The Peel Web
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Taken from Norman Gash, The Age of Peel (London, Edward Arnold, 1973), with the kind permission of Professor Gash. Copyright of this document, of course, remains with him.
Despite the setback in 1844 Lord Ashley introduced a Ten Hours bill in January 1846 which was eventually defeated after he had resigned his seat on the issue of the Corn Laws. After the fall of Peel's administration Fielden took charge of a new bill in 1847 which passed with large majorities through both houses (9 and 10 Vic. cap. 29). From May 1848 the daily hours of work for women and young persons in mills and factories were restricted to ten (58 in the week). Although a feature of the campaign from the start had been the support of local Conservatives and Anglicans, the movement had drawn on a wide cross-section of society. Oastler was a Tory Anglican, Sadler a Tory Wesleyan, Bull an Anglican parson, Fielden a Liberal Quaker. Among the manufacturers who lent their aid, Hindley and Brotherton were Liberal MPs, Wood a Tory Anglican. In the House of Lords a large number of bishops attended the debate on the second reading of the bill to give it support. 'This will do very much to win the hearts of the manufacturing people to Bishops and Lords,' wrote Ashley in his diary; 'it has already converted the hard mind of a Chartist Delegate'. Subsequent evasion of the act by the use of 'relays' of operatives to keep mills at work throughout the legally permitted limits of the working day (5.30 a.m. to 8.30 p.m.) led in 1849-50 to a renewal of agitation and several judicial test-cases. The issue was settled by a government act of 1850 imposing stricter limits of the working day (6 a.m. to 6 p.m.) with 1½ hours for meals but in return allowing a 10½ hour working day with a maximum of 60 hours per week.
At a General Meeting of the Lancashire Central Short Time Committee, held at the house of Mr Thomas Wilkinson, Red Lion Inn, Manchester, on Tuesday evening, 8 June 1847, the following resolutions were unanimously adopted.
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