HC Deb 14 August 1894 vol 28 cc1001-47

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 2.

Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 9, after the last Amendment, to leave out the words— In any county in which a majority of the workmen employed underground in the mines therein shall so resolve in manner hereinafter provided, and so long as such resolution shall remain unrescinded.—(Mr. D. Thomas)

Question again proposed, "That those words he there inserted."

MR. GERALD BALFOUR (Leeds, Central)

said, that when his speech was interrupted at midnight yesterday he was proceeding to examine the grounds on which the demand of those who promoted the Bill was based—he meant the demand for extending its provisions universally and uniformly to every part of the country. He ventured to say that on this subject there had been a considerable shifting of position on the part of those who represented the miners—in the Miners' Federation. They used to be threatened, not so very long ago, with the horrors of a universal strike if this Bill were not passed, and appeals were made to Parliament to pass this Bill in order to preserve the country from the miseries which such a strike would involve. But they hoard little about the universal strike now, and the reason was obvious. On this question a universal strike was impossible so long as there were important districts in which the Organisations of the miners were opposed to the Bill. This, however, brought him to a very important point. The fact that there were these Organisations opposed to the Bill was the justification put forward for not accepting an Amendment to apply the principle of local option in regard to the Bill. What did that mean? It meant simply this: that this legislation was sought simply and solely in order to coerce those districts which were unwilling to come under the provisions of the measure. Had it really come to this: that in the endeavour to coerce districts embracing considerably upwards of 100,000 miners, Parliament was to be asked to assist? If it were so, all he could say was that their traditional liberties must indeed be in danger. There was only one justification in any degree plausible which he could imagine for legislation of this kind, and it was that such legislation was urgently demanded in the interests of the health or the safety of those who were employed in the mines. As a matter of fact, in the former history of this question this plea was frequently put forward, but it had been fairly examined by the Royal Commission on Labour, and he did not hesitate to say that it had been completely upset. The conclusions at which the Commission arrived were that the miners were not in an exceptional position as regarded the unhealthiness of their employment, but, on the contrary, that their employment was on the whole more healthy than the average of employments, and that as regarded safety the Eight Hours Bill would not promote safety nor diminish the risk of accidents, but would be likely to have the effect of increasing them. These conclusions arrived at by the Royal Commission were not disputed in the Minority Report. And further than that, in the Debate of yesterday there was not a single claim put forward for this Bill on the ground of health and safety. This was a very striking fact, and he could not say how far, in the first instance, pleas more on the ground of health and safety were put forward by the miners with thorough conviction: but he had no doubt that it was those pleas which secured for this Bill a great deal of the sympathy which it received, and a great deal of the support which was given to it by those who had no personal interest in the question electorately or otherwise. If this high ground of health and of safety was abandoned, as he had no doubt it had been, what remained? There remained the lower ground of self-interest, and that alone. Yesterday, only three hon. Members spoke against local option, and each of them opposed the Amendment on the ground alone that if it were passed those districts which adopted the Bill would be unfavourably affected as compared with those districts which did not. That was really the only argument which had been put forward against the Amendment. It was surely a new and indefensible doctrine that Parliament was to be called in in order to redress the balance between one district and another. But the inequalities between districts did not apply alone to hours of work. There were inequalities as regarded wages, and in other respects. Were they, then, to extend the principle of this legislation to all these inequalities, so as to bring about uniformity all round? Properly regarded, the Bill was nothing but a step in the direction of collectivism. They might as well be asked to go the whole way and take the mines directly under the management of the State. That would be a conclusion which would be not unsatisfactory to some Members of that House; for example, to the Member for Battersea (Mr. John Burns), but was that a step which the House generally could contemplate? What the Bill actually proposed did not amount to this, but it was in this direction and was sufficiently absurd, for it meant that more than 100,000 miners were to be brought under the yoke of uniformity, and subject against their will to the conditions of this Bill, in order that the Miners' Federation might be assisted to reduce the output and to keep up the price of coal in the hope that by that means they would be able to maintain wages. To put the matter in other words, what Parliament was asked to do was to help the Miners' Federation—the most powerful organisation of workmen in the world—to coerce the districts of South Wales, Northumberland, and Durham, in order that wages might be kept up, and the price of coal raised to the consumers all over the country. A more impudent claim had never been put forward by any body of men, yet it was for this claim that the Government gave exceptional facilities.

Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment, to leave out, in line 1, the word "county," and insert the words "district as hereinafter determined."—(Mr. Gerald Balfour.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'county' stand part of the proposed Amendment."

Question put, and negatived.

Question proposed, That the words 'In any district as herein-after determined in which a majority of the workmen employed underground in the mines therein shall so resolve in manner hereinafter provided, and so long as such resolution shall remain unrescinded,' be there inserted.

