of age, females 2,648, males 4,544; between twenty-one and thirteen, females 1,736, males 1,979; and under thirteen, females 522, males 978. Why do I quote these things? Because I wish to show you that it is impossible to stop in your legislation; that there is at least the same necessity, that there is a much greater necessity for your interference in respect to other branches of manufactures, than in the case of cotton factories; that if you stop at factories, you are giving encouragement to other branches of manufactures, which are not to be so protected; and if you do not stop there, I advise you to contemplate the extent of your legislation, if we are to undertake the regulation of all labour in respect to which females are employed and in which excessive tasks are required. Take a branch of manufactures closely allied with the cotton —that of calico-printing, or take the earthenware manufacture, as to both of which there is abundant information as to the employment of women and children in those departments of manufacture. With respect particularly to the manufacture of plates and saucers, in the Report of the Commissioners to which I have just referred, is this statement: But the children most to be commiserated are those called 'jiggers and mould-runners,' who are employed by the dish, saucer, and plate makers. Each man employs two boys, one to turn the jigger or horizontal wheel, the other to carry the ware from the whirler to the hot-house on moulds. The children thus employed constantly work in a temperature ranging from 100 to 130 degrees. A man frequently makes eight score dozen saucers in a week, each dozen counting thirty-six pieces; each piece is carried twice to the hot-house, and weighs, mould and bat, 2lbs.; but as two pieces are carried at the same time, they count but as one; that is to say, 4lbs. each trip. A child carries in the week, reckoning his working hours at 7,223,0401bs., or 3,840 lbs. each day. In carrying this weight he journeys 45 miles 1,440 yards every week, or seven miles, 1,120 yards per day. Besides this, he has to mount one, two, or three steps to place the pieces on the shelves, to wedge the clay in the yard, while his master is taking his pipe or his pot; to collect the half-dried pieces from the shelves; to come half an hour or more before his master in the morning to get coals in and ashes out, and to sweep and make the room ready, and to do anything else that may be wanted, having probably to walk a mile before and after his work. Such is the nature of the employment in a particular branch of the earthenware manufacture, in which large numbers of females and children are engaged. Now, hon. Gentlemen ask what are the hours of work? The Report states that the hours of work in the earthenware manufactories are seldom less than twelve, and that, at the end of the week, in plate making, the work lasts from six in the morning until nine at night, which makes fifteen hours, and that it very often extends from seventeen to eighteen hours out of the twenty-four. I ask, then, whether the House will only interfere with the cotton manufacturer, and leave earthenware and calico printing in the same state as at present. If I had not seen the statements in this Report, resting on such high authority, I never could have believed it possible that in this country there were human beings who had to undergo such a continuance of human labour as is exacted from those who are engaged in calico printing. In the report from which I have already quoted, it is stated in the evidence of Thomas Sidbread, block-printer, that after taking a child who had already been at work all day to assist him as a teerer through the night, says:— We began to work between eight and nine o'clock on the Wednesday night; but the boy had been sweeping the shop from Wednesday morning. You will scarcely believe it, but it is true—I never left the shop till six o'clock on the Saturday morning, and I had never stopped working all that time, excepting for an hour or two, and that boy with me all the time. I was knocked up, and the boy was almost insensible; if I stopped a minute, be was fast asleep in a moment. On the Friday I was printing a piece, and the block did not exactly fit the pattern, so I sent the boy to fasten the piece to a post at the other end of the room, that I might stretch it; he was so sleepy that he took the piece across where the other men were working, which he would never have done if he had been properly awake. However, be fell asleep in the act of doing this, and let go his hold of the end of the piece when I was leaning my weight upon it, and I fell down an open staircase which was at my back, and hurt myself very much. I did not recover it for some time. This child's parents neglected to give him food, and the people I lodged with had not taken care to prepare me enough, so we were obliged to go without food from dinner-time one day until breakfast the next day, as I dared not send the boy for any food, as I was afraid he would give me the slip and run away, and I could not get another; so we both went without food all that time. They worked regularly very long hours; it was quite a regular thing with them. There were men there, and children too, who came on a Monday morning and stayed till Saturday night, slept and ate their food there. Again, Henry Richardson, block-printer states: — At four o'clock I began to work, and worked all that day, all the next night, and until ten o'clock the following day. I had only one teerer during that time, and I dare say he would be about twelve years old. I had to shout to him towards the second night, as he got sleepy. I had one of my own children, about ten years old, who was a teerer. He worked with me at Messrs. Wilson and Crichton's, at Blakeley. We began to work together about two or three in the morning, and left off at four or five in the afternoon. Once I remember going on a Friday morning at two o'clock, working all Friday and Friday night, and until twelve o'clock on Saturday. On Saturday night I sent the child to bed about seven o'clock; the next morning, when the other children got up, I told them to let him lie still a bit, as he had had so little rest during the week. We never disturbed him at breakfast time, and when we returned from chapel at noon he was still asleep, and slept during dinner time. About five o'clock in the afternoon, when I came home from the school, I was alarmed at finding him still asleep, and wakened him; but I believe if I had not done so he would have slept until Monday morning. I have known children made ill by working too long hours. The boy that worked for me at the Ade1phi was sometimes unable to come to his work from being sick with overworking; and I have known him give another lad his supper to take a night's turn for him; and he often had no appetite of his own. Robert Kellatt, block printer, said;— I remember, either in August or September last, I started at six o'clock one morning, and it was one o'clock the following morning, when I went out of the shop; as I was going out, the foreman called me back, and ordered me to return by six o'clock. I came again at six in the morning, after being away five hours, and worked until nine o'clock at night, when the foreman came again to me to see if I could make it convenient to be back again that twelve o'clock at night; but I did not go, as I considered it rather unfeeling in them to expect me to do so, for my own child had worked with me all those hours, and she was but eleven years old.