Order for Committee read.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—( Mr. Assheton Cross.)
, in moving, as an Amendment, the following Resolution:—
said, with the permission of the House, he would briefly state his reasons for asking hon. Members to affirm that it was expedient that the factories named in the Acts of 1864 and 1867 should be included in the Bill. When the measure of the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) was under discussion, he (Mr. Holms) ventured to suggest that it should be withdrawn, and that the whole question of factory legislation should be referred to a Select Committee, with a view to further legislation, and also with a view to simplify and consolidate those Acts which had been characterized by the Home Secretary as in an inextricable condition. That Bill passed from the hands of the hon. Member for Sheffield and became the property of the Government, and subsequently the Prime Minister included it among the seven great measures of the Session. He therefore anticipated that the Home Secretary, when he made his statement on the second reading, would have clearly indicated not merely what he proposed to do with regard to textile manufactures—because they only formed a part of a general system—but that he would have also indicated what he proposed to do with factory legislation in general. Up to the present time, however, no distinct declaration had been made of what were the Government's intentions. What, therefore, was their position? They were called upon to legislate for two distinct classes of operatives—on the one hand adult women, and on the other children and young persons. In the able debate on the second reading of this Bill, the question of how far it would be just or expedient to legislate for further interference with the liberty of adult women to sell their labour was fully discussed, and the Home Secretary founded his proposed legislation on two arguments; the first being that women, to a certain extent, were not free agents. When young and unmarried they were under the control of their parents, and when married they were under the control of their husbands. From his (Mr. Holms') experience, he ventured to say that women employed in factories were as independent and as well able to look after their own interests as any class of working people. He would ask if, in interfering with the labour of adult women, they might not be interfering with that freedom of action which was the boast of this country? The other was on sanitary grounds, but he contended that the evidence adduced was most inconclusive. It was, however, upon those two grounds, the one dangerous, the other unsatisfactory, that the right hon. Baronet based his legislation. The hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) had urged, and he (Mr. Holms) quite agreed with him, that the House should not legislate so as to interfere with the labour of adult women, except so far as was required from a sanitary point of view; but he (Mr. Holms) contended that children and young persons ought especially to be protected by the Legislature, and in protecting children and young persons, women would necessarily be affected by such legislation, for there were vast industries in this country which were carried on by children, young persons, and women, and Parliament, in legislating for one class, would practically be legislating for the other class also. He believed that if the measure had been called "Factories Health of Children and Young Persons Bill," it would have produced the same result as the proposed Bill; but then it would have been based on a right principle; and women, as well as men employed in factories—and who were not named in the Bill—would by its operation have had their hours of labour shortened. While in the debate to which he referred there was a difference of opinion as to the propriety of legislating for women, there was on the other hand a unanimous demand for restricting the hours of labour for children and young persons. Another question of very great importance was, whether the Bill should be partial or comprehensive in its scope. For many years factory legislation in this country was of an experimental, and therefore of a piecemeal character; but now, after considerable experience Government Inspectors and sub-Inspectors were unanimously of opinion, repeatedly expressed in their Reports that the time had come for the consolidation of all existing Acts. Mr. Baker and Mr. Redgrave, in a joint Report, said—"That it is expedient to include within the application of the Bill the manufactures and employments to which 'The Factory Acts Extension Act, 1864,' applies, viz., the manufacture of earthenware, except bricks and tiles not being ornamental tiles; the manufacture of lucifer matches; the manufacture of percussion caps; the manufacture of cartridges; the employment of paper staining; the employment of fustian cutting. As also the following Factories as defined by 'The Factories Acts Extension Act, 1867,' viz.:—Any blast furnace; any copper mill; any iron mill; iron foundries, copper foundries, brass foundries, and other premises or places in which the process of founding or casting any metal is carried on; any premises in which steam, water, or other mechanical power is used for moving machinery employed—(a.) In the manufacture of machinery; (b.) in the manufacture of any article of metal not being machinery; (c.) in the manufacture of india-rubber or gutta-percha, or articles made wholly or partly of india-rubber or gutta-percha; any premises in which any of the following manufactures or processes are carried on, viz.:—(a.) Paper manufacture; (b.) glass manufacture; (c.) tobacco manufacture; (d.) letterpress printing; (e.) bookbinding."
Instead, however, of dealing with this question in the spirit suggested by the experience of those two gentlemen, it was proposed to legislate for one class of factories alone, and that class perhaps of all others the best regulated. Anyone who looked into the Report of the Children's Employment Commission would agree with him that textile factories were not only not the worst, but perhaps the best of all factories as regarded health. In that Report they were told that persons employed in potteries were a stunted and degenerating race, and that scourers of earthenware suffered very much from a disease which shortened their lives. In the manufacture of lucifer matches there was a process which produced jaw disease, with all its frightful effects; while in such works as iron foundries, blast furnaces, and glass works, young persons were called upon to work at a temperature much higher, and at work more severe, than those employed in textile factories. Yet it was proposed by the Bill to shorten the hours of persons working in textile factories from 60 to 56½ per week, while the young persons employed in the other occupations to which he had referred might, under certain modifications, work from 63 to 66 hours per week. Instead, therefore, of abolishing these differences in the various trades which had been complained of by the Inspectors, they proposed to increase them, and instead of mitigating they would intensify those anomalies which had given so much dissatisfaction. Another and a stronger reason why this measure should be comprehensive in its character was, the relative proportion of adult women, children, and young persons engaged in the factories for which they proposed to legislate and those they proposed to exclude. There were 667,000 persons engaged in textile factories, of whom 160,000 were children or male young persons, while out of 210,000 persons employed in the factories not included in the Bill, 140,000 were children and young persons. The proportion of children employed in the trades which they did not propose to legislate for was, therefore, vastly greater than of those engaged in the textile factories with which the Bill alone dealt. He need scarcely point out the evils which would result from a partial measure. In large cities such as Manchester and Leeds, where there were a variety of trades, a boy eight years of age could not, after the passing of the Bill, enter a textile factory and work 56½ hours; but he might be sent to a pottery or iron foundry to work for 63 or even 66 hours. Anything which affected the domestic economy of a family was deeply interesting to that family, and if this Bill became law, they would have this curious anomaly, that a boy or a girl from eight to ten years of age working in a factory not included in the Bill would only have half-an-hour for breakfast, while older children working in textile factories would have an hour. Working people would not understand such legislation, and it would not tend to increase their respect for the law. He found from the newspapers that last week there had been a meeting in Glasgow representing upwards of 5,000 women and children to protest against the exclusion of certain works and factories from the operation of the Bill. He should be glad if the whole question could be referred to a Select Committee, in order that workshops as well as factories might be legislated for; but as workshops were, for the most part, more of a domestic or semi-domestic character than factories, and as the number of children employed in workshops was, as a rule, very much less in proportion to adults than in factories, it was not such an urgent matter that they should legislate for them as for the trades he had mentioned, and which were not included in the Bill. If they were prepared to legislate for textile factories, why not for the factories and trades under the Acts of 1864 and 1867? Notwithstanding the gloomy predictions of the hon. Member for Hackney, he (Mr. Holms) did not think that they had much to fear from foreign competition, because on the Continent the hours of labour had diminished and wages had increased of late years even in a greater proportion than in this country. It was clear that in some trades at least, the masters would not be against the proposition which he now made. Ten years ago the employers in Staffordshire were so deeply impressed with the necessity of legislation for children, that no less than 1,745 of their number signed a Petition to this House, praying that it might be enacted that children should not be employed in potteries under 10 years of age, and yet they did not propose to embrace those children in the Bill under consideration. Was it in the interest of education that those factories were excluded from the operation of the Bill? The other night the Vice President of the Council on Education said—"We have at various times urged the abolition of the different hours of work in the several trades under Government restrictions, such anomalies being the cause of very great dissatisfaction."
