HC Deb 03 April 1856 vol 141 cc443-5

Order read for resuming adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [2nd April], "That the Bill be now read a second time;" and which Amendment was, to leave out the words "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."

Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

Debate resumed.


said, the hon. and learned Member for Oldham (Mr. Cobbett) had made a suggestion which he (Colonel Patten) could not but agree to. It was that all the Amendments suggested by the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary should be printed and embodied in the Bill before it went into Committee. He would, therefore, offer no opposition to the second reading of the Bill.


said, he would postpone all opposition on his part at present, but he begged it to be understood that he did not thereby commit himself to the principle of the Bill. If the Amendments did not meet with his approbation, he should oppose them at the proper time.


said, he hoped that the House would allow him to say a word in explanation of the course which he had taken with regard to this Bill. He had been abused in the daily papers for the course which he had pursued, and in one paper he had had attributed to him military errors committed at a time when he was not in the army; but he felt that he was acting on behalf of a class of persons who, on that question, were not fairly represented in that House, and he thought that he was justified in endeavouring to obtain a hearing on their behalf. He would not on that occasion enter into details, but he would reserve to himself the right of doing so at a subsequent period; and he could only say that, although he might be abused by the organs of those who were opposed to his views—and those organs were powerful and not over scrupulous—still, if his conduct met with the approbation of those whose cause he was endeavouring to advocate, he should have every reason to be satisfied with the course which he had adopted the preceding day. The only sympathies he had in the case were for the poor man. Fully 40,000 people had been sacrificed to the Moloch of manufactures within the last ten years—mutilated or killed by machinery. Those injuries might be called slight by the manufacturers; but the loss of a finger involved the loss of subsistence to the workman. The manufacturers did not weigh the lives of their workmen in the same scale as they weighed their gains. The Legislature, therefore, was bound to give the workman every protection in its power. He had no confidence in the arbitration proposed by the Bill of the hon. and learned Gentleman.


said, he repelled the charge made by the hon. and gallant Member for Portarlington against the manufacturers of this country of being indifferent to the lives and safety of the workpeople. He totally repudiated the charge; and the fact was, that the hon. and gallant Member did not understand the subject on which he had been speaking. He (Mr. Crossley) had carefully examined his own works, and, while it was plain enough that the machinery could be fenced in some instances, in others it would be impossible to do so. All that could be done was to take as much care as possible to prevent accidents; and he was sure the millowners of this country would do everything in their power for that purpose. If the Bill passed it would place the operatives in a better position than they had been, and would do away with the setting of class against class—master against workmen.


said, as totally unconnected with manufactures, he had, after a careful inquiry into the operation of the Bill, come to the same conclusion as the hon. Member who had last addressed them. He was altogether in favour of the arbitration clause, as a measure for the benefit of the operative, and ho considered that the millowners had behaved fairly and honourably in the case as regarded their operatives.


said, he was in favour of the Bill, as he thought it would give increased security to the operatives.


said, he believed that the result of arbitration would be a per- fectly fair decision in the great majority of cases. He considered the factory system was a benefit to the country, as conferring a moral education upon the population. The great bulk of the accidents that took place were of a very trifling character. It was impossible to prevent accidents altogether, especially if the workpeople were careless.

Question put, and agreed to.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read 2o, and committed for Monday next.

The House adjourned at Twelve o'clock.