HC Deb 14 June 1850 vol 111 cc1234-83

Bill, as amended, considered.

LORD ASHLEY moved, as an Amendment, to insert the words "no child" after line 12, page 2. This was an Amendment of the greatest importance, but as it was precisely the same question upon which the House had come to a decision a few days ago, it would not be necessary to detain the House at any length. By the Bill now before the House, the labour of young persons and adult females was to begin at six in the morning, and close at six in the afternoon; while by their previous legislation the labour of children between the ages of 8 and 12 might be carried on between the hours of half-past five in the morning and half-past eight in the evening. His right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said, that the position of young children was not affected by this Bill, and that it remained the same as before. But he contended that the position of these young children was relatively altered by the present Bill to a considerable extent. These children used to come with their parents, or went away with them. In the rural districts of Lancashire and Yorkshire, the children had sometimes to walk two or three miles, and if they were to be kept in the mill till half-past eight in the evening during the winter season, and then had to walk two or three miles, they would be kept out of bed until ten or half-past ten o'clock at night. Formerly, if they were kept until this hour in the mill, they had their relatives and friends to take them home. But these would leave the mill at six, and they could not be expected to wait until half-past eight to take these children home. He therefore proposed this Amendment, which would permit these children to be employed within the same margin, from six to six, during which young persons and females would be employed.

Amendment proposed, page 2, line 12, after the word "Act," to insert the words "no child."


seconded the Amendment.


had before stated that the Bill had nothing to do with the labour of children, who were already protected to a much greater degree, for no child could now be employed for more than seven hours in any one day in some cases, or for more than six hours and a half in the majority of instances. Ample provision was also made for their attendance at school. He was not prepared to deny that some inconvenience would result from the circumstance pointed out by his noble Friend; but that arose from the necessity of affording greater protection to children than to young persons and adult females, and, unless the noble Lord was prepared to place them on the same footing, he did not see how the House could agree to this clause. The two sets of children now employed, some for seven hours, and others for six hours and a half, making thirteen hours and a half altogether, could only be employed together if this Amendment should pass, or for the limited term of ten hours and a half per day. Now, that would be a serious restriction upon the motive power of machinery when the pressure and the demand for manufactures became great. Suppose the decision of the Court of Exchequer had been against the system of relays, and the House were not asked to pass any law upon this subject. Or suppose the Bill originally brought in by the noble Lord for declaring the intention of the Legislature had been carried. In either case, the labour of children would have been left as it now stood, and they would have been liable, under the noble Lord's Bill, to work, in different sets, between half-past five in the morning and half-past eight in the evening. This was the state of the law at present, and it was identical with that which he now proposed to continue.


said, that the Ten Hours Bill had been broken through, and the manufacturers had got two and a half hours additional. This was a compromise, and the gain to the manufacturers justified the present proposal of the noble Lord. He thought that children were more entitled to protection than any others, and he wished to protect them against very early and very late hours.


concurred in the view that this had now become an open question. The House was now called upon to decide in what manner children could be best protected. A Bill which made children leave their beds at half-past four did not protect these children; and, in the same manner, any Bill that would permit them to be kept up till after eight in the evening would be in the highest degree injurious. He thought that, whatever might have been the state of the law hitherto, such measures should now be enacted as would give sufficient protection to children, and therefore he would support the Amendment of the noble Lord.


wished to call the attention of the House and of the noble Lord the Member for Bath, to the practical effect of the propositions, if carried; because, if the noble Lord was as convinced of what the effects would be as he (Mr. Bright), who understood something about the matter, why the noble Lord would be the last person in the House to propose the measure now submitted to it. At present children under thirteen years of age —for it was only to these that the Motion applied—could not work, speaking generally, more than 6½ hours a day. Now, when that great restriction was enacted, the result was that many hundreds—he might almost say thousands—of children, were discharged from factory employment. The reason of this was obvious, for if persons who had been in the habit of working 10, 11, and 12 hours a day were restricted to 6 or 6½ hours, they could only expect half the wages they received before; and thinking that too small they remained away from work, and the labour of young persons was too costly to make use of. Thousands of persons under 13 years of age were driven from factory employment in consequence of the hours of working being restricted to 6½ hours. Let them bear that in mind in considering the proposition of the noble Lord. That proposition was that in future no child should work before six in the morning, or after six in the evening; that was, that they should not work for more than the time to which young persons and women were restricted. But, supposing that the morning class of children worked six and a half hours, the second class would have only to work four hours in the afternoon; and was it not clear, for the reasons he had stated, that the discharge of thousands of factory children would be the result, and the same consequence would follow even if they divided the time into two equal portions of five hours and a quarter. If any alteration was to be made at all in the Bill, it should be on a different system—namely, by allowing them all, men, women, and children—to work for the ten hours. That would give rise to less inconvenience, and would be far more merciful to the young children, than the proposition of the noble Lord. The question was one which would not materially affect the larger portion of the manufacturers, but it would have a most injurious effect on the children by throwing numbers of them out of employment. He thought it right to state the effect of the proposition before the House divided upon it.


The hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester asserts that many thousands of children have been discharged from factory employment by the Act of 1847. Now, I will take the liberty of asking the hon. Member, what has become of all these unfortunate children of whom he has spoken? In the district with which I am most acquainted, I believe at the present moment it is difficult to meet with a strong healthy child between the age of eight and thirteen out of employment; and I can state as a fact within my own knowledge, that children in the neighbourhood of Halifax employed in woollen factories are earning on an average nearly 5s. a week—a sum almost equal to the earnings of an agricultural labourer in many parts of the south and west of England, who may have a wife and large family depending upon him for support and existence


asked if the rejection of the noble Lord's Amendment would not have the effect of encouraging a system of relays, in which adults and young children would be employed, and thus injure, if not entirely cut off, the work of women and young people?


said, the great objection he had to the measure proposed by the noble Lord was, that it would indirectly attack the motive power of the country, and that it would prevent adult labour being employed. At present the time of adult labour might be 13 or 14 hours, and children were employed to assist them. Now, if they restricted children in the way proposed, they would actually limit the moving power in all the mills in the country to 10 hours a day. He asked the House to weigh well the consequences of the Amendment proposed by the noble Lord.


was satisfied that if the proposition now before the House was agreed to, the effect of it in his part of the country (Roxburghshire) would be to put an entire stop to the moving power of the mills at the end of 10 hours every day; and he could not help thinking that this was the intention of the noble Lord.


said, that the hon. Member for North Cheshire directed the attention of the House to the real character of the proposition. Its object was to restrict the hours of labour by legislative interference, which he considered to be a most pernicious course to adopt. The great object of the Legislature ought to be to improve the condition of the operative classes. He believed Englishmen worked harder than the men of any other country; and if the hours of labour could with safety be diminished, he would be most happy to acquiesce. He believed it was only by capital and machinery that they could employ the millions at manufacturing labour; and he therefore deprecated the attempts of those gentlemen who, in the idea of improving the condition of the operatives, were only endangering the whole population. He regretted the present was not a Motion to remove all legislative interference with labour. They were essentially a manufacturing country; and, being mainly dependent on manufactures, they were nevertheless about to limit the means of employment. To he sure it was hard to see so many of their countrymen doomed to such severe labour; but it would be still worse—as in the case of Ireland—if they had not Work to give them. He therefore would support the views of Her Majesty's Ministers.


begged to deny the conclusion arrived at by the hon. Member for Montrose, that labour would be injuriously interfered with by the Amendment of his noble Friend the Member for Bath. It merely went to protect children; and if hot carried, the children would be at the option of the employers to be worked, not merely ten hours per day, but perhaps twelve or even fifteen hours per day.


said, some hon. Gentlemen seemed to think they had successfully applied the argumentum ad absurdum, to this case when they showed that, incidentally, the proposal of the noble Lord would limit adult labour to ten hours a day; but he did not think they had done any such thing. For himself, he could see nothing in such a result to deprecate; and, though some of the manufacturing capitalists might look upon it with aversion, yet the great body of the operatives would rejoice in such an incidental result. Gentlemen spoke as if it were intended to prevent men who were desirous to labour for a longer time than at present from doing so; whereas the opinions of the operatives had been most distinctly expressed in a contrary way. He believed the hon. Member for Montrose was for a free-labour market; so was he, but could a man be said to sell his labour in a free market who was in this position, that he must either work fourteen hours a day or have no work at all? There was only one way in which men could exercise their freedom in this respect, and that was by exercising it in masses—by a great general movement, and not by individual operatives sacrificing themselves in the vain endeavour to procure a different mode of operation with respect to their employment. The great majority of the working men had decided for ten hours a day; they were not willing to sell their labour for more hours than that, and, if they did sell it for more, it was by constraint, and because they had not a free labour market in this particular. If it was alleged that the operatives were led by agitators, the Government could easily ascertain what was the fact. The factory inspectors stated that 60 per cent of the factory workers were in favour of ten hours, 25 per cent in favour of twelve hours, and 12 per cent in favour of eleven hours' labour. They had thus made their choice, and he thought they had made a wise one. The House ought not to look at the incidental result of this measure, but at the direct result, and that was, that children should not work before six o'clock in the morning, nor after six o'clock in the evening; and what person with the common feelings of humanity would wish his children to be employed at these hours? Children of that age should not be in the factory, but in the school. He should like to see the labour of children entirely prohibited; but till that could be done, let them not be torn from their beds in the morning at an unsuitable hour, and again in the evening kept back from school by being compelled to labour in a heated factory.


The hon. Member for Oldham had told them that the workmen did not wish for more than ten hours' labour a day. Now the fact was, that where works were kept going beyond that time, the choice of the best men was always at the command of the employers.

Question put, "That the words 'no child' be there inserted."

The House divided:—Ayes 159; Noes 160: Majority 1.