Every argument that could be urged in favour of restricting the hours of labour in textile factories, might be urged with even greater force in reference to those factories named in his Amendment. By legislating for one class of factories only, the result to children—the class of all others which Parliament ought to protect—would be injurious. Legislation of this kind to be satisfactory and fair alike to employer and employed, should, in his opinion, and he trusted in the opinion of this House, be comprehensive in its scope and simultaneous in its application to all factories under Government supervision."It was a matter of grave consideration whether, by special legislation, Parliament could not simplify our educational position so as to adopt one uniform age, below which no child should be employed."
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "it is expedient to include within the application of the Bill the manufactures and employments to which the Factory Acts Extension Act of 1864, and of 1867, apply,"—(Mr. William Holms,)
said, he was very glad to hear that the hon. Member, who was so well qualified to form an opinion upon the subject, was not frightened at the bugbear of foreign competition. With regard to a good many of the hon. Member's statements, he should have thought from them that the hon. Member was practically moving the rejection of the Bill now before the House. Most of his arguments might very fairly have been adduced in support of the speech made by the hon. Member (Mr. Fawcett) some little time ago. If hon. Members looked at the formidable array of manufactures which the hon. Gentleman had placed upon the Paper, and all of which he wished to include under the Act, they would see at once that it would be impossible, without due notice, to adopt his suggestion. It would be extremely unfair both to the employer and the employed in those trades, if they were to be included within the Bill without any previous notice. They had had no opportunity of knowing how the provisions of the Bill would apply in their particular trades, and whether great hardship would not be inflicted upon them. When the Bill was first introduced, he himself thought that those trades more intimately connected with textile manufactories, such as bleaching and dyeing works, might be brought within its scope; but it had been clearly proved to him that those trades had a case which ought, at all events, to be heard before they applied the provisions of that measure to them. Therefore, on the second reading he had announced that, as far as bleaching and dyeing and other works of that kind were concerned, although he was much in favour of including them in the Bill, they would for a time, at least, be practically excepted from its operation. But, if that was right in regard to those particular trades, it was still more so in regard to the large number of other trades embraced in the hon. Member's Resolution. Since the second reading of the Bill, he had been in communication with the persons engaged in those trades, and also with the hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. W. Holms) himself, and it was his earnest wish and desire that all the Factory Acts should be consolidated—that they should all be placed on some basis which they could all understand, and an Act passed which would last many years for the regulation of those trades. But, before such a measure of consolidation could be brought forward, it would be necessary that an inquiry should be made by a fair and impartially constituted tribunal into the nature of the various trades, because without that no satisfactory conclusion could be arrived at. With regard to the matter that was more particularly before them, though he admitted that, to a certain extent, there was an anomaly in applying the measure to one kind of industry only, yet for many years in the textile fabrics both the employer and employed had known that matters could not long rest in the position in which they were at this moment. He believed that both parties were now prepared to accept the provisions of the Bill as to the hours of labour and the ages at which children should work, and that the measure would prevent any ill-feeling which might arise on the one side or the other. Therefore, the Government were prepared to legislate with respect to textile manufactures now, not only because they could arrive at a good result, but because they could satisfy all the parties who were concerned. The subject had been so thoroughly discussed on the second reading, and the majority which had declared itself to be in favour of legislation was so great, that he hoped the present opportunity of settling a very important question, on a footing satisfactory both to the employers and the employés, would not be lost. His belief was that the Bill, if passed into law, would, in the course of time, so tend to improve the education of the children engaged in our textile manufactories, and that the result of its actions would be that those interested in those manufactures would reap a large harvest. He would merely, in conclusion, repeat the testimony which he had already borne to the good feeling and the desire to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion, which had been exhibited during the negotiations which he had had on the subject by both parties concerned. As to the employers of labour, they had come forward in the most honourable, fair—he might say, noble spirit—and while, at the outset, stating their objections to the proposed legislation in the strongest possible way, had at last given up the prejudices which they naturally entertained against it, in order to set the question at rest for many long years to come, by placing the relations between them and those engaged under them on a sound footing. He trusted they would be allowed to go into Committee.
Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," put, and agreed to.
, who had an Amendment on the Paper to refer the Bill to a Select Committee, was about to address the House, when—
pointed out that the hon. Member could not put his Amendment, although he was entitled to speak on the Motion that he (Mr. Speaker) leave the Chair.
said, that perhaps he might be allowed to explain the reasons why he had placed his Amendment on the Paper. In his opinion, if this Bill were referred to a Select Committee, plenty of time would be given to the different trades to consider their position in respect to it, and he maintained that the Report of the Commissioners did not give them facts sufficient to justify the House in legislating on the subject. The Bill was not what the right hon. Gentleman pretended it to be, because there was not a single clause in the measure proposing to legislate on any sanitary subject. No loss would occur to anybody by delaying this measure for a year. On the contrary, if they kept the Bill over, and referred it with the whole question to a Select Committee, they would have a comprehensive measure, instead of patchwork legislation. He assured the House, from his own knowledge of the matter, that the passing of this Bill would inflict a very severe blow upon the flax manufacture, which was the principal industry in Ireland. Although the workpeople in Ireland did not complain of the present hours, yet by this Bill they were told that they should not labour. He was extremely sorry that the Rules of the House prevented its dividing on the Question, because he felt sure that many hon. Members on both sides would have supported his Motion, and he believed the great majority of the Irish Members were in favour of excluding Ireland from the operation of the measure.
said, he thought it was neither unwise nor unreasonable to ask that legislation should be stayed, and this matter allowed to go before a Select Committee. If the Bill passed in its present shape, it would be most disastrous to the manufacturing industry of the North of Ireland, but if it were delayed most important information might be elicited. If the hours were diminished, it would be impossible for the Irish manufacturers to compete with foreigners. There was no analogy between Ireland and England with respect to manufactures. There was only one branch of manufacture in Ireland, while England had many. The Irish once had a woollen trade, but that was swept away by a ruthless Act of Parliament, and was never restored. He asked the House to pause before they destined another trade in that country by another Act of Parliament. The women of Ireland were opposed to this change in the law, believing that it would ruin their occupation. He hoped that Ireland would not be sacrificed to the political necessities of England.