SIR J. JOICEY (Durham, Chester-le-Street)

said, he had listened carefully to the arguments put forward by the promoters of this Bill——


said, he would ask the Chairman whether the Debate upon the Amendment to the Amendment would not be limited to the subject-matter thereof?


said, Yes; the discussion must be confined to the substitution of "district" for "county."


said, that with regard to the Amendment which had just been moved by the hon. Member opposite, so far as he was concerned he could not see, whether it was accepted or not, that it would make very much difference to the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr. Whether they took the county or the district, it did not affect the principle of the thing. There was one matter which had pleased him in the course of the Debate which had taken place. He was led to understand from the statement made by the hon. Member for the Ince Division, who was one of the promoters of the Bill, that the promoters were not disposed to accept any Amendment to the Bill. Now, the Member for Sunderland had his name upon the Bill, and might, he presumed, be considered to be a pro moter of the Bill——


said, he understood this Amendment would be accepted. Might he suggest that it be made at once, so that the lines of the Debate might not be limited.


said, he did not know what authority the right hon. Baronet had for saying that the Amendment would be accepted. He himself was not in a position to say whether it would or would not be accepted.

MR. A. J. BALFOUE (Manchester, E.)

said, that as he understood those in favour of the Amendment would accept the Amendment suggested, it would be convenient that it should be accepted at once, so that a general discussion might be taken upon the amended Amendment.

MR. J. WILSON (Durham)

said, he should be glad to know what was the meaning of the word "district."


said, that a subsequent Amendment proposed to define the districts. It provided that the districts were to be determined by the Home Secretary, and would be found on page 15.


said that, so far as he was concerned, he was prepared to accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for Leeds. He was not, however, prepared to accept the hon. Gentleman's definition of "district." He rather questioned the ability of not only the present Home Secretary but Home Secretaries in general to define what was a district.


said, he did not explain his Amendment in his speech. He put down in the Amendment what he conceived to be the meaning of a district.


