HC Deb 03 March 1847 vol 90 cc745-819

moved the Order of the Day for going into Committee on this Bill.

On the Motion that the Speaker leave the Chair,


hoped, on the present occasion, to experience that indulgence and attention from the House which it always was most generously disposed to give to every hon. Member, whether he agreed with or dissented from the majority on any question submitted to its consideration. On the present occasion, in the conscientious discharge of his duty, he thought it necessary to urge those arguments against the measure before the House, which he believed to be conducive to the permanent welfare of all classes of this country. He was well aware that he had no intimate knowledge of the subject, nor did he lay claim to the attention of the House as the representative of a constituency which was peculiarly interested in the measure before them. It had, however, been thought by some that a question, which was conducive to the general inter- ests of the public, might be fairly taken up by one to whom could not be imputed any interested motives, either as regarded himself or those whom in that House he represented. If he thought the question were one in which the interests of the millowners, or of the factory workmen were alone concerned, he would not urge its reconsideration on the attention of the House; but because he believed it to be a great question in which not only the interests of the whole labour of the country was concerned, but which involved the profits of capitalists, the wealth and stability of our commercial prosperity, as well as the general interests of England, he asked for its calm and dispassionate consideration. It would not do now to answer him by saying that on former occasions the House of Commons, by a large majority, had agreed to the principle of the Bill. The forms of that House, after being well considered and long established, always gave the opportunity on various occasions to reconsider the bearing and objects of such measures as were submitted to its attention; and the present was one of those legitimate opportunities which was afforded to take a calm and dispassionate view of those arguments which had been advanced in favour of the second reading of the Bill, as well as of the arguments that were adduced in support of the measure out of doors. He admitted that the Bill came under the consideration of the House under circumstances very different from what it did on former occasions, and in some respects much more favourable to its final success. The Bill was not now introduced under the auspices of a young nobleman, who, on account of his hereditary position, would be called to act in another sphere, as he could not in the course of nature be permitted very long to represent the people in the House of Commons; and who might not be unwilling to gain for himself a little popularity—an honourable popularity—by the advocacy of a measure which large masses of the people believed likely to promote their welfare; while others, and not the least informed, thought it would prove destructive of their best interests. The Bill, on this occasion, was introduced by the hon. Member for Oldham—one who had grown old in employing the people; an individual who was the architect of his own fortune; who, by his exertions, enterprise, and capital, raised himself to that rank and situation he now enjoyed, and to which the humblest man in the country could also elevate himself by his talents, his industry, and his perseverance. That hon. Member came forward to advocate the rights and interests of men, through whom all his wealth and station were acquired. But the question now to be considered was, not by whom the Bill was introduced, or what were the motives by which it was submitted to that House; the question being—was the hon. Member for Oldham right in giving his support to the Bill? That was the question. He would consider the measure under three different aspects. First, he would call the attention of the House to what was the real nature of the provisions of the Bill. Having done that, he would call its attention to the time and to the circumstances in which the measure was proposed; and then he would state as plainly and as succinctly as possible, for the information rather of the country than of that House, how the measure, if carried at all, would pass through that House. It was a Bill to limit work in factories to ten hours a day; and the principal arguments in favour of the measure, were the arguments on which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Home Department mainly relied—arguments which were advanced over and over again to prevent further opposition. It was stated the time was come when it would be expedient for all classes to have the question settled. The right hon. Gentleman said, the question not only ought to be settled as regarded the interests of both masters and men; but he also said that the tide of public feeling was so strong in its favour, that it was incumbent on them, in deference to public opinion, to settle the matter. But how did that right hon. Gentleman mean to settle the question? The tide of public feeling was in favour of a Ten Hours Bill. The petitions which were presented by the noble Lord the First Lord of the Treasury, as well as the petitions presented by the hon. Member for Finsbury, were for a Ten Hours Bill. Was there, he would ask, one petition in favour of an Eleven Hours Bill? And yet the intention of some was, the moment the Speaker would leave the chair, to make the Bill an Eleven Hours Bill. Would any consistent advocate say that that would satisfy the people, or that the question would be settled by an Eleven Hours Bill? He understood that a letter appeared from a noble Lord (Lord Ashley), praying the Administration to give their support to an Eleven Hours Bill, as the factory people would consent to such a limitation. Did the noble Lord say that would settle the question? No; for that noble Lord stated the people would take the Eleven Hours Bill until they got the Ten Hours Bill—that they would "defer the period of the Ten Hours Bill until the benefit of the enactment should have been experienced by two years." They would take the chance of two years as an experiment, when renewed agitation would commence, if necessary, for the Ten Hours Bill. If it were his intention to answer that noble Lord, he could soon prove that even a Ten Hours Bill had but a poor chance to settle the question. He remembered to have read a speech delivered by Mr. Oastler, at a meeting of factory operatives, in which he proposed eight hours, a measure which Mr. Oastler said would be necessary to afford the working men sufficient time for relaxation from toil; and he believed the voice of that meeting was in favour of Mr. Oastler's proposition for an Eight Hours Bill, and which, if granted, they would next demand a Six Hours Bill. The present legislation, in his opinion, would not, therefore, settle the question. Its effect would be only to cripple the industry of this great country. Many of those mills which had been constantly at work for the last five or six years, and from which was derived that capital which gave employment to the people, the Bill would so injure as to destroy the whole profits of that trade by which they had employment. The result would he, by what was called the charitable interference of that House, that those who now found it difficult to maintain themselves in comparative comfort, would be thrown as paupers for subsistence on the poor rates. He begged to be allowed to refer to one particular class of persons who would be greatly affected by the operation of the Bill—those who worked in flax mills. He had statements sent to him from persons of the highest respectability from all parts of the country; from the north, and from the west; from Scotland, from Somersetshire, and various other places, all describing the state of the flax mills. Let them suppose the case of a concern in which 6,000 persons were employed. Suppose 2,000 of those were employed within the walls of the factory, and 4,000 were employed without the walls of the factory—the work of the 4,000 without the walls was dependent on the amount done by the 2,000 within the walls of the factory. Now, if they took off the one-sixth, or the one-eighth, or the one-tenth part of the labour effected within the walls of the factory, they would in that proportion deprive those who worked outside the factory of their labour, and consequently numbers would be deprived of employment, and reduced to a state of destitution. The industry and energy of many people outside the factory, would therefore be crippled by this attempt to reduce the hours of labour within the walls of the factory. With respect to the foreign trade of this country, this project did appear to him to be the wildest that could have entered into the mind of man at such a time as the present; at a time when we were struggling with all the nations of Europe and of America in manufactures, and when, in spite of all our industry and manufacturing skill, we were only just able to keep our heads above water. Was such a time a wise one in which to knock off at one blow one-sixth of British manufacturing industry, and to say to the hard-working man, "You shall be brought to a level with the poor impotent man who cannot make the best of his time and labour—who cannot support his family by his industry and energy on account of his enfeebled constitution?" Such a course would not only lead to the destruction of such an individual, but also of much of the foreign trade of this country? Although he did not mean to quote from books or papers relative to the state of the foreign trade, but would leave such subjects to those who were more conversant with them, and who might follow him in this debate, yet he would say this, that he had been given to understand that at this moment the quantity of manufactured goods exported from this country for foreign consumption was much more than was required for home consumption; indeed, he believed that the entire consumption of manufactured goods in this country did not amount to so large a figure as the quantity of manufactures which would be stopped by the proposed reduction in the hours of labour. And if that were so, was it not wise for the House to consider the time in which so dangerous an interference with the manufacturing prosperity of the country was introduced? This Bill for crippling the energies and industry of the people of this country was introduced at a time of general European scarcity. It was introduced at a time when all workmen, all classes of the labouring community, found it as much as they could do to get bread to eat for themselves and their families. He was aware that the noble Lord the Member for Newark (Lord J. Manners) stated on a former occasion that it used to be said during the agitation for the repeal of the corn laws, that if the operatives would assist the manufacturers in their attempts to procure a repeal of those laws, they would pledge themselves to co-operate with the operatives in their agitation for a reduction in the hours of labour in factories. The corn laws, said the noble Lord, had now been repealed, and the manufacturers ought, in justice, to come forward in support of this Bill. But his noble Friend, if he went to a meeting of farmers to discuss the question of the corn laws, would be sure to tell them that the repeal of the corn laws was not the cause of the present high prices of provisions, but that other circumstances, a calamity over which legislation had no control, was the cause of those high prices; and then, if notwithstanding the repeal of the corn laws, the prices of provisions had become higher than they had been for the last twenty or twenty-five years, was this a time to say to the working man, "You shall not exert yourself to the utmost—you shall not use all the faculties with which God has blessed you, to enable you to get bread for yourself and your family; but because of our fanciful notions of philanthropy—because we think that it might probably be better for you that you should employ yourself two hours more in the day in going to school to learn this or that little book, and enjoy yourself in some amusements in some public park or other ground—we will deprive you of the opportunity, in this time of scarcity, of earning a sufficiency for yourself and your family?" He must say that he thought that the time for introducing such a measure as this was ill chosen. Notwithstanding the argument about the compact of manufacturers as to the repeal of the corn laws and the Ten Hours Bill, he contended that this Bill ought not to be sanctioned by the House now above all other times; because the prices of provisions were high, and at this time, therefore, it was necessary for the working man to put forth all his energies, and to be employed during all the hours that he could work, for the purpose of getting a sufficiency of bread for himself and family. And on that point he had the high authority of the noble Lord the First Lord of the Treasury concurring with his own views. He would read an extract from a speech delivered on this question some time ago by that noble Lord; but he hoped that the noble Lord would not imagine that he had the least idea of taunting him with the expression of a certain opinion which he had formerly advocated, but which he had since seen reasons for changing. His intention in reading that extract was not at all to taunt the noble Lord, but merely to enforce on hon. Members the necessity which existed for the noble Lord clearly stating what were the reasons which had induced him to change his opinions on this question. Now, on the 1st of July, 1839, when Lord Ashley introduced a Bill of this kind into that House, the noble Lord the present First Lord of the Treasury thus spoke:— It seemed to him that the noble Lord (Lord Ashley), had not answered the question put by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton; namely, whether, having reduced the hours of labour, he could provide that the same remuneration should be given for the shortened hours work. Did the noble Lord mean to extend his principle to the fixing of wages where the law did not? If he did, it was impossible; and if he did not, he might himself know that whatever shortened the hours of labour, and with the present high prices reduced the rate of wages, instead of being a proposition of humanity, would be one of the greatest inhumanities; and, therefore, as he thought the proposition would be cruel in its operation, he must vote against it. But if that was the opinion of the noble Lord in 1839, surely he had a right to ask the noble Lord for some arguments, for some reasons, for his change of opinion in 1847; and surely it was fair in him to say, that the noble Lord did not on a former occasion bring forward any explanation which satisfied his mind that there was any good ground in 1847 for saying, that now the prices of provisions were so low—that corn was so abundant, that bacon was so cheap, that cheese was so much at the command of the labouring classes, that provisions in general were so plenty—they might safely interfere with the hours of labour, might safely prescribe to a willing and strong man the hours in which he should be permitted to work for his bread. That was what he meant, when he said that he should be glad to hear the noble Lord come forward with some new argument for his change of opinion in favour of this Bill. This, as they all knew, was a time of scarcity, and it seemed to him to be a very improper one in which to introduce such a measure. This was a period of European scarcity. With our superior wealth, derived from our superior commercial advantages, we had the power of putting ourselves forward in the market, and taking advantage under our present system of all the markets of Europe. But had we done so? Not at all. What then had we been doing? For the last six months we had been tying up our own hands, and when a general scramble had been going on for bread throughout all Europe, we had been shortening our hours of manufacturing labour, and preventing ourselves by our own regulations from taking advantage of our own national wealth and superiority. And now, at such a time, when by our own proceedings we had produced a deficiency in the supply of provisions from other countries, the hon. Member for Oldham (and he was sorry to see that the hon. Member was supported by some right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury bench) brought forward this Bill, which would have the effect of crippling the labouring man in his exertions to procure bread, and to prevent him from taking advantage in the present general scramble for wealth throughout Europe. There was another argument which seemed to him to be of very great importance, and which ought to be noticed for the purpose of inducing the House to pause before they passed this Bill. Hon. Members had, in the course of their speeches in favour of this measure, constantly referred to former interference on the part of the Legislature, of a similar nature to that sought by this Bill. They had been told, that if they passed this Bill, they would not be adopting a new principle at all, and that the principle of interference between the employer and the employed, as regarded the hours of labour, had been adopted long ago. Well, that was true in one sense of the word, but fallacious in another. It was true that they had formerly interfered; but the question for the House now to consider was, whether it was expedient to proceed further in that course; and what was the argument of those who told them to proceed further? They said that there had been previous interference, and that that interference did not ruin the trade of the country. They said that the last interference "now worked well." That was the phrase, and because the last interference worked well, they told them to interfere still further. Why surely it would strike the mind of any reasonable and unbiassed man who studied this question, that if there had been a former interference which now worked well (and that was doubted by the wisest men in as well as out of the House), that was no reason why they should interfere again by adopting this Bill, which might be exceedingly dangerous to the interests of this country generally. If they looked at the consequences of the Act introduced by the late Sir Robert Peel in 1802, they would find that the additional influx of labour which it produced, caused great hardships and great sufferings amongst the parties whom it was intended to benefit. And if they looked again to the effects of the Factory Act passed on the 26th of August, 1833, they would find that it had forced the unfettered labour of women into factories to an unparalleled extent, and that it created a necessity for a further interference with respect to labour in mills. Then all he meant to say was this, that if they found, from a long series of legislation, that one interference with labour originated the necessity for another—if they found also that, under the present system, there was not so much to complain of as some hon. Gentlemen (for they admitted that the present system worked well) supposed—then this was not the time to interfere further with the hours of labour. It had been the custom of Lord Ashley, when a Member of that House, to read certain extracts from documents, detailing the horrible effects of factory labour upon women and children. It was his practice to read a long catalogue of the miseries in factories, to which, by the by, he (Mr. Escott) begged to inform the House he could furnish parallels in almost every other species of labour in the kingdom. But the noble Lord invariably read garbled evidence, and did not act honourably with regard to the evidence read to the House. He (Mr. Escott) did not, however, like to say much on that subject, as the noble Lord was not then present; but he could not help saying, that, if the noble Lord had wished to elicit truth, the noble Lord ought to have read the favourable as well as the unfavourable parts of the evidence. He had never heard the noble Lord make a statement in favour of this measure in which he did not garble the evidence; and he would prove his assertion. He had taken the pains to refer to that report of the Commission from which the noble Lord used to read whole pages to the House; and he would call the attention of the House to the statements of some of the workpeople, as expressed in that report. In the 13th page, they would find the evidence of a foreman who was examined on the subject of labour in factories. Such a party might be thought an exceptionable witness; but still the House should hear the facts as detailed in evidence. The foreman said— We are now working half an hour over-time. We reckon, as nearly as we can, over-wages for over-hours. The hands never grumble about over-hours; they sometimes ask for them. Now he never heard that portion of the report read by the advocates of the Ten Hours Bill. He would now read the evidence of a working man, who was described as "an operative." He said— I like sixteen hours as well as twelve; it is very acceptable when the pay comes. Another said— We are working now as long hours as we ever did, barring half an hour. I don't know that the extra time ever did us any harm; but I am sure the money did us a very great deal of good. Another said— There is one bad thing here, and that is, we have no over-hours. I think the long hour system, when we get paid for the extra hours, a very good thing, and I hope you won't make us work shorter hours. Another said— The children employed in mills are very fond of factory work, because of the comfortableness of the mills. A woman who was examined said, she thought the young hands ought to be pretty well satisfied with their situation. I am the mother," said she, "of three children who are not employed; but I know of nothing that should prevent me sending them into a mill to work. Another said— I have been in the mill two years and a half; I like the mill pretty well; I would rather be there than working at any other place. That was the evidence of working men and women. He would now call the attention of the House to the opinion of some clergymen who had the spiritual care of these persons. In page 51 of the report, the Commissioners put to the Rev. Mr. Pickup the question— Is there any difference in point of comfort between the factory workmen and others?—It has never struck me that such is the case. Do the factory children complain that they cannot attend to their lessons in consequence of being over-fatigued?—I never heard of any such such complaints. The Rev. Mr. Fielding said— I do not see that the factory children are different in any material respect from other children. You might say with justice that they are not so strong and healthy-looking as children engaged in husbandry; but their appearance is not different from that of children living in towns employed in other trades. Well, then, was not that consistent with their own experience? Did not hon. Members know that they did not look so well after they had been living about seven months in London—they did not look so healthy as when they first returned from the country, after spending about five months there in shooting and other amusements? Then the next question put to Mr. Fielding was— What is your opinion as to the general effect of a Ten Hours Bill?—My opinion is, that it would reduce wages in proportion to the time reduced, and the working men will be less able to maintain their families than before. In answer to another question, he said— Factory labour has no tendency to injure the health or morals of the people; and I say that from twelve years' experience. Now, he (Mr. Escott) did not say that such evidence as he read to the House was not interspersed with the extracts which the noble Lord (Ashley) used to read to them; but he would say this, that if the evidence in a report was worth anything, it was but fitting, when they were called upon to legislate upon that evidence, they should hear both sides of the question; and that those who spoke of the hardships to which the people employed in factories were subjected, should also in justice tell the House the comparative comfort which they enjoyed, and the opinions which portions of them had expressed in favour of the present system. He confessed himself astonished to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department declare that this question was in point of fact settled, and that the working people, as well as the public generally, were determined to have such an interference with labour as that proposed by the hon. Member for Oldham. Since that speech was made, he apprehended that the right hon. Gentleman and the noble Lord must have had some little light thrown in upon their minds, by the paper which he (Mr. Escott) held in his hand. That paper was a memorial from those who employed the greatest amount of labour employed in factories throughout the great county of Lancaster. He had, in fact, been told by those who were intimately acquainted with that county, that more than three-fourths of the manufacturing capital in Lancashire was represented by the men who had signed that paper. It had only been laid before the Members of the House of Commons that morning, and he would, therefore, take the liberty of reading it to the House. The memorial was as follows:— The Memorial of the Master Manufacturers and Millowners in the County of Lancaster, Showeth—That the proposed interference with the hours of work in factories cannot be defended on any sound and recognized principle of legislation. That it will limit the labour of multitudes of men who are entitled to the unrestricted use of all honest means of obtaining a livelihood; and it will place obstacles to the free employment of capital and machinery, which may endanger the continued extension of British manufacturing industry; and whilst English capital, machinery, and workmen are at liberty to go abroad in aid of foreign manufactures, the proposed Bill will reduce the time of work in this country, and consequently the productiveness of machinery and workmen, far below that which is found to exist in foreign countries. The undersigned, therefore, protest against further interference, as, in their opinion, fraught with evil to all classes concerned in the cotton trade; and they urge on the Government the necessity of abstaining from a course of legislation which can only end in mischief and disappointment, and which, if adopted, will have to be retraced; and they throw upon Ministers the sole and entire responsibility. Now that brought him to the third point, upon which, as he had said, he would but briefly trespass upon the attention of the House. He would not throw upon the Ministers the whole responsibility of this measure, and on that point he differed with the memorialists; but he thought that it was fitting that they, as well as all those energetic and enterprising men who had deserved well of their country, by employing vast numbers of the people, by clothing, as well as by extending the trade and increasing the wealth and productive powers of this country to that unexampled pitch to which they had attained—it really was but fitting that they should know how this measure was to be carried through the House of Commons. It certainly would not be carried by the Ministers; but in one sense of the word the neutrality of the Ministers often contributed to the success of a measure. There never was an Administration that had so much power for good or for evil, from the fusion of political men, as the noble Lord had at this moment. From the state of parties in that House, the noble Lord's fiat on such a Bill as this would be sufficient, without the co-operation of the other Members of the Administration. It had gone forth to the world that two Members of the Administration cordially supported this measure; and who were those two Members? The noble Lord the First Lord of the Treasury and the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department. That of itself was something like a Government support of the measure. But he stated on a former occasion that some other Members of the Administration, who, during the preceding Session had taken a prominent part in the debate, had refrained from doing so on the present occasion; and he did not apply that remark to the right hon. Gentleman alone who sat upon the Treasury bench. Let the country know that this measure had been carried because men of great ability, of high station, and of great influence on both sides of the House, did not think proper to show the same zeal which they manifested on a former occasion to stop this mischievous restriction of labour. He had been a little misunderstood on a former occasion when he alluded to the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth. He never meant to presume to say that that right hon. Gentleman should, on account of his position, whether he was inclined or not, take a prominent part in a very great and important debate on a most important matter that might come before the House. He never meant anything of the kind; but at the same time he was bound to say that he had rated the debating powers of the right hon. Gentleman as high as this—that he knew that in any case which he earnestly supported or earnestly opposed, the effect was very great in that House, and had great influence on their votes. And when the right hon. Baronet said that this was a question on which there was little new to be said, he would take leave to say this, that there never was a question which he had ever examined or on which he had ever sifted the minds of men out of doors, on which there was so much difference of opinion among all classes. He knew no question at that moment on which so many intelligent, well-informed men would tell them, if they asked them for their opinion (as no doubt many hon. Members were in the habit of doing, for the purpose of knowing what steps they should take)—he knew of no question on which so many men would be found to confess that they knew nothing about the probable effects of this Bill. If it were true, as admitted by the hon. Member for Finsbury, that the working people whom it would affect, entertained the notion that, although it would shorten their hours of labour, it would not reduce their wages, he would ask, was this a time in which to permit them to be injured by such a delusion? But the right hon. Gentleman the Secre- tary of State for the Home Department had said, that although he knew the people were deluded as to the consequences of this Bill, yet as they had almost unanimously asked for it, the Legislature ought to accede to their wishes. [Mr. BROTHERTON: That's statesmanship!] The right hon. Baronet would, therefore, support this measure. He maintained that this debate ought not to close before they had been again enlightened by the opinions of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and the Secretary of the Admiralty. He wished to say something in reference to what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department, as to the necessity of submitting to the demands of the people. In his opinion, the people had not demanded this measure. He believed that the number of working people in favour of the Bill was very circumscribed. He believed that those of the working classes who had petitioned for this Bill were not aware of their own real interests, and that they had been induced to join in the cry for this Bill by the persuasions of some idle demagogues. He believed that the honest and industrious portion of the labouring community felt that their prosperity depended upon the prosperity of those who employed them, and that they were dependent on them for their work. Was it, then, right that they should pass the Bill, because it had been said by its demagogue advocates that the people would rise up in rebellion if it were not granted? It had been said again and again, that if they passed this Bill, it would settle the question; but they might rest assured that if they passed a ten, an eight, or a six hours Bill, they could never settle this agitation as long as human nature remained what it was, and as long as the working people were subject to those privations and those temporary distresses which it was in the nature of things they must ever be subject to. It was entirely wrong and mischievous to be continually parading before the eyes of the country samples of the miseries of the working people, for the purpose of supporting this measure. Thanking the House most sincerely for the kind manner in which they had listened to him whilst he endeavoured, as far as his humble abilities had enabled him, to induce the House to reject this measure, which he believed would reduce the industry, capital, skill, and manufacturing prosperity of this country, he would sit down by moving that the House resolve itself into a Committee on this Bill that day six months.


