§ MR. FIELDEN
having presented twenty-six petitions in favour of the Bill, proceeded to say: Sir, I rise to move the Second Reading of the Factories Bill; but I cannot do so without expressing my great regret that this important measure has fallen into my hands, instead of remaining to be conducted to what I hope will be its successful result by Lord Ashley, who has done so much in this matter to endear him to the working people. I will state to the House, in the first place, what is the present state of the law affecting persons employed in factories. It is this:—Children from 8 years of age to 13, are allowed to work only six hours a day; from 13 to 18, twelve hours a day; no female more than twelve hours a day; and no person (male or female) under the age of 18, to work in factories in the night. The Bill I now propose to the House to read a second time will limit the hours of work of children between 13 and 18, and females above 18, to eleven hours a day (exclusive of time for meals) for one year, beginning August, 1846; and to ten hours a day (exclusive of time for meals) from August, 1847. This Bill, then, is only intended to limit the hours of labour of children between 13 and 18, and all females. Those two classes of persons have now to work twelve hours a day, which, with time spent in going to and from the factory, and the time of meals, makes fourteen hours' occupation—a period of labour much too long, in my opinion, even for adults; but if fourteen hours' occupation be too long for adults, who can 1223 deny that that length of labour is a shameful infliction upon children from 13 to 18? I must say, that the Parliament has shown a total disregard of those between 13 and 18 years of age—a period of life well known to be the most critical, when more rest is required for the growing and weakened frame of a young person. The Factory Commission of 1833 reported to this House, that our demand for a Ten-hour Bill for all ages did not go far enough towards the protection of those whom we most desired to protect—that was the young children. They told you, that for children from 9 to 13 years of age, ten hours' labour was excessive; and therefore you passed the Act of that year, limiting the hours of such children's work to eight per day. Subsequently, you have again limited the hours of the younger children to six hours per day; but why, I ask, do you still keep up the hours of work for a child from 13 to 18 to the utmost limit that is compatible with the strength of an adult? The real reason of it is this—that the Government has always been so jealous of any interference that could possibly lead to a diminution of the labour of the adult labourer, that it has not scrupled to sacrifice the child that works by his side. The great care of the Parliament has always been, to legislate in such a way as that the adult should work as much as possible; my care and object is, that the child shall work no more than is compatible with its bodily strength, and with due time for mental and religious culture. I refrain from going into a detail of the bodily sufferings and the social condition consequent upon the long hours of work now imposed upon these young persons, because Lord Ashley has so often and so ably presented them to the House, and with so much minuteness, that the matter must be in the recollection of every hon. Member. Indeed, the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Home Department (Sir J. Graham) has often admitted the grievance to be made out, and no Member of the Government has attempted to deny the truth of the case made out by Lord Ashley. I cannot, however, omit to remind the House that at length the clergy, both in England and Scotland, are petitioning the House to pass this Bill to restrict the hours of working these young persons, because they find it impossible to administer religious instruction to persons whose whole time is exhausted in labour. I presented a petition in favour of this Bill from the ministers and elders of 1224 the Free Presbytery of Dundee, praying the House to pass it, and setting forth that their own observation of the working classes had convinced them of the necessity for it. That petition caused a meeting, on the 13th of February, of the "millowners of Dundee connected with the Free Church of Scotland;" and that meeting passed some resolutions calling on the ministers and elders to "reconsider the object, with a view to abandoning the petition." The resolutions themselves I forbear, for the sake of the millowners, to read to the House. The ministers replied in a pamphlet which I hold in my hand, and in which they tell the millowners that—Whilst resolved, as opportunity shall serve, to multiply the means of education, and render more available those already existing, we must be permitted to remind you, that no school education, however protracted, or however excellent, can ever compensate to the factory female operatives between the ages of thirteen and eighteen for the want of that home education which forms the future housewife and mother. This, we believe, is at the root of most of the social evils of Dundee; and what but more time at home can provide the cure?In the Scottish Guardian newspaper of the 21stof this month, I find a report of proceedings of the Free Synod of Glasgow and Ayr, at which the subject of this Bill is taken into consideration, and the necessity for it strongly urged by the Rev. Mr. Gibson, who makes some observations so well worthy the attention of the House, that I will read a passage from his speech. Addressing his brother ministers, he says—Those of you who have paid any attention to these subjects, know what is the fearful state of our manufacturing population. I wish not to make general or sweeping charges; but the system is such as to make it impossible for private individual parties to extricate themselves, however much disposed, without some general legislative measure. The vast multitudes of this portion of the people are worn down in mind and body. They have not the time nor strength to attend upon the means either of religion or education. The hands of ministers of the gospel and other religious men are rendered powerless, and all your efforts fruitless. What is the state of the case? When you offer visits during the day, the male head, of the family, and even the female head of the family, are employed in the factory. The greater portion of the junior members are there also. Even some of us, who have adopted the plan of commencing visits from six to nine in the evening, find that the greater portion of that time elapses before they can return from the long and exhausting labour of the day. As, for instance, in visiting a family in these circumstances between eight and nine in the evening, I found the parents at home; and just as I was finishing my exhortation, at nine o'clock, two young grown up and evidently respectable daughters had just come in from the factory 1225 in another part of the city, having left their house at five in the morning. Suppose I had waited till ten o'clock, and it had been proper to do so, how could these young women be expected to sit down and hear my exhortation, exhausted, weary, and hungry? The thing is out of the question. Again, when you open classes for the instruction of young persons, a common experience is this, that when you commence in autumn you have considerable numbers, but as the biting frosts and colds of winter set in, your evening classes are deserted. Their exhausted frames cannot stand the cold; and it is a singular fact, that while in the country it is not the labouring population that complain of the cold, in the towns you cannot get the churches warm enough for those accustomed to the heated atmosphere of the factory; and, therefore, long hours of labour, in such circumstances, are most pernicious. The evil affects the attendance upon ordinances on Sunday. The exhausting labour of the week makes them lie in bed in the forenoon of Sabbath in too many cases, even of those who have still a regard to religion; and with vast multitudes of others there is a total alienation from Divine ordinances.I cannot quit this point without reminding the House, that the children from 13 to 18 have no time in the week days for instruction, and that, consequently, their parents, rather than they thould have none, are in the habit of sending them to Sunday schools. With aching bones, how can they imbibe any profitable instruction? It is cruel to keep them cooped up on Sundays—the only day they have for recreation and rest. I am surprised that, although Parliament has legislated, at intervals, for