HC Deb 05 March 1850 vol 109 cc359-75

rose to move the appointment of a Committee to report on practical plans for the improvement of the working classes. He should in the first instance refer to the reports of commissions on the state of the poor of this country in 1817, 1819, 1824, 1830, and 1834, many of which dwelt upon those remediable abuses which interfered with the moral and physical improvement of the working and poorer classes. He would ask hon. Members opposite whether a peasant of unblemished character and industrious habits were not an exception to the general rule if he had any prospect before him at seventy years of age, except that of becoming an almoner on the parish bounty? If his wife lived with him, and brought up a family in industry and respectability, had she any chance, on the death of her husband, or on his inability to work, except becoming a recipient of parish relief? Well, was this the condition in which the industrious agricultural classes should remain? He would now turn to the large class of persons engaged in towns, in mines, and in great cities, and what was their condition, as it had appeared from reports laid before the House, and resting upon the evidence of commissioners and of committees appointed by that House, who were fair and impartial witnesses to the facts they related. During the last fifty years the increase of working men in towns had doubled the number of residents in rural districts. In 1838 a poor-law report drew attention to their condition, which was followed in 1839 by a further account of the sufferings of the poorer classes. In 1840 a commission was granted for the purpose of investigating the condition of the inhabitants of great towns. The result of their inquiries showed that evils of the most afflicting nature prevailed regarding the health and comfort of the poor in large cities. In 1842 the report of Mr. Chad-wick fortified that of the commission, and in 1843 a commission was appointed by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth to inquire into those matters. In 1844 the first report of that commission was issued, and in 1845 a second report appeared, both of which demonstrated gross neglect in large towns of all regulations for the health and comfort of the working classes. In 1845 further proofs were obtained of the extensive injury to the public health arising from causes capable of removal. In 1840 the Children's Employment Commission reported that in the great majority of instances the places of work were defective in ventilation, in cleanliness, and that nothing had been done to provide innocent amusement and healthful recreation to the children employed in factories, the consequence being, that their moral and physical health were alike injured; they were stunted in growth, pale, and sickly. This state of things remained to the present day. The summary of the report of the Children's Employment Commission was, that in a large portion of the kingdom the moral condition of the children was lamentably low, and that no means appeared to exist of effecting any improvement in the physical or moral condition of the young children employed in factories. That report was made in January, 1843, and since that period nothing effectual had been done. Another numerous body consisted of nearly 600,000 hand-loom weavers, dispersed through different parts of the country. They were reported to be, as a body, in a state of distress, and the only hope of improving their condition was, that they should betake themselves to other avocations, wherever practicable, and use as much economy and forethought as possible, when wages were good. There were also 600,000 railway labourers at work in different parts of the country, for whoso comfort and means of living no provision was made, and who were compelled to live in close and unwholesome dwellings. What had been the effect of this neglect on the part of the Legislature? That there had been an immense increase of crime, pauperism, disease, and discontent throughout the country, and an excessive mortality among the humbler classes, whose expectation of life was in some towns only twenty years, while that of the upper and middle classes was thirty-seven and twenty-seven years respectively. The illness from preventible causes was doubled, and it was proved that for every person among the working classes who died three were ill, and their illness extended over a period of six weeks. Crime had also increased in a rapid ratio. The committals in England and Wales in 1805 was 4,600; in 1815, it was 7,800; in 1821, 16,500; in 1831, 19,600; in 1841, 27,000 and upwards; in 1847, 28,800; and in 1848, 30,300. So that the commitments had increased six times as fast as the population of the country, notwithstanding all the improvements that had been in progress amongst the upper classes. Now, he wished a deliberative Committee to be appointed, to consider what had prevented the humbler classes from reaping a fail-share in these improvements. In Ireland the commitments were 21,000 in 1842; and in 1848, 38,000; but he would not lay any stress on the case of Ireland, because it had been affected by peculiar circumstances. But take the number of summary convictions. In 1837, in England and Wales, they were 14,800; in 1845, 35,700; showing that they had advanced much faster than the population, and giving an index of what must be the state of great bodies of the working classes. A return of the prisoners brought before the justices in the second seaport of the kingdom showed that the number in 1840 was 17,400; in 1845,16,000; in 1847,19,000; and in 1848, 22,000. The