§ MR. COLQUHOUN
said, he was anxious to explain the considerations which prevailed with him in inducing him to give his support to the Motion that the Bill originally introduced by Lord Ashley, and now, in the absence of that noble Lord, brought forward by his Friend the hon. Member for Oldham, be read a second time. Before doing so, however, he must be allowed to express the surprise with which he had listened to a statement made by his Friend the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department on the last day that this measure was under discussion, to the effect that the House had never pronounced any opinion in favour of the Ten Hours' Bill. This statement struck him as extraordinary, and appeared to him to be scarcely consistent with the facts of the case, for he had a distinct recollection that when Lord Ashley made a Motion by way of Amendment to a twelve hour clause, introduced by the right hon. Baronet himself into a former Bill, limiting the restriction to ten hours, the right hon. Baronet admitted, in almost as many words, that the decision at which the House on that occasion arrived was a formal affirmation of the principle of the Ten Hours' Bill. Whether the House were right or wrong in pronouncing that opinion, he would not just at that moment pause to consider; but that they had come formally and deliberately to a decision that it was desirable to abridge the hours of labour, in the manner proposed by Lord Ashley, was abso- 467 lutely certain. The right hon. Baronet (Sir James Graham) had justified his opposition to this measure on the plea that if it were to receive the sanction of the Legislature it would affect most injuriously our four great staple branches of manufacture—cotton, woollen, silk, and linen; but he could not bring himself to believe that it would have any such consequence. If he thought that the great staple manufactures of this country, or any of them, could be prejudiced by the further restriction of hours of labour, he could not, on any consideration, be induced to consent to the Bill of the hon. Member for Oldham; but he was convinced it would have no such tendency. For many years he had voted against the Motion of the noble Lord the late Member for Dorsetshire; but the experience, not of three only, but of very many succeeding years, had now served to convince him that it was an error to entertain any apprehension of evil consequences either to the employer or to the manufacturer from such a Motion. The experience of past years had demonstrated that the various branches of manufacture in this country had not suffered from the restrictions of the time of labour which had been already imposed, but that, on the contrary, signal advantage had accrued, as well to the employers themselves as to the employed. The honest and humane manufacturer knew that he would be benefited by the rational restriction of labour, and consequently did not resist it. It was only the hardhearted and unfeeling amongst the manufacturers who systematically opposed the principle, and clamoured for the continuance of those extravagant hours of labour which were so much and so justly complained of before the Act of 1833 was Drought in. He was sure he was quite warranted by the fact in asserting that the good and the humane amongst the manufacturers were strongly in favour of the restrictions on the hours for labour which had already been imposed by the Legislature. The question now really to be decided was, not the theoretic one whether it were desirable to restrict the hours of labour or not—that principle had been already practically affirmed—but whether things should continue in precisely their present position, or the restrictions which had already been imposed be extended and rendered more stringent. That was in fact the real question at issue. In his opinion, the experience of the past fully justified them in going a step further, as 468 was now proposed. The cotton manufacture, so far from having been prejudiced by the restrictions on labour which had been already imposed, had prospered under them to an unexampled degree. In fact, it had taken a start, and acquired a development for which there was no parallel in the antecedent history of the trade. The question now was—"shall the restrictions already imposed remain as they are, or is it wise and expedient that they shall be extended in any degree beyond their present limit?" There were many hon. Members who were in favour of a restriction to eleven hours, but who opposed a restriction to ten. Perhaps their views were prudent and reasonable. He did not say to the contrary; but what he was anxious to impress on them was, that they might with perfect propriety and perfect consistency support the present Bill. He earnestly solicited them to do so. By so doing, they would not be pledging themselves to any principle which they could not sanction. The Bill contained only two clauses; and it should be borne in mind that the hon. Member who introduced it only proposed in the first instance to go for eleven hours. What he proposed was, that the experiment of the eleven hour system should be tried for two years. [An hon. MEMBER: For one year.] That made the case stronger. He advocated the experiment of the eleven hour system for one year, and wished that after that the ten hour system should be adopted; but observe, this prospective provision might be modified or totally struck out from the Bill in Committee; and it would be quite optional for hon. Members to determine that the eleven hour restriction would be the utmost limit to which they would go. It was quite competent for them to omit altogether in Committee the clause having reference to ten hours, and to declare that they would take their stand on the eleven hour system, and not stir beyond it—at least not until ample opportunity for testing the eleven hour system had been afforded. It was clear, therefore, that they would act with perfect consistency in supporting the second reading. And now he would address himself to the consideration of the eleven hour restriction. For the present he would confine himself to that point. His Friend the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department, when last this question was under discussion, had said, that he apprehended very injurious results from the measure to the cotton manufacturer of 469 England, who, he feared, would be unable to maintain competition with the manufacturers of the Continent, where the hours of factory labour were longer than in this country. He believed it was quite true, as stated, that on the Continent generally the hours of labour were longer. He was well aware that in France and Austria, instead of the period of labour being confined to sixty-nine hours per week, as in England, it was seventy-eight hours, and in many instances as much as eighty-five. He admitted that, apparently, there was thus a great advantage in favour of the French manufacturer; but he would take leave to put before them the real facts of the case, which he obtained only a few weeks since from Mr. Waddington, an Englishman of very high character, who for the last twenty years had been a manufacturer of cotton in Rouen. This gentleman, who had recently occasion to call on certain parties in France to join him as capitalists in extending that branch of manufacture in Rouen, had assured him, that the result of his experience, on a comparison of the labouring classes of both countries, was, that the French operative, working fourteen hours a day, would not be able to accomplish the same amount of labour as the English operative working ten hours a day. That was his experience for years, and he gave as a proof only—not immediately in the spinning or weaving departments, where the skill demanded was greater—the working of railway labourers. All the higher branches of railway labour between Rouen and Paris were filled by English workmen, who were paid nearly twice the amount of wages that Frenchmen were, simply because their labour was nearly twice as valuable; and it was an unquestionable fact that those Englishmen actually worked fewer hours a day than the French labourers, and yet did double the amount of labour. He could not see, therefore, how it could be contended that because skilled labour in France was cheaper than in England, injury would result to the English manufacturer from a restriction of the hours of toil. The right hon. Baronet had said that such a measure would amount to a tax on the manufacturer's capital; but what would be the amount of that tax? Be it remembered he was talking of the eleven hour system, to which the House might, if it chose, limit itself by a Resolution to that effect in Committee. For proof of its advantage he would refer to the ex- 470 perience of the Messrs. Gardiner, who themselves abridged the hours of labour to eleven hours, which was followed with the best consequences to all concerned. He would ask the House to consider too what was the amount of disadvantage which would result to the manufacturer from that system? It had been estimated by the manufacturers themselves, who were adverse to the present Bill, and whose testimony on the point was of course unexceptionable. He would accept the calculation which he had seen in a Manchester paper, and which had been made by Mr. Eccles, who calculated the loss at 7½ per cent. Let it then be taken at that calculation; but look at the other side of the question. What was the value of the advantage which had been secured to the manufacturer last year by the remission of the duty on cotton? An eminent manufacturer of Glasgow who petitioned the House for the remission of the duty had estimated it in his petition as equivalent to a tax of 3 per cent on the great bulk of cotton exports, which were heavy goods. The duty, therefore, having been estimated as a tax of 3 per cent on the great bulk of exported manufactures, the advantage of the remission might be very fairly estimated at the same sum. One advantage, tantamount to 3 per cent, had been thus secured to him; but then consider what benefit he was likely to realize from certain great commercial changes which were in contemplation to regulate the importation of corn. According to the views of hon. Gentlemen opposite, very material advantages would accrue to the cotton manufacturer from those changes. If, therefore, it could be shown that they were going to give to the cotton manufacturer advantages more than equivalent to the tax they were going to impose, were there not good and valid reasons why, due regard being had to the interests of the employed, the hours of labour should be restricted? He did not place it, however, on this exclusive basis. He was certain that it would be for the interest even of the manufacturer himself that this restriction should take place. The real state of the manufacturing districts in England and Scotland was this—there were great capitals competing for profit, and great masses of labour competing for employment; and the necessary result was, that where labour was growing with a rapidity far beyond the extent of investment, great though that was, labour became prostrate and was thrown at the 471 feet of capital. This result necessarily grew from great competition on the part of capital, and great competition on the part of labour; but surely it was the duty of the Legislature to interpose and protect the weaker party. By so doing they would also best consult the interests of the manufacturers themselves. They all knew the state of feeling which prevailed amongst the masses of manufacturing operatives in this country towards very many of the great manufacturers. He did not concur in the bitter denunciations of the hon. Member for Knaresborough against the master manufacturers. He knew that there were to be found amongst them men as intelligent, honourable, and humane as any in the world. Nor would he draw any invidious contrast between them and the landed proprietors: both had their virtues. They could not disguise—and no one who knew the state of the manufacturing districts ought to disguise—that there was in existence a sore and angry feeling on the part of the operatives, in consequence of the state in which they were placed. They saw the manufacturers make enormous fortunes—it was perfectly well known that they did—it was perfectly notorious that manufacturing capital was very successful—it was clear what the manufacturers made—he rejoiced that they did make it—but the operative was crushed to the earth by diminished wages. [An hon. MEMBER: Competition.] The operative found his wages to be sinking—he found his labour intense, and protracted for hours which he felt exhausted his frame; and he asked them to reduce that period by two hours, which he (Mr. Colquhoun) conceived could be done, on the grounds he stated, without seriously injuring the profits of the manufacturer. The operative, observing that state of things, felt towards the manufacturer sentiments which it was wise not to leave in his breast if they could remove them; and he (Mr. Colquhoun) thought they could remove—he thought they could mitigate those feelings if they secured for the operative hours of rest—if they secured to him periods of recreation, and afforded him the means of cultivating his mind and improving his morals. Those means they would give him, even if they reduced the time one hour; and he thought it was no less for the interest of the manufacturer than of the operative that this restriction should take place. That brought him to the point to which the hon. Member for Glasgow had called his attention—to com- 472 petition. How would this restriction bear on the wages of the operative? They told him they were very anxious that the operative should not suffer a loss in his wages; and he could not help recalling the words of the Secretary of State the other night, and say, let them be perfectly sincere on this question. Let it be quite plain to the operative, that they were really anxious on his account, and not on their own; that they wished to save him as well as themselves. Now, what would be the effect on him? The effect, as stated by Messrs. Holdsworth and Gregg, of one hour would be a reduction of about 7½ per cent of the wages of labour. They stated that the average wages of labour in their district was about 10s. 2d., 10s. 4d.—[An hon. MEMBER: 10s. 3¼d.]—or 10s. 3½d., or some such sum as that. But he preferred to take the average from the Factory Inspectors Report by Mr. Leonard Horner, and he gave 11s. 7d. as the average wages of each operative. What would be the effect of this reduction of one-twelfth on the wages of the operative? It would be a reduction from the present rate of nearly 9d. a week; that was to say, it would reduce the present yearly amount from 31l. 5s. to 28l. 16s.; that was the loss the operative would sustain. Well, now the operative said he was quite prepared for that; and yet they said they must interfere and protect the operative from that loss. But the operatives had sustained a loss by the competition which had taken place in labour. They were told by the same authority, Mr. Leonard Horner, on the testimony of the manufacturers themselves, that the operatives had sustained a reduction not merely of 7 per cent. He (Mr. Colquhoun) would state to the hon. Member for Glasgow what the average reduction had been in the years between 1828 and 1841, and that was stated, not on his testimony, but on the testimony of manufacturers themselves, submitted to Mr. Horner. The average fall from the year 1828 to 1841, excluding the spinners, which would make the fall still greater, was 17 per cent, and the lowest reduction that had taken place was 11 per cent—that was to say, the 8s. wages fell to 7s., and the 4s. wages fell to 3s. 6d. [An hon. MEMBER: I object to 4s.] The hon. Member would find it was a strong argument if he even threw out 1841. They had also the same authority, telling them that in one mill, in Manchester, the fall between 1828 and 1829, or in 473 twelve months, was 13 per cent. There was the fact stated on the testimony of the manufacturers themselves. They were benefiting the operative to the full extent of 7 per cent, if they took 7 per cent off, and reduced the hours of labour; and the operative was fully prepared to lose 7 per cent of his wages if he were afforded the opportunity to gain in health and morals. They wanted, however, to extend the ægis of their protection over the operative; and he thought the House would act wisely to adopt the proposition of the hon. Member, and restrict the hours of labour. It would be for the benefit both of the operative and manufacturer. High wages were by no means an indication of great comfort on the part of those who received them. It was notorious in the manufacturing districts that the highest paid operatives were not always the best conducted, the most happy in their homes, or the most moral in their lives. Moderate wages with moderate labour were unquestionably of the highest advantage to operatives; and, consistently with reason and sound sense, they asked the House to restrict the hours of labour, expecting as a compensation for any reduction of wages greater economy in their household and greater salubrity in their mode of living; while the masters would also find a compensation for the reduced hours of labour in a happier and healthier tone of feeling on the part of their operatives, in the existence of greater harmony between master and man, and in the progress of free and fair competition, which still might realize for them ample profits.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
There is one part of the speech of the hon. Gentleman who last sat down in which I am happy to express my entire concurrence. I mean in the wish he gave utterance to, that the difficulties which beset this discussion may not be augmented, or embittered in any way, by recrimination on the part of those two great classes of the community that are equally important to its prosperity and wealth: I mean those engaged in the occupations of agriculture, and those engaged in the occupations of commerce. I have regretted that of late years so much of that kind of recrimination has been heard within these walls; and I confess that one of the advantages which I anticipate from those commercial measures which have lately occupied the attention of the House—if they be carried into law—is, that they will have the effect of preventing Englishmen 474 in future being handed in separate parties against each other, not on account of those ancient and necessary distinctions which must exist in all free countries, but on the direct personal interests of the separate trades and occupations which they professed. Though I am unwilling, from the deep sense which I entertain of the importance of this subject, to give a silent vote upon it, yet having on former occasions taken the liberty of expressing my views to the House, and having heard also, in the course of this discussion, those sentiments which I entertain better expressed than I can express them, I shall not, I can assure the House, venture to occupy its attention for any length of time. But the question itself is of such moment—a right decision on it is of so much importance to the interests of the country—that it is impossible for me to hear it discussed in this House without attempting at least to convey to the House the alarm I feel that any precipitate and inconsiderate resolution should be come to by the House upon it. Sir, that it is a subject of the greatest gravity and importance no man can deny. What is the proposal of the hon. Gentleman who brought this question forward? It is nothing more nor less than this—to diminish by one-sixth the productive power of the great manufacturers of this country. Sir, we are indeed assured that this measure will not injure the interests of the great body of the working population engaged in those manufactories. I can only say that I believe if I could separate the commercial part of this question from what is called the part relating to humanity—if I could persuade myself that the great body of the people directly employed in the manufactories of this country, and that still larger portion of the people whose condition must be indirectly affected by whatever you do with regard to those employed in manufactories—if I could believe that their condition, physical and moral, would be permanently raised by the adoption of measures such as that now recommended to us, no considerations of commercial prosperity, no desire for national aggrandizement, or to see wealth accumulated, would stand in my way in giving my consent to such a proposition. The great body of the working classes of the people are the most important class in this country, and deserve consideration beyond all others. They are, Sir, the most important part of the human race in the sight of the Creator, and for this reason, because 475 they are the most numerous. He regards all his creatures with equal affection and care; and having so placed and arranged the condition of human affairs that the great body of mankind are condemned to earn their livelihood with the sweat of their brow, that great body is most important in his sight, and should be most important in the sight of every man to whom he has committed any portion of authority over the rest of his fellow creatures. It is, Sir, because I am prepared to support that assertion—it is because I fear the adoption of the measure proposed to us would be fraught with danger to the permanent interests of that great body of the people, that I warn this House to consider all its consequences before they adopt it. It is not enough to say to us, "Here is a great moral and physical evil—it is an evil that these people should work twelve hours a day—it is better that they should work ten hours—let us by direct legislation strike at the root of the evil, and enact that they shall only work ten hours." If it were possible, Sir, to deal with the subject in that way, the task of legislation would be easy. Do we deal with other subjects