forty years upon this subject, it has so totally neglected the pressing case of these young persons; and, though I never like to contend for this measure upon any other than the grounds which dictate it to me, and which I think ought to be paramount—I mean the justice and humanity of it—I will proceed to notice the objections that are urged against it. They are avowedly founded upon a supposed necessity for continuing the long hours of work, in order to maintain our present eminence in manufactures and commerce; and I am called upon to show that restricting the hours of labour would not cause a diminution of production, and a diminution of manufacturers' profits. My opinions on this point are principally formed from past experience; and I think that there would be no diminution of production, no diminution of profits, and no reduction of wages, attendant on the shortening of the hours of labour that this Bill provides. I have, with all my brothers, been all my life engaged in the cotton manufacture. I have been in the business ever since the first Act for the regulating of factory labour 1226 was passed, and extensively engaged in it too. I and my brothers are still engaged in it. We employ, altogether, between 2,000 and 3,000 hands. We are now increasing our works greatly; and I myself am bringing up all my sons to the same business. I state these things by way of assurance to the House that I have experience in the business of which I am speaking, and a great and increasing interest in its prosperity. I am capable of speaking of the effects of past legislation; and if the Bill be so destructive as its opponents have represented, it is a Bill to abolish the business of myself and my family. Let me remind the House, that no Factory Bill was ever yet passed without the House being stunned with predictions of the ruin that would ensue to manufactures; and all these predictions have been falsified by experiment. You put a stop to night-work in all cases, except by adult males of 18 years and upwards, which has practically abolished night-working in mills. You reduced the labour of children between 9 and 13 years of age from fourteen hours a day to six hours a day. You reduced the labour of all females above 13 years of age from fourteen hours a day to twelve hours, and thereby the labour of all working people in factories has been reduced to twelve hours the day. And what have been the effects of these reductions of the hours of labour? According to the predictions of millowners and political economists, foreign competition ought to have destroyed our manufacturing and commercial system, our mills ought to have been standing still, our manufactures ruined, and our workpeople starved. Have any of these evils overtaken us? No! I challenge anybody to show that wages for labour in factories generally were not as high in 1845 as at any time since the Act of 1819 for regulating factory labour was passed. As to the ruin by foreign competition, let me ask my brother manufacturers if they can say that the reduction of the hours of labour that has already taken place has had the least tendency to injure them? Nine Acts of Parliament have been passed for regulating factories, beginning with 1802, and proceeding on to 1844. Now, what effects have they had in diminishing our manufactures? How have they crippled the cotton trade? The first Act, except for apprentices, was passed in 1819; and, taking the consumption of cotton in English manufactories for that year, and then the consumption for the 1227 years 1825, 1831, 1833, and 1844, all of these being years in which a Factory Regulation Act was passed, we shall see that the consumption of cotton goes on increasing greatly as these Acts are passed. Thus, the consumption was—
In ahort, there has been a progressive increase in the consumption of cotton in this country concurrently with the restriction of the hours of factory labour. Now, this proves clearly that there has been no decrease of production. Then, have the manufacturers decreased in wealth under this increase of production? I have no means of giving any comparative estimate of the wealth of the body to which I belong. But, if what I have read of speeches made by manufacturers at Anti-Corn-Law meetings be true, both as to subscriptions raised by the League, and as to their ability to buy out the whole aristocracy of the country, surely it will not become any Member of that body to stand up in this House and deny to those young children, whose services they must own, that protection from excessive toil which common humanity calls for, and which protection the right hon. the Home Secretary announced at the beginning of the Session would confer honour on our country. Besides the great increase in production, which I have shown already, I must refer the House for a further proof of it, and that it is continuing, to the Report of Mr. Horner, the Inspector of Factories, for the half-year ending the 31st of October, 1845. The House will recollect that this gentleman is speaking only of his own district. In page 3, he says—
In 1819 109,000,000 lbs. 1825 166,000,000 lbs. 1831 262,000,000 lbs. 1833 287,000,000 lbs. 1844 490,000,000 lbs. 1845 532,000,000 lbs.Since the last return to Parliament in February, 1839, there has been an increase in my district of 529 factories, of 10,021 horses' power, and of 50,522 persons employed. This increase has all taken place since November, 1842, when the revival of trade began.He further states, that—The increase of power-looms in the last ten years is 79,088.Now, I find that the increase here stated by Mr. Horner, amounts in horses' power to 25 per cent, in number of persons employed to 22 per cent, in three years; and that the increase in power-looms, in the last ten years, is more than 50 per cent. Now, unless some Gentlemen can show me 1228 an increase in mills, machinery, and the employment of hands equal to this in any part of the globe, I shall conclude that I have made out my case, and that no one need be scared by the cry, which is always set up when a Ten Hours' Factory Bill is asked for, that we shall be ruined by foreign competition. I estimate, that about four-sevenths of the cotton-wool produced in all parts, except that for the supply of China, is consumed in Great Britain; and it is this command of supply of goods in the markets of the world that insures us our customers. I am convinced, that if the House will concede this Bill, as I hope it will, we shall go on increasing our manufactures, and increasing in the employment of hands, quite as fast as we ever have done. The difference in the cost of the manufactured article to the consumer will be a mere trifle. Of those articles used by the poor, it would not exceed a halfpenny for a poor man's shirt, nor be more than one penny on a poor woman's dress, supposing wages to remain at what they now are, and the same sum be allowed to the manufacturer that he now has for his fixed capital. I say this as a manufacturer; and I feel a strong conviction that I am right in my estimate. I will not conclude my address to the House on this question without again expressing my great reluctance at having been compelled to argue it as a matter of pounds, shillings, and pence. In discussing it within and for myself, as a manufacturer, I have long concluded that the Bill ought to pass, because humanity requires it. As a Member of this House, I am guided by the injunction of Paley, that "the first duty of a legislator is to take care of the poor; for this plain reason, that the rich can take care of themselves." The arguments that I have used, in endeavouring to convince thrift that it will not suffer, have been wrung from me by the opposition that has been offered by the manufacturing body on every attempt to abridge the toil of their workpeople. I call upon the House, in conclusion, to recollect that as manufactures go on increasing day by day, as assuredly they will do, this species of labour is becoming, not merely the occupation of a class, but of a nation—that the vast hives of industry in the north of England and in Scotland must become more and more vast—that, with their increase, there will be necessarily an increase of the vices and miseries peculiar to them, and already abundantly proved; and I urge on the 1229 House the necessity that there is for giving the young children, whose labour I seek to shorten, time for personal relaxation, time for education and religious instruction, time for observing the routine of domestic duties, without the knowledge of which, it is vain to hope that they will be a creditable or even a safe community.