continuing, said, he was glad to find that among the promoters of this Bill there was one, at all events, who had exercised his usual independence of character, and had not concurred in the decision which had been come to by the hon. Member for Ince and his friends to refuse all compromise on this subject whatever. The hon. Member for Sunderland had not only agreed to support this Amendment, but had made a good and sensible speech in its favour. He hoped that the example set by him would be followed by others, and that they might find a means of corning to a compromise which would satisfy the districts represented by himself and the hon. Member for Merthyr. This Bill was one of vital importance to the district he represented, and he must say that in his opinion it was being pushed forward with very great haste. He thought that when a great change of this sort was contemplated it would be a good thing that it should he subjected not only to full and complete discussion in that House, but that the details of the measure affecting the change should be thoroughly thrashed out in the constituencies which were specially interested in the question. He ventured to say that the provisions of this Bill and the effect of the Bill were most imperfectly understood, not only in the mining constituencies but throughout the country, and he should have preferred it to have been held over to another Parliament, when its provisions would have been more thoroughly discussed in the country, so that the constituencies might be fully aware of the effect likely to ensue. A great deal had been said as to the large number of miners who were in favour of this Bill; but he maintained, notwithstanding what had been said by the hon. Member for Ince and his friends, they had no reliable information as to the opinion of the great bulk of the miners within the districts they represented. In Durham and Northumberland there was a small percentage of miners who were in favour of the Bill, as against a large percentage who were opposed to it. What had the Federation districts done to enlighten them on this question? He would like to know whether those hon. Members who supported the Bill had ascertained the feeling of their constituents with regard to its proposals. He was certain that there was a large number of men in the Federated districts who wished to have nothing whatever to do with the Bill, and he would not be satisfied with the mere assertion of one or two gentlemen that that was not so. If Parliament sought to pass an important measure of this kind—a measure which proposed to take away the right of every miner in the country to use his labour to the best of his ability and judgment—they were in duty bound to see that the application of the principle was put forward in such a way that it would cause the least possible amount of friction and the least possible injustice. The measure was entirely in the nature of an experiment. He defied any man to state accurately what would be the result if it became law. In fact, if ever there was an occasion when the House of Commons had been invited to take a leap in the dark this was one. There were many districts which would suffer by this measure much more than others. It was all very well for hon. Members who came from Yorkshire and Lancashire to say that if this Amendment were passed great injury would be done to their districts; but they said nothing about the much greater injury that would be done to the districts represented by himself and the hon. Member for Merthyr. He maintained that the effect produced by the Bill in its present form would be much more disastrous to their districts than it would be to the districts represented by the hon. Member for Eccles and the hon. Member for Ince. There were some parts of the country where very little effect would be produced. In Yorkshire and in Staffordshire they practically had the benefit of this measure already, and the Bill would make very little difference there. It would increase the cost a little, but it would be a mere trifle to the effect produced in other districts which were not so fortunately placed as they were. The hon. Member for Merthyr had made an admirable speech, much of which would stand for a defence of Durham and Northumberland in this matter; but he maintained that whatever strong arguments they might have to support their case, it was almost impossible to get the ordinary Member of Parliament to understand the practical and the technical difficulties that they would have to contend with in this measure. Durham and Northumberland would specially suffer under this measure. He asserted, however, that they had special claims, for they constituted about the largest coal-producing district in the country, and were among the oldest collieries working in the country. Durham had been working for very many years, and he certainly thought they had carried on their work there in as safe and practical a way as any coal-producing district could. If they looked at the loss of life which took place in Northumberland and Durham they would find that they compared most favourably with other districts. In Durham and Northumberland at the present time the hewers did not work on the average more than from six to seven hours, and if the existing hours were to be shortened the probability was that the men would be so pushed to earn a living wage that they would neglect the ordinary precautions for preserving their own lives and limbs. To make this a compulsory Bill applicable to the North of England would also put the coalowners at a great disadvantage in the selling of their coal. Already they had very great difficulty in maintaining their trade owing to the strong and active competition to which they were subjected in all parts of the world. The export trade of Durham was about 50 per cent, of the whole, and it was all to districts where this keen competition existed. Large collieries were now open in Australia, New Zealand, China, and elsewhere, and in his own experience he had seen the Northumber- land and Durham coalowners lose one market after another. The South American markets had almost disappeared owing to the competition of New Zealand and Australia, and he had been told the other day by a large merchant that the time was not far distant when the whole of the coal used east of the port of Aden would be produced by India, China, Japan, and Australasia. Comparing the production of this country with Australia, Germany, Japan, China, and the United States, since 1883 the United Kingdom had gone up from 160,000,000 to 183,000,000 tons, while those other countries had gone up from 210,000,000 to 296,000,000 tons. Under these circumstances nobody could deny that foreign competition played a most important part in connection with this question. Notwithstanding that freights had so largely decreased, there was the utmost difficulty in maintaining our hold on foreign markets, and foreign competition was as real in coal as it was in agriculture or any other industry that now felt the weight of competition with the foreigner. The County of Durham had also special claims to consideration, because it had large manufactories which were entirely dependent upon the price of coal, and then again, upon those manufactories hundreds and thousands were dependent for their daily bread. Surely at a time like this—when every industry was suffering from depression—it was most unwise to have promoted a Bill like the present. Another strong claim that Durham and Northumberland had was that their methods of working their mines were altogether different to those which prevailed in other parts of the country. It was true that boys in those mines worked 10 hours a day, but it was a gross libel to describe them as galley slaves. Theirs, however, were not the only districts in which the boys were worked 10 hours underground. [An hon. MEMBER: "No."] There were many boys in the district represented by the Member for Ince who worked 10 hours, and there were great advantages in the Durham system over theirs. They were far healthier, stronger, and happier than the hands employed in manufacturing towns; and as soon as they reached the age of 19 or thereabouts and became hewers, they only worked about 6½ hours per day. The boys who work exceptionally hard were the hand-putters, but they formed only a very small proportion of the boys employed in the Durham mines, and they had inducements to work hard, for they were on piece-work and earned good wages. If the boys in the Durham and Northumberland mines were compared with those employed in the factories of his hon. Friend the Member for Ince and in other factories, it would be found that the former were the stronger and healthier. Out of 100 occupations, at the head of which stood that of the clergyman, there were only 30 showing longer lives than that of the coal miner. Then, again, there could be no doubt that the adoption in Durham and Northumberland of a compulsory eight hours' system would greatly increase the cost of production. He admitted that there must be a limit, but he maintained that they were carrying the limit too far. He found that in 1890 two-thirds of the pits in Durham were working practically 11 hours a day. They decided to reduce that to 10 hours, and it entailed a good deal of discussion, because it was thought that it would be a very serious charge in the shape of cost. What had been the result? In one colliery, particulars of which he had with him, there were 325 men employed in 1890, and it required 390 men to get exactly the same quantity. Another colliery produced 358,000 tons in 1890, and in 1891, with the reduction, they produced only 321,000 tons. These were facts which the Committee could not get over. Taking the County of Durham, what was the effect produced? In 1890 the amount produced in the County of Durham was 30,265,000 tons, and in order to do that 86,799 men were employed. When two-thirds of the collieries reduced their working time one-half, the quantity produced was 29,807,000—showing a reduction of 457,000 tons, while the increased number of men employed was 5,789. So that to get a decrease of 1½ per cent, they were obliged to employ 6 per cent, more men. Between 1888 and 1891 Durham increased its output to 142,000 tons, while he found that in Yorkshire they increased the output to 2,213,560 tons. One undoubted effect of the shortening of the hours would be to injure seriously all the old and weakly men who were hewers, and who could not put on the additional power of work that shorter hours would entail. The tendency would be to drive employers to select young and sturdy men, to the great detriment of the older hands, to whom at the present time every leniency and consideration were shown. It had been said by some of its friends that the Bill was promoted with a view to avoiding strikes, but in the North of England he believed it would rather have a tendency to promote them. In the North they had now Conciliation Boards and Joint Committees who were able amicably to adjust matters as between employers and employed. How would it be if such a Bill as this were passed? It would destroy to a large extent the value of the work done by these Conciliation Boards during the past 20 years.

