§ Order for Second Reading read.
MR. H. A. BRUCE
said, he rose to move the second reading of this Bill. It had been introduced in consequence of a Report which had been presented by a Commission appointed by the late Sir George Lewis, to make inquiries into the employment of children and young persons in trades and manufactures not regulated by law. A similar Commission was appointed twenty years ago, whose Report coincided very much in its general results with the Report which was presented last year. The Commissioners had inquired into and had reported on the state of the children and young persons employed in the manufacture of pottery, lucifer matches, 1709 And percussion caps, paper-staining, finishing and hooking, and fustian cutting. The recommendations of the Commissioners resolved themselves into three heads— that the places in which those manufactures were carried on should be properly cleansed and effectually ventilated; that special means should be provided for alleviating the peculiar dangers arising from such of the processes employed as were unusually noxious and dangerous; and that the provisions of the Factory Acts should be enforced with reference to these manufactures and employments; The number of children employed in those trades was between 17,000 and 18,000, and he was the more desirous of stating that fact as the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Ferrand) had computed them at 100,000. Although it was possible, in case the House should assent to the principle of the Bill, that ultimately a much larger number of children than he had mentioned would be affected by similar legislation, yet, as a matter of fact, the number of children and young persons who would be immediately affected by the Bill was between 17,000 and 18,000. That number might be divided as follows:—11,000 were employed in the potteries, 1,613 in the lucifer-match manufactories, 150 in the manufacture of percussion caps, 1,150 in paper-staining, 2,300 in finishing and hooking, and 1,563 in fustian cutting. The Bill before the House embodied all the recommendations of the Commissioners in its clauses. It first of all provided that the places in which those trades were carried on should be painted in oil once in seven years, and lime-washed once in fourteen months. The only deviations from the recommendations of the Commissioners were to be found in the following provisions:—(1.) During the first six months after the passing of the Act children not under eleven to be employed as young persons, (2.) During the first thirty months children not under twelve may be employed as young persons. (3.) No child, young person, or woman, employed in lucifer-match manufactory to take meals in any part of the factory where the manufacturing process is carried on. (4.) No child to be employed in fustian cutting before eleven years of age. (5.) During the first eighteen months after the passing of the Act, so much of the Factory Acts as provide that no child, young person, or woman shall take meals in any part of the factory where the manufacturing process is carried on shall not apply to the employment of paper-staining or the manufacture of earthenware.In addition to the provisions contained in the Bill with regard to ventilation and 1710 cleanliness, the master was empowered to make special rules in order to secure those desirable objects, and summarily to punish any workmen who should set them at defiance. This provision would remove the only objection he had heard made to this clause, which was one that the masters regarded as essential to their security. The factory Acts had been incorporated in the present measure with a few exceptions and those exceptions had been made with the object of rendering the transition from the present state of things easier and more convenient than it otherwise would have been. He would not enter upon the general question of the propriety of legislative interference for the protection of women and children against excessive or unhealthy labour, because that question had been fully discussed on the first introduction of the Factory Acts, and those who were most opposed to those measures at the time of their introduction — and among the number were not only employers of labour, but many statesmen — distinguished as much for philanthropy as for their political ability—had now been forced to admit the wisdom of those Acts of the Legislature. There was not one hon. Member who took part in those debates, he believed, and who opposed the introduction of the Factory Acts who did not now admit that he was wrong—and the Factory Acts so far from having proved tm evil had been a great blessing. He, nevertheless, confessed that, in spite of the success which had attended the introduction of those Acts, the Government was bound in all cases to assign sufficient reason to warrant its interference, and in doing so he was fortunately spared the necessity of using much argument. In a memorial which had been presented to the Government from the employers in the Potteries the memorialists, after stating various facts with reference to the health and education of children in the Potteries, said that their employment was the cause of various moral and physical evils; that it was the origin of a vast amount of ignorance; that the employment of children at so tender an age stunted their growth, and caused in many cases a tendency to consumption, distortion of the spine, and other complaints; and that, much as they deplored these evils, it would not be possible to prevent them by any scheme of agreement between the manufacturers, as a portion only of the employers could be brought to consent to such an agreement. The memorialists also urged the desirableness 1711 of appointing a Commission to inquire into the subject, and to consult as to the best means of remedying the evils complained. The memorial was most creditable to those who had signed it, sad it was perhaps the first instance in which