said, though he could not bring himself to believe that the House was likely to entertain the Amendment which had been proposed, and so soon reverse the decision which they had come to on a former occasion, still he hoped they would grant him their indulgence while in a few sentences he stated the reasons which induced him to wish for an alteration in the law as it now stood. As the representative of a large manufacturing community, which comprised many large establishments connected with the silk, cotton, and woollen manufacture, perhaps it would not be out of place should he endeavour to state briefly to the House the claims which those employed in those establishments had upon the attention of the House. He was bound to say that the existing law was universally deprecated by every class of his constituents, from the most influential manufacturers and merchants down to the humblest operatives. Public opinion had been unequivocally expressed on the question, and the belief was, that the present hours of labour were by no means necessary to the prosperity of manufactures. With regard to the operatives, he found it stated in the late debate by the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume), that he believed they were induced by false statements to take the view which they did on this question. It was also said by the hon. Member for Durham (Mr. Bright), that he believed the working men were deluded in regard to what they considered their welfare on the subject; and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) stated that cases had occurred in which proposals were made to the workmen to have experiments made, but which were not accepted, and he argued that this gave them reason to believe that the people were not sincere in the statements which they made in their petitions. Now, from letters in his possession, and from other sources, he was convinced that the working classes were perfectly sincere in the opinions they had formed on this question. It was not a new question with them. It had been long debated in their clubs and societies; they discussed it over their pots of ale and pipes of tobacco; they were familiar with it in all its bearings; and they had come to the conclusion that an alteration would be for their benefit: they wished to see their families released, at any cost, from the unreasonable duration of labour to which they were now exposed. He had presented to that House a petition from the clergy, not only of the Establishment, but from the ministers of all religious persuasions, in which they pointed out the injurious effects which long hours of labour produced on the moral, social, and educational interests of the people. He had also presented a petition from medical gentlemen, stating that they believed this unreasonable duration of labour, day by day, in an atmosphere impregnated with unwholesome particles, and raised to a temperature inconsistent with health, tended to promote premature decay, and, in many cases, led to early deaths. But the proposal for shortening the hours of labour had the support of many of the master manufacturers themselves; and he had had the pleasure and satisfaction of presenting a petition from those of Leeds, praying the House to adopt an Eleven Hours Bill. He confessed that if they were met on the present occasion to chalk out a new law for the entire empire, he should be an advocate for not going beyond ten hours; but the House must recollect that they were not now chalking out a new measure—they were merely endeavouring to remove the evils of a system that had long existed—a system under which great establishments had risen—one under which large sums had been expended in the erection of mills and other great works—and under which the supply and demand of labour had been long regulated. It was a system, therefore, which should be touched with a most cautious, prudent, and tender hand. He considered, however, that a reduction of one hour would be a great boon to the workmen, and might be consented to by the master manufacturers without injury to them. In asking for an Eleven Hours Bill, they proposed to take off that hour of labour which pressed most heavily on the workman, and which was the least profitable to the manufacturer. One hour taken off would permit the family of the working men to enjoy around their own domestic hearths that relaxation from labour which they did not now possess. It would enable them to attend evening lectures, mechanics' institutions, and the schools for children, all which were open, but which they were prevented from attending by the present regulations. And he must say, in justice to the working classes, that he never saw people more anxious or more desirous than they were to obtain the means of intellectual improvement. The hon. Member had alluded to the flax mills, and said that the number of hours work in them could not be reduced without being attended with a reduction of the wages of those out of doors. But the largest manufacturer of flax at Leeds, had voluntarily reduced the time of work to eleven hours, without accompanying it with any reduction of wages; and this had been effected without any loss. He had evidence to that effect in his pocket, which he could produce if necessary, and in which it was stated the proceeding had been effected without any injurious effect to the proprietor. Another reason which made him contented with an Eleven Hours Bill was, that he was most unwilling to militate against that good feeling which now existed between the manufacturers and the workmen. He hoped, and had reason to believe, that the manufacturers would not disagree as to the adoption of an Eleven Hours Bill; but he feared that a Ten Hours Bill would be considered as driving the manufacturers too hard, and would tend to lessen those habits of kindness and consideration for the people which now existed. He knew that there were at present many advantages conferred on the workmen by manufacturers, such as providing schoolmasters and medical men, whose services they employed without making any charge to the workmen; but he did fear that if they went the length of a Ten Hours Bill, they would drive the manufacturers from discharging these good offices. He must say that they displayed the greatest generosity to their workmen; and he should be exceedingly unwilling to do anything which could produce a change of feeling in this respect. In conclusion, he expressed a hope that the House would see it to be its duty to cause a reduction of one hour in the time of labour.


said, that the subject had been discussed so fully and so frequently, and he had on so many occasions offered his opinions upon it to the House, that he should not have trespassed upon the attention of the House with another word upon the present occasion, if he had not felt that his silence might be misinterpreted, from the altered position in which the question now stood. Now, the hon. Gentleman who had just addressed the House said that he could not conceive that the House would seriously entertain the question as to whether they should reverse their former decision. Now, in saying that, he had touched upon a very delicate question; for let him ask the hon. Gentleman, what decision on this question the House had not re- versed? What was the history of the question before the House? He would begin with the Motion of the noble Lord (the late Member for Dorsetshire) which was carried, not by a very large majority, but which was no sooner carried than it was reversed; he believed that it was carried by perfectly honest votes, but it had also been reversed by perfectly honest votes. Last year it was introduced under the same circumstances by the same noble Lord; but after a full discussion in a very full House, the Bill was rejected by a majority of ten. This occurred in that very same House of Commons that sanctioned the second reading of this Bill during the present Session by a majority of 108. They had, therefore, come to different decisions upon this question already, without any cause whatever having been offered for the changes which had taken place. The House of Commons did certainly appear to him to stand, in reference to this measure, in the most unfortunate position of either having legislated in the first instance without a proper knowledge of the facts; or of having dealt with a question vitally affecting the interests of the whole of the working population of the kingdom, for good or for evil, more with reference to its own political likings or dislikings of particular men, than with reference to the great principles upon which its decision ought to have rested. Now, the question opened to them to-day was simply this: were they, or were they not, to reconsider the decision which they arrived at the other day? The hon. Member proposed, as a mezzo termine that they should adopt an Eleven Hours Bill. He did not believe that an honest advocate, such as his hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, would accept an Eleven Hours Bill. [Mr. FIELDEN: No, no!] The hon. Member, with characteristic candour, admitted this. He believed that the noble Lord (Lord Ashley), in his late letter, refused to accept such a Bill. [Mr. FIELDEN: Certainly.] Nor was it at all likely that it would settle the question, especially as it was always described as a social boon to be given to the working people, and without which, of course, they would not now be satisfied. But they had now come to a point when it was absolutely necessary for them to consider whether they could safely legislate on the subject. The question was simply whether they could reduce the hours of labour of the working classes without seriously reducing the amount of remuneration which they received for their labour? That was the real question at issue before the House. If they could do it—if they could show him (Mr. Ward) the practicability of such a measure, he would go to the full extent of the Bill which the hon. Member for Oldham advocated; and he would vote for a ten hours in preference to an eleven hours Bill to-morrow, or even for an eight hours in preference to a Ten Hours Bill; and he believed that the advantages would be most obvious: that would be a necesssary deduction from the premises of the advocates of the Bill—if they could safely and legitimately limit the hours of labour without affecting the prosperity of the working classes, let them at once carry out the principle to the full extent. With reference to the advantages of domestic intercourse, of all the amenities of life, and the education and the comfort of the working people, which had been dwelt upon by the advocates of this Bill, he begged to say that he wished as heartily as any hon. Member of that House could wish to see the working classes in the enjoyment of those advantages; and he would say, "Give them an Eight Hours Bill—give them four hours for rational recreation, and four more for the purpose of enabling them to raise themselves in their own estimation and in the social scale." But it was because he doubted that they could give them such advantages, that he could not join in supporting this Bill. Having given the closest consideration to this subject, he had decidedly come to the conclusion that they could not safely give the working classes even an Eleven Hours Bill. He firmly believed that if the House adopted this measure, they would inflict a great blow upon the commercial prosperity of this country, and would consequently damage the interests of the working classes, whom they had intended to benefit. He had spoken in this spirit on a former occasion, and he had placed himself in opposition to a large portion of his own constituents by so doing; he had also placed himself in opposition to the leading Members of the Government, and nothing but the deepest conviction would have induced him again to intrude upon the attention of the House. He ventured last year, as the House might recollect, to point out the danger of giving any encouragement to the delusion under which the working community laboured occasionally with regard to its own interests; he ventured, in point of fact, to show the injurious effects of trades' unions. He pointed out the danger of all restrictions upon the hours of the working classes; he attempted to show them that it was impossible to diminish the hours of labour without at the same time diminishing the amount of remuneration. It was his firm belief that the hours of labour could not be reduced without a corresponding reduction in the amount of wages. And he believed that there was not a man amongst the working classes who would take a Ten Hours Bill with ten hours wages. He believed that in that opinion the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Duncombe) agreed with him; and was it right for the House to adopt this measure unless they had full security that, when passed, the wages of the working man would not be reduced proportionably to the reduction of his hours of labour? In stating his views upon this subject last Session, he had committed an error. He had stated that in some parishes in Sheffield they had imposed restrictions as to the taking of apprentices into certain trades—that a father could not apprentice more than one of his sons to his own trade. He believed he was unconsciously led into that mis-statement. His constituents had since told him that such unnatural restrictions prevailed only in two very small and insignificant branches of trade. Having committed that error, he was bound to make that correction publicly. He was quite willing to admit that short time had been of some temporary advantage to the working classes. He was perfectly willing to admit that they had by arrangements in some manufactories managed to keep up the amount of wages, notwithstanding a considerable reduction in the hours of labour. He was bound to state the case with perfect fairness; but would not such a system, if it were extended to the cotton manufacture, affect the source of wages eventually? would it not destroy our foreign markets by rendering our manufacturers incapable of competing with those of other countries? It was of little consequence whether the article to be affected was cutlery or cotton, for just in proportion to the extent of the interference with this competition, would be the loss occasioned to the workmen. In every case of trade where the produce of that trade was exported to neutral markets, where they had to meet the German and other foreign manufacturers, they should be cautious in legislating. The town of Sheffield exported 73 per cent of all its products to neutral markets; and although they had heard so much of protection—of protection at home, of protection in the colonies—he hoped that all that had been given up, and that, having adopted the principles of free trade in one respect, they would feel bound to carry them out in all. In the case of the cotton trade, the danger of meeting foreign competition was very great. Two and a half or from two to three per cent of increased price, would suffice to turn the scale against them, so closely were the profits at present calculated. The consequence would be, that a certain number of men would be thrown out of employment. The House by its act would deprive them of their daily bread; for he knew of no source, except high prices, out of which high wages could come. Such had been his sentiments upon previous occasions when the question had been discussed; and instead of having subsequently learned to doubt those opinions, he had had them lately tested and confirmed. The very strongest advocates of the measure amongst the working classes themselves, did not venture to designate it other than "a great experiment." But he feared to try it. He admitted that the motives for the support of the measure were of a very flattering nature. All the best and most philanthropic sentiments of the human mind must be in favour of it. They could not but approve the idea of improving the condition of the working classes; of imposing upon them less labour and less work; and giving them more time for mental improvement and social enjoyment. But the question for the House to consider was, whether those hopes could be realised or not. He had heard it said in the course of the debate, that nothing could exceed the ingratitude of the free traders to the working classes in thus turning round upon them, and refusing them their aid; whilst none of the promises held out by those free traders as to the reduction in the prices of food had been borne out by the result. Some of those advantages that were held out to the working people, had been realised. But free trade was not a name merely. It was a fact. It was a fact which required time for development. The foreign corn which was to be admitted freely for the consumption of the working classes of this country, had not as yet been sown. He repeated, the labouring people had not as yet had time to receive the benefits of the free-trade measures of the last Session. If, indeed, the Act of the last Session had been foreseen or had been passed in a former year, and if the corn fields of Ame- rica and of the Continent of Europe had been sown, then would the effects of the measure, by equalising the prices all over the world, be already felt by the working men of England, as then, for the first time, would they be put in possession of those advantages which would necessarily result. But it was a work of time. There never was anything more visionary than to suppose that the mere passing of an Act of Parliament could all at once turn scarcity into plenty; and his hon. Friend the Member for Stockport never held out the prospect of such advantages as must finally accrue from the measure being immediately derived from it by the working man. But he merely wished, upon the present occasion, to give testimony in the House that his opinions upon the subject of the Bill before them remained unaltered, and that he still believed its effects would be found injurious to the interests of the working classes. He agreed with the hon. Member for Winchester, that the present was the most unfortunate time that could have been chosen for such an experiment. The hon. Member for Oldham knew the difficulties which manufacturers were contending with; that the prices of provisions and of the raw materials were rising. [Mr. HINDLEY: Not cotton.] And we were adding to the difficulties of the manufacturers and their workmen, by this kind of legislation. At a time of scarcity, the House was about to debar the working men from making up in a season of abundance for any present deficiency by working longer time. With diminished food and a diminished supply of cotton, and with a great famine in Ireland, which was spreading over a great part of the world, and with competitors from every quarter, this was a most unhappy time for limiting labour in our factories to ten hours a day. There was a reaction in these matters, which worked in a circle: if we paid more for food we could give less for clothes; and if the demand of the markets were diminishing every day, there would be less employment for the labourer; and the House was most unwisely going to contribute to these difficulties by a measure which, in his opinion, would have the most injurious consequence. When the profits of manufacturers were admitted to be so small, was this a moment for a measure of this kind? The House might feel a repugnancy to the vote of the other day being rescinded; and if the experiment was to be tried, no man would more rejoice than he should at its success, and at its proving that his expectations of the result of the measure had turned out to be erroneous. But entertaining, as he did, the deepest conviction that the measure would prove injurious both to masters and men, he should not be doing his duty if he did not support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Winchester.