MR. ROBY (Lancashire, S.E., Eccles)

I rise to Order, Sir. May I ask whether the hon. Member is speaking to the Amendment?


May I ask, Sir, whether I am not showing cause why Durham should be excluded from the Bill?


The Question is, whether you are to put this power in the hands of the majority of the workmen employed in any district.


said, he was showing that Durham had a very strong claim to local option, but he was not surprised that his hon. Friends, the supporters of this Bill, who produced no argument and illustration of their own, should exhibit impatience when it came from the other side. They seemed to think they could as easily make upon Northumberland and Durham the impression which they had made upon Her Majesty's Government. If he were not to do his duty, and to strongly represent the case of Durham as he was striving to do, the probability was that somebody else would represent Chester-le-Street after the next Election. He was sent to Parliament because he understood mining questions, and so long as he had a seat in the House he would not hesitate to express his opinion upon such questions. What would this Bill do? There were only three methods by which it could be worked. The first would be to have one shift, which meant a complete departure from and a complete break-up of the whole system that now existed in North- umberland and Durham. He was sure the men would never consent to such a change. The second plan would be to adopt two shifts of men and two shifts of hoys, but here there was the difficulty that they could not get the number of boys that would be required, so that there was little or no chance of working a double-shift system. The third alternative would be to have three shifts of men and two shifts of boys, which was equally impracticable, and he maintained that however they strove to apply this to Northumberland and Durham in many of the old pits all plans were equally impracticable. He opposed the Bill because he believed it would seriously injure the Counties of Durham and Northumberland. He maintained that the House of Commons ought to listen to the voice of 120,000 men in the Counties of Durham and Northumberland whom this Bill would affect. The miners of the North had a perfect right to manage their own domestic affairs—quite as much right as the people of Ireland. Was it to be supposed that the thrusting upon them against their will of such a Bill as this would increase their respect for the law? He did not wish to utter threats, but it was quite possible that if 120,000 men made us their minds to ignore a law of this kind Parliament would hesitate before it attempted to thrust that law upon them. He opposed this Bill because he believed it was unequal in its burden upon the country and unjust in its application so far as the North of England was concerned, and he should not cease to oppose it in every possible way, because he believed that in so doing he was not only carrying out the wishes of the people he represented, but that his action would be for the advantage of the whole country.


said, he had the misfortune not to be in sympathy on this question with his colleagues in the representation of Durham, but observations he had been able to make during a not limited period had convinced him that among the miners of the county there was daily growing a sense of sympathy with the objects sought by the promoters of the Bill. No doubt the progress of that sentiment had been to a large extent checked, and properly checked, by the great authority and not undeserved influence of those who were the leaders of the' miners; but not with standing that properly-exercised influence and the great weight of the arguments that might be adduced against the application of an Eight Hours Bill to Durham, there was a growing feeling that it was only just and reasonable that the Legislature should intervene for purpose of assisting the miners in other districts of England to obtain that fair measure of labour which combination had hitherto been unsuccessful in securing for them. It was a remarkable fact that the most powerful and leading advocates of the application of an eight hours law were to be found amongst those who were formerly opposed to any legislative interference at all, and as an instance of that he need only mention one name, that of Mr. Cowie, the respected representative of the miners of Yorkshire, who had been convinced by the experience of recent years that combination by means of Trade Unions was entirely incompetent to grapple with the question. He was bound to say at the outset that he did not concur with the strong observations made by the the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyne, as to the "galley slave-like" treatment of boys underground. He agreed that 10 hours' work for lads underground as compared with the 7½ or 8 hours worked by the men was an invidious distinction, and one which ought to be abolished, seeing that it necessarily clashed—as was graphically stated at the Miners' Conference—with the sentiments of the boys themselves. In these days when the Imperial Government and Local Authorities were striving to bring education of a high standard within the reach of the humbler classes it certainly was antagonistic to the efficient working of the educational system that boys should be kept in the mines for the long period of 10 hours, and he believed that the miners of Durham themselves had awakened to the conviction that it was an improper thing that their boys should be allowed to work such long hours.

MR. J. WILSON (Durham, Mid)

Might I ask what reasons the hon. Gentleman has for making that remark?


said, his hon. Friend challenged him to state his authority. He thought he could give ample and most conclusive reasons for the statement. He had frequently spoken at meetings in his own constituency against the system of allowing boys to remain in the pit so long, and the miners had always received his observations with sympathy.

