§ Clause 78 (Existing inspectors and examining boards continued); and Clause 79 (Existing certificates and register continued), agreed to.
§ Clause 80 (Grant of certificates of service in case of certain under managers).
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
Mr. Courtney, I cannot help thinking that this clause will do serious injury to a great body of men who have by great diligence and often by self-sacrifice qualified themselves for the posts which are supposed to be secured by certificates of competency. I do not want to prejudice the case of the men I refer to by quoting the case entirely in my own words, because they seem to have expressed it much better than I can do myself. In a letter, the men to whom I refer clearly set forth the object I have in view. The Colliery Managers Association of Lancashire say, and their arguments are equally valid in regard to colliery managers in other parts of the country, that Clause 80 effects the position of what they are pleased to call their profession. They submit that if it becomes law, and a certificate of service is granted to every person who satisfies the Secretary of State he has been exercising daily supervision for 12 months previous to the passing of this Act, it will be the means of causing hundreds of certificates to be granted. In fact, every under manager will be entitled to it, and they say it will materially affect the future welfare of those men who have worked hard and successfully to obtain certificates of competency as required by the Act of 1872. You will take from these gentlemen many of the chances of promotion which are now open to them—many of these men have worked themselves up from lads in the pit at considerable expense, while others have served long periods of apprenticeship to become competent colliery managers. It is asserted, I believe by the right hon. Gentleman himself, that there 898 would be difficulty with regard to the appointment of managers if it was always necessary to insist upon an examination on certificate—that is to say, a certificate of competency with examination; but these gentlemen declare that there have been over 6,000 certificates granted, and I believe I am within the number when I say that of these 2,500 are first-class certificates. Having regard to the fact that there are 3,500 collieries in the country, and that a very large number of the mines and pits are very small—I do not know how many hundreds have less than 30 men under ground who do not require certificated managers at all, and of those who have more than 30 men under ground a very large number of them are comparatively small—it is clear you do not want anything like 2,500 first-class certificates to furnish the managerial staff necessary to conduct the coal mines of the Kingdom. My informant goes on to say that if second-class certificates are granted it will be lawful for a person holding a first-class certificate to nominate himself for 20 mines or collieries, and to appoint a second-class man in each pit. These collieries may be miles apart, and not visited by the so-called manager more than once a month. In these cases, and there are many such, the whole management will devolve upon the second-class man, to whom it is comtemplated to grant the necessary certificate for no other qualification than that of 12 months' service. I think the arguments embodied in the statements I have submitted to the Committee are well worthy of the consideration of the Government and of the Committee. I do not think it is necessary I should say anything further, but certainly I shall feel myself compelled to vote against this clause.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
Allow me to say a very few words in reply to the hon. Gentleman. I quite admit that the second-class certificated managers would be subjected to great hardship if they were not enabled to continue the functions they are performing now. The same difficulty occurs under the Act of 1872 with regard to first-class certificates. If hon Members will turn to Section 31 they will find certificates of service were made as effective as certificates given in pursuance of examination for those who had a certain service. We propose a similar clause for the under managers. 899 I am sure hon. Members will see the justice of the clause.
§ MR. ATHERLEY-JONES (Durham, N.W.)
I quite agree with what has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the ' Home Secretary. There is only one matter I desire to refer to, upon which I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to satisfy us. It is just possible that the clause will operate very harshly upon a number of deserving persons. It may happen under this Act that owners of mines may appoint persons as managers of mines who are permitted under the section of the Act which allows of non-certificated managers being appointed where there are only a small number of persons employed. Under the last Act where only a certain number of persons are employed it is not necessary the managers should hold a certificate at all.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
This is a very important point. There was a similar provision in the Act of 1872, and for years after that Act passed men were appointed and qualified in this way —evasively I think—on the strength of having been employed in charge of collieries during a certain period before the Act was passed. It was a pure evasion of the Act, and it should be borne in mind that many of these men are now in possession of first-class certificates.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
No, no. This is entirely confined to second-class certificates. I will, however, reconsider the point by Report. I think that a little alteration may well be made in the section.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
What I say is that of the men who were appointed under the Act of 1872 on service certificates, many are not now classed under the Bill as first class.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Clauses 81, 82, and 83, inclusive, severally agreed to.
