§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
Mr. Speaker, although this is the third Session of Parliament in which the Factory Acts Amendment Bill has been before the House, yet, owing to the fact that in the first Session it was brought in late, and in the second Session that the result of the inquiry instituted by the Government had not been reported, and it was again too late for that Session, this is in reality the first opportunity which has been presented to us for a full discussion of the question on its merits. Seeing then, that I am appealing to a new House of Commons, and that a considerable proportion of the Members of that House have not been familiar with the discussions that have heretofore taken place upon this Bill; seeing also that the subject has been the occasion of considerable discussion in the country sine the last Session of Parliament, and that it has been made a test question in many constituencies, especially in the manufacturing districts, I feel that I must ask the forbearance of the House whilst I submit, as succinctly as I possibly can, the reasons for introducing this measure and the grounds upon which I claim the assent of the House to its further progress. In doing this, I must ask the House to consider the measure on its own real merits. I must also ask hon. Members not to allow it to be prejudiced by any defects or faults in my advocacy. I am quite conscious of my inability to deal with the question in an adequate manner—in the manner which a question of such vast importance deserves; and I am quite sure that it is impossible, during the time that I shall venture to trespass on the attention of the House to state one half the arguments that might be adduced in favour of the measure. This question, Sir, has encountered considerable opposition. I know that I have powerful and influential opponents. I know that those who have taken up the weapons against this measure are gentlemen of great wealth, with much leisure, and great aptitude for public business. Still, Sir, I think I have reason for congratulation in the fact that up to this time, notwith- 1741 standing some slight misrepresentation, which I believe is not intentional, and some misunderstanding which is very natural to happen in the course of proceedings such as took place last Session many of my opponents have treated my advocacy of this measure with good temper and in a kindly spirit. I think, too, Sir, that it augurs well for the future success of the measure that those of my opponents who had previously advocated legislation have been exceptionally kind, courteous, and considerate. It is quite true that the Bill has provoked the publication of a large amount of literature, a good deal of which might be fairly classed among the "Curiosities of Literature." Some of it has been addressed to Members of this House, and I fear that I have done much to fill the pockets of the printers, and the waste-paper baskets of hon. Members. But, again, I would ask the House fairly to judge of my Bill by that which is contained within its four corners, and to put out of sight any inuendos they may have heard as to what it is intended to contain, and as to what it is intended to bring about. I can assure the House that the real object of the Bill is stated fairly on the face of it, and I beg the House to judge of my motives and my opinions by the language I use in this House, and not by what I have been represented as saying outside by interested parties. As I have stated before in this House, no legislation has ever taken place in this country which provoked so much bitter hostility and so much personal acrimony in times past as factory legislation. Forty or 50 years ago it was regarded as county against town, the landed gentry against the manufacturing interest, and as Tory against Whig. The two parties in the State were arrayed one against the other. Each charged the other with bidding for popular favour, in order to carry a measure that would bring about the ruin of the manufacturing interest of the country. Happily there is no such feeling in existence to-day. But even so recently as the year 1844, factory legislation had arrayed against it some of the most illustrious statesmen and political economists of the present century. Lord Brougham, Sir Robert Peel. Mr. Macaulay-, Sir James Graham, Mr. Cobden, my hon. and learned Colleague (Mr. Roebuck), Mr. John Stuart Mill, and many other distinguished men were 1742 strong and almost bitter and acrimonious in their opposition to factory legislation. But, Sir, all or nearly all of these men lived to see the error of their opinions, and frankly, generously, and magnanimously acknowledged their error. Sir James Graham, Mr. Cobden, my hon. and learned Colleague, and many others lived to applaud and extend the very measure which they had formerly opposed. Lord Macaulay was one example that is particularly noteworthy. He stood as candidate for the borough of Leeds in the year 1832, and Mr. Michael Thomas Sadler was his opponent. At that time Mr. Sadler advocated the very Bill which is now law. It was a Ten Hours Bill. Indeed, I ought to say that the Ten Hours Bill was not so extensive in its scope as the law which is now in operation. It was exclusively confined to young persons under 18 years of age employed in factory labour; and Lord Macaulay, when questioned about this Bill at the Leeds election, said—I look on the Factory Bill, while admitting the propriety of regulating the labour of children as a quack medicine. I say with the least scruple that to tell a man he shall have 10 hours' work and 12 hours' wages is the same as telling him that by swallowing a certain pill he may get rid of all disease even if it be of 30 years' continuance. Therefore, while I have declared myself friendly to a measure for the regulation of the labour of children, I will not agree to rash measures which would drive the whole trade of this country to other countries, lower your wages, and aggravate every distress that you now endure.Such, then, was Lord Macaulay's opinion on factory legislation in the year 1832. On the 22nd of May, 1846, Mr. John Fielden brought in a Bill for regulating the labour of children, young persons and women, by confining that labour to 10 hours a day on five days of the week, and eight hours a day on Saturdays, and prohibiting the employment of children under nine years of age. On that occasion a most eloquent speech was delivered by Lord Macaulay in its favour; indeed, I think there are few of Lord Macaulay's speeches that are equal to the speech which he then delivered on the Ten Hours Bill; and singular enough it was a reply to a speech of the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Ward). Well, Lord Macaulay says in that speech—My noble Friend near me seemed to think that the time was ill chosen. I must say that, I am of a different opinion. We carried up on Monday to the House of Lords a Bill which, if 1743 our expectations are answered, will have the effect of raising the condition of the labouring classes, and of giving to the people of this country a very great advantage they have not hitherto possessed in their competition with foreign countries. It does seem to me that there could be no time more favourable for the transition we are now discussing, than the present. I must add, that I think it would he highly hononrahle to this House to make in one week, as far as is in our power, a reparation for two great errors of two different kinds; for, Sir, as lawgivers, we have errors of two different lands to confess and repair. We hove done that which we ought not to have done; we have left undone that which we ought to have done. We have regulated that which we ought to have left to regulate itself; we have left unregulated that which it was our especial business to have regulated. We have given to certain branches of industry a protection which was their bane. We have withheld from public health and from public morality a protection which it was our duty to have given. We have prevented the labourer from getting his loaf where he could get it cheapest, but we hare not prevented him from prematurely destroying the health of his body and mind by inordinate toil. I hope and believe that we are approaching the end of a vicious system of interference, and of a vicious system of non-interference. We have just done what was in our power for the purpose of repairing the greatest of all the errors we have committed in the way of interference; and I hope we shall to-night by giving an assent to the principle of this measure, take a step toward repairing another error—the error of neglect."—[3 Hansard, lxxxvi. 1044.]That language of Lord Macaulay was language that was afterwards echoed by Sir James Graham, by my hon. and learned Colleague, (Mr. Roebuck) by Mr. Cobden, by Lord Brougham, by Sir Robert Peel, and by others who had been at first the opponents of factory legislation. Experience had taught them that it was necessary to regulate the labour of those who were unable to protect themselves, and therefore needed the protection of this House; and since that time further experience has still more convinced us of the value of that legislation. Our factory legislation, indeed, has found copyists in all the nations of Europe, which in some instances have gone beyond it, more especially in their care and protection of young children. And not only has it been copied by other nations, but every statesman or politician who has written upon it has written upon it with admiration; and all over the Continent of Europe, in every Continental city, you will find works published in praise of our English factory legislation. The present Prime Minister, speaking at Glasgow in November last, said he regarded his sup- 1744 port of the Ten Hours Bill as one of the most satisfactory incidents of his life. And it has always been recorded to the honour of the party opposite that they were the promoters of factory legislation when the party with whom I sit were its opponents, and for this the working classes feel to this day that they owe a debt of gratitude to the party now in power. The Duke of Argyll, in that excellent work of his, The Reign of Law, declares that he regards factory legislation and all the restrictions on labour for the good of labour, as one of the greatest discoveries in political science. He says—During the present century two great discoveries have been made in the science of Government: the one is the immense advantage of abolishing restrictions upon trade; the other is the absolute necessity of imposing restrictions upon labour.He further says—If, during the last fifty years, it has been given to this country to make any progress in political science, that progress has been in nothing happier than in factory legislation. The names of those who strove for it and through whoso faith and perseverance it was ultimately carried are, and ever will be, in the history of polities, immortal names. No Government and no Minister has ever done a greater—perhaps all things considered, none has ever done so great a service.Having had personal experience for 30 years of the working of these Acts, I must declare my entire agreement with the opinions so eloquently and forcibly expressed by the noble Duke, and I thoroughly agree with what I heard a large employer in Lancashire say last week—that, but for Lord Shaftesbury's Factory Bill, we should have had a considerable portion of the Lancashire factory workers cripples. There is no doubt, then, that this legislation has been a blessing to the manufacturing community, and it is to the honour of our employers that they cultivate the most loyal spirit in carrying out the law, and, so far as they are concerned, do so cheerfully and are perfectly satisfied with it. Now, my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester (Sir Thomas Bazley) has pot upon the Notice Paper a Motion expressing disapproval of a private Member originating legislation of this kind. I confess that I hardly understand tic allusion; but it seems to me to convey a rebuke to me for taking upon myself duties which fairly devolve upon the Executive Government. His Notice is—That legislation upon interests so vast and 1745 important as are involved in the question of diminishing the hours of labour in Factories, and of farther restricting the capital of the employers, ought to originate with Government rather than with ft private Member.Sir, I think my hon. Friend can hardly have forgotten the history of factory legislation. Whose are the names which introduced and carried Factory legislation? Is there the name of a single Member of a Government amongst them? Did a single Prime Minister ever touch it except to play with and to damage it? Why all the measures that have been carried for the benefit of factory workers, have been introduced and carried by private Members.
