§ Order for Committee read.
§ House in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 1 (Recited Acts to apply to Lace Factories, and to the Employment of Females, young Persons, Youths, and Children therein),
§ MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
said, if the Bill were what it pretended to be, he should have offered no objection to it. The Factory Act was generally admitted to have proved a blessing to the country at large. It was one of the best efforts of domestic legislation which had ever passed, but the Bill before the Committee was certainly a reversal of the policy adopted in that Act as regards women and children engaged in factories. That policy was that they should not be worked beyond their physical powers. Their hours of labour were restricted by the Factory Act to between six a.m. and six p.m., and on Saturdays to between six a.m. and two p.m., with an hour and a half for meals. No child was allowed by the Factory Act to work more than half a day up to the age of thirteen, the other half being spent at school; and no boy was permitted to do the work of a man till he was eighteen years of age. But what were the innovations proposed by this Bill, which, they were told, was mainly founded on the provisions of the Factory Act? The meal hours were entirely left to the arbitrary discretion of the masters. The hands were to be allowed to go to their meals irregularly. The age when boys were to act as men was reduced from eighteen to sixteen; and what was worse the age of children was reduced from thirteen to eleven. The hours of work were extended from two p.m. to half-past four on Saturdays, two hours and a half more than the Factory Act permitted. All these innovations, instead of being in favour of the women and children, were in favour of the masters; and he thought the House was bound to look with peculiar jealousy at any Bill which favoured the masters alone. It had been said that the Bill was founded on the Report of Mr. Seymour Tremenheere; but it was not so. His recommendations were that from the 1st of August, 1862, the Factories Act should be applied to the lace factories, subject to two exceptions—one, that boys above the age of sixteen should be allowed to work between the hours of four a.m. and ten p.m., but 1433 not more than nine hours within that time; and the other, that the provisions of the Factories Act as to the fencing of the main shaft of machinery should not be required He (Mr. Bernal Osborne) did not intend to move anything against the Bill, because he thought Amendments might be made in it in Committee. He hoped the House would give him their support in moving those Amendments.
LORD HENRY LENNOX
said, he hoped the Committee would give effect to the arguments which had been advanced by the hon. Gentleman. Two or three years ago a large number of petitions had been presented to the House, signed by something like 10,000 persons engaged in the lace manufacture in Nottingham and Manchester, praying for legislation on the subject; but in deference to the wishes of the masters an inquiry was instituted. A Commissioner was accordingly sent down into the district, and to the great surprise of the operatives, who had prepared a case disclosing the great hardships under which they suffered, they were met by the masters, who admitted that the alleged hardships did exist, that legislation was necessary, and that it should proceed on the basis of Mr. Grainger's Report presented twenty years ago. The Committee would, therefore, bear in mind, if there were no distinct cases of hardship embraced in Mr. Seymour Tremenheere's Report, it was not the fault of the operatives, who had no opportunity of bringing them forward.
§ COLONEL FRENCH
said, he wished to have some statement from his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary whether it was his intention to adhere to the policy of the Factory Act. In the absence of such a statement the better course would be to report Progress at once, and say whether they should go on with the Bill.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
said, he was quite prepared to discuss any Amendment that might be proposed in the Committee. Hon. Gentlemen who had read the Report of Mr. Seymour Tremenheere would have seen that his object was to investigate the problem how far the provisions of the Acts regulating factories for the spinning of cotton and other textile fabrics could be applied to the peculiar case of the lace factories. It was admitted on all hands that there was a difference in the manufactures. Several proposals which were made in former years to extend the Factory Acts to lace manufactures were always resisted on the ground of the peculiar circumstances 1434 of the lace manufacture. Mr. Seymour Tremenheere examined the subject very carefully; he showed what were the distinctions between the two manufactures, and recommended some special regulations, no doubt, founded on the principle of the Factory Act, but different, for the reasons he assigned. He wished the Committee to understand that the Bill was entirely in conformity with the views of Mr. Seymour Tremenheere, who had conducted a detailed investigation into the trade with great industry and success, and in a manner conciliatory both to the masters and men. The hon. Member for Nottingham, the chief seat of the lace manufacture, would be able to give more information on the subject; but, as no advantage would result from reporting Progress, he hoped the Committee would now proceed to discuss the different clauses of the Bill.