List of the AYES.
Adair, R. A. S. Bromley, R.
Adderley, C. B. Brotherton, J.
Aglionby, H. A. Brown, H.
Alexander, N. Burrell, Sir C. M.
Bagge, W. Cayley, E. S.
Baillie, H. J. Chatterton, Col.
Baldock, E. H. Childers, J. W.
Bankes, G. Clifford, H. M.
Bateson, T. Clive, H. B.
Beckett, W. Cobbold, J. C.
Beresford, W. Cochrane, A. D. R. W. B.
Best, J. Cocks, T. S.
Blackstone, W. S. Conolly, T.
Blair, S. Cotton, hon. W. H. S.
Boldero, H. G. Cubitt, W.
Booth, Sir R. G. Davies, D. A. S.
Bremridge, R. Denison, E.
Broadley, H. Dick, Q.
Broadwood, H. Disraeli, B.
Brocklehurst, J. Drummond, H.
Duncuft, J. Muntz, G. F.
Dunne, Col. Naas, Lord
Du Pre, C. G. Napier, J.
Edwards, H. Neeld, J.
Farnham, E. B. Neeld, J.
Farrer, J. Newdegate, C. N.
Fellowes, E. Nugent, Sir P.
Floyer, J. O'Brien, Sir T.
Foley, J. H. H. O'Flaherty, A.
Forbes, W. Ossulston, Lord
Forester, hon. G. C. W. Packe, C. W.
Fox, W. J. Pakington, Sir J.
Fuller, A. E. Palmer, R.
Galway, Visct. Perfect, R.
Gaskell, J. M. Portal, M.
Goddard, A. L. Prime, R.
Gooch, E. S. Rendlesham, Lord
Grattan, H. Repton, G. W. J.
Greenall, G. Rushout, Capt.
Grosvenor, Lord R. Sandars, G.
Gwyn, H. Scholefield, W.
Halford, Sir H. Scully, F.
Hall, Sir B. Seymer, H. K.
Halsey, T. P. Sibthorp, Col.
Hamilton, G. A. Sidney, Ald.
Heald, J. Simeon, J.
Herbert, H. A. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Herries, rt. hon. J. C. Smyth, J. G.
Hildyard, T. B. T. Smollett, A.
Hill, Lord E. Spooner, R.
Hood, Sir A. Stafford, A.
Hornby, J. Stanley, E.
Hotham, Lord Stanley, hon. E. H.
Hudson, G. Staunton, Sir G. T.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Strickland, Sir G.
Johnstone, Sir J. Sullivan, M.
Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H. Taylor, T. E.
Jones, Capt. Thompson, Col.
Keating, R. Thompson, G.
Ker, R. Thornhill, G.
Kerrison, Sir E. Trevor, hon. G. R.
Knox, Col. Trollope, Sir J.
Law, hon. C. E. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Lindsay, hon. Col. Villiers, hon. F. W. C.
Lowther, hon. Col. Vyvyan, Sir R. R.
Lygon, hon. Gen. Waddington, D.
Mackenzie, W. F. Waddington, H. S.
Meagher, T. Wakley, T.
Mandeville, Visct. Walmsley, Sir J.
Manners, Lord J. Walpole, S. H.
Masterman, J. Walter, J.
Maxwell, hon. J. P. Wawn, J. T.
Miles, P. W. S. Welby, G. E.
Miles, W. Williams, J.
Milner, W. M. E. Willoughby, Sir H.
Moody, C. A. Wood, W. P.
Moore, G. H. Wortley, rt. hon. J. S.
Morgan, O. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Morris, D. TELLERS.
Mullings, G. R. Ashley, Lord
Mundy, W. Crawford, W. S.
List of the NOES.
Alcock, T. Bowles, Adm.
Armstrong, Sir A. Boyle, hon. Col.
Bagshaw, J. Bright, J.
Baines, rt. hon. M. T. Brown, W.
Baring, rt. hn. Sir F. T. Browne, R. D.
Barnard, E. G. Busfield, W.
Bass, M. T. Carew, W. H. P.
Berkeley, C. L. G. Carter, J. B.
Birch, Sir T. B. Caulfeild, J. M.
Chaplin, W. J. Lewis, rt. hon. Sir T. F.
Clay, Sir W. Lewis, G. C.
Clements, hon. C. S. Littleton, hon. E. R.
Clive, hon. R. H. Locke, J.
Coke, hon. E. K. Lockhart, A. E.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Lockhart, W.
Corbally, M. E. Mackie, J.
Craig, Sir W. G. Mackinnon, W. A.
Crowder, R. B. Macnaghten, Sir E.
Dalrymple, Capt. Marshall, J. G.
Damer, hon. Col. Marshall, W.
Davie, Sir H. R. F. Martin, J.
Dawson, hon. T. V. Matheson, J.
Divett, E. Matheson, Col.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Maule, rt. hon. F.
Duckworth, Sir J. T. B. Melgund, Visct.
Duff, G. S. Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.
Duke, Sir J. Mowatt, F.
Duncan, Visct. Mure, Col.
Dundas, Adm. Norreys, Lord
Dundas, rt. hon. Sir D. Norreys, Sir D. J.
Ebrington, Visct. O'Brien, J.
Egerton, Sir P. Ogle, S. C. H.
Egerton, W. T. Paget, Lord G.
Ellis, S. Palmerston, Visct.
Elliot, hon. J. E. Parker, J.
Evans, J. Patten, J. W.
Ewart, W. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Fagan, W. Peel, F.
Fergus, J. Pendarves, E. W. W.
FitzPatrick, rt. hn J. W. Powlett, Lord W.
Fitzroy, hon. H. Price, Sir R.
Fordyce, A. D. Pugh, D.
Forster, M. Rawdon, Col.
Fortescue, C. Ricardo, O.
Fortescue, hon. J. W. Rich, H.
Freestun, Col. Robartes, T. J. A.
Gibson, rt. hon. T. M. Romilly, Col.
Gladstone, rt. hon. W. E. Russell, Lord J.
Glyn, G. C. Russell, F. C. H.
Grace, O. D. J. Seymour, Lord
Graham, rt. hon. Sir J. Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.
Grenfell, C. P. Smith, J. B.
Grenfell, C. W. Somers, J. P.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.
Grey, R. W. Sotheron, T. H. S.
Hanmer, Sir J. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Harris, R. Stuart, Lord J.
Hastie, A. Tenison, E. K.
Hatchell, J. Thicknesse, R. A.
Hawes, B. Thornely, T.
Hayter, rt. hon. W. G. Tollemache, hon. F. J.
Headlam, T. E. Towneley, J.
Heneage, G. H. W. Trelawny, J. S.
Heneage, E. Tufnell, H.
Heywood, J. Vane, Lord H.
Heyworth, L. Villiers, Visct.
Hobhouse, T. B. Villiers, hon. C.
Hodges, T. L. Vivian, J. H.
Houldsworth, T. Wall, C. B.
Howard, Lord E. Watkins, Col. L.
Howard, hon. C. W. G. West, F. R.
Howard, hon. E. G. G. Westhead, J. P. B.
Hughes, W. B. Williamson, Sir H.
Hume, J. Wilson, J.
Hutt, W. Wilson, M.
Jervis, Sir J. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
King, hon. P. J. L. Wrightson, W. B.
Labouchere, rt. hon. H. Wyvill, M.
Lacy, H. C.
Langston, J. H. TELLERS.
Legh, G. C. Hill, Lord M.
Lemon, Sir C. Bellew, R. M.

then proposed the Amendment of which he had given notice; and said, if the Amendment were carried, he would propose the following supplement:—"In Clause 3, line 39, to omit the word 'six,' for the purpose of inserting the words 'half-past five.'" He expressed his regret that he could not follow the guidance of that chivalrous and high-minded man Lord G. Bentinck, who was no longer amongst them, and who had devoted so much time and energy to this question. The appeal now made to Parliament was not for the concession of any new favour, but to confirm that which had been already conceded. The appeal was made by a great portion of the working classes of this country, and their demand was that the benevolent intentions of the Legislature in their behalf might not be frustrated. The question which the House of Commons had now to decide was, would they allow those poor people to be deprived of a boon which had been deliberately accorded to them? That was the real question upon which they had to decide; and Heaven send that the decision of English Gentlemen upon it might be in accordance with English honesty and English honour! From what had recently passed in that House, one would have thought that such a thing had never happened before, as that it was necessary to amend in one Session of Parliament an Act passed in the preceding one; but every Gentlemen knew that such things were not of rare occurrence. The House would remember that in 1846, when Parliament had determined to abrogate all the laws imposing duties on the importation of grain, it was discovered towards the close of the Session that, owing to an inaccuracy in the Bill, a fixed duty for a limited period was left on beans and peas. The time for which the duty could be raised was so limited, that it was not thought worth while to pass a distinct Act remedying the defect; but let it be supposed that, instead of a verbal inaccuracy, affecting only the import of beans and peas for a limited period, it had been discovered a year or two after that there were conflicting decisions in the inferior courts on the subject, and that it was decided by one of the supreme courts that not only beans and peas, but every kind of cereal product, would have to pay a fixed duty, not for a limited time, but for ever, what then would have been the language of the right hon. the Member for Tamworth and the hon. Member for the West Riding? They would at once have insisted upon a remedy being introduced. But what would have been thought if they (the Protectionists) had turned round and thrown every obstacle in the way of repairing the blunder? Yet such a course would not have been more blameable than that pursued by Gentlemen opposite with reference to the Factory Bill. In point of principle, what was the difference between the proposition of the Ministry and that to which he had alluded? But in the one case the parties were powerful, in the other they were poor and friendless, and could appeal to nothing but the honour and justice of the House of Commons. Well, but that was the case here. Conceal it as they might—evade it as they might—mystify it as they might—the people of England well knew that the decisions of the Barons of the Court of Exchequer was not in the spirit or intent of the principle affirmed by both Houses of Parliament, and sanctioned by the Sovereign. There were three grounds upon which they might now be asked to support the law as it now stood, and three only. The first was a doubt as to the intentions of the Legislature in framing the Act; the second, that the Ten Hours Act had worked so ill that it was the duty of Parliament to alter it; and the third, that the proposed measure would confer equal advantages upon the factory population. In reply to what had been said by the hon. Member for Manchester, he would quote the opinions of Mr. Leonard Horner, one of the factory inspectors, a man of all others, perhaps, best calculated to give an opinion upon the subject. He stated in his report— Among the opperatives, a very large majority, and among them those whose earnings have been most reduced by the restriction, appear to be in favour of the shortened hours of labour. That feeling has evidently increased with their extended experience of the effects of the Act; and, in confirmation of this, there is this very significant fact, that, so far as I have learned, there has been only one petition from the workpeople in my district complaining of the Act, and praying that their hours of labour may be again extended; while, on the other hand, numerous meetings have been held in various parts of the kingdom, at which petitions have been agreed to, praying that the existing Act may be more generally enforced according to what the petitioners believed to be its true intent, and that the evasions of it may be put down. The one petition above referred to is that presented last Session to Parliament by the operatives in the employment of Messrs, Jones Brothers. Among the owners of factories, the majority, as might be expected, appear to be against the restriction to ten hours; but my recent communications with them lead me to say that the minority is by no means small, and that a feeling in favour of the shortened hours is much more frequently met with now than it was twelve months ago. Many have said to me, 'We can do very well with ten hours, and would not object to the Act if we were all alike; but we do complain that while the generality of millowners are working in conformity with the law, so many, who come into the same markets with us, are allowed to work their mills eleven, twelve, and some thirteen hours a day.' It has been repeatedly stated to me that, partly by increased speed of machinery, but mainly by the increased activity and closer attention which the workers are able to give during their shortened hours of labour, the diminution in the quantity they produce is far less than was expected and predicted by those who opposed the Ten Hours Bill. And, again, to this passage he invited the attention of the House:— I can speak from positive knowledge that it was the intention of the framers of the Bill of 1844 that the working by shifts which had been practised under the Act of 1833 should be prevented. By referring to the reports of the inspectors, prior to 1844, it will be seen that frequent and urgent complaints had been made by millowners that the principle so essential in such a law, namely, that all millowners should be placed on one footing as to the number of the hours of work, was grossly violated in some districts by the evasive practice of working by shifts, and which could not be prevented by the Act of 1833. When the Bill of 1844 was preparing, the inspectors were called upon by the Secretary of State to suggest enactments which would remedy that defect of the Act of 1833, and they did so. But the law phraseology and construction of the clauses in which their suggestions were afterwards embodied have unfortunately created, in the minds of some magistrates in my district, an ambiguity which has led them to dismiss cases I brought before them under the firm belief that the true intent and meaning of the Act had been violated; a belief founded upon my own knowledge of the intentions of those who framed the Bill of 1844, and supported by that interpretation of the Act, by the law officers of the Crown, which has been given to the inspectors as their guide. But what said the noble Lord at the head of the Government in reply to a deputation upon this subject? He said, there was a large amount of prejudice in favour of the Ten Hours Bill; but there would be much difficulty in obtaining a change in the law. "But" (and to this passage of the noble Lord's reply he asked hon Gentlemen to attend)— there could be no doubt that the intentions of the Legislature when passing the Bill was, that it should be virtually a Ten Hours Bill, and that the power of working by relay had not been contemplated by Parliament. He thought that what had been stated was conclusive as to the intentions of the framers of this Act. Well, then, as to the second question—had the law worked so badly that it might be altered? Upon this point his noble Friend the Member for Bath had laid before the House such a mass of evidence, and had put forward statements of so irrefutable a character, that scarcely anything was left for him to advance; yet, as he had understood it was the intention of the hon. Member for Manchester to dispute the arguments and evidence of his noble Friend, he would say a few words upon the question. Now, neither upon this nor upon any other matter at issue in this debate, would he quote the opinions of men who were open to the charge of enthusiasm or sentimentalism, but of those who were thoroughly conversant with the subject, and who had calmly weighed and considered the whole bearings of the question, and whose opinion might, at least, be regarded as impartial. The Special Commissioner of the Morning Chronicle in Manchester said— One point, however, my informants almost universally conceded, and what they stated is strongly verified by my own observations, that it is the best conducted, the most thoughtful and well-informed workmen in each mill who have been most earnest in the ten hours agitation, and who are now most zealous in the support of the present law. The matter is to so great an extent a labourer's question that the feelings of the people themselves are of the most primary consequence in forming a judgment. I have, therefore, in every mill which I have visited in Manchester, Bolton, Ashton, and Oldham, taken opportunities of personally learning the opinions of the workpeople from their own lips and in their own phraseology. I have thus examined probably nearly 100 persons, and the result is, with two exceptions, I was told by one and all that they preferred the ten hours system to the twelve, even if they only got ten hours instead of twelve hours' wages.


