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established in this country. Within fifty years they had seen it produce such un • common masses of property—nay, perhaps, they never could have borne their national debt if it were not for the enormous increase of wealth which they owed to that manufacture. When, then, so much had been done, who could tell how much more they were capable of doing. They had now competitors in other nations. Tliey had them in Belgium, in France in Russia, in Switzerland; and he trusted, that when the bloody scenes which were now acting in Spain and Portugal, were at an end, that the cotton would be grown in one field and turned into cloth in another. But men were now struggling for a ten-hours' bill. In the present state of the world did they expect that for ten hours work they could get twelve hours' wages? If they did, then they would soon find Belgium, where there was cheap food—where there were no corn-laws— tlrey would find it really making Manchester what it had been called, " a place of tombs," and sending its manufacturers and its operatives to seek alike relief from a new Poor-law. Would any man confine steam? If he did, the result must be, that it would finally explode, and dash him to atoms. Would they confine air? Would they confine capital? Capital was the lightest of things—it would take to itself wings and fly from wherever the attempt was made to confine it, and soon would it be seen floating as unrestrained as the winds of Heaven, and perching itself upon that favoured spot where labour was free and bread was cheap. He had no professions to make; he was to be judged of by what he had done, and not merely by what he 1 said. He yielded to no man in the ;ire for the public good, and while he lared to them, that they ought to prefathers and mothers from sacrificing children to the mammon of wealth, mselves, ought not to tempt them : by refusing to give them at ice, that food which nature them not now at least be ildishness of talking of one were aiming at another, the labour of adults. If they should give up Bull had won for common sense, and the world exanity, which
made their manufacturers beggars, and their agricultural proprietors weep over their mistaken advice
Mr. Bennett wondered, that no danger was apprehended from the too great increase of our cotton factories. The distress of the hand-loom weavers, who had been thrown out of employment, ought to have induced such a fear. There was great danger in the application of men's minds and capital to one object, more especially, as had been remarked, it was an object in which other countries were endeavouring to rival us. It was dangerous to have one manufacture carried to such an extent, and all others neglected. With respect to the vulgar clamour against corn-laws, in which he was sorry to find the hon. and learned Gentleman for Dublin join, he should remind the House, that any injury done to the agricultural interest would be most injurious to the home trade. Opening the ports to foreign corn would have the effect of reducing wages to the lowest standard, and would be of no advantage to the operative classes. If the factory children were their own masters, or if the parents were in less distress, then labour ought to be free for legislative interference; but that was not the case. He had himself witnessed much misery and decrepitude from putting children to labour at a tender age, and he, as an Englishman, would never yield up the health or strength of the English population, in consideration of any amount of wealth which might be acquired by the sacrifice. He had himself a deep personal interest in the agricultural prosperity of the country, yet he would at once abandon the corn-laws, if he thought, in doing so, he could benefit the labouring classes; but he would not sacrifice the health of those classes for any amount of wealth, however large.
Sir R. Inglis said, the hon. and learned Member for Dublin had taunted the Opposition side of the House with talking goodnatured nonsense; if the hon. and learned Member had contented himself with uttering good-natured nonsense, he should not have troubled the House with any observations in reply; but why had the hon. and learned Gentleman converted a general subject of Christian humanity into an inopportune discussion on the corn-laws? For himself, and the friends with whom he was surrounded, he hoped they would never be accused of
indifference to the aanU and sufferings ' many years this question had interested of their fellow-creatures. Sure, he was, .every min who felt for the hardships and they woi.ld never be tempted by the sneers ! endurance of that pari of our population
hoo. and learned Gentleman to abandon what they considered to be their duty. The hoo. and learned Gentleman, who seemed to be the leading counsel for the mill-owners on this occasion, admitted, that the law was inoperative, and that it must be practically ineffective. Why, then, had Government so long neglected this matter? If the law were inoperative, what had the Government done to make it more operative? He thought, that his noble Friend (Lord Ashley) was to be congratulated on account of the proud position in which he had placed himself at the head of a large body of his countrymen, not to benefit himself, or advance his own interests. [Sir J. C. .Hobhouse, Hear, hear.] Did the right hon. Member for Nottingham mean to insinuate by that cheer, that his noble Friend had any intention to promote his own views in bringing forward this question at present? His noble Friend had acted as he had done, not from any view of promoting his own interests, but from a wish to promote the welfare of his fellow-countrymen — not from a mere desire to advance their rights as Englishmen, but from a desire to advance the rights of our common humanity. Nay, more, he would say, that lie considered the sneers of those who opposed his noble Friend's views a higher compliment to his noble Friend's character than the most laboured eulogy that could be passed upon it.