also thought a pause should be made before the principle of this Bill was applied without inquiry to Ireland. This matter stood in a totally different position in the two countries. In England the wages of the operatives employed in a factory varied from 18s. to 20s., while in Ireland they were not more than from 8s. to 12s. The Commissioners, in their Report, based their recommendation upon a circumstance which had not been sufficiently considered by the House. To reduce wages of 18s. or 20s. a week 10 per cent would not be attended with any disadvantage to the operatives comparable with the advantage they would obtain by increased relaxation; but it was a very different thing if they took off 10 per cent from the wages of people who only earned 8s. or 12s. a week. When English and Scotch Members found that 72 of the Irish Representatives had unanimously and temperately requested the Home Secretary to pause before extending this legislation to Ireland, he thought that, at any rate, some inquiry should be made. He knew a philanthropic gentleman in Ireland who employed 4,000 or 5,000 persons, and who declared that the Bill would have the effect of making him close his factory.
said, he had heard with sorrow and with surprise that 72 Irish Members were opposed to the application of the principle of short time to the textile manufactures of Ireland. Special inquiry had been made in Ireland, and the result had been reported to that House. Owing to the failure of the cotton crop in America, the Irish linen trade had received great expansion, and the manufacturers were now glutting all the markets of the world. The manufacturers were never so prosperous. They had nothing to fear from foreign competition. In 1872 more than 2,000,000 cwt. of flax had been imported. The total value of linen imported in that year was £267,000 from all countries, while we exported to the different countries in Europe £2,131,000 worth. It would greatly tend to the prosperity of the trade to give the children time for education, and make their occupation healthy and agreeable.
said, the hon. Member (Mr. Mundella) was under a mistake in supposing that Irish Members objected to the whole Bill. They admitted entirely the principle of factory legislation; but they said that the replies to the inquiries which had been submitted both to the Medical Commissioners and the Factory Inspectors did not point to the particular clauses to which they objected. On the contrary, they pointed distinctly to an improvement in the sanitary condition, and an increase in the standard of age of the children and young persons, and not to a reduction of the number of hours they were employed. The population in the North of Ireland who came under the Factory Bill amounted to about 60,000, and that population was a source of strength to the Empire, which would be weakened if the clause against which he spoke were carried into effect. Ireland had hitherto had an advantage in the cheapness of labour, which compensated for the dearness of coal, but of this advantage the Bill before the House would deprive her. He trusted that the Government would give the Irish manufacturers an opportunity of proving their allegations, and stating their case before a Select Committee, before the Bill was further proceeded with.
said, if the Government gave way with regard to Ireland, the same thing would have to be done with regard to Scotland, and at last the Bill would apply to England only. The experience of the last 20 or 30 years had proved that the restrictions imposed on factories had been beneficial to the workpeople as well as to the trade, which had never been more prosperous than during that period. At present the flax trade in the North of Ireland was, no doubt, depressed; but in legislating on a subject of this kind, were they to make an exception wherever a trade was depressed from exceptional causes? The hon. Member who had just spoken had referred to the opinion of a majority of doctors that more than 10 hours' work a day was not injurious to health; but the evidence of doctors who were not local men was that more than 10 hours' work a day was positively injurious.
said, he regretted that it would be quite impossible for him to accede to the proposal to refer the Bill to a Select Committee. Judging by the spirit in which it had been brought forward he certainly did not think so badly of Ireland as to say that it ought to have exceptional legislation. He had a very high opinion both of Ireland and of the Irish people; their energy, their industry, and their power of competing with the English on the same ground. He did not like to see Irish Member after Irish Member getting up to state that the trade in Ireland could not compete with that in England and Scotland. The fact really was that the flax trade in Ireland had increased in much larger proportion than it had in either England or Scotland. In 1850, the number of flax-spinning spindles in England was 265,000; in 1861, the number was 344,000; and in 1871 it was 269,000. In Scotland, in 1850, the number was 303,000; in 1861, it was 269,000; and in 1871 it was 316,000. Now, in Ireland, that country which, forsooth, would be practically ruined by the proposed small deduction from the labour of women, the number of flax spindles in 1850 was 396,000; in 1861 the number was 592,000; and in 1871 it rose, far above England or Scotland, to the very large number of 896,000. Although, therefore, the flax trade of Ireland might be temporarily depressed, it must be regarded as, on the whole, increasing and prosperous, and he believed that it was not likely to suffer from being treated in the same manner as the trade of England and Scotland.
said, that if the Irish linen trade had gained, the woollen trade had been ruined. If this Bill passed the linen trade would share the fate of the woollen trade. It might not be ruined, but it would be grievously injured.
feared that the Bill would injuriously affect the great staple trade of Ireland. Ireland was in a delicate state, and ought not to be treated so rigorously as England and Scotland.
said, the circumstances of England were different from those of Ireland. Whilst the Bill might be beneficial to the former, it might prove injurious to the latter, which had not several other branches of trade to fall back upon as England had in the event of any failure in one branch. He trusted that the Government would give their consideration to the subject, and that before the Bill should become law they would see fit that it should not apply to Ireland.
Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.
Bill considered in Committee.
(In the Committee.)
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Period for employment of children, young persons, and women.)
moved, in line 1, to leave out, the words "on women," and said, that after the omission of women from the operation of that and subsequent clauses the Bill would still apply-to children and young persons, whilst those educational provisions of the measure which it was thought desirable to pass would remain wholly untouched. There was something more than abstract reasons to be urged in favour of this Amendment. There were practical considerations worthy of the most serious attention of the Committee, and he felt that he was justified in again raising the question, because many hon. Members who agreed with him might have been deterred from voting with him on the second reading of the Bill for fear of imperilling the whole of the measure. If the Committee should accept the Amendment they would sanction a principle which would be fruitful of good in regard to other measures—the principle that an enfranchised people should be allowed to decide for themselves during what hours they should work. It was as much beyond the province of Parliament to say what the adult's hours of labour should be as it was to say what wages he should receive; and if adults were to be treated as children in one case, the logical consequence was that they might claim to be so treated in the other case. The arrangement in this Bill had been called by the Home Secretary a compromise between the manufacturers and the workmen; but he denied that it was the voluntary act of the manufacturers, who had been frightened into it by being told that if they did not accept it there might come worse behind—a still further reduction of hours. The working people had now a predominance of political power in their hands. He did not shrink from the consequences of that; but he felt that with a democratic suffrage it was important to lay down clearly and distinctly the limits and lines of Parliamentary interference. If these industrial questions were to be treated as political questions he trembled for the consequence. If industrial questions were settled as they ought to be by a fair stand-up contest between capital and labour, capital, though not numerically so strong as labour, had great resources, and could defend itself; but once let these trade questions, now we had an enfranchised people, be settled at the polling-booth, and the result would be very different. The hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) had stated that this Bill was a compromise; but they had not before them a single tittle of evidence of that. When the hon. Member himself said that lately in the presence of Mr. Middleton, who represented an association for shortening the hours, Mr. Middleton treated the notion with contempt, and declared that working men would not be satisfied without a reduction of the hours to 54. Only a fortnight ago a great workman's organization in Yorkshire, at which 82 delegates were present, unanimously passed a resolution that they accepted this Bill, not as a settlement, but only as an instalment. In the face of that fact was it not trifling with the House to ask it to believe that this was to be regarded as a settlement of the question? A proposal to limit the hours of labour of women involved one of two things—it was either a proposal to limit the hours of men and women alike, or else to place the labour of women in an unfair position. If the first, it was extremely hazardous; if the second, he was not prepared, after what had happened during the last fortnight, to allow men to be the arbiters of the number of hours that women should work. This was the cause of the present great strike in Leicester, where the men refused to allow women to be introduced into the factories. The delegates at a recent meeting of the Agricultural Labourers' Union had refused to admit women as members because they would not recognize the labour of women in agriculture. No doubt the women were better at home with their families; but, as he had said on a previous occasion, there was something worse than work, and that was want. How were these women to live if the men would not recognize their right to work? He was told that in opposing this Bill he was talking anachronisms—that the Legislature had singled out women 30 years ago, and that he could not throw back time. But the working man was not then enfranchised, and popular education stood in a wholly different position. He entreated the Committee again to remember that there was not one fact to warrant the belief that this Bill could be regarded as a settlement of the question. He would be the last man to do anything antagonistic to the interests of the working classes; but he thought he was doing them a not unimportant service when, neither flattering nor encouraging their prejudices, he resisted without fear or hesitation a measure which he regarded as injurious to the prosperity and the interests of the country.
Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 17, to leave out the words "or woman."—( Mr. Fawcett.)
Question proposed, "That the words 'or woman' stand part of the Clause."
said, that it would be unnecessary for him to reply at any length to his hon. Friend who had just-sat down, because he had only repeated what he said on the second reading, and what the House had listened to on many previous occasions. His hon. Friend had asked—Why not omit the word "women" from the Bill? He would again reply that if the hon. Member had any practical acquaintance with the subject he would not ask such a question. The result would be to control the large employer in all his operations, while the small employer, who had perhaps only one weaving shed, would engage married women and keep them at work at all hours of the night. For himself, he would be no party to excluding women from the benefit of that legislation which his hon. Friend had promoted. The Factory Inspectors for the City of London stated in their last Report that no such blessing had been conferred upon women as the extension of these Acts to the trades in the City. But it was said they had enfranchised this class. What class had they enfranchised? His hon. Friend spoke on behalf of a very small number of ladies, who were well-meaning, but who had not accurate knowledge upon the subject. They had issued a pamphlet which was circulated among Members that morning, and what did they say about the enfranchisement of women? They said—
He (Mr. Mundella) would not go through the whole summary, but they concluded—and he would not add one word of comment—"We venture to point to the inconsistency and cruelty of English law with regard to married women being mothers. First, the law makes a married woman the personal slave of her husband, who has the legal right to compel her to hear children to him against her will."
the penalty being to keep women out of the mill for six weeks after their delivery—"Your Committee believe that the direct effect of this Bill will be to take away the penalty of marriage"—
What did his hon. Friend mean when he spoke of the enfranchised classes and the power of women to decide this question for themselves as free agents when the very parties on whose behalf he had spoken said that the law made a married woman the personal slave of her husband? They should take either one line or the other. Either women were free agents or they were the slaves of their husbands, and the House ought to protect them. He had not said he would not accept a compromise; what occurred was this—he had been asked by the manufacturers last year in the Lobby to persuade the workmen to accept a 56 hours' Bill; but the employers rejected it, when he said he would never make a compromise with them again, and he kept his word. But when the Government brought in this Bill he recommended the workmen to accept it as a compromise. The men went to their factories; they held delegate meetings, and resolved that they would only accept it as an instalment. His answer was he would have nothing to do with an instalment—it must either be a settlement or nothing. The men went back to their factories, held other delegate meetings, and rescinded their former resolution. This was before the second reading of the Bill. Meetings were held all over the country—some even in Belfast—when the working men unanimously approved and accepted the Bill of the Government. He therefore hoped his hon. Friend would not further obstruct the progress of the Bill in Committee. The hon. Member professed to be the advocate of the working classes; but he took every opportunity of giving them a slap in the face. His hon. Friend said he objected to interference with adult labour. Where was his hon. Friend when the hon. Baronet the Member for Maidstone (Sir John Lubbock) proposed to give five Bank holidays, where no women and children were concerned? Was that no interference with adult labour? And why did not the hon. Member propose to undo the Workshops Act, which had conferred so much good on the country?"and to teach women to prefer the greater freedom of the unmarried mother."
said, he would only make one remark. He was not acting on behalf of any party. He knew nothing whatever of the pamphlet which had been referred to, and did not know a line of it. He believed it referred to an entirely different subject—namely, the Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Salisbury (Dr. Lush) as to the working of women soon after their confinement. The argument with regard to the Bank holidays did not apply; it was necessary to pass that Act in consequence of certain commercial engagements.
The Committee divided:—Ayes 242; Noes 59; Majority 183.
Clause 4 (Hours of employment of children, young persons, and women in factory where period from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.)
moved the insertion, in page 2, line 1, after the word "factory," of the words "in Great Britain," with the view of excluding Ireland from the operation of the Bill.
Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 1, after the word "factory," to insert the words "in Great Britain."—( Mr. Mulholland.)
Question proposed, "That the words 'in Great Britain' be there inserted."
, as an English manufacturer, thought the only fair course to pursue was to place both countries on the same footing, so that all industries might have an equal chance.
said, it was all very well to talk about an equal chance, but Ireland had no wish to be made the subject of such legislation as was proposed. He hoped every Irish Member would feel it due to his country to vote with his own people, and not with those who found it profitable to come to England to find employment for their capital.
said, not a single reason had been given nor cause assigned why there should be any interference with the hours of work in Ireland. In the whole of the Report to which the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) had alluded, there was not a single reference as regarded Ireland to too prolonged hours of work. In England flax-spinning was so small an industry that it appeared a very insufficient reason to say that, because England was dealt with in the Bill, Ireland should be also included. And the flax trade in Scotland was very much confined to the coarser kinds. Under these circumstances, a very fair case had been made out for adhering in Ireland to the present hours.
, as an Irish Member, had voted against the Amendment of the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) a few days ago, and in the division which had just been taken he had also voted with the Government. If the Irish Members pressed this Amendment, he should feel it his duty to vote against them. It had been said that the working people in Ireland had not made any objections to the hours, but the reason was because they had not the same combinations among them as prevailed in this country. The same arguments which were used against applying this legislation to Ireland had been used by English manufacturers of the United Kingdom. Belfast, which was the principal manufacturing town in Ireland, was like any English manufacturing town, and the same evils were attendant upon the long hours of work by women in both cases.
said, that as representing the most important manufacturing town in Ireland (Belfast), and in the interests of the working classes, he would oppose the Amendment.
said, the Committee would have an opportunity, from what they had heard, of appreciating the unanimity of Irish opinion. The hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry) always spoke as if he and those who agreed with him, alone represented Irish opinion. But if there was any one who did represent Irish opinion on this subject, it was the hon. Member who had last spoken. That hon. Gentleman was the representative of the head and centre of the linen manufacture of Ireland, and if anybody was entitled to speak for the operatives of Belfast, it was that hon. Member, who in an especial manner represented them. It was idle, in the face of what the hon. Member for Belfast had said, for Irish Members opposite to claim that they represented Irish opinion on this subject. He protested against exceptional legislation in this matter for the benefit of Irish manufacturers, and against sacrificing the interests of the people generally to those of the great capitalists. He believed the Bill was as much needed in Ireland as in England.
