Debatts anb Ilitotetbings in Varliament.
RESTRICTION ON LABOUR IN FACTORIES.
[Having been unable in our last number to do any thing like justice to the debate in the House of Commons in Committee on the Factory Bill, which began on Friday the 15th, we go back to the report of that evening in order to give an outline of the chief speeches ; import- ant in themselves, and necessary to make the sequel intelligible.] The interpretation-clause proposed that the word " night " shall be taken to mean, " from eight of the clock in the evening to six of the clock on the following morning." Lord ASHLEY, as an amendment, proposed to substitute " six" for " eight," so that the definition of " night " should be, " from six o'clock in the evening to six o'clock in the following morning "; allowing also two hours out of the other twelve for " meal-time." If his proposition were adopted, it would be necessary to substitute the word "ten" for " twelve" in the 8th clause, in reference to the hours of labour. The amendment would only affect the persons guaranteed under the 10th clause,—namely, " young persons "—persons under eighteen, and women of any age. He was willing that this limitation should take place gradually—that eleven hours should be fixed as the period for work on the 1st of October 1844, and ten hours on the 1st of October 1845.
Since be first undertook the question in 1E33, experience had convinced him that avarice and cruelty were not inherent in any one class of the population ; all require the same restriction on the indulgence of their passions. Look at the awful condition of the dressmakers and milliners of London ; which is to be ascribed in too many instances to the utter recklessness and indifference of the gentler sex. He assumed the right of the State to interfere on behalf of the moral and physical welfare of all classes of the pornlation; a right recog- nized, and acted upon in restricting the labour of children, in Russia, Austria, Prussia, Switzerland, and less completely in France. Interposition is the more necessary, on account of the rapid increase of the manufacturing popula- tion : the total number of persons engaged in cotton factories in 1818 wan 57,323; engaged in the five branches, cotton, woollen, worsted, flax, and silk,; 1835, 354,684; in the same five branches in 1839, 419,590; total of both sexes under eighteen, [in 1839,] 192,887. Simultaneously with the increase of numbers there has been a great increase of toil for those engaged in the con- duct of machinery ' • which is three times what it was in 1815. According to calculations made for him by one of the most experienced mathematicians in. England, the distance traversed by the young person who tended a pair of mules spinning the cotton numbered "40," was, in 1815, 8 miles; in 1832, 20 miles; in 1839, the lowest amount of distance was 15, the highest 37 miles : in 1815, the piecer daily put up 1,640 stretches on the two mules; in 1832, 4,400; in 1844, 4,800; and that not in one of the most rapidly-working mills. Mr. Gregg, the Manchester manufacturer, disputed these calculations, himself stab- ing the distance traversed at 8 miles a day ; but Lord Ashley's friend said that. Mr. Gregg must know very little of mathematics. On the other band, Mr. Fielden, the Member for Oldham, had measured the distance in his own mill, and found it to be not less than 20 miles a day. [Lord Ashley quoted many other figures, relating to the carding, weaving, and other departments of a mill; but the proportion has been sufficiently indicated.] This toil produces the most sad physical consequences on the human frame. In 1833, three Medical Commissioners and eighty physicians and surgeons asserted the prodigious evils of the system. One of the Commissioners was Dr. Bissett Hawkins, who declared that he spoke on the authority of a large majority of the medical men in Lancashire. The Government Commissioners say—" The excessive fatigue, privation of sleep, pain in various parts of the body, and swelling of the feet, experienced by the young workers, coupled with the constant standing, the peculiar attitudes of the body, and the peculiar motion of the limbs required in the labour of the factory, together with the elevated temperature and the impure atmosphere in which the labour is often carried on, do sometimes ultimately terminate in the production of serious, permanent, and incurable diseases." Dr. Hawkins says—" I am compelled to declare my deliberate opinion, that no child should be employed in factory labour below the age of ten ; that no individual under the age of eighteen should be employed in it longer than ten hours daily." In 1841, when Lord Ashley was in Lancashire, he consulted several medical men ; and he made a note, which he read, as follows—" Scrofulous cases apparently universal ; the wards were filled with scrofulous knees, hips, ankles, &c. The medical gentleman informed me that they were nearly invariably factory-cases. He attributes the presence of scrofula to factory-employment under all its circumstances of great heat, low diet, bad ventilation, protracted toil, &c." The minor accidents, such as the loss of a finger or a hand, nearly all occur at a late hour of the evening, when the workers are tired and sleepy. Early superannuation is one most striking effect of the system. Out of 22,000 hands employed at forty mills in. Manchester and Stockport, in 1839, only 143 were above forty-five years of age. An effect not less alarming is, that the men of mature age are often not disinclined to work while the earnings of their children maintain them in idleness. Contrast these figures with returns from several farms in England, Wales, and Scotland, which showed that out of 341 men employed on those estates, 180 were above forty years of age. In fact, there are men fifty, sixty, and even seventy years of age, earning wages to maintain their families. The moral effects of the system are not less deplorable. Thrift and economy are virtually unknown • and it rarely happens that any are known to accumulate savings to support ;hem in age or sickness. The laws of Nature cannot be violated with impunity, but she takes her revenge in debilitated strength. In 1835, the French Chamber of Peers issued a commission to inquire into the state of the population employed in factory-labour. A report was made by Baron Dupin, who made this general statement of results—" For 10,000 young men capable of military service, there were rejected as infirm, or otherwise unfit in body, 4,029 in the departments most agricultural ; for 10,000 in the departments most manufactuiing there were rejected 9,930." [Mr. Hawes remarked that M. Dupin's figures included the deformed.]. True; but what is the comment of the reporter?—" These deformities cannot allow the Legislature to remain indifferent : they attest the deep and painful mischiefs ; they reveal the intolerable nature of individual suffering; they enfeeble the country in respect to its capacity for military operations, and impoverish it in regard to the works of peace. We should blush for agriculture, if in her ope- rations she brought, at the age adapted to labour, so small a proportion of oxen or horses in a fit state for toil, with so large a number of infirm and mis- shapen." That which induced the late King of Prussia to pass a law limiting the labour of children and young persons to ten hours daily, was a report, similar in effect, made to the King in Council, by General Von Horn, at the bead of the recruiting department in the manufacturing districts. The necessity of attending to the matter is shown by the fact that it is the tendency of ma- chinery more and more to throw the labour upon women, and still more upon
children. In 1835, the number of females employed in five departments of in- dustry were 196,383; in 1839, they were 242,296; and of those 112,119 were
under eighteen years of age. Similar results are recorded by Dr. Villermd in France. The age of severe and protracted labour begins at thirteen, precisely the most delicate period of a female's life; and the female form is at no time of life so well adapted for severe and protracted labour as the male. There has been an enormous increase in the employment of female labour since 1835;
and a gentleman writing from Stockport gives the reason. " Mr.—, a manu- facturer, informed me that he employs females exclusively at his power-looms ; it is so universally : he gives a decided preference to married females, especially those who have families at home dependent on them for support." And why ? Because, he says, " they are attentive, docile—more so than unmarried females, and are compelled to use their utmost exertion to procure the necessaries of life." Inspector Saunders says—" The small amount of wages acts as a strong inducement to the mill-occupiers to employ them instead of men." Inspector Baker mentions having seen females, who he was sure could only just have
completed their eighteenth year, who had been obliged to work from six o'clock in the morning till ten at night, with only an hour and a half for meals. Me- dical men attest the injurious consequences of such toil to women in a state of
pregnancy, and not less to their offspring. A surgeon of experience in Lan- cashire writes—" The infants are at birth below the average size, and have a stinted, shrivelled appearance. I would take a score of factory births, and the same of healthy parents, and distinguish between them." The children, he Bays, "are much confided by factory-mothers to the care of others. Opium is administered to the infants, in various forms, to keep them still." This prac- tice is so general, that in Manchester, " Godfrey's cordial," and other similar preparations, are in great demand, and are sold at numerous shops. " The quantity of this pernicious drug (opium) thus consumed," says my informant,
" would almost stagger belief. Many infants are so habituated to it, that they can scarcely exist when deprived of the stimulus. Immense numbers fall vic-
tims to hydrocephalus ; the mother's milk becomes deteriorated; infants are fed by substitutes in her absence; and hence arise many internal disorders, the usual remedy for which is gin. Miscarriages are very frequent, and all the physical and surgical mischiefs of mistreated pregnancy. Another consequence of continued evil practices is varicose veins, aggravated greatly in pregnant women," and "troublesome ulcers of the legs arising from varicose veins, which in some cases burst, and bringon a dangerous and sometimes fatal haemorrhage."
