§ (Sir John Lubbock, Mr. John Barry, Mr. Burt, Mr. Cameron Corbett, Sir Walter Foster, Mr. Whitley.)
§ SECOND READING.
§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK (London University) ,
in rising to move that the Bill be now read a second time, said, that the late hours to which in many places shops were open had been conclusively shown over and over again, especially by the Report of the Royal Commission on Factories in 1876, and by the work of Mr. Sutherst, to whose energy the cause of early closing was so greatly indebted, and the House of Commons Committee of 1886. He might, indeed, rest his case as to the facts on the authority of that Committee, which reported unanimously—That in many districts the shops are kept open until very late, especially on Saturdays,and that they were—Satisfied that in many districts the hours of labour of many shopkeepers and shop assistants range as high as 85 per week.That, indeed, would not be denied. The Committee also reported that "little could be expected from voluntary action, and that nothing short of legislation would be sufficient." When the Factory Acts were proposed, their supporters were never expected to prove that manufacturers themselves were in their favour. The facts being admitted that thousands and thousands of shop assistants were being worked 14 hours a day and 16 on Saturdays, surely there was an overwhelming case for legislation. He hoped, however, to show that he had shopkeepers with him, and that strengthened the case immensely. In support of this he would again quote the Committee of that House who reported—A widespread desire has been expressed by grown-up persons employed in shops that in some way their labours also may be limited by law; and your Committee believe that employers are not indisposed, as a rule, to such limitation, provided that it takes the form of general early closing of shops.In consequence of the interest excited by the evidence taken before the Committee of the House of Commons, the then Lord Mayor of London called a great representative meeting of shop- 1099 keepers at the Mansion House. Some 800 were present, and a resolution, proposed by Mr. Stapley and seconded by Mr. Crisp, was adopted by more than 10 to one, as follows:—That, while heartily accepting Sir John Lubbock's Shop Hours Regulation Bill" (which had now become law), "which would undoubtedly confer a great benefit on young persons engaged in shops, this meeting earnestly prays Parliament to go further, and to add a clause enacting a compulsory general closing at 8 o'clock on five days of the week, and at 10 on Saturdays, a measure which would confer an inestimable benefit on the whole shopkeeping community, and relieve them from the intolerably long hours from which they now suffer.This resolution ran like wildfire round London. Meetings were held at once in Holloway, Paddington, Shoreditch, Kensington, Camden Town, and elsewhere—in fact, all round London—at which the same resolution was enthusiastically adopted. But it had been asserted, and one or two meetings had been made the most of as showing, that in London the small shopkeepers were not in favour of early closing; therefore, he would, with the permission of the House, adduce more evidence on that point than otherwise would have been necessary. Mr. Barr, a draper in South London told the Committee that he inquired of a large number of his neighbours, and that a great majority would be only too glad to have legislative interference—the small shops as well as the larger ones. Mr. Jones, Chairman of the Holloway and Finsbury Park Association, stated that they had canvassed over 400 tradesmen in that district, and found 95 per cent in favour of 8 o'clock closing. Mr. Noel, who had inquired among the shopkeepers of Shoreditch, found quite as large a majority. Mr. Lilley, Chairman of the Boot and Shoe and Leather Trade Association, and who was deputed by the Leather Section of the London Chamber of Commerce, stated that in his district the general opinion was in favour of a general 8 o'clock closing. Mr. Walton, tea dealer in Bethnal Green, said that he had made inquiries, and found 19 out of 20 in favour of it in his district. Mr. Rutter, of Walworth Road, went so far as to say that he believed every tradesman there would be glad of it. Mr. Parker had inquired of 200 tradesmen in the Harrow Road, and found 188 of them in favour. Mr. Lacey, Chairman of the Vauxhall Trades- 1100 men's Club, stated that they were in favour of a general closing. Mr. Barber, of Kensington, said that the general feeling in that district was for an 8 o'clock closing, and some thought 10 hours quite long enough. Mr. Pomeroy, Vice President of the Bermondsey Tradesmen's Association, told the Committee—I have been deadly opposed to legislation upon the subject until lately, and am now a new convert to legislation, having seen how powerless voluntary effort is when it has to contend with the opposition of two or three men.He was asked—And you believe that the feeling among the smaller shopkeepers is as strong as it is among the larger ones that there should be a compulsory hour for closing?And he said—Every one of them was in favour of some law by which they should all close earlier.Mr. Sanderson, pawnbroker, of Islington, stated that he believed the Bill was generally welcomed in his district, and he was supported by the evidence of Mr. Walter for Aldersgate Street and Stoke Newington. Mr. Coomer, of Lavender Hill, told the Committee that he had spoken to nearly every tradesman in his district, and—They are strongly in favour of legislation being brought to bear to close the shops earlier.Mr. Cooke, hatter, of Seven Sisters Road, told the Committee that 95 per cent in that district were in favour of it. Mr. Beverley, Vice Chairman of the Tradesmen's Association in Harrow Road, had asked 183 of his neighbours, and found 178 for and five against it. Mr. Elmstre gave similar evidence with reference to Battersea, as also did Mr. Sterry, an oilman in Hornsey Road, and Mr. Randall, a butcher, for Highgate. It was true that the hon. Member for the Dulwich Division of Camberwell (Mr. Blundell Maple) stated that in St. Pancras the tradesmen were seven to one against it; but on cross-examination he admitted that he was judging from only 88 tradesmen. The Early Closing Association, up to last year, had opposed legislation; but their able and active secretary, Mr. Stacey, was much impressed by the evidence given before the House of Commons Committee. In consequence they made inquiries of 2,000 small shop- 1101 keepers in the poorest and latest closing districts of London, and found a substantial majority in favour of the Bill. In fact, it was in consequence of this that they now energetically supported the Bill. Witnesses from the Provinces gave similar evidence as regarded Liverpool, Manchester, Edinburgh, Dublin, and elsewhere. At Liverpool a circular was sent to 2,000 shops; 1,770 were in favour and only 200 against. In the Bill, as printed last year, chemists were excluded; but so many chemists wrote begging to be included that the editor of The Chemist and Druggist sent out a circular to all the chemists in the country. There were about 8,000 chemists' shops, and over 2,000 returned answers—1,330 wished to be included in the Bill, and 700 were against it, which showed that two out of three were in favour of the Bill; and in a leading article on the subject the editor said that he was satisfied that two-thirds of the chemists in the country would welcome the Bill. To the honour of our tradesmen he said, then, that this was the shopkeepers' own Bill. But, then, it would perhaps be asked, if so large a number of shopkeepers were in favour of early closing, why should a Bill be necessary at all? Because a small and selfish minority insisted on keeping open, and thus forced the others to keep open also. The great majority desired to close, and the Bill would give effect to their wishes. He would give one illustration of what had happened over and over again. In one district of South London the drapers wished to close earlier, and they all agreed to do so. Two hundred and fifty shops closed. But a new man came. He opened a shop and kept open late, hoping to get all the late business. Very soon his next neighbour opened too. Then another and another, until in a few weeks they were all open again, except the committee of the Association. Then the committee met and passed a unanimous resolution that nothing short of legislation would shorten the hours. Thus one shop kept the other 250 open. This was no isolated case, but had happened over and over again Passing on to the question of health, the Committee of 1886 reported to the House that the protracted hours of labour in shops were dangerous, and often ruinous to health, especially in the case of women; and on this point the evidence was very 1102 strong. Dr. Rutter, medical officer to the Milliners' Association, stated that he had had occasion to see professionally a great number of women engaged in shops, and that it was impossible for women, and especially for girls, to work so many hours without great injury to health, and that the evil was greatly aggravated by the fact that they had to stand so much. The hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. F. S. Powell) was so struck with the strength of his evidence that he asked the witness—The terms you have used are very strong—you use them deliberately?And the witness answered—Yes; deliberately.Dr. Abbotts called the especial attention of the Committee to the question as affecting women. In reply to the hon. Member for West Nottingham (Mr. Broadhurst), he said he had no doubt that the long hours led to diseases of the pelvis, and that girls who had stood so long could not expect to be mothers of healthy children, so that the question was of vital importance as regarded the physical condition of our race. The medical aspect of the case could, however, be dealt with more authoritatively by the hon. Member for the Ilkeston Division of Derby (Sir Walter Foster); and he (Sir John Lubbock) would only, therefore, mention the fact that the Presidents of the Colleges of Physicians and of Surgeons, and of the British Medical Association, Sir James Paget, and many of the other leaders of the Medical Profession, and over 300 medical men practising in London had petitioned the House in favour of the Bill, on the express ground that the present hours of labour in shops were "grievously injurious to health, especially in the case of women." Again, he would call attention to the Petitions in favour of the Bill signed by the clergy of all denominations, by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London, several other English Bishops, and over 200 beneficed London clergy, by over 300 Nonconformist ministers of religion in London, and by Cardinal Manning and over 100 Roman Catholic priests in London, on the ground that it was impossible with these long hours for shop assistants to improve themselves, or to pay any attention to their moral and spiritual 1103 welfare. Not half the assistants in London were able to go to church on Sundays—they were so worn out by their labours during the week. What was the use of night schools and free libraries if they worked 14 or 15 hours a-day? There was one other class of evidence to which he would also refer—namely, the opinion of the Inspectors of Factories, who had exceptional opportunities of forming an opinion. Mr. Redgrave, the principal Inspector, stated that the hours of shop assistants ranged as high as 85 per week; that that was very injurious to health; and that there was a very strong feeling, both in and out of London, that they would gladly accept a general closing hour. Mr. Lakeman, who had specially studied this question with reference to the East of London, stated that there was no prospect of shortening the hours by voluntary action; that the present hours were ruinous to health; and that he believed there was a general desire for shorter hours, provided they were general. Lastly, Mr. Cooke-Taylor, Inspector for the North-West of England, informed the Committee that he believed the Inspectors were now almost unanimous in believing that legislation for shops was desirable. What, then, were the provisions of the Bill? That every shop should shut at 8 o'clock for five nights in the week, and 10 on the sixth, excepting public-houses and places of refreshment, tobacconists, and news-vendors. The hour was also to be extended to 10 p.m. on any day preceding a public or Bank Holiday. It was also provided that if any particular district desired for a time to obtain an extension of the time, two-thirds could make application to the Local Authority to obtain permission to remain open. This was intended to meet such cases as the summer season in seaside places. The same clause provided that if any district wished to institute a half-holiday two-thirds might make application to the Local Authority, who could give an order which would make the half-holiday compulsory for the whole district. Some towns in the North already closed within the hours mentioned in the Bill; but they were very anxious it should pass on account of the provisions with reference to half-holidays. The 13th clause raised the penalty for Sunday trading. Those were the main pro- 1104 visions of the Bill. They might seem stringent; but, after all, the shop assistants, even then, would have to work 12 hours on five days, and 14 on the sixth. Surely that was long enough. What, then, were the objections? In the first place, as to the small shop-keepers. He had given strong—he might say conclusive—evidence that the majority of small shopkeepers were in favour of the Bill; but, of course, he did not deny that some were opposed to it. They had been assured by the hon. Member for the Dulwich Division of Camberwell that it would injure their business. He believed that was entirely a mistake, and that, on the contrary, the small shops would actually do more business, because, the time being shorter, people would shop more in their own immediate neighbourhood. The trade, in fact, would be more localized. If early hours crushed the small shops, then in early closing towns the shops ought to be few and large. Newcastle-upon-Tyne was an early closing town. So far as the hours of closing were concerned, it would not be affected by the present Bill. His hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Stuart-Wortley) had been kind enough to ascertain for him the number of shops in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and he found that, with a population of 140,000 persons, there were no fewer than 766 grocers' shops. It was obvious, therefore, that early closing had not ruined the small shopkeepers. The costermongers had been induced to oppose the Bill; but that was due to a misapprehension, as that class were not affected by the measure. The hour of closing did not apply to costermongers. A strong opposition came from the off-licence holders, because they feared that if the Bill passed they would sell less wine and spirits. He did not know that that would be a disadvantage. Lastly, they were opposed by the Liberty and Property Defence League in the name of liberty and property. They opposed the Bill in the name of liberty. What liberty, and whose liberty? Not the liberty of the shop assistants, but that of the capitalist to work his assistants 14 or even 16 hours a-day. He felt disposed to say in the words of Madame Roland—"Oh! liberty, liberty! what crimes are committed in thy name!" What hypocrisy it was to 1105 oppose the Bill in the name of liberty! As to property, it was almost enough to make people Socialists to find an Association actually defending the power of making men and women work 14 hours of labour a-day in the name of property. He was glad, however, to say that the opposition was local. There was—he did not deny it—some in London, and there was some in Leeds. But it would be found that outside of London there had hardly been a single open public meeting against the Bill. He noticed that an attempt which the hon. Member for the Dulwich Division of Camberwell had made to pass a hostile resolution at a meeting in Brighton recently had been defeated by an overwhelming majority. Then the proposed legislation was characterized as un-English. But they already regulated the hours of closing public-houses, because it was considered to be for the general advantage to do so; and if it was for the general advantage, why should they not do so in the case of other shops also? There was no difference in principle between the two cases. So far as principle was concerned, the objection to the Bill would apply equally to the Factory Act, the Truck Act, and many others. One objection which was urged against the old Factory Acts could not be brought against this Bill. It had no bearing on foreign competition. Under it all would be treated alike. The shops would do just as much business. There would not be a pound of tea or a yard of stuff sold less than now. Some had objected, because they said they did their best business after 8. No doubt that was so; but they would, under the Bill, do it before 8. That was the only difference, and the great advantage. What was now done between 8 and 10 would be done between 6 and 8. The last two hours were the most trying. It was after the gas was lit that the air became hottest, driest, and most impure. He did not wish to underrate the importance of what he was asking the House to assent to. Far from it. He asked the House to mitigate these long hours; but he did not ask the House to commit itself either to the particular hours suggested in the Bill or to the exemptions proposed in the Schedule. The hour of 8 in the evening had been proposed by the shopkeepers themselves. This, with opening and 1106 shutting, would mean at least 12½, hours in the day. Was that too short? Surely not; but if London Members really thought so, they were strong enough to alter it in Committee. If they thought 10 o'clock too early on Saturday, they would be strong enough to make it 11. Was the change too sudden? He admitted there would be much to be said for making the hours 9 and 11 for a year, and then to come to 8 and 10. Was it necessary to exempt any other special class of shops? That, again, was a question for Committee. Some hon. Members might consider that it would be best to leave the hours of closing to the discretion of the Local Authorities. That was, indeed, the suggestion of the Committee of the House, and it was the only point on which their recommendations had been departed from. They suggested that the Act should leave to Local Authorities the power of fixing an hour, and for this there was, at first sight, much to be said. However, the shopkeepers generally, as far as he had been able to ascertain their opinion, preferred that the closing should be general. For instance, if the shops were shut at 8 in Manchester, but not elsewhere, the result would be that the late business would be transferred to the shops immediately beyond the borough limits, and thus an injustice might be done. That, however, would again be a question for discussion in Committee. Now, what was the opinion of working men? The House would see that the hon. Member for Morpeth (Mr. Burt), to whose opinion on such points all looked with respect, had put his name on the Bill. They had also received very valuable aid from the hon. Member for West Nottingham. It would, indeed, be extraordinary if the working men, who had secured comparatively short hours for themselves, did not sympathize with others. But he was happy to say that they had come forward nobly. At a recent meeting of the London Trade Council, the following resolution was proposed by Mr. Marks, seconded by Mr. Gayford, and carried unanimously:—That this delegate meeting, representing more than 26,000 adult artizans and mechanics in the Metropolitan district, strongly denounce the system and practice of late shopping as being fraught with injurious consequences, both moral and physical, to a vast portion of our overworked industrial population, and, 1107 therefore, earnestly urges all workers in the constituencies of the United Kingdom to call upon their Parliamentary Representatives to support Sir John Lubbock's Early Closing Bill, which, in its operation and result, is calculated to become a blessing to those employed in shops and an advantage to the national welfare.The Bill was also supported by other Trade Councils, as, for instance, those of Glasgow, Oldham, and Bolton, and he was not aware that any had opposed it. He was anxious to appeal to hon. Members representing country districts. Possibly they might, at first sight, imagine that the Bill would mainly affect great cities. But where did the shop assistants in great cities come from? Many a poor girl from Scotland, or Ireland, or country places in England, had come up to one of our great cities strong and happy, to work in one of these shops. She was away from all her friends, and—he was not blaming the shopkeepers, he had shown that they themselves regretted the present system—she returned home after a year or two utterly broken down in health and strength. Eighty-four hours in the week meant 14 hours a-day. What did that mean? At least two hours must be allowed for dressing and undressing, for breakfast and supper. Eight hours was little enough for sleep under such circumstances, and that made up the 24. Not a moment was left for fresh air, for relaxation, for self-improvement, or for friendly and family intercourse. In factories the hours of labour were limited to 54; consequently the shopmen, and—what was much worse—the shopwomen too, were actually in a great many cases at the present moment working for no less than 30 hours per week more than factory hands. Moreover, in a vast number of cases the short and irregular time allowed for meals, the closeness of the atmosphere, and the absence of seats rendered the labour even more severe. The seats, in fact, were on the wrong side of the counter. It was obvious that, as the House of Commons Committee reported—"Such prolonged labour must be exhausting and ruinous to health, especially in the case of girls." By Sunday morning they were utterly exhausted. These were no sensational statements of his. They were literal and melancholy facts brought out by a Royal Commission, and confirmed by the House of Com- 1108 mons' Committee. It was understating the case to call this a life of slavery; for it was, though he would not say in all respects the worst, but certainly the most laborious and exhausting which the world had ever known. No class ever worked so hard. Without legislation, then, there was little hope of shorter hours, and the lives of shopmen and of shopwomen would still be the same weary monotony of shop and bed, a life of drudgery, and an early death. In the name of the Bishops and Clergy, of the Nonconformist ministers, of the Roman Catholic priests, of the medical men, whose Petitions he had presented, he appealed to the judgment and reason of the House. In the name of the 100,000 shopkeepers and assistants—whose humble Petitions had been presented since the Bill had been before the House—he appealed to the hearts and the mercy of hon. Members to pass the Bill. If they did, there would be hope of happier days and brighter hours for these people, and some little leisure at the end of their hard day's work. To-morrow morning papers would be looked for with intense anxiety in thousands of poor homes by many worn and weary men and women. If the House rejected this Bill, they would condemn thousands of assistants and shopkeepers to a life of misery and suffering, and an early grave. If they passed the Bill they would send a ray of light and hope into many a poor home, and to many thousands of poor, worn, and weary sufferers.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Sir John Lubbock.)