said, that an hon. Member opposite (Mr. Mulholland), in arguing the merits of this Amendment, used this argument—that it could not possibly affect the manufacturers in Scotland, seeing that there were no manufacturers in Scotland of the same fine textures as those that were produced in Ireland. Now, he begged to say that the hon. Member had been misinformed in that respect, because there were several large works in Scotland in which fine linens, damask, and other kinds of fine linens were made, not nearly to the same extent as in Ireland, he admitted, but still there was a large and important trade in the same class of goods; and it would be most unjust, he thought, to make any distinction between the Three Kingdoms in this matter. He was willing to extend to his Irish friends every political and other privilege which they had not now, and which the people in Scotland and England enjoyed; but he thought it would ill become that House to establish a new principle in favour of Ireland which was not enjoyed in the other two Kingdoms, and which, moreover, was a very questionable privilege. It might benefit a few manufacturers in Ireland, but it certainly would not benefit the mass of the working people.
explained that what he had stated was that 72 Irish Members, representing both sides of the House, had made representations to the Home Secretary on this subject. They were unanimous in their representations, and it was only at the eleventh hour that two hon. Members from Ireland dissented. He submitted that the voice of two-thirds of the Irish Representatives ought to be heard in this discussion. He protested against the Attorney General for Ireland coming down and replying in a rhetorical speech such as he always made in this House to statements in the course of a discussion which the right hon. and learned Gentleman had not heard at all.
The Committee divided:—Ayes 48; Noes 155: Majority 107.
moved an Amendment the effect of which was to cut off the extra half-hour for cleaning purposes on Saturdays. He remarked that if there was one point on which the Bill gave dissatisfaction it was this extra half-hour, the effect of which would be to make the working classes work for 56½ hours per week.
Amendment proposed, in line 15, to leave out the words "in any manufacturing process."—( Mr. Anderson.)
Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
said, the work was not the same as that on which the operatives were usually employed, and consequently the continuous strain complained of was done away with. The matter was one on which he felt very strongly, and one on which he should ask the opinion of the Committee, with a view to maintain the clause.
was afraid that this half-hour on Saturdays would cause great inconvenience in the working of the Bill. As a manufacturer himself, he would rather be without it than with it.
said, that on the second reading of the Bill he endeavoured to get the half-hour struck off on Saturday afternoon. Five days in the week they had 10 hours a day, and on Saturday six hours, making 56 hours in the six days. He had an Amendment on the Paper which coincided much with that of his hon. Friend; and it would be well if they would make a little sacrifice on their part, and give rather than retain the half-hour. If it was not granted, it would cause an unsettlement and heart-burning among the working men, which he believed the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary was anxious to avoid.
regretted that the Home Secretary could not see his way to follow the advice of those hon. Members who represented manufacturing constituencies, and were familiar with the views of those persons most interested in the question. If the extra half-hour on Saturday were taken the Bill could not be looked upon as a settlement of the question. As the Bill now stood the operatives would be kept at the mill until 1 o'clock on Saturdays, and by the time they got home, had their dinner and got cleaned, they would find that the half holiday had practically vanished. There would be no difficulty in closing earlier, because in many of the principal districts in Yorkshire the masters had agreed to close at 12 o'clock.
said, he thought it would be well to retain the half-hour for cleaning on Saturday in order to avoid accidents, as it was a dangerous practice to clean machinery which was in running order.
was anxious that the week's work should be fixed at 56 hours, and as the half-hour for cleaning on Saturdays would, in most cases, become a dead letter if left in the Bill, he saw no sufficient reason why it should not be omitted.
said, he hoped the Home Secretary would adhere to the hours fixed in the Bill in justice to those employers of labour who had given their support to the measure on the strength of the hours proposed by the Government.
, speaking as an employer, repudiated the notion that was entertained by some hon. Members to the effect that this half-hour was the result of an arrangement between the masters and the Government. He most cordially supported the Amendment. The operatives in his part of the country strongly supported the Bill, but they were unanimous in their opposition to this half-hour. But he had not limited his inquiries to the operatives. He had communicated as far as possible with masters in the North, and he had not received a single opinion in favour of this half-hour. On the contrary, the great majority told him they did not care a straw about it, while some said they were as strongly opposed to it as the operatives. He hoped the Home Secretary would re-consider his decision.
also denied the existence of a compact between the Government and the masters. The employers on the other hand believed—and he might quote the letter of Mr. Hugh Mason in The Times in support of his view—that to retain the Saturday half-hour for cleaning would be to mar the grace of the concession made by the Bill.
joined in urging the Home Secretary to re-consider his determination in regard to the extra half-hour for cleaning. Since the second reading of the Bill, he had been consulted by a large number of the working people interested in that subject, and found that they looked upon that measure as a satisfactory settlement of the question for a long time to come; but, in their opinion, this half-hour proposition was a frivolous one, which it was desirable should be excised from the Bill. At present, the most generous employers closed at 12 on Saturday, and others should not be given an advantage over them.
appealed to the right hon. Gentleman not to insist on that half-hour. The large employers would not avail themselves of it, and only those small employers who extracted all they could out of their work-people would take advantage of it.
likewise supported the Amendment.
said, he thought that by adhering to that half-hour the Home Secretary would run the risk of reopening the whole question, and then they might have the workpeople again demanding 54 hours a-week instead of 56.
said, he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would not give way on that point, because those who wished him to do so were evidently in favour of 54 hours a week, instead of 56; and if he yielded as to that half-hour on Saturday, he would soon be pressed to give the 54 hours also.
said, he could not congratulate the Home Secretary on the stability of the compromise come to on that vexed question. It had lasted exactly three-quarters of an hour. On the one hand they were told by manufacturers of experience that if the Home Secretary did not stand by the 56½ hours the Bill would be made 55½ hours; while, on the other hand, they were told by representatives of the working classes that if the right hon. Gentleman did not give way, the working men would not be satisfied. Compromises of that kind could not in the nature of things endure; and the right hon. Gentleman was in a position of difficulty. Why could not the working men of Lancashire and Yorkshire be left to decide for themselves what the length of their Saturday half-holiday should be, instead of being treated like a set of school children?
said, he did not feel any difficulty whatever in the matter. They had reduced the working hours from 10½ to 10 on five clays of the week to lessen the strain of monotonous labour on the brain and system of the workpeople, because the last half-hour's work was found to be a bad half-hour's work, and it also caused quarrels between the masters and the men. The same reason for shortening the hours on Saturday did not exist; but, nevertheless, the Bill would fix 1 o'clock as the hour of closing on that day instead of 2. Though many employers on both sides of the House now asked him to give way on the half-hour for cleaning, he must say he had not come to his conclusion without the most serious consideration of the matter after receiving representations from both the employers and the employed. The employers of labour had expressed an almost unanimous feeling on this point; and he had understood the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) to have accepted the proposal of the Bill rather more fully than he had done, but he might have been mistaken. If there was a full understanding that this measure went as far as was possible with due regard to sanitary considerations, was convinced from his acquaintance with working men that they would not decline to have anything to do with the Bill. It was not in the nature of working men to act in that manner when they saw that something had been done for their advantage, and he believed they would accept the Bill if it passed as it was now drawn.
said, he was not aware of any bargain. He was alluding to an earlier period when the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) introduced his 54 hours' Bill, and to the difficulty there had been in inducing the working classes to accept 56 hours. There could be no mistake as to the right hon. Gentleman's intentions. As to the unanimity of the employers, the discussion must have convinced the right hon. Gentleman that he was mistaken.