Be also states, that the practice of procuring abortion is very frequent, even among married women. I have the personal testimony of several females who have confirmed the truth of these statements. Among other things, they complain of the intolerable pain of their breasts, in consequence of such long absence from their children ; and of the great suffering they experience from the necessity of returning to work within twelve and sometimes ten days of t heir confinement.
Let the House consider the effect of this system upon domestic economy. Out of thirteen married females at one mill, only one knew how to make her
husband a shirt, and only four knew how to mend one. He had the evidence of several women who with reluctance admitted their own ignorance of every domestic accomplishment. The general result of the inquiry which had been
instituted on this subject was, that the unmarried females in almost every case were destitute of a single qualification for household servants ; and that the married women were untidy, slovenly, dirty, unable to cook or to sew, and en- tirely, ignorant of household management and expenditure. Of one, a single
woman, her mother said—" She knows nothing but mill and bed ; she can neither read, write, knit, nor sew." Several letters received from Stockport and
Manchester detail still more painful consequences. One writer refers particu- larly to the highly-injurious effect it has upon young modest women, who are compelled to work in the factories with the men, without being able to perform unobserved the necessary functions of life. Mr. Rayner, the medical officer of
Stockport, says—" It has been the practice in mills gradually to dispense with the labours of males, but particularly grown-up men; so that the burden of
maintaining the family has rested almost exclusively on the wife and children, while the men have had to stay at home and look after household affairs, or ramble about the streets unemployed." So the effect of the system is, that women are compelled to take the place of men, and thus to reverse the very order of Nature and Providence. In addition to the evils which I have speci- fied, I will point out to honourable gentlemen another disastrous consequence of the present order of things. In many of these districts there arc established what are called female clubs. I have an account of one of these on very re- spectable authority, an eye-witness, which I will read to the House. The writer of this account says, " Fifty or sixty females, married and single, form themselves into clubs, ostensibly for protection, but in fact they meet to drink, sing, and smoke : they use, it was stated, the lowest, most brutal, and most disgusting language imaginable." Here is a dialogue from an eye-witness- " A man came into one of these club-rooms with a child in his arms: ' Come, lass,' said be, addressing one of the women, come home, for I cannot keep the bairn quiet, and the other I have left crying at home.' I won't go home,
idle devil,' she replied : 1 have thee to keep and the bairns too, and if I can't get a pint of ale quietly it is tiresome : this is only the second pint that Bess and me have had between us: thou may sup if thou likes, and sit down, but I won't go home yet.' "
The effects upon the children themselves are lamentable. The most fright- ful evil in the manufacturing districts is the insubordination of children to- wards their parents. Children and young persons take the same advantage of parents that women do of their husbands ; frequently using oaths and harsh language, and if corrected will turn round and say, "Damn you, we have you to keep." Many of these children are of tender years, under the ages of thir- teen and fourteen. One poor woman stated, that her husband had chided two of their daughters forgoing to a public-house : he made it worse, for they would not come home again, stating, "they had their father to keep, and they would not be dictated to by him." One woman, after describing the hardships suffered by herself and her children, and saying that they never went to chapel, added, " When you go up to London, tell them we'll turn out the next time, (mean- ing the women,) and let the soldiers at us if they dare! Depend upon it, there will be a break-out, and a right one, if that House of Commons don't alter things—for they can alter them if they will—by taking mothers and daughters out of the factories, and sending the men and big lads in." Sir Charles Shaw, the Manchester Chief Commissioner of Police, has observed, that under the present system, women acquire the worst passions of the men, become like the female followers of an army, and are the leaders and exciters to every riot and outbreak.
Would any one, believing in the existence of these enormous evils, hesitate for an instant in laying the axe to the root of the tree, and if not that, to lop- ping off some of its branches ? A great change of opinion has taken place since 1833: at that time Lord Ashley could scarcely number among his sup- porters a dozen masters of mills ; now he can count them by dozens. In con- clusion, he denied the imputation that he desired to exalt the landed aristo- cracy by humiliating and depressing the manufacturing body. "They who bring such a charge must either think me a wicked man or a fool for pursuing such a
course. Every man in his senses must admit that the permanent prosperity of the manufacturing body is essential to the commercial greatness of the British empire. I will say to the members of that body, Peace be within your walla, and plenteousness within your palaces.' I only ask for a relaxation of toil : I ash for time to live, and time to die, and a time for the enjoyment of those Comforts which sweeten life, and for the exercise of those virtues which adorn
it. And with the fervent prayer to Almighty God, that it may please him to turn the hearts of those who hear me to justice and mercy, 1 fully commit the issue of this question to the judgment and humanity of Parliament." [Ile sat down amid great cheering from all parts of the House.]
Sir JAMES GRAHAM felt it his painful duty to offer the motion his decided opposition.
The time was come, said Lord Ashley, when the Legislature ought to lay the axe to the root of the tree: but they ought to consider what the tree was— be thought it was the tree which constituted the commercial greatness of this country, and made this small island the most civilized and powerful country of the world. Listening to Lord Ashley's statements, he almost thought that they were to come to the same conclusion as in the case of the mines and collieries : but the point was narrowed to this question—whether women employed in factories should be worked ten hours or twelve, and whether children should be worked eight hours or something shorter. It was not a question of principle, but simply one of degree. It would be in violation of all principle were the Legislature now to interfere in questions of this description : that was settled in 1833. As regards infant labour, effect has already been given to many of Lord Ashley's suggestions : Legislative inspection has been established, and public opinion has been brought to bear upon the reports of the Inspectors ; under the existing act, no child under nine years of age can be employed more than eight hours a day ; and no young person from sixteen to eighteen more than fifteen hours, including meals. Lord Ashley pointed out the increase of labour which has resulted from improvements in machinery. The existing Factory Act was humane in its intention, yet its practical operation has been to stimulate improvements in machinery, and thereby to supersede manual labour. As to the calculations of distance traversed by mule-piecers, the results seemed to him to be impossible, and they had been denied. With respect to early superannuation, he must admit that there was decidedly an excess of female and infant labour injurious to health, and that until the year 1833 there was no restraint or check of any sort ; and he was disposed to believe, that though early labour had a deleterious effect upon health, there were in the Factories Act stringent regulations which he was not prepared to call upon the House to increase. Just in the proportion that machinery was improved, a number of superannuated labourers must be displaced ; and thus the evils would be augmented which it was sought by the noble lord to cure. He admitted that agricultural labour was more pleasing, but he doubted whether the vicissitudes of agricultural labourers were not greater than those of any other class. A deputation which had visited him that morning had supplied him with a practical refutation of what Lord Ashley said about the thrift and economy of the working-classes. One of that deputation, now a millowner by thrift and economy, had himself been an operative in Lancashire. Sir James had met that deputation ; and he had seen and admired the propriety of demeanour, the cool and dispassionate manner, in which that gentleman argued the ques- tion; and he had asked him, " Are you still an operative ? " The reply was, " No, Sir; I am now entitled to a share in a mill : but though no longer a labourer myself, I am trusted by those I represent." The master-manufac- turers had acquiesced in the bill now before the Committee, because they had reliance on the assurance of the Government that they would stand firm (after full deliberation) on a twelve-hours bill. It could not be forgotten, that the Chamber of Commerce at Manchester had entertained the same doubt upon the point as the Government. As to the workmen themselves, he had doubts whether on this subject they entertained the same feelings as the noble Lord. All the branches of manufactures affected by the bill are carried on by ma- chinery. Now, such is the rapidity with which machinery is improved, that none can continue in use more than twelve or thirteen years without improves meat : it is necessary to replace machinery once every twelve or thirteen years; and they were now, therefore, discussing the question whether, by an abridg- ment by one-sixth of the period in which the capital was to be replaced, and the interest on it restored,—the full time of twelve hours being necessary at present, in order to enable the manufacturer to do that in twelve or thirteen years,—they would render it impossible for him to have that capital, and the interest on it, re- stored. If the Committee agreed to reduce by one•sixth the hours of labour, when nearly equal wages were paid, what would be the consequence of that step ? As he was informed, and as he fully believed, it would be a fatal step : but that would not be the first effect of the change. The millowner would not merely attempt to operate, but, whenever he had the power to do so, would actually operate on wages. Whether he should have the power to do so would be depen- dent on the state of the labour-market. It was notorious that the power of the millowner in this respect arose from the redundant supply of labour. It followed, therefore, of course, that the millowner, when forced by the Legis- lature to diminish the hours of employment, and so abridge bis profits, would compensate himself by diminishing the amount of wages paid. Among the labouring classes, to whom this question referred, be was convinced that a great deal of intelligence existed ; and he believed that class to be so intelligent that many of them understood the proposition of the noble lord. He had spoken with many of them, and they one and all admitted that the proposition involved a decrease of wages. According to the present system of fixed charges on cot- ton-mills, Mr. Horner estimated, in a particular case, that the substitution of eleven hours for twelve would occasion the loss of 8501. per annum ; and with a substitution of ten-hours, 1,5307.; the loss being in a greater ratio than the diminution of time. If the loss were entirely thrown on the operative, which was not improbable, the reduction to eleven hours would occasion a loss of 13 per cent in his wages; the reduction to ten hours would induce a loss of 25 per cent. When the manufacturing operatives were in full work and bad good wages, the health of the manufacturing districts was in a satisfactory condition : on the other hand, short time—shorter than ten hours—was found not to be beneficial to health. When about two years ago the working manufacturers were put on abort time of only eight hours, and wages were low, then was the time when disease was rife in the manufacturing districts, when immoral habits were most brought into view, and when disease was the inevitable result. On the whole, he was satisfied that the Legislature, holding the balance between the employer and the employed, would do best to stand by the present law.
