HC Deb 22 May 1846 vol 86 cc997-1080

The Adjourned Debate on the Second Reading of the Factories Bill being resumed,


said, that in giving his support to the principle of this Bill, which was now under the consideration of the House, and in opposition to the Amendment, he thought it was incumbent upon him to prove, that while it proposed to confer benefit on the operative classes, it would not produce on those classes any injury to counterbalance that benefit. He also thought it was incumbent on him to prove, as he thought he should, that the principle of the Bill would not occasion any injury to the employers of those operatives. He admitted it was but just that he should prove these points before he proceeded to enlist the feelings of the House on the side he advocated, and to show them that they might indulge their sympathies with safety, for he was convinced that the community would receive a benefit, and the operatives and employers would receive no harm. With regard to the first point, he would not only prove that no injury would arise, but he would prove this, that it would be unwise and unsafe to reject this measure. When he used these terms, he was far from referring to physical force. The danger to which he referred was the danger of destroying the physical energies and moral character of those respecting whom they were about to legislate. It was understood that with reference to the operatives now employed in these manufactories, from the improvement in machinery, and from other causes, the proportion of those who were young had from time to time greatly increased in comparison with the increase of adult labourers. But he would not say, that because they were the majority in point of numbers, for that reason alone the House was to pass an Act of legislation which would have reference to those labourers, because he admitted that those young persons were growing up, and would become adult labourers in their turn; and if he did admit that the adult labourer would be injured by the protection to the younger, he thought that point should be taken into consideration. Of the proportion of young persons compared with the adult, he maintained that it was still increasing, and when they grew up there would not be sufficient room to absorb that number, and consequently of those who had been young operatives in factories, when they came to an older age, numbers of them who wished to seek an honest livelihood must find some other employment. Let the House then have this in view, that when that time arrived, and being no longer fit for that employment, let them secure that the surplus of that population should be fit for some other employment as honest and industrious members of the community. The Legislature had provided so far as related to the education of the young classes of operatives under thirteen years of age; but he asked whether that House was of opinion that education should cease at that age? Was not that the age when there were springing up the seeds of an opposite nature, which unhappily, they were taught by religious knowledge, were instilled in the nature of all. And did they not know that the proper cultivation of the mind consisted as much in that which was to be eradicated, as in that which was to be taught. In his opinion, the age between thirteen and eighteen years was the most important. It was, therefore, not only safe and wholesome to pass this Bill, but it was dangerous to withhold it. How could it be supposed, that at this early age when they were constantly and laboriously at work, they were to find any time for receiving, or if they could receive, of listening to instruction. He did venture to urge upon the House that upon this ground they ought to pass the measure; and though it might be true that the operatives asked but for a little time for the improvement of their minds, yet let the House not on that account reject the measure, but trust that under the blessing of Divine Providence something beneficial might be effected during the time he had mentioned. With regard to the second point, he was aware that he laboured under a great disadvantage, as representing a part of England where they had no manufactories that could be named in comparison with those of the great manufacturing districts. He would, however, avail himself of such evidence as he had been able to collect; but, as far as his judgment went, he had no doubt as to the decision of the House on this subject. The hon. Gentleman then referred to the speech made by the late Sir R. Peel in 1815, when introducing the first measure upon this subject. That hon. Baronet had recommended that children should be only employed for twelve hours a day, which, allowing for meals, would be reducing their working time to ten hours. The hon. Gentleman read a letter from Lord Kenyon, stating that the late Sir Robert Peel, when he first brought in his Bill for the regulation of factory labour, intended to restrict the period of work to ten hours; that he afterwards extended it to eleven; that in that shape the Bill went to the House of Lords, where, in consequence of the opposition given to the Bill by Lord Lauderdale and others, Lord Kenyon, who had charge of it, was induced to make it twelve hours; and that Sir Robert Peel remonstrated with him for the alteration when the Bill was at the foot of the Throne. But it might be said that that excellent person, the late Sir Robert Peel, did not take up these views till late in life, when he had withdrawn from manufactures—when their interests had become indifferent to him. [Sir R. PEEL: The late Sir R. Peel held the same views in 1802, before he withdrew from manufactures.] That made his testimony still more important as bearing upon this question. And he would now call another witness, who was still actually engaged in the factories to a very great extent, who had himself made his fortune, yet still the interests of his children and his relatives were all involved in the same pursuit—he meant the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. J. Fielden). He, in speaking of that measure said— If in voting for this Bill, I vote for the destruction of manufactures, then I shall be voting for the ruin of myself and family. That Gentleman employed between 2,000 and 3,000 persons in his establishment; he interested himself in their welfare, and they were all proud of his kindness and patronage. The hon. Gentleman farther stated, that from 1819 to 1846, so far from manufactures being checked by the legislative interferences that had taken place since that time, the amount of raw cotton which had been used in manufactures had increased five-fold; and, as he had been told, no depression of wages could be traced to any of the restrictions. He might also refer to the hon. Member for Salford as concurring with the hon. Member for Oldham; and still further, he could quote the opinions of the operatives themselves, a deputation of whom had waited upon him, intelligently answered all his inquiries, and anticipated many of the objections which had risen in his mind. They modestly preferred their request that he would support their cause; there was certainly no symptom of intimidation on their part. It had been said—and said most unfortunately, he thought, for the argument—that there had been no strikes upon this question. If there had been, he, for one, would have doubted the justice of their claims. It was because there were no strikes—because the operatives trusted to the effect of a just and reasonable cause—because they were content to incur delay, which they might have avoided, if they had been more urgent—it was for that reason that he was so urgent in their cause. After all he was satisfied that the question must be decided on a balance of evidence. He was aware that important evidence was yet to be given on the other side—he was aware that the hon. Members for Stockport and for Durham would probably take the opposite side of the question; and he knew the high character and standing of those hon. Members as representatives of the manufacturers. Then the hon. Member for Montrose had already spoken against the measure, and he was by no means disposed to underrate the importance of his evidence; but when the hon. Member told them to stop where they now were, he remembered that the hon. Member would have stopped them before from coming to where they now were, if the House had listened to him. Then the right hon. Member for Taunton argued that because they could not interfere with other trades, such as fustian-cutters or pin-makers, therefore they ought not to interfere with cotton factories. Now, in the first place, it was no reason, because they could not do all they wished, that therefore they should not do what they could; but besides that, he remembered that when the late Sir R. Peel's Bill was brought into the House of Lords, the late Lord Eldon argued against it on the ground that they ought not to interfere with the cotton factories while the children were allowed to engage in draining, sweeping, and in the labour of the mines. But since that time the employment of children in both those ways had been interfered with; and he trusted that in the progress of legislation, they might reach the fustian-cutters and the pin-makers also. He might mention that he had questioned the deputation of workmen who waited upon him as to the probable operation of this measure on their wages; and they answered him that they did not believe its operation would be to reduce wages, but that even if it should, the reduction would be more nominal than real, as they would gain more by their wives and children attending at home to attend to their household concerns, than they could possibly lose by any reduction of wages that they might suffer. If, then, he had succeeded in establishing these two points, that considerable public benefit would arise to the community at large from this measure, and next that there would be no countervailing disadvantage to any class, he thought he might proceed to the third point, on which they were all agreed, that if the measure were practicable, it would be highly desirable to act upon those sympathies which were common to them all, and to give that indulgence which the workman sought. The operatives had stated to him that no one would have any idea of the comfort and happiness which the granting of this measure would impart to them, not only in the hours they gained, but throughout the whole hours of work, in the knowledge that when their labour was over, they could retire to their homes and have some period of social intercourse with their families between the hours of labour and repose. He had heard with the greatest satisfaction from the speech of the hon. Member for Clitheroe, on a former occasion, of the great demand for Bibles that had sprung up in those manufacturing districts; and what he wished was, that now they had obtained Bibles, they should have time to read them. Hon. Members talked of giving the labourers cheap and abundant bread. He would not then discuss that point; but he would remind them of an anecdote of the late Lord Erskine when in the very height of his prosperity, and when the hours were too short for him to consult his numerous briefs. He was met in the street by a gentleman who had known him in his times of greatest depression—and from him he (Mr. Bankes) had the anecdote—and he congratulated him then upon the change which had taken place in his condition. "Yes," Lord Erskine replied, "there is a great difference, and the difference is this, that then I had not bread to eat, and now (with a sigh) I have got bread, but I cannot get time to eat it." Admitting the operatives were in receipt of food and wages, yet, by all means, if possible, allow them time to learn. If it was true, the working classes had been silent, they would still be so even were the present measure rejected. But how much better would it be if this silence were broken on the part of the House, by telling of the passing of this Bill. Rejoicing would then rise from the mouths of thousands.


said, he had listened with great attention to the very temperate speech by the hon. Member for Dorsetshire, in the hope of finding in it reasons for reconsidering those opinions upon the question then before the House, which placed him in opposition to the views of the working classes of the town which he had the honour of representing. He gave his opponents the full benefit of that admission. To the best of his abilities and understanding, he represented in that House the true interests of the working men of Sheffield; but it would be doing them an injustice to say, that upon this particular question, he represented their feelings or wishes. He regretted this. But he was not a mere delegate. He felt that he was bound to exercise his own judgment upon every question that came before him. He was not yet a convert to the new Conservative doctrine launched by the noble Lord the Member for Newark, that a question was to be regarded as "settled" in Parliament, because it was "settled" out of doors by the parties who thought their interests were affected by it. In that doctrine, the noble Member for Finsbury (Mr. Wakley) seemed to acquiesce, for he told the House, on Wednesday, that he supported a Bill, every part of which he disapproved of, because he was requested to do so by the working classes.


I beg your pardon, I made no assertion of the kind, and received no application from my constituents.


had no wish to misrepresent the hon. Member; but he understood him to say "that he disapproved of the principle of the Bill of his hon. Colleague, because it interfered with adult labour, and thought that the clauses seemed to have been framed for the special purpose of defeating their own object; but that he should support it, because the working classes required it, and they were the best judges of their own interests." To this doctrine he could not assent. He held that they had higher interests to look to, and higher duties to perform, and he did perform them to the best of his ability, He did not know what was meant by a settlement out of doors. What was the test of settlement? The noble Lord (Lord John Manners) had had the goodness to furnish them with one test, nine days ago, for he said that every question must he considered as "settled," upon which he (Lord John Manners) happened to agree with Lord Grey, Mr. Carlyle, and Mr. Feargus O'Conor. He had the greatest respect for the Members of this quadruple alliance; but they must learn to agree amongst themselves before they could expect to impose their opinions upon other people. He feared the noble Lord had made the common mistake described in an old quotation, and that he could sometimes Compound for sins he was inclined to, By damning those he had no mind to. With all the noble Lord's regard for his allies, he could recollect two or three times quoting Mr. Carlyle in the House, when he did not find the noble Lord at all agreeing in that writer's opinions on the Corn Laws. Yet if there was one question on which Mr. Carlyle had written with more force and power than another, it was the question of the Corn Laws, on which he entirely differed from the noble Lord. In the very work from which the noble Lord quoted, Mr. Carlyle said, "If I were the Conservative party of England, and that is a bold figure of speech, I would not for 100,000l. an hour allow those Corn Laws to continue; Potosi and Golconda put together should not bribe me to it." And then in his poetical prose, he spoke of them as "the dead bough, which must be cut away for the sake of the tree itself; many a weary winter has it swung and creaked there, and gnawed and fretted with its dead wood the living fibre of the good tree. Let the Conservatism that would preserve cut it away." The noble Lord was treading on dangerous ground when he quoted Carlyle; if he did so, he should be prepared to follow his advice on other points, as well as upon that of Government interference. But to come to the speech of the hon. Member for Dorsetshire (Mr. Bankes); he assured the hon. Gentleman that his mind on this question was not only open to conviction, but most anxious to be convinced. But what grounds had the hon. Member adduced to warrant him or any man in changing his opinion? The hon. Gentleman had quoted two witnesses, the first a most respectable one—the late Sir R. Peel. But everything suggested by Sir R. Peel, and more, had been done already. He said, in 1815, "what he was disposed to recommend was, a regulation that no children be so employed under the age of 10 years, either as apprentices or otherwise; and the duration of their labour should be limited to twelve and a half hours per diem, including the time for education and meals, which would leave ten hours for laborious employment." Now, they had extended the limit of age to 13 years, and limited the hours of labour for children below 13 to 6 and a half hours a day. The provisions for the education of the children were better now than Sir R. Peel ever suggested. He must also remind the House of the different circumstances of the country when Sir R. Peel spoke on the subject. Then, England was in possession of the markets of the world; every branch of labour had infinitely higher wages than at the present time, and there was room to deal with the subject in a liberal and kindly spirit. Yet all that was then suggested by a liberal and kindly man they had already gone beyond. The hon. Gentleman's second witness was the hon. Member for Oldham. He was willing to deal with that hon. Member's facts, but he could not admit him as a witness in his own case. No one was more ready to do the fullest justice to the operatives than himself; he represented a town, a great part of the population of which gained their livelihood by the daily exercise of their skill and labour. He admired their intelligence. He had gained much by communication with them; he had learned more from them than from all the discussions in that House; and he did not wonder at the impression made by their delegates upon the hon. Member for Dorsetshire. The hon. Member had, doubtless, been brought into contact with men fully convinced of the truth and soundness of their own views; but if this Bill were passed on the faith of their representations, and it should prove detrimental to their interests, the working men would themselves turn round, and accuse them of shortsightedness and weakness in consenting to it. The hon. Member laid down it as a principle, that if they could not legislate for all, they should legislate for all they could. But the question was, could they do it in the present instance? The hon. Member had put the question fairly and practically. He said, "if" it could be done without reducing wages, and without detriment to employers, and to the commercial interests of the country, by all means do it. But the hon. Member must remember "there is much virtue in your 'if;' your 'if' is a great peacemaker." If it was possible to leave out of consideration one tithe of what was assumed as certain, there could be no doubt as to the advantages of the measure. There could be no doubt that ten hours' labour, with equal wages, would be better than twelve, and that eight hours at the same wages would be better than ten. If all that was stated in the pamphlet published by the hon. Member for Oldham ten years ago—a pamphlet he had read more than once without comprehending it—he could understand it no more than Sanscrit—if all that could be proved and demonstrated, there was not the slightest doubt about the matter. But he denied the postulate. He denied the "if." And when the hon. Member (Mr. Bankes) talked of the danger of a whole generation growing up in the manufacturing districts without education, at what age, he would ask, did the education of children begin in the agricultural districts? What classes were in a more degraded condition than the Dorsetshire labourers? If wages were a mere matter of moral feeling, and not regulated by the natural laws of supply and demand, how came it that they, of all labourers on the face of the earth, were the worst off? [Mr. BANKES: Oh, oh!] It appeared to him an extremely fair question. He was confirmed in his statement by the report of Mr. Austin on the condition of the agricultural labourers in Dorsetshire and in Wilts. There were passages in it which would strike the hon. Gentleman with horror if he had found them applied to the manufacturing districts; but he would not quote, as everybody must have read them. It was a vexata questio; but there was plenty of room for improvement without going to Lancashire. They were now dealing with a class infinitely superior to the Dorsetshire labourers in remuneration and comforts; and the great inducement to the frequent experiments which they were making upon them was that they were congregated in masses. If moral considerations alone influenced them, there were other branches of labour to which they might turn their eyes, and which were far more in need of their interference than that particular branch more immediately under consideration. But there were no obstacles—no invasion of domestic rights in this case; and there was a cheap and easy popularity to be earned by making a philanthropic speech without looking to consequences. This was one cause of what he must call their "amateur legislation." He did not quarrel with much that had been done already. There were abuses in the infancy of every great and complicated system; and the employment, as the majority of the labourers, of children of a tender age, made the factory system peculiarly liable to them. The State was called upon to protect those who could not protect themselves; and the provision which was made for education in regard to young persons engaged in factories was a most judicious interference, and would undoubtedly be productive of great good. But then the question was, were they to go beyond that, and, as they now sought to do, come in contact with adult labour? He was thoroughly convinced, that the effect of any interference with adult labour would be mischievous; he cared little whether the adult were male or female. Unless they could show that the woman was exempt from the ordinary law, from the necessity of labouring to live, they could adduce no right whatever to shut up the existing channels of employment. Would to God it were otherwise! He regretted the necessity. There was nothing in this world so helpless as a young woman dependent upon her own unceasing exertions, and in those exertions, unprotected, for a livelihood; or a widow, left with a family of young children; and he objected to the present Bill, because its inevitable tendency must be to close up and deprive them of the employment now open to them. The object of the hon. Member for Oldham, as he himself stated, was to reach male adult labour through female and infant labour; but he (Mr. Ward) doubted if, by this Bill, he would attain that object. He very much apprehended that the men not included specifically in the Bill would work twelve hours with double relays of assistants; and that, consequently, the hours of labour for young persons and for women would be reduced to six instead of ten hours. And what would follow? Why, females would be driven out of factory labour altogether, and into what he might call the common sewer of female industry—into slop labour—to needlework—changing the easy task of watching self-acting machinery twelve hours per day, for the hopeless drudgery of sixteen or eighteen hours' toil, which was the fate of milliners in the metropolis and other great towns. The alternative was a melancholy one; but unless they could remove the distress from which the necessity for this excess of labour arose, they had no business to touch that branch of labour which, in every country but in England, was considered the most desirable employment for women. Look at the United States. The factory girls of Lowell knew nothing of a Ten Hours' Bill; yet factory labour was the favourite resource of the daughters of the middle classes. And on what grounds were they to interfere here? He supposed he should be told on the patriarchal principle. Would the noble Lord the Member for Newark (Lord John Manners) have the goodness to define that much talked of, and little understood, principle of legislation—the patriarchal principle? He (Mr. Ward) had gone a good way back in English history, but he found no record of the golden age. He had looked to the Statute of Labour, in 1349, and to other similar statutes a hundred years later, which empowered magistrates to fix wages at Michaelmas and Easter—regulated the diet and the dress of working men — and directed clothiers to make a certain kind of coarse cloth, for their wear, and shopkeepers to keep a supply of it on sale, in every village. But these were hardly the times that the noble Lord would recommend as a model; for in every one of these statutes, so inadequate were the wages allowed, that work was enforced by fines, imprisonments, and whippings. Yet there was sense in these laws of the Plantagenets and Tudors, when compared to the Bill of the hon. Member for Oldham. If they fixed the hours of work, they fixed also the maintenance of the labourer; while the hon. Member for Oldham proposed to limit the hours of labour, but made no provision for its remuneration. He did not see his noble Friend the Member for the city of London in the House; but would his right hon. Friend (Mr. Macaulay), who differed from him on this subject, and under whose withering eloquence he would, there was little doubt, be very speedily extinguished, explain how the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) who had the other day admitted, that if they interfered with adult labour, they must also interfere with its remuneration, could vote for the second reading of this Bill? If they limited the hours of labour, he said they must make some provision for its remuneration. If they fixed a maximum of work, they must determine upon the minimum of wages. His right hon. Friend the Member for Devonport, (Sir G. Grey), admitted in the same debate, that they had done this already. He said, "Parliament had assumed the awful responsibility of fixing the maximum of factory labour." Why did he not follow this up by saying, that, as a necessary consequence, a minimum of wages must follow? Because the right hon. Gentleman knew very well that there was but one precedent for what he proposed, and did not like to allude to it—a precedent of a very awkward period in 1793. The only minimum and maximum ever tried in the world, was by Robespierre and the French Convention, which had means of enforcing it not possessed by the British Parliament. What was the result of that experiment? He was looking the other day at a book written by a gentleman to whose opinions the noble Lord (the Member for Newark) used to attach considerable importance; he meant the "Historic Fancies" of the hon. Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs. He there found the following picture of the effects of this very regulation:— He (Robespierre) destroyed all competition, by fixing a maximum of price; and, by a series of harassing interferences and restrictions, which it has never been pretended that he believed otherwise than necessary for the public good, he reduced the industrious classes to a state of poverty, helplessness, and starvation. His measures were popular, because they had the show of an immediate benefit, and of a kindly care for the poor. He prevented 'overwork.' The Government was omnipresent—noting a citizen's means—giving or taking away—providing for his necessities, instruction, maintenance, amusement — wrapping the full grown man in the swaddling-clothes of the infant—making a sort of 'happy family' of 30,000,000 of people. Yet the result was poverty, helplessness, and starvation. The object of the present Bill was much the same. Its effects, at all events, would be similar. It was a step towards "the patriarchal principle;" but the House, before it assented to it, was bound to see what were the grounds alleged for it by its friends, and how far they agreed in their views as to its operation. Gentlemen, who recommended so vast a change, ought to be unanimous as to the effects of their advice, if taken; but he found no two of them agree in opinion. He had taken the trouble to analyse their speeches, and he would give the result in the shortest compass. The hon. Member for Oldham said, "that he was for a Ten Hours' Bill, and no compromise."