said, that he could hardly expect to say anything new upon this subject; but he was unwilling to give a silent vote. It was most painful to his feelings to differ in opinion with many of his most intimate friends, for whom he entertained the highest respect; but his firm conviction was, that legislation on this subject was absolutely necessary. The question was simply this—whether females from 13 to 18 years of age and upwards, ought to be compelled to work in a heated atmosphere for twelve hours a day, incessantly, without the possibility of procuring any relaxation. Every hon. Member who had spoken, was desirous that the hours of labour should be reduced; but it was said by some hon. Member, "Let them be reduced by an arrangement between the master and the men, and not by law." It was said that legislative interference could not be defended; that it was opposed to all right principles; that every man had a right to use his labour in the best possible manner for the attainment of his living. He was ready to admit that it was not desirable to interfere with those general principles where interference could be avoided; but if the House should leave everything to the operation of general principles of political economy, its occupation would soon be very much curtailed. Parliament had interfered between landlord and tenant—it had regulated the fares of hackney coaches, and the fares on railways—it had interfered between masters and apprentices, between merchants and shipowners—it was about to interfere with the rights of property in Ireland; and last night another interference of the same kind had been urged with respect to sites for the Free Church of Scotland. There were three classes of opponents to this Bill: those against any legislative interference whatever—those who would limit it to children—and those who were opposed to any further reduction of the present hours of labour for young persons between 13 and 18 years of age. But although the hon. Gentlemen who had spoken entertained different opinions, he found, from beginning to end, that most of their arguments were directed against all legislation upon the subject. Now, he wished to know if there was any value in their arguments, why a Factory Bill had received the sanction of the Legislature? A very strong case was made out to show that factory labour was an exception to the general rule. In the year 1815, the mills in Manchester were working 78 or 79 hours a week, children of six years of age being sometimes employed 19 hours. Were not they left to the operation of the principles of political economy? If all men were men of humanity and justice, there would be no need of legislation; and if the people employed in manufactures were merely created to eat and drink, and work and die, the question might be argued on commercial principles, and on the abstract principles of political economy. But he (Mr. Brotherton) believed they were created for nobler objects; and it was important for statesmen to consider their physical and moral and social condition. One hon. Member said, that the hours of labour should be left to the arrangement of the masters and workmen. That proposition had been considered; but had they come to any arrangement, or were they likely to do so? Nothing of the kind. Legislation had become necessary in consequence of the great proportion of females employed in manufactories compared with the number of male adults; and it was called for on the principles of humanity and justice, and from the necessity of the case, because the weak and the strong were obliged to work the same time. Many persons were able to work long hours; but others, who were not so strong, were compelled to work longer than was consistent with their health, simply because if they did not continue to do so, they would be thrown out of employment. When he was a boy, he experienced this wearisome toil himself; and he had witnessed delicate females compelled to stand at their work for many a long hour when they were ill able to do so; he recollected the feelings and sentiments he had at that time, and he resolved that, if ever he had the good fortune to be in a position in which he could be instrumental in shortening factory labour, he would endeavour to accomplish that end; and he was proud to say, that under other circumstances the feelings of his boyhood were still retained in his mature age. He knew that many most unjust charges had been made against the masters; and although he advocated the principle which he consi- dered good for all classes, he never had identified himself with those who were in the habit of libelling men who were as humane and kind as any hon. Member of that House; but he was quite opposed to the system. Capital was so combined with labour, that the temptation to work long hours was too great for many to resist; and even the hon. Member for Oldham, if he would act according to his humane feelings, rich as he was, would soon find himself in the Gazette, because if one mill worked two or three hours longer than another, it would be impossible for the latter to carry on a successful competition. He admitted that a material reduction of the hours of labour would, to a certain extent, increase the cost of production; but they ought to be governed by higher principles; and he contended that a reduction of the hours of labour would benefit not only the workmen but the masters themselves. He could not help noticing the contradictory arguments used by the opponents of the Bill. A desire evidently existed to alarm the working classes by saying that a reduction of wages must necessarily follow a reduction of time. Now, the greater part of the men employed worked by piece, and they were not so ignorant as not to be aware that if a smaller quantity of goods was turned out, wages must be lower. One hon. Member had said that this was a Bill to raise wages at the expense of capital. But the fact was, that the wages of the men employed in the cotton manufacture had never altered 1 per cent during the last fifteen years; whilst the price of yarn and manufactured goods had fluctuated more than 40 per cent within the last three years. He apprehended no disastrous result from the reduction of the number of hours, because the machinery which had been constructed during the last few years would be more than an equivalent for such reduction. The reduction in the price of goods did not depend on the reduction of wages, but on the great improvements which had taken place in machinery, the increased labour of adults, and other circumstances. It was said that the working classes were not in favour of the measure. Now, there were not more than 500,000 persons employed in all these branches of factory trade, and out of that number 260,000 were engaged in the cotton manufacture. But last year petitions were presented in favour of the measure now under consideration, signed by 230,000 persons; and similar petitions had been presented, during the present Session, containing 170,000 signatures. A great deal had been said respecting the memorial against the measure from 200 masters, representing a large capital; but the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government had that day presented a petition from not less than 470 masters, representing many thousands of hands, in favour of the measure. In the year 1832 he (Mr. Brotherton) procured the signatures of forty-nine of the largest and most respectable millowners in Manchester, in favour of a Bill for limiting the hours of labour to 11½. His object in mentioning this fact was to show the growing feeling in favour of the principle of a reduction in the number of hours of labour; and, as many arguments had been urged against the principle of the Bill, he would just remind the House that the petitioners on that occasion expressed their opinion "that such a regulation is necessary, and would be generally beneficial." This statement showed that the manufacturers, at that time, after having had twelve years' experience of the Factory Act, acknowledged the necessity for legislation, the principle for which he (Mr. Brotherton) was contending. This Bill was a question of degree, and not of principle. When the late Sir R. Peel brought forward a Bill in 1815, the mills were working seventy-nine hours a week, and many of them ninety hours; and it was proposed at once to reduce the hours to ten and a half. The very same arguments that were now used were urged against that measure by the masters. But they had been false prophets as to the result in every case. They said, "If you prevent children from working in mills more than twelve or fourteen hours a day, you will completely ruin us." The time had been reduced from seventy-nine hours to sixty-nine hours for adults—working young persons in the night had been prohibited—and young children were not allowed at present to work more than six hours a day. But, notwithstanding the reduction, an increase had taken place in the quantity of manufactured goods; and last year 25,000,000 pounds more of cotton yarn were exported than in the previous year. This was a clear proof our manufactures had gone on increasing. And there was one fact especially worthy of attention, that when the late Sir R. Peel brought forward his Bills in the years 1815 and 1816, although the value of the exports was about the same as at present, yet four times the quantity were now exported. The cotton tax was a heavy tax; and, in April, 1843, the late Mr. Thomas Ashton stated to the then Premier, that he paid for that tax not less than 4,500l. a year. What had become of it now? In the year 1844 the tax raised from cotton was 750,000l.; and taking the number of persons employed in cotton mills at 260,000, he found it equal to about 13d. per week, or one-tenth of the wages, the average in cotton mills for the last ten years being 10s. per week. If they reduced the time to eleven hours, they would receive a full equivalent from the remission of the cotton tax. He had fully considered the question, and in a commercial point of view did not think there was anything to fear. But it was well to concede to the prejudices of men when they could not be entirely convinced, by reason and argument, in order that they might be afterwards convinced by experience. All experience had hitherto been in favour of legislation with regard to cotton factories. All those who professed themselves favourable to legislation for children, had still opposed the Bill upon principle; but if these principles had been adopted, there would have been no legislation even for children. With regard to the cotton trade, he would take the liberty of reading the words of an eloquent and learned man, which would have great weight with the House with re-regard to this system. He must say, however, that he did not agree with his statements because his facts were not correct:— It has been ascertained that children as young as three years of age labour for their own bread and the bread of their parents. I ask what does the State do on these occasions? Alluding to the reduction of the hours of labour with respect to the children employed:— What does the State do on these occasions? It says to the master you shall not employ a child in a factory, working it as some are doing now, from five in the morning till seven at night, till it is eight years of age. This is the reason these two things are inserted in this Bill. I ask you as persons having children of the age stated under your care, whether you think it would not be extremely advantageous to the interests of humanity that there should be some regulation, first of the hours of labour, cutting them down to six hours instead of twelve or fourteen? We must do something to get rid of the shame. You see poor children labouring fifteen or seventeen hours, and then coming up with the sweat dropping from them, and lying down, having been overworked to gratify the vile cupidity of their masters. Should you not stand between these poor innocents and the dreadful crimes committed against them? Should you not say to the masters, there is a God above, and you shall not work children after this fashion? Do you not now understand what is the meaning of the Factory Bill? Now, would the House believe that this was the language used by the hon. and learned Member for Bath, in a speech delivered by him in that town on the 21st of April, 1843? He repeated, he did not believe the statement, but had read it to show the inconsistency of the man on this subject. He had always considered legislation necessary, and had supported every Bill which had been introduced; but the House had been so led away by the principles of political economy that it could not be convinced of their necessity. He was quite satisfied that the adoption of the present measure would advance the interest of all parties. He considered it a great mockery and a complete delusion to say to the working classes, "We wish to promote your physical and mental improvement—we will give you public parks and public institutions"—and yet, after keeping them immured twelve hours a day in factories, to expect them to cultivate their minds and become good subjects. He had seen females, some in an advanced state of pregnancy, and others in a condition which would melt the heart of a stone, compelled to perform this labour; and it was impossible, under the present system, that it should be otherwise. [Mr. BRIGHT: Not compelled to work.] They had no other choice; factory labour was not free labour. He implored the House not to negative the Bill. He was confident that its results would be beneficial. Although it might be said that it would not settle the question, and that agitators would still find employment, he believed that if once the working classes could experience its benefit, they would not give their countenance to any such agitation, nor allow themselves to be agitated.


