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«Part II: The Transformation of Money in Capital Ch. 4: The General Formula for Capital Ch. 5: Contradictions in the General Formula of Capital Ch. 6: ...»

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[238] The Tory Cabinet [239] announced in the Speech from the Throne, on February 5, 1867, that it had framed the proposals of the Industrial Commission of Inquiry [240] into Bills. To get that far, another twenty years of experimentum in corpore vili had been required. Already in 1840 a Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry on the labour of children had been appointed. Its Report, in 1842, unfolded, in the words of Nassau W. Senior, "the most frightful picture of avarice, selfishness and cruelty on the part of masters and of parents, and of juvenile and infantile misery, degradation and destruction ever presented.... It may be supposed that it describes the horrors of a past age. But there is unhappily evidence that those horrors continue as intense as they were. A pamphlet published by Hardwicke about 2 years ago states that the abuses complained of in 1842, are in full bloom at the present day. It is a strange proof of the general neglect of the morals and health of the children of the working-class, that this report lay unnoticed for 20 years, during which the children, 'bred up without the remotest sign of comprehension as to what is meant by the term morals, who had neither knowledge, nor religion, nor natural affection,' were allowed to become the parents of the present generation." [241] The social conditions having undergone a change, Parliament could not venture to shelve the demands of the Commission of 1862, as it had done those of the Commission of 1840. Hence in 1864, when the Commission had not yet published more than a part of its reports, the earthenware industries (including the potteries), makers of paperhangings, matches, cartridges, and caps, and fustian cutters were made subject to the Acts in force in the textile industries. In the Speech from the Throne, on 5th February, 1867, the Tory Cabinet of the day announced the introduction of Bills, founded on the final recommendations of the Commission, which had completed its labours in 1866.

On the 15th August, 1867, the Factory Acts Extension Act, and on the 21st August, the Workshops' Regulation Act received the Royal Assent; the former Act having reference to large industries, the latter to small.

The former applies to blast-furnaces, iron' and copper mills, foundries, machine shops, metal manufactories, gutta-percha works, paper mills, glass-works, tobacco manufactories, letter-press printing (including newspapers), book-binding, in short to all industrial establishments of the above kind, in which 50 individuals or more are occupied simultaneously, and for not less than 100 days during the year.

To give an idea of the extent of the sphere embraced by the Workshops' Regulation Act in its application, we cite from its interpretation

clause, the following passages:

"Handicraft shall mean any manual labour exercised by way of trade, or for purposes of gain in, or incidental to, the making any article or part of an article, or in, or incidental to, the altering, repairing, ornamenting, finishing, or otherwise adapting for sale any article."

"Workshop shall mean any room or place whatever in the open air or undercover, in which any handicraft is carried on by any child, young person, or woman, and to which and over which the person by whom such child, young person, or woman is employed, has the right of access and control."

"Employed shall mean occupied in any handicraft, whether for wages or not, under a master or under a parent as herein defined."

"Parent shall mean parent, guardian, or person, having the custody of, or control over, any... child or young person."

Clause 7, which imposes a penalty for employment of children, young persons, and women, contrary to the provisions of the Act, subjects to fines, not only the occupier of the workshop, whether parent or not, but even "the parent of, or the person deriving any direct benefit from the labour of, or having the control over, the child, young person or woman. " The Factory Acts Extension Act, which affects the large establishments, derogates from the Factory Act by a crowd of vicious exceptions and cowardly compromises with the masters.

The Workshops' Regulation Act, wretched in all its details, remained a dead letter in the hands of the municipal and local authorities who were charged with its execution. When, in 1871, Parliament withdrew from them this power, in order to confer it on the Factory Inspectors, to whose province it thus added by a single stroke more than one hundred thousand workshops, and three hundred brickworks, care was taken at the same time not to add more than eight assistants to their already undermanned staff. [242] What strikes us, then, in the English legislation of 1867, is, on the one hand, the necessity imposed on the parliament of the ruling classes, of adopting in principle measures so extraordinary, and on so great a scale, against the excesses of capitalistic exploitation; and on the other hand, the hesitation, the repugnance, and the bad faith, with which it lent itself to the task of carrying those measures into practice.

The Inquiry Commission of 1862 also proposed a new regulation of the mining industry, an industry distinguished from others by the exceptional characteristic that the interests of landlord and capitalist there join hands. The antagonism of these two interests had been favourable to Factory legislation, while on the other hand the absence of that antagonism is sufficient to explain the delays and chicanery of the legislation on mines.





The Inquiry Commission of 1840 had made revelations so terrible, so shocking, and creating such a scandal all over Europe, that to salve its conscience Parliament passed the Mining Act of 1842, in which it limited itself to forbidding the employment underground in mines of children under 10 years of age and females.

Then another Act, The Mines' Inspecting Act of 1860, provides that mines shall be inspected by public officers nominated specially for that purpose, and that boys between the ages of 10 and 12 years shall not be employed, unless they have a school certificate, or go to school for a certain number of hours. This Act was a complete dead letter owing to the ridiculously small number of inspectors, the meagreness of their powers, and other causes that will become apparent as we proceed.

One of the most recent Blue books on mines is the "Report from the Select Committee on Mines, together with &c. Evidence, 23rd July, 1866." This Report is the work of a Parliamentary Committee selected from members of the House of Commons, and authorised to summon and examine witnesses. It is a thick folio volume in which the Report itself occupies only five lines to this effect; that the committee has nothing to say, and that more witnesses must be examined!