§ MR. S. WILLIAMSON (Kilmarnock, &c)
I rise to propose the Amendment standing in my name entirely on humanitarian grounds. I would never have drawn up this Amendment with reference to ordinary industries of the country; but the case of the miners is one, in my opinion, which calls for special consideration. Let us look at the position of these men. They work under ground; 900 they cannot get out without the permission of the owners; they are working in narrow workings, and in mines some of which are wet and others partially wet; they carry on their labour in a cramped position; they have to get up at 5 o'clock in the morning, and they do not get out of the mine until 4 o'clock in the afternoon: and during six months of the year they never see the sun except on Sunday. I think it is monstrous to keep these men below ground for more than eight hours consecutively. I feel sure that this Amendment will commend itself to the feelings of the House on humanitarian grounds, and it is, as I have said, solely on those grounds that I propose it. You say, why do the men not combine, as the English miners do? But the workmen in Scotland are not so perfect in their organization as those in England, and that is easily accounted for, because in England you have large bodies of men associated together, whereas in Scotland you have comparatively few men scattered over large districts, and it is for these reasons that the men do not combine. Some years ago the Scotch miners struck against the long hours during which they have to work; but, after eight weeks, they were starved into submission; they were obliged to give way because they could not help themselves. There are several mines in my district the owners of which do not allow the men to come up before 4 o'clock, notwithstanding that they have to get up at o o'clock in the morning, and work under the conditions which I have described. I think this is a most barbarous practice, and I sincerely trust that the clause which I propose will meet with the sympathy of hon. Members.
§ New Clause, after Clause 11 —
§ (Employment of workmen.)
§ "No workman shall be employed below ground in any mine to which this Act applies (except in cases of emergency) for a longer period than eight consecutive hours, or for more than eight hours in any twenty-four hours, when the mine is worked on the single shift system. The period of such employment shall be deemed to begin at the time of leaving the surface and to end at the time of returning to the surface,"—(Mr. S. Williamson,)
§ —brought up, and read the first time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be read a second time."901
§ MR. HOZIER (Lanarkshire, S.)
I rise to support the Amendment introduced by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. S. Williamson). I fully recognize that the House has, as a rule, always objected to curtailing adult labour; but I cannot help thinking that circumstances alter cases, and I would ask the Committee to consider the circumstances and the nature of the work which the miners have to perform. I suppose there are few people who receive greater sympathy for their labour than Members of Parliament. Let us consider the time during which a Member of Parliament has to work. If he is engaged on a Committee he comes down at 12 o'clock, and afterwards attends in the House of Commons from 4 o'clock in the afternoon probably until 4 o'clock the next morning. This makes 16 hours' work, and we are told in consequence by the Lancet and other newspapers which are full of our sufferings, that we are more or less dying for our country. But will anyone contend that our 16 hours of work can be for a moment compared with even 8 hours' work in the mines? It is the miner, I say, who is being worn out by excessive hours of labour, and for that reason I beg to support the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kilmarnock.
§ MR. HALDANE (Haddington)
The new clause, the second reading of which has been moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. S. Williamson) proposes to do two things—it proposes to restrict the hours during which a man may be employed consecutively below ground; and, in the second place, it proposes to put it in the power of a man so employed to compel the owner or manager of the mine to give him egress at any time. I wish to remark that these two propositions stand on a completely different footing. We have hitherto sought in this Bill to do two distinct things. We have sought to protect the workman and employer against fraudulent dealings, and we have sought to deal with a mine as a dangerous place, and to provide in accordance with principle and precedent that the business of mines shall be so conducted that it shall be free from certain dangers and perils. The second of the propositions of the hon. Member appears to me to fall within the latter of these categories, and to be a most 902 proper and beneficial one. But in the first part of this clause we appear to approach an entirely new principle; we are not dealing with women and children; we are dealing with able-bodied men, and what my hon. Friend asks is to protect these men, who are perfectly able to protect themselves, from the consequences of their own contract. Now, my hon. Friend adverted to some of the circumstances in which they are placed. I entirely and absolutely agree with him in thinking that it is a monstrous thing that the men should work in the mine underground for more than eight hours. I think it would be of advantage to the country if we could have the system in Scotland, which works so well, in the North of England—that is to say, the system of two shifts of six and a-half or seven hours. But are you to call for the intervention of the State