—Did any of the men who were working with you return at twelve o'clock? Yes, there were three men; but they had not been employing their own children as teerers, and they came back at twelve, and worked till twelve the next day. Let hon. Members read these and other descriptions of the occupation of persons engaged in the metal trade, the earthenware manufacture, calico printing, lace manufacture, and the hosiery trade, and above all, read in this Report, the account of the nature of the occupation of the dress-makers and milliners in this metropolis, and then ask themselves if these trades do not as much call for the intervention of Parliament as the cotton manufacture? Is it right then, to deal only with this one branch of industry, and leave others altogether untouched, in which it appears that female children work fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, or even as much as eighteen hours a day? If you are prepared to legislate for them [Hear],—you are then prepared to legislate for them; and we are about to subject, not factory labour merely, but all labour in this country that falls at all within the same principle, to similar restrictions. We are not merely to interdict the employment of women in mines and collieries, but we are about to provide regulations which shall apply to children and which ought to apply to adults, in respect to all descriptions of labour where we think it is more severe than the human frame ought to be subjected to. This principle I certainly understand. If this then, be only the commencement of the work, I cannot make any an objection to it as being an unjust interference with particular classes of labour; but if, as it seems now the impression—and perhaps the just one—that the imposition of these restrictions upon adult labour will engender the necessity of further restrictions applicable to all labour, and I see not why it should not be extended to agricultural labour—I say that, because you adopt the principle that necessarily leads to such extensive consequences, namely, an invariable and almost universal interference with labour in this country, before I adopt that principle, although I admit the universality of its application, and that it is not inconsistent with justice as showing a preference to no one description of labour over another, yet foreseeing that I should he involved in a duty, which I never shall be able satisfactorily to perform—seeing, although it is possible, perhaps, to deal with the factories, yet if I am to enter into private shops and houses, and impose obligations upon every individual as to the degree of labour he shall impose, not upon 300 or 400 children, but upon two or three Members of his family whom he employs—if I am to be involved in such a difficult, and, as I think, such a perilous enterprize—if I am to undertake the duty of prescribing and legislating, not merely how long the steam engine shall work (for that I can effect), but if I am to inculcate in every private establishment and every private family the duties of humanity, I am involved in a task above all human strength, and as I believe, pregnant with great injustice to individuals. I know my wishes and feelings would be as much in accordance with effecting that object as lessening, the labour in the case of factories, I should like to see the father more proud of the education and instruction and moral training of his children than anxious to increase his earnings by their labour. Can I effect it by law? If I once undertake it, I must not be deterred by the difficulty of legislating for individual cases. The more I extend my legislation—if I go from factories to earthenware, from earthenware to hosiery, and from hosiery to lace, that which I leave unrestricted I am giving fresh encouragement to. It is not the magnitude of the establishment I shall have to contend with, because if I carry out the principle fully and fairly I must descend into all the details of daily occupation. It is admitted, that the first principle of undue interference involves that extent of interference. What may be the effect, then, on the general employment of the country of such an attempt? I know it is pregnant with the most important consequences. After legislation shall have been effected, and these new restrictions imposed, depend upon it that is not the close of your legislation. I see full well what other consequences must follow; and, believing that upon the whole we have attempted as much of legislation on these great branches of manufacture as it is now wise and safe to attempt for the commerce and manufactures of the country, and above all for the interests and comforts of the working classes—dreading the consequences of imposing the proposed restrictions on adult labour—saying to the man, "Whatever be your inclinations, the amount of your work and your earnings shall be limited"—admitting that the debate does not turn on the principle, but believing that the interference we suggest, which has been sanctioned by the proposal of former Legislators who had well considered the subject, is all that can safely be attempted in respect of this branch of manufacture—believing above all, that the forcible restriction upon labour to the extent of preventing the adult, in the cotton factory, in the silk factory, in the lace and woollen trade, from labouring more than ten hours—whatever may be my sympathies and my feelings, regardless of being in a majority or in a minority, having no other motive in my conscience than that of promoting what in my belief is most consistent with the public interest, I cannot and will not acquiesce in the proposal of my noble Friend, forcibly to limit labour in factories, to ten hours in the day.