§ MR. AINSWORTH
had great pleasure in rising to second the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Oldham. He was induced to do so from two motives: first, from a desire of shortening the hours of labour; and also from the hope which he entertained, that as a proposition had been held out by the factory operatives, stating their anxiety that this business should be compromised, Her Majesty's Government would propose an Eleven Hours' Bill, in which case the operatives would waive a Ten Hours' Bill, and come to an arrangement upon the matter. Under these circumstances he thought that it would be advisable at the present moment to see if all parties could not come to a satisfactory adjustment of the disputes which had so long existed between the masters and the operative cotton-spinners in the manufacturing districts. Such an arrangement would do away with all future agitation upon this vexatious subject. Having that day presented a petition from the borough which he had the honour to represent, he could not give a silent vote upon this question, and, therefore, without being solicited to do so by his hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, he had come forward to support the Motion for the second reading of this Bill. There had been various meetings in Bolton upon this question; and, from the sentiments which had been expressed by persons of all classes, it was evident that a very strong feeling prevailed that something should be done to reduce the hours of factory labour, the operatives being quite willing to incur the risk of reduction in the amount of their labour. If, then, the operative spinners themselves were willing to abide the consequences of the abridgment, he thought that the House had no longer a right to object to the principle that the hours of factory labour should be reduced. He remembered that some time ago a deputation from the manufacturing districts was appointed to wait on the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department, to urge upon him the necessity of opposing the Bill of the noble Lord lately the Member for Dorset- 1230 shire. It so happened that among the members composing that deputation, was an individual who had declared to him that he would not relax one iota of twelve hours. He saw that individual the other day, who now said that he was anxious for an Eleven Hours' Bill, and that if Her Majesty's Government would propose such a measure, he was quite sure that the Bill would meet with general satisfaction. If so, the time had now arrived when some sort of compromise might take place. He had had the honour of presenting this day a petition in favour of the Bill, signed by the clergy and dissenting ministers of the borough which he represented; and he had also presented a petition to the like effect signed by upwards of 20,000 persons. He believed that on this question, like that of corn, there was not a difference of opinion on the subject that some arrangement ought to take place. At a meeting held the other day at Bury, Mr. Hinxman, a surgeon, in speaking of the evils which arose from the protracted hours of labour, said—That many young persons employed as piecers had to walk forwards and backwards while at work in the mills upwards of twenty-four miles per day. He had often called at the cottages of factory workers, he had seen children come into the houses and immediately fall asleep on the floor before they had time to eat their supper; out of every 350 persons employed in factories only 144 of them enjoyed good health; whilst out of the same number of persons not employed in factories, 241 enjoyed good health.That showed, therefore, what a loss of health was occasioned to individuals by the system of severe factory labour now generally adopted. But then came the question, how far the masters would be sufferers by a reduction in the hours of labour; and he admitted that this was a question which the House ought to take into consideration. Now at the present moment there were several master spinners who had for the last year or two years worked their mills only eleven hours per day. Among these was one of his (Mr. Ainsworth's) constituents, who by way of experiment had for the last year worked his mills only eleven hours per day; and he had had a good deal of conversation with him on the subject of the profit and loss which had resulted from the adoption of the system. The gentleman stated that he found that as much work as was formerly done in twelve hours was now done in eleven hours and a half, consequently, in point of time, he lost half an hour. He 1231 said, however, that he thought he made that up by the superiority of the articles spun; and he stated that this superiority of the manufactured article gave the greatest satisfaction to his customers. Added to that he found that his workpeople were more healthy, and that there was a saving in wear and tear in gas, coals, and various expenses incidental to such an establishment, which, upon the whole, he said, fully made up for the loss of half an hour of factory labour. This individual had considerably enlarged his premises, and, in fact, had built a new mill; and he asked him, whether he intended to carry on the eleven hour system in his new mill, which that gentleman said he was quite prepared to do. He thought, however, that there were higher considerations connected with this subject than pounds, shillings, and pence. As legislators, they ought to take a higher view of this question, and to try whether they could not better the state of society among the working classes. He was very much pleased the other day to hear the sentiments expressed at the meeting which Lord Ashley attended at Bolton. At that meeting James Heywood, an operative employed by Messrs. Robert Knowles and Sons, said—That having been a factory worker upon the twelve hours' system, and experienced the change to eleven hours per day, he considered that he was enabled to speak of the beneficial result that had accrued from it, both to himself and fellow-workmen, which he would endeavour to do as clearly as possible, although he must acknowledge that a bad advocate sometimes spoiled a good subject; but they must forgive any mistake, and, selecting the goods parts for themselves, leave out the bad ones. He had attended meetings of their workpeople, and had never heard one of them say that he should like to go back again to the old system, for by the change the worst hour had been taken off, and had been put to the best; so that upon a fine day they were enabled to walk out and enjoy the refreshing breeze, the benefits of which they felt both inwardly and outwardly: outwardly, as invigorating the system; and inwardly, as by viewing the beauties of nature it led to thoughts and reflections tending to cultivate the mind. As regarded their physical condition, the women were the first object of their consideration, for their hours of labour were equally as long as those of the males; and he must say that since the change they appeared to be greatly benefited. The same might be said of the youths of both sexes. Work no doubt tended to preserve the body; but by over-exertion health was destroyed, and its sure end was death. As regarded education, there was no comparison between now and before they worked eleven hours; for he found that double the number were now engaged at night schools as compared with the twelve hours' system. He concluded by arguing that, as urged by some, short hours did not give a stimulus to go to the 1232 beer shops; but, on the contrary, that long hours were calculated to drive parties into the dram shop, to procure a stimulant to renew their strength from exhaustion.He could cite many cases to a similar purport; but hon. Members were so familiar with the subject, that it was scarcely necessary to enumerate them. It was quite clear that if the hours of factory labour could be reduced, it would be a great boon to the factory operatives. Then, as to the loss which would accrue to the factory masters. He had already cited one opinion on this subject, and he now begged to add to that the opinion expressed by one very large millowner in the neighbourhood of Bury, Mr. John Robinson Kay. That gentleman said that he would give his cordial support to the Ten Hours' Bill:—He had for a long time past been an advocate for shortening the hours of labour in factories. The present system was injurious to the morals, as well as to the physical strength of the rising generation. If the hours of factory labour were restricted to ten hours per day, it would not, in the end, be injurious to either labourers or manufacturers.This was the opinion of a cotton-spinner who employed 1,000 hands in the neighbourhood of Bury, and which deserved attention, owing to his high character and respectability. A great deal had been said on the subject of the