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Third Reading

Volume 203: debated on Friday 29 July 1870

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Order for Third Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."—( Mr. Secretary Bruce.)

said, he would move the re-committal of the Bill, in order to insert a new clause (Statistics of occupation and organization of labour). Had there been a full debate upon the measure, he felt sure the House would never have given its sanction to a Bill involving an expenditure of £180,000 for results of the most incomplete and unsatisfactory character. Gentlemen of the highest authority had informed him that there was scarcely a detail of the information obtained under the last Bill to be absolutely relied upon, and this was a measure almost identical in character. All the most intelligent officers connected with the Registrar General's Department were in favour of a much more extended scheme of inquiry, and if £180,000 were to be spent for Returns which few people cared for, why not spend a few thousands extra and obtain something really valuable, for the Home Secretary's only objection was on the score of expense? He wished the right hon. Gentleman would authorize him to contract with the Statistical Society for the obtaining of the information which was desired as to the position of the various classes of the people, their employment, the wages which they received, and other matters throwing light upon the moral and physical condition of the country; and he would undertake to say that they would do it for one-tenth of what it would cost the Home Secretary. In the Census Bill of 1851 some words were introduced of this nature—

"And shall also take account of all such other particulars as by the terms of the instructions which may be issued under this Act they shall be directed to inquire into."
If the right hon. Gentleman would consent to introduce some words of this kind they might be found very useful next year, when the time actually came, if there were a demand for more extensive information. He moved that the Bill be re-committed, in order to insert a new clause.

Amendment proposed, to leave out from the word "be" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "re-committed, in order to insert a new Clause,"—( Mr. Bass,)—instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

said, the inquiries which the hon. Gentleman (Mr. M. T. Bass) was anxious to institute were of a kind totally different from those usually made under the Census. The practice had always been for the 30,000 enumerators to distribute Census papers on a particular Saturday and to call for them again on the Monday following. The papers contained very clear instructions, and it was only in the case of persons who could not read that it was necessary for the enumerators themselves to spend any time in filling up the Returns. But what his hon. Friend required would necessitate the employment of a totally different class of officers; it could not be effected in one day; and the inquiries themselves might be conducted just as naturally in the year 1872 or 1873 as at any other time. Then, again, his hon. Friend wished to have a Return of the rate of wages paid to the persons enumerated in the Census; he proposed to obtain—

"An account of the establishments, factories' works, shops, or other properties or promises occupied for, and in connection with, each branch of industry, commerce, or manufacture, and of every farm or holding in occupation for agricultural purposes, the number of persons employed in them, whether resident or non-resident therein, with their sex and ages, distinguishing the employers from the employed, the rates of wages paid in the week preceding such enumeration to every class of labourers or artizans so employed, the agents used in the several processes of production by animals, tools, machines, or vessels, and such other particulars as, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, may exhibit the occupation of the people, and the organization of labour in England."
He (Mr. Bruce) believed it would be quite impossible to procure such information from the employers of labour, and especially to obtain accurate Returns of the wages paid. His hon. Friend, who was brewer, cooper, Member of Parliament, landed proprietor, and Heaven knew what beside, complained that the last Census was inaccurate because he was only described as a brewer; but this was scarcely fair criticism. So far from admitting that the last Census was an useless one, he contended—and he had the highest authority in support of his contention—that, though in some respects it might have been better, it was, on the whole, productive of much good.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read the third time, and passed.