commitments at the same place were, in 1845, 3,800; in 1846, 4,700; in 1847, 6,500; in 1848, 7,700. In London, the capital of the country, what was the state of these statistics? In 1828 the commitments numbered 3,200; in 1840, 4,000; in 1844, 4,300; in 1846, 5,100; in 1847, 5,900. Now, contrast this with the crime of France. In France, in 1825, the commitments were 7,000; in 1835, 6,900; and in 1845 about the same number. So that whilst crime increased three times as fast as the population in this country, offences of a graver nature remained almost stationary in the neighbouring kingdom. Now, it might be thought that this increase was confined to populous cities; but it could be shown, by most accurate accounts, that from 1806 to 1841, in six agricultural counties, with an increase of the population of 55 per cent, the increase of crime was equal to that of six manufacturing counties, with an increase of 92 per cent in the population. He had made a short calculation of the cost entailed on the country by neglecting the welfare and improvement of these numerous classes, A Government commission had estimated the cost of crime in Liverpool preparatory to the establishment of the police force, and its cost to the community. This statement was subsequently investigated by a Committee of that House, which declared it to be rather understated than exaggerated. Taking that, with due allowances, as a criterion of the cost of crime throughout the country, he ventured to say the annual cost of crime was not less than 11,000,000l. The cost of poor-rates in 1847 was 5,400,000l.; in 1848, it had increased between 10 and 15 per cent over the previous year. The expense of hospitals for preventible illness among the neglected classes was 5,400,000l. also. The cost of the police, gaols, transportation, and penitentiaries, was 1,500,000l. The cost of preventible illness among working men, independently of hospitals and infirmaries, was not less than 2,000,000l. more. On the whole, he calculated that crime, poor-rates, subscriptions to hospitals, loss of time, and other cognate causes, which would be greatly diminished by measures for the improvement of the working classes, cost the country no less than 27,500,000l. yearly. This was only for England and Wales; and if we added the fair proportion for Ireland and Scotland, the total would be no less than 40,000,000l. per annum. Now, the condition of the great body of the people had never yet been looked into by the Government; all that had been done in that direction had been accomplished by the unassisted efforts of private Members; but he believed it was daily becoming the opinion of mankind at large, that it was the duty as it was the interest of the Government to take up this great question, and provide, first, instruction for the children of the large masses of the people; next, protection for their health; and, thirdly, to give them fair play and reasonable facilities to aid their forethought and stimulate their industry. Now, he asked for no more than this, and less than this would not be justice. If we had had a department of the State—a standing commission, chosen irrespective of party motives from each side of the House—to inquire what practical measures could be devised for the improvement of the working classes, to protect them from fraud, and give them the same advantages as were afforded to other classes; long before this he believed remedies would have been discovered and applied for the great social evils to which he had alluded. He would briefly exemplify his meaning. In 1830 it was proved before a Committee on manufacturing employment, that in the three great trades of England—the cotton, woollen, and hardware trades—there were three different grades of workmen in each trade; and that in each grade of workmen, in all these trades, the wages were amply sufficient, for their comfort and support, if the men had only the means of duly spreading them over a given period of seven years. But it was utterly impossible for them to do this, because they had no means of ensuring themselves, from the abundance of work and high wages of one period, against the want of work and wages at another period. Now, he said it would be a practical measure to consider how this might be effected. A Bill to secure this desideratum, by the extension of the Benefit Society Act, had passed through that House; but it was afterwards found that it contained words liable to technical objections; and up to this hour the working classes had no power to associate in order to provide against these constantly recurring calamities. With regard to sickness, benefit societies entirely confined their relief to the artisan himself; but no society existed to relieve him when any member of his family was afflicted, or to ensure himself or his wife a small annuity that would maintain them in independence when they were past labour. They had lately had their attention directed to the miserable condition of a number of poor women who could find no employment in this great metropolis; and the generous interposition of the right hon. Member for South Wiltshire had called forth public sympathy and aid towards that noble subscription which had assisted in relieving the sorrows of some of that depressed class. He had contributed his humble mite towards that effort, and rejoiced to think that it had been in some measure successful; but let hon. Gentlemen remember that the distress of the needlewomen was but a symptom and not a cause—a symptom of the great excess in the supply of labourers in proportion to the demand which prevailed, not in one kind of