"A. Likes the ten hours time. Thinks that it is better for trade than twelve, because if they'd been working twelve hours last summer, they would be working regular short time now.

"B. Hopes allow that relay system to go on, for it's very tyrannous to the poor.

"C. Was a great deal better and a great deal happier since the ten hours.


"A. The Ten Hours Bill was the greatest thing that ever came into operation. Every woman in the shed will tell you the same as me.

"B. Can do her washing now, which she always put out before, and saves money that way. The Ten Hours Bill is a good thing, and shell always say so.

"C. Believes that ten hours' work a day is enough for any Christian; at least it's enough for her, and she don't care who knows it.

"D. Is sure it is a great blessing to a woman to get home to her children sooner than she used. All the women in her street are for the ten hours."

Three hundred and eighty-seven of the managers and overlookers of the mills of Salford and its vicinity had petitioned the House in favour of the law of 1847. Mr. Leonard Horner, in his report, bore testimony to the improved condition of the factory population since this Bill came into operation; indeed nothing else could be anticipated. The means of obtaining education had been greatly increased, the period for recreation enlarged, and more time was left for the performance of those domestic and social duties which no plan of legislation ought to disregard. That opinion was corroborated by every report from the factory inspectors, by every petition presented to the House, and particularly by the remarkable petition he had himself presented from the managers and overlookers of mills in Rochdale and Halifax. Mr. Saunders, another factory inspector, also quoted, as a satisfactory proof of the beneficial operation of that Act, the increased power it had given to the working people in Yorkshire to obtain small plots of ground, and to cultivate little gardens for their own use. Then, if such were the beneficial results of the Act of 1847 on the condition of the manufacturing population—if their toil had been lightened, their means of obtaining education greatly increased—the comforts of thousands of homes promoted by the cultivation of the soil, perhaps the purest and most simple of enjoyments permitted to the dwellers upon earth, he would ask whether it had been accomplished by any great sacrifice on the part of the master manufacturers? He asserted boldly and without fear of contradiction that such had not been the case. And if it were necessary to establish this position, he could refer to almost every speech that had been delivered by hon. Gentlemen on the Manchester bench. Why, on the contrary, those Gentlemen assured them, day after day, that trade in their districts had never been so brisk nor the mills so busy, never was manufacturing prosperity placed upon so sure a basis. And yet they now came forward to say that, if this small boon were conceded to their overworked labourers, the masters would be all sacrificed at the shrine of humanity—that if this slight privilege were granted, the manufacturing prosperity of England was gone for ever. He believed the working people of England had had sufficient experience of these gentlemen to treat their vaticinations upon this and other such questions with the ut- most indifference. The time had long since gone by when their prophecies were respected, and, of all men, the factory population had the least reason to value them. Those poor people had been accustomed for thirty years to their predictions and to their professions. They now declared they were prosperous, and that the condition of the manufacturing districts was most enviable— Sed medio de fonte leporum Surgit amari aliquid quod in ipsis floribus angat. The manufacturers must not be interfered with. Let them do as they pleased with their operatives, and then all would be right. But no sooner did Parliament step in on behalf of women and helpless children, than those Cassandras of Staley-bridge gave utterance to the most woful predictions—no sooner did an hon. Member in that House ask for a little less toil for the child, than the manufacturers who had before been so loud in their denunciations of protection, declared they must be protected against this interference; and that, unless the additional half hour's labour was left with them, there was an end to their successful competition with foreign nations. Hon. Gentlemen opposite might speak of American competition, but let the House consider what that American competition was? It was either a bugbear or a sad and stern reality: if it were the former, let the House disregard it: if the latter, could any Gentleman think that this solitary half hour would enable the master manufacturers successfully to resist it? He dismissed, then, the assumption that the Act of 1847 had worked ill, and would assert that its effect had been beneficial to the working people, and not detrimental to the masters. If indeed any doubt were entertained on the subject, he would refer to a petition in favour of the Ten Hours Bill which had been presented to that House, and which was signed by a number of the master manufacturers in Lancashire employing a great number of workmen. He would read the petition to the House:—


"The humble petition of the undersigned masters, employers of children, young persons, and women in factories, and the neighbourhood,"

Showeth—That your petitioners have been subjected to the provisions of the Acts for regulating labour in factories.

"That your petitioners have a deep interest in the morals and worldly welfare of those who work for them, as well as an interest in the prosperity of their own trade, and that, having observed the operation of the Ten Hours Act, both as regards their working hands and as regards its effects on trade, your petitioners are convinced that its advocates did not over-estimate its value when they promoted it in Parliament.

"That, as regards the working people, it has produced the good that was expected from it—more attention to their work, more healthful appearance, more cheerfulness and contentment, mothers more happy and industrious in their homes, fathers more frugal and more given to rational occupations, sons and daughters passing their time of leisure in assemblies for mutual improvement, and in the enjoyment of rational and invigorating exercises and games.

"That the 'shift' and 'relay' system which the Judges in the Court of Exchequer have declared to be legal, but which has never been adopted in Yorkshire, is destructive of all the advantages above enumerated, and that, under such a system, an efficient inspection (which seems to be unavoidable in order to make all conform to the law) is impossible, as is well known to all persons of practical experience.

"That such a state of things is most injurious and unjust to those masters who faithfully obey the law, inasmuch as it is material to them that all masters should be placed upon the same footing, and that those who conform to the Acts which the Legislature deems it advisable to pass, should not be left to suffer by the violation of those Acts by the less scrupulous of their order.

"Your petitioners therefore pray your honourable House to take the most speedy and efficient means to put an end to the system of working in factories by 'shifts' and 'relays,' and thus make all masters equally amenable to the law.

"And your petitioners will ever pray."

And amongst the signatures were the following millowners, employing a very large number of hands:—Todmorden; Fielden Brothers and 17 others, employing 2,000 hands. Bolton (45 signatures): Robert Knowles, employing 411 hands; Robert Burton and Sons, Thomas Taylor, Johnson and Reeves, John Gray, employing 405 hands. Rochdale (45 signatures): Henry Kenwall, William Chadwick, Joshua and James Radcliffe, Thomas Ashworth, and others, James King, jun., employing 2,100 hands. Preston: John Cooper, Hinxman, Fronico, and Co., Richard Riley, William Ainsworth. Heywood: John Wild, Hilton Kay, and 23 others, employing upwards of 10,000 hands. Manchester (21 signatures): Blackburn: William H. Hornby and Co., Pilkington Brothers and Co., Sir William Feilden, Son, and Co., Robert Hopwood and Son, William Eccles and Co., employing 7,090 hands. Bury: John Robinson Kay, Richard Ashton, Thomas Carlow and Sons, James Openshaw and Brother, Richard Hamer, employing 4,200 hands. Oldham: Joshua Milne, William Taylor, John Cooper and Brothers, Joseph Baxter, D. Dronsfield and Co., Jonathan Mellor. Burnley: 9 signatures. Stockport: 10 signatures. He now came to the third point, namely, what advantages the present Bill offered. In the opinion of a great body of the master manufacturers, their interests were not sacrificed in continuing the boon which every one admitted had been conferred on the working people. As to any advantage that this Bill would confer on the working people, let him ask, what was the advantage in taking from them two hours a week? What was the compensation which dignified this measure by the name of a compromise? It was said that the object of it was to prohibit women and young persons from working after six o'clock in the evening; but he would appeal to any man practically conversant with the manufacturing districts whether, after the decision in the Court of Exchequer, in 99 cases out of 100, women and young persons did not leave off their work at half-past five, and not six? In those cases, therefore, the boon now proposed was not a boon, but was an addition of half an hour's work. It was true that when the Government proposal was first made, sedulous attempts were made to induce the working people to believe that the effect of this Bill would be to make them leave the mills at six o'clock, and prevent adults working after that hour. But now his noble Friend the Member for Bath had learnt, he doubted not with regret and indignation, that neither was such the effect of the Bill nor the intention of Ministers, and he thought his noble Friend had some reason to complain of a want of ingenuousness on the part of Ministers, who permitted his noble Friend, and their advocates in the papers, and their daily organ, the Times newspaper, to promise the working people that such would be the result of the measure, that the moment the clock struck six every mill would necessarily be closed; and now, after two divisions, it turned out that the Government never did intend that such should be the result of their measure. They had it, therefore, established now that under this Bill mills might be worked by adult males and young children until half-past eight o'clock, and so the sole boon conferred on the working people was, that in 99 cases out of 100, women and young persona would be compelled to work half an hour longer than at the present moment. But, it might he said, why make such a strife for so small an object as half au hour? He should have thought that half an hour taken from the working people against their wishes, against their admitted rights, against the intention, would not have been regarded as a light or trivial matter. He knew with what feelings the working people, and the clergy, and gentry in those districts regarded this proposition of the Government. Let him refer to the statement of the committee of managers, overlookers, carders, spinners, and other branches of factory work in Bolton on this point. The committee said, that during this half hour, if taken from the working people, they would learn this lesson—they would regard this matter as a violation of their Magna Charta, and would look upon the Legislature as the invaders of their ceded rights, and the defrauders of the working classes. It was not the way to form loyal and loving subjects. It would be deeply injurious to the cause of order and good government if the manufacturing portion of the community had just cause to accuse the Legislature of depriving them of their just rights. By this act of Her Majesty's Ministers, 10,000 of Her subjects would, during half an hour every day, be learning the dangerous lesson of discontent. He was not surprised that the working men were indignant at this invasion of the just rights of their wives and children. The clergy of Preston had met to consider this subject, and the result of their deliberations was a respectful memorial addressed to the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, which he would now read to the House:— In this town, and we believe generally in Lancashire, the present hours of factory labour are from 6 a.m. to 5½ p.m., allowing one and a half hours for meals, and we are convinced that, in order to carry out fully the principle which led to the Ten Hours Bill, it is essential that the hour of half-past five shall remain unchanged for the cessation of work. In Preston, evening schools have now been established; the young factory hands attend them with much readiness and interest; they are open from 7 to 9 o'clock; the scholars generally cannot get home from the mills, take their supper, wash and clean themselves, and reach the schoolrooms in less than one and a half hours; and if the school hours are to be curtailed, the routine of instruction will be so interrupted as to be productive of serious injury. This memorial was signed by the vicar and six other clergymen. He would next read them the opinion of the vicar of Leeds on this question:— The loss of the half hour in the evening of every day is a serious evil. It cuts off just that much time which might otherwise be devoted to moral, intellectual, and religious improvement. Returning home, washing and dressing themselves, and getting their tea, will take little short of one hour and a quarter. The young people can hardly be at school before half-past seven. They ought not to be there later than nine; thus they will have half an hour's less teaching than there would be if they left the factories at half-past five. Instead, therefore, of the addition of this half hour being attended with practical results so unimportant as hon. Gentlemen would lead them to believe, it would have a most important practical effect on the education of the rising portion of the manufacturing community. He would ask those who were engaged in passing this Bill, how they could reconcile it with the discharge of the important duty they had undertaken, to take away the time set apart for the moral and intellectual improvement of a great portion of their fellow-creatures? But he would be told he did not take into consideration the great boon of half an hour offered by the Government on the Saturday. He had considered it, and, so far from regarding it as a boon, he thought it was productive of no insignificant evil; and when the House bore in mind that the factory people on Saturday worked four hours and a half continuously and then went to dinner, and afterwards returned to the mills to perform that part of their tasks which was admitted on all hands to be the most severe, the hardest, and most exacting of all their toil, and reflected that under the Government measure they would have to work five hours continuously on Saturday, and then, unrefreshed and without having their dinner, would go to the most severe of their working hours of labour, he thought the House would agree with him, that so far from this half hour being a light or trivial matter, it was a most serious and crying evil. No Englishman liked to work upon an empty stomach, and yet it was now proposed that these people should work longer on Saturday, when their labour was most severe, without their meal. It was indeed a compromise of nothing, unless it were of the rights of the people and the honour of Parliament. Were he a political supporter of the Government, he should regret the course they had taken, even on partisan and political grounds; but as an opponent of their political policy, he did regret it on national considerations. He thought it was not well that any portion of the work- ing people of this country should be taught by the sworn maintainers of the law and order that wealth was more powerful than justice, and that agitation, more formidable than the secret pressure of associated mill-owners, was required to procure from the Executive Government the sanction of Parliament to the admitted rights of the people. The Act which it was now proposed virtually to repeal, was granted to the people with the deliberate consent of all branches of the Legislature, and was ratified in a peculiarly solemn manner by the special approbation of that Gracious Lady who reigns over us. Was it well that the Government should invite the House to come to a vote that should compel Her Majesty to return into the hands of the working people that testimonial which She had been so graciously pleased to accept from them? Upon the reverse of that medal purchased by the pence of Her toiling subjects, and cherished as he knew by Her Majesty as one of the not least glorious of the many trophies attached to the Imperial Crown She wore, were inscribed the words "The Ten Hours Bill." Was it well that the Ministers, the confidential advisers of that Sovereign, should ask the House now to come to a vote which should render that precious medal a most meaningless coin, or, if it meant anything, that it should be a memorial of the inconstancy of Parliament, of the levity or fickleness of the Government, or of the folly of the people that would confide in either? Let not the House come to a decision on this question with their eyes closed. Let not Members flatter themselves that, by rejecting the Amendment, they would settle the question and put an end to agitation. Did those who had a dread of professional agitators and demagogues, and wished to remove all the materials of seditious agitation, imagine that they would attain their object by adding two hours to the toil of a great body of the working classes? Was there a Socialist or Chartist, dissatisfied with the institutions and form of government established in this country, who would not point exultingly to Parliamentary fickleness, levity, subservience to wealth, and indifference to the claims and rights of the poor? They would point to the vote of the House and say— Hoc Ithacus velit, et magno mercentur Atridæ. Depend on it, that by adopting the course recommended by the Government, the House would place arms in the hands of those men, and arguments in their mouths; and this would be the result of what was Jesuitically recommended as a settlement of the question! Most earnestly did he deprecate that result, and invited the House to avert the threatening mischief. If further evidence were necessary to justify the course which he recommended, it might be found in a declaration which the hon. Members for Manchester made, after the Ten Hours Act passed, to a deputation of millowners who waited on them for the purpose of ascertaining whether there was any chance of obtaining a 12, 11, or even a 10½ hours Bill. Upon that occasion the hon. Members for Manchester declared that so strong was the feeling of the House of Commons, that it was pledged to the Ten Hours Bill, that it was impossible for them to hold out the smallest expectation that any one of these propositions would be adopted. He hoped that the hon. Members for Manchester would prove correct exponents of the feeling of the House. At any rate he invited the House to redeem the pledge which they had given, and to prove to the working people of this country that they attached more value to the declared intentions of an Act of Parliament, to the claims and rights of the working people, and to the beneficial working of the Act which Her Majesty had sanctioned, than they did to the backstairs influence and coffeehouse combinations of any set of associated millowners. He appealed to the ancient spirit of English honour in vindication of the rights—the admitted rights—of English labour; he appealed to the House to show that they were not only in name, but in very deed and reality, the representatives of the Commons of England.

