HC Deb 12 July 1887 vol 317 cc610-28

Bill, as amended, considered.

MR. CHANCE (Kilkenny, S.)

I rise to move that this Bill be re-committed. There are a number of Amendments upon the Paper, some of which are of a complicated character; and I assume that their discussion in Committee will be more satisfactory than it can be before the whole House, inasmuch as it will be less formal and less searching. Another reason for the Motion I am about to make is that the Bill, when in Committee, was so much altered as to be absolutely unintelligible to anyone before it was reprinted; and it is on that account that the clauses now on the Paper were not proposed in Committee.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be re-committed."— (Mr. Chance.)

MR. READLAUGH (Northampton)

I trust the hon. Member will not persist in his Motion to re-commit the Bill, which can only be fatal to the measure. The House has been very indulgent with the Bill; we have had it before us morning after morning. Under the circumstances I hope he will not press his Motion, which I shall feel bound to resist.


There are three or four reasons, in my opinion, why the Bill ought not to be re-committed. In the first place, there is a clause proposed by an hon. Member to deal with the whole question of the payment of wages. That subject has already been discussed in Committee, and I think that if we were again to deal with that matter in Committee it would be impossible to pass the Bill through the House. There are also two other clauses relating to contracts, all of which I think can very well be disposed of on the Consideration. I trust the hon. Member will not think it necessary to press his Motion for re-committal of the Bill.

SIR JOSEPH PEASE (Durham, Barnard Castle)

I would also add my request to that of the hon. and learned Attorney General that the hon. Member will not Dress for the re-committal of the Bill.


I think the sense of the House is against me on this Motion; and, therefore, as I have no desire to waste time, I ask leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)

I do not know whether the words of the hon. and learned Attorney General were intended to have reference to the clause standing in my name; but I may mention that my clause relates only to the weekly payment of wages. I propose this Amendment on account of the dangerous strike which occurred in Belfast. As a rule, wages in Ireland are paid weekly; but that is not the case with all employers in Belfast. This custom has produced great excitement and social danger, which reached such a pass that none of us could tell at what moment it might break out into an actual riot. I was appealed to for advice in the circumstances, and I gave it that the men should return to work, and petition Parliament in the belief that they would get redress. Now they have petitioned this House, and have stated that they are obliged, in consequence of the practice at Belfast, each fortnight to resort to credit, by which they are subject to loss; they have also pointed out that if the employers paid them weekly it would not throw upon them any additional cost for clerks; they ask that their wages should be paid weekly, as other labourers and artizans are paid in Ireland; and I have reason to fear that if they are exasperated by refusal of their demands they may resort again to strike, from which danger might result. My own opinion on the subject may be gathered from the Amendment I have placed upon the Paper. From the other Amendments on the Paper, and from what I am informed by the hon. Member for East Belfast (Mr. De Cobain), whom I have consulted, and other hon. Gentlemen, I claim that there is unity of feeling in Ireland on the subject of weekly payment of wages; so much so, that I shall be surprised if any one Member for Ireland raises any objection to this proposal. I claim that you should consider the wishes of Irish Members in this respect, and give them the same effect as they would have if we had a Parliament of our own, in which the principle I advocate would undoubtedly be adopted. I asked the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. A. J. Balfour), a few days ago, whether the clause would be accepted in the event of there being a general agreement with regard to it; and the right hon. Gentleman, with his accustomed ingenuity, informed me that, if my facts were proved and there was unanimity, it would have its effect upon the opinion of the Government. For my own part, I should have no objection to the payment of the bulk of the wages in a week and the balance at the end of a fortnight.

New Clause:—In page 1, after Clause 2, insert the following Clause: —

(Weekly payment of wages in Ireland.)

Where a workman is employed in Ireland for wages calculated by time, the period of the payment of such wages shall be weekly,"—(Mr. Sexton,)

brought up, and read the first time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the said Clause be now read a second time."

MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)

I venture to think that, whatever hon. Members below the Gangway represent in this House, they have very little claim to be Representatives of the commerce of Ireland; but I wish to put the case from a commercial point of view. I have studied this question of strikes in Belfast, and have looked at both sides of the controversy. I think, on consideration, the House will admit that the shipbuilding trade in Belfast is sufficiently handicapped, without having an additional burden cast upon it. Shipbuilders in Belfast have to import all their iron and coal, and pay freight, which does not fall upon English and Scotch shipbuilders. The hon. Member proposes that wages should be paid weekly. The present practice is to pay the wages fortnightly; there is what is called a blind Monday and a pay Monday, and I can assure the House that the returns for the blind Monday show a very much less number of absentees than the Monday on which wages are paid. I hope the House will not agree to the Amendment of the hon. Member.

MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)

When this Bill was originally drawn it did not regard the time for payment of wages, my notion of a Truck Bill being that it should provide simply for the payment of wages in cash. I have no wish to oppose the clause proposed by the hon. Member (Mr. Sexton), especially as it is generally supported by Irish Members, and the objections to weekly payments have solely related to England and Wales; but I do not consider that it comes within the limits of a Truck Act to legislate on this matter.


I agree that, strictly speaking, the question of weekly, fortnightly, or other pay is not directly connected with the question of truck. The principle of legislation in respect of truck, as we understand it, is the due payment of wages in money without deduction of any kind. When it was pointed out that an evil existed with regard to the time of payment, I did my best to frame a clause to meet the case. But I found the greatest difficulty in my way. There are upon the question of pay four or five different clauses bearing on the question to be considered, and I point out to the hon. Member (Mr. Sexton) that his clause only refers to a part of a great question. Of course, if the House feels that it is in a position to deal with this isolated matter of the employment of workmen or payment of wages by time in Ireland, I shall offer no objection. If hon. Members can agree upon a clause to be put into the Bill, well and good; but, otherwise, I think the result would be that the Bill would not become law. We hope, however, that both England and Ireland will gain the advantage of the work that has already been done, and I appeal to the hon. Member not to press this clause, unless he feels that he can satisfy the House that they ought to deal with the particular point which it involves. Of course, the question is much narrowed in the clause by its limitation to Ireland; but I think, notwithstanding that, it would be wiser to reserve even that part of the subject to a better opportunity, and that we should endeavour to pass the Bill as it now stands, without reference to the question of wages.

MR. CHANCE (Kilkenny, S.)

I am afraid the Attorney General has forgotten the title of the Bill which we are now discussing. It is a Bill not only to amend, but to extend the law relating to truck. It is clearly the object of the Bill that the workman should get his wages put into his hands in the way that will most benefit him. By the deferring of his wages the workman is forced to get credit, and he can only get credit at certain places, which are probably connected with the works at which he is employed, and in that way the object of the Act is defeated. We, on these Benches, have been told that we have very little claim to represent the commerce of Ireland; but I may remark that the hon. Gentleman who says that represents but a small agricultural constituency, whereas the Mover of this Amendment is the Representative of the great commercial constituency of Belfast. I myself happen to know some- thing about the shipbuilding trade, and about Belfast, where it is largely carried on. The hon. Gentleman does not seem to be aware that there are at present nine vessels of over 3,000 tons building there, and that the yard has always plenty to do. The hon. Member has told us that there is a great difference between the attendance of workmen as between the blind Monday and the pay Monday. I think the only logical conclusion that can be drawn from the argument of the hon. Member is, that it would be better not to pay the workman any money at all. The definition of "workman" in the Bill is, that it includes any workman as defined by the Employers and Workmen's Act of 1875; and I would point out to the House that an agricultural labourer or servant is not a workman within that definition; and I defy the Attorney General, or any other Member of this House, to get up and say that the definition of the term "workman" in this Bill, or the Truck Act, would include agricultural labourers. The definition only includes men who do manual labour. The workmen in Belfast are paid wages calculated by time, and the case of the opponents of the clause is that it would be impossible to pay the men every seven days. I think we are entitled to ask the opponents of the clause to give a single example of workmen being paid in Ireland, except at Belfast, at a greater interval than a week. I also defy the opponents of the clause to point out a single case, except that of this shipbuilding yard in Belfast, where fortnightly payment exists, and where this clause would work any harm. That being so, and the Representatives of Ireland being unanimous upon the point—I believe there is only one Representative, and that of an agricultural constituency, who opposes this clause—why should we not be entitled to have our way? There is another reason. It is a simple reason, but still an important one; and it is this—6,000 Orange workmen have been out on strike. They have a considerable grievance, and nothing could be more satisfactory to them, especially at this period of July, than that a message should go from this House to the effect that their reasonable claim is to be dealt with fairly and squarely. I have no doubt that if such a message as the adoption of this clause were sent, we should hear little of rioting by these men during the coming week. I hope all these circumstances will be considered, and that for the sake of fair play and justice the House will agree to the clause.


