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of December, 1836. The names of the magistrates, who sat at the Boar's Head, Middleton, were—Mr. G.W.Wood, merchant; Mr. D. Potter, merchant; and Mr. J. D. Smith, cotton-miller.

Mr. G. Wood said, that as the noble Lord had accompanied his reference to the case with severe censures upon the conduct of the magistrates engaged in it, he trusted the House would allow him to explain that conduct, and to vindicate himself from those imputations. The noble Lord had stated, that the case had been dismissed in ten or twelve minutes.—[Lord Ashley: The hon. Member has mistaken what 1 have stated; I said no such thing.] He was bound to say, then, that he had mistaken the noble Lord, and he willingly accepted his disclaimer. When he found, from the clerk of the Petit Sessions, at Middleton, that a number of summonses had been issued, and as the cases were of a description that did not usually come before that bench, he felt extreme anxiety that there should be a full attendance of magistrates when they came to be considered. There were only two magistrates generally sitting at those sessions. Knowing the anxiety which these cases excited in the public mind, he wrote to his colleagues, expressing his desire, that there should be as full an attendance as possible. There were three magistrates in attendance on the occasion of hearing those charges. Instead of dismissing the charge in ten minutes, they went in succession through the whole of the several cases, and stated, that they would reserve their decision respecting any one case until they had gone through them all. After having heard the cases they remained at least an hour in deliberation as to what were the penalties that ought to be inflicted, or whether they would class the cases according to their several demerits, and apportion the penalties accordingly. The parties admitted their guilt, and the magistrates proceeded to levy such penalty as they deemed proportionate to the character of the offence. Feeling that no inquiry had before taken place in that Court, they were determined to inquire fully into the circumstances, the more particularly as much public interest had been excited on the subject, and it was equally for the interest of the manufacturers and the operatives, that the real facts should be generally known. They found, that in not one of these mills had

there been any previous complaint of a violation of the law; and they, therefore, felt themselves entitled to treat the charge brought before them (the magistrates) as the first offence, and, therefore, to deal more leniently than if it had been of frequent occurrence. The offences, moreover, were all committed in country mills in which the factory law was scarcely known, and in which the proprietors and superintendents had most probably never received any instructions from the inspectors with regard to that law. In all those cases penalties were imposed. When they were brought into Court, he, as chairman of the bench, was requested by his brother magistrates to state the grounds on which they had come to their decisions; he did so at considerable length to a crowded Court, and informed them, that the penalty then inflicted was to be looked on more as a warning than a penalty, and not to be taken as any measure of what penalty would be inflicted for future violation of the law. There was three or four other cases in which the parties pleaded not guilty. With respect to these, the magistrates determined to appoint another day for hearing. A day was fixed, and the case investigated at great length; all the parties were punished except one; this was- a case in which a manufacturer was charged with working a child of nine years old. The evidence against the manufacturer seemed at first very strong; but,on the other hand, the parish register, and that of the nurse who suckled the child, gave it a complete contradiction. In this case the party was acquitted. A heavy penalty was also inflicted on the convicted parties, as having, by plea of not guilty, put the complainant to considerable expense. So far, also, from the inquiry having occupied but little time, he could assure the noble Lord, that the first day's proceeding occupied six hours, the magistrates being anxious to convince all parties—manufacturers, operatives, and the general public—of their anxiety to give the matter the closest investigation. The following day's proceedings occupied three hours. Knowing these facts, and knowing, also, that his brother magistrates and himself had been actuated by the strongest desire to do their duty impartially, he was very much surprised at the report which had been made to the Horoeoffice by Mr. Trimmer, dated the 18th of •lanuary, 1837,~in which, alluding to those