§ MR. COBBETT
said, he understood that the right hon. Gentleman, in introducing the Bill, described it as one which there was no occasion to discuss, as it was founded on the report of Mr. Seymour Tremenheere, which would be found to contain the substance and provisions of the measure. The right hon. Gentleman now repeated that the Bill was founded on the recommendations of Mr. Seymour Tremenheere. If it were so, he should have made no observations on this occasion; but, on the other hand, he felt bound to say the Bill seemed so adverse to the report of Mr. Seymour Tremenheere that the House ought to discuss that question before it went any further. His hon. Friend had not gone fully into the report of Mr. Seymour Tremenheere, and he might, therefore, state that the Commissioner, having examined on the spot the masters and workmen, had divided them into two classes—Firstly, the opponents of legislation altogether; secondly, those adverse to legislation on such matters upon principle, but who thought that in this, as in the factory case, there was a necessity for legislation. That last class comprised a very large body of master manufacturers, to whose evidence he referred, and all of whom agreed more or less to that which lie reported—that a Bill should be brought in. He closed his statement with regard to this class of opponents by saying that the particular modifications they suggested were various. He then proceeded, "The conclusion I have come to, upon a careful consideration of the whole, is," &c. Here, then, was a gentleman, commissioned to 1435 examine into questions of this kind, and on whose reports to the Crown one or two Acts of Parliament had been passed. He had applied his mind to the examination of the subject, and, after due consideration, what did he say?—I recommend that, from and after the 1st of August, 1862, the Factory Acts should he applied to the lace manufacture, subject to the following exceptions:—1. That youths above the age of sixteen should be permitted to work between the hours of four a.m. and ten p.m.; but not more than nine hours within those hours. 2. That the provisions of the Factory Acts, in regard to requiring machinery to be fenced off, should not extend to the lace manufacture.These were the only two exceptions. He did not attribute much importance to the latter exception of fencing off the machinery. The only real exception was that youths of the age of sixteen should be permitted to work between the hours of four a.m. and ten p.m., but not more than nine hours within those hours. How did that differ from the Factory Acts in existence? A young person at eighteen might be made to work the full factory hours, from six a.m. till six p.m.; or, being a male, to work in the night time; but that could scarcely be done. Were they, then, to go to the Commissioner? He must say on all these questions he was against employing a Commissioner to meet the masters on one side and the operatives on the other, and decide between the two. He would much rather have a Select Committee of that House for obtaining evidence on which to found an Act of Parliament; but, at any rate, they had got the report of Mr. Commissioner Tremenheere that the Factory Act should be extended to the lace manufacture, with the exception that they might take a boy of sixteen out of his bed at four a.m. and make him work till ten p.m., only employing him nine hours within that period. But the Bill was not framed in good faith, consistently with the Commissioner's report. The 4th Clause interfered with what was considered one of the most valuable parts of the Factory Acts—the half holiday, by extending the period of work from 2 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. Clause 5 extended the work of 101/2 hours from young persons of thirteen to children of eleven. The noble Lord the Member for Chichester (Lord Henry Lennox) had given notice of an Amendment to that clause, and he should give it his support. When the age of thirteen was sought to be fixed by the Factory Act, the proposition met with the greatest opposition, and it was stated by the manu- 1436 facturers that the effect of such a provision would be that there would be 35,000 children thrown out of employment. The clause, however, was carried, and he believed that not even five children had been thrown out of employment by it. There was another most important clause—he referred to Clause 6, which dealt in the most insidious manner with the meal hours. The great necessity had been to fix the meal hours; without that, men, women, and children were obliged to remain in the mill, and consume, in an unwholesome atmosphere, their food as best they could. In fact, up to 1833 factory operatives had no meal time. The 3 & 4 Vict., c. 103, enacted that one hour and a half should, bona fide, be allowed for meals; but the mill did not stop, the machinery ran on, and that, gave rise to the shifting system. Finding their intentions frustrated, the Legislature in the 7th Victoria fixed the meal hours more definitively, and declared that the operative should not be allowed to remain during those hours in any room in which any manufacturing process was carried on. That rendered it almost impossible that there should be any evasion; but still evasion did occur, and, therefore, by the Earl of Shaftesbury's Act of 1846 it was provided that if any of the restricted persons should be found in a mill at a breakfast or dinner hour they should be taken to be employed, and the master was fineable there for. According to the report of Mr. Seymour Tremenheere these enactments ought not to be disturbed; but in the Bill there were special provisions to enable the masters to do that very thing towards the lace hands which the Legislature had so carefully provided masters should not do as regarded woollen and cotton spinners. The benefits given by the Factory Acts to the factory hands were specially excluded from the lace factories. The consequence would be that the breakfast and dinner hour would be virtually at the disposal of the master or overlooker. In short, the Bill was not a Factory or a Ten and Half Hours' Bill, but a Twelve Hours' Bill. He did not know who drew the Bill. It was said to be the Commissioner's Bill. If so they ought to have him before a Select Committee, to inquire why he had so far deviated from his own report. He hoped, at all events, the Committee would make the Bill conformable to Mr. Seymour Tremenheere's recommendations.