system carried on in Mr. Gardner's mill at Preston; but hon. Gentlemen were so well acquainted with its details, that he would not fatigue the House by a reference to the way in which Mr. Gardner carried on his business. He believed that that gentleman still carried on his business on the eleven hours' system; and he wished to state to the House the advantages which had accrued to his workmen from the adoption of that system. He had received a letter that morning from Mr. Gardner, stating the advantages which had resulted from the reduction of the hours of labour from twelve to eleven. Mr. Gardner said—I beg to state that, in my opinion, they are generally enjoying better health now and since the adoption of eleven hours, than when working twelve. They express themselves so, and their appearance bespeaks it.Now, in many concerns of this kind there were established sick clubs; and it was rather curious that in Mr. Gardner's establishment the sick society was scarcely ever called upon, at least to the extent it was formerly, from the less frequency of invalids in that establishment. Mr. Gardner said—The sick club formed amongst my workpeople 1233 embraces about seven-eighths of the male adults in my mill; the particulars in relation to which fully bear me out in respect of the improved state of health enjoyed by the members of the club. I find on comparing two years previous to the adoption of eleven hours with two years subsequent, that the number relieved by this club was 60 per cent less in the latter period, and the expenditure 40 per cent less in the latter period, than in the former; the number of members in both instances being the same.He did think that the House ought to take into consideration the saving of expense to the factory people by the adoption of this system, as well as their improved health; and if these facts could be proved, as from the character and respectability of the gentleman who furnished them no doubt they could, he hoped the House would take this question into its serious consideration, so that all parties might come to some terms by which an abridgment of the hours of labour in factories might be effected. But these were not the only advantages which the workpeople in Mr. Gardner's factory derived from the reduction. There were other considerations which ought to weigh with the House; and first among them was the subject of education, and the improvement of the social condition of the people. It was no use to lay out parks for the working classes, unless there were some alteration in the hours of labour. The operatives had frequently asked him at public meetings, how it was possible that they could take advantage of the kindness and munificence of those hon. Members who contributed their money to purchase parks for their recreation? They said that it was quite impossible for them to avail themselves of the intended boon, as they were so much fatigued after the hours of labour that they were obliged to go to bed. With regard to the question of education, if, by a reduction of one hour in the hours of labour, the working classes would be enabled to enjoy a greater amount of education than they at present received, he thought that would furnish an additional reason why the House should legislate by passing the present Bill. The following was the opinion of one of the workmen in the employment of Mr. Gardner as to the advantages enjoyed in this respect by the adoption of the eleven hours' system:—A good feeling existed between the employer and the employed; and again (which was an answer to a statement now seldom heard, that the factory operatives were wholly unfit for the boon they sought), that the numbers attending schools at night, before the introduction of the eleven hours' system, never exceeded twenty, but was mostly much under; and the numbers that now attended (many of them adults, and women learn- 1234 ing domestic acquirements, without which they could never perform the duties of wives and mothers, including knitting, sewing, and many other domestic accomplishments), instead of being under twenty, was every evening considerably more than 100; and he had no doubt, by very little persuasion and management, would increase, until those attending night schools would comprise a good majority of the whole number of the hands employed at those mills.If, then, by the reduction of one hour's labour, greater facilities were given for improving the health and morals of the people, and for enabling them to obtain a greater degree of education, that was a very strong reason for supporting the present measure. If the consideration of these topics could possibly weigh with Her Majesty's Government—and he was sure that no one could be more anxious than they were to consult the happiness of the people—he did think that they ought to seize the opportunity which the present moment afforded, when the factory operatives were quite willing to abandon a Ten Hours' Bill, if, as he was commissioned to say, Her Majesty's Government would come forward and propose an Eleven Hours' Bill. He called upon Her Majesty's Government to aid in effecting this arrangement, which would be looked upon as a great boon by the working classes, and which could not fail to redound to the honour and credit of Her Majesty's Government.
§ MR. HUME
was unwilling at any time to oppose what appeared to be the undoubted wishes of a large portion of the working classes; and having paid some attention to the various meetings which had been held in different parts of the country on this subject, and to the petitions which had been presented to the House, he felt bound to admit that the opinion of a large body of the working classes was decidedly in favour of a limitation of the hours of labour; but it was because he considered that a more dangerous proceeding to the commercial and manufacturing interests of the country could not possibly be adopted, that he thought it his duty, and the duty of every one who believed the working classes to be in error in holding this opinion, to stand forward and resist that which, if adopted, would ultimately ruin the best interests of the country. He had on no occasion been indifferent to the interests of the working classes. On the contrary, he prided himself that one of the first objects to which he had applied himself in that House was to free their labours from the restraint of all monopolies; and it was 1235 from his experience of the good effects which had followed the adoption of that course, that he was induced to oppose the present proposal. Why, looking to the principles which the House were now avowedly acting upon, with respect to the freedom of our commercial relations, was it not contrary to common sense that they should one day he adopting a measure to relieve the capital and industry of the country from trammels, and, on another, imposing them on what were equally important—the capital of the labouring man—and not only on the capital of the labouring man, but the capital of the master who employed him? and he ventured to say that if this Bill became law, it would end in the ruin of the employer and the employed. Therefore it was that he objected to any compromise on this question. He objected to any further proceeding with a measure which would admit the principle that the House ought to enter upon a consideration of such a question. Although he had listened with the greatest attention while the hon. Member who moved the second reading of the Bill was speaking, he unfortunately had not been able to catch one single word which had fallen from him. He knew, however, what the opinions of the hon. Member were, having seen full reports of his speeches upon other occasions. He would, therefore, only address himself to the arguments employed upon this occasion by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Ainsworth) who had seconded the Motion of the hon. Member for Oldham. There were undoubtedly circumstances under which, from the state of parties in the House, a compromise might be desirable; but he hoped that they had now arrived at a time when the principles of commercial freedom were clearly understood, and that the House would continue to act upon them. The hon. Member spoke of regulating the hours of labour, as if this country could regulate the hours of the whole world. Neither that hon. Member, nor those who thought with him, seemed to bring forward a provision for meeting the rest of the world—such as Belgium and Germany—for instance, who were now rivalling our manufactures. They did not attempt to show how if we were shackled, and those countries free, we could meet them in the foreign market in respect to the cheapness of our produce. And what would be the result if we should cease to supply the foreign market, which now gave employment to many millions of our countrymen? The 1236 effect