Lord J. Russell

had listened with the greatest anxiety to this debate, and never remembered any question on which it was more difficult than the present to form an opinion, or in the issue of which more important consequences were involved. He did not rise for the purpose of making any answer to an observation on which the Secretary of State for the Home Department had to-night laid so much stress —that he had taken a part on a former occasion which would be inconsistent with his support now of the Motion of the noble Lord the Member for Dorsetshire. If that statement were meant as a taunt, he must say that that was not an occasion on which he felt inclined to notice any observation of that kind. [Sir J. Graham, "Hear."] If it were not so intended, he should certainly say, that whatever might be the degree of inconsistency, on a question where thousands and hundreds of thousands of the working population of this country had their interests deeply involved, he should be ashamed of himself if he were not ready to expose himself to that charge if he was persuaded that their interests required him to take a different course from that which he had hitherto supported. With respect to the Motion itself, he must say that he was not altogether satisfied with the statement of the noble Lord the Member for Dorsetshire, able as it was. He thought the noble Lord's argument was liable to the reply of the Secretary for the Home Department, that it seemed rather to lead to the conclusion, that women and children, at all events, ought to be totally excluded from factories, and that the factory system ought to be altered if not entirely abrogated in all its essential details rather than a vindication of those alterations which the noble Lord concluded by proposing. The course which the discussion had taken, the speeches which had been made by many Gentlemen thoroughly acquainted with the subject had, he must say, cleared it of many of the difficulties in which the noble Lord had involved it. The question after all was, what was the amount of the limitation proposed by Her Majesty's Government in the present Bill, what had been the amount of the limitation proposed by successive Governments which had preceded them, and what was that now proposed by the noble Lord the Member for Dorsetshire? He must say, after listening to the Speech of the right hon. Baronet who had just sat down, it appeared to him, that the arguments used in it, so far from being those which might have been looked for from a Member of a Government proposing a restriction upon the hours of labour, were those of a person who objected to any legislation at all in such a matter. When the right hon. Baronet told them that there were persons of sixteen and eighteen years of age employed upon calico printing, and other persons upon other most unwholesome employments connected with our manufactures, and spoke as one being an enemy to all legislative restrictions upon employment: would it have been supposed that the right hon. Baronet was an enemy to all interference which would make a difference between the occupations he had referred to, and those which were affected by the present Bill? And yet such was not the case, and the right hon. Baronet was himself proposing a limitation in favour of young persons, that they should not labour more than twelve hours a day in the cotton factories. Let it be recollected by the House that their legislation had already effected in great part the interference which the right hon. Baronet, as a general principle, asked them nut to sanction. They had passed a restriction limiting the labour of children from nine to thirteen years of age to eight hours a day, and of young persons from thirteen to eighteen years of age to twelve hours a day. Her Majesty's Government were not satisfied with these restrictions, and proposed to limit to six and a-half hours a day the labour of children between nine and thirteen years of age; and besides this, proposed a very important change in regard to adult women, thus introducing a new, and, as he (Lord J. Russell) thought, a very doubtful principle of legislation. The House had given its sanction to some interference in regard to the employment of women in mines two years ago, but this could hardly be quoted in favour of extending the principle of interference, for they had been told that in Scotland at least that Act had been continually evaded, and that women had since been employed there dressed as men, notwithstanding the stringency of the Act. At all events it was a principle of legislation which it was difficult to justify though the Government had adopted it. In regard to young children, Parliament had also interfered to say that parents and guardians should not be allowed to employ their children in such to excessive manner, as to endanger their Health, to produce distortion and decay of constitution, and premature death. Parliament had undertaken to legislate thus far. But when it came to the case of women of from twenty-five to thirty years of age, it seemed hard for them to interfere and say that they should not have the power of deciding the number of hours labour they could perform in a day. Yet these were not the principles of the noble Lord the Member for Dorsetshire, but were part and parcel of the Bill of Her Majesty's Government, a principle introduced for the first time by themselves. All that the noble Lord said, strictly confining himself within the scope of the Bill, was, let ten hours be inserted instead of twelve. The right hon. Baronet said, that if they introduced such a principle, they would be introducing it for all persons who laboured in these mills, because it applied generally to women. They had it in the Report of the Commission that though the twelve hours' limitation was applied generally to all persons, front thirteen to eighteen years of age, it did not apply at present to persons beyond from thirteen to fifteen years of age. Several cases were complained of by Mr. Horner and others, which they said ought not to have occurred. It would appear from this, that it would not follow that because the