§ SIR THOMAS BAZLEY
My hon. Friend has not accurately quoted the Amendment of which I have given Notice. What it says is—That legislation upon interests so vast and important as are involved in the question of diminishing the hours of labour in Factories, and of further restricting the capital of the employers, ought to originate with Government rather than with a private Member, nor without the previous inquiry of a Committee or Commission to report upon the merits of a question of such magnitude, to guide the House and the Government in determining whether any and what amendments are needed.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
I had not seen the Notice Paper of to-day. I read from the Paper which was supplied to us yesterday morning; I may, therefore, be excused from reading his own words. Well, then, what are the names of the men who have been illustrious in promoting factory legislation? The first Act of the kind was passed in the year 1802, at the instance of the first Sir Robert Peel, and was called—most appropriately, I think—the "Morals and Health Act." Prior to the passing of that Act, the apprentices were brought to the workshops and worked in relays, and it was said of them that their beds were never cold. The evils which then existed were such as, I am thankful to say, do not now exist, and cannot now exist; for I admit that the Acts which are in operation have done much to allay a great deal of misery and disease, and to improve the health and physique of our factory population. The next Act was passed by Sir John Cam Hobhouse in 1825, and applied to factory children only. In 1830, there was considerable agitation in the country on the subject of factory labour, and in 1832, Mr. Sadler's Bill passed. Agitation, however, continued and lasted nearly 30 1746 years. In 1833, Lord Ashley brought in his Ten Hours Bill; but failed in carrying it. In 1847, Mr. Fielden succeeded in carrying his Bill for 58 hours a-week, and limiting the age for children to nine years. I may be told that I am touching a dangerous question in dealing with this; and my hon. Friend who has given Notice of the Amendment seems to think so; but when I think that, so far back as 1847, the working hours were 58, and children were not to be employed under nine years of age, I feel that, my Bill is a moderate one in asking for a reduction of the hours of labour to 54, and that children shall be half-timers from the age of 10. The manufacturers resisted the legislation of 1847, and endeavoured to evade the Act by working relays; but in 1850, a settlement was arrived at by fixing the hours at 60 per week, and the minimum age of employment at eight years, and from that time to this we have not only been working the textile factories under that Act, but we have been steadily extending legislation to every branch of our national industry. We have passed Print Works Acts, Bleaching Works Acts, Lace Factories Acts, and Hosiery Factories Acts, until we have gradually brought in almost every branch of trade and industry in the country; and, as I think, with the utmost possible advantage to the country. I have never known any one who had worked under the Factory Acts for a year or two desire to return to the old state of things. Even recently in London, the dressmakers, large millinery houses, paper bag manufactories, and other industries employing females, have declared themselves contented with the change, and say that it is better for the workpeople's health, better for their morals; that they get a better class of hands; in short, that the results are most satisfactory to all concerned. The largest measure for the restriction of the hours of labour ever passed by this House was carried in the year 1867, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Hardy) was Home Secretary. That was the Factory Acts Extension Act and the Workshops Regulation Act. These Acts brought within their scope not less than 1,400,000 persons—children, young persons, and women; and I am bound to say that the great majority of them were women. I 1747 find from the second Report of the I Children's Employment Commission, that a large proportion of this number were women. The lace manufacture employed 150,000, hosiery 120,000, straw plait 100,000, milliners and dressmakers 286,000. seamstresses, bootmakers, glovers. &c., 300,000. When that Act came before the House, it owed much of its success, and much of its completeness in passing through the House, to my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. Faweett), whom, I am sure, we are all delighted to see in the House again. My hon. Friend has since modified his opinions on the question of the employment of women. That, however, is a fair subject for discussion; but the course which he has taken on the present occasion is one for which I owe him a debt of gratitude; for he has consented to defer any objections which he entertains to this Bill until we arrive at the next stage and go into Committee upon it, and then raise the question respecting the employment of women and have it thoroughly discussed. For my own part, I shall be thankful for the opportunity of having it fully discussed. It was discussed in this House more than 30 years ago, and when it is discussed again, and he comes to know something of the internal economy of our mills, I believe he will agree with me that we cannot abolish the restrictions which have been imposed on the employment of women. At the time when the great measures of 1867 passed through this House Mr. John Stuart Mill sat in the House—the whole time as Member for the City of Westminster. No man had written more strongly than he did 30 years before with regard to the non-restriction of the employment of women, and no man had more the courage of his opinions or a greater amount of moral intrepidity than Mr. John Stuart Mill. Yet I have searched in vain in the division lists for the name of Mr. Mill, and in the reports in Hansard, for one word of Mr. Mill against the passing of those measures. I have a right to assume then—and those who know anything of his intrepidity and independence will agree with me—that Mr. Mill was in favour of those measures. At any rate, if he were not, he never uttered one word against them in this House. In 1871, we made the Workshops Act operative by another Bill, which placed them 1748 under the Factory Inspectors. We included brickyards, and placed restrictions upon the employment of women and boys in those places, and that with the best results. But I come now to the measure which is more immediately under the consideration of the House. The House will recollect what a general reduction has taken place in the hours of labour throughout the country during the last five years; but those who suppose that that reduction has been confined to Great Britain make a great mistake. It seems to me that it is no longer a national movement, but has become a world-wide movement. It has gone to a greater extent on the Continent of Europe than it has in England, for whereas we have gone down from 10 hours to 9 in the trades of England, on the Continent they have gone down from 14 or 15 hours to 11 and 10, and whilst in this country the wages of labour in textile fabrics have advanced but very moderately in those 5 years, on the Continent, in the textile fabrics, the wages have advanced not less than 20 per cent. In some branches of manufacture they have doubled, and in Germany I know where there are 400 looms standing still because the workmen say they will work hand looms no longer. They say—"We will have power looms, for then we can get good wages." It is only natural, when other industries are reducing the hours of labour, that the factory workers should ask that their hours should be reduced also. They have had no reduction since the year 1847; on the contrary, their hours are increased to 60 a-week from 58. The result has been that many employers have felt compelled to give way on this point, and notably Mr. Hugh Mason, of Ashton, has set the example by requiring his people to work 58 hours a-week instead of 60. When Mr. Mason gave way, others gave way also; some two hours, some three; in Scotland many employers went down to 57. This matter was much discussed in the newspapers at the time, and created much agitation, particularly in Manchester. To such an extent did the agitation go that Mr. Mason was badly received on the Manchester Exchange; in fact, he was hooted off the Exchange for reducing the hours of labour of his workpeople. In 1871 there arose a discussion in the Manchester Chamber of Commerce upon the subject. In that discus- 1749 sion Mr. Hugh Mason took part, and this is what he said in Ms speech—The English spinner can hold his own with any country in Europe, in any neutral market in the world to which he had access; and then-was nothing whatever to fear even as regarded the attempt which was now being made—and which he sincerely hoped would succeed—by the cotton operatives, to shorten their hours of labour from 60 to 58 hours per week. He was sure the movement would go on, and that, instead of being a disadvantage to the capitalists, it would be an advantage to both masters and men. The hours of work had boon too long for the operative to work with the vigour and attention which the complicated machinery of the present day demanded. At present, we require in our cotton lactones more brains and less of brute labour than we ever required.Yes, Sir, it is brains that we must cultivate in future in order to maintain our national industry. Now, it happened, singularly enough, in the Recess of 1871, that I received letters from two opposite quarters, written by two large manufacturers, in which they told me that their people were very uneasy, and that they thought the time had come when the hours of labour ought to be brought down to 54 a-week. I must mention this circumstance, because it has been alleged, to the disparagement of my measure, that it is promoted by workmen for trades-unionist objects. One of my correspondents is a friend of mine, and one of the largest employers in the Midland Counties, and he said he was sure it would be advantageous to everybody if some legislative measure were introduced to reduce the hours of labour. Four or five years ago I prevailed on that gentleman to examine into the educational condition of his workpeople. Well, they were sent to a half-time school, and he was so shocked by their educational condition, which he found to be appalling, that he said, "We must raise the age of the half-timers, give them shorter hours for half-time, and longer hours at school, and not continue to stunt both their minds and bodies." Another large employer in Yorkshire wrote me to the same effect. I heard no more about it until December, when I was in Yorkshire, and a deputation of employers and employed waited upon me. At that interview there were as many employers as workmen present, and they said to me—"The time has come when the hours of labour must be reduced in factories, as they have been everywhere else. 1750 The general average in other occupations is nine hours, and it ought to come down in factories also. The hours are too long; the pressure on the people is too great; there are more looms and spindles to be attended to, and consequently the children are constantly on their feet, and unable to bear the excessive strain." In reply, I said I would take some time to deliberate, and would make inquiries into the economic side of the question, in order to ascertain how far it was possible to reduce the hours of labour, and yet hold our own in the markets of the world. I have friendly relations with almost every manufacturing country in Europe. I have had the entrée for the last quarter of a century into any factory on the Continent, particularly in France, and Belgium, and Germany. I have seen all that has been going on there, and I have always known this—that where the English spinner employs three persons the foreign spinner invariably employs five. But that is a most moderate computation; and when we hear hon. Gentlemen talking of foreigners working longer hours, I will tell you how they do it. I have seen mills abroad working on the Sunday morning until 12 o'clock, while the men were dawdling about from 5 in the morning until 8 at night all the clays of the week; the fact is, that they do not work with the same regularity, nor do they apply themselves with the same vigour and energy, nor in the same systematic manner that the workpeople do here. The result is all against the employer. He suffers from waste of various kinds, and can never make the same calculations with regard to his production that the English manufacturer can. I say, then, that the concentration of labour in the fewest possible hours is the very best thing both for the employer and the employed. Well, I tried the experiment in my own mills, under a clause of the Factories Acts—which, I regret to say, is too little tried—of fixing the working hours from 8 to 7 in the winter months, the usual time in all our factories being from 6 to 6. Now, 0 to 6 means that the women must get up at 5 o'clock, and those of them who have children must be clever indeed to be able to dress them, deposit them at the leaving shops, and get to the mill at 6. Six to 6 means the women going-through the streets at that early hour, 1751 hardly dressed, often unkempt and unwashed—as I have frequently seen them—going without food, and doing two or two hours and a-half work before they get any. I have seen women again and again passing through the streets of Nottingham, who have had to come a mile or two to their work, and in one district in Nottingham they have often to come three miles to their work, through heavy rains and through snow on a winter's morning, in order to be in the mill precisely at 6 o'clock. Well, we tried the experiment of working from 8 to 7 instead of 6 to 6, and so brought the hours down to 55 a-week; the women being able to get their breakfasts before they came. I have now tried it for several years in succession, and the effect has been the production of more work from 8 to 7 than from 6 to 6. The experiment has been thoroughly successful. From the time I commenced it it has not been dropped and will not cease, because it is a mode of working that is most efficient and economical. In 1872 Mr. Hugh Mayson tried an experiment, and at the end of a year he called his people together, gave them a tea, and delivered an address to them, in which he said:—"We have tried this system of 58 hours a week for one year, and I am bound to say that, without increasing the speed of my motive power, I have turned out as much yarn as I did when the hours were 60 a week." I have talked with other gentlemen who have tried the experiment. I find manufacturers at Bury, Rochdale, and other places who have tried the 58 hours saying the same thing. None of them had any desire to return to the 60 hours. What is more, most of them are prepared to go farther, and several assured me last week that they are so satisfied with the experiment that they are willing to go down to 54. My attention was called last Session to a large Blue Book, containing the evidence which was taken before the Select Committee on the protection of infant life which was appointed on the Motion of the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Charley). Many hon. Members of this House may not have made themselves acquainted with the revelations contained in that book, and such as have not I would recommend to turn their attention to it. All I can say is, that so far as infant mortality is concerned in connection with factory work- 1752 ing, the revelations which are made are simply horrible, appalling, and disgraceful to us as a Christian people. I believe that a reduction in the hours of labour which would enable women who are mothers the opportunity of making some provision for their children an hour or two in the morning before they go to the mill would have a considerable effect in reducing the mortality now existing among infants. In 1872 I first brought in my Bill, and attempts have been made ever since to create a prejudice against it because it has received the support of trades unionists throughout the country; but I do not see why, if even trades unionists had originated the Bill, and I had brought it in at their request, it should not be considered by the House upon its merits. But they have had nothing to do with it. They only give it their approval and support, and I say that it would be a disgrace to them if they did not support it. If they did not sympathize with such a measure their associations would be a sham and a selfish sham too. But these associations also support the Bill of the hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Plimsoll) for the protection of the lives of our seamen; and it would be just as reasonable to advance as an argument against the Bill of the hon. Member for Derby, that the trades unionists are in its favour—having voted thousands of pounds for its support—as it is to urge it against my Bill. I hold, Sir, that it is no discredit to working-men or trades unionists that they should so act. On the contrary. I say that it greatly redounds to their honour. The first object, then, of the measure which I ask the House to read a second time, is to raise the age of half-timers from eight years to 10, so that no child can enter a mill to work until he is 10 years old. That proposal I make in consideration of the question of health and education. My second object is to raise the age of full-timers to 14 years, unless they can pass, and have passed a minimum standard of education; and I am almost ashamed to say that I have selected the famous Third Standard which was the subject of debate last night. I have selected that miserable Standard, because there are so many children in mills under that age who would have to work hard until they were 13 before they would be able to pass even that Standard, 1753 and it would be too hard to impose a labour disability to begin with upon children who are not now able to pass that Standard. In the third place, I propose to reduce the hours of labour of women and young persons to 54 a-week; for five days, nine and a half hours a-day, and the balance on Saturday. And in the fourth place, I propose to repeal an exemption, which has been allowed for 30 years in favour of silk throwsters, and which has caused much trouble. Silk throwsters have the privilege as they call it, and stand firmly by it, of employing as half-timers, children of from eight to 11 years of age, and when they have reached 11, the little boys and girls so employed become full-timers, receive no more education, and work 60 hours a-week. I propose by this Bill to abolish that exemption, which I do not suppose that any Home Secretary would wish to defend. It is true that my Bill applies to textile fabrics only, and why do I propose so to limit its application? The fact is that Parliament has legislated upon this subject piecemeal, and it would be impossible for any private Member to hope to pass a measure that would deal with all the industrial employments of the Kingdom. For, in the first place, he would have to consolidate all the Factory Acts, and that would require all the tact, management, and ability of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, and would occupy the House the greater part of the Session. As a private Member, therefore, it is not for me to attempt such a task; and if I were to do so I should bring around me ten times the number of my present opponents, and render the possibility of passing this Bill much