§ Mr. Wilbraham Bootle
moved for leave to bring in a Bill to amend the state of Parish Apprentices. Formerly the parish children, who were put out as apprentices, were bound either to masters resident in their own, or in the adjoining parishes. The overseers appeared to have forgotten, that it was their duty to stand in some measure in loco parentis, and to look to the interests of the children when they were putting them out as apprentices. The hon. member here quoted the words of the late lord Kenyon, in a case where a foreigner was indicted and found guilty of ill-treating some apprentices which had been bound to him by parishes. That noble judge reproved most severely the conduct of the overseers in that instance, and said that they had acted contrary to their duty and to the law of the land, in putting 17 children as apprentices to a man who could neither employ or feed them. Too many overseers appeared perfectly content to get rid of the burthen of the children, without caring what afterwards happened to them. In fact, it was impossible that the overseers of parishes 749 in the metropolis could exercise the superintendance which the law required, if the children were to be sent off by 200 at a time to Manchester or Yorkshire to the manufactories; neither was it likely that the manufacturer who took two or three hundred apprentices could pay that attention to their morals that was due, or in any way stand in loco parentis, as the law required the master to do. A very considerable number of children were regularly imported into Lancashire from the metropolis, for the purpose of the manufactories. To remedy the great evil which often resulted from children being thus sent friendless into distant parts of the country, he wished there should be a regulation that they should not be sent to a greater distance than forty miles from the place of their settlement; at this distance they might be occasionally visited by some of their overseers or by their parents, which would prevent their being ill-treated by their masters. He would wish at least to try the experiment whether employment could not be found for the poor children of this metropolis within the distance of forty miles from it. He should also propose a limitation of the number of apprentices which were to be bound to one man, as it was impossible that in those manufactories where many hundreds of children were taken apprentices, due attentions should be paid to each of them. He would also propose, that 40 days should elapse between the time that the child was sent and the completion of the indentures, in order that it should be ascertained what was the temper and character of the master. After a few general observations upon the advantages of regulations similar to those he had mentioned, he moved for leave to bring in a Bill to amend the state of parish apprentices.
Leave was given, and the Bill was immediately brought in and read a first time.