I said nothing about a compromise.


No; the hon. Member will probably take eleven hours, if he cannot get ten; but he says he prefers ten, and is no doubt sincere in his recommendation. He then told us what he expected to be the result of the change. He said, "there would be no diminution of profits—no diminution of wages—no diminution of production. That was the result of his experience."




But in the next breath he added, that there would be a rise in prices, though not a considerable one. "The additional cost to the consumer, he said, would not be great: 1d. upon a poor man's shirt, or ½d. upon a woman's gown." He would come back to the question of cheapness presently, as connected with extended sale; but would the hon. Member first tell him why there was to be a rise of price at all, when all the elements of which price is composed continued unaltered? Wages were to be the same—profits the same—production the same — yet prices were to rise! Why? The hon. Member ought, at least, to be in harmony with himself, since he could not agree with his other supporters, whose speeches, taken in conjunction with his own, made up a tissue of the most extraordinary contradicions. For the hon. Member for Bolton (Mr. Ainsworth), who seconded the Motion, said "he was for an Eleven Hours' Bill, not a Ten Hours'," and that the operatives were prepared to accept it. He admitted the certainty of a loss, which the hon. Member for Oldham denied; but he added that "if the hours of labour were reduced, the working clssses would consent to reduce the price of labour also." His hon. Friend the Member for Hertford (Mr. Cooper) maintained, on the other hand, that there would be a reduction in the daily, but not in the aggregate produce. He thought with Mr. Fielden, that wages would not fall, but said "that the operatives were willing to chance it." Now he (Mr. Ward) recollected perfectly that, in their previous discussions upon this subject, his hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury (Mr. Buncombe), who was a pretty good criterion of the feelings of the working classes, had invariably maintained that "they were not willing to chance it, and that not a man amongst them would take the present Bill, unless he thought that he was to receive the same wages for ten hours, that he did now for twelve hours' labour;" and this completely tallied with his (Mr. Ward's) own experience. Next came his right hon. Friend the Member for Devonport (Sir G. Grey); and never had he seen a man of mind so singularly acute, so lamentably perplexed, and bewildered. No two sentences of his speech agreed with each other. From first to last, he halted between two opinions, Letting I dare not wait upon I would; and weighing the moral considerations against the commercial considerations, until a feather would turn the scale between them. He was for the principle of the Bill, but not for the details. Why, in this case, the details were the principle. It was impossible to separate them, and both were equally objectionable. But on one point, his right hon. Friend was quite decided. He said, "that he would not be a party to any delusion. That the natural tendency of this Bill was to reduce wages, and that he believed that this would be its inevitable operation." What, then, would be the extent of the reduction? The hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyne (Mr. Colquhoun), had favoured them with a very nice calculation. He said that wages would be reduced by it from an average of 31l. to 28l. 16s. But the extract from the report of Mr. Horner, a high authority upon this matter, quoted by his right hon. Friend the Member for Taunton (Mr. Labouchere), in that admirable speech which, in conjunction with the speech of the right hon. Baronet opposite, the Secretary for the Home Department, had completely exhausted the commercial part of the question—gave a very different view of the reduction. Mr. Horner said, that if the hours of labour were reduced to eleven, the difference in production would be 13 per cent—if to ten, 25 per cent; and he gave it as his deliberate opinion, "that the whole of the loss must fall ultimately upon the operatives." This was the primâ facie case for the Bill on the part of its principal Parliamentary supporters. But what said the operatives themselves? The last petition presented by the hon. Member from Oldham from his own constituents, was not for an Eleven Hours' Bill, but for a Bill restricting the labour in factories "to ten hours a day, for five days in the week, and to eight hours on Saturday, by limiting the moving power." This was the general feeling of the supporters of the Bill out of doors. If, on the other hand, he looked to the opinions of the manufacturers, he found them perfectly unanimous as to its probable effects. The petition from Leeds said, "that there was no instance in which the working classes had been for a reduction of hours, if accompanied by a proportionate reduction in wages." The petition from Glasgow said, that it would be impossible for them to meet foreign competition, if forced by law to work only ten hours, while their rivals worked twelve and fourteen hours a day. The admirable petition from Huddersfield, presented by his hon. Friend behind him (Mr. Stansfield), stated that the Bill, even supposing it to confer a benefit upon one class, would inflict a direct injury upon others: and that instead of being called "a Bill for shortening the hours of factory labour," it ought to be called a Bill "for increasing the hours of every other labourer in the country, or reducing the measure of their comforts." Now these opinions were entitled to much consideration. It was not necessary to tell the hon. Member for Oldham, that in every article of general consumption, cheapness was the condition of extended sale; and that anything which tended to raise prices above their natural level, was an injury, eventually, to the class who, in the first instance, relied upon experiencing a benefit. It might be asked, what was the natural price? and he would therefore quote, as the highest authority, Adam Smith—with whom the hon. Member might sometimes, though not often, agree. Adam Smith said, "The natural price, or the price of free competition, is the lowest price which can be taken, not upon every occasion indeed, but for any considerable time together." (If capital is to reproduce itself, and to pay the average interest which it produces in other trades.) "The natural price is, as it were, the central price, to which the prices of all commodities are continually gravitating." "Extraordinary profits seldom last. Secrets of this kind can never be long kept. They are the effect of fortune or accidents, or of a natural monopoly—like some vineyards in France." He (Mr. Ward) found an illustration of this opinion in a very remarkable work, recently published by Michelet, Le Peuple. He said, speaking of the manufacturing distress in 1842— In 1842, there was a crisis in the cotton trade. There was a complete glut. The warehouses were bursting. There was no demand. The manufacturer could neither keep his works open nor stop them, for he had to pay interest on borrowed capital, whether he worked or not, and he made bad worse in sheer despair. Prices fell without producing a customer, until they reached 3d. per yard. Then we saw a social miracle. The word threepence (six sous) was a tocsin. Millions of buyers—poor people who had never bought before—started up on every side, and taught us what an incalculable power of consumption there is in a people when it is once called into play. The warehouses were emptied in a week. The engine chimneys smoked again. Every hand was employed. It was a revolution in the best sense—little noted, but great—a revolution in point of cleanliness, of order, of ornament, even in the houses of the poor. Shirts, sheets, table cloths, curtains—whole classes had them who had never had such things since the beginning of the world; and statesmen learned that a power, which seemed to be aristocratic in its character, from the vast accumulation of capital which it requires, might become the most powerful agent of democracy, by bringing within the reach of the poor many objects of comfort, luxury, and even elegance, which, but for it, they could never have possessed. The noble Lord the Member for Newark had found fault with the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Depart- ment, because he said he had plunged deeply into calculations and figures, "which no man who vindicated a principle need do." That was a very convenient doctrine; but when they were arguing a question which involved 35,000,000l. of our exports, and an expenditure of 250,000l. a week in wages, they must plunge into figures if they did not wish to do irreparable mischief by bungling legislation. But some hon. Members really did not seem to know what a principle was, though they were always talking about them. [Mr. BERNAL: Hear.] He was afraid, upon this question, his hon. Friend was one of them, for though he always listened to him with pleasure, he certainly could not always understand the principles upon which he was acting. What was the test of a principle? It must correspond with facts, when tried by them, or it was no principle at all. At all events, it was a principle not worth having. There was a principle, for example, laid down by the hon. Member for Hertford the other night, that capital and labour were antagonistical. He said, "He was glad to hear that large fortunes had been amassed by trade; but if the manufacturers continued to oppose this Bill, they must expect to be told, as the landowners had been told already, that their interests could not be allowed to stand in the way of those of the community." His hon. Friend must really read Adam Smith again; for in his great work, he would find it established that, in the long run, the interests of the capitalist and the labourer were identical, for that, with the best wishes, there could be no permanent improvement in the condition of the working man without an increase in the capital of the country. Increased capital was the only fund out of which increased wages could come. That was his (Mr. Ward's) principle, and if they wanted to test it by the facts, they had only to look to the last report of Mr. Horner. There had been a great increase of capital in the manufacturing districts during the last three years. Business had been brisk, and money came in fast. What became of it? Why, Mr. Horner told them, that since November, 1842, 529 new factories had been built, with a power of 10,041 horses in machinery, and employing 50,522 additional hands. Where did those hands come from, then? From places, certainly, where they were not so well paid as they were now in Lancashire, or they would not have come there—perhaps, from places where wages were reduced to the Dorset- shire standard. Was it wise to interfere with a system producing such results, and involving such interests? He had said before that the commercial part of the argument was exhausted by the speeches of the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary, and his right hon. Friend the Member for Taunton. It was clear that you could not cut off one-sixth of the productive power of the country without crippling our foreign trade. Whether that trade arose from our superior industry and energy, or our superior machinery, cheapness was the only hold we had upon those neutral markets to which three-fourths of our exports were sent, and where we were pressed on every side by foreign competition. There were many branches of our trade in which 5 per cent, one way or the other, would turn the balance in favour of this country or of the United States. [Mr. MUNTZ: Two and a half.] Yes, or two and a half. The noble Lord the Member for Newark had called the manufacturers a timid, puling, braggadocio interest, who came whining to that House for protection whenever they encountered a difficulty. Why, what a misrepresentation was that, by the noble Lord, of the position of the manufacturers. If the 20 per cent protection were worth anything to them, its benefit was confined to the home market, in keeping out foreign competition here; but 20 per cent was of no use to them in the neutral markets, where they came into competition with the goods of France and Germany. All the manufacturers sought was the privilege in common with the farmers and all other employers of labour in this country, of making such terms with their workmen as should be thought by both parties to be most conducive to their mutual interest. What the manufacturers protested against was the daily tampering with their interests by the legislation of men who did not understand them. ["Hear, hear!"] Why, he ventured to say that not one out of fifty did. [Cheers and laughter, Sir Robert Inglis pointing to Mr. Fielden.] Oh! he understood that appeal to the hon. Member for Oldham. Valet et quantum! At the moment we were making the greatest economical changes, was it wise to be tampering with four of the greatest interests in the country? Why, by this measure they were turning the House of Commons into a great trades union. Those who, like himself, did not choose to see the working classes exposed to the risk of losing that by which they gained their living, would not submit to be taunted with inhumanity by those who, legislating in in a blundering spirit of philanthropy, were risking the very existence of the foreign trade of the country, and with it that of those who depended on it for subsistence. He dared to say not one Member out of a hundred was aware that the principle of this Bill was identical with the principle of the trades unions throughout the country, and that it sanctioned some of the most mischievous delusions now prevailing among the working classes. It was founded upon the assumption that you could reduce production, yet pay the same amount of wages by raising prices, and still keep both the home and the foreign morkets. He had the misfortune of observing those delusions on a large scale in Sheffield, where they had been carried into practical effect by the men, who had certainly succeeded for a time in working for only seven, and even six hours a day, and yet receiving the same wages as when they worked for twelve hours. But how had this been brought about? By creating a fictitious scarcity both of goods and of hands—by restrictions which in a short time must be fatal to their trade—and by proceedings he did not like to characterize, which forced the men into submission to rules which amounted to an abnegation of almost every right that a man ought to possess. Each trade was a caste, as in Hindostan. They allowed no man to take an apprentice to his trade unless the son of a man already in the same trade; and if a man had three sons, he was only allowed to apprentice one of them to his own trade, while he could not put him out to another, in consequence of all alike being fenced in with the same restrictions. So the other two were driven out into the agricultural districts, or allowed to pass their early years in idleness and debauchery. This system, which was created by an unhappy error of the working class with respect to what their true interests consisted in, was in principle most vicious, and must be productive of the most disastrous consequences to the operatives themselves. It had for a long period wholly disorganized and disarranged the manufacturing interest in Sheffield, where threatening letters were sometimes of as frequent occurrence as in Tipperary, and it had produced a feeling of estrangement between the employers and the employed, the evil consequences of which it was impossible to exaggerate. And all this be- cause of the unhappy attachment of the working classes to a delusive idea of what their own prosperity consisted in. They imagined that they were promoting their own welfare, while they were, in point of fact, doing that which fatally injured their prospects, and tended to break down that trade in which were centered their hopes of independence. There was no new opening for them in the Colonies, nor had they the slightest chance of keeping their ground, unless by one thing alone, superior cheapness. Any one who induced them to hold a different creed from this was no true friend to them. As to the neutral markets, to which 73 per cent of the hardware exports were consigned, the case was self-evident. If the Germans, or Belgians, could produce goods of the same quality, and greater cheapness, England would lose the market; and English prices must consequently be fixed, not by any reference to the wants, or wages, of the working classes here, but by the price at which similar goods could be made in other countries. By not seeing this in time, whole branches of trade, of which Sheffield once had a monopoly, had been transferred to other countries, and the process was still going on. He had letters in his pocket from a large manufacturing house, which had received an order for scythes from Canada on condition that it could be executed at the same price as in the United States, where the weekly wages of the workmen employed in making scythes were 24s. But in Sheffield, the same work could not be done under 30s.; so the order was lost; the scythe trade would follow, and it was fearful to contemplate the consequences of those successive changes in a town where half the population would starve if forced to rely upon the home market. Was it wise to extend this principle to the four great staple manufactures of England? The system was only sustained in Sheffield by restraints so galling, and sacrifices both of wrong and personal liberty, so great, that, as a mere matter of calculation, he was convinced that the working classes would be infinitely better off under a system of free competition, now that their monster monopoly was about to be removed, which had stood in the way of the natural expansion of their trade. He was assured that there were grinders at this moment in Sheffield, who might earn from 4l. to 6l. by working six days a week, but who preferred working three days, and earning from 40s. to 50s. He was told that the most respectable houses dared not allow their clerks to enter their orders in their own books, for fear of a rise in the price at which they had undertaken to execute; and while such errors were abroad, he could not help thinking that it was a great mistake for that House to sanction the delusion which lay at the bottom of those trade combinations, which he feared very much they would do, if they were to give their assent to the measure now under consideration. Hon. Members were too apt to underrate the evil consequences of unsound doctrines preached in that House. They did not reflect what was going on in the minds of the working classes. Every false principle that was broached in that House sunk into the heart of some class or other, labouring under real or fancied injuries, or injuries which, though caused by circumstances over which their employers had no control whatsoever, they were too apt to attribute to the cupidity and tyranny of the masters. As an illustration of this disposition, he might refer to an event, which occurred in Norwich some years ago. Norwich was, at one period, a great manufacturing town. The working classes, however, with a blind infatuation, resisted the introduction of the power-loom there, when first invented, and the consequence was their own ruin by the transfer of the trade to Lancashire and Yorkshire, where the low price of coal fixed it. Norwich was now, comparatively speaking, a desolate place; and if it still enjoyed any vestige of its former prosperity, it owed it to the persevering and unwearying exertions of a few spirited manufacturers, who were not to be disheartened by the great local advantages of their rivals. One of these was the late Mr. Willet, who, under most adverse circumstances, exerted himself to the utmost to keep up still the competition between Norwich and the present more favoured seats of manufacture. He died some time since at a watering place; but his body having been conveyed to Norwich for interment, a scene took place the most horrible, the most disgraceful that had, perhaps, been ever witnessed in England. The working classes went out of the town in large numbers to meet the funeral procession. They followed the corpse with curses and imprecations to the churchyard. Their expressions, as they stood over his grave, were most appalling. "There," they said, "he has been laid down safe enough, and no mistake. Would that every one in the country who resembles him was lying in the same grave with him! They go into Parliament to rob and defraud the poor man; but thank Heaven! they die—they must die at last." This was the feeling entertained and expressed by the whole working population of Norwich with regard to a man who had been one of their best benefactors. It was the unhappy consequence of one of those false principles, which he could not help thinking were acknowledged, and sanctioned, by the measure now under the consideration of the House. Entertaining these sentiments, looking upon this Bill as a backward step—as a step in the wrong direction—and believing, moreover, that it was founded on principles with which he, as a free trader, could have no community of feeling, he felt himself called upon to give to the second reading his cordial and unqualified opposition. He might be told that great events were impending, and that political considerations of great moment were involved in this question. He might be told that the Government would be in a minority, and that this was a critical moment for such a contingency. He knew all this to be true. He knew that this was a great party move; and he understood by a glance at the condition of the opposite benches what interest their occupants attached to the measure. Those benches were empty all the night, and were now only tenanted as the hour of division approached. But he for one cared not what changes might be dependent on the result of this debate. He saw in this Bill a vital principle; and although it caused him deep pain to separate from those with whom he generally acted, and for whose views on other subjects he entertained the sincerest respect, no party or personal considerations should induce him to betray his trust, or be false to the duty he owed to the interests of the great manufacturing community which he represented. To those who would most probably have the majority to-night, he would say, he did not envy them the responsibility of their victory. Government might be defeated; but he, for one, would be most ready to take share in the honour of that defeat.