The Committee divided:—Ayes 105; Noes 57: Majority 48.
moved, in page 2, line 15, to leave out "half an hour," and insert "one o'clock in the."
said, one of the strong arguments against the extra half-hour for cleaning had been that it would interfere with the half-holiday on Saturday, and prevent persons who worked in mills going out into the country. As the Committee had practically passed the half-hour by the last division, to add half-an-hour for breakfast or for any other purpose would now practically shorten the half-holiday; and as the Amendment would do that he must resist it.
said, that both operatives and masters in Scotland were desirous of continuing to allow a full hour for breakfast, and that could not be done if the clause was not amended.
pointed out that under the clause employers might arrange for work to commence at 7 and extend until 2 o'clock on Saturdays.
saw no objection to permitting the men to work half-an-hour later when they preferred an hour for breakfast.
opposed the Amendment, but thought there might be something to say in favour of that of the right hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) on the same subject.
moved, line 17, to add—
The right hon. Gentleman repeated his previous observations in support of the Amendment—namely, that in Scotland the working persons in factories in that country were desirous of having the hour for breakfast continued to them. Now, if the Bill passed in its present form that privilege would be taken from them. As he had said before the employers were opposed to this privilege being taken away from them."Unless in factories where one hour is allowed for breakfast on Saturdays, in which case the children, young persons or women may be employed in manufacturing process until one o'clock in the afternoon."
said, that the simple question was this—would not the Amendment, if agreed to, interfere with and shorten the half-holiday enjoyed by the workmen in factories on the Saturday.
said, that as far as Scotland was concerned it was quite clear that the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baxter) was one that would be most acceptable to the working classes in that country, for the reasons stated by the right hon. Gentleman.
said, that he had no feeling on the subject. He would consult with his right hon. Friend respecting his proposal before bringing up the Report, with a view of coming to some agreement respecting it.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
moved, in page 2, after line 17, to insert—
[A laugh.] It was not in jest, but in all seriousness, that he made this Motion, and he made it not so much in the interest of the mothers as in the interest of the children. He wished, as far as possible, to discourage the employment of the mothers of infants. If some such Amendment was not made, the children would practically be left motherless during their working hours. It might be asked, how were the children to be maintained if their mothers were not to be employed in the factories? and he admitted that there might be some few cases of hardship, but there were individual cases of hardship under every Act, and these ought not to prevent Parliament from doing what was just and right, and conducive to the general good. If the mother was at work she must have somebody else to take care of her child, which could never be so well done as by herself; and as for the children starving if the mothers did not go to work, why, the Reports of the Inspectors as to the condition of the children in districts where the mothers did not go out to work showed that they were better fed, better grown, and healthier than they were elsewhere."(5.) A woman or young person shall not be employed within the period of 12 months after the birth of her child."
said, he had many reasons for objecting to the Amendment. In the first, place, he did not see what was the difference between women and young persons. It was making two sexes out of one. His experience of babies was that the first 12 months of their existence was the very time they could best do without their mothers, for it was not until they began to walk about that they fell into the fire and ran into other dangers. Besides, he thought it a bad thing for women to be absent from active employment. In the country districts they had gardens and other means of employing their time which they were without in factory towns, so that if they were kept from the factories they were, in order to kill time, likely to take to drink. The hon. Gentleman's proposal was benevolent in theory, but bad in practice. They all knew that while the grass grew the steed starved, and so during this year of enforced idleness the woman would be without the money which she required to maintain her family, and thus the child would suffer greater harm than it possibly could from the mother being employed. Besides, there were in every factory town a number of old women—old hens he would call them—who took care of other people's chickens, and did that duty well.
said, he could not adopt the Amendment. He had no doubt of the excellent and most humane feeling which dictated it, but he was afraid the Amendment would be found utterly impracticable. If women were kept from the factory for 12 months after giving birth to a child they would practically cease to be factory workers altogether. He was afraid it would also tend to other social evils, such as concealment of birth, and even worse crimes.
Clause 4 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clauses 5 to 9, inclusive, agreed to.
Clause 10 (Saving as to recovery of lost time).
said, under the 33rd clause it was quite possible for owners of water-power mills to always work their hands an hour extra; but the 34th clause was even more objectionable, for it enacted that if through flood or drought, a water-power mill was stopped during a day, the owner might work women or young persons the whole of that night to make up for the lost time. He thought that the exemption of the owners of water-power mills should be put an end to, unless some strong ground could be shown for continuing it. No strong ground could be shown. The ground alleged was that water-power mills were more liable to stoppage than steam mills; whereas the latter were more liable to stoppage from causes over which the owners had no control than water-power mills. He moved, as an Amendment, in page 4, line 13, to leave out the word "not," and insert "entirely," the effect of which would be to prevent the employment of women and young persons in the water-power mills extra hours.
said, the Amendment was one which was not open to the objections which would have been made when the earlier Factory Acts were passed, and when there was an essential difference between mills driven by water-power and by steam. Now most mills using water-power had steam machinery to make up any time that might be lost by defective water supply. He had the opportunity of consulting Inspectors of Factories and others well able to state the facts, and from their representations he was inclined to think the Amendment would lead to still more general evasion of the Act than now existed. The time had, in his opinion, come, when it might be fairly considered whether this exemption should be continued. Under the circumstances, he would consent to the omission of the clause in order to consider whether on the bringing up of the Report a new clause might not be inserted to meet the view of the hon. Member.
Rather than adopt my Amendment, you will strike out the clause? [Mr. ASSHETON CROSS: Yes.] I am quite agreeable.
Clause struck out.
Clause 11 agreed to.
Clause 12 struck out.
Clause 13 (Extension of age of child, to 14 unless educational certificate obtained.)
said, since he had come into that House he had lost his confidence in the Committee of Privy Council on Education, and he considered that the Board of Education in Scotland was much better fitted to be the authority on the education of factory children in Scotland. He would therefore move, as an Amendment, to leave out the words—
He was quite aware that the Board of Education in Scotland, as at present constituted, would come to an end in October of next year; but from his experience in the administration of that Act, he was convinced of the necessity of continuing that Board, and that it would be continued, although it might consist of different persons."The Lords of any Committee of the Privy Council appointed by Her Majesty on education in Scotland," and to insert the words "Board of Education in Scotland."
said, he should be very sorry to do anything to perpetuate the Board of Education in Scotland. They had far too many Boards in Edinburgh, and he hoped that many of them would be abolished. If the Amendment were adopted, it would have a tendency to perpetuate this Board.
quite agreed in what had fallen from his right hon. Friend. He was sure the Committee would not delegate those powers to a mere temporary Board.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 14 (Employment of children under nine or ten in factories.)