I should like to say a very few words in. contradiction of the statement that the Irish Members are unanimous in favour of the clause.


You are not an Irish Member.


Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will allow me to finish my sentence. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Armagh (Sir James Corry), who has more knowledge, perhaps, of the shipbuilding interest and of the commercial aspect of Belfast than any other Member, is most distinctly opposed to the adoption of this clause.


He pays his own workmen weekly.


That may be so. The hon. Member for East Belfast (Mr. Do Cobain) is also in favour of the rejection of the clause. I only quote the opinion of two Members, who certainly have more knowledge, or quite as much, of the commercial concerns of Ireland as anyone else, to prove that the Irish Representatives are not unanimous in favour of the views of the hon. Gentleman.


The right hon. and gallant Gentleman has stated that the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Belfast (Mr. De Cobain) is opposed to my clause. As a matter of fact, the hon. Member for East Belfast has an Amendment upon the Paper, providing that workmen in Ireland, engaged by time, shall be paid weekly.

Sin JOSEPH PEASE (Durham, Barnard Castle)

The hon. and learned Attorney General opposes the discussion of the clause, or opposes the discussion of the wage question at all, in order to simplify the Bill, and to secure its enactment. Now, with regard to the question of wages I have had a good deal of experience, and certainly my own view is very much in favour of the payment of weekly wages. At the same time, such payment is not universal. It is universal in Ireland except in one or two cases. Are we going to pass this clause in order to force one or two firms, who have good reasons of their own for paying fortnightly, into the plan which is followed by everyone else? I am afraid that if once we get into the question of the payment of wages we shall quash my hon. Friend's Bill altogether. I have a clause which relates to the question of the payment of wages and the credit to be given; but I am quite prepared, if it is the wish of the House and of the Government, to withdraw the clause altogether. Let me point out that the question of fortnightly wages is not so much one of credit; because as soon as a man gets a sovereign there is no question of credit at all. The advantage of weekly wages is that, generally speaking, it is better for a man to have less money in his hands every week than to have double the amount in his hands every fortnight. I doubt whether it is proper to discuss this question upon this Bill. I am very much afraid that the question would lead to endless discussion, and that my hon. Friend's Bill would, in consequence, go to the wall.

MR. P. M'DONALD (Sligo, N.)

As an employer of labour, I desire to say it is almost the universal practice for the employers of labour in Ireland to pay their employés weekly. In almost every trade with which I am connected that is the practice. My own firm adheres to that rule, and, moreover, pay their employés on the Friday, instead of on the Saturday. In no case has it been found that an employésuffered by receiving his wages on the Friday. I think it would be exceedingly wrong that there should be any departure from the present system of payment. I believe that the departure from that system would lead to the demoralization of the people and of the poor workers of Ireland; for if they are obliged to wait for their wages for a fortnight and then get a lump sum, they will spend their earnings in a manner which will, perhaps, not be beneficial to their households. I consider it would lead to the general welfare of the poor workers of Ireland that they should be paid weekly; and, therefore, I strongly and firmly support the Amendment of my hon. Friend (Mr. Sexton).


I desire to urge upon the consideration of the House one point which is of great importance. The subject-matter of the Bill is not the period for paying wages, but solely the mode of paying them. The whole scope of the Bill is to perfect the law and place heavy penalties upon those who pay wages in any other way than in the current coin of the realm. This clause is an attempt to control the making of contracts as between employers and employed. The question is one full of difficulty, and we are not in a position to deal with it. We have no evidence before us to show how it will work in different cases. I think it is very desirable that, in general, wages should be paid weekly; but in a great many cases weekly wages may be impracticable. I think that the wisest course would be to leave the whole question of the period of payment over until next Session, and then let a Bill be brought in, or let a Select Committee be appointed to take evidence and see what fair restrictions may be imposed. If a Bill is brought in, then let that Bill be referred to a Select Committee. I think it is clear we can only deal with the question effectively by taking evidence in regard to it. Certainly, if the House desires that this Bill should be passed during the present Session, it is as well that such questions as these should not be raised upon it.