employment only, but in almost all the varied trades of the country. So that taking a few persons from this country and placing them in another, was only like removing one drop of water from the ocean, where its place would be immediately filled up again. The Government should turn its attention to how the supply of labour should be adjusted to the demand, the solution of which would do far more for the working classes than any amount of charity. An admirable work on the moral statistics of this country showed most clearly and distinctly that in those neglected districts where gross ignorance and defective sanitary arrangements most prevailed, there the greatest number of improvident marriages and illegitimate chil- dren were invariably found. And was this the fault of these neglected poor people? No, it was the fault of that House, and of the great opulent classes who had benefited by the industry of the labourer, and neglected him in his hour of necessity. He hoped, however, they would speedily change their policy; and, instead of spending immense sums in gaols, penitentiaries, and workhouses, turn to remedial processes, that would commence by instructing the young, and saving them from contamination. Where did we provide a safe investment for the humble gains of the industrial classes? He might be answered—la the savings banks. Now, although the extent to which savings banks had been resorted to showed how eager the people were to embrace any means of providing against misfortune, yet in many rural districts they were hardly known. But suppose an artisan saved 60l. or 100l., that amount was not receivable at a savings bank. Talk about an investment in the funds—the working classes knew not what it was; and, besides, the funds were liable to fluctuation. But what the humble working man most of all desired, after a long life of thrift and industry, was to see a little bit of land that he could call his own; but the legal difficulties and expense of title and conveyance deprived him of all chance of enjoying such a prospect.

Motion made, and Question proposed— That it is the opinion of this House, that a Standing Committee or unpaid Commission should be appointed, to consider and report on practical plans (not connected with political changes) for the social improvement of the working and poorer classes.


said, it was impossible not to feel that this Motion had been brought forward from motives of benevolence; but he should oppose it on this ground, that he was afraid it would tend to disappoint the expectations of the working classes. He valued the working classes as much as any Member in that House; the more he had known them the more he had admired them, and the more he had felt disposed to extend the franchise. At the same time he would not be a party to practising a deception upon them; and he thought such a measure as this would have no other effect than that of deception. The hon. Member for Shrewsbury talked of interfering in all sorts of cases wherever misery existed. If that meant anything, it meant that as soon as a grievance existed, the Legislature should interfere. But the hon. Gentleman did not give thorn anything like a plan to remove these great grievances. He told them there were three things they might do; they might educate, they might give health, and they might stimulate industry. With regard to education, the hon. Member told them it had always boon the work of some private Member of the House to introduce measures. Now, so far from that being the case, during the time he (Mr. Trelawny) had been a Member of the House, the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth had brought in a measure to promote education. Again, the present Government had brought in a measure for education, which was already working efficaciously. With regard to health, it was also true that there were parish doctors in various parts of the country, and the poor, in cases of illness, could have medical aid. The hon. Member for Shrewsbury begged the whole question in making it a function of the Government. [Mr. SLANEY: I never said that; I spoke only of remedial measures.] It amounted to the same thing. He (Mr. Trelawny) was one of those that wished the people not to depend upon Government. He wished them, by means of their own savings, to provide a sum for their own wants; and if they claimed an extension of the franchise he was one of those who would readily accede to it. He did not think the working classes were in the habit of putting forward claims of this sort. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Shrewsbury told them Government ought to bring in an Act of Parliament to give the poorer classes forethought. [Mr. SLANEV: No, I said nothing of the kind.] He (Mr. Trelawny) did not mean to say that the hon. Gentleman said a Bill should be brought in to give the working classes forethought, but that was the tendency of his remark. It came to precisely the same thing. It was getting the working classes into a habit of thinking that those things would be done for them which could only be done by themselves. There was one thing in which the Government had interfered, and that was in the corn laws, which were repealed for the benefit of the working classes. He would not go into the question of the policy of the corn laws, but it must be admitted that the practical effect of repealing the corn laws was voting a sum from the higher classes to the lower. It might be said that it was originally taken from the poor. That he was ready to admit; but when the measure was passed, it was practically taking from the rich and giving to the poor.