to get this good system introduced into Scotland? [An hon. MEMBER: Yes.] Ought it not to be the result of the exertions of the men themselves? [An hon. MEMBER: No.] My hon. Friend says "No." But I say "Yes." We are here dealing with the gravest issues, and if the words which my hon. Friend proposes were inserted they would land us in a condition of things of which at the present time we have no conception. I admit that this is one of the most tempting cases that can be brought before us; but if we are to answer this question affirmatively we shall be introducing an entirely new principle, and one which is impossible, logically, to defend in its application to oases which are not now before us, and, which I take it, many hon. Members are not anxious to go into. We have had this question brought forward in connection with the hours of shopmen and in connection with the hours of agricultural labourers. I think the case of the miners is a far harder and more urgent case than these. But let us see how the matter now stands. By organization the miners in the North of England have been able to restrict their hours in the same way as is proposed by the clause of my hon. Friend. They have been enabled in the East of Scotland to keep their hours within the eight hours' limit. Why not, then, in, the West of Scotland? Surely it is because there is not sufficient organization among the men, and because they have not adequately combined 903 together in order to get what, I think, the great majority of Members of this House would agree that they ought to have. It may be that we shall hereafter be driven to recognize that it is the duty of the State to interfere to a greater degree in the interest of the subject than at present; but in the meantime let us rely on the exertions of individuals in combination; let us remember that they are in the possession and exercise of their faculties, and that they should unrestrictedly and to the fullest degree put forth the intelligence which belongs to them for the purpose they have in view. While I deeply sympathize with my hon. Friend's object, I feel that I am face to face with a question of principle, and, moreover, with a very grave question of principle. I know that in the vote I shall give I shall be going in the teeth of the wishes of a large number of my own constituents: but I believe that there is no other course open to me than the one which I propose to take in opposing this Motion.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. MATTHEWS) (Birmingham, E.)
I would at this hour make an earnest appeal to hon. Members to restrict the discussion of this Amendment, and to decide at once the question which is before the Committee. I am not in the least seeking to depreciate the importance of this question; but I think that it has been so often brought forward that nothing can be added to what has already been said that is likely to alter the opinion which this House has arrived at. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Haddington (Mr. Haldane) very ably stated the view which is held on this side of the House with, regard to the question before it, and surely it is not necessary at this stage to discuss the question at greater length. I do not want to enter into controversial matter; all I wish to say is, that every hon. Member of this House has thoroughly made himself acquainted with the labour which the miner has to perform, and I do trust that if hon. Gentlemen opposite think it necessary to divide the Committee on this clause, they will do so at once.
§ MR. BURT (Morpeth)
I quite appreciate the appeal of the right hon. Gentleman, and the indication he has given us with, regard to the pressure 904 of time. I join in that appeal, although it may seem a little inconsistent in asking to be allowed to say one word on this subject before we go to the Division. I have been all my life an advocate of short hours of labour; I have advocated that principle constantly in this House and out of it, and at this moment I am still in favour of shortening the hours during which the miners work. I have, however, always drawn a distinction between adult male labour and juvenile and female labour. In those particular cases I quite endorse the view of my hon. Friend who has moved this Amendment, and I think he is quite right in bringing this subject before the House; There is evidence of a general desire on the part of the Scotch miners to have such a clause as this inserted in the Bill, and for my part, if we had been dealing with Scotland only, I would have had no hesitation in supporting the Amendment before the Committee. But I want to point out, that so far as adults are concerned they can do for themselves what is here asked to be done for them. It has been done in England, where it is true they have a better organization, and it has also been done in Scotland. It is only in that part of Scotland where the men have not a thorough organization that these long hours are maintained, and when they have become more thoroughly organized in that part I believe they will be able to establish the eight hours' system throughout the length and breadth of Scotland. In the North of England the miners at present work six and a-half and seven hours a-day, but this Amendment would imply that everyone should work at least eight hours a-day. I recognize that under existing circumstances there is a strong feeling against "continuing the discussion on the Amendment of the hon. Member. I should be very much disinclined to vote against him, but I feel I cannot vote with him, and I shall therefore do what I have seldom done since I became a Member of this House—that is to say, I shall remain neutral on this question.
§ MR. CHILDERS (Edinburgh, S.)