MR. J. WILSON (Durham, Mid)

Is that all the proof you have?


said, he had not had the opportunity of consulting every individual miner, and he frankly admitted that he could not give any further proof; but he thought his experience was sufficient to show that the miners of Durham were awakening to a sense that 10 hours was an excessive period for boys to work underground. He would like to add that he was perfectly certain that if the hon. Member who had interrupted him or the hon. Member for the Wansbeck Division of Northumberland believed for a moment that the boys were suffering under any grievous wrong, they would be the first to raise their voices against a continuance of it. He fully acknowledged that they did not believe any such wrong existed. He had listened with interest to the Debate which had been carried on by those who were intimately associated with the coal industry of this country, and he had noted—as no doubt others had done—what had been said as to the danger likely to accrue to mining if this measure were carried. The very same arguments against legislative interference with labour were adduced in 1872 on the occasion of the Mines Act as had been advanced in that Debate.

MR. STOREY (Sunderland)

Never by the men.


said, he was prepared to admit that legislation in the interests of adult male labour was a comparatively recent departure, but it was not altogether novel. It had been found necessary for the Legislature to interfere in respect of the Employers' Liability Act to prohibit men from contracting themselves out of its provisions, and in the Coal Mines Regulation Act it had been found necessary to insert stringent Rules. He might multiply these instances of legislative interference with adult male labour. But that was not the point he wished to speak upon. He wished to deal more particularly with the employment of boys over long hours.


Order, order! That is not the point of the Amendment, which raises the question of local option.


said, the reason why local option was demanded was that the retention of boy labour in its present form was necessary, and could not be done without. Therefore, he submitted that the point he was making was pertinent to the Amendment. He would only say further, with regard to the interference of the Legislature in this matter, that in 1872, in the course of the Debate on the Mines Act, they were told by Sir George Elliott, a most distinguished member of the trade, that it would be a grievous wrong to the coal industry of Durham if the boys' hours were limited, and he added that he was prepared to pit the boys of Durham against against any who might be produced from other parts of the United Kingdom. Indeed, following the same line of the hon. Member for Durham, he spoke of them as skipping like March hares when they left the pits.

MR. J. WILSON (Durham, Mid)

When did I use such poetical language?


I only said the observations followed the same line. He ventured to suggest that unless they could have put before them—chapter and verse—some intelligible grounds for assuming that a measure of the kind now before the Committee were passed disastrous consequences would follow in contradistinction to the results which accrued from similar legislation in 1842 and in 1872—unless the opponents of the Bill were prepared to prove that the results they depicted were certain to follow, then the Committee was entitled to treat their arguments with as little respect as the effects of the 1842 and 1872 legislation justified them in treating the arguments advanced in those years. It was curious to note the community of feeling on this subject between men who had the interest of the working classes so much at heart, and those who represented the capitalists of the county. He could not help thinking that that feeling was due to the fact that the coal trade of Durham could be carried on on a more economical basis under the present system than the trade of other districts could. The output in Durham in 1890 was 368.4 tons per man, while in Lancashire it was only 268.6 per man; and the selling price of coal in Durham was, in 1889, 5s. 9d. per ton, as compared with 6s. 6d. in Lancashire and, he believed, in Yorkshire. Then it was obvious that this system of short hours for the men, combined with long hours for the boys, had managed to work very economically and very effectively in the County of Durham, and had enabled the county to trade to better advantage than other districts. Under the unequal conditions at present existing as between Durham and the other coal-producing districts of Great Britain, the latter were certainly able, substantially and practically, to hold their own. But while he made those observations in favour of the general principle of the Bill, he did not see any adequate reason why the system of local option should not be adopted. He had listened with attention to his hon. Friend the Member for Ince in order to find out what strong reasons he could advance against the permitting of local option. The hon. Gentleman stated that unless the conditions in different districts were equal, one district would be subjected to the temptation of working longer hours in order to compete with other districts. But unequal conditions already existed. Unequal geological conditions, unequal hours of work, unequal rates of pay, unequal facilities for haulage all existed as between the various coalfields; but, notwithstanding those varying conditions, it was found that the coalfields of Lancashire and Yorkshire and Wales enjoyed a trade which did not appear to run the slightest risk of being materially injured by the system prevailing in Northumberland and Durham. He did not think it was fairly to be expected that if local option were adopted there would be any fitful or capricious change in the manner of working coal in order to enable a district which was not within the magic circle successfully to compete with the districts which were within it. The hon. Member for Morpeth had recently told them that of the miners of Northumberland, 11,840 worked less than eight hours per day, and 15,874 more than eight hours. Of course, that included boys, and so forth. The figures given by the hon. Baronet the Member for Barnard Castle were to the effect that only 53 per cent. of the miners in Durham were coal-hewers, and the remaining 47 per cent., he took it, were men who worked more than eight hours a day. He repeated that while in sympathy with the principle of the Bill, he did not feel at liberty to vote against an Amendment which, in the belief of a very large number of persons immediately interested, would be disastrous to the industrial interests of Northumberland and Durham; but he believed that if the Bill were first made applicable to those districts desiring it—which would be Lancashire, Yorkshire, Staffordshire, and probably the bulk of South Wales—it would be found that before very long there would grow up in Northumberland and Durham a strong conviction of the advantages which would accrue to the community from a general adoption of the measure. For those reasons he pressed his hon. Friend to reconsider his determination to refuse to admit the principle of local option. He was sure that if his hon. Friend would admit that principle rather than allow the Bill to perish, he would be better serving his cause than if he endeavoured, in defiance of the opinion of a very large minority of those interested, to press the Bill through as it stood.

