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had the power to mitigate the penalties which were imposed on convictions under the act, and 1o what extent had they been carried? Absolutely to neutralize the law. What was the forcible language of Mr. Horner upon this part of the subject, in his report of October last? He said, "The extent to which those mitigations had been carried would tend rather to increase than check the future violations of the law. The disreputable millowner, who is regardless of the discredit of a prosecution Tor violating the law, solely made for the protection of helpless children, looks only to the amount of the penalty imposed on his neighbours, and finds on casting up the account that it is far more profitable to disobey than to observe the act." After these representations of the state of the law made by his own inspectors, how could the noble Lord opposite reconcile it with his conscience as an individual, and with his public duty as a Minister of the Crown, during the whole course of his administration, never to have brought forward any measure for the removal of so tremendous an evil? From a return now made periodically to that House, it appeared that between the 1st of May, 1836, and the 1st of January, 1837, there were 822 convictions, more than one-half of which were for the grievous offence of overworking the children, and working them without surgeon's certificates. The average amount of penalties was 21. 5s. Between the years 1837 and 1838 the number of convictions was 800; and, whilst on this subject, he would just, in passing, say a word or two in reply to an observation which had been made to him by the Under Secretary of State for the Home Department the last time it was discussed—namely, that there had been an abatement in the number of convictions

during the last year. It was true, that during the first quarter of the year there was some abatement; but the aggregate for the whole year was 800, being only an abatement of 20. "I cannot ascribe this," said one of the inspectors, "to any increased willingness to obey, or to any increased alacrity to enforce, the law; but I ascribe it to the difficulty of the times, aud to the inclination which the millown. ers in consequence feel to throw a number of children out of work." What did the House think was the average amount of penalties during the last year? He find already staled, that in the year 1836 the


21. 5s. Last year was only 1/. 10s.

average amount was the average amount Could the House, then, doubt that it was far more profitable for a millowner to disobey than to obey the law, when he told them that a millowner had only to pay a penalty of 11. 10s. for a gross violation of the law, although he gained far more than that sum by the hours during which he overworked a child, and when, in case of his over-working 100 children at once, it was only considered as a single offence, and the highest penalty that could be inflicted on him for it did not amount to more than 2s. 6d. a-liead for each child? He had no hesitation in affirming, that a merciless griping ruffian would gain more than 500 times the amount of such a penalty during the hours he overworked these unfortunate children. Now, the amount of these convictions was taken from the returns for England only; but was it to be supposed, that this amount was the full amount of offences committed against this act in Great Britain, because the inspector for Scotland, Mr. Stuart, contrary to the evidence of the sheriff of Lanarkshire, contrary to the evidence of many respectable gentlemen, and contrary even to common sense, had sent in a return of "nil" for Scotland,or in other words, had stated that through all Scot* land not one offence had been committed against this Act? Let it be observed, too, that the number of convictions was no index to the number of offences committed. First of all, there was the difficulty of detecting the offences; next there was the difficulty of procuring evidence; then no offence could be prosecuted to conviction unless it were brought within 14 days of its commission to the notice of the inspector. [So at least we understood the noble Lord, but from the failure of his voice the remainder of his speech was very indistinctly heard in the gallery, and parts of it were quite inaudible.] How, then, could one third of the offences against this act ever be brought to light? The inspectors themselves declared the thing to be impossible. But the House might perhaps, be desirous to see how these penalties had been remitted and adjudicated upon. Before, however, he came to that part of the subject, let him state the reasons why the spirit of this law had evaporated until it had become a mere mortuum. The fact was, that the millowncrs sat on the bench, and adjudicated in their own cases. There were, undoubtedly , exceptions to that position, bright and honourable exceptions, some of them Members of that House, who did not concur with him in opinion upon this question. It was only right to state, that he had heard nothing but commendation of the manner in which the mills

On the 10th of December, 1836, an information was laid against a millowner. The resistance to that information and the manner in which the magistrates dealt with it, appeared to Mr. Horner to be so flagrant, as to require him to make a special report upon it to Government. He had selected three out of the many charges

of the hon. Member for Derby, Mr. Strult, which were preferred againstthis millowner. were managed. But that he might not be The first was for employing 29 young considered as aspersing a large class of ( children more than nine hours a day. The men without cause, he begged to read a second was for employing 24 children few ex'racts from the valuable report he without surgeons' certificates, which was then held in his hand. Mr. Howell in point of fact a confession that they

having said, that the magistrates gavecer. tificates in a mass, proceeded to add, "As if to exemplify the futility of the countersigning of the magistrates as a check on the certificates of the surgeon, cases have in my district occurred in which

were overworked. The third was for employing 22 children more than 12 hours a-day. Before whom was this information tried? Before three magistrates all interested in mills. What was the amount of the penalties which the magistrates

the manufacturer being a magistrate has J could have imposed on this millowner, bad countersigned the certificates for his own they awarded them to the full extent of

factory, and two magistrates, being both miilowners in the same town, have reciprocated civilities in this manner for each other to a considerable extent." The noble Lord read an extract from a report of Mr. Horner, of which the substance was as follows:—" I have had in my district miilowners trying cases as magistrates against other miilowners residing in the same town with themselves. I had one instance of a millowner sitting as a magistrate on an information presented against his own sons, as tenants of a mill of which he was the proprietor." Mr. Horner also added that another millowner had adjudicated upon an information filed against his own brother, and that in all these cases the magistrates had awarded the lowest penalties which the law enabled them to impose, and, that too in cases where the penalties were inflicted for a second, and even a third offence. And now let the House bear in mind that all this sad state of things had arisen from the measures proposed and carried by Her Majesty's Government; for, by Sir John Hobhouse's act, which the existing act repealed, it was enacted that no magistrate being concerned by himself or his relatives in mills should be allowed to adjudicate on points I of factory law. As the House might wish to see how the existing law operated, he would mention a case which he had taken out of the report, and which if quoted incorrectly could be immediately set right by hon. Gentlemen who had read it, and were therefore qualified to contradict him.