§ MR. BLUNDELL MAPLE (Camberwell, Dulwich)
said, that according to the Notice he had placed on the Paper he rose to move the rejection of the Bill. His object in doing so was that he did not consider that this was a necessary piece of legislation. He represented the retail trading business with which he had been intimately connected for more than 25 years, and his experience led him entirely to disagree with the hon. Baronet the Member for the London University (Sir John Lubbock) that the shopkeepers were an unkind class, or were willing to keep open their shops longer than was necessary to supply the wants of the people. It was now 27 1109 years since the Early Closing Association was started, and it had done a vast amount of good in bringing the hours of shopping within much more reasonable limits than formerly. For instance, the firm with which he was connected used to be open until 10 o'clock every night, and 12 o'clock on Saturday. They now closed at 7 on five nights in the week, and at 2 on Saturday. He could not understand the necessity of such legislation as this. In 1886 a Bill passed through the House for the regulation of labour in shops, which Bill prevented the employment of young people under the age of 18 for more than 74 hours a-week, Therefore, the question dealt with by the Bill was a new question altogether. It was, in fact, a Bill to bring compulsory legislation to bear on adult labour. Men could take care of themselves, and it was unnecessary in this country to legislate for persons who could take care of themselves. It was said that in the shops the atmosphere was bad, and that a great deal of disease would be found; but the hon. Baronet did not read the Report of the Registrar General, who showed that in the shopkeeping class in this country the health was much better than in many others. For instance, that Report showed that among publicans the death rate between the ages of 15 and 20 was 7.81; while among shopkeepers it was only 5.13, and among general labourers 12.63, or more than double that of shopkeepers. So, again, between the ages of 25 and 45, the death rate among publicans was 22.63; whereas among small shopkeepers the average was only 9.04. He thought that showed conclusively that the shopkeeping class was not an unhealthy body, nor was the atmosphere or the labour as oppressive in the shops as it was in the factories. In the factories people were constantly at work at the same thing and in one place; whereas in the shops they were continually moving about. He grieved to say that in some few cases the masters did not study the interests of their servants; but was that a reason why the whole body should be branded with a charge of unkindness? He could assure the House that the shopkeepers had no desire to burn their gas and keep open their shops late if the business did not come to them, and the business would not come unless there were purchasers. It was all very 1110 well for the hon. Baronet to refer to Newcastle and a few places like that, where the working classes finished work at 6 o'clock; but in other towns, and especially in the Metropolitan district, there was a vast body of working people who did not leave off work until 7 o'clock, and if this Bill passed they would only have an hour in which to get home and then do their shopping. There was, therefore, no necessity for this legislation. The Preamble of the Bill set forth that the Bill was introduced in the interests of the shop assistants. He did not find anything stated in the body of the Bill itself about the assistants, and he would ask what was to be done with the small shopkeepers who had no assistants, where poor people kept shops, lived in a back room going into the shop, and attended themselves upon the customers that came, with a view of earning a few shillings in order to keep them from the Union? It was not only a Bill that would affect the employers of labour and their assistants, but it would crush out many a poor widow and her orphan children, and drive them into the workhouse. Having said so much, he would remark that certain persons were of opinion that the early closing movement, and especially the provision which had been made for Bank Holidays, had been greatly assisted by the action of the hon. Baronet who had just introduced the Bill. Bank Holidays, however, came from a very different source. Twenty-six years ago, when he (Mr. Maple) first started in business, there used to be one day of closing, on Boxing Day, but no Bank Holidays. It was the large shops that first started the early closing movement. The Bank Holiday Bill did not compel the shops to close at all. It was a Bill brought in by the hon. Baronet for the express purpose of making it legal for acceptances due on any day set apart for a Bank Holiday to be presented on the day following such holiday. All the demand for Bank Holidays came from the spontaneous voice of the nation, and was not the result of compulsory legislation. The shopkeepers did all they could to close early, and it was to their interest to do so. Then, again, the Shop Regulation Act had been passed, and that measure prohibited young people from being employed for more than 74 hours a-week, including 1111 hours set apart for meals. That Act had been adhered to conscientiously. He had asked the Home Secretary in that House, on the 9th of April, what number of convictions had taken place from the passing of the Act in 1886 up to the 31st of March in the present year, and the reply he received was that there had only been four in the Metropolitan area—namely, three in Marylebone, and one in Lambeth. It had been found quite sufficient to call the attention of shopkeepers to the matter, and no legal proceedings were rendered necessary. Therefore, hon. Members would see that the law had been carried out, and that young people were not being employed too long in the shops. How about those who kept wholesale warehouses, and how about the bankers in England? Did they not employ people for long hours, and did they not also come within the range of criticism? In The Citizen of last week there was a long report in relation to the Bank employés. If it were necessary to bring in legislation to interfere with the retail trading class, it should also be applied to the wholesale traders and to the bankers. The hon. Baronet, in his remarks, inferred that the assistants in these shops lived off the premises; but they nearly always lived on the premises. Again, it would be found that in very few shops the hours of closing would be interfered with by the Bill, and especially those shops in which a large number of assistants were kept. All the large shops closed well within the time fixed within the Bill, and he could not understand why they had signed Petitions in favour of the Bill. Before Petitions were presented, they should declare, at any rate, that the persons by whom they were signed were not only in favour of the measure, but that they approved of the conditions under which it was introduced. Now, he found that the opinion in regard to compulsory closing being necessary was not so universal as the hon. Baronet would have the House to believe. There had been meetings held in all parts of the country. He (Mr. Blundell Maple) had been taunted with having attended a meeting at Brighton, at which a resolution in opposition to his views was carried against him. He would explain to the House how that occurred. The meeting was held at 8 o'clock at night, and a gentleman, a Mr. 1112 Stacey, Secretary of the Early Closing Association—he did not know whether he was sent specially by the hon. Baronet or not—went among the shops and collected together about 350 young shop assistants for the express purpose of ousting him at that meeting. That was certainly something to be proud of. The taxpayers and shopkeepers of Brighton, who attended the meeting, would have carried the resolution he had proposed by a large majority, if they had not been outvoted by the shop assistants. He would, however, ask the hon. Baronet how he had himself got on at the meeting held in Morley Hall, Hackney; and whether he did not find strong opposition to the early closing movement?
§ MR. BLUNDELL MAPLE
said, he was sorry their case on that occasion was so bad that the hon. Baronet was not allowed a hearing. However, so much for public meetings; and as to the addresses which had been presented, they had come, no doubt, from large and important bodies; but he thought that when their effect was measured, the House would recognize that there were six on the one side and half-a-dozen on the other. In the City of London the Common Council met the other day, and that Common Council was to be made the Local Authority of the City. At their meeting, however, it was decided by a very large majority that the Bill should be opposed. There had been very much opposition to the Bill of the hon. Baronet. It was argued that the Bill did not affect the City, but only a small class outside it, who were strongly in favour of the measure; but, nevertheless, the resolution was adopted to oppose the Bill. It would, therefore, be seen that the feeling was not altogether on one side. What was the case with regard to the Factory Act? When that Act passed, a clause was inserted giving power to the factories to work for 90 days during the year overtime, so as to cater for the requirements of firms during a season's business. If this Bill passed, the law would, consequently, not be so oppressive against factories as against the small traders. In London a large number of the working classes were engaged in the centre 1113 of the Metropolis, but had to reside outside the Metropolis. In the firm with which he was connected, there were working men who resided three, four, and even six miles away, and it would be 7 or 8 o'clock before they got home. Surely it was very hard that they should not be able to do their shopping after they reached home, and that their wives should be obliged to lay in a store of everything they required beforehand. The hon. Baronet said that costermongers were not included in the Bill; but if hon. Members read the Bill, they would find that the word "shop" included—Any building or portion of a building, booth, stall, or place where goods are exposed or offered for sale by retail, and includes a place where the business of a barber is carried on.Therefore, it must be presumed that the hon. Baronet must mean that the costermongers who used barrows on wheels were not included, but fixed stalls were included. Now, a great many costermongers who sold goods had a fixed stall outside some shop or other; and to clear these persons away at a certain hour would be the cause of severe loss to them. At present they went into the markets, after the buyers from the West End shops, and purchased the vegetables and other goods they wanted at a cheap rate, which enabled them to sell them again to poor people at low prices. Then, again, the hon. Baronet proposed to refer the Bill to a Select Committee. He (Mr. Maple) did not understand the reason why that proposal was made; because, as everybody knew, an enormous amount of evidence had already been collected. A Committee which had been appointed held 16 meetings, at which 75 witnesses were called, whose evidence filled 276 pages. Almost the only class of retail traders to whom the operation of the Bill was not to extend were the vendors of intoxicating liquors. It certainly was somewhat shocking to find that that was the only business that was to be exempt from early closing. The exception was so startling, that he was prompted to ask—"Why are not our temperance friends to the front?" Again, refreshment-houses, where hot cooked provisions were sold, were exempt; while places for the sale of cold provisions were to come within the operation of the measure. It would 1114 thus be legal to sell a hot sausage, or a hot polony, or a hot tart, or hot milk after 8 o'clock; but no cold milk, and no cold tart, nor any cold provisions whatever. That meant that every dining place and every baker's shop where the necessaries of life were sold, together with lemonade and ginger beer, were to be closed, because the articles they sold were not hot. Then, again, tobacconists' shops might be kept open, and news agencies; but if hon. Members would turn to Clause 7 of this wonderful Bill, they would find it laid down that shops in which two or more trades were carried on were to be closed by a certain hour. That meant that if a tobacconist sold sticks or umbrellas he must close his shop, or if a newsagent sold toys or lollipops he also must shut up. The only things that were allowed to be sold were newspapers and tobacco. The House was informed by the hon. Baronet that Clause 11 had been inserted at the instance of the chemists, 1,300 of whom were in favour of it, while 700 did not want it. Was that House going to compel 700 persons to do what they did not want to do because 1,300 wished to deprive certain people of an opportunity of getting their daily bread? Such legislation as that, he trusted, would never be assented to. It would appear from Clause 11 that—A pharmaceutical chemist and druggist shall not be liable to any fine under this Act for supplying medicines, drugs, or medical appliances after the hour appointed by this Act or by an order made thereunder for the closing of shops; but this section shall not be deemed to authorize a pharmaceutical chemist, or chemist and druggist, to keep open shop after the said hour.Therefore a chemist might supply a customer with a black draught; but if he supplied him also with sweets to take away the taste of the black draught, or a tooth-brush, he would come under the penalties of the Act. Supposing that a chemist had just retired to rest, and his assistant went to him to inform him that one of his customers had just come in and wanted some medicine, and also required some sweets for his child—were the sweets to be supplied? If the assistant did supply them, he would come under the penalties of the Act, because the Bill distinctly laid down that shops were to be closed where two or more trades were to be carried on. It was a most severe Bill, and it did one thing 1115 which the House would not regard with approval—namely, that under it we should have police espionage. In Clause 10 in the last sub-section, there was this provision—It shall be the duty in England and Ireland of every Chief Officer of Police and in Scotland of every Procurator Fiscal, to cause the provisions of this Act, and of any order made thereunder, to be duly enforced throughout the area in which he has authority.The effect of that clause would be to cause police, who were now regarded in some quarters with no great favour, to be looked upon with suspicion throughout the length and breadth of the land. He was very sorry that such a provision should have been included in a Bill of this nature. Then, again, as regarded the penalties. He found it laid down in the Bill that the first fine was to be 5s., the second 20s., the next £5, and every subsequent fine £5. The Bill took all power and all discretion out of the hands of the magistrates with regard to the fine. If the magistrate found that the offence had been committed he must inflict a fine. Now, what was £5 to a large firm? But it might mean ruin to a poor widow or a small shopkeeper. She might plead that her clock was slow; but, nevertheless, she must be fined £5, the magistrate having no jurisdiction. Not only so, but it would be found by Clause 9 that where an offence for which the occupier of a shop was liable to a fine had, in fact, been committed by some agent or servant, such agent or servant was rendered liable to the same fine as if he were occupier. Consequently, if a shop assistant made a mistake, he was to be fined £5 in the place of his master; and not only so; but if the fine was not paid, what was to become of him? He would be sent to prison, he supposed, for contempt of Court. These were strong reasons why the House should not accept the Bill. Then, again, by Clause 13, it was proposed to revive the old Act of Charles II. with regard to selling on Sunday, although the framers of the Bill recognized the fact that under this Closing Act, by making people close early on a Saturday, it might be necessary to enable them to open on a Sunday. Would it not be better to allow the shops to remain open later on Saturday, so that all the shopping that was 1116 necessary might be done? It was, however, provided that butchers and those who dealt in fruit, vegetables, milk, and the like might keep open until 10 o'clock on Sunday. He hoped the friends of temperance would recognize the fact that while all temperance houses were closed, and all those houses which sold oranges and ginger beer, the public-houses were to remain open; so that, in fact, they were only forcing the people into the public-houses in order to get what they required. Then, again, as regards houses with off-licences. At present they were allowed to remain open as long as public-houses; but under the Bill they would be closed, which meant that everybody who had been in the habit of buying bottled beer or bottled wine from his grocer would have to go after 8 o'clock at night into a public-house, and thereby he would be frequently tempted and encouraged to take a glass. Then came the question of compensation. In the Local Government Bill it was proposed to compensate publicans. If this Bill was passed it would curtail immensely the hours of trading of the off-licence holders, and greatly reduce the value of their property, as also their profits. It would be a serious question whether, in many localities, when the off-licensed houses had to be closed early, the value of the houses would not go down, and the rates suffer enormously. His was not a Party opposition to the Bill. Hon. Members below the Gangway on the other side felt equally with him that the measure was badly drawn, and was not called for. He hoped that both sides of the House would seriously weigh the provisions of the Bill, and do what they felt to be just to the small traders of England, and that they would not allow this slur to be cast upon them, or the frightful anxiety from which they were now suffering to continue. He could assure the House that at that moment the small shopkeepers were suffering a great amount of anxiety as to the action of the House. He therefore trusted that the House would decide that day, once for all, whether or not they would accept the principle of the Bill. Did they wish to force, by compulsory legislation, the adult workers of the country to cease work, and to ring, so to speak, a curfew bell which would send them home? He knew that the Clergy and the Medical Profession were 1117 in favour of shortening the hours of employment. He did not agree with the hon. Baronet that there were employés who did not go to church. They did go to church, and they were a much more religious body, he believed, than they ever were before. This Bill interfered with the liberty of the subject more than any previous legislation, and he trusted that the House would reject it in the Division which he hoped would take place that day by a large majority, seeing that it was the most oppressive measure which had ever been introduced.