MR. J. A. PEASE (Northumberland, Tyneside)

said, that before he moved the Amendment which stood in his name he would like to controvert one or two of the statements of the hon. Gentleman who had last spoken, and who had endeavoured to make out that something like 50 per cent, of the men employed in Northumberland and Durham were working over eight hours. As a matter of fact, 71.54 per cent, of those who were employed in the County of Durham were working under eight hours, and 76.68 per cent. of those employed in the County of Northumberland were working under eight hours. It followed that the numbers who would be directly affected by this Bill would be 28.46 per cent. in Durham, and 21.32 per cent. in Northumberland. Another statement which the hon. Member made was that in the County of Durham 368 tons of coal per man per annum were raised and sold at 5s. 9d. a ton, whilst in Lancashire 268 tons per man per annum were produced and sold at 6s. 6d. per ton. On these figures the hon. Member had based an assertion that in the County of Durham employers were more eager to produce fuel economically; but when the hon. Member made that assertion, he was undoubtedly misleading the House, and showing a want of knowledge of facts which should be well within the knowledge of a Representative of Durham. The coal in the County of Durham differed materially from the coal in many other parts of the country. It was, to a large extent, soft coal and brittle coal, and nobody was going to pay for coal of that kind the prices which they would pay for hard round coal. This was a sufficient answer to the figures which the hon. Member had chosen to make use of. The hon. Member also alluded to the ballot which had been taken in Northumberland and Durham on the subject of this Bill. In that ballot 56.6 of the miners voted against the Bill, 26.3 for it, and 21.1 were neutral, many, of course, being absent from causes over which they had no control, and some being employed at the time. Of those actually voting 66.6 voted against the Bill and 33.3 in favour of it, so that there was a majority of 2 to 1 against it. Those who voted, he might add, included all boys over the age of 16.

MR. JOHN BURNS (Battersea)