Lord John Russell said, that however he might be obliged to meet this motion, which imputed blame to the House of (-'ominous, not only Cor its conduct during the last three years, but also most particularly for its vote on the 22d of June lust, although he might consider it almost as a motion without precedent, seeing that it assumed the appearance of a motion of resentment for their noii-attcndance on a former occasion, when the noble Lord wished to make a speech upon it, still he ■would not deviate so far from the practice of Parliament as to attribute to the noble Lord any other motive for bringing it forward than an overstrained zeal for the interests of humanity. He must, however, observe, that upon this occasion, this question had assumed an appearance, which it had not assumed on any previous occasion at which it had beeu mooted. For I
which was engaged in manufactures; and, accordingly, different persons—some taking A view on one side, and some on another— had brought forward bills to alleviate those hardships, and to diminish that endurance. Among oti'er persons, his right hon. Friend, the Member for Nottingham, had brought forward a bill upou this subject, founded upon his own individual views. That bill was not considered by those who then acted politically in concert with his right hon. Friend, as a measure which they could use as a party weapon against the Government of the day. They did not think it a question which might be converted into a great political engine from which they might themselves derive great party advantages. This year, however, for the first time, and especially since the day on which the noble Lord brought forward his first motion, it had become clear, even to the most obscure vision, that there was an intention among the hon. Gentlemen opposite, to derive, if they could, a party advantage from the noble Lord's motion. If he had had any doubts, and he confessed, that he had had doubts, whether the Factory Bill should be one of the bills, which, on a former evening, he proposed to renounce for the present, and to bring forward again in the next Session of Parliament, the discussion of that night would have been sufficient to remove them; for it had convinced him, that it would not have been expedient to bring forward such a measuic at the close of June, and to have renounced other bills for it: for, although it was but an explanatory bill, intended to make clear enactments which were already to be found in the statute book, it would have been impossible to have discussed it without bringing into collision opinions diametrically contrary to each other. The House had heard certain opinions from the hon. Member for Salford—opinions which he had also heard from several deputations which had waited upon him—that the hours of labour ought to be fixed; that the poor should be protected, not only from their employers, but also from themselves; that one man should not be allowed to employ another for such a length of time as the cupidity of the one might ask, and the poverty of the other might induce him to consent to;
but that both should be bound to a certain period of time, which ought on no account to be exceeded. That was the view of one party to this question, whilst, on the other side, the view was, that ail legislation of this kind must of necessity fail, and that it was useless, and worse than useless, to contemplate any control of this kind over the market of" labour. Now, with such conflicting opinions, would not the Committee on the different clauses of this bill have taken up nearly the whole remainder of the present Session? Let the House, too, recollect how many extraneous subjects had been introduced already into this debate. His hon. Friends, the Member for Wiltshire and the Member for the University of Oxford, had prayed, that no discussion upon the corn laws might be introduced into this debate. Now, was it not inevitable, that if the factory question were discussed night after night, the question of the corn laws, as affecting the manufacturing population, must be discussed along with it? Suppose that it were urged on the one side, that there ought to be a ten hours' bill, as it was called, for the protection of infant labour. His hon. Friend, the Member for Salford, knew well—no man better—that, in the present condition of the manufacturing world, we could not, with restricted hours of labour, compete with other nations, whose sovereigns could say to our artisans, "Come here to us; you shall have unrestricted hours of labour, and, along with them, you shall have cheap bread." If hon. Gentlemen should find themselves by the lures they were holding out to the people masters of a ten hours' bill, they would also find themselves in a condition which would drive all our manufacturers abroad; and it would not then be a question as to working, as it was called, the blood and sinews of these children—no, they would be in a state which would render them unable to obtain that bread on which their very existence depended. With restricted hours of labour there would come diminished wages, and, under such circumstances, how could you keep the corn laws out of the consideration of the people, and how could you say to them, that they should not have bread as cheap here as they could purchase it elsewhere? But it was said, that there was a great number of offences against the present act. For his own part, he did not see how that could justly be