an agitation for the security and advantage of the working people against excessive hours and labour had been initiated by the masters themselves; He should have been quite contented to allow his case to rest upon the evidence of the memorialists, had not the correctness of their statements been lately called into question. He therefore felt it his duty to lay before the House reasons for believing that the memorialists were fully justified in what they said and that there was every cause why Government should interfere. In the Potteries the number of young persons employed between the ages of thirteen and eighteen was 6,500, and the number of children between eight and twelve was 4,500, A great many children commenced work when they Were eight years of age, and they were at once put to labour which, under the best masters, generally lasted for eleven or twelve hours, and under the worst was sometimes extended to thirteen or fourteen. A large number of the children were employed in turning the "jigger"—an operation not requiring much strength, but which overtasked the strength of children when continued throughout the day—and in "mould-running." Children were rarely employed at the first only. They varied their work of jigger turning by carrying the clay which had been moulded into a hot stove, where the temperature was often between 120 and 130 degrees. He did not regard that portion of the work as severe, even if the child were so young as eight, provided that the hours of labour were limited; but he was aware that difference of opinion existed upon the point. The process termed "wedging clay" was chiefly performed by boys, and involved an amount of continuous exertion much beyond their strength. In reference to the processes of "dipping" and "scouring" the Government Inspector said—The operation of dipping the ware is a specially injurious employment, owing to the poisonous nature of the lead which generally forms a large ingredient in the glaze. Boys of a very young age are employed in carrying the ware to the dipper, and are thus Compelled to spend much of their time in the poisoned atmosphere of the dipping house. The injurious effects of the dripping tub are well known. Few dippers Continue many years at their work without suffering from painter's 1712 colic or paralysis; many become crippled at an early age. Boys of about fourteen or fifteen years of age are employed to 'gather' the ware from the dipper; they are brought more in, contact with the glaze than the other boys. Women are also employed in the dipping house, to brush the ware. Nearly all the boys whom I found engaged in this work had felt its effects more or less; some had suffered very seriously. There seems to be ground for supposing that some constitutions are more affected by the lead poison than others. The boys employed in the dipping house are generally a better class than the flat pressers' assistants. Their wages are much higher and the work is less laborious… The operation of scouring china,—.i.e. dusting and cleaning the ware from the fine flint powder in which it has been fired is a very injurious employment The persons, engaged in this work are women. No children are ever employed in it, but many young women are tempted to sacrifice their health for the high, wages which this employment affords.The paper cutters were mostly children. In the operation itself there was little that was injurious, but the health of the children suffered in consequence of over work, the great heat of the room in which the labour was carried on, and from deficient ventilation. With respect, to the health of the potters Dr. Greenhow said, in 1861, in is Report on Public Health—The potters of Stoke and Wolstanton are of short stature and sickly appearance Boys are put to work at a very early age. Boys were observed carrying recently made ware into the stoves at the age of seven, and at all intermediate ages between seven and fourteen years.… Young females, were seen turning the jigger at the ages of twelve and thirteen years, and sometimes, but rarely, at an earlier age.… It was stated by Mr. Boothroyd, a medical practitioner of Hanley, that each successive generation of potters became, more dwarfed and less robust than the preceding one, and that, in his opinion, but for their occasional intermarriage with strangers, the deterioration Would follow much more rapidly. This statement was confirmed by Mr. M'Bean, another medical man, who said that he had observed a marked degeneration in the potters, especially shown in diminution of stature and breadth, since he commenced practice among them twenty-five years ago. This falling off he attributed greatly to the neglect of children by their mothers, bat more especially to the early age at which, they are put to labour, and to the unhealthiness of their parents.Dr. J. T. Arlidge, senior physician to the North Staffordshire Infirmary, expressed himself in even stronger terms—The potters, as a class, both men and women, but more especially the former, represent a degenerated population, both physically and morally. They are, as a rule, stunted in growth, ill-shaped, and frequently ill-formed in the chest; they become prematurely old, and are certainly short-lived; they are phlegmatic and bloodless, and exhibit their debility of constitution by obstinate attacks of dyspepsia and disorders of the liver 1713 and kidneys, and by rheumatism. But of all diseases they are especially prone to chest disease, to pneumonia, phthisis, bronchitis, and asthma. One form would appear peculiar to them, and is known as 'potter's asthma' or 'potter's consumption' Sorofula, attacking the glands or bones or other parts of the body, is a disease of two-thirds or more of the potters. The men are more subject to chest disease than the women; the latter employed in 'dipping' and in 'printing' suffer most. Those engaged in painting, burnishing, and in the ware-rooms least. The most sickly men are the hollow-ware