MR. SINCLAIR (Falkirk, &c)

I have had some experience in connection with general business in Belfast; and I have built ships with Messrs. Harland and Woolf, whose shipbuilding works have been referred to. We have always paid wages weekly, and I have a very strong feeling in favour of that principle generally. But if there is another practice elsewhere, there generally is a good reason for it. The reason I believe why Messrs. Harland and Woolf pay fortnightly and not weekly is that the bulk of the wages they have to pay is calculated upon piecework. Now, piecework cannot be touched by the clause of the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton). The clause would have the effect of bringing about two different systems of payment in the one establishment. There is no doubt whatever that there has been good reason for fortnightly payment in the past, and I believe we would do injury to this business which has been established in Belfast, and which is now being conducted under great difficulties there, if we ventured to interfere by legislative action with the method of payment which has been adopted by the enterprizing and able men at the head of this establishment. I hope the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) will not press this clause, simply for the reason that he will be interfering with one of the few new industries that have been established in Ireland, and which has done something in the midst of the decay of so many other Irish industries to improve, enlarge, and advance its prosperity.

MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)

My hon. Friend (Mr. Sexton) is quite unable to accept the suggestion that he should withdraw his clause. There was a strike in Belfast, which developed into a disturbance of the public peace. There were no less than 6,000 men thrown out of work, and those men appealed to my hon. Friend for his advice. His advice to them was that they should state their case to the House, and he thought that it would receive the careful attention of hon. Members. The men returned to their work; but the consideration upon which they did return was that my hon. Friend would bring their case before the House, and press it upon the consideration of hon. Gentlemen. Under these circumstances, my hon. Friend would be guilty of nothing short of a breach of faith with these men if he did not press this matter upon the House. So far as the withdrawal of the Amendment is concerned, I think I have given a reason by which my hon. Friend is entirely precluded from withdrawing it. Now, I must express my gratitude for the manner in which the Attorney General (Sir Richard Webster) discussed this matter. So far as I understood his observations, they came to this—that if there was a strong and particularly unanimous opinion on the part of Irish Members in favour of this proposal, he would not persist in any opposition to it. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary (Mr. Matthews) replied practically to the same effect, as he said that if there was unanimity amongst the Irish Members on this question the Government would favourably consider it. That in Parliamentary phraseology means, of course, that they would accede to our demand.


What I said was that if the House considered it right to deal with this question I would offer no opposition; but I added that I certainly did not think it desir- able to deal with this matter upon this Bill.


I do not think, after all, that my interpretation of the hon. and learned Gentleman's observations was very unfair. Now, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Colonel King-Harman) quoted the opinion of two Irish Members in opposition to the clause; but, strange to say, one of those Irish Members, as my hon. Friend (Mr. Sexton) pointed out, adopts the practice which my hon. Friend wishes to make universal. Now, as to the second Irish Member, the statement of his opinion by the hon. and gallant Gentleman was traversed by the fact that he has actually placed upon the Paper an Amendment to the very effect of the Amendment of my hon. Friend.


May I be allowed to explain. I meant to mention the hon. Member for North Belfast, and not East Belfast. It was a slip of the tongue.


But the hon. Member for North Belfast pays his men weekly.


I am well aware of that, but the hon. Member informs me that he is against weekly payment being made compulsory.


I think there is, practically, unanimity amongst the Irish Members on this point. I attach, no importance whatever to the opposition of the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell). The pretensions of that hon. Gentleman are getting a little too large. Why, he is not content to stand, as he did this evening, as a mighty minotaur, threatening both the Government and the Irish Party; but now he, the Representative of a rural constituency, opposes the wishes of the workers in town, and I have no doubt he imagines he adorns everything he touches; but I wish he would leave some slice of Irish affairs outside the Scotch purview of his perfervid eloquence. Another objection has been raised by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Falkirk (Mr. Sinclair); but his objection is more tenable. The hon. Gentleman has some acquaintance with the matter, while the hon. Member for South Tyrone is absolutely ignorant with regard to it; but I think, on consideration, the hon. Member (Mr. Sinclair) will find his objection cannot be sustained. The hon. Gentleman is, no doubt, well acquainted with the practice in the yard of Messrs. Laird Brothers. The objection of the hon. Member is, that there are two classes of labour in this shipbuilding yard at Belfast; that one class of men is paid by piece and the other class by time; and that if we pass the proposal of my hon Friend we shall have two systems of payment. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman is aware of the fact that in the yard of Messrs. Laird Brothers there are the two classes of workers and two systems of payment. In fact, I understand that wages are paid weekly in the case of time employment, and fortnightly in the case of piece employment, in most of the shipyards of the country. For all these reasons I hope the House will accept the clause of my hon. Friend.