The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has charged my friends around me with making themselves parties to a great party move, and says, that the interest which they take in this subject is easy to be discovered in the state of these benches. Why, if that is a fair charge, what is to be said of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and of the interest which they take in the Corn Law question? for during the debates on that subject, night after night, for hours together, the benches opposite were entirely deserted; not a single Gentleman could be seen sitting on those benches. I have a right to say for a majority of my friends, though not for myself, that so far from this being a mere party move on their part, they were, almost to a man, supporters of the very same view of this question two years ago. In 1844, nearly all my hon. Friends around me in a body supported Lord Ashley's Ten Hours' Bill. Then, I should like to know what right the hon. Gentleman has to charge my hon. Friends with supporting this measure from party considerations alone? If there is any party in this House which has a right to claim credit for an honest and disinterested course on this question, it is the party which is composed of my hon. Friends around me. The hon. Gentleman has said, that it is easy to purchase a cheap popularity by joining in this humanity cry; I think we might retort the charge of raising the cry of cheap bread against those who support the repeal of the Corn Law. But on this question, at all events, we are not upon a humanity cry risking all the interests of the country in one great experiment. If there is any question on which caution has been observed, it is this; two years ago we reduced the hours of labour; we have now had the experience of these two years, and have we destroyed the cotton trade? Have we reduced the wages of labour? No such thing. On the contrary, both the export and the home trade have greatly increased, and so have the wages of the operatives. Where then is the danger and risk of this further extension? We are not treading on untried ground; we reduced the hours of labour to ten two years ago; and we now ask you to reduce it further by five hours a week. But other questions are now mixed up with this; great measures have recently passed this House; by which, if they should become law, a great number of unskilled artisans, a great number of agricultural labourers, will be thrown upon the market; and they will require our protection; some division of labour will be needed. I, for one, admit that the same quantity of work cannot be done in ten as in twelve hours. But I cannot admit that one-sixth more work can be done in twelve than in ten hours, especially when you are dealing with persons under eighteen years of age. The hon. Gentleman has said, that there are no such regulations as to labourers in agriculture. There are not, and for the best of all reasons—no such regulations are required. In agriculture the ordinary hours of labour in the summer are twelve; but of them one is allowed for breakfast, and another for dinner; and in the winter ten, from which is to be deducted half an hour for breakfast, and half an hour for dinner. There is, therefore, he need of these regulations in that case; because, by conventional agreement, the hours are already limited. So as to bricklayers and carpenters, and all trades not exercised in factories, the hours of labour are already by custom reduced to ten. And now, we ask you to provide that young persons under eighteen shall not work in these factories a longer time than full-grown men ordinarily do work in other occupations. Have we not legislated for the negroes in the West Indies? Did we not limit their hours of labour to nine? Is the climate of the West Indies worse than the heated and polluted atmosphere of these factories? And will you say that the children and young people of this country shall labour for more hours a day than the negroes in the West Indies? It was said by the hon. Member for Glasgow, that by a reduction of the hours of labour from twelve to ten, the cotton manufacture would be reduced to the extent of the whole of the home consumption; but I apprehend that that statement has no foundation in fact. The hon. Gentleman stated that the home consumption amounted to one-seventh of the cotton goods exported; but if that be the case, the home consumption cannot equal in value 4,000,000l. sterling; and can any man believe that the home consumption is not more than 4,000,000l. sterling? Why, twenty years ago Mr. Huskisson stated that he had taken the greatest pains to obtain accurate information on the subject, and that in 1823 the home consumption of cotton goods was 32,000,000l. sterling. Now, in 1845, the value of our cotton exports was 25,000,000l.; and if the hon. Member for Glasgow were right in stating the home consumption at one-seventh of the exports, that would bring the home consumption of cotton goods to about 3,500,000l., or not more than 2s. 6d. per head; whereas in Canada the consumption is 7s. per head, and in our West Indian possessions in 1840, it was 1s. 6d. per head. Why, is it not ridiculous to suppose that the people of this Empire consume only 2s. 6d. per head of cotton goods, while the value of that consumed in the West Indies amounts to 26s. per head? When statements like these are made in this House, and we are told that by supporting a measure like the present we are going to reduce the cotton manufactures by the entire amount of the home consumption, I think we are entitled to pay but little regard to arguments coming from that part of the House. When we see this measure, moreover, supported by the hon. Gentlemen the Members for Oldham and Salford, and when we bear in mind that the great supporter of measures of this description was no other than the late Sir Robert Peel—I think it is rather too much to charge those who now support the Bill, with adopting that course from a desire to obtain popularity by the expedient of resorting to a humanity cry. Sir, a desire to gain popularity by raising a humanity cry cannot be traced to the Gentlemen who surround me. For the reasons I have stated, and believing in my conscience that the measure before the House will in no degree injure the interests of the manufacturers, it shall have my cordial support—satisfied as I am with the experience of the last few years that we are not making these changes too suddenly, but, on the contrary, after due deliberation and caution. But, Sir, are there no other reasons why we ought to support this measure? Do we not every day see that the children employed in mills and manufactories require more protection? Have we not seen that within the last three or four years offences against Factory Acts are of more frequent occurrence, and that so far from prosperity in the cotton manufactures bringing comfort and ease to the operatives employed in them, we find that in proportion as trade prospers, the number of offences by millowners has increased. I do not, Sir, mean to charge the millowners with being more unfeeling or hardhearted than any other class of the community; but the truth is, that no matter what description of employment we may be engaged in, or to what class we may belong, there are to be found persons who cannot help trying to obtain the utmost possible profit for the outlay of their capital. The increase of offences is a sure proof, that as trade prospers, profits increase, and, as they increase, so will children be overworked. But we are told, with regard to other questions, that we are to listen to the cry out of doors. I apprehend if there ever was a case upon which there was a unanimous feeling on the part of those who ought to understand their own affairs best, it is upon this very question. And, as the hon. Gentleman the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Ward) has told us, that he has learned more in his conversation with the operatives of Sheffield than from any of the debates which he has listened to in this House, I think we are entitled to pay attention to the unanimous wish of the operatives who are to be affected. Should this measure pass into law, I am assured, Sir, and I believe it, that the operatives are willing, even if their wages are reduced, to submit to such reduction as long as they and their children are not overworked, as now, I regret to say, they are. I think, Sir, we are bound to listen to the wish of so large and so important a class of the people. But even if it should be true that the same amount of manufactures cannot be produced should this Bill pass into law, what will be the result? Why, that more mills and more factories must be built—and that a greater division of labour must take place, not in the employment of fewer persons, but in the employment of a much greater number. If I were also to say that great profits ought to be reduced, might I not also add, that it is one of the great scandals of the present day that enormous fortunes are amassed by the few, while the profits to the many are miserably small. If there should arise out of this measure a fairer division of profits, no very great mischief will be done. We shall not, I presume, be told the profits of the cotton trade are so small that the master manufacturers cannot afford to share them more with the operatives they employ, when we recollect that out of the superfluous profits arising from the cotton manufactures, we have an instance of a quarter of a million fund having been subscribed to promote a repeal of the Corn Laws. For these reasons, Sir, I will give my cordial support to the Bill now before the House.


I hope the House will allow a Member, who represents a vast body of workmen, and a great variety of manufacturing interests, and who had not an opportunity of giving his opinion on this Bill when it was discussed two years ago, to make a short trespass on their notice. I own I regard with a considerable feeling of envy those Members who, on either side of the question, can feel any very comfortable assurance as to the truthfulness or rightfulness of their own convictions. I confess that to me both sides of the alternative seems beset with much difficulty, and I cannot help looking with much misgiving at whatever course the House may adopt. It is difficult to assume the responsibility of resisting the arguments that are urged by the promoters of the measure, or to incur the risk of adopting an ill-advised or premature step. I should feel it an inexpressible relief, not only to be sure that I was doing right, but to be sure that I thought I was doing right. On the one hand, I am ready to admit to some degree the representations which are put forward by the promoters or supporters of the Bill, though certainly I think they take rather an exaggerated view of the case. I do not believe that factory labour, in the average number of instances, though it may be weary, can be reckoned severe and injurious. I do not believe that the average condition of their health—though of course it is not so good as if the workmen had a greater enjoyment of air, exercise, and time—can be reckoned comparatively bad. Indeed, I believe the real condition of their health depends much more on proper arrangements being adopted within the factory with respect to cleanliness, ventilation, and space, than on the precise number of working hours—be the hours more or less. In all those respects the master of the mill can exercise much more power and real influence over the health and wellbeing of his hands, than the Legislature; but these firms are composed of such men as the Messrs. Marshall and others—men who are ignorantly traduced with respect to this measure; and I believe those men to be amongst the most indulgent friends of the working classes which this land, distinguished as it is for philanthropic efforts, can produce. I am quite ready to admit that the workpeople—men, women, and children—engaged in factories would derive great benefit both for their health and growth if they had shorter hours of work. I believe they would derive no slight advantage from having more time for recreation, more time for education, for family intercourse, for intellectual and moral and religious culture, advantageous both for their bodies, their minds, and their souls. So far, I go completely along with the promoters of this Bill; but then in such a complicated state of society as ours, all the departments of labour have such a close relation to each other, all the currents of business run so into each other, that we cannot calculate on the effect of any disturbing cause we may introduce. We shall find both in our experience, and if we consult history, that charity has too often had to weep over its own work. I need not remind my hearers of that familiar instance in the colonial history of Spain, when to relieve the red Indian they introduced the black Negro into their colonies. So it is that legislative benevolence, though it may intend to apply only a tender touch, comes down often with a heavy hand on the object of its benevolence. I feel, therefore, even from the statements of the promoters of the Bill itself, from what they have said of the results of the experiments that have been made in some mills, of working only for eleven hours, that at all events, if we should resolve to make an experiment, it ought to be the most cautious, and with the least risk in our power. I think if a reduction should take place, it would be the height of rashness to go beyond the reduction of one hour, or to make the hours of labour less than eleven hours a day by the present Bill. But then it will be asked if under any circumstances I should be prepared to consent to a reduction, is it not the proper way to go into Committee, where I may propose any such reduction as I think proper? Well, perhaps, under ordinary circumstances that would be the proper course to adopt; but I own at present it would be impossible to say what number of hours would be carried in that Committee; and I say that with a recollection of the quarrels that have been introduced in the discussion of this Bill. The noble Lord himself, my noble Friend who just addressed the House—and I am sure, he is actuated himself by nothing but conscientious and honourable motives—has seen reason to change his opinions and his vote; and I think that change to which he has brought his mind, might have taught him to regard with a little more allowance and forbearance the changes that have crossed the minds of others. My noble Friend is contented with the experience of two years; but he will not allow the experience even of three years to be sufficient for others. But beyond this, beyond not feeling sure how far, in the present temper of tne House, I would be able to carry a proposition to confine the reduction to eleven hours, and feeling that it would be most mischievous to consent to further a Bill that might possibly go so far as reduction to ten hours; still, if I had even a guarantee that there would be no greater reduction than to eleven hours, I should not feel justified in going into Committee. The Session, and the times, most powerfully advise us to suspend any decision for the present; for I think this Bill, a Bill for regulating the hours of labour, is nearly connected with the Bill for the repeal of the Corn Laws—in other words, with the Bill to increase the payment of labourers—and I cannot bring myself to deal with one, until I ascertain the fate of the other. ["Hear."] Why am I interrupted with that cheer? I think it injures in the highest degree the best interests of the working classes to limit the hours of labour, unless at the same time that other measures are introduced to augment the remuneration of the labourers. A Bill has been introduced into Parliament which I trust and hope and believe will have that effect; and I ask, will the hon. Member who interrupted me with cheering guarantee to me that that Bill will pass into a law? Then he cannot blame my prudence and procrastination in refusing to reduce the hours of labour. I always felt it strongly to be the case, and I elsewhere have stated, that the passing of the Act for the repeal of the Corn Laws would afford the opportunity for reconsidering the question of the hours of labour; but I think the certainty of that repeal ought first to be assured, and some experience of its effects should be tried. I have never concealed my opinion, at the same time, that the best mode of settling this question of the hours of labour would be by mutual agreement and understanding between the masters and the men. Now, I thought, especially in the commencement of the present spring, that there was more prospect and hope of such an agreement than at previous periods, and see no reason now to abandon that hope, provided the Legislature abstains from present interference. And here, I must say, I think that my right hon. Friend the Member for Taunton (Mr. Labouchere) has been much misrepresented by some persons in this debate, who represented him as recommending the workmen to resort to a strike to procure a reduction of the hours of labour. My right hon. Friend made no such recommendation. He referred to the absence of strikes, not as advising the workmen to resort to them, but as an historical proof of their compara- tive indifference with reference to the reduction of the hours of labour. He said that workmen had joined in strikes to obtain an increase of wages, but that they never had recourse to strikes to obtain a reduction of the hours of labour. And I will go further, and say that not only is no strike necessary on the subject—and without any further legislation on the subject—if any considerable numbers of the men should feel an anxiety to have shorter hours of labour, submitting at the same time to a corresponding reduction of wages—for I say that those who hold out that the hours of labour will be reduced without a corresponding reduction of wages, are practising the most mischievous delusion upon them—if it be their wish to obtain shorter hours with a corresponding reduction of wages, they have nothing to do but to go to some of the masters, who will be most glad and willing to shorten the hours of labour, at the same time accompanying it with a corresponding reduction of wages. I believe it is a notorious fact, that in the same towns and neighbourhood where in some mills they work for the long hours, and in some other mills work for the shorter hours, paying for the piece-work at a reduced price, the men almost invariably prefer the long hours with full wages to the shorter hours with reduced wages. Much has been said of the superiority of English labourers—of the superior merits of English sinews and English skill. I am quite willing to admit that superiority, and I am proud to think the statement well founded; but in the first place the great part of the labour in mills and factories does not depend upon strength and skill, but upon the revolution of machinery. When we find by authentic statements that in many foreign countries the hours of labour are seventy-eight hours or eighty-four hours a week; in Prussia, seventy-two to ninety hours; in Austria, ninety-two to eighty; in the Tyrol, seventy-eight to eighty; in Saxony, seventy-two; in Berne, ninety-four; and when in England it is proposed to reduce them to fifty-nine, I fear much that no superiority of English strength, or English skill, will tend to counterbalance the enormous difference between ninety hours a week and fifty-nine hours a week. With respect to the present state of morality in the manufacturing districts, what is the last report we have on the subject? The returns that have just been submitted concerning the increase and decrease of the annual number of commitments throughout England has this passage:— In the extensive and populous counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire, the chief seats of the great staple woollen and cotton manufactures, the large decrease of commitments in 1843 and 1844 has continued; and there is a decrease in 1845, which arises chiefly in Yorkshire, of 6.9 per cent.; and, comparing the two last periods of three years, of 19.1 per cent. In the adjoining counties of Chester, Derby, Nottingham, and Leicester, where the silk, lace, and hosiery manufactures are chiefly carried on, a considerable decrease is shown in each county, which last year reached 22 per cent on the aggregate, and 13.2 per cent on a comparison of the two last periods of three years. The decrease has also extended to Staffordshire, Warwickshire, and Worcestershire, the seats of the principal hardware, pottery, and glass manufactures, and the adjoining county of Gloucester. In this district, the aggregate decrease in 1845 was 13 per cent, in the two last three years of 9.6 per cent. No statement can be more satisfactory. This is the district which is represented, under the present system, as giving encouragement to every sort of immorality and irregularity. I don't say this gratifying change is conclusive, but it suggests a caution to us how we should disturb the present system. But whatever may be the abstract right of the State to interfere with labour, or with the bargains between man and man, and masters and workmen, I certainly feel that we should not do so while we are yet ignorant of the fate of the measure which will be an equivalent and compensation. I hope that we shall some day be able to effect a reduction in the hours of labour; but I think the hon. Member who introduced this Bill and the House would do well to suspend their decision upon it. But whatever may be your determination, I could not justify it to myself to lose this opportunity of stating, that under no circumstances am I prepared to sanction a greater diminution of the hours of labour than one hour a day—thus reducing the hours of labour to eleven hours a day; and under present circumstances I am not prepared to accede to any reduction of the hours of labour until, by the fate of the Corn Bill, I know it will have as an accompaniment a measure by means of which we shall be prepared to meet it.


