HC Deb 16 March 1847 vol 91 cc22-5

On the Order of the Day for resuming the debate on Cracow being read,


said, the House was aware that the Factory Bill stood for Committee to-morrow, and he might say that the manufacturing interest had been so completely taken aback by the enormous majority in favour of the Bill, that they were completely overwhelmed, so that they had taken no step in the matter. But it did happen that yesterday morning he had received a communication from Glasgow, stating the importance of the measure to the manufacturing interest, and containing a proposition which appeared to him likely to meet the views of the supporters of the Bill, whilst at the same time it would not interfere with those of its opposers. He should not enter into any details of the proposition at present. He had stated it to the noble Lord, who was, therefore, aware of the nature of it; and all he (Mr. Dennistoun) wanted was, that as the proposition emanated from Glasgow, and as there was not time to allow of the question being considered fully by the manufacturing body in Lancashire and other parts of England, and as the proposition would be ineffectual unless it met with their cordial assent, he wished to ask the noble Lord, in the absence of the hon. Member for Oldham, not to abandon the Bill, but only to postpone it. He regretted that the hon. Member for Oldham was not in his place. He had informed the hon. Gentleman that such a communication had been received by him (Mr. Dennistoun), and that he should take the earliest opportunity to mention it in the House. In the absence of the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Fielden), he hoped it would be in the power of the hon. Member for Cockermouth (Mr. Aglionby), whose name was on the Bill, to say something satisfactory on the subject, or, if he should be unable to do so, probably the hon. Member for Ashton (Mr. Hindley), who was a great supporter of the Bill, would request the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government to state whether, in the noble Lord's opinion, a proposal of the nature such as he (Mr. Dennistoun) had received from the master manufacturers of Glasgow would not justify both him and the House to urge upon the hon. Member for Oldham to postpone the further progress of the Bill.


In reply to the hon. Gentleman, I have to state that he came to me, accompanied by one of his constituents, with a proposal of a plan which the hon. Gentleman conceived would meet the views of those who were the supporters of a Ten Hours Bill, and which would, at the same time, be palatable to the master manufacturers; or which would, at least in their eyes, be far less objectionable than the present Bill. I should say that the proposal seemed to me to be one that was feasible; but my opinion upon that subject certainly cannot be entitled to much weight without my previously consulting the manufacturers, who are aware of the nature and practical working of machinery, and of the proposed alteration of the system which is at present carried on. I cannot, therefore, ask the hon. Member for Oldham to postpone the Bill, because I could not assure him that the provisions of his Bill would be met by the proposal which the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Dennistoun) has been authorized to make. But if he thinks fit to postpone the measure, I confess I should be glad of any prospect of the Bill being passed in such a shape as would meet the views of both parties. I cannot say anything further, but must leave it to the discretion of the hon. Member for Oldham, and the supporters of a Ten Hours Bill, to decide whether the matter shall be postponed or not.


said, although he had no authority from the hon. Member for Oldham to consent to the postponement of the Bill, he could venture to say that not only that hon. Gentleman, but all who supported his views, would consider it most desirable that some amicable means should be devised for bringing this question to an arrangement. What the noble Lord had just said was the real and true answer to the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Dennistoun). To-merrow, at the meeting of the House, the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Fielden) would be present, and that hon. Member would then state what course he would take. He entertained no doubt that the hon. Gentleman would comply with what it was reasonable to require of him. It was much to be regretted that this proposal had not been made sooner; and that the master manufacturers did not sooner come to some arrangement. In all the communications which he (Mr. Aglionby) had had with the operatives, he had never found them hesitate to give the readiest attention and the most willing answers to all reasonable suggestions that were made to them. All that could be said at present was, that the hon. Member for Oldham would be in his place to-morrow, when the hon. Member for Glasgow could again mention the subject; and he would venture to say, that any suggestion which the noble Lord at the head of the Government might feel it his duty to make, would be received with all proper respect and attention.


considered this to be a matter of very great importance, especially when the First Minister of the Crown, in his place in Parliament, had declared that the plan which had been submitted to him was feasible. ["No, no!"] Yes; the noble Lord said it was feasible, and likely to reconcile all parties. ["No, no!"] Certainly, the noble Lord said, that, so far as he could judge, it seemed to him that the plan was feasible; if so, then it certainly was of immense importance that the noble Lord and the supporters of the Bill should use their influence to obtain time for the consideration of the proposal which the hon. Member for Glasgow had been authorized to make.


was not at all disposed to accede to the suggestion of the hon. Member for Glasgow, to postpone the Committee on the Factory Bill from tomorrow to a future day. The hon. Gentleman well knew the difficulties which a private Member had to contend with when he undertook to introduce and conduct a Bill through its various stages in that House. He was obliged to put it off from Wednesday to Wednesday before he could hope to obtain attention to it. His hon. Friend had, after much labour and perseverance, advanced his Bill to that stage when it was ripe for consideration in Committee; and now came the hon. Member for Glasgow with some private communication from his constituents—but what that communication was the House had still to learn—by whom it was made, whether by one, or by half-a-dozen or more, of the masters, the hon. Gentleman did not tell; but down he came, and when the measure had undergone a full discussion, and had passed the second reading by a large majority, he called upon the friends of that measure to delay its further progress until some proposition, the nature of which no one at present knew but himself and the noble Lord, should have been considered. He hoped the House would go on with the Bill. The operatives had more interest in its success than the masters had against it. In its progress through Committee, he should endeavour to do justice both to masters and operatives; and if in the meanwhile, this proposal should appear to the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government one which ought to be acceded to, he (Mr. Hindley) was sure there would be no improper impediments thrown in the way by the operatives, who had, throughout the whole of the agitation of this question, shown themselves to be a most reasonable body of men.


protested against the irregularity of the present proceeding. The hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Dennistoun) ought to have made his proposal for a postponement to the hon. Member for Oldham in private.


said, it appeared to him that his hon. Friend (Mr. Dennistoun) had done every thing that could be expected from him. Yesterday morning his hon. Friend received some important intelligence from his constituents; he immediately communicated it to the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government, who considered it of great importance and entitled to attention. His hon. Friend then informed the hon. Member for Oldham, that he had received this communication, and intended to mention it to the House to-day. What could his hon. Friend have done more? He felt the whole matter to be one of great embarrassment, and it was by all reasonable means desirable to get rid of the great difficulties that beset it, and which were increasing every day.


begged to inform the hon. Member for Bolton (Dr. Bowring), that the only way of getting rid of those great difficulties was by passing the Bill as it now stood, or a more determined agitation would take place throughout the country in favour of the Bill than had ever yet occurred. The reason for an increased agitation was this—the factory operatives found that the Anti-Corn-Law League, by agitation out of doors, were able to carry the repeal of the corn laws; and he knew not why the factory operatives should not be able to carry their Bill by agitation as well as the Anti-Corn-Law League. He, therefore, assured his hon. Friend, that they were determined to carry the Ten Hours Bill; and, if the House should now throw it out, they would commence an agitation out of doors that would be irresistible.