would be such that he suspected the working man, instead of complaining that he had too much work, would soon begin to complain that he had no work at all, and would be the first to call for the repeal of the Act which they were now so anxious to see passed. He thought that if the House were now to pass a Ten Hours' Bill, they would have an Eight Hours' Bill proposed before long, as it would be difficult to draw the line where the limitation should stop. They might rely upon it the good sense of the country would be found opposed to any interference with the market of labour. It could be productive only of deplorable results. No man in the country would be found more ready and willing than he to alleviate the condition of the labouring population; and if he thought the proposed measure likely to alleviate that condition in the least degree, he would most willingly vote for it. But he was convinced that such a legislative interference would be but laying the foundation of distress and misery. Why, if such rules were to be laid down by law for the regulation of the labour of workers in factories, should they not likewise regulate the hours of labour of grocers, and of every other description of tradesmen in the country? Time, indeed, had been, when the House thought that it could really, with benefit to the industrial population, lay down rules and regulations for every class; but had it not been subsequently admitted on all hands that every man was the best and the fittest judge of the manner in which his time should be employed, and of the object to which it should be applied? If this interference with the free application of labour were to be admitted, why should domestic servants be exempted? Why not introduce a clause whereby domestic servants should be prohibited from labouring during more than ten hours of the twenty-four? [Laughter.] Hon. Members might laugh; but he held that if a principle were good, it should bear to be tested by such extreme suppositions. But let them apply another form of test. Let them see what would be the effect upon the finding employment for the poor of an overburdened parish. If in his parish he had a number of hands, say 100 or 200 unemployed, how would he propose to find them support? Why, by manufactures. There was no limit to be placed to the employment which might be given by manufactures. If the markets could be met by low prices, the manufacturers of all the world could be contended with by the 1237 people of England. But that could not be done if the terms of labour were to be interfered with, and certain limits placed to them. He therefore warned hon. Gentlemen opposite connected with the agricultural interest to beware how they interfered, by legislation, to place restrictions on trade and manufactures; for every mill that was closed tended to increase pauperism, to raise poor rates, and endanger the property of the country. No one deplored more than he did the long hours of the working classes; no people in the world laboured so hard, or so long, as the English; and if it was possible to devise any means of relieving them from a portion of their labour, and enabling them to devote some portion of their time to instruction in order to elevate themselves in the scale of society, he would be the first to adopt them. But he was convinced the tendency of this measure was to lower the wages of labour—to throw many out of employment, and deteriorate the condition of the working classes. The receipts from land, and the funds might, as a means of income, be described as very great; but if they adopted measures to diminish the whole amount of capital paid in wages, they would rapidly affect most injuriously every interest in the country. Master and labourer should be left to make what bargains they pleased; the State ought not to step in and authoritatively interfere with the capital of the one, or the labour which was the capital of the other. It had been said that the factory workers were ready to take the chance of any reduction of wages; but the wages paid by the manufacturer formed only one portion of his expenses. The cost of running his machinery must also he taken into account; and if his expenditure under both heads did not enable him to produce an article at a certain cost, it would be impossible for him to compete with the foreigner. The hon. Members who had originally proposed to shorten the hours of labour, had declared their unwillingness to interfere with the action of machinery; but the House had gone from step to step until machinery was presently to be stopped altogether, although it had been clearly proved by the evidence given before Mr. Senior and the other Commissioners, who had visited the manufacturing districts, that profits depended on the last hour or two hours' operation of the machinery in factories. This showed how dangerous it was to interfere in such a case. When evidence was taken in the years 1824 and 1825 before Committees of that House, selected 1238 to inquire into the matter, the distress which was then complained of was attributed, not to the long hours of labour, but to the existence of a combination amongst the masters to keep down the rate of wages. The arguments of the hon. Member for Bolton in support of the Bill appeared to him to be the very strongest possible against the interference with the freedom of the labour market; and so convinced was he of the total impolicy of such a measure, both by his own previous convictions and the arguments he had heard, that he should move as an Amendment, that the Bill be read a second time that day six months. Before moving the Amendment, however, he thought it right to advert to some arguments which had been accidentally placed in his way a few days since, and which showed strongly the impolicy of the factory law altogether. He meant the petition presented from the ropemakers on the Clyde, by which it appeared, that out of fifty-three rope and twine makers on the Clyde, only eight worked by machinery, and those eight were subjected to all the annoyances of visits from inspectors and surgeons, and were liable to be punished for even permitting boys to be upon their premises. So that if strange boys strayed in, those manufacturers were liable to punishment under the provisions of the Factories Act. Now that was really monstrous, yet that was the law as it at present stood; and one of the consequences was, the increase of demoralization and crime. What he wished was, that masters and men should be left to make the best bargains with each other they could. Great advantage, it was said, had arisen from the abridgment of twelve to eleven hours' lahour in Mr. Gardner's mill at Preston. That was all very well; but that had taken place without the interference of the Legislature; which interference was what he decidedly objected to. If they interfered with the employment of the young, it was incumbent on them to provide for their instruction; if they compelled them to be idle, what would be the result? Their parents were too poor to send them to school, and they were left to wander about the streets. Any interference with the rights of parents and masters was against principle, and must lead to mischief; and he trusted Her Majesty's Government would give their strenuous opposition to any such extension of a vicious system as the measure now before them. If they put restrictions upon trade, they would tend to throw an additional number of those 1239 at present employed in manufactures on the poor rate of the country, and would tend to deteriorate the population. He entreated the House to pause and consider the present situation of their manufactures. All the world was now open to the enterprise of manufacturing places; country gentlemen, perhaps, might not be aware how little would turn the markets of the world against this country. He would mention one fact in proof of this: up to a certain period the Russian army was clothed with cloth supplied by this country. An additional duty was laid on wool, that applied to all kinds, fine and coarse; this raised the price of the article, and the consequence was the cloth of Belgium came into competition with the cloth of our manufacturers, and by that country the Russian contract had been ever since supplied. A very small amount, a halfpenny upon a pound or yard, was enough to turn the scale of commerce against them. He implored the House not to be led away by the idea that they were promoting the cause of humanity by such a measure. There ought to be no compromise upon it; they should act upon principle, and that would require them to reject the Bill. He was not prepared to repeal all the legislation of the past; he would not go into that—sufficient unto the day was the Motion before them; but he thought they ought not to proceed on a wrong course when they were convinced it was erroneous.