in that way, and seek to put down every evil by direct legislation? Do we not consider the consequences, and is it, I ask, real humanity—that sort of humanity that becomes statesmen and legislators—to act without considering all the consequences of measures of this kind? It is proposed to put an end to this practice by direct legislation. But do we, I ask, Sir, deal thus with the other relations of society? I do not, Sir, wish to make invidious comparisons between different portions of the community employed in different occupations. We have heard of the condition of the labourers in the south-west of England; we have lately heard a dispute as to whether their wages were seven or eight shillings a week; and will any person who knows the condition of the people there, the rate of wages they receive, and the sort of houses in which they live, say those are not great moral and physical evils? Yet, if any man should propose to put an end to this by direct enactment, and to declare that it shall be penal to employ any man unless you give him ten shillings a week, or to permit him to live in a cottage where he and his family cannot have the common comforts of life—the man who would make that proposal would be immediately met with the objection, "Take care what you are about, and that your rash legisla- 476 tion does not inflict more evil than it is calculated to prevent." I mention these things because I fear that you are treading on dangerous ground, and do not see what may be the effect of what you propose. We should be cautious how we interfere with that which every writer on the subject tells us is as unsafe a matter as a Legislature can interfere with—I mean, the labour market of the country. There is one admission I am ready to make to the Gentlemen who have taken the opposite side of the case. It is this: I consider we are now discussing a case not of principle, but of degree. I don't take my stand on what is called the high ground, but which I think is the very unsafe ground, taken by the hon. Member for Montrose, that the principle of interference is absolutely inadmissible. It does not lie in my mouth to use that argument. I have supported the Factory Bill almost as it now stands. I supported the proposition of Lord Ashley—whose absence from this House we must all regret, particularly on an occasion like the present—to prevent women from working in under-ground mines. I think the Legislature, by proceeding cautiously, have done more good than harm; but when I say that by the present Factory Bill we have done more good than harm, we are not without a warning upon what dangerous ground we are treading, and how cautious we ought to be in pushing this principle further. There is one circumstance in connexion with this view of the subject which I wish to mention to the House; it is stated by the Commissioners of Factories, and struck me very much at the time—I mean, the effects which are produced on the children in the towns by different kinds of labour. In the town of Warrington, there are three occupations in which the children of the poor are engaged: one is the factory labour, which is by far the lightest; the next is fustian cutting, which is a more severe occupation; and the third is the manufacture of pins, which is an occupation still more severe, and the effects of which on the eyesight it would be painful to describe. And we find this is the case—you have regulated the labour of children in factories, but you do not regulate it in the fustian cutting shop, or at the pinmaker's; and when the children are too young to be sent into factories, they are sent to the fustian cutting shop, and to the shop where pins are made. Now, if any Gentleman should say, we will follow them to the fustian cutting shop, and to the shop where 477 pins are made, and we shall see that everywhere and in all occupations only a humane degree of labour is permitted, they would be immediately stopped by the utter impossibility of doing it. If you adopt the principle of interference generally, and say that in all cases the labour performed throughout the country shall be subject to the vigilance of the Government, you must do this—you must turn one-third of the people of England into commissioners to watch the other two thirds. Is this, Sir, I ask, a thing to be tolerated? Why, Sir, it is against the genius of the country—it is opposed to common sense—it is utterly impossible to carry it into effect. A memorial has lately been put into my hands, from the fustian cutters of Manchester to the Government; and what does this memorial state? It states—That owing to the Factories Act virtually excluding children under thirteen years of age from working in mills where the machinery is propelled by steam power, many children that would otherwise work in factories find their way into the business of fustian cutting, at nine and intermediate ages; and thus this necessary and humane measure is in these cases not only rendered inoperative, but even injurious, as in the business of fustian cutting the children are longer, later, harder worked than they possibly could be in factories, if no such laws were in existence.The memorialists prayed—That the factory law should be extended to fustian cutting shops, and that a legal functionary, appointed by the Government, should become, as it were, the guardian of the law, to receive informations and undertake prosecutions.They want that a Government officer should be appointed to watch over the conduct of the masters, inspecting their shops and carrying this law into effect; and if such a law could be carried into effect at all, it is only by a system of espionage of that kind. But if that were done, it would not stop with the fustian cutters; it would be said, there were hundreds of trades in the metropolis that can make out a stronger case. The fustian cutters say the condition of their trade is a moral evil, and ask the Government to appoint magistrates to see the manner in which their trade is conducted. But they ask what is impossible, and what would do a great deal more harm than good. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last said, the probability is now that there will be some reduction of wages if this Bill is passed; but the working people are prepared for that—they are quite ready to assent to it. Now, Sir, I have inquired into that subject as well as I could; and I beg to express my entire 478 conviction that if the working people of this country were satisfied that a reduction of wages would be the consequence of this Bill, they would, as one man, protest against it. But the hon. Member who moved the second reading of this Bill—I don't know whether he be in the House at present—said, in moving the second reading, that there would be no diminution of profits—there would be no reduction of wages depending upon the shortening of the hours of labour which this Bill provides. When this statement was made by a Gentleman whose character as a manufacturer is deservedly high, and when the people are told they will get twelve hours' wages for ten hours' labour, it is not surprising that a desire should be expressed by the operatives for the passing of a Bill to effect that. But if the House is persuaded that there will be a material fall in wages—if they believe there is reason to think the disappointment of the operatives would be as great as their expectations were high when this Bill was brought forward, the House will be cautious how it interferes. This fact has been stated, and never has been contradicted—there is no such thing on record as a strike for shorter hours. The strikes for higher wages have been frequent; but there never have been strikes for shorter hours of work. Some persons said, the reason of that was because the workmen were afraid of their masters; but let it be recollected, that they were not afraid of the masters when they struck for higher wages, and when they had an object to effect they combined to advance that object. Again, I understand the instances are numerous of hands leaving mills that were working at short time, to go to those mills that were working at long time; but there is no such thing on record as workmen leaving mills that were working twelve hours to go to mills that were working ten hours. While I am on this subject I shall venture to read to the House an extract from the letter of a gentleman, who has permitted me to use it. From the nature of the facts it contains, and the authority of the gentleman from whom I have received it, it is deserving of the consideration of the House. It is a letter from Mr. William Gregg, stating what was the result of an experiment in his brother's (Mr. Robert Gregg's) mill, in Manchester, to work for eleven hours. Mr. Gregg says—My brother tried the reduction of the usual time to eleven hours for some weeks without re- 479 ducing the wages of those hands who were paid by the day: but as the loss in the amount produced was too serious to allow him to continue this without some change, he proposed to continue the eleven hours' system if they would divide the loss with him, and accept eleven and a half hours' wages (or something like that); but he found them unanimous in preferring twelve hours' work to eleven, with any reduction whatever of wages, however slight.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
So much the more important the testimony. Mr. Horner stated in his Report—I have made some calculations as to the probable reduction of wages, and of the whole loss that would be thrown on the operatives. I make the amount, in the case of eleven hours a day to be 13 per cent; and in the case of ten hours a day, 25 per cent, at the present average rate of wages.Now, if we think that we ought to enforce the eleven hours at the least, let us at least do it with our eyes open. Let us not do it under the delusion—a delusion which, when we know the facts, we have no excuse for maintaining in our own minds, that we shall not seriously affect the wages of the working people of the country; and let us take care that that reduction shall not take them by surprise, and cause them in the end serious disappointment. My own belief is this, if you pass this Bill, the consequence at no distant time must be a fearful struggle between the capitalists of this country, whose capitals are at stake as master manufacturers, and the working population whom they employ. I believe that both classes would suffer inevitably in that struggle; but sure I am, that those on whom the consequences would come with most weight, would be that labouring population for whose benefit you profess to legislate. Sir, I don't say that this would come at once—on the contrary, it is rather curious, I think, to consider what would be the first effect of a measure of this kind. I will suppose that you pass this Bill, and strike off one-sixth of the productive power of this country. The effect on the general markets of the world of such a reduction would be immense; a great void would be created, and prices would rise. The foreigner would not be prepared at the moment to fill up the gap; trade would be stimulated; and it might happen, for the moment, that speculators, deceived by first appearances, would unduly extend their 480 operations. But the recoil would inevitably come; the foreign capitalist, unrestrained by those restrictions, and working his twelve hours against your ten, would soon fill up the gap. Then would come the struggle between your manufacturers working only ten hours, and the foreign manufacturer working twelve hours. Simultaneously with that would be the struggle between your own manufacturers and your labouring population, when the former tried to reduce the wages of the latter, to make up the loss he sustained not only by the diminished produce of his mill in consequence of two hours' labour being taken from him, but also on account of the increased expense which it must throw upon him. Are those, I ask, consequences to be contemplated lightly? Is not this a state of things which it behoves every person who is prepared to give a vote on this question seriously to consider. As I have said before, Sir, I am no bigot in favour of non-interference. I consider there are material advantages which may arise from the Government of the country and the Legislature of the country cautiously and considerately showing an interest for the labouring population that is congregated in masses in the factories of this country. There is a distinction between them and the other labouring population; and the distinction is, that in one case we can reach them in an instant, but we cannot in the other; and I ask, Sir, is it because this part of the labouring population is immediately within our reach that therefore we should make it the subject of rash and hazardous legislation? I trust, Sir, that in the same Session of Parliament in which we are about to witness the removal of the shackles on trade, we shall not witness the increase of restriction on that which is the capital of the poor man. This is a delicate subject to deal with, for recollect if you pass this Bill, what do you say in fact, if not in words? You say this—"At no time, under no circumstances, shall you, however desirable, accept wages on the condition of working twelve hours in the day, within the walls of a factory;" and I ask, is that a safe thing to state? Are you prepared to say, that under all circumstances, an iron rule of that kind will do good? I admitted when I first rose that this was a question of degree, and not of principle. I have treated this all along, and so has the House, as a Bill to limit the labour of the adult population of the country, and it has been treated so by 481 others. It is true it does not do so by words, but it does so in practice; and that is freely admitted by those to whom respect is due on account of their character and intelligence, and the manner in which they have conducted themselves. The deputies of the working classes, who argued the matter, admitted that they looked upon it as a Bill to limit the labour of adults. I have observed with very great pleasure, that there does exist amongst the working classes of this country an increased desire for leisure and intellectual improvement. I see that disposition on the part of the people of the country with the greatest satisfaction. I see also, with satisfaction, that libraries have been provided in some instances, and class-rooms for instruction, and that all this has been done by voluntary arrangement between the master and men. It is deserving of encouragement, and can be done without danger, because the rule can be relaxed at any time if necessary; and it will also have the effect of generating good feelings between the operatives and their employer. But there is a great difference between a voluntary arrangement of this kind and a compulsory enactment. I shall now venture, with reference to this part of the question, to call the attention of the House to a document which I have lately received; it is a notice to their workmen issued by a firm whose high mercantile character renders them worthy of the respect that is paid to their public merit, and also entitles them to the respect of this House. I mean the Messrs. Marshal], of Leeds, who have been lately trying the eleven hour system. But they accompanied this experiment by an appeal to their workmen to co-operate with them in carrying it out. They stated to the workmen very fairly—if we make this experiment, we have reason to expect from you that you will pay increased attention to your work. And they suggest various ways in which the workmen can co-operate with them in carrying out those regulations. After stating that they had provided a mill library and class rooms for instruction, and made other arrangements, they go on to make this statement:—We trust that the voluntary reduction of the hours of labour on our part will be met by a readiness on the part of our workpeople to perform their share also in a cheerful endeavour to make their labour more valuable to their employers when their hours of work are shortened. This is the more necessary in a manufactory such as ours, where the work is generally not paid by the 482 piece, but by the day. It is clear that the employer cannot in this case continue to pay the same wages as now for shorter hours of work, unless there is increased care, attention, and skill on the part of the workpeople, so as to make their work of equal value to their employer. Now this, we are convinced, is quite practicable if there is a willingness and a desire to do it; and when it is understood that this is the only way in which the workpeople can permanently elevate and improve their condition, we feel convinced that the effort will be made. There must be perfect punctuality of attendance; no time wasted during the hours of work; the machinery must be kept going till the bell rings; no time can be allowed, before the bell rings, for changing of dress; instead of which suitable places will be provided for all the workpeople, in which to keep their change of dress, and seats for them at meal times. These regulations are essential to the success of the plan for shortening hours of labour without reducing wages; they do not, really, in any degree make the work more laborious or irksome. Work done with punctuality and order is always the lightest and pleasantest work.Now, Sir, I have no doubt that with employers such as the Messrs. Marshall coming forward to make such a proposal, that the labourers would endeavour, by conforming with those arrangements, to render this reduction of labour a matter of as little loss as possible to their employers. They have the same wages for the ten hours work as they had before, and they are bound by every motive that can actuate man to co-operate with them. But suppose instead of this being a voluntary concession on the part of the Messrs. Marshall, it had been forced upon them by the Legislature, what would be the consequence? Why, it is in human nature that the workmen should say, "We owe you no thanks for this, and you cannot expect us to alter our usual habits to do anything unusual for this." It is just a point of this kind which I think constitutes the material difference between a voluntary shortening of hours of labour on the part of the manufacturer, so as to render the loss as slight as possible, and the result of a law on the part of the Legislature ordaining it as a matter of compulsion. I cannot accept the invitation that is given to me to proceed any further when I look abroad and consider what we have done hitherto. We are now practically limiting the hours of labour to the workmen to something beyond—it is not very much beyond—what some foreigners are working at this moment. At this moment in the United States, where competition is most close, the cotton manufacturers of the United States are working something more than twelve hours a day. I believe our advan- 483 tages are such that at present we run no risk of competition; but reduce the twelve hours to ten or even eleven, though only a question of degree, it may constitute the whole difference between life and death. It is like saying to a man whom you have plunged up to his neck in a river, "Why you seem to endure it very well, and you shall go a little deeper, it will make no difference." But it might be making this difference, the man might be drowned. Therefore I cannot agree with those Gentleman who say we have done very well when we reduced the hours of labour to twelve hours, and now we shall reduce them to ten. I have already endeavoured to impress upon the House the reasons why I believe that the full result of the evil will not be felt at once; on the contrary, I think that a false gleam of prosperity might follow this restriction, but it will be dispelled by the foreign competitors who will occupy the market. The consequence will be that the manufacturers will get into difficulties, and that a struggle will take place between them and the labouring population, caused by the reduction of wages. I am not afraid to say that I for one must decline the responsibility of making any experiment of this kind. If this House shall choose to adopt it, no one shall more heartily pray than I shall that the fears I now express will prove unfounded, and that this measure may turn out—what I am sure it was intended to be by my noble Friend who proposed it originally to the House, and by the hon. Gentleman who filled his place on this occasion—for the benefit of that class of the community for whom I feel as strongly as any man in the House can feel—I mean the great body of my industrious fellow countrymen who are engaged in the factories of this country. I trust that it may be consistent with that which you may separate from it in argument, but cannot in reality, I mean the wholesome and healthy prosperity of our great manufacturing interest which has grown up for good or for evil in this country, but which you cannot now check without evil to the labouring population. I say, Sir, that I hope the fears which I express may prove to be unfounded; but as after the best consideration I could give the subject, I make up my mind that this is the course which I should take, I feel it to be my duty upon the present occasion, as I did on a former occasion, to give my uncompromising opposition to this Bill. With regard to what has been said 484 about the ten and eleven hours, I am opposed to both. I cannot go so far as to say they are equally bad, but if I were driven to choose, I would rather take the eleven hours than the ten. But, Sir, I am opposed to both. I think we have gone as far in the way of regulation as we ought to go. I shall resist going any further, and my vote therefore shall be given against the second reading of this Bill, which proposes to invite the House to the discussion whether we shall again, by legislative enactment, make it a compulsory matter to reduce the hours of work—though not directly, yet as effectively as if it were done directly—of the labouring population of this country.