Sir, I confess that I feel obliged for being allowed to follow the hon. Member who has just sat down. I have listened, as I am sure the House has done, with infinite pleasure to the speech of the hon. Gentleman, who has mentioned one particular circumstance, which I confess, until I heard it from himself, I was not aware of—that at any period of his life, with his own hands, he had ministered to his own wants. I consider it a great honour that I now sit in this House on terms of perfect equality with the hon. Gentleman, who, by the speech he has just made, has proved that, even from the humblest classes of society in this country, a person can rise, by the influence of honest industry and unblemished character, to the highest station, the representative in Parliament of a free community. I must say the hon. Gentleman has given full effect to the feelings of his youth which he has described to us, and it is very honourable to him that he has done so; but, Sir, permit me to observe, that the success in life to which he owes his seat in this House, is owing to long hours of labour, and shows that by the careful employment of time most useful and honourable acquirements are compatible with long hours; and I cannot, therefore, see, when you fail by argument to convince the nation, why you should give way to the prejudices of the public. The hon. Gentleman has not, as appears to me, correctly stated the question at issue. He says, "Shall you compel women and children to work for twelve hours a day, or not?" Now, that does not appear to me to be the question; but the question is, shall you by indirect legislation restrain industrious men from working twelve hours a day for the purpose of earning their livelihood, though they are willing to undergo the fatigue? It is not with any feelings of pedantry that I make the observation, but I must, in passing, state, that should the House adopt the measure now before them, it will be a departure—a flagrant departure—from the strict rules of political economy—a science which in some quarters of this House appears to be treated almost with contempt, but it is a science which I have always considered as tending towards the benefit and general happiness of the nation; and I doubt if any legislation will be found safe if you depart from the great rules of that important science. Yet if I could satisfy my mind that this measure was conducive to the interests of the working classes, it is not a pedantic or rigid adherence to the rules of political science which would induce me to treat this question with that firm resistance which I am prepared to offer to the Bill now before the House. The hon. Gentleman has relied much on an observation which, I am bound to say, he thought conclusive in favour of this measure, but which, I grieve to add, did not carry conviction to my mind; he said, "Shall it be allowed that, to eat, to drink, to work, and to die, shall be the lot of a large portion of our fellow-countrymen?" But, alas! I grieve to say, the truth is, that not in this country only, but throughout the whole of this world of sorrow and of care, the lot of eating, drinking, working, and dying, must ever be the sum of human life among the masses of a large portion of the human family. It is grievous to admit this sad reality; but the question is, it being necessary that mankind must work for their subsistence, or in order to obtain their subsistence, should you help them to pass their lives as contentedly as possible by giving full scope to their energies? or should you, by legislation, so interfere as to add to the wants and sufferings of their existence, and thereby embitter their lot? Now, I am prepared to say, having given my best attention to the political portion of this question, that I am warned by the forebodings of the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has warned us with respect to the decrease of our foreign trade, and the dimished demand for full work in the manufacturing districts; and I have little to urge in addition to what the Secretary of the Admiralty has already stated as to the interests of the great community of Sheffield. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Salford has made some reference to the amount of exports and foreign trade; and I think he said that the exports of the cotton trade were not materially diminished; but I hold in my hand a paper which was circulated this morning, being accounts relating to the trade and navigation of this country, and which contains a statement with reference to the exports of 1846, as compared with those of 1845, to which I wish to call the particular attention of the House. Now, it must be observed, that the Bill at present under discussion deals with four articles of staple manufacture, viz., cotton manufactures, woollen and yarn, linen or flax, and silk manufactures; and the whole declared value of the exports in the year 1846 amounted to 51,279,735l., out of which the declared value of the exports of cotton, linen, woollen, and silk manufactures was 37,385,000l., being about four-fifths of the whole of these exports. With respect to cotton, the declared value of the export of cotton manufactures was 17,726,966l. in 1846, compared with 19,156,096l. in 1845, showing a falling-off in the year just passed in the declared value of 1,000,000l. and upwards. Then, Sir, the declared value of linen manufactures exported in 1846 was 2,838,384l., but in 1845 it was 3,036,370l. Again, with respect to woollen and woollen yarn manufactures, there appears to be a large defalcation in 1846 as compared with 1845—of woollen yarn the declared value of exports, in 1845, was 1,066,925l.; and, in 1846, it was only 907,893l.; then, with respect to woollen manufactures, the declared value of exports, in 1845, was 7,693,117l.; whereas, in 1846, it was only 6,334,298l. Then again on silk, there was but a very small increase, the increase being from 766,405l. in 1845, to 837,577l. in 1846. Now, upon the whole of these large exports, consisting of the staple manufacture of the country, it will be found that in 1846, as compared with 1845, there is a falling-off on the declared value of somewhat about 15 per cent. I have said that the argument of the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to the political and financial danger you would by carrying this measure bring on the commerce and trade of this country, appeared to me quite conclusive; and I cannot help alluding, on the present occasion, to some observations and opinions which fell from the right hon. the Secretary of State for the Home Department, who, though adverse to his Colleague, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has yet made some admissions which appeared very large and conclusive against the course which the right hon. Gentleman is ready to adopt. The first admission, and the most important, was, that he would not be a party to any delusion; and he acknowledged that this alteration would necessarily lead to a reduction of wages. In the present circumstances of this country, when prices are rising, and wages necessarily to a certain extent are declining from cessation of employment, still the right hon. Gentleman does contemplate a further reduction of wages, which, the reduction of the hours of running the machinery must necessarily occasion, and which I consider will inevitably be permanent. The right hon. Gentleman makes another most important admission. He next admits that hitherto, in all our legislation on this subject, we have been able, speaking generally, to carry with us the concurrence of the masters; but that is not the case now, for a memorial has recently been presented to the First Lord of the Treasury in opposition to the measure, signed by a large majority of the master manufacturers, saying that any further interference with the hours of labour in factories cannot but be fraught with danger and calamity. There was another admission made by the right hon. Gentleman, which also appears to me important, as bearing on another branch of this subject: it was this, if the health of those employed were seriously injured by the hours of labour, it would be an important consideration; but I find that the right hon. the Secretary of State for the Home Department—with all the information that he can best command, assisted by the factory inspectors under his immediate control—has come to the conclusion, that according to statistical returns as to children and females, their health is not impaired by the present hours of labour. And these are the admissions made by the right hon. Gentleman who is about to give his support to this Bill. But there was another admission equally important: the right hon. Gentleman agrees with his Colleagues and the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government, that the concession of ten hours would be fraught with danger, and he also has taken his stand upon eleven hours. I hope the hon. Member for Oldham will give us clearly to understand what he believes to be the feelings of the working classes as to the limit of eleven hours; I trust he will explicitly declare, if such concession will be by any means satisfactory to them, or whether they will not be continually agitating and contending until they obtain the wished-for limit of ten hours. The whole proposition which the right hon. Gentleman contends for, is, after all, but an arrangement, which, so far as the working classes are concerned, will not be a final and conclusive settlement; for year after year we shall have regularly to discuss this matter, since if this measure be carried, we shall have departed from that which for half a century has been established as the principle of legislation on this subject; and still we shall fail to give contentment to the working classes. The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, has repeated arguments often urged upon the House—and what arguments on either side of this question have not been often repeated?—with respect to the false predictions that have been made on this subject. Now, Sir, I might admit decidedly that all the predictions hitherto made have been falsified; but this fact does not lessen the apprehension I entertain of the danger to be anticipated from any further concessions. It must be remembered that some time ago one prediction was, that by throwing impe- dements in the way of the labour of females and children, you would prevent machinery from running the full permitted time of twelve hours. That would be the effect, it was stated, of the legislation which you were then entering upon. Now, that effect has been prevented; for by having relays of children, when necessary, matters have been so managed that the operation of the law has not hitherto been to shorten the time of the running of the machinery. But, Sir, if the step we are now called upon to take be once made, it will not be possible for the machinery to run beyond ten hours, since the prohibition of this measure is that no women or children shall work so many hours as will allow of the machinery running longer than ten hours. Sir, I believe that since the present century commenced, and since the late Sir R. Peel legislated on this subject, the running of machinery in factories has been practically, though not by law, limited to twelve hours. Now, therefore, for the first time in the history of our manufactures, and after that rule has been practically in operation half a century, we are called on by legislation to prohibit the running of machinery in our factories for the accustomed period. That brings me to the consideration of what will be the effect of this change in the time of the running of machinery from twelve hours to ten hours on our commerce and trade. I have already pointed out to the House that the four manufactures to which this Bill applies, supply the principal articles of our export trade, and that cotton goods alone comprise nearly one-half of the declared value of the exports of this country. What, then, do you think you are about to do by this simultaneous interference with the labour employed in these four principal branches of our foreign commerce? What will be its effect on the interests of the master? He must either submit to a diminution of his profits, or he must raise his prices, or lower wages, or cease to manufacture. But can he either reduce his profits or raise his prices, looking to the present state of affairs? No. Foreign competition forbids it. I believe it is impossible, going through the markets of the world, to come to the conclusion, either that the profits of the British manufacturer can be reduced, or his prices materially raised. The master, finding these two resources impossible, must therefore lower wages; and what has the hon. Member for Salford, who so well understands this subject, just told the House? Why, he says, and says most truly, that, speaking generally, the payment to the operatives in factories is made by the piece. If, then, you shorten the hours during which the machinery runs, you must reduce the quantity which the machinery produces, and consequently, the quantity of wages which the operative can earn in the same time. Being paid by the piece, the operative will find his wages materially reduced by the diminished quantity manufactured. But it is not only by means of the diminution in the quantity produced that the operative will suffer; but the price paid for his labour in relation to quantity must also be reduced, in order to compensate for the loss of interest on his capital sustained by the master manufacturer, from the diminution of the wrought fabric, which makes the return for the fixed capital invested in the machinery. If, then, the manufacturer finds that he produces a reduced quantity, and that our legislation has abridged his power of producing, what must be the consequence? He must do something to retrieve himself, and fresh capital will have to be applied to supplying newly-invented machinery, in order to produce a greater quantity in a given time; which fresh capital, if it had not been for your legislation, would not have been required, and thus there accrues a loss of so much to the national capital; or new manufactories with improved machinery must be built to meet the same demand for goods with shorter hours of labour; and a prodigal waste of capital needlessly expended will be the necessary consequence of this unwise legislation. I should be sorry to go into details on this subject, which might be tedious to the House; but I trust I may be allowed to state what are the considerations which have appeared conclusive to my own judgment when reflecting on the matter. There is in this country a vast amount of machinery employed, some of it of considerable age, and the rest having all the excellence arising out of new adaptations and inventions. But the old machinery cannot of course produce so good an article, nor running even twelve hours would it produce a greater quantity than the new machinery under this measure, running ten hours. The effect, therefore, of this measure would be to destroy the old machinery, on which at present the profit to the master is only obtained by running the longer number of hours. There is another consideration which I think of considerable weight. The House is probably aware that in practice the factories are frequently taken upon lease, with their machinery in them, for a term of years, at a fixed annual payment by way of rent. All these leases have been executed on the supposition that the machinery is to remain in the mill, and is to run for a fixed time in each day; but if you abrogate the existing law, and pass this new measure, all these leases become, in equity, invalid, as I understand, and the greatest confusion is likely to arise. But turn from the masters to the labourers—and this, in my opinion, is the most important part of the question—and let us ask ourselves what will be their condition under this Bill, when, by the admission of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, there is sure to be a reduction in their wages as the consequence of passing this Bill? At this moment, when the country is suffering from a severe dispensation of Providence—when the price of food is very high, and still rising—when, also, from natural causes, the price of the raw material of our great manufacture—the cotton manufacture—is enhanced in value by a short supply — the reduction of wages must be attended with serious consequences. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer told you, the other night, that a great many mills in Manchester had already stopped, and that 2,200 hands are out of work. In this case, the high price of food, so far from having carried with it a rise in wages, has had its usual effect in the manufacturing districts, and has been attended with a fall in wages. It is undoubtedly true that, in the present state of society and in the circumstances of this country, oscillations in trade must take place from time to time; and it is also indisputable, that from the circumstances which are always occurring to render such results inevitable, there will be times when short hours will be worked, and times when even a cessation of employment will be the lot of factory hands. Such being the case, Sir, is it fair, is it just, so to legislate, that a working man, disposed to labour, in prosperous times, when business is brisk, all the hours that he is allowed to work, or that his strength will permit, for the express purpose of saving his over-earnings, to meet the oscillations of trade which must come, and which, when they do come, will suspend his labours, shall be prevented from thus pushing his industry to the utmost, and labouring long hours if he pleases? I contend that it is more expedient to allow the operative to do that which we now allow him to do. Sir, I have on so many former occasions, at too much length, I fear, stated to the House what I think on this subject, that it would be unpardonable in me if I detained the House much longer; but I am bound to say that, amidst all the fluctuating majorities that have voted on this Bill, I have always been compelled to offer to it a steady resistance, and have always held and stated those opinions which a deep sense of duty has led me to adopt. On the present occasion it is impossible for me to overlook the effect of the great change in commercial policy which, with the consent of this House, has lately been established in this country. All prohibitory duties have been removed from our Tariff; the corn laws have been repealed, the navigation laws are temporarily suspended. ["Hear!"] I am stating facts. It would be needless for me to reargue that policy; but this I will say, that I have not the slightest doubt of its wisdom, or of the necessity of steadily adhering to it; nay, more, I have not the slightest doubt that the House will be found ready at all times to maintain it, let the attack come from whence it may. But I say that prohibitory duties have been abolished, and protective duties been so much lowered that foreign manufactures have been introduced into the home market, and enter now into competition with the produce of our native industry. Coal also and machinery are exported in large quantities duty free. I say we have thought it right to enter into free competition in every respect with our rivals in trade. We have established the most perfect freedom of commerce; and my right hon. Friend, the late Prime Minister, surveying the empire of commercial policy which he has so much enlarged, may proudly and truly exclaim— His ego nee metas rerum, nee tempora pono; Imperium sine fine dedi. That freedom of commerce is felt to the most remote corners of the civilized globe; and I think it would be most inconsistent if we, who have achieved so much, should undo what we have done, and impose fetters hardly less galling than those which we have struck off. Sir, there was one expression which fell from the noble Lord the Member for Newark (Lord J. Manners) on a former occasion, which I must say I was grieved to hear. The noble Lord used a metaphor, and said, "By this Bill we shall put a curb on the manufacturing interest; we shall make it feel its rider, and it will not be the less useful or less of a benefit to the country." Sir, I ask, is this the spirit in which the Commons of England are to legislate on this great question? Curb it! Make the manufacturing interest feel its rider! Sir, I am sure the noble Lord at the head of the Government has no such feelings with respect to the great commercial and manufacturing interests of this country; but, whatever may be his feelings or opinions, I think that if this measure be adopted exactly in the spirit of the noble Lord the Member for Newark, it will be a curb: the manufacturing interest will feel its rider; it will chafe under the restraint, and both the horse and the rider may fall together; but if it submit, then I say the measure will operate as a tax upon capital, as a limit to the earnings of industry, as a tax upon wages. If it be confined to those four trades which I have mentioned, its operation will be partial and unjust; if it is extended to all trades, the burden will be intolerable. Yet I know not upon what general principles, or why it is that these four trades should alone be brought under the operation of the measure, unless it is that they lie most ready to your hand. I know not, I say, on what principle you can shrink from extending it to all other manufactures; but if you do, I am sure it will be found subversive of all the principles on which our commerce rests; and I am confident that the House could not do anything more injurious to the interests of the country. You may adopt the measure, if you please; the circumstances of the time give some facilities for your doing so; but I predict that if you do, the manufacturing operatives themselves will be the first to call for its abrogation. Before, however, they do so, much capital may have been withdrawn from manufactures; much of our native industry and genius will be driven to foreign countries, where no such absurd restrictions are imposed; a vital stab may have been given to manufacturing interests, and irreparable injury will have been done; and though it is painful to me to oppose a measure which carries with it the favour of the great body of my fellow-countrymen who are embarked in manufacturing operative labour, yet I never gave a vote with more confidence in the purity of my motives, and in the strength of the reasons which guided my decision, than I shall on the present occasion in resisting the future progress of this Bill.


Sir, having already occupied the attention of the House on the second reading of this Bill, in stating what were my reasons for voting as I intended to do, for the second reading, I shall only trespass on the indulgence of the House for a few moments, for the sake of noticing the four admissions which the right hon. Gentleman says that I made in my former speech, and which he thinks furnish strong arguments against the course I then said I should take. The first admission the right hon. Gentleman says that I made is, that the necessary result of the measure would be the diminution of the wages of the operatives. Sir, I never made an admission so large as that. I have always stated to the House, and always stated to deputations of the working classes who have communicated with me on the subject, that the tendency of this measure must be to reduce the amount of wages to be earned in a given time by those engaged in factory labour; and I have always felt, and still feel, that, looking to the extent of machinery that is employed in our factories, no increased exertions on the part of the operatives can enable them to do the same amount of work in ten hours that they now do in twelve; and, taking the amount of work done in a given time, on a particular day, week, month, or year, I think the production must be less, and the earnings less, if the daily hours of work are ten than if they were twelve; but I never denied that other causes might interfere and operate upon wages in a way that we cannot foresee. Sir, I am not blind to the fact that since the Legislature first imposed restrictions on the working hours in mills, there has not been a corresponding diminution of wages. I believe the tendency of the measure will be to reduce the wages of the operatives, though other causes may operate to correct that tendency. I cannot therefore positively assert that wages will be diminished, or concur with my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Ward), in predicting that the necessary effect of the measure will be to deprive the working classes in the manufacturing districts of their daily bread. The second admission which the right hon. Gentleman said that I made was, that our legislation hitherto had been accompanied by the full concurrence of the masters, and that I despaired of that on this occasion. Now, Sir, I did say that the success of our for- mer legislation had in great measure arisen from the willing co-operation of the great majority of the masters; but I did not say that those measures were carried with the concurrence of the masters; but, on the contrary, I stated, that they held now the same language which they held then; and, as they had predicted ruin from the measure of the right hon. Gentleman himself, so they predicted it from this, but that, greatly to their honour, since that measure had passed, they had co-operated in carrying out the law when it was enacted. Sir, they predict precisely the same results now; but I do look nevertheless, for their concurrence in carrying out the law, if it passes; and I am not of opinion that they would oppose its working. The third admission to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred is, that I said that no effects prejudicial to health were found to follow from factory labour. Sir, I did not make so large an admission. I cannot help thinking, that in the case of females from 12 to 18 years of age, and after that period, when they have families, there must be something prejudicial to health in working for twelve hours daily in a factory. I never said, therefore, that no bad effects followed from factory labour; but I did say that, looking to the reports of the Registrar General, they did not bear out the inferences which I understood the hon. Member for Oldham to have drawn from them as to the mortality in the manufacturing districts as compared with other parts of the country; for those returns show on a comparison between Liverpool and Manchester, that the mortality is greater in Liverpool, although the returns show a much greater mortality in the population of large towns than in a country population. I said that I did not think it appeared from them, that, as compared with other town employment, manufacturing labour was decidedly unfavourable to health. Then, with respect to the time of working, the right hon. Gentleman said that I stated that a Ten Hours Bill was fraught with danger, and that we ought not to advance beyond eleven hours. Now, I said that, looking to the magnitude of the interests involved, and to the excitement on the subject that exists in the country, it would be desirable to proceed with caution, and that I should therefore prefer eleven hours to ten; but I did not say that a Ten Hours Bill was fraught with danger; and I will now say this, that, though I shall vote against ten hours, and in favour of eleven in Committee, yet, if the House should decide in favour of ten hours in Committee, I will cordially vote for ten hours on the third reading,


said, that the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Graham) had said that he (Lord J. Manners) had advised the House to use a curb to the manufacturers. Now, he believed he should be in the recollection of the House when he said, that in applying that metaphor, he was quoting some well-known lines from Shakspeare; and his argument was, that those Gentlemen who opposed the Bill on the ground that it would hamper the manufacturing interest, might as well argue that breaking in a young horse and placing a curb in his mouth would destroy all his natural powers.