§ SIR G. STRICKLAND
thought the present question came under the notice of the House under better auspices and with better chances of success than it had ever appeared before; he thought a great change had taken place in the opinion of the master manufacturers in the great manufacturing districts. Many who had heretofore been most violently opposed to the measure were now shaken in that opposition; many—and the fact was highly creditable to them—had adopted eleven hours as their time of working instead of twelve. He had presented several petitions, among them one from the workmen in Mr. Gardner's factory in favour of the limitation. They found all who had tried the experiment were highly gratified with it. The workmen stated, that if they did lose any wages, the small loss was not to be put into competition with the immense benefit they derived from the short hours of work. Nor was it among the manufacturers only that this change of opinion had taken place; many Members of that House had been shaken in their opposition to legislation on 1240 this subject. He thought that even the hon. Member for Montrose did not now stand on that very high ground he did formerly, in his opposition to all interference between masters and labourers, because, though he still deprecated all legislation on the subject, he now made an exception in the case of young children. Now, it was from finding that the parents could not protect their children that the necessity for this interference arose; it was found that custom prevailed over their power. Parents could not prevent their children being employed for fifteen hours a day to stand against the power of machinery. The Legislature had already adopted measures preventing children under thirteen years of ago from working more than six hours a day. He recollected that those who condemned legislating on this matter said, if the restriction took place, they should see the end of the manufactures of England; if young children were not allowed to work twelve, thirteen, or fifteen hours a day, there was an end of the cotton and woollen manufactures. The change had taken place; the number of working hours for young children had been reduced to six, and he was inclined to think the manufactures of England were in a more flourishing state than ever they were. Now, what was it they asked for in coming forward with this question? That children and young persons of the ages of thirteen to eighteen should not be required to labour in manufactories against the power of machinery for a greater number of hours than was required of the strongest agricultural labourer in any part of England. For, after all, if the Bill were a Ten Hours' Bill, it would, in fact, require the same number of hours as the agricultural labourer had; it was for ten hours' labour, and two hours for meals; as the law stood at present, it required young and helpless persons to labour twelve hours, which, with two hours for meals, compelled them to be fourteen hours from home, thus depriving them not only of the comforts of life, but the means of improvement, by which they might hope to move in a more respectable situation than they did at present. He was convinced the more the question was discussed, and the oftener it was brought before the House, the more the opposition to it would continue to be shaken, and the more plainly it would appear that it could be no detriment to their manufactures to protect children and young persons, and to prevent them from working beyond their strength. All he contended for was that there should 1241 be some exception to the general rule, and that where children and young persons could not protect themselves, the law should step in, and, as a matter of humanity, give them that assistance.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
said: Although, Sir, I might have been, on the personal ground of indisposition, unwilling to address the House during the discussion of this morning, yet, as the question now stands, I think it is expedient that some Member of Her Majesty's Government should state what is the course they, as a Government, intend to pursue. The hon. Baronet who has just sat down has truly remarked, that this subject has, in the present Parliament, undergone an ample and full discussion. On former occasions it has been my duty to state to the House the principles which would guide my decision in reference to the question we are now debating. It is not a new question; it is one of paramount importance, which must be decided on great and leading principles. It has been my duty carefully and dispassionately to reconsider all the opinions, in reference to this subject, which I formerly entertained, and which I have endeavoured to express; and, considering the great interests at stake and the importance of any decision Her Majesty's Government may adopt in reference to such a subject, I should have thought it unpardonable not to have reviewed with more than ordinary caution the principles on which I have acted. I have done so, and I am bound to state to the House that the most careful consideration I have been able to bestow on the subject, has not led me to change any opinion I have before avowed with respect to this measure. It is, therefore, my duty to resist its farther progress. I will now endeavour to remove some of the obstacles to the free discussion of this measure, which have, I think, occurred in the course of the present debate. First, the hon. Member for Montrose says he deprecates any compromise. Certainly, it must be observed that the question, as it now presents itself, appears to be one not so much of principle as of detail, and therefore a compromise might on that ground be less objectionable, and a settlement by compromise might reasonably be anticipated. But I must say the petition presented by the hon. Baronet the Member for Preston (Sir G. Strickland) shows how fallacious the hope of any benefit from such compromise would be. The hon. Baronet called particular attention to the petition of the workmen of Mr. Gardner's factory. That gentleman, with a most praiseworthy 1242 beneficence, believed it was possible to combine the interests of the master and the workmen; he tried the experiment of working his machinery for eleven hours, and much reliance has been placed upon that experiment. Yet the workmen of that manufactory have this day presented a petition, not in favour of eleven hours, which would be a natural compromise, but they go a step further, and present a petition in favour of the limitation to ten hours. With regard to the observations which fell from the hon. Member who moved the second reading of this Bill, and whose conduct on this matter is beyond all suspicion, because his motives are pure, generous, and disinterested, what he says on the subject is entitled to the utmost respect. He referred to the Bill restricting the hours of labour brought in in 1819 by the late Sir R. Peel. All that Sir R. Peel proposed by that Bill was, not that ten hours should be the limitation, but twelve, which is now the law. The limitation proposed by Sir R. Peel only applied to children from 8 or 9 years of age till the age of 16. I know not that I can agree altogether with the hon. Member for Montrose, in regretting the steps the Legislature has already taken on this subject; I should be prepared to vindicate the steps which up to this time have been sanctioned by the Legislature. The hon. Member for Oldham admits that, with respect to children, everything has been done that the most tender care and paternal solicitude could require. No child under 8 years of age is permitted to work in any factory of the four great staples of the country—cotton, wool, silk, and flax. The Act of 1819 limited the hours of work for young persons to twelve, but imposed no restriction beyond the age of 16. But what has been done in later times? what has been done in the last ten years? No children under 8 years of age are admitted to manufactories at all; we have gone further, no children between the ages of 8 and 13 are allowed to work more than six hours and a half in any one day; careful provision is made during five out of six of the working days that the education of these children shall be conducted in a manner regulated by law—the quality of the education so given having been improved—for the space of three hours. Therefore as respects children the law is in a most favourable state. I admit the question has not been settled as a matter of principle, but by an agreement among parties. We have said that no young person between 13 and 18 shall work more than twelve hours in each four-and-twenty. 