HC Deb 19 March 1844 vol 73 cc1269-70
Mr. Labouchere

said, that it would probably not be thought that he took an inconvenient step if he begged to ask the noble Lord the Member for Dorsetshire what were his intentions in regard to the Amendment upon a clause in the Factories Bill which had been adopted last night?

Lord Ashley

said, it is my most sincere and ardent desire to make any sacrifice of personal feeling, in order to do what may to the utmost conciliate my opponents, and render the Amendment it was my good fortune to carry as little objectionable as possible. This morning I had an interview with five or six considerable manufacturers, and likewise with several operatives, who represented the feelings of the operative manufacturing classes. I proposed to them a plan which I am about to state to the House, and I am happy to say that it met their entire and hearty approval. On Friday next I shall take the liberty of intreating the House to affirm the proposition of ten hours' labour, by the substitution of the word "ten" for "twelve" in Clause 8 of the Bill. Should the House affirm that proposition, I will prepare a Clause which shall enact that the present duration of labour, twelve hours, shall continue from the time at which we may pass the Clause for six months, that is, till the 1st of October in this year. This will give six months' notice before any change takes place. From the 1st of October, this year, the period of labour I propose shall fall to eleven hours, and continue at that rate for two years, or till the 1st of October, 1846, when the period of ten hours labour shall commence. This I think will give ample time to test the experiment, and during the course of that time, should any mischief arise out of the enactment, the House will have the means in its own hands of preventing the Clause from running away with the interests of the nation.

Sir James Graham

said, that though it was not quite regular on his part to address the House, perhaps he should be pardoned if he said a few words. In the first place, it was most desirable that the House and the country should understand that he and Her Majesty's Ministers had now heard for the first time the propositions which the noble Lord had expressed his intention of submitting to the Committee; but he had no hesitation in coining to the conclusion, that it would be his duty on Friday next, to resist the Motion of the noble Lord, and to take the sense of the House upon the proposition of substituting "ten hours" for "twelve." He might be permitted to add, with respect to the further proposition which the noble Lord contemplated making, that the scope of that proposition had nut removed, in the least, the objection which he (Sir J. Graham) had urged against the other proposal, and it would be his duty to resist it.