said, he was fully convinced of the benevolent motives which had induced the hon. Member for Shrewsbury to bring forward this Motion. He was bound also to testify, from private communications he had had with the hon. Member on this subject, to the liberality of his intentions with regard to defraying any expense which might be incurred in the plan he had proposed for improving the condition of the working classes. The hon. Gentleman had given ample proofs of his readiness to devote his time, attention, and property, to that great object. But he did not think that the measure he had propounded to the House would be a practical plan. The proposal itself was very vague and indefinite; and, after listening with great attention to the hon. Gentleman's statement, he had been unable to ascertain what was the precise nature of the duties which he proposed to devolve on this Standing Committee, or unpaid Commission. He presumed that by a Standing Committee was meant a Committee of this House to act continuously during the recess; or if a commission, that it should be selected by the Crown from the various parties in that House, without any exclusive political complexion—that it should not be an exclusive body in any sense, and should merely receive suggestions with regard to the improvement of the working classes, and consider any plans that might originate with others for that object—an object most important in itself, but which he thought would not be promoted by the proposal of the hon. Gentleman. It would load to the collection of a largo number of blue books, whereby Parliament would be overwhelmed with information of which they were in possession of a great deal at the present moment, and would be no better able than now to remove the causes of distress which might be proved to exist. The hon. Gentleman appeared to him to be wrong in supposing that Parliament had the power of removing many of the causes of those evils which he had enumerated. He proposed that the body whom he would constitute should consult as to public health, education, industry, crime, emigration, and the poor laws; and he presumed they would have to recommend any changes which might be deemed expedient in the laws affecting these subjects. Was it possible that a Committee of five or six gentlemen, taken from the different parties in that House, could, with any practical benefit to the public, devote so much of their time to the consideration of extensive changes of the law on these subjects as their importance required? The very instances which the hon. Gentleman had brought forward, in which, through the exertions of individual Members of that House, great and important changes had been made, showed that it was not necessary that there should be any Standing Committee or unpaid commission of the kind proposed; but that we happily lived in a time when the obligation and duty were generally felt of attending to measures which were calculated to promote the social improvement of the working and poorer classes. There was much force in the objection taken by the hon. Member for Tavistock as to the undefined expectations of great legislative changes, which would be excited in the working classes, by the appointment of such a Committee or Commission. With regard to some of the objects, means were already provided, as far as could be done by the Legislature, for their attainment. There was now a board of health, which combined with its deliberative functions the executive powers that had been confided to it by Parliament, and which he believed had been exercised with benefit to all classes of the community. The hon. Member for Shrewsbury proposed that this Committee should be altogether excluded from considering any measures connected with political changes. How the line was to be drawn, he confessed he could not see. Many of the subjects which the hon. Gentleman had alluded to were political questions; and it was absolutely impossible to draw the distinction, unless by political measures were meant only those affecting the composition of Parliament, or the exercise of the franchise. With so small a limitation as that, and regarding the vast range of other subjects which legislation embraced, and which would be confided to the consideration of the Committee, he thought it would be absolutely unable to perform its functions with any advantage to the public; and he feared that great evil would arise from the indefinite expectation of legislative measures, which would rather lead people away from the use of those means which they might employ with effect for the amelioration of the condition of the working classes. He was far from saying that Parliament ought not, by legislation, to encourage habits of prudence and in- dustry, as was done by Acts relating to savings' banks, and other subjects, with great advantage; but Parliament could do but little directly with this object. He hoped his hon. Friend would not press his Motion to a division; as in that case, while giving him full credit for the benevolence of his views, and admitting the importance of the subject, but differing from him in the means which he proposed for attaining the end, he should be obliged to vote against it.


