Living Conditions in the Industrial Revolution
Joshua Drake, called in; and Examined.You say you would prefer moderate labour and lower wages; are you pretty comfortable upon your present wages? --I have no wages, but two days a week at present; but when I am working at some jobs we can make a little, and at others we do very poorly.
When a child gets 3s. a week, does that go much towards its subsistence? --No, it will not keep it as it should do.
When they got 6s. or 7s. when they were pieceners, if they reduced the hours of labor, would they not get less? — They would get a halfpenny a day less, but I would rather have less wages and less work.
Do you receive any parish assistance? — No.
Why do you allow your children to go to work at those places where they are ill-treated or over-worked? — Necessity compels a man that has children to let them work.
Then you would not allow your children to go to those factories under the present system, if it was not from necessity? — No.
Supposing there was a law passed to limit the hours of labour to eight hours a day, or something of that sort, of course you are aware that a manufacturer could not afford to pay them the same wages? — No, I do not suppose that they would, but at the same time I would rather have it, and I believe that it would bring me into employ; and if I lost 5d. a day from my children's work, and I got half-a-crown myself, it would be better.
How would it get you into employ? — By finding more employment at the machines, and work being more regularly spread abroad, and divided amongst the people at large. One man is now regularly turned off into the street, whilst another man is running day and night.
You mean to say, that if the manufacturers were to limit the hours of labour, they would employ more people? — Yes.
During the Industrial Revolution, the living conditions were really bad. They lived in poorhouses set up by the government. They were designed in harsh places to discourage people from staying on relief. The government would intervene as little as possible to improve the bad living conditions, and the poorhouses paid for themselves through the work of the poor.