ten hours' limitation of the noble Lord were carried, it would apply to all persons included within the scope of this Bill. There was one point, and a very main one, in this question, in regard to which the arguments of both the right hon. Gentlemen who addressed the Committee from the Ministerial benches, had been very unsatisfactory. He thought that if there were to be any limit as to the right of adult males to labour any number of hours they thought proper, it would be a very undue distinction, and one contrary to all just principles of legislation. But it was too much to say that, in order to ensure the liberty of adult labour, they should abstain altogether from interfering to protect the health and lives of young persons. If it were found to he necessary not only for the physical health, but for the moral well being of young persons, and for the prospect of becoming good members of society as they grow older, that some distinction should be imposed as to the extent of labour they should be called upon to perform, he did not think it could be argued as decisive against such a principle, that it would indirectly restrict all labour. Now, what was the case respecting the persons referred to—namely, the women employed in factories? He found, according to the statements of the noble Lord, and which, he believed, had not been denied, that there had been a great increase during the last few years in the number of females, and especially of young ones, employed in these factories. They had it also upon the testimony of medical authorities, and of those who had watched the progress of the labour, that young girls of from thirteen to eighteen years of age could not be employed for twelve hours a-day, and with their meals be confined for fourteen hours in the factory, without serious injury to their constitutions and health, and a sacrifice of all the means which should be open to them of acquiring such habits as might make them good wives and mothers. He said that if the state of society and of the country had called upon Parliament to interfere for the protection of what was so essential to these persons, they ought not now to invalidate that course of legislation. He thought they ought not to have entered at all upon this sort of legislation, they ought not to have interfered in any way with the industrial occupations of the country, unless, having entered upon this principle of interference, and undertaken the guardianship of some thousands of young persons so employed, they were prepared to make that interference effectual. With regard to the case of other countries, the right hon. Member for Taunton had shown that in America these persons were allowed to work more than twelve hours a-day; but, looking to the subsequent part of this evidence, upon this point, it appeared that such persons were allowed to go away for three or four months in the year to attend schools; and such a principle might perhaps be adopted in other countries, and with advantage. He had been very much struck with the statement of the hon. Member for Leeds, that out of seventy owners of mills in that part of the country, forty were ready to adopt the ten hour principle in their mills, and had signed the petition in favour of its adoption. Now when they were told of the alarm which existed, and certainly he believed some did exist, at the legislation upon this point was it not something to be urged in sup- port of the principle that practical men, who it would be thought ought naturally to have been opposed to it, were ready to agree in this proposition. And when he was told, that at the moment when trade was reviving from its former depression, it was peculiarly inexpedient to enter upon legislation of this kind, he must say that he thought it was not improbable that such an enactment might have a good effect in equalising employment throughout the country; and looking at the large quantity of goods which could be sent out from our manufactures in a very short space of time, he thought that there might be a more equal and uninterrupted rate of employment arrived at, than by leaving the amount of daily labour unlimited. There was one point which had been touched upon by those who were opposed to this proposition, which was not unimportant in connection with this subject. Those Gentlemen said, if they wished to legislate for the advantage of the working classes, let them rather take off the restrictions which operated against the admission of food, than by imposing restrictions upon the exercise of labour. He was one who thought that the proposition of the noble Lord would have the effect of diminishing the wages of the working classes; and he should be sorry to vote for any proposition which would have such an effect. But the fact was, that the question of the corn-laws should not be kept out of sight, but should rather be considered in conjunction with that of labour; and if a great portion of the working classes were working at rates which hardly supplied them with necessary food, he would ask was it better to work for twelve hours a day for 16s. a week, than for ten hours for 12s. a week, if the price of food was so much cheaper as to give an equivalent quantity of food. Looking at the state of the country generally, he believed that the case was, that there was an excess of toil and a deficiency of food. He thought that the working classes had behaved admirably on almost all subjects, and on almost all occasions. But he thought that the general feeling was that the toil which they were obliged to undergo in order to obtain the bare necessaries of life was more than the people of any country ought to be called upon to submit to. It was a difficult matter to interfere with the quantity of toil, but the time was come when he thought they ought to do so; and if he were called upon to point out another measure of relief, it would be that which should allow of a greater supply of food; thus ensuring the double boon of diminished labour, and an increased enjoyment of the necessaries of life. With these opinions he should vote in favour of the amendment of the noble Lord.