more difficult. Now, the number of persons employed in the manufacture of textile fabrics in 1847, was 544,876, of whom 363,796 were classed as children, young persons, and women; giving therefore 66 per cent of those whose labour was subject to restriction against 34 per cent of adult males. In the year 1870, the persons so employed had risen in round numbers to about 1,000,000; and of these about 74 per cent were women, children, and young persons, 26 per cent only being males over 18 years of ago. Thus the restriction on the hours of labour largely increased the employment of women. The women and young girls were 1754 557,000, and taking the average of several mills, it is calculated that there are 184,000 mothers working in the manufacture of textile fabrics. The way they got at these Returns was this. A certain number of mills in a district were taken, the work-people employed in them classified, and then an average struck over the Kingdom. Mr. Baker, in his last Return, states that 23 percent of the women employed in mills are married; and then, when he goes into the cotton districts, he says that the married women are estimated at 26 per cent. in the flax districts 28 per cent. and in some cases more. But let the number of mothers be taken at 120,000 only, instead of 184,000, I hold that it is quite enough for my argument, and to justify legislation. The Bill now before the House was at first opposed on two grounds—first, that there were not sufficient reasons on the grounds of health and education for interference; and, secondly, that if Parliament did interfere, the result would be ruinous to the manufacturing interest, and inquiry was demanded. Lord Aberdare, then Home Secretary, granted that inquiry, and agreed to make the inquiry both with respect to the statistics of health and the conditions of the life in mills, and also through the Foreign Office, the probable effects of such a change on our export trade. What has been the result of that inquiry? Two gentlemen were appointed to conduct it, in whom this House ought to have the utmost confidence. Dr. Bridges was one; a most competent and capable man, who had been a Poor Law Inspector and a Factory Inspector—a man of the soundest judgment and most impartial character that I ever met with in my life. The other was Dr. Holmes, who is, I believe, the chief surgeon to the Metropolitan police; and these gentlemen reported that they found sufficient facts to warrant them in saying that the Bill ought to pass, with some additional restrictions as to the employment of women for a certain period after confinement. Here I should like to call the attention of the House to some of the statistics of health which apply to the cotton trade. One of the grounds on which complaint is made of the proposed reduction of hours, is the increased pressure of the work upon them. Will the House be good enough to listen to a few statistics relating to cotton only? In 1755 the year 1850, there were 21,000,000 of spindles in that trade. In 1871, there were 33,000,000 spindles, being an increase of 57 per cent. In the year 1850, there were 250,000 looms, and in 1871, there were 405,000 looms, or an increase of 62 per cent. In the year 1850, the quantity of cotton consumed amounted to 580,000,000 lbs., and in 1871 to 1,137,000,000 lbs., representing an increase of no less than 96 per cent. Now, as to the number of hands employed. In the year 1850, the number of hands employed was 331,000, and in 1871, the number was 450,000; showing that while there was an increase in the consumption of cotton amounting to 96 per cent, an increase in the number of looms amounting to 62 per cent, and in the number of spindles amounting to 57 per cent, the increase in the number of hands employed was only 36 or 37 per cent. This increased amount of work was due to the introduction of improved machinery; but the House will bear in mind that improved machinery and increased speed imply the exercise of greater watchfulness, a closer attention, and the putting of a greater strain upon the workmen. But I will not further dwell upon that question, but refer the House to the valuable Reports of Drs. Brydges and Holmes. And now with regard to deaths. I wish to give the statistics upon that point which relate to four large cotton towns in Lancashire, and to four rural districts, or partly rural and partly manufacturing, compare them together, and with all England. I hold in my hand the last Return of the Registrar General of the death rate per 100,000 of the population during the last decade from all causes and of all ages; and I find that the average of the deaths from all causes in all England was 2,242 per 100,000; that in Manchester, it was 3,280 per 100,000; that in Oldham, it was 2,556 per 100,000; that in Blackburn, it was 2,576 per 100,000; and that in Preston, it was 2,785 per 100,000—making an average in these four cotton manufacturing towns of 2,799 as against 2,242 for England. I will now take the four partly rural and partly manufacturing districts. These are—Garstang, 1,846; Lancaster, 2,197; Ulverston, 2,065; Clitheroe, 2,034; giving an average mortality of 2,035 as against 2,799 in the purely manufacturing towns I have referred to. Again, 1756 the average of the infant mortality, that is of children under one year old, in England, per 100,000 living, is 18,041; whilst the average in Manchester is 25,077, in Oldham 21,926, in Blackburn 23,692, and in Preston 26,101; presenting an average for these four towns of 24,199 as against 18,041 for all England. Strange to say, the average deaths of children in the four mixed districts were 13,911 against 24,199 in the four purely manufacturing towns. Now with regard to the deaths of children under five years of age, I find that the average per 100,000 living was in England 6,830, that the average of the four mixed districts in Lancashire was 5,029, and that the average of the four manufacturing towns I have mentioned was 9,800. Now, I say that that tells a tale which the House cannot shut its cars to. But there is another branch of this subject to which I must call the attention of the House, and that is the increased mortality in a particular district in Lancashire through a process which is technically known as "sizing." Three or four years ago the attention of the Local Government Board was called to the large increase of the death rate in the district of Todmorden, and they sent down Dr. Buchanan to inquire into the matter, who reported that "there would appear to be a great and growing excess of lung diseases in Todmorden." Now, what is the cause of this lung disease? It is the adulteration of the warp of the cloth; and Dr. Buchanan says—The composition of the size, and the pro portion of its ingredients, vary in different factories and with different steers, and the minuter processes, upon which depends the ability to get the greatest amount of size upon the warps, are frequently trade secrets with particular sizers. In general terms, however, the practice of sizing at Todmorden, for the kinds of cloth that are made there, consists in putting on to the warps from 50 to 90 per cent of 'size,' one-third of which consists of China clay.I am sorry to say that, if our cotton industry suffers—and I am afraid it will suffer, I believe it will be more from this sizing than from almost any other cause. The subject has been discussed in the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, and again and again it has been protested against as bringing the English merchant a bad name wherever these cloths go, whether to India, China, or any other part of the world. In order to fix the size, jets of steam have to be 1757 let into the room; the people work in an atmosphere of steam, and inhale a quantity of particles from the sizing which has a bad effect upon the chest and lungs, and the general result is a large increase of the death rate from lung disease. Dr. Buchanan bears testimony to this in his Report, to which hon. Members can refer for themselves, and from which they will find that the increase of lung disease is steadily going on in that part of Lancashire where "sizing" is extensively used. I must now—with the leave of the House—refer to the state of the flax trade; an hon. Gentleman (Mr. Dickson), who is connected with that trade having given Notice of a Motion to get rid of the Bill on its second reading. Now, what is the condition of the flax trade? Let me call the hon. Member's attention to the Report of the two Inspectors, who speak very badly indeed of that trade. They say in that Report—We were told by a deputation of working men at Belfast, that their children frequently fainted from the heat of the spinning room; and this statement was confirmed by an independent and credible witness, and is, we believe, true. Another effect of the heat can easily be seen on the skin of the arms of the young children employed as doffers. A very large proportion of them have their arms covered with an eruption (technically known as lichen) analogous to the 'prickly heat so common in the tropics.' There prevails also in the flax spinning a peculiar form of fever, which almost always attacks those who for the first time commence working in flax mills, and which is called 'mill fever' by the workpeople themselves.Then Dr. Purdon speaks of it thus:—he is the certifying surgeon at Belfast, and says—The flax manufacturing operatives suffer far more from phthisis. &c. than the other two classes"—artizan and labouring, and gentry and mercantile—"nearly three-fifths of those that die annually being taken off by diseases of the respiratory organs, while in the other two classes the average amounts to about two-fifths; and in carrying our investigation into the fatality of the different branches of the manufacture, we see that the death-rate among those employed in the preparing-rooms is exceedingly high—bring 31 per 1,000.What is his recommendation with regard to the flax trade? He goes fully into it. I have not read the worst part of it. He says—1. That no half-timers be allowed to work before they are 10 years of age. 2. That no half-timers, and no child under 15 years be employed in the unhealthy processes. 3. A thorough system of ventilation should be carried out. 4. The wearing of the 'Baker Respirator' made compulsory.1758 He also says—To lessen as much as possible the deaths among children, no mother should be allowed to work within two months from the birth of a child.That view is confirmed by Messrs. Holmes and Brydges. It is further confirmed by Mr. Daniel Walker, the Government Inspector in his last Report, who says—In some of those mills I have seen the thermometer at nearly 90 degrees, the rooms filled with steam, and the floors flooded with water thrown from the spindles, while the clothes of the workpeople, principally women, were completely saturated, caused by the condensed steam.Well, Sir, I think I have said enough to make it obvious that children of eight years of age cannot pursue this kind of occupation and grow up to be strong men and women. They become stunted in their bodies and stunted in their minds, and develop into very poor men and women. Surely, then, as guardians of the interests of the country, this House ought to take care to do what it can to ensure the continuance of a healthy race of people. Remember that the area of culturable land is being more and more circumscribed every year. The extension of our towns, the development of mining and railway enterprize, are constantly trenching on the land, which is every year being cultivated with fewer and fewer hands; and the probability is, that the decrease of the agricultural population will be much greater in the next, than it has been in the past 10 years. How, then, are we to maintain the vigour of our population if we continue to allow these young children to go into the mills? Why should we be behind the Germans and Swiss, who have gone so far beyond us? In Basle and Zurich no child is allowed to be employed in a silk mill until he has reached the age of 12 years. I propose by my Bill 10 years. In Germany they have long raised the age to 12 years, and both in Germany and Switzerland the child has to pass a standard of education much higher than our Sixth Standard. I should like the hon. Member for Dungannon (Mr. Dickson) to know that I this morning received a letter from a large flax spinner at Coleraine, in which is the following passage—To-day I received a copy of a Bill to amend the Factory Acts; and so far from disapproving of it, I consider that, with the alteration of 1759 eight hours in the winter and 10 in the summer, it would be a great advantage to us all. The hours on cold winter mornings are too much for delicate women and children, who are the majority of hands employed in flax-spinning.That letter is signed "Lawrence, Brothers, Coleraine." As bearing upon the health of Lancashire, a remarkable statement is made by Messrs. Brydges and Holmes with respect to what was observed during the Cotton Famine. It is to this effect—that when the people of Lancashire had to contend with the Cotton Famine, and had to subsist on the barest necessaries of life, the death-rate fell enormously, and my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Edinburgh (Mr. Lyon Playfair) made a Report 20 years ago in which he showed that when trade was bad infant mortality fell materially, and that in good times the rate of mortality rose again. I wish now to direct the attention of the House and of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary to the subject of half-time education. On the question of education it is much easier to arrive at results on which all can agree than on that of health. The Education Aid Society of Manchester, of which my hon. Friend near me (Sir Thomas Bazley) was the President, made a Report in 1868–9, on the subject of half-time education, and this is their Report—Factory schools," they say, "have been less efficient than is generally supposed. The following statistics of a sewing school, supported by the Provident Society in Manchester during the late cotton crisis, will create little surprise. The number of young women from 16 to 23 years of age that passed through the sowing school was 963. Only 199 could read and write. There can be no doubt the great proportion of those young women had been scholars in factory schools.That paper is signed by Mr. Bremner, of Manchester, and by Mr. Mayson, the honorary Secretaries. But they make still more frightful revelations than that about the state of education. Well, in 1868 and 1869, before the Elementary Education Act was debated in this House, I took some pains to satisfy myself with regard to the education of the industrial population. With that view, I examined my own mill, and got some of my friends to examine theirs; sending the forms, in which the results were to be recorded, to Manchester, Stockport, and other places. Now, there is one town which always stood in an eminent position for its educational advantages, and no town 1760 has ever made such educational provision as Stockport. When, therefore, the Education Act came into operation, Stockport had an excess of school accommodation: it had the best Sunday schools in the country; it had capital night schools, and a wonderful supply of day schools. I wrote to a friend there, and asked him to be good enough to test the educational condition of his children, and this is what he wrote to me in reply. It is dated the 2nd of December, 1869, and He says—We employ 154 children and young persons, and we classify them as follows:—95 half-timers; 55 full-timers; 30 cannot write; 18 write wretchedly: 6 only moderately; 45 cannot do the simplest sum in arithmetic; 109 can do the first and second rules; 14 cannot read a line: 100 can read but very poorly; and 40 only can read well. The religious knowledge of those who attend Sunday school is moderate; but their general knowledge is very poor indeed. It is, in fact, as a general rule, gross ignorance; and I find it generally admitted that the half-time education is most defective.He further says—The certifying surgeons in this district say that of 2,000 children who passed as half-timers, not 400 could read decently.That was Stockport before the Education Act! I certainly did expect, when the measure of my right hon. Friend (Mr. W. E. Forster) came into operation, that Stockport would have presented a very different result; for it was the first town to take the matter in hand. It established a school board immediately. It had no new school-houses to build, and it put the compulsory clauses of the Act into operation at once. Now, I have something more to say about Stockport which tells a bad tale. The first thing which struck me when I obtained the statistics was the remarkable disproportion in the ages of the children. It appeared that the number of children attending efficient schools was 7,862. Of these 1,013 were 9 years of ago; 866 10 years; 706 11 years; and only 457, 12 years. Now, how was it that there were 1,013 children 9 years of age, and only 457 at 12 years of age? They ought to have been at school. The result of my inquiry was that I found that children are worked in that town under 8 years of ago, and are passed as full-timers long before they reach the age of 13. In truth, the Factory Acts are broken. I make this statement, not from my own 1761 knowledge, or upon my own responsibility; I make it upon the responsibility of the school board of Stockport, and the Chairman of that Board is himself a large cotton spinner. They themselves were so struck with these facts that they instituted an inquiry as to what the reason could be for the half-timers being in such a bad educational condition; and they ascertained that of the 7,862 children, only 41 had reached the Sixth Standard, which was positively a decrease. That was in the month of October, 1873. On the 5th of February this year, and the Report is signed by Mr. Smethurst, the Clerk to the Board, they state that there are in Stockport 2,524 half-timers, of whom 1,712, or nearly 68 per cent. had not reached Standard II, while 108 were under 8 years of age. I should like to call attention to the way in which the ages go up. At 8 years there are 269, at 9 years 603, at 10 years 560, at 11 years 557, and at 12 years 402, whore there ought to be at least 600. The conclusion of the Board is that the Factory and Workshops Acts are being regularly violated in Stockport. They say that nearly 68 per cent of the half-timers of Stockport have not reached Standard II of the Education Code. That being the case, what chance is there of educating this class of children if we are to trust only to the present factory system and the present half-time system? Well, I at once wrote again to my friend, and asked—"How do you account for their absence from school?" My friend writes me as follows—The reason assigned by the Chairman for so few being found at school is as follows:—That many such children are passed by the certifying surgeon because they have the appearance of being 13 years of age. The chairman is a mill-owner. I expressed doubt of the correctness of his opinion, but he assured me they were the facts of many such cases.Singularly enough, when my Bill was coming on for second reading, the Teachers' Association of Stockport wrote to me. They say they want to raise the age to 10 years. They say further—They know that children are passed between 11 and 13 as over 13. The question with the factory Surgeon is as the Factory Act puts it—have they the appearance of 13?I have other letters to the same effect, some from clergymen in Lancashire, which I shall