pressers, firemen, and dippers. That the 'degenerescence' of the population of this district is not even greater than it is, is due to the constant recruiting from the adjacent country and to inter-marriages with more healthy races.Those statements, however, having been the subject of much discussion, he would fortify them by independent evidence which fully sustained their general accuracy. From a Return which had been made to Parliament it appeared that certain districts of Northumberland were the most healthy in England. A comparison between the deaths from phthisis and other diseases of the chest between the ages of twenty-five and forty-five showed that at Stoke-upon-Trent there died from those diseases 584 men and 542 women per 100,000 living; in Northumberland 335 men and 406 women; and in England and Wales, 512 men and 518 women. Between the ages of forty-five and fifty-five the deaths among the male population at Stoke-upon-Trent had increased to 1,309; and among the female population it remained stationary. In Northumberland there were 322 deaths among the men, and 361 among the women; while in England and Wales the numbers were 692 and 518 respectively. Between the ages of fifty-five and sixty-five the number of men who died from diseases of the lungs had increased at Stoke-upon-Trent to 1,787, and of women, to 882; while the numbers in Northumberland were 477 and 407, and in England and Wales 995 and 741. The result of the Commissioners' Report showed that employment in the Pottery manufactures undermined the constitution and encouraged and propagated forms of disease most productive of human suffering, and ultimately of decay. So much for the health. Now, with respect to education. The inquiry of the Commission stowed that education was very backward. In 1841 the population of the whole of the Pottery district was 70,000, and out of that number there were only 1,712 day scholars, or a proportion of 2.4 per cent. In 1862 the 1714 state of things was considerably improved, because while the population had increased to 80,237, the day scholars had also increased to 5,450, or about 6.7 per cent. Mr. Longe gave as the result of his personal examination of the children among the flat-pressers and lower classes of workmen:—
Statistics on the subject had been, prepared in the Education Department, which would enable the House to judge of the difference between the state of education in the district to which he referred, and in districts in which the Factory Acts were in operation. In making a comparison between three districts where there was no compulsory legislation with three factory towns, he found that in Newcastle, Stoke-on-Trent, and Wolstanton, the percentage of children at schools receiving the grant amounted to 7.89 above ten years, and 5.12 above twelve. In Halifax, Bradford, and Rochdale, the numbers were 17 per cent above ten, and 12 per cent above twelve. So that in spite of the desire of the parents to have their children educated, and of the masters to provide schools, the state of education in the Pottery districts was very unsatisfactory. It was urged by some that the educational clauses of the Mines Regulation Act would have the desired effect; but the success of that experiment in legislation had not hitherto been encouraging. It had certainly discouraged the employment of children underground between the ages of ten and twelve, but it seemed to have failed almost wholly in one of its chief objects, namely, in securing for them a certain amount of education. The recent Report of the Committee of Council on Education contained several notices of its operation in the principal Mining districts. Of their effect in Lancashire, Mr. Kennedy said —
No. of Children Examined. Could read. Could not read. Stoke-on-Trent 43 27, or 62.7 p. ct. 16, or 37.2 p. ct. Hanley, Shelton, Etruria 131 74, or 56.4 p. ct. 57, or 43.5 p. ct. Fenton and Longton. 69 25, or 36.2 p. ct. 44, or 63.7 p. ct.I have reason to fear that, as a rule, this law is of little practical effect in Lancashire, from three causes:—1st, because the expression 'competent schoolmaster' admits of a wide application; 2nd, because the expression 'able to read and write' is also susceptible of loose interpretation; and 3rd, because the supervision of the working of the clause is not, and probably cannot, 1715 be rigidly carried out. The result is that the educational provisions have not had much effect in Lancashire.Mr. Moncrieff thus spoke of the results in Northumberland—wherever I have had the opportunity in colliery schools I have inquired whether the Mines Regulation Act of 1860 has had any perceptible influence in promoting the attendance of boys between ten and twelve. The answer, both from schoolmasters and from owners or viewers, has, I believe, invariably been in the negative. I believe the provisions of the Act are fairly carried out, but I am not aware of any instances of boys attending school and receiving the certificate required. Viewers would rather dispense with them altogether than have the trouble of looking after the certificates. It does not, however, I am sorry to say, follow, that because they do not go down the pit they are therefore at school. Other employment, not within the scope of the Act, is found for them, so that nothing is commoner than to be assured that there are no boys of that age in the pit, and to see on the other hand, that there are hardly any of them in school.Mr. Norris said, that in Staffordshire—The Mines Act of 1860, so far as its educational provisions are concerned, has been a complete failure in the mining districts of Staffordshire and Shropshire.Of their working in the West Riding of Yorkshire, Mr. Watkins said—Judging by the-schools which I have inspected in the mining districts, and by information obtained from their teachers and managers there seems to be no doubt that the Act has produced some, but hitherto only a slight, effect. I proceed to state the reasons which in the