Mr. MILNER GIBSON contended that the change would be injurious to all classes of the manufacturing population.
It might be supposed that to prevent young persons from working twelve hours a day would not interfere with adults ; but such was not the case. If they enacted that no young persons and women of all ages should work more than ten hours, that was to say, that the factories themselves should not go on for more than ten hours—that was the effect of the noble Lord's proposition— it would stop the whole manufacturing processes of the country; it would in- terfere materially with the fixed capital the Committee bad heard so much about. They would diminish all the manufactures of the country 20 per cent. The change, too, would destroy the profit of the manufacturer. In 1836 or 1837, Mr. Senior, with some other gentlemen, went into the manufacturing dis- tricts with the view of ascertaining the effect of factory-legislation, and making- observations upon the factory-population. Mr. Senior wrote a letter dated the 28th March 1837, to Mr. Poulett Thomson, containing a calculation, which he offered as proving that if the hours of working were reduced by one hour per day, prices remaining the same, net profit would be de- stroyed ; if they were reduced by an hour and a half, even gross profit would be destroyed. This calculation of Mr. Senior was, in Mr. Gibson's opinion, sound in principle ; and if gentlemen would consider it they would find it in- disputable. The longer-hour system was essential to gaining any profit ; gaining profit was essential to the existence of manufactures; and the existence of manufactures was essential to enable the manufacturing population to gain their bread. The danger therefore was lest they should destroy the staple manufactures of the country, and by so doing inflict a great injury on
the working classes they were professing to serve. He had been sur- prised at Lord Ashley's statement respecting the distance traversed by a piecer daily. The noble Lord's eminent mathematician calculated on paper ; whereas Mr. Gregg had actually measured the steps which a piecer took : and not only Mr. Gregg, but several other persons in different factories and in different places, bad made the same measurement, and, without com- munication with one another, had all arrived at nearly the same result one with another, but a very different result from that stated by the noble Lord. They made the average eight miles for twelve hours, instead of thirty-seven or twenty miles. With regard to the statement of the noble Lord respecting old men, Mr. Thomas Ashworth, a gentleman to whom the right honourable Baro- net had referred, told him that he had in his own employment a man who had been in his mill for forty years, and that some of the oldest persons he knew in the district he lived in were mill-operatives. The limitation in England was to be ten hours a day, while on the Continent people work thirteen and four- teen hours a day ; and that with the competition which'the English manufac- turer was to encounter !
Mr. ISAR]) pointed to ulterior consequences of Lord Ashley's pro- posal— Would a ten-hours bill effect all the benefits be wished ? Would that re- store the women to domestic duties—the mother to her children, and enable them to perform those maternal duties, the absence of which was the cause of immorality ? Would it stop the deterioration of the race, and all those evils which the noble Lord had pointed out ? Those evils arose from the manufac • taring system, and not from the time to which labour was extended. But if they interfered in one class of manufactures, how could they deny the duty of interfering with all ? He could show ten thousand times worse cases than the noble Lord had pointed out. One branch of the trade of his constituents was undoubtedly and inevitably fatal to life within a certain period ; and yet people were found to face it for the temporary advantages which it brought, notwith- standing the almost certain result. Lord FRANCIS EGERTON, in the course of a speech supporting the bill, said, he was disposed to think that a necessary diminution of wages might follow a reduction in the hours of labour ; but that might to a certain extent be counteracted by the additional activity and phy- sical energy of the operatives in the time they were at work. Lord HOWICK had great difficulty in making up his mind to a de- cision on this question. He had come to that decision with great ap- prehension of its possible results ; but upon the whole the balance was in favour of shortening the hours of labour. He admitted the truth of Mr. Gibson's remark, that in legislating for young persons they were legislating for adults; and of Mr. Ward's, that if the principle were adopted for one trade it must be carried further.
He was not without apprehensions that such might be the case; for he did think that inquiries of late years bad established the conclusion that they could not entirely rely upon the principle that men were the best judges of their own interest, and would always do that which was best for themselves. This was, after all, but a branch of the great question of the general condition of society. Be believed that the origin of the evil was intense competition ; and that they would not entirely remedy the evil unless they diminished the intensity of Competition by enlarging the field for employment. Be believed they could only do that by breaking down those artificial barriers and restrictions by which
were now hedged in and confined ; and unless they were prepared to do this, they must be.prepared to see the intensity of competition, which in his opinion was the origin of the evil, become day after day greater. He feared he could not expect that Parliament would now, though ultimately no doubt they would, consent to adopt the step which was the only effectual cure for the evil: but it did not follow, though they could not remove the evil altogether, that they might not do something to palliate it ; and it certainly did appear to him, that. in the absence of that more complete remedy which he should wish to see applied, it might be advisable to take measures to check the abuses which, under the stimulus of intense competition, did arise in the mode of carrying on cer- tain great manufacturing branches of our industry. He thought a plan might be found of meeting the difficulty which they ex- perienced in introducing regulations in trade. It did not appear to him alto- gether impossible that they might not form some body in which the interests both of the masters and of the men should be represented, which should have authority to frame those regulations for carrying on those branches of industry which Parliament was confessedly incapable of itself framing with advantage. There were corporate bodies in the middle ages which did possess a power of that kind, which in the sequel, no doubt, became liable to great abuse. but which were in the outset of great advantage in encouraging the first seeds of trade and civilization. But proper protection might be taken to guard against their degenerating into a mischievous monopoly, while a power might be com- mitted to their hands for making regulations upon this subject. He was the more impressed with this idea when be saw how the Trades Unions had flourished in this country, and bad maintained themselves even in spite of severe laws against them, as well as when those laws were relaxed. That fact seemed to his mind to afford no slight ground for concluding that they had arisen out of a necessity for some system of organization of those trades and brunches of industry; and, were they properly recognized by law, not being framed upon intimidation or any other unlawful principle, nor composed of one particular class, they would be of great advantage. Some body should be formed, which should be recognized, to bind all together—a body whose powers should be strictly defined and regulated, and in which not only the working- classes but their employers should have a share of authority; the whole to be placed under the supervision of the Crown.
Mr. BilicErr retorted the charges against the manufacturers, by re- ference to the dressmakers of London. He declared that the alleged immorality of factories were all calumny. To show the superior mental condition of' the manufacturing districts, he mentioned, that of 3,0001. subscribed by friends of education in Staleybridge, 2501. was subscribed by operatives ; while the recent depression in those districts was felt by none more than by the publishers of light and popular literature. He stated some facts connected with his own firm, which emplo)s 518 persons, to show that married women are not so much withdrawn from their domestic duties, and that with all their privations the factory-people have much larger wages than the agricultural
Fifty-one cottages belonging to his establishment were inhabited by such as worked on the premises : each cottage bad on an average 6 1.6th individuals; the average number of workers in each was 3} ; the average weekly earnings of each family were 11. 15s. 9d.; the average weekly earnings per head were Ils.: the average yearly earnings of each family 92/. 19s. The concern at Bolton employed 69 families, whose average earnings per week were 1/. 13s. 4d., or 87L 7s. 3d. per annum; and there was here the same abstraction of women from millwork after the age of twenty-one—out of 700 persons there was only one married woman employed. In a mill at liottenstone there were 342 individuals employed, at an average of 9s. 6id. a-week per head; there were thirty-two cottages with 3.j workers in each family, whose average weekly earnings were 1/. 13s. None of those heads of families had ever received parochial relief; and, out of fifty-one families employed by themselves, only three had ever received parochial relief ; while in the county of Dorset one- seventh of the whole population, including clergy, bankers, shopkeepers, and others, had been in the receipt of parochial relief. At an establishment in Darwin there were fifty-four cottages, one family in each, whose average wages were 25s. per week. Yet all this had arisen under a system whose trade was sought to be crippled by the noble Lord. He might instance the rase of Samuel Pooghie, who came from Suffolk in 1836, with a family of ten children, whose whole wages and parish-allowances amounted to only 10s. 4d. per week ; his family had now increased to eleven children, and he was now earning 55s. per week, or 5s. per bead for each member of his family. He might also refer to the case of some labourers who had migrated from Bucks ; one of whom having saved as much money as enabled him to visit his old friends in the agri- cultural districts, and being asked on his return whether he preferred Lan- cashire to his native county, answered, that he liked Bucks very well, but the people there were so hard worked and eo badly paid that he preferred remain- ing where he was.