said, that in the very able speech which his right hon. Friend had just made, the operatives who were concerned would find some source of gratification in consequence of the feeling he had shown for their moral welfare, and the general tone he had adopted, which he (Mr. Cowper) must say was different from that of many of the speeches which were previously delivered. He observed that the right hon. Gentleman had entirely abandoned that which heretofore was the strong ground urged against the Bill, namely, that it was a violation of principle. He put it entirely on two points—first, on the opinions held by the factory operatives; and, secondly, that it would act to their detriment—that their friends thought it would work to their disadvantage—and that it might give rise to foreign competition. He had endeavoured to look for information through channels the most authoritative on the subject, and he found that the great body of the operatives desired this Bill not only with the utmost ardour, but they desired this Bill more than any other legislative measure that was brought forward. He found that there were 880 petitions presented for this Bill; and against the Bill he found there were only four petitions, signed only by ninety-three signatures. So it stood on record that there were only ninety-three persons in the factory districts who would object to this law. And then in order still farther to bring out the opinions of the people, he took the pains of referring to the number of petitions in favour of the repeal of the Corn Laws. No person at that side of the House would doubt that the people of England did desire the repeal of the Corn Laws, and that they had attempted to show that by their petitions; but when he referred to 485 the number of the petitions in favour of those respective measures, he found that the whole of the petitions for the Ten Hours' Bill was 880, and the whole of the petitions for the repeal of the Corn Laws was only 572; so that so far as petitions went, the people, it appeared, cared more about the Ten Hours' Bill than about the other. And it should be recollected that the petitions for the Ten Hours' Bill only came from a particular part of the country, and not from the country at large. He had seen in the newspapers a paper that professed to be signed by delegates on Behalf of the operatives in Lancashire. Those persons had taken upon themselves to represent the operatives; and he (Mr. Cowper) presumed they had not done so without authority, and they stated this—We beg to say, that on behalf of the parents of the children, and the young persons themselves, we are authorized to state that they are quite prepared to accept a reduction of the time of labour, and leave the value and the price of labour to be regulated and arranged between them and their employers.That was signed by their chairman; and when those delegates declared that opinion, in the face of the country, it would require a little more evidence than had been given to them by his right hon. Friend to show that the factory operatives were not pretty nearly unanimous in favour of this Bill. Two years ago, at the meeting of the delegates from a number of mills, he had heard them declare that so anxious were they for a restriction on the hours of labour, that they would encounter all risks of loss of wages for that purpose. Another proof of the state of feeling was the manner in which the manufacturing districts were represented in that House. In looking into the lists of the divisions in 1844 on this subject, he found that out of the forty-two representatives from the manufacturing districts, thirty-three voted for the ten hours: this was a very strong ground to show that the predominant feeling in the manufacturing districts was in favour of restricting the hours of labour. There was one remark which fell from his right hon. Friend which he was sorry to hear, and he had heard it on a former occasion from the hon. Member for Manchester, namely, the assumption that the operatives were not really anxious for the measure, because there had been no strike for a diminution in the hours of labour. This statement was a most dangerous one to put forth in that House. It was telling the operatives that the passing of the Ten 486 Hours' Bill, depended on a strike. If that was so, his right hon. Friend might depend upon it there would be a strike before long. If this was to be the mode of calling for an expression of their opinion, they would have the proof before they wished it. The operatives, however, did not strike, because they knew that a strike seldom turned out to their advantage. They knew that it was always attended with great injury to the masters. They had occasionally struck for higher wages; they now, however, from past experience refrained from striking for higher wages. They knew, that although they might ultimately attain what they desired, yet that in the meantime the sufferings they had to undergo themselves, the injury done to their masters, and the effect produced on the commercial prosperity of the country, was such as to render it a mischievous and dangerous mode of attaining their object. Another reason for their not striking was, that the persona who were their principal leaders had a deep sense of their responsibility towards the cause they had undertaken; and the leaders he spoke of were not only the Members of that House, but were themselves operatives. They were men of principle and character, and of sound judgment, and who did not wish to pollute the cause of justice and the holy and righteous cause which they advocated, by means of which they disapproved. They believed that the most likely way to win over the country, and to win over the masters also, to the cause of the factory children, was by addressing the higher and better feelings of those they had to deal with. This com-se had been in a great degree successful, he thought, with the masters of Lancashire and Yorkshire. They were very much changed of late. Instead of opposing the proposition of diminishing the hours of work to ten, in the strong way they used to do, they had lately had meetings to see if it was not possible that eleven hours might be agreed to. That was an important change. They assured his noble Friend (Lord Ashley)—and if hon. Members went into the manufacturing districts they would find that admitted—indeed right hon. Gentlemen concurred in that admission—that if it could be carried into effect it was most desirable that young persons between the ages of thirteen and eighteen should not be exposed to an amount of toil which exhausted their strength, and prevented them from receiv- 487 ing a proper education, and enjoying those amusements which were customary with young persons in other walks of life. It had been stated that steps were being taken for the introduction of the eleven hours system as an amicable compromise, and in the form of a voluntary agreement, and they were told that this was the best mode of proceeding. He did not agree in this; for however desirable in the abstract such a proceeding might appear, it would be impracticable, as they would not get all the masters to assent to it. If some for a partial advantage did not keep the agreement, there would be no means of enforcing it; the plan would be stopped, as some would not assent to it, in hopes of getting a temporary advantage over those who did so. Meetings for this purpose, however, had been held, and had broken up without coming to any decision, and indeed they could not expect any reliance to be placed on a voluntary arrangement on such a matter. If matters much less complicated could be settled by voluntary arrangement, that House would have much less to do, for parties would settle privately that which now must be arranged by legislation. In case of the opinion of the majority being in favour of the proposition, they could not bind the minority without laws to constrain it. So in the present case, to make the proposition operative, they must inflict penalties on the minority which entertained an opinion different from the majority on this matter. His right hon. Friend had endeavoured to excite their fears as to foreign competition. Now this was the argument always thrown in the way of this measure; but the ground taken on that occasion was not precisely the same as had been taken in former debates. The ground formerly adopted was, that as the operatives were obliged to live at greater expense in this country than elsewhere, owing to the high price of corn, they could not compete successfully with foreigners as long as this enhancement in the price of food continued. In the paper which he had just read, he found an extract from a letter of Mr. Ashworth, who represented the masters, dated May 4, 1844, to the following effect:—Every day something like two hours labour is required, if not directly imposed, by the Corn Laws and other restrictions on trade, and that these restrictions must be removed before any permanent reduction of the hours of labour can be effected.Such was the opinion of Mr. Ashworth, 488 who was considered an authority on this subject. That gentleman was of opinion, that if they swept away the Corn Laws, they would be enabled to reduce the hours of labour from twelve to ten. Mr. Ashworth said, in a subsequent part of his letter, a reduction of the hours of labour was one of the objects sought to be accomplished by a repeal of the Corn Laws. In former debates on this subject the Corn Laws had always been held out by the opponents of the change as a reason why it should not take place; and he must say it would be somewhat hard if, after preventing the operatives from gaining this great benefit for so many years because the Corn Laws were in existence, the opponents of a diminution of hours should turn round and say, "We cannot let you have it now, because the Corn Laws are abolished." That would not be thought a very fair or sincere mode of argument. It had been suggested to him that the Corn Laws were not yet abolished; but before this Bill came to a third reading, the question of the Corn Laws would be decided, and the matter set at rest, he was convinced; and if those laws were not repealed when this Bill came to the third reading, there would be then an opportunity for the opponents of it to prevent this Bill from becoming law. In the notice by Messrs. Marshall to their workpeople, which had just been referred to, and which did them credit, and was a good example to hold out to all employers, it was observed—The repeal of the Corn Laws and other restrictive duties, whether a little sooner or a little later, may now be considered certain; and we think that a free trade, by giving larger and better markets and a steadier demand to the employer, and more constant employment and a more ample supply of the necessaries of life to the workpeople, will greatly facilitate the shortening of the hours of labour without reducing wages or profits.That was Messrs. Marshall's opinion, and the advocates of the repeal of the Corn Laws had maintained, that even if the money wages of the operatives should be lower, they would be compensated by cheapness for the fall of their wages. The House had often heard from the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel), that the various measures of a financial character which he had brought forward, went greatly to diminish the expense of living to all classes of the community; but certainly, and most particularly, of the working classes. Therefore they had a right to hope that after the repeal of the Corn Laws the operatives 489 would be enabled to live cheaper than before; if not, one great argument for the repeal of the Corn Laws must fall to the ground. The House, he was convinced, had all along thought, that by the repeal of those laws they would be conferring a great advantage on the operative classes. Of course, all were agreed, that to some part of the manufacturing interest advantage would accrue from the repeal of those laws; but if the operatives did not benefit by it, then it must be the other branch of that interest, the capitalists, who would get all the benefit; but he fully believed that his hon. Friends who represented the manufacturing districts would not wish to usurp all the benefit for the masters, and leave these poor men to gain nothing by the change. He was convinced that the only great permanent benefit which the working classes in the manufacturing districts were susceptible of, was a reduction of the hours of labour. As to wages, he believed they depended upon matters beyond the control of Parliament—that they depended on the relations between the demand and supply of labour, and on circumstances beyond the reach of the Legislature. Then they came to that alternative which had been stated by the right hon. Baronet (Sir James Graham), that if there was a diminution of produce, that must either enhance the price or diminish the profits of the master, or diminish the wages of the labourer. Now he (Mr. Cowper) was not quite prepared to admit that there must be a diminution of produce as a result of a diminution of the hours of work. There might be a diminution of the daily produce, without its leading necessarily to a diminution of the aggregate produce for the whole year. He believed that our manufacturers produced a great many articles according as markets opened to them, and that every market that opened to them they sooner or later glutted. He believed there never was yet a market that the manufacturers of England did not succeed in glutting. When this was the case, they must begin to work short hours; and he therefore believed, that operatives working for ten hours, for a long time together, would produce as much as men working twelve hours with considerable intervals of short time work. When these periods of leisure from short time occurred, they came upon the workmen at uncertain moments, when they were unprepared for them, and produced much distress. On these grounds he came to the conclusion that the total amount produced in a year 490 under the ten hour system would not be much diminished from the amount now produced. His hon. Friend who moved the second reading of the Bill was blamed for saying that that measure would not diminish either wages or profits. His hon. Friend said this, because he thought that prices would be raised, and he said that he had reason to believe that many descriptions of goods would be sold at higher prices than they now were. He now came to the question upon whom this loss, if it should occur, would fall. It could be clearly shown that the operatives, as a body, were willing, by a great majority, to run the risk. They had had very ample accounts on former occasions of the evil effect of working children and women, and even adult men, beyond their strength. It produced illness, and illness caused expense. It withdrew them from labour, and prevented their working at all. Calculations had been made of the economies which might be attended to, if there were more leisure. The operatives were willing to run the risk, but the capitalists were not. The hon. Member who opened the debate said, that the manufacturers who opposed this Bill had amassed considerable fortunes. He (Mr, Cowper) was happy, for the general well-being of the community, that it was so; but he thought that they should not grudge to their workmen a request like the present. He would remind them of the exhortations they had so lately addressed to landlords and farmers, who might now repeat to them that if they argued against this measure on the ground that it would add a burden to them, they should not put this selfish feeling in the scale against the good and well-being of vast masses. If the measure would inflict some small loss upon the capitalists, they had to prove that the object in view was sufficiently great to justify the Legislature in sanctioning it. The measure was important, because it involved the moral and social condition of large numbers of persons of various ages who went on working from day to day continually, without having any time to improve their minds? The Bill only indirectly interfered with the labour of men. The Bill did not deal with able-bodied men as a matter of principle, although it would indirectly; but they were not mentioned in the Bill, and the Bill itself had no reference to them. The principle on which the Bill rested was one which had always been acted upon in this country, namely, the principle of protecting the weak against 491 the power of those who could oppress them. The first step taken had been the protection of apprentices. They then continued or extended protection to children who were not able to make their own bargains, and were not regarded as free agents. He thought that the good of those classes should outweigh theoretical objections to interference by the State. The hon. Member for Montrose had said that it would be an interference with the freedom of trade if they passed this Bill. He would remind the hon. Member that this sort of argument might be opposed to almost all good measures. For instance, if a boroughmonger said, "May I not do what I like with my own?" or a slave-merchant say, "Why should you interfere with my liberty of buying slaves?" or an American saying, "Could this be a land of liberty if a man could not wallop his own nigger?"—these must be regarded, according to his hon. Friend, as justifiable protests against interference with the freedom of trade. No one should have the power to compel young persons to work for a longer time than they could easily labour, for young persons were not free agents. They should recollect, also, that the persons affected by this Bill were not on the same footing as those in other walks of life. They were placed at work in conjunction with a steam-engine, and were no more free agents to come and go when they liked, than a soldier in a regiment at drill; and if they did not constantly attend to this process they would be discharged, and it would be as well at once to tell them to go and starve. It was on that ground alone the Legislature proceeded, and it had never yet interfered with the labour of men. It was not proposed in the Bill to interfere with the labour of men, and he did not believe that any supporter of the Bill had urged this; but, for his own part, he rejoiced that it did so indirectly. Let it be granted that the law could not reach every case; still they should consider by such a Bill as this they would establish a better tone of public opinion. The manufacturers might not be able to look to so large an amount of profit; but the bodies and souls of those under them as workpeople would be benefited. There had been a voluntary attempt made for another object, which was called the early closing movement, for closing shops at such a time as to allow those engaged in them more time for improvement and recreation. This had only been partially successful, 492 and they could not expect it to be so without the control of public opinion. He maintained that there was nothing in the Bill which violated the principle that they should not interfere with adult labour; it merely altered the existing law in certain details. The Legislature formerly adopted the opinion that twelve hours was the best time for the working of factories: what they now contended for was that ten hours was better; and this was all the difference in principle, putting aside the general results. Why then did they say that ten hours was better? There was much authority in favour of ten hours. Those who were the first to interfere in favour of factory regulations had been in favour of ten hours. The late Sir Robert Peel—and he was sure that the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) would now admit it—had always desired ten hours. His desire on that point was defeated; so was Mr. Sadler when he proposed ten hours; and so also was Lord Ashley; but although they had hitherto been unsuccessful, the friends of the cause were determined to persevere, and they trusted that the time was not distant when the boon so much desired by the labouring classes would be granted, and the question settled. If they looked to the general employment of all classes of mechanics, they would find that they nearly all adopted ten hours for the period of work. If they referred to the experience of all trades where the men could fix their own time of work, it would be found that they always fixed on ten hours. If they went into a cotton factory and asked how long the mechanics employed in repairing the machinery worked, the reply that would uniformly be received would be, that they would not work more than ten hours. He was informed that the strike in the building trade in Manchester and Liverpool, the existence of which was so much to be deplored, had been occasioned partly by interfering with the hours of labour of the men, and that one of the principal causes was, that some of the masters had made their men work ten hours and a half a day instead of ten, and the men were afraid that others would follow this example. There had been some apprehension expressed as to the result of the proposed change from twelve to ten hours, and some gentlemen had expressed a willingness to go the length of eleven hours. Those who were for eleven hours, would vote for the second reading of the Bill, even though when in Committee they should not vote 493 for the second clause, which enacted a period of ten hours. The principal argument used against the Bill, had been an appeal to their fears—a vague apprehension could not be accurately defined—of something in the distance that could not be distinctly seen. Those who argued in favour of the Bill had carefully avoided making any appeal to the fears of the House; but if they had chosen to depart from the more legitimate endeavour to influence the judgment and feelings of the persons addressed, they might have drawn pictures that would have produced some alarm in their minds—they might have drawn gloomy pictures of the vast mass of persons in our great hives of industry, discontented at not obtaining that which it had so long been their anxious and earnest desire to secure—they might have drawn some pictures of the alarm that must always follow when a large portion of our population were discontented at not obtaining an object of desire; particularly when the demanding of that object was, in their eyes, justified by the sanction of three votes of the House of Commons. But, perhaps, after all, the most rational ground of alarm was the prospect of that sad, moral, physical, and mental deterioration to which considerable portions of our fellow countrymen might fall. It was indeed a subject of serious alarm, that such a number of young persons should be daily launched into manhood and womanhood without any of that education which was fitted to prepare them for the duties of life, without having undergone any social training, but weakened in body and demoralized in mind, without respect for their superiors, without that love of goodness, without that knowledge of and reverence for the divine law, which was the surest guarantee for the security of our present social state, and which mainly conduced to the prosperity of this Empire.