Sir, I am very desirous to have an opportunity of explaining on what grounds and to what extent I am prepared to support the Bill before the House. I hope it is unnecessary for me to preface what I have to say by declaring that with any unjust aspersions, such as the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Ward) observes have been thrown on the manufacturers of this country, I have no sympathy. Towards them I have no feeling except that of kindness and respect. I feel convinced, that with the interests of the manufacturers of this country the interests of the whole society, and especially of the labouring classes, is most closely linked. As allusion has been made to the present state of the political world: I will also add, that I hope no feeling whatever of political or party hostility can possibly be supposed to prompt the vote which I shall give to-night. Under no circumstances whatever, indeed, should I think it agreeable to the rules of fair political hostility, to employ as a weapon of party warfare a question so deeply concerning the interests, and so strongly exciting the passions of great masses of the community. On the present occasion I can most truly say, that it would give me very great pleasure to find myself able to vote with Her Majesty's Ministers; I assure them, and I assure my hon. Friends on this side of the House, from whom I have the misfortune to differ, and especially the hon. Member for Sheffield, who spoke, I thought, in rather a plaintive tone on that subject, that I at least have no desire to obtain any credit for humanity at their expense. I most fully believe that their feelings towards the labouring population of this country are in all respects as kind and as cordial as mine. We agree as to ends; there is some honest difference of opinion between us as to means; and, under such circumstances, we ought to find it easy, and I hope I shall find it easy, to discuss this great question without one unpleasant feeling, or using one word in the smallest degree acrimonious. The first point which has been raised, and to which I wish to address myself, is a great question of principle, and which lies at the bottom of by far the greater portion of the discussion on this and former occasions. Is it, or is it not, a subject on which we should legislate? Is this one of those matters which the State may properly interfere to settle, or which it ought to leave to settle itself? I think it most important that there should be no mistake whatever upon this subject; that we should neither assume functions which do not properly belong to us, nor abdicate functions which, if they do properly belong to us, we are bound to exercise. I know not which of the two is the greatest pest to society—a patriarchal Government, or rather a med- dling Government, which intrudes itself into every part of the system of human life, and thinks it can do everything for everybody better than anybody can do anything for himself; or, on the other hand, an easy, careless, pococurante Government, which suffers abuses, such as might be checked by an easy remedy, to exist under its sight, and to all complaint and all remonstrance answers only, "Oh, let things alone, let things take their course, let things find their level." I believe, if there is an important problem at all times, and especially at this time in politics, it is to ascertain where the line divides those cases with which the public authorities ought to interfere, from those with which they ought not. Formerly, I think, the general besetting sin of Governments was undoubtedly that of meddling. The magistrate pushed himself into everything. He interfered with matters on which, unless he possessed the powers and the wisdom of an angel, it was absolutely impossible for him to do any good. He was always attempting to correct some evil that was not within his sphere; and the consequence was, that he invariably augmented the evil he proposed to correct. He was shocked by the fear of scarcity, and so he made laws against forestalling and regrating, and created a famine; he was touched by the oppression practised upon borrowers, and so he made a law against usury; and the poor borrower, who might have got money at 10 per cent, could not possibly get it at 15 or at 20. Evils of this kind attracted the attention of some philosophical minds. They were exposed, and by the exposure inestimable service was rendered to society. I cannot, however, but fear some evils in the reaction, and I think I see some danger of very able and eminent men falling into the other extreme. I do not wish in the present debate to introduce questions not now before the House; but, by way of illustration, I would just say, that I do think it a very remarkable circumstance that we should have lived to see the settling of all the great communications of the Empire—a question always considered in every former age as strictly belonging to the province of the Government — abandoned by the Government to private speculation. Another instance of error on the same side I find in the way in which some Gentlemen, for whose judgment I have the highest respect, look on the question now before us. In the opinion of those gentlemen, such as the hon. Member for Sheffield and the hon. Member for Montrose, the question seems to resolve itself into the general principles of free trade; and they argue that you do not legislate to settle the price of gloves, but you leave that to find its own level—and so let this matter take its own course. You leave the hosier, they say, to manage his own business—to trust what customers he likes—to give long credit and make high charges, or to be content with swift returns and small profits; you own that he can judge better for himself than the State for him, and interference in such matters is legislating in the wrong direction. These Gentlemen say, that you departed from right principles when you legislated with respect to such a question as that now before the House; and that every step you take in the same direction is to go further and further in the wrong. With the greatest respect for those Gentlemen, I must confess I cannot see the matter in this point of view. I have laboured to submit my judgment to theirs, but I cannot do it, and must be guided by such light as I possess. I believe that I am as firmly attached as any Gentleman in this House to the principle of free trade properly stated, and I should state that principle in these terms: that it is not desirable the State should interfere with the contracts of persons of ripe age and sound mind, touching matters purely commercial. I am not aware of any exception to that principle; but you would fall into error if you apply it to transactions which are not purely commercial. Is there a single Gentleman so zealous for the principles of free trade as not to admit that he might consent to the restriction of commercial transactions when higher and other considerations are concerned? Take questions of police. For instance, you limit the number and regulate the fares of hackney coaches and hackney cabs. All the arguments in favour of free trade tell against such an interference. On a rainy day few cabs are to be met with on the stands, but there are plenty of persons possessed of cabs who would bring them out for hire on such occasions, if they were permitted to charge what fares they liked; but the Legislature interferes to prevent this. Can there then be a more striking instance of interference with the principles of free trade? In conformity with these principles, you should not regulate the charges for hackney carriages; but on good ground of police the State steps in and regulates the fares of public carriages in the metropolis. So also considerations of revenue make you interfere with the principles of free trade in other cases. What business have you to go on a person's property, and say that he shall not cultivate tobacco on his own ground? So it is in respect to matters concerning national defence, and a great many other things; but I wish to confine myself to matters directly bearing on the question bsfore us. Therefore I say, in the first instance, that where the health of the community is concerned, the principle of non-interference does not apply without very great restrictions; and in this statement I hope I carry with me the general sense of the House, as I am sure I carry with me the full assent of the Government; for I have read a report signed by two Members of the Government, the Duke of Buccleuch and the noble Earl lately at the head of the Woods and Forests, and now Secretary for Ireland, and since that report was laid before the House, the noble Earl himself, with the full consent of his Colleagues, brought in a Bill on the subject of sanatory police, which certainly, if examined according to the principles of free trade, would appear the most monstrous production ever brought forth. For I find that by that Bill no person can on his own ground build in a street in a great town unless it shall be so many feet wide: no person can build a house on his own ground without giving notice to the commissioners, and no person can sink a cellar without their consent. Then the house must have a drain, and if it should be a previously existing house, and have no drain, the commissioners tell him that he must make one, and if he refuses, they may make it for him, and send him in the bill of expenses for payment. And if it is reported to these commissioners that a house wants whitewashing, they direct the owner to whitewash it; and if he will not, they send a man with a pail and brush, who whitewashes the house, and then the bill is sent in for payment. Suppose the owner of a house at Leeds or Manchester chose to take his stand and address the noble Earl on the subject. Suppose he were to call upon the noble Earl to reconcile this interference with the principles of free trade. "You tell me," this man would say to the noble Earl, "it is your principle to buy cheap and sell dear: why then do you prevent me from running up the cheapest buildings I can, and letting them at the best prices I can get?" "You state that you do not like a house without a drain—do not take mine, then: no one forces you to live in them; but I can find many persons—many a poor family willing to give one shilling a week to live and sleep in a cellar without a drain; and why may not I take that one shilling a week, and why may not they sleep in a cellar without a drain if they choose? Why did you send in a man without my consent to whitewash my house, and then force me to pay for it? The persons I deal with are of ripe age and sound mind, and when they have voluntarily contracted to live in my tenements, why do you interfere in the matter? You cannot defend this meddling on the extreme principle of free trade and non-interference." I believe that the noble Earl who introduced this Bill would answer that this is not a question of free trade; that the principle appealed to was not the true principle, but a caricature of free trade; and it is owing to the caricature that so salutary a doctrine as free trade, properly understood, has so slowly, and with so much difficulty, made its way. We should have nothing to do with the matter if it were a purely commercial affair; but other and higher interests than mere commercial interests are concerned. It concerns the public weal that the great mass of the people should not live in a way the effect of which is to abridge life, to make it wretched and feeble while it lasts, and to send to untimely graves the population, who leave behind them a more miserable progeny than themselves. If it be the fact that a great mass of our population is familiar with misery—if it be the fact that places calculated to shorten life, to taint the health and to turn the stomach of those accustomed to more cleanly habits, are not noxious to those who dwell in them; this proves how greatly the Government of this country has neglected its duty, and proves that they have tolerated the existence of houses like hogstyes, until there is danger of the population becoming like hogs. Who can affirm, then, with respect to a question where morality and humanity are concerned, that we must adhere to this principle of non-interference? Take the question of lotteries. A man has an estate for which he wishes to get 20,000l., and he issues 1,000 tickets at 20l. each, with the condition that the first ticket coming out of the wheel shall gain the estate. The Legislature interferes, and annuls the whole proceeding. But suppose the owner of the estate appeals to the principle of free trade—suppose he says, "What have you to do with this voluntary contract between me and other parties? You may think it a bad speculation—then don't take a ticket; but what right have you to prevent those men from doing so who are of ripe age and sound mind?" The answer is obvious; we interfere, because if we tolerated these things we should be giving encouragement to habits and qualities of mind incompatible with the virtue and morality of individuals in society. I hope I carry the House with me thus far, that the principle of non-interference is one that cannot be applied without great restrictions where the public health or the public morality is concerned. Then, I ask, is not the public health concerned in a question relating to the time of labour? Does any one who has examined the evidence, or opened his eyes in the world, or examined his own feelings, doubt that twelve hours a day of factory labour are more than are desirable for youths of thirteen? If so much labour be not desirable, then, I say, every argument on which interference can be justified calls on me to keep those youths from injuring their health by means of immoderate toil. Is this, or is it not, a question in which morality is concerned? Can any one doubt—certainly my Friends around me do not doubt—that education is a matter of the highest importance, as regards the virtue and happiness of the common people? For education we know that leisure is necessary. Do we believe that, after twelve hours have been taken from the day for factory labour, and after so much time as is necessary for refreshment and exercise has also been taken—do we believe that enough time will remain for that amount of education which it is desirable the people should have? I believe that we must answer that question in the negative. This I say, that all the principles on which you interfere to prohibit contracts of a nature which you believe to be prejudical to public morality, justify me in endeavouring to prevent contracts like those which are now the subject of consideration. But there is another question. We are legislating here principally for the young. Now, I ask, whether it is not a rule universally adopted by all civilized society, in which anything like a body of law exists, that those who are of a tender age should be placed under the guardian- ship of the State? No one would say that a rich person under age should be permitted to sign away his property. We should cry out against such a proposition. And if any gentleman came forward and said, "What have you to do with the matter? Why do you pretend to know what is better for the man's benefit than he knows himself? Why do you interfere with a free contract between two persons?" The answer would be, that a boy of immature age cannot secure himself from injury, and the State is his guardian. But the property of the poor and young lies in his health and strength and skill—in the health both of his body and of his mind. To suffer him prematurely to impair that health by even his own consent, is greatly to depart from the first duty of a good guardian. These are the principles on which I hold that there is no objection to interference in this case. Where public health and public morality are concerned, I hold that the State may interfere, if, on the whole, such interference may appear advisable, even with the contracts of adults. Therefore interference, in such a case, would be justifiable, à fortiori, in reference to artisans under the adult age. This Bill does not propose to interfere with the labour of adult males. It may do so indirectly; though I certainly should, without hesitation, on the present occasion, vote against a proposition to interfere with adult males. ["Hear!"] Yet, let me not be misunderstood. One would think I had uttered a most monstrous paradox. One would think that not a single Gentleman was aware of any society in which the labour of adults had been limited one day in seven. Pray, let me ask, with reference to this monstrous paradox, will Gentlemen name to me a single civilized State since the first dawn of history in which a certain time of rest and recreation has not been set apart, even for adults, by public authority, consecrated alike by law, religion, and morality? One would think this was an unheard-of paradox, and that the most horrible, portentous, monstrous results must follow if once you legislate to limit the labour of adults; but the moment we look at it rationally, we find ourselves in the midst of such restriction, that all this has been going on age after age, and without for a moment suspecting that it involves any dangerous consequences whatever. Sir, it is a very curious circumstance, that, in societies where these restrictions on adult abour have existed, and where a disposi- tion arose to regard them as superstitious, they have nevertheless felt the temporal inconvenience of interfering with them so great, that the Government has never ventured to abolish them without providing a substitute. After our own civil wars, the Long Parliament abolished Good Friday, Whitsuntide, and Christmas, as superstitious; but what did the statesmen of that time do? They passed a law—you will find it in the Ordinances—that in compensation for these holidays, the second Tuesday of every month should be given to the labouring people; and if any master forced his apprentice to work on the second Tuesday of any month, the apprentice should have him up before the justice of the peace. Then, again, what do you say to the French Revolution? The Convention swept away Sunday, Lady-day, and Christmas, but they found it necessary to give other holidays; and instead of the feasts of the Roman Catholic church, they proclaimed the Feast of Opinion, the Feast of Good Works, and the Feast of Genius. But let us recur to the illustration familiar to us all. It is not necessary to go into any religious considerations connected with the observance of Sunday, because all will agree that, whether Sunday be a human or a divine appointment, the consequences of its observance in an economical point of view are the same. Let me ask, then, is there one argument in the whole speech of my hon. Friend, with reference to the limitation of adult labour, which does not apply to the observance of the Lord's day? I speak, of course, only with reference to the temporal aspect of the question. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Sheffield says, if this restriction of labour be good for manufacturers and workmen, rely on it they will find it out. Well, why not reason in the same way about the sabbath? I have not the remotest doubt, that if you polled all the tradesmen in London whether the Sunday should be observed, you would have a majority of 10,000 to one in favour of its observance; and yet we keep it up, because I believe that if you did not, the principle of competition, the very soul of traffic, is so strong that it would lead some one to break through the rule, then another—one man opening his shop through cupidity, another in self-defence, then four or five, then a whole street, and at length the entire locality, would follow the injurious example. But if the argument is good for days, why not for hours? My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield says, as if it were utterly incontrovertible, you cannot limit adult labour unless you fix wages. Yet you have, Sunday after Sunday, for century after century, been restricting adult labour, yet have you not fixed wages. But then it is said, we cannot legislate for every employment. Why legislate for some, if not for all? See, it is said, how hard the sempstresses work—toiling in their garrets fifteen and sixteen hours a day. The housemaid, too, is up at six o'clock every morning, hard at work all day, dragging upstairs and down-stairs till late at night. If you cannot protect them, why interfere with the factory children? In fact, by protecting the factory child, you will aggravate the condition of others not so protected. Is that the way you reason with reference to the Sunday? You cannot protect every one on the Sunday; but you do what you can. You shut the factory, you shut the shops, you shut the public offices; but if any one proposes that you should interfere with the sempstress in her garret, you say, that is impossible; you cannot interfere there without spies in every house. You do what you can. You trouble yourselves very much about the practical effect of your legislation, and very little about its apparent symmetry; you strike what you can strike—you protect the Sunday for those for whom you can protect it; but that protection does not injuriously affect those who are unprotected. You know the effect is directly the contrary. You know your protection of those you do protect in the enjoyment of the Sunday has not the effect of making the housemaid, for instance, work harder on the Sunday. On the contrary, she works less on the Sunday; for you keep the public feeling on the right side, and you give an indirect advantage to those whom you cannot protect altogether. But, to come to the great argument which my hon. Friend and all those who have spoken on the same side of the question with him have relied most strongly upon. They have pleaded, and the subject is one which must be most gravely considered, the pernicious consequences which may result to the labouring classes themselves from this proposed interference. They say it is vain to think that you can take an hour off the labour of a man employed in a factory, without a reduction taking place in the remuneration which he receives for that labour—that there must be a diminution of wages if the hours of labour are shortened; that we may, by the adoption of this measure, sink the condition of our labouring classes lower than it is, and injure instead of improve them; and that we have here introduced a greater interference with labour than the safety of those who live by it would warrant. Now, I am far from denying that this argument deserves to be weighed with attention—that it is one of importance, and should induce us to act gradually and cautiously—and that we ought to feel our way well at every move; but I am at the same firmly convinced that there must be some great flaw in this argument, in the straightforward way in which it is applied, as if it rested on some principle of arithmetic, or on some problem capable of demonstration. And the reason I think so is this. We have legislated in some such spirit as this before. We have shortened the hours of labour in some instances already. Thirty years ago, it was stated by the late Sir Robert Peel to be a common practice to make children of 8 years of age work fifteen hours a day in factories; and yet now we prevent all young persons under 18 years of age from working for more than twelve hours a day. What a change is this to have already made! Did not all the arguments that my hon. Friend has urged—did not all his demonstrations about the falling of wages, and the necessity of the protection of long hours against foreign competition—apply just as strongly against the reduction of the hours of labour that has already taken place, as it applies to the question of farther reduction? I observe that the same arguments which are now put forward against this measure were used against that former Bill. Any person who reads over those debates, will find that exactly the same admonitions were held out then as now; but have they been fulfilled? The same description which we have now listened to was then given of the ruin which must await the cotton trade if the Legislature did not interfere for its protection. But the House heeded not these alarms. It passed the measure, but the ruin has not followed. The hon. Member for Oldham has told us that the former interference has not been followed by the evils which were apprehended. But it is asked, are we prepared to argue that, because the former interference, reducing the hours of labour from fifteen hours to twelve hours had done no harm, that therefore a further reduction from twelve to eleven hours would do no harm? That is not, however, my argument. But what I say is this, that if your only argument that this further reduction will do harm, be in exactly the same words which were used on the same side against the former Bill, and which the result has shown to have been ill-founded, that then there must be some flaw in it one way or the other. To refer to the analogy of Sunday, to which I before alluded. Suppose that we go back to three hundred years ago. That was a time of great religious change. Everybody knows that there was much written and much said at that time about the origin of the obligation of keeping that day of the week as a day of rest. Now suppose that in 1546 some person had proposed to abolish the Sunday, in order to make the nation better and more prosperous. How easily might not all the arguments that have been employed here be used in favour of such a proposition? It might have been said, what an enormous increase of production must not such a regulation cause—what an increase of wages will it not produce—what advantages will it not ensure to you over every other nation that enters into manufacturing competition with you? Such, it would be contended, must be the effect of abolishing the Sundays. Now, supposing that the Sundays had been abolished, and that during the last 300 years we had been working on Sunday as on the other days of the week, do you suppose that the 15,000 or 16,000 factories now at work would be in existence? Do you suppose that every hammer, every adze, every shuttle, every loom now in motion in this country, would be employed? Do you suppose that the addition of one-sixth to the whole amount of labour in the country would have taken place, and that that addition would have shown itself at the end of fifty years? Why, we have all experience of what fifty years of industry can do. We have ourselves seen the change that has taken place in the manufacturing resources of this country within a recent period. We know that fifty years of industry has been able to double the produce of this country; but do you believe that if the Sunday had been done away with as a day of rest, that this country would have continued to progress as it has done, and that it would be one-sixth richer now than it is? My firm belief is that our people would have been poorer than they are. I do not mean, and nobody means to say that a man will not do more work in seven days than in six days; but I doubt whether he will have more work done at the end of the year by working seven days instead of six; and in ten years time I am convinced that the man who labours only six days in the week will have the most work performed. And how much more strongly will the case apply if we take the effect of unceasing labour for generation after generation. I say it is the most monstrous error in the world to suppose that by adding one-sixth to the days of labour, you would increase the quantity of labour done. And what I say about days, I say about hours. I do not at all doubt but that a person will, in a given number of hours, produce less than in a greater number of hours, or that in a given number of days he will produce less than in a greater number of days. I do not deny that a man will do a less quantity of work in eleven hours than in twelve hours, or a less quantity in twelve hours than in fifteen hours; but this I say, and believe, that a great society in which the children are made from an early age to begin to work for fifteen hours a day, will not produce so much in the course of a considerable space of time as a society where the hours of labour are much less. I look on men in a higher character. If we consider man simply in a commercial point of view, simply as a machine for productive labour, let us not forget what a piece of mechanism he is—how "fearfully and wonderfully made." If we have a fine horse, we do not use him exactly as a steam engine, and still less should we treat man so, more especially in his earlier years. The depressing labour that begins early in life, and is continued too long every day, enfeebles his body, enervates his mind, weakens his spirits, overpowers his understanding, and is incompatible with any good or useful degree of education. A state of society in which such a system prevails will inevitably and in no long space of time feel its baneful effects. It will find that the corporal and mental culture of the population cannot be neglected without producing results detrimental to its best interests, even in regard to the accumulation and creation of property. On the other hand, a day of rest regularly recurring every week, and hours of exercise, of leisure, of intellectual improvement recurring in every day, elevate the whole man—elevate him physically—elevate him intellectually—elevate him morally; and his elevation, physical, moral, and intellectual, again falls on the commercial prosperity of the country, which is advanced with it. Ten thousand cases occur in which the truth of this doctrine is apparent. To take an illustration—one of the most obvious, the most direct, and the most familiar—what is the immediate cause that our manufacturer can undersell the Hindoo manufacturer in the bazaar of his own town, and in goods made of the cotton grown in his own plains? Is it not owing to our machinery? And to what do we attribute the perfection of that machinery? How many of the improvements that have taken place in machinery do we not owe to the intelligence, the thought, and the ingenuity of working men? My hon. Friend spoke of Adam Smith; but in the very first chapter of Adam Smith's work, he will find it stated by that great man, that he never could go to a factory without seeing some very pretty machine—that is his expression—that had been made by some ingenious working man in that country. But there are other instances that might be cited in proof of the benefits conferred by working operatives by improvements in machinery. Hargrave, the inventor of the spinning jenny, was a common weaver; Crompton, the inventor of the loom, and Johnson, who made the first dressing machine, were also working men. And let me ask how many hours of their labour, how many hours of the labour of their children, would do so much for the advancement of manufactures as one of their improvements in machinery has done? And in which of the two states of society is it likely that such men would arise? Is it in that society where the working man gains a good education, and where the faculties of his mind are developed; or in that society where the same person would be reduced to the state of a mere machine? Can we doubt but that in every community many men of talent will be found among the labouring population; and can we doubt but that as the general intellectual condition of that community advances more and more, such men as those I have mentioned will rise among it, and that as their intellectual powers are neglected, so the more and more will that society sink. How long must you wait until the slave of Louisiana or of Brazil will effect any improvement in machinery? But this, which seems to me to be the most important point in the consideration of this question commercially, was, I think, entirely overlooked by my hon. Friend. What is it on which, more than on anything else, the wealth of a nation depends? What is it which makes one community prosperous and flourishing more than another? You will not say that it is the soil—you will not say that it is its climate—you will not say that it is its mineral wealth, or its natural advantages, its ports or its great rivers. These are things that are very valuable indeed when human intelligence and energy use them well; but human intelligence and energy can do much without them; whereas without human intelligence and energy they are as nothing. You see countries that in the highest degree possess all these advantages, with a miserable population—with men having hardly a rag to cover them; while, on the other hand, in the most sterile soils, and under the most inclement skies, the greatest human industry and prosperity are to be found. Is it anything in the earth or in the air that makes our Scotland a richer country than Egypt, or Batavia, with its marshes, more prosperous than Sicily? No; but Scotchmen made Scotland what she is, and Dutchmen raised their marshes to such eminence. Look to America. Two centuries ago, it was a wilderness of buffaloes and wolves. What has caused the change? Is it her rich mould? Is it her mighty rivers? Is it her broad waters? No; her plains were then as fertile as they are now; her rivers were as numerous. Nor was it any great amount of capital that the emigrants carried out with them. They took a mere pittance. What is it, then, that has effected the change? It is simply this—you placed the Englishman instead of the red man upon the soil; and the Englishman, intelligent and energetic, cut down the forests, turned them into cities and fleets, and covered the land with harvests and orchards in their place. The great instrument that produces wealth is man; and the vast difference between the climates and natural advantages of Campagna and Spitzbergen, is not to be compared to the difference between a country inhabited by a population in a condition of full physical, moral, and intellectual health, and a country whose inhabitants are in a state of physical, moral, and intellectual degeneracy. These, I believe, are the reasons which explain why the wealth of this country has not been diminished by the observance, century after century, of one day of rest in the week, when your industry seems to be suspended, when your machinery is not at work, but when the machine of machines, man—upon whom everything else depends—is winding up and repairing, so that he returns to his work and labour on the Monday with renovated spirits, with clearer intellect, and with restored physical power. Am I to believe that a change which would clearly be found to improve the moral, physical, and intellectual character of the people, could possibly make them poorer? For my part, I look with no alarm upon the competition of those people with whose competition we are threatened. I am told that we are in danger of being beaten out of the field by the people of Germany, who work seventeen hours a day, and who are in such a state that the public authorities complain that there is not one among them of stature sufficient to make a soldier. Sir, if ever the English nation is deprived of its commercial prosperity, it will be by no such race of dwarfs as these; it will be by some finer people than the English population—if ever such a people should arise. These, Sir, are the reasons which satisfy me as to the principle. I am convinced that this, being a question connected, for the most part, with persons of tender years—a question in which public health is concerned, and a question relating to public morality—is one with which the State may properly interfere. The objections which have been made, as far as I understand them, apply equally to an institution which has existed for ages, and which is acknowledged by us universally to be, in a temporal as well as in a religious point of view, beneficial to the community. But the question of degree is another matter. I have said, that in my opinion we ought on this subject to feel our way most cautiously; we ought to do this if only for the sake of the principle itself, because I conceive there cannot be the least doubt that if we were to take too wide a stride at once, to make too sudden a change, and if any fall of wages was to be the result, and a considerable outcry was to be raised on the subject, there would be a reaction, though unjustly, against the principle of the Bill. We should then, probably, retrace our steps, and there would be great difficulty in inducing the Legislature to adopt even a wholesome reform. For this reason I practically agree with my noble Friend near me to this extent, that I shall not be prepared to vote for any reduction, at present, further than to eleven hours. I think we stand in the situation of a physician who has satisfied himself of this, that there is a disease, and who has also satisfied himself of this, that there is a remedy; but who has not satisfied himself of this—of the degree in which the patient's constitution will at pre- sent bear that remedy. His course is evident; it is, to apply that remedy by small doses, and to watch its operation. That, I think, is the course it is our wisdom in this case to take. One single word, before I sit down, as to the question of time. 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 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 be highly honourable 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 kinds to confess and repair. We have 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 have 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.