said, he thought the age was 16, but he accepted the correction. He claimed that these figures were very significant. Side by side with them the fact was to be borne in mind that in the district of the Miners' Federation the men had never been balloted at all. The inference which he drew was that the Miners' Federation know the weakness of their position, and that any figures they might obtain would not tell in their favour. Some indication of the feeling amongst the miners generally was, however, afforded by the Birmingham Conference. From what occurred at the Conference he was led to conclude that only one-third of the total number of men employed underground who were represented were in favour of the Bill; and that was the only public indication they had of a reliable character as to the extent to which the Bill was approved by the miners themselves. Some figures, however, also appeared in the Labour Commission's Report which indicated what were the views working men themselves took of the Bill. In 1890, at the Liverpool Trades Union Congress, 193 delegates voted for legislative interference and l55 against, while 109 were neutral. Three years afterwards, when the Congress was held at Belfast, the 193 for legislative intervention had dropped to 92, and the 155 against had fallen to 80, but the 109 neutral had increased to 265. Those figures went to show that there was no marked interest taken by those represented at the Trades Union Congress in the promotion of the Bill. He had never understood why the Federation refused to give evidence before the Labour Commission, unless it was that its leaders felt they would not be able to stand cross-examination. An experienced man, an engineer who had looked into the question, wrote to him some few months ago, not with a view to publicity, but because he (Mr. J. A. Pease) had asked for his opinion as to whether the adoption of an Eight Hours Bill for miners was practicable in the County of Durham, and that gentleman declared that, from whatever point of view the question was looked at, it seemed to him that the first effect of such a measure would be to reduce wages. If the Bill passed through Parliament without the addition of the local option principle he believed it would produce frightful misery in the County of Durham, and although the hon. Member for Eccles might think that a large number of the Representatives of Northumberland and Durham were speaking on the question, it must be remembered that it was one which vitally affected their constituents, and they felt bound to raise their voices in that House and do their best to protect those constituents and the livelihood they earned at so much risk. If the Bill passed as the hon. Members for Eccles and Ince desired that it should be passed, either it would become as much a dead letter as the Eight Hours Mining Bill had become in the United States, or the miners in the North of England would refuse by tens of thousands to conform to its provisions, and a nice position the Home Secretary would be placed in if he was called on to build a gaol for the honest, hard-headed, and industrious working men of the North of England. The number of boys in Northumberland and Durham was 16,090, and of those 6,000 were under 16. They, he admitted, were underground for 10 hours, and he regretted it, as did everyone who had anything to do with the coal industry in those counties. But even though they might wish to find some means of reducing the hours worked by those boys underground, it was desirable to look at the matter from a practical point of view. Taking, as an example, one large colliery in which 659 men and boys were employed, he found that the average time taken up in travelling to and from work underground was an hour and 16 minutes, while the interval during which the boys were not on duty was an hour and 13 minutes, so that they were only actually on duty for seven and a-half hours. He would put it to hon. Members who sympathetically viewed the position of the boys in Northumberland and Durham whether it was better that those boys should for three or four years perform 10 hours' work underground—many of them having practically only light work to perform—and for the rest of their lives should work seven hours underground, or that for the whole of their lives they should be employed for eight hours hard and fast. The boys did not suffer physically during those three or four years, and although he and others would like to see the number of hours reduced, he believed that, taken altogether, the system was beneficial for men and boys. Some experiments were, however, being conducted with a view to reducing the hours during which boys worked, and he was not sure that negotiations would not be entered into very shortly with a view to securing by voluntary arrangement some further reduction. Conciliation would, however, be needed on the part both of men and employers; and it might also be that some sacrifice would have to be made by parents if the hours were to be reduced without a material increase of the cost of the work. However that might be, he believed that a voluntary arrangement would enable the Counties of Northumberland and Durham to carry on their mining industry not only to their own satisfaction, hut in a way which would not compete injuriously with other districts which might approve of the Bill, and wish to place themselves within its scope. The Reports of the Labour Commission stated that coalmining presented a range and variety of conditions such as could be found in few other industries, and be thought it unfortunate that it should have been selected for such an experiment as that proposed by the Bill. The measure seemed to him, in fact, a Bill to restrict output, and such restriction must mean a lessening of the production of wealth which the community desired should be distributed among its members in the shape of food, clothing, shelter, and wages. He believed, whatever might be the fate that night of the local option Amendment, that if it had been considered earlier in the Session, it would, without doubt, have been carried, and that it was only because of the late period to which the discussion had been driven, that there was any danger of the Amendment being lost. He begged to move, as an Amendment to that Amendment, that the words "two-thirds majority" should be substituted for "a majority." There was, he submitted, some precedent for placing at that figure the majority which should decide whether the Bill should apply to a particular district. In the coal-mining industry in his own county it was required that there should be a two-thirds majority before a strike could take place; and a two-thirds majority was mentioned also in the Local Option Bill of the Government with respect to the liquor traffic. There wore some advantages in having something more than a bare majority of one, since it would secure stability and firmness, and promote satisfaction when the arrangement had been arrived at. On those grounds he moved the Amendment, but the point was one of detail, and he would be guided by the sense of the Committee with regard to it.

Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment, in line 1, after the word "majority," to insert the words "of two-thirds."—(Mr. J. A. Pease.)

Question proposed, "That the words 'of two-thirds' be there inserted in the proposed Amendment."

MR. FORWOOD (Lancashire, Ormskirk)

thought no Member of the Committee who, like himself, had sat through the whole of the Debates for two days past, but would allow that the discussions had been most important and interesting, largely conducted as they had been by Members more or less directly interested.


reminded the right hon. Gentleman that the only question before the Committee was whether "two-thirds" should be part of the Amendment.


pointed out that the decision by two-thirds majority was a very well-known system, and it would, if adopted, meet the requirements of the South Wales districts. Unless the local option principle was favourable, he considered the Bill would be the cause of great injustice to the colliers of South Wales, and of an amount of misery of which the hon. Member who introduced the Bill had no knowledge. Only last year he happened to pass through the South Wales colliery districts, and there ho found a number of colliers who had been driven from their work simply at the orders of agitators' paid delegates. They could give no reason for having left their work, but they had given up their weekly wage, their wives and children had been reduced to semi-starvation, and their state of misery might have been avoided if only the local option two-thirds majority system had been in operation directing their conduct. The hon. Member for Rhondda knew perfectly well the miserable state of things brought about by the paid agitators.




The only question before the Committee is that of "two-thirds" or "bare majority."


said, if the two-thirds majority had been adopted as the system for giving effect to local option, then such strikes as that to which he had just alluded would not have taken place, and the misery and desolation over the district would not have followed. The same principle applied under this Bill would save the men from the consequences of hastily yielding to the influence of agitators.