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.1437
§ Clause 2 (Youths between the Age of Sixteen and Eighteen may be employed between 4 a.m. and 10 p.m., but not more than Nine Hours between those Hours),
said, he wished to move to insert in line 22 after the word "day" the wordsAnd provided also that it shall not be lawful to employ any youth both earlier than six of the clock in the morning and later than six of the clock in the evening of the same day, nor to employ any youth both later than six of the clock in the evening of any day and earlier than six of the clock in the morning of the next succeeding day.He was quite prepared to defend the clauses of the Bill, which were founded on the report of Mr. Seymour Tremenheere and the evidence he had collected with great ability and impartiality. Both masters and men agreed in their support of the Bill.
§ MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
said, he could easily understand that no objections were taken to the provisions of the Bill by the masters or men; but he had spoken in the interest of women and children. He had carefully read the report of Mr. Seymour Tremenheere, and he defied the right hon. Gentleman to prove that this Bill was founded on its recommendations. He should propose a proviso requiring that a youth of sixteen should not be employed as a man without a surgeon's certificate; that he was able for the work.
§ Amendmentagreed to.
§ Clauseorderedto stand part of the Bill.
§ Clause 3 was alsoagreed to.
§ Clause 4 (Women, Young Persons, and Children may be employed until half past four o'clock on Saturdays),
§ MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
said, he should move the omission of the clause. It proposed to extend the hours during which women and children engaged in lace factories might be employed in labour from two o'clock on Saturday, as fixed in; the Factory Act, to four o'clock. He could see no reason for departing in the present case from the principle laid down in the Factory Act.
said, he should support the clause. Lace factories were in a peculiar position. Besides the omission of the clause would prove no benefit to the operatives. When two men worked together their hours of labour were not above nine hours a day each; and it would be a great loss to them—in fact it would be a robbery on them—if they were not allowed to work 1438 for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon, as they would not be if they could not have the services of the threaders and winders when the warp came off. There were no class of men in Her Majesty's dominions who worked a shorter time; and any one that knew Nottingham, the principal seat of the lace trade, would be aware that there were thousands of small gardens in the environs of that town which were cultivated by the workmen. The work of the winders and threaders was exceedingly light. Even when they were sixteen hours in the factory, the "shifts" were so arranged as to be only ten hours actually at work, and were allowed to go out to play in the intervals.
LORD HENRY LENNOX
suggested that the "shifts" might easily be arranged so as to allow the workpeople to have a half-holyday on Saturday. Besides the object of the measure was not for the benefit of the men, but for that of the women and children. In the first Factory Act the silk throwsters were exempted from the obligation placed upon cotton and woollen manufacturers to close at two o'clock on Saturday afternoons, but by a subsequent Act the silk throwsters were by their own request placed under the same rule.
§ MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
denied that lace making was such a delightful business as the hon. Gentleman represented; on the contrary, he found it stated in the Report that the boys had pale and ghastly countenances, and did not seem to thrive. As to the argument that the men had gardens, the hon. Gentleman could not object to their being allowed two hours more a week to cultivate them.
SIR GEORGE LEWISM
said, if he were not misinformed the workpeople themselves did not object to this clause. The Committee would, therefore, act with perfect safety in assenting to it. The principle of the Bill was that the regulations of the Factory Acts were to be extended to the lace trade, with certain adaptations. The provision contained in the clause was one of those adaptations, and he had yet heard no good argument against it.
LORD HENRY LENNOX
stated that he had received letters from a great many operatives against the clause. The general feeling among the workpeople seemed to be that the clause should be omitted; but, at the same time, rather than endanger the Amendment of which he had given notice on the 5th Clause, they would consent to 1439 submit to what they considered an injustice.