I have no wish whatever to prolong the discussion, but I am bound to inform the Committee that last year I was engaged for some months on this question of coal mines regulation, and I received 905 a large deputation from miners in all parts of the country. This deputation brought before me a number of proposals among which compulsory limitation of hours of labour was not included. But to make sure, I put this question to them—" Do you wish any State interference with the hours of adult labour?" The emphatic answer I received was, "No." The deputation which waited upon me was a most important one, and knowing that this was a burning question, I put the case before them as I have stated to the Committee, and I obtained the answer, that in no district in Great Britain was it the desire of the miners that any restriction of the hours of labour in the case of adult males should be imposed by law. I am strongly in favour of such combination among miners as will obtain for them lower hours of labour. In my humble judgment, eight hours is quite enough, and perhaps more than enough, for them to work, but it is certain that last year it was the wish of the miners that this should not be established by law.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers) says in effect—"We will not help you; you must help yourselves." With regard to the deputation to which he has referred, I am aware that he did elicit the answer stated to the Committee; but it is equally true that the miners in different parts of the country, when the reports of that interview were published, emphatically protested against the answer given to the right hon. Gentleman on this subject. This is not so much a question of organization as is supposed by some; there seems to be a great misapprehension on this point. The hon. Gentleman near me is of opinion that it is to their organization that the miners in Northumberland are indebted for the limitation of their hours of labour. Although, like the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Edinburgh, I am not a miner, I venture to dissent from the view which the hon. Member has taken. I believe that the limitation of the hours of labour in Durham and Northumberland is due to a totally different cause; it is due to the fact that some of the employers in that district adopted the system of double shifts, and that others finding it to their interest 906 to have the double shift fell in with the arrangement. I believe even now if the employers were to take it into their heads that it was to their advantage to depart from the system which at present obtains and prescribe more than eight hours of labour, the miners in the end would have to submit, notwithstanding their organization. Some time ago the miners in Northumberland challenged their employers; and what was the result? The result was complete collapse.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
The hon. Member for East Donegal ought to add that the leading members of the organization tried to prevent the strike.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
Yes; but I say that the organization as a whole was in favour of the strike. The strike collapsed. The miners of Durham and Northumberland would not face a collision with their employers, and on this question of hours, also, their resistance would collapse if the owners made up their minds to change the present system. The miners in Scotland are twitted because they are not organized as they are in England. It is perfectly true that in some parts of Scotland the eight-hours' system obtains, whereas, in other parts, it does not. You have the eight-hours' system in Fifeshire; but you have not got it in Lanarkshire and the West of Scotland. As I have said, this does not depend upon organization. The fact is, that in the East of Scotland the mines and collieries are generally owned by comparatively small men, who are more amenable to the pressure brought to bear upon them by the miners than the larger owners in the West of Scotland. In the West of Scotland you are in the presence of large firms, who have no bowels of compassion; they make the hardest possible terms with their employés. This is the reason why you find that the men in the West of Scotland have to submit to harder terms than those in the East. [Cries of "Divide!"] Hon. Gentlemen opposite may grudge a few minutes of the time of the House; but, surely, if we had to stop here for a week to settle this question, it would not be too much, when we consider that the time of 600 men is concerned on one side and that on the other there is the interest of 400,000 minors. What is the time of the House of Com- 907 mons to the lives of these men? I can tell the hon. Gentleman the Member for Morpeth (Mr. Burt) that there is in his own constituency a colliery in which the men are compelled to work for nine hours, and he will find that the overwhelming majority of his constituents are in favour of this eight-hours' Amendment, and that he will have to vote for it, if he remains in his present position, at some future day. This is a matter of considerable importance, not only with regard to the miners in Scotland, but also with regard to those in Durham and Northumberland, and we want to secure for the miners in the West of Scotland the term which has already been secured by the workmen in the East.
§ Ms. CUNNINGHAME GRAHAM (Lanark, N.W.)