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nas Cvrtlax-.j ..^^^, w.i ii-Jt c<,u.p.>i&luli stated, txat ti.«.:« »;sii was lu uke iLt cases out ot the ib.ibediat£ htigt.UMfbocd, in »Licb ttey took place. lr> ail these cases Lis «s*h *as to have the law faiilfolly ad'u&red to, ai.d he was esceed

in^I) desirous, that wbeu the uiagistrates Uv-w —

were called upen to carry us provisioDS that the bench of magistrates over ,Liiito effect, they should do it in such a he presided was selected by theinforwn11 , manner as to excite r.a angry feeling in inquire into their case; but when tbej a* the bosoms of any patties, tie made the dane so, he immediately determined not t most anxious inquiries as to the public I shrink from the ordeal. Since that . opinion of the manner m which these not a single case had come before b». ofieoces Lad been treated, and he had tue ' and he could assure the noble Lord."* salisfaction to say, that he did not hear in i nothing would give him greater p!ei-i::tLc entire neighbourhood an unfavourable ' than to be removed from sucb. iw)ttir5 opinion of their decision. Since the re- [ together. He thought, however, be »>» port conJemnatory of these proceedings justified in saying, that the inqaay 8 had appeared, it had been his constant 1 which he had been engorged, bad bs» endeavour to ascertain the true slate of j properly carried on. He was not ino**1 public opinion, and he couid deliberately | to follow the noble Lord through the »*:*: declare, on his honour as a man and a of his very eloquent speech; to his tate^3 gentleman, that not a single individual, i and the benevolence of his motive* M whether manufacturer or independent in- !gave all merit. But neither his mou** habitant of Middleton, left the Court | nor bis temper had saved him from mat with any other feeling than that the ruagis- tendency to exaggeration, which often «* trates had faithfully aud assiduously dis- the consequence of great zeal. The Hots* charged their duly. The noble Lord had would peimit him to say, that living a* uc stated—he (Mr. Wood) did not know oa did in the midst of the manufacturing what authority—that the m ijorUy of the tiicts, and feeling au anxious desire fortbe magistrates alluded to were millowne.s. . welfare and improvement, iuteilecittl To this he must give the most unqualified i moral- anr) r«i:~:~

whole manufactures of the country could be brought into operation like a beautiful piece of clockwork or a battalion of soldiers. The House would see, that it was inevitable that the first working of such a measure must be imperfect, and that, without any designed violation of the Act, many causes of complaint would occur. But instead of reading partial extracts from the

the noble Lord, and proposed to introduce him, but this his Lordship also declined.

Lord Ashley trusted, he should be indulged with a few moments, while he answered the strongest and most unfounded imputations that had ever been uttered in public or private. How could the hon. Member assert, that he went to Manchester, and refused to inspect the

reports of inspectors, they ought to read 1 mills, when the fact was, that he inspected

those reports entire, as a mnssof testimony' conning from a highly respectable and intelligent body of men who had been deputed by the State to see the laws carried into effect. If they did so, he did not doubt, that they would come to a different conclusion from that which they were now drawing from the statement of the noble Lord. The Act had done much important good, and had removed many crying evils, to two of which only he would allude. It had contracted the hours of labour in every mill, where the labour had previously exceeded a reasonable time, and it led to the employment of a much smaller number of children in those mills. In Manchester, few were employed under thirteen years, and when younger children were employed, it was in the fine and trimming department, where they were absolutely necessary; but even then, in many cases, the system of double sets had been introduced. He was not now disposed to go further into the subject; he felt exceedingly obliged to the House for the attention with which he had been listened to, but he could not conclude without expressing the great regret and surprise he had experienced when he had the honour of meeting the noble Lord in the streets of Manchester, and found that the noble Lord, although never having been in the district before, seemed unwilling to examine himself into the condition of the mills. He, on that occasion, tendered to the noble Lord his endeavour to procure him admission into every mill in the place, and he certainly understood from the noble Lord's conversation (he might have been mistaken), that he (the noble Lord), had already made up his mind on the subject, and that he did not consider it necessary to pursue any further inquiry, and also, that his time was too limited for the purpose. It happened, that Mr. Homer, the inspector, was in Manchester at the time, fulfilling the duties of his office; he ascertained, that that Gentleman had not the advantage of beiug personally known to VOL. XLIV. {53-}

every mill in the place? Did the hon. Member mean to ay, that he did not go with the hon. Member to Mr. Burley's mill, that he did not accompany him round the town; could he, in fact, point to one single place in which inspection was declined? How little must the hon. Member know of his visit to Manchester, when the fact was, that he visited every mill in the town? For this he would appeal to the hon. Member for Salford, who accompanied him. Did the hon. Member know how he (Lord Ashley) spent his evenings while in Manchester? He went to the garrets and the cellars of the operatives to make inquiries from the fathers and the mothers, and to ascertain the state of the children with his own eyes. And was he now to be told, when he brought the result of these inquiries, and labour before the assembled Commons of England, that he had resisted all investigation, and had declined the hon. Member's valuable assistance? On one point alone, he declined it, and that was the introduction to Mr. Horner. This he did decline, and on these grounds; he thought it would not have been fair to meet a man in private | society at the convivial board, to obtain | there his private opinions and feelings, and afterwards to express his opinion of his conduct as freely as his public duty might require. These were his reasons for declining the hon. Member's offer of introduction, and this was the only case in which he refused his assistance.