§ MR. RADCLIFFE COOKE (Newington, W.)
said, he rose for the purpose of seconding the Amendment. All acknowledged the motives of the hon. Baronet who had moved the second reading (Sir John Lubbock), and the value of the measures he had successfully passed through the House to lessen and lighten the hours of labour of the working man. He (Mr. Cooke) could not help thinking that the hon. Baronet had now reached a stage when all philanthropists should draw the line between reasonable legislation and unreasonable meddling. He thought the hon. Baronet should know where it was necessary to stop in the career of useful legislation he had worked out for himself. Possibly, the hon. Baronet was not an entirely free agent in the matter, seeing that he was backed up by powerful associations, and with a large body of subscribers, whom he must satisfy in some way or other. No doubt, the hon. Baronet himself felt that he could not, even if he would, withdraw from a position which, by some intimation which had been given to the opponents of the measure, he would be glad to compromise. It was, however, very difficult to withdraw from such a position, seeing that the present supporters of the hon. Baronet would always be able to find some other prominent politician who, for no higher or better motive than popularity, would be ready to champion their cause. His (Mr. Cooke's) objection to the measure was confined to one part of it, and to that part the hon. Baronet had devoted no attention whatever when he addressed the House. His objection was the same as that of the hon. Member (Mr. Maple)—namely, that the Bill interfered unwarrantably with the freedom 1118 and liberty of grown-up people who represented the large class of the community. There were three classes of shops. In the first place, there were the large shops with a great number of assistants, who would in no case be benefited by the Bill, because they already had that which the Bill enjoined. That class had been referred to in the course of the debate from a practical point of view by the hon. Member. There were other shops in which one, two, or, say, a few assistants were employed, in a different part of the town, as a rule, to that in which the other class of shops he had referred to were situated. It was quite possible, and very probable, that the hours of labour of the assistants in these small shops were longer and more arduous than they should be, and if the Bill were entirely confined to regulating the hours of labour of assistants in such shops he should have very little to say against it; but the Bill went very much further than that—it included, he believed, as it was at present drawn, notwithstanding the disavowal of the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of London, costermongers. They were told that costermongers were not to be included, therefore possibly some words would be inserted in the Bill expressly excluding them. Costermongers were a considerable and a popular body in public estimation, and they certainly knew how to shout. That was the sole reason why they were to be excluded, because there was no reason why a difference should be made between the stall-keepers who interpose themselves between the barrows of the costermongers and the costermongers themselves. This Bill was, as he had said, much more sweeping in its scope than the Preamble would indicate, and that was the ground, and he thought the main ground, why there was no opposition, or not so much opposition, as there otherwise would have been. The hon. Baronet (Sir John Lubbock) had referred to the fact that there was not much opposition. He (Mr. Cooke) thought the reason of that was that persons were in the habit of reading the Preamble of a Bill, and of supposing that those who drew the Bill intended to carry out the intentions they had expressed in the Preamble and those intentions only. If people had known that this Bill included in its scope grown- 1119 up men and women of full age, and of full understanding, and prevented them carrying on their business in the way that was most preferable to them, and at a time when they could make the most of it, there would unquestionably have bean considerable opposition to the measure all over the country. Let them see what would happen supposing this Bill became law. The executive officer under the Bill was the gentleman in blue, for the police would have to carry out the Bill; and, as his hon. Friend (Mr. Maple) had reminded the House, the duties which the police had to perform would not add to their popularity among the lower classes of the population—the gentleman in blue would go up to a stall-keeper and say—"My man, you must go home." The stall-keeper might say—"Why, I am just in the thick of my business; I have not sold my stock out." "You must go home for the sake of your health," the policeman would retort. "Don't I know as much about my health as you do?" might be the rejoinder. Thereupon the gentleman in blue might say—"No; the Legislature says you do not; therefore you must go home." It is not merely on the ground of the health of the people that this Bill was introduced. The hon. Baronet the Member for the University of London had referred to a document which they had all received that day, in which was made the assertion, whether it sprang from the Archbishop of Canterbury, or the President of the Royal Society, or the other gentlemen named, who, no doubt, were well acquainted with the wants and habits of the East End of London at 12 o'clock at night, or not, that the present excessive hours of labour left absolutely no time or strength for family intercourse or self-improvement. The gentleman in blue, therefore, after having spoken to the stall-keeper about his health, would say to him—"If you do not go home now, you will have no opportunity of family intercourse; you must go to attend to your wife and family and nurse the baby." "But, if I do that," would say the man, "I shall have no money to provide for my wife and family, because my stock has to be sold, and out of the proceeds I have to provide for my family's wants from day to day, and possibly from hour to hour." That, even, would not satisfy 1120 the friend in blue; but he would say, "If you do not go home, you will not improve your mind; go home and study the Homerian theories and French exercises. If you do not leave the stock unsold, and if you do not go home, I will have you up before a magistrate, and you will be fined £5 for breaking the law of the land." He (Mr. Cooke) maintained, therefore, that this was an unwarrantable interference, in the words of the senior Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright), with the freedom and liberty of grown-up people, and it was, besides, the introduction of an entirely new principle into our life, and certainly into the laws of the country. He had beside him an hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Darling) who was very well acquainted with the Statutes of the Realm and Common Law. The hon. and learned Gentleman would be able to say whether he was right in saying that except in so far as a trade carried on was a noxious trade, or a trade regulated for other purposes than the health of those carrying it on, such as the licensed victuallers—where a trade was not conducted in such a way as to be a nuisance to a neighbourhood, the law of the land did not permit interference between grown-up men and grown-up women and the performance of their duties in carrying on of their trade or business. If he was wrong in that view, his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, who, he believed, intended to speak, not on behalf of the Government, but on his own behalf, would set him right. He did not intend to labour the point, because the only really strong point against the Bill was interference with the liberty of action of grown-up men and women, and he was strengthened in that view by the fact that the hon. Baronet (Sir John Lubbock), who introduced the Bill, carefully avoided that particular point. He did not desire to dwell, as he might do, upon the many evils and ill-consequences that would follow to a variety of people in this country, if the Bill became law. They were stated to the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary (Mr. Matthews) in a most admirable, clear, and exhaustive style by a large, influential, and representative deputation which waited upon him at the Home Office yesterday afternoon. There were, doubtless, other hon. Mem- 1121 bers who wished to speak upon this Bill. He saw on the Benches below the Gangway opposite the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh), who looked as though he was going to address to them one of those instructive speeches which they never listened to without feeling that they were better than they were before. But there was one instance of the inconvenience which would be incurred by the working classes, especially in the country, which came under his notice a day or two ago, and which he thought he might as well mention, because he could not believe it was an isolated case. He mentioned it because the hon. Baronet (Sir John Lubbock) had said in the House, and outside the House, that the opposition to the Bill came from London and from the great towns, and not from the smaller towns, because there the shopkeepers felt they would be benefited by the operation of the Bill. Last Friday he was passing through a small country town in Herefordshire, when he was accosted by an old friend of his, a man who occupied an ironmonger's shop. His friend, having seen that he (Mr. Cooke) had a day or two before taken part in a meeting held against the Bill at Exeter Hall, expressed his approbation of the course he had pursued. He (Mr. Cooke) asked his friend how it affected him, because he knew that his friend closed his shop at 10 o'clock on Saturdays and on other days of the week at 8 o'clock, and earlier still when there was a holiday. His friend said, outwardly and visibly I close my shop at that hour, and all my shop assistants go home; but my customers know that I am on the spot, that I am living on the premises, and they come to me knowing I am there and ready and willing to serve them, and I do serve them sometimes up to 11 o'clock at night. He (Mr. Cooke) asked what kind of people they were who came at that time, and his friend said that they were, almost without exception, working men. What did these working men come for, he asked? The reply was, they came for tools; they had been engaged in their work all day, and if they left their work earlier they would lose time, or if they could not get their tools overnight, the probability was they would lose time in the morning, and perhaps lose the job 1122 to which they were going? That was the first person he had spoken to in the country on the subject, and that was the reply he got, and he thought it was not likely to be the last of the kind if he had pursued his inquiries further. He had said all he thought it was necessary to say on this subject, and he was obliged to the House for listening to him. He opposed the measure in conjunction with his hon. Friend (Mr. Maple) on the main ground that it was contrary to private interests and public policy to interfere with the labour of men and women; that it would prevent that personal enterprize, energy, and supervision which was at the bottom of the industrial supremacy of this country. Therefore, he heartily supported the Amendment.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Mr. Blundell Maple.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derby, Ilkeston)
said, he rose to support the Motion for the second reading of the Bill, and he did so on general grounds with reference to the effect of the Bill on the health of the population. There were in the Bill some details from which he differed; there were many points in regard to which he thought the Bill might be improved, and he had no doubt that in Committee the united wisdom of both sides of the House was capable of making the Bill free from every objection urged against it by the two hon. Gentlemen opposite who had spoken against the measure. He was particularly interested to hear the Mover of the Amendment (Mr. Blundell Maple) ask why public-houses should be exempted? If the hon. Gentleman would move an Amendment including public-houses, he (Sir Walter Foster) would be most happy to give it his support; indeed, he was sure that many hon. Members would be glad to see public-houses closed at 8 o'clock at night. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Blundell Maple) also said that tobacco shops and newspaper shops, if they sold other articles, would be liable to be closed. Now, this was in order to prevent an open and clear opportunity of evading the Act. If 1123 they had a shop in which tea, coffee walking sticks, and other things were sold, the keeper of that shop would be able to evade the Act by putting a couple of newspapers in the window, and saying, "I am a newsagent," unless some clause such as that in the Bill providing against such evasions were passed. In order to meet some difficulties, he should not object to making it a permissive Bill, or, in other words, to admit the principle of Local Option in respect to the operation of the Bill in the different localities. He believed that if the Bill had been drawn on such lines it would have met with more general acceptance, and, probably, would have been more universally approved than it would in its present form; but the great question which underlay the principle of the Bill was that of public health. Many Members who sat upon the Opposition Benches were anxious that the Bill should pass, because they believed that it would add to the well-being and the health of the community. During the last 25 years he, personally, had seen numberless examples of people broken down in health from the long hours they had been obliged to work in shops, and he wanted to see the whole country taking up the hard cases of these unfortunate individuals. He had seen young people come up fresh and healthy from the country who at the end of six months were blanched and weakened by the long hours of labour, and were sent home to die as wrecks in consequence of the iniquitous system under which they were required to work 14 hours a-day. In the interest of the community he wanted that system abolished. That was no new question, because, if they went back as far as 1845, they found that a Royal Commission sitting at that time reported to both Houses, that from inquiries it appeared—That the relative excess from consumption among tradesmen and artizans, as compared with other classes, is mainly to be attributed to the vitiated state of the atmosphere in their shops and dwellings. The average age as death from consumption has been found to be lower in the case of tradesmen than among artizans; this is stated to be owing to a larger portion of the latter being employed in outdoor work, and therefore less continually exposed to the influence of impure air.Dr. Guy, who was one of the principal witnesses before the Commission, gave 1124 evidence which bore very strongly upon this point. He said, in answer to a question—The proportion of consumptive cases in the three classes of gentlemen, tradesmen, and artisans is respectively about 16, 28, and 30 in the hundred,showing an enormous difference between the classes who spent a large proportion of their time in the open air and those who were cooped up in unhealthy dwellings and close shops. Some 15 years ago he (Sir Walter Foster) undertook a large inquiry into this very question. He was interested in the prevalence at this time of chest diseases in the different parts of the country. He took rural districts, and compared them with towns, and he took one town and compared it with another town, and he found that wherever there was a large population confined in factories or shops during the greater portion of the time they were at work, there was a larger prevalence of chest complaints among that population than was usual among the ordinary population. Wherever, on the other hand, he found a class of people working in the open air, he found a much smaller consumption death rate in proportion to the general run of the disease. But this question was probably more delicately worked out by taking particular classes of the population. He took the female part of the population, as he was enabled to do by the supplement to the Registrar General's Report, and he found the remarkable fact that in women the death rate from consumption varied almost directly in various localities in accordance with the nature of their occupation. For instance, if they took a large manufacturing town in which iron works were mainly in vogue, and in which the women had little work to do in factories, they found that the death rate of women as compared with the general population was not in excess, but they found that the death rate of the men who were engaged in this heavier form of occupation was in excess of that of the general agricultural population. If, on the other hand, they had regard to towns where textile fabrics were manufactured, and where women in a large proportion were engaged in factories with close atmosphere, they found that the deaths from chest diseases were largely in excess of the 1125 normal rate for the whole country. They found that in these places the death rate of the women even exceeded the death rate of men engaged in similar occupations. Turning to agricultural districts, he found that, whereas in an ordinary agricultural district where the men were employed outdoor all day, and exposed to all sorts of weather, the death rate from lung diseases was comparatively small; the death rate of the women, on the other hand, who were cooped up in houses which were very often in an unsanitary state, was largely in excess of that of the men. These facts went very far to bear out the statement made by the Commission of 1845, that occupations which required prolonged remaining indoors were exceedingly injurious to the population in so far as they tended to develop diseases of the chest. As the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Dulwich Division of Camberwell quoted some statistics from one of the Registrar General's Reports bearing upon this point, he should like to refer the hon. Gentleman to the statistics that had been prepared by the Registrar General in his supplement to the last decennial Report. The figures were remarkable, and had almost a direct bearing upon the Bill before the House. In fact, if the hon. Baronet the Member for the London University (Sir John Lubbock) had wanted a statistical basis for his Bill, he could not have found a better one than that which was given by the Registrar General in his last supplement. Taking all diseases together, the Registrar General showed the comparative mortality between the agricultural classes who spent most of their time in the open air and the shopkeeper classes. The comparative mortality figure of the agricultural classes was taken by the Registrar General at 644, the comparative mortality figure in the shopkeeping classes was 877, showing an enormous difference to the detriment of people confined in shops. The Registrar General proceeded to analyse these figures in the very instructive supplement. He compared the mortality among men working in impure air and those working in a pure atmosphere. Taking fishermen as the people working in the purest atmosphere, he found the comparative mortality figure from diseases of the chest was 198, while the figure, on the other 1126 hand, of agriculturists was 237. Then he came to grocers, a class of persons who would be affected by this Bill, and he found that the comparative mortality figure was 283. That among drapers he found to be 430, or more than double the death rate which occurred among fishermen, a people living mainly in the open air. Taking grocers and drapers together, he found that the comparative mortality figure was 357, as compared with 237 among the agriculturists of the country. No figures could be more eloquent to drive home the fact that this Bill was necessary for the health of the population, and he was content to rest his support of the Bill entirely on the statistics that had come to them officially from the Registrar General of England in the Report he had quoted. It had been said that the Bill interfered with individual liberty, and hon. Gentlemen opposite had been unfortunate enough to quote as their champion the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Birmingham (Mr. John Bright). The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Birmingham was not on the side of the Factory Acts when that legislation was passed, and he (Sir Walter Foster) remembered that when, nearly 20 years ago, an agitation was raised in which he bore an humble part in favour of preventing the food of the people being adulterated, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Birmingham was against them. The right hon. Gentleman wanted the liberty of the subject to extend even so far, forsooth, that one man should be allowed to poison another man's food. He (Sir Walter Foster) did not think that the opinion of such a champion of the liberty of the subject should have much weight with the House in the discussion of a Bill which aimed at the benefit of the public health. The whole argument about the liberty of the subject being interfered with by the Bill was an argument which ought not to receive much attention from the House, and he would tell them why. A good many hon. Members sitting on his side of the House thought there was something that was higher and something that was more important than individual liberty. Individual liberty was a good thing as long as it was used for the common good, but it might 1127 become licence, and he believed that at some future time they would find that in this country individual liberty would be more and more controlled when it was used by individuals for the detriment of the Commonwealth. A man had no right to injure his own health, because he owed a debt to the community to be a healthy citizen. A man had no right to follow or engage in occupations that tended to make other people suffer on account of his own breakdown in health. There were occupations which tended to develop chest diseases, especially consumption. The development of consumption in this country was a serious detriment to the well-being of the people. A man might choose, if he liked, to live under conditions which generated consumption, if the injury were limited to himself; but it was not limited to himself, it descended to other generations, and very often it affected his neighbours or the people with whom he was brought into contact. Now-a-days science had shown that this form of chest disease was capable of being transmitted from one person to another, and therefore, if they encouraged, by non-interference on the part of the State, habits that were detrimental to the community, they did two evil things. They encouraged the spread of disease, and they helped to deteriorate the character of the population, to sap the strength, vitality, and manhood of the country. Because he believed this Bill would do much to add to the vitality and strength of future generations, he gave it his support. He did not want it to be injurious in its interference with any honest industry, but he believed that honest industries could be carried on with efficiency between the hours of 8 o'clock in the morning and 8 o'clock in the evening. He believed that working men through their Representatives in the House were supporters of this Bill; he was anxious that no community or district should be injuriously affected by the Bill, and, therefore, he would rather see it pass upon permissive principles, or, in other words, on the principle of Local Option. A complete answer to objections raised by hon. Gentlemen was contained in the fact that the Representatives of the working classes in the House were largely in favour of the Bill being 1128 passed, and that it was not felt by working men that any inconvenience would result to them through the operation of the Bill. In his opinion, the great argument as regarded health had not been answered by the hon. Gentlemen who had spoken from the Opposite Benches, but, on the contrary, had been strengthened immeasurably by the figures he had quoted.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