This is a question of supreme importance to the miners in the West of Scotland, and as I have never wasted any time in this House I ask for the indulgence of the Committee while I make a few observations on the clause of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. S. Williamson). So great is the interest we take in this question, that I can assure hon. Members that we should consider the Bill almost as so much waste paper, unless we have in it a clause restricting the hours of labour under ground to eight. I say that our men do not care a farthing if the other clauses of the Bill were thrown out; but they are most anxious that this particular clause should be passed. I challenge any hon. Member for Scotland to bring forward any section of miners who will condemn my action in speaking thus, or condemn the action of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock in bringing forward this Amendment. It has been said that we take merely an academical interest in this question, and that we are not practical miners. But I suppose that we are not deprived of common sense; and although the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers) has told us that the deputation that waited on him were not in favour of State interference with the hours of labour in mines, I can assure him that he might stump Scotland from the Tweed to John O'Groats' House, or from the Bass Rock to Ailsa, he would not find a single miner to support the statement made to him by the deputation. I am glad there are no mining Representatives from Scotland in the House at this mo- 908 ment, and my reason is that if there were they would be compelled in lengthy and forcible speeches to vindicate their position with regard to this Amendment, in reply to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman. I venture to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman, and to ask him if he thinks he is really serving the interest of the working classes of the country by not standing firm on this question? It is said that the Scotch miners are to organize as they have done in Durham and Northumberland; but are our men to be pushed day by day to starvation while this organization is growing up? The miners in Scotland know their trade interest, and they know that if they do not have State interference in this matter this winter will reduce them to starvation. I say there is a pinch coming in the mining industry, and that it cannot go on in the future as it has done in the past. The whole of this Bill is conceived in terms that imply that the mining interest is flourishing. But prices are falling, and much suffering will be thrown on the workmen in consequence; and if the Government do not take measures to meet this they will find themselves face to face with a similar state of things to that which occurred at Blantyre a little time ago, where men saw themselves, owing to the pressure of these economical laws-—this freedom of contract— gradually being brought into a state of starvation. You talk of freedom of contract, and say that we are not to interfere with adult labour; but how otherwise are we to interfere between the rich and poor man? Your freedom of contract is all on one side. I know that the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) will advise the House not to commit itself to Socialistic legislation; but what has been the legislation of the last 10 years, if not Socialistic in its tendency? If all the miners had the same mental power as the hon. Member for Northampton, I should be the last to ask for State interference; but these men stand in a vastly different position, and I say that it is not in their interest alone, but in that of employers, that this eight hours' rule should become law. Is it not obvious that the men will do a better day's work under the eight hours' system than under a 12 hours' system? The proposal we make is a moderate one, and it is one which must, be carried sooner or later. The country is rapidly 909 making up its mind, and the House and the Government will find that every trade in the Kingdon will before long ask for an eight hours' Bill. With regard to the Amendment before the Committee, I hope my hon. Friend will press it to a Division, even if he only gets one Member, and that would be myself, to tell with him.
§ MR. S. WILLIAMSON
I wish to say that I shall be obliged to divide the Committee on my Amendment, not because of the irrelevant matter which has been introduced into the discussion, but on humanitarian grounds, on which alone I appeal to the Committee.
§ MR. BROADHURST (Nottingham, W.)
It is exceedingly difficult on this vary important question either to give a silent vote, or to abstain from voting. The hon. Member for North-West Lanark (Mr. Cunninghame Graham) has referred to the statement of my right hon. Friend the Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers); but the Committee will remember that on the occasion referred to the Scotch miners were fully represented, and formed no inconsiderable part of the deputation which waited upon my right hon. Friend. With regard to the main question, the hon. Member for Morth-West Lanark speaks as if it were a universal demand on the part of the workmen that the State should step in and make this eights hours' regulation. I defy the hon. Gentleman, however, to refer to a properly constituted representative of a workmen's organization who has voted for this rule.
§ MR. CUNNINGHAME GRAHAM
I challenge the hon. Gentleman to ask in any public meeting if the workmen are in favour of the Bill without the clause.
§ MR. BROADHURST
That is not the question. Many trades in this country have provided themselves with the eight hours' rule, and I am myself in. favour of it where it can be obtained. But the question here is whether the State is to be called upon to do for the miners what they are perfectly able to do for themselves. If we ask the State to regulate the hours of labour for adults, we shall afterwards have to ask for State interference in the matter of wages, and then we may have to ask the State to intervene to settle how wages are to be expended. To support this proposal would be to condemn the 910 whole system of trades unionism, which is one of the great triumphs won by labour in this country. For these reasons I shall certainly not vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
I consider it my duty to enter a protest against what has been stated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers) and others as to there being no demand on the part of the Scotch miners for an eight hours' rule. I do not deny what the right hon. Gentleman has said with regard to the reply made by the deputation which waited on him last year; but I have, within the last few weeks, addressed some half-dozen meetings of miners in Ayrshire and Stirlingshire; and having discoursed with some thousands of these men, I am able to state that at the present moment the miners of Scotland are for this measure, and, further, that they are exceedingly emphatic in demanding it. I challenge the hon. Member for Ayrshire (Mr. H. Elliot) to get up and say that his constituents will not at once turn him out of his representation if he fails to do his duty in voting for this clause. I am a strong trade unionist. There are many trade unionists among the miners of my Division; but if they tell me that they are not in favour of this clause, my own experience is very much at fault. There is, I must say, a gross misconception with regard to tin's very important question, and we are bound to deal with it fairly. The State is simply the representative of the people of the country; and if the men of Great Britain and Scotland desire to do—through the agency of Parliament— that which they are unable to do through their trade unions, I say they are quite as much justified in asking their Representatives in this House to introduce this rule as they would be to endeavour to establish it through, their trade unions. But this Amendment is not alone in favour of the mm; it is in favour of the owners also. I believe there are some owners' Representatives to be heard, who will, in this case, say that their interest is identical with that of the men. At any rate, there are owners who wish to deal fairly with their men, and are in favour of this measure, although they cannot deal out 911 this measure of justice, because there are other owners who are interested in the men working 10 hours a-day. We have to consider whether this is a principle tending to the social and moral development of our people, and if it be, it is a principle which should be introduced in the interests of the country at largo; and when we are met with pedantic and academic arguments about the good of the State, I say that they are arguments which can, in the present case, be dispensed with. These are the few remarks I have to make; and I will add my testimony to this discussion that the workmen and miners in Scotland are in favour of this Amendment.