concurred with the right hon. Gentleman in the opinion that they ought not to be so fanatical on the subject of free trade as to suppose that they were never to interfere for the purpose of conferring benefits on their fellow subjects. The right hon. Home Secretary (Sir J. Graham), however, pointed out, a few days ago, the extreme difficulty of interference on the subject. They had been obliged to feel their way step by step, and at each step they had been made more sensible of the delicacy of the ground on which they were treading. They had already interfered with factory labour so far as to prevent young persons being employed in factories for a longer period than twelve hours a day. The question was not one of principle, but of time and degree. Many hon. Gentlemen said that some agreement ought to be come to between the masters and the workmen; but this Bill was not for that purpose; one of its clauses went to restrict the hours of labour to eleven, but there was another clause which went further, and he saw no security, if the Bill were read a second time, that they would be able to strike out that clause and limit the restriction to eleven hours. If the result of carrying the Bill should be to interfere with the profits of the manufacturer, it might interfere with the sort of houses that the manufacturers were in the habit of building for their workpeople. In many parts of Lancashire cottages had been built and were building of a superior description, in which the workpeople were able to live in comfort, and which were built for them by their masters. He doubted whether it would be a deirable result to interfere with the habit of the masters. He was sure that apprehensions would be entertained by the manufacturers of the possible results of carrying the Bill, and he should be very glad to see an eleven hours' arrangement; but looking to the general question of manufacturing employment, he thought he should better discharge his duty by suspending his consent, and, like the noble Lord the Member for the West Riding, by not supporting a Bill which many of its supporters said was only for eleven hours, but which would, there was reason to think, carry the restriction to ten.


, after the eloquent, argumentative, and conclusive speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh, should address as few observations as possible to the House, upon the subject under discussion. He was surprised, however, he confessed, that hon. Gentlemen on that and the other side of the House; who had advocated unlimited factory labour on former occasions, did not jump up and contradict him when he sat down. Interference with labour had been deprecated. The whole system of social polity in this country was founded on interference. What was a Legislature for if it was not to protect the weak against the strong? It was an abrogation of their functions of legislation to decide they should not interfere. Everything was interfered with, in fact; and now, when the advent of free trade was close at hand, was it a time to lay down the principle of non-interference with the hours of labour? For the last forty years the manufactures of this country had increased under protection; but he confessed that it struck cold and chilly on his ear, to hear the Home Secretary state that the English labourer was from henceforth to enter the arena of toil without any armour, quite naked, and wholly unprotected. If he was to be told that in adopting free trade there should be no protection to the labouring classes of the country, he would not advocate it for a single moment. But he did not believe its adoption would produce that result; he believed, on the contrary, that it would give the Legislature power to interfere with more propriety and with far more effect, and make them better than ever able to carry out those principles which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh had so beautifully illustrated. The hon. Member for Sheffield had thrown out an insinuation against the hon. Member for Dorsetshire, which the hon. Gentleman had striven to repel. He admired very much the speech of the hon. Member on some points, because it showed a determination to improve the condition of the labourer; and the hon. Member would pardon him (Mr. Wakley) when he told him that the labourer in Dorsetshire stood in need of his benevolence. It was the bare truth. A more enviable lot a man could not have than the opportunity of relieving the wants and improving the condition of his poorer neighbours; and he only hoped that after the course taken by the hon. Gentleman in respect of the factory labourers that night, he would not forget the agricultural labourers of his own county. In other points, however, the speech of the hon. Member was what Hudibras called "rigmarole;" it was as perfect rigmarole as ever he had heard in that House. The hon. Member for Sheffield commenced by a misstatement of what he (Mr. Wakley) had stated, by saying, that because certain of his (Mr. Wakley's) constituents desired this Bill, he (Mr. Wakley) had given it his support. He assured the hon. Member nothing of the kind was the case. His constituents did not trouble him (Mr. Wakley), as the hon. Member's did him; they left him (Mr. Wakley) to use his own discretion, and to do as he pleased—they left him to do so just as freely as if he had no constituents at all. The hon. Gentleman's constituents did not take that course, he suspected. The hon. Gentleman said he had received much instruction from the working classes, and that he had learned more from them than he had learned in that House. The hon. Member had certainly an extraordinary mode of showing it The hon. Member said he had read the excellent and sensible pamphlet of my hon. Friend behind me, but that he could not for the life of him understand it. His hon. Friend was not answerable for that. The hon. Member also declared that he had often listened with the utmost attention and pleasure to the arguments of the hon. Member for Weymouth, but that he never could understand their meaning. He (Mr. Wakley) was at a loss to understand what sort of a mind it was that listened with pleasure to an argument which it did not comprehend. The hon. Member then turned round to the hon. Member for Oldham, and exclaimed against spurious popularity, which, he said, ought to be scouted by every man, and said that he thought the hon. Member for Oldham was an amateur legislator on this subject. He thought he had heard something of the labours of the hon. Member for Sheffield in connection with the manufactures of the Eastern Counties Railway, where some crushed limbs and broken bones had resulted from his manufacturing skill. Now, the hon. Member for Oldham had been a manufacturer for nearly fifty years, and employed between two and three millions of hands. [A laugh.] He was thinking of the millions whom the hon. Member had sustained through the exercise of his skill, not of the number he had employed at once; and yet the hon. Member for Sheffield had denominated him an amateur legislator on that subject. How the hon. Member had the boldness so to designate the hon. Member for Oldham, he was at a loss to understand. He (Mr. Wakley) confided in the experience of the hon. Member for Oldham on this question; for he believed that he knew more of this subject than almost any man in the House, and possessed a sober and controlled judgment, elevated by the loftiest feelings of humanity. His hon. Friend behind him had stated in his pamphlet that there might result from the measure a rise in the price of a gown or of a shirt of a penny or halfpenny; and the hon. Member for Sheffield, like a second Cocker, placed the penny or the halfpenny in the one scale, and an infant in the other. Past experience had proved that the course which they had adopted on this subject was the right course; but it ought to be a source of infinite congratulation to the Members of that House who had participated in that legislation. The statement of the hon. Member for Oldham was undeniably true, that they had been interfering for forty years, and yet the increase of cotton goods had been five-fold. And he had challenged any one to dispute the accuracy of his statement that wages were as high now as they were forty years ago. [Mr. FIELDEN: Hear.] The hon. Member for Sheffield confirmed that. Had the House discovered, then, the exact point to which they ought to go, and that they had now arrived at it? They protected hares and pheasants; would they not also protect infant life? They visited men with penalties and a gaol, if they shot, took, or sold a hare without a license. They interfered with everything, and they could not do wrong if they interfered to protect these wretched persons who could not protect themselves. Did they intend to repeal the laws now in existence, or would they not rather go on until infants had an efficient protection? It was denied that they at present possessed it. The working classes in Yorkshire, in Lancashire, and throughout the kingdom, prayed for this Bill, and great weeping and wailing there would be in the western division of Yorkshire, when the speech of the noble Lord who represented it was read there. He did not expect such a speech, after the speech which was reported as having been delivered by the noble Lord at the last election there. There was one point that had not been fully touched upon—the mortality, the dreadful mortality, produced by the present system. Mr. Chadwick, in his last report on Manchester, quoted the report of the Registrar General, who said that in the whole of England, out of 1,000 persons, 145 reached the age of 70. In Manchester, out of 1,000 persons, only 63 attained the age of 70. Out of 4,629 persons of the labouring classes who died in the year 1840, no less than 2,649 died under the age of 5 years; above 5 and under 10 the deaths were 1 in 22; above 10, 1 in 43. The average age of death at Manchester, among the labouring classes, was 17 years, while in Rutlandshire it was 38 years. The hon. Member for Edinburgh had dwelt upon the circumstance, that there were prior considerations to that of commercial prosperity: if there were not, they might cease their debates. He wished to call the attention of the House to the dreadful effects produced on the manufacturing population by withdrawing from the homes of the operatives the natural protectors of their children, viz., their wives. It struck at the root of all domestic happiness. They made a dirty, desolate place of the poor man's home, when they took it from its natural protector. Instead of going home and finding a smiling wife and a well-laid board to receive him, the labouring man took home with him his weary, exhausted partner, and they were both glad to retire at once to rest. In the morning they rose again at five, to be at the factory by six o'clock; and what became of the children during the absence of their parents? They were left in charge of some old and miserable harridan, who, in order to quiet them, resorted by turns to the birch and to stupefying drugs. He stated unhesitatingly that in pursuing this course of policy they were striking at the root of society in this country. They saw the effects of it already in the children, that out of 4,600, 2,400 died before they were five years of age. And what, he would ask again, could compensate the children of many a poor man for the loss of a mother? Could there be a greater calamity than the death of a mother? He appealed to hon. Members of that House. He had not the slightest desire to raise any unpleasant feeling against any party; that was not his object; but he wished to bring the effects of this calamity before their minds, because his mind was impressed with its importance, although theirs might not be. He appealed to hon. Members, to ask themselves what could be more important to children than the loss of a mother? Whenever they saw a thrifty family, one governed by good conduct, and actuated by good motives, it always indicated that a good mother, and not a bad mother, was there. A mother—whom you destroy by the present system—she has every motive for making home comfortable, for making it a paradise. All her hope of happiness is centred there. She cannot, like the man, enjoy herself from home—at least she cannot with propriety. The customs and the habits of society forbid it. Her home is her temple of hope in this world; and now you destroy it and make it a scene of desolation, by requiring that she shall perform in a factory the duties of a man, and leave her children to the care of persons who can exercise over them no maternal sympathy. He did hope that these observations would have due weight with the House. He was sorry he had been obliged to compress them into so small a compass as hardly to be understood. He had thrown them out as hints rather than as an expansive argument applicable to the peculiar circumstances to which he had referred; but he was thoroughly persuaded that no subject could engage the mind of any Legislature of more importance than that of taking care that the poor man's children should not, if possible, be deprived of the protection of a mother. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh, who had made so able a speech that night, had stated that on going into Committee on the Bill he could not extend the period of interference beyond one hour. Well, one hour was better than nothing. If he could not get a Ten Hours' Bill, he would cheerfully vote for one of eleven, as a step in a good direction. He knew not what the decision of the House would be; but he knew this—that a more important question could not be before it. The feelings of thousands and hundreds of thousands were at this moment excited on the subject; and all that he prayed, in conclusion, was, that the decision of the House would be such as to give them life and health, and future encouragement.