be happy to place in the 1762 hands of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary. I think I have now said almost enough about the education question. Mr. Steele reports the same thing of Preston. He says—Throughout the whole of Preston, which has an average attendance of more than 11,000, I do not think that 100 children have been presented this year in the Sixth Standard.Mr. Kennedy reports just as badly of Oldham, and Mr. Smith, the Government Inspector of Schools for the county of Chester, says that the children are passed too early, and He makes four suggestions which I think are well worthy the attention of the Government. The first is, that no child should be employed in factory labour until the ago of 10 years; second, that the Registrar's certificate should accompany the child at his work; third, that no child should be employed without having a schoolmaster's certificate that he has passed Second Standard, New Code; and, fourth, no child should be employed without a certificate of health and capacity for work from the visiting surgeon. Now, as to young persons and women, I have told the House that there are 574,000 females engaged in textile manufactures who are above the age of 13 years. The House has heard about flax spinning and cotton spinning, and I ask the House, as a large proportion of these females are between 13 and 18 years of age, whether that is not the most critical period in the life of a woman, and whether a strain put upon them between those ages is not likely to result—indeed, I am flooded with letters to the effect—in phthisis, in indigestion, in pulmonary diseases of various kinds, and in a great deal of uterine disease. I need say no more, however, upon that subject. But it has been attributed to me that I desire to place mothers in the position of half-timers. There is nothing of that kind in my Bill, and I never contemplated any such thing. Indeed, if anybody had proposed it, I should have been one of its strongest opponents. Any one who knows anything of the internal economy of a cotton mill, and the habits of the work-people, would know better than to make maternity a disqualification for employment. Nothing but temptation, vice, and crime would result from such a qualification; but when women, after being delivered of children, return to the mill 1763 at the end of three days surely something ought to be done in order to prevent the danger and the indecency of their so doing. I should be the last, however, to prevent married women from being employed in the mills. A good deal has been said about the jealousy of female labour on the part of the men. But I ask any man in the House, who has experience as an employer of factory labour, whether he can take upon himself to say that the men wish to turn the women out of the mills. Why, Sir, it is an absurdity upon the face of it. The fact is that employers like to encourage the employment of entire families and for a husband to desire to turn his wife out of the mill, or a brother to turn out his sister, is really too absurd to be regarded with complacency. I have known, it is true, a few cases where men have endeavoured to limit the labour of women. I have always stood out against it. But, Sir, it is not the working classes who have any jealousy of the employment of women. There is much less of that fooling among them than among the professional classes. The difficulty on that subject is to be found among the doctors and the learned professions. It is they who will not endure to see women in competition with them. And I repeat that it has never entered into the heads of the factory workers of Lancashire and Yorkshire to turn women out of the mills. Sir, if this Bill of mine becomes law, one result will be increased employment for women. The children will be two years older before entering the mill, and one year longer half timers. The work which now falls upon children will fall upon the older girls, and that of the girls will fall upon the women. I should be sorry to do anything that would have the effect of decreasing female employment. I would much rather increase it. There are too many avenues of employment barred to women that ought to be open to them, and I trust that the time is not distant when the common sense of men will open those avenues to them. When I am told that women need no protection, I answer that I, for one, will never be a party to any measure that would take women from under the protection of the Factory Acts. And if it is done, the responsibility for it must rest upon this House and upon the Government, not upon me. Then I am 1764 told that this Bill will have the indirect effect of restricting adult labour. Why, all factory legislation has had the same effect. If you take the adult women out of the Bill it would have the same effect in almost all the large mills; and if you protect the children and young persons and reduce the hours of labour for the women you reduce the hours of the men. I come now to the last point with respect to which I have to trouble the House; that is, the dread of foreign competition. Let me refer the House, though I fear I have already detained it very long, certainly much longer than I had intended, to the statistics of the exports and imports of this country in cotton goods. If I take the five years from 1849 to 1853, both inclusive, I find that we exported in that period cotton goods to the value of £114,500,000, and in the five years ranging from 1866 to 1870 £280,000,000, being an increase in the exports of cotton manufactures amounting to £103,500,000, or 144 per cent. I will now take the cotton goods that were imported in those same periods; and every hon. Member knows that England is a market where no favour or affection is shown for any manufacture. In fact this country is the depôt market for the world's manufactures. Everything comes here that is to be sold cheap. If the Belgian or the Frenchman has too much stock, it is to England that he sends it, and we distribute it over the whole world. What then, was the amount of our imports as against these enormous exports in these quinquennial periods? During the first five years from 1849 to 1853, they were of the value of £3,500,000, and in the second five years from 1866 to 1870 they were£5,900,000 as against £114,500,000 and £280,000,000 respectively. Well, that I think does not look as if we were going to lose our cotton trade at present. Mr. Hugh Mason discussed this question at the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, and this is what he said:—For many years past they had never been assembled at the annual meeting of that chamber, without an attempt being made to frighten them with the bugbear of foreign competition in the cotton trade. He read in The Times a few days ago the startling fact, based upon official statistical returns, that about the year 1850, the export from this country of cotton cloth attained, for the first time, the amount of 1,000,000,000 yards; in 1860, the export of cotton cloth, for the first time, attained the amount of 2,000,000,000 yards; and in the year 1870, just passed, the 1765 export of manufactured cotton goods from this Country attained, for the first time, the amount Of 3,000,000,000 yards. So that, notwithstanding the facilities for many years enjoyed by the foreign cotton spinners, of buying in this country the very best machinery that can he made and the facilities which countries like Belgium, with seaports, enjoyed equally with ourselves for the free and cheap import of the raw material not with standing the advance of the rates of wages of the operatives employed in our factories and notwithstanding the considerable diminution in the hours of labour that had taken place during the two decades to which he had referred, the fact remained, that we had almost undisputed possession of the home trade, and our foreign trade had increased from 1,000,000,000 yards to 3,000,000,000 yards.My hon. Friend (Sir Thomas Bazley) said something last year about Russia, India, Switzerland, and Belgium. Now, with regard to Russia, I hold in my hand a Report of Mr. Redgrave on the Russian cotton trade, from which I gather That he finds—and this is my own experience everywhere—that the cheaper the people work, the longer hours they work, and the more wretchedly they live, the more easy it is to compete with them in the markets of the world. It is a singular fact; but it seems to be in the inverse ratio, and that cheap labour, as it is called, is the dearest in the long run.In Russia," says Mr. Redgrave, "the factories work night and day—150 hours a-week—there being two sets of workers, each working 75 hours per week. Taking the year round, they do not produce more than an English mill working 60 hours a-week.This implies that the conditions are such as to make it impossible for Russia to compete with us unless she places a heavy embargo upon British manufactures. There is not a neutral market in the world to which England sends a bale of cotton cloth where any other manufacturer could live. No foreign country sends cotton goods to India. There is no competition there. But the Germans and the Swiss are doing this. They are cultivating the intelligence of their people, and developing their taste. The result is, that there is a great increase of enterprise among the German and Swiss merchants, who are now interfering with our trade in the Straits, in South America, and in the other markets of England for fancy articles. It is said that the trade follows the flag. I believe that the trade follows the man: the man who has enterprise, the man who has intelligence, the man who has a knowledge of languages—that is the man who is successful. Switzerland has made 1766 her silk trade what it is by that means. Next, there is that bugbear of India. India, we are told, is beginning to manufacture her own cloths, and I saw by a newspaper which I took up the other day that a deputation from the Factory Employers' Association, at Manchester, had recently gone to the Marquess of Salisbury about the Cotton Supply of India. Now, I am bound to give the gentlemen who oppose my Bill the credit of being the most energetic and persevering men that I know. For the most part they are rich Manchester men. They opposed Lord Ashley: they opposed the late Mr. Fielden: the same men have opposed everybody else who has taken up the factory question, and at last they are opposing me. These men, however, did good service in their way during the agitation for the repeal of the Corn Laws. They have been good and useful men in many respects. They know how to manage the Press, and keep up an agitation. But they remind me of nothing so much as a stage army, where the contending hosts are represented by a dozen or two men who are constantly passing in front and behind the scenes, and by a rapid and judicious change of helmets and uniforms are ever appearing as a new force. So with these gentlemen. They came before us first as individual employers; then as a federation of employers; next, as the Chamber of Commerce; and now as the Factory Employers' Association. But the same gentlemen play the same leading characters, and form the dramatis personæ in all the principal parts. Well, the other day they went to the Marquess of Salisbury about India. At that interview Mr. Ashworth said—What was manufactured in India made little difference in the calculation. Of late years labour had been found to be worth more in agriculture than hand-loom work. The few mills that existed in Bombay were of doubtful tenure, and not very profitable, nor were they so largo as to affect the magnitude of the trade in this country.Well, I do not want any better evidence respecting the competition in the cotton trade of India than the evidence of Mr. Ashworth. Then, with regard to Switzerland, I find that they do not in some Cantons send their children to the mills before the age of 14, that they are increasing their wages enormously, and at the same time 1767 are reducing the hours of work. But what do they owe their position to? The answer is—to their water power, cheap labour, and unrestricted hours. To which I am inclined to rejoin with Mr. Burchell in Goldsmith's novel, "Fudge!" For what really makes the Swiss manufactures successful is that the workpeople are an educated people, and that the trade is depending on the intelligence of the people. I asked a large employer of labour in Switzerland the other day what was the cause of their being able to take away the ribbon manufacture from the French; and his reply was—"We beat them by an educated people." Now that is the secret upon which we shall have to rely for the continued success of our industry as a nation. As to France, her population is declining both in numbers and physique. There has been an inquiry in France on the subject of the state of the industrial population, and the Commission which conducted it report that, whereas, to obtain 10,000 conscripts fit to bear arms, in 10 agricultural departments, 4,029 have to be rejected on account of physical defects, in the Marne, the Seine Inférieure, and I'Eure, the proportion rejected is 14,451. This result the French Commissioners attribute to the overworking of their women and of their children in early years. I come now to the last country on the Continent—and if any country can stand against us in manufacturing competition, this can; I refer to Belgium. Belgium has a fine geographical position, a splendid seaboard, good harbours, and great natural resources; coal and iron side by side; a most industrious population, a people never weary of work; and a complete and cheap railway system: if any country could compete with us, it is Belgium. Not only does Belgium possess these advantages, but she also works her children from eight years of age, and nobody could get out of human nature more labour than the Belgians get out of their women. And what is the result? Here is the Report of Mr. Kennedy, in reply to an application from Mr. Ash-worth, and the Treasurer and Secretary of the Factory Occupiers' Association. He says—The factory operatives here live wretchedly; their chief food consists of potatoes and dry bread. They inhabit small huts, many of them 1768 unfloored, and sleep on sacks filled with straw, with a sort of blanket made of coarse tow for bed-covering.…. All mill hands wear blouses and wooden shoes.Then what does he say about the children? Speaking of Alost, Ninove, and Termonde, he reports—In these three places, and in the smaller factories abounding in this part of Flanders, the proportion of children employed is very large, and has a marked effect, both physical and moral, on the people.The reporter, in giving a resumé of the condition of the Belgian operatives, says—The state of the labour question in Belgium shows that it has been exhaustively discussed by all competent authorities throughout the country, and that no solution of the difficulty has yet been found. It can be stated that the opinions of the Chambers of Commerce, always excepting those of Liege and Verviers—which, undoubtedly, represented the most prosperous and intelligent industrial districts in Belgium—of all the learned and philanthropical societies of the public generally, and of the occupiers of large factories, are in favour of a law regulating the labour of women and children in factories and minis. All equally deplore the increasing moral and physical degeneracy of the working classes, which they attribute to the premature employment of children, and to the consequent absence of instruction. At the last census, in 1866, out of a total population of 4,839,000, more than one half. 2,548,742 were returned as being unable either to read or write.I ask, then, is England to cede her commercial and manufacturing superiority to a degraded, ignorant, and degenerate race like this? Who are the men who are engaged in promoting this Bill, which is supposed will be the ruin of the manufacturing industry of the country? Some of the greatest captains of industry in the country are supporters of the Bill. Are they the men who would ruin trade and commerce? Nineteen-twentieths of all I possess is invested in English industry. The hon. Gentleman opposite, one of the Members for Manchester, comes to give it his support. The hon. Member for Bury, too, has been one of my strongest supporters. My hon. Friend the Member for Burnley, my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, my hon. Friend the Member for Preston, my hon. Friend the Member for the East Biding, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Montrose—the men who are the very leaders and captains of the industry of this country—are all of them supporters 1769 of this Bill. And are these the men who would ruin the industry of the country? Do the manufacturers fear these? And why do they now wish to delay by asking for inquiry? I trust that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary will deal frankly with us. I believe he will, for it was said to me this morning by a Member of the House, who is a large manufacturer, that the people who petitioned for this extension of the Factory Acts had been patient for three years, that we had quieted their demands by telling them that legislation was about to take place, but that if the Bill were lost to-day, we should have to encounter some difficulties in the manufacturing districts of the country. I hope not, because in no class have the relations betwixt employers and employed been more amicable than in that engaged in textile manufactures. But who are they who indulge in these vaticinations of ruin? Is not my hon. Friend beside me (Sir Thomas Bazley) a living refutation of his own arguments? Have not the manufacturers grown both in influence and wealth? Are not many of them rich beyond the dreams of avarice? Are they not entering this House in ever-increasing numbers, and are they not purchasing landed estates everywhere, over the heads of county families? I trust, then, that the House will consider the Bill upon its own merits. I believe that whatever they sacrifice in order to obtain education, intelligence and decent lives for the workpeople will be amply compensated for by better work and better service. The right hon. Gentleman the present First Minister of the Crown has on more than one occasion during the last two or three years spoken in favourable terms of the principle of this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman said with truth that the Conservative party had always been the friend of the toilers, and had assisted in reducing the hours of labour, and that he was personally favourable to every measure that was calculated to humanize the toil of the people. I trust that the right hon. Gentleman will not blight the hopes which have been excited by his speech at Glasgow, when he told a deputation of working men that, without pledging himself to anything, he was favourable to their cause. The right hon. Gentleman also told them that he 1770 had communicated with many large employers of labour and was acquainted with their views, and that the result of his deliberation and researches was, on the whole, favourable to the views which the deputation had upheld. Trusting that the House will not by its vote disappoint the expectations raised by the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman, I will add that in bringing forward this Bill, I am only advocating the cause of the class from which I myself have sprung, and to which I owe everything I possess in the world. It only remains for me to move that the Bill be now read a second time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Mundella.)