opinion of many persons well qualified to judge, have hindered and defeated the object of the Act. With regard to the education of children working in mines, the Act provides that a boy above the age of ten years and under the age of. twelve years may be employed in a mine, or colliery, if he obtains a certificate, under the hand of a competent schoolmaster that he is able to and write. These expressions open a wide door for abuse. The term "competent schoolmaster" is very vague. Under this nomenclature, any schoolmaster teaching any kind of school may give the certificate required. Possibly there is no schoolmaster who is actually unable to tell whether a boy can read or write But there is no doubt of the fact that boys obtain their certificates whose reading and writing, they can be so called, are of the most wretched character, and perfectly useless for the purpose of education. Without some arrangements for a really 'competent master' and some settled test of ability to read and write, the object of the Act will be defeated not only by dishonest, persons but by those who believe that they are carrying out the point when they keep within the letter of the law.Against the half-time system proposed by the Bill, it had been urged by the masters, 1716 and even by the men themselves, that it would be impossible to obtain the necessary supply of children to carry on the work of factories. Undoubtedly a great number of workmen had petitioned against the application of the Factory Act to the district, but those workmen were themselves the employers of the boys, and generally less inclined to employ the boys moderately and humanely than the masters. A complete answer to the objection was the fact, that, in Glasgow and Newcastle, machinery had been employed to supersede the labour of children in some portions of the work. Much of the overwork of the children arose from the practice of many of the potters in working irregularly, or not at all, at the beginning of the week, and making up the time by extra exertion— longer days, towards the end of the week — a practice which created a greater demand for the labour of children than would have existed had they worked regularly. On that point the Commissioners said—If the master's propensities prompt him to loiter away the earlier days of the week, he works the extra hours on middle days to make up his losses. Thus the child—the almost infant child —is taxed with three or four, hours' increased exertion, to the sacrifice of his, health, his morals, and every domestic comfort that he would otherwise enjoy, and his without the least remuneration, as in every case his wages are the same, whether he makes the twelve hours or the sixteen. The evil is lamented by the honest workman, by the children, by the parents, and universally by the manufacturers, who acknowledge their inability to correct it themselves without incurring the risk of exciting tumult, and thereby occasioning some delay in the execution of their orders, as the processes are so linked in with each other that by losing one set of men the others are rendered useless.At present a large number of the more respectable persons engaged in the Potteries declined to allow their children to be exposed to the danger and fatigue which they knew to be inseparable from some portions, of the business, and consequently a large proportion of the children who worked in the Potteries were drawn from the neighbourhood of collieries, and from amongst the children of the poorer classes, They had the strongest evidence that if the work was made more healthy, a larger number of the children of the potters, themselves would be employed, and by that means an ample supply of children would in a short time be obtained. An argument that had been used was, that the works in which; the children were employed were so numerous and detached 1717 that it might be difficult to enforce the law. That matter had been considered. The same state of things existed in the cotton and woollen manufacturing districts, but no difficulty whatever in practice had resulted from the application of the Acts in those districts. Another argument used was one which was stale in the cars of the House, and it was that the unexpected receipt of orders made it necessary at times to work for a greater number of hours than the Factory Acts permitted. That argument had been too often refuted by experience to have much weight with hon. Members. It was also said that the competition of the iron works and collieries drew off a great number of boys who would otherwise be employed in the Potteries. But in the cotton, linen, and woodlen manufacturing districts, which were surrounded by iron works and collieries, no difficulty was experienced in obtaining labour, and the House might rest assured that whenever the children were employed under healthy conditions, the supply would be sufficient.
The strongest objection to the application of the half-time system, and one which would probably receive more sympathy on the part of that House, was, that the age of eight was too early on age at which to employ children even under the restrictions imposed by the Factory Acts. He was bound to say that there was a strong feeling throughout the district against employing children at so early an age; but the experience of Inspectors was that, with very rave exceptions, the employment of children of that age, under the restrictions of the Factory Acts, was not followed by any evil effects upon their health. If the permission to employ children at the age of eight might be to a certain extent an evil, it was also an advantage, because it was a security for the education of the child. The parents were apt to postpone sending the child to school until he began work, and there was no doubt that was an evil which would be augmented if the age of commencing work was altered from eight to nine years. That was a matter, however, which could be more conveniently dealt with in Committee.