1243 But we have gone a step further; in consequence of the social duties imposed upon the female sex, we have said that no adult female shall be employed during the night. The measure we are about to decide upon says it is expedient to alter the said Acts for the purpose of further restricting the hours of labour for young persons and women. Let us hear the grounds on which it is proposed. There is no dispute as to the practical effect of the most important Act to which I have alluded; though in terms it does not impose any restrictions upon male adult labour or upon working machinery, yet virtually this enactment as to the hours of labour for young persons and women places as complete and as stringent a limitation upon the employment of adult labour and of machinery as if these had been restricted in express terms. I don't think there is any dispute, or any room for dispute, on that point. Having cleared the ground so far, let me entreat the House to consider for a moment the immense magnitude of the subject we are discussing. First of all, what is its bearing on our trade? What proportion do the exports from the four branches of our manufactures which may be affected by this measure bear to the whole exports of the country? I say, fearlessly, that the aggregate exports of those four branches of our manufactures constitute three-fourths of our whole exports; and they amount in value annually to between 30,000,000l. and 40,000,000l. Then, consider the wages paid to those who are employed in those manufactures. I am informed that not less than 225,000l. are paid weekly in wages to the operatives so employed; and the population dependent upon those branches of manufacture is not less than half a million. If we adopt the measure now proposed, and if it be erroneous, it is no trifling error we are about to commit. It touches our staple manufactures; it hampers our foreign trade; it affects the industry of half a million of our population; it bears upon wages amounting to nearly a quarter of a million, paid week by week. It is impossible to say whether we can consider any question of more vital importance in respect of the manufactures which are touched by the measures now proposed, or in respect of the classes who are interested in those manufactures. This is my first objection to the further progress of the Bill: I object also to the time at which we are called upon to discuss it. In the present Parliament the subject has undergone most ample consideration. An hon. Gentleman observed that the working classes were greatly disap- 1244 pointed by the course which had been pursued by this House in reference to the proposition for the reduction of the hours of labour to ten hours. I absolutely deny that this House ever decidedly pronounced for a ten hours' measure. The proposal in favour of twelve hours was rejected by the House. The Motion of Lord Ashley to substitute ten for twelve hours was also negatived. From the difficulty consequent on these two adverse votes, I then introduced a fresh Bill; and the measure we are now discussing embodies the identical clause which Lord Ashley moved on the occasion to which I have now referred. It is, totidem verbis, the same clause which was then rejected by a majority of 295 to 198. I wish the House, then, to consider the state of matters incident on the legislative settlement of the question which was ultimately adopted. All the arrangements of trade have been framed upon that decision, as fixing the period of labour; and I object therefore, so recently after a settlement of that description, to reverse a decision which I think was, upon the whole, a just and a wise one. I must refer to other circumstances which seem to render the present moment inopportune for interfering with the existing arrangements, affecting, as they do, interests of such magnitude. In the course of this Session we have come to some most important decisions with reference to the manufacturing community. A portion of those decisions is not yet operative as law, but there is another portion which is now actually in operation. That which is not operative exempts the consumer of corn in this country from the burden imposed upon him in the enhancement of price, which is the consequence of restrictions imposed upon the importation of corn from other countries. But there is a portion, as I remarked, which is already operative, namely, that which exposes our manufactures to free competition with the manufactures of foreign countries. Reductions of 15 and of 10 per cent have been proposed on the duties which have hitherto been levied for the protection of our staple manufactures. Those reductions have been carried into effect. The removal of protection from our manufactures is in full operation. But the benefit to be received by the consumer from the repeal of the Corn Laws as yet is suspended; and it is somewhat hard upon the manufacturing population to be exposed to foreign competition, while at the same time they are excluded from the benefit which, as consumers, they 1245 would derive from the free importation of foreign corn. What is the measure now before the House, but an attempt to trench upon the capital of the labourer? It has been said, "Don't treat this as a question of pounds, shillings, and pence." What are wages? Pounds, shillings, and pence. You cannot deal with the question of capital or of labour, except upon the acknowledged principles of legislation in regard to social polity. But, as to the effect of this measure, can it be otherwise than a matter of vital importance when you abridge the hours your machinery is to run by no less than one-sixth part? To that extent will this measure affect labour, and, as I think, infallibly operate upon wages. The intensity of foreign competition absolutely prohibits a rise of prices; and the effects of such a measure must, therefore, be met by a reduction of profits. What are the effects of a reduction of profits? One of these is its tendency to produce a reduction of wages. I have heard something said, as if a reduction from 12 to 11 hours would make very little difference in the quantity produced. Reference has been made to an experiment, of which I find an account in the Manchester Guardian of April 4. The experiment was tried at one of the mills of Horrockses, Miller, and Co., of Preston, and the statement to which I refer gives the following results:—
1246 The quantity, it thus appears, spun in 69 hours was 307,525; the proportional quantity for 64 hours being 285,240. The workmen, notwithstanding every exertion on their part to go beyond the average quantity and obtain a result favourable to the reduction of the hours of labour, brought the quantity worked in 64 hours up only to 287,016; the experiment showing a diminution of produce, by working 11 hours per day instead of 12, to the extent of 6⅔ per cent on hand-mules, of 7⅞ per cent on self-acting mules and on throstles. It seems clear, therefore, that the result of the experiment is unfavourable to the proposition which is now before the House. Assuming that the effect of this measure falls upon capital, if you reduce the hours of labour from 12 to 10, I cannot put the loss to the manufacturer by any calculation at less than a tax of 16 per cent upon that capital. But, as I have already said, the capitalists will shift a large portion of their loss from a reduction of profits to a reduction of wages. Take the supposition that a reduction of profits is avoided by a reduction of wages. The sole capital of the working man is his labour. His hard lot is to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow; in pain and sorrow he eats it all the days of his life. Take care, then, lest from motives of mistaken humanity you aggravate his lot. I know nothing more praiseworthy, nothing more worthy of the admiration of the working classes, than the patient endurance with which the operatives in the manufacturing districts strive to improve their condition. You must take care lest you offer any impediment to their progress. You must keep in view the effects which your interference may have on their moral condition. If you add to their poverty, it will degrade their situation in life. I am certain it will not promote their morality. Any measure which interferes with their labour is fatal to their independence, and