§ SIR THOMAS BAZLEY
, in moving as an Amendment, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words—legislation upon interests so vast and important as are involved in the question of diminishing the hours of labour in Factories and of further restricting the capital of the employers, ought to originate with the Government rather than with a private Member, and with the previous inquiry of a Committee or Commission to report upon the merits of a question of such magnitude, to guide the House and the Government in determining whether any and what Amendments are needed,said, that the speech of the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) had proved the necessity for further consideration and inquiry, before the House, at the invitation of a private Member, entered upon legislation so important. He acquitted the hon. Member of any intentional inaccuracy, but the hon. Member had shown that the House was at present entirely dependent upon private sources of information, and ought not to legislate, except upon recorded evidence submitted to the House by means of the Committee he (Sir Thomas Bazley) asked for in the Amendment. Some stress had been laid upon the inquiries conducted by Dr. Bridges and Mr. Holmes on the physical condition of the young persons employed in factories. The disinclination of those gentlemen, however, to hear the whole truth was shown by the fact, that while they first hoard the evidence in particular districts of the Short Time Committee, they declined to listen to the remarks tendered by several intelligent employers 1771 of labour. That refusal amounted to a suppression of truth. It was clear that it was a subject on which there were many differences of opinion, even amongst the working classes themselves. The women, for whom the legislation under notice was mainly intended, had never been consulted about it, and they certainly ought to, before a step so important as that proposed was taken by Parliament. In fact, the women had volunteered some remarkable evidence as to their own ability to endure the labour imposed upon them in cotton factories, and they endeavoured to obtain an interview with the Home Secretary on the subject, but, whether from want of gallantry he know not, the right hon. Gentleman declined to receive the deputation. They, however, presented an interesting memorial to him, in which they argued that the proposed legislation was needless for its alleged purpose of protecting the health of the women, inasmuch as it was a notorious fact that the women employed in factories were as strong and robust as the women of the rich and idle classes. That, he thought, entirely disproved the assertion of the hon. Member as to the deplorable condition of our women and children. The fact was that the hon. Member had dealt with the sensational aspects of the case, and by so doing, had thoroughly justified the appointment of an inquiry into the matter. The hon. Member stated that the hours of work were 10 and 11 on the Continent, but he (Sir Thomas Bazley) asserted that they were generally 12 hours a-day. In Russia they were even longer. He could say from his own knowledge, that we had once an immense market for various fabrics in Russia; but for many years we had not been exporters to that country, except to an inconsiderable extent. The hon. Member said that no goods came from Belgium to invade our markets; but he could tell him that there was a large exportation of Belgian manufactures, and that we had a large trade indirectly with Belgium. In France there had been a rapid increase of manufactures, and when the Commercial Treaty was made with England the late Emperor made large advances to spinners to enable them to compete with their English rivals. The hon. Member spoke with something like contempt, of foreign competition, but one of the most 1772 important improvements in a certain branch of manufactures was not invented here, but in France. The French artists were quite equal to our own, and English manufacturers had great difficulty in holding their own against foreign competition. The hon. Member had read an extract from the speech of the Prime Minister at Glasgow to justify his belief in the sympathy and agreement that existed between the right hon. Gentleman and the Short Time Committee. He (Sir Thomas Bazley) also had read the right hon. Gentleman's speech at Glasgow, and he admired his wisdom and prudence in saying that "the rights of labour cannot be fully enjoyed if there be any limit to employment." The object of the present Bill, however, was expressly to limit employment, and it was for the House to determine to what extent that limitation ought to be carried. The effect of the Bill also would be that while it diminished the hours it would increase the price of labour, which would be extremely prejudicial to commerce. It was said that the present Acts were evaded, but, if so, by all means let us have such an administration of the law as would prevent the continuance of those abuses; but that was exceptional legislation founded upon communications made to his hon. Friend by interested parties. He would admit that the present law was one of the most beneficial ever passed; but, as foreign competition was rapidly pressing upon us, he exhorted the House to take time to consider the question before it extended the present Acts. He hoped Her Majesty's Government would take a policy of their own, and not give way to the request of those who sought to limit labour, and so create influences hurtful to the commercial interests of Great Britain. To show the importance of the interests concerned, he might state that the capital invested in the industries which would be affected by the proposed legislation was computed to amount to something like £200,000,000 sterling, and if the Bill passed, much of the machinery in our factories would be reduced in value to a considerable extent, a result which could be nothing but disastrous to our manufacturers. The practical working of such a Bill, too, would be equally injurious to the agricultural and the commercial interests. The hon. Member pro- 1773 posed a reduction of six hours a-week, or about one-tenth of the present hours of labour. The first result would be to reduce the consumption of raw material by 10 per cent. and to reduce the demand for sheep's wool to even a greater extent. Were the agricultural interest prepared, without further inquiry, to allow the value of their property to be brought down by legislation of that kind? The Bill would not only be disastrous to growers of wool, but would affect injuriously the prices of silk jute and flax. He doubted whether it would be possible to retrieve the damage which such a measure would inflict upon our foreign trade. Instead of such unreal philanthropy, the House ought to endeavour to improve the homes and comforts of the people, and teach them better to employ the leisure they now had. Besides foreign competition in manufactures, which was very serious, our exports of machinery and metals to Belgium, America, and other places, were rapidly increasing. Last year we exported £ 10,000,000 worth of steam engines and other machinery, together withrawmetals to the value of £41,000,000, and at the present moment the principal English machine manufacturers were mainly occupied in executing orders for foreign exportation, and not for the increase of trade at home. Operatives were frequently engaged to accompany the machinery so exported. They had to work from 12 to 11 hours a-day; but as soon as the machinery was started they were dismissed, and they returned to England to complain of the long hours of labour in foreign countries. In conclusion, he must say that having destroyed the Corn Law monopoly, the House should be very careful of setting up another, and especially one so injurious as a monopoly of labour, and he trusted that the House would do nothing without due investigation to determine whether his hon. Friend or himself was right. The hon. Member concluded by moving the Amendment of which he had given Notice.
§ MR. CROSSLEY
said, that he addressed the House with the diffidence natural to a Member who claimed its attention for the first time; but his apology for rising was, that he might claim to know something of the subject before the House. He had been long-connected with the mercantile and manu- 1774 facturing interests of this country. When he was about 12 years of age his father, finding that he was not making much progress at school, thought it would be a good thing to put him in his factory for 12 months. He accordingly took his part in the factory work much as the other boys did. The factory bell rang out boldly at half-past 5 every morning, and all were expected to be in the mill and at work by 6 o'clock. They were kept hard at it until 8 at night, with the exception of an hour for meals. That was a state of things not at all to be desired, and it was a long time before any legislation for shortening and regulating factory hours brought that system to an end. A considerable number of large employers had voluntarily reduced the hours of labour, but some refused to join in this movement. At length the Legislature interfered and the first Factory Act was passed. The manufacturers of that day were very much alarmed, but, those who survived had lived long enough to recognize the advantage of that legislation. He, for one, was there to confess that the working of the Ten Hour system had been wise and provident, and had conferred great benefits upon the country. In the first place, it insisted on all the manufacturers being put on the same footing; whereas, before the Act was passed those who humanely and voluntarily reduced their working hours to 10 were placed at a great disadvantage with those who continued working for 12 hours. Another great advantage was in enabling the children to be educated, and obliging the "half-timers" to be at school for a certain period of the day. Having said thus much, it was now his business to try and show the House that no case had been made out for further interference. He was authorized to state, as the result of actual inquiry, that 19–20ths of the worsted trade were decidedly opposed to any further legislation, unless the Act were extended to other trades, and some trifling modifications were made in the age of the juvenile workers. From an intimate knowledge of the worsted, cotton, linen, woollen, and silk trades, he could state that not one of them could now be regarded as in a satisfactory condition. Those who were engaged in these trades felt that they had quite enough on their hands without the addition of any further burden, 1775 such as would be imposed by this Bill. The woollen trade was now suffering from a re-action caused by the extraordinary and artificial demand created by the German War. The manufacturing establishment with which he was connected gave employment to upwards of 6,000 people, who worked 59 hours, and he was not aware that any portion of that large number of people or of the factory hands of the district had made the least move in favour of this Bill, or had shown that they were dissatisfied with the present state of things. Indeed, they were only too thankful to be as well off as they were, seeing that only a very few miles from them the mills were only working half-time. If the House would permit him, he would refer to a matter which, although not exactly in point, was a subject of pride to himself—namely, that, notwithstanding his firm employed this large number of people, they had not had a strike or a serious misunderstanding among them for the last 36 years. That harmonious feeling between his firm and their workpeople had been brought about by its being distinctly understood in the establishment, that when the hands believed they had a grievance, the employers were only too glad to remedy it, if it were possible; or took pains to satisfy the workpeople that they had no case, if it did not really exist. Another point of interest was that for the last 25 years his firm had exported half of their production to the United States, notwithstanding that the duty charged on their goods by that country amounted to 35 per cent on the value. During and since the American War that duty had been raised to 75 per cent on the value, and it would probably surprise the House to learn that, notwithstanding this almost prohibitory duty, they were still able to send a tolerable quantity of goods to that country. The American manufacturers, however, who had enjoyed this enormous advantage for so long, and who had realized such large profits, were beginning to extend their work to such an extent that one particular branch of his firm's trade with America had ceased to exist. With regard to that particular branch of the trade, the duties imposed by the United States were absolutely prohibitory. There were two other facts to which he was particularly anxious to call the attention of the Com- 1776 mittee. Formerly in his district there existed a large woollen yarn trade, which supplied yarns to the manufacturers of fancy goods at Glasgow and other parts of Scotland; but that trade had now become unprofitable in consequence of Belgium having entered into competition with it and having succeeded in transferring the whole of the trade in the article to itself. The figures were very remarkable. Belgium sent to this country of woollen yarn, in 1857, 500,000lbs.; in 1860, l,500,0001bs.; in 1865, 3,000,000lbs.; and in 1870, 7,000,000lbs. In that country the spinners worked 72 hours per week, and at lower wages than were paid in this country. The French competed with this country both in yarn and in piece-goods. Where the amount of labour bestowed on the goods was trifling we could hold our own, but in the case of the finer classes of goods, where a considerable amount of labour and skill were required, we were simply nowhere. Whereas 20 years ago the Continental countries used to buy very small quantities of colonial wool in our London markets, they now purchased one-half of the whole quantity sold here. They could purchase the wool, take it abroad, spin it, and send it into the Bradford market as yarn, cheaper by 3d. or 4d. a pound than the Bradford manufacturers could afford to sell it. The result was that there were now no less than 20,000 looms idle in Bradford and the district. With regard to the flax manufacture, he did not think that there were any serious grounds of complaint against it if proper precautions were taken to secure the health of the hands. For his part, he did not see how we in this country were to withstand the work that was going on on the Continent, where the employers and employed were uncontrolled by legislation, everything being done by mutual arrangement. In conclusion, his objection to this Bill was that legislation on this subject had proceeded quite far enough, and ought not to be extended except in reference to matters of detail for the purpose of securing the health of the hands. The hon. Gentleman concluded by seconding the Amendment.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words
"legislation upon interests so vast and important as are involved in the question of diminishing the hours of labour in Factories and of further restricting the capital of the employers ought to originate with Government rather than with a private Member, and with the previous inquiry of a Committee or Commission to report upon the merits of a question of such magnitude, to guide the House and the Government in determining whether any and what amendments are needed,"—(Sir Thomas Bazley,)
§ —instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. CALLENDER
said, that his hon. Colleague (Sir Thomas Bazley) had spoken of the Bill as exceptional legislation; but he (Mr. Callender) might remind the House that protection had been extended to female and infant labour in factories for the last 70 years. The measure might be supported on two grounds—the necessity for further legislation on the ground of public health, or failing the proof of such necessity, on the advisability of effecting a settlement of the question. The former and most important point had been fully argued by the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella); the Medical Commissioners pronounced in favour of a 54-hours Bill; and the long experience of Mr. Baker pointed in the same direction. But it was also expedient to settle the question, as for many years the tendency to shorten the hours of labour had become universal, and by means of trade organizations, nine hours had become recognized as a fair limit of a day's work in those great industries where adult male labour was alone employed. How could textile fabrics be exempted from that rule, and why should women, because they had not organized themselves into trade societies, be placed at a disadvantage? While he had no fear of trades unions, and believed their mistakes were far less important than the benefits they had conferred—such was not the opinion of many who opposed this Bill, and the course they were adopting would tend to create the agitation they wished to avoid. The attitude of the working classes should not be construed into indifference—legislation had in former times afforded them relief—its beneficial results were now universally recognized—and the working classes relying on the justice of their claims, and the Report of the Commissioners, had patiently 1778 waited for the decision of the Legislature; but if the present Bill were rejected or postponed, he feared an agitation would arise, which was, in the interests of all concerned, much to be deprecated. The feeling of the working classes had expressed itself at the late General Election, when this measure excited a deeper interest than the alleged merits or shortcomings of the late Administration. Two objections were taken to the Bill—he desired to speak with all respect of the ladies who were responsible for a pamphlet just issued; but they had no practical acquaintance with manufactures. Their argument was, that by the proposed reduction of working hours, it would be either more profitable to employ unrestricted male labour, thereby throwing women out of employment, or that female wages must be reduced, and the means of honest living rendered more difficult. If a reduction of hours, from 10 to 9, would produce either of these results, why had it not done so when they were reduced from 12 to 10 in 1847? The Factory Returns of 1847 and 1870 showed the percentage of adult male labour was precisely the same at each period, and though female labour on the Continent was entirely unrestricted, it was much less made use of than in Great Britain. Comparing a week of 69 hours in 1849 with 60 hours in 1873, and making no allowance for reduced hours, which would tell still more strongly in favour of his