Amendment proposed, page 2, line 14, to leave out the words "after six," and to insert the words "after half-past five," instead thereof.


, in seconding the Amendment, said, that if anything could tend to reconcile him to the loss caused by the desertion by the noble Lord the Member for Bath of this Bill, it was the fact that they had found so able a successor in the noble Lord who had just addressed the House. For his part, he could never understand what was the great difficulty in amending the Act of 1847. The Government had proposed to amend it by limiting the hours for labour from six in the morning till six in the evening; but he could not see why the remedy could not have been as easily provided by limiting the hours from six in the morning till half-past five, as now proposed by the noble Lord. He had not heard a single argument advanced in the course of the various debates on this subject to show that there was the slightest ground for insisting upon this additional half-hour being taken from the workpeople. With regard to the advantages which had been predicted from the operation of the Ten Hours Bill, he asked whether they had not been realised to the full extent? They had the testimony both of inspectors and medical men, that the limitation of the hours of labour had distributed labour more equally, had increased social comfort, and had led to more moral and orderly conduct among the population. A working man with ten children, who went with a deputation to the noble Lord opposite, told him that a certain number of his children worked under the relay system, while others worked for masters who adhered to the law. Those who worked under the system of shifts were dreadfully harassed, and had no time to attend school, while the others were enabled to improve their education, and to mend and make their own clothing. Why, then, was the House asked, on account of the obstinacy—for it was nothing better—of a small section of the manufacturers, to repeal an Act concerning which not a single prediction of advantage had been unfulfilled? He asserted that very few millowners had violated the Act; and he believed that the indignation of those who were employed would very soon have compelled those who evaded it to comply with its provisions. The people were told, when the repeal of the corn laws was in agitation, that if the corn laws were repealed, they should have twelve hours' wages for ton hours' work. The hon. Member for Manchester, following the hon. Member for the West Riding, had said so on more occasions than one, observing also that, if the corn laws were repealed, the masters and men would come to a satisfactory arrangement with regard to the hours of labour. How did the hon. Member reconcile that with the statement which he made in this House not long ago, that the master manufacturers were so much annoyed at these restrictions, that they would not consult the convenience of those whom they employed? The corn laws were now repealed; sugar and other necessaries of life were much cheaper, and, after such a declaration as that, following upon the promises previously made, the operatives could have no confidence in the masters unless they were protected by the strict letter of the law. The hon. Member for Manchester had charged the advocates of a restriction of the hours of labour with ignorant sentimentalism. Everybody, however, knew that the unfortunate children employed under the relay system were obliged to be at the mill, in the most inclement weather, at half-past five to a minute, and then were told that they were not wanted for two or three hours, and in the mean time might dispose of themselves as they liked. He was sure that the hon. Member would not be accused of sentimentalism if he defended this odious system. He did not know why Her Majesty's Government opposed this Amendment. In 1844, during a critical state of parties, and when the Members of the present Government sat on the Opposition benches, the right hon. Member for Tamworth being Premier, the present First Lord of the Treasury said— He was much struck with the statement of the hon. Member for Leeds, that, out of seventy owners of mills, forty were ready to adopt ten hours, and had signed a petition to that effect. Now, when they were told of the alarm which existed (and he believed alarm did exist) at their legislation on that subject, was it not something to be urged in support of the principle, that practical men, who, it might be thought, ought naturally to have opposed it, were ready to adopt the proposition? It was a difficult thing to interfere with toil, but the time was come when he thought they ought to do so. And if he were called upon to point out another measure of relief, it would be that which would allow of a greater supply of food; thus insuring the double boon of diminished labour and increased enjoyment of the necessaries of life. On the same occasion the right hon. Baronet the present Secretary for the Home Department said— They should look to the reasonable wishes of the great body of operatives, and approach ten hours gradually; that they were fully competent to take a just view of the question; that they had admitted to him that they had expected a reduction of wages, and that the evidence preponderated in favour of ten hours. If the evidence then (in 1844) preponderated in favour of ten hours, why are we now to depart from the principle of strong, and it may be just, fears, even in the first instance entertained as to making the experiment; but the right hon. Baronet even then considered those fears to be groundless. The experiment has now been fully made—the anticipations of the opponents of the experiment have not been realised, and yet the right hon. Baronet now unites with those opponents in reversing a policy which upon trial has proved sound, and in every way unobjectionable. The House would recollect the struggles of 1844; and he took out of the division list the other day the names of ten Gentlemen who supported the noble Lord, leaving the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tam worth in a minority of eight. There was the hon. Member for Rochester, the hon. Member for Hertford, the hon. and gallant Member for Greenwich, the hon. Member for Plymouth, the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department, the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies, the hon. Member for Lichfield, the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, the noble Lord the First Lord of the Treasury, and the hon. Member for Devonport. If, then, the House was called upon to revoke and alter the policy of 1847, the reasons for the change ought to be stated. If the right hon. Gentleman and the noble Lord wished to avoid the imputation of having, in 1844, acted on factious and party motives, they were bound to declare why they now came forward to oppose this Amendment. He called upon the House, if they regarded their character for honour and good faith, to refuse to allow the noble Lord, at the bidding of the hon. Member for Manchester, to deprive the operatives of what was their just and most indisputablo possession.