said, he desired to offer the strongest possible opposition to the second reading, not only on account of the principle of the Bill itself, but on account of the principle that it challenged, although, at the same time, he fully recognized the humane motives of the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of London and those who supported him. He believed they really desired to benefit the classes in whose interests they thought they were legislating. It was because he believed those classes would suffer material injury in consequence of such legislation that he wanted to make the House sensible of what was involved in the passing of the measure. He felt that the House was very likely to be moved by the eloquent peroration of the hon. Baronet, and by the pathetic appeal he made to the House; but he would urge upon the House that, however strongly they might feel that individuals were suffering, it was not useful for hon. Members to allow their emotions to govern them too much in their legislation. This Bill proposed to interfere with grown-up people under circumstances in regard to which, so far as he knew, no Act of Parliament had yet endeavoured to interfere. Moreover, it interfered with people under conditions which, if accepted in this Bill, would open the door to legislation which might be of the most terrible character. The hon. Baronet congratulated the hon. Member for Morpeth (Mr. Burt) that he and the men of the county which he specially represented had secured for themselves the shorter hours of labour which he sought to imply would be secured by this Bill. He, however, did not see the force of the hon. Baronet's congratulation, for how had these shorter hours been secured? By voluntary effort and voluntary organization. They were asked to pass the present Bill on two grounds—first, because it 1129 was favourable to the health of the individuals who it was supposed would be relieved by it; and, secondly, because it was for their moral advantage. Did he understand the hon. Baronet to submit as a proposition to the House that, whenever they were reasonably sure in their minds that some livelihood open to an individual carried with it greater risk to his health than some other, they were therefore to prevent him from carrying on that livelihood? ["No!"] Well, if not, the whole argument for the Bill fell to the ground. [An hon. MEMBER: Within limited hours.] Within limited hours? But was a person to be permitted to follow some vocation that rendered him more liable to disease during certain hours of the day, and not during others? That was an illogical position. There were many employments which were very dangerous to health, and in which science should be appealed to to lessen the danger. If they were to prevent grown individuals from entering upon work on this score they would destroy many industries in the country, and would reduce to starvation people who earned their living under difficulties as it was. He said at once that he was in favour of shorter hours of labour for everyone. This was no new advocacy on his part. He had always advocated the securing of short hours of labour by voluntary effort and association on the part of workmen, so that they might be intelligently represented in their discussions with those who bought their labour, but he had always been against the endeavour to compel it by legislation. If they legislated for shop assistants, how could they prevent persons engaged in other branches of industry from asking the House to legislate for them also, and how could the House determine what was the right limit of labour in each particular industry? The number of hours that the hon. Baronet would be satisfied with for shop assistants would be absolutely destructive of life in other vocations. If they acceded to this they were going to introduce the principle of interference between grown men and women, not allowing them to judge for themselves as to what was healthy or unhealthy, and would hinder them from following certain employments without a thought as to whether they could obtain other means of livelihood. If hon. Members were going to make people 1130 moral and healthy by Act of Parliament they would have a large job of work carved out for them, and they would fail in their attempt. The Bill before the House did not, however, necessarily secure shorter employment for shop assistants. It was a Bill to close shops, even though no assistants were employed. The hon. Member for the Ilkeston Division said that no man should be allowed to injure his health, but how far was this to go? Many persons maintained that smoking was injurious to health. He had seen heaps of statistics showing that persons who smoked died quickly. If hon. Members were convinced of that, was there to be legislation against smoking? If so, they would be giving legal sanction to any fanaticism or prohibition, and, under cover of a regard for health, thrust their own fads down other people's throats. By this Bill a man in his little shop, in which he and his wife served, or perhaps the wife served while the husband was at work, was to be prevented from keeping his shop open because somebody else got ill in some other establishment. This was legislation which, if not grandmotherly, was, at all events, strained to an extent which the English people would never tolerate when they understood its full bearing. The hon. Baronet urged that the great majority of the shopkeepers desired this Bill. If that were true, they could carry out their desire without the Bill. It was said that this was impossible, inasmuch as some shops remained open to the injury of the trade of those which were closed. But no shops would remain open unless there were customers who were ready to buy, and this brought him to the conclusion that late hours were in some cases absolutely necessary in order to enable persons of the artizan class earning wages which were paid from day to day, and returning from work after 7 or 8 o'clock in the evening, to make their domestic purchases. If the Bill were passed, there were many poor men who, earning their wages from day to day, did not get home from their work till 7, 8, or even 9 o'clock at night, and they would have no means of buying what they wanted to buy, except that they would be left to the establishments which the hon. Baronet proposed to leave open. The 1131 hon. Baronet (Sir John Lubbock) had explained that the alteration he sought was mostly needed by females. Doubtless, long hours were injurious, especially to women; but why, then, did the hon. Baronet exempt bar-women, the girls who stood behind counters in places of refreshment till a late hour of night, and those who were engaged in cigar shops? The hon. Baronet must not be offended if he suggested that the inference was that they were exempted because the interests of those for whom they worked were too powerful to attack. But that was a descent from the high grounds of morality taken up by the promoters of this Bill. Where a class was powerful they might murder the people, and it was only where interests and trades were not powerful enough to unite in opposition that they were proceeded against. The hon. Baronet practically said this—"This is a question of morals and health, but we will discuss it on the lines of expediency, and will ask the House of Commons to recognize by statute that too powerful classes may make their employés immoral and unhealthy, while others may not." The hon. Baronet said that in towns where a half-holiday was now obtained, the people were always trembling lest the holiday should be taken from them. He did not think that those who had gained the half-holiday were in any fear of losing it; they had won it by convincing public opinion, and the history of our country showed that, taking a period, no step which the people had won by voluntary combination, educationally or morally, had ever been lost, though, of course, there were periods of flux and reflux in all progress. Earlier closing might be brought about in the same way. He quite agreed that the opportunities for education and relaxation in music, art, and literature which the galleries, collections, and institutions of our great cities now afforded ought to be at the disposal of all working men; but was Parliament to legislate to close industries because grown people had made arrangements which seemed to shut them out from those things? What gave them—Members of the House of Commons—such a right? As counsel or as critics, yes; but as legislators and administrators, no; and on behalf of the people he would resist any such attempt. They were 1132 told that the Inspectors of factories desired this legislation; no doubt they did—people who had machinery for grinding all thought that grinding ought to be done with that machinery. In these self-regarding matters men who had their labour to sell should be left to sell it in the best fashion they could. They should be encouraged to organize, to get the best price they could for their labour; but they should never be taught that when they were weak and divided the Legislature would step in and give them a weapon or a shield, not for them, but for the Executive to use. It was said that only some small shopkeepers opposed the Bill. Experience, however, told him that the small shopkeepers of the Metropolis were not now organized in opposition to it, only because they did not contemplate the possibility of the House of Commons being unwise enough to meddle with the ordinary avocations of their life. It was desirable that shopping should be done before 8, but how could it be by persons who did not return home till after 8? He was in favour of shorter hours of labour, if possible; but he thought legislation of this kind would, by raising antagonism, hinder that movement rather than promote it. The hon. Baronet, using a phrase which was out of harmony with the kindly tone of the rest of his speech, said it was hypocritical to oppose the Bill on grounds of personal liberty. Now, he opposed the Bill on those grounds, and he hoped that he was not hypocritical. If they began by recognizing the right of Parliament to interfere and control personal liberty in that way in regard to one trade, where would they stop? The Bill was, he thought, absurd in its details and immoral in its principle. It was immoral in its principle, because it would strike a blow at the self-reliance of the individual; and it was absurd in its details, because, among other things, while it professed to be required for the welfare of the shop assistants, it gave one-third of the shopkeepers in a district the power of preventing its provisions from being put in operation. He, therefore, trusted that the House would reject the measure.
§ MR. WINTERBOTHAM (Gloucester, Cirencester)
said, that the powerful speech of the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) would be read to-morrow by many a poor shop-assistant 1133 in the country with feelings of very great disappointment. But the reasons which had induced the hon. Gentleman to oppose the Bill of the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of London (Sir John Lubbock) were so entirely different from the reasons adduced by the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment, that he was not without hope that ultimately they would find the hon. Member on the side of the weak against the strong, as he had always been in the past. It would be presumptuous in him to attempt to reply to all the points the hon. Gentleman had raised in opposition to the Bill; indeed, he only intended to trespass for a few minutes upon the attention of the House, while he gave his reasons for the vote he was going to give in support of the measure. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton had asked—Whether the law had any right to prevent a man running a special risk, or from engaging in a trade which was attended with special risk.This was not the first time that that principle had been raised and decided in the House. What was the object of the Merchant Shipping Acts? What became of the inspection of ships before grown men were allowed to embark in them, if the contention was correct that grown men ought to be trusted to look after themselves? Again, all mining legislation proceeded on the principle that men needed protection, which they were unable to obtain for themselves. He would like to know what was the excuse for the Irish land legislation, which had had no stronger supporter than the hon. Member for Northampton, if it was not that "grown men" needed the interference on their behalf of special law, and had not been able to make free and fair contracts on their own account? They had heard a great deal about interference with grown men and women. The Factories Acts in this country were specially passed for the protection of grown women. How about the Bank Holiday Act, which the hon. Baronet (Sir John Lubbock) succeeded in passing, and for which he had earned the gratitude of the country? He would like to ask whether grown warehousemen and grown-up clerks in this country would have been enabled to enjoy the Bank Holidays if they had been left to get the privilege themselves? How 1134 about the Truck Acts, which they passed a very short time ago, and which the hon. Member for Northampton was specially active in supporting? Were they not aimed at the protection of grown men and women from forces which were too strong for them individually? They had heard a good deal, and no doubt they would hear a good deal more, about the impossibility of making men moral by Act of Parliament. No, they could not; but arguments of that kind had been urged against all sanitary legislation—against the establishment of baths, washhouses, and free libraries. They might do a great deal to make it easier for people to be healthy and moral, and that was all the law could do. More than one hon. Member had said that if the Bill was only to apply to shops in which women and young people were employed, he would be ready to support it. If hon. Members would read the evidence given before the Sweating Committee, they would see it was this kind of philanthrophy which had led to the insertion in the Factory Acts of the clauses under which a vast amount of sweating had been rendered possible in the country. Take one clause of the Factory Act, that an Inspector should not have the power to enter any room used as a bedroom. The result was that people who wished to evade the Act erected a bed in a small room where eight and 10 and 12 poor people were kept at work until unreasonable hours. Another clause, introduced, no doubt, with the best intentions, but which had worked much evil, was to the effect that the Act should not apply to places in which a man only employed members of his own family. He (Mr. Winterbotham) could take hon. Members to sweating dens in the country in which very numerous families would be found, all the employés being alleged to be sisters and children and cousins and aunts. From these places the Factory Inspectors were shut out. Reference had been made to Newcastle. It had been shown that the Act would have no effect there. Why? Because a large industrial population like that at Newcastle-upon-Tyne had found, by practical experience, that they were not inconvenienced by the shops being closed at 8 o'clock, and the small shopkeepers themselves had found that they had not suffered any harm or danger by the 1135 early closing of their premises. That one fact was worth a ton of theory as to the way this Bill would work. Then he thought it was a little unworthy of the hon. Member for Northampton to make that stab in the back of the Factory Inspectors. He (Mr. Winterbotham) did not think there was a body of men who did their work better or more honestly than the Factory Inspectors, and therefore he refused to admit the argument that they were for their own sakes found in favour of this Bill. He did not approve of a good many of the details of the Bill. For instance, he totally disapproved of leaving out public-houses. There was a great deal to be said for the exemption of refreshment and provision bars, for the reason that the actual work done by young people behind those bars was concentrated into a very few hours in the day. [Mr. LABOUCHERE: What about Swindon?] Yes, at railway refreshment bars there was little work during many hours of the day, the work being concentrated within a limited number of hours at certain periods of the day. He supported the Bill because he regarded it as only one chapter in a long and very old struggle; it was only one chapter in the struggle of labour against capital; it was only one chapter in the struggle with which the names of Romilly, Wilberforce, Shaftesbury, and Howard were associated; the struggle on behalf of the great principle that the material well-being of the few should not oblige the sacrifice by the weak and the many of health and recreation and leisure, and sometimes of even life itself. That was the principle on behalf of which he pleaded, and which he found in the preamble of the Bill. [Laughter.] If hon. Members could not see it, he was very sorry. He found that principle in the Bill, and that was the reason why the measure received his support. The same arguments were trotted out against all measures of this character, the same old arguments were trotted out against every one of the men who had worked on behalf of the principle which he was pleading for. What were those arguments? First, there was the argument of freedom of contract, or, "Why do not you leave us alone?" That was a god that always had been worshipped by rack-renting landlords and sweating manufacturers. That was 1136 an argument that had always been used by the strong in oppressing the weak, and if it had been listened to, the legislation as to factories, workshops, mines, and merchant shipping would never have been passed. The second argument was the argument of supply and demand, the argument of the monopolist. A third argument was one which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) was the first to use in this debate—he had expected to hear it from other lips than those of the hon. Member—and that was the argument that this was grandmotherly legislation. One could always raise a laugh by trottting out this argument—by saying—"Why cannot you leave people to look after their own concerns, and not molly-coddle them?" This argument had been used again and again in defence of every one of the evils of which complaint was made; it was an argument of greedy manufacturers all the world over, and always had been. It was only a fortnight ago that a most heated harangue was delivered from the Treasury Bench against a Bill to prevent people from having the right to blow up their own boilers. It would be in the memory of the House that the proposal was proved quite uncalled for, because the hon. Member had been up the flues of boilers in his earlier life, and therefore knew all about them! He (Mr. Winterbotham) and his hon. Friends were beaten on that occasion. They would very likely be beaten again to-night, and it was not at all unlikely that some Member of this very talented Government would get up and argue that he spoke from practical experience that 14 hours behind a counter in an unhealthy atmosphere was not an unreasonable day's work. He spoke on behalf of poor girls who worked for 84 hours a-week. He appealed to hon. Members to read the evidence given before the Royal Commission of 1886. It was because he had read that evidence that he felt so strongly upon the subject. It was no more assertion that shopmen and shopwomen worked this excessive number of hours. We prided ourselves that we were not like other men, that we had abolished slavery. But slavery existed in our workshops and in the agricultural districts. As an illustration of what he meant, and in reply to the hon. Member who had dealt 1137 with the question of the impossibility of men who worked long hours, at the end of those hours being able to purchase the necessaries of life if this Bill became law, he (Mr. Winterbotham) reminded the House that a Question had been put only yesterday concerning a labourer in his own constituency. The case was that of a man who worked 96 hours in the week for 8s., or at the rate of 1d. per hour. Well, hon. Members who objected to State interference with adults in these matters not only would allow this man to continue to work 96 hours, but would require the shopkeepers to keep their shops open to a late hour, in order that this man and others like him might make purchases after their day's work was done. It was because he believed a small proportion of selfish shopkeepers could and did oblige a majority against their will to keep their shops open to a late hour; it was because he believed that the overwhelming majority of shopkeepers, who were earnest Christian men, were anxious for a change in the law; and it was because he believed the shop assistants were not strong enough to combine and compel justice for themselves, that he gave his support to the Bill. He cared nothing about the supporters of the measure being in a minority. They had been in a minority before; but, so far as he knew anything about the question, the working classes of the country were unanimous on this matter. ["No, no!"] He said so far as he knew anything about it, and he meant that in his part of the country they were unanimous. The question was one for the working to take up and settle. Hon. Members were nothing but the servants of the working classes, and if the working classes took up this question and insisted that shop assistants should have shorter hours—that these poor shopmen and girls should have some consideration extended to them—they would win in the country, and that would make them very soon win in the House of Commons.
§ MR. ISAACS (Newington, Walworth)
said, he had heard since he had been in the House that the hon. Baronet who had moved the second reading of the Bill intended to introduce in it some modification for the purpose of exempting that industrious class, the costermongers, and it should be pointed out that in making such modification—
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK
said, that what he had stated was that costermongers were not included in the Bill, but if it was thought necessary he would introduce any words to put this beyond a doubt.