I cannot allow this question to pass without a few words. This clause means an interference with engagements made by one firm, and one firm only. We are proposing to deal with this firm without giving them any notice, or any opportunity of being heard through any Member of the House. That firm employs a large number of men—I believe something like 6,000. They have recently opened large engineering works. They have to compete in the manufacture of their engines with engineers in Glasgow, with firms who pay the men in their employ by the fortnight. Why should Messrs. Harland and Woolf, because they live in Belfast, be interfered with, and made to pay their employés in a different manner to their competitors? It is true that in other firms the lower class of workmen—those, for instance, who are paid a guinea a-week—get their money sooner; but the men who receive 35s. and 40s. a-week get their pay fortnightly. The clause says that the period of payment for such wages shall be weekly. I wish to say that it is impossible for the proprietors of any large works to prepare a pay sheet for 6,000 men, and pay them the very day after the wages are due. If this were passed, it seems to me that it would produce confusion.

An hon. MEMBER

As a Member of the Admiralty, will the hon. Gentleman say what is the practice in the Government Service?


In the Dockyards they pay their staff weekly. The books are made up on the Tuesday, and the men are paid on the Friday following.

MR. MOLLOY (King's Co., Birr)

I presume, as the hon. Member read the whole of his speech, we may take it that his statement has been sent to him by Messrs. Harland and Woolf to be read.


I had not a word of notes in connection with this subject.


Then I was mistaken. I was probably led into the mistake by the fact that the hon. Gentleman kept his eyes on the paper. It seems to me that this is a matter of Messrs. Harland and Woolf against the whole of Ireland. Though the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General said that some other persons were in a similar position to Messrs. Harland and Woolf, he, personally, was not in favour of it. Well, the Irish Members are willing to agree to anything that is generally satisfactory, and will not do any injury to anyone. Therefore, if the Attorney General does not speak in a positive manner, as representing the Government, the House, I trust, will be willing to accept the Amendment of my hon. Friend. However much we may prefer to have this clause for other people than those referred to, we may rest assured that it will not prejudicially affect other firms. It will do no harm whatever; it will not affect anything in England; and, that being so, the matter becomes purely one of Irish legislation. We have shown that it is the practice throughout the whole length and breadth of Ireland to pay weekly. Hon. Members who object to it cannot point to any but a single case in Ireland where fortnightly payments are made. Well now, Sir, the shipbuilding yards on the Tyne and elsewhere pay weekly wages; and I will point out to the House the danger of refusing the Amendment of my hon. Friend, and I do it seriously. I quite admit, as has been said by the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, that this trade has developed very largely in Ireland, and that it is a very important factor in the commercial prospects of the country. As surely as this Amendment is refused will those men go on strike again, and from information which has been supplied to me I am convinced that if they do the strike will be much more serious than hon. Gentlemen seem to consider. In the first place, the Government will have to meet with the excitement and anger of people who will think that they have been tricked by this House. They may be wrong; but they certainly clearly understood that the answer of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary upon this subject, some time ago, was an answer favourable to their position. That being so, these 6,000 men will look upon it that they have been tricked by the Home Secretary. That is the frame of mind in which they will enter on a strike again. I would ask what was the result of strikes in Ireland informer times? Why, the result of strikes has been to drive away the whole of the trade from the country—it has been driven away, and it has never come back. If you refuse this Amendment—which you have it, on the authority of the hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill, does not affect or injure anyone in the least degree—and when you have it from the hon. Gentleman that he does not object to it, if the House does not, and when you have proof from the good-natured silence of hon. Gentlemen generally that the House is content to follow the system pointed out by my hon. Friend, I say that by resisting this Amendment you will be placing in jeopardy one of the best industries in Ireland, and will be bringing about strikes of a character such as you have never had before in that country. What pains me more than anything else is that you are putting in jeopardy this trade —that you are incurring a possibility of absolute loss to this trade in Ireland, which will be an injury ten times as great as any which could be effected by the introduction of such an Amendment as that proposed.