He would next state a few facts with respect to another manufacture which would be included in the measure—the manufacture of lucifer matches. It was of recent growth, having only been commenced in the year 1833. The total number of young persons engaged in it was 1,800 and of adults 850; 1718 in other words, about two-thirds of the persons employed in the trade were children or young persons. The evidence taken before the Commission showed that these children were frequently employed from six in the morning till nine or ten o'clock at night, that they were the most neglected and worst educated of any class, and that they were the poorest of the poor and the lowest of the low. Their employment was exceedingly prejudicial to health, and induced a most distressing and painful disease of the jaw. They often lost portions of the jaw, and in some cases the lower jaw was entirely destroyed. The effect of attention, having been directed to the matter had been to diminish the, evil, but still the application of the Bill would be of the greatest use not only in limiting the number of hours during which the child was exposed to the fumes of phosphorus, but in securing ventilation, and preventing the children having their meals where they would still inhale the fumes of the phosphorous. The next trade—that of percussion caps and cartridges—did not employ many children, but it varied from time to time, and the Commissioners saw no reason why the children should not be included in the Act, their circumstances being generally the same. The next trade was that of paper-staining, the principal seat of which was in London, but it was also carried on in Manchester and other large towns. The number of children employed was 1,100 of which 643 were children under thirteen, and 82 were under ten years of age, and 507 were young persons. The trade was not necessarily injurious in itself, but the hours of labour were excessive. There were a certain number of busy months in the year in the trade, and in four of the busiest of these months the work went on from six in the morning till nine or ten at night, and even later, with little intermission. The effect of these long hours of work had been described by various witnesses. One witness stated that last winter six out of nineteen were away front ill-health from overwork, Mr. Duffy, a workman, stated that he had seen the children when none of them could keep their eyes open to do the work, and a boy thirteen years of age stated that he was kept so long on his feet working that they became sore. The workpeople also suffered from the heat and the fine dust which was suspended in the air during the progress of the work. Witt respect to the next trade, that of finishing, hooking, and lapping, the House had had the subject 1719 frequently before them in connection with the Bleaching and Dyeing Works' Act. It was believed, both by the Inspectors and the majority of manufacturers, that, the finishers had been included in the Act, A case, however, having been brought before the Court of Common Pleas, it was decided that where finishing was carried on as a separate process it did not come under the Act. An, Act passed in last Session partially removed that evil. Upon the statement of facts furnished by the Commissioners the Government had no difficulty is including the finishers and hookers in the Bill. Numerous objections were, however, made from various towns. First, from Bradford, where about 1,500 persons were employed. A petition only young persons; and that the trade so far from being unhealthy, was very healthy; they therefore, objected very strongly to being placed under the Act. Similar Statements came from Bedfast, Dundee, and Leeds. It therefore appeared to the Government that as only inquiry had been made at Manchester, and that as children were not employed in other towns, it would not be expedient to include them within the Act until further inquiry had been made. The Commissioners were about to report upon other traders, and the Government might probably have to introduce another Bill similar to that they were considering. In the meantime inquiry could be made into the condition of hookers, finishers, &c in other districts; and if the statement with respect to Manchester should be supported as regarded other places, it would then be the duty of Government to insert in another Bill the clause which had been introduced into the Bill before the House, and which he now proposed to omit. And now he came to the last part of his statement, the fustian cutters. In that trade there were altogether about 4,000 persons emplyed, 1,560 of whom were children, and out of this number about 600 carried on their employment in private dwellings. The tendency was to increase the number of children employed. In some cases they began as early as seven and eight years of age, and the average hours were fourteen per day, with one and a half hour for meals. Some employers, however, towards the end of the week kept them at work for eighteen or twenty hours a day. The nature of the trade, it appeared, necessitated a peculiar action of the body, which threw its weight in one 1720 continuous direction, producing in many cases distortion of the, knee and spine There was a general desire on the part of both employers and employed that the Act should be applied to;-that industry. The difficulty lay in extending it to the private dwellings of the workmen, but that difficulty was not insuperable. Having now concluded his review of the trades affected by the Bill, he felt it his duty to direct the attention of the House to the great importance of the new principles involved in it, Not only was this the first. time that the Factory Acts had been applied to trades in which the motive power was not steam, water, or machinery, but the Bill, if passed into a law, would regulate one trade at least which was carried on in private houses. It was the duty of the House carefully to consider the measure, and to determine whether they would be justified in applying the principle of the Factory Acts to the trades he had named. For his own part, he believed that no other species of legislation, which human wit had recommended; would be so effectual in attaining, the end they had in view, as those Acts of which they had had so beneficial an experience during, the last twenty years.
§ MR. CRUM-EWING
said, that knowing the beneficial effect the Factory Act had had, he hailed with satisfaction, the introduction, of the Bill, and it was with, considerable regret that he heard a few days back, that the right hon. Gentleman had determined to exclude from its operation the hookers, lappers, and, finishers. The whole of the evidence taken by the Commissioners was in favour of including those classes within the operation of the Act, and he trusted the Government would not exclude them, and that they would not flinch from pressing the Bill forward.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. H. A. Bruce.)