He told Lord Ashley that he would obtain little credit among the manu- facturers of Lancashire unless he procured his information through more respectable channels. He knew the individuals well: one was William Dodd, who called himself "a factory-cripple," the writer of some books on the Factory System, addressed to Lord Ashley. The statements in those books were utterly false, and nearly all of them grossly and malignantly exaggerated.
illiam Dodd stated in one of these books, that "at the age of thirty-two he was done np as a factory-worker, and obliged to find some other occupation ": but Mr. Bright could prove from indisputable authority, that Dodd was obliged to leave the factory on account of the gross immorality of his own conduct. He had letters of Dodd's writing at that very moment in his pocket, and he should read extracts from them, in which he complained that the noble Lord had used him as long as he could get any thing out of him, and bin party cast him off when they found they could make no more of him. He said the noble Lord used to give him dinners at his own house, and show him to his visiters as an illustration of the cruelties of the factory-system ; but that when be ap- plied for a small balance of account, the nuble Lord wrote him an angry letter, in which be recounted the many dinners he had given him, and that he was merely taken up as an object of compassion. (" Hear, hear I " and " Oh, oh 1 ")
Lord ASHLEY, speaking with some excitement, resented Mr. Bright's remarks, as a personal attack.
Mr. BRIGHT earnestly disclaimed any such intention ; and read ex- tracts from Mr. Dodd's letters to justify his account of their purport, and to show how the writer could speak of his employers.
Lord ASHLEY accepted the explanation ; and in turn explained his intercourse with Dodd-
" It is perfectly true that I was acquainted with Dodd, and it is perfectly true also that be called on me in London. I received a letter from him, in which he stated that he had been injured whilst working in a factory. He afterwards called on me, and certainly I never saw a more wretched object. He had lost his hand, and I may say had almost lost his shape: he hardly looked, indeed, like a human being. I certainly assisted him; and as far as refreshments went, he had them ; not with me—(A titter)—but I told him that if he chose to come when the servants dined he might have some dinner with them. He afterwards went down into the manufacturing districts; and I so far sent him there, that, understanding it was necessary he should go, I assisted him with funds to defray the expenses of the journey. He wrote me some letters subsequently ; but I assure the honourable gentleman that I never quoted a single fact from any one of his communications. Certain facts re- garding him have since come to my knowledge, and I am certainly inclined now to think that he was unworthy my kindness."
Here the matter dropped, and the debate was adjourned.
On Monday, Mr. WAannaToti took up the debate, supporting the original bill.
Of two evils he would choose the least ; and the provision limiting labour to twelve hours was not so great a violation of that freedom of competition that he advocated, as the ten hours amendment. Lord Ashley's arguments went to supersede the whole labour performed by women in London and the country,— to show that his labour was more severe who used that machine the plough than his who scratched the earth with his fingers! Lord Ashley had dwelt upon the closeness of the rooms and the noxiousness of the exhalations in fac- tories: some inconveniences and dangers are incidental to every description of art and manufactures ; but that is not the ground for execrating all means by which they are pursued, or for arriving at the conclusion that it were better to discourage them altogether. He would refer Lord Ashley to the opinion given by the actuary on the evidence collected by the Commission in 1833: " Taking all," said Dr. Mitchell, "from the documents before him, he was of opinion that there was no ground for warranting the belief that factory-labour in any material degree differed in its effects on health from any other kind of labour ; and at all events, the results from the long and laborious investigation which has been entered into afford unanswerable evidence that the laudatory and con- demnatory exaggerations on both views of the subject are equally unfounded in truth." Dr. Mitchell had already pointed out the error of supposing the du- ration of life to be less because the average age of persons employed in factories is less ; the labour of young persons being preferred. And that labour is pre- ferred, not because it is cheapest, but because from their greater activity and delicacy of touch young persons are better suited to the kind of employment. Since 1814 our manufactures have increased sixfold : in that interval it was that young persons were first introduced, in great numbers, into our factories ; but it would be found, in the thirty years, that the average age of persons entering factories was fifteen. In 1833 began the home migration from the agricultural districts ; which continued till 1837, when the stagnation and bitter distress in the manufacturing districts commenced. Of 100 families who had emigrated by order of the Poor-law Commissioners themselves into the manufacturing districts, the average rate of weekly wages for the first year, was 29s. 4 d. ; for the second, 34s. Id. ; and for the third, 39s. 2d. And although, undoubtedly, extravagance was not always unconnected with high rates of wages, yet one naturally, of course, might conclude the balance of comfort to be among those who received the higher rate of remuneration. Wherever large masses of people are congregated in towns, considerable moral evils will be found to exist ; but neither in respect of morality nor mortality is the life of an artisan liable to the disadvantagious comparisons that have been made. As to mortality, the Parliamentary returns would prove the rate higher in ships than in factories ; and as to morality, Sir James Graham, who had been First Lord of the Admiralty, could not have visited any of our ports with- out knowing something of the women with whom the sailors associated. (A gesture of dissent from Sir James Graham, and loud laughter.) The evidence of operatives, taken by the Commission of 1833, showed that they expected to obtain for ten hours' work the same wages as for twelve hours' ; though some said they did not contemplate a rise of wages, but the employment of more bands; and as they thought that the master could not afford to buy ma- chinery, they concluded that the measure would encourage hand-labour.- More fallacious arguments could not be conceived ; for they forgot the com- petition of fiaeign nations. Thirty years ago, the French had scarcely any cotton-manufacture ; now it amounts to 150,000,000 pounds. And it should be remembered that the great taxation of the state depends upon the prosperity of the manufacturing interest.
Mr. BnatErr gave to Lord Ashley a qualified support. He had consulted seventy manufacturers ; of whom forty were for a ten- hours system, and one for a twelve-hours. At the same time, he was afraid that the proposed change would be too violent : he would take eleven hours for one, two, three, or four years, with a view to an ultimate reduction to ten hours.
Sir GEORGE GREY supported the amendment at some length— Be thought that, in connexion with other physical and moral ameliorations of the condition of the people, the proposed system would produce most bene- ficial results; and be seriously apprehended, that without it all other means of amelioration with respect to this large class of the population would be com- paratively useless. The difficulties of the question, however, were much in- creased by the restrictions upon trade, in which the House persevered ; limiting the supply and enhancing the value of the necessaries of life.
Sir JAMES GRAHAM made a second speech ; devoting great part of it to a retrospective glance at the history of the question, in order to show that from 1802 to 1833 twelve hours had invariably been assumed as the proper limit.
He had voted in company with several of the Whig Government in resisting Lord Ashley's proposition for ten hours; which had also in subsequent years been opposed by Lord John Russell and his colleagues, and by Lord Howick. He cited the authority of Mr. Horner and Mr. Saunders for saying that a ten- hours bill would operate most prejudicially to the operative classes. With re- spect to what Mr. Beckett had said, several of the woollen-manufacturers of West Yorkshire pay their men by the piece, and are not anxious that their men should work a specified number of hours ; but in the higher branches of manufacture, and especially those in which the largest amount of capital is in- vested, they show no disposition to limit the duration of labour to ten hours. Mr. Strutt, whose humanity is beyond dispute, is in favour of a ten-hours bill : be invariably works his men twelve hours a day. That, no doubt, is the effect of competition ; but Sir James Graham maintained that that necessity is an overwhelming necessity. Recurring to the subject of wages, which would be reduced by a ten-hours bill in the proportion of 25 per cent, be remarked, that the receipts of the families mentioned by Mr. Bright would be reduced from 931. to 70/. The effect of the existing Factory Act has been to drive children from one species of labour to others not regulated by law. For instant, there are now not fewer than 85,000 children engaged in calico-printing, a work upon which they enter at six years of age ; they work for fifteen hours a day, and they are not prohibited from night-labour. The effect is thus to produce con- gestiun of labour where Parliament has not yet legislated, and depletion where it has legislated. There is in politics, as in morals, a retribution in the course of affairs ; and he had never yet seen an instance of a wide departure from the principle of sound legislation which had not, sooner or later, produced confusion and inextricable difficulties.
Mr. M'GEACBY supported Lord Ashley ; calling to mind that Sir Robert Peel's father had introduced a ten-hours bill.