§ MR. DENNISTOUN
observed, that considering the circumstances under which the subject was brought before the House, one could scarcely approach it with anything like temper. He remembered, three years ago, when Lord Ashley introduced it to the House, it was just after four years of consecutive losses in trade; yet, notwithstanding that, the noble Lord proposed to legislate still further on the subject. The hon. Gentleman, who had that day first addressed the House, said, that if he conceived the passing of this measure 494 would affect the cotton, the linen, or the woollen manufactures, he would feel it to be his duty to oppose it. Now, he would attempt to convince the hon. Gentleman and the House that this measure would be attended with serious consequences. He would take the case of a single mill, in reference to which he spoke from his own knowledge. This was a mill of an average size, containing 25,000 spindles, the gross produce of which in one year amounted to 21,640l.; but according to the allowances usually made, there was a deduction of one eight, or 2,700l., for loss on working; the wages paid amounted to 7,100l.; and was, he asked, the loss which would be caused by this measure to fall altogether on the wages? The owners of this mill, for four years previous to the time this measure was introduced, suffered an annual loss of 1,000l., besides interest—that was to say, the owner did not only not receive any profit, but had to put his hands into his own pocket, and pay 1,000l. a year, besides losing the interest of his capital. And what was the state of the operatives during that period? What did they receive in wages? Was it 10s., 15s., or 20s. a week? No, but 25s. a week during the whole of those four years. How, he wished to ask hon. Members to consider where the loss fell in such a case as this. He was aware that the operatives themselves did not expect any loss whatever under the measure now before the House, supposing it passed into law. He had their own authority for stating this, because he found that in an address presented to Lord Ashley from some of his constituents, and which appeared in The Times of the 4th of April, 1844, they stated their expectation that, though wages might at first be reduced, they would soon be reinstated; and they also asserted that eight hours were sufficient, and that whoever worked more superseded the labour of others. So that the House might see that if they gave in to the principle of interference, there was no reason why they should not go the length of eight hours instead of 10. His opinion was, that ten or twelve hours a day was too long to labour; and there was not a Member of that House who would not vote such a thing in his own case an intolerable nuisance. But what he deprecated was any legislative interference on the subject; and he contended that the arguments of those who supported such a proposal were all as applicable to tea hours' labour as to twelve. 495 He would read, with the permission of the House, a letter from a gentleman, who had what might be termed the model factory of Scotland, either for extent or management, and he particularly called the attention of the noble Lord the Member for the city of London to the subject; the gentleman to whom he referred was willing to try the effect of diminished labour, and for that purpose made a proposal to his operatives, which would be found explained in the following letter:—Allow me to communicate to you the result of an experiment which I made at my works last summer, as it appears to me to bear upon the question of the Ten Hours' Bill. Early last spring I applied to the directors of the Botanic Gardens here for forty transferable tickets for the use of the operatives in my employ, for which I paid ten guineas, becoming responsible at the same time for the respectable appearance and good conduct of those who might visit the gardens. These tickets I placed in the hands of the doorkeeper, with instructions to give them to such workers as were recommended each day by the managers. It was made known to all the workers that two or three of them out of each room or department would be allowed leave of absence on the afternoon of any day on application being made to the managers the day previous. The places of the absentees were to be supplied by extra hands got for the purpose, who of course were to receive the half day's pay. I conceived, by this arrangement, that the hours of labour would be reduced on the best and safest principle. It was optional on the part of the operatives whether they availed themselves of it or not. If they did avail themselves of it, it was only at the cost of half a day's wages. Instead of reducing their daily labour, it gave them about once a fortnight a half-day's holiday, which most prefer. The reduction of labour so obtained was not injurious to the employer, nor did it expose him to any prospective risk or loss, nor lessen his power of competing successfully with the spinning manufactories of other countries where the hours of labour are longer—in some countries much longer than in this, and where facilities are increasing. The experiment was a failure. The applications for leave of absence at first were numerous, but in a few weeks they ceased altogether. The great objection was the loss of the half-day's wages. And yet they were making tolerably good wages—the women from 8s. to 18s. per week, and the men in proportion.He wished to draw the attention of the noble Lord the Member for London to one fact, and it was not only a fact, but an astounding fact, namely, that if, by the operation of this measure, one day's less production a week was caused, it would amount as nearly as possible to the entire quantity of cotton goods consumed in this country. He stated it as a fact, that of the whole quantity of cotton spun into yarn, there was only one-eighth consumed in this country; therefore the effect of this measure would be at one blow to prevent 496 the production of the whole quantity of cotton yarn consumed at home. The total quantity of yarn spun in England in 1843 was 399,0000,000 pounds weight; of this there were exported 341,000,000 pounds, leaving for home consumption 58,000,000 pounds. Now, by the proposed measure, there would be a reduction of one-seventh of the whole quantity of cotton yarn spun, being very nearly the whole amount consumed in this country. He had in his possession an immense number of letters from various parts of the world, showing the exceedingly great difficulties which the manufacturers of this country had in competing with foreigners, especially with the French and the Americans. He had letters from Buenos Ayres, Valparaiso, China, and, in fact, from nearly all parts of the world, to this effect. One party stated that—Having had establishments both in Monte Video and Buenos Ayres for the last twenty-five years, we have had opportunities of knowing the large and continued imports into the markets of cotton goods from the United States of America, and to such an extent as, for a good many years past, to have compelled us to decline almost wholly the receiving of consignments of similar goods made in this country.It must not be supposed that this country had anything like a monopoly of the cotton manufacture, because during the last ten years, while the increase in the consumption of cotton in this country was but 50 per cent, in France it was 131 per cent, and in the United States upwards of 200 per cent. This was a most serious fact, and one well worth the attention of the House, especially with such a measure before them as the present.
§ LORD J. MANNERS
said: A Gentleman who virtually guides the destinies, if not of the Empire, at least of the Cabinet, assured the House of Commons, a few days ago, that any farther deliberation by Parliament on a great question, with which his name will henceforth be connected, was useless and offensive, inasmuch as that question had been settled out of doors. I know not how that may be with respect to the Corn Laws; but if efforts the most persevering, conducted not only without the assistance of, but against the opposition, of enormous wealth—if the repeated and unanimous prayers of a toiling population—if the marked absence of anything approaching to a difference of opinion among the hundreds of thousands whose hopes are to be fulfilled or disappointed by us to-day—if all these are symptoms of a question settled out of doors; then, Sir, I think the 497 Ten Hours' Factory Bill may lay claim to the hon. Member for Stockport's definition, and, as a consequence, his support. It is then to a question, already settled out of doors, on the side of which the reason and intellect of the working men of the North of England, no less than their sympathies and affections are enlisted—a question that has already received the sanction of the leaders of the Whig, and Tory, and Radical parties—it is to the consideration of such a question that the obstinacy of the Ministers compels us to come. The analogies and dictates of nature, if not the direct voice of revelation, the experience of man, the prayers of the people, the admissions of opponents, the appeals to reason, the pathetic accents of manly eloquence, and woman's tears, all fail to move those whose master is Mammon, whose cause is competition; and instead of a House of Commons responding to the just and moderate request of a population on whom we affect to rely, with ready acclamation, we are compelled to listen and reply to speeches such as that delivered by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Labouchere). But, Sir, in arguing this question, I am met at the outset with a difficulty; it is Proteus we have to encounter. Is it a great principle or a mere accident, a temporary difficulty or an eternal truth, that comes between these poor labourers and their wishes? I cannot collect which from the speeches of the triumvirate that spoke the other day. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose, indeed, spoke gallantly of a principle; but his most serviceable ally, the Secretary of State, defended all past violations of that sacred principle, talked of compromises, hinted at the inopportuneness of the present moment, and plunged deeply, as no man who vindicates a principle, need do, into calculations and figures. Well, then, Sir, as Parliament from time immemorial has only taken notice of the hon. Member's principle of non-interference between capital and labour, in order to disregard it, I trust he will not be offended if I combat in the first instance the right hon. Gentleman's facts, figures, and inferences. In the commencement of his speech the right hon. Gentleman rested his case on the inexpediency of any concession; he had found out, that although the working men would accept a compromise of eleven hours, they would not pledge themselves for ever to that period of labour. If they had given that pledge, I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say, their request might 498 have been favourably considered. Well, then, with him it is only a question of expediency. Let me ask him, and the House, if on this low ground alone, many considerations are not to be found in favour of this Bill? What is the picture the short-time movement presents? The working men, sanctioned and encouraged by the clergy, the dissenting ministry, and by the medical profession, range themselves on one side: in opposition to them stand—who? Their employers. They whose wealth they make, whose power they create, whose importance they subserve, to whose luxuries they minister: and the Executive Government of the day, which just now is remarkable for nothing so much as its partnership with those employers. Every year, as the boon has been withheld, they have been gaining, you have been losing, ground; their ranks swell as yours decrease; and I now ask you, is it politic—is it expedient—for the Executive Government any longer to place itself side by side with capital and wealth, against the unanimous wishes of the working men, and the deliberate judgment and calm convictions of the clergy and the medical profession; and thus to hold up capital to the hatred and contempt of those who toil to create it? The right hon. Gentleman then went on to argue, that although the literal working of the Bill affected only young persons and females, to whom were it practically confined, I gathered the right hon. Gentleman would not oppose it, in effect it would operate upon adult male labour, and the very working of machinery itself; and he warned the House against entertaining any measure which even incidentally might interfere with adult male labour. Why, Sir, what an argument is this? Here is a measure which proposes to limit the hours which females and young persons shall work, to that period of time beyond which all medical experience asserts labour to be prejudicial to them—a limit which the right hon. Gentleman, by implication, admits to be right and just in itself, but which he calls upon us to reject, lest in its operation it should be found to extend its blessings to other and older drudges; and so helpless women and unreflecting youth are to be sacrificed, lest weary manhood in the factories should only work as long as his fellow countrymen work in other classes of labour. Any one who listened to the right hon. Gentleman's arguments on this part of his case—to his indignant protest against the tyranny that 499 would prevent the adult labourer from working his twelve hours a day, would imagine he was listening to an accredited advocate of a great body of factory workers, who felt that out of a mistaken regard for their wives and children, the House of Commons was about to deprive them of the benefits of their dearest rights and privileges. But what is the fact? Does the right hon. Gentleman plead for the majority of adult males in the factories? Does he plead for even a thousand, a hundred, twenty, or ten? Not so. Nearly a quarter of a million of human beings have asked for this measure; and the right hon. Gentleman has not one solitary petition from a solitary unit of that great class, in whose name he appealed to us, to justify his position, or certify his fears. I now come, Sir, to that portion of the right hon. Gentleman's case which most astounded me—I mean where he urged the present position of the Corn Laws as an argument against this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman would appear to live from preference in a perpetual political merry-go-round. On the 10th of May, 1844, he said, "Was it common sense or justice, the Corn Laws being maintained, to restrict the hours of the labourers by one-sixth?" Well, those words, and other more decisive spoken in private, were successful, and the Ten Hours' Bill was rejected, in order to retain in office a protection Government; it is now to be rejected, because the same Government is no longer protective, but free-trading. "Look," cries the Home Secretary, "at the injustice you are committing: you have not yet repealed the Corn Laws"—although the noble Lord the Member for Falkirk, by the way, a month ago, assured his late constituents that they were, in fact, repealed; and although that is the universal language of all the right hon. Gentleman's allies—well, "you have not repealed the Corn Laws: the manufacturing millennium is not, consequently, commenced; but you have reduced the protection upon manufactures, and can you, with common fairness, having thus exposed our manufacturers to foreign competition, take away the advantage of working long hours?" Now, Sir, I have one or two remarks to make upon this appeal ad misericordiam. In the first place, Sir, whose fault was it that the duties on foreign manufactures were reduced? Did the operatives of Manchester or Leeds ask you to reduce them? Did the agricultural 500 interest—to be sure you would not have listened to it if it had—but did the agricultural interest ask you to reduce them? No: the free-trade master manufacturers, to prove how sincere was their reiterated statement that English industry needed no protection against foreign industry, asked you to repeal those protective duties, asserting they were of no use to them at all. But are we now to understand that all those great professions were but brave words, and that this reduction—mark, not repeal, but reduction—of protection has filled them with fear as to the effect of foreign competition? Well, if this be so, I must observe, in the second place, that as they were the only people in the kingdom who asked for that reduction, they must pay for it themselves, or else submit to be regarded as the emptiest of boasters, the most hypocritical of patriots. And let me, in the third place, direct the attention of the acute and intelligent working people out of doors to this remarkable plea of their free-trading rulers. It amounts in brief to this—that the price the operatives in the north of England will have to pay for free trade is two additional hours of labour every day. Now, mind, it is not I who say so; it is the right hon. Gentleman who states it broadly. The master manufacturers denounce all protection—protection is about to be taken away altogether from agriculture, partially from manufactures, and this partial withdrawal is held to be so serious a weakening of this mighty interest, that unless women and children are worked two hours a day longer than all medical experience asserts they ought to work, the commerce of England is ruined, and her manufactures destroyed. This, Sir, is the protection, then, with which the master manufacturers will not part—this the protection they so tenaciously cling to — this the one thing in Church and State that the Government will not alter—the legalized overwork of women and children. But, before I quit this part of the subject, let me say to the leaders of this timid, braggadocio interest—let me say to them, who come whining about the difficulties they encounter from a diminution in protective duties—that the agricultural interest will give them back their 20 per cent, and submit to the injustice and inequality thereby occasioned, in order to give the working men of the North this Ten Hours' Bill. Mean and contemptible, therefore, as was the position assumed by the right hon. 501 Gentleman, it is absolutely no longer tenable. Then the right hon. Gentleman, following in the wake of the hon. Member for Montrose, hazarded the bold assertion that the advocates of the Ten Hours' Bill had entirely overlooked the stress of foreign competition. Why, at least one-half of Lord Ashley's great speech in 1844 was given up to a most minute and accurate analysis of the hours and system of factory labour in other countries. There was no country from Russia to America where cotton or wool is manufactured that escaped Lord Ashley's attention; therefore the charge was unfounded; but even had it been otherwise, how strange a charge to come from our philosophic free-trade Government—through what different spectacles they must view themselves and other people! With the most perfect indifference they can submit the agricultural industry of this country to a wholly free competition with foreigners, but are horrified at the idea of shortening the hours of labour in our factories, unless other countries will do the same. Why, how many days ago was it that the Premier derided the idea of reciprocity, and conjured us to give up waiting for other counties: fiat justitia ruat cœlum was then his motto. "Never mind the farmers without capital, the cottiers without potatoes—never heed the sayings of M. Guizot, or the doings of the Zollverein; let England set the great example," and gloriously succeed, or greatly fail. Well, whatever we may think of the wisdom, one cannot but admire the enthusiasm and chivalry of such language, though one rather wonders at its being called forth by so matter of fact a goddess as Commerce; however, a few days after, Humanity makes, or is supposed by the right hon. Baronet to make, a similar appeal to English daring, and English valour. The right hon. enthusiast of course answers the appeal, and sets an example to the world? Not a bit of it. For the sake of commerce he will risk the welfare of millions: for that of humanity he dare not face the seventy-two hours a week which Frenchmen or Austrians work. Whence, Sir, this startling difference? Why so rash in March, so timid in May? Why is the right hon. Gentleman's mind—All see-saw between that and this,Now high, now low, now master now miss,And he himself one strange antithesis.Alas! Sir, there is but one answer; he and his Government are but the vassals of a section of the master manufacturers. 