Mr. Wood said, he should certainly have been proud if the noble Lord had accepted his invitation; but that was not the circumstance to which he had alludtd. It was the fact of his having requested the noble Lord to accompany Mr. Horner on his inspection of the mills. The noble Lord said, he visited Mr. Burley's mills. He did so, but that was the only mill he visited. Most assuredly, he, on that occasion, offered his best services to procure the noble Lord, admission to all the mills, but he understood his Lordship to decline, and it was only on intercession of the hoo. Member for Salford, that he was induced to change his intention. He was surprised, that the noble Lord, when he did visit these mills, made no inquiry of Mr. Burley himself, of the work-people, or the superintendents.

Mr. Brotherton said, he was in justice to the noble Lord bound to state that he (Mr. Brotherton) accompanied him to several mills, and he must say, that on those occasions the noble Lord showed no indisposition to ascertain the real state of the manufacturing population. He would not detain the House, but the subject now before it was one in which he had taken a deep interest for more than twenty years, and for that reason he hoped he-should be indulged with a few moments' attention. He had always been an advocate for legislation with regard to the factories, and he thought, that the facts would bear him out in saying that the legislation which had taken place had been of very great use. He wished to be understood in anything he said on the present occasion as attacking the system, not as imputing any blame to the Government, the magistrates, or the inspectors. He considered that the present Act was so complicated that it could not be carred into effect. He had stated those sentiments during the progress of the bill through that House, and opposed every clause; and he did think, considering the attention he had devoted to the subject—and the inspectors had since borne him out in the assertions he then made—that his opinion was entitled to some little attention. He considered that the main object of the Act was to protect young people from excessive labour; and he thought he should be able to show, that it was constantly violated both by masters and operatives—that it was complicated in its provisions, and inconvenient to the employers and the employed; and that it did not give that protection to the children which the Legislature designed it should. In proof of its violation he had only to allude to what had been said by the noble Lord, and to thereturn which he had had the honour of moving for. By that return it appeared there were 4,000 mills in which 360,000 children were employed, and that during three years in which the Act had been in operation, there had been 2,000 convictions, and penalties inflicted to the amount of 2,500/. Now, these 2,000 convictions, out of 4,000 esta

blishments were enormous in the time, and proved the difficulties which stood in the way of obedience to the Act. Another error in the Act was, that by it children of six years old might be worked for ten boars in a silk mill, while in a cotton mill those of twelve and thirteen years were limited to eight hours' labour. From this, and the frauds to which its evasion led, he felt convinced that the bill did not give the protection which it was designed to give. In this opinion he was completely borne out by the testimony of the inspectors. [The hon. Member here read extracts from the testimony of the inspectors, proving the frequent violations of the ten hours' bill, and the evil consequences of such violations as exhibited in the wan and haggard appearance of the children.] He begged to call the attention of the House to another fact, which was, that, in 1835, 60,000 children, under thirteen years, were employed, and that now there were not more than 10,000. He thought, that next Session this Act should be repealed, as, while its intention was to lighten the labour of the children, its tendency had hitherto been to cause them to work for much longer periods. While such a state of things existed, of what use was it to talk of educating the children whose every waking hour was occupied by toil? He was not prepared to say, however, that they could reduce the hours of labour without increasing the price of the produce, or else reducing taxation, to enable the British manufacturer to compete with the foreigner. If the foreigner could buy cotton at Is. 9d. a pound, when we paid 2s. he would, of course, be able to undersell us. Thus taxes on cotton—and on corn—must go, if we limited the hours of labour. If the manufacturer could by this, or any improvements in machinery, successfully compete with foreign work, so much the better; but what he (Mr. Brotherton) contended for was, that they were not justified in making up their deficiency out of the sweat and bones of the unfortunate children.