hoped the House would not adopt the Amendment proposed by the noble Lord the Member for Colchester. In the hope expressed by the noble Lord, that the House would not decide the question in ignorance of facts, and with its eyes closed against them, he entirely concurred. If any Member had come into the House uninformed upon the question, and heard only the speeches of the noble Lord and the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken, they would be wholly ignorant of the real merits of the case. The hon. Member for Blackburn, who last addressed the House, taunted him and his colleagues with giving a vote in 1844, when sitting on the other side of the House, which they were now prepared to nullify in deference to the secret advice of the hon. Member for Manchester. The hon. Member ought, however, in candour, to have mentioned that the Members of the Government, to whom he referred, when holding their present offices, voted in 1847 in conformity with the vote which they gave in 1844. That fact, in itself, was a sufficient answer to the contrast which the hon. Member sought to establish between the vote of 1844 and the course which the Government was at present taking; but he would go further than that, and show that what the Government now proposed was quite consistent with the spirit of the Act of 1847, and the attainment of the objects sought to be secured by that Act. It was his firm conviction that the object of the Act of 1847 would be better secured than it yet had been by the adoption of the Bill before the House, whilst, at the same time, the attainment of that object would have the concurrence and assent of the great body of millowners—an advantage which he had always desired to obtain in the settlement of this question. It must not, however, be supposed that the supporters of the Bill were acting only on information received from the millowners, which was the impression the noble Lord the Member for Colchester and the hon. Member for Blackburn sought to convey. On the contrary, the Government had derived information from various trustworthy quarters, and the result was a conviction that the benefits which the honest advocates of the Act of 1847 sought to obtain for the working classes would be secured by this Bill, and that when passed into a law the measure would prove satisfactory to the operatives themselves. The noble Lord and the hon. Member insinuated that Ministers were acting as mere machines for carrying into effect the will of a Secret Committee of millowners; but the fact was, that the Government had received deputations from the operatives, had listened to their opinions, and had been in communication with them as much as with any other parties. The noble Lord had needlessly spent twenty minutes in showing that when a clerical error crept into an Act of Parliament it was the duty of the Legislature to pass another Act to correct it, and to give effect to the intention of the original enactment. No doubt existed upon that point; but there was no clerical error in the present case. The operatives themselves did not treat the matter as being a clerical error, but begged the Government to abstain from all legislation on the subject until a court of law should decide on the construction of the Act. Every facility was given by him for obtaining a judicial decision on the point, and when it was obtained it proved to be adverse to the construction which the operatives wished to put upon the Act. Then, the noble Lord the Member for Bath, feeling that it was the intention of the Legislature not to permit working by-shifts and relays, asked for leave to introduce a Bill to give effect to the intention of Parliament on that point. To that proposition he (Sir G. Grey) offered no obstruction, although he told the noble Member for Bath that he would not find it as easy to effect the object he had in view as he imagined, because it was not a clerical error with which he had to deal. The Government offered no opposition to the second reading of the Bill; but, after it had been committed, the noble Lord discovered that it would not effect the object which he had in view. The Bill was recommitted, and a fresh clause introduced; but it was not long before the noble Lord found that this, too, would be inoperative for the attainment of his object. In that view of the subject he (Sir G. Grey) entirely concurred, for the factory inspectors assured him that it would be as easy to evade the proposed enactments as the provisions of the existing law. It was under these circumstances, and not until the noble Member for Bath had avowedly failed in framing an enactment to effect the object he had in view, that he (Sir G. Grey) came forward with his proposition. It was painful to hear the noble Lord the Member for Bath traduced for his conduct in reference to this question. The hon. Member for Blackburn, and also, he was sorry to say, the noble Lord the Member for Colchester, had spoken of the noble Lord the Member for Bath as being a deserter from the cause of which he had been, in times past, the faithful and, some thought—though he (Sir G. Grey) was not one of them—the too zealous advocate. The noble Lord the Member for Bath seeing that the course proposed on the part of the Government was an honest course, according to his view, said he would offer no opposition to the proposition they had placed on the table of the House. Among the supporters of the Motion of the noble Lord the Member for Colchester the name of the noble Lord the Member for Bath would not be recorded. Any man of common sense might see that it was easy to substitute half-past five for six o'clock, and subtract half an hour from the working time; but if they did that they would take only a one-sided view of the case; they might adhere to the letter of the Act of 1847, but they would disregard the undisputed intention of their legislation, namely, that the millowner should have a range of fifteen hours—a range productive of great convenience to him. Feeling that in the proposal now before the House, benefits would be secured to the millowner on the one hand, and that benefits were secured to the working classes on the other hand, which were not secured by the existing Acts, the Government did feel that they were acting entirely in the spirit of the Act of 1847 in submitting this proposition to Parliament, and in asking the House of Commons to accede to it. What was the state of the case? There was a range from half-past five in the morning to half-past eight o'clock at night under the existing law, within which women and young persons might be employed. Under that law the relay system was acted upon—a system which was convenient for the millowner. But it had interfered with the benefits intended to be secured to the working classes. They were deprived of the advantage of the evening hours, during which they might apply themselves to education and domestic occupations. Supposing the noble Lord the Member for Colchester could have remedied by a stroke of the pen what he called a clerical error, it would only be by providing that the ten hours' labour should be continuous. The inspectors pointed out that, if it were meant to secure for the operatives the advantage of the proposed limitation, it must be enacted that one hour and a half only should be allowed for meals. The millowner began about six o'clock in the morning. If the clerical error were corrected so that one hour and a half only were allowed for meals, the working time ended at half-past five. Supposing the millowner disposed to evade the law, he might propose to give three hours for meals instead of an hour and a half. Immediately two hours would be added to the period between the commencement and conclusion of work. It was all very well for the noble Lord to superadd the provision that an hour and a half should be the maximum for meals; but that was not the correction of a clerical error by the stroke of a pen; it was the introduction of a new measure. And that the noble Lord the Member for Bath felt. He said he could not introduce new restrictions, but, seeing the advantage which would attend the proposition of the Government to the millownors as well as the labourers, he left the matter in their hands, and would offer no opposition: such was the language he used, believing that they were acting for the benefit of the operatives. A charge of inconsistency had been brought against him (Sir G. Grey); but he was not ashamed of being charged with inconsistency under the circumstances he had stated. He voted for the Act of 1847, which he believed to be for the advantage of the working classes; but he utterly denied that the proposition of the Government would take away the boon secured to the working classes under that Act. The noble Lord the Member for Colchester had alluded to the reports of the Morning Chronicle, and had given a resumé of the advantages derived by the working classes from the Act of 1847. The great advantages wore, that they had their evenings uninterrupted for the purposes of education, recreation, and domestic employments. Well, under the present Bill the labouring classes would be free, at six o'clock in the evening, to spend their time as they pleased, which was not the case under the existing law. He was surprised to hear the noble Lord the Member for Colchester say, that one hardship under the Bill would be the half-holiday on Saturday. This was the first time he (Sir G. Grey) had heard any suggestion of that kind made; and from various quarters he had received assurances that the greatest value was attached to the free enjoyment of half the Saturday, and that the operatives looked upon it as an additional boon not secured to them under the existing law. The noble Lord the Member for Colchester spoke of good faith and honour, as if there was a breach of good faith and honour in acting in the spirit rather than in adhering to the letter of previous enactments. He hoped the House would not be led away by declamation from adopting a measure which would, in his opinion, be satisfactory to the great body of operatives in this country. He did not mean to say there were not many men who would desire to see restriction carried further, and would support the noble Lord the Member for Colchester if he proposed an eight hours Bill; and if the noble Lord thought the whole of the operatives would be satisfied even with his measure, he would find himself much mistaken. He (Sir G. Grey) was ready to repeat the opinion, which he did not recollect having expressed, but of which he had been re- minded to-night, that he thought it desirable that Parliament should attend to the reasonable wishes of the operative classes, and that those classes should feel that their interests were cared for in that House. There were reasonable men among them; and such, he believed, were the great majority who would be glad to see the Bill before the House carried into effect; and he hoped the House would not, in deference to the arguments which had been urged against it, reject what, in his opinion, afforded a fair prospect of a satisfactory solution of this difficult question. The House was now in possession of the facts of the case. It was for thorn to decide; and he should only say, that if the House should think fit to depart from the settlement of 1847, by imposing another and a great restriction on the hours of labour within which millowners might employ the classes to which this Bill applied, he should regard that as such a departure from the spirit of the existing Acts, that he should feel bound to take no further charge of the Bill which the noble Lord the Member for Bath had introduced.


said, that he was glad to find any confirmation of the fact that the object of the Bill was to make a satisfactory settlement of the question. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, however, had entirely failed to answer the arguments of the noble Lord the Member for Colchester. They ought to observe that a very large proportion of the Bill, instead of being a boon, was an acknowledged loss; and they had the hon. Gentleman who seconded the Amendment stating that this shift and relay system met with so little favour from the manufacturers themselves, that public opinion alone, in his judgment, would be sufficiently poworfully to set the question at rest if the law were to remain as it was; and it was for the House to consider whether it would not be better that no Act should pass at the present moment, which would be, in 99 cases out of 100, a loss and no gain whatever. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary seemed to think a great deal of the comparison which had been drawn between his conduct and that of his Colleagues in 1844. It was impossible not to see that there was a most essential variance between the doctrines held out by hon. Gentlemen when sitting on the the Opposition benches and their opinions and acts when in power at the present moment. With respect to his noble Friend the Member for Bath, he was confident that in every step he had taken in this matter, he had been guided by the sincerest desire of acting in conformity with what he had said, to the effect that he thought it would be a good compromise for the working people. But why should they have compromises at all? Was it any error of theirs that the Act of 1844 was insufficiently framed; and had they, in any respect, by their conduct when brought under the operation of the Act, failed to fulfil the provisions made on their behalf by those who had advocated their interests? They had obtained an Act, not by favour but by right (for it was their right)—an Act not passed in a hurry, but gradually and solemnly, with the universal sanction and approbation of the Legislature. Why were they to be told they were to have a compromise? They had a proof that this compromise was not altogether satisfactory to his noble Friend; but this he knew, that he considered it a most essential part of the benefit which had been obtained to the working people by this compromise—namely, to secure opportunities of education and mental cultivation for their children. When, on this point, the right hon. Home Secretary told the House that it was a great boon that the hours were limited, he doubted whether he understood the full benefit of the Bill he was sanctioning. Let him (Mr. Bankes) tell him that the range of hours with regard to children was from half-past five in the morning till eight in the evening, and that the boon of the range of hours was not secured to children by the operation of this Bill, in respect to which the greater part of the public thought that to be the chief object of the Bill. He felt that he should ill occupy the time of the House, after the admirable manner in which the noble Lord the Member for Colchester had introduced the Amendment to their consideration—an Amendment which had been seconded by a Member of practical knowledge, who had stated what were the opinions of the master manufacturers, and the wishes of the operatives; but he had heard nothing from the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Home Office that answered either those feelings touched upon by the noble Lord who moved the Amendment, or those facts which were adverted to by the hon. Gentleman who seconded it. His noble Friend desired that the Bill they had provided should be effectual for the object they had in view; and he said, let that which is to be satisfactory to them be given to them, not as a compromise, but as a right which you the Members of the Legislature have already agreed to accord.


thought the country would have a very unfavourable opinion of the House if, after coming to a decision in favour of an enactment supposed to be intelligible to all the world, declaring that ten hours was to he the duration each day of a factory workman, that principle was not to be confirmed by Parliament when an opportunity was presented to them by the circumstances of a legal decision being adverse to the principle contained in a former measure. That statute having been in effect thus set aside, the operatives came now to the House to ask us to put them in that position in which it was evidently intended by Parliament they should be placed by the former measure. He could not understand how the House could come to any other decision now than that it was the intention of Parliament to place them. He did not wish to treat this question with ridicule, but he could not avoid comparing the decision that had been come to to a nursery rhyme— Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall, And all the King's Ministers and Parliament men Could'nt set Humpty Dumpty on the wall again. He could not entertain the slightest doubt but that the noble Lord the Member for Bath was influenced by the most honourable and conscientious feelings in the course he had taken in reference to this Bill, as well as to any other to which he had been a party. He (Mr. Stanford) would give his cordial assent to the Motion before the House.


said, he had listened with much attention to the speech of the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department, who had informed them that there had been a misunderstanding of the Act of 1844, when that Act was tested by the operation of the measure of 1847, and he would now ask him this question: Did the right hon. Gentleman, or did he not, when, in 1847, he voted for the Ten Hours Bill, intend to restrict the hours of factory labour to fifty-eight hours per week? Would—and he now addressed himself to the hon. and learned the Attorney General—would the insertion of the words proposed by the noble Lord the Member for Colchester invalidate the legal form and effect of this Bill if passed? [The ATTORNEY GENERAL: No!] If not, why then not introduce words that would limit the hours of labour to fifty-eight per week? Really the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary ought to explain this—why he supported the limitation of the hours of labour to fifty-eight per week in 1847, and now proposed to add two hours to that limit. That was the essence of the compromise, as it was called; but they—the advocates of the operatives' cause—maintained that that which was the original object of Parliament in regard to this subject, and had been sanctioned by Parliament, was their right; and whilst they were much obliged to the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for his legal assistance in giving effect to the intention of the former Act, they, at the same time, thought that such assistance was somewhat too dearly purchased by the addition of two hours per week to the present hours of labour of the working man. He must say he did not think it was creditable to the Government to take away two hours from the operatives' leisure for his own purposes, because they had found a difficulty in the construction of a few words in an Act of Parliament. He trusted that in private life he kept his word, and in his place in that House he would do so. In his opinion, those who now gave up the Act they voted in favour of in 1847 did not keep their words with the factory operatives of this country. The majority of the people of this country looked upon Parliament as having broken faith with the colonies, with the farmers, and with the shipowners; and if they now did the same thing with the operatives, he must assure them that they were taking a course which would lead to more serious results than they would seem to be aware of. For his own part, he had always imagined that this system of what were termed compromises always involved something either more or less than what they ought to do, but not what they ought to do; and he was persuaded that, in the long run, they would find that the adoption of such a course was an inexpedient arrangement. It was his intention to vote for the Amendment.


would ask the manufacturers who refused the limit of ten hours, whether they ever did work the ten hours, and whether, if they did, they did not find it more than enough. However, that was not the question. The real question with hon. Members of that House was this: What did they vote for in 1847? Did they mean to give the people a bonâ fide Ten Hours Bill, or did they not? As far as his own memory served him, every man that voted for the Act of 1847 fully intended that the parties to whom it referred should have a bonâ fide Ten Hours Bill. Would, then, this measure of the Government give the people that, or would it rob them of two hours per week? He thought it would rob them, and he asked the House if they were doing that, what would they say to the operatives if they came to that House and said, "You have passed a bungling measure—you see you have, and it is your own fault; but it is now our turn, and we will have something in our own favour if we can—we will now have only fifty-six hours per week instead of fifty-eight?" This compromise that was now proposed was, to use a commercial analogy, like proposing to a man to whom one had given a bill for 300l. to take 290l. for it. He felt he could not take away two hours from the working men—two hours which he had participated in the giving to them—as an honest man; and wishing to act honestly by the people, he could not vote otherwise on this subject than he had done in 1847. He should, therefore, give his support to the Amendment of the noble Lord the Member for Colchester.


