§ On the Question that the Amendments be agreed to,
§ MR. TRELAWNY
said, he felt it to be his duty to afford every possible opposition that the forms of the House would allow to the further progress of the Bill. He believed the measure, if carried into law, would have a most injurious effect upon the trade and commerce of the country, and ultimately oppress the very class it was designed to serve and protect. The measure was of such an arbitrary character, that, no matter what the people might suffer from the high prices of food—no matter what the circumstances of the times might be—no matter what individual requirements might exist—the strong and powerful man would be compelled to fold his arms and give over his labour. It was, in his opinion, a perfect mockery to introduce such a measure, unless they could accompany it by a measure regulating wages and the price of food. If they could do this, there would be something feasible in their theory; but if not, it would prove more dangerous than beneficial. It was said, that the Bill only applied to young children under fourteen years of age; but did it not also interfere with adult labour? Did it not interfere with the labour of adult women? The noble Lord at the head of the Government had said, that the House had a direct interest in the sinews of the population; but would not the effect of this measure be to deprive the country of the labour of her able-bodied operatives? Good labourers of sound constitutions, and with their strength unimpaired, would of course quit the country, and bring to a foreign market that skill and that strength which injudicious restrictions prevented them from employing at home. They were told that the labourers 1123 were prepared to risk it; but if the labourers were better informed than the Legislature upon such a point, they were surely better entitled to have seats in that House. The best way to afford the operatives true protection, would be to shield them from the evils of foreign competition. Believing that the measure would, so far from proving a benefit, greatly injure the operatives themselves, he was prepared to oppose its further progress.
§ MR. HUME
moved, as an Amendment, that the report be taken into further consideration that day six months. Every day's delay in the passing of that fatal Bill brought to light new and more cogent evidences of the great evils it would inflict on the country. The encroachments which were hourly being made on our manufactures by America and other foreign countries were calculated to excite well-grounded alarm, and rendered it nothing less than insanity to proceed with any such measure as the present. If the manufacture of cotton in this country were to be reduced by one-tenth, a reduction of twenty per cent on wages would follow; and it would be impossible to overstate the distress and misery that would ensue amongst the operative classes. It was the duty of every hon. Member who had the interests of his country at heart, and especially the interests of the industrial classes, to oppose the Bill to the last. He was sorry that it had not been submitted to the consideration of a Committee up stairs; for if it had, evidence the most incontrovertible would have been adduced to show how utterly destructive its operation would, in all probability, prove to be. He could not acquit the Government of blame in this matter; on the contrary, he thought they were highly censurable in not having from the first set their faces against the principle of any interference with the industry and capital of the country. By interfering with the labour of the adult population (as they would inevitably do by this Bill), they were bringing about an extent of mischief which no man breathing could predict.
§ MR. MARK PHILIPS
felt it to be his duty again to raise his voice against this measure, which he believed to be fraught with incalculable mischief. It was impossible to legislate for wages; and yet to restrict 1124 labour, without being able to regulate the standard of remuneration, were to inflict the deepest possible injury on the labourer. He hoped, most sincerely, that his dismal predictions of the operation of this measure would not be realized; but if they were, and that misery and destitution resulted from it, it would be at least consolatory for him to reflect that he had done his duty by protesting against it from the first, and warning the Government against the fatal experiment.
§ MR. P. HOWARD
would give to the hon. Member for Oldham his steady support; for he could not conceive that the commercial greatness of this country depended upon overtaxing the exertion of young persons; and he believed a general restriction of the hours of their labour to be better than allowing them to work half time at one period, and to be overworked at another.
§ MR. SHARMAN CRAWFORD
declared it to be his opinion, that if ever an unfair and vexatious opposition had been offered to any measure in its passage through that House, it was the opposition offered to this Bill. In every stage an unworthy attempt had been made to defeat it by manœuvre, against the loudly-expressed sense of the House. He had to complain that no notice had been given, on the Votes, of the Motion now brought forward by the hon. Member for Montrose. It looked very like an attempt to take the Friends of the measure by surprise, and defeat the Bill.