§ MR. ISAACS
said, that all he could say was that he had read the language of the Bill with great care, and although he was not a lawyer, he ventured to think that the words "booths and stalls" would bring the class of costermongers within the provisions of the Act—a class who were especially interested in the question affected by the measure. Unless costermongers were included in the measure there would be a manifest injustice done to small shopkeepers. If the hon. Baronet would take the trouble to go into the districts which were especially the scenes of action of the small shopkeepers and the costermongers he would find that the two classes carried on their trade in the same locality and in the same streets; and it was a curious fact that the shopkeepers in certain districts, so far from objecting to costermongers using their streets for the purpose of their trade, absolutely encouraged them to go there, as the effect of their frequenting the place was to create a market which did as much good to the shopkeepers as to themselves. He would venture to point out to the House that if the costermonger class were to be included within the provisions of the Bill, it became necessary that the House should know something of the conditions on which this numerous class of people carried on their trade; and as he happened to be possessed of information on the subject, he asked the indulgence of the House for a few moments, whilst he endeavoured to give something like an outline of the very hard lot of these people. They were an humble but very industrious class. Frequently the whole capital at the command of a costermonger was one sovereign, or even less, so that it was of the utmost importance that this capital, which went by him and his class under the name of "stock money," should not be diminished. It would be understood that it was necessary that those men should have the fullest opportunity of purchasing and disposing of the articles in which they dealt, for the reason that the goods they bought and sold were, as a rule, of a perishable nature, such as fish, vegetables, fruit, and things of that character, and they had no ice-stores or 1139 warehouses or other suitable places into which they could put their goods if unsold at the end of the day's work. The bedroom was frequently the livingroom also, so that they always made an effort to sell out their stock each day. He (Mr. Isaacs) therefore asked the House to pause before passing a piece of legislation which would inflict grievous injury on such a class of people. Next to the costermonger they had the small shopkeeper, whose case had been referred to. Now, in the poorer districts of the Metropolis—and this was also the case in the poorer districts of all large towns—there was a class of struggling shopkeepers who were just on the one side of the line of demarcation which separated those who contributed to the rates from those who received relief therefrom; and it required but the slightest push from legislation like that now proposed to drive those people from one side of that line over to the other; and of a surety if they passed this Bill the House would be largely contributing to the increase of the number of those who were compelled to go upon the rates for parochial relief. He ventured to ask that in this matter there should be one aw equally applicable for the trader who carried on his business in the streets by means of a stall or a barrow, as for the man who conducted his business in a shop or warehouse. If they said that a man who conducted his business in a shop should close his doors at a given hour, the peripatetic dealer who carried on his trade on a stall or barrow should be compelled to close at the same hour, otherwise a manifest injustice would be done to the small shopkeeper. Then, again, there were a large number of buyers to whom it was a physical impossibility to get to the places where the goods of which they stood in need were retailed, if those places of business were compelled to close at 8 o'clock in the evening. Take the case of an ordinary artizan—a bricklayer, a carpenter, or a plasterer. He would frequently have to walk miles from the place of his work to his residence; probably an hour would be occupied in the journey. If he left off work at 6 o'clock he would get home at 7, then, some time would naturally be consumed in satisfying the pangs of hunger, and a still further delay would be rendered necessary by his cleaning 1140 himself up and rendering himself tidy after his day's work. To say to such a man that unless he could do all this before 8 o'clock in the evening he should not be allowed to make any purchases would be a grievous hardship. The result would be that the artizan would find that the only place where he could make purchases would be the public-house. The outcome of the passing of this Bill would be that poor artizans and humble individuals, who now went to a variety of shops to make purchases, would find that the only practicable mode of satisfying their wants would be to go to the public-house. He would ask the House whether such a system would contribute to the cause of temperance—that was to say, putting an embargo on every other trader and leaving the publican free and uncontrolled in the matter of supplying the daily wants of artizans? In the interests of those who wished to buy as well as in the interests of those who wished to sell he trusted there would be an agreement on the part of the House, that so far as adults were concerned the system this Bill would establish should not be adopted. He could assure the House that if the measure became law a great number of costermongers and others, who now found an honest occupation, would be driven into poverty, or, still worse, into the arms of crime.
§ MR. J. BARRY (Wexford, S.)
said, he must congratulate the hon. Member for Dulwich (Mr. Blundell Maple) on the admirable maiden speech he had delivered in this debate, but felt sorry that that speech had been made in support of such a bad cause. He (Mr. J. Barry) found it difficult to understand the position of the hon. Gentleman on this question, because everyone acquainted with the subject would admit that in the annals of voluntary early closing the hon. Member had borne a highly honourable and distinguished part, and there was no one who would proclaim more readily the advantages which had followed the steps of voluntary early closing, not only in regard to the physical condition of the young men and girls employed in shops, but also in regard to their mental improvement. The hon. Gentleman, he (Mr. J. Barry) was sure, whilst contesting the argument used in favour of the Bill, would admit that numerous advantages had 1141 flowed from voluntary early closing. If, then, the supporters of the Bill could prove that the voluntary system had thoroughly broken down, and that it was impossible by such effort to bring about early closing, he thought he could consistently ask the hon. Gentleman to join the ranks of the supporters of the Bill and vote for it on another occasion. He (Mr. J. Barry) was surprised to find the junior Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) opposing the Bill, seeing that he had played so large a part, both politically and socially, in the work of ameliorating the condition of the working classes. The hon. Member seemed to him to base his opposition to the measure chiefly upon the ground that it was introducing an entirely new principle into legislation and interfering with contracts freely entered into by grown persons. But, surely, no one knew better than the hon. Member himself that during the last 40 years our legislation really bristled with instances of this kind. The hon. Member had surely not forgotten the existence of the Factory Acts, the Employers' Liability Act, and the Act in connection with which the hon. Member himself had played a distinguished part—namely, the Truck Act of last year, which was neither more nor less a direct interference with the action of grown people. Let him (Mr. J. Barry) refer to the operation of the Truck Act. Its object was to deal with cases where an employer set up a store for the sale of goods, and made a bargain with his employés that they should purchase their goods at that store. The employés in such cases entered quite voluntarily into the bargains; but yet the hon. Member brought forward his Bill to prevent such bargains, and succeeded in carrying it. He (Mr. J. Barry) was glad the hon. Member had succeeded in carrying a Bill through the House limiting the power of employers and relieving employés from the necessity of purchasing at the stores of their employers; but there could be no stronger instance of interference with the action of grown people than was afforded by that Act, The hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton had relied with great confidence on the operation of the voluntary principle, and he had pointed to the results which had followed union and combination amongst 1142 the trading classes in this country; but he (Mr. J. Barry) would ask the hon. Gentleman to remember that there was absolutely no comparison to be drawn between the cases of members of trades unions and shop assistants. The conditions which surrounded the unfortunate shop assistants were totally different from the conditions which existed in connection with manufacturing and trade operatives. The latter class, it would be found, received something like one uniform rate of wages, and the interests involved were the same amongst all classes of operatives; but amongst shop assistants they found the widest diversity in their positions. One man, a junior, would receive £20 a-year, whilst another a bit older would be in receipt of £60 or £80 a-year, and managers and heads of departments would be in receipt of salaries of £200 and upwards. When they had a condition of things like that, he submitted that it was impossible to establish trades unions or bring about anything like uniformity amongst the employés. A great many attempts had been made to do it, but without success. The story of voluntary effort was a story upwards of 40 years old. He had known something during the past 25 years of the operation of voluntary efforts in bringing about early closing, and during that period, from first to last, he had witnessed the same never-ending recurrence of partial success—early closing being established for a short time, then someone or other who had agreed to close breaking the honourable understanding and setting an example which others were bound to follow. Very vigorous attempts had been made in London of recent years to bring about a system of voluntary early closing. Earnest and enthusiastic gentlemen engaged in trade had endeavoured to carry out early closing, and had succeeded, but only for two or three weeks at a time. Someone always broke away from the honourable understanding, and the old hours had once more to be established. And it was in the very nature of the case that this sort of thing must continue. It was impossible to bring about anything like a real combination and union amongst the shop assistants. Then the fact must not be overlooked that it was not only the assistants who were concerned in the movement, but that the interests of em- 1143 ployers were identical with the interests of those they employed. The employers were as anxious for a reduction of the hours of labour as the assistants. He (Mr. J. Barry) had had the honour of sitting upon a Select Committee which took a great deal of evidence on this question in 1886, and though he was fairly intimate with the state of things existing in regard to closing both in London and in the Provinces, yet he was bound to say that he had been very much startled at the nature of the evidence submitted to that Committee. It was a very easy thing to make general statements on this question, and to express opinions as to the number of people who were in favour of or against this proposal; but if the House would allow him, he would submit one or two instances of a definite character which were given before that Committee on this question of long hours in shops. There was the evidence of Mr. James Baldwin Latham, Inspector of Factories for the Metropolitan district. In reply to Question 853, this gentleman said that it might be taken that in the Metropolis shop assistants were required to work on an average between 80 and 86 hours per week. Then a small shopkeeper from Bermondsey, named Ambrose Pomeroy, was asked what number of hours per week shops were kept open in his district, and the reply he made was to the effect that in Bermondsey the majority of shops were open from 84 to 88 hours per week. In reply to a further question, this witness said he was sorry to say that for some time past the shops in Bermondsey had been kept open later than had been the practice three or four years before. The witness declared that he was a new convert to compulsory legislation in this matter, having seen how powerless voluntary effort was to contend with the opposition of only two or three tradesmen. The witness added that he had obtained the signatures of 96 out of 98 tradesmen in his district in favour of early closing, but that the effect of their being two dissentients was that only eight of those who had given their signatures stuck to their promises. He (Mr. J. Barry) could go on multiplying instances of this kind at great length; but it would suffice to say that the whole tendency of the evidence submitted to the Select Committee was to show that in every district in London 1144 and a great many towns in the country a percentage varying from 90 to 95 per cent of the shopkeepers were absolutely in favour of early closing, and would voluntarily carry out such a system were it not for unfortunate breaches of faith on the part of some members of their body who broke away from their engagements, and by so doing re-established the entire system of late shopping again. Now, a great deal had been said in the course of the debate upon the medical aspect of the question, and he thought he might fairly claim as a supporter of the Bill that medical testimony was unanimously in its favour. He would not trouble the House with any detailed evidence upon this point, but would merely refer to one opinion—namely, that of the very eminent authority Sir Risdon Bennett. This gentleman had said that there was no more fruitful source of blighted health and early death from consumption and other diseases, than late hours which shop assistants were subjected to. Other eminent medical authorities had given evidence in language still more emphatic, and he had not heard of a single case from the other side of any medical authority who took a contrary view. He might, whilst upon this point, be permitted to mention a few facts which had occurred within his own experience. In the year 1859 he went to business at Newcastle-on-Tyne, and in that same year eight other apprentices had also gone to the same place of business. They were all exceptionally strong lads; the employer would not accept anyone unless he was an exceptionally strong boy. The working hours were from 7 in the morning until half-past 9 and 10 o'clock at night, and on Saturday it was generally from half-past 12 until 1 o'clock on the Sunday morning before they were at liberty. Well, after six years three of the apprentices, including himself, left the business to seek some more healthy occupation, and the remaining six who had remained in the business, he was sorry to say, were now all dead. The oldest did not survive beyond the age of 35, and the others died between the ages of 18 and 34. He did not know whether this was an exceptional case or not; but all he knew was, as he had said, that the boys were exceptionally strong and healthy, and he had seen those who had remained in the business year after year 1145 being gradually worn down by the grinding weariness of their long hours; and he was certain of this—that if the other three of whom he had spoken, and of whom he was one, had not escaped to a more healthy occupation, and obtained outdoor exercise, they would have died before now. He could also say, as a fact within his own knowledge, that the mortality amongst the young women employed in the place of business of which he spoke was even more startling than the figures he had given in the case of the young men. Now, he claimed that if it could be shown that this evil of late shopping presented year after year such terrible mortality, he maintained that they had established a case for the interference of the State. If they could show that the voluntary system had absolutely broken down, and that under no circumstances was it likely to succeed, they clearly established a case for the active interference of Parliament. A statement had been made, by one of the previous speakers, to the effect that the working classes were opposed to this Bill. Now, that was a statement which he utterly and entirely denied. He did not know that there was much to be gained in a discussion of this kind by assertion and denial; but he should like to mention, as an argument in support of his contention in this matter, what had been done by the working classes themselves in carrying on retail business. He should like to give as an illustration the case of the co-operative societies throughout the country. These societies existed generally in the interest of the working classes. The directing committees were elected by the working classes, and naturally every arrangement was made to meet the convenience of their clients—the working classes. In the majority of cases, he believed he might safely say that in every case, the co-operative stores were closed at 7 o'clock in the evening. There might be cases where they might remain open until 8 o'clock, but of that he was not certain. Many hon. Friends behind him were more intimately acquainted with this branch of the subject than he was, and they would correct him if he was wrong, though he said that 8 o'clock was the latest hour at which these places were kept open. He was reminded by an hon. Member that not only did they 1146 close early at the co-operative stores, but that in many cases the assistants had a half-holiday in the week. Now, seeing that these co-operative societies were familiar with the desires of their clients, was it likely that they would fly in the teeth of public necessity and close earlier than the necessities of the case demanded? The committees who managed these societies were changed annually, and if it was found that inconvenience resulted from the arrangements adopted as to early closing, new committee men would be appointed and longer hours would be adopted; but, as he had said, there were instances throughout the country where late hours were adopted. Then, again, it had been stated in the course of the debate that the shortening of the hours of shopping would entail ruin to the small shopkeepers. The hon. Gentleman who had moved the rejection of the Bill had said that it would ruin many of the small shopkeepers; but he had failed to sustain that opinion by a single valid argument. He (Mr. J. Barry) utterly failed to see that if all shops were closed at 8 o'clock instead of at 10 o'clock there would necessarily be any diminution in the volume of trade. The same number of purchases would be made, and the only change would be that instead of making the purchases at 10 o'clock at night they would be made at 8 o'clock. The hon. Baronet, in moving the second reading of the Bill, had stated that instead of the small shopkeepers being subjected to injury by the adoption of this proposal, the tendency would be that in the outside districts their trade would be rather increased, for the hours being shorter, purchasers would have less time to go to a distance to carry on their shopping, and the probability was that they would purchase nearer home than at present. The House would see, on reflection, that the returns of the small shopkeepers would more likely be increased than diminished by the operations of the Bill. Then, again, statements had been made to the effect that a very large proportion of the working classes at public meetings had declared themselves against the Bill. Well, it was a remarkable fact that, although this question had been before the public for two years, and this identical Bill had been before them for several months, no 1147 active opposition had been raised against it except in three quarters—that was to say, London, Leeds, and Sheffield. [Mr. PICTON (Leicester): And Leicester.] He had not heard of any opposition in Leicester; but it might be as the hon. Gentleman said, although probably the opposition there would not be of a very serious character. If the effect of this Bill was to be so disastrous and deadly as the opponents declared it would, it was a most remarkable thing that the opposition in the country had been of such a limited character. On the other hand, innumerable Petitions had been presented in favour of the measure—Petitions from small shopkeepers, from assistants, and from public bodies. The trade associations of the country had declared emphatically in favour of the measure, and he thought that, in revising the whole circumstances of the case, any impartial mind would admit that, so far as the feeling of the country generally was concerned. But the balance of opinion was decidedly in favour of the Bill. The deadly system which prevailed at present not only left its influence on those who were its victims now, but that influence was perpetuated in future generations. Medical testimony proved that up to the hilt, and he thought that, if moved by no nobler motive than its material interest, the State should adopt a Bill of this character which would have a beneficial effect upon those who were enfeebled by the long hour system, and to whom you must look to fight the battles of the future—which would throw into the light of the sunshine the lives of people who were now working under hopeless and depressing conditions.