did not feel justified, representing, as he believed he did, the third largest cotton-consuming population on the face of the globe, to give a silent vote upon this occasion; and, considering the large number of factory operatives in the borough which he represented, he thought he might state that he represented their opinions in the vote he was about to give. He confessed with frankness that he had never approached a subject to which he had felt it necessary to give a more careful and anxious consideration, and the conclusion at which he had arrived was based simply upon the dictates of conscience and honour. He certainly agreed with the hon. Member for Montrose that it was not only a delicate but a dangerous thing to interfere much with the question of labour; and, taking into consideration their mixed character and the dependency of one class of operatives upon another, he thought it was possible to err by legislating too much upon the subject. He had never been able to see why the hours of factory labour should exceed the ordinary period for the toil of man, namely, from six to six; and when he first saw the letter in the Times, and afterwards the Bill proposed by the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department, he thought at once that it was approximating more closely to his own views of what ought to be the standard for the regulation of the hours of labour in factories than anything he had seen before. If this were an open question, therefore, he should have had no difficulty in recording his vote; but his present difficulty arose from the question being so much fettered by previous legislation. He had formerly been in communinication with the chairman of the Limited Hours Committee in his own district, and had presented many petitions from them, all agreeing in asking for a 58 Hours Bill in its integrity. When, therefore, the noble Lord the Member for Bath communicated to him, the night previous to his letter appearing in the Times, the nature of that letter, he at once wrote down to the chairman of that association, stating the case to him; and, since that time, he had not heard a single word in reply. From this and other circumstances, he was persuaded that there had entered into the minds of the factory operatives a strong conviction that it was the honest intention of Parliament to have given them a Bill limiting their hours of labour to fifty-eight in the week. He believed that it was about the most dangerous thing the House could do to weaken in the minds of those people their perfect belief in the integrity and honour of the British Parliament. He knew the danger of a system of agitation being again allowed to organise, for if it were, no one could tell to what length it might extend. He felt, therefore, after the most serious and conscientious examination of the bearings of this case, that the House would gain by coming to a decision which should maintain the high standard of honour of the British Parliament, although for the time being he confessed they might suffer some inconvenience. In addition to this, there was a question of the supply of cotton to these mills, and he agreed that unless a larger and more certain supply of cotton was insured, there would not be sufficient on the average for some years to come to employ the factory operatives ten hours a day. Under these circumstances he was bound to the conclusion, that conscientiously, and as a man of honour, he must support the Motion of the noble Lord the Member for Colchester.


said, that it appeared to him, in a case like the present, in which a Bill had been passed some years ago by Parliament, on which the masters were not consulted in any way, that it was perfectly open to Parliament to reconsider the matter; and it was very well known that the master manufacturers themselves would be glad of eleven hours per day. In his opinion, the Bill might be made to work very harmoniously, by the proposed alterations, and to create a much better feeling than had hitherto existed. He should, therefore, give it his support.


said, he thought it had been generally agreed on both sides of the House to throw over all arguments as to the policy of the Act of 1847, that having been already settled. He considered that what they had to do on the present occasion was not to discuss its policy, but to fulfil its requirements. He had heard no valid reason for the alteration of that policy. The exigencies of trade did not require it. They had heard that no mill, on an average, worked ten hours; while, on the other hand, they could not expect to satisfy its opponents, seeing that the Millowners' Association of Manchester had declared unequivocally for 11 hours a day. Such would always be the case if they persisted in this unhallowed compromise, which, in fact, compromised nothing but the faith and honour of Parliament. The great majority of millowners had conformed to the Act, and yet were not ruined. The cotton trade had not gone to the dogs. As to the parties more immediately concerned, its results had been satisfactory beyond calculation. Its good effects, which were described in the last report of the factory inspectors, must be most gratifying to Parliament. There was nothing unreasonable in the limitation established. In 1833, when they abolished slavery in the West Indies, they limited the labour of the apprentices to 45 hours a week, while the factory operative was content to work 58. In 1849, they assigned 7 hours as the day's work of the Hill Coolies, while the factory labourer willingly gave 10. What they asked now was simply, that the House should keep faith with them. There could be no doubt as to how the Act of 1847 was understood by them who were its objects; and they had the authority of a great moralist for stating that a promise was binding in the sense it was understood by the person to be benefited, that understanding being affirmed at the time by the parties by whom it was made. Taking the Act of 847 in that sense, he felt bound to vote for the Amendment.


said, the question was, whether the Bill granted in 1847 was to be renewed now, or whether advantage was to be taken of a technical error, and 58 hours a week substituted for 60. The Government would deceive themselves greatly if they considered that this Bill would be a settlement of the question; and remembering, as he did, the excitement that prevailed in the manufacturing districts in 1830, the monster meetings that were held, and the agitation that was organised, he warned the House against again giving occasion to such proceedings on the part of the factory operatives of the North, The operation of the Ten Hours Bill since 1847 had been most satisfactory—the manners, the morals, and the habits of the people had been essentially changed—time had been afforded them for reflection and recreation, and they had been taught habits of providence; why, then, when this was the case, and when the maximum amount of labour imposed upon criminals was 10 hours a day, from which one hour was to be deducted for exercise and another hour for instruction, should they condemn women and young persons under 18 years of age, in factories, to labour 10½ hours a day? He entirely concurred that this was a question in which the honour and integrity of the House were concerned, and he should support the Amendment.


said, this question had been hitherto improperly argued, simply and solely upon the assumption of a contract having been entered into between Parliament and the operatives. The fact was this—in 1847 the Ten Hours Act was passed, after many years' discussion; and even then with a strong feeling on the part of many of the impolicy of the measure. Since then, as the representative of the county of Lancaster, he had been requested, over and over again, to endeavour to get the Act modified; but he had always advised his friends not to interfere with the decision at which Parliament had arrived. Now, however, when an opportunity offered, be thought it was perfectly legitimate for those who had opposed the Bill of 1847 to come forward and urge their objections to the system. In doing so, he held that they were guilty of no breach of contract, but that they assisted in an honourable compromise. It was a great ingredient in the success of any law, that, in carrying it out, it should receive the cordial co-operation of all parties concerned; but there were hundreds in his county who would oppose the Bill if amended as proposed by the noble Lord, who would yet give it their cordial co-operation if the proposed compromise was accepted. He had accompanied a deputation of master manufacturers to the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary, who were entirely opposed to the law, but who had offered their cordial co-operation in carrying out the compromise. His belief also was, that the compromise was approved of by all the enlightened operatives. Believing, then, that he committed no breach of contract, and that a compromise was the best thing for all parties, he should give his best support to the Bill as it stood.


said, that the case of the cotton spinners of Lancashire had been fully stated by their representatives. The hon. Member for North Lancashire had denied the existence of a compact with regard to the Bill of 1847, because the millowners were not consulted. But the hon. Member should recollect that for 16 years before that time there had been a constant struggle between the operatives on the one hand, and the laissez faire, laissez passer people on the other. The millowners were worsted, and the operatives reaped the benefit. Since then almost every millowner had acted under the law as if he construed it as it was now sought to be construed by the Amendment. Was it, then, to be contended that society was to be torn up, and the operatives oppressed, to gratify the cupidity of a few millowners? He was sure that there could be but one opinion on the subject as to the arguments by which the compromise was sought to be made palatable to the operative. The right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department, clinging to the habits of the Western Circuit, had told them, that if they wanted to know the meaning of an Act of Parliament, they should read the volume of the Statutes at large in which it was contained. That might be a very good argument for quarter-sessions, but it was a very poor one for the floor of Parliament. The right hon. Baronet should remember that the business of Parliament was not litigation, but legislation. The meaning of the Act was to limit the labour of the operative to ten hours a day; and for that meaning he should vote in supporting the Amendment. A pledge had been given, not by the millowners, but by the House of Commons in 1847; that pledge he wished to see carried out, and with that view should support the Amendment.


wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary whether he had not denied that this was an amended Bill, or an alteration of the law, as he found the Bill was accepted by the hon. Member for North Lancashire, on the part of the millowners, as an alteration in their favour. For his own part, he looked upon it as an alteration of the law, or, in other words, as a breach of the promise made by that House to the factory operatives. The right hon. Baronet talked of the concurrence of the manufacturers. That was not what he (Mr. B. Cochrane) wanted. He wanted the concurrence of the operatives; the Bill being passed for their benefit, it surely ought not to be altered without their consent. It was evident, from the allusion made by the hon. Member for North Lancashire to the interview, that there was a good understanding between the deputation of manufacturers and the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department; but that did not satisfy him (Mr. B. Cochrane). What he required was the fulfilment of that engagement into which the House had entered with the operatives. He cared not if the Bill stipulated for ten minutes only of work beyond the ten hours: he asserted pro tanto to that extent it was a violation of the engagement into which the House had entered. This was the only view he could take of the subject. He was astonished to hear the hon. Member for North Lancashire express so strongly an opinion that it would be no violation of a promise. He hoped, for the sake of the character of the House, and for that of the character of all those who voted on a former occasion, that the House would, to the fullest extent, carry out the pledge it had given to the operatives of this country.


said, that in his communications with the operatives of Rochdale he had been called upon by them to give his vote in favour of maintaining the principle of the measure of 1847—to maintain that in its integrity. He held in his possession the names of forty-four proprietors of mills who were supporters of the ten hours system, and in thus laying before the House his own opinions in favour of the Amendment, he felt that he was giving expression to the sentiments not only of the operatives but of the mill-owners also. In legislating upon a question of this nature, the House was bound to respect the opinions of the working classes, and to accede to their reasonable


said, that he felt more difficulty in the course which he had resolved to pursue in consequence of what had fallen from the hon. Member for North Lancashire. Upon the present occasion he (Mr. Greenall) had no choice open to him. He was in almost daily communication with the operative classes upon the subject, and it would be next to impossible for any one to over-estimate the intense interest with which they regarded this question. Their feelings were alive and strong on the subject. The measure of 1847 was one which they had struggled all their lives to obtain, and they lost it by no fault of theirs; it evaded their grasp by a mere Parliamentary blunder. It was, at all events, his determination not to let the working man be able to say that he had not kept faith with him. As to children, they would be great sufferers by the proposed change. The severity of factory labour would now fall principally upon them; and having said thus much, he trusted that he had fairly laid before the House the grounds of the vote that he intended to give.