Mr. Hindley

said, that if he had any hesitation in addressing the Committee on the present occasion it was not because he had any doubt as to the vote which he should give, but because he was apprehensive of weakening the effect of the observations of the noble lord and others who had spoken in support of this proposition. He should vote in favour of the amendment of the noble Lord the Member for Dorsetshire. The question was one resting partly upon commercial, and partly upon moral grounds; but he would not shrink from it in either view of it—believing as he did, that what was morally right, could not he inconsistent with true commercial interests. As far as his own interests were concerned, it was not necessary for him to inform the Committee that everything he had in the world depended upon manufacturing; property with which he was connected. He spoke therefore with the experience and interest of a man deeply involved in the result, when he gave his support to this proposition. They had established Sunday and other schools, together with mechanics' institutes, in the manufacturing districts, to educate the people; but as far as the factory children and young persons were concerned, they were all but useless, unless some greater restriction in the hours of labour were introduced. Religious worship, too, was in general neglected, as after the severe toil of the week, the people required to rest on the only day on which they were released from their severe labour. And in many cases the sabbath-day was for the most part spent in bed. With such evidence before him of the gross evils of the existing system, he should feel that he was voting contrary to the convictions of his conscience, and to the interests of his country, if he did not support the noble Lord's Amendment. He admitted, that some improvement had already resulted from their legislation for regulating factory labour, but great abuses still remained to be remedied, and that remedy could only be supplied by Parliament. It might be said that the manufacturers might themselves adopt regulations for working moderate hours, but he had no hope that they would do so under present circumstances. Then it might be urged that the workmen had the remedy in their own hands by refusing to work more than ten hours a day, but to suppose they would do so was fallacious, they would never find the operatives sufficiently unanimous to enable them to take that course with any hope of success, but he could imagine the possibility of a state of things in which the operatives forced by the determination of Parliament not to provide for their comforts by legislation, might meet together, as the people of Ireland had done, and force them to the adoption of such arrangements as should reduce the hours of labour. If the factory system were shown to be a moral nuisance then he said it was the duty of the Legislature to interfere with it. The night was given as a period of rest, and the scripture said, "The night cometh when no man shall work."

