§ THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY
rose to put a Question to the noble Marquess of which he had given him private Notice. Their Lordships would remember that a year or two ago he brought before them the subject of the limitation of the labour of children employed in the various mills and factories in India. The information which he received from the noble Marquess on that occasion was not of a precise character—he hoped the noble Marquess would be able to give him more satisfactory assurances on the present occasion. Nothing could be more contradictory than the statements which reached him in respect of this matter. On the one side it was said that nothing could be worse than the condition of the children employed in the Indian factories; while, on the other hand, he had seen it stated that nothing could be more delightful. But those were exactly the sort of statements made in this country in 1833 in relation to the state of things in our own mills— 814 to believe the advocates of the existing state of things, long hours of labour were a specific against every disease to which the human frame was liable. It was said there was a rivalry between the Lancashire and the Indian manufacturers, and that those who showed an anxiety in this matter were endeavouring to suppress altogether the growing factory industry of India. But such statements were very unfair. He believed that the Lancashire manufacturers were able to hold their own. What he asked was that the claims of humanity should be respected alike in every part of Her Majesty's dominions, and as the labour of young persons and women had been restricted in this country, so it should be in India.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
said, his noble Friend was quite right as to the contradictory statements which were made on this matter. Great difficulties and much prejudice had been imported into the question in consequence of the feeling of the highest rivalry between' Lancashire and Bombay. No one, however, would suspect his noble Friend of being an accomplice of the Lancashire manufacturers. The difficulty was to obtain all the facts of the case. A Commission was appointed some three years ago to examine into the question. That Commission conducted a careful examination. There was a majority and a minority on the Commission; but the majority were in favour of the existing system, and their Report went to show that under it no hardship was suffered by the women and children. Part of the great suffering formerly endured by the children in the mills in Lancashire was due to the close and unwholesome and overheated atmosphere caused by the necessary processes, and in which these children were compelled to live. But in Bombay that cause of suffering did not exist, because the natural atmosphere was suited to the manufactures, and that atmosphere both parents and child could bear. He thought, however, that the children were overworked; but unless in legislation on this matter you could carry with you the sympathy of some at least of the classes of the Indian community, there would be great danger that legislation would be a failure; and certainly they had there at present neither the feelings of the manufacturers nor those of the workpeople, the latter 815 being anxious to make a little money out of the labour of their children. That, indeed, was no reason for dropping legislation on the subject, but it suggested caution in attempting to attain the humane object the noble Earl had in view. On the 18th of April he communicated by telegram with the Government of India on the subject. They replied that they had come to the conclusion that legislation was necessary, and promised to communicate further in a subsequent despatch. That promised despatch had not yet reached the India Office. He could assure his noble Friend that the matter would receive every consideration.