argument, the wages of female workers had increased, varying from 58 to 77 per cent. while the wages of men had only advanced from 15 to 39 per cent. There was now too great a difference between the average wages paid to male and female workers to render it profitable to substitute one for the other, unless men could be induced to work 12 or 14 hours per day—an argument which no one acquainted with the labour market would venture to assert. A labourer or spadesman had not the education or mechanical training to perform the work of a skilled female operative, and the whole argument, based on an assumption of the equality of the sexes, could not be seriously maintained. Jealousy, on the part of the self-actor minders, had been alleged as the cause of this movement; but these men were compelled to have assistants—employing members of their own families, they could have no interest 1779 in reducing the family earnings, while they had the strongest motive to obtain the improved health, comfort, and education which this Bill would secure. His hon. Colleague had spoken of foreign competition. Might not the argument against the Bill be thus stated? It would—Limit the labour of multitudes of men who are entitled to the unrestricted use of all means of obtaining an honest livelihood—place obstacles to the free employment of capital and machinery which may endanger the continued extension of British manufactures and industry, which will reduce the time of work in this country, and consequently, the production of machinery and workmen far below that which is found to exist in foreign countries.Such, he apprehended, was the feeling of the opponents of the Bill, and the sentences just quoted formed the prayer of a Petition presented to the House in 1847, signed by 353 firms in Lancashire and Cheshire, employing one-third the total number of persons engaged in the cotton trade. How far had their apprehensions been verified? Comparing 1847 with 1873, he found that the consumption of cotton in Great Britain had increased from 58,441,121 lbs. to 1,246,149,910 lbs.; exports of cotton manufactures from £23,333,225 to £77,323,720, our producing power from 21,000,000 spindles to 34,000,000, and the number of persons employed from 331,000 to 450,000. It might be alleged that the aspect of commercial matters was changing; that foreign countries imported large quantities of machinery, and every invention tended to reduce the necessity for skilled labour. Let the House remember that when the cotton trade commenced to be the staple business of the country, Europe was involved in war, private property was unsafe, England alone afforded peace and security, which gave a stimulus to invention, while until the last 30 years, the exportation of machinery—except that used in preparatory processes—was strictly prohibited. With a happier state of foreign relations, and the removal of prohibitory duties which permitted that exportation of machinery of which his hon. Colleague complained, the Continental trade had largely developed, and it would not be surprising to find that the virtual monopoly which we had so long enjoyed could no longer be retained. But so far from Continental manufacturers being able to com- 1780 pete against us in the open market, in every country except Switzerland our manufactures were liable to duties virtually prohibited, and these duties being imposed not for revenue, but for protection, any reduced cost of production in this country would be met by a corresponding increase of foreign tariffs. Russia had been cited as an instance where our productions were no longer required—the export of cotton yarn had fallen from 18,200,000 lbs. in 1845 to 1,700,000 lbs. in 1865. The highest number spun in that country was "60," the value of which, in the Manchester market, did not exceed 1s. 4d. per lb., and was subject to a duty of nearly 4d. per lb.—a virtual prohibition. The hours worked in Russia were of extraordinary duration—one case being cited when, by a double shift of workers, 132 hours were made per week, yet in this case the production per spindle was barely more than that of an English mill working 60 hours. The systematic dishonesty and carelessness of the peasants were the source of constant and serious loss; irregularity of attendance necessitated the employment of an enormous number of supernumerary persons; and the cost of female labour varied from 8s. to 12s. per week. Taking these disadvantages into account, the balance of cheapness was largely in favour of this country, and doubtless accounted for the high duties imposed. The national advantages of Belgium, its extensive sea-board, the possession of coal and iron, and the industrial habits of its people, rendered it most fitted to compete against this country, yet we found high protective duties, keeping out cotton goods. Frequent holidays and lax discipline reduced the hours of nominal work to a level with our own. English workmen were reported to have "greater intelligence and mechanical knowledge," and to be "far superior" to the Flemish; and the population of Ghent, the scat of the cotton trade, was steadily diminishing. Reference had been made to Belgian exports of cotton manufactures; but, in 1870, their total amount was barely £1,000,000 value, of which £200,000 came to this country. Reference had been made to Switzerland. Here, again, the workmen were "inferior to the British in physical strength, energy, and activity." It required 8½ persons to perform the work done in 1781 this country by 7; wages, though low, were rapidly advancing; the capital required was out of all proportion to that used in England; the cost of mills and machinery was double; export and import freights were enormous; coals dear, and of inferior qualify; and the advantages of water power over-rated. Their true causes of prosperity consisted in the advanced education of the people, and the frugal habits of the manufacturer, who was content with profits which would not satisfy English manufacturers. Comparing our cotton exports to the Continent in 1860–73, we found in 1863, of cotton yam, 111,500,000 lbs.; of goods, 258,100,000 yards; in 1870, 111,300,000 lbs., 449,200,000 yards; showing a large total increase. Our progress in manufacture had also, as shown by the following statement, kept pace with that of foreign nations:—Percentage of total consumption of cotton in 1860 and 1873—Great Britain, 49.5, 48.6; Continent, 31.5, 30.8; while Continental manufacturers consumed a less percentage of the total supply than was the ease 30 years ago. Taking an average of five years, we found it, in 1826–30, 33.2; 1846–50, 28; 1856–60, 32.5; and 1873, 30.8. On behalf of a trade which employed £87,000,000 of capital, on the prosperity of which 4,500,000 persons were dependent, he asked the House to assent to the second reading of the Bill, as a satisfactory settlement of a most important question.
§ MR. W. HOLMS
In addressing this House for the first time, I venture to crave that indulgence which is usually given to a new Member. I most heartily concur in what has been said by the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) with reference to the benefits which the working classes have derived from the existing Factory Acts, and I also concur with him in believing it to be very desirable that we should now have further legislation on the subject; but, notwithstanding the eloquent statement he has made, I am not prepared to look upon the present Bill as likely to be other than bad and mischievous in its actual operation. The question of regulating the hours of labour for children, young persons, and women is so closely connected with the social well-being of the working classes and the commercial prosperity of the country that it demands our most serious consideration, and yet 1782 hitherto it has not been dealt with in a comprehensive measure. From time to to time Acts of Parliament have been passed regulating certain branches of industry; but these Acts are so varied in their provisions, and so full of exceptions and modifications, as to make It extremely difficult to enforce the law. I find that there are now 13 Factory and Workshops Acts wholly or partially in force, and in order to show the effect the passing of this Bill is likely to produce, I shall, with the permission of the House, briefly refer to some of the anomalies which they contain. In 1844, and subsequently in 1850, Factory Acts were passed, based on the older Act of 1833. These Acts, which refer only to textile manufactures, define that a child is a boy or girl from 8 to 13 years of age, and that a young person is a person between 13 and 18; and they enact that such young person shall not work more than 60 hours per week, or 10½ hours per day. The Report of the Children's Employment Commission in 1862 disclosed such a state of things with reference to the physical and moral condition of young persons employed in certain trades that the Factory Act of 1864 was passed, embracing potteries, lucifer match making, and some other trades. Subsequent Reports of the same Commission induced the Government of the day to pass the Act of 1867. This year (1867) marks an epoch in the history of factory legislation. The Act referred to includes glass-works, iron furnaces, paper manufactories, letterpress printing, bookbinding, and other trades; and it, moreover, provides that all trades other than those mentioned in existing Acts, and having more than 50 people employed, shall come under its provisions. This Act contains numerous exceptions and modifications, some of which have a direct bearing on the question before the House. As regards glass-works, iron-foundries, printworks, dye-works, paper manufactories, and several other works, it is provided that if at the hour of closing the workers are engaged at a process which requires completion, they may work half-an-hour longer. Hence the Bill practically becomes a 63 hours' Bill; but by a further provision—modified in 1871—the people employed in those trades may obtain permission to work 96 days in the year for 12 hours a-day, which is equal on an average to nearly three 1783 hours a-week, thus making the measure practically a 66 hours' Bill. Now, in this year of 1867, another Bill was passed—namely, the Workshops Act of 1867. It is the same as the Factory Act in so far that it enacts that the hours of labour shall be limited to 60 hours per week; but there is this difference—that whereas in the Factory Act the hours are required to be from 6 to 6, from 7 to 7, or from 8 to 8, under the Workshops Act, an employer may have people working at any hour from 5 in the morning till 9 at night. Besides, there are no fixed hours at which meals are to he taken. What is the consequence of this state of matters? When an Inspector visits a workshop, say at 9 in the evening, unless he can ascertain and prove the time at at which the workers commenced their operations, and the length of time they have been employed, it is utterly impossible for him to enforce the provisions of this Act. Under this Act exemptions may be granted by the Home Secretary, to work 96 days in a year for 12 hours a-day, so that it becomes a 63 hours' Bill. Another feature in this Workshops Act—and a very important one—is that whereas under the Factory Acts the employer is obliged to give a certificate that the child employed is of a certain age, under the Workshops Act the onus of proof is thrown on the Inspector. Again, as regards education, what is the effect of the Workshops Act? Under the Factory Act a half-timer must be sent to school 12½ hours per week in winter, and 15 hours in summer. He must, moreover, be sent to school day by day; and if a child is present at work even one day in a week, a certificate must be given by the employer that he has attended school during the preceding week. Under the Workshops Act, if a child is absent from work even one day in a week no certificate is required. The consequence is that the Education Clause is frequently evaded. And what is the result? So far as England and Wales are concerned, the Elementary Education Act is over-ridden by the Factory and Workshops Act, and hence the Workshops Act of 1867 is in reality an Act for preventing education. Now, I desire to call the attention of the House to some more anomalies. I find a letterpress printing establishment, however many persons may be employed, is a 1784 factory; whereas a lithographic establishment, if with less than 50 persons, is a workshop. These trades are frequently so intimately combined that it is difficult to say whether an establishment is a factory with its stringent regulations, or a workshop with its somewhat loose regulations. Again, there are works which, if more than 50 persons are employed, are factories; but if less than 50 are employed, become workshops. It is extremely difficult for working people to appreciate these distinctions, and to understand why the Inspector should go to one establishment and make all the people stop work at 6 o'clock, and that he should not go to another which must appear similarly situated. Another important point is, that in many of those branches of trade in which establishments where more than 50 persons are employed become factories, employers, rather than come under the restrictions of the Factory Act, do not employ women and young persons at all; and consequently the women and young persons are left to the establishments which are workshops. Having thus endeavoured to point out some of the anomalies under existing Acts, let me now ask tin-attention of the House to what will be the position of matters, so far as regards the hours of working, if it passes this Bill. First of all, you will have a Bill without any exceptions or modifications—that is to say, you will have a hard-and-fast line of 54 hours for all textile trades. Then those trades that another than textile, and which are specially provided for by the Acts to which I have referred, will still be at liberty to work 63, or in some cases 66 hours. Lastly, you will have the Workshops Act, under which employers may work their people almost any number of hours they choose; while in some works there will be two distinct sets of hours. I know a large factory in which, if this Bill passed, there would be one portion where the people would work 54 hours, and another portion where they would be entitled to work 66 hours per week. And now, who are the people who would come under this Act? The total number of children, young persons, and women employed in factories and workshops is 1,258,000. Of that number, 667,000 would be embraced by the proposed Bill; but so far as the other 591,000 are concerned, they would be 1785 allowed to work 63, 66, or an indefinite number of hours. I need scarcely point out that in the great centres of industry, such as Leeds, Bradford, Manchester, Dundee, and Glasgow, where there is a great demand for labour, and where there is a great variety of industries—no sooner will you render it illegal for children from eight to 10 to work in textile factories, than they will find their way to long hour factories or workshops. The consequence will be that this measure will become a measure for the further extension of the Act which I have already described as an Act for preventing education. The hon. Member for Sheffield has drawn a picture of the difference between manufacturing towns and rural districts. Will the House allow me to draw another? Take a town in the north—Glossop, where there is nothing but textile manufactures, and where the people, if this measure is passed, will not be allowed to work more than 54 hours. Hon. Gentlemen are well aware that there is a constant migration from country districts to manufacturing centres. Now, the nearest large town to Glossop is that so ably represented by the hon. Member (Sheffield). In Sheffield I find there are no textile manufactories whatever, but there are 5,586 women, and 6,689 young persons and children employed. Now, I venture to say—and I think the House will agree with me—that the rural population between Glossop and Sheffield would most probably gravitate to that town, where by working longer hours they may make higher wages, rather than to towns where there are only textile manufactories, and where the hours of labour are restricted. Yet we find that the employments at Sheffield are described as unhealthy by the medical officers, and the mortality is stated to be more than double the average of three agricultural districts that are used as standards for comparison. There, nevertheless, children begin working as early as 9, and even 8. What would be the practical effect of this Bill? You may depend on it, it would give every inducement to people to go to Sheffield in preference to places such as Glossop, where textile manufactures are carried on, and to be under the deleterious influence of the employments that are carried on in the former 1786 town. What, I would ask, does the hon. Member propose to do with the workpeople engaged in these trades? I would further ask on what grounds are we called upon to propose further restrictions on the hours of labour of adult women? It has not been alleged by the hon. Member that women are incapable of judging for themselves; and yet I know no other ground, except of a sanitary character, on which we can be called to legislate for women. No one will deny the right of a woman to sell that which is frequently all that she has got to sell—namely, her labour. If we look to the question of health, we are told that Dr. Bridges and Dr. Holms are in favour of some such measure as that proposed; but the hon. Member for Sheffield did not state that they put a certain question to a great number of experienced medical men, factory surgeons, &c. The question was—Is factory labour deleterious to health? What was the answer? 