§ MR. MASON (Lanark, Mid)
I rise to support the clause which has been moved by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. S. Williamson); and, in doing so, I wish to contradict the statement that there is no desire in Scotland for this eight hours' regulation. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers) that he is entirely misinformed on this subject, and of this the Petition presented yesterday to the House is evidence. [Cries of "Divide!"] I shall conclude what I have to say on this subject, notwithstanding the cries of hon. Gentlemen opposite. I say that the Scotch miners are largely in favour of the eight hours' system. I am surprised that it should be argued that the men ought to be able to get this for themselves. No doubt, it is a fundamental principle that what people can do for themselves we should not do for them; but in this case the miners cannot get what they want. The evidence is that they cannot get mining regulations carried out without the aid of an Act of Parliament. If this regulation works without any injurious effect in one part of the country, why do you not agree to establish it in Scotland, when the miners ask for it? I do not at all agree that the question should be argued from the point of view of combination. I am satisfied that eight hours is quite long enough for any man to work under ground; and I dare say that if, instead of being Members of Parliament, Gentlemen in this House were miners, they would every one of them be in favour of the present clause. From an economical point of view, I believe the application of this principle would 912 be beneficial to the nation. It has been found to be of use where it has been put in force; and I call on the Committee to assist those who are unable to assist themselves in the matter of establishing the rule where it does not exist now. This clause will in no way interfere with over ground work; and, for my part, I think we may draw a very important distinction between the two kinds of labour. For these reasons, I shall support the Motion for the second reading of the clause.
§ MR. FENWICK (Northumberland, Wansbeck)
My objection to this Amendment is not on the ground that I think the Scotch miners are not anxious to have the clause, but because its tendency is in the direction of increasing the hours of work for a number of miners whom I represent in this House, and who solely, by their organization and self-dependence, have been able to secure a shorter period of labour. The hon. Member for East Donegal (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) said that it was because we had the double-shift system in Northumberland that we have been able to shorten the hours of work; but I can assure my hon. Friend that even under that system we worked atone time a greater number of hours than we do now. It is in my recollection that the miners in Durham worked for 10 and 11 hours a-day, and it is by their organization, and not owing to any Act of Parliament, that they have been able to get those hours reduced. It is because I believe that, with double shift in operation, the owners may find it open to them to extend the hours of labour, that I am opposed to the Amendment. If the hon. Member chooses to bring in a Bill for Scotland, to enforce the eight-hours' system, I shall support it, because I believe that the Scotch miners strongly desire to have that system. I do not want to vote against the miners of Scotland; but for once since I have been, a Member of this House I shall walk out when the Question is put from the Chair.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
It is impossible for me to give a silent vote on this question after the discussion which has taken place. I intend to vote against this Amendment, as a protest against those who encourage men to rely on Parliament to do for them what they ought to do for themselves.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
I venture to appeal to the hon. Member for Kilmarnock to withdraw his Amendment, and that appeal I make in the interest of the Bill itself. The hon. Member for Northampton has made a suggestion which, I think, those who support this Amendment would do well to consider. But there is another appeal which I wish to make. Hon. Gentlemen have clauses on the Paper for consideration in Committee, and I suggest that those clauses should be considered as the first question on the Report of the Bill. If those clauses still remain on the Paper for consideration in Committee the Bill will be placed in such a position that it is impossible to say what would be the result. I hope hon. Gentlemen will agree to the course I have suggested.
§ MR. S. WILLIAMSON
It will be quite impossible for me to comply with the request of the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the present Amendment.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 54; Noes 159: Majority 105.—(Div. List, No. 397.) [5.40 P.M.]
§ And it being a quarter of an hour before Six of the clock, the Chairman loft the Chair to report Progress; Committee to sit again To-morrow.