I rise. Sir, to state the grounds on which I shall support my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department. The hon. Member for Oldham has argued this question as if the Bill of 1847 has proved entirely satisfactory—as if its provisions are indisputable—and as if the millowners are coming forward seeking to alter and amend that Act. Now, that I think is as far as possible opposed to the fact. For my own part, in 1847, I considered the Act of that Session was a great advantage to the families of the working classes belonging to the mills. I considered it enabled them to have time for their domestic duties, for education and instruction, and for such other improvements in their social condition which could not otherwise be effected. I did not think it likely to justify the predictions of its opponents, that it would destroy one-sixth of the manufacturing power of the country, and thereby occasion a great diminution of the wealth and industrial power of the empire. Sir, I still retain the opinion I then gave. I believe the Act of 1847 was founded on sound principles, and I have no wish to repeal that Act. Indeed, being a supporter of that Act, for my own part I should have been quite willing, and thought it would be the best course, to leave the measure entirely undisturbed during the present Session—to leave its provisions to the interpretation put upon it by the courts of law, and not to evoke the intervention of Parliament to make any explanation or alteration of that Act. But who was the first to wish an alteration? Was it any of those who contended that twelve or eleven hours a day ought to be the time fixed for factory labour? It was my noble Friend the Member for Bath, who came forward on behalf of the factory operatives, and as the advocate of the young persons engaged in factories, and said it is absolutely necessary to call for the interference of Parliament with respect to that Act. Well, then. Sir, if I am bound against my will to pronounce an opinion regarding that Act, I must look at it in conjunction with former Acts, and see what it does and what it does not do. Some seem to regard it as if it decided the whole question, and gave all that the present Bill proposes to confer. But that is absolutely not the case. There is no provision in the Act of 1847, or in the Act of 1844, that these persons shall not be employed at any time between six and six—that they must not begin earlier than six in the morning—and not finish later than six in the evening. On the contrary, these Acts provide that this class of persons may begin work at half-past five, and that the conclusion of their labours shall not be later than half-past eight. There are here not twelve hours, but fifteen hours, according to these Acts, during which labour can be performed. Therefore, I cannot conceive why it can be said that the proposal of the noble Lord the Member for Colchester that they shall work no more than ten hours, and that these ten hours shall be taken between six and six, are merely carrying into effect provisions which Parliament has already enacted. And as to there being any breach of faith in making any alteration in that Act, why, the noble Lord himself proposes a very considerable alteration when he makes an entirely new restriction with respect to factory labour. There was, indeed, a forced construction of that Act saying that if any person began work at half-past five, and if any person afterwards came at twelve, one, or two o'clock in the day, the last person should be construed to have begun work at half-past five, with the first. That, I think, was a forced construction of the Act, But this, at all events, was indisputable. It was in the power of the millowner to bring in young persons at half-past five, and keep them till five in the afternoon, giving an hour and a half for meal-times; or to begin at nine o'clock, and continue till half-past eight in the evening. Therefore, any Bill which proposes that they shall only work between six and six must be a considerable alteration—must impose a fresh restriction, and, as I think, give a fresh benefit to these classes. Now, I ask whether, being called upon to legislate by the noble Lord the Member for Bath—whether, if you place fresh restrictions on the employers of these young persons, by obliging them to give up three hours out of the fifteen during which they may at present employ them, and thereby so far diminish their power of employment, it is not fair, on the other hand, to say that the hours of their labour shall be somewhat lengthened, so that on the whole, according to the Bill of my right hon. Friend, two additional hours per week shall be given to the millowners? And, seeing that we have departed from the Act of 1847 and the Act of 1844, I think the question really for the House to consider is, whether this arrangement is, on the whole, an arrangement that will be beneficial to the operative classes and their families, and to which they can agree. But the hon. Member for Stockport, who is going to vote against my right hon. Friend, says, he has no doubt, on the whole, that the classes for whose benefit the Act of 1847 was originally passed, will derive considerable advantage from these enactments. Well, then, I say, if that be the case—if they are to derive benefits from those enactments, and if the mill-owners, on the other hand, who originally contended for twelve hours, and for the last two years have asked for eleven hours, are contented that this Bill should become law, is it not consonant with the wisdom of Parliament to endeavour to make an arrangement, confessed even by some of those who oppose it, to be beneficial to the operative classes for whom it is enacted, and which, at the same time, is so far acceptable to the millowners that, according to the hon. Member for North Lancashire, many who entirely disagreed with the policy of this Bill, would consent to act with cordial good-will in conformity with the law, supposing this Bill to be passed? I say, then, if such an advantage can be obtained—and, according to almost, all those who have spoken on the subject, it can be obtained—there cannot be any weight in the objection, that because you passed the Act of 1847, which is said to have had in contemplation an unrestricted ten continuous hours, you ought not to pass this Bill. Because it is obvious—and I think none will gainsay this—that the Act of 1847 never did contain any provisions that young persons should not work between six and six; and therefore, supposing the Bill to be carried with the noble Lord's alteration, it would not he a mere correction of a technical error in the Act of 1847, or the Act of 1844, but it would be in effect a new enactment, considerably more restricted, and thereby tending to that fresh agitation which it ought to be the wish of this House to avoid. Sir, with these opinions, therefore, being in favour of the Act of 1847, I still think it would be expedient that the House should adopt the proposal of my right hon. Friend. There is only one case in which I can conceive that the plan of my right hon. Friend would not be acceptable; but I think the same objection would be equally fatal to the proposal of the noble Lord. I can imagine the whole operative body in a mass saying we wish to maintain the law as it is; we object altogether to the alteration which you say will be to our benefit; we made a compact in 1847, and we require that it shall be abided by. Now, so far as I can learn, there is no such general and universal feeling on the part of the operatives of the manufacturing districts. My noble Friend the Member for Bath, immediately on the proposal of my right hon. Friend being announced, wrote a public letter, in which he earnestly advised all those whose cause he advocates to accept that proposal, which he declared would be advantageous to them. That was a considerable testimony, I think, coming from one who has studied this question so constantly and advocated it with such zeal and earnestness. We find that a great attempt has been made, as usual, by warm and impassioned language, to induce the operatives to think that faith is broken with them if this proposal is accepted; and they have been called upon with the utmost indignation to repudiate and reject it. But I do not find that those efforts have been attended with anything like the success which formerly attended the endeavours to induce the operatives to ask for a Ten Hours Act. As far as I can judge, the followers of this agitation have not been considerably numerous; and the hon. Member for North Lancashire tells us that, as far as he knows, all the most intelligent men among the factory operatives are opposed to the agitation, and wish this Bill to succeed. [Mr. W. PATTEN: The great body of the intelligent workmen—not all.] Well, then, if that be the case, there are good grounds for Parliament proceeding with this Bill, and not adopting the Amendment of the noble Lord the Member for Colchester. Now this proposition does certainly amend the law—it does propose a new enactment; but it proposes a new enactment, which, in the somewhat doubtful state of the law, after the decisions of the Superior Court, would give certain advantages to the two parties which have been in controversy on this subject. The advantage to one of these parties is, that their labour can only be performed between six and six, and cannot begin at half-past five, or extend to half-past eight, according to the present law; and it does, on the other hand, give the employer the advantage of two additional hours a week. There is, therefore, a fairness and an equity in this proposal. But the proposal of the noble Lord is, to have new legislation, and to have it entirely on one side—not carrying into effect the law of 1847, containing no clauses like my right hon. Friend's proposal, but proposing fresh restrictions, and giving no advantage on the other side of the question. I think the proposal of the noble Lord, if it were carried, would be the signal for an attempt to prevent any further legislation at all on the subject, to rest satisfied with the Act of 1847, as interpreted by the courts of law, and thereby entail considerable disadvantage on the operatives. On these grounds, then, and believing this Bill proposes to confer great advantages on the class of factory operatives, and is at the same time a Bill acceptable to those who have hitherto contended against any legislative enactments to limit the hours of labour, and hoping that the measure will effect the settlement of a vexed and difficult question which the Amendment of the noble Lord will not settle, but cause to be agitated again throughout the country in a way which I think would be a great misfortune, I shall oppose the Amendment before the House. With respect to a very great portion of the mills of this country which only work eleven hours and a half, the Amendment will make no alteration; but with regard to all those mills which work with shifts and relays, those shifts and relays will be put an end to by the Amendment, and that is another reason why this House should reject it.


said, he wished to point out to the House the difficulties which this Amendment would entail on the mills that were worked by water power. By tying these mills to particular hours of the day, they would not be able to compete any longer with the mills that were worked by steam; and the workmen dependent on the former must be thrown out of employment. In the winter months, work could not be commenced in these mills until the accumulations of ice that obstructed the supply of water were removed. These preparations often took till nine o'clock in the morning; and instead of being bound down to certain hours of the day, the operatives at present had to work when the circumstances of the mill would allow them. He appealed to the House, therefore, not to suffer such an injustice as this Amendment would inflict on this class of mills,


said, he had always been favourable to any measures for ameliorating the condition of the operatives, and he conscientiously believed that this Bill would be highly to their advantage. The rejection of the Bill would carry dismay to the working classes, while it would give extreme satisfaction to those employers who had availed themselves of the range of fifteen hours to evade the operation of this Bill. It was said that the House were bound to carry out the Bill of 1847. But were they contented with the name of the thing rather than the reality? The present was to all intents and purposes a Ten Hours Bill. If the House rejected it, the relay system would become more general than at present, and the operatives would be some time before they got an enactment that would be beneficial to them. He should give the present measure his hearty support, and he should therefore vote against the Amendment.


It is not my wish or intention again to intrude myself upon the notice of the House at this hour of the evening and at this stage of the Bill, having already experienced so much indulgence; and if I were to attempt to do so, and to speak for an hour upon the question, I could only reiterate the sentiments and opinions I have submitted to the House on previous occasions. There is one point, however, which has not yet been mentioned in the debate, and which I consider so essential, that I cannot resist bringing it before the House, especially as I find that hon. Members on the Treasury Bench appear to be labouring under an erroneous impression. In the town which I represent, a petition has been sent up in favour of a Ten Hours Act from every mill; I believe without an exception; and not one single petition has emanated from the manufacturers themselves against such an Act; and this applies to many other places in Yorkshire. Before I sit down, I wish to say that an earnest desire exists on this side of the House, to hear the hon. Member from Manchester on the subject. I really can hardly understand how it happens that the hon. Member, who is ostensibly the organ of a great party, and who it is generally supposed is at the bottom of the whole agitation, should sit quietly in his place and not give the House the benefit of his ideas on this important question.