40 said yes, while 94 replied in the negative; therefore, I think the evidence as to the question of health is, at all events, conflicting. I take this opportunity of asking the hon. Member for Sheffield, if he has any statement as to the health of women and children employed in factories and workshops not embraced in the proposed Bill? I find, on looking at the Reports, that some of these trades appear to be very unhealthy. In glass-works, where boys are employed at 14 and even 13 years of ago, the temperature is sometimes as high as 130 degrees. This is much higher than in cotton mills. Take, again, the description of some of the rooms in paper mills, where they may work, on an average, 66 hours, and of iron foundries, where boys of 13 may be employed, and see if they are not more unhealthy than factories. Employers will, I believe, be ready to assent to any just measure which may be introduced of a general character, if it is satisfactorily proved that shorter hours are necessary for the preservation of health. Apart from the question of health, do working women themselves desire that this Bill should become law? We have been told that few Petitions have been presented, and the apology for that apathy is that working women should wait, or are waiting, for legislation, without which they cannot do anything for their own benefit. So far as Petitions can be taken as an indication of 1787 opinion on the part of working women, I find that up to last night 11 Petitions were presented from women, and signed by women. Of these 11, 3 only are in favour of the Bill, and 8 are against it, and so well do these factory women express themselves respecting the Bill that I will read a couple of sentences from one of the Petitions. The petitioners—Pray that the Bill should not pass, because they hold that adult women ought to he entirely free to sell their labour without further restrictions from the Legislature, whereas, by the proposed Bill, working women would be reduced to the condition of children, incapable of thinking and acting for themselves. The tendency of all legislation restricting the labour of women," the petitioners go on to say, "is to drive them out of the labour market, and place them in unfair competition with men.They agree that a general reduction of the hours of labour should be made, but they believe that such an end may be best attained by mutual arrangement between employers and employed. Now, apart from the question of health, is it necessary to have any legislative enactment to shorten the hours of labour of women? If you consider the history of the past four or five years, you will find that the working classes have been fully alive to the desirability of shortening the hours of labour. In all the building trades men work 9 or even 8½ hours a day. I am sure the House will agree with me that if men work only 9 hours, it is not desirable that women should work more; but women also have been making some progress in this direction. They do not wait for any legislative enactment, but act for themselves, and act, too, with considerable vigour. According to the Report of one of the Inspectors of Factories for 1872, in both town and country districts in England and Scotland shorter hours have, in many instances, been adopted. Reference is made to Nottingham and Derby, where all the silk mills are now working 54 hours a week; to Dundee, where a number of mills are working 58 hours a week, and others 57 hours, and not one mill is working 60 hours. In a neighbouring town—Arbroath—not one mill is working more than 57 hours; and in Ashton and Staley bridge, the mills are all working 58 hours a week, closing at 12 o'clock on Saturday. An important question arises here. I speak from my 1788 own experience as a large employer when I say that the working classes are very desirous of having a half-holiday on Saturday. If you pass the Bill of the hon. Member for Sheffield, it will be utterly impossible for the workpeople of Ashton and Staley bridge to leave the mills at 12 o'clock on Saturday, as they do at present; as, in order to make out 54 hours, if they work 9½ hours during five days, they must work 6½ on Saturday, or from 7 till 2 P.M.; and the working people of these towns will not thank anyone to compel them to work till 2 o'clock on Saturday. The Inspector adds that an Act of Parliament on this subject is unnecessary, because the result desired can be obtained by mutual arrangement between the parties concerned. Of late years a great advance has boon made in the productive power of machinery employed in textile manufactures, and it is not too much to say that as labour-saving machinery is increasingly used in textile factories and in other industries, the result will be that the working classes will have more of the comforts of life and less toil than they have at present; and, I trust, the time is not far distant when, men and women will, without legislative enactments, probably not be called upon to work even 9 hours a day. A candid consideration of the whole question shows, in my opinion, that Parliament should not attempt any further restrictions as regards the best-regulated and most healthy factories, but that it should rather endeavour to bring down to 60 hours those trades which, under the Factory and Workshops Acts, may work 63 and even 66 hours a week; and in order to accomplish this, I would venture to suggest that the present Factory Acts should be amended by abolishing those exemptions and modifications which have been introduced at the instance of influential and interested parties. I would further suggest that the Workshops Act of 1867 should be repealed, and that all workshops should be brought under the operation of the Factory Act. And, agreeing as I do with the hon. Member for Sheffield as to the employment of children, I would say that no child should be employed under the age of 10 years, and that any general Act which may be passed should clearly define those trades or departments of trades where the processes used are in themselves dangerous to health, and where no 1789 child should be employed. Allow me to suggest to the hon. Member for Sheffield to withdraw his Bill, and to unite with me in urging upon Government to living in a general measure embracing those suggestions which I have ventured to make. I thank hon. Members for the attention with which they have listened to my remarks.
§ MR. TENNANT
said, as the Representative of a large manufacturing town which would be seriously affected by the Bill, and as an employer of factory labour, and expressing the views of many other large manufacturers, he wished to make a few remarks upon the subject. He fully concurred in the opinion expressed by the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down that a question of such vast importance, one which affected upwards of 1,000,000 of operatives, 150 millions of capital, and £30,000,000 of annual wages, should be left in the hands of the Government. In accordance with that opinion he had placed an Amendment upon the Paper to the effect—That, having regard to the extreme desirability of some measure for the amendmemt of the Factory Acts being passed during the present Session, and to the magnitude and importance of the interests involved, it is, in the opinion of this House, the duly of Her Majesty's Government to deal with the subject and not to leave the settlement to the delay and uncertainty attendant on the promotion of Bills by private Member;but he regretted to say he was precluded by the Forms of the House from submitting it for their approval; he however thought hon. Members on both sides would concur in its object. He hoped, at any rate, that the Government would adopt the spirit of the suggestion contained in it. If he had an assurance to that effect, he would vote against the second reading, in the hope that a more comprehensive measure would be introduced by Government. He did not at all impugn the motive of the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) in bringing forward the Bill under discussion. On the contrary, he gave the hon. Gentleman credit for the zeal he had displayed year after year, and the ability he had shown, in advocating the measure; but considering the difficulties that were attendant on the passing of any ordinary measure, and considering the great variety of interests involved in the present Bill, and the different opinions which existed upon almost every clause, he thought the 1790 hopes of bringing the Bill to a successful issue must be very small; and that it would be much better to leave the matter in the hands of the Government. He did not think the scope of the Bill sufficiently comprehensive to carry out the object which the hon. Member had in view, and was of opinion that if any change at all was made, there could be no possible reason for limiting the measure to textile manufactures, for there were almost as many women and children employed in other industries. In Glasgow the Bill would include 24,000 and exclude 26,000; in Nottingham, 3,825 would be included and 10,586 excluded; and in Sheffield, which was represented by the introducer of the Bill, not one would be included and 11,840 would be excluded. As to foreign competition, he had no alarmist views, for notwithstanding the disadvantages in which short hours would place the manufacturers, he believed England would retain her pre-eminence if she was not too heavily handicapped but there must be some limit to the weight she could carry, and the loss of our present position would be more disastrous to the operatives than to the capitalists. The hours of labour having been reduced in almost every trade through the strength and organization of the workmen, no doubt some concession might fairly be claimed for women and children, who had not the same power of combination, and he hoped the Government would undertake an equitable settlement of the question; but if they declined to interfere, he should vote for the second reading of the Bill, in the hope that Amendments might be made in Committee which would render the Bill a satisfactory settlement.
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
said, that as appeals had been made to the Government from both sides of the House, it would not be respectful in him to allow the debate to go further without explaining the views of Her Majesty's Government on the question. The Government were deeply impressed with the importance of the matter, and of the issue now before the House, and anyone looking at the amount of industry in the country connected with the subject, could not help feeling the greatest possible anxiety that if the question was to be settled at all, it should be done upon a sound basis which was likely to make it a final 1791 settlement, or, at all events, one that would last for many years to come. One needed only to glance at the statistics to see the magnitude of the question. The last Reports of the Factory Inspectors showed that, as regarded the cotton manufacture alone, 4,500,000 persons were dependent upon its prosperity, in all its branches, though not all directly connected with it; and that fact alone was surely sufficient to produce a feeling of deep responsibility on the part of any Government proposing to interfere in the matter. Speaking, on the one hand, of the vast number of persons interested as operatives, or deeply connected with the trade in other ways, one could not help remembering, on the other hand, the vast amount of capital invested in the trade, and that any action which they might take should not unfairly or unjustly interfere with the productive power of the capital employed. In 1871 the Reports showed that there were in Great Britain 2,484 mills engaged in the cotton manufacture, with an aggregate of 38,218,758 spindles. The cost of the buildings and machinery employed in the trade was £57,000,000, while the floating capital was £30,000,000, making together £87,000,000. Therefore, he thought he had said enough to show the gravity of the interest with which they were at the present moment dealing, and that it required to be approached with considerable care, lest they should do any injury to the capitalists on the one hand, and the workpeople on the other. Now, he thought the House would agree with him that by unduly shortening the hours of labour by Act of Parliament, they might not only injure those who were engaged in that trade as operatives, but they might also injure those who had supplied the capital necessary for carrying on the trade; and any measure which injuriously affected the trade itself must have its effect on the wages of the operatives. They should, therefore, consider both sides of the question very carefully. For himself, he looked upon the interest of the manufacturer and the interest of the employed as to a great extent one, for both were deeply interested in promoting the prosperity of the trade in which they were engaged. Talking of the capital which had been invested in that industry, a great deal had been said outside those walls, and also during the debate that day, about the 1792 difference which had taken place of late years in the productive power of the country as compared with foreign countries, and it had been asserted that foreign competition was now so great that they could not realty afford to go further in the direction of reducing the hours of labour, at all events, by Act of Parliament. He would grant that the figures put before him showed that there had undoubtedly been during the last few years a much greater increase in the productive power of foreign countries than of our own. For instance, as a test, they found the average annual consumption of cotton in the five years, 1826–30, was in millions of pounds—212.3 in Great Britain, 77.8 in France, 42 in the rest of Europe, and 38.5 in the United States. In the five years, 1841–5, it was 521.3 in Great Britain, 157.3 in France, 1099 in the rest of Europe, and 152.5 in America; while in 1871–3 it was 1'216 in Great Britain, 248.3 in France, 562 in the rest of Europe, and 508.2 in the United States. From that, it appeared that the average annual increase of consumption in 1871–3 over 1826–30 was 473 per cent in Great Britain, 222 in France, 1,238 in the rest of Europe, and 1,235 in America; while the increase in 1871–3 over that of 1841–5 was only 133 per cent in Great Britain, 58 in France, 411 in the rest of Europe, and 233 in America. Much the same figures were brought out on looking to the consumption of British goods on the Continent, for it was equal to 400,000 bales of 400 lbs. each in 1840, and to 627,000 bales of the same average weight in 1873; whereas the consumption of raw cotton was 521,000 bales in 1840, and 2,043,000 bales in 1871–3. Those figures showed a vast increase in Continental manufactures as compared with the increase in this country. That, however, as had been remarked, was not duo simply to factory legislation, but to several causes, and among others, to the natural development of those countries during a long period of peace. Such development, which could not be expected when they were at war, must be looked for when they were at peace, and when we allowed machinery to be exported. We must, therefore, as had been said, expect such an increase, and the only thing we could do was to compete with them in the open market. Moreover, a great proportion of the dif- 1793 ference which had arisen was attributable to the prohibitory duties imposed by those countries on our exports, and those deeply interested in the cotton manufacture had not lost heart, but were prepared to meet the foreigner in the open market. If excessive restrictions were not adopted by Parliament, we had nothing to fear from foreign competition. The next question was that of the freedom of contract, which had been referred to by the hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. W. Holms). There was no doubt that one of the great principles which they should endeavour to maintain was that there should be vested in parties absolute freedom of contract, unless peculiar circumstances rendered some restriction necessary. He supposed the House was perfectly agreed, that so far as adult males were concerned, there could be no question that freedom of contract must be maintained, and men must be left to take care of themselves. On the other hand, he presumed there was not the smallest doubt that when they came to deal with children and persons of tender age, all parties would agree that they were unable to take care of themselves, and that the State was bound to interfere for their protection, and to sec that they were not overworked, and that they were properly educated according to their station in life. The ground on which they did that was simply because they were not free agents, and were not capable of looking after their own interests. Well, having disposed of adult men and children, they came to the third class—namely, women who were employed in those textile trades. The question for them to determine in considering the case was—Were they to be looked on as absolutely free agents like men; or did they, or did they not, partake of the nature of children, and were not, therefore, free agents? Well, he had from his youth been intimately acquainted with a large manufacturing town, and represented, one for some years, and what he had seen and heard had satisfied him that, to a great extent, women could not be regarded as absolutely free agents? When men were employed, the wives were expected to go to the factories, and so also the children; and, in some cases, from the custom of the country, the husband and whole family must be regarded as so many hands working for the common purse of the family. He 1794 did not suppose that even the hon. Member for Paisley would propose the repeal of the old Factory Acts, and it having been conceded that it was the province of the Legislature to protect these women from being overworked, the only question was how far that protection should be carried. There could not be a stronger case for interference, as far as actual injury to the woman herself and to her child was concerned, than work at the mill two or three days after her confinement. Partly from need of the money, partly from the pressure, perhaps, of the millowner, or of her husband and family, she worked at times when utterly unfit, and in the long run both she and her family suffered. In that case Parliament had not intervened and the difficulties of doing so were, he would not say insuperable, but very hard to grapple with. He simply cited it as a case where the woman could not be looked upon as a free agent, and where she was, therefore, a legitimate object for protection, for had she the full exorcise of her own free will, under the circumstances he had mentioned, to do as she liked, she would not go to work so early as she did now. If the hon. Member for Paisley meant that women were as well able to protect themselves as men, and if that was the proposition he meant to place before the House, the only logical conclusion which could possibly be drawn was, that the Factory Acts ought to be entirely repealed as far as they were affected, but nobody proposed to take that course, and the remarks which had been made on bad smells or ventilation had nothing to do with the question. The whole question they had to decide was, whether they should further interfere with the time at which women were to work, and not upon the question as to whether the existing Factory Acts were properly carried out. On what grounds were they to base further legislation, and how were they to follow it up? He believed Mr. Baker, the Factory Inspector, was perfectly right in the Report which he had made, in stating that factory legislation was a purely sanitary and educational work. He (Mr. Assheton Cross) believed that was