Mr. LABOUCHERE wished to God that it were practicable to prevent the excessive labour of young persons and women ; but it was not so.
It had been asked, where is the great difference between twelve and ten hours ? There is this difference, that before 1833, twelve hours was actually the time for work in all well-conducted factories. There is not a cotton- manufacturing country in the world where the people do not work twelve hours a day, and generally more. One material effect of diminished time must be diminution of wages ; but it is not during the season when employ- ment is plentiful in the manufacturing districts that misery and disease are rife: it is when population and wages are at a low ebb that disaster falls upon the wretched population; and if the House adopted Lord Ashley's propo- sition, they would produce a stagnation of labour and a degree of misery hitherto unknown. The Commissioners of 1833 were of opinion that a ten- hours bill would raise wages only for a short time ; that new works would be erected, both in England and on the Continent ; that the smaller manufac- turers would be swept away ; and that thus both employment and wages would be diminished.
Mr. COLQUHOUN argued for a ten-hours bill.
Mr. FIELDEN combated the assertion that the limitation proposed by Lord Ashley would be ruinous to commerce and to manufactures.
Manufactures would be sooner suspended, and those engaged in them, by a continuance of twelve hours' labour. Indeed, he went further still, and would say that eight hours would be more preservative than twelve. It was a mis- take to suppose that the factory-workers are opposed to any restriction of labour below twelve hours a day : and in proof, he read a petition from thirty- two delegates of Lancashire operatives, advocating a ten-hours bill. He argued that the reduction of two hours would not diminish the productions of manu- factures by 20per cent. But suppose it were so, prices, dependent upon de- mand and supply, would rise. (Cheers.) He knew what honourable gentle- men meant—that if the supply were diminished manufacturing establishments would be increased: in that case, there would be a greater demand for labour, and wages would rise. To show the feeling of the master-manufacturers, last year he presented a petition in favour of a proposition similar to Lord Ashley's, with 190 signatures of that class.
Sir ROBERT PEEL opposed Lord Ashley's amendment.
Theoretically, it imposed restrictions on the labour of females and children ; but practically, it would also prevent the labour of male adults beyond the time specified. It applied to the four great branches of British industry, the cotton, woollen, worsted, and linen manufactures. Now, of 44,000,0001. value, 35,000,600/ is exported ; but it was proposed that a reduction of time should be appointed, equal to a cessation of work during seven weeks in the year ; and that too at the time when the exportation of machinery has given another ad- vantage to the manufacturer abroad ! How long could the home manufacturer be able to stand this increased conpetition ? Would not it give an increased impulse to the fureign rival ? His material will not be increased in price; he will come into competition with you, who have raised the price of your manu- factures by your interference with the hours of labour; he will take advantage of that, and you will suffer in the neutral market without a power of com- pensating yourself fur your increased cost. Look at the thousands and tens of thousands congregated together and dependent upon it for support ; and look at the consequence upon the comforts of those people, not of severe labour, but of the depression of manufacturing prosperity, and the absence of a demand for labour. And look at that which I never shall forget as long as I live—the state of Paisley in the year 1842, with from 14,000 to 15,000 men out of em- ploy, offering their labour, and yet without the means of getting an equivalent for it, being dependent upon charity for support. Then, 1 say, if commerce is depressed, that is an addition to the material suffering of the people of this country infinitely greater than any evil that can arise from working twelve or fourteen hours. If I could, 1 would have women labour but eight hours a day : but these questions do not depend upon the wishes and feelings of humanity. It is an entirely different thing, that which I wish and am desirous of main- taining, from that which it is desirable to attempt by means of a peremptory enactment. Therefore, when I say I must consider the commercial view of the subject, it is not by placing the commercial gain in contrast with the com- forts of the people ; but I say that hundreds and thousands are dependent for food upon the prosperity of our commerce ; and if any particular measure tends to increase foreign competition, and to strike a blow at the permanent pros- perity of these great branches of industry, I shall rue, when it is too late, the injury I shall have inflicted upon the working classes of this country by assent- ing to it.
He pointed out the injustice which the restriction would inflict on the ma- nufacturer, who, after keeping his mill open without profit during seasons of commercial depression, seeks to repay himself by renewed activity in times of prosperity ; and in like manner after a period of decline and short wages, when the labouring man had an opportunity of earning 91/. a year, then Parliament was to interpose and keep him on the 25/. or 30!. a year which he earned during bad times! What was that but levying an income-tax upon labour? To impose a restriction upon one class of labour was to give a premium to another class ; but what were the kinds of employment that would be encouraged ? If he could carry his own wishes into effect, he should be much inclined to pro- hibit some kinds of agricultural labour, carried on by women in the middle of' winter : and he read along list of manufacturing operations in hard-ware, metal, earthen-ware, and other occupations, in which the work is at least as hard as in factory labour, and in which the employment of women and children would be encouraged by the proposed restriction. If the principle of the motion were adopted, it could not stop with the trade specified by the bill, but must extend to all other departments of labour in which young and adult females are em- ployed. ,4 If you are prepared to legislate for them—(Cheers from both sides of the House)—are you prepared to legislate for them ? (Loud cheers.) Then we are about to subject not factory labour only, but all labour in this country, if it falls at all within the same principles, to the same restrictions. (Cheers.) e are about not merely to interdict the employment of women in mines and collieries, but to provide regulations which shall apply to children, and which ought to apply to adults, in respect of all labour, where we think it more severe than the human frame ought justly to bear. (Cheers.) That principle, then, is well understood. (Cheers.) if this, then, be only the commencement of the work, I cannot make any objection to it as being an unjust inter- fereuce with particular classes of labour : but if, as it seems now to be the im- pression, and perhaps the just one, that the imposing these restrictions will engender the necessity of further restrictions, applicable to all labour—and as I see not why it should not extend to agricultural labour—(Loud cheers from the Opposition)—all I can say is, that before I adopt a principle which necessarily leads to such extensive consequences, namely, an invariable and almost universal interference with labour in this country—although I admit, from the universality of its application, it is not inconsistent with justice as showing a preference toone description of labour over another, yet, foreseeing that it involves me in a duty which I shall never be able satisfactorily to perform—knowing that although it is possible for me, perhaps, to deal with factory labour, yet where I am to enter into the private shop and private house, and impose obligations on every in- dividual as to the degree of labour which he shall impose, not on three or four hundred children, but on the two or three members of his family whom he em- ploys—if I am to be involved in such a difficult, and, as I think, such a perilous adventure—if I am to undertake the duty of prescribing by legislation, not merely how long the steam-engine shall work—that I can effect—but if I am to inculcate on every private establishment and every private family the duties of humanity by legislation, I am involved in a task above all human strength, and full, as I believe, of individual injustice. (Cheers.) I know my wishes and feelings would be as much in concurrence with effecting that object as it is in the case of the Factories Bill. .1 should like to see the father more proud of the education, instruction, and moral training of his children, than anxious to increase his earnings by their labour. But can I effect that by law ? if I once undertook it, I must not be deterred by the difficulty of legislating on individual cases. The more I extend my legislation—if I go from the factory to the earthen-ware trade, from the earthen-ware to the hosiery, and from the hosiery to the lace-trade, that which I leave unencumbered I give fresh en- couragement to. It is not the magnitude of the establishment I shall have to contend with : if I carry out the principle fully and fairly, I must descend into all the details of daily occupation. It is admitted that the first principle of undue interference involves that point. What may be the effect, then, on the general employment of the country of such an attempt ? I know it is pregnant with the most important consequences. After legislation shall have been effected, and these new restrictions imposed, depend upon it, that is not the close of your legislation." (Cheers.) Lord JOHN RUSSELL announced that he would vote for the amend- ment, though not satisfied with Lord Ashley's statement.
That statement, he thought, was open to the remark of Sir James Graham, that women and children ought to be altogether excluded. On the other band, Sir Robert Peel's argument showed the impolicy of imposing any restraints upon the free exercise of labour. Government, however, had introduced the principle of interference with adult labour, in the Mining Bill: scarcely a fa- vourable illustration, for in Scotland it is constantly evaded, by women dressed as men. With respect to children employed in a manner destructive to health and life, the State has a right to interfere for their protection ; and it is too much to say, that to secure the right of labour for adult males, they must per- mit measures calculated to ruin the health of children. He bad been much struck with the opinion of millowners quoted by Mr. Colquhoun in favour of a ten-hours hill. He thought that the effect of the bill might be to secure em- ployment for a limited number of hours throughout the year, instead of longer employment for soma months and no employment for others. He believed that one consequence of the measure would be reduction of wages ; which must be met by cheapening food through repeal of the Corn-laws. With con- fessed hesitation, he should give his vote in favour of the amendment.