thought that his hon. Friend the Member for Shrewsbury deserved great credit for the perseverance with which he had endeavoured to induce the House to attend to a subject which was most deserving of their notice; but it was a question whether the objects he contemplated could not be better effected by the private combination of benevolent gentlemen. He quite agreed with many of the points mentioned by his hon. Friend, and could bear this testimony in his favour. Last year he (Mr. Sotheron) was a Member of a Committee, and there was scarcely any person conversant with the affairs of friendly societies brought before them who did not recommend the formation, not of a tribunal, but of a union of competent persons, who would give the best advice as to the best mode of settling disputes in those societies. If his hon. Friend would only turn his mind to devise some means by which an association could be formed, through means of which persons in the country, who had no other means of getting advice, could obtain information, it would be very desirable.


did not think the object of his hon. Friend the Member for Shrewsbury could be carried out by any Committee that could be proposed; but for the establishment of a benevolent society an excellent precedent would be found in the one established by Sir John Barnard, a full explanation of the principles of which was to be had, along with the rules, in the library. The improving the condition of the working classes could not be so well attained by a Parliamentary Committee, as by an asssociation of benevolent individuals.


would suggest that this commission would have the effect of enabling a Government to cast from its shoulders its responsibility, instead of exciting it to what it should be continually excited, namely, the remembrance that it was the first duty of a constitutional Government to consider how far it was pos- sible for the Executive to advance the charitable and wise intentions of every man at both sides of the House, and of the citizens generally, with regard to the improvement of the social habits of the people. It was the imperative duty not only of this Government, but of all Governments, to assist the Members of that House and the citizens generally' in attempting in some degree to remedy the enormous social evils that pressed upon the country. It was the belief of the lower classes of the country that the upper classes were not careless about; their grievances, and it was to that conviction they owed the general and permanent peace and order of the community, which was particularly apparent when contrasted with the conduct of the people of many other portions of the civilised world. He trusted his hon. Friend would not be discouraged by the way in which his Motion was received on this occasion, and be hoped that on future occasions he would continue to urge upon the Government the great duty of giving to such exertions all the assistance they could. He did not participate in the fears of his hon. Friend, that the people would look to the Government as their great stay in all cases, for it must be recollected that the progress of the country had mainly arisen from the development of the individual character of the people. There were several matters in which the Executive might interfere most usefully. He would take, for instance, those cases whore in great cities there was a destruction of the dwellings of the poor to make way for improvements. They had seen streets of palaces built, while the poor were driven away to some distant corner, and no attempt was made, by the building of lodging houses fit for their accommodation, to remedy this evil. That was one instance amongst many which it would be well for the Government to remember; and in all cases where the Executive interfered, they were above all things bound to keep in mind that it was their duty to omit no possible opportunity of remedying the great social evils which the enormously crowded state of a city pressed upon them. He entreated of the Government to lose no opportunity of earning the praise and gratitude of the people by attending, even in the slightest degree, to those matters which affect their social condition.


must take that opportunity of calling the attention of the noble Lord at the head of the Government to one or two words which fell from the hon. Member for Shrewsbury on the subject of savings banks. He had in his possession a petition on the subject, which he would present to the House if the hon. Member for Rochdale did not shortly appear in his place, signed by 3,000 persons in the town of Rochdale. Those 3,000 persons, together with a number of individuals connected with friendly societies, had sustained an enormous loss by reason of the failure of one of those institutions which they had been led to believe they might look to with confidence as one of the institutions of the country. If the people were allowed to think that those institutions were under the management of Government, and if then they were suddenly told that the savings of a whole life of industry were to be swept away by them, no greater blow could be given to those habits which it was their duty to encourage. As the subject had been mentioned, he had taken the opportunity of calling the attention of the noble Lord to the subject, and he would ask him whether it was not right, while the Government provided for the future, that they should take into consideration the condition of those parties, and others similarly situated, who had suffered from the past. He did not know what was the intention of the Government with respect to the Bill relating to savings banks, but he hoped that some system would be adopted to give to those people what they had a right to demand. Let them either have Government security or let them inform the people that Government had nothing whatever to do with those establishments. The Government had for a series of years just interfered so far as to foster the idea amongst the working classes that they had Government security; but when they came to look into the Act of Parliament it was found they had not that security, and as the Government had taken away the security that formerly existed from the trustees of those establishments, it was obviously their duty to take care that no such occurrences should take place in future, and he thought the parties who had sustained a loss had strong claims on the Government for compensation for the past.