§ VISCOUNT INGESTRE
said, he should not oppose the second reading, but he should at the proper time move that it be referred to a Select Committee, with power to send for persons, papers, and records. He wished to put his opposition— if he might use the term — in the mildest form, for he was convinced that in the Potteries something must be done, but the question in his mind was how it should be done. He could not agree to the half-time system, believing-that children should not be employed in the Potteries at all under the age of ten years, and that was the prayer of the memorial, already re- 1721 ferred to, of the masters in the Potteries. He held in his hand several letters from influential persons favouring the view that children should not be employed under the age of ten years. The feeling was that there should be even very strong restrictions, but the manufactures asked that the Factory Acts should not be forced upon them, inasmuch as they were inapplicable to the Staffordshire Potteries. He believed that the right hon. Gentleman hardly gave the inhabitants of the Pottery districts sufficient credit for the state of education. The information upon the subject was gathered in a hasty manner, and Mr. Sandford, the assistant Inspector of Schools, had since acknowledged that he was mistaken in the opinion which he had given upon the subject. In that statement he was supported by the opinion of several schoolmasters in the district, who were all opposed to the half-time systems.
§ MR. H. R. GRENFELL
said, that he would very briefly express the reasons which induced him to vote for the Motion of the noble Lord the Member for North Staffordshire He could assure his right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Committee of Council that lie was not going to oppose his measure from any reasons of abstract political economy, but solely from a belief that no arguments had yet been adduced to show that the Mines and Collieries Regulation Act might not be applied to the Pottery district. His right hon. Friend said in his speech that various petitions had reached him since the publication of the blue-book at variance with the original memorial of the manufacturers. He (Mr. Greenfell) could assure the House that such was not the case. The petitions were exactly in accordance with the original memorial, and disputed none of its facts. But they disputed many of the facts contained in the blue-book both as to the health of the district and as to the education. The noble Lord having already shown that the educational statistics in the blue-book were not to be relied on, it was unnecessary for him (Mr. Grenfell) to speak further on that point. But he might say that these errors had caused great uneasiness in the district from the fact that they proceeded from Government agents. The Rev. Mr. Sandford was a Government Inspector of Schools, and with regard to the statement of Dr. Arlidge on the health of the district, lie had among his papers a pamphlet, published by a sub-Inspector of 1722 factories, Mr. Measor, who took for granted that Dr. Arlidge's statement was true. His right hon. Friend had himself quoted it, and it appeared as a test for almost every paper and pamphlet that had appeared since the publication of the bluebook. Now what were the facts of the case? Dr. Arlidge's statement was so astounding that almost every one connected with the district took notice of it, and having himself been present at severed meetings in the district, called for the purpose of discussing the Government measure, and hearing so much of Dr. Arlidge's statement, he thought there must be some mistake in it. Through the kindness of a friend he was put in communication with Dr. Arlidge, who very politely sent him a letter of explanation, which with the permission of the House, he would read—Newcastle under-Lyme,February 17th 1864.Dear Sir,—My friend Mr. Blakiaton, of Shelton, has kindly suggested that it would be well for me to write you in reply to a question put to him in a recent letter of yours, respecting the scope of my letter published in the report of the Children's Employment Commission, p. 24. I gladly avail myself of the suggestion, as my remarks have been much misinterpreted and severely censured.Paragraph 2 has been set forward by itself, and discussed without reference to the explanations in paragraph 1, and I have been made to say that the defects noted in paragraph 2 apply to the whole population of the Potteries. This interpretation is unfair. My assertions, as intimated in the first section, rest upon observations made among sick people almost entirely, and carried on principally at the Infirmary. At the same time this institution offers the best possible field for noting the prevalent disorders of the artisans of the district, and I again asked my opinion of the physical condition of the working potters, I should reiterate the statements in my published letter, with very slight modifications. The word "mentally" crept into my letter without reflection, and I would not repeat it unless convinced by special research of the truth of deterioration of mental condition, ever and above that amount inevitably concomitant with physical deterioration.Then, again, I would not assert that two-thirds of the potters are scrofulous, though probably one-third are. In so saying I was influenced by the vast number of strumeue patients which fell under my observation at the date I wrote, at the Infirmary, and from what I then knew I was justified in making the assertion. That so many scrofulous cases fell to my let at that time was the result of the usage prevailing, to send such cases to the physicians. It would lead me beyond the limits of a letter to enter into further explanation of similar accidental modifying circumstances to be allowed for in a fair estimate of my letter. Saving, however, the two points mentioned, I repeat, my letter conveys the positive 1723 results of observation carried on among the potters applying at the Infirmary, and as far as practicable, among those coming within the range of private practice. It should be remembered that by the plan of establishment subscriptions, levied as a tax among the work-people, the Infirmary represents a gigantic sick club, and therefore the results arrived at respecting the physical condition of the artisans of the district, are of wider application than they would be in an Infirmary supported wholly by voluntary contributions, and therefore resorted to by the very poor only. Forgive this long epistle—I remain, yours truly,J. T. ARLIDGE.H. R. Grenfell, Esq.P.S.