Sir, I think it allowable to be brief on this occasion, because the subject has been so much illustrated, that everything either in point of argument or in point of feeling, has already been exhausted; it is not therefore necessary to go deeply into it at present. I am also ready to admit that I cannot accede to the decision to which I have felt it my duty to come without considerable misgivings; and, indeed, during the present discussion I should have envied those who felt they could take either alternative with perfect security and with perfect confidence in themselves. I assent to the desirability of lessening the hours of labour; but I think that any practical scheme by which it can be effected, will be attended with so much of risk and uncertainty, that any application of it should be as gradual, as cautious, and as experimental as possible. I know that this will subject me to the taunt of voting for a half measure, and of dealing with the subject in a spirit of compromise; but it remains to be seen whether such a course is not consistent with good sense. I am therefore prepared to go into Committee, and when in Committee to vote for a limitation of eleven hours; but if the Bill shall emerge from that Committee with a further limitation of hours to ten, I cannot say that I share in the confidence of my right hon. Friend (Sir G. Grey), and I cannot pledge myself to support any further limitation of the hours of labour than eleven. I am prepared to consent to that limited reduction for the following reasons: In the first place, as far as I am personally concerned, I think that a matter of good faith is somewhat mixed up with the question we are now discussing. I have stated in various places, and at various times, whether wisely or not I will not now say, that if ever Parliament should agree to a relaxation of the duties which enhanced the price of food for the people and prevented the free importation of corn, I should be willing to consider, with a view to their reduction, the hours of labour of the working classes in this country. It is true that the existing state of things may diminish the cogency of this consideration, as we have now more of free than cheap corn; there is at the present moment prevailing at one and the same period short time and dear corn; and although I admit that the short time is a temporary matter, and I do not think that circumstance in itself diminishes the force of the reasoning of the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Graham), yet if at a period of short time we introduce general hours of work, we are, in my opinion, likely to create less shock and disturbance. I attach, Sir, great weight to what has taken place at Leeds, and to the experiments which have been actually carried on in the mills of Mr. James Marshall; and in mentioning his name, I am sure that all who know him will be of opinion that I could not quote a higher authority, whether we look to the extent of his operations, the length of his experience, or his indefatigable zeal in endeavouring to promote the physical and moral improvement of his workpeople. It will be satisfactory that I should give his own words:— It may be of some interest to you to know the further result of our working eleven hour time. We find that our weekly production, during the latter nine months of 1846, working sixty-four hours per week, is only about one half per cent less than the weekly produce during the corresponding period of 1845, when we were working sixty-six hours per week. So that by reducing the hours of labour two hours a day, which, in point of time, is three per cent, there has been an actual reduction in the production of no more than a half per cent. Now, this actual instance very much outweighs, in my opinion, the gratuitous assertions on either side. If by greater punctuality, or by improved machinery, or by more alacrity to work amongst the hands, we can reduce the hours of labour without materially reducing the amount of production, we shall be effecting a great good. But, in fairness to the House, I am bound to add that I cannot quote Mr. Marshall as an advocate for the compulsory reduction of the hours of labour; for he goes on to say— Our example has not yet, I believe, been followed by more than one flax spinning-house in Leeds, and one in Ireland. The general feeling in Leeds is in favour of eleven hours time; but it is doubted whether that regulation could be generally adopted by voluntary agreement only. I can scarcely say that I am sufficiently sanguine to expect that eleven hours time is likely, within any short period, to be voluntarily adopted universally, or without large exceptions. But I think that in all such cases of interference by legislative enactment with what ought to be the private arrangements of individuals, public opinion ought to precede and prepare the way for the coercive measures of the Legislature. I would still, therefore, ask for further time, and deprecate any immediate legislative change. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Graham), with no feelings of inhumanity, and with no want of sympathy for the working people, declared that to eat, to drink, to work, and to die, is the general lot of the labouring classes throughout the world; and I feel that there is too much truth in that statement; and it would be only a false and sickly sympathy to say, with respect to two of those particulars—to eat and to drink—that they did not render it the duty of every Government to make them their primary consideration in their dealings with the working classes. Still, I cannot omit to embrace any opportunity for counteracting these exclusively animal tendencies. Therefore I upon this account entirely coincide in the view taken by the hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. Beckett), that an Eleven Hours Bill will give the workmen some additional time for case and improvement. I believe that the working class have no objection to begin work at five or half-past; and if an hour and a half be taken for meals, they will be set free at six o'clock—a time when other persons engaged in occupations in the towns, in the warehouses and counting-houses, are also set free; and if we set the workmen free at the same hour, we shall give them opportunities of going to their mechanics' institutions and to their lectures. I do not flatter myself that all will devote themselves to such pursuits; yet there is an increasing tendency to do so, and it is the duty of this House to promote that tendency. I need not state in this House, that a considerable portion of my constituents consist of the manufacturing classes and millowners, and that I would never wish to curb them, either in the dramatic or prosaic sense of the noble Lord; and though, by adopting the Eleven Hours Bill, I regret that I cannot go to the extent to which the working classes desire, I am willing to hope that we shall contribute something—I do not say all that we could wish—towards affording them the opportunity of increasing their domestic ease, their social enjoyments, and their general intelligence, without any material loss or diminution of those daily supplies by which alone they can be kept alive.


said, his noble Friend who had just sat down had told the House, that a reduction of 3 per cent in the hours of labour in Mr. James Marshall's mills at Leeds, occasioned only a reduction of ½ per cent in the produce of his manufacture. ["No, no!" "Calculate it."] Well, he had calculated it. The noble Lord had told them that a reduction in the period of labour from 66 hours to 64 hours a week—and that was equivalent to 3 per cent reduction in the hours of labour—occasioned a loss in Mr. James Marshall's mills at Leeds, of no more than "½ per cent" in the produce of his manufacture; and if he would be pleased to carry on that calculation, and apply it to the measure before the House, whereby it was proposed to reduce the hours of labour two hours a day six days in the week, he would find, if he multiplied by six the ½ per cent lost in the produce of Mr. Marshall's mills by reduction of two hours in the weekly period of factory labour, that the proposed reduction of twelve hours in the weekly period of labour ought to occasion no greater loss in the gross weekly produce of the factories of this country, than "3 per cent." If two hours a week gave a loss of ½ per cent, twelve hours a week would give a loss of 3 per cent. He regretted that after this conclusive evidence adduced by his noble Friend, he should still be found halting undecided between the two principles involved, and that he should have resolved to take the juste milieu course, which, it seemed, would meet the views of neither party. The right hon. Gentleman who lately addressed the House with such great ability (Sir James Graham), commenced his address by stating, fairly enough, that this was not a Bill to prevent young persons, if they thought fit, from working short time; but that it was a Bill to prevent men from working long hours, and reaping the full harvest of their industry. Though that was, technically speaking, the effect of the measure, yet they had heard, from the hon. Member for Salford, that it was very far from being the substantial truth. Practically, they had to consider whether or not women and young persons under eighteen years of age, should henceforth be obliged to work more than ten hours a day. There was one argument held forth by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dorchester (Sir James Graham), which he confessed rather surprised him, after the course which the right hon. Gentleman took in the last Session of Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman appealed to the justice of the House not to break in on the vested rights of the manufacturers in their machinery. The House never heard last year from the right hon. Gentleman anything of the vested rights of the agriculturists. They never heard of the vested rights of the tenants in their long leases of farms, when, last year, it was proposed and carried to do away with that protection which the right hon. Gentleman himself used to say was guaranteed to them by a law stronger than that which guaranteed consols themselves. But the right hon. Baronet went into a statement as regarded the commerce of the country, derived from the navigation returns which had been that morning laid on the Table of the House. He was greatly surprised that the right hon. Gentleman should have deduced from the circumstance that, according to that return, the export of goods and manufactures had greatly decreased in consequence of free trade, an argument that it would be at this time peculiarly injurious to reduce the hours of labour. Why, if the result of free trade was that the exports and manufactures of the country had diminished, and that the manufacturers were now suffering, not from an inability to find workmen, but from the glut of their manufactures, which crowded all the foreign markets, he was at a loss to understand why this should be, therefore, an unfortunate moment to try an experiment of a further reduction in the hours of labour. But, as the right hon. Gentleman had read through that list, he was surprised it did not occur to him that one of the reasons why their exports had diminished was, that foreign nations (more wise than ourselves) had been protecting their native industry, and that while in this country we had been reducing or removing protective duties, other countries had been adding to the duties which they imposed on the admission of British manufactures; and that, too, while here we had been taking off the duty on the export of machinery. If the right hon. Baronet would look to this return, he would find that the export of cotton manufactured goods had decreased 10 or 12 per cent, while the export of machinery had increased 25 per cent; and that while cotton goods decreased, the export of cotton yarn increased in the same degree. Thus foreign nations were now taking our semi-manufactured goods with one hand, while with the other they were taking our machinery, in order themselves to manufacture those goods which were formerly manufactured in this country and exported in a finished state. The hon. Member for Salford, who addressed the House, uttering sentiments so warm-hearted, so generous, and so noble, in defence of those with whom his earlier recollections were associated, put forward such able arguments in support of this Bill, that it would be vain for him to follow, and still vainer to attempt to exceed them. He would, therefore, allude to another point, one that had been put forward by the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty. The hon. Gentleman told them that it was not fair to come now, and, on account of their free-trade measures of last year, to ask the manufacturers to reduce the hours of labour, because the foreign corn which was to benefit them had not yet been sown. He should like to hear from the hon. Gentleman when the period would arrive when, in his opinion, the full operation of the free-trade measures in corn would entitle the House to demand from the manufacturers a restriction in the hours of labour? The hon. and learned Gentleman who opened the debate said, why were they to stop at ten hours? He stated that Mr. Oastler had at one time advocated eight hours' labour, and asked why they should not have six hours put forward as the proper time? His answer to that demand was, that the working classes of the country had themselves maturely considered the subject, and had, with common accord, come to the conclusion that ten hours was the period, beyond which, consistently with human strength, health, advantage, and justice to all parties, a day's labour ought not to continue. He had therefore a right to hold that ten hours was a fair period for a day's labour; and it was time enough when the operatives asked for a still shorter period, to consider whether the demand was a just one. The hon. and learned Gentleman also asked, would they, in the present period of scarcity and of the high price of provisions, deprive the working classes of this nation of the opportunity of reaping the full return of their in- dustry, and of gaining wages sufficient for the purchase of a supply of provisions for their families? He would wish the hon. Gentleman to show him a single instance in which the millowners — in case no law were passed — would just now offer to their operatives work at full time and for full wages; and if he could not do so, where then was the value of the argument? Had they not shown that the mills were working short time, or at least that the greater portion of them were so working, in consequence of the glut of manufactured goods in the market? But, said the hon. Gentleman, the last interference was beneficial, and that was a reason why they should stop. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Winchester quoted the evidence of six operatives, who, as he stated, were all in favour of unrestricted hours of labour. That might be; he also quoted the evidence of two clergymen; and the last passage which he quoted from one of these gentlemen was an admission that the factory children did not certainly look so well as children ordinarily coming from the country; and then the hon. Gentleman, appealing to the House, said, "Do we look so well after sitting six months in this House, as when we first come from hunting and shooting in the country?" Now, as far as the hon. Gentleman was concerned, he confessed he could not see that the hon. Gentleman's parliamentary duties had caused his personal beauty to fade. In fact, the hon. Gentleman looked to be as jolly, and his cheeks were as cherry, as the first day of ths Session. He did not see, however, how the fact, if it were so, that they injured their health and constitutions by sitting long hours in that House, was a good argument why young persons should be daily retained for a still longer number of hours, and that, too, not for six months at a time, but for the entire year, and from year to year throughout their lives, toiling in their factories. He really heard no argument in fevour of this Bill that could weigh for a moment with him. As far as the operatives were concerned, they had the fact before them, that out of 260,000 operatives engaged in the cotton trade, they had 230,000 petitioning that House in one year in favour of this Bill. They had, on the other hand, masters employing 47,000 workmen themselves coming over to the opinion that it would be more advantageous for the trade that the hours of labour should be reduced. When they saw per- sons so well conversant with the subject as the hon. Gentleman who introduced the Bill, and the hon. Member for Salford, also strongly in favour of the measure, he could not but feel that it was one which, whilst it was looked upon with favour by the great mass of the people of this country, was entitled to the support of this House; and he would, therefore, vote for the Motion that the Speaker do now leave the Chair.


