HL Deb 04 February 1819 vol 39 cc0-289
The Earl of Lauderdale

observed, that as a noble lord had given notice of his intention to move to-marrow for a committee to take into consideration the number of hours during which children were employed in the cotton factories, he wished to call that noble lord's attention to the real state of the case. The subject had been under consideration last year, in consequence of its having come before their lordships in the shape of a bill from the Commons; and he thought it might have been allowed to take the same course again. He did not mean to say any thing at present on the merits of the question, but he wished to appeal to the candour of the noble lord, on two different points, as grounds for the postponement of his motion. In the first place, it would be recollected, that great difficulty had been experienced in the course of last session to find a sufficient number of members to attend the committee. The noble lord was, however, going to propose its re-appointment at a time when several noble lords were about to be appointed to conduct a most important investigation. The second point was this: he bad just received a voluminous mass of papers connected with this subject, the details of which were stated to contain proof that the late disturbances at Manchester, and other places where cotton manufactories were established, had been occasioned by the misrepresentations which prevailed last year, when the investigation of this subject was going on. This was a most important assertion, and he wished to have the opportunity of examining the evidence for it, as it ought not to be made without a statement of the grounds on which it was founded; but he could not read all the papers before Monday. Much mischief had been done by the circulation of mutilated extracts of the evidence which had been heard last session. From what he had stated, he trusted the noble lord would postpone his motion, at least till Monday, if not longer.

Lord Kenyan

wished to afford every opportunity for a full and free enquiry. He was, therefore, not unwilling to comply with the request of the noble earl, so far as to postpone the motion he intended to make until Monday, but he did not think it right to consent to a longer delay. With regard to what the noble earl had said, as to the difficulty of finding members to attend the committee of last session, he should only remark, that there was not a single day on which the committee had not met and transacted business. As to statements on the subject of the investigation, not consistent with fact, having been circulated, he did not doubt but such might have been the case; but at the same time he must observe, that a very different opinion from that alluded to by the noble earl was entertained by many respecting the origin of the disturbances.