The House was now very impatient to divide ; and would scarcely listen to Mr. IIINDLEY, Mr. COLLETT, Mr. HARDY, and Mr. MINTS, who all supported Lord Ashley.
The Committee divided twice ; first, on the motion to leave out the word "eight " in order to insert " six," which was affirmed by 179 to 170—majority against Ministers, 9 ; and then, on the motion to insert the word "six," which was affirmed by 161 to 153—majority, 8.
Sir JAMES GRAHAM said that he still retained insuperable objections to what was virtually a ten-hours bill: but he did not consider it con- sistent with his duty to drop the measure at the present stage. On the 8th clause, Lord Ashley would have to move the substitution of " ten" for " twelve " hours ; and the question could then be reconsidered in a more substantive form. He moved, therefore, that the Chairman report progress and ask leave to sit again on Friday.
The House accordingly resumed.
On Tuesday, at the instance of Mr. LABOUGHERE, Lord Ammar stated his future course.
He had that morning had an interview with five or six considerable manu- facturers, and with several operatives, who represented the feelings of the opera- tive manufacturing classes; and they all heartily approved of the plan he was
about to state. On Friday, he should entreat the House to affirm the proposi- tion of ten-hours labour, by the substitution of the word " ten " for " twelve" in the 8th clause of the bill. Should that be affirmed, he should prepare a clause enacting that the present duration of labour, twelve hours, should con- tinue till the 1st October 1844; the period should then fall to eleven hours ; to continue so till the let October 1846, when the period of ten hours should Commence. He thought that would give ample time for the change.
Sir James GRAHAM stated that he should resist the motion to substi- - tete " ten " for " twelve," and should take the sense of the House upon it.
FREE TRADE AND RECIPROCITY.
In the House of Commons, on Tuesday, Mr. RICARDO proposed a change in the foreign commercial policy of the country. He moved,
" That an humble address be presented to her Majesty, praying that her
Majesty will be graciously pleased to give directions to her servants not to enter into any negotiations .ith Foreign Powers which would make any contemplated &Iterations of the tariff of the United Kingdom contingent on the alteration of the tariffs of other countries ; and humbly expressing to her Majesty the opi- nion of this House, that the great object of relieving the commercial inter- wsurse between this country and foreign nations from all injurious restrictions will be beat promoted by regulating our own Customs-duties as may be most
suitable to the financial and commercial interests of this country, without re- ference to the amount of duties which Foreign Powers may think it expedient, for their own interests, to levy on British goods."
At the opening of the session in 1842, the Speech from the Throne contained
this passage—" I receive from all Princes and States the continued assurance .ief their earnest desire to maintain the most friendly relations with this country. I am engaged in negotiations with several Powers, which, I trust, by leading to conventions founded on the just principle of mutual advantage, may extend the trade and commerce of the country." The effect of the course hitherto pur- .aned has been any thing but satisfactory. The treaties in question were those negotiated with Brazil, Portugal, Spain, and France. Mr. Gladstone has pathetically described the fate of the first : but, however preposterous the pro- pawls of Brazil were, it might safely be asserted that those of our own Government were so in a fourfold or fivefold degree ; for certainly, a pro- posal to reduce restrictions of 30 or 40 per cent could not come very well from a nation that imposes duties of 300 or 400 per cent on Brazilian produce. A mere allusion will suffice for the slave-trade argument : slavery is one thing, commerce is another ; and if slavery is to be the ground for with- holding from the British people the benefit of extended trade with Brazil, would it not be beat to grant compensation to the Brazilian slaveholders, as the House did in the case of the West Indies? In Spain, we have not only negotiated, but we have spent treasure and risked war ; yet it is a fact that we are further off our point than ever. The commercial convention with Por- tugal has miscarried; and in the mean time, the wine-trade has been so much deranged, that the deficiency in the consumption of port in 1842 was 1,081,637 pillow, being more than half; and the loss to the revenue was 312,816/.: but while we are demanding of Portugal the admission of our manufactures at 30 sr 40 per cent, we impose a duty of not less than 150 per cent ad valnreni on her wine and 600 per cent on her brandy. With France we have had a nego- tiation, styled by Mr. Labouchere, " always pending, never ending"; France -having acted upon the rigidly exclusive and anti-British policy recommended by M. St. Ferrial iu a work dedicated to M. Guterin, Director-in-chief of the 'Administration of Customs. Amidst description of every species of practi-
• amble prohibition and exclusion to be enforced, M. St. Ferrial urges the Mi- nister " to consider as a principle, that in all treaties to be negotiated with England, most of the conditions which she will propose are to be avoided." The French Government enforce such principles, at a loss to themselves of 110,000,000 franca on sugar and 50,000,000 francs on iron ; and, notwithstand- Ang our efforts, it is row clearly ascertained that all idea of the commercial 'treaty has been abandoned. The commercial part of the Ashburton treaty involves a difficulty of a different kind ; for the provision which pledges us to admit the produce of the portion of the disputed territory now annexed to the State of Maine on the footing of Colonial produce, may place us in a dilemma with other corn-growing and timber-growing States of America. Do not these lads suffice to show, that the system of seeking development for our trade by meddling with foreign customhouses, is moat unwise, impolitic, and dangerous ? la France, M. Guizot has abandoned the deceptive advantages of commercial *treaties, and has declared his intention of adopting measures for the welfare of his country without reference to what other countries may do. In fact, the 'attempt to induce other countries to lower their duties on our goods by in- creasing the import-duties on their produce, is most absurd. It only increases the impediments to the extension of our commerce with those countries. If a country imposes a duty of 40 per cent on our produce, and we retaliate with an equal duty on its produce, we increase the obstacle to our trade with that coun- try from 40 to 80 per cent. Our trade with Russia exceeds that of Brazil, -though we have with Brazil one of those "reciprocity treaties" in favour of which there is such a prejudice. Strange to say, while our imports with Russia exceed 5,000,0001., our exports are but 1,600,000/. Even if the balance were laid in bullion, a profitable trade might be carried on in gold as well as in any . lather commodity ; but in point of fact, it is paid for with the goods in our . !bonded warehouses, the produce of Brazil and other foreign countries. On a
4ormer occasion, Mr. Gladstone asked him, whether he desired a circular should be sent off to every British Minister accredited to a Foreign Court, desiring him to stop any negotiations that might be going on for effecting commercial trea- ties?—he would now say, that if that were done, it would, in his opinion, save much unnecessary trouble.
Mr. EWART seconded the motion ; passing strictures on some of the
most remarkable commercial treaties,—the Methuen treaty of 1703 with Portugal, which substituted port for French wines in English use ; and the treaty with France in 1786, which had excited much jealousy in that country.
Mr. GLADSTONE opposed the motion.
Last year, the House rejected Mr. Ricardo's proposal to declare that reduc-
tion of import-duties should not be made the basis of stipulations with foreign countries ; and now he proposed a motion couched in still more sweeping terms. Be said that the English proposals were more preposterous than those of Brazil ; but he quite overlooked the distinction in the two cases. The 40 per cent duty proposed by Brazil was not resisted on the abstract doctrine that it would be unjustifiable: it was intended, not for the sake of revenue, but in order to rear up a protective system. With Spain the treaty failed on account of the weak- ness of that Government. The Ashburton treaty could not at present be fairly or prudently discussed ; but the privilege guaranteed had been acquired when the.ceded territory was in a British province. As to Portugal, the 30 or 40 per cent was to be levied on our manufactures, the object being to place British manfactures at a disadvantage; but in taxing their wine and brandy, our only abject was to raise a revenue upon an article of luxury consumed by the rich. He did not deny that parties negotiating toge-
- ither might place themselves unwisely in the position of parties making a hostile arrangement. He did not deny that the natural disposition to do all they could for their country led them to overrate that which they offered to
• foreign countries, and to underrate that which foreign countries offered them ',return. All these difficolties attached themselves to. commercial .negotia- -dons, and formed, he was ready to admit, serious impediments to theirfival and satisfactory settlement. He wished to show that he did not underrate.the difficulties and disadvantages of commercial negotiations. If honourable gen- tlemen were toput the question, whether he would admit that it was more pro- bable that favourable negotiations would be formed between this and foreign countries within a certain space of time, or whether it was more probable that they would not—he would reply, that be did not deem it necessary at present to answer the question. He did not object to honourable gentlemen raising the question ; he did not object to a strong statement of the disadvantages and difficulties of commercial negotiations : but he would in the first place say, that there had been treaties of this sort which had been very advantageous ; and in the second place, that even if there had not, it was quite possible that at some future period there might. Why then should the House, by a resolution, preclude itself from the possibility of entering on such treaties at a future period? The treaty with Brazil was of that advantageous kind; and as to the comparative extent of our commerce with Russia, it should be remembered that Russia has a population of 60,000,000—Brazil of only 6,000,000. The treaty with France was also.= extraordinarily advantageous treaty. He did not deny that abstract truth exists in commercial and political matters ; but it is difficult to come at ; and it is a question, whether abstract propositions are the most convenient forms in which to express the judgment of deliberative bodies. The resolution extended to all duties, making no distinction between revenue and protection. The mover, ton, made no distinction between a direct and an indirect trade—a trade in highly-finished articles and one in articles on which less labour has been bestowed, like our trade with Russia: but unless he could make good the doctrine that there is no choice between different kinds of trade, he could not call upon the House to affirm his resolution. Even political subjects might be connected with commercial treaties : for example, one country might be disposed to meet a reduction of import-duty by a corresponding reduction on its own part ; and a balance of advantages between the re- duction of import-duties in this country might he affected by such con- siderations. The negotiations with France five or six years ago had for their real object to break up the prohibitory system of that country. While he did not admit that such a consideration *as a considerable object in a com- mercial treaty, yet still, let them not exclude themselves from the means of obtaining it.