attributed as a fault to the act itself. He was convinced, that until they had extinguished poaching by their game laws, smuggling by their revenue laws, and bribery by their election laws, they would never by any factory law prevent overworking where cupidity on the one hand, and a desire to gain on the other, urged men to labour. He did not wish, on the present occasion, to discuss the policy of the Factory Act, or to enter into any refutation of the various extraordinary statements which the noble Lord had introduced into his opening speech. One remark, however, he could not refrain from making, and that was, that the noble Lord had been most careful in quoting every passage from the report which was calculated to show the deficiencies of the existing act, and that he had been equally careful in suppressing every passage of it which had the slightest tendency to show the advantages of it. The noble Lord had been ready to agree, that, generally speaking, the inspectors had exhibited great zeal in the discharge of their duties; and that it was not from a want of .will, but from a want of power, that they had not carried the law more fully into effect. The noble Lord, however, in adverting to the report of Mr. Horner, had said, that it convinced him, that a gross violation of the law had taken place, and had referred, in proof of it, to the instructions which that gentleman had sent to the surgeons in his district. By the present law of England you had no positive means of ascertaining the exact age of a child about nine or thirteen years of age. The act, therefore, required that with respect to children of nine years of age, a certificate should be produced, shewing, that they had th§ strength of children of nine years old, and that another certificate should be produced when they were thirteen, shewing, that they had the strength of children of that age, not specifying, however, what the certificates should be. Now, Mr. Horner knew well, that there were many violations of this law. He knew, that many children were stated to be thirteen years of age who were not so. Therefore, from his great anxiety to | carry the law into effect, he told the surgeons in his district, that it would not be sufficient for them to have the age of the children told to them by the children themselves, but that they themselves must inquire into the matter, and take care before they granted their certificates, that the children had the strength and appenrance of thirteen years of age. But, that was a point which the noble Lord had altogether omitted to state, for it would not have suited his purpose. The noble Lord stopped in the very middle of a sentence. [The noble Lord read that part of Mr. Homer's instructions quoted by Lord Ashley, in which the surgeons were told, that they were not to ask a question of the child as to the child's age.] Why had the noble Lord stopped there? Why had he not read the next sentence, which would have given the reason for that instruction? That reason was couched in, these words—" for the probability is, that a true answer to your question will not be given by the child." Mr. Horner knew, that the people to whom ho addressed himself were in the habit of taking the statements of the children as to their age, and he knew, also, that those statements were in most cases false, and, therefore he told the surgeons, not to take the statements of the children themselves, but to make inquiry elsewhere as to their ages. Mr. Horner, however, had been guilty of an error of considerable extent when he stated to the surgeons, that the strength of the child was the object to which their attention should be called, and not the determination of its age, and that, therefore, they would be justified in inserting twelve in the certificate in case they found a child more than twelve years of age, but of inferior strength,and in inserting thirteen in the certificate in case they found a child of not more than twelve years of age with such an unusual degree of developement as to have the appearance of thirteen years of age. If the House would only lake all this into consideration, they could come to no other result but this—that Mr. Horner was anxious that no child should be employed as a child of thirteen yearsof age unless he had the strength and appearance of it. He must, however, confess that in this respect Mr. Horner had gone further than tlie opinion of the law officers of the Crown, which had been laid before him, warranted; and that he had fallen into an error in supposing that the mill-owners might employ as a child of thirteen, a child who hod not reached that age, but who had the strength of a child of that age. A representation had been made to h>m (Lotd J. Russell) upon that subject, a'»d hiS attention had been called to the following ^ructions, which had been
issued by Mr. Horner—" A certificate may be an authentic extract from the parish register, stating' the baptism of the child, or it may be a medical certificate, like that given in the case where the child is nine years old." It was undoubtedly true that a memorial had been sent to him, statins; that under that instruction children under thirteen years of age had been employed as if they had been thirteen years old. Now, certainly, that had never been his intention, nor the intention of the act. He had therefore applied again to the lawofficers of the Crown, and they were dc cidedly of opinion that Mr. Horner had acted erroneously in issuing that instruction. It was evident from all this that Mr. Horner had intended to carry the act into effect honestly and faithfully, and that he had unintentionally fallen into an error as to the construction of the act and of the law officers of the Crown. Whether the noble Lord opposite would admit such to be the fact or not, he could not tell; but this he would say, that the view which the noble Lord had taken of Mr. Horner's conduct was anything but fair or candidIt was a specimen of the spirit which animated the noble Lord throughout all this discussion. The noble Lord had culled out of the Report particular statements, and particular sentences, which suited his own views, and had called upon the House to note in how many different respects there were violations of the (aw; but he had, at the same time, before him repeated statements of the vigilance which the inspectors exercised over the mills under their superintendance, repeated statements of the visits which they made to them, repeated statements of the increased and increasing enforcement of the law, and repeated statements of the improved feeling amongthe millowners themselves, asevinced by their disposition to conform to the lawAnd yet, of all these statements, the noble Lord appeared to take no heed whatsoever. He had been reminded by his right hon. Friend, the President of tt>c Board of Trade, that the noble Lord had himself borne testimony to the vigilance of the inspectors, and had called the intention of the House to the fact, that they wished the law to be made at once more clear and more stringent. He agreed with them that the law ought to be made more clear and stringent, but whenewr the House came to the discussion of that subject, they might depend upon it, that