§ MR. ESCOTT
denied that the opposition to the Bill deserved to be characterized as it had been by the hon. Member who had just sat down. At the present moment, there were circumstances which rendered the opposition to this Bill very different from what it was before. When this Bill was formerly before the House, it obtained the support of the noble Lord at the head of the Government, and of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department, on one condition, and that was, that in Committee they should diminish the dangers and risk that were acknowledged to be involved in the principles of this Bill, by substituting an Eleven Hour for a Ten Hour Bill. But when the House went into Committee, and when the clause providing for the eleven hours duration of labour was proposed, the Committee divided upon that clause, and the noble Lord found himself in a minority upon it. He now hoped that the noble 1125 Lord, considering the great interests that were at stake, and the risks that would be incurred by the manufacturing interests of this country, would see that his duty to the commercial and other interests of the country was to reject this measure. With regard to a petition which had been adopted in favour of this measure, and which, it was alleged, was signed by manufacturers, he wished to observe, that in the first page of that petition he had counted the names of five persons calling themselves manufacturers who could not spell the word that designated the profession to which it was said they belonged. In each of those instances to which he referred, the word "manufacturer" was spelled wrongly. It was said that if the Bill passed this House, it would also pass in another place, and that the feeling which had converted the majority that was against this measure into a majority in favour of this measure, would operate as fully in another place as it had operated hero. Their feelings might induce those, by at least a majority, who sat in another place, not with a very due regard to their own interests, or the interests of the manufacturers, to pass this Bill if it were sent up to them. He said, "not with a due regard to their interest;" for if he knew anything of the measure, nobody would more seriously rue the destruction of trade and manufacture it would cause, than those who owed their income to the landed property of the country. It would be well if those having large landed possessions, as well as those having small possessions in land, would consider how much of their present incomes and rents depended upon the manufacturing prosperity of the country. He wished they would consider that question, and, in mercy to the working people themselves, who would be discharged from their daily labour, and be obliged to go about begging if this Bill should pass, that they would have further time to consider it, and that the noble Lord would come forward and say that the risk was too great—that the danger was too imminent—that he would not incur the risk, and would reject this measure.
§ MR. FERRAND
recollected, before he had the honour of a seat in that House, to have read speeches which purported to have been made by "Mr. B. Escott:" and he must say those speeches contained very different arguments from those which he had heard from the hon. Gentleman that day; and if the hon. Member for three or four years on the floor of that House, had 1126 advocated principles diametrically opposed to those which he had on that day advanced, he must certainly prefer his own judgment to the judgment of the hon. Member. He deeply regretted that any expression should fall from the hon. Member for Rochdale that was calculated to hurt the feelings of any Gentleman present; and he hoped the remaining discussion that was to take place on this Bill would not only exhibit good feeling, but set an example to the employers and employed throughout the country. The operatives were prepared to hold out the olive branch of peace, being convinced that this measure must be judged by its success; and when they had carried the Bill, he trusted that a majority at least of the manufacturers themselves, as well as the working classes, would unite with the best feeling to test its effects. If it should prove to be injurious to the population, and if they sought to be relieved from the law, those who now supported the measure would be prepared not to show any factious opposition, but to coincide with the operatives in any attempt they might make to get its repeal. But they thought it would work for their benefit; and they asked that all irritability of feeling, not only in that House but out of that House, should be laid aside, and that they would carry out this measure with good feeling.
§ MR. MUNTZ
wished to know whether the hon. Member for Winchester meant to throw discredit on the petitions, because some of those who signed them could not spell particular words. If correct orthography were necessary to the hon. Member's notion of respectability, it might not be necessary for him to extend his view very far to discover even some hon. Members who were themselves not always correct in that respect. When he recollected the large numbers by which this Bill had been carried in that House, he could not help thinking that to reject it now would be equivalent to rescinding their vote; and when he considered the obloquy which had attached to the rescinding of a vote by that House on a former occasion on this very question, he could not recommend hon. Members again to take a similar course. He had supported the Bill in all its stages; and he firmly believed that it was not only a debt due to the working classes, but that it also consulted the interests of the masters themselves.
§ MR. B. ESCOTT
, in explanation, said he did not mean to say that persons who 1127 could not write their names should not petition the House; but what he said was, that persons who could not spoil "manufacturer" should not pretend to be manufacturers.
§ MR. TANCRED
had resisted in his place in the House, on former occasions, many measures of this kind by a silent vote; but he considered the results which would flow from the measure so alarming, that he must accompany his vote on the present occasion by a few observations. This Bill proposed to regulate the labour of young persons and females, and to reduce the hours of labour by compulsory means; but he conceived it was hardly within the functions of the Legislature to interfere with them. He admired the wisdom and truth of the observation made by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth when he advised the House not to be deceived by names; for when they were dealing with the wages of the operative they were dealing with his capital. He conceived that the measure would be highly prejudicial to the operatives, and also to the employers, and it was his intention to oppose it, thinking that it was hostile to the interests of every person who would be affected by it.