desired to make a few observations, before he gave his vote on the question then before them, and he would endeavour to confine himself as closely as he possibly could to the question immediately under consideration; for the commencement of the noble Lord's speech did not, he should remind the House, refer to the matter under discussion. It referred to other questions relating to trade, and relating to commerce, and would almost have led a bystander to the inference that the noble Lord was influenced in his support of this measure, interfering with the vested interests of the manufacturers, by something like a spirit of revenge, because once before the vested interests of the agriculturists were interfered with by measures supported by the manufacturing body. He wished, on the contrary, to discuss this proposition simply on its own merits, and without any reference to prior measures or other considerations. It was impossible for a more important question to be submitted to the consideration of the House. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dorchester had so ably pointed out the vast extent and importance of the industrial interests with which this measure interfered, that he would not venture to travel over the same ground. He would merely add to the right hon. Gentleman's statements, that the cotton manufacture, with which, by representation, he was more immediately connected, was more interfered with by this Bill than any of the other staple manufactures of the country. The cotton manufacture also formed the largest proportion of the export trade of the United Kingdom. Any interference, therefore, with it involved the highest and weightiest considerations connected with the measure. The hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. Beckett) stated, that many manufacturers were in favour of this measure, and that many persons whose vested interests were supposed to be interfered with were supporters of the present Bill. He had a very easy answer to that remark of the hon. Gentleman. Was it not true that in Yorkshire great numbers of manufacturers connected with the woollen and other trades, only worked their mills eleven hours, and eleven hours and a half. There was, therefore, no reason, inasmuch as the Bill did not interfere with them, why they should set themselves in opposition to it. The Factory Commissioners themselves had remarked upon that circumstance, and what did they say? Why this— Upon examination we invariably find that the exact time to which adult labour might be restricted, as each of these manufacturers conceive, is the exact time to which he works his own mill. The persons whose machinery usually works 11 hours or 11½ hours, considered that 11 or 11½ hours ought to be imposed by law as the maximum of adult labour. The person who works his mill 12 hours is an advocate for the limitation of adult labour to that period. He did not, therefore, attach much value to the argument that certain manufacturers, the particulars of whose names and trades were not mentioned, were in favour of this measure; but this he would say, connected as he was with Manchester, that the great body of the master manufacturers in the cotton trade certainly did not acquiesce in it; and if the House, ill-informed as he believed it to be upon what might be the commercial results of this measure, was about to force its regulations upon that important trade, under an idea that the great bulk of the cotton manufacturers and capitalists connected with the cotton districts were in favour of it, he assured them they would be acting under a delusion and a mistake. The noble Lord the Member for Lynn (Lord George Bentinck) had reminded the House, that the abolition of the corn laws was an interference with vested interests; and that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dorchester (Sir J. Graham) had not, in those days, when the corn laws were repealed, shown or expressed much sensibility as to interference with vested interests. He would take the liberty of stating his views, not of the corn-law question, but of the analogy which existed between the question now before the House, and that which the noble Lord the Member for Lynn had recently introduced. The corn laws were a restraint upon the industry and the trade of the country. Those who supported that restraint, failed to prove that such a regulation was advantageous to the community, consequently the restraint was removed by the Legislature. In the same way the onus probandi rested with those who proposed this restraint upon the labour of the country; it was for them to show that the restraint would be advantageous to the persons upon whom it would be imposed; and more than that, it was for them to show that it would be advantageous to the community at large. It was not for those who opposed this restraint to show the particular evils that would arise from it—nothing of the kind; they were not bound to demonstrate mathematically the exact reduction of wages that would follow the proposed limitation of the hours of labour. ["Hear!"] No, they were not. Every restraint, he contended, was per se an evil, and until the Legislature could point out the advantage to the individuals restrained, and the benefit to the community at large in the regulation proposed, it was not justifiable to pass the proposed restraint into a law. Now, he denied it had been shown that this restraint upon the free labour of adult women, and young persons between the ages of 13 and 18, would be an advantage to them, or an advantage to the community at large; he denied its having been shown that this restraint upon their labour would not produce a large reduction of wages; he denied it had been shown that the compulsory leisure which was proposed to be given to those parties would be employed in any way more to their moral and physical advantage, than the time which they might spend in the factories. It was proposed to give compulsory leisure to certain parties, and there they stopped; they did not follow them into the way in which that leisure should be employed. When they dealt with the children in the factories, they did follow them in this respect. Children, they then said, should not be employed in mills more than six hours for each day; but they went further, and said that the other six hours, the remaining part of the day when they were out of the mill, should be employed in schooling and in education. In the present case there was nothing of the kind proposed. They simply contented themselves with excluding a number of adult females—free agents, responsible for their actions to the laws of the country—from certain mills, and from certain earnings they were now in possession of, and there they stopped. The House was not told how their leisure was to be employed; it was not in the slightest degree shown that the whole twenty-four hours would be better employed to the moral and physical advantage of the party for whom they were legislating, than they now were; and he contended the supporters of the Bill were bound to show these particulars, before they could expect Parliament to impose the proposed restraint upon the labour of those individuals. He must, therefore, say, as one who had been invited to give his consent to this further limitation of the hours of labour, he must positively decline to share in the responsibility of such an act. And when he considered under what circumstances Gentlemen had invited him to agree to such a limitation of the hours of labour as that proposed by this Bill, he must say, that, merely looking at their authority, it was perfectly discouraging to take such a step. One thing was quite certain, namely, that if the hours of labour were limited to six or to four hours per diem, the cotton manufacture, and other manufactures connected with it, would be entirely destroyed. It was clear, therefore, that there was a point over which the House must not pass, or, if they did, they would destroy entirely the trade with which they interfered. The supporters of this Bill made this admission themselves; but they were not agreed among themselves how far it was safe to go on this perilous road. The hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Fielden) told the House that he was for reducing the hours of labour to eight; no harm, he said, would be done by it, the same wages would be earned, and the same prosperity would attend the greatest staple manufacture of the country. A number of other Gentlemen invited the House to go as far as ten hours, beyond which, they said, it would be unsafe to go. Another party said, they must not go even to that extent, for, if they did, the cotton trade would be injured, and that eleven hours was the utmost extent. Then, up started more cautious Gentlemen still, who said, "For God's sake do not stop at eleven hours; stop at eleven hours and a half; for if you go further than that you may injure this great staple manufacture of the country." The advocates for interference were, therefore, not agreed among themselves how far they could go; and he must say, that being himself unconvinced by the arguments urged in favour of a further limitation of the laws of labour, that the authority of Gentlemen so divided among themselves, and so utterly unable to agree how far they might advance with safety in this direction, did not encourage him, at least, to give his vote for the Bill. Then, consider for a moment the conflicting character of the arguments that were used. His hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury said positively he would not vote for the Bill, if he believed it would have the effect of reducing wages 25 per cent; but no hon. Gentleman had undertaken to show the House it would not have such an effect upon the wages of labour. Common sense would tell them that if they caused, by law, expensive machinery to stand still, and if by the same law they caused the operative to lose one day in a week more than he now lost, there must be a considerable loss somewhere; and it would require some little demonstration to prove that the loss, which must be felt somewhere, would not fall upon the operative classes; especially as the House had been told, over and over again, that the capitalist was stronger than the operative, and especially as they had been told, over and over again, that the Factory Bill was designed to guard the operative from the "tyranny of capital." If capital, then, were the strong man, capital would have it in its power, according to the admissions of the supporters of the Bill, to impose this loss entirely upon the operative classes. Did it not stand to reason? And when we saw the vast flood of poor Irish labourers flowing into the manufacturing districts, competing with our English labourers for employment, and the immense accumulation of distressed persons waiting to do any amount of labour for the means of bare subsistence, could we for a moment doubt that the effect of this Bill would be to throw the loss of the reduced hours of labour, in the shape of a reduction of wages, upon the working classes? His hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury ought not, therefore to be so easily satisfied, as he appeared to be, that this measure would not reduce wages by the amount of 25 per cent. Indeed, his hon. Friend must have felt some doubts upon the subject, because he recollected him having moved for the appointment of a Committee to inquire into what would be the effect of the Factory Bill upon the wages of labour. That Committee was refused; and, at the present time, his hon. Friend said he would not vote for a measure which he believed would impose a reduction that would inflict so large a loss upon the earnings of the working classes. But, then, another hon. Gentleman was prepared to reduce wages. "I think," he said, "that the leisure which would be given by this Bill is worth more than all the loss of wages; for the workmen will have moral and intellectual improvement, which is worth more to them than the loss that the Bill will impose on them." Again, he (Mr. M. Gibson) must remind the House that the Bill did not provide the means of intellectual and moral improvement. Nothing whatever was done in that way. All the Bill did was, to turn these parties out of the factory; and it left them to take their chance of that moral and intellectual improvement upon which so much had been said—[An Hon. MEMBER: There are the Manchester parks to walk in.] As one of those who, as it appeared to him, were called upon to vote in the dark on this great question, he considered he was entitled to examine the arguments used by those Gentlemen who invited him to follow in their course; and he frankly admitted, as several of his hon. Friends holding the same opinions had admitted, that if any advantage could be shown to the working classes from this Bill, he would vote for it. He was convinced as much as any man, that the moral and physical well-being of the operative classes was identical with the permanent welfare of their employers, and of the capitalists who owned the large and extensive mills of the manufacturing districts. At the same time, there were conflicting opinions among the promoters of this Bill. He must venture to remind the hon. Gentleman the Member for Knaresborough (Mr. Ferrand) that he had pointed out a course which would be a more satisfactory settlement of this matter, as between the working people and their employers, than the proceeding with a parliamentary enactment. That hon. Member also presented himself to the House with a great and a complete difference of opinion as to the state of feeling among the working classes from that given by other hon. Gentlemen who supported the measure. By some it had been said that the working classes could not themselves settle this question with the masters, and that, unless it were settled by legislation in that House, it would never be determined at all. The hon. Member for Knaresborough, however, in his speech the other evening, distinctly told the House it was quite immaterial whether they legislated or not, because the working classes had determined, by an unanimous resolution, only to work ten hours per day, and that, whether the present Bill were passed or not, they would take very good care to benefit themselves in this respect by their combination. He must again confess this was a most discouraging disagreement of opinion, and one not at all likely to induce him to embark on this difficult course of legislation. But there was another and a very strange mode which some hon. Members had taken of advocating this question. They brought to their assistance, as it appeared to him, statements that had nothing whatever to do with the purpose and scope of the Bill now before the House. They told the House, for instance, of the infant mortality in the factory districts, and of the mortality among persons who had never been engaged in factory labour; then they said it was the neglect of the mothers, in consequence of their absence from their homes, that caused all the infants to die. Undoubtedly it was a most appalling fact, that fifty or sixty per cent, as the noble Lord the Member for Newark said, of the infant population in those districts should die before they arrived at the age of three or four years. [Lord J. MANNERS: Five years.] He thought the noble Lord had said three or four years. But did the House suppose that the absence of the mother from her home for thirteen hours, which was what was proposed by many Gentlemen should take place—namely, the advocates of an Eleven Hours Bill—would make the difference of not taking care of the health and lives of her infant children? Must not a person who was absent for thirteen hours out of the twenty-four, hire somebody to have the sole and exclusive charge of the infants under these circumstances? At present, persons so situate were absent fourteen hours. The Eleven Hours Bill proposed they should be absent thirteen hours, and the Ten Hours Bill that they should be absent twelve hours. He said then, in such cases, that it would be necessary for the mother who was absent for so long a period, to engage the services of some other person to take charge of her infant. But after all, he would ask whether this infant mortality was, in point of fact, connected with factory labour? The mortality at Bethnalgreen among infants, where there were no factories, was sixty per cent. The mother there was always at home engaged in domestic pursuits. How did those who used this argument get over this fact? Why should the supporters of this Bill call upon him, in order to prolong the lives of infants, to interfere with factory labour on that ground, when he showed them that in other parts of the country there were places where an equally great infant mortality prevailed. The report of the Sanatory Commissioners upon the Health of large Towns said, there were actual instances where children, infants, had been taken to the factories, and placed there because the atmosphere was more healthy than in their own cottages. This was stated in a parliamentary book for the guidance of hon. Members. If the House wished to prolong the lives of these infants, and to give the mothers more opportunity of attending to them, they would accomplish it better by following the advice of the noble Lord the Member for Plymouth (Lord Ebrington), who would exclude women altogether, either from mills or from the Bill, he had forgotten which. [Lord EBRINGTON: I mean the Bill.] The noble Lord, at any rate, differed most materially from other hon. Members who supported the Bill. The noble Lord, indeed, was a remarkable example of the extraordinary differences of opinion he had referred to, and of the difficulty the supporters of the measure had in agreeing among themselves how far they would go on this question, for he would altogether exclude from the operation of the Bill the whole class of adult women. Another statement had been made in order to guide hon. Members in their votes on this question. They had been told there was a great consumption of opium in the manufacturing districts. He would ask whether people who were so disposed could not eat just as much opium, when they worked one or two hours less, as they did before? Would a reduction in the hours of labour prevent them from eating opium? If the object was to prevent the working classes from eating opium, why was it not so proposed in the Bill. Why was not opium interfered with in the rural districts among the agricultural classes? The House had also heard a great deal about drunkenness and immorality as applied to the manufacturing districts; and the hon. Member for Knaresborough had read a long statement concerning persons spending their Sabbaths and Saturday afternoons, their times of leisure, in drinking gin in public-houses. [Mr. FERRAND: That was Mr. Greg's account.] He wanted to know what remedy the present Bill afforded for such a state of things. There was nothing whatever in it to prevent persons from drinking gin or beer in public-houses. That evil, therefore, remained where it was. What he complained of, then, was, that the supporters of the Bill should drag to their assistance all this kind of irrelevant narrative, which really did not in the slightest degree come within the scope of the measure. Whether a ten or an eleven hours Bill was obtained, the people, who were so minded, would eat just as much opium and drink just as much beer as they did now, with this exception, that perhaps they might not have the same means, from their wages, of indulging in the expense of such luxuries. In fact, Mr. Alison, a great authority with the Gentlemen who supported short-time legislation, distinctly said he supported this Bill mainly upon the ground that it would diminish wages, and by diminishing wages deprive the working people of the means of intemperance. His hon. Friend the Member for Weymouth had, in his way, given the House some very graphic descriptions, which, he must say, had nothing to do with the Bill under consideration. He described, for instance, a man walking in one of the parks at Manchester, with his back strained, in consequence of his labour. [Mr. BERNAL: No!] He begged pardon; his hon. Friend had certainly given many descriptions, showing the little use there would be for the parks; but when his hon. Friend came to show the bearings of the measure before the House on the welfare of the people, his hon. Friend completely failed. His hon. Friend talked of the labour of working men, but he did not propose to put men into the Bill; he did not prevent the evil which he professed to regret. If his object was to limit the hours of adults in mills, why not say so, and put them into the Bill? It was perfectly clear that, even if the manufacturers could discover some mode of carrying on their business in the mills solely by adult labour, dispensing entirely with the labour of women and children, the evils of which his hon. Friend complained would remain completely unremedied. Those men who had laboured under the muscular affections, and all the other difficulties which he described, would labour under them just as much as ever. In consistency, therefore, his hon. Friend ought to have brought the parties for whom he was so warm a friend into the scope of this measure, by limiting the hours of their labour. A good deal had been said as to the effect of experience in this kind of legislation. They might proceed boldly with this Bill, it was said, because they had legislated before, and no harm had been done. Prophecies of injury, they were told, had been made before, which were not fulfilled. Even if it were true that former legislation had done no harm (which was, after all, questionable), and although it might have done some good, it had never been shown that it had done no harm. One of the factory inspectors said that as far as children were concerned, in Scotland it had placed them in a worse moral and physical condition than they were before. The effect, said the inspector, had been to exclude them entirely from the mills, and they were running about the streets of Glasgow; there were no schools for them to go to, and the consequence of factory legislation had been, that not one single school had been built, as the result of it, in any one of the manufacturing towns of Scotland. He contended, that past legislation had nothing whatever to do with the measure now before the House. Past legislation had mainly been for children under the age of thirteen; and his hon. Friend the Member for Salford (Mr. Brotherton) had stated from some authority facts, in which, however, he did not believe. [Mr. BROTHERTON: The statement was Mr. Roebuck's.] The statement made by his hon. Friend, however, referred to children under the age of thirteen, whose case was not now before the House. Why should the question as to children be introduced at all? It was not under consideration at all; the question concerned adolescence and adults, and there was no use in harrowing up the feelings of hon. Members with the recital of irrelevant matters concerning that which had been the subject of past legislation. They did not know what the state of those children and of the factory population would have been had no Bills of this kind been passed; but the House had no right to lay to the credit of its legislation all the improvements that had taken place in the habits of the factory population during recent years. Had not improvements taken place in the habits of all classes in this country? Drunkenness, and vices of a corresponding description, were formerly far more prevalent among the higher and aristocratic grades of society than they were at present; and in his opinion it was the discountenancing of those vices among the higher ranks, by the force of example, that had caused greater sobriety among the working and operative classes. It was not, therefore, for the House to claim the credit for its factory legislation of all the improvements in the morals and habits of the people in the factory districts. It was a fact well known in the House, that the factory inspectors were not unanimous even upon the effects of its past legislation. They were far from being unanimous upon the proposals now submitted to the House. His right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir George Grey) justly said, that if the factory inspectors were unanimous, their authority ought to have great weight in that House; because they must be supposed to be disinterested parties. But were they unanimous? Nothing of the kind. Mr. Stuart, he believed, was against the measure. This gentleman was the factory inspector who also doubted the beneficial result of past legislation. And with reference to past legislation, a circumstance occurred the other day, in the city of London, which struck him as one which it would not be exactly easy to justify. It was the case of certain grown-up women who were taken to a public police office. They had been employed by Mr. Plumer in balling cotton — winding cotton into balls, after half-past eight o'clock in the evening. This was the offence with which they were charged. It was not that they had been employed in balling cotton for a great number of hours—no hardship had been committed againet them; but, according to factory legislation, they had been guilty of the crime of hailing cotton after half-past eight in the evening. Could there be a more innocent or more harmless occupation in the world than that of winding cotton into balls? Yet in this civilized city, where females might walk the streets all night as prostitutes—where they might sit in ginshops for hours and hours, indulging in intemperance, they were brought up at a police court for the crime of balling cotton after half-past eight in the evening. Could any one point out to him what possible advantage, either present or remote, it had been to try to prevent grownup women following this occupation after half-past eight in the evening? There was no steam engine on the premises. They worked in a building in connexion with the factory; and they prayed, for the purpose of maintaining themselves and their families, to be allowed to come and go at their own convenience. But when their convenience led them to work after half-past eight in the evening, in stepped the law and said, "This is an offence against the morals and the propriety of England; your employers shall be fined; you must be contented with the reduction of your wages, and console yourselves with the reflection that you have a little leisure after half-past eight in the evening for your moral and intellectual improvement." What an absurdity! What twaddling trifling was this! Would any man in that House tell him it was a disadvantage to anybody that these women should earn a few shillings per week in balling cotton after half-past eight in the evening? Would any man venture to make such an assertion? If that were so, did they intend to allow the present Factory Bill to remain as it was? He had had an interview with the employer of these persons, and that gentleman had told him that the effect of the Factory Bill had been to throw them out of work, and to deprive them of the whole amount which they would have earned. One of the females was forty years old. She was not one of the little children for whose moral and intellectual improvement so much anxiety was professed; yet it was considered an advantage, that this woman, forty years old, should be turned into the streets, because she had the audacity to wind cotton into balls after half-past eight at night. This was a sample of past factory legislation; and he dared to say, if he were to search into matters, he could find innumerable cases of the greatest hardship, and the most absurd interference, caused by past factory legislation. Although he would not deny, because he did not know to the contrary, that with regard to children, who could not be considered free agents, past factory legislation might have done some good; yet he must qualify that assertion by stating his belief that it had been productive of considerable injury. But past legislation was no guide upon the measure before the House. Past legislation had often practically interfered with the hours during which machinery could be worked. It had reduced the exceptions to the rule, and merely gave the sanction of law to what had become already custom; and he believed that, practically, the great bulk of the manufacturers—for so he had been informed—really worked no more than twelve hours per day, to which the law had reduced them. But even if it were not so, legislation of a totally different kind, affecting a portion only of the people, namely, children under 13 years of age, instead of persons above the age of 13—legislation, he said, of this character, could not be quoted as a safe guide for legislation of a totally different description. It had been contended, that they were not bound to go further in this legislation than the factory districts; that they were to do good as far as it might be in their power; and that they were not under the necessity to proceed to carry out the principles of interference with labour beyond where it might be practical and easy to carry them. He must demur to that proposition. The working people of England had all a right to demand, at the hands of the British Parliament, an equal amount of favour and an equal amount of protection; and if it were right and fit for Parliament to give to the factory operative this measure for the limitation of the hours of labour, it was the duty, the bounden duty, of Parliament, from which it could not escape, to grant the same indulgence and the same favour to all other classes of the operatives of this country. If this measure was for the benefit of the working classes in the cotton districts, why did it stop with the cotton districts? Could the House justify the withholding from the other operative classes of England what was considered so great a boon to one? For forty or fifty years they had been confining their attention to cotton spinners and to the workers in cotton factories; and to this day they had made no signs of going any further. [Lord J. MANNERS: In the collieries we have.] The hours of labour had not been limited in collieries; why should Parliament confine all its favours to cotton spinners? Why not spread them generally throughout the country? What astonished him was this, that at the very head-quarters of the leaders of what was called the cause of humanity—namely, in Dorsetshire, there existed an amount of distress and privation that must harrow the feelings of any man who reflected upon it. Yet these Gentlemen made no effort whatever, nor showed sign of their intention, to bring in a Bill either to raise the rate of wages to the Dorsetshire labourer, or to alter the conditions upon which he gave his services. He saw nothing absurd in the proposition. It appeared to him, all the argument used on the other side had been just this—"it is desirable that persons should not work more than ten hours in factories, therefore we will pass a law to prevent them from doing so." Pursuing precisely the same line of argument, he said, "it is desirable the Dorsetshire farmer should give his labourers more than 7s. or 8s. a week, therefore we will pass a law to make him give them 10s. a week." Why not? It was very easy to raise a plausible argument to show that the farmer would be able to give these advanced wages without materially affecting his profits. He dared say he himself could easily furnish one to show it would not have the effect of ruining the farmer. If it were right to do this for the factory operatives, it was also right to do it for the agricultural labourer. There was no practical difficulty in the way of it whatever. It was to him most unaccountable that all the sympathy of hon. Gentlemen should be confined to labourers in the cotton factories, whilst they could not see with an impartial eye the distress that prevailed in other portions of the country. What was to prevent Parliament dealing in the same way with hospitals? The nurses there, he was told, were on duty sixteen hours per day—the day nurses sixteen, and the night nurses eleven. This was true enough. The day nurses came at six, and went away at ten; the night nurses did not come exactly at the same time; at all events, it was a fact that the nurses in hospitals would present a very excellent field for future legislation, for they worked much longer hours than females in factories. What was more important, they worked in a much worse atmosphere. What could be more dreadful than for a woman to be constantly attending the sick, breathing unwholesome vapours, and in constant contact with disease? What condition could be more calculated to excite feelings of compassion than that of the nurses in hospitals? He said, then, if a case were made out, it was the bounden duty of Parliament to include this class in the Factory Bill. But a great cause for the noble Lord the Member for Newark (Lord J. Manners), now that the case of the distressed needlewomen had been given up, the great subject for legislation, he would suggest, would be the melancholy case of the washerwomen. ["Question!"] It was the question. As he had said before, beyond all doubt, they were bound by every law of justice and humanity, if the present were sound legislation, to give to all classes of Her Majesty's subjects who suffered from long hours the same measure of favour and protection. Cotton, flax, wool, and silk-workers were not to be singled out as objects for the special attention of Parliament. A society had been formed which had some thoughts of applying for legislation with reference to the needlewomen. The noble Lord the Mem- ber for Newark perhaps had the Bill in his pocket. There were also the fustian cutters, who worked long hours in their own houses. He would only call attention, however, to the melancholy case of the washerwomen. The washerwomen stood upon their feet a greater number of hours in the day than any other class of adult women in the country; and only that very day he had been informed by a professional gentleman that they formed the greatest proportion of out-patients at many of the London hospitals. The cause of this was, that in consequence of so many hours' standing, they became affected with varicose veins, ulcerated legs, and other evils of a painful description. It therefore behoved the Gentlemen who had embarked in this course of legislation to protect the working classes from long hours of labour, to take the case of these poor women into their consideration. He should not vote for any extension of the principle of limitation of labour in cotton mills, because he believed it fraught with permanent evil to the classes whom it professed to assist. It was rash legislation, in his opinion, to endeavour to anticipate by a limitation of the hours of labour those improvements which the progress of society would gradually bring about; and he was convinced, on taking a commercial view of the question, no Gentleman had succeeded in showing that the effect of the measure would not be to deprive the operative classes of a large amount of the earnings they now enjoyed. It appeared to him a most anomalous course to pursue with regard to Ireland—that where they were en-deavouring to provide employment for the people, they should at the same time be proposing to cut off employment. He was told there were some 20,000 operatives in Ireland who would be affected by this Bill, earning on an average about 10s. per week. If, as he believed, the effect of the Bill would be to cut down wages one-sixth, that would be a reduction of 88,000l. a year to those 20,000 persons in Ireland. It was very hard to bring himself to believe it could be sound policy in one part of the country to be providing employment for the people, and in another to prevent them from working as hard as they were willing to work. Take also the case of Scotland, where great distress was prevailing. There were 70,000 persons employed upon mills in Scotland which would be affected by this Bill. Their wages were proposed to be cut down for the purpose of obtaining this measure. Was that consistent with the other policy pursued in Scotland—namely, providing food and endeavouring to give employment to those who at this moment had neither? If the reduction of wages were to the extent he had mentioned—and it had not been shown it would not—the total sum withdrawn from the people of Ireland and Scotland would be something like 430,000l. a year. He was staggered, when asked to embark in the cause of humanity, on finding the effect was to withdraw 88,000l. per annum from operatives in Ireland, and 430,000l. from operatives in Ireland and Scotland together, as the first step towards carrying out this moral amelioration. It also made him naturally start and hesitate, whatever might be his feelings in favour of the cause of humanity, when he was asked to withdraw something like a million a year from the operatives of Lancashire to benefit their condition. He could not understand such an effect to be the first step towards the improvement of the moral and physical condition of the people. The noble Lord the Member for Lynn had told the House that immense benefit would be gained by railways causing the distribution of a larger amount of money among the working classes; but by this Bill the House was called upon to benefit Ireland by withdrawing a large amount of wages from the operative classes. What appeared to him the most anomalous of all was, the consideration that at the present moment they proposed to regenerate England by cutting off employment, and to regenerate Ireland by finding employment. He could not comprehend a policy so anomalous. When "leisure" was talked of, there it was in Ireland to the heart's content—there was an example of a country without the "tyrant capital grinding the people down"—there the people were living in that state of pastoral simplicity which had been often recommended by Gentlemen who supported short-time legislation; and what was the present condition of Ireland? Was "leisure" an evil there? Was the absence of the "tyrant capital" an advantage? Was the want of the "demon steam-engine" a great boon to the Irish people? He would, therefore, have the House to pause before interfering with large numbers of working people, who were at present in something like a comfortable position; he would have hon. Members pause before they undertook this hasty experiment upon the staple manufacture of the coun- try. Our great cotton manufacture came into existence in a short period of time. Its rise had been rapid, and its fall might be equally quick. A great machine might be effectually disturbed by interfering with some small wheel that appeared to be of trifling account; and how did they know that by cutting off two hours a day from the employment of all the expensive machinery in England—by prohibiting it by law from working more than five days a week—creating as it were another Sunday, in addition to the Sabbath and the Saturday afternoon—they might not be taking a step that would cause the departure of the great cotton trade of England as speedily from its shores as it had taken root upon them. No security was offered that such would not be the case. Nothing was presented but vague conjecture. Nothing was given upon which a reasonable man could rest his foot with safety, and with confidence of mind that he was not shaking to the very foundations the stability of the greatest staple manufacture of the country. Considering that the export trade of England was the main stay of our national resources—considering that it was for the most part composed of the labour of our factory operatives—he called upon the House to pause and to hesitate before they rendered that labour of less account by diminishing one great element of its worth, namely, time. They had before them in Ireland the consequences of a people without employment and without sustenance; and they should not, without something like demonstration, proceed to those dangerous experiments upon the circumstances and the employment of millions of the operative class in our own country.