—I have a multitude of statistics which I hope shortly to publish—J.T.A.What, then, was the upshot of this piece of evidence as to two-thirds of the potters being scrofulous? Why that two-thirds of those who went to Dr. Arlidge were so. And this, because those afflicted with this disorder were sent to the physician, and he was a physician. After such a piece of evidence as that, no wonder doubt was thrown upon the accuracy of these statements. Passing fro the evidence to the measure before the House, he confessed he had heard no reason as yet why the three first clauses of the Mines Regulation Act should not be applied instead of the half-time clauses of the Factory Act. It was the unanimous feeling of the manufacturers and workmen that such should be attempted. The whole of the clergy were in favour of it, and, indeed, he might say that the Rector of Stoke only a few days ago assured him (Mr. Grenfell) that he considered it better for the health and more conducive to the education of the district. For these reasons he should support the Motion of the noble Lord for a Committee, which he was informed need only last a few days as the object was clearly defined and the evidence could be easily sifted. At the same time, whether this were granted or not, he felt convinced that the manufactures of the Pottery district were desirous of obtaining the best measure for the workmen, and that whichever measure of these two was selected by Parliament, in the wisdom of which they had the fullest confidence—whether it were the half-time system or the Mines Act— they would receive it with the full intention to do their utmost to make it conducive to the health, morals, and education of this important district.
MR. ALDERMAN COPELAND
said, he should like to see the Bill so modified that it could be advantageously applied. He 1724 desired, and his brother manufacturers concurred in that desire, to see an enactment passed prohibiting the employment of any child before the age of ten years, and then for not more than seven and a half hours a day. He maintained that the blue-book had cast a stigma upon the Staffordshire manufacturers which they could ill bear. He believed that it would be very advisable if the provisions of the Mines Regulations Act could be applied to the Pottery districts. He must also take the opportunity of congratulating the right hon. Gentleman upon the selection he had made in the appointment of mining Inspectors.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
said, he rose to express his gratitude to the right hon. Gentleman for the care and trouble which he had bestowed upon the Bill. The pottery manufacturers of Staffordshire were constituents of whom he might justly be proud. So anxious were they that their trade should not be carried on to the moral or physical injury of those they employed, that they were the first body of manufactures who had themselves sought to inflict this restrictive legislation on their trade. He (Mr. Adderley) hoped the second reading of the Bill would be passed without discussion, and the sense of the House taken on the proposition of his noble Friend for referring the Bill to a Select Committee. He thought it was due to the manufacturers, who had initiated the legislation, that such a Bill should be investigated by a Select Committee as they requested, and he believed that the short delay that would thereby be caused would in no way endanger its passing. The system of inspection which had of late so much spread in this country was not only very costly but was also distasteful to our habits and customs, and could be only regarded as a violent remedy. The necessity of some such infraction of private rights could not, however, be denied, because, but for it, there would have been no Factory Act legislation. Those who at first were the strongest opponents of that, system now admitted the beneficial effects of it. They had, indeed, entirely recanted the opinions which they, entertained, some years, ago. He thought the principle of the Factory Act so successful when applied should be further applied to all trades and employments in the country, if it could be done, and as much as possible by a system of penalties on detection of offences, with as little espionage as 1725 possible, The Factory Act was, in reality, a protection of the good manufacturer against the bad, and it ought to be spread equally and impartially over every kind of employment. The difficulty, however, was, that there were some employments—chiefly agricultural—which it would be extremely difficult to place under such restrictions. The present measure extended the Factory Acts to fire or six additional trades. The Bill had been drawn up in a most slovenly and objectionable manner, because it did not specifically state its provisions. It simply declared that certain six trades should be subjected to the Factory Acts, of which there were already thirteen in number. Probably no two lawyers would give the same opinion as to what those six trades would be thus subjected to. This was a slovenly and dangerous mode of framing legislation, and he therefore hoped that an early opportunity would be taken of consolidating the several acts. He gave his adherence to the principle adopted by the Bill, yielding only so far to the noble Lord that he would consent to its being referred to a Select Committee. The sole ground of opposition raised to the half-time system proposed by the Bill was a preference for the Mines Regulation Act, Which permits children's full work from the age of ten. He must say, however, that he adhered to the half-time system. He did not believe that a boy could begin to work too early as long as the work given to him was suitable to his age. He could not commence too early to learn the trade by which he was to get his living in after years, as long as the boy was not subjected to too hard labour. But he did not think children were capable of full work at ten. As to the system of employing children full time and afterwards sending them to school it was a perfect farce. Mr. Bagnall, near Birmingham, a most intelligent and one of the best masters in the iron districts, had tried it, and notwithstanding that he had built schools, furnished them, and found masters, the only result was that instead of the children going home after work to bed, they were placed on benches, where they slept uncomfortably, instead of sleeping at home comfortably. It was said that the half-time system would increase the demand for children, and that the demand would thus get in excess of the supply. The same argument had been urged against the introduction of every factory Act, and had turned out to be without the shadow of foundation. 