§ MR. COBBETT
remarked that the arguments of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Paget) were exactly the same as were employed against the Cotton Factories Act.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he saw no reason why the Committee should depart from the Factory Acts in the particular. It was for the moral as well as the physical advantage of the lace-workers that they should have a half-holyday on Saturdays.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give up the clause. Adam Smith had too truly said that his principles must lead to the degradation of the work-people unless those principles were held in check by higher considerations. It was said that though these unfortunate children were kept at the beck and call of their master for sixteen hours a day they were only worked ten. The truth was they could not work them sixteen hours, otherwise they undoubtedly would. He denied that factories or mines, or any other business could not be arranged with a due regard to decency and humanity.
remarked that, as Clause 1 stood, young persons could not be kept in lace factories for more than twelve hours a day. They could not, as he had already stated, be actually employed during the whole of that time. If he thought, with the hon. and learned Gentleman, that they could be confined for sixteen hours a day, he should at once agree to release them at two o'clock on Saturdays.
said, that workpeople of all kinds were extremely anxious to get a half-holyday on Saturdays, and he should be sorry to see any class of factory operatives deprived of so valuable a privilege.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, that as he read the Bill, he certainly understood that a boy of eleven, who to all intents and purposes was still a child, could be taken into a factory at six in the morning and kept till ten at night.
§ MR. COLLINS
stated that, in the manufacturing districts in the north, no portion of the Factory Acts had given so much satisfaction as those clauses which enabled the workpeople to have Saturday afternoon to themselves. He should, therefore, vote for the Amendment.
§ Question put, "That Clause 4 stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 44; Noes 57: Majority 13.
§ Clause 5 (Interpretation of Terms),1440
LORD HENRY LENNOX
said, he rose to move that in both places in which the word "eleven" occurred in the clause the word "thirteen" should be substituted for it. His object was to extend to the lace trade that provision of the Factory Acts which prohibited the employment of children for more than half-time until they reached the age of thirteen. One objection which had been stated to his Amendment was that the work to which children were put in lace factories was comparatively light and easy. He did not deny that part of the work was so; but Mr. Grainger had shown, in his valuable reports, that the threading of bobbins, if carried on for a certain number of hours, was highly injurious to the eye-sight. It should be recollected, moreover, that the lace children were confined in heated rooms, that their ears were stunned by the noise of machinery driven by steam, and that they were compelled to swallow every working-day of their lives innumerable particles of blacklead. Another objection to his Amendment was that, if carried, it would be an inducement to the masters to evade the Act by having the winding and threading done in their own houses. His reply was that all experience showed that the enormous advantages to be derived from the use of steam would be quite sufficient to prevent any evasion of the Act in the manner thus contemplated. If children were allowed to become full-timers at the age of eleven, the inevitable result would be that the masters would not employ them at all until they reached that age. There would be no half-timers, and in that way the masters would avoid the expense of educating any portion of their hands; whereas, if his Amendment were agreed to, the masters must either employ children before they were thirteen years of age, or consent to lose their services altogether, as parents could not afford to allow their children to go about idle for so long a period. It might be said that the existing system of education under the Factory Acts was so perfect that children were now as far advanced at eleven as they used to be at thirteen years of age. He admitted that considerable progress had been made during the last few years, but there was still ample room for improvement in the mode of conducting education under the Factory Acts. Mr. Baker, one of the factory inspectors, stated in a recently published report that the system of education might be improved in many respects, and he 1441 pointed out the great evils which existed in the silk-throwing trade owing to young persons being made full-timers at the age of eleven. The evidence appended to the report of Mr. Tremenheere contained statements to the same effect from masters and others. Mr. William Simkins, a lace agent in Nottingham, said he had often thought it strange that the Factory Acts were not applied to the lace trade. There were difficulties about it, he added, some years ago, but he did not see any material difficulty now. Mr. Alderman Felkin of Not tingham, who had always been opposed to legislation, said his opinion was that the labour of women and children ought, after a reasonable delay, to be restricted within factory hours. It would thus be seen that his Amendment was supported by high authority. The lace-workers did not claim any special exemption for themselves. All he asked on their behalf was that the same advantages should now be extended to them which they would have obtained had they been included, as they ought to have been included, in the Factory Acts.