COLONEL GUNTER (Yorkshire, W.R., Barkston Ash)

I would ask hon. Gentlemen opposite if they have no agricultural labourers in Ireland? Because what I understand is, that it would be easy to accept this Amendment if it only applied to Belfast. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in England, for agricultural purposes, men are very frequently hired by the year and paid yearly wages? I should like to ask the hon. Member if there are no men in the same category in Ireland who will be passed over if we adopt this Amendment?

MR. MURPHY (Dublin, St. Patrick's)

The hon. Member asks if there are labourers employed by the year in Ireland, and I answer him that there are labourers so employed in that country, employed by the year and by the quarter. This discussion is continued as if the matter in hand related only to Belfast; but my opinion is that it relates to the whole of Ireland. I rise just for the moment to speak on behalf of the working classes throughout the whole of Ireland. The custom of paying weekly wages is not altogether universal throughout the rest of Ireland, although the hon. Member for the Birr Division of King's County (Mr. Molloy) seems to suppose so. In works in which I myself have been engaged—railway and public works—the custom is to pay fortnightly, rather than weekly, sometimes to the great advantage of the working classes. The reason I interpose in this debate at this late hour is that I desire to point out that I employ sometimes from 1,000 to 2,000 men in districts extending over 30 or 40 miles, and that I experience no difficulty in paying my men by the week. I wish to say this as representing an industrial constituency, and as having had such experience.

COLONEL HILL (Bristol, S.)

I will not detain the House one moment; but I desire to say a word in favour of the Amendment. As an employer of labour, connected with the shipbuilding industry which has been so frequently referred to, I wish to express approval of the system of paying men, not only in Ireland, but all over England, weekly wages. So far as the shipbuilding trade is concerned, there can be no possible difficulty in paying the men by the week. The practice of my firm for many years has been to make up the men's wages on the Thursday evening, and pay them on the Friday. I attach great importance to the men being paid on Friday, so as to give their wives an opportunity of going to market on the Saturday, which they cannot enjoy if the men are paid late on Saturday evening. I venture to express a hope that this system of weekly payment will be obtained throughout the whole of the United Kingdom. I think a man should receive his wages as soon after he has earned them as possible.


As a matter of fact, I do not think the agricultural labourer would come under this Amendment at all. ["Yes, yes!"] Well, it does not matter. I know that domestic servants and agricultural labourers are paid at longer intervals than once a week, and I did not wish to interfere with those persons. I shall be glad to alter the word "workman" in my Amendment by inserting "mechanic" or "artizan."

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 121; Noes 69: Majority 52.—(Div. List, No. 296.) [2.20 A.M.]

Clause read a second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be added to the Bill."

Amendment proposed, in the said proposed Clause, to insert after "workman" the words "other than servants or husbandmen."

Question, to insert those words, put, and agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed, to, and added to the Bill.

SIR JOSEPH PEASE (Durham, Barnard Castle)

moved to insert a new clause, in lieu of Clause 3.

New Clause:—

(Wages of workmen.)

"The wages of a workman, whether he be paid according to the work done, or according to the time during which he is employed, shall accrue due and be payable as follows (that is to say):—

  1. "(a.) The wages shall accrue due fortnightly, or at such less intervals of time as may he provided by the contract;
  2. "(b.) The wages shall, save as hereinafter mentioned, be payable and paid fortnightly, or within seven days after the end of the fortnight in which they accrue due, or at such less intervals of time as may he provided by the contract;
  3. "(c.) In the case of wages that are not paid within the week in which they accrue due, it shall be lawful for any workman, during the first six weeks of his employment, to obtain, at the end of each week in which there would otherwise be no payment due to him, a fair and reasonable sum as subsistence money, such sum being equal to at least fifty per centum of the sum it is estimated will have accrued to him during such week;
  4. "(d.) Nothing herein contained shall apply to the payment of money due to any workman employed in or about any slate quarry, slate mine, or metallic mine, not being a stratified ironstone mine where the con- 626 tract is for periodical settlements, dependent on the work performed or the quantity obtained, provided that such settlements are made within quarterly periods, and fair and reasonable advances of subsistence money are contracted to be made from time to time to the workmen, such payments having relation to the work that it is estimated such workmen will have performed;
  5. "(e.) Where wages which have accrued due, but are not yet payable, are paid in advance, no profit, discount, or interest shall be charged on such advance;

"(1,) The employer shall comply with this section, and shall rot take any profit, or discount, or interest, or make any charge or deduction whatever, or impose any condition for or in respect of any payment of part of wages required to be made by this section;

"(2.) Every contract made in contravention of this section shall, so far as it is so in contravention, be illegal and void, and the workman may recover his wages under such contract as if the illegal portion thereof had been made in conformity with this section;

"(3.) Every employer who, by himself or his agent, acts in contravention of this section, shall be liable to the penalties imposed by section nine of the principal Act, as if he had been guilty of such an offence as in that section mentioned,"

—(Sir Joseph Pease,)—brought up, and read the first time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the said Clause be now read a second time."