said, there was one observation made by the hon. Member for Finsbury in which he entirely concurred—and that was, that this was about the most important question which this House or any Legislature could be called upon to decide; and it was because he (Mr. Bright) held that opinion that he ventured at that very late hour, after so much had been said, to rise and offer some observations to the House for the purpose of stating some things which he believed were much more true, and a much more exact representation of that which existed in the manufacturing districts of the north of England, than the House had heard from the promoters of the Bill either to-night or on the other night when it had been debated. He had listened to the speech of the right hon. Member for Edinburgh with considerable astonishment. He confessed he was apprehensive when the right hon. Gentleman rose that he was about to damage the side which he (Mr. Bright) took on this question. He said this with perfect sincerity; and he had never heard any Member get up and make a speech more wide of the question which was before the House. They had both ancient and modern history — they had statements from various countries — they had religious considerations—and they had a lecture on the institution of the Sabbath. They had free trade caricatured, as he should have expected to have heard it caricatured by a man who had not opened his mouth during the last three months in which free trade had been debated in that House, and who had been induced to support it at all only after very great compulsion from his constituents at Edinburgh. The right hon. Member had told them about everything except about the manufacturing districts. Why, they all knew that the Sabbath was a day on which men did not ordinarily work; but there was no analogy or comparison between the cases stated by the right hon. Gentleman. There were no mills in any part of the world worked on the Sabbath. Men had discovered that it was necessary and wise to observe the Sabbath, and they all did observe it, so far as the manufacturing operatives were concerned; but they had not all come to discover the necessity of a Ten Hours' Bill, and that was the present question before the House; and surely it was a matter worthy of some consideration that every other country in the world in which manufactures are established tolerates a longer period of working than that now allowed in this country. With respect to the Sabbath, all men and countries were equal, at least as far as manufactures were concerned; but with respect to the time of working in mills, the House could legislate for one country only; and surely it was not unimportant in these circumstances to consider the competition they were likely to meet with from foreign countriess. It was important, when any measure was brought before the Legislature, to have a clear understanding of the arguments and grounds upon which it was brought before them; but he had observed with respect to this question, the arguments and facts were constantly changing. The right hon. Member for Edinburgh had alluded to what he supposed the right hon. Gentleman considered a fact, that was, the excessive mortality in the manufacturing districts, the enfeebled bodies and broken spirits of the operatives; and the hon. Member for Finsbury had produced statistics from a book by Mr. Chadwick to show how many people died in Manchester; but if the hon. Member had acted fairly, he would not have alluded to what took place in Manchester, but in some other town, not a manufacturing one, where the population was as great as in that town. If he had taken Liverpool, for instance, he would have found the mortality greater than in Manchester; and if he had given the mortality of Leeds, it would have appeared frightful; but if he had given that of Bristol, it would appear still greater than that of Leeds. Well, this showed that the argument of the hon. Member was not worth a straw for the case then under consideration; and if the hon. Member had looked a little further into statistics, he would have found that longevity in the manufacturing districts of Yorkshire and Lancashire had been increasing for 150 years past, and that in Leeds the average rate of mortality, instead of being higher, was considerably lower than in 1801, when there were scarcely any factories in the town. Then, with respect to health, he would not trouble the House at that late hour with the minute statements of figures which he had prepared; but he might state that it was upon record, and perfectly undeniable, that the average rate of sickness in factories was not so large as the average calculated upon by the friendly societies of England. He (Mr. Bright) recollected, on one occasion, hearing Lord Ashley make this extraordinary statement—that, having paid a visit to the infirmary at Manchester, he was astonished to find how much scrofula prevailed, and that nearly all the cases were factory cases. A statement more opposed to the truth was never made in that House. He appealed to the hon. Member for Finsbury, who belonged to the medical profession, whether, if there was anything more than another calculated to act as a specific in this frightful disease, it was not the warmth and dryness which existed in the manufacturing establishments in the country. [The hon. Member referred to various medical authorities in proof of his assertion.] Another statement which was made to the House was the excessive labour in factories; and the hon. Member for Oldham was regarded as a great authority in these matters. He acknowledged that the hon. Member was the senior partner of the largest cotton concern in England, and had been connected with the trade longer than any man in the House; but every one knew that a man might go on for a very long period and be very flourishing, and yet be in a state of profound ignorance of matters not immediately appertaining to his own business. Did any one suppose that a man must know a great deal of political economy because he had a large factory or a large farm? The hon. Member for Oldham said that Lord Ashley's statements were before the House, that no Member of the Government had contradicted them, and therefore he would not repeat them. Lord Ashley, two years ago, stated that children between nine and thirteen years of age, and young persons from thirteen to eighteen, walked a distance of from twenty-two to twenty-seven miles a day in following the machine called a mule. Why, the thing was impossible, and the fact of any man making such a statement in that House was sufficient to condemn him as an authority upon that or upon any other subject. It was proved on the evidence of not less than 400 firms, who had no kind of communication with each other whilst the experiments were tried, that the extreme distance which any person could travel in one day following the mule was twelve miles; that the least distance was about four; and that the average could not be estimated at more than eight. The same noble Lord had made other statements quite as extraordinary and just as contrary to the fact. He would admit that the hon. Member for Oldham knew a great deal about cotton-spinning; but he must protest against the House taking his opinion without examination upon any question of political economy. The hon. Member for Sheffield referred to a pamphlet written by the hon. Member for Oldham a great many years ago; and in that pamphlet he expressed his regret that we went on more and more exchanging our cotton manufactures for foreign produce every year: he says that we gave two pieces for the same quantity of goods now, for foreign produce, for which we formerly gave only one piece; and that if by any mode of arrangement with foreign countries, we could limit our productions to what they were twenty years before, we should be getting from the foreigner quite as much of his produce, whilst we gave only half of what we now gave of our own. He had a perfect recollection of that pamphlet being published by the hon. Member for Oldham. [Mr. FIELDEN: I contradict it flatly.] But if the hon. Member did not admit that in his pamphlet, he did the same thing or thereabouts in that House. Did the hon. Member think that there would be no diminution of production? Did he mean to say that single machine, called a carding engine, or a throstle for spinning yarn, could produce as much in ten hours as it would in twelve? No such thing. [Mr. FIELDEN: The number of machines could be increased.] But that would cause a greater expenditure of capital. Why, then, the hon. Member's political economy came very much to this, that by increasing the expenditure of capital in the country, they would, by adopting this measure, produce the same results as at present. The hon. Member said there could be the same amount of profit to the owner, and the same amount of wages to the workman. But if the capital were the same, and the labour were diminished, is would be impossible that the owner of the capital or the workman could receive the same amount of profit and wages as at present. Now, with respect to that diminution, what had been the result of the experiments made, as he thought the hon. Member for Oldham would admit, in the fairest manner? He alluded to the experiments on the one hand of Mr. Horrocks at Preston, Mr. Greg at Manchester, and Mr. Eccles at Blackburn? The whole of these cases were brought forward by men as respectable as the hon. Member for Oldham, who stated them on their character and honour, and he believed their statements to be true. On the other hand, they had Mr. Gardiner's experiments; and, in the first place, he asserted without any fear of contradiction by Mr. Gardiner, that, in his experiments, the machine at his mill was made to move faster in the proportion of one to fifty, and that a quarter of an hour was gained by it. He had it on the authority of Mr. Gardiner himself, and of Mr. Horner, the factory inspector, that as much as that was gained by an increase in the speed of the engine; and that several minutes were gained which before were not cared for in meal time; and by these means there was something like an approach for a time to the quantity produced before. If he did not know that a great majority of that House knew little of cotton-mills, and that half the Members opposite had never been inside of one, he would not dwell upon these facts: for it must be clear to any man who had any knowledge of these matters, the exact amount of yarn or spun cotton turned out by any machine, was in proportion to the number of the revolutions of the roller. To attempt to persuade the public that one machine working ten hours could produce as much as one working twelve hours, because when the workmen engaged with it were not working so long they were less fatigued, was out of the question; for he assured the House, on the experience of many years, and the hon. Member for Oldham could not deny it, that as far as regarded the greater proportion of the mills in the cotton trade, whether they worked twelve hours or ten hours, they would turn out precisely the same proportionate quantity. He spoke of the machinery, which in ten hours would only turn out ten-twelfths of the quantity it would turn out in twelve hours, and not one inch more; and that no power of legislation in that House, or any thing else, could alter that state of things at all. He asked the House then to consider what they were called upon to do. The hon. Member for Oldham said that we now consumed 532,000,000lbs. of cotton, and that was his great argument why we should cut off one-seventh of the quantity. What then would be the result of passing this Act? That we should immediately lessen the consumption of the raw material, and that we should diminish our trade to the amount of 76,000,000lbs. a year; that was about equal to the whole amount of our cotton trade at the conclusion of the war, and exceeded two-thirds of that of the United States of America. Calculated in bales, it amounted to 228,000. Was there any man in that House who was sane, or any man anywhere who was sane, and who, when he considered the enormous interests connected with the working up of those 228,000 bales of cotton in one year, would dare vote for the passing of this Bill, which at once or twice cut off that amount of production or consumption? There never, he believed, was proposed a measure so dangerous, so destructive, so certain to be violated by all those persons who were connected with the trade with which they were going to interfere, as this. The hon. Member for Oldham said—and it was the argument of a great many, of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh amongst the rest—that they had legislated in past times without mischief, and therefore there was no harm in this measure. That was a gross misrepresentation of the facts. He should like to ask the hon. Member for Oldham how long for twelve hours together he had worked his mill? As far as regarded the concern with which he was connected, he had never worked for more than twelve hours a day. He did not pretend to the humanity of the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Line, who for a long time, he believed, worked his mill for fourteen hours a day. He had no doubt that the hon. Member had a most excellent reason for what he did then. However, he had since changed his opinion, and a late repentance was better than none. But upon the question of time, he believed that fourteen or fifteen hours never were the rule in the trade, and when Parliament passed a law limiting the hours of work to twelve hours for all persons under 18 years, it was no real limitation; it was but bringing the law—there being none before—to fix that which public opinion and the interests of trade, both for the millowners and for the workpeople, had already fixed. It was only attempting to mislead the House to say that, because the number of hours was limited to twelve, they might lessen it without mischief; and when a person asked the House to pass such a measure as this, he ought to be better prepared with facts than those which the hon. Member for Oldham had stated, which any man acquainted with the trade could overturn. Again, it must be borne in mind that if they limited the trade in former years without injury, the circumstances then were not the same as now. There was a larger margin for competition than at present; and he could assure the House that at that moment there were thousands of men and women employed in the cotton factories of Lancashire who generally received higher wages than they did before, when the employer had not one single sixpence of profit. The hon. and gallant Member for Lincoln must be intimately acquainted with everything connected with the cotton trade. The hon. and gallant Member had a great deal to be thankful for. There was a great number of establishments working without any profit; and what would they do if this law passed? ["Oh, oh!"] Hon. Members called "Oh, oh," and the noble Lord the Member for Lynn expressed himself very eloquently because certain persons in the cotton trade had made great fortunes. He hoped it was not a crime to make a fortune in the cotton trade; but if the noble Lord would look into the London Gazette for three years, he would find many failures; between 1839 and 1842, one-half of the cotton manufacturers of Stockport were wholly ruined, and parted with their property. Those who possessed the best machinery and showed the best management, could get money; but others not so well circumstanced could not live: besides there was a less margin now for profits, there was a fiercer competition with foreigners. If they did formerly limit the labour to twelve hours, it was when improvements could be made in machinery. Those improvements had been made, and it was every day apparent that the improvements mentioned could no longer be carried on; and if they brought down the number of hours from twelve to ten, and so prevented the trade from being carried on, and the competition with foreigners, would they not be making a very hazardous experiment? He was now about to mention the character of the agitation out of doors. He thought that he was entitled to speak with some authority of the opinion of the working classes. He employed about 800 of those for whom hon. Members wished to legislate; he was surrounded by them; and when he was at home he was in constant communication with them. There was no doubt they were actuated by the same feelings as hon. Members, that ten hours' work was better than twelve. He and they were agreed about that; but he believed that if it were put to the workmen whether they would have ten hours' work and ten hours' wages there would be nothing approaching to a majority voting in favour of the change. In several cases the offer had been distinctly made, and as distinctly refused. He believed in no case had the hands in the mills asked that a change in the hours of labour, accompanied by an alteration of wages, should be made. He would make the change to-morrow in his own mill if his workmen asked it. But he knew if he did so, that if trade were flourishing, the workmen would go up the vale of Todmorden, and obtain work for 12 hours from the hon. Member for Oldham. If it were true, as that hon. Member stated, that there would be no less production, why did he not try the reduction in the number of hours? If the competition with the foreigner would stand the same—[Mr. FIELDEN: The home trade]—the home trade would not make any difference. He lived within ten miles of the hon. Member, and the Swiss and Americans met both at the same counter, and the hon. Member had not adopted the reduction. The noble Lord the Member for Newark said that workmen could do with a reduction of wages. He admired much that the noble Lord did; he would be glad to see the workmen, playing cricket, and, if they liked it, climbing Maypoles. But he assured the noble Lord he never made a greater mistake than that the operatives were willing to accept a reduction of wages. If they judged by themselves, they would not expect any such willingness. Let them take a legal gentleman, or any one else who occupied himself in an honest way to gain an honest livelihood, and he was sure that no one would be found willing to take ten briefs instead of twelve, and ten fees instead of twelve fees. It was the same with the operatives; they liked more money, and they would have more comforts — a larger room, a better garden, and a journey by the railroad. They liked money as much as other parties, and they would have it, if it could be obtained by honest industry; and they would consider the House of Parliament their great enemies, if they by the law tied their hands for two hours, and took two hours' wages from them. Hon. Gentlemen professed that they went in harmony with the working class. He denied it. The workmen were for ten hours' time, but not for ten hours' wages; and he was prepared to contend that ten hours' time never could yield twelve hours' wages. The workmen and hon. Gentlemen then were not in harmony; and if this Bill were passed, it would cause, in the first place, an extraordinary delusion, and in the second place a fatal disappointment. Then they were asked to compromise. The hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Hindley) was the very man to make an experiment for a compromise. The hon. Gentleman having employed his own workmen fourteen hours, was for now trying eleven and a half; but if they passed to that, or to the eleven hours which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh recommended, would this not be the best argument for the working classes to say, that the Legislature could limit the hours of labour without any material diminution of wages? They might thus go on from eleven hours to ten, and from ten to eight, which was, he believed, the point at which the hon. Member for Oldham expected soon to arrive. The hon. Member's brother, Mr. Thomas Fielden, in a speech to the workmen, had said, that he had been long connected with the cotton manufacture, and during that time, he, and the parties with whom he had been connected, had been friendly to a Ten Hours' Bill. If they had had it twenty years ago, the agitation would have now been for an Eight Hours' Bill, and he trusted they would ultimately get it. If the hon. Member for Oldham, and his worthy, excellent, and mistaken brother, had persuaded the workmen that they could go from eleven hours to ten, and from ten to eight, without any diminution of wages; and if the House passed this Bill, would not the labourers follow the leaders who had been so successful, and go on to an Eight, or ultimately to a Six Hours' Bill. He believed that there were two points on which the House was agreed. The one was, that ten hours' labour was better than twelve, and the other that the ten hours would be best brought about by a voluntary instead of a legislative arrangement. An opinion had gone abroad that such an arrangement was not possible; but who knew that it was not? The men who had led the ten hours' agitation had not tried it; they had always pointed to Parliament for an arrangement. He believed, however, that a voluntary arrangement was possible, and that it would be come to within five years. There were symptoms that the masters and the men were disposed to make voluntary arrangements—in the shutting of the warehouses in Manchester almost universally on the Saturday afternoon, thus giving the workpeople a half-holiday; and in the early closing of shops in the evening, which was going on, by voluntary arrangement, almost throughout the kingdom. Let it once be known that that House would not make the hazardous attempt to interfere, and the working classes, instead of looking to the Legislature, would seek their objects through very different channels: they would seek by private arrangement with the masters to obtain this boon which they desired, and which he (Mr. Bright) admitted they ought to have by some means or other. ["Hear!"] Why, hon. Members cheered as if the master manufacturers were the friends of long hours, and they were the only humane people. It was notorious that the master manufacturers were now a more civilized class than they were twenty years ago. Throughout society a great change of feeling had taken place. Look at the treatment of children, apprentices, soldiers, sailors, and it would be found that a greater gentleness and a wholly different tone was growing up everywhere. He could tell hon. Members that the same spirit prevailed among the masters. Those tales about "billy rollers," and the ill-treatment experienced by workers in factories, were all gone by. There was a greater esprit du corps among the workpeople; they worked more in families, the parents in the same room with their children. He (Mr. Bright) was sorry to differ with hon. Gentlemen; but he must be supposed to know something of the facts, and he was bound to state what he knew. He repeated, that a great change had taken place, and no overlooker would dare now to perpetrate those cruelties which were at one time said to be practised. Two years ago he opposed this measure, as he did now, because he believed it to be injurious to the working classes. Most of their evils arose from legislative interference. Parliament was now called on to recur to the errors committed by their ancestors some 200 or 300 years ago, and which had been abandoned because they were found to be so injurious. Again, he asked, could it be supposed that the masters would find it to be their interest to be in hostility with the great masses among whom they lived? The strike of 1842 had been referred to by the hon. Member opposite. Why, that proved what he had just advanced. Were not the masters as safe during that strike, although whole districts might almost be said to be in the hands of the workmen, as he was in that House? The working men scorned the idea of raising a hand against the capitalists, or a torch against the factories in which they were employed. That strike was more a political than a wages question. The people were brought to the last point of endurance; so that their condition was a scandal to the Government and the Legislature. But their efforts were not directed against the manufacturers. He could tell the hon. Member for Knaresborough that he opposed this Bill because it went on a wrong principle, and tended to spread a delusion among the working classes. And he believed that when the free-trade measures of the Government were carried out, and the manufacturers became actuated, as they would be, by feelings more and more kindly towards their workpeople, all that they could hope to achieve by the Bill would be attained by voluntary arrangement, and without the mischief that invariably attended the interference of the Legislature in such questions.


said the real question before the House seemed to have been misunderstood by many hon. Members who had spoken. The Legislature having already interfered on various occasions, the question now was whether they should not go one step further. The proposal of the hon. Member for Oldham was that the House should go into Committee on this Bill, to see whether or not the hours of labour should be still further shortened. The hon. Member did not absolutely propose the reduction to ten hours—that would be premature in the present stage. He should not be prepared at once to vote for ten hours in Committee; that he conceived would be much too direct a step in the reduction of work. He thought, rather, it was for them to consider whether eleven hours would not be a better time to fix on. They had to consider the case of females between thirteen and eighteen years of age, whether they should be virtually compelled to work twelve hours a day. He admitted that any such alteration as that proposed might indirectly affect the adult population, which he should regret; but at the same time they were bound to consider the moral and physical condition of the rising generation. His noble Friend, (Lord Morpeth), who appeared to him really to have made the best speech for, rather than against the Bill, had said, that if the Corn Bill were passed, then the hours of labour might be reduced. Why, the noble Lord, even if he allowed this Bill to go into Committee, would still be able to act as he thought fit on the third reading, by which time the fate of the Corn Bill would be decided. But he contended that they ought to reason as if the Bill had already passed—they ought to assume that it would be carried in the other House. Of course he knew that that might not be its fate; but it had been sent up by a majority of 98, and they were for the purposes of the argument bound to suppose that it would receive the sanction of the House of Lords. The manufacturing population, whether right or wrong, had set their minds on some Bill such as that before the House. They unanimously prayed for an alteration of the law. They might be mistaken; he did not believe they were, but he was thoroughly convinced that it would be a severe disappointment if the House objected to let this Bill go into Committee. He should vote for the second reading.