every measure fatal to their independence is injurious to their morals. I yesterday received, I may say had the honour of receiving, a deputation from the working classes. I never heard arguments in favour of a measure which had a bearing on the personal interests of any parties stated with greater clearness and moderation. If this were a matter of feeling, my judgment would be biassed in their favour; but I stated to them what I state now to you, that it is no pedantic adherence to the principles of political economy that induces 1247 me to oppose the measure now before the House; but I oppose it because I do believe it is for the good of the working classes, rightly understood, that we should not carry this abridgment of the hours of labour further than it has already gone. I am persuaded that a measure imposing a tax approaching to 16 per cent upon the little capital of the working man, would be one of the most grinding and oppressive measures that the Legislature, by design or by inadvertence, ever passed. I am persuaded that in the long run the working classes themselves would be the great losers. The hon. Member for Montrose most opportunely brought a fact before us to-day, which shows the inexpediency of interference. We did not contemplate bringing the ropemakers under the operation of the existing Act. But by the legal construction of the Statute, they are found to come within its range. What is the consequence? Why, that both masters and men concur in telling you that you have inadvertently committed a great error and a great injury in limiting the hours of their labour. I believe there are other cases which have not as yet been brought under your notice. Were I to dwell on the subject, I should only restate what has been already laid before the House. While we abrogate the protecting duties by which our great manufacturing interests were favoured, let us not trammel their exertions by further interference such as is now proposed; we expose them to competition with foreign manufactures, carried on without limitation, without interference, with none of those surgeons' visits which have been the subject of complaint, with none of those regulations which are so vexatious, yet so indispensable if the law is to be enforced at all. But all I ask is, that you will not hastily and prematurely depart from the decision which you so lately pronounced on this subject, and which, indeed, is itself a violation of sound principle, in favour of the measure now proposed, which goes beyond the existing law, and is not defensible upon any general principles whatever, and which is not proved necessary by experience. I believe that in France the hours of labour are from 72 to 84 in the week; in Russia, from 70 to 90; in Austria, from 72 to 80, and so also in other countries, while by law in this country they are limited to 69. You are, by the willing acquiescence of your trading community, labouring under this restriction, about to expose them to free competition 1248 with countries which are not subjected practically to any limitation of the hours of labour, or of the working of machinery. They said, "Repeal, if you will, all protecting duties." The protection duties are gone. You have consented to more than that. You have actually allowed the export of all your machinery. You have allowed the export of your coal. You have given every facility to foreign manufactures. And under these circumstances British manufactures must enter the arena; all you are asked to do is to give them fair play. I have reviewed my opinions upon a most important branch of commercial law. I have satisfied myself that the Corn Law is injurious as it stands, and further, that it is unjust to the great body of consumers. I have exposed myself to all charges of inconsistency. I have sacrificed all personal prejudices, preconceived opinions, and presumed interests. I take no credit for doing so. I have come to the conclusion that the law as to the importation of corn ought to be altered. In this matter my judgment is not warped by personal interests. If I could have satisfied myself that I had come to an erroneous conclusion on a former occasion when this subject was submitted to the House, I should certainly have adopted the same course, and would not have hesitated to avow a change of opinion, and give my support to the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Fielden). Having shortly stated my reasons for opposing the measure he has proposed, and having conferred with my Colleagues on the subject, I believe I may state on their part that their decision concurs with mine, that, upon the whole, no ground has been laid for further interference. There ought to be no hesitation on the part of the Executive Government in a question of this kind; and I announce our firm determination to resist the further progress of this Bill.
COUNTS OF YARN SPUN, 30's TO 40's. Time. Hand Mules. Self-acting Mules. Throstles. Quantity spun in 69 hours, average of 4 weeks ending February 20 307,525 draws. 714 lb. 721 lb. Quantity spun in 64 hours, average of 4 weeks, ending March 27 287,016 draws. 651 lb. 665 lb. The proportionate quantity for 64 hours, as against 69 hours, should be 285,240 draws. 662 lb. 668½ lb.
§ MR. M. PHILIPS
rose to address the House with great satisfaction, after the speech of the right hon. Baronet—a speech which was as convincing as it was sound and judicious. He had no hesitation in saying that he had no interest in opposing a Ten Hours' Bill; to him it was a matter of most perfect indifference whatever number of hours was legislated for; but he was bound to look at the condition of the great masses of the people of this country, and to legislate upon such a subject with the utmost caution. There had been one fact adduced in the course of this debate of great importance, and he should be 1249 surprised to find it attempted to be disputed by any hon. Member. They had been formerly met with a declaration, that, if a Ten Hours' Bill were passed, there would be an equal quantity of work done as in twelve hours. He thought that fallacy had been fully exposed by the experiment which had been made, with a most praiseworthy object, by several manufacturers, the result of which had been correctly stated by the right hon. Baronet. It was a fallacy to suppose that with a Ten Hours' Bill the workmen could produce an equivalent for that which they now received twelve hours' wages, when he considered the machinery at the present moment. Then it came to this question, whether, supposing the workmen did the same quantity of work as they now did in ten hours, they were content with ten hours' pay? He believed if the question were decided by the ballot, the workmen would decide the other way. To expect that an individual could earn the same amount of wages for ten hours' labour that he now did for twelve, was an absurdity. It had been said that the working people were ready to run the risk. Assuming that they were so, was it the part of the Legislature to suffer them to run such a risk? He would ask, if the working classes did expect any advantages from a Ten Hours' Bill, how it was, on former occasions, when work was good and wages were high, there never was any combination to compel the Members to try the experiment? The masters would have been ready to make the experiment. He must deprecate interfering with adult labour. The House was not now legislating for women or children, but for heads of families. However he might run counter to the opinions of his constituents upon this subject, who might, if they thought it just and proper to do so, with draw their confidence from him, he could not refrain from expressing his opinion that, by passing this Bill, the Legislature would inflict upon the trade of this country, though with the best intentions, one of the severest blows which it had ever suffered; and would cause the greatest injury to the working classes themselves. He looked at this question in a general point of view—in a national point of view, and he took his stand upon the sound arguments of the right hon. Baronet. After the address the right hon. Baronet had just delivered, he had thought himself bound to offer himself to the House, and to express his cordial concurrence in the view the right hon. Ba- 1250 ronet had taken, and he should feel it to be his duty to record his vote in opposition to the second reading of this Bill.
§ Debate adjourned till Wednesday, May 13th.
§ House adjourned.