said, that while his noble Friend at the head of the Government was reflecting on the observations which had been just addressed to him with regard to savings banks, he was anxious to make some remarks upon the Motion. He was anxious to do this, because he intended to oppose the Motion on grounds not entirely identical, although very far from being conflicting, with those on which it was opposed by his right hon. Friend the Secretary for the Home Department. His (Mr. Campbell's) argument was twofold, and suggested by the terms in which the Motion was presented to them. They were asked to constitute an unpaid commission to conduct a very large inquiry, and to promote an object of immense importance. He did not think that an unpaid commission would be equal to the duties which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Shrewsbury desired to devolve upon it, or sufficient for the ends to which it was now proposed to render it subservient. A useful and magnificent inquiry had recently been instituted by the conductors of the Morning Chronicle into the social circumstances and condition of the working classes. It had been remarkably effective. The House of Commons was familiar with it. It had been the salient feature and the striking topic of the autumn. It had, in his opinion, so influenced the public mind as nearly to arrest the democratic and resuscitate the social movement of the country. Did any one suppose that so vast, so vivid, and so substantial a collection of data on the habits and the circumstances of the working classes, could in the nature of things be accomplished by an unpaid commission? An unpaid commission, he contended, would do no sort of justice to the case, by which the hon. Gentleman endeavoured to obtain it. He (Mr. Campbell) declined to enlarge any further upon this topic. He objected, in the next place, to the proposed exclusion of all political inquiry from the labours of the body—whether paid or unpaid—which the House was asked to call into existence. It appeared to him that an advantage of no ordinary magnitude would be secured if a commission to collect facts, and to authenticate them, on the subject of the working classes, were instructed at the same time to ascertain whether, in what manner, or to what extent, their improvement might be driven forward by the creation of new franchises among them. He desired to refer to the first speech of the noble Lord at the head of the Government in defence of the Reform Act, and in reply to the hon. Member for Montrose, delivered June 20, 1848. In that memorable speech, the noble Lord had scattered before the House of Commons and the public his ideas of the principle on which some new franchise ought to be created. It was generally acknowledged that neither the noble Lord himself, nor any other Member of the House of Commons, nor any politician out of doors, had yet explained in what way that principle might be translated into practice, incorporated in the laws, and engrafted on the institutions of the country. In point of fact, the data were deficent; and if the principle was sound, the data ought to be acquired. A commission of effective character, and able Members, might, by means of an inquiry devoted to social objects, and not debarred from constitutional researches, acquire the materials without which the principle enunciated by the noble Lord would never be a practical discovery. He (Mr. Campbell) desired to make a further and a somewhat wider observation. Since the debate of Thursday, Feb. 28th, it seemed to be the general conviction of all reflecting politicians, that the time had not yet arrived for any change to be effectedin the Reform Act. Concurrently with this conviction, it was not easy to deny that there existed something like a popular distrust and popular impatience on the subject. Would it not be, therefore, satisfactory—would it not be calculated to place the House of Commons in a good relation to the public, if the fact stood out before their notice that a process was going on of which the result would be the acquisition of facts, the accumulation of materials to provide a basis for the franchises which the noble Lord had offered—in theory at least—two years ago to the reflection of the country. He (Mr. Campbell) was bound to state—and anxious to be understood in what he then stated—that he did not come down to that House to-night in order to initiate a proposition, or propound a scheme. Inasmuch, however, as a Motion to constitute an unpaid commission, from which all political inquiry was to be kept apart, might preclude any Member whose position warranted the step from suggesting a commission of such a kind as he had ventured to delineate—inasmuch as it was possible that a commission of that sort might be the means of strengthening, and at the same time of amending the Reform Bill, of averting crude change, of accelerating ripe and permanent correction—he would be compelled, like his right hon. Friend the Secretary for the Home Department, to meet this Mo- tion with a clear but also a reluctant negative.