502 Towards the close of his speech, the hon. Gentleman said, that work was the lot of man, and that if you interfered with his labour, you interfered with his wages, and that the adoption of a Ten Hours' Bill would be a tax of 16 per cent on his wages. Will the hon. Gentleman allow me to ask him at how much he rates the tax he himself helped to impose, when the hours of labour were reduced to twelve? Did wages fall 20, 15, 10, or 5 per cent, in consequence of that reduction? Have the working men petitioned to be restored to the happy state of unlimited toil, and, consequently, unlimited wages? Will he tell me by how much the wages of the workpeople in all the arsenals and docks of France have been reduced, in consequence of fifty-two Sundays being subtracted from their period of work? Has one-seventh of their wages been cut off with one-seventh of their work? And was that the answer which the King returned to the Archbishop of Paris, when, in the name of the Gallican Church, he asked for that reduction? But the right hon. Gentleman relied on facts, and quoted the failure of Mr. Horrocks' experiment. Now, that partial failure was explained away at the time; but even admitting it to be in some sense a failure, there is the successful experiment of Mr. Gardiner to set against it; and I will adduce an analogous experiment on a far larger scale. In the year 1829, the masters and the men in the Nottingham trade agreed to work only twelve hours in the day, and signed a deed to that effect. Well, what was the result? Did wages fall? No, they rose. The wages of the men rose, the profits of the master rose, and the stocks on hand diminished. So things went on for a year, at the expiration of which, some few masters, allured by the temptation the short stock on hand held out, disregarded the agreement, returned to the old unrestricted system, and, of course, compelled others to do the same. Well, what was the result then? Did wages rise? Not a bit of it; in nine months wages fell from 6d. to 3d. per hack, and the profits of the masters declined 25 per cent; and I appeal to any one connected with Nottinghamshire to testify to the miserable condition of those who are now blessed with unrestricted hours of labonr. Sir, the effect of such a regulation as we propose would be to equalise the amount of labour over the year; but this disposes of another plea of the right hon. Gentleman—it proves 503 that you cannot leave this question of factory labour to be settled by capital on one side, and toil on the other. Here, in a limited field of trade, the attempt was made; the cupidity or fickleness of half-a-dozen capitalists broke in upon the engagement in a short time. What hope, then, have you that in the far larger field of manufacturing industry, where the masters are counted by thousands instead of by hundreds, you can arrive at unanimity, or expect it if arrived at, to be lasting? No; I say it is a delusion and a deceit to tell the people that they have only to arrange it with their masters. Why, the men have done their part already; they have declared, over and over again, with increasing earnestness that they will accept the ten hours' limit with all its chances. But have the masters done their part? No; those who are favourable, naturally ask, that others shall be put on the same footing with themselves, and those who are unfavourable will of course hold back until compelled by law. To legislation, then, we must come. But stay, there is an alternative, and one to which it would really appear Her Majesty's Government and their allies are willing to drive the people—strikes and combinations. The hon. Member for Montrose objects on principle to law sanctioning the wishes of the working people; but he has no objection—quite the reverse—to their gaining their objects by strikes, combinations, and the pressure of force on reluctant masters. [Mr. HUME: I asserted nothing of the kind.] Well, if the hon. Member did not say this, I of course retract. I should have used the words combination of working men in order to oblige their masters to carry out their proposals. But far from agreeing in the expediency of such a means of settling the question, I think, on the contrary, that in a country like England no more dangerous system can be introduced; and I am sure that the great body of the Manchester traders, builders, and manufacturers will agree with me in this view, for I believe that not long ago a deputation waited at the Home Office, on their part, to ask whether the Government would interfere in their behalf against the demands of their men. Is it now to be announced to the working men that the Government has finally and formally made up its mind to abdicate those functions of protection and interference which every Government heretofore professed to exercise on behalf of the 504 working classes? The power of wealth is increasing every day. The State is daily contracting its governing and guiding operations; until now, when labour comes, and prays to be protected by law against the tyranny of wealth, the State answers, "No; the governing powers have relieved themselves of all the paternal functions they once fulfilled—they cannot interfere. Do your best, suffer your worst; so long as you pay taxes, and give us, the gods of Epicurus, no trouble, it is a matter of supreme indifference to us whether you are overworked or not, whether you have time to enjoy this life and prepare for another or not—we take no concern in your physical comfort or moral improvement, the strength of your body, the growth of your soul, the direction of your intellect. That is your affair. We are tax-gatherers and policemen—see in us for the future nothing more." Well, that is your theory of government, which you call upon us this day to sanction. I, for my part, protest against so grovelling, so money-grubbing, so ignominious a system. I say it is full of difficulty and full of danger. I say with Mr. Carlyle, that a government of the under classes by the upper, on a principle of "let alone," is no longer possible in England in these days. I say with him—The working classes cannot any longer go on without government—without being actually guided and governed. England cannot subsist in peace till, by some means or other, guidance and government for them is found.I accept this Bill as an earnest of good, paternal, patriarchal government for the future. I hail it as a common standard, under which all who are impressed with the great truth so eloquently announced by Mr. Carlyle, be they Tories, like myself, Whigs, like Lord Grey, or Chartists, like Mr. O'Connor, may cordially and earnestly unite; and I look forward with joyful anticipation to the time when the working men of this wealth-ridden country shall be able to regard with just feelings of pride and gratitude a House of Commons that thought its highest duty and its dearest privilege was, to minister to the wants, direct the wishes, listen to the prayers, increase the comforts, diminish the toil, and elevate the character of the long-suffering, industrious, and gallant people of England.
§ MR. TRELAWNY
thought the exertions of Lord Ashley in the cause of factory labourers had not been entirely thrown away, though, undoubtedly, he had occa- 505 sionally overstated the evils he sought to remedy. He said they were not thrown away, because it was always important for purposes of general legislation that the public should be familiar with the state of society for which laws were to be made. Still, however, the House should beware of exaggeration even in a well-meaning advocate. One example might be produced. It was stated, he believed, on one occasion in debate, that labourers in factories sometimes walked thirty-seven miles a day during their work. Experiment had demonstrated the absurdity of the statement. The real distance had been shown to be eight miles. He very much doubted whether the evils attributed to factory labour were justly so attributable. It should be recollected that one circumstance calculated to create a contrary impression was, that it was an incident of factory labour that large bodies of workmen were assembled in confined localities. The evils were seen en masse. Suppose other bodies of labourers were to be so condensed, would the comparison be very strikingly to the disadvantage of factories? As to earnings, it was unquestionable, for example, that factory wages were far superior to agricultural. Then, too, much of the evil attributed to factory labour arose out of the existence of densely populated towns. These might be rendered far less unhealthy by parks, streets thrown open, better drainage, and ventilation. It was a curious thing, but a true one, that there was no tyranny against which labourers more strongly rebelled than that of being compelled to submit to regulations calculated to promote cleanliness and health. Let any one see with what devotion the rural population cherished their cesspools. Then, too, if a landlord built a cottage scientifically ventilated, it could hardly get a tenant. The working classes were on no point more ignorant than on the subject of what tended to improve their sanatory condition. This it was, and not the kind or duration of labour in factories, which caused much of the evil complained of. The supporters of the present measure were much too easily satisfied with their own remedy. So strongly did they feel on the subject, that they seemed to think reasoning upon it almost profane. They considered the question settled as to argument. With them it was a question, they said, "between mammon and mercy;" and something was sometimes added about the "wretched material- 506 ism" of the age. He supposed the expression was launched at the political economists. But the House should recollect what Mr. Huskisson said on an occasion when he was attacked in a similar way. "Some Gentlemen," said he, "sneered at theorists and political economists, for no other reason than because they argued from principles their adversaries could not controvert, and proceeded by deductions which they could not refute or deny." He felt assured that in time the ideas of the economists would be appreciated as the only sure basis of practical legislation. Non-interference, as a rule, was safer than interference based on hasty impulses, however praiseworthy. He repeated, hon. Members were far too well pleased with their remedy. But, in point of fact, there was a lamentable want of connexion between their premises and conclusions. Indeed, it seemed a sort of habit with the House, when great evils were made apparent to its view, to jump at once to the conclusion that almost any restrictive or coercive course of action must necessarily be productive of beneficial results. A ready example occurred in the case of the Coercion Bill for Ireland. Government had excited the horror of the House by minutely detailing the circumstances of several cases of assassination in Ireland. The House seemed ready to vote, without more discussion, that the Coercion Bill should be passed, whilst probably not ten persons had ever taken the trouble to examine into the probable working of the Bill, if carried into a law. The syllogism which satisfied hon. Members seemed to be this: "Ten hours' work is more endurable than twelve. This Bill proposes ten hours. Therefore, this Bill ought to become law." But they were told that labourers themselves desired the change. How long was it since the opinion of labourers on what best suited their condition first became so infallible? Labourers had at times had other panaceas, such as universal suffrage; and when millions of labourers had asked for the five points of the Charter, their proposal scarce obtained a hearing. The fact was, labourers had not foreseen the ultimate consequences of such a measure. This was evident from the fact of their disbelief in the probability of a reduction of wages. Then it was argued that the principle of interference had been conceded by general consent, and that the question was merely one of degree. That argument made nothing for the supporters of the Bill. Each step 507 in advance must rest on its own merits. To maintain that the fact of an existing limitation to twelve hours afforded any ground for the proposed limitation to ten hours, was preposterous. As well might a patient who had survived a small dose of some active poison, deem that a sufficient ground for doubling the dose. At all events, if there was anything in the argument, it was as good for eight hours as for ten; and, accordingly, the hon. Member for Oldham had talked of eight hours on one occasion. But why not interfere with all labour? Why exclude nearly twenty species of labour from the operation of this measure? Why not shorten the hours of labour during the harvest season, when fifteen or sixteen hours' labour was obtained from the exhausted farm labourer by the false stimulus of intoxicating liquors? Why leave 15,000 milliners in London without remedy? Or the 100,000 female servants? Why should copper and tin miners be allowed to work night and day some 200 fathoms underground? The measure was merely a mockery of the sufferings of the working classes. Their cry for relief was met by something intended to be benevolent, but which, had it come from a cynic, might be taken for the most bitter irony. They demanded diminished suffering by toil. It was generally accorded to them. But at what cost? Why, diminished remuneration? Was it right to raise sanguine expectations of benefits to be obtained, and then to create feelings of cruel disappointment? Why not adopt a proposal for fixing a minimum price of labour or a minimum price of bread? If the time of work were to be restricted, why would it not be but bare justice to fix the rate of remuneration too? And to do this effectually the price of bread ought to be settled by Act of Parliament. He wondered hon. Members did not carry their notion further still, and fix the amount of capital which each capitalist should be allowed to embark in speculation. Why should the owner of 500l. tyrannize over the owner of 50l., offering, perhaps, because his means afforded it, to take a lower rate of interest? But the cardinal objection to the Bill was, that it was not a tax upon the whole people for the benefit of a part, that part suffering from the severity of toil or from destitution—not a tax that would be defensible in principle; but that it was, ultimately and in results, a tax levied on a part of the people to relieve another part. In other words, it was an attempt to reapportion 508 property. It was therefore an aggression upon property, as much as if the Legislature said to one man, "You are too rich," and to another "You are too poor; the strong arm of law must restore things to their proper level." It was even more mischievous; because what was taken from one class to be given to the other, instead of ever reaching the persons intended to receive it, was lost, spent, and wasted in the very process of conveyance. How was this? It might be shown without difficulty, and in point of fact became apparent, when it was proved that this measure, while it invaded capital, and violated vested interests, at the same time reduced the rate of wages. But perhaps some one would say the interference was not with adult labour. Yes; but it was an admitted point that the interference with the labour of children and young persons was practically interference with the labour of adults. The invasion of property was threefold; first, with that of the manufacturer, who had invested large sums in mills and other works, on a calculation that on the supposition that the law would not carry further the principle of interference, he would obtain a certain amount of profit for his capital embarked. A very trifling change was enough to displace capital. The last feather turned the scale under circumstances of the severe competition, in which foreign and domestic manufacturers were engaged. Whilst such uncertainty remained with respect to the times and modes in which the State might choose to interfere between masters and men—when no man could tell what change the next day might bring forth, whether twelve, ten, or eight hours were to be ultimately settled upon—how could capitalists feel confidence in the schemes in which they were embarked? Practically, then, the profits of capital already embarked were invaded, and the field for employment unduly confined. The effect of this was enhancement of the price of commodities arising out of the check thrown in the way of the employment of capital, and the reduction of wages caused by the diminished demand for labour. Doubly were labourers injured; because, while they earned less, they would buy more dearly. Secondly, there was interference with property directly in the case of factory labourers thus restricted in the hours of their work, and indirectly with the whole labour market; for it was absurd to suppose that, unless manufacturers increased the velocity of 509 their machines, and obtained twelve hours' production out of ten hours' employment—in which case labourers would derive no advantage from the Bill—the same amount of wages could be given for ten hours as had been given for twelve hours. Labourers, therefore, who expected from this measure diminished labour, would find that they got it by a process which simultaneneously diminished the amount they earned. To exemplify the hardship, let the House take the case of an able-bodied man capable of enduring twelve hours' toil. Was he to sit with his arms folded, contemplating a sick wife and a starving family, because his emaciated fellow labourer could endure but ten hours? Were not the sinews of the labourer his sole capital? Was not the injustice greater than if the interference had been between larger and smaller capitalists, who could better bear the privation? Directly, then, the very men, whose benefit was sought, were injured. But still further, all labour was affected. The able-bodied labourers, driven out of one, would seek other occupations, and artificially beat down the prices of other classes of labourers, and thus the injurious effects of this measure would be multiplied in every direction and every form. There was something very similar in the arguments in favour of an extended system of out of door relief under the Poor Laws, and those of the supporters of Factory Bills. In each case the present distribution of property was practically complained of as oppressive to the working classes. In the case of the Poor Laws it was urged that he who toiled ought to have a larger share of the fruits of his industry. Luxury in the wealthy should be taxed more than it is for the relief of the necessitous; at first this might seem a simple and plausible solution of an intricate social problem; but, in reality, it might be doubted whether it was any solution at all. Suppose, for example, you were to call on property for one-tenth of its whole amount, to be distributed amongst the poor. What would you do but assail the stock by the productive employment of which the poor are fed? So long as anything remained to divide, all might go on well enough. Discontent might be lulled; an unnatural stimulus to population would be given. Society would be in the condition of a man living on his principal instead of his income. At last, a revulsion would take place; the quantity of food and necessaries would become less in relation to the number of con- 510 sumers; and a fierce competition in the labour market would commence, to determine who should share in the wreck which remained of the national resources. Now, he thought a precisely similar effect would follow from interference with the hours of labour. Practically, it was a peculiarly objectionable attempt at out of door relief. Pronouncing that men should only work a certain number of hours, and therefore diminishing wages, you would necessarily extend the bounds of the destitute class, whom you must relieve, because you would have arbitrarily denied them the right to help themselves. The Bill was now more than ever to be regretted, because it was a step in a direction opposite to that of the commercial policy of the present time. It commenced a reconstruction of a restrictive system almost upon the ruins of a kindred one just overthrown; and thus excited a sort of despair of the ultimate ascendancy of any sound principles whatever. It was said experiments had been made of the effect of reducing the duration of labour, and that the results were good. As to such results, he thought it ought to be considered that it was incidental to this kind of change that the good was more easily discernible than the evil, where both existed. The effects of a disturbed labour market might exist in full force without lying on the surface. Many a family might suffer from want, arising out of interference, whilst the adjacent factory might seem admirably regulated, and might present an exterior of even comparative comfort. In short, he could not help strongly deprecating the present scheme. He could not see where it was to stop, when every one was accused of inhumanity, or at all events, of a bigoted adherence to economical doctrines, who dared to offer an obstacle to the headlong course on which a mistaken benevolence had embarked. He believed it would be deeply injurious to the interests of masters and men. It was an attempt at out of door relief in disguise: at best, its effects could only be illusory, and they, probably, would be most mischievous. Holding these views, he must give the Bill his moss decided opposition.