§ MR. MONTAGU (Tower Hamlets, Whitechapel)
said, he should like to know from the hon. Baronet who had introduced the Bill, if he would be prepared to confine the scope of the Bill to the shops where assistants were kept, and also whether he would agree to exempt from the operation of the measure all vendors of food? If those important modifications were made, almost all his (Mr. Montagu's) objections to the measure would be removed; except that he thought that all interference on the part of the State with the work of adults was bad in principle and ought not to be lightly adopted. The Bill, as it stood, would materially affect 1148 many of his constituents. Whitechapel, Spitalfields, and Mile End New Town, which he had the honour to represent, were filled, with a very small exception, with the shop keeping and artizan classes, who would be seriously injured by this Bill. Last year, when a similar Bill was proposed, he took occasion to consult many of his constituents with a view of obtaining the advice of those in whose interest the Bill was said to be introduced, and he found so much difference of opinion amongst the few that he was able to reach, that he determined upon obtaining the opinion of his constituents in a formal manner. Consequently, he sent a circular to all the ratepayers and lodgers in Whitechapel, together with an impartial statement; he had used, in fact, almost the identical words in the account given by the Early Closing Association. He asked for opinions with regard to the Bill, and he had received in all 1,772 replies, of which 945 were against the Bill as it stood, and 720 were in its favour; whilst 107 papers were neutral or had been spoilt. If vendors of food were to be exempt, 889 were in favour of the Bill, 776 against it, while 107 replies were neutral or spoilt; and if the Bill were to contain an increased penalty for Sunday trading, 919 were against, and 447 were in favour of it, and 107 replies were neutral. Amongst those who had expressed themselves in favour of the Bill were a great number of large shopkeepers who now closed their shops at 6, 7, or 8 o'clock, but who, very probably, in the earlier stages of their career kept them open to 9 or 10 o'clock. These people, now they had prospered and were able to close early, wanted to place new beginners on the same footing as themselves. A large proportion of those also who had expressed themselves in favour of early closing were, no doubt, interested in the four particular trades exempted, including, of course, the publicans and all those connected with them, who wanted to have a monopoly of the evening trade. He trusted the House would not sanction the closing of butchers' and bakers' shops, whilst they left the beer-shops open. He held that if the Bill were passed, it would prove altogether unworkable, for it bristled with difficulties, and would require to have a 1149 whole army of detectives to see that its provisions were not evaded—to see that the public did not pass through the side doors of shops to make purchases, and to discriminate between those who were customers and those who were lodgers. As costermongers were not to be interfered with, small shopkeepers, in cases where they experienced any difficulty in obtaining a livelihood, would simply have barrows in front of their shops, and when 8 o'clock came would shut up the latter and continue their trade at the front until a later period; also, since hawking was not restricted in the Bill, the small shopkeepers would send round their assistants to their customers with samples of their wares, and would thus absolutely increase the labour of those whom the Bill was intended to benefit. In Victoria a similar measure had partially failed. It was true that in Melbourne, where early closing had been adopted, the hour for closing was 7 o'clock; but in the case of that city exemptions were extremely easy to obtain, and also extensions of time. The early closing in Melbourne had, to a large extent, proved a failure, as he would show by reading an extract from The Argus of September 23, 1886. He had, in view of the Act of last year, obtained the latest information accessible with regard to the working of the system in Australia, and this was the result—A very large deputation, representing merchants of Melbourne, the Victorian Shopkeepers' Union, and shopkeepers, waited on the Premier and Chief Secretary yesterday, to protest against the compulsory closing clause of the Factories and Shops Act. Mr. Zox said that the Act had had a fair trial, and it had proved that the clause compelling shops to close at certain hours was doing great injury. A Petition to the Legislative Assembly, signed by 3,000 shopkeepers of Melbourne and the suburbs, had been prepared, protesting against the clause. As British subjects they ought not to be coerced in such a matter. Mr. Carter said the Act had utterly failed to carry out the object for which it was passed—namely, to shorten the hours of labour of employés. There were many shopkeepers, however, who had no employés, and who were being harassed. Many small shopkeepers would be utterly ruined if that section continued to be enforced. Mr. H. Perkins, President of the Victorian Shopkeepers' Union, said that the Petition was signed by many shopkeepers who were exempted under the Act, such as tobacconists and others. They suffered loss of trade through the streets being unattractive and empty at night. Collins Street people had also signed it. The keepers of large music warehouses, who shut at 6 o'clock, ob- 1150 jetted to be compelled to do so. Even the Government Inspectors were ashamed of the work they had to do. That was the reason why so few prosecutions had taken place. If there was to be compulsory closing, it ought to be consistent. Let the tramways, railways, and drink traffic be stopped at 7 o'clock, so that the community could see the full effects of a system of motherly Government. Mr. J. F. Lancashire said he had two establishments, one in Collingwood and the other in Richmond. The Collingwood shop could be kept open until 9 o'clock, and the Richmond shop had to he closed at 7 o'clock. His Collingwood employés worked 49 hours a-week, and his Richmond employés 56 hours a-week. The grievance suffered during the last six months would be nothing compared to the suffering that would be caused during the next six months. Mr. P. Blashki said that the compulsory clause had ruined several shopkeepers. Not 10 per cent of the shopkeepers had refused to sign the Petition. Mr. J. Bradley said that on the previous day he had received two dividends out of debts due to him in insolvent estates, and the cause of insolvency was represented to be the compulsory early closing. Previously, if shopkeepers had a bad day, they generally made it up after 7 o'clock.Another objection he took to the Bill was this—that in it London was put down as a unit in the matter of giving permission or obtaining exemptions; and if that system were carried out, it was clear that the West End and other portions of London would out-vote the East End, when applications would be made for an extension of time, and if extensions were refused, an artizan—a carpenter, for instance—would find himself in this position—that he might be employed at his trade in the back promises of a shop where furniture was sold until a late hour at night; but at 8 o'clock the shopkeeper would not be allowed to sell the furniture that he had made. It must be borne in mind, so far as the small shopkeepers were concerned, that the work of those who attended to them was not very hard. In many of the little shops the owners themselves were the persons who served customers, and they sat in a little room behind the shop reading, smoking, or working until customers summoned them. It seemed to him particularly hard that, in the present condition of the East End, restrictions, such as those proposed in the Bill, should be placed upon the earning of a livelihood by large numbers of poor people.
§ MR. W. F. LAWRENCE (Liverpool, Abercromby)
said, he wished to give some reasons to show why, in his opinion, this kind of legislation was unsound. 1151 One of the chief reasons was its advocacy of compulsory idleness. It was said that the Education Act had been instrumental in reducing juvenile crime; but, in his opinion, that was due not so much to the educational effect of that Act, as to the fact that it had taken children off the streets and prevented them committing peccadilloes which brought them before the magistrates. If the Early Closing Bill were passed, a large number of young people would be turned out at the hour of 8, and would go about the streets until 10 o'clock or later. That would not be to their advantage, and he was certain those enforced hours of idleness would have a detrimental effect upon our criminal returns. Again, when a man became of full age and had children to support, nothing should be done which would in any way prevent him earning all he could for his family to the best of his ability. A good deal was said now-a-days about checking the competition of life. In his opinion, success in life largely depended upon the competition to which people were subjected. To his mind it was against the law of nature and against public policy to endeavour to artificially restrain what was evidently the law of our being. We were told that Parliament had sanctioned the principle over and over again. He was quite prepared to allow that; but he would remind the House that the Factory Acts, of which so much had been heard, were still upon their trial; and if we looked around and observed the competition to which this nation had to submit from foreign Powers, and observed also how foreign nations by their longer hours of labour were underselling us in all parts of the world, and turning out more than we could by our restrictive legislation, then we might fairly hesitate before we went further and prevented our able-bodied fellow subjects from doing all they could to bring bread to their children and turning out goods for the sake of the community at large. A great deal had been said about the merits of Bank Holidays, but he did not think Bank Holidays were an unmixed boon. He had heard a great many clerks object to Bank Holidays, because they compelled them to take their holidays gregariously, and not at their leisure, and this deprived the holiday of its chief enjoyment. An hon. 1152 Member had tried to overcome the strong facts in regard to the health of shopworkers brought forward by the hon. Member for the Dulwich Division of Camberwell (Mr. Maple); but, if the hon. Member would look at the Returns published at the end of the Blue Book on the Shop Hours' Closing Bill, he would see that the Returns of the hon. Member could be made even stronger than he stated them. The hon. Baronet the Member for the London University (Sir John Lubbock) had mentioned Liverpool in support of his case. It was a singular fact that in that city of 650,000 inhabitants, with no less than nine Members, not one of those Members had been asked to present a single Petition upon this subject that Session or the last. He (Mr. Lawrence) himself had not received a single communication upon the subject for two years. He, therefore, inferred that the figures which the hon. Baronet had submitted to the House regarding Liverpool were old figures, and that the silence which had existed since they were collected seemed to show that they were artificially got up. It was easy to get up factious opposition and factious support, and great care ought to be taken in dealing with figures and with Petitions. It was very singular to notice the Petitions which the hon. Baronet presented. Of the 46 Petitions he presented in support of the Bill, 19 came from matrons and nurses of hospitals in London, and three or four from clergy. The people for whom he spoke were those who were perfectly prepared to work and to support their families, and he held that when 19 or 20 out of 46 Petitions in favour of the Bill came from hospitals and clergy, the petitioners who, if they had any families at all, were workers at fixed wages, with regular hours or at their discretion, were not qualified to speak in support of this important measure, which was only partially concerned with the health of the people. There was one other class of people which the hon. Member did not seem to consider—the class to which he (Mr. Lawrence) himself belonged, though he did not practice much now. He referred to barristers, who worked all hours of the day, and very often all hours of the night, for more or less inadequate fees. ["No, no!"] He spoke for the able-bodied men who were 1153 able and anxious to work, and held that it was preposterous that certain classes should be totally exempt from that Bill, while others should be prevented from carrying on their business in any way they thought would best advance their private interests.
§ MR. BURT (Morpeth)
said, that as his name was on the back of the Bill he felt it to be desirable that he should say a few words in its support. It was not without some hesitation that he had made himself responsible for what must be, to a large extent, a new principle in our legislation—namely, the dealing with the hours of adult male labour. He had listened very attentively to the debate, and he gathered that, with the exception of the junior Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) and the hon. Member for West Newington (Mr. Radcliffe Cooke), all the opposition on the part of those who had spoken was to details of the Bill, dealing with the amount of the fines and other matters of detail that might be very well settled in Committee. The junior Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) certainly attacked the principle of the Bill, and he (Mr. Burt) thought it would be admitted on all sides of the House that his speech was powerful and very well reasoned. He confessed that he hesitated to put himself in opposition to his hon. Friend on any question of this sort, because he knew that the hon. Gentleman spoke not only with knowledge, but with sympathy, and that he always had advocated the voluntary principle of short hours for labour. But it struck him, while listening to the powerful speech of the hon. Member, that nearly all the hon. Member's arguments would have told equally against all the factory and mining legislation which had been among the most beneficent measures of the last 40 or 50 years. The hon. Member objected to interference with adult labour, but the law already interfered with adult female labour, and nobody, so far as he knew, was opposed to such interference. If he was not mistaken, the hon. Member also intimated last Session that he would be prepared to support the Bill for the compulsory payment of weekly wages. Was that not an interference with adults? And the Truck Act, which, with great advantage to the working population of the country, his hon. Friend had himself 1154 amended last year, was not that also an interference with free contract and with adult labour as between employers and workmen? That being so, he had no great difficulty himself in supporting the present Bill. He (Mr. Burt) opposed the Eight Hours Bill on the ground that the workmen, properly united, were perfectly able to settle the question for themselves; but he thought that if his hon. Friend would examine closely, he would find that he was not consistent all round in his opposition to the Bill. One of the most damaging criticisms against the Bill had reference to the exemptions, and especially the exemptions in connection with the bars where intoxicating drinks were sold. He would be one of the first to move in Committee to strike out that exemption, and he believed the hon. Baronet who had charge of the Bill would be very glad to accept the Local Option principle, and also, if the Bill was road a second time, to refer it to a Select Committee. In voting for the Bill, as he (Mr. Burt) was going to do, he simply asserted the principle that the hours of shop assistants were too long, and that Parliament ought to do something in the direction of shortening their hours.
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. STUART-WORTLEY) (Sheffield, Hallam)
said, in what he was about to say, he did not profess to enunciate opinions binding anybody except himself—and, perhaps, to a certain extent, the Home Secretary—with regard to the action they took upon this Bill. He felt, however, a certain amount of responsibility in respect of the measure, because he had been a Member of the Select Committee which dealt with the Bill of 1886, and which showed a general desire, if some suitable means could be found, to shorten the hours of labour of those who were employed in some of the shops of the country, in order to give them better means of social enjoyment and intellectual improvement. But this Bill went a great deal further than anything that Committee desired to see effected. No one, however, doubted the disinterested and high motives actuating the hon. Baronet who had brought in the Bill. Nor was there any hesitation in declaring in favour of the ends the hon. Baronet had in view — namely, shorter hours and greater opportunities 1155 for recreation and improvement, were it possible to attain them without the unwholesome elements which the present Bill contained. A great deal of argument in favour of this Bill had been based upon the alleged effect of the evidence before the Select Committee. Having heard that evidence, he could not agree with the hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. J. Barry) that so large a proportion as 90 or 95 per cent of the shopkeepers examined were in favour of early closing. The Committee had before it shopkeepers large and small—though not many of the latter—factory inspectors, and employés in shops. But there was one very large class entirely unrepresented before the Committee, and that was the general public. The question in 1886 was as to limiting the hours of labour of young persons under 18, though it was true that, in answer to leading questions, some witnesses gave evidence which might be construed in favour of universal and absolute early closing. The general tendency of the evidence, however, did not go the length of establishing the extreme proposition embodied in the Bill. So much with regard to the evidence given in 1886. What evidence had we as to the public opinion of to-day? The hon. Baronet had spoken of public meetings. It was a poor cause which could not got up public meetings in its favour. Those who had been a few years in public life knew well enough that in the case of a great many public meetings, you had an audience partly committed beforehand to certain propositions, and partly attracted by mere curiosity. At those meetings there were enthusiastic speakers, and passionate speeches were made, and those always on one side of the question, and in such circumstances it was easy to get the meeting to affirm the propriety of a particular measure. But the hon. Baronet was careful not to mention that there had been large public meetings at which resolutions were carried by great majorities against the Bill. The hon. Baronet told the House that the opposition to the Bill was merely local. But, unfortunately, the Bill was not merely local; it laid down a cast-iron rule for the whole country. In one part of the Bill it might look to a careless reader as if Local Option might be called into action for early closing. But nothing of the kind was the case. One- 1156 third of the shopkeepers plus one man could enforce the cast-iron rules of the measure, not only against the other two-thirds, but against the general public. The question whether it was for the advantage of the working classes to buy late had been decided by the working classes themselves long ago, and was written in the unmistakable evidence that they did it, and would continue to do it in spite of any law that might be passed. That might not have been done in Newcastle, but the House would require to know more about the circumstances of Newcastle before saying that what the working classes had not done there they did not intend to do at Sheffield, Leeds, or other towns. The conditions of industry varied so immensely all over the country that it was impossible they could have universal legislation on a matter of this kind which would be satisfactory. This was not merely a question of young girls and the poor shop employés. It was a question of general interference with the necessities of a great part of the public. It was a question whether you would take away entirely the livelihood of those who, being possibly in straitened circumstances, or being prevented by bodily infirmity, by sex, or by age from engaging in manual labour, set up little shops. Under the Bill, the dreary and unattractive streets of the East End would, after 8 o'clock every night, have nothing bright or attractive in them except the public-house, the drinking club, and the refreshment bar. Why did not the hon. Baronet, if he had anything in him of logic or courage, include within the operation of the measure public-houses and tobacconists' shops? If a man was allowed to buy drink, why could he not buy cold eatables after 8 o'clock; if he could buy tobacco, why should he not buy tea? This Bill, if it was worth anything, ought to include all kinds of distributors alike. The hon. Baronet shrank from applying the principle of the Bill where grown up men were concerned, who would insist upon having a reasonable amount of drink for refreshment and a screw of tobacco up to a certain hour at night. If there was anything established before the Committee there was nothing more abundantly proved than the inveterate habit of the working classes in certain localities to buy what they wanted for their families after 8 o'clock. 1157 But all the places where they could do so would be ruthlessly shut up by the hon. Baronet's Bill, while the places where liquor was sold would be left open. He had said that the habit of purchasing late at night was an inveterate habit; it was, however, far from being an inveterate vice; it was one of the unfortunate circumstances of the conditions of their life which he would be glad to see removed, but which certainly a Bill of this kind would do nothing to remove. It was said that this Bill was criticized only in points of detail; but in many cases the criticism of details showed that the principle of the Bill itself was unsound. The hon. Baronet had pointed out that in order to prevent the evasion of the Act it would be necessary to prohibit tobacconists and newsvendors selling various other small and useful articles within the prohibited hours. This was one of the ridiculous consequences of a Bill of this kind, which was started from unwarrantable principles of interference. The Bill also proposed that prosecutions should be originated and carried through by the police, and this practically amounted to a proposal that a particular class should have its special rights vindicated entirely out of the public money, while no such course was taken on behalf of other classes. The hon. Baronet said the Bill would not apply to costermongers. That was not at all so clear; but whether or not it applied to them as vendors, it certainly would apply to them as buyers. They had plenty of information before them to show that the costermongers were a class who had to buy very late their commodities for their own consumption, as well as for their stock-in-trade, as their customers did not patronize them till late. Parliament ought to hesitate long before laying its hands on this useful class. He did not speak on behalf of the Government; but as certain Members of the Committee of 1886 had stated that they had been convinced that the Act of 1886 was inadequate, and that this Bill ought be passed, he had thought it right, as a Member of that Committee, to explain why he still considered the Act of 1886 all that was required. He was then, and still, of opinion that young persons under the age of 18 years required protection, and he therefore voted for the recommendation of the Committee and in favour of 1158 the Act. Having passed that Act, it ought to be given a fair trial before further legislation was taken up. It was not the fact that that Act had been a dead letter. The smallness of the number of convictions was by no means an indication that it had been. On the contrary, the hon. Baronet himself had put a question in that House which implied the assertion that the smallness of the number of convictions was largely due to the voluntary efforts of traders to secure compliance with the law. He hoped the House would reject this Bill, because it would unduly interfere with the convenience of the great mass of the working population, because it would tend to raise the price of food by placing restrictions on its distribution, and because it would produce a still worse evil—it would tend to lower the self-reliance, and cause to degenerate the moral fibre of the people.