§ SIR DE L. EVANS
said, the only argument that had been used against this Bill was, that it had a tendency to restrict the labour of the poor; but those who took up that position had totally failed in proving it. He considered the arguments of the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government quite satisfactory, and therefore he felt bound to give the measure his support. He was very much astonished to see the party who were so earnest in denouncing the protectionists for intolerance on the subject of the corn laws, now evincing the same feelings on this question. He thought it absurd to say that the glory and greatness of this country were dependent upon the diminution of the hours of labour of the infants who were engaged in factories.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said: I did not think there would be any discussion to-day on this subject, or that it was intended on this day to oppose this stage of the Bill; but a discussion having arisen, of which no person, of course, has any right to complain, I shall make a few observations. The hon. Member for Winchester (Mr. B. Escott) says, with regard to myself, that having taken a certain course in favour of this Bill, and having stated that 1128 in Committee I would vote for eleven hours instead of ten hours, I am now at liberty to oppose the Bill in its present, or at any subsequent stage. That statement is quite correct. I admit that, in opposition to this Bill in the present stage, I might say, that the maintenance of the ten hours restriction in the Bill gave a character to the Bill which made it so dangerous that I could not any longer assist in carrying it. I will admit that I think this measure is a less safe measure than it would be if the clause which restricts the time to ten hours had been struck out, and the Bill had become a Bill for eleven hours instead of for ten hours. I think that with regard to eleven hours you have a great deal of experience in its favour—in a great many mills in Yorkshire—and proof which is conclusive that it does not interfere with the carrying on of trade, and does not prevent that amount of profit being received, which would induce a manufacturer to continue in this branch of business. But you have no such proof with regard to the ten hours; and I do not feel the same confidence with regard to a Bill containing a ten hours clause, as I should feel if that clause were struck out. I therefore lament that the House has decided that that clause should remain part of the Bill; but I cannot say that that determination of the House, expressed by a large majority, is sufficient to induce me to withhold my vote in favour of this Bill. I certainly consider if it were a Bill for eleven hours, that while it would produce great satisfaction amongst the working classes, the manufacturers would possibly have received it, and probably we should not have heard more on the subject; but I cannot be sure that with respect to a Bill containing the ten hours clause, the working of it will be satisfactory, and that the question will not be revised in a future Session. The great argument against this Bill is, that while it professes to restrict—and in fact does restrict — the labour of young persons and women, it will indirectly restrain the labour of adult males, and diminish their labour and their wages. I do not think it can be admitted that, because it may have that indirect effect, the House is not competent to entertain the measure. The House has entertained the question with regard to children and women working in collieries. A Bill was introduced by Lord Ashley and passed, with regard to collieries, and preventing adult women working in collieries; and that measure has had a beneficial 1129 effect. Therefore I do not think there is any justice in the argument that the House is not competent to pass this Bill. I should expect, on a question which will no doubt affect the working classes in our manufacturing towns, if it were likely to produce an effect so injurious to them, that if not a majority, at least a considerable number of those working classes would have addressed this House, and asked the House not to pass this Bill which would indirectly reduce their wages, and act as an income tax on the amount of their wages; but I have not heard there was such a petition, nor do I find that any considerable number of the working classes have petitioned the House, and protested against the passing of this measure. Therefore, although I vote with less confidence than I would have done if it were a Bill for eleven hours, I do not think there is sufficient reason for withholding my vote in favour of the Bill.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
observed, that the noble Lord at the head of the Government came down to the House to support this measure; and though he did not choose to act as Prime Minister, yet at that moment he was using all the influence of that office. The noble Lord was about to deal with what he acknowledged to be one of the most important interests of the country; and how was he about to act, and on whose judgment was he about to act? He was about to act, having no faith in the effect of the Bill about to pass, and having great doubts of it, it being so fashioned that he himself determined to alter it; and being beaten by a majority of the House, he says he has doubts of it; his anticipations are not so sanguine as before as to the good to be expected frem the Bill; he has less confidence in its safe working—that was the expression of the Prime Minister—than he had; but, nevertheless, giving no sufficient reason for it, he said he would vote for the Bill. And what reason did he give? He said the working men of the country had not petitioned against it; but the noble Lord must know, that the feeling of the working classes, as the hon. Member for Knaresborough had said, was, that there would be no diminution of wages. They thought there would be no diminution of wages, and the feeling of the noble Lord as to their support was based upon a mistake. They supported the measure because they did not think it would be the income tax upon them that the noble Lord supposed; at least he (Mr. Roebuck) understood the 1130 noble Lord to say there would be a diminution of wages. How then could he have faithin the opinions of men from whom he so vitally differed? The workmen would hereafter say they were mistaken, and would be the first persons who would feel the mischief of this Bill. The noble Lord was making an experiment of a gigantic description, with much faltering and wavering, and he would not say unstatesmanlike conduct on the part of the noble Lord. He was faltering and hesitating and yet giving his vote in favour of the experiment; the aider, abettor, and prime mover in this experiment on the happiness and welfare of millions of their countrymen, was the noble Lord at the head of the Government.