Lord HowiCK was astonished to hear the resolution objected to as " abstract " : he considered it eminently practical and useful.
" It is notorious that the Executive Government enters into commercial negotiations without any previous control on the part of this. House. Nothing is more common than that, when an honourable gentleman upon this side of the House urges the adoption of a line of policy upon the Government, he is aid with the reply, that his questions or suggestions are inconsistent with 'nego- tiations now in progress. It is in the power of the Executive Government to commit the faith of the country to a particular course of policy, and then they call upon us to frame our measures in consonance with what they have done. Hit ie true that these negotiations are so inconvenient—if it is true that, as a general rule, we should abstain from entering into them—what can be more proper and less abstract than to ask her Majesty to give directions to her ser- vants to abstain in future from entering into those negotiations, to the policy of which so many objections are raised ? No advice could be more useful. .No one can compare the language and practice of the Government, without being struck by this great anomaly, that whereas the leaders of political parties all agree in the advantages of free trade—although those are the doctrines preached, yet when we come to look how they are carried into effect, we find that our commercial policy is encumbered in all directions with a masa of acts of ,re- striction—that our scale of Customhouse-rates contains in every page, and in every item, duties which are totally contrary to the principles thus uni- versally assented to—rates of duty so exceedingly high that they cannot be defended on any sound principle of commercial or financial policy. This, then, is the existing state of things; and what is the explanation of the anomaly ? It is, that although we agree in principle, yet that whenever we come practically to apply that principle, there are private interests of one kind or another en- listed against us, and we always find some excuse for not applying it." The only difference seemed to resolve itself into this question—Is it expe- dient to submit to the inconvenience of imposing restrictions on our trade, m the hope of getting other countries to join us in taking off excessive imports ; or should we not, with the means which this country has it in its power to use, place the trade between this and other nations on that footing on which we all agree it should remain? " If you admit that this system of punishing ydur- selves by high duties is unwise permanently to continue, I ask you, how can you reject, even for a day, what you must feel to be a relief—the power of ob- taining employment for your own population, under the vague expectation that other countries will join you in establishing more perfect freedom of trade ? It seems to me, this mistake arises from a misconception as to the relative advan- tage of restriction on imports and exports. Her Majesty's Government, with all the progress they have made in confirming the doctrines of Free Trade, seem still not thoroughly to have shaken off the trammels of the old notion that the export-trade was alone advantageous, and that what, in old language, was called the favourable balance of trade,' was the grand desideratum ; though it is obvious that, for the last three-quarters of a century, the old mercantile theory of the advantage of a balance in the precious metals has to the mind of every educated man been completely exploded. • • • For my own part, though I do not deny the extravagant duties maintained by foreign countries to be an evil, I think they arc chiefly so in this sense—that they prevent those nations making the progress they ought in wealth and civilization, and there- fore render them less able to supply us with as large an amount of valuable commodities as we otherwise could obtain, and thus make trade on the whole somewhat less commodious. And therefore, it appears to me, your course of policy is utterly unjustifiable--that because you are afraid extravagant duties will be still maintained by other countries, you should refuse to your own po- pulation that relief which the right honourable Baronet himself admits would be the immediate effect of a relaxation of our duties.
" While this country allows it to be supposed that the prospect of a petty advantage in individual cases is the inducement to conclude what is commonly called a commercial treaty, other nations will distrust our policy : but if, entering into no commercial treaties, they proceed at once to reduction of all import-duties as far as the financial interests of the country will allow, in the course of a few years other countries will see the wisdom of following our example. The fear of being overreached, which is said so much to influence the conduct of foreign nations, will no longer be called into play. The monopolizing interests—for example, the iron interest of France—will be no longer able to enlist in favour of their selfish interests the angry passions of a great portion of the community; the commercial policy of foreign countries will cease to be influenced by national antipathies."
Mr. HUME was proceeding in support of the motion, when a Member moved that the House be counted ; and only thirty-nine Members be- ing present, the House rose, at a quarter to eight o'clock.
On Thursday, Mr. EWART moved these resolutions- " That it is indispensable to the maintenance and extension of the trade of this country, that those duties be repealed which press on the say ausmeipie of mtanufacture, especially the raw materials of the woollen and cotton trade. That it is expedient also, that those duties be greatly reduced which press on articlesof interchange in return for our manufactures, especially such articles of interchange as at the same time concern the subsistence of the people; being (besides corn, which is the subject of superior and separate consider- ation) such articles as tea, sugar, coffee, bacon, butter, and cheese. That it is expedient that those duties also be greatly reduced, which, by their amount, encourage smuggling, being at once injurious to the revenue and dan- gerous to the morality of the country ; such as the duties on tobacco, silk goods, and foreign spirits. That whatever temporary deficiency of revenue be caused by such redaction ought, until the revenue regain its former amount, to be sustained by the property and not by the trade and labour of the country."
While Mr. E wart was proceeding to support this motion in a speech, a Member moved that the House be counted ; and, only thirty-eight Members being present, the House adjourned, at seven o'clock.
In the House of Lords, on Monday, Earl FITZWILLIAM presented a petition from Glasgow, praying for redress of Irish grievances, and .especially for abolition of the Established Church.
In that part of the prayer he could not agree ; for, in place of abolishing the Church, he would render it more efficient to administer religious comforts to that part of the community to which it was adapted. But the British Legisla- ture had committed a great offence in having proscribed the Roman Catholic priesthood, and having withheld from the great body of the people any recog- nized means of religious worship. He would not centralize the funds of the Established Church, or make the priesthood stipendiary dependants on the State; but he would preserve the parochial system, and placing the two sects upon an equality, divide the ecclesiastical property between them. The Duke of WELLINGTON remarked, that the petition attacked the very foundation of the Reformation in this country, involving the repeal of laws upon which it rested. He warned the House against assenting to any such doctrines. " There is not an individual in this country, be his religious opinions what they may, be his position what it may, who is not interested in the maintenance of the Reformation. Not only our whole system of religion, but our whole system of reli- gious toleration, in which so many people in this country are interested, depends upon the laws on which the Reformation has been founded." He entreated the House not to infringe the compact entered into with the Irish Parliament— "'The Protestant Church of Ireland has existed iu that country for a period extending from 250 to 300 years. It was maintained in that country during a century of contest, rebellion, and massacre ; and in the contest which took place in that country for the possession of the Crown, the Protestants, who maintained that conquest, fought for and kept possession of their Church. The contest continued during another century ; but, though opposed by difficulties of every description, still the Church was maintained. At the period of the
Union, with a Parliament which had the power either to consent to the Union
or to refuse to consent, it was stipulated that the Protestant Church in Ireland should be maintained, and maintained on the same footing as the Protestant Church in this country. The noble Earl said that he believed it to be the opinion of the people of this country that that compact should be maintained : 'my Lords, I believe it is the opinion of the people of this country ; and I hope, so long asa spark of honour remains, that such will he their opinion. The noble Lord -spoke truth when he said that the mini of the country must change before that compact can be departed from. But if such a change should take place, the mind of the country must also be made up to undermine the foundations of the Reformation in this country; and though the noble Lord says it must come to • this, still I entreat your Lordships not to think of breaking the compact fur the preservation of the Church in Ireland." (Cheers-) Earl Firzvenaden denied that he had said any thing about the Re- formation ; and in answer to the Duke of Wellington's warnings, he -reminded him of those which he had given before his own Emancipa- tion measure of 1829.