moved an Amendment with the object of permitting the employment of children at the age of nine, instead of prohibiting it till the ago of ten. He observed that in and around Bradford 40 per cent of the children employed in factories were under the age of 10; and to make 10 the age at which half-timers should commence would be a serious matter both to employers and the parents of the children so employed. He trusted that before long there would be a Select Committee appointed to consider the operation of the Factory and Workshops Acts generally, and that in the meantime no step would be taken in the matter to which his Amendment related.
said, he understood that the object of the Home Secretary in fixing the age at 10 was not so much to guard the health of the children as to promote their education, and he suggested that the desired end might be gained by providing that a child might be employed at the age of nine, if he had a certificate showing that he had passed the Second—or it might be Third—Standard under the Revised Code.
believed that both masters and parents were in favour of the ago being fixed at nine; but he agreed with the last speaker in thinking that there ought to be an educational test.
said, the Home Secretary had shown so much firmness and resolution in his defence of all the clauses of the Bill up to this time, that he hoped he would show the same firmness in supporting the remaining clauses. It was because 40 per cent of the children employed were under 10 years of age, that he insisted they should not commence work at a less age than 10. It was no credit to England that the children were worked two years earlier than in any other regulated country in Europe. This was the most important clause in the Bill, and if he was alone he would divide against beginning at a lower age than 10. It was hardly creditable to hon. Members on that side of the House to be talking of a retrograde step like that proposed by the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Ripley). With reference to the suggestion of the noble Lord (Lord Frederick Cavendish), he should approve still more strongly of requiring children to pass a given Standard before they entered a mill at all.
said, the action of school boards was a now feature in the whole case. In most large towns compulsory bye-laws had been adopted, and they had unanimously determined that the children should be kept at school till the age of 10. He, for one, could not speak too strongly upon this point, though if it were proposed to fix the ago of 10 at once, he should protest against the suddenness of the change. The whole current of our legislation, as illustrated by the Mines' Regulation Act, and indicated by the Agricultural Children's Act, was to prevent children working before they were 10; and, as in this case a year was allowed, the proposal ought to be adhered to.
said, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would adhere to the clause. He entirely agreed with the noble Lord who had just spoken, and although the peculiar circumstances of Bradford might make it advisable to fix the limit at nine years, the circumstances of Bradford were not the circumstances of the manufacturing towns generally. It appeared to him a most important principle to establish that they should look forward to 10 years as the age under which children should not be allowed to go to work. In most places to which this clause would apply there were school boards enforcing compulsion up to the age of 10; where there were not, the indirect effect of this clause by itself might be injurious; and therefore it would furnish a strong argument for universal compulsion. There was now a strong temptation to parents to leave the education of their children alone until they entered a mill; especially was this the case with children coming to the towns from the surrounding villages; and if Parliament said no child should work until it was 10, Parliament ought also to say that the child which was not at work must be at school. This clause was a step in the right direction; and he hoped the Government would abide by it.
said, he should never have inserted such a clause as this in the Bill unless he had given the matter the fullest consideration, so that, unless extreme grounds were shown for taking a contrary course, he would stick to it; and, certainly, nothing which had been said had changed his opinion as to the wisdom of the second half of the clause, fixing the age of 10 after next year. The operation of the Education Act would make such a serious difference that they need not be afraid of any evil consequences. He was quite aware of the necessity for keeping children at school where compulsion was not in force. He admitted that there was something in the trade of Bradford by which it came about that they employed more children under 10 than any other town. In Oldham they were 10 per cent; in Leeds, 15 percent; in Nottingham, 9 per cent; but, in Bradford, 40 per cent. He could only hope that, when the time came to abolish this state of things, they would still find children enough for their manufactures. He thought this restriction would, in the long run, be found not only beneficial to the children, but to parents, who would find the assistance they derived from the educated labour of their offspring far more valuable if they spared their tender youth.
expressed his obligations to the Home Secretary and the Government for standing firm by this clause, which would be fruitful in blessings to children and parents, not only in the factory districts, but also in other parts of the country, by the precedent it would establish.
supported the Amendment, on the ground that it was the opinion not only of manufacturers, but of the parents of the children, that they might safely go to work at 9 years of age.
questioned the policy of going beyond 9, and if the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Ripley) would go to a division he would support the Amendment.
said, he was glad to hear the Government were determined to stick to the age of 10, and he was astonished to find so many hon. Members expressing an opinion in favour of children under 9 being employed. He supposed they were personally acquainted, as he was, with the working classes who desired that children under 9 should work, and what was their object? Nothing else than to receive money which they did not always spend wisely. He thought it was the duty of the House to protect children against any such abuse, and he looked forward to the time—and he hoped it would come soon—when no children under 12 should be allowed to earn wages unless they could pass the Sixth educational Standard.
said, he would withdraw the Amendment.
said, it was quite clear this provision was proposed solely on educational grounds, and he was quite confident the Government would next year come to Parliament and ask to raise the age in the agricultural districts from 8 to 10.
said, that children under 10 years were very seldom employed in agriculture, and when they were it was with no profit to the employers, and less to the parents. If it could be shown that legislation ought to be resorted to in order to check that employment, the landlord interest would be only too ready to promote it.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
moved in page 6, line 7, at end of clause add, as a separate paragraph:—
"Provided that any child who previously to the commencement of the year one thousand eight hundred and seventy five, is lawfully employed in any such factory as a child under the age of nine years, and any child who previously to the commencement of the year one thousand eight hundred and seventy six, is lawfully employed in any factory as a child under the age of 10 years, may continue to he employed in such factory in like manner as if this section had not been enacted."
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, added to the Bill.
Clause 15 (Employment of children in silk works).
moved in page 6, line 17, after "twelve," leave out "and under the age of thirteen." Line 19, after "silk," leave out "during two years." Line 21, at end of Clause, insert—
"subject to such child having obtained an educational certificate as required in Clause 13 for a person of the age of thirteen and under the age of fourteen years."
said, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not accede to the Amendment. The Workshops Act did not permit any such exemption to be made, and as the great object of the House was to assimilate the Factory Acts to the Workshops Act, there was every reason why they should not sanction this proposal. He never understood why this younger age for full-timers was originally allowed to silk mills, as the evidence taken before the Commission which preceded the earlier Acts showed that there were then more cripples in Macclesfield than in any other town of equal size. He would call the attention of the Committee to the state of the trade in the town of Leek. The industry of that town was entirely silk. In 1860 the Leek Improvement Act, which adopted all the provisions of the Workshops Act, was passed. Between 1850 and 1860 the average life of males in Leek was 23 years, and of females 25 years; but when the Improvement Act was in force the average life of males was raised to 29 years, and of females to 36 years. He felt that he ought to give his authority for that statement especially as he had not had time to verity it from official documents. It was contained in a work on our industrial classes by the Comte de Paris, and could be found in the Library of the House. The adoption of this Amendment would injuriously affect the position of the children, who required protection on sanitary grounds.