1726 Even if it were found difficult to supply the double requisition of children, their work was of so easy and simple a character that it would not be difficult to find a machine which would act as a substitute. Their work was in a great many cases confined to turning a wheel. If machinery for this is adopted, will parents grudge a slight loss of children's wages to economize their children's lives? It was better during the whole period of childhood to mix a child's proper work with education, than to devote him to education without work till ten, and impose full work on him after.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, he wished to state his entire concurrence in the expression of gratification at the way in which the Bill had been received. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Stoke-upon-Trent had complained of the manner in which the manufacturers had been treated by the Commissioners in their Report, but it should be remembered that the Commissioners had given the manufacturers credit for admire fully to concur in the objects which the Commission itself sought to promote. The Factory Acts referred to by the Bill were not thirteen, as stated by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Adderley), but only five, and those five comprised the whole code of legislation in that direction. He would suggest that the Bill should be read a second time without opposition, and that the only point in dispate, the question as regarded the half-time, should be settled in Committee. He doubted, however, if the question would be so satisfactorily settled by a Committee upstairs as by a Committee of the whole House, while the probable effect of referring the Bill to a Special Committee would be to postpone legislation upon the subject for another year.
§ COLONEL EDWARDS
congratulated the Vice President of the Council of Education on the production of the Bill, which would be hailed with delight by the whole manufacturing population, and at the same time he thanked his noble Friend (Lord Ingestre) for his very eloquent and able speech. Living as he did in the heart of a manufacturing district, he could bear testimony to the blessings conferred by factory legislation. He trusted he would be excused by the House in not giving a silent vote in support of the extension of the Factory Act as proposed by the Government. It might be in the recollection of the House, that sixteen years ago he had the honour of supporting the views of that true patriot and benefactor of the working classes, 1727 John Fielden, in his advocacy, when he achieved the great victory of the Ten Hours Factory Bill. At that period it met with the most determined opposition from the great body of the Liberal party, but he was now happy to find that the majority of its most strenuous opponents to their honour confessed that their views were altogether changed with regard to the measure which had proved by its working to be a complete success. Were that excellent man still living, how gratified would he be to see the introduction of this Bill for the extension of the great enactment, to which he directed his life, to all other manufactures and trades in which females and boys required protection from over-long hours of labour. He would comply with the request of the Secretary of State, and add no more to his remarks at this stage of the Bill, in order that the House might not delay its progress. He would only add that the Chambers of Commerce at Halifax and Huddersfield had petitioned in favour of this Bill; Leeds and Bradford also; and, at the latter place, at an immense public meeting this feeling was unanimous in its favour, with certain modifications in Committee.
§ MR. FERRAND
said, he believed that the majority of the gentlemen engaged in the shipping trade of the country were in favour of the Bill, and he was therefore sorry to see the clause including shipping warehousemen in the provisions of the Bill struck out He maintained that that course shad been adopted by the Government in consequence of the pressure put upon the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department by certain Germans, inhabitants of Bradford. Might he ask the right hon. Baronet, if some pressure of a political nature had been brought to bear upon him?
§ SIR FRANCIS CROSSLEY
said, he had looked upon the first Factory Act with great fear, because he had believed that it would not answer, but he could now bear testimony to its good effects in every direction. He quite agreed in the opinion that the children worked batter and learnt more under the half-time system than if all their, time were devoted either to school or to labour. He thought that if they found further legislation for the protection of children successful, they might come to the House and ask them to extend the same class of legislation to agricultural labourers.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, he rose 1728 to express his regret at having heard from the right hon. Gentleman that he intended to expunge from the Bill the clause relating to the hooking and lapping process, but he trusted an effort would be made in Committee to retain the clause. If the Bill should pass with that clause in it, it would entitle the right hon. Gentleman to great credit as having introduced a Reform Bill infinitely more valuable than many of those Reform Bills which had come from the Ministerial side of the House. He might add that he was quite sure that if such a measure as that which had been alluded to by the hon. Baronet the Member for Halifax were introduced, it would receive every favourable consideration from agricultural Members.
§ Motion agreed to: Bill read 2°, and committed for Thursday.