The mode of examining the witnesses reminds one of the crossexamination of witnesses in English courts of justice, where the advocate tries, by means of impudent, unexpected, equivocal and involved questions, put without connexion, to intimidate, surprise, and confound the witness, and to give a forced meaning to the answers extorted from him. In this inquiry the members of the committee themselves are the cross-examiners, and among them are to be found both mine-owners and mine exploiters; the witnesses are mostly working coal miners. The whole farce is too characteristic of the spirit of capital, not to call for a few extracts from this Report. For the sake of conciseness I have classified them. I may also add that every question and its answer are numbered in the English Blue books.

1. Employment in mines of boys of 10 years and upwards. — In the mines the work, inclusive of going and returning, usually lasts 14 or 15 hours, sometimes even from 3, 4 and 5 o'clock a.m., till 5 and 6 o'clock p.m. (n. 6, 452, 83). The adults work in two shifts, of eight hours each; but there is no alternation with the boys, on account of the expense (n. 80, 203, 204). The younger boys are chiefly employed in opening and shutting the ventilating doors in the various parts of the mine; the older ones are employed on heavier work. in carrying coal, &c. (n. 122, 739, 1747). They work these long hours underground until their 18th or 22nd year, when they are put to miner's work proper (n. 161). Children and young persons are at present worse treated, and harder worked than at any previous period (n. 1663-1667).

The miners demand almost unanimously an act of Parliament prohibiting the employment in mines of children under 14. And now Hussey Vivian (himself an exploiter of mines) asks: "Would not the opinion of the workman depend upon the poverty of the workman's family?" Mr. Bruce: "Do you not think it would be a very hard case, where a parent had been injured, or where he was sickly, or where a father was dead, and there was only a mother, to prevent a child between 12 and 14 earning 1s. 7d. a day for the good of the family?...

You must lay down a general rule?... Are you prepared to recommend legislation which would prevent the employment of children under 12 and 14, whatever the state of their parents might be?" "Yes." (ns. 107-110). Vivian: "Supposing that an enactment were passed preventing the employment of children under the age of 14, would it not be probable that... the parents of children would seek employment for their children in other directions, for instance, in manufacture?" "Not generally I think" (n. 174). Kinnaird: "Some of the boys are keepers of doors?" "Yes." "Is there not generally a very great draught every time you open a door or close it?" "Yes, generally there is." "It sounds a very easy thing, but it is in fact rather a painful one?" "He is imprisoned there just the same as if he was in a cell of a gaol." Bourgeois Vivian: "Whenever a boy is furnished with a lamp cannot he read?" "Yes, he can read, if he finds himself in candles.... I suppose he would be found fault with if he were discovered reading; he is there to mind his business, he has a duty to perform, and he has to attend to it in the first place, and I do not think it would be allowed down the pit." (ns. 139, 141, 143, 158, 160).

II. Education. — The working miners want a law for the compulsory education of their children, as in factories. They declare the clauses of the Act of 1860, which require a school certificate to be obtained before employing boys of 10 and 12 years of age, to be quite illusory. The examination of the witnesses on this subject is truly droll. "Is it (the Act) required more against the masters or against the parents?" "It is required against both I think." "You cannot say whether it is required against one more than against the other?" "No; I can hardly answer that question." (ns. 115, 116). "Does there appear to be any desire on the part of the employers that the boys should have such hours as to enable them to go to school?" "No; the hours are never shortened for that purpose." (n. 137) Mr. Kinnaird: "Should you say that the colliers generally improve their education; have you any instances of men who have, since they began to work, greatly improved their education, or do they not rather go back, and lose any advantage that they may have gained?" "They generally become worse: they do not improve; they acquire bad habits; they get on to drinking and gambling and such like,, and they go completely to wreck." (n. 21 1.) "Do they make any attempt of the kind (for providing instruction) by having schools at night?" "There are few collieries where night schools are held, and perhaps at those collieries a few boys do go to those schools; but they are so physically exhausted that it is to no purpose that they go there." (n. 454.) "You are then," concludes the bourgeois, "against education?" "Most certainly not; but," &c. (n. 443.) "But are they (the employers) not compelled to demand them (school certificates)?" "By law they are;

but I am not aware that they are demanded by the employers." "Then it is your opinion, that this provision of the Act as to requiring certificates, is not generally carried out in the collieries?" "It is not carried out." (ns. 443, 444.) "Do the men take a great interest in this question (of education)?" "The majority of them do." (n. 717.) "Are they very anxious to see the law enforced?" "The majority are." (n.

718.) "Do you think that in this country any law that you pass... can really be effectual unless the population themselves assist in putting it into operation?" "Many a man might wish to object to employing a boy, but he would perhaps become marked by it." (n. 720.) "Marked by whom?" "By his employers." (n. 721.) "Do you think that the employers would find any fault with a man who obeyed the law... ?" "I believe they would." (n. 722.) "Have you ever heard of any workman objecting to employ a boy between 10 and 12, who could not write or read?" "It is not left to men's option." (n. 123.) "Would you call for the interference of Parliament?" "I think that if anything effectual is to be done in the education of the colliers' 'children, it will have to be made compulsory by Act of Parliament." (n.

1634.) "Would you lay that obligation upon the colliers only, or all the workpeople of Great Britain?" "I came to speak for the colliers."

(n. 1636.) "Why should you distinguish them (colliery boys) from other boys?" "Because I think they are an exception to the rule." (n.



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