§ The House divided on the question, that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question:—Ayes 104; Noes 46: Majority 58.
|List of the AYES.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Godson, R.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Gooch, E. S.|
|Ainsworth, P.||Gore, W. O.|
|Archdall, Capt. M.||Granger, T. C.|
|Arundel and Survey, Earl of||Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Bankes, G.||Halford, Sir H.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Hatton, Capt. V.|
|Bentinck, Lord H.||Henley, J. W.|
|Beresford, Major||Hervey, Lord A.|
|Bernal, R.||Hodgson, F.|
|Blackburne, J. I.||Howard, P. H.|
|Blackstone, W. S.||Hudson, G.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Hurst, R. H.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Hussey, T.|
|Broadley, H.||Inglis, Sir R. H.|
|Brotherton, J.||Irton, S.|
|Browne, hon. W.||Jervis, Sir J.|
|Buck, L. W.||Kerrison, Sir E.|
|Buller, C.||Lambton, H.|
|Bunbury, W. M.||Lowther, hon. Col.|
|Cabbell, B. B.||Macaulay, rt. hn. T. B.|
|Chichester, Lord J. I.||Mainwaring, T.|
|Christie, W. D.||Manners, Lord J.|
|Christopher, R. A.||Milnes, R. M.|
|Colville, C. R.||Monahan, J. H.|
|Cowper, hon. W. F.||Mundy, E. M.|
|Crawford, W. S.||Muntz, G. F.|
|Davies, D. A. S.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Denison, E. B.||O'Brien, A. S.|
|Douglas, Sir H.||Ossulston, Lord|
|Duncombe, T.||Owen, Sir J.|
|Duncombe, hon. A.||Packe, C. W.|
|Dundas, Adm.||Paget, Col.|
|Dundas, Sir D.||Pakington, Sir J.|
|Du Pre, C. G.||Palmer, R.|
|Ebrington, Visct.||Perfect, R.|
|Entwisle, W.||Plumptre, J. P.|
|Evans, Sir De J.||Plumridge, Capt.|
|Ewart, W.||Rolleston, Col.|
|Finch, C.||Round, J.|
|Floyer, J.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Fuller, A. E.||Rutherfurd, rt. hon. A.|
|Gaskell, J. M.||Sandon, Visct.|
|Gladstone, Capt.||Seymer, H. K.|
|Shirley, E. J.||Wakley, T.|
|Somerville, Sir W. M.||Walker, R.|
|Spooner, R.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Strickland, Sir G.||Williams, W.|
|Tollemache, J.||Wodehouse, E.|
|Trollope, Sir J.||Yorke, H. R.|
|Troubridge, Sir E. T.||TELLERS.|
|Tufnell, H.||Fielden, J.|
|Turner, E.||Ferrand, W. B.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Aldam, W.||Langston, J. H.|
|Baine, W.||Leader, J. T.|
|Baring, rt. hon. F. T.||Legh, G. C.|
|Bell, M.||Loch, J.|
|Bright, J.||Maitland, T.|
|Brown, W.||Marshall, W.|
|Busfeild, W.||Marsland, H.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.|
|Dalrymple, Capt.||Pendarves, E. W. W.|
|Dawson, hon. T. V.||Philips, M.|
|Dennistoun, J.||Protheroe, E. D.|
|Dickinson, F. H.||Roebuck, J. A.|
|Duncan, Visct.||Scott, R.|
|Duncan, G.||Sotheron, T. H. S.|
|Egerton, W. T.||Stanton, W. H.|
|Escott, B.||Strutt, rt. hon. E.|
|Evans, W.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Feilden, Sir W.||Thornely, T.|
|Fitzroy, hon. H.||Ward, H. G.|
|Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.||Wood, Col. T.|
|Gisborne, T.||Young, J.|
|Hay, Sir A. L.||Hume, J.|
|Hutt, W.||Trelawny, J. S.|
§ Amendments agreed to.
§ MR. BROWN
proposed the following clause:—And be it Enacted, That in all cases where, by reason of the restrictions by this Act respectively imposed as regards the working of persons under the age of eighteen years, and of females above the age of eighteen years, the lessee or occupier, lessees or occupiers of any such mill or factory as is in this Act referred to, or any part thereof, or any rooms therein, shall not be entitled to, or be by Law able to enjoy, the full and beneficial use of the steam or water power contracted to be supplied by the lessor or landlord for the full length of time for which the lessee or occupier, lessees or occupiers, would, but for this Act, have been entitled to, a proportionate abatement of the rent payable by such lessee or occupier, lessees or occupiers, shall be made and allowed by the lessor or landlord, such proportionate abatement to be fixed and settled by any two of Her Majesty's Justices of the Peace, who shall have full power to hear the parties and their respective witnesses, and to summon them before them the said Justices for that purpose, and finally to adjudicate and determine in the premises, if the parties differ about the same.
§ Clause brought up and read a first time.
§ On the question that it be read a second time,
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, he saw no objection to the principle of the clause; but, from the manner in which it was drawn, 1132 some doubts might arise as to the interpretation. It would be better to let it stand over.
MR. TATTON EGERTON
stated, that he never could give his consent to the introduction of such a clause into the Bill, as it would allow the millowners sitting as magistrates in the manufacturing districts to interpret the Act and determine as to any abatement of rent which should take place in consequence of the operation of the Act. If the clause was pressed, he should take the sense of the House on it.