took a great interest in the social welfare of the working classes, but thought it was impossible for any individual Member of the House to bring forward with success any measure for their benefit; if, however, he came down to the House backed by the voice of a public-body, his recommendation would be attended to. As a proof of the truth of what he asserted, he might refer to what had been done with respect to the baths and wash houses and model lodginghouses. If any individual Member brought forward measures of that kind he could not obtain a patient hearing—at least they must think so, if they were to judge of the way in which the hon. Member for Shrewsbury had been listened to, though his speech expressed as sincere a desire for the welfare of the working classes as he had ever seen evinced in that House. He thought that an hon. Gentleman who had devoted so much of his time to the subject should be listened to with greater attention, particularly when they heard debates carried on for ten hours on speculative questions, which, even if carried into effect, could confer little or no benefit on the working classes. He thought that an hon. Member who got up for the purpose of discussing a social question ought to be treated with more respect, and he drew from it the deduction that there was a necessity for an unpaid commission. There was a variety of questions that could be brought before such an unpaid commission. If gentlemen could be found who would be sufficiently philanthropic to devote their time to it, what objection could there be made to it? If the Government were really sincere in their desire to alleviate the moral and material condition of the people, would it not be of considerable importance to have the assistance of such an auxiliary who would come down to them with reports framed to act upon and take into consideration. If the Motion was pressed to a division, he should support it.


expressed his thanks to the hon. Member for Shrewsbury for having performed the unavailing task which he had undertaken. It was a Motion less open to the usual objection made to propositions of this kind, viz. that it would encourage unfounded hopes on the part of the working classes, than any he had ever known. He (Lord R. Grosvenor) did not intend charging the House, or the present or any preceding Government, with being peculiarly hard hearted in resisting, or in giving a reluctant hearing to Motions of this description; but of this he was quite sure, that the oftener the fact was stated in that House that the working classes were at the present moment suffering under the greatest evils, the better it would be for them. After what had been stated in the report of the commission of inquiry into the sanitary condition of the various towns in this country, and after the report of the commission appointed to inquire into the state of the labouring women and children in mines, he felt convinced of the necessity of a commission such as had been suggested by the hon. Member for Shrews-I bury to point out the practical mode by which those and other evils affecting the working classes might be remedied and removed. He felt all the difficulty of appointing such a commission; but no Session should be allowed to pass without some report on the state of the working classes, emanating from a commission to that House, and from that House to the country One objection to the Motion was that it was too general, and that the number of subjects it embraced were too numerous. Now, he really hoped that when hon. Members should at any time come forward and state special grievances, and bring forward remedies for them, the House would not reject those remedies on the same fanciful grounds as those on which the present Motion had been met.


said, that after the kind feeling which had been evinced towards him during the debate, and the kind manner in which he had been alluded to by the right Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department, he felt that under all the circumstances of the case, he should not be doing justice to the cause which he had humbly endeavoured to advocate, if he were to press his Motion to a division, He hoped, however, that the subject which he had brought before the House would sink into the minds of many hon. Members who had never before paid attention to them. He would merely venture to say, that there were three points which might servo as barometers of the state and condition of the working classes; the progress of mortality as compared with population; the increase of the poor-rates; and the proportion of criminals to the population. Those three points appeared to him to speak with the loudest voice in favour of some measure of the kind which he had proposed being adopted. He should have been happy to have left his Motion in the hands of the Government in any form which they might have thought proper; but as they had given their reasons for opposing the Motion, he would consent to withdraw it, in the sincere hope that the Government would themselves take up the subject. He had had the good fortune to bring forward Motions, some of which were met by smiles from hon. Members, but which, notwithstanding, had been subsequently carried. He thanked the House for the kindness with which it had listened to a subject which, although he considered it one of importance, many hon. Members might consider as uninteresting. The hon. Member concluded by moving for leave to withdraw his Motion. Motion by leave withdrawn.