Mr. Collett

considered all legislation between the employer and the employed as an interference with the liberty of the subject. He considered the Bill as an instance of that mania for legislation so prevalent in this House. He confessed that he looked upon the mere question of the precise number of hours to be devoted to work as of minor importance. If they once began in this sort of legislation there was no saying where or when they would stop. Perhaps next year they should have the Secretary of State for the Home Department bringing in a Bill to regulate the relations between master and servant. He should support the Clause.

Mr. Hardy

who could not obtain a hearing, was understood to say that he felt it due to his constituents to state that he had not heard any argument against the proposition of his noble Friend except that the safety of the country would be endangered by it, and that was quite unsupported by facts. It was his intention to vote for the Amendment.

Mr. Muntz

was anxious to qualify the vote he was about to give in favour of the Amendment of the noble Lord. He would vote for that Amendment, not because he believed that it was sound in principle—that was to say on general principles —and he was sorry that it had ever been introduced. If the vote he meant to give should have the result of tending to encourage Government to withdraw the Bill, he should think it the best vote which ever he gave in his life. He thought that this was one of the instances in which Government would find great difficulty in legislating. They would find that the subject was out of their reach. But he would support the Amendment of the noble Lord for two reasons. The one was, that he thought that if they did try a principle, they should try it well; so that there should be no mistake about the matter. One of two things must arise from the Amendment being carried; either there must be a reduction in consumption or a diminution in wages. The other cause why he would support the Amendment was, that he had not met one operative in the cotton manufacturing districts who had not expressed an earnest hope for the success of the ten hours' proposition. At the same time he thought that some clause should be introduced to prevent the excessive labour frequently undergone in the iron districts. He believed, however, that it was necessity which compelled parents to work their children so hard as they sometimes did. In fact, the parents could not support the children unless they contributed to the common earnings.

Lord Ashley

would only say in reply, that should he be so happy as to succeed in carrying his Amendment, he would adopt the suggestion of the hon. Member for Leeds, and introduce a clause providing that for the first year after the passing of the Bill the number of hours of labour should be eleven, to be reduced to the ultimate number of ten the next year. He would only add, that he had never vilified the factory system as a system, because he was convinced that from what he had seen himself in certain mills, that under due regulations it could be made conducive to the virtue, happiness, and prosperity of the country. Committee divided on the question that the word "eight" stand part of the clause, Lord Ashley having moved that it be struck out in order to substitute the word six:—Ayes 170; Noes 179: Majority 9.

