HC Deb 03 May 1887 vol 314 cc833-8

[Mr. Bradlaugh, Mr. Warmington, Mr. John Ellis, Mr. Arthur Williams, Mr. Howard Vincent, Mr. Esslement.)

COMMITTEE. [Progress 2nd May.]

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 3 (Workmen to be entitled to advance of portion of wages).

Motion made, and Question, "That the Clause be postponed,"—(Mr. Bradlaugh,)—put, and agreed to.

New Clause—

(Servant in husbandry.)

" Nothing in the principal Act or this Act shall render illegal a contract with a servant in husbandry for giving him food, drink, a cottage, or other allowances or privileges in addition to money wages as a remuneration for his services,—(Mr. Stuart-Worthy,)

brought up, and read the first time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be road a second time."

MR. C. T. D. ACLAND (Cornwall, Launceston)

I hope the Government will be inclined to accept the Amendment I have to move to this new clause, which is to insert after the word "drink," the words "not being alcoholic." I am not especially anxious for the word "alcoholic," if "intoxicating" will suit the Government better, though there is some difference between the two. My point is that in some parts of England—certainly in the West, and, I believe, in other parts of the country—labourers have, by contract, to receive part of their wages in intoxicating liquor, and this custom has been found to be exceedingly detrimental to the labourers themselves and the health of their families. One result of taking home part of their wages in liquor is that, having more than they care to drink themselves, children of tender age at home learn to drink this liquor, often of the roughest and worst possible kind. Besides that, when a farmer has produced, by accident or carelessness, an inferior liquor of an intoxicating character which he cannot sell in the ordinary way, he passes it off in payment to his labourers. I have known this happen; and I have known a farmer decline to engage a man who would not accept part of his wages in liquor; and I have also known labourers, who have been imprisoned for being intoxicated, complain that they could not get employment unless they accepted liquor as part of their wages. It seems to me that hardly any argument is required to establish the reasonable nature of the Amendment I propose.

Amendment proposed, in line 2, after "drink," insert "not being alcoholic." —(Mr. C. T. D. Acland.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

MR. C. W. GRAY (Essex, Maldon)

This Amendment is a very important one; too important to go into at this time in the morning. I shall strenuously oppose it; but I should prefer to urge my argument at a more convenient time. I will now move to report Progress.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. C. W. Gray.)

MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)

I will not oppose the Motion to report Progress. I only proposed to take these clauses on the understanding that they were not opposed.

SIR JOSEPH PEASE (Durham, Barnard Castle)

I would call attention to the state of this Bill, one of the most puzzling Bills, in its present form, I have ever had to deal with. The Government Amendments are larger than the original Bill; and when you come to look at these Amendments with the original Bill, you have the greatest difficulty in finding what is the real state of the proposals before the House. I am told that it is contrary to our practice, at this stage, to move that the Bill be reprinted; but might I suggest to the Government that a Paper might be circulated, showing the effect of their Amendments upon the Bill? If such a Paper could be circulated from the Home Office, it would be of the greatest convenience to hon. Members interested in the Bill.

MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)

I should like to know when the Government will consent to taking this measure at some reasonable time? The 3rd clause has now been postponed several times, because it contains contentious matter, and now we have the new clause postponed, because of a small, though not unimportant, Amendment of the hon. Member for Launceston (Mr. C. T. D. Acland). If we are always to be put off until 2 in the morning, there is no hope of our getting forward with the Bill. I would appeal to the Government to fix the Bill for some hour when there would be reasonable prospect of making progress with it.


As to what fell from the hon. Baronet (Sir Joseph Pease), he only describes that which necessarily arises when the Government, friendly to the progress of a Bill, is obliged to amend it; but I shall be able to place in his hands a reprint of the Bill, and I have a few copies for hon. Members who desire them.


I am very much indebted to the Government for the pains they have taken to make this a practical measure. I make no complaint whatever of what the Government have done. I am sure they are actuated by the desire to make it a good Bill.


I make no complaint. I only appeal to the Government to give us some assurance that the Bill will be taken at a time when we can make progress with it.

