Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:31 am on 31st January 2013.

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Photo of Andrew Lansley Andrew Lansley The Leader of the House of Commons 10:31 am, 31st January 2013

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to highlight the achievements of Sir Robert Peel, who was one of the founders of this Conservative party. In addition to the great reforms my hon. Friend mentions, Peel also oversaw legislation such as the Mines and Collieries Act 1842, which forbade the employment of women and children underground, and the Factories Act 1844, which limited working hours for children and women in factories. Although Benjamin Disraeli fashioned the phrase “two nations” and the principle of a one nation party, in a sense Sir Robert Peel implemented those things in policy terms well before that—recognising the responsibility we each have to one another. One of the great traditions of conservatism was born with him.

I entirely share my hon. Friends desire for such a debate. Those who have a reforming instinct and introduce reforms they believe to be right are often the subject of considerable criticism. They look and hope to be justified in the long term.