the sound and only footing on which they could base it; and Mr. Baker reminded them that that had always been the real principle on which factory legislation had gone. In point of fact, the Act of the first Sir Robert 1795 Peel was entitled by him "An Act for the Preservation of the Health and Morals of Apprentices and Others employed in Cotton and other Mills and Cotton and other Factories," and the Act of 1833 had a similar recital. "Women and children, however much it might be regretted, were not free agents, and these Acts had operated very beneficially. Having, in a manner, challenged the hon. Member to repeal those statutes, let the House look at their beneficial results. Mr. Baker, speaking of the period prior to their passing, had said—It could not be denied that the factory cripples of Lancashire and Yorkshire were a remarkable sight, it being a common expression, that they seemed almost as numerous, in proportion to the industrial towns of these counties, as sailors were in Liverpool to its general population. Happily, now there are none of these specimens of deformity lift—nothing but the historical fact that, those who agitated the factory question between 10 and 50 years age seem to have hit upon their causes and the remedy, for no sooner was the excessive overwork stopped, and the age of admission to work advanced, than cripples disappeared altogether.They had, therefore, these facts plainly before them—that the Factory Acts had worked well; that the principle of restricting women's labour had been recognized by the Legislature; and that those Acts had been of the greatest possible advantage to the inhabitants of the great manufacturing towns. On the question being brought before the House some time ago, his predecessor in office suggested legislation on the basis he was now advocating, and two gentlemen of experience were appointed as Commissioners to make inquiry in the towns where this industry was chiefly found. The tenor of their Report was well known, and were he to go into the details, it would be found that there were many points, apart from the main issue, which would have to be decided. For instance, some factories were ill-constructed, and some processes laborious and injurious, while others were not so. The tendency of all improvements in machinery had rendered the actual work of the operatives less, but that had been counterbalanced by the necessity of increased attention. A greater strain was now put on the people employed. Owing to the increased speed, there was, without mentioning the increased dust, a great strain upon the workers; and hon. 1796 Members interested in factories had repeatedly told him that, on watching the work during the last hour of the day, they had found it nothing as compared with that done in the earlier hours, and the strain apparently much greater. Having thus explained the principles on which the Government thought they ought to proceed, he should now briefly explain the recommendations they thought they were bound to make in the matter. They thought at the outset they were bound to take their stand upon some intelligible principle. They wanted to lay down a principle which they hoped would be perfectly understood throughout the country, and they trusted that the settlement of the difficulty which they were about to indicate would be considered, at all events for a long time, to be a final and conclusive settlement. Keeping that end in view, they desired to base their proposals upon the Reports of the gentlemen who were appointed to report upon the subject. Turning to the Report of Mr. Baker, they found that he recommended that the demand for a reduction in the hours of labour should be conceded to the factory operatives, his words being—On the question whether there should he this reduction in the hours of factory labour or not, I would only add that with ail the facts which I have endeavoured to detail in this Report with accuracy and clearness, divesting them of all prejudice and bias, being desirous only of bringing them to bear on the question of shorter hours consistently with moderation, and the great interests involved, viewing them also in the light of days past and present, in the enlarged desires of the young for greater opportunities of intellectual culture, looking, too, at the ideas of liberty of labour which a very high rate of wages and cheap trains have evoked and fostered, I venture to express an opinion that there is ground for a reduction in the hours of labour in the factories, great and small in which general term I include workshops.Mr. Redgrave, putting the case on an intelligible basis, stated that, considering the monotonous kind of treadmill work of these women and the speed of the machinery, the continuous time without a break was a great strain, which could not be endured without injury to their constitution. It might be true that the women wished to work as at present; but in the long run, they would be benefited by shorter hours, for eight or ten years hence they would be better fit for work than if they had constantly had a strain put upon them and had perhaps 1797 broken down. Mr. Redgrave, recommended, therefore, that they should be relieved from a long-continued strain and never allowed to work so long without a break. What the Government then proposed to do, was practically to follow out that advice. They thought it would be ill-advised to delay dealing with the question, and an inquiry would be useless, the Commissioners having already fully inquired into it. Further, it had been before Parliament two or three years, and had begun to agitate the country, and it was much better that it should be settled without agitation. That the owners of mills were not anxious for a continuance of the 60 hours was shown by the fact that many of them had reduced them to 59, many to 58, and some, he believed, to 57, and Mr. Redgrave said, he had reason to believe last year that the cotton manufacturers would have been induced to compromise the whole question by accepting 57 hours, and that the workers would have been willing to accept 56, and he further remarked how very little under water was the rock on which the barque foundered. Where was the difference of principle between 57 hours and 60? It was for Parliament to consider, with the Reports of personal Inspectors before them, what was the proper limit. He must hero do the employers this justice—that they had always been willing to allow their operatives a considerable number of holidays in the course of the year; and in altering the law, therefore, as he should explain, the Government were desirous of making that law as elastic as possible, in order that masters—after considering the question among themselves—might be able to suit the hours alike for the convenience of themselves, those whom they employed, and the general and accepted usages of the district. Instead, therefore, of accepting the Bill of the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella), they proposed that no work should begin earlier than 6 in the morning, or should continue later than 7 in the evening. And here he might mention in connection with this, that they were sensible of the mischief and danger arising under the old Acts, and the difficulty for Inspectors to discover whether the law was infringed, and did not wish to recur to that. They, therefore, proposed that in each factory there should 1798 be stated hours, which might be changed at different periods of the year, and that it should be stated whether the hours were 6 to 6, or 7 to 7. They adopted, also, the proposition of Mr. Redgrave—in which he thought there was a great deal—that there should be no continuous strain on any factory operatives of more than four hours and a-half at a time; that they should have two hours for their meals on five days of the week, so that practically for five days in the week they would work 10 hours; and on Saturday, the working hours, being from 6 in the morning till 2 in the afternoon, should be so limited as that practically they would be only six hours. If they looked at Mr. Baker's Report, they would find that that was precisely what was there recommended. Therefore, He would give in each factory 56 working hours per week. Another point to be considered was, that in every mill it was necessary at the end of the week that there should be a certain time given for cleaning, and therefore it was a question whether, at the close of the 56 hours' work, and when the manufacturing process was stopped, half an hour should not be allowed to clean up the machines. With regard to the short-timers, the Bill of the hon. Member for Sheffield stated that they should not work more than five and a-half hours, or 33 hours a-week; but the Government would suggest that-in the case of the short-timers a much more convenient arrangement might be made. Everybody knew that the half-timers would work on one day before dinner and on another day after dinner, or they would all work in the morning one week and in the afternoon another week. But the morning hours being much longer than the afternoon hours, of course those who worked in the morning would be much longer employed than those who worked in the afternoon. An easy solution might be given to that question, so that practically no children would ever work in any factory really for 33 hours, and that was by allowing in all eases where the child worked in the morning the week to begin for them on Saturday. They would then have six hours on the Saturday; they would work every other day in the course of the nest week before dinner; in no instance would they ever work more than 32 hours; and every alternate Saturday they would have a holiday, when the 1799 other shift would come in. Therefore, those who worked for the short hours in one week would work on Saturday morning, and those who worked for the long hours would have no work at all on Saturday. The result would be, that there would not be more than 32½ hours' work for the children in the course of the week, and the object of the hon. Member for Sheffield would be practically carried out, as he was told, without any disturbance of the trade. The hon. Member further proposed that no child under 10 years of age should be employed in any factory. If that became law at once it would be a hurried change, and would give rise to considerable dissatisfaction. He, therefore, desired to alter the figure 10 to 9 years, up to 1875 at all events; and the age might be advanced to 10 in 1876. As to the educational test, he saw no objection, nor had he heard any taken on behalf of the employers, to the educational test contained in a sub-section of the 1st clause. Therefore, he thought the whole question might be practically summed up shortly in this way—that the hours for women and children should be limited by Act of Parliament to 56 per week; that there should be that question left as to an additional half-hour for cleaning on Saturday; that there should be the greatest possible elasticity in the provisions, so as to enable those arrangements to be made by the employers, either of England or Scotland, for their own convenience and that of the workpeople, as to the longest period of hours which might be necessary; that there should be a longer time allowed each day for meals, which would be an excellent sanitary arrangement, and one which would conduce more to the health of the employed than anything else; and that the educational test might be taken as they found it in the Bill before the House, only making 9 the age at which the children should begin to work up to 1875, and 10 the age in 1876. It had been suggested in the course of the debate that now was the fitting time to consolidate all the Acts with regard to factory labour. He could honestly say there was no subject which he would like better to take up and lay before the House, but he certainly was not prepared to do that during the present Session, much as he believed it would be a very great boon, not only to the work- 1800 people, but to the masters. The point had been raised whether the regulations that they proposed should be confined simply to the factories included in that Bill, or should be extended further. That was a matter which at the present moment was under the deep consideration of the Government. They thought there were kindred subjects to which those regulations might be safely applied. The suggestion had been made that day that they should be extended to all workshops. That was quite a different question, and he would like to reserve his judgment upon it until he had had time to consider it fully; because although at first sight it might seem a very simple matter, and might commend itself to their approval, yet the nature of the trades concerned was so various, and the interests involved were so large, that he, for one, should deprecate any hasty legislation affecting them until the whole matter had been thoroughly discussed. Therefore, all he could promise as to that was, that it should receive their careful consideration. He now made those proposals on behalf of the Government, knowing perfectly well that it was impossible the Bill of the hon. Member for Sheffield could be read the second time that afternoon. Indeed, he was of opinion that a measure of such importance and gravity ought to be introduced on the responsibility of the Government; therefore, if the proposals he had indicated met with anything like fair acceptance, and were regarded by both sides as a reasonable settlement of that question, he hoped that further agitation on it throughout the country would be avoided. Nothing could be more deplorable than that masters and men should be in antagonism on that subject, and therefore he was prepared, on behalf of the Government, to introduce such a Bill upon it as he had sketched out, and to press it forward and carry it, if the House would support him, in order that that question might be settled to the satisfaction of the country, for the benefit of the operatives, for the calm and peace of the masters—and, if the hon. Member for Paisley would allow him to say so—without any further interference with economic principles than was to be found in those old Factory Acts, which he was sure that hon. Member himself would not wish to repeal.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he had intended, before they heard the very able and candid speech of the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, to vote for the second reading of the Bill of the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella). He (Mr. W. E. Forster) had been an original advocate of the Ten Hours Bill, and he believed the time had now come when there were good reasons for shortening the hours of work for both women and children in factories, and he was glad that the right hon. Gentleman sketched out a Bill for the purpose, which he put beside that of the hon. Member for Sheffield, and the question now was, what that hon. Member should do. For himself, he saw no reason why the second reading of the present Bill should not be taken that day, and why the alterations proposed by the Government should not be made in it by Amendments in Committee. ["No, no!"] If, however, in a matter of such importance, the Government felt they ought to bring it before the House in words of their own drawing, objection could hardly be taken fairly to their doing so. On the other hand, it would be very unfair to his hon. Friend's Bill that it should be negatived; therefore he thought the best course would be not to take a decision now on his hon. Friend's Bill, but to adjourn the debate, until they had an opportunity of seeing the measure which the Government intended to bring in, when his hon. Friend would be able to decide whether it was necessary for him to proceed with his measure.
§ MR. ROEBUCK moved the adjournment of the debate.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Roebuck.)
§ MR. FAWCETT
said, that after the statement of the Home Secretary, he assumed that the Bill of the hon. Member for Sheffield had virtually dropped, and its place been taken by another, to be introduced by the Government, and for the discussion of the proposals contained in which, he presumed, an opportunity would be given hereafter, He wished, therefore, to say that he did not mean to surrender without protest the principle that the time had come when they ought not to sanction any further 1802 legislation with regard to adult labour. He suggested that the Home Secretary should divide his contemplated measure into two parts—the one dealing with the education and employment of children, as to which there would be little or no difficulty; and the other with the regulation of adult labour, as to the policy of which, even on both sides of the House, there existed a very serious difference of opinion. By the proposed legislation they were nominally asked to interfere simply with the labour of women, but the real and practical issue was whether they would interfere with the labour of adults, both men and women. The hon. Member for Sheffield had spoken approvingly of Switzerland and Germany, but it was a remarkable fact that in those countries they carefully abstained from interfering with the labour of adults. He wished to protest against the Socialism propounded that day by the hon. Gentleman the Conservative Member for Manchester (Mr. Callender), who said that if they interfered with the labour of adults, the same wages would be paid for a smaller number of hours' work as for a larger number. A doctrine more mischievous to the interests of the working classes themselves, or one more likely to prove disastrous to the trade of the country, could not well be encouraged by the Representative of a great manufacturing town. He intended to appeal to the independent feeling of the House to assert the principle that the number of hours for which adult men and women should work was a question, not for Parliament, but for the men and women concerned to settle.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
thanked the Home Secretary for the very fair and candid manner in which he had dealt with the subject, but wished to keep his Bill on the Paper until the Government's measure was before the House. He should therefore accept the advice of his right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), and would suggest that the debate be adjourned to that day fortnight.
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
said, it was already in the hands of the draftsman, and would be brought in as soon as possible.
§ SIR THOMAS BAZLEY
said, that he, too, would accept the proposals of the Government, at least for discussion, and should withdraw his Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Debate adjourned till Wednesday 20th May.
§ House adjourned at a quarter before Six o'clock.