Pageant of World History p.515

Industrial Revolution

Teacher Notes


Dear M.P._______________,

The House of Commons Parliamentary Committee on Working and Living Conditions welcomes you as a new member. We have been diligently holding committee meetings investigating the impact of this so-called factory system on our fair land. In your folder, you will have a number of critical pieces of testimony from prior inquiries into this phenomenon which has caused such tumult. In addition, you can read other testimony in our archives.

You need to do this soon. In four days, a great debate is scheduled in the House of Commons. We expect you, as a member of our committee, to author a bill addressing a critical aspect of these events. You will also be expected to argue the bill's merits in front of friend and foe alike. We realize that your party affiliation will influence your bill, but also keep in mind the best interests of England.

Please be as specific as possible in your bill, using detailed and accurate monetary figures. Also keep in mind the role of Her Majesty's government in monitoring this event.



Lord Harumph

M.P. Exeter


Slum Neighborhood in London
Gustave Dore


As a newly elected M.P. (Member of Parliament) in 1832 England, you have been asked to take your place among other MPs in analyzing the effects of what some people are referring to as an "Industrial Revolution." As with most revolutions, it brings benefits to some, and works to the detriment of others. While your party affiliation (listed on the House roster) may affect your view, you are also working for the benefit of all England. You are asked to:

I. Write a bill in proper House of Commons form (supplied by the Speaker) which addresses conditions in less than Merry Olde England in 1832. It must be very specific, referencing currency of the time (i.e. pounds and shillings) and prices of the time. Conditions addressed in your bill must also accurately represent England at the time. Finally, the bill, to be passed, should be realistic for the period around 1832.

II. Write a speech which you will deliver in front of Commons. While a bill must be specific, your speech can supply reasons and arguments for passage of your bill. You should answer questions such as:

  • What conditions in England specifically caused you to write the bill?
  • What pieces of Parliamentary testimony (see Resources) can be referred to in your speech to persuade other MPs to vote for your bill?
  • How will the bill benefit the people of England?
  • How is your bill realistic given the time and economy of England?
  • How is the bill in line with your party beliefs?

III. Participate in debates: In addition, a good MP participates in debating the merits of bills both in committee and the general sessions. You will be asked to write a self-evaluation of your performance as an MP. Why should you be re-elected? What did you contribute to committee discussions? General session discussions? The Speaker, at the end of the General Session for 1832, will ask for a written self-evaluation.

The Process

1. Based upon the letter from Lord Harumph above, and your task, answer the following questions with your teacher:

  • What do we know about England, our position, and our task ?
  • What are important things we need to know to accomplish our tasks?
  • What are some places we can search for information?

You will see some resources listed below (under Resources) to assist you in your initial search for information. Perhaps knowing more about England's living and working conditions would be helpful. Since there are many documents, divide the reading among your group.

Research carefully these documents and other sites on the web. Be sure you clearly understand such questions as:

  • What sorts of homes and furnishings did people of the time have?
  • What kind of meals did factory workers eat?
  • How much money did various kinds of workers make?
  • What were working conditions (hours, days, safety) like, and how did they compare to working conditions for agricultural workers or people in other countries at that time?

Next, using the bill sample, write a properly formatted bill to specifically address the problem. For example, if you believe people work too many hours, be very specific about how many hours they will be allowed to work. As an MP, you are developing law, so bills should not say "should", but rather "will" or "must".


The speaker will distribute a list of committee assignments. You may be working on safety conditions or living conditions. All bills related to your topic will come to your committee. Your committee must carefully consider the bill and make appropriate changes. Once a bill comes to your committee, that committee has the absolute power to change it as the members see fit, or to simply reject it if it is not a well written and important bill. Your own bill may not come to your committee.

Committee Approved Bills

These will be sent to the Clerk of the House. He will copy them into packets for all MPs to debate on the floor of the House of Commons in General Session.

House Sessions

As bills are approved by committees and copied, the Speaker will convene a session of the House of Commons. As you can see as a new member, the House is physically organized very specifically. The Speaker or his designee will explain basic rules of order that will be used to discuss bills.


(The following sources are also on the SCORE Grade 10 Page)
The Life of the Industrial Worker in Nineteenth Century England
Many records of testimony by workers at various Parliamentary
Victorian Web: Nineteenth Century British Public Health
Great sources about horrible health and food conditions of England
during the Industrial Revolution.
Women in the Industrial Revolution
The life of women during the Industrial Revolution.
Child Labor
This site has articles on life in the factory, reformers, supporters of child labor, workers voices and factory acts.
Sadler Commission "Testimony: Child Labor in England"
Testimony from the time
Penney Magazine Online
A newspaper of the 1830s aimed at the working class
Modest Proposal
This is an interesting and satirical look at a solution to overpopulation
with editor notations.

Learning Advice

Information: Read all information carefully. An effective MP knows that "Information is Power."

Bills: Remember to write them "to the time". For example, paying a minimum wage of $3.00 an hour might be too much for the time - and they did not use dollars!

Committees: Look over each bill carefully. When they are debated on the floor of the House, someone may ask, "Who passed this poorly written bill?" - and your committee will have to stand to defend the bill they passed.

Debates: Remember that you are a member of Parliament, specifically the House of Commons. Act with courtesy and class. During debates, address other MPs with polite respect, even if you totally disagree with them. Your Speaker will give you a summary of Robert's Rules of Orders to refer to.


Your teacher will develop rubrics for evaluating your bill, and your performance as an MP. Listen carefully and participate in development of the rubric - it will determine your grade!


You have been asked by the London Times to write an article for their newspaper titled: "The Industrial Revolution : Beneficial or Not for the People of England?" This should be an interesting two-three page article. Your teacher will develop a rubric against which to judge your paper.


Teacher Notes


Bob Benoit
SCORE History-Social Science
Butte County Office of Education

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Revised Fri, Mar 17, 2006