List of the AYES.
A'Court, Capt. Barrington, Visct.
Aldam, W. Barron, Sir H. W.
Arkwright, G. *Bellew, R. M.
Bailey, J., jun. Bentinek, Lord G.
Baillie, Col. Blakemore, R.
Balfour, J. M. Boldero, H. G.
Baring, hn. W. B. Botfield, B.
Baring, rt. hn. F. T. Bowes, J.
Bowring, Dr. Hussey, T.
Bright, J. Hutt, W.
Bruce, Lord E. Jermyn, Earl
Bruges, W. H. L. Johnston, A.
Buck, L. W. Johnstone, H.
Buller, E. Jones, Capt.
Cardwell, E. Knatchbull, rt. hn. Sir E.
Carnegie, hon. Capt. Knightley, Sir C.
Castlereagh, Visct. Labouchere, rt. hn. H.
Childers, J. W. *Langston J. H.
Chute, W. L. W. *Leader, J. T.
Clay, Sir W. Lemon, Sir C.
Clayton R. R. Lennox, Lord A.
Clerk, Sir G. Lincoln, Earl of
Cockburn, hon. Sir G. Lockhart, W.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Lyall, G.
Collett, W. R. Lygon, hon. Gen.
Corry, rt. hn. H. *Mackenzie, T.
Craig, W. G. Mackenzie, W. F.
Cripps, W. McNeill, D.
Damer, hn. Col. Manners, Lord C. S.
Darby, G. March, Earl of
Dawson, hn. T. V. Marshall, W.
Dennistoun, J. Marsham, Visct.
*Dick, Q. Martin, C. W.
Divett, E. *Master, T. W. C
Dodd, G. Masterman, J.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Meynell, Capt.
Douro, Marquis of *Mildmay, H. St. J.
Duffield, T. Mitcalfe, H.
Dugdale, W. S. Mitchell, T. A.
Duncan, Visct. Morgan, O.
Duncan, G. Mundy, E. M.
Duncannon, Visct. *Neeld, J.
Egerton, W. T. Nicholl, rt. hon. J.
Eliot, Lord Norreys, Sir D. J.
Elphinstone, H. O'Ferrall, R. M.
Escott, B. Owen, Sir J.
Estcourt, T. G. B. *Paget, Lord W.
Evans, W. Parker, J.
*Feilden, W. Patten, J. W.
Filmer, Sir E. Pattison, J.
Fitzmaurice, hn. W. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Flower, Sir J. Peel, J.
Forster, M. Philips, G. R.
Fox, S. L. *Pollock, Sir F.
Gibson, T. M. Pringle, A.
Gisborne, T. Protheroe, E.
Gladstone, rt. hn. W.E. *Reid, Sir J. R.
Gordon, hn. Capt. Ricardo, J. L.
Goulburn, rt. hn. H. Rushbrooke, Col.
Graham, rt. hn. Sir J. Sanderson, R.
Hamilton, W. J. Scarlett, hon. R. C.
Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H. Scott, R.
*Hastie, A. *Scrope, G. P.
Hay, Sir A. L. Shelburne, Earl of
Herbert, hn. S. Smith, rt. hn: T. B. C.
Hinde, J. H. Smythe, hon. G.
Hobhouse, rt hon Sir J. Somerset, Lord G.
Hodgson, F. Sotherton, T. H. S.
Hodgson, R. Stanley, Lord
Holmes, hon. W. A. Ct. Stanley, E
Hope, hon. C. Stuart, Lord J.
Hope, G. W. Stuart, W. V.
Houldsworth, T. Strutt, E.
Howard, P, H. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Hume, J. *Tancred, H. W.
Tennent, J. E. Wellesley, Lord C.
Thesiger, F. Wilbraham, hn. R. B.
Thompson, Ald. Williams, T. P.
Thorneley, T. Winnington, Sir T. E.
Thornhill, G. Wood, Col.
Tollemache, hon. F.J. Wood, Col. T.
Trelawney, J. S. Wyndham, Col. C.
*Trench, Sir F. W. Young, J.
*Vivian, J. E,
*Wall, C. B. TELLERS.
Walsh, Sir J. B. Fremantle, Sir T.
Warburton, H. Baring, H.
List of the NOES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Dundas, Adm.
Acland, T. D. Du Pre, C. G.
Ainsworth, P. Easthope, Sir J.
Antrobus, E. *Eaton, R. J.
Arundel and Surrey, Ebrington, Visct.
Earl of Ellice, E.
Astell, W. Ellis, W.
Bankes, G. Emlyn, Visct.
*Bannerman, A. Farnham, E. B.
*Barclay, D. Fielden, J.
Beckett, W. Fox, C. R.
Beresford, Major French, F.
Bernal, R. Fuller, A. E.
Blackstone, W. S. Gardner, J. D.
Blake, M. J. Gill, T.
Borthwick, P. Gladstone, Capt.
Bradshaw, J. Gore, M.
Bramston, T. W. Gore, W. R. O.
Broadley, H. Gore, hon. R.
Brocklehurst, J. Goring, C.
Brotherton, J. Granger, T. C.