§ MR. BROTHERTON
thought, that the occupiers of mills who would be affected by this Bill, ought to have a provision in the Bill entitling them to an equitable abatement for the loss which they might thereby sustain. Unless some such clause as this were introduced, they would be compelled under their present leases to pay for the supply of coals, &c., for twelve hours as usual, whilst the Bill permitted them to work their mills no more than ten hours. He really thought that there was so much justice in the clause, that no fair opposition could be offered to it.
§ MR. FERRAND
had never heard of such a discussion as this with respect to the lessees of farms when the corn laws were before the House last Session. The landlords and tenants were left to make their own arrangements; and he thought that they should adopt a similar course of non-interference now. He felt confident that if the clause were incorporated in the Bill, it would give rise to endless disputes between the manufacturers and the owners of the mills.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
said, they should clearly understand what was now going forward. Hitherto there had been a cheap cry—a race for humanity. They had said, "Yon have passed the Corn Law Abolition Bill, and we, the landlords, intend to take our revenge upon you, the manufacturers." He had himself frequently heard expressions of that sort fall from the supporters of this measure in that House. That was very much the way in which the question had been brought forward before the House. The landlords were attempting, if possible, by this measure, to make the manufacturers share in the mischiefs which they said would be entailed upon them by the repeal of the corn laws. They were seeking, and in fact they acknowledged they were seeking, to diminish as much as possible the profits of the mill-occupiers. The supporters of this 1133 measure had acknowledged that such was their intention. [Mr. FERRAND: NO, no!] The hon. Gentleman had said that he did not believe that the wages of the factory labourer would be diminished by the Bill; but the product must, because henceforth they would not be allowed to work so long. They would not be able to bring so much into the market, and, therefore, one of two things must follow, either the price of the articles must rise, whereby the community would be taxed in proportion, or, if the prices fell, the mill-occupier must be taxed. ["No, no!"] But it must be so. Either the consumer or the mill-occupier must be injured by this Bill. And, therefore, he contended that in justice they were bound to relieve the lessees of mills from the losses which this ex-post facto law would entail upon them; and they could do so by assenting to the proposed clause. The manufacturers had, under the existing system, taken leases of mighty and expensive fabrics for the purposes of their trade, and, unless the supporters of the measure consented to a proposition which would have the effect of relieving them to a great degree from the injury which the Bill would inflict upon them, the country would see the value of their vaunted humanity.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
merely rose to ask the hon. and learned Member for Bath (Mr. Roebuck) upon what authority he had stated that the landlords had determined on pushing forwards this measure by way of revenge for the support which the manufacturers had given to the Corn Bill of last Session? It was very easy for the hon. and learned Gentleman, who understood such small things, to make so facetious and apt an assertion as that; but he thought that it was a most unfair accusation against the supporters of this Bill; it was so, at least, as regarded himself, because he had supported the Ten Hours Bill long before the corn laws were repealed, and so had many other hon. Members who had voted for it now. He could see no reason why they should submit to sit down under such vague imputations, made up from some hearsay rumour that the hon. Gentleman's acuteness might have caught somewhere; but the hon. Gentleman had not told them where and when. With reference to the clause before the House, he must say that he thought it was but just that the mill-occupiers should in some degree be released from the payments which they had contracted for the occupation 1134 of their mills, &c., and he should therefore be inclined to give the clause his support. He should be glad to hear the hon. and learned Member for Bath state on what authority he had made his imputations against the supporters of the Bill.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
As the hon. Gentleman has asked me to give my authority for the statements which I have made, Sir, I will at once give it—the noble Lord the Member for Newark (Lord J. Manners).