Mr. O'Connell wished for a few moments to trespass upon the indulgence of the House. He wished to do so briefly; for he did not know any subject on which it was so easy to talk good-natured nonsense. Exceedingly fine feeling and exceedinglv absurd political economy could be combined with the greatest facility upon this subject. The reason why he now intruded upon the House was, that he had said some days before, that it had been proved before theCombination Committee that the law had been violated in Glasgow, and where it had been carried into effect in Manchester the injury done by it had been admitted. He understood that what he had said respecting Glasgow had been contradictedthat evening. The evidence to which he had referred had been given not by master manufacturers, but by cotton-spinners, by Campbell and M'Nish, office-bearers in the union of Glasgow. An hon. Friend of his had talked of the difficulty of educating cotton-spinners. He could say of both these witnesses that they were men who not only had read a great deal, but who had also thought a great deal, and were men of as distinct and clear minds as he had ever met with. In page 50 of the report, the witness Campbell gave this testimony :—

"What is the age at which children are now taken into the spinning-mills at Glasgow ?— 1 believe the law says thirteen years of age, to work twelve hours a day; but I dare say there are some taken earlier than that.

"Are they taken in at nine ?—Yes.

"Is it your opinion that the law is honestly worked out by not taking in children under nine, or do you think there is any fraud? I must say distinctly that the operative cottonspinner is necessitated to overlook the law in order to keep his machine moving, by taking young children in below thirteen, for twelve hours a day, and below nine for eight hours a day.

"To your knowledge the law is set at defiance?— It was a matter of necessity; the mills would stand still if such was not the practice.

"Do you mean to say that it is impracticable to adhere to the law in that respect ?—As far as my personal experience goes I mean to say—and I have a yood deal of experience in the matter, having taken a very warm interest in that very question—that it is altogether impracticable to carry out the spirit of the present law as it now stands.''

That was the evidence of one cottonspinner; this the evidence of another.

"Were you rightly understood to have said that the law is violated with respect to the age of the piecers, and that they are brought in younger than the law allows ?—Yes; the law is violated.

"And generally violated ?—Yes; and our employers are throwing all the responsibility of that violation of the law upon the operative. The operative is obliged to violate it or allow his machinery to stand."

At page 08 this was said :—

"But you are understood to say that the work could not go on as it does now, unless you employed these piecers under the legal age of thirteen ?—That is my opinion, that the work could not go on without employing children from nine to twelve years of age.

"And employing them the entire twelve hours ?—Yes.

"You mean, that the manufacture could not go on for the same number of hours, but you do not mean that the manufacture would be stopped altogether, if no children were employed under the legal age?—I mean that the mills would be stopped."

That, then, was the case so far as Glasgow was concerned. The witnesses proved that the law had distinctly been violated in Glasgow; that it could not be carried out; that the mills would have been stopped; and that if children under thirteen years of age had not been employed, the machinery would have been stopped. The case as to Manchester was proved by John Doherty, as intelligent and as highly-educated as any man could be expected to be, and a great agitator, too, for a ten-hours bill. He was one of the leading men for many years amongst those who agitated on that subject. He was also secretary to his union. In page 260 he gave this testimony:—

"lias the mode in which the act has been enforced been burdensome to the operative ?— Exceedingly so.

"In what way ?—To the spinner it has been exceedingly so; to the amount of several shillings a week in his wages.

"Describe how ?—When the factory workers all came and left the mill together, the difficulty was not so great in getting a sufficient number of children to attend to the work; but since that has happened the spinner is anxious to get children old enough to continue the total number of hours, so that he might not be subjected to the inconvenience of changing; that has lessened the number of children in the cotton-mills, and turned them into the silkmills; and the consequence has been, that children who were receiving Is. 2d. a week are now receiving 4s. 8</., and in proportion to the other piecers; the older piecers have not increased.

"You said the act had been disobeyed ?— Yes, it has;

"In what respect only has it been disobeyed? —In respect to all its provisions, but mote especially as to the eight-hour workers.

"Then instead of being only worked eight hours, the children who ought to work only eight hours are worked twelve or thirteen?— Yes, by the aid of certificates from the surgeons, or connivance, or something of that kind; sometimes the connivance of the surgeon, the parent, and the employer."

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