The Bishop of EXETER thanked Lord Fitz wiliiam for eliciting the
Duke of Wellington's admirable speech. He denounced the spoliation advised by Lord Fitzwilliam ; and observed, that if the Church were robbed, Lord Fitzwilliam, a noble Earl, and a noble Marquis near him, must be made to disgorge the enormous proportion of confiscated pro- perty which they held in Ireland. (Loud laughter from Earl Fitz- militant.) The petition was laid upon the table.
ECCLESIASTICAL COURTS REFORM.
In the House of Lords, on Thursday, the LORD CHANCELLOR moved the second reading of the bill for improving the practice of the Ecclesi- astical Courts in England and Wales ; and explained the bill in a long .speech. First, he glanced at the history of the question, from the appointment of a Commission on the subject in 1829 to the bill of last year; retracing ground which was traversed last session. [See a paper on the subject in the Spectator, 18th March 1843.] That bill reached its second reading, and was modified to disarm objection; but the session had then arrived at such a period that it was impossible to carry the measure. By the present bill, it was proposed to con- solidate the Arches and Prerogative Courts in the provinces of Canterbury and York, leaving only one Archiepiscopal Court in each province ; the three or four hundred Courts of Peculiars, which possess varying, anomalous, and vexa- tious jurisdiction, with a few remaining Manorial Courts, would be abolished : bat the Diocesan Courts would be continued, abuses being remedied, and the courts being rendered more efficient by the appointment of persons duly qua- lified to sit and act in them. For thus abolishing the Peculiars and retaining the Diocesan Courts he had the high authority of Lord Stowell, who had in- troduced a bill for the same purpose : and there were some advantages in having local courts. He saw the difficulties arising from the law of bona notabilia, [goods belonging to a testator to the amount of 51. in different jurisdictions, the existence of which makes it necessary to have as many probates as there are jurisdictions, or any probate will be void.] In the case of the three hundred and fifty Peculiars, that difficulty would be removed; the difficulty remaining would not be very great ; and the total abolition of the Diocesan Courts, to remove it, would be too great a price. The bill did as much as was practicable; and be trusted that they would not, like a froward child, refuse the proffered boon because they could not get more.
Lord COTTENHAM strongly objected to the bill for not going far enough, and for falling short of last year's measure.
The same reasons which apply to the smaller jari.clictians also enforce the conclusion that the Diocesan Courts should be abolished. The absurd dis- tinction of the law, which gives Ecclesiastical Courts authority over wills re- lating to personal property, but not in respect of real property, must sooner or later be put an end to Another inconvenience lies in the distinction between the appellate jurisdiction in the two several cases; for appeals arising out of 'wills affecting real property lie to the House of Lordsaffecting personal pro- petty, to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Instead of mending these things, the bill revived thirty-four old courts with jurisdiction over wills affecting personal property ; perpetuating all the inconveniences of the law of bona -notabilia which touches almost every estate of value in the country. The bill even extended the jurisdiction of the Diocesan Courts in matters of legacy
bathe was consoled by observing that those clauses were totally inefficient far
their purpose; for the courts, not having the necessary powers over the whole estate, nor the machinery of recei vers to pay and collect debts, cannot administer legacies. The Diocesan Courts were to be presided over by barristers of a cer- tain standing,—which was so far an improvement ; and they were to hold office during good behaviour,—to which there was no objection : but if this good be- haviour should not be found to exist, the Judge so misconducting himself was to be removed in the same way as the Judges of her Majesty's superior courts. How ? By an address of Parliament to the Crown ? But the Judges were appointed by the Bishops; and were the two Houses of Parliament to address the Crown to remove a Judge appointed by a Bishop ? He presumed it was not intended that Parliament should address the Bishop. He did not know how this office was to be performed. Lord Cottenham cited a succession of the highest ecclesiastical and legal authorities who have recommended the abo- lition of the Diocesan Courts. The reason why the late Government did not effect that reform was, that it was necessary to provide a substitute for the discipline exercised by those courts over the clergy: a bill for that purpose was passed in 1841, and there is no longer any difficulty of that kind. The argument that such Local Courts bring justice near to the homes of the suitors does not hold good ; for, under the bill, they would have to traverse great distances : a party living in Southwark would have to go to Winchester; from Berwick to Durham, 78 miles; from Montgomery to Bangor, 85 miles; from Brecon to St. David's, 98 miles; from Rye to Chichester, 80 miles; and from Penzance to Exeter, 121 miles. Needless expense is anotherobjection: four-fifths of the whole " contentious" business goes already to the Prerogative Court, leaving very little to be done : but to do that little, thirty-four courts are main- tained! There must be some reserved reason for introducing a bill so oppo- site to those of 1836 and 1843. He believed that the opposition to last year's bill arose from the fact that it did not propose any compensation to the coun- try proctors for the expected loss of their country practice. Now, it was ra- ther singular that the present bill did contain such a provision ; and 'he could not help thinking, that if it were introduced into the proper bill it would have a strong effect in modifying the asperity of those gentlemen and enabling Government to carry that bill : not that he meant to insinuate that they could. be turned from their purpose by the country proctors. lie recommended the Lord Chancellor to remodel the bill.
The Bishop of LONDON, one of the Commissioners who signed the original report, supported the bill, as the best that the Legislature was in a condition to pass. The practice of the Diocesan Courts had net inspired him with a very high reverence for their law ; but part of their jurisdiction could not very well be transferred to other courts, and it was perhaps going too far to abolish them.
Lord Brionomem assented to the bill on somewhat similar grounds ; describing the difficulties that he had encountered in a bill which he brought in many years ago : if he saw one deputation he saw two or three hundred, if he received one memorial he received five hundred.
Lord CAMPBELL opposed the measure ; insisting on the incapacity of the Ecclesiastical Courts, and asking what the Church had to do with civil questions of property ? The Lose CHANCELLOR explained, that the sole reason for the pre- sent shape of the bill was the opposition encountered by the measure of last year.
The bill was read a second time, to be committed on Tuesday next.
CONVERSION OF THE THREE-AND-A-HALF PER CENT ANNUITIES.
In the House of Lords, on Monday, the Three-and-a-Half per Cent Annuities Bill passed the second reading, and was committed, una- nimously ; Lord BROUGHAM and Lord MONTEAGLE expressing great satisfaction at the measure. Lord Monteagle, however, wished that further notice had been given to the Stock-holders. And he hoped that the opportunity offered by the saving would be taken to abrogate the Income-tax at the appointed time ; and to revise the system of taxation and the banking-laws. The Earl of RIPON said, that in a transaction of such magnitude, it was desirable that it should be closed as soon as possible ; and in point of fact, he was not aware that any practical disadvantage had been sustained by any parties. The bill was read% third time, and passed, on Tuesday.
OR Thursday, Lord CAMPBELL protested against the delay in giving the Royal Assent to the bill. Tile 231 instant was named as the last day for Stock-holders to notify their dissent : unless a fair portion of time were allowed after the Assent, it was a perfect mockery. The Loam CHANCELLOR intended to have a commission on Thursday, but he had received an intimation from the House of Commons, that it would be more convenient next day. Although, in point of law, there could berm dissent until after the bill had received the Royal Assent, yet, prac- tically, dissent in three cases had been given ; and he believed more were not expected.
NEW Warts issued—on Wednesday, for Hastings, in the room of Mr. Joseph Planta ; Thursday, for Christchurch, in Hastings, room of Sir G. H. Rose ; both Members having accepted the Stewardship of the Chiltern Hundreds.
CONTROVERTED ELECTIONS. On Tuesday, Sir ROBERT PEEL gave notice, that, on an early day, he should move for a Select Committee to inquire whether it is desirable that any alteration should be made in the law respect-. ing controverted elections.
THE MONSTER PETITION. On Thursday, Mr. WYSE presented a petition from 821,334 members of the Irish Repeal Association and others, including several municipal bodies and local authorities, indignantly praying for inquiry into the recent State trial. The bulky roll filled a chest four or five feet square, and was placed upon the table by Mr. O'Connell and two other Members.
THE QUEEN'S CONTINENTAL VISITS. IR reply to Captain Roust, on Tato- day, Sir ROBERT PEEL said that rumours in circulation were totally destitute of foundation; and he believed that the Queen had not the slightest intention of visiting Berlin in May.
VICTORIA PARR. In reply to Sir WILLIAM CLAY, on Monday, the Earl of LINCOLN said that 179 acres of Victoria Park were in possession of the Crown, but that 83 acres, held on different tenures by six proprietors, were still outstanding. In consequence of the exorbitant demand made for the latter piece of ground by the owners, he had been obliged to resort to a jury to obtain possession of the property. As soon as the Crown was in possession by course of law, operations would be commenced ; but this would not take place until the whole was in possession. He had reason to hope that this would take
place before the autumn. -