§ MR. AGLIONBY
was opposed to the clause; but he agreed with the hon. and learned Member for Bath that they should know what they were doing. He submitted that the question of the arrangements between landlords and their tenants in consequence of the repeal of the corn laws had nothing to do with this Bill. Let them not misunderstand the real question for their consideration. The operatives had nothing whatever to do with the clause proposed. Operatives did not build, demise, or occupy mills; although he rejoiced to think that they were now about to obtain a measure of justice to which they had long been entitled. His feelings on this question were totally irrespective of the peculiar interests of millowners and manufacturers; but he could assure the House, and particularly the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Home Department, that as a professional man he really believed that the clause could never be properly carried out. He regretted to say that in consequence of his necessary attendance upon the Committees of the House, he had not had any opportunity of consulting with the parties whom the clause would affect. If he had had, he believed that he should have been able to show them that it would prove most prejudicial to them in its operation. The clause proposed to give jurisdiction to magittrates in such cases; and, if passed, it would give rise to very great confusion. There was nothing in the Bill, as it at present stood, to prevent any mill-occupier from employing one set of hands six hours, and another set six hours more, so that he could enjoy the whole of the privileges of his lease if he wished; and the clause would thereby be rendered unnecessary. He was glad to see the learned Attorney General in his place, and hoped that he might state his opinion upon this point. Supposing a millowner applied to a magistrate, under this clause, for a deduction of his rent, in consequence of his being compelled 1135 henceforth to employ the same people only ten hours in the day, the answer of the magistrate must be, "There is nothing to prevent yon from working twelve hours if you choose, by employing different hands." Admitting that he might be mistaken in his view of the case, he could not help saying that the proposition of the hon. Member for Lancashire (Mr. Brown) whilst it was impossible for it to confer any very great advantages upon any one, must necessarily lead to endless disputes. He did not think it was desirable to impose upon those who performed the functions of magistrates the troublesome and intricate labours which this clause would devolve upon them. It would be almost impossible for manufacturers to prove the exact amount of consequential damage which this Bill would inflict on them. Minute calculations would have to be continually made of the fluctuating prices of cotton, &c., and the magistrate would not be able to fix the proper amount of loss. The clause would create endless heartburnings between lessors and lessees of mills, which could end in no good. Now, with respect to this clause, he might say (although it was only a pro tanto argument) that since the second reading of this Bill, when the Bill might almost be considered to have passed into a law, a gentleman who had rented steam-power and promises, had subsequently taken a new lease of the same power and premises upon precisely the same terms.
§ SIR G. GREY
thought that the object of the clause had been somewhat misunderstood by the hon. Member for Cockermouth. He did not think that, under this clause, it would be necessary to show the amount of consequential damage. It would operate, in his opinion, in the following manner: There were several instances in which parties contracted for mill-power, for twelve hours a day, for a given time, and under such contracts the quantity of coal consumed in producing the steam was taken into account. Now, of course, there must be a material difference between the quantity of coals required to produce steam for such parties twelve hours, and that consumed in ten. It was but right, then, that some reduction should be made for the reduction in the consumption of coals, &c. But as it appeared that legal difficulties stood in the way of the proper operation of the clause, he would suggest to his hon. Friend (Mr. Brown) to withdraw the clause.
§ MR. M. PHILIPS
wished to say a few words on this question, whether his hon. Friend withdrew the clause or not. He thought that the hon. Member for Cockermouth (Mr. Aglionby) had proved how little he knew about the matter, which was entirely a practical question between the owners and occupiers of mills, whom they were about to place in an entirely new position. He believed that the manufacturers had asked for the insertion of this clause, and it was only fair to suppose that they knew something about their own affairs; and he must confess that he was inclined to vote that their petitions should be granted. Now the hon. Gentleman had said, that the difficulties under which the manufacturers laboured on this point, could be got over by a system of relays. [Mr. AGLIONBY: I never said so.] He begged the hon. Gentleman's pardon; he so understood him. But, however that might be, he should regret the introduction of such a system. He thought it was better that they should depend upon the labour of one individual set of hands; he did not like that multiplication of hands which the relay system must produce, because he believed that it would be prejudicial to the public interests as well as of those of the manufacturers and the operatives. He objected to the expression of the hon. Member for Knaresborough (Mr. Ferrand), respecting the position in which the landlords and their tenants were placed with respect to each other by the repeal of the Corn Laws, because the present question bore no analogy to theirs. It was not a question between the operatives and the manufacturers, but solely between the manufacturers and those from whom they rented their mills. He hoped that they would not pass the Bill without some such clause as that which had been proposed. If they did, they would expose the manufacturers to great injustice. Notwithstanding what had been said by the hon. Member for Cockermouth as to the difficulties of disposing of the questions which this clause would bring before magistrates, he must say that he did not think that there would arise any difficulties at all, because every practical man who might have occasion to go to the magistrates, would be able to state the price of cotton, &c., and the amount of injury which he had sustained by the operation of the Bill. And it did 1137 not follow that because they passed such a clause, all the manufacturers affected by the Bill would apply to the magistrates. The great probability was, that the differences between the manufacturers and those of whom they rented their mills, would be settled without any application at all to a magisterial court. The clause would merely confer the power of deciding upon the magistrates. He hoped that his hon. Friend would not withdraw his clause.
