HL Deb 28 July 1831 vol 5 cc464-6

The House, on the Motion of Lord Wharncliffe, resolved itself into a Committee on the Bill prohibiting payment of Labourers' Wages in Goods.

Lord Wynford

expressed a decided opinion, that the Bill would not attain the objects which the noble Mover had in view. The truck-system had gone on for years, was going on at the present moment, and was likely to continue for years to come—unless, indeed, recourse was had to some stronger measure, inflicting heavier penalties than the present Bill. He would recommend, that the subject should be referred to a Select Committee, which might devise such a measure. Though labourers might be paid in money, there would still remain a tacit understanding that the money should be spent in the shop of the manufacturer, or in that in which he was interested. The chief objection he had to the present Bill was, that it went to repeal the 19th of George the 3rd, without introducing any other provision in its stead. That bill, which was intended to protect the lace-manufacturers, was much stronger than the present measure; that class, above all others, stood, he believed, the most in need of protection. The poor lace-manufacturers had been actually ground into dust before the bill passed. There was also another branch of manufacture, in which a large proportion of the poor, in a very extensive district of England—he meant the making of shirt-buttons, which was protected by the Act of George 3rd, and which would be left without protection by this Bill. The persons employed in that manufacture were not the servants of manufacturers, and therefore could not claim the protection of the Bill, though no people stood more in need of it. As to the other clauses of the Bill, he had no objection to them; but of this he felt assured, that let the House enact what penalties they might, the master manufacturers would still continue to evade them. He concluded by moving, that those words in the Bill which went to repeal the 19th of George 3rd, be omitted.

Lord Wharncliffe

did not mean to repeal the 19th of George 3rd without substituting an equal protection for it, and if the noble Lord thought that any words should be added to that part of the Bill which went to provide that protection, he should be willing to insert them. He could not, however, agree to omitting the repeal of that Act, because he wished to make the Bill general, and the law uniform. He admitted, that the Bill was not perfect in all its parts, nor fully sufficient to accomplish the object which they had in view; but this he believed would be acknowledged on all hands, that it was the only real attempt to put a stop to the system, of the mischiefs of which every noble Lord, who had from time to time spoken on the subject, loudly complained. There was no legislative enactment which could prevent manufacturers from keeping a shop, or being directly interested in a shop; but this, at least, he was enabled to say, that his Bill went as far as legislation could go, by enacting, that no master keeping a shop, or directly interested in one, could recover debts from any of their workmen.

Lord Wynford

only wished to protect the thread-lace makers, and if that were accomplished, he had no objection to the Bill.

The House resumed.

The Payment of Wages in Money Bill, also went through a Committee.