§ MR. CAMERON CORBETT (Glasgow, Tradeston)
said, so fully are the opponents of the measure aware of the great sympathy which is felt for shop assistants, that at the great meeting held at Exeter Hall to protest against the Early Closing Bill the noble Chairman said he was prepared to move an Amendment excluding from the operation of this measure all those shops at which no assistants were kept. When public sympathy was appealed to on such grounds, it was very significant that no such course had been taken to-night. The hon. and learned Member for West Newington (Mr. Radcliffe Cooke) had suggested that the Act for the relief of young assistants should be extended to meet the case of the older assistants; but it was noteworthy that this suggestion was made by the same hon. Member who had stated at the Exeter Hall meeting that that Act was a dead letter. The great difficulty in enforcing any measure for the restriction of the hours of young assistants is that they must be got to give evidence against their employers; and while an immense amount of good had been done in many instances by, the hon. Baronet's measure, there were still an enormous number of instances where the law was evaded, and in which the law could only be enforced by having a definite hour of closing. They had heard a great deal to-night of the opposition to the measure amongst small shopkeepers. He 1159 (Mr. Cameron Corbett) was aware that there was a large number, although he believed the minority of the small shopkeepers in London were opposed to the Bill, but in most other parts of the country there was no such opposition. They had a Petition from Edinburgh, signed by 1,200 shopkeepers themselves, not assistants. In Glasgow, a similar petition was signed by over 12,000 people, including 2,750 shopkeepers, and there was not 3 per cent of the shopkeepers in the City who refused to sign the petition. He was told in Dundee that practically there were no refusals at all. It had been a noteworthy feature that throughout the whole of Scotland there had been not a single petition against the measure. Nor had there been any Amendment moved against it at any meeting. Indeed, every indication of the feeling throughout Scotland of the small shopkeepers had been distinctly in favour of the proposal. It was a natural thing in considering a measure of the kind to look around and see whether there were examples of similar legislation in other parts of the world. In Toronto a measure had been so recently carried that they had not yet had an opportunity of judging of its success. They had been told that legislation on these lines had been a failure in Victoria, but he had asked the hon. Member the date of the newspaper from which he was quoting, and he said it was September, 1886. Towards the close of last year there were some Amendments introduced in the Factories Act under which shops were compelled to close early; but there was not only no alteration made in the law as to the closing of shops, but there was no agitation in favour of such alteration. He had beside him a letter from the Agent General of Victoria, written that day, assuring him that although there had been some fiction with regard to carrying out the Act at first, the difficulty had now disappeared, and the Act was working smoothly. So that the example called up in opposition to those who supported the Bill had produced proof that if there were opposition to the principle once, it had been overcome when those who at first objected to such legislation had seen it in practical operation. He hoped that no hon. Member would vote against the second reading on any matter of detail. There 1160 would be ample opportunity in Committee for dealing with any minor points on which hon. Members might disagree; and he would earnestly appeal to all hon. Members of the House not to vote against this proposal with a light heart. They had now an opportunity of affording relief to many of the most burdened and weary of their fellow countrymen, and he felt sure that if hon. Members only knew the misery of a life which was one continuous round of toil, without any intervals for recreation, the House would avail itself of this opportunity of increasing the comfort and happiness of those for whom they were called upon to care.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
said, he thought it would be admitted that the balance of the speaking, and almost of the argument, during the discussion had been aimed against the Bill. They had listened to four speeches made in favour of the Bill. The last speaker was the hon. Member for the Tradeston Division of Glasgow (Mr. Cameron Corbett), and he said he was surprised that an Amendment had not been proposed to exclude from the operation of the Act all the shops where there were no assistants. But how could that Amendment have been proposed? Such an Amendment might be proposed in Committee, but the hon. Gentleman had not said that he and those hon. Members who proposed the Bill would accept it. Then the hon. Gentleman said that the feeling of the smaller shopkeepers all through the country with the exception of London was in favour of the Bill, and he proved it by referring to the opinion in Scotland, saying that Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Dundee were in favour of it. Then, let the hon. Gentleman bring in a Bill strictly limited to Scotland, and he promised that if he could get the majority of Scotch Members to declare in its favour, he would, on the sound principle of Home Rule for all parts of the community, vote for him, but he was not for the sake of Scotland ready to have the shops of his constituents closed. The hon. Gentleman said that he had looked to Toronto to see how the principle worked there, but that the Act had not been long enough in operation to afford the means of judging of its effect, which meant probably that the people in Toronto had tried but did not like the measure. His 1161 hon. Friend had stated that in Victoria the system had been tried and was a failure, and the hon. Member then produced the Agent General to say that he was in favour of it. The Agent General might have his private opinion about the matter, but the hon. Gentleman must not allow that to outweigh the opinion of the Colony; and he (Mr. Labouchere) gathered that the Bill had been a failure, and that there was the strongest feeling against it in Australia. The hon. Member said that the details of the Bill were a matter that could be settled in Committee. But, if all the details were to be altered in Committee, what would become of the Bill? They were then told that they must look to the principle of the Bill on the second reading; but it said that all shops, with a few exceptions, were to be closed at 8 o'clock in the evening. If that was the principle, he was entirely opposed to that principle, and it would be absolutely impossible if it were retained to pass the Bill in any shape or form. The Bill ought, therefore, to be thrown out on the second reading and not go into Committee. The hon. Member for the Cirencester Division of Gloucestershire (Mr. Winterbotham), who spoke in favour of the Bill, said that women in public-houses did not sit down, but that at railway stations they had time to sit down. That was a matter of opinion, but he should have thought that women at railway stations and refreshment bars had to stand up as long as those employed in grocers' and traders' shops. The hon. Gentleman had used what he must be excused for saying was a piece of clap-trap, when he stated that the voice of nature was in favour of the Bill; he said that because it was the sort of thing hon. Members did in that House when they could say nothing in favour of a measure. The hon. Baronet who brought in the Bill (Sir John Lubbock) had argued in the first place that the question of health was involved; he said that the present long hours were injuring the health of the men and women engaged as shop assistants, and that the women would not bear healthy children if the present system continued. The hon. Baronet cited the opinion of several doctors in support of that statement. But doctors always differed, and he ventured to say that in matters of this kind he should be able to put doctor 1162 against doctor; that is to say, if anyone brought forward a doctor to support a particular view, he would produce another on the opposite side. Then the hon. Baronet said, that the Archbishop of Canterbury and the President of the Royal Society or the Presidents of some scientific societies and medical bodies were in favour of the Bill. But this was a very practical measure, and he was bound to say that when he found the hon. Member for the Camberwell Division of Dulwich (Mr. Blundell Maple), who had made a most practical speech that morning and understood these matters—and his hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh), opposed to the Bill, he would put their opinion against that of any Bishop or Archbishop of any or all the churches in the world, and of every President and every member of every scientific association, medical or otherwise. The hon. Gentleman's objects, he admitted fully, were laudable and excellent. He wanted to put an end to the long hours that employés had to serve in shops; but how did he do that? By insisting that all shops, whether there were employés or not, should close at 8 o'clock in the evening. But there were some which opened at 6 o'clock. Again, everyone knew that when some shops were closed many employés had to remain to put things in order. The drafting of the Bill was so extraordinary that it would allow the unfortunate employés, if their masters liked, to remain in the shops for 14 or 15 hours per diem. The hon. Baronet must remember that the habits of the people of a country could not be altered, and it was a habit of the poorer people of this country to shop after 8 o'clock. He did not propose to close public-houses, shops where provisions were sold, or tobacco shops, but he would close all others. The effect of this would be a wild orgie after 8 o'clock. There were a great many people who shopped far later than 10 o'clock; they bought meat, cooked or otherwise; frequently wages were paid very late, and the women did not get the money before 10 o'clock. But, if the shops were closed the public-houses would be still open, and it was there that the wages would be spent. Did not the hon. Baronet know that the publicans contended against the closing of public-houses on Sunday, and that this 1163 was their great harvest day, and that the effect of the Bill would be to produce the same effect on week days as was now produced on Sundays? Under these circumstances he hoped the hon. Baronet would withdraw the Bill—[Cries of "No, No!"] Then it would be lost. If the hon. Baronet would bring in some fair Bill limiting the hours of employment of adult women, he would not say more than that the House would listen to it with more favour that it was willing to do in the present case; if he would bring in a Bill leaving the whole matter to the localities to decide, he believed that would be more favourably received. It was asked whether his hon. Friend had not legislated for adults and limited their rights by his Truck Act, and when he insisted on wages being paid once a week. But the object of that was to prevent fraud on the part of employers of labour; there was no wish to interfere with the employers of labour or the adult labourers. In those Acts they had endeavoured to rectify the balance as far as they could, but he should always be opposed to any interference between the rights of labour and capital, and he should be still more opposed to legislation which, in order to prevent employés working more than a certain number of hours a-day, would deprive of their business little shopkeepers who had no assistants, but came out to serve their customers when they heard the bell over their door ring. He hoped the House would not be misled by the notion that the Bill could knocked into shape in Committee. The Bill was unsound in principle and in detail, and he asked hon. Members to reject the Motion for the second reading.
§ SIR ROPER LETHBRIDGE (Kensington, N.)
said, he had to say a few words on this Bill because he wished to justify the vote he was about to give, as he was one of those who, when the Bill was initiated, were certainly inclined to support it. He had always been desirous that the excessive hours of labour in shops throughout the country should be shortened, and he still hoped that some means hereafter might be devised to attain that object. As the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) had just observed, if the Bill had been more of a permissive character, if it had relegated the decision as to closing to the Local Authori- 1164 ties, and above all dealt with female labour and child labour, then he thought that the House would have been disposed favourably to consider the proposal of the hon. Baronet. At a public meeting held at St. James's Hall last week, a resolution was moved, and carried on division by an overwhelming majority, against the Bill; an amendment had been proposed in favour of the measure, and the one serious argument that was adduced by the mover of that amendment, and which had a strong effect eventually upon the meeting, was the solemn declaration of that Gentleman that the Bill was permissive and relegated the decision to the Local Authorities. He (Sir Roper Lethbridge) ventured to point out that the Bill was not permissive, and, of course, no one who had read the Bill through could hold that view at all, although it might be believed to be so by many people throughout the country. He had no doubt in his own mind that the Bill was of an oppressive character, and that it was injurious alike to small traders who did not keep any assistants, but who would be limited to certain hours during which they could carry on their occupation, and above all it would be injurious to the working classes, especially in the Metropolis, who were told in the Bill that they were not to obtain the necessaries they might wish to purchase at the hours most convenient to themselves. For these reasons he hoped the House would reject the Motion for the second reading.
§ VISCOUNT LYMINGTON (Devon, South Molton)
said, he wished to make a practical suggestion to the hon. Baronet in charge of the Bill, which was that he should agree, if the House gave a second reading to the Bill, to send it at once for consideration to a Select Committee. He said that because, having heard the whole of the discussion on the Bill, he found that the objections made by the opponents of the measure were based upon particular provisions. His hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Stuart-Wortley) had spoken of public opinion being opposed to the Bill. The question, however, as to what opinion was in favour of or opposed to the Bill was one of a debatable character. The one fact absolutely true, and which had been gainsaid by no one, was that the 1165 Preamble of the Bill was affirmed, and that the shop assistants were detained for too long a time, and that such detention was injurious to their health. That opinion, expressed in the Preamble of the Bill, was also to be found in the Report of the Committee of which the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State was a Member, and the hon. Gentleman who had just addressed the House (Sir Roper Lethbridge) would also remember the fact. One clause of the Report stated that the hours of shop assistants ranged from 84 to 85 hours per week; that such long hours must be generally injurious and even ruinous to health, and that the same amount of business as was now done could be compressed into a less space of time. It dealt only with persons under age, but the Report admitted that it was the custom and unfortunate habit of shopkeepers—not perhaps from any fault of their own, but owing to the necessity of things—to keep their shop assistants for the number of hours mentioned; that such detention was injurious and ruinous to their health, and that the business of the shopkeepers would not suffer by being compressed. In giving support to the Motion for the second reading of the Bill he should do it upon the clear and distinct understanding that he simply voted for the principle of the Bill in Clause 2, which was, that it was desirable and necessary that Parliament should impose some limit on the hours of labour. Having said that, he would be willing to support his hon. Friend's Motion on the condition which he hoped he would be able to accept—namely, that he would relegate every question of detail, the questions of costermongers, Local Option, and others which had been enumerated by several speakers, as they very properly could be, to a Select Committee of that House.
§ MR. LAFONE (Southwark, Bermondsey)
said, the House had heard a good deal about the hours of shop assistants from the hon. Baronet who held a brief for them, but he thought hon. Members would be appalled by the number of persons who would be injured by the Bill among the class who earned their bread by daily wages. He could not do better than give an analysis of the wages sheet at one wharf on the Southern side of the River Thames, and it would then be seen how the Bill, if carried in 1166 its entirety, would prevent an enormous number of people obtaining, after they had done work, the necessaries of life. At the wharf in question there were in August 316 men, in September 3,200, in October 1,000, and in the following month 1,600 men, who worked till 8 o'clock at night. These men are only a sample of the large number who would be affected by the Bill of the hon. Baronet. There were other clauses in the Bill equally objectionable. In the first place, it was called a permissive Bill, which meant that the authority on one side of the street should close the shops on that side and that another authority should allow the shops opposite to the others to remain open. That was done already in another way in his own neighbourhood, and the result was that the passengers passed over to the shops that were not closed; and, therefore, the Bill in this respect would be unworkable in many cases. Then, again, the police had been brought into the matter, and it was most invidious that they should have to see that the shopkeepers carried out the very stringent rules of the Bill. There was also the clause which said that if two distinct classes of business were carried on, one would come under the closure rule and the other would not. Did this mean that the shopkeeper was to run up a sliding partition at 8 o'clock to separate the two kinds of goods sold? There were an immense number of persons who were not concerned in the Bill, because they belonged to the class of shopkeepers who did not carry on their business after 6 o'clock, and if figures meant anything these must be taken into account in considering the number of those who were in favour of the measure. It was very unfair and unjust that young people should not be permitted to assist their parents in earning their daily bread; but it was more so to those who were obliged to spend their money day by day as they earned it, and who were paid long after 8 o'clock. Many small shopkeepers had told him that practically all their business was done between 7 and 10 o'clock, and that if this Bill was passed it meant ruin to them. The Bill of the hon. Baronet would cause a revolution of the whole system of labour, and he was quite certain that it could not be carried into effect. 1167 He hoped that the House by a large majority would reject the Bill, and put an end to this system of agitation carried on by the richer classes year after year, and which cast upon the poorer people an expense which they were ill able to bear.
§ MR. S. SMITH (Flintshire)
said, that when as Member for Tyrone he had to discuss this question in his constituency, there was practically absolute unanimity in favour of shortening the hours of labour in shops. In the Metropolis alone was there any serious opposition to the Bill, and he suggested that it was desirable that for the time, at least, the Metropolis should be exempt from its operation. There could be no doubt that the passing of the measure would confer an enormous boon upon a very large class. There were in all our large towns large numbers of young girls kept in shops as a rule up to 10, 11, and 12 o'clock at night, whose constitutions were completely broken. It had been to him one of the most painful experiences to see the failure of physical strength brought upon this class by the hardship of this system of late hours, which was so cruel and exacting that it was absolutely necessary to place some restriction upon it. There was a great necessity for extending the principle of the Factory Acts which had operated so well to a multitude of small trades not touched by them at present; and he hoped that principle would be confirmed by the House agreeing to the Motion for the second reading of this Bill, leaving such modifications of it as might be necessary to be dealt with in Committee.
§ GENERAL FRASER (Lambeth, N.)
said, he was opposed to this Bill as the Representative of a constituency which included the New Cut or Lower Marsh, in which there were very large numbers of costermongers and small traders, and he did so because the Bill, if it became law, would bring utter and complete ruin upon thousands of families. If the hon. Baronet was a small trader in Lambeth, he and his family would come to complete ruin in the event of the Bill being passed. He had visited some parts where he had seen hundreds of people making jackets and waistcoats for soldiers at the wages of starvation; they lived from hand to mouth, and when they were paid they did not get 1168 home in time to purchase what they wanted before 8 o'clock. He sympathized with the young men and women who were shop assistants, and hoped their employers would give them opportunities for getting air and rest; but in a matter of this kind it should be remembered that it was far easier to lead than to drive. He would not trespass on the time of the House further than to express a hope that it would reject the Motion for the second reading of the Bill.
§ MR. THEODORE FRY (Darlington)
said, that, having been a Member of the Select Committee of 1886 which investigated this question, he might be allowed to add his testimony as to the overwhelming evidence given in favour of closing shops compulsorily at an early hour. Although it was true that the evidence was chiefly with reference to the employment of young people, yet it was a strong argument in favour of this measure that those who were in favour of young people being dismissed at certain hours, were almost all in favour of the earlier and compulsory closing of shops. He was not one who did not see that there were difficulties in the present case, but they almost all related to the Metropolis, and it might be possible to meet the views of hon. Members who objected to the Bill by making the hour of closing 9 instead of 8 o'clock. It was surprising to him that almost all those who objected to the Bill ignored the principle on which it was based—namely, the injury to health which resulted to those who were employed for so many hours. They were told by some large employers that the effect of passing the former Act would be the dismissal of young persons under 18 years of age, and that for some years none would be engaged until they had passed that period of life; but that, like many other objections, had not been borne out when the Act came into operation. He was glad to see the newborn zeal of some hon. Members opposite for the early closing of public-houses, and he trusted that the hon. Member for the Dulwich Division of Camberwell (Mr. Blundell Maple) would also take some part in that work. They all knew that the public-house employés were the hardest worked class in the Kingdom. An Inspector of Police told the Committee that he was in favour of the early closing of public- 1169 houses. He said that those who were engaged in them "were worked very hard indeed," and it was because of that he was in favour of public-houses being closed at the same time as the shops. He, therefore, trusted that this class would receive some share of the sympathy which had been expressed that day. One young woman, engaged at the refreshment room of a railway station, had told him that the assistants began work at 9 in the morning and worked till 12 at night, and that they were not allowed to sit down until 9 o'clock in the evening. He was sure that all that had been stated by the hon. Baronet with reference to the health of the employés in shops extended also to those who were engaged. in public-houses and at refreshment bars. He did not altogether approve of the revival of the Act of Charles II., in whose days there were no tramcars, railways, or omnibuses. There were certain points which could be amended in Committee. He was fully alive to the difficulties of the case, but he should vote for the second reading of the Bill.