§ SIR R. PEEL
hoped that his hon. Friend would withdraw his clause. Although he had given his decided opposition to the Bill to restrict the hours of labour, he should feel himself compelled to vote against the introduction of such a very novel description of legislation as the clause. It included a principle which he did not believe had ever been acted upon in any similar case. Now he apprehended that there might be some particular cases in which the rule might be that the lessee contracted with the lessor for the supply of water, coals, &c., for ten or twelve hours. If there were such cases, they ought to be specified, and particular clauses applied to them. He apprehended that generally the lessee took his lease subject to any regulations which might be made by Parliament affecting his interests; and in this particular instance he did not think that the lessee could claim any exemption from the contract into which he had entered. This was not the first time that they had legislated with respect to the capital invested in manufactures; they had, on a former occasion, passed a law to restrict the hours of labour of children and adult women; but no one asked for a clause to be introduced which should enact that magistrates should be empowered to decide upon and award the amount of consequential loss sustained by such law to any applicant so injured. Why, what an enormous difficulty there would be in the attempt to determine the amount of loss which manufacturers might suffer in consequence of the passing of this Bill. He could not conceive how it was possible to determine the amount of injury which they might thereby sustain; and, further, the clause would be an entirely novel sort of legislation. He thought that the contracts between manufacturers and their landlords were always entered into with the understanding that they should be subject to such provisions and alterations as it might be thought necessary by the Legislature to adopt. If a clause reserving a power to 1138 the Legislature to make any regulations or alterations which might be deemed desirable, without providing that the lessees should be compensated for any injuries which they might sustain in consequence—if such a clause as this were sanctioned, those who had been suffering from the previous regulations as to factory labour ought to be admitted to come in and prove and receive the amount of injuries which they had sustained from such legislation. He really thought that they had much better leave such matters to be adjusted between the parties concerned; for it appeared to him that the clause, if adopted, would give rise to endless difficulties—and that the idle man, whose business might have failed from other causes, would attempt to obtain exemption from his just pecuniary engagements. If every one were to be entitled to make deductions for losses alleged to have been sustained under this Bill, he believed that it would lead to an amount of heartburnings the extent of which could not be anticipated.
§ LORD J. MANNERS
The hon. Member for Bath had said that he (Lord J. Manners) had said that this Bill had been supported by himself and his hon. Friends behind him by way of retaliation for the support which the manufacturers had given to the Corn Bill of last Session. He could only say, in answer to that assertion, that he had never said so. He had always supported this Bill; and he was quite certain that his hon. Friends behind him, who had supported it, had done so simply from an earnest conviction of its only being an act of justice to the factory operatives.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
had never intended to say that the noble Lord had furnished the information to him. What he did say was, that he had heard it stated that this Bill was attempted to be passed by the protection party as a retaliation for the support which the manufacturers had given to the movement for the repeal of the corn laws; and then he was asked by the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Newdegate) on what authority he had made that statement; and his answer was, that he need not go farther than the noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Manners). Now, he could point to the speech in which the noble Lord very clearly made that statement; which was subsequently referred to by the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir J. Graham), and the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department.
§ Clause withdrawn.1139
§ MR. LEADER
then proposed the following clause:—And be it Enacted, That if any accident happen to the steam-engine, water-wheel, or mill-gearing in any factory, whereby any part of the manufacturing machinery shall be stopped during the usual hours of work allowed by this Act, it shall be lawful to recover the time so lost in the following manner, that is to say—Any child or young person, or any woman, may be employed one hour in each day more than the time to which the ordinary daily labour of children and young persons and women respectively is restricted by Law, until such lost time be recovered.He thought that it was only fair that they should allow the manufacturers to make up for the loss of two or three hours which they might experience during the usual hours of working under this Bill; he therefore trusted that the House would agree to some relaxation for that purpose. By the law as it at present stood, there could be no making up for the loss of time through accidents to the machinery; and this was a loss to the workmen as well as to the manufacturer, as their wages were not paid for the time the mill was not working. He did not apprehend that there could be any serious opposition to a clause of such a reasonable nature. What he proposed was, that if three hours were lost in one day, it might be made up by an additional hour's work for three days.
§ Clause read a first time.
§ On the question that it be read a second time,
§ MR. HINDLEY
must say that he thought the clause would prove to be an exceedingly dangerous one if adopted. In fact, he believed that it would almost have the effect of preventing the honest carrying out of the Bill. He was sure that every honourable master would feel anxious to have the clause rejected. It would only give opportunities for fraud upon the part of the manufacturers, for they could then say when the inspector went round the mills and found them working beyond the legal time, "Oh! we have had a breakdown in the machinery, and are working up the lost time." If it were adopted, every honourable master would be injured by it.
§ MR. FERRAND
said, that when the manufacturers wished to work short time, they had only to throw their mill out of gear, and by this clause they would be enabled to make their people work extra hours for two or three months to make it up to them.
§ MR. BRIGHT
observed that the hon. 1140 Member for Ashton (Mr. Hindley) knew much better the operation of working mills over-time than he (Mr. Bright) did, for the hon. Gentleman was much more accustomed to work those long hours than he had ever been. At present if a mill was stopped for one hour, no allowance was made, but for that purpose it must be stopped for three hours; it was, therefore, obviously for the interest of the millowners, if they stopped at all, to stop for three hours, which they could make up by taking an additional hour for three days. If there was a fraud, it could just as well be practised under the present Act as under the clause proposed by the hon. Member for Westminster. The effect of the clause would not be of the slightest degree of importance to the manufacturers, but it was of great consequence to the operatives. For himself personally he did not care one straw about it. His hon. Friend said that the House should adopt the clause, because it was reasonable; his hon. Friend could know but little of legislation in that House if he thought that was a ground which influenced their legislation.