Amendment proposed, in page 3, line 18, to leave out the word "eleven" and insert the word "thirteen."
said, that the number of children who were employed in these factories was small, and it would not be worth while for the factory owners to keep books and to make the necessary arrangements for carrying out the half-time system. Whatever age was fixed, no children under that age would would be employed. If, therefore, the Amendment was carried, children under thirteen would cease to be employed in lace factories; but, as there was a good deal of work which might be done in private houses, the effect would be to encourage contractors, who would get the children together in unwholesome and ill-ventilated houses, and watch them closely at their work lest a moment should be lost, because the profit of the contractors would be the difference between the cost of the labour to them and the price which they would obtain for it. The work in the lace factories was well known to be of the lightest description, with frequent intervals, during which children employed in them might go out of doors and play; and it differed materially from the work in cotton or woollen factories, where constant attendance had to be given to the machinery. He should be very sorry if the Bill were lost, because it would in a great measure prevent the miserable results which 1442 sometimes arose from girls being employed until late hours in the evening, and their parents not knowing for certain when to expect them home; but the adoption of the Amendment would either lead to the work being done in houses over which the inspectors would have no control, or to only those children being employed who were over thirteen years of age. He thought he should be acting inconsistently with his desire to promote the education of children if he were to support the Amendment. They could not expect parents to give up the advantage of their children's labour long after the time when they were physically able to earn wages; and it was stated by the Education Commissioners that the effect of the Factory Acts in many instances had been that parents neglected the education of their children in their earlier years, depending on the education which they would receive later under the Factory Acts. If a parent received full wages from a child between the ages of eleven and thirteen he could afford to allow the younger children to have an education before attaining the age of eleven; but if the law compelled him to give up half the wages of the elder child he would be very apt to put the younger children to work under some contractor in order to fill up the gap. It was not a question of serious moment to the masters, but it was greatly to the interest of the children that the clause should stand as it appeared in the Bill.
§ MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
said, the Amendment was perfectly in accordance with Mr. Seymour Tremenheere's report. The hon. Member for Nottingham (Mr. Paget) had treated it as if it were merely a question of education, but a higher consideration even than education ought to have some weight—he meant health—and he asserted that no child of eleven years of age could be kept at work 101/2 hours daily without deterioration of its physical strength. He denied that the work would be sent to private houses, as the advantage of steam-power was so great that it would certainly be done where that power was available. Directly they had to deal with children working amid the whirl and whiz of machinery in a high temperature they were bound to follow out the provisions of the Factory Acts. Ho should support the Amendment—not to allow children to work full time until they were thirteen years of age.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, the report of Mr. Seymour Tremenheere contained unanswer- 1443 able arguments in favour of the noble Lord, and any one who read it must be convinced of the justice of the Amendment. The report was right, and the Bill wrong. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary would adopt the reasoning of the Commissioner, and not the arguments which his hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham had felt it his duty to state to the Committee.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
said, his object had really been to mediate fairly between the interests concerned. It was not his object to give undue protection to the masters, or to withdraw from the workpeople any security which they might obtain under the strict provisions of the Factory Act. It was admitted on all hands that there was a considerable difference between lace and silk or cotton factories, and the existence of that difference had led to the postponement of legislation until that time. The question was whether the modifications which he proposed were unreasonable. It was said that he had not literally followed the report of the Commissioner. After the report was made it had become the subject of criticism and discussion. The Commissioner, having received representations on points of detail, had thought fit to modify his views, and the Government had thought it better to adapt the Bill to the altered convictions of the Commissioner rather than adhere to those which be originally entertained, because those altered convictions were the result of discussion and matured consideration. With regard to the question whether the age should be thirteen or eleven, he thought it would be more advantageous to the people to retain the clause as it stood, but if that opinion should turn out to be fallacious it would be very easy in a future Session to alter so small a detail. The Bill would put lace factories under the Factories Acts, and would do so very effectually, except in some small points like that. The danger was that if they screwed it up too tight the Bill would fail in its operation, either through its being evaded or the non-employment of the class of young persons whom it was intended to benefit. He could only judge from information which he received from persons who had investigated the subject; but he understood that there was a great difference between factory labour and lace labour, and that young persons were worked with much less severity in lace than in cotton factories. One great difference was that they could sit 1444 down, and there were greater intervals of rest during their work. As his hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham (Mr. Paget) had pointed out, the masters might cease to employ children under the age of thirteen, and certain portions of the work might be taken to their homes, which were probably much more close and unwholesome than the factory. He would suggest that they should watch the operation of the Bill, and if thirteen or twelve should turn out to be a better age than eleven, they might amend it in a future Session. It was better to proceed cautiously, and not to take a leap in the dark. He should therefore, advise the Committee to agree to the clause as it stood.