I shall detain the House hut a very short time; but the importance of the subject is so great, that I do not wish that we should go to a division upon it without having the opportunity of saying a few words, at least, on the subject. I have listened this evening to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh, as I always do, with very great attention and satisfaction, so far as that speech was a rhetorical composition; but with all respect for the right hon. Gentleman, I must say that that part of his speech which was put forward as an argument for the change now proposed, was in my estimation exceedingly limited. The greater part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech was directed to prove this proposition, that the principles of free trade ought not to control our legislation, provided that, by our interference, we can promote the social comforts, the health, and the morality of the community. Well, but what has that to do with this question? This part of the right hon. Gentleman's argument was addressed to about ten Gentleman in this House—if there be, indeed, ten Gentlemen in the House—and I believe there can be no more—who insist that the pure principles of free trade must necssarily regulate our legislation in such matters as the health, the education, and the morality of the people; and therefore that portion of the argument of the right hon. Gentleman, by which he sought to show that the Legislature ought to interfere with respect to the labour, the health, and the comfort of the community, in that we had, for instance, so interfered when in one Act we enforced the widening of streets, and then compelled builders to make drains—all that part of his argument was addressed to us on a point which we do not dispute; because we concede to the right hon. Gentleman that his position is already established. But the right hon. Gentleman pursues this course, in a manner which is calculated to win for him many supporters. He connects his argument with numerous illustrations. Every one will say, that is very ingenious, and it is conveyed in such beautiful language, that all who hear it will be disposed to transfer their admiration excited by the language and the illustrations to the argument in favour of which they are employed. The right hon. Gentleman having laid down an undisputed position, went on to illustrate it by a reference to what occurs with respect to the regulation of hackney cabs; and he proved to the satisfaction of every man who was not con- vinced previously—he showed to the perfect satisfaction of every one who listened to him, that there ought to be such interference. This he did in perfectly plain language. In his argument and his illustration as to omnibusses and cabs, he showed that we interfered with the principles of free trade when we prevented the one from being overloaded, and when we would not allow the hackney cabman to take advantage of a shower of rain by overcharging, nor by taking more passengers. If any man remained still unconvinced, the right hon. Gentlemen was determined in succeeding in bringing home conviction to his mind; for the right hon. Gentleman, determined not to let a loophole escape, even went to show that the Legislature would not allow a boy, not more than thirteen years of age, to sign away his inheritance; and that on the whole the Legislature was justified, even though it did not interfere with the principles of free trade—that in such a case the Legistature was not to blame in preventing a boy from signing away his inheritance. Now if any man in this House was disposed to contest that principle, he must have been convinced that the Legislature was justified in interfering to protect the health, to guard the interests, and promote the morality of the community. Therefore, do I say, that the whole of that part of the argument of the right hon. Gentleman was perfectly conclusive. But, then, I think, that such an argument is entirely beside this question. Then it is said the Legislature is not justified in imposing a tax upon labour, by preventing, indirectly, the adult from employing his labour for more than ten hours a day? And now, to show the right hon. Gentleman how needless, how perfectly needless, it was for him to establish his proposition, I beg to remind him what is the state of the law at the present moment? Sir, it is too late for me now to contest the principle, excepting with those who would recede from the legislation and who would retrace the steps which this House has already adopted. I do not think there is any one Member disposed to do that. I, at least, am not. It is now thirty years since I took an humble part, in co-operation with one for whose memory I must ever entertain the highest respect, in violating the principles of free trade and in regulating the hours, and in preventing the abuses that might arise in the employment of infant labour. And here I may observe that our main object—the main object of us all, whether he be for or against ten hours' labour—with us all the main question is, what, upon the whole, will be for the advantage, the comfort, and the happiness of the labourers? I believe, Sir, I say, that that is the main object with all who take part in these discussions. But what is now the state of our legislation on this subject? It is this—that no child under eight years of age should be employed in our cotton factories; that no child under eighteen years of age can work by night; that no female can work by night at all; that no child between the age of eight and thirteen years can work for more than six hours and a half; and that a certain number of hours in each week shall be devoted to the instruction of such children. That is our legislation at present. It disposes of the main argument of the right hon. Gentleman—it admits the whole of his preliminary principle. But then the important part, and the less conclusive part too of the right hon. Gentleman's speech is, whether it would be for the advantage of the working classes further to restrict the hours of labour? I admit that mere commercial considerations should not prevent us. I admit that higher considerations than mere pecuniary advantages ought to guide us; but our consideration, I say, ought to be whether further restrictions on labour can promote the health, the morality, and the comforts of the working classes? These are the higher considerations that ought to influence us. One admission was made by the right hon. Gentleman. There was one thing which he totally repudiated. The right hon. Gentleman says, "Make what regulations you please with regard to infants, I admit they are like the boy about to sign away his inheritance; I admit, though they are under the control of their parents, that masters may take advantage of their years. But," says the right hon. Gentleman, "this I will not willingly do with respect to the adult, whose capital is his labour, who is of sane mind and mature age. I will not commit towards him the injustice of restricting his discretion as to the employment of his time." But that is just what you are about to do, not directly: you feel the injustice to be so great that you won't do it directly. But with regard to adult labour employed in the cotton, linen, woollen, and silk factories, you are about to impose what is equivalent to an income tax of 15 per cent on the labour of the adult. You are going to tell him, "You shan't have the opportunity of labouring for more than ten hours, whereas you have hitherto been obliged to labour twelve hours:" and do you believe, if you really establish that restriction—do you concur with the right hon. Gentleman in the belief that, for ten hours' labour, the operative can receive twelve hours' pay? "But," says the right hon. Gentleman, "see of what importance it is to the community that the working man should have some command over his time; see what the Englishman has done; see what the natives of the United States have done with Anglo-Saxon blood—they have cleared the forest and reclaimed the sterile land; see what the Dutchman has done, in recovering from the dominion of the ocean that which was overwhelmed by the waves." Well, but how was all this accomplished? By restricting them to ten hours' labour? Did you tell the Dutchman who has reclaimed a kingdom from the sea, "You shall only work ten hours a day?" Did you tell the American who supplanted the red man, "There shall be some legislative restriction on your hours of labour?" Has that hitherto been your policy? "See," says, the right hon. Gentleman, "how much you are indebted to the ingenuity of working men for the improvement of your most beautiful machines!" The right hon. Gentleman says it has not been to the philosopher, it has not been to the great mathematician, it has been to the working man, that you have been indebted for the most wonderful improvements. He says that Adam Smith, in the first chapter of his work, makes this remark. Well, be it so; but how have these improvements been made? Were they made under a state of restricted labour? When Hargreaves invented, when Crompton improved, when Arkwright contrived, had a law passed preventing them from labouring more than ten a hours a day? The right hon. Gentleman says, "See what advantage it would be to the working man to have his intellectual faculties sharpened, not being doomed to constant labour." Well, but these inventions were made by men with whose discretion as to the amount of labour, you had never interfered. Now, I do contest the principle of the right hon. Gentleman; I believe it is infinitely more likely that their ingenuity will be exerted, if you will leave the working men to apply their time and their labour as they please. "We whet and sharpen your ingenuity by telling you that, in the hour of strength, by devoting your hours to labour, you shall derive all the benefit from it; if you choose to work fourteen hours a day, you are at liberty to do so, and to elevate yourselves in the scale of your fellow countrymen by the exercise of your ingenuity, and the employment of your unrestricted labour." All experience is in favour of it; on the right hon. Gentleman's own showing, it is by the absence of interference with adult labour that all our beautiful machines have been brought to perfection, men's ingenuity having been stimulated by the hope of gain. If you are about to adopt a new system—if you hope by it to leave men's minds freer to the continuance of toil—if you think you will by that means enable them to devote more time and ingenuity to the exercise of thought—if that is your speculation, in my belief it will be entirely delusive. I think there is an infinitely better chance of a continued improvement from the absence of restriction, than from any attempt to restrict the powers of labour. Therefore the instances the right hon. Gentleman gives in favour of restriction tell against, rather than in favour of, his proposition. It is said we ought to consult the wishes of the working classes themselves. Now, can we have a doubt their impression is, that through your legislation, though it may limit the hours of toil, yet they will, by some means or other, secure the same amount of remuneration? How can you deny that such is their impression? You may say that it is a matter of speculation; but how can you account for this fact, that when Mr. Greg, finding that working his machinery for eleven hours turned out one-twelfth less work than working the same machinery for twelve hours, and when he made a distinct proposal to his men to work the machinery eleven hours, but instead of paying them for eleven hours, he would pay them for eleven hours and a half, and that he would take himself the loss of the remaining half hour—did they consent to that proposition? They unanimously rejected the offer. Their impression is, if you impose this restriction, they shall, in some way or other, receive the same amount of remuneration, without having to devote twelve hours to continued labour. I believe, if you could effect the reduction of the hours of labour by amicable arrangement between the masters and labourers, it would be infinitely more advantageous than doing it by compulsory obligation. How easy would it be to impose by law the obligation not to work a minute beyond ten or eleven hours, providing for the various cases in which it might be desirable for a week or a day to labour for an hour more than the specified time; but leave such an arrangement to voluntary agreement between the parties; and how infinitely more likely would it be to conduce to an amicable understanding, than to fetter both by prescribed rule? By legislating you are cutting off the hope of effecting an amicable compromise; and why should there not be that amicable compromise? It is said that eleven hours' labour would turn out as much as twelve: that was generally said up to the time the experiment was made; it was said by men in favour of the eleven hours: but it was found that the work was only proportionate to the time, and it was impossible to sustain it. I, therefore, with sincerity deprecate all interference on this subject. I am against interference, and particularly against interference at the present time. When I say that, observe that I do not withhold the truth. I cannot pledge myself to support such interference at a future time. I think we have gone as far in this interference as we can with safety. I am inclined to give a full and complete trial to what we have done already, coupled with the important changes in our commercial system which are under consideration. But if you interfere, do not suppose that you will give universal satisfaction. If you establish the principle of interference with adult labour, other parties who are trying to effect the same thing by amicable arrangement will say—"Apply the same principle to us; do not talk of factories, do not say there are peculiar facilities for imposing these restrictions in factories; show that without undue interference, without domiciliary visits, without the necessity for the common informer, you cannot interfere with our labour." Here is a letter I received the other day. It is the respectful memorial of the operative bakers. After establishing the principle, tell me how you can resist such appeal as this? It says— Your memorialists are suffering unparalleled distress in consequence of the unprecedented low rate of wages and the present high price of provisions; that such are the sufferings and misery of the operative bakers throughout the country, that they labour eighteen hours out of the twenty-four; that the average weekly earnings of the best workman is only 9s., a sum totally inadequate for the support of a single man, much less of a helpless family. These are facts; and your memorialists leave you to judge of the absolute necessity of protection. Now, this is a strong case. It would be possible to substitute the labour of two men working nine hours a day, for one labouring eighteen. I do not know that it would be impossible by legislative enactment to prevent this severe tasking of human strength. And why should you not interfere with respect to them? Are we quite sure, looking at the question in a moral point of view, that these restrictions on factory labour will not add to the pressure of labour in other occupations—that there may not be competing trades exempted from your regulations to which you will give a premium by these factory restrictions? The hon. Gentleman the Member for Finsbury made an impression on the feelings of the House, which it is so easy to do, by describing the importance of a man's wife to the happiness of his home; he says it is of the utmost importance that the wife should have leisure to prepare the well-spread board to welcome her husband on his return home. Why who can doubt it? But what is the remedy for the present evil? It is to prevent the wives from labouring in factories. It is to prevent wives from labouring in factories at all. Eleven-twelfths of the present evil will exist after this Bill shall have passed. Who can doubt the importance of the wife devoting her attention to domestic duties? But the only way to insure her continued attendance at home is to prohibit her working at all. But does it not more conduce to the comfort of a family that they should have large wages? The other hon. Member for Finsbury, from the most pure and benevolent motives, brought in another Bill last night on this subject; and I hope the lesson to be derived from that Bill will not be lost on us. He wanted to restrict labour in lace factories. What was it necessary to do? In order not to give a premium to labour in private houses, he found it necessary to subject domestic labour to restriction just as severe as that in factories. Are hon. Gentlemen sure that by establishing strict regulations with respect to adult factory labour, you will not give a direct premium and encouragement to labour of a still more oppressive kind in establishments beyond your control, and that you will not by your own unwise restrictions defeat your own benevolent intentions? On these grounds I must resist the second reading of this Bill: my arguments are founded on a sincere belief that we have carried interference as far as it is desirable. There may be others who do not concur in that, but surely many will feel that this is not the moment in which it is wise to make such a great experiment. Why, what an experiment it is! With respect to the four great branches of your manufacture which enter into competition with other countries, you are asked to pass a law that shall cut off by one-sixth the labour, and I believe the produce and remuneration, of that manufacture. You have permitted the export of machinery—not from any principle of free trade, but because, in point of fact, the prohibition was useless. You could not prevent the plans of machines and parts of machines from being taken out of the country, and therefore you thought it better to encourage trade in manufacturing machinery, than have an illicit and smuggling trade in it; but you have thus given foreign countries the opportunity of benefiting by your skill. You have passed a law also, the object of which is to insure the public against a sudden and extraordinary rise in the price of corn, and to give them an opportunity of obtaining a freer access to the necessaries of life. But observe that this law does not come into full effect for three years, supposing the Bill passed in its present form by the House of Lords. Not until the 1st of February, 1849, will there be a free trade in corn; for the intervening period some restrictions will still remain. At the same time you have removed protection to domestic manufactures; and upon this ground, because of the period at which this is fixed, it would be good policy to give a longer trial to that experiment which you have already made. You already prevent the employment of any children under eight years of age, or under thirteen years of age, for more than six hours and a half a day. On these grounds, therefore, I do respectfully entreat this House to refuse its assent to the Bill of the hon. Gentleman; I entreat it to permit a fair opportunity of effecting a desirable arrangement for the reduction of the hours of labour by voluntary agreement between the masters and the employed; and, above all, to postpone this irrevocable step, for irrevocable I think it will be, until you can, with more certainty than at present, draw a conclusion as to the effect of your measure.


Sir, I am sorry to detain the House at this late period of the night; but I should be very unwilling to go to a division on this question without taking some notice of the answer of the right hon. Baronet opposite to the observations of my right hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh. And I do so because a greater fallacy than that reply of the right hon. Gentleman, I think I never heard. The right hon. Baronet says, in the first place, that the argument which my right hon. Friend stated so well and ably, and illustrated so fully, was perfectly unnecessary; that there are not ten men in the House who will not agree with him; and that his illustrations, though beautiful, were quite unnecessary. But that argument which my right hon. Friend opposed, is the popular argument on this subject—that you ought not to interfere with the rights of labour—and that the whole subject is a question of political economy, by which alone it is to be decided. My right hon. Friend, as I think, showed most convincingly that there are reasons for interference with labour, and that you have wisely acted on those reasons already. He says—and says truly, as I think—that he cannot, and this House cannot, take the ground which the objectors to this Bill take; for that the House has already sanctioned Acts by which the duty of interference is recognized. Sir, those Acts are before us; and they bear the names of Sir R. Peel, of Sir J. Hobhouse, and of Lord Althorp. They are on the Statute-books of the realm, and I think they do preclude any one from arguing that there ought not to be any interference with labour, unless he is also prepared to argue that those Acts are vicious in principle, and ought to be repealed. But the right hon. Baronet, having made this admission, turns round and says, this Bill is an endeavour to interfere with the established principles of labour. But in what manner does it propose to interfere with labour further than those Acts have done already? The right hon. Baronet says—and says with truth, perhaps—that if you interfere with the labour of children between 8 and 13, and of girls between 1h and 18 years, you in effect interfere wit3 the labour of adults. But that interference is the principle of the Acts which already exist. Why, Sir, the very last Act which this House passed, was the introduction of a new principle into legislation; it was an interference with the labour of women. To that Act I felt great objection; and it was only by the representations and statements of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, I was induced to consent to it. But if those enactments do interfere indirectly, they in- terfere with labour altogether; if they do prevent fifteen or sixteen hours, or forbid labour beyond so many hours, they do in principle interfere with labour quite as much as this Bill would were it carried. The right hon. Baronet, who is assuming this popular argument on the subject, says to the House—"Will you, for the first time, establish the principle of interfering with adult labour?" But he has taken that very course himself. The right hon. Baronet at first says, that my right hon. Friend (Mr. Macaulay) proceeded to adduce an argument which was quite unnecessary—but as a specimen of rhetoric was very beautiful—and then goes on to show the necessity of that argument by his own reasoning exactly. The question before the House is as to the number of hours to which you can extend your interference; for there is not a class of persons with whom this Bill proposes to interfere, upon whom you have not by your Acts already sanctioned legislative interference. You interfere with children between 8 and 13, with girls between 13 and 18, and with women of all ages. Those are the persons with whom your legislation now interferes, and with whom this Bill proposes to interfere still further. It is, I admit, a grave question whether or not you should sanction this further interference; and the settlement of this question implies a conviction of these two propositions: first, that it is desirable for the sake of the health, of the morals, and of the good conduct of the persons with whom we thus propose to interfere, that a limit of the time of labour to ten or eleven hours should take place; and, secondly, whether there are good reasons to suppose you may do this without mischievously affecting the labour of those classes employed in factories, and so deprive the master of his fair profit in that labour, and injure the great mass of the operatives themselves. I think the first proposition hardly requires a word from me, after the demonstration of it which you have already heard from my right hon. Friend. His statement was quite sufficient to prove it without me and for me, and commends itself at once to the understanding of every one who heard it. It is nothing more than this—that young girls of tender age cannot be kept in factories for fourteen hours a day without considerable risk and injury to their health — without depriving them of the means of performing those domestic duties which those who will one day be wives and mothers ought to have the means of performing, and without depriving them of moral and religious education. That is a proposition which I shall not take up the time of the House by endeavouring to prove, after the manner in which it has been treated by my right hon. Friend. But it is said, and indeed it is hardly contradicted even by the opponents of the Bill, your interference will be so injurious that the working classes themselves would suffer from the enactment. If this were indeed true, then it would be a most painful position for the House to be placed in. Suppose you were convinced that there was a species of labour going on in this country which was necessarily injurious to the health of the young persons employed in it—which affected the physical condition and morals of those who were to be husbands and wives, the fathers and mothers of a future generation — and which deprived those young persons of the means of moral instruction and religious knowledge; and yet that you find yourselves, with that conviction, unable to interfere with that labour without producing greater mischief — I say, that would be a most lamentable position for you to find yourselves in. It would be impossible for any one to rest satisfied in voting against this Bill, or that the Legislature could look on such a state of things with satisfaction. But I do not believe this is the case. I take a more cheerful view of our proposed legislation, which I will not say is without a chance of risk, but is certainly without the probability of danger. I say, in the first place, that those who use this argument prove too much. If we place ourselves in the situaation in which we were a few years back, what would our arguments be? The hon. Member for Durham, who gave us most interesting details on those matters, says it has been the custom for the last thirty years in most of the factories to continue the labour for only twelve hours a day. And we are told, that in other countries, instead of sixty-nine hours, work is carried on for seventy-two, eighty, and even ninety hours a week. Let us then put a question, which might have been put twenty years back. It might then have been said, look to the disadvantages under which your manufactures contend—you only work sixty-nine hours, while other nations are working seventy and ninety hours. You have a tax on raw cotton, and a heavy tax on machinery. And you have laws which prevent the people buying food as cheap as people in foreign countries. How is it possible, then, for you to contend with foreign nations? I think that would have been considered proof to demonstration of its impossibility. And yet, with all these disadvantages, what has been the result? In 1824 your exports, according to the official value, were 4,000,000l. In 1833 they were 70,000,000l. And in 1845, what were they? They were no less than 135,000,000l. I say then, as such has been the case, other circumstances have enabled this country to carry on those manufactures. But I likewise remember, with respect to two matters I have mentioned, when this question was formerly before the House, the manufacturers dwell particularly on the disadvantages to which they were subject. One was the tax on raw cotton. Now, with respect to that tax, it was stated to me and many other Members of this House, that it amounted to 8 per cent on the raw material, and one house stated that they paid no less than 4,500l. a year on account of the tax. I have had sent to me different accounts of the tax, calculated in various ways. In one instance the fixed capital, I find, amounted to 110,000l., and the amount spent in raw cotton was 20,000l. If that is the case they have been relieved from a tax of no less than 1,600l. a year. With respect to another factory, where the fixed capital was only 20,000l., yet the calculation comes to this, that while the wages would be affected to the extent of 10d. a week by taking off one-twelfth of the whole labour, the amount saved by the relief from the cotton tax is no less than 1s. 1d., showing a difference on the side of gain by the abolition of the tax on raw cotton. That was one of the grievances of which the manufacturers complained. Another statement was made very confidently in public by Mr. Ashworth to the Committee for Short Time. It was this—that in consequence of the restrictions on the importation of corn, they were working at a great disadvantage as compared with foreign nations; and Mr. Ashworth stated that that tax imposed no less a burden than two hours a day on the labourers. That was the statement made by them; and let us observe, whatever may be the effect of the repeal of the duties on corn, according to the various statements made by persons who calculate differently its effects, the advantage that may be expected from it will, in one case or the other, tend to place us on a more equal footing, as compared with other manufacturing countries. Some say that the price of corn will be raised in foreign countries, and that the price in this country will not be lowered. In that case, foreign manufacturers will be under the same disadvantage that we are with regard to the price of corn. Others take it the other way, and think that the price will be very much lowered in this country. Then the manufacturer in England will have the advantage of cheap corn, and a great demand for his manufactures, and in that way will be able to compete more equally with the foreigner. I must say I have seen with great regret that those who make these statements with respect to the effect of the repeal of the corn duties, do not admit that this is a time to entertain this subject. [Mr. BRIGHT: We can never admit that.] I quite agree with the hon. Member for Durham, they will never admit that it would be right by law to enforce an interference to which they are opposed; but I think it cannot be denied that circumstances are now more favourable to making an attempt at an alteration, if that be deemed advisable, than they were in 1844. I own, however, it seems to me that the question is otherwise in a position still more disadvantageous, because they say, if these operatives will consent to a reduction of wages, then they will agree to a reduction in the number of hours. This is proposed to the adult operatives who are gaining a certain amount of wages. Now I must frankly say I do not expect they will agree to those terms. Knowing the labour which people undergo in this country, and the natural wish there is to earn high wages, and have a greater proportion of the comforts of life, I do not wonder that, placed before them in that way, the alternative should be for work. And I should not expect that it will be placed before them in any other way, and therefore that no shorter time will be established until legislation takes place. Now, with respect to the effect of that legislation on wages, I have never held out that it was to be expected, if adult labourers should be limited in point of time, that they would receive the same wages as they do now. But with respect to what may actually take place, whether the wages shall be actually reduced or not, that is a question which must depend, not on such a Bill as this, but on the demand for labour at the time. My belief is, that having great confidence in the Bill which lately passed through this House for the repeal of the Corn Law, my expectation is, that there will be a much greater demand for labour in the manufacturing districts, and that during that greater demand for labour there will naturally take place a rise in wages—and there will be a greater enjoyment of comforts by the manufacturing population. I maintain that I have a right to look to that measure for further advantages. I have looked to the repeal of the Corn Law for the social improvement of the people of this country. I have looked to see that the future population shall be instructed in the principles of religion, that they shall be taught their domestic duties. Believing, then, that this Bill, though it may be modified in Committee so that it will not go beyond eleven hours, tends to the social improvement of the people of this country, I shall give my vote in its favour.