MR. MUNDELLA (Sheffield, Brightside)

It is very inconvenient for Members to sit here for three or four nights in expectation of the Bill, and then to find immediately we reach a crucial Amendment that Progress is to be reported. I should be glad to know if the Government would agree to bringing the Bill on at an hour when we can deal with this important Amendment, and which, though it is opposed, the best agricultural authorities are in favour of?


I must press my appeal upon the Government. I do not think we are being treated in a friendly manner, I, perhaps, may not expect to be treated in a friendly manner by the Government; but I may claim a little courtesy when I repeat the appeal that has been endorsed by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella) that the Bill should be taken at a reasonable time.


Hon. Members must be aware that it is not a matter in which we have any discretion. It is not our Bill, and it is not in our power to bring the Bill on at an early hour.


I contend it is in the power of the Government to make such arrangements that other Business might cease at an earlier hour.


I only ask that facilities should be given to the Bill after the main Business of the evening is disposed of. To-night, for instance, the Government were engaged upon Business of their own, when they might have allowed this Bill to come on. On some other night it might come on after other Business is disposed of, say, at 1 o'clock. If that is not done, I should oppose the Motion to report Progress.

MR. FINCH-HATTON (Lincolnshire, Spalding)

May I say the Bill might have come on an hour earlier, had not hon. Members chosen to engage in a desultory discussion upon Cyprus.

MR. CHANCE (Kilkenny, S.)

The discussion to which the hon. Gentleman refers did not occupy 20 minutes. He could not have been in the House during the discussion, and I would advise him in future, before hazarding such a statement, to look at the clock.


That is exactly what I did.


There can be no difficulty in providing facilities on another occasion; and if there is not a promise to give them, I really must divide against the Motion to report Progress.


The hon. Member is surely most unreasonable. It is within his recollection that the hon. Member most interested (Mr. Bradlaugh) has, in the most frank manner, said he makes no complaint whatever against the Government, who have shown their friendly spirit towards the Bill. I am sure hon. Members will see, having regard to the time and the hour at which we meet again to-morrow, it is not unreasonable to report Progress if a long discussion is anticipated, and the Government are not to blame in acceding to a Motion to which the hon. Member for Northampton has himself assented. The Government will give every possible facility to further the progress of the Bill, as they have hitherto. If to night another Bill has had precedence, it was because it was a small measure necessary to be passed, and it was not supposed would be met with opposition. However, that Bill is now out of the way, and the Government will deal with this Bill in a friendly spirit, and with a desire to co-operate with the hon. Member in making it a good measure.


Still the hon. Gentleman does not undertake that, on the next occasion, it shall come on before other Government Business that may happen to be on the Paper.


I think the case of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Brightside Division of Sheffield is rather stronger than he thinks, when he intimates his intention of opposing the adjournment of the debate. When another Bill was before the House I made a similar Motion; but I withdrew it on being informed that an intimation had been made by someone on the Government side of the House that, if the discussion on it was strangled, the opposed clauses of this Bill would be taken. Although by no means satisfied with that intimation, I withdrew my Motion; and yet, when the Government have had the advantage of getting their Bill through, they will not now do something towards getting these clauses taken. I do not think there is any serious objection to this clause. Only one hon. Member has opposed it, and I do think we might as well make an end of it, and thus secure a substantial advance with the Bill.

MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)

I am opposed to going on with this Bill. I have great respect for the Financial Secretary to the Treasury; but when he talks of the friendliness of the Government towards this Bill, and of the satisfaction of the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh), we understand, as far as the House is concerned, that no facilities have been afforded by the Government. All the Amendments have been arranged outside the House; but the contentious matter must be postponed to some other night. We have a right to press for some assurance from the Government that when the Bill comes on next time it shall be at such a reasonable hour as will enable us to make some progress with the contentious part of the Bill; otherwise, it will go on night after night, until it comes to be included in the "Massacre of the Innocents."


For my part, I can assure the House that I will put the Bill down as often as I can.

Question put, and agreed to.

Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Thursday.

Forward to