the law? The full amount would, have been 160/. What was the amount of penalties actually awarded? Would the House believe him when he stated that, notwithstanding this was a most flagrant case, and notwithstanding the great profits which the magistrates knew that the millowner must have derived by his merciless conduct to these poor children, the penalties, which might have been extended to 160/., had the magistrates put the law fully into execution, were reduced down to 17/., which was not more than the result of ten minutes' labour of those children, whom he had unmercifully overworked for several hours? And this was the way in which the present Act was carried into effect! Now, let the House see whether there was the same caution exhibited with respect to other parts of this Act. Since the period this Act was brought into operation, the whole amount of the penalties levied was 4,422/.; but, in consequence of certain regulations made by the inspectors themselves, every child taking out a certificate was obliged to pay sixpence for it, as a sort of remuneration for the trouble of writing it. Now, what sum did the House think had been levied in this manner upon the wages of all children under fourteen years of age since the passing of the Factory Act? A sum not much under 12,000/. And this for a certificate which, so far from giving protection to the child, only gave impunity to the aggressor upon its hours of comfort and repose. If this certificate gave any

protection to the child, he should not complain of this tax levied upon it; but when this certificate—for which the child was compelled to pay—was put into the master's hand, and was used by him as a shield to protect himself from any conviction under this Act, he must say, that the law was at once ridiculous and tyrannical. Was it then surprising, that there should be discontent and dissatisfaction among the operatives in the. manufacturing districts, when they saw that the law which had been passed for the protection of young children was daily violated, not only with impunity, but also with the most unblushing effrontery? Could the House be surprised that these men thought, that it was inclined to legislate for the richer in opposition to the poorer classes, and that, as a necessary consequence, they held in equal contempt the makers of the law, the administrators of the law, and the law itself? With respect to the education clauses, he would say but little; for it was universally confessed, that they werenot observed in one mil I out of fifty, and, where they were observed, "there," said Mr. Horner," the schooling given isa'mere mockery of instruction." And yet would the noble Lord opposite venture to say, that the education of the manufacturing classes was a matter of indifference to the country at large? Would he refuse to attend to the language of his own inspector, Mr. Horner, who said, that vice and ignorance, and their natural consequences, misery and suffering, were rife among the population of these districts? The bill which the noble Lord had himself introduced, and had afterwards withdrawn, on this subject, acknowledged the defects of the existing law. Habes confitentem reum. If, then, the noble Lord admitted the existence of these defects, it was unnecessary for him to point out where the new law, had it passed through Parliament, would have amended the defects of the old. He was anxious that that bill should have become law, because, if it had had no other effect, it would have given force to the Act now in the statute book, and, though it was not by any means all that he desired, yet it would have conferred, had it been properly and honestly carried into execution, great benefit on the younger classes in the manufacturing districts. It would have limited the hours of their labour, it would have provided education for them, and it would have given them a

knowledge of their rights as men, and of their duties as Christians. But the noble Lord opposite had thought right to withdraw it. Had that bill been converted into law, a year, which was now to be passed in vice, ignorance, and suffering, might have been given to the commercial, moral, and religious education of the manufacturing population. The noble Lord, however, had his reasons for leaving the law as it stood at present. For his own part, he thought, that to leave the law in its present slate, was unjust to the children, whom you consigned by it to oppression—to the honest mill-owner, who was anxious to conform to it, and who was defrauded by those who did not—to the dishonest millowner, whom you tempted and encouraged to violate its enactments— unjust to the law itself, which you know will be violated, and violated with impunity—and unjust to the Executive Government, which was responsible for all maladministration of the law. Some time ago, he had brought before the House the course which, in his opinion, it ought to adopt on this subject. He would not weary the House by repeating what he had then said; but to one of the points then urged by her Majesty's Government in their own defence, he must briefly advert, as showing the animus by which they were influenced. In the year 1836, the Government brought in a bill not to amend the existing law, but to repeal one of its best provisions, which secured to the child of not more than twelve years of age, immunity from twelve hours labour. That bill, having been carried on the second reading by a majority of two only, was withdrawn by the Government, in deference to the sense then expressed by the House, the Government giving, at the same time, both by speech and in writing, a most solemn pledge, that the existing Act should be rigorously and speedily enforced. How bad the Government redeemed that most solemn pledge? By an immediate and monstrous violation of the law. [Laughter from Lord John Russell.] The noble Lord laughed. [Lord John Russell, "It is so absurd."] The noble Lord might think so, but he fancied that the House would be disposed to agree with him, when they heard the statement which he was about to make. Shortly after that pledge was given, there came out a letter from Mr. Inspector Horner, addressed to all the surgeons in his district. Here let

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