The noble Lord, in reply to the right hon. Baronet, contended that this Bill would not, in fact, interfere with the labour of adults. He believed it was ascertained by the experience of our past legislation, that, practically, to legislate for persons under the age of 18 was to legislate for adults. That was not known till lately; but, practically, a Bill to limit the hours of labour for persons between the ages of 12 and 18, was stopping the engine for all persons above that age. He should not like hon. Gentlemen to be under any misapprehension as to the effect of the votes they were likely to give; he dared to say they might think that they had placed him in a very awkward position, and that he must give an unpopular vote by voting against the Bill. But he wished them not to make any mistake in their calculations, or incur any undue unpopularity, for he was satisfied that a grosser delusion was never palmed upon the working classes than had been systematically disseminated on this snbject. He would not say that it was designedly so, because the persons concerned in the short-time agitation had some peculiar notions of their own with respect to—he would not call it political economy, for he could not dignify it by that name, but they had some peculiar doctrines by which they believed that the legislation of that House could in some way parcel out the labour of this country, control wages, limit quantity, and maintain prices. The originator of this agitation was Mr. Oastler; at least he followed in the wake of Mr. Sadler. Mr. Sadler, it was well known, was directly opposed to the principles now in the ascendant, that by widening the field for industry you would increase the demand for labour, raise wages, and raise profits. Mr. Oastler's view would best be seen by an extract from his evidence before the Committee of that House:— Have you formed any opinion with respect to the effect this Bill will have on wages?—I have a decided opinion on that point. My own opinion is that it will not lower wages; I think it will raise them. Not even in the first instance?—In the very first instance. There will be a battle between the two parties; the masters will expect them to work at lower wages, and the men will stand out.—Of course, then, the Bill must in some degree diminish the profits of the masters, must it not? I do not know that at all. I believe they are now competing with one another in such a degree, that if they would work less they would get more profit. He believed that was a very compendious description of the political economy of the hon. Member for Oldham and his party. They were not free traders; the meetings of the free traders had been broken up by these men. The leaders amongst the operatives who had agitated in favour of the Ten Hours' Bill had opposed the League in the manufacturing districts. He did not mention this from hostility—he believed them to be honest; for he did not think any men could work so sturdily, energetically, and perseveringly, if they were not honest. But this only showed what a different system they were going on, from that which was embraced by all rational minds. If not, he did not understand the principle on which they were proceeding. He was only anxious that on this occasion they should not fall into a measure for which the working classes would not thank them, but which might procure them very great unpopularity. He was one of those who was prepared to legislate in the case of infants, and he would tell them on what ground. If he found it proved that in this country great numbers of infants were being worked to death, he would step in by law to take them out of the hands of their parents, just as the Lord Chancellor would interpose and take away the child of one of the nobility if it had been improperly treated. But, should he say, that with a great community of working classes, such as existed in this country, they had done enough when they had done this — if he found society in such a state that people were willing to work their children to death, he should say that society must be improved by other means. You should raise its moral feeling, lighten the pressure by taking away the burdens imposed upon the necessaries of life, take away the temptation to commit crime amongst the people which arose from deficient subsistence. In former years, when the House was legislating for children, they had medical evidence, and acted upon physiological grounds. Now it was known to the parties agitating the measure, that they were legislating as much for adults as for children. They had indeed met that part of the question. Some had contended that wages would not fall, although that was not the general argument in that House. The Members for Newcastle-under-Lyme and Hertford had told the House that wages would fall, and had accompanied that warning with an expression tantamount to this, that they did not think high wages conduced to the morality of the working man, and that he would not be worse off on that score if he earned a little less. It was doubtful whether that sentiment would be very acceptable to the working man. He (Mr. Cobden) wanted hon. Gentlemen opposite to bring in a little head, as well as a little heart, when they were dealing with this question. It seemed to be the tone of the other side to assume that their opponents had no bowels of compassion for their fellow men. Why, he was as hearty an advocate for short time as any man on the other side could be, and had done something in his humble way to promote it. Now, every clerk in Manchester had his half-holiday on Saturdays, and there was a short-time agitation going on among the shopkeepers. But the other side proposed to legislate on the subject, and they accused others who did not like to legislate with them, as hardhearted and insensible. Had hon. Gentlemen considered how far this principle would carry them? He had received a petition from a parish in Somersetshire praying the House to take into consideration the state of the farmers' men, whose wages were so low that they could not procure the common necessaries of life; and they entreated the House to pass a law compelling the farmers to give the labourers their due. The petition was signed by the surgeon of the village, and by several persons, apparently working men. Now he asked hon. Gentlemen who wanted to introduce this system of benevolence into their legislation, what they would say if he were to introduce a Bill to compel the employers of labour in Dorsetshire, or Wiltshire, or Somersetshire, to give their labourers 12s. a week? He had employed unskilled labour such as that, and he had never paid less than that sum. Would the noble Lord the Member for Newark support such a Bill? Could he, on the ground of benevolence, on the score of justice, refuse to do so? Yes, it might be presumed he would, and he would resist the Bill on grounds of political economy—hardheartd political economy. He would say, True, you might pass a law to compel the farmers to pay such and such wages, but could you compel them to employ labour? So he said with respect to the manufacturers—you may pass a law to compel ten hours' labour, but can you ensure the factories being profitable, and that they would employ labour during those ten hours? Bad as the factories might be, there was something worse behind, and that was no work at all. These were the grounds on which he appealed to hon. Gentlemen. It was not a question of feeling. In individual cases, when a man started as a doctor, without a knowledge of anatomy and medicine, he was called a quack; and he trusted the time was coming when men would no longer rush into hasty legislation prompted by feelings of benevolence and philanthropy alone, but repudiating the facts of that science which taught how to legislate with something like probability of the result being for the general benefit of the community. He did not oppose interference between masters and men for the sake of employers alone; he opposed all interference whatever with the labour of adults, primarily for the sake of the adults themselves. If they were to establish the principle that Parliament would not interfere at all with labour, and would not interfere between masters and workmen, it would be the best thing for the working men that that House could do. For that House represented the employers more than the employed, and in the long run legislation would gravitate towards the interests of those who sent Members there; and if they legislated relating to the labourer at all, it would prove in the end against him, and not for him. He had heard from an influential quarter some talk of re-enacting the combination laws. To that he said no. Let the masters and the working men alone. Every one who understood the working of factories knew that the reduction of wages would be self-acting, and would require no operation from the master. The men were paid by the piece, and if the quantity produced were diminished, and profits reduced as well, the only way to maintain the present wages must be a rise in the rate of wages; and the operation of the Bill would be to put the workmen in a position encouraging to strikes, and in nine cases out of ten those strikes ended in the discomfiture of the operative. How many of the millowners of Lancashire and Yorkshire were men of small capital, who rented their mills at a fixed rent, say of 1,500l. or 2,000l. a year; and it would be surely a hard case upon these men holding their factories on a long lease at a rent based upon calculations of the production of so much cotton per week, to pass a law cutting off their power of production. It was on the ground of public interest—of the interest of the working men—that he opposed this measure, and he regretted the leading statesmen on both sides of the House had not taken a decided course in guiding opinion in that House, and in discouraging the delusion out of doors. If this measure had been staved off for another year, he believed that the views of the working classes would have changed under arrangements between their masters and themselves without causing any diminution of wages.


, in explanation, said, that no doubt the change from twelve hours to eleven must be a loss to the operatives. But no one could say what would be the amount of that loss at any particular time.


said, he was not satisfied with the statements made on this subject by Gentlemen engaged in the trade. The hon. Member for Sheffield, who he supposed was an amateur manufacturer, had quoted Adam Smith; but he forgot to add that Adam Smith, nearly at the same place, had said that when a manufacturer worked his labourers to an extent that was injurious to their health and minds, it was a losing game for both. After forty years' experience, he could safely assert that he had never known an instance where he had made men work to meet an extra demand, that he had not himself been a loser by it. He was not at all satisfied with many of the statements which he had heard in that House to-night, and least of all by those which were made by certain hon. Members who were themselves manufacturers. He could not pretend to explain the motive of the proceeding he had witnessed; but he was aware that an impression prevailed in certain quarters to the effect that those who took part in the Anti-Corn-Law movement had made a compact or agreement with the working men, and those engaged in the manufacturing interests, to the effect, that if they would join in the agitation for the repeal of the Corn Laws, the others would exert themselves in favour of the present measure. Again, he must say he did not feel satisfied with the statements which had been made by hon. Gentlemen manufacturers having seats in that House. As for Her Majesty's Government, he did not know what to say of them. They seemed to go "the whole hog" now for free trade. Far be it from him to find fault with them. They were entitled to their opinion as he was entitled to his; but he must be allowed to say, that it was not until very recently that they had got such clear and decided lights on this factory question. In the year 1844, there was great difficuly in the Cabinet on this question. One of the Ministers at that time, with whom he had never spoken before, met him (Mr. Muntz) by accident one day (he could give the Minister's name, if there were any occasion), and asked him the plain question of whether he was in a position to give Her Majesty's Government any information which could aid them out of the difficulty in which they were placed with respect to this matter; for, said he, "I assure you, Sir, we are so pestered by contradictory representations and intelligence from all sides upon this matter of the Factory Bill, that we don't know what to believe or what to do." He told that Gentleman that he was not a cotton manufacturer, and accordingly very respectfully declined to give him any information on the point. This incident sufficed to show that not very long ago the Ministers were by no means very clear upon the very measures respecting which they were now taking so decisive a course. But it too often happened that the Government boasted of principle, while in point of fact they possessed but very little of it. The Bill should have his cordial support.

The House divided on the Question that the word "now" stand part of the Question:—Ayes 193; Noes 203: Majority 10.

List of the AYES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Arundel and Surrey, Earl of
Acland, T. D.
Acton, Col. Austen, Col.
Adderly, C. B. Bagge, W.
Aglionby, H. A. Bailey, J.
Ainsworth, P. Baillie, W.
Alford, Visct. Bankes, G.
Archdall, Capt. M. Bannerman, A.
Barnard, E. G. Grogan, E.
Baskerville, T. B. M. Grosvenor, Lord R.
Beckett, W. Halford, Sir H.
Bell, J. Hall, Sir B.
Benett, J. Hall, Col.
Bennet, P. Halsey, T. P.
Bentinck, Lord G. Hamilton, G. A.
Bentinck, Lord H. Harcourt, G. G.
Beresford, Maj. Harris, hon. Capt.
Berkeley, hon. C. Hatton, Capt. V.
Bernal, R. Heathcote, G. J.
Blackburne, J. I. Henley, J. W.
Blackstone, W. S. Hervey, Lord A.
Borthwick, P. Hildyard, T. B. T.
Bradshaw, J. Hill, Lord E.
Bramston, T. W. Hindley, C.
Bridgeman, H. Hollond, R.
Briscoe, M. Howard, hon. C. W. G.
Broadley, H. Howard, hon. E. G. G.
Broadwood, H. Hudson, G.
Brocklehurst, J. Ingestre, Visct.
Brooke, Lord Inglis, Sir R. H.
Brotherton, J. Jervis, J.
Browne, hon. W. Johnson, G.
Buller, C. Kemble, H.
Buller, E. Knight, F. W.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Lambton, H.
Busfeild, W. Law, hon. C. E.
Cayley, E. S. Lawson, A.
Chandos, Marquess of Lefroy, A.
Christie, W. D. Lennox, Lord G. H. G.
Christopher, R. A. Leslie, C. P.
Churchill, Lord A. S. Liddell, hon. H. T.
Clifton, J. T. Lowther, hon. Col.
Cole, hon. H. A. Macaulay, rt. hon. T. B.
Colquhoun, J. C. Maclean, D.
Cowper, hon. W. F. M'Carthy, A.
Crawford, W. S. M'Donnell, J. M.
Curteis, H. B. Manners, Lord J.
Denison, E. B. March, Earl of
D'Eyncourt, rt. hn. C. T. Miles, P. W. S.
Disraeli, B. Miles, W.
Douglas, Sir H. Milnes, R. M.
Douglas, J. D. S. Morris, D.
Duff, J. Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.
Duke, Sir J. Muntz, G. F.
Duncombe, T. Napier, Sir C.
Duncombe, hon. O. Neeld, J.
Dundas, D. Neeld, J.
East, J. B. Newdegate, C. N.
Ebrington, Visct. Newport, Visct.
Entwisle, W. Newry, Visct.
Etwall, R. Norreys, Lord
Evans, Sir De Lacy O'Brien, A. S.
Ewart, W. O'Connell, D.
Farnham, E. B. O'Connell, J.
Fellowes, E. Ossulston, Lord
Ferrand, W. B. Paget, Col.
Finch, G. Paget, Lord A.
Fitzroy, Lord C. Palmer, R.
Fox, C. R. Palmerston, Visct.
Frewen, C. H. Plumptre, J. P.
Fuller, A. E. Plumridge, Capt.
Gardner, J. D. Pollington, Visct.
Gaskell, J. Milnes Rashleigh, W.
Gooch, E. S. Repton, G. W. J.
Gore, W. O. Rich, H.
Gore, W. R. O. Richards, R.
Goring, C. Rollestoun, Col.
Granby, Marquess of Russell, Lord J.
Granger, T. C. Ryder, hon. G. D.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Sandon, Visct.
Grimsditch, T. Scott, hon. F.
Shaw, rt. hon. F. Turnor, C.
Sheil, rt. hon. R. L. Tyrrell, Sir J. T.
Sheppard, T. Vane, Lord H.
Sheridan, R. B. Verner, Col.
Sibthorp, Col. Vyse, R. H. R. H.
Smith, A. Waddington, H. S.
Smith, rt. hon. R. V. Walker, R.
Spooner, R. Watson, W. H.
Staunton, Sir G. T. Wawn, J. T.
Stuart, Lord J. Welby, G. E.
Stuart, J. Williams, W.
Strickland, Sir G. Wodehouse, E.
Taylor, E. Worcester, Marquess of
Taylor, J. A. Wyndham, J. H. C.
Tollemache, J. Yorke, H. R.
Tower, C. TELLERS.
Towneley, J. Fielding, J.
Troubridge, Sir E. T. Wakley, T.
List of the NOES.
A'Court, Capt. Douro, Marquess of
Alexander, N. Dowdeswell, W.
Bagot, hon. W. Drummond, H. H.
Baillie, Col. Duckworth, Sir J. T. B.
Baine, W. Dugdale, W. S.
Baldwin, B. Duncan, Visct.
Balfour, J. M. Duncan, G.
Barclay, D. Duncannon, Visct.
Barkly, H. Dundas, F.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Dundas, hon. J. C.
Baring, rt. hon. W. B. Egerton, W. T.
Barrington, Visct. Escott, B.
Bell, M. Estcourt, T. G. B.
Bellew, R. M. Evans, W.
Benbow, J. Feilden, W.
Bodkin, W. H. Ferguson, Col.
Boldero, H. G. Filmer, Sir E.
Botfield, B. Fitzmaurice, hon. W.
Bouverie, hon. E. P. Fitzroy, hon. H.
Bowes, J. Flower, Sir J.
Bowles, Adm. Forbes, W.
Bowring, Dr. Forman, T. S.
Boyd, J. Forster, M.
Bright, J. Gibson, T. M.
Bruce, Lord E. Gill, T.
Cardwell, E. Gisborne, T.
Carew, W. H. P. Godson, R.
Carnegie, hon. Capt. Gordon, hon. Capt.
Cavendish, hon. C. C. Gore, M.
Cavendish, hon. G. H. Goulburn, rt. hon. H.
Cholmondeley, hon. H. Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.
Chute, W. L. W. Greene, T.
Clay, Sir W. Hallyburton, Lord J. F.
Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G. Hamilton, J. H.
Clive, hon. R. H. Hamilton, W. J.
Cobden, R. Hamilton, Lord C.
Cockburn, rt. hn. Sir G. Hanmer, Sir J.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Hastie, A.
Collett, W. R. Hawes, B.
Coote, Sir C. H. Hay, Sir A. L.
Corry, rt. hon. H. Hayes, Sir E.
Craig, W. G. Hayter, W. G.
Cripps, W. Heneage, G. H. W.
Currie, R. Hepburn, Sir T. B.
Dalmeny, Lord Herbert, rt. hon. S.
Damer, hon. Col. Hinde, J. H.
Dawson, hon. T. V. Hodgson, F.
Deedes, W. Hodgson, R.
Denison, J. E. Hogg, J. W.
Dennistoun, J. Holmes, hon. W. A.
Divett, E. Hope, Sir J.
Dodd, G. Hope, G. W.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Houldsworth, T.
Howard, hon. J. K. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Hume, J. Peel, J.
Hutt, W. Philips, G. R.
James, W. Philipps, M.
James, Sir W. C. Price, Sir R.
Jermyn, Earl Protheroe, E.
Jocelyn, Visct. Reld, Sir J. R.
Jones, Capt. Reid, Col.
Kelly, Sir F. Ricardo, J. L.
Ker, D. S. Romilly, J.
Labouchere, rt. hon. H. Round, J.
Langston, J. H. Rumbold, C. E.
Lascelles, hon. E. Russell, C.
Lascelles, hon. W. S. Sanderson, R.
Legh, G. C. Scott, R.
Lemon, Sir C. Seymour, Lord
Lindsay, hon. Capt. Seymour, Sir H. B.
Lockhart, A. E. Shelburne, Earl of
Lockhart, W. Smith, B.
Lyall, G. Smyth, Sir H.
Lygon, hon. Gen. Smythe, hon. G.
Mackenzie, T. Somerset, Lord G.
Mackenzie, W. F. Sotheron, T. H. S.
M'Neill, D. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Mahon, Visct. Strutt, E.
Maitland, T. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Manners, Lord C. S. Tancred, H. W.
Marshall, W. Thesiger, Sir F.
Marsland, H. Thornely, T.
Martin, J. Tollemache, hon. F. J.
Martin, C. W. Traill, G.
Masterman, J. Trelawny, J. S.
Maule, rt. hon. F. Trench, Sir F. W.
Meynell, Capt. Trevor, hon. G. R.
Mildmay, H. St. J. Vernon, G. H.
Mitcalfe, H. Villiers, hon. C.
Mitchell, T. A. Vivian, J. E.
Moffatt, G. Walpole, S. H.
Morgan, C. Warburton, H.
Morpeth, Visct. Ward, H. G.
Mundy, E. M. Wellesley, Lord C.
Norreys, Sir D. J. Wood, C.
Northland, Visct. Wood, Col.
Ogle, S. C. H. Wood, Col. T.
Oswald, A. Wortley, hon. J. S.
Owen, Sir J. Wyndham, Col. C.
Paget, Lord W. Wynn, Sir W. W.
Parker, J. TELLERS.
Patten, J. W. Young, J.
Pattison, J. Baring, H. B.

The main Question as amended agreed to: second reading put off for six months.

House adjourned at a quarter to Three o'clock.