§ SIR ROBERT INGLIS
said, he agreed in the sentiment expressed by the hon. Member who had just addressed them, as to the definition of political principle. He agreed that political principle was an induction from facts, and that in this it differed from religious and moral principle, which was derived from revelation. He would admit, 511 therefore, that they were bound to consider the application of facts to their arguments. It was only those who were in a state of happy ignorance as to the fact, like the hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Dennistoun) who had preceded him, who could regard this Bill as the first encroachment on a great principle. He felt with the noble Lord and others who had spoken in favour of the measure, that the Government had conceded the principle of interference with labour long and long ago; and they were not therefore now to consider whether this interference ought or ought not to be made. They had already interfered with the duration of labour; and the fact at issue now was, whether they had arrived at that point of interference beyond which it was not safe or right to go. The advocates of the Bill denied that they had arrived at that point. They believed that self-interest, as well as what was due to others, required them to give their assent to the measure before the House. He should feel perfectly satisfied to rest the case for this Bill on the speech which they had just heard from his noble Friend—a speech the talent in which was equalled only by the high principles which it displayed. He rejoiced that there was found in that House one to support this Bill who united the talent and principle of his noble Friend Lord Ashley, and who had performed the task imposed upon him in a manner which Lord Ashley himself could not desire to have more worthily executed. But who had been the first advocate of a Ten Hours' Bill? Was it any enthusiast—any one not himself connected with manufacturing? No; but it was the late Sir Robert Peel himself. The right hon. Gentleman, in alluding to the first Bill on this question, should have gone to the faithful Hansard—faithful thirty years ago as it was now—and he would there find, in the speech of Sir Robert Peel, the very language and opinions now put forth by the hon. Member for Oldham, and those who had followed that hon. Gentleman, with regard to the limitation of the hours of labour by persons under eighteen years of age. In the speech of Sir Robert Peel, on the 6th of June, 1815, in asking leave to introduce his Bill, he used these words—And that the duration of their labour should be limited to twelve hours and a half per diem, including the time for education and meals, which would leave ten hours for laborious employment.He would ask—always admitting the faith- 512 fulness of their friend Hansard, and the accuracy of his reports—whether it were possible to contradict a statement so explicit as that was? Therefore, whatever value could be derived to a proposition such as this from the weight of great experience, was brought to bear in support of the present measure by the advocacy of the hon. Member for Oldham, and the testimony of the late Sir Robert Peel. But it might be said, that Sir Robert Peel's Bill was not so limited. He quite admitted that the Act as it stood went to 10½ hours, and it was probable, therefore, that it had undergone some slight alteration in Committee. But be that as it might, on the 15th of June, 1815, the Bill passed with this provision, that—From and after the 15th of April, 1816, no person being under the age of eighteen years shall be employed in any such mill, manufactory, or building, for more than 10½ hours each day.He had, however, before shown what the late Sir Robert Peel desired should be the law of the land; and he would repeat that no man maintained a higher character for intelligence as well as humanity than that hon. Gentleman. It was besides impossible to find any man who had a deeper interest in the prosperity of manufactures than he had. But who was the hon. Member who brought forward the Bill on the present occasion? An hon. Gentleman, whose firm, it had been stated, and uncontradictedly stated in that House, at one time worked up the hundredth part of all the cotton imported into this country. Was that hon. Member, he would ask, an individual whose opinions should be overlooked on such a question? He did not see the hon. Member for Oldham then in his place; but the fact which he had stated concerning him had been, he believed, uncontradicted. They had, therefore, no mere enthusiasts for the last generation, none for the present generation, as the exclusive advocates of this measure. They might accuse his noble Friend near him, Lord John Manners, or his noble Friend, Lord Ashley, whom, though absent, he felt honoured in being permitted to call his Friend, with wild enthusiasm or measureless philanthropy, and with a want of that interest which a stable Government must feel for every class of the community. But they could not accuse the late Sir Robert Peel, or the present hon. Member for Oldham, with visionary views. Both in the one case and the other, the parties must have been deeply interested in the prosperity of the manufac- 513 turing body. And this reminded him of a passage in the speech of the hon. Member opposite, which he was near forgetting. The hon. Member asked why did they not deal with the fifteen or sixteen other branches of labour in the country? It should be recollected, however, that they had here the fact of several classes of labour being regulated, as it were, in one group, by the application of steam to the work on which they were engaged; and this afforded the reason and the means for interfering which were not afforded in other kinds of labour. They had, besides, no allegations of excessive continuance in the case of field labour. But it had been said that whenever they proposed any relaxation, they were entailing, as a necessary consequence, common ruin both on the manufacturer and on the operative. No relaxation had ever been given which had not in the first instance been met with the same declaration; and yet who were ruined? Were the master manufacturers ruined by the former relaxations? It had been unanswerably put forth by his noble Friend that the tax imposed on the manufacturer by former relaxations had been greatly above that attempted to be imposed by the present Bill. ["No!"] What was the meaning of that emphatic denial? Was it not a clear matter of fact that formerly the duration of labour was unlimited by law? Would the hon. Member for Bolton deny the fact that thirty or forty years ago there was no limit fixed to the hours of labour? The Legislature had, however, interposed, and had fixed a limit by what at the time was regarded as a very extreme mode of interference; but had the master manufacturers been ruined? Had the wages of the workmen diminished? He had the authority of the superintendent of one of the greatest mills in this country for stating that wages had not diminished. The individual to whom he alluded stated that in the mill in which he was employed, and which he (Sir R. Inglis) believed belonged to the hon. Member for Oldham himself, the people now earned the same amount of wages as before the reduction of the hours of labour had taken place. This, it was true, was owing principally to the kindness of the master; and it might be said, why did they not allow the masters to adopt a similar course elsewhere without an alteration in the law? But he would tell the House that they should not rely too much on individual kindness when opposed by feelings of avarice and private advan- 514 tage. They should have a general law on the subject; and not, amid the temptations of other examples, leave it to the consciences of individuals to discharge their duties to those employed by them. Experience had shown that you must not rely on individual kindness or public spirit, as opposed to the general spirit of avarice and the desire of gain. As in the case of the closing of shops on Sunday, you must have a general law. It further appeared from the statement of this writer, that the hon. Member for Oldham had reduced the number of hours in which work was required, by one hour and a half in the week; and the noble Lord (Lord J. Manners) had well shown that the effect of such arrangements was, that the wages would still be the same, whether the working week were six days or seven days. The writer to whose statement he referred, added, that in the mill in question, the same wages were paid in proportion for six hours now, that were paid for seven hours before the reduction. It appeared, therefore, that neither had the master manufacturers been ruined—for their stately mansions proved, at least, that they did not come in formâ pauperum—and further, that wages would continue to be the same even were this limitation applied. He (Sir R. Inglis) would not have trespassed further on the House, but that the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department, with a forgetfulness, no doubt, unintentional, had not stated exactly what passed when that House substantially confirmed the principle of a Ten Hours' Bill. The point at issue was, whether, when the House affirmed by a majority of 9 that "12" should not stand part of the Bill, they did or did not mean that 10 should be substituted. The affirmative of this was denied by hon. Gentlemen who opposed this Bill. But what then did the House mean? Did those hon. Gentlemen contend that it meant to substitute "6," "7," or "8," for "12?" No, they did not. And the whole debate showed that it was a question between 10 hours and 12 hours, and therefore, when the latter number was rejected, the House must have meant that the word "ten" should stand part of the question. He was aware of the difficulty hon. Members at that time felt — even those who voted — to know what they were doing; but he was prepared to say, notwithstanding the sneer of the hon. Member for Durham, that those who divided against the 12 hours' propo- 515 sition were aware that they were engaged in an almost sacred cause, and one to which they could devote themselves without any scruple whatever; because, while they were asserting a great principle, they were at the same time not affecting the interests of any portion of Her Majesty's subjects—certainly not of the manufacturers themselves. As a further confirmation of what he had said, he would recall to the right hon. Baronet's mind what he would no doubt find, on recollection, to have been the case—that the proposition made by Lord Ashley when the question was resumed after two or three weeks, was, "That the word "ten" should stand part of the Bill;" and he then stated, that he put it in that way to accommodate the Government, which wished to take the sense of the House on that question as early as it could be again had.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
said: Sir, I rise to explain, in consequence of what has just fallen from the hon. Member for the University of Oxford. First, with regard to the late Sir R. Peel. The fact is, that while I was arguing on a former occasion, that Sir R. Peel's Act had not sanctioned any interference beyond twelve hours, the hon. Member for Oldham interrupted me across the Table, and referred to the Bill as first introduced by the late Sir R. Peel; and I am not sure whether he did not refer to the late Sir R. Peel's speech also. I then stated expressly that I alluded to the Act of Sir R. Peel as it existed on the Statute-book. Of course, I am not about to dispute what is notorious to the world, from its being published in the debates, that Sir R. Peel originally proposed a greater interference than that which was ultimately carried into effect in his Bill. Then, as to the last point, namely, my statement that this House had never by its vote sanctioned a Ten Hours' Bill; let me call the attention of the House to the facts as they stood on the 15th of March, 1844. The Bill of the Government was discussed; and in that Bill the Government proposed that the definition of "night" should be from eight in the evening till six in the morning. Lord Ashley, on the other hand, proposed that night should be defined to be from six in the evening to six in the morning; and I admit that that proposition was made by a private arrangement with the noble Lord, and I said virtually it would be a discussion of the ten hours' principle, as contradistinguished from twelve hours. The noble Lord succeeded in striking out the 516 definition of the Government, and substituting by a small majority his own definition; and on that occasion I stated, that although the Government had been defeated on the question of the definition, a more substantive opportunity of ascertaining the sense of the House on the ten hours' principle would occur when the limitation of the hours of labour, in a subsequent clause, should come under discussion. On the 24th of March, the 8th Clause raised that question. The proposition of the Government was, that the limit should be twelve hours. The question was put as in point of form it must be put, namely, that the blank should be filled up with the word "twelve." Upon that division there was a small majority for not filling up the blank with the word "twelve;" and then came the real substantive question, whether it should be filled up with the word "ten," which was raising the question often hours, directly and in express terms; and on that occasion several Members, among them the hon. Member for Leeds, who voted against the Government as to the filling up of the blank with "twelve," voted against Lord Ashley's proposition to fill it up with "ten;" and that was the only occasion on which the ten hours' proposition was substantively and directly raised. It was then rejected by the Committee; and on no other occasion was the ten hours' principle brought substantively before the House. I was therefore justified in my assertion that the limitation of ten hours has never yet received the direct sanction of the House of Commons.
§ MR. S. CRAWFORD
said, if ever there was unanimity in a great community on a question, it existed in the borough of Rochdale in favour of a Ten Hours' Bill. He did not know the sentiments of the great millowners; but he had not had any communication on their part asking him to oppose the Bill. He had presented petitions from Rochdale very numerously signed by the operatives in favour of the measure, from a public meeting held there, at which the head constable presided; from the clergy of that place, and also from the operatives of Belfast. There was a case in which protection was required for those who were not able to protect themselves. That protection, to a certain extent, involved an interference with the liberty of the population. But it must be borne in mind that the workers in factories had it not in their own power to choose their hours of labour; they could not lessen them, however great 517 their inclination to do so; and their employers were able to offer them the alternative of working for a certain number of hours or of starving. But there was another power of compulsion besides that possessed by the masters. If men from avarice made their families work a great many hours, what protection had their wives and children against such tyranny? It had been shown, that the prolonged hours of work interfered with the education, the religious instruction, the morality, and all the social relations of the community. But there was one point which he wished especially to press on the attention of the House. He referred to the effect of excessive labour on the health of the inhabitants in the manufacturing towns. It appeared from the evidence taken by the Health of Towns Commission, that the average duration of human life in the principal towns of Lancashire was, for the whole population, nineteen years shorter than the general average duration of human life throughout England, Ulverstone being taken as a fair average for the country at large. The average duration of life in those towns, for adults, was 10 years shorter than the general average over England. In Preston, the average age of death in 1783 was 31; at the present time it was 19½ years. Infantile mortality had increased 53 per cent. In Liverpool, from 1784 to 1810, the mean ago of deaths was from 24 to 26 years; during the last seven years it had been from 17 to 20 years. Another remarkable cause of the shortness of life in the manufacturing districts was the practice to which mothers were addicted of giving opium to their children. In his evidence before the Health of Towns Commission, a Manchester druggist stated that—Among the really poorer classes, the practice of administering opiates to children is universal, almost without an exception. The way it is done is this—the mother goes out to her work in the morning, leaving her child in charge of a woman, who cannot be troubled with it, or with another child, of perhaps ten years old. A dose of quietness' is therefore given to the child to prevent its being troublesome. The child thus drugged sleeps, perhaps, till dinner time; so, when the mother goes out again, the child receives another dose. Well, the mother and father come home at night quite fatigued, and as they must rise early to begin work for the day, they must sleep undisturbed by the child; so it is again drugged, and in this manner young children are often drugged three times a day. He says he sells in one week in retail alone about five gallons per week of 'quietness,' and half a gallon of Godfrey; the former preparation containing about 100 drops of lauda- 518 num in an ounce. A single teaspoonful is the prescribed dose, so that, allowing an ounce weekly to each family, this one druggist supplies 700 families. Various other druggists sell as large and larger quantities.Rochdale was particularly mentioned as addicted to this practice. In Bury, a druggist stated that almost all the factory classes used these cordials. Similar evidence was given as to Preston and Bolton. Spirituous liquors were used for the same purpose in Liverpool by the Irish. A druggist gave the following evidence as to the effect of such drugs:—You may know at once a child accustomed to these drugs. It becomes thin; you feel nothing but bone; its eyes get sunken and fixed; its nose pinched. Such children look exactly like old weazened men and women. They sink off in a decline and die. I have often reprobated the practice to mothers; but their answer is, 'What are we to do; it is so very cross?Then it was also a remarkable fact, that in manufacturing districts the race had degenerated physically. Speaking of Lancashire, Mr. Chadwick said—The labouring population of this county has always supplied the largest contingencies to the armies. It furnished the strength of the army which fought at Flodden; and Cromwell, speaking of his Lancashire regiment, said finer soldiers were never seen in battle-field. The Guards, until lately, were largely recruited from Lancashire; but," Mr. Chadwick went on to say, "it was a matter of constant complaint to him, by the recruiting officers in the various districts of the county, that the sons are less tall than the fathers, and that the difficulty is constantly increasing of obtaining tall and able-bodied men.In his examination, Sergeant Farrell stated—He had been engaged in the recruiting service ten years. For ten recruits formerly got, he could now only get one, and that one was frequently rejected. He ascribed this to the circumstance that when persons go to work in factories early they do not grow to the proper size, have always some deformity, and are pale, sickly, and thin in flesh. The surgeon refuses them for being too thin, not being round chested, and not standing straight. In Rochdale there is almost no use staying. I have been only able to pick out thirty good-looking men for the last eighteen months, and out of those only one was passed by the surgeon for every four rejected.These were sufficiently strong proofs that the health of the population was injured to a very great extent by their employment in factories; and it was for the House to interfere so far as might be reasonable for the protection of the inhabitants in the manufacturing districts from the excess of work to which they were subject. Mr. Horner, in his last report, adverted to the usefulness of interference. He said—Nearly twelve years' experience of the Factory 519 Act has solved an important problem, by proving that it is practicable to check, by legislative interference, the excesses and moral evils which an unrestrained pursuit of gain has a tendency to create, more particularly as respects children and adolescent females, without injury to commercial interests.Mr. Horner, in another instance, observed—It is self-evident that there can be no substantial improvement in the moral and social condition of persons who, from thirteen years of age to the end of their physical capability of so working, are occupied in their trade 14½ hours of every day; viz., twelve hours actual work, an hour and three quarters for meals, and three quarters of an hour for going to the place of work and returning home, whether the employment be that of factory or any other; and that they are cut off from a reasonable enjoyment of life.These statements afforded strong grounds for the adoption of such a measure as that which was now before the House. He had already remarked, that the workers were not at liberty to shorten their own hours of labour; but it was also impossible for individual manufacturers to effect such an alteration as the case demanded. He was perfectly certain that the reduction of work would not be equal to the reduction of time. But there were other considerations which also deserved to be weighed. The markets would be less liable to be overstocked. It was, however, impossible to look for a change in the system without the interference of the Legislature. Manufacturers who voluntarily worked for a shorter time might be forestalled by others; and therefore it was unjust to blame individual employers because they did not attempt to restrict the time of labour. It had been stated that the workers would be injured if the Legislature interfered; but it had been stated in the clearest manner that they were prepared to run the risk of the change. Those who advocated the repeal of the Corn Laws in that House, had always argued that the wages of labour should be regulated by the supply and demand. He contended for the same principle; but it did not follow as a corollary that a shorter time of work would reduce wages. It was for the House to consider whether for mere lucre it would sacrifice the great interests of the community. He was one of those who contended that the people should be protected against the holders of landed property. They should be protected, also, against the holders of monied property. The past limitations on the hours of labour had not had an injurious effect; and it was incumbent on the Legis- 520 lature to interfere for the protection of the labourer, who might be said to be in a state of absolute slavery to his employers; for he had no alternative but to do what they wanted, or to starve, or to enter the workhouse. It was alleged that the promoters of the present measure did not make its application general; but that was certainly no reason why protection should not be afforded in instances where it was manifestly required.