quite agreed with those of his hon. Friends who had explained some of the evils which attended the existing system; but they were the natural consequence of the adoption of a principle against which he had in vain protested—a principle which was at once new in our legislation and mischievous—that of interference with adult labour. He had supported the second reading of this Bill on the ground that, at the age to which our previous legislation on this question applied, children were too young to make their own bargains with regard to their labour. The question seemed to him to rest on the effect which such legislation might have on the well-being of the people. It might be very had and very wrong that children and young persons should la- bour in factories during twelve hours; but it was equally true that in some places which were ill ventilated, eight hours work would be quite as injurious as twelve would be in better ventilated and better constructed mills. He hoped that at a future stage of the Bill a provision would be engrafted on it, enabling inspectors of factories to report on the state of health of the operatives in factories—that the same power would be given them, as to matters connected with ventilation, the absence of which brought on slow death, that they were now entrusted with as respected unguarded machinery, the neglect of which was so often the cause of sudden death. He thought, also, that the limitation of the labour of female children ought to be somewhat more than in the case of boys. He thought it would be also found advantageous if all future inspectors of factories were required to be medical men. The best results were found to have ensued where the superintendence of factories had happened to be entrusted to those who had received a medical education. He believed that such a proposition was likely to be favourably received by the manufacturers.


I thought it probable that some Gentleman being a decided advocate of the Bill would reply to the speech of the Vice President of the Board of Trade; and I therefore did not rise sooner, being desirous to afford to any hon. Gentleman who might so wish to address the House, a full opportunity of expressing his views. As time is now pressing [it was nearly a quarter past Five], I will not occupy more than my fair share of that time, but will give to any advocate of the Bill who may desire to speak, the means of doing so. But, Sir, as I have been supported by a majority, when on former occasions I have given my opinion against further interference with the hours of labour, I feel it incumbent on me, now that I expect to be in a small minority, and am opposed to the opinion of the noble Lord at the head of the Government, not to shrink from expressing, under these altered circumstances, my continued adherence to my former views and opinions. Sir, I have more than once excited a smile when, as First Minister of the Crown, I have said that there were three courses which it was open to me to adopt. The noble Lord who now occupies the office I held, has also succeeded to my position in that respect. Not only are there three courses, one or other of which it is open to the noble Lord to pursue, but he may also adduce in favour of each of those courses the authority of a Colleague and a Cabinet Minister. On his left sits his right hon. Friend the Secretary for Ireland—practically conversant with the commercial affairs and interests of this country, in the office which he filled for many years with great ability—who declares emphatically against further interference with the hours of labour. On his right is the Secretary of State for the Home Department, who is in favour of going into Committee, and who states further, that if in Committee the advocates of the period of ten hours should succeed in inserting the word "ten" instead of "eleven," though he prefers eleven hours to ten, still he is determined to consent to the third reading of the Bill. Now, it is sometimes painful enough to be compelled to come to a decision between two opposite authorities; but the noble Lord is in a still worse position—he is in the unfortunate dilemma of having three high authorities around him, each setting him a different example; for beside his two other Colleagues, sits the noble Lord the First Commissioner of the Woods and Forests, who says that if in Committee ten hours should be substituted for eleven, he in that case must vote altogether against the Bill. Now, Sir, there was a famous mathematical problem which was regarded as being very difficult of solution. It was this—to determine the point at which a body exposed to the attraction of three other bodies will remain at rest. I hope the noble Lord will give us the advantage of hearing that problem solved politically, which it is so difficult to solve mathematically; and will determine, as he is exposed to the attraction of three Ministerial bodies revolving in his immediate neighbourhood, whether he will remain at rest (which would be denoted by not voting at all) or whether he will yield to the superior attraction of some one or other of his three discordant Colleagues.

I must touch on a subject not immediately before the House, but on which, I trust, I may be allowed to say a few words. The noble Lord the Member for Lynn has assumed that the result of our experience with reference to the relaxation of restrictions on commerce, and the reduction of duties on articles of consumption of the first necessity, has disappointed the expectations formed as to the consequences of that policy. And the noble Lord has referred to the diminished exports of this year as compared with those of last year, for the purpose of proving the correctness of his assumption. Sir, my firm conviction is, that the result of all intervening experience has tended to demonstrate the truth of the principles on which we have acted. It may be true, that in this year, as compared with the last, there have been diminished exports; but if increasing exports are to be taken as a test of the policy pursued, let us review not the exports of a single year, but the exports of the several years that have elapsed since you commenced the relaxation of protective duties, and compare them with the exports of some antecedent period. In 1842 you altered the corn laws. You removed the prohibitions which had previously existed on the importation of many articles of foreign produce, and you reduced the duties on all the chief elements of manufactures. You then commenced that system which was acted on from time to time up to the end of last Session. Now, what was the result? In 1842, the declared value of our exports was 47,331,000l. In 1843, during the operation of this system of relaxation, of removal of prohibitory duties, and the more free admittance of the raw material, the declared value of our exports was 52,279,000l. In 1844, it was 58,584,000l. In 1845, 60,100,000l. It is true that in the year 1846 the exports were less than they had been in 1845; but, at all periods of our history, and especially when protection was at its highest, a great excitement in commerce has always been followed by a corresponding depression. Let us examine our exports at a period anterior to the adoption of a liberal commercial policy. In 1836, our exports were 53,000,000l.; in 1837, they fell to 42,000,000l.; in 1839, they were 53,000,000l.; in 1840, they were 51,000,000l.; in 1841, they were 51,000,000l. (protection then being in the ascendant); and in 1842, they were, notwithstanding, so low as 47,000,000l. So that, while the protective system was in full force, vicissitudes in commerce continually occurred, and depression followed excitement as a natural consequence. So also, in 1846, if there has been a reduction in our chief articles of export to the extent of nearly 2,000,000l., as compared to the greatly increased exports of 1845, it is no very peculiar or novel circumstance. But are there no concomitant circumstances worthy of remark? Is there nothing to compensate and console us for the admitted fact of diminished exports? Nothing that may in some measure account for that fact? Have you not had, during the greater part of last year, a very high price of provisions in this country? Has not that high price of provisions prevailed also in other parts of Europe? Has not that high price of food tended to cripple the means of expending income on superfluities, on all articles less necessary than those required for subsistence? Do not you see in that fact, coupled with the high price of the raw material of one at least of your chief manufactures, quite enough, independent of the natural vicissitudes of trade and commerce, to account for the diminution of exports in 1846, as compared with 1845? But can you show me at any former period of similar depression a buoyant revenue? Can you show me in former cases of commercial adversity, such a feeling of contentment—of patient submission to privation and suffering—pervading all classes of the country as has pervaded those classes in the last year? And what was it that determined them thus loyally and patiently to bear up against misfortune? The conviction that legislative restrictions were not the cause of the high price of provisions. What inference can the noble Lord the Member for Lynn draw from the decrease of exports in 1846, adverse to our recent commercial policy? Would the noble Lord now desire that the corn law which existed before 1842 should have been scrupulously maintained? During the last year you have found it necessary to import not less than 5,000,000 quarters of corn, the produce of other countries. So little have you relied on your independence of foreign supplies, that during the last year, for the maintenance of the people of Ireland, as well as for the people of this part of the empire, you have imported not less than 5,000,000 quarters of corn. Notwithstanding this enormous import, the average price of wheat is at this moment not less than 71s. a quarter. And now, under so special and extraordinary a misfortune as the failure of that root on which 4,000,000 of the people of Ireland depended for food—how could Ireland have found subsistence if we had still excluded Indian corn, or had levied high duties on that and other kinds of food? So different, indeed, are the conclusions to be drawn with regard to Ireland from the premises on which the noble Lord relies, that I would cite the single case of Ireland as a sufficient justification for the remission of duties on the import of food.

Sir, I will now address myself to the question actually before the House. I admit that it would be taking a narrow view, to argue it on what are generally understood to be the rigid principles of political economy. The Italian writers on political economy — and they are among the most distinguished writers on that science — charge the English economists with taking too restricted a view of the objects which it should embrace. They say that the English writers discuss only the means of acquiring and distributing wealth; whereas they regard political economy as a complex and comprehensive science which concerns, not only the wealth, but the morality and social welfare of the people. I will not say whether this charge of the Italian writers is well founded or not. I believe our political economists purposely and avowedly confine themselves to a single branch of a most extensive and diversified system of social policy, not claiming for that single branch exclusive or pre-eminent consideration. I am quite ready, however, to discuss this question on the extended ground assumed by the Italian writers. I will not confine my attention to the mere amount of material advantage to be derived from increased labour, or the mere pecuniary gain resulting from unfettered manufactures and extended commerce. I will take a far wider ground, and will give my vote against this Bill, from the sincere conviction that it is not for the benefit of the working classes—that it would not tend to the advancement of their intellectual culture, or of their social improvement, to impose a new restriction on the hours of labour.