§ MR.COWLEY LAMBERT (Islington, E.)
said, the hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Theodore Fry) had stated that hon. Gentlemen who objected to the Bill ignored the question of health. But the hon. Member sat upon the Committee of 1886, and he would read in the general Report that the death rate among shopkeepers was considerably less than that of any other class mentioned. He found that out of 17 different classes mentioned, the shopkeepers' death rate was only 9 per cent, that of the other classes being much higher; in fact, it was 2½per cent less than the death rate among physicians, who had to look after the health of the rest of the people. Out of something like 40 witnesses who came before the Commission as connected with trade, no less then 28 were drapers, and this might almost be called the Drapers' Early Closing Bill, because it was they who had got up the agitation, and, he believed, found the money for the meetings; they pulled the strings, and it was simply because they objected to other shops being kept open after they were supposed to close, that they carried on the agitation. As far as he—who represented a very poor district in the North of London—was concerned, he knew that almost the whole of the shopping done 1170 by his constituents took place between 8 and 10 o'clock, and even much later. Up to half-past 10 o'clock he found Essex Road and the New North Road a market in every sense of the word; and he knew that unless the people of the district had an opportunity of doing their shopping after 8 o'clock, they would run the chance almost of ruin and starvation, because the women could not go out to buy before the bread winner came home, and it was very difficult for him to get back before 8 o'clock. He had the strongest desire to see the health of the assistants improved and facilities given for rest and recreation; but, for the reasons given, he felt bound to oppose the Bill as strongly as he could.
§ MR. AUSTIN (York, W.R., Osgoldcross)
said, the voice of Yorkshire on this question had spoken with no uncertain sound. The Petition presented against the Bill was signed by 32,240 persons, of whom 2,888 were small shopkeepers in the West Riding. It was signed by gentlemen well known to, and enjoying the confidence of, the working classes—31 Town Councillors, 596 grocers, 236 general dealers, confectioners, and traders in articles of general consumption in the large towns which he had the honour to represent—and he thought he was justified in saying that the voice of Yorkshire was in direct opposition to the Bill. It was not his intention to go into any details of the measure, because he believed the House simply wanted to arrive at a knowledge of the feeling on the subject of those persons whom it would affect. It had been pointed out by hon. Gentlemen opposed to the Bill that the people of the Metropolis would buy articles of consumption at a late hour; and he could inform hon. Members that an enormous number of ironworkers in Yorkshire had no opportunity of buying what they needed except at a late hour, and the thousands upon thousands represented on the Petition he had referred to showed how much they would suffer if the Bill were to become law. Many of the shopkeepers did not employ any servants; and he had received a communication from one who employed her three daughters, who said that not only would that assistance be taken away from her, but that the greatest hardship would be inflicted on her customers.
§ LORD CHARLES BERESFORD (Marylebone, E.)
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ MR. SPEAKER
I would point out to the noble Lord that there are still 10 minutes, during which the debate can be continued, and also that there is the right of reply on the part of the Mover of the Motion before the House.
§ LORD CHARLES BERESFORD
I am only anxious to get a Division, and that this question should not be talked out, and no result shown.
§ MR. AUSTIN
said, that in deference to the wish of the House he would close his remarks by saying that he opposed the Bill, because the two classes whom it would most affect — namely, the workingmen and small shopkeepers, did not want it.
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK
said, in opposing the Bill the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) had stated that he would bring "doctor against doctor;" but he (Sir John Lubbock) was sure the hon. Gentleman would find it impossible to obtain medi-medical evidence contrary to that which the supporters of the Bill had put forward. It had been said that these long hours were killing more people than the Reign of Terror. As regarded the effect of the Bill upon the temperance of the people, it was argued that under the present system working men went into public-houses and knowing that the shops would be open to almost any hour they remained late, and when they did come out they had nothing left to spend in the shops; whereas, on the contrary, if they knew that the shops would close at a reasonable hour they would do their shopping first, to the great advantage of their wives and families. The principle of the Bill was to reduce the hours of labour in shops, and he contended that he had shown grounds for making some effort in that direction. He hoped hon. Members would not be deterred from voting for the second reading because of any detailed provisions which they disapproved. He had stated that he and his hon. Friends would be glad to listen in Committee to all objections on points of detail, and he therefore hoped that those who were in favour of the broad principle of the Bill would vote for the second reading. Several hon. Members had spoken in favour of leaving 1172 the hours to be decided by Local Authorities. There were objections to this; but, at the same time, they would see that, by the introduction of a few words only, it would be possible to introduce that principle into the Bill, if it were thought desirable. He would be ready to discuss with hon. Members the exact hours to be fixed in the Metropolis. There were more than 60 Metropolitan Members, and if they were desirous of excluding London from the operation of the measure, they were, of course, strong enough to do so, much as he should regret it. He had no objection to the Bill being referred to a Select Committee. He hoped the House would agree to the principle of the Bill, for the hours of labour in shops were terribly long, and it was time that some determined effort should be made to shorten them.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 95; Noes 278; Majority 183.1175
|Abraham, W. (Glam.)||Gardner, R. Richardson|
|Baird, J. G. A.||Gaskell, C. G. Milnes-|
|Balfour, Sir G.||Gourley, E. T.|
|Barbour, W. B.||Grey, Sir E.|
|Baring, T. C.||Harris, M.|
|Barry, J.||Hayden, L. P.|
|Biggar, J. G.||Hayne, C. Seale-|
|Bolitho, T. B.||Holden, I.|
|Bridgeman, Col. hon. F. C.||Hoyle, I.|
|Kerans, F. H.|
|Bruce, hon. R. P.||Kilbride, D.|
|Bryce, J.||Lawson, Sir W.|
|Buchanan, T. R.||Leake, R.|
|Byrne, G. M.||Lymington Viscount|
|Caldwell, J.||MacInnes, M.|
|Cameron, C.||Mackintosh, C. F.|
|Campbell, H.||Mahony, P.|
|Channing, F. A.||Morgan, right hon. G. O.|
|Cobb, H. P.|
|Coghill, D. H.||Morley, rt. hon. J.|
|Corbet, W. J.||Nolan, J.|
|Corbett, A. C.||O'Brien, J. F. X.|
|Cossham, H.||O'Connor, A.|
|Cozens-Hardy, H. H.||O' Kelly, J.|
|Crawford, D.||Pickard, B.|
|Crawford, W.||Power, R.|
|Crilly, D.||Price, T. P.|
|Cross, H. S.||Pugh, D.|
|De Cobain, E. S. W.||Quinn, T.|
|Edwards-Moss, T. C.||Reed, Sir E. J.|
|Farquharson, Dr. R.||Reid, R. T.|
|Fenwick, C.||Richard, H.|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro-||Richardson, T.|
|Firth, J. F. B.||Roscoe, Sir H. E.|
|Flower, C.||Rowntree, J.|
|Foley, P. J.||Russell, T. W.|
|Forster, Sir C.||Samuelson, Sir B.|
|Fox, Dr. J. F.||Schwann, C. E.|
|Fry, T.||Sellar, A. C.|
|Simon, Sir J.||Trevelyan, right hon. Sir G. O.|
|Sinclair, W. P.|
|Smith, S.||Vivian, Sir H. H.|
|Stack, J.||Whitley, E.|
|Sullivan, D.||Williamson, S.|
|Sutherland, A.||Winterbotham, A. B.|
|Sutherland, T.||Wright, C.|
|Talbot, C. R. M.||TELLERS.|
|Talbot, J. G.||Burt, T.|
|Tanner, C. K.||Lubbock, Sir J.|
|Thomas, D. A.|
|Addison, J. E. W.||Colomb, Capt. J. C. R.|
|Ainslie, W. G.||Commerell, Adml. Sir J. E.|
|Allison, R. A.||Compton, F.|
|Allsopp, hon. P.||Conway, M.|
|Ambrose, W.||Conybeare, C. A. V.|
|Amherst, W. A. T.||Cooke, C. W. R.|
|Anderson, C. H.||Corry, Sir J. P.|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, E.||Cotton, Capt. E. T. D.|
|Asquith, H. H.||Cranborne, Viscount|
|Austin, J.||Crossman, Gen. Sir W.|
|Baden-Powell, Sir G. S.||Cubitt, right hon. G.|
|Dalrymple, Sir C.|
|Bailey, Sir J. R.||Davenport, H. T.|
|Banes, Major G. E.||De Lisle, E. J. L. M. P.|
|Barclay, J. W.||Dickson, Major A. G.|
|Barnes, A.||Dimsdale, Baron R.|
|Bartley, G. C. T.||Dixon-Hartland, F. D.|
|Barttelot, Sir W. B.||Douglas, A. Akers-|
|Bates, Sir E.||Dugdale, J. S.|
|Baumann, A. A.||Duncombe, A.|
|Bazley-White, J.||Dyke, right hon. Sir W. H.|
|Beach, right hon. Sir M. E. Hicks-|
|Egerton, hon. A. J. F.|
|Beadel, W. J.||Egerton, hon. A. de T.|
|Bective, Earl of||Ellis, J.|
|Bentinck, rt. hn. G. C.||Ellis, J. E.|
|Bentinck, W. G. C.||Esslemont, P.|
|Beresford, Lord C. W. De la Poer||Ewing, Sir A. O.|
|Fellowes, A. E.|
|Bethell, Commander G. R.||Fergusson, right hon. Sir J.|
|Bigwood, J.||Field, Admiral E.|
|Birkbeck, Sir E.||Fielden, T.|
|Bolton, J. C.||Finch, G. H.|
|Bolton, T. D.||Fisher, W. H.|
|Boord, T. W.||Fitzgerald, R. U. P.|
|Borthwick, Sir A.||Fitz - Wygram, Gen. Sir F. W.|
|Bristowe, T. L.|
|Brodrick, hon. W. St. J. F.||Fletcher, Sir H.|
|Flynn, J. C.|
|Brookfield, A. M.||Foljambe, C. G. S.|
|Brown, A. H.||Folkestone, right hon. Viscount.|
|Bruce, Lord H.|
|Brunner, J. T.||Forwood, A. B.|
|Burghley, Lord||Fowler, Sir R. N.|
|Caine, W. S.||Fraser, General C. C.|
|Campbell, Sir G.||Fulton, J. F.|
|Campbell, J. A.||Gathorne-Hardy, hon. A. E.|
|Causton, R. K.|
|Cavan, Earl of||Gent-Davis, R.|
|Cavendish, Lord E.||Giles, A.|
|Chamberlain, R.||Gilliat, J. S.|
|Charrington, S.||Gladstone, H. J.|
|Clarke, Sir E. G.||Godson, A. F.|
|Cochrane-Baillie, hon. C. W. A. N.||Goldsmid, Sir J.|
|Goldsworthy, Major- General W. T.|
|Coleridge, hon. B.||Gorst, Sir J. E.|
|Goschen, right hon. G. J.||Long, W. H.|
|Lowther, hon. W.|
|Granby, Marquess of||Lowther, J. W.|
|Gray, C. W.||Lyell, L.|
|Grimston, Viscount||Macartney, W. G. E.|
|Grove, Sir T. F.||Macdonald, right hon. J. H. A.|
|Gully, W. C.|
|Gunter, Colonel R.||Macdonald, W. A.|
|Gurdon, R. T.||Maclean, J. M.|
|Halsey, T. F.||Maclure, J. W.|
|Hamilton, right hon. Lord G. F.||M'Arthur, A.|
|Hamilton, Lord C. J.||M'Donald, Dr. R.|
|Hamilton, Col. C. E.||M'Kenna, Sir J. N.|
|Hamley, Gen. Sir E. B.||M'Laren, W. S. B.|
|Hanbury, R. W.||Makins, Colonel W. T.|
|Hankey, F. A.||Malcolm, Col. J. W.|
|Hardcastle, E.||Mappin, Sir F. T.|
|Hardcastle, F.||Marjoribanks, rt. hon. E|
|Heath, A. R.||Matthews, right hon. H.|
|Heathcote, Capt. J. H. Edwards-|
|Mattinson, M. W.|
|Heaton, J. H.||Maxwell, Sir H. E.|
|Herbert, hon. S.||Mayne, Admiral R. C.|
|Hermon-Hodge, R. T.||Menzies, R. S.|
|Hervey, Lord F.||Mildmay, F. B.|
|Hill, right hon. Lord A. W.||Montagu, S.|
|Mount, W. G.|
|Hill, Colonel E. S.||Mowbray, right hon. Sir J. R.|
|Hill, A. S.|
|Hoare, E. B.||Muncaster, Lord|
|Hoare, S.||Mundella, right hon. A. J.|
|Hornby, W. H.||Newark, Viscount|
|Houldsworth,Sir W. H.||Norris, E. S.|
|Howard, J.||Norton, R.|
|Howell, G.||O'Brien, P. J.|
|Hubbard, hon. E.||O'Connor, J.|
|Hughes, Colonel E.||O'Keeffe, F.|
|Hunt, F. S.||Parker, hon. F.|
|Hunter, Sir W. G.||Paulton, J. M.|
|Illingworth, A.||Pearce, Sir W.|
|Isaacs, L. H.||Pease, A. E.|
|Jackson, W. L.||Pelly, Sir L.|
|Jacoby, J. A.||Pickersgill, E. H.|
|Jennings, L. J.||Picton, J. A.|
|Kelly, J. R.||Plowden, Sir W. C.|
|Kenyon, hon. G. T.||Pomfret, W. P.|
|Kimber, H.||Potter, T. B.|
|King, H. S.||Powell, F. S.|
|Knatchbull-Hugessen, H. T.||Price, Captain G. E.|
|Puleston, Sir J. H.|
|Knightley, Sir R.||Rankin, J.|
|Knowles, L.||Rasch, Major F. C.|
|Labouchere, H.||Reed, H. B.|
|Lafone, A.||Ridley, Sir M. W.|
|Lambert, C.||Ritchie, right hon. C. T.|
|Laurie, Colonel R. P.|
|Lawrence, Sir J. J. T.||Robertson, J. P. B.|
|Lawrence, W. F.||Robinson, B.|
|Lawson, H. L. W.||Roe, T.|
|Lefevre, right hon. G. J. S||Rollit, Sir A. K.|
|Legh, T. W.||Rowlands, J.|
|Lennox, Lord W. C. Gordon-||Russell, Sir C.|
|Lethbridge, Sir R.||Samuelson, G. B.|
|Lewis, Sir C. E.||Selwin-Ibbetson, rt. hon. Sir H. J.|
|Lewisham, right hon. Viscount|
|Selwyn, Capt. C. W.|
|Llewellyn, E. H.||Seton-Karr, H.|
|Lockwood, F.||Shaw-Stewart, M. H.|
|Sidebotham, J. W.||Watson, J.|
|Sidebottom, T. H.||Watt, H.|
|Sidebottom, W.||Wayman, T.|
|Smith, rt. hon. W. H.||Webster, Sir R. E.|
|Smith, A.||Webster, R. G.|
|Stanhope, rt. hon. E.||Whitmore, C. A.|
|Stanley, E. J.||Wiggin, H.|
|Stephens, H. C.||Williams, A. J.|
|Stepney-Cowell, Sir A. K.||Wilson, C. H.|
|Wilson, H. J.|
|Stuart, J.||Wilson, I.|
|Summers, W.||Winn, hon. R.|
|Sykes, C.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Tapling, T. K.||Wood, N.|
|Taylor, F.||Woodall, W.|
|Temple, Sir R.||Woodhead, J.|
|Tomlinson, W. E. M.||Wortley, C. B. Stuart-|
|Trotter, Colonel H. J.||Wright, H. S.|
|Tyler, Sir H. W.||Young, C. E. B.|
|Vincent, Col. C. E. H.|
|Walrond, Col. W. H.||TELLERS.|
|Warmington, C. M.||Bradlaugh, C.|
|Watkin, Sir E. W.||Maple, J. B.|
§ Words added.
§ Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
§ Second Reading put off for six months.
§ House adjourned at a quarter before Six o'clock.