§ MR. FIELDEN
hoped the House would not consent to the proposal of the hon. Member for Westminster. The opinion of persons of great practical experience, in which he entirely coincided, was adverse to the clause. The working people were quite satisfied with the law as it stood at present on this point, and there would be insuperable difficulties in carrying out the clause, which would give rise to many evasions of the Act.
The ATTORNEY GENERAL
was quite certain that when the House considered what was the law on this subject, they would not be inclined to adopt the clause. The hon. Gentleman had referred to the 3rd and 4th William IV., c. 103. Now it was true that in the year 1833 an Act was passed relating to factories, in which the occupiers thereof were empowered to work beyond the legal number of hours, in case of any extraordinary accident, such as a break-down in the machinery, drought, or flood; but the Act of the 7th and 8th Vict., c. 105, was passed, whereby it was provided that the time so lost must have amounted to three hours, so that the law took away the unlimited powers passed in the reign of William IV.; and now the hon. Gentleman came forward with a clause the virtual effect of which would be the re-enactment of the law which they had already condemned. Moreover, it proposed 1141 to enable manufacturers to regain any quantity of time lost by accident, no matter how trifling. Now he felt that such a provision would be attended with many abuses, and he therefore thought that it ought not to be adopted.
§ MR. LEADER
said he should certainly divide the House on this Amendment. He denied that it was intended by this clause to make any alteration in the present law. He knew that at present lost time could be made up, and that this could be done where five or six hours were lost, but not where only two or three were.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 31; Noes 94: Majority 63.
|Lift of the AYES.|
|Antrobus, E.||Marshall, W.|
|Baine, W.||Marsland, H.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Milnes, R. M.|
|Brown, W.||Molesworth, Sir W.|
|Denistoun, J.||Ogle, S. C. H.|
|Duncan, Visct.||Philips, M.|
|Duncan, G.||Protheroe, E. R.|
|Escott, B.||Roebuck, J. A.|
|Feilden, Sir W.||Strutt, rt. hon. E.|
|Forster, M.||Thornely, T.|
|Greene, T.||Trelawny, J. S.|
|Hanmer, Sir J.||Walker, R.|
|Hay, Sir A. L.||Wood, Col. T.|
|Houldsworth, T.||Young, J.|
|Lindsay, Col.||Leader, J. T.|
|Lockhart, W.||Bright, J.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Ackers, J.||Evans, W.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Evans, Sir De I.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Finch, G.|
|Ainsworth, P.||Fitzroy, hon. H.|
|Archdall, Capt. M.||Fitzroy, Lord C.|
|Baillie, W.||Floyer, J.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Frewen, C. H.|
|Bell, J.||Fuller, A. E.|
|Bennett, P.||Gaskell, J. M.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Gisborne, T.|
|Bentinck, Lord H.||Godson, R.|
|Beresford, Major||Granger, T. C.|
|Bernal, R.||Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Blackburne, J. I.||Grimsditch, T.|
|Brooke, L.||Hall, Col.|
|Browne, hon. W.||Hamilton, W. J.|
|Buck, L. W.||Hatton, Capt. V.|
|Buller, C.||Henley, J. W.|
|Buller, E.||Hindley, C.|
|Bunbury, W. M.||Hodgson, F.|
|Busfeild, W.||Howard, P. H.|
|Cabbell, B. B.||Hudson, G.|
|Carew, W. H. P.||Irton, S.|
|Colville, C. R.||Jervis, Sir J.|
|Crawford, W. S.||Lambton, H.|
|Denison, E. B.||Langston, J. H.|
|D'Eyncourt, rt. hn. C. T.||Law, hon. C. E.|
|Duncombe, hon. A.||Lawson, A.|
|Dundas, Adm.||Maitland, T.|
|Dundas, Sir D.||Manners, Lord J.|
|Entwisle, W.||Miles, P. W. S.|
|Esmonde, Sir T.||Miles, W.|
|Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.||Shirley, E. J.|
|Mundy, E. M.||Smith, rt. hon. R. V.|
|Muntz, G. F.||Spooner, R.|
|Newdegate, C. N.||Strickland, Sir G.|
|O'Brien, A. S.||Thesiger, Sir F.|
|O'Brien, C.||Tollemache, J.|
|Owen, Sir J.||Troubridge, Sir E. T.|
|Palmer, G.||Tufnell, H.|
|Perfect, R.||Vyse, H.|
|Plumridge, Capt.||Wakley, T.|
|Pollington, Visct.||Ward, H. G.|
|Repton, G. W. J.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Rolleston, Col.||Williams, W.|
|Seymer, H. K.||TELLERS.|
|Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.||Ferrand, W. B.|
|Sheridan, R. B.||Fielden, J.|
§ Clause rejected.
§ Bill to be read a third time.