In the first place, let me consider this restriction as it affects the general interests of the country. There cannot be a doubt, that up to the present time, the prosperity of the great branches of manufactures has been maintained. But, notwithstanding this prosperity, you are levying 6,000,000l. of money annually, under the name of poor rates, which sum is applied to the maintenance of the poor. I am not speaking of the extraordinary demand made upon you under extraordinary circumstances — I am not referring to the 8,000,000l. you are about to expend in the present year for the relief of Ireland. I speak of the ordinary levy of 6,000,000l. annually for the maintenance of those who cannot maintain themselves by labour. That is a most important consideration in determining the policy of further restrictions on the hours of labour. But what are your securities for the maintenance of manufacturing prosperity? There are three securities. You have capital, machinery, labour. I do not know why we should presume that we possess greater intellectual powers, or greater capacity for exertion than any other nation. Peace and the love of gain will sharpen their intellect and encourage their industry as well as ours. Look at the Germans who settle amongst us and carry on extensive trade—are they an inferior race? Will not the French also, and the Italians, be found to vie with us in all respects? Will not they be as desirous as we are to improve their skill, and to advance their interests. I wish not to detract from our native vigour of character, when I say that I think we are apt to rely too much upon our superiority. The three main securities for the maintenance of our manufacturing prosperity are, I repeat, capital, machinery, and labour. We may, I trust, safely calculate on the continuance of peace. But, peace continuing, what dependence can there be that the employment of English capital in foreign countries may not increase—that foreign countries may not see the policy of giving encouragement to such employment of it? Then, with regard to machinery, look at the increase of the quantity exported last year: there, at least, there was no decrease in our exports. [Lord G. BENTINCK: You permitted the export of machinery.] We did: and do you suppose that we authorized the exportation of machinery without some sufficient motive? There was no alternative left. There are some cases which laws cannot reach — some things which laws cannot prevent. You had a Committee on the Export of Machinery; they examined those who were best acquainted with the subject. And what was the result? Why, that your prohibition amounted only to this — that it caused the loss of a trade which you otherwise might have. Officers of the Customs showed you that you could not prohibit the exportation of separate parts of machinery, or of the designs for it made by the most eminent of our engineers; that you could not prevent the expatriation of our artisans; and the conclusion to which the Committee came was, that the prohibition must be repealed, not for the benefit of other countries, but because it would enable us to retain at home the manufacture of the machinery to be exported. The question was, not whether foreign countries should or should not have access to improved machinery; but whether Sheffield, and Birmingham, and other great towns, should retain the manufacture, or whether British skill and British labour should be transferred to other countries, and there employed in the manufacture of machinery for foreign use. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will remember the painful position in which the Privy Council were constantly placed, in having to determine whether they ought to grant or withhold permission to export machinery. ["Hear!"] Capital and machinery then were free as the winds. There remains labour; and I advise you to direct your serious consideration to this point before you restrict it. I appeal to the noble Lord the Member for Lynn, who expected so much from the establishment of railways in Ireland—I appeal to him whether the more you extend the railway system, you do not lessen the impediments to locomotion, and increase the facilities, in time of peace, for skilled labourers to remove abroad, and there get higher wages for their labour? And observe, that not only are the physical impediments to travelling removed, but those prejudices against it which exist to a great extent in the English character. Working men read the accounts of the wages given in foreign countries; they learn also that they will be well received and heartily welcomed; they find that they can reach Rouen and other manufacturing towns in France or Belgium, in fourteen or fifteen hours: partly from curiosity, partly from the hope of gain, assured that they will be well treated, they are influenced by new motives, which did not operate when travelling was expensive, and when an impression prevailed that English workmen would be ill paid, and insulted, and treated as alien enemies in a foreign land. If this account be correct, look at our present position. You have no exclusive command over your own capital, over your own machinery, or over your own labour: in this state of things, you propose to place new legislative restrictions nominally upon the labour of women and children, but practically upon the labour of adult males. You say to the man, who, being in the possession of health, desires to labour—who, foreseeing the day when he will be incapacitated from labour by age or infirmity, wishes to provide some resource for the future—you say to this man, "You shan't work more than five days a week." You cut off, by law, two hours from that which constitutes his present working day. With the tendency there is, and must be, to equalise throughout Europe the advantages of capital, machinery, and labour, you inform the adult male operative, "It is not for your good that you should labour more than five days a week in your native country." Sir, I fear the consequences of such legislation. It may be said, that these are but prospective dangers, and that your linen, your silk, and your woollen manufactures have taken such root in the soil, that you cannot be dispossessed of your superiority. But other countries, in other times, have had the same superiority, have felt the same confidence in its continuance, and have had a bitter reverse of fortune, which may not, I hope, be in reserve for you.

But still there are higher considerations than those of wealth and commerce; and if you could convince me that the present measure would tend to the moral and intellectual improvement, to the general the social welfare, of the labouring classes, I should be tempted to make the experiment; for I feel, that in improving the condition and elevating the character of those classes, we are advancing the first and highest interests. I feel that society is not safe unless we can do that. We are giving those classes intellectual improvement; but unless the general character of our legislation is to increase their comfort and improve their moral habits, their mere intellectual improvement will become a source of danger and not of strength. By every means, then—by the improvement of the sanitary condition of our towns—by substituting innocent recreation for vicious and sensual indulgence—we should do all in our power to increase the enjoyments and improve the character of the working classes. I firmly believe that the hopes of the future peace, happiness, and prosperity of this country, are closely interwoven with the improvement, religious as well as moral, of those classes. But, consistently with this persuasion, I oppose these restrictions on labour. Sir, the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Brotherton), in a speech which did him much honour, was influenced by feelings in which I personally ought to, and do, participate. He says, the only question is, whether it is fit that women and children should work twelve hours a day. But is that the only question? If it be, then I am of opinion with him, that ten hours a day is enough for women and children to labour. Nay, I go farther than the hon. Member. If I am asked, whether I do not think eight hours a day sufficient labour for a girl of fourteen years of age, or for a mother with three or four children to attend to—if that is the question upon which the debate turns—then I am for eight hours, and not ten. But why do you hesitate about an Eight Hours Bill? Is it not because you strike a balance between the admitted advantages of additional leisure, and the evil that would arise from a reduction of wages? On what principle, except upon the principle to which I refer, do you give the preference to ten hours of labour over eight for a child or a mother? Sir, I do not deny the advantage of leisure; but I greatly doubt whether there be any better means of improving the condition of the labourer, and of elevating the character of the working classes, than to give them an increased command over the necessaries of life. You say that by this Bill you will not diminish wages. But will it not be a most marvellous event in legislation, if you provide by law that five days in the week shall be the maximum of labour in this country, and yet can induce the master to pay the same amount of wages? Notwithstanding the active competition of manufactures in America, France, Italy, and Germany, you expect that the masters in this country are to go on paying five days' work with six days' pay. But we are told that the mode of doing this will be by working the machinery so as to get twelve hours' work done in ten hours. I doubt whether you can do that; and I doubt, also, whether, if you can, you will thereby confer any advantage upon the workpeople. I doubt whether it is not for the advantage of adult women and children that they should continue working for twelve hours, rather than finish the same quantity of work in ten hours by a greater strain upon their bodily and mental faculties. The hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. Beckett), a friend of the Bill, is forced to admit, that if we go the length of a Ten Hours Bill, we may run the risk of depriving the working classes of the liberal assistance now given by some of the masters in providing schoolmasters and medical assistance for their workpeople.

I come now to the question of wages. How easy it is to speak of a reduction in wages! I wish we would call it income. Let us call the wages of the working man his income; and let us call a reduction of wages an income tax. You are about to impose an income tax upon the operatives, and not upon those only who are employed in factories. A manufacturer told me he employed 1,500 adults in labour connected with his manufactory, but not performed within its walls. This gentleman also declared that he should be compelled to call his workmen together when this Bill came into operation, and tell them, "I am forced by law to decrease your hours of labour one-sixth, and I must in my own defence curtail your wages one-sixth." The wages—the annual income of these operatives—amount probably to 50l. or 60l. each on the average. The income will be reduced one-sixth—that is to say, the operatives will be subject to an income tax, not such as we pay of 3 per cent, but of 16 per cent. It has been said by a high authority—and the remark is pregnant with truth—that in prosperous times the workman shares with his employer in the general prosperity, but that he does not benefit half so much by prosperity as he suffers from adversity. The owner of capital can bear up against temporary depression; for he can draw upon the gains accumulated in the time of prosperity. It is not so with him whose whole capital is labour. And it is to him, already labouring under disadvantage in this respect, that you are about to say, "You shall not lay by a surplus from your wages, in the vigour of life and while in the enjoyment of health, to meet the evil day by which you may before long be overtaken." You cannot over-estimate the importance to these men of a small saving—of the possession of some such sum as ten or twelve pounds. It may be to them the foundation of future independence. It may enable the father of a family—imitating the honourable example of the Member for Salford (Mr. Brotherton)—to gather that family around him and say, "From these small gains I will lay the foundation of a fortune, such as hundreds in Lancashire have acquired by their own industry and integrity." Why, I myself, could name at least ten individuals in Lancashire who, when I was a boy, were earning only 25s. or 30s. a week, and each of whom is now worth, it may be, from 50,000l. to 100,000l. But who is to answer for the result, if you paralyse the efforts of such men by your legislation—if you fetter their industry, and restrict their hours of labour, and by preventing them from profiting by the time of prosperity, drive them, when the hour of adversity shall come, to the poor law for a maintenance? Will not the labouring man go to a country in which no such restrictions do prevail? Will he not soon ask the price of a third-class fare to Dover, and transfer his skill and the vigour of his English character to some place where he could use them without restraint? The amount of weekly earnings is the great point on which the happiness and independence of a working man's family turns. I have here a book containing statements which have struck me forcibly, and which give an account of the appropriation of the wages of two families. In the first family the number of persons is nine, and the wages are 18s.; in the second the number is seven, and the wages are 9s. This is the way in which the weekly income is appropriated: In the first family the income of 18s. per week is laid out as follows:—Bread, 10s. 6d.; house-rent, 1s.; washing, 1s.; and fire, 1s.; making 13s. 6d.; this leaves for clothing, tea, sugar, and meat, 4s. 6d. extra. In the family of seven persons, having 9s. per week, the payments are, for bread, 5s. 6d.; rent, 1s.; fire, 1s.; washing, 9d., making 8s. 3d.; there is left for clothing, for tea, sugar, and meat, not 4s. 6d. but 9d. only. Thus every shilling cut off from the income of such a family is attended with great diminution in their comforts. Intelligent men are asked in the volume before me how it is possible for a labouring man to maintain a family of four or five children upon 10s. a week? The question is put to clergymen and to persons engaged in agriculture, and here are the answers. Mr. Huxtable, a great agriculturist, being asked how a labouring man maintains a wife and four or five children upon 10s. a week, says that is a problem he cannot solve by any calculation, and that all attempts to solve it, so far as he has seen, are entire failures. The next person who is asked, says he cannot answer the question; that he was altogether at a loss to conceive how it was done, and that he was never satisfied with the explanation he received from labourers' wives upon this point. Let us reflect, then, what may be the consequence of reducing still further the wages of labour. [Interruption.] I beg pardon of the House for not having fulfilled my promise; but I have been led on far beyond my intentions by the importance of the subject. Sir, I will now conclude by repeating, that if I oppose this Bill, it is not because I do not sympathize with the attempt to improve and to elevate the working classes in the scale of society, but because I believe that an unwise interference with labour will undermine the great sources of our national wealth, and will also restrict and fetter the comfort and enjoyment and independence of the working classes. It is on these grounds that, acknowledging, as I fully do, the special claims which those classes have upon my sympathy and support, I must give a vote in opposition to their wishes, but in favour of their real and permanent welfare.

The House divided:—Ayes 190; Noes 100: Majority 90.

List of the AYES.
Ackers, J. Duff, J.
Acland, Sir T. D. Duncombe, T.
Acland, T. D. Duncombe, hon. A.
Acton, Col. Dundas, Adm.
Ainsworth, P. Dundas, Sir D.
Aldam, W. Du Pre, C. G.
Antrobus, E. Ebrington, Visct.
Arundel and Surrey, Earl of Egerton, Sir P.
Ellis, W.
Baillie, H. J. Entwisle, W.
Baillie, W. Etwall, R.
Bankes, G. Ewart, W.
Bannerman, A. Fellowes, E.
Barnard, E. G. Ferrand, W. B.
Baskerville, T. B. M. Finch, G.
Beckett, W. Fitzroy, Lord C.
Benbow, J. Fleetwood, Sir P. H.
Bennet, P. Fox, C. R.
Bentinck, Lord G. Fuller, A. E.
Beresford, Major Gardner, J. D.
Bernal, R. Gaskell, J. M.
Blackstone, W. S. Gladstone, Capt.
Blake, M. J. Godson, R.
Borthwick, P. Gore, hon. R.
Brisco, M. Granby, Marq. of
Broadly, H. Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.
Broadwood, H. Grogan, E.
Brooke, Lord Grosvenor, Lord R.
Bruen, Col. Halford, Sir H.
Buller, C. Hall, Sir B.
Buller, E. Hall, Col.
Bunbury, W. M. Halsey, T. P.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Hamilton, G. A.
Butler, P. S. Harcourt, G. G.
Byng, rt. hon. G. S. Harris, hon. Capt.
Cabbell, B. B. Hatton, Capt. V.
Castlereagh, Visct. Heathcoat, J.
Chelsea, Visct. Henley, J. W.
Chichester, Lord J. L. Hervey, Lord A.
Cholmeley, Sir M. Hildyard, T. B. T.
Christie, W. D. Hindley, C.
Churchill, Lord A. S. Hodgson, F.
Clayton, R. R. Hodgson, R.
Collett, J. Hollond, R.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Hope, A.
Curteis, H. B. Hornby, J.
Davies, D. A. S. Hotham, Lord
D'Eyncourt, rt. hn. C. T. Howard, hon. C. W. G.
Dickinson, F. H. Howard, P. H.
Douglas, J. D. S. Hudson, G.
Hurst, R. H. Prime, R.
Hussey, T. Pusey, P.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Rashleigh, W.
Jervis, Sir J. Rendlesham, Lord
Johnson, Gen. Repton, G. W. J.
Johnstone, Sir J. Rice, E. R.
Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H. Rich, H.
Kemble, H. Richards, R.
Lambton, H. Russell, Lord J.
Law, hon. C. E. Russell, J. D. W.
Lawson, A. Rutherford, A.
Lefroy, A. Ryder, hon. G. D.
Lennox, Lord G. H. G. Sandon, Visct.
Liddell, hon. H. T. Scrope, G. P.
M'Carthy, A. Shaw, rt. hon. F.
Macaulay, rt. hon. T. B. Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.
M'Donnell, J. M. Shirley, E. J.
Mangles, R. D. Shirley, E. P.
Manners, Lord J. Sibthorp, Col.
March, Earl of Smith, A.
Masterman, J. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Miles, W. Somerville, Sir W. M.
Milnes, R. M. Spooner, R.
Monaghan, J. H. Stanley, E.
Morpeth, Vise. Stanley, hon. W. O.
Morris, D. Stanton, W. H.
Mundy, E. M. Stuart, Lord J.
Muntz, G. F. Stuart, J.
Napier, Sir C. Strickland, Sir G.
Newdegate, C. N. Taylor, E.
Newry, Visct. Tollemache, J.
Norreys, Lord Tower, C.
O'Brien, A. S. Towneley, J.
O'Brien, C. Trevor, hon. G. R.
O'Brien, W. S. Trotter, J.
O'Connell, Dan. jun. Troubridge, Sir E. T.
O'Connell, M. J. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
O'Connell, J. Vyse, R. H. R. H.
O'Connor Don Vyvyan Sir R. R.
Packe, C. W. Wakley, T.
Paget, Col. Walker, R.
Pakington, Sir J. Wawn, J. T.
Palmer, R. Williams, W.
Palmer, G. Yorke, H. R.
Palmerston, Visct. TELLERS.
Plumridge, Capt. Fielden, J.
Polhill, F. Brotherton, J.
List of the NOES.
Anson, hon. Col. Duncan, Visct.
Baine, W. Duncan, G.
Barkly, H. Duncannon, Visct.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Dundas, F.
Baring, rt. hon. W. B. Egerton, W. T.
Bell, M. Escott, T. G. B.
Berkeley, hon. H. F. Evans, W.
Bouverie, hon. E. P. Fitzroy, hon. H.
Bowes, J. Flower, Sir J.
Bowring, Dr. Forster, M.
Brown, W. Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.
Brownrigg, J. S. Gill, T.
Cardwell, E. Gisborne, T.
Clay, Sir W. Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.
Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G. Greene, T.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Hamilton, W. J.
Corry, rt. hon. H. Hanmer, Sir J.
Craig, W. G. Hawes, B.
Cripps, W. Hay, Sir A. L.
Currie, R. Hayter, W. G.
Dalmeny, Lord Houldsworth, T.
Denison, J. E. Hutt, W.
Dennistoun, J. James, W.
Douglas, Sir C. E. James, Sir W. C.
Jones, Capt. Philips, M.
Kirk, P. Protheroe, E. D.
Labouchere, rt. hon. H. Reid, Sir J. R.
Langston, J. H. Ricardo, J. L.
Lascelles, hon. W. S. Romilly, J.
Leader, J. T. Ross, D. R.
Lemon, Sir C. Russell, Lord E.
Lincoln, Earl of Scott, R.
Lindsay, Col. Smyth, hon. G.
Loch, J. Somerset, Lord G.
Lockhart, W. Stansfield, W. R. C.
M'Neill, D. Stuart, W. V.
Marshall, W. Stuart, H.
Marsland, H. Strutt, rt. hon. E.
Martin, J. Tancred, H. W.
Matheson, J. Thornely, T.
Mitchell, T. A. Trelawny, J. S.
Moffatt, G. Tilliers, hon. C.
Molesworth, Sir W. Villiers, Visct.
Norreys, Sir D. J. Wall, C. B.
Northland, Vise. Warburton, H.
Ord, W. Ward, H. G.
Oswald, A. Wellesley, Lord C.
Parker, J. Wood, Col. T.
Patten, J. W.
Pattison, J. TELLERS.
Peel, rt. hon. Sir R. Escott, B.
Peel, J. Bright, J.

House adjourned a few minutes after Six o'clock.

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