, speaking from a long experience of the silk trade, said, the employment in which these children were engaged had no more labour in it than that of a child holding a skein for its mother. Their occupation was as healthy as any occupation could possibly be. Having lived for 50 years in Staffordshire, and being well acquainted with the town of Leek, he thought his knowledge was quite as worthy of acceptance as that of the Comte de Paris, and he must say that so long as the education of the children was not interfered with by their occupation, there was no ground to fear there would be any sanitary deterioration in their condition. There was much in the Amendment to recommend it to the favourable consideration of the Home Secretary.
had been assured that the women connected with the silk trade were as much opposed to the clause as the manufacturers, and that if it were passed as it stood there would be some danger of an insurrection among them.
said, that in the year 1833, when the Factory Act was first proposed, certain concessions and exemptions were granted to the silk trade in consequence of representations made to the Government as to its peculiar adaptability for the employment of young children and women, and the desirability of giving it encouragement. That trade had flourished for 40 years under these exemptions. Employers and employed were convinced that the time at which young persons should be allowed to commence this work should be 10 years of age, and it was due to the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary to say that they considered this a most beneficial Bill. There were at present about 6,350 persons in the silk trade in Macclesfield. Of these 1,248 between the ages of 11 and 14 would, under this Bill, be reduced to half-timers, and a certain number would be thrown out of employment. He should be satisfied if children were allowed to commence work as half-timers at 10.
said, he did not see why the children of the particular trade referred to should be placed upon a different footing from the children employed in any other trade. The House of Commons had, he thought, resolved to make a now start in the matter of education, and he did not know why there should be an exemption in respect of the children who were engaged in the silk trade. Statistics showed that in that trade the tendency was to employ older hands.
observed, that if the clause were passed, children engaged in the silk trade would, as he had been informed, be driven from factories which were well ventilated into small rooms, to earn, perhaps, a little more money, in the glove or some other trade.
observed that France, Switzerland, and Germany, competed with this country in the silk manufacture, and in those countries a change had taken place in their legislation, the result of which was that their children were entering the factories as half-timers, while here they were entering as full-timers. The Inspectors at Congleton showed forcibly the educational results of the system. He stated that last year only 379 children were presented in any standards at all, and of these only four were in the Sixth Standard. Out of 2,000 children, only 61 were presented above the Third Standard. That, he said, was the consequence of allowing children to enter as half-timers at 8, and as full-timers at 11. He hoped they would not disgrace themselves in the eyes of Europe by such legislation.
opposed the Amendment. He thought it desirable that all factory children should be placed upon the same footing as regarded education.
stated that after what had fallen from the Home Secretary he felt it would be useless to press his Amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
moved, in page 6, line 21, at end of clause, to insert—
"And (3), any child who immediately preceding the expiration of two years after the commencement of this Act is lawfully employed in the winding and throwing of raw silk as if he were a young person, may continue to be so employed in like manner as if this section had not been enacted."
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clauses 16 to 21, inclusive, agreed to.
moved, after Clause 15, to insert the following clause—
(Women not to work in factories within four weeks after the birth of a child.)
"No woman or young person shall work in any factory within four weeks after the birth of her child, and not then until she has obtained from a duly qualified medical practitioner a certificate of her fitness to return to her work; and any occupier of a factory employing any woman or young person without the production of such certificate shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding five pounds."
said, that the clause would interfere with the woman's right to judge what was best for herself and her child. If the House was to legislate on a matter of this kind, they ought to look also to the women of the higher and middle classes, many of whom neglected the duties that they owed to their offspring.
said, the clause would be entirely unworkable, because it would be impossible for a manufacturer to know whether a woman in his employment had given birth to a child within a month.
said, the mover of the clause had thrown upon him the onus of discovering the whole machinery by which it should be carried out. That was imposing on him rather a formidable task, and he could not undertake to perform it. The question was surrounded with innumerable difficulties. It would be a new thing to impose a penalty on the woman herself, and he did not see how they could punish an employer, when it would be impossible for him to know whether a woman had been recently delivered of a child. Apart from the question of machinery, there were social reasons why they ought not to pass such a clause. They were treading on dangerous ground, and he hoped, therefore, that the Committee would reject the clause.
said, he had an Amendment to the same effect on the Paper, founded on the principle that the period of the birth of a child was one of great danger, and that unnecessary risks at that time should not he encountered by mothers of families, both for their own sakes and in the interests of their infants. Something should be done to protect those who could not protect themselves. Statistics showed that whereas the ordinary average of infant mortality was 15 in the 100, it increased under the baby farming and dry-nursing of the factory districts to 60 and 70 per cent. What he suggested was, that a moderate fine should be inflicted on any woman who went to work in a factory immediately after child-bearing.
said, he was very glad to hear what had been said by the Home Secretary, that it would be impossible to enforce such a clause. What they had to consider in making laws was not only to prevent an evil, but to see that they could be carried into execution. His hon. Friend objected to the woman being subject to the penalty, and Submitted that that should fall upon the employer. That would be a great hardship. He could not conceive any species of legislation that was more open to objection than that of his hon. Friend. They should leave the question of employment of women in such cases to their own instincts, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary would stand firm and resist the clause.
also hoped the Home Secretary would not accept the clause.
did not think there could be any great difficulty in enforcing the clause, and the medical certificate would, in his opinion, simplify the matter very much.
wondered what would be thought by tyrannical and bad husbands when they read the reports of these proceedings, and found that the too early return of mothers to work was a matter which the Legislature was either unable or unwilling to deal with. Difficulties had been referred to, but he reminded the Committee that the registration of births would soon be made compulsory, and then he thought it would be possible, by means of co-operation between the Registrar, the certificated surgeon, and the employer, to arrive at some solution of the question. He hoped the matter would not be altogether dropped, and that, at all events, it would be considered by the Committee which the Home Secretary had said was to make further inquiries into the labour question next year.
also trusted that the Committee would solve the difficulty, and intimated that he would not press the clause to a division.
moved, before Clause 23, to insert the following clauses—
(Notice in writing to be given by Inspector before operation of Act.)
"None of the clauses of this Act, excepting the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth, shall affect any of the factories in the last section mentioned, unless an Inspector shall give notice in writing to the owner or owners of such factory, by leaving such notice at the said factory, that the provisions of the Factory Acts 1833 to 1856 are in his opinion insufficient to ensure the health of the women, young persons, or children employed in such factory: and from and after the date mentioned in such notice (such date to be not less than one month after the giving thereof) the provisions of this Act shall come into operation in such factory, and such notice shall specify the reason or reasons on account of which the Inspector giving the same considers it necessary to enforce the provisions of this Act, and shall continue in force until revoked by the Inspector or by the Home Secretary in manner hereinafter mentioned.
(Revocation of notice from Inspector.)
"It shall be lawful for the Home Secretary, upon application from the owner or owners of any factory to whom such notice as in the last preceding section mentioned shall have been given, and on due cause being shown for the revocation of such notice to revoke the same accordingly."
said, he hoped the clause would not be pressed, as it would be inconsistent with the working of the Act.
Clause, by leave, withdrawn.
Schedule agreed to.
On Question, "That the Preamble be agreed to,"
tendered his thanks to Members on both sides of the House for the valuable assistance given to him in passing the Bill through Committee. His acknowledgments were especially due to the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) for withdrawing his own Bill in favour of the present measure, and for the help he had afforded.
Preamble agreed to.
Bill reported, as amended, to be considered upon Thursday.