was understood to say, that one of the effects of limiting the hours of labour in factories would be the causing of a difference of 16 per cent against the English manufacturer in the foreign market. The question had hitherto been treated and discussed as a commercial one. In that light he viewed it. Could he view it in the same light as those Gentlemen who so warmly supported it, he should not only support a limitation to ten hours, but to even a shorter time; but he could not see it as they did. He was a disinterested party on it. He was neither a manufacturer nor a miller. He had examined the question calmly and deliberately; and he had come to the determination that the hours of labour ought not to be limited. He could not, therefore, give his support to the present attempt to place a limit to them. The hours of labour on the Continent, in many of the manufacturing districts, varied from seventy-two to eighty-four hours in the week, giving an average of about eighty. If the hours of labour in Great Britain were lessened, the manufacturers could not possibly compete with those of the Continent. If Germany could produce linen fabrics at a cheaper rate than Scotland—and the town which he had the honour to represent (Dundee) exported a large quantity of linen annually to the Continent—it could not be expected that the buyer would consider whether the article was the produce of a factory where the people worked fourteen hours a day or only ten hours. He would merely look to the quality of the fabric and its actual value, comparatively with other goods of a similar description in the market. As to the distress which had existed in the manufacturing districts in the years 1841 and 1842, he much feared that no limitation to the hours of labour would have either cured or prevented it; and when he saw at the present time districts in which, even at the present length of time occupied in factory labour, females were unable to earn more than 5s. in the week, and men frequently 521 not more than 8s. or 10s., he could not but look forward with feelings of distrust and fear to limitations upon their industry, which would act as diminution of their earnings. ["Divide, divide!"]
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
was anxious to offer a few words upon the subject then before the House, for although he intended to vote on this occasion as he had voted in 1844 for the proposition of the noble Lord (Lord Ashley), he regretted to say that he could not support the present measure with the same confidence as those hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side who had expressed themselves so warmly in favour of the second reading. He felt that great weight and much consideration were due to the arguments and sentiments expressed, both by the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department, and by his right hon. Friend the Member for Taunton. He thought that there were many hon. Gentlemen who were so carried away by their feelings of benevolence and humanity that they were apt to disregard the probable consequences of measures which would affect materially the commercial interests of the country, as well as those of the operative classes. On the other hand, he thought there had been an inclination rather to overrate those considerations, and to carry to too great an extent anticipations of danger involved in the proposed change. On the part of those who opposed the second reading, the arguments urged against the present Bill were very similar to those which had been formerly adduced against the factory law which was at present in operation. Fear of ruin to trade, and prognostics of the evil consequences which were inevitably to have followed, had then, as now, been urged. Judging by the reports of the inspectors of factories, as published from time to time, he could say with feelings of pleasure and satisfaction, that they had convincing proofs and unanswerable evidence that those predictions of evil had not been realized; and he thought that the refutation which time and experience had given to the predictions uttered upon the former occasion, justified him in treating with much less attention those prophecies which were uttered upon the present. Those arguments were in fact arguments against all interference of any kind whatsoever with the labour market. He could understand the argument that the market for labour should be free; but that was really not the question under discussion. 522 The question before them was whether, after the House had upon former occasions adopted a certain course of legislation as to factory labour, they had reached the limits to which it was safe to advance. It was, in fact, a question of degree. The House having by its previous legislation admitted the necessity for interference to a certain degree, had now only to consider whether they had advanced to the utmost limits to which they could venture to go, or whether they might not still, without danger to their commercial interests, advance another step in ameliorating the condition of the factory labourer. Now that being the question, he did not think they could say they had attained the object in view; and there was no evidence to show that they had advanced to the precise point beyond which they could not with safety venture. The condition of their factory population was not as yet satisfactory. In the last report from the factory inspectors, Mr. Horner, under the date of May, 1845, at page 19, said—It is self-evident that there can be no substantial improvement amongst a population where, from thirteen years of age to the end of life, there is no relaxation from work, but where they are constantly occupied during fourteen hours and a half a day, twelve hours being employed in actual work, one hour and three-quarters at meals, and three-quarters of an hour being occupied in going to and returning from home. They are, in fact, cut off from all reasonable enjoyment of life.It was evident that something yet remained to be done. He was not prepared to concur by a vote for the rejection of the Bill in the assertion that they should not advance one step further in the course on which they had entered. Nor was he altogether prepared to go the full extent proposed by all the clauses of the Bill, without further experience to guide their course. Many allusions had been made in the course of the debate to the experiments tried, by mutual agreement, between master and workmen, as to the quantity of work which could be performed during the shorter hours of labour as compared with the longer. In Mr. Gardiner's case those experiments had been made with some degree of success. In others they had not proved so satisfactory. But all those experiments had been brought forward by the opponents of the Bill as proofs of the impropriety of interfering with the hours of labour by legislative enactments, when satisfactory arrangements could be entered into by mutual consent. He should 523 say that if the object could be obtained by mutual arrangement, it would be the best method by far; but inasmuch as he saw no chance of such arrangement being generally made, or the experiment even tried to any great extent, he had come to the resolution of supporting the second reading of the Bill. They had taken on themselves a fearful responsibility. They had fixed the maximum of factory labour; they had undertaken to say what time the operative classes should be employed in factory labour, and he could not assert that they had satisfactorily discharged the duty they had thus assumed. He assented to the principle of the Bill; but in doing so he wished to guard himself against acquiescing in its details. If it should go into Committee, he should, feeling the necessity of caution, be prepared to vote against the third clause, but to support the clause, fixing the hours of labour at eleven. There was, indeed, another alteration which he thought might confer a greater benefit, and perhaps be the best mode of dealing with the question. He thought there might be an advantage in extending the class of children to a more advanced age, so as to enable them to attend schools for a longer period. The right hon. Gentleman anticipated great difficulty in carrying out that proposition; but the same difficulty was anticipated with regard to children under 13, and further experience had disproved that objection. He thought the age for this class might be extended to 15 or 16. He threw out this as a suggestion that had occurred to him; at the same time, should no such proposition he made in Committee, he was prepared to support the first clause of the Bill as it stood. In supporting this measure he disclaimed altogether being a party to what might prove a delusion; he could not say the Bill would not tend to produce a diminution of wages; he thought the natural tendency of the measure would be to effect a reduction of wages. But the operatives themselves stated they should derive advantage from the measure; and, important as were the commercial considerations connected with the subject, it was still more important to look at the advantage to be derived from conciliating the good will and cordial co-operation of the operative body, who sought this boon with a sincerity that could not be doubted, though they might be deceived as to the results. He should vote for the second reading.
§ MR. BROTHERTON
said, that every 524 Member who had spoken against the Motion had admitted, that twelve hours' labour in a factory in a heated and impure atmosphere, was too long for young persons between 13 and 18 years of age, and that it was desirable the time should be shortened. But it was contended that such reduction should be made by amicable arrangement between the masters and the operatives; at the same time it was alleged that if such reduction was made, whether voluntarily or by legislative enactment, it would bring ruin upon our manufactures. The only question, therefore, seemed to be whether the reduction should be by mutual arrangement, or by legislative enactment. [Continued cries of "Divide, divide!"] He had taken a deep interest in the question for thirty years. He had not often obtruded his sentiments upon the House; but if he was interrupted he would move the adjournment of the debate. It was contended by the opponents of this measure, that the working people should be left to make their own bargains—that it would be acting against principle to interfere with labour, and must tend to the injury of the operatives. But how could the supporters of non-interference carry the principle out? If they kept strictly to that principle, when expediency required it, they must infringe upon the Sabbath; and was not that institution an interference with labour? They had sufficient authority for interfering with the hours and freedom of labour. The Legislature interfered with labour in collieries—they regulated the boats on the Thames—they legislated for railroads—and they had already legislated for the regulation of factories; and all those interferences had had a beneficial effect. It was assorted, that if the Legislature interfered again with factory labour, they would be bound to interfere with the labour of all other trades. He denied that such would be the case. He said they might as well allege, that if one tax was removed, that all other taxes should be taken off. Factory labour was not like other labour. It was not like the labour of the shoemaker, the tailor, or the gardener, who might work sixteen hours one day, and six on another. The persons employed in factories must work the same number of hours every day, from week to week, from month to month, from year to year. The old and the young, the weak and the strong, must all work the same time so long as the machinery was in motion. The reason for this constant labour 525 was the great amount of capital employed in machinery. A gardener worked with a spade worth 2s., whereas an operative in a factory worked with a machine worth 100l.; therefore the temptation to work a longer time was far greater, because a profit must be gained on the machine. It was contended by some hon. Members, that there was no necessity for legislative interference even in factories. But what was the state of factory labourers before the Legislature interfered? He could remember when factories generally worked on an average seventy-eight hours in the week. It had been proved in the other House, that the factories in Lancashire, forty years ago, used to work fourteen hours and a half a day; and there were returns which showed that some mills were worked ninety hours per week. At that time children of six years of age were employed in them during that time, and a considerable proportion of them were under nine years of age; but all this had been altered. This proved that legislative interference, in regard to factories, had been necessary and beneficial. The condition of the workpeople had been materially improved. But although much good had been done by the Legislature, they had the testimony of medical men, of magistrates, of ministers of religion of various denominations, that the hours of labour in factories were still too long, being injurious to the health, and an impediment to the improvement of the minds and morals of the operatives. An hon. Member had, indeed, alluded to the evidence of medical men, as if they had an interest and a bias in favour of altering and limiting the hours of labour in factories unnecessarily. But he could state that medical men were examined before a Committee of the House of Lords in 1818, and some of them manifested no such disposition. He recollected the evidence of an eminent physician from Manchester. He had been asked several questions relative to the effects upon young persons from working twelve or thirteen hours a day in factories. He could give no opinion upon the matter, unless a case was presented to him. He was pressed upon the subject, and was asked, whether he thought it would be injurious to the health of a child to be kept standing twenty-three out of the twenty-four hours? His answer was, "Before I answer that question, I should wish to have an examination to see how the case stands." He said, he could form no opinion independent of facts as to the 526 number of hours that a child ought to be employed. So much for the wish of medical men to limit the hours of labour unnecessarily. The labour in factories was of a peculiar kind; and because Parliament might think fit to limit its duration, it did not at all follow that it need interfere with other branches of industry. The restriction sought by this measure would be highly beneficial to the operatives, while in his opinion it would not be injurious to the masters. It was idle to talk of public parks for recreation, and of mechanics' institutions for instruction, if the operatives were not allowed time to enjoy the one and profit by the other. To those who contended that the end in view ought to be brought about by mutual arrangement, he replied that it was impossible; and that competition and jealousy would defeat the attempt. The proposition could only be intended to defeat the Bill. With respect to the commercial part of the subject, he was ready to admit that if labour were restricted, the cost of the manufacture would be increased, which must be met, either by an increase of price, a reduction of wages, or less profit to the capitalist. According to a calculation which he had made, the loss in wages by a reduction of the hours from sixty-nine to sixty-four per week, would not exceed 10d. per week to each operative, the average wages being 10s. 3d. per week; and as the masters had been gainers by the repeal of the cotton duty to the extent of 1s. 1d. per week, the loss if borne by them would not be very heavy. The number of persons employed in cotton mills was about 260,000; and the amount of cotton duty in 1843 was 743,902l., being equal to 1s. 1d. per week for each person employed. As the operatives chiefly worked by the piece, and as the rate of wages depended on the demand and supply, the operative must run the risk of a reduction of wages, if a less quantity of work were produced in eleven hours than in twelve. The reduction of time hitherto had not tended to decrease our trade; for in 1818, the year previous to the time being reduced to seventy-two hours, the quantity of cotton yarn exported was 14,743,675 lbs. In 1825, when the time was again reduced to sixty-nine hours, the quantity exported was 32,641,604 lbs.; in 1833, 70,626,161 lbs.; and in 1845, 135,144,865 lbs. It was now proposed to make a further reduction of time, and he had no objection to proceeding cautiously and safely; but his conviction was, that if the time were reduced 527 to eleven hours a day, or sixty-four per week, in the case of a mill where 20,000l. was invested, 220 hands employed and 6,000 lbs. of yarn produced weekly, the increased cost for interest of fixed capital, insurance, wear and tear, taxes, &c. would only be one seventh of a penny per lb., and the amount of the repealed duty on the raw cotton consumed, would be three eighths of a penny per lb. Even if the same amount of wages was paid for a proportionately less quantity of work, and the same amount of profit added, the increased cost would not exceed a halfpenny per lb. And in that case he believed there would be nothing to apprehend from foreign competition; for the import duties on cotton twist in foreign countries, showed that there was a considerable protective duty which might be reduced. The import duty on cotton yarn into Belgium was 4d. per lb.; Denmark, 4½d.; Austria, 5½d.; Russia, 8d.; the United States, 8d.; and France, 3s. per lb. So that a reduction of these duties might be made to ten times the amount of the increased cost, occasioned by a restriction of the hours of labour in this country. For these reasons, he was convinced that the reduction of the hours of labour from twelve to eleven per diem, would be attended with no ill consequences to the operatives, to the manufacturers, or to the nation; while on the other hand, it would materially augment the comfort of the working classes, promote good-will between masters and men, and prevent those strikes which always caused heart-burnings and dissatisfaction. He therefore gave his hearty support to the second reading of the Bill.