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that all the experience which they had had of the Factory Act proved that the age of thirteen years was an advantageous limit, and when be was advised to proceed cautiously he took it as a warning not wittingly to sanction any retrogression. If they established a different limit by this Act from that which had been found advantageous under the Factory Act they might be told that it was the limit which they ought to adopt in the Factory Act. The arguments in favour of a departure from the general principle now recognized were, in his opinion, inconclusive. He did not think it would be a great misfortune if children under thirteen were employed at their own homes; and as to the Bill affecting only a few children, that was a good reason for not making the limit of age in lace factories an exception to the general rule. If there was such a great difference between lace and other factories as the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department seemed to infer they ought not to apply the Factory Act at all to the lace factories; but if they determined to apply it, they should adhere to the limit which the Factory Act assigned. If that limit operated unfavourably it Would be time enough hereafter to amend the Act; but present experience was in favour of making the age of thirteen the limit, and he should, therefore, vote for the Amendment of the noble Lord.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, the difficulty which they had to contend with was the natural wish of parents to get as much as they could out of their children, and he thought great weight attached to the objection that if too great a limit of age was insisted upon, an alteration would be made in the system of manufacture by 1445 which the children would have to exchange I millwork under Government supervision for private work under the pressure of a hard taskmaster. If the mode of conducting the trade were once changed in that way it would not he easy to change it back again. Compromises rarely succeeded, but he would suggest twelve, instead of thirteen. They might begin at twelve, and, perhaps, they would get to thirteen in a year or two.
§ MR. COLLINS
remarked that he was rather inclined to think that twelve would be better than eleven or thirteen.
objected to tampering with the Factory Act. The proposed measure was a retrograde movement, or would lead to it, and Mr. Walker of Brad-ford, in a letter to him, after expressing ' that opinion, said he would rather see the Bill thrown out than have the 6th Clause remain unamended. The Amendment was perfectly in accordance with Mr. Seymour Tremenheere's report, and when it was said that Mr. Seymour Tremenheere had reconsidered the question it was well to remember two or three dates. Mr. Seymour Tremenheere received his instructions on the 23rd of November, and made his report on the 20th of March. Four months were occupied in making inquiries. The Bill was introduced on the 31st of May, so that it could scarcely be said that an opinion formed in the interval between the 20th of March and the 31st of May was more matured than the opinion over which it prevailed. The Committee had reported in favour of legislating for children in lace factories as for children in cotton and woollen factories, and the noble Lord would only be doing right in adhering to that proposition. As to children being thrown out of employment, that argument was used in 1836, and was proved by experience to be entirely fallacious. Children were employed because the master wanted them; and if masters employed older persons they would have to give higher wages.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
said, he thought it a singular view to call the proposed clause retrograde legislation. At present there was no limit of age. He proposed to fix it at eleven; and because he did not fix it at thirteen it was said to be a retrograde step. If two people were walking, and one proposed to go eleven miles and the other thirteen, surely it could not be said that the one who went eleven miles went back, because he did not go thirteen? 1446 He did not wish to appear unreasonable and, therefore, if it met with the genera concurrence of the Committee, he would accept twelve instead of eleven.
LORD HENRY LENNOX
said, that Mr. Seymour Tremenheere deliberately fixed the age at thirteen years, and the object of his Amendment was simply to carry out that gentleman's recommendation. He should, therefore, adhere to his Amendment. It was, moreover, an error to suppose there was a great deal of leisure in lace factories, as by double sets of bobbins and carriages, which were now provided by more than one-third of the trade, the labour was rendered continuous.
§ Question, "That the word 'Eleven' stand part of the clause, put, andnegatived."
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, there was a great demand for the labour of children, and they ought to be protected.
said, that with reference to what had fallen from the noble Lord (Lord Henry Lennox) it was quite a mistake to suppose that there was continuous labour where there was a double set of bobbin machines.
§ Question put, "That the word 'thirteen' be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 60; Noes 56: Majority 4.
§ Clauseordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clause 6 (Time for Meals),
proposed that the words "five o'clock" should be substituted for "six o'clock" in the latter part of the clause.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. COLLINS
said, he should oppose the clause. The object of the Factory Acts was to secure to the workpeople a bond fide time in which they might take their meals in the same comfort as was enjoyed by other classes; and he saw no reason why the workers in lace factories should be placed in a different position in this respect from the workers in cotton factories. When persons brought biscuits or other refreshments with them into the factory, it was found practically impossible to carry out the intention of the Legislature.
said, it was absolutely necessary that the system of working by shifts should be carried on in these factories if the English manufacturer was not 1447 to be placed at a serious disadvantage with his French and Belgian rivals, who already trod very close on his heels. It would, however, be impossible to work by shifts if a lace factory must be cleared of all the workpeople in the same manner as in the cotton and woollen-factories. The enormous capital required to furnish machinery for lace-making rendered it of the utmost importance that that machinery should not be forced to remain longer idle than was absolutely necessary. In the interests of the workpeople, as well as of the employers, he trusted that the clause would be retained.
§ MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
said, that all through that discussion the Government had made a very faint opposition to the propositions emanating from the other side of the House. If the Committee were now legislating wrongly, it was all the Government's fault in not supplying full information on the subject. They had heard that the report of Mr. Seymour Tremenheere had been reconsidered. Had there been any reports since then? And why was not the report of Mr. Redgrave, Inspector of Lace Factories, produced? As to what the hon. Member for Nottingham had said about foreign competition, that was the old exploded argument they had so often heard used against the Factory Acts. According to the evidence of Mr. Cox, a large employer, our manufacturers were now in a much better position than they were in before, particularly with regard to France, in consequence of the new treaty. Before that treaty the importation of lace into France was totally prohibited. The Home Secretary had described the Bill as a walking match, in which the right hon. Gentleman wished to go eleven miles and his hon. Friend thirteen; but unless its title was to be a pure misnomer the clause must be struck out. All who had voted for making the measure conform to the Factory Acts, and to the recommendations of Mr. Seymour Tremenheere, were bound to support the hon. Member for Knares-borough in resisting the clause.
§ MR. COBBETT
said, that the omission from the Bill of the mealtime clause of the Factory Acts, which was framed with great care and circumspection, would have the practical effect of making the children work twelve hours a day. Say what they would, if the child was not to have his proper mealtimes away from the atmosphere of the factory, he must be held to be at continuous work from six to six. If the 1448 Commissioner had thought that the mealtime clause of the Factory Act would be destructive to the lace trade, he would surely have stated so in his report.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
said, that as the report by Mr. Redgrave, to which the hon. Member for Liskeard had referred, had no existence, it was impossible to produce it. [Mr. B. Osborne: Is there no letter?] No letter. Mr. Redgrave might have written a private letter, but he had written no official document that could be produced to the House. As to the Commissioner not having reported on the subject of mealtimes, the difference between the labour in an ordinary factory and that carried on in a lace factory was so great that he supposed it could not have been conceived that anybody would propose to extend to the latter the restrictive regulations as to mealtimes now applicable to the former. He was unwilling to agree to the omission of the clause as it stood in the Bill; but he had no objection to add a proviso declaring that no woman, child, or young person should be employed in any manner during mealtimes.
§ MR. COLLINS
said, he wished to ask the Chairman, whether it was not too late for such a Motion to be made, the question that the clause as amended stand part of the Bill having been previously put?
§ MR. HENNESSY
said, he trusted that the right hon. Gentleman, the Home Secretary, would be good enough to reply to the question.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
said, that before answering that question perhaps he would be permitted to put one in return, were there any lace factories in Ireland?
§ Mr. CONINGHAM
said, he should support the extension of the regulations of the Factory Acts relating to meal hours, upon sanitary grounds.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
said, he must plead ignorance of the fact that there were any lace manufactories in Ireland. The existing Factory Acts extended to Ireland, and there was a factory inspector for that country. The United Kingdom was mentioned in the preamble of the Bill, and; therefore, he apprehended that the proposed extension of the provisions of the 1449 Factory Acts would apply both to Ireland and Scotland,
§ Question put, "That Clause 6, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 49; Noes 59: Majority 10.
§ The remaining Clauses and Schedules were agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Bill reported; as amended, to be considered To-morrow.