I would make an appeal to the hon. Baronet not to press this Amendment, the discussion of which would occupy much time.

MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)

I shall be obliged to ask the House to negative the proposal of the hon. Baronet, because the acceptance of the Amendment would really wreck the Bill.

MR. T. E. ELLIS (Merionethshire)

The quarrymen of North Wales are deeply interested in this question of more frequent and regular payment of wages, and look to this House for treatment of the question without delay; so I trust it will be dealt with next Session.

MR. CHANCE (Kilkenny, S.)

I trust the hon. Baronet will allow the clause to be withdrawn. It is a very long and complicated clause, and I know that several clauses that will be ruled out of Order were on the Paper when this clause was put down.


I trust that the clause will be dealt with by the House, and that this Bill will not be encumbered with it.


This clause was on the Paper the whole time during which the Bill has been before us, and it was only because the Bill came on at an unreasonable hour, and in my absence, that the Amendment was passed over. I replaced it, however, on the Paper the moment I found that the question of wages was to be considered on Report. I beg to point out that the clause is well drawn, and after much conference with the representatives of both labour and capital, and deals with the subject completely. I do object, at so late an hour as this, to deal with questions affecting labour and capital; but if we are to do so, then I shall feel it my duty to press my Amendment.

DR. CLARK (Caithness)

The Committee has fixed weekly wages in Ireland, and I think it would be unfair to prevent the same rule applying in Scotland; because if we are to have quarterly and monthly payments as hitherto, a great many of the evils now existing will continue.

MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)

I shall be glad to know whether the Government would be prepared to deal with this question next Session?

MR. FENWICK (Northumberland, Wansbeck)

If the Government will deal with this question next Session, I, for one, will join in the appeal to the hon. Baronet to withdraw his Amendment in favour of one which I have placed on the Paper, and which I have every reason to believe will meet the wishes of the working classes in England and Scotland. My proposal is that where wages are calculated by time the period for payment shall not exceed two weeks.

Question put, and negatived.

Mr. CREMER (Shoreditch, Haggerston)

I rise to move the clause which I have placed on the Paper to exempt workmen from payment to provident funds which is frequently required of them by their employers; and I trust the House will see the desirability of relieving them in this respect. I think I am justified in saying that, at the present time, the majority of workmen have made provision for sickness and death in the various societies which have developed in recent years. But it is frequently the case that workmen when they are hired are called upon by their employers to subscribe to other funds than those to which they have subscribed for, perhaps, a long series of years. I think the House will consider this a great hardship in the case of men who are liable to be discharged at a moment's notice and cut off from any further participation in the funds towards which they have been compelled to subscribe, and without receiving a farthing in the way of compensation. In order to remove this hardship and injustice, and to prevent a considerable number of workmen from being compelled to pay twice over, I trust the House will accept the clause I am about to move.

New Clause: —

(Exemptions from payment to provident funds)

"It shall not be lawful for any employer or his agent to make it a condition of the hiring of any workman, who has at the period of hiring made provision against sickness or death in any trade union, friendly, or other society, that he shall be liable to deductions from his wages for contributions towards any provident or any other fund from which such workman will not be entitled to derive any benefit after he has ceased to remain in that employment, or to make any such deductions from his wages during any period of his hiring,"

—(Mr. Cremer,)—brought up, and read the first time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the said Clause be now read a second time."

MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)

I must ask the House to object to this Amendment, which, if it were agreed to, would ruin permanent relief funds. The evidence taken on this subject is before the House in the Report of the Committee on the Employers' Liability Bill. I trust the hon. Member will not proceed to a Division on the clause.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 30; Noes 103: Majority 73.—(Div. List, No. 297.) [2.40 A.M.]

Motion made, and Question, "That the Debate be now adjourned,"—(Mr. Attorney General,)—put, and agreed to.

Further Proceeding on Consideration, as amended, deferred till Thursday.

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