§ MR. CARDWELL
was fully sensible of the disadvantages under which, in the anxiety which the House manifested to come to a conclusion, and after the speeches which had been heard, he ventured to trespass for a short time upon their patience. Representing, however, as he did a constituency which made him necessarily acquainted with the feelings entertained among all classes, both by masters and operatives, on this subject—having been, from local connexion, familiar to a certain extent, with its importance, and having given to it every attention, he did trust that he might be allowed to make a few remarks. He viewed the matter, he could assure the House, without any admixture whatever of personal bias, and with a sincere desire to accomplish one single end, that end being to discover, if possible—not 528 by giving way to feelings, but by a careful examination of facts and practical evidence—what was the course by which the Legislature of this country was best able to promote and was least likely to interfere with the growing prosperity of this great class of Her Majesty's subjects. He was sure the House would feel, that after the powerful speech of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, it was right that some one acquainted with the feelings of that class should make a statement as to what those feelings were, and what was the light in which they considered the question. He would address himself to what he believed to be the real bearings of, and practical evidence in the case. He thought he might venture to correct the right hon. Gentleman (Sir George Grey) with regard to one matter, which he seemed to treat as a matter of fact. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to think that in the course which legislation had hitherto taken upon the subject they could not trace any defined or established principle. It had been said, that the argument against all change could be understood; but that when they admitted the principle of interference with labour, then it was difficult to understand the precise question of degree—what were to be the limits of such interference, and where, to avoid novelty and danger, they were to stop. Now he did not pretend to stand up in that House for the abstract principle of non-interference with labour; but he maintained that, in point of fact, a great principle had guided, and was to be found in the history of, their past legislation. He would make this broad and intelligible assertion, that they had been guided in their former legislation by reference to two things—the prevailing practice of the time in regard to the hours of labour, and the concurrence of the respectable part of the trade in the limitations which they had imposed. It was well known that the general practice now was to make the hours of labour twelve hours. There were, however, always engaged in any trade persons less scrupulous and less considerate—persons, for instance, in this trade who worked fourteen, while the usual length of time was only twelve hours; and it had been thought by the Legislature both just and expedient to impose upon these persons, who were commonly known in the manufacturing districts by the designation of "outsiders," a statutory limitation requiring them to conform to the general practice of the trade. They had 529 been guided informer years by that clear and definite principle; and if they desired to impose upon the less scrupulous a limitation, they must be directed by the general practice, and by the experience of the principal and more respectable establishments, which worked consistently with practical advantage. Such was the principle which governed the views of the late Sir R. Peel; that was the principle which, from the beginning to the end of their legislation, they had hitherto followed; it was that which they were now invited to infringe, and which, if they did infringe, they would, he believed, break down and destroy the solid foundations of the prosperity which this important trade enjoyed. That principle was none the worse for not being defined by any abstract expression, and for being the result of and having stood the test of practical experience. And what were these results? When the hours of labour on the continent of Europe had been, in some places, from seventy-eight hours per week, in others from seventy-two to ninety hours, and in others from seventy-eight to eighty-five, they had in England adopted a limitation to sixty-nine hours per week. They had enforced that limitation, and the more easily, because none met it with evasions, and none interposed difficulties; they had had the co-operation of those without whose co-operation their Act of Parliament was not worth the paper on which it was written; and by that limitation, and by adhering to that principle, the labouring classes in this country had derived the greatest possible practical benefit. It was admitted on all hands that if you departed from your principle you incurred great risk of entailing upon the operatives very serious consequences in respect of the remuneration of their labour, by the necessary reduction that must follow in the rate of wages. But it had been answered that this was a question with which they need not concern themselves, because the parties themselves had considered it; but to leave the question thus was, in his opinion, to abrogate the function of the Legislature, to repudiate the duty to discharge which that august assembly was constituted. He would not, for one humble individual, court popularity for a single moment by blinding his eyes to the risk which he most sincerely believed to be involved in this question, merely because others could not see that risk; and he would not, moreover, pay the operative classes so poor a compli- 530 ment as to think that in the long run, or even in the short run, their support and confidence would be obtained by such an abnegation of principle as that which he had pointed out. Was the House aware that upwards of 800,000 people were directly dependent upon the wages received for labour in manufactures? Did they know that one half of the total exports of the country was the produce of one single branch of these manufactures? Were they aware of the amount expended in wages in this country? Were they aware of the prosperity and comfort among the operatives which the circulation of so large a sum in wages annually produced; of the domestic comfort, of the unobtrusive respectability, of the substantial advantages, moral as well as physical, to parents and to children? Such were the results; hon. Gentleman might talk glibly about the risk that they run by an alteration; hon. Gentlemen, in smoothly running sentences, might dispose of the danger; but the health and homestead of the industrious hardworking manufacturing labourers were their stake, and it was their well-being the House was called on to consider. In 1808 the course of this legislation began, and they had then been enabled to confer benefits upon the manufacturing labourers with the concurrence of the trade, and to enforce the principle without the intervention of any practical difficulty. Had they any reason to be discouraged? What had been the reward of their adhesion to a principle justified and sustained by prudence? Omitting former legislation, let him briefly recapitulate what had actually been accomplished in this present Parliament, by the very assembly whom he had now the honour to address. They first interfered on the part of labourers in mines; they extended their interference to the silk trade, by limiting the hours of labour for young children; they then interfered in a branch of trade scarcely second in importance to any other—the calico print trade; and, being connected with a district in which that was the principal trade, he could say, from his own knowledge, that because they had consulted those without whom they could not proceed, because they had wisely considered a valuable principle, they had placed the Act relative to that manufacture upon the Statute-book without opposition, and had taken the best possible means of enforcing its provisions. They knew from the reports of the inspectors of factories, and from the abstract of population returns, 531 that the results of their legislation hitherto had been, as he had stated, beneficial, had given satisfaction to the operatives as well as to the masters, and that the effect also had been to increase adult labour, and, proportionately, to diminish the labour of young children. It had been stated in the course of the discussion by a high authority, that the great difficulty with which they had had to contend had been to extend into the houses and homes of the working classes those great benefits of education—of moral and religious improvement, which it was most desirous the Legislature should both originate and sustain. It was very well for a person to say that they could not do it; he (Mr. Cardwell) appealed to practical evidence to show that they had already done it. He would refer them to the Report of Mr. Horner, and he would invite them to go over the account which Mr. Horner gave, to examine the picture which he drew of the progress of education in his district, and of the state of the labourers in the North Shore Mills Cotton Company, Liverpool. It would be observed, from the statements of this gentleman, that this was in reality a strong case, for that the proportion of women and children employed, was a large proportion as compared with the number of male and adult labourers. He would not read the whole description to the House. He would give hon. Gentlemen who testified so warm an interest in this subject, credit for having read the short and graphic Report which the factory inspectors had presented. Mr. Horner, after describing the sanatory condition, the religious education, the attendance at church on the Sabbath, concluded with this remarkable passage:—It is difficult to say whether we should most admire the benevolence, the confiding practical good sense, or the enlarged views of their own happiness and interest, evinced by the proprietors of this factory in their arrangements. If their example were generally followed, even in a limited degree, one could hardly over-estimate the sum of moral good and individual happiness that would result.What was the inference they were to draw from this? He would ask the House to side with those persons as fellow labourers in that great moral work. It was in the hands of such persons that the essential power was to be invested; and let the House respect those who had set and followed such an example. Let them not legislate in a spirit opposed to the judgment and adverse to the feelings of those persons, thus rendering them hostile to, and 532 inclined to frustrate, the good which was intended to be effected. But, he had other returns which he might refer to—medical returns; and he then held in his hand a letter of which he might be permitted to read a short extract, for he considered that it established one of the most remarkable and most gratifying facts within modern experience. It was generally known that within the last six months there had been a most extraordinary demand for copies of the Scriptures generally in the manufacturing districts. The statistics were as remarkable as the conclusion to be drawn from them was gratifying. Let him take a single case. The number of Bibles and Testaments sold by young men in one factory, within that period, was 3,829, and the number sold by women was 7,671, making a total of 11,500 copies disposed of within six months. The largest number sold by one individual was 1,388. So that within six months one individual had been the means of distributing 1,388 copies of the Scriptures; and this individual was a young woman who had been employed for twelve hours a day in a cotton factory. This circumstance had come to his knowledge in the course of his inquiry into another subject. He was sure that the noble Lord the Member for the city of London would excuse him for referring to an observation which had fallen from him in connexion with the subject. He held in his hand an account of the proceedings at a meeting of the British and Foreign School Society, at which the noble Lord presided, and the noble Lord was reported to have said—In stating last year the want of education in the House of Commons, he had pointed out the reason why a great portion of the labouring population were unable to give that amount of education to their children which they themselves could wish. He then stated that the wages of many portions of the humbler classes were so small that, if they expended any of it in education, they could not obtain the comforts and clothing which were requisite for their decent appearance as men, and that in the lowest state of wages nearly the whole amount earned went to buy the necessary bread for the maintenance of themselves, their wives, and their children. He trusted that they would see, in the progress of events and the wisdom of the Legislature, that the labouring classes of this country would be enabled to have such a greater command of the necessaries of life, that they might be able to devote a larger portion of their earnings to the education of their children.Now whilst, with one hand, they diminished the price of the necessaries of life, let them not, on the other hand, curtail the amount of wages, and thereby prevent the labour- 533 ing classes from fulfilling the expectation held out by the noble Lord, that they might devote a larger portion of their earnings to the education of their children. The question, therefore, with respect to education, turned upon that of wages; and did any one deny that if this measure passed, the Legislature, by direct interference, diminished and curtailed the wages of the manufacturing population? And let them observe, they were not curtailing the labour of children; they did not touch that; but the particular effect of this Bill was to diminish the labour of the adult; not that a man should not work his child too hard, but that he should not work himself too much. It was not necessary to go into calculations to show the effect of the measure: they were going to strike off one-sixth part of the whole productive power of the country. The measure affected not only the floating capital of wages, but sunk capital; they were going to impose a tax of one-sixth upon the aggregate capital employed in manufactures. The noble Lord the Member for Newark relied on the experiment made by Mr. Gardiner of working eleven hours. That experiment had been made by various persons—by Mr. Gardiner, Messrs. Horrocks, Mr. Greg, Mr. Marshall, and others, to ascertain whether they could pay twelve hours' wages for eleven hours' work. The noble Lord said, Mr. Marshall was favourable to eleven hours: and the noble Lord said justly, that Mr. Marshall was a most high authority; while he (Mr. Cardwell) hold in his hand the petition of Mr. Marshall against the statutory limitation which the noble Lord now sought to impose. Mr. Greg had tried the experiment, and no doubt he had done it bonâ fide, and what had been the result? He found he could not maintain it; and he made this offer to his people, "If I am content with eleven hours' work, will you be content with the wages of eleven hours and a half?" and they unanimously refused. Had he not a right, therefore, to deny that the working classes were content with the experiment? and where the great manufacturers in the north of England had tried the experiment, the result was against it. If he wanted an argument why the House should abstain from passing this measure, he should find it in the readiness of the manufacturers themselves to try the experiment and to adopt it, if it could be done with safety and advantage. Then what was the result of the whole mat- 534 ter?The House was invited, for the first time, to violate principles which, in a long course of legislation upon this subject, had been hitherto preserved inviolate, notwithstanding the strong arguments against such a course to be found in the experiments which had been made by persons favourable to the measure, the results of which confirmed the reasoning à priori; in the teeth of these experiments the House was invited to precipitate a measure which they were warned would be injurious to those whose advantage it was their special intention to promote. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Taunton had referred to some of those evils: first, a contention between masters and men; and afterwards, from the blow inflicted upon trade by the direct operation of the measure in curtailing the domestic trade of England and exposing it to a disadvantageous competition, and by the indirect effect, viz., the unsettled relations it was sure to produce between the employers and the employed, a period of great suffering resulting ultimately in a combined movement of masters and of men against the interference of the Legislature. Let them if they valued those results which by temperate and judicious legislation they had been enabled to secure, steadily persevere in observance of the same landmarks, in adherence to the same principles. They would thus secure the course in which they had made great progress, and by the continued pursuit of which he believed they were destined to attain still greater triumphs.
§ MR. BANKES
again rose. He said he was in possession of the House, and he should occupy the short time that remained (it being now three quarters past five o'clock) by speaking upon the Motion now made, that the debate be now adjourned, for the purpose of afterwards following it up by moving that it be resumed on Monday next. He was extremely sorry that an adjournment should now take place, and he regretted sincerely that it should have been occasioned by the conduct which had been pursued by the hon. Members on the Treasury bench. There had been sufficient opportunity to-night for any Member on the Treasury bench to have answered the arguments on the other side; but none had 535 risen early in the debate. Two hours ago, when his noble Friend the Member for Newark had spoken, there had been an opportunity, but no Member of the Government rose; and it was not until the clock pointed at a quarter past five, that any Member from the Treasury thought fit to address the House, and he did not close till an hour when it was impossible to continue the debate, though time was left for a division, and he (Mr. Bankes) offered that the House should divide then. If a division was not accepted, he moved that the debate be now adjourned, intending to follow it up with another Motion, that it be resumed on Monday next; and he fixed that day because the debate on the Corn Law would be concluded before that time, and there would be no danger of mixing up one question with the other.
§ The Question on the adjournment of the debate was agreed to.
§ Upon the Question that the debate be resumed on Monday next,
§ SIR R. PEEL
said, besides the Corn Bill, it was of the utmost importance to proceed with the Tariff, and with other most important Government measures; but if the House considered this a discussion of such importance, he would fix upon as early a day as he could, but it was impossible to fix upon Monday next.
§ MR. BANKES
said, he should take every opportunity which the forms of the House allowed to enable it to resume the debate upon this question on Monday next.
§ MR. SPEAKER
put the Question that the debate be adjourned till Monday next, and declared that "the Ayes had it."
§ [Several Members said, "The Noes have it;" but the clock now stood at Six, and the Clerk read the Standing Order that the House should meet at Twelve, and adjourn at Six: whereupon the Speaker immediately left the Chair, and the House, which was very numerous, broke up.]
We copy from the Votes of the House the official record of this proceeding, which is unexampled, it having arisen only in consequence of the Orders of Jan. 26:—
Motion made, and Question put, 'That the Debate be adjourned till Monday next:'—and Mr. Speaker having declared that the Ayes had it, several Members challenged the decision of Mr.
Speaker, and declared that the Noes had it; and the House being about to divide, but it being then six of the clock, Mr. Speaker directed the Clerk to read the Resolutions of the House of the 26th day of January last, and the same were read accordingly, as follow:—
§ "Resolved—That the House do meet every Wednesday at Twelve o'clock at noon, for Private Business, Petitions, and Orders of the Day, and do continue to sit until Six o'clock, unless previously adjourned."
§ "Resolved—That when such Business has been disposed of, or at Six o'clock precisely, notwithstanding there may be business under discussion, Mr. Speaker do adjourn the House, without putting any Question."
§ "Resolved—That whenever the House shall be in Committee at Six o'clock, the Chairman do immediately report progress, and Mr. Speaker do resume the Chair, and adjourn the House, without putting any Question."
§ "Resolved—That the business under discussion, and any business not disposed of at the time of such adjournment, do stand as Orders of the Day for the next day on which the House shall sit."
§ "Whereupon Mr. Speaker adjourned the House till To-morrow, without putting any Question."
§ House adjourned at Six o'clock.