*Browne, hn, W. Gregory, W. H.
*Bulkeley, Sir R. B. Grey, rt. hn. Sir G.
Buller, C. Grimsditch, T.
Busfeild, W. Grimston, Visct.
Butler, P. S. Grogan, E.
Byng, rt. hn. G. S. Guest, Sir J.
Cavendish, hn. C. C. *Hall, Sir B.
Cavendish, hn. G. H. Hanmer, Sir J.
Cayley, E. S. Harcourt, G. G.
*Chapman, A. Hardy, J.
Chapman, B. *Hatton, Capt. V.
Chetwode, Sir J. Hawes, B.
Cochrane, A. Hayes, Sir E.
Colborne, hn. W. N. R. Heathcoat, J.
Collett, J. Henley, J. W.
Colquhoun, J. C. Hindley, C.
Copeland, Ald. Hollond, R.
Cowper, hn. W. F. Hope, A.
Crawford, W. S. Hornby, J.
Cresswell, B. Horsman, E.
Curteis, H. B. Howard, hon. C.W. G.
*Dalrymple, Capt. Howard, Lord
Davies, D. A. S. Howick, Visct.
Dawnay, hn. W. H. Humphery, Ald.
Denison, E. B. Inglis, Sir R. H.
D'Eyncourt, rt. hn. C.T. James, Sir W. C.
Dickinson, F. H. Jocelyn, Visct.
*Douglas, Sir H. Johnston, Sir J.
Duff, J. Kemble, H.
Duke, Sir J. Knight, H. G.
Duncombe, T. Law, hon. C. E.
Duncombe, hn. O. Lawson, A.
Lefroy, A. Repton, G. W. J.
Legh, G. C. Richards, R.
Leveson, Lord Ross, D. R.
Lindsay, H. H. *Round, C. G.
Lowther, J. H. Russell, Lord J.
Mc Geachy, F. A. Russell, J. D. W.
Mahon, Visct. Ryder, hon. G. D.
Mainwaring, T. Sandon, Visct.
Mangles, R. D. Shaw, rt. hon. F.
Manners, Lord J. Sibthorp, Col.
*Marton, G. Smith, A.
Maxwell, hon. J. P. Smith, J. A.
*Miles, P. W. S. Smith, rt. hn. R. V.
Miles, W. Smollett, A.
Milnes, R. M. *Standish, C.
Morris, D. *Staunton, Sir G. T.
Muntz, G. F. *Stewart, J.
Murray, A. Strickland, Sir G.
Napier, Sir C. *Sturt, H. C.
Neville, R. Taylor, E.
Newport, Visct. Taylor, J. A.
O'Brien, A. S. Tollemache, John
Ossulston, Lord Tomline, G.
Packe, C. W. Towneley, J.
Paget, Col. Trotter, J.
Paget, Lord A. Tronbridge, Sir E. T.
Pakington, J. S. Tufnell, H.
Palmer, R. Vane, Lord H.
Palmerston, Visct. Vivian, J. H.
Pennant, hon. Col. Wakley, T.
Plumptre, J. P. Walker, R.
Plumridge, Capt. Wawn, J. T.
Polhill, F. Williams, W.
Pollington, Visct. Wilshere, W.
Praed, W. T. Yorke, H. R.
Pusey, P.
Ramsbottom, J. TELLERS.
Rashleigh, W. Ashley, Lord
Rendlesham, Lord Wortley, J.

[The Members who voted on the two divisions, with the exception of those to whose names we have prefixed an asterisk, and who were absent from the second division, were nearly the same. The Ayes on the first division were the Noes on the second; Mr. Collett voted with the Noes on both divisions. With this explanation we forbear from repeating the Lists.]

The word eight struck out, the Committee again divided on the question that the word "six" be inserted—Ayes 161; Noes 153: Majority 8.

Sir James Graham

said, that the decision which the Committee had just come to upon the noble Lord's Amendment, was a virtual adoption of a ten hours Bill without modification; and this, with all respect for the Committee, he had a decided objection to; but still he did not feel that it was consistent with his duty to drop the Bill in consequence of that decision. Upon the 8th Clause the Committee would have an opportunity of re-considering this question, in a form more substantial than the present; for upon the proposal of that Clause, he presumed his noble Friend would move, in accordance with his accepted resolutions, for the introduction of the words "ten hours" instead of "twelve hours." He should now move that the Chairman report progress, and ask leave to sit again on Friday.

House resumed, Committee to sit again. House adjourned at a quarter to two o'clock.