Sir, I hope the House will permit me, notwithstanding its anxiety for a division, to offer a few observations in explanation of the vote I am about to give. Although I have been in Parliament more years than I care to remember, I have hitherto registered my vote on this subject without ever presuming to address the House upon it. I have listened with the interest which all must feel to the discussion which has taken place. It appears to me that the question which the House is called upon to decide, is really one of a simple, though of a very serious character. More than thirty years ago, the hon. Member for Stockport reminded us, the working classes in the north of England originated what is called an agitation in favour of the principle which we recognised as law by the Act of 1847. In looking upon that event with the advantage of experience, and taking that general view of the question which has (and very properly) characterised the present discussion, I perceive in that movement of thirty years ago what may fairly be described as the conviction of an overworked population. And I think it is a subject of much gratification when we remember that in this country a large portion of the community, finding themselves in such a position, had not recourse to those arts and means which generally distinguish a population under such circumstances; that they did not attempt to find relief in conspiracy or combination, but that thirty years ago, when the means of education among the working classes were more limited than at present—when the political instruction which pervaded that order of society was less than it is now, they still had confidence in the Parliament of their country, and in an appeal to that Parliament sought relief from the sufferings which they experienced. Thirty years have elapsed, according to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stockport, who has accurately reminded us of the dates; but it was not until 1847 that you recognised the authenticity of their convictions, and that a legislative enactment sanctioned the instincts of the working community. I am not surprised that so great an interval should have occurred between the expression of the popular will and the act of the Legislature; for the Legislature has been at all times unwilling to interfere with regard to labour, and statesmen and senates have been appalled at the idea of placing any check on the powers of production. I can, therefore, Sir, easily understand that it was only after much deliberation—after anxious doubts and hesitation—after a thorough acquaintance with the wants and feelings of the population, that the Parliament of this country sanctioned the principle which the working people of this country had long desired to see embodied in the law. We all remember the predictions which were made at the time of the legislative interference with regard to children. It was acknowledged to be a great experiment. Has it failed? One would suppose, from the position in which we are now placed, that, although we might then have been justified in the course we took, yet that experience had convinced the House of Commons and the country that they committed a great error. But there is something yet more strange. It is. Sir, at a moment when the class with which that labouring population is immediately connected, is, according to its own account, most prosperous—at a time when, as they state, the condition of the operatives is morally and physically so much improved—that we are called upon to retrace our steps—to annul our previous legislation—in short, to admit that the law was a mistake, at a moment when it is proclaimed that its consequences have been most successful. Now there is one circumstance connected with this question which particularly demands the attention of Parliament. Long as was the period during which the agitation existed which heralded this law, notwithstanding it passed through a period during which political ardour and party passions occasionally produced, as they must ever in a free country produce, feelings of the greatest possible excitement—still, I will not say by a lucky accident, but rather a happy providence, the factory question was never indissolubly connected with the fortunes of any political party. And when, in 1847, that important Act was passed, it was proposed by a distinguished Member on this side of the House, it was cordially supported by the Prime Minister of the country, in opposition to the opinions of many of his political supporters, and it was passed, if not with the concurrence of all parties, in a manner which convinced the people of this country generally that it was the result of an unimpassioned belief, and not of any party combination. Well, this Act having been, as it is admitted, most successful, proved by experience that its consequences have been concomitant with the greatest commercial prosperity, with not only the maintenance, but the increase of wages amongst the labouring classes, with not only the maintenance, but the increase of exported commodities to those markets where we have been told the demand for those commodities would be most materially injured by the adoption of the law, without any complaint against the action of this law, by a strange combination of circumstances we are now called on to give a verdict on its character. What I want to know is this—what is the reason that, after so prolonged an agitation, and after such an elaborate and calm discussion, Parliament three years ago having passed the Ten Hours Act; we should now, in 1850, be called upon to repeal and abrogate it? If, indeed, the consequences that were predicted from the passing of this Act had occurred, I could understand our position. If the hon. Members for Manchester and the great towns of the north were to come forward and say that their mills were stopped because they could no longer afford to export to those foreign markets, which they have always said were their most important markets—if they came forward and said that the working classes were now discontented with the Bill, by reason of the want of employment and diminished wages to which they were subject—if they came forward and gave so gloomy a picture of the state of society in which they mix, and of which many of them are the leaders, I can comprehend, not that we should hastily, precipitately, without due cause, repeal the law which we had enacted—but I could understand why this House should seriously, calmly, and specially examine their complaints; and if you were convinced that this law was the cause of their adversity, you should not he ashamed to repeal that which you have already passed. I can equally understand that, under such circumstances, the Minister of this country would be only doing his duty if he came forward and confessed an error of judgment, when, in 1847, he had lent the high sanction of his justly great name to this law. But are we in this position—have any of these circumstances occurred? Not the least of them. Night after night, whenever a fitting opportunity happens, Gentlemen opposite, who are connected with the Ministry, tell us that this country was never in such a flourishing condition. Night after night Gentlemen who represent the great towns of the north re-echo their assertions. Night after night we are assured that the working classes are in the enjoyment of a higher rate of wages, and have a greater command over the necessaries of life than they have enjoyed at any former period. Were not those tests of our manufacturing prosperity so many proofs of the wisdom of the Legislature? You are agreed in the good fortune and the avowed content of the working classes under the legislation which exists. On what principle, then, do you come forward and ask us to repeal this important statute? But you do not come boldly forward and ask us to repeal it. Yon cannot say that you are damaged—you cannot say that the working classes are injured by the effect of this law. It is not on any ground so broad, upon any principle so clear, that you ask us to act. No, but you take advantage of a nisi prius exception to a statute. Legislating on what should influence the fruits of a great industry, and the reward of a great working community, instead of coming forward with some intelligible principle, you take advantage of a flaw in an Act of Parliament, and are about to deprive the people of the consequences of an agitation of thirty years—of an Act of Parliament which they struggled for, which was ratified by the concurrence of the great parties of the State, and sealed by the approbation of the Prime Minister. You are about to rifle the people of this country of the conse- quences of that agitation, and the legislation which followed—not on the merits of the case—hut by acts which an attorney would despise. The noble Lord who has just addressed us, says that it is not the Government who are dissatisfied, it is not the Government who wish to disturb the Act of 1847. It is the Member for Bath (Lord Ashley) who wishes to disturb the arrangement of 1847. But what the noble Lord the Member for Bath wanted was, not that you should interfere with the Act of 1847, but that you should remedy the Act of 1844. That which the factory workers look upon as sacred is the Act of 1847. I strip the question of all hair splittings. The working classes of this country imagine that, when they gained the Act of 1847, they succeeded in restricting the hours of their labour to ten hours a day. When you toll them, in consequence of an Act which passed in 1844, they are virtually to be deprived of the fruits of their labours, exemplified in the Act of 1847, you enter into a mystification which they cannot comprehend, and which, as clearsighted men, they do not wish to understand, and they ask you, will you stand to the Act of 1847? If you do so, amend the Act of 1844; but if you resolve otherwise—if you resolve to deprive them of the fruits of their labours, let me tell you that, while you do not satisfy their reasons, you may lose the allegiance of their hearts. It does not appear to me that the ground taken by the First Minister of the Crown is one which can he admitted into this discussion. I entirely deny the correctness of the position which he takes up. I think we have nothing whatever to do with the economical considerations involved in the consideration of this question. They have been discussed in this House, and out of this House. The result to which Parliament arrived may he erroneous, but, morally, we have no right to re-enter that domain of argument. It may have been most unwise and impolitic—it is not my opinion that it was unwise or impolitic—to have passed the law of 1847. We are not here now to discuss whether the tendency of our legislation is to cheek, or not to check, the power of production. It is a moral and not an economical question, which we are now called upon to decide. I agree with the hon. Member for North Warwickshire that in this question what is concerned is the honour of the Parliament of England. I implore the House to consider what is contained in those momentous words. If it is the greatest calamity which can befall an individual to encounter a slur upon his faith—if, under the merited consciousness of such an imputation, his energy withered, and his influence vanished, do you think that the same fearful consequences are not attendant on a perfidious Parliament, or a treacherous nation? The voice of outraged faith is no respecter of persons. Its cry cannot be stifled; it will penetrate the Senate, and reach the Throne. We have always acknowledged that the most important elements of Government were its moral influences. The reason that the Government of this country is more powerful than other Governments is, because the moral influences are those which predominate. What you have to decide to-night is, whether you will taint this fountain of security, whether you can govern millions of freemen, except upon the principles of justice, benevolence, and truth. I ask you, the House of Commons, you who are always so prompt on all occasions to maintain faith with the public creditor at all costs, and to vindicate the honour of the country with foreign nations at all hazards, whether you are prepared, by opposing the Motion of my noble Friend the Member for Colchester, to make an exception in the brightness of your course, and, above all, to make that exception against the trusting and trustworthy working classes of the community?

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."

The House divided:—Ayes 181; Noes 142: Majority 39.

List of the AYES.
Abdy, Sir T. N. Brotherton, J.
Adair, R. A. S. Brown, W.
Alcock, T. Browne, R. D.
Anson, hon. Col. Burke, Sir T. J.
Arundel and Surrey, Earl of Carter, J. B.
Cavendish, W. G.
Bagshaw, J. Childers, J. W.
Baines, rt. hon. M. T. Clay, J.
Baring, H. B. Clay, Sir W.
Baring, rt. hn. Sir F. T. Clifford, H. M.
Barnard, E. G. Cockburn, A. J. E.
Bass, M. T. Coke, hon. E. K.
Berkeley, Adm. Colebrooke, Sir T. E.
Berkeley, hon. H. F. Collins, W.
Berkeley, C. L. G. Corbally, M. E.
Birch, Sir T. B. Cowper, hon. W. F.
Blackall, S. W. Craig, Sir W. G.
Boyle, hon. Col. Crowder, R. B.
Bright, J. Dalrymple, Capt.
Brocklehurst, J. Davie, Sir H. R. F.
Devereux, J. T. Marshall, W.
Duke, Sir J. Martin, J.
Duncan, Visct. Matheson, Col.
Dundas, Adm. Maule, rt. hon. F.
Ebrington, Visct. Melgund, Visct.
Egerton, W. T. Mitchell, T. A.
Ellis, J. Moffatt, G.
Elliot, hon. J. E. Monsell, W.
Enfield, Visct. Moody, C. A.
Evans, J. Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.
Evans, W. Mulgrave, Earl of
Ewart, W. Mure, Col.
Fagan, W. Norreys, Lord
Ferguson, Sir R. A. Norreys, Sir D. J.
FitzPatrick, rt. hn. J. W. O'Brien, J.
Foley, J. H. H. O'Connell, M.
Fordyce, A. D. O'Connell, M. J.
Forster, M. Ogle, S. C. H.
Fortescue, C. Paget, Lord A.
Freestun, Col. Palmerston, Visct.
Gibson, rt. hon. T. M. Parker, J.
Gladstone, rt. hon. W. E. Patten, J. W.
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. Peel, F.
Grace, O. D. J. Pelham, hon. D. A.
Greene, J. Perfect, R.
Grenfell, C. P. Price, Sir R.
Grenfell, C. W. Pusey, P.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Rawdon, Col.
Grey, R. W. Rich, H.
Hall, Sir B. Roche, E. B.
Hanmer, Sir J. Romilly, Col.
Hardcastle, J. A. Romilly, Sir J.
Harris, R. Russell, Lord J.
Hastie, A. Russell, F. C. H.
Hatchell, J. Seymer, H. K.
Hawes, B. Seymour, Lord
Havter, rt. hon. W. G. Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.
Headlam, T. E. Simeon, J.
Heathcote, G. J. Smith, J. A.
Heneage, G. H. W. Smith, M. T.
Heywood, J. Smith, J. B.
Heyworth, L. Somers, J. P.
Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J. Somerville, rt. hon. Sir W.
Hobhouse, T. B. Spearman, H. J.
Hodges, T. L. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Howard, Lord E. Stanton, W. H.
Howard, hon. C. W. G. Stuart, Lord D.
Hughes, W. B. Talbot, C. R. M.
Hume, J. Talbot, J. H.
Humphery, Ald. Tenison, E. K.
Hutchins, E. J. Thicknesse, R. A.
Hutt, W. Thornely, T.
Jermyn, Earl Tollemache, hon. F. J.
Jervis, Sir J. Towneley, J.
Johnstone, Sir J. Townloy, R. G.
King, hon. P. J. L. Townshend, Capt.
Labouchere, rt. hon. H. Traill, G.
Lacy, H. C. Tufnell, H.
Langston, J. H. Verney, Sir H.
Lascelles, hon. W. S. Villiers, Visct.
Legh, G. C. Villiers, hon. C.
Lennard, T. B. Wall, C. B.
Lewis, rt. hon. Sir T. F. Watkins, Col. L.
Lewis, G. C. West, F. R.
Lindsay, hon. Col. Westhead, J. P. B.
Lockhart, A. E. Wilson, J.
Mackie, J. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Macnaghten, Sir E. Wood, W. P.
M'Gregor, J. Wyvill, M.
M'Taggart, Sir J.
Magan, W. H. TELLERS.
Mahon, Visct. Hill, Lord M.
Marshall, J. G. Bellew, R. M.
List of the NOES.
Alexander, N. Hildyard, R. C.
Anstey, T. C. Hildyard, T. B. T.
Archdall, Capt. M. Hill, Lord E.
Arkwright, G. Hood, Sir A.
Bagge, W. Hornby, J.
Baillie, H. J. Hudson, G.
Baldock, E. H. Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.
Baldwin, C. B. Jones, Capt.
Bankes, G. Kerrison, Sir E.
Baring, T. Knight, F. W.
Bateson, T. Knightley, Sir C.
Bentinck, Lord H. Law, hon. C. E.
Best, J. Lennox, Lord A. G.
Blackstone, W. S. Lennox, Lord H. G.
Blair, S. Lowther, hon. Col.
Boldero, H. G. Meagher, T.
Booth, Sir R. G. Mandeville, Visct.
Boyd, J. Manners, Lord G.
Bremridge, R. Manners, Lord J.
Broadley, H. Masterman, J.
Brockman, E. D. Maxwell, hon. J. P.
Bromley, R. Miles, W.
Brooke, Sir A. B. Morgan, O.
Bunbury, W. M. Morris, D.
Burroughes, H. N. Mullings, J. R.
Cabbell, B. B. Muntz, G. F.
Cayley, E. S. Naas, Lord
Chatterton, Col. Napier, J.
Chichester, Lord J. L. Neeld, J.
Cobbold, J. C. Neeld, J.
Cochrane, A. D. R. W. B. Newdegate, C. N.
Codrington, Sir W. Newport, Visct.
Conolly, T. Newry &c Morne, Visct.
Crawford, W. S. O'Brien, Sir L.
Cubitt, W. O'Connor, F.
Davies, D. A. S. Packe, C. W.
Denison, E. Palmer, R.
D'Eyncourt, rt. hn. C.T. Palmer, R.
Dick, Q. Powlett, Lord W.
Disraeli, B. Prime, R.
Dod, J. W. Rendlesham, Lord
Duncan, G. Renton, J. C.
Duncuft, J. Repton, G. W. J.
Dundas, G. Rushout, Capt.
Dunne, Col. Scholefield, W.
Du Pre, C. G. Scott, hon. F.
Edwards, H. Sibthorp, Col.
Egerton, Sir P. Sidney, Ald.
Farnham, E. B. Smyth, J. G.
Farrer, J. Stanford, J. F.
Floyer, J. Stanley, E.
Forbes, W. Strickland, Sir G.
Forester, hon. G. C. W. Sutton, J. H. M.
Fox, W. J. Taylor, T. E.
Fuller, E. E. Thompson, Col.
Galway, Visct. Thompson, G.
Gaskell, J. M. Thornhill, G.
Goddard, A. L. Tollemache, J.
Gooch, E. S. Trevor, hon. G. R.
Gore, W. R. O. Trollope, Sir J.
Granby, Marq. of Turner, G. J.
Granger, T. C. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Greenall, G. Villiers, hon. F. W. C.
Grogan, E. Waddington, H. S.
Gwyn, H. Wakley, T.
Halford, Sir H. Walmsley, Sir J.
Halsey, T. P. Welby, G. E.
Hamilton, G. A. Williams, J.
Heald, J. Willoughby, Sir H.
Herbert, H. A. Wynn, Sir W. W.
Herries, rt. hon. J. C. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Beresford, W. Mackenzie, W. F.

Bill to be read 3° on Monday next.