SIR F. MILNER (Notts, Bassetlaw)

said, it was remarkable that the Committee received no advice on this important subject from Members of a Government who found time at the end of a weary Session for an important measure such as this, but did not take the trouble to assist in the discussion, and allowed the Treasury Bench to be empty for hours. It was only to be expected that a champion of local option like the Chancellor of the Exchequer should join in the discussion and sup- port the proposal, and yet in common with the Irish Members he took no part in discussion and probably would merely give a vote against the Amendment.


reminded the hon. Member that discussion should be confined to the question of "two-thirds" or "bare majority."


said, the few remarks lie had to offer were in support of the Amendment. The feeling of the mining classes generally had not been properly appreciated. It had been said by the opponents of the Amendment that the vast majority of the Miners' Federation were opposed to anything in the nature of local option. As he was given to understand that only the question of a two-thirds majority could now be alluded to, and that he could not enter upon the Amendment generally, he would only say that he had great pleasure in supporting the proposal for the two-thirds system as the only fair solution of the question when put to a district.


said, he had considerable sympathy with the Amendment, but ho would suggest to the hon. Member that, in the interest of those who desired to express themselves on the Main Question, the Amendment should be withdrawn.


said, he did not wish to insist on the Amendment, though there was more to be said in its favour than against it. In deference to the general view he would ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment to the proposed Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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


said, as the Amendment now before the Committee was as to the adoption of the principle of local option in the application of the Bill, he, as one having no interest in the great industry immediately concerned, desired to explain the reasons that influenced his vote. He found great difficulty in deciding upon the vote he should give. To his mind the clause as it stood and the clause with the Amendment would be almost equally objectionable. In the one case, by the clause being passed unamended Parliament would deprive the labouring man of the liberty to work for such hours as he thought proper, and under the Amendment this power would be given to the majority of the labourers in a given district. Under the Amendment, if it became law, there would have to be constituted an entirely new Register of voters with special qualifications in regard to this matter, and he felt there would be great difficulty in the plan. At the same time, he was strongly opposed to a cast-iron rule in regard to working hours or other regulations of adult male labour, and therefore preferred the greater elasticity the Amendment would afford in various districts. In the Amendment, and, indeed, in the Bill, it was assumed that there was only one party to the contract, the employés; and the votes of the employés were, under the Amendment, to decide whether the Bill should be applied. But surely the employer had a large interest in the question? He, under the security of existing law, embarked his capital in the business, sinking a large amount in building, plant, &c, and under the Bill and Amendment the employer would be exposed by ex post facto legislation to have altogether new conditions imposed to handicap him in the conduct of his business. The Bill, whether with or without the Amendment, was a form of veiled protection, and protection in the most unscientific and clumsy form. It proposed to give to the workman protection in regard to the time for which he might sell his labour, forcing the purchaser of that labour to pay more for it, and so in a sense this was a system of protection. Just in the same way as a farmer who had wheat to sell might have protection for the labour by which he raised that wheat, so would, by the Bill, protection be given to miners' labour. But it was protection in a clumsy and unscientific form. The men were to he prevented from working more than a given number of hours, although health, strength, and inclination might induce them to extend those hours, and yet, at the same time, they would be exposed to all the competition of foreign labour and to that competition increased. Scientific protection placed a duty upon imported goods, and thus gave protection to home labour; but here was the labour left exposed to foreign competition, and protection was simply for the purpose of levelling up or levelling down the hours of labour in the various districts of the country. It had not been realised what an increased charge would be levied on trade industry and every household in the country. It had been said by the hon. Member for Merthyr, in the speech in which he quoted from the hon. Member for Rhondda, that the passing of the Bill would give employment to 20,000 more miners in South Wales to produce the same quantity of coal as was produced without this restriction. This was confirmed by a supporter of the Bill, who stated that the effect of the Bill would be to raise the cost of getting coal in all cases 4d., and in some cases more, per ton. The hon. Baronet (Sir J. Pease) estimated the extra cost of getting coal if the Bill were adopted at 6d. per ton, and, translating this fact into figures, this extra 6d. per ton in the production of coal, taking the total production in the United Kingdom to be 180,000,000 tons, meant an increase to the consumers of no less than £4,500,000 in the course of the year. The House should not lightly propose such an immense additional charge on the industry and everyday expenses of the country by a measure hurriedly passed immediately before the close of a long Session. Another figure would illustrate the effect of the Bill. One of our keenest competitors was the United States, and 6d. per ton would pay the carriage of coal in that country for 120 miles. To that extent, therefore, the Bill would carry back the area of our coalfields from the port of shipment. This was no idle fear, as would be shown, by the figures in reference to the competition between British and foreign coal producers. Coal could be delivered to-steamers in the port of New York at 11s. 6d. per ton, delivered alongside the vessel, but that coal could not be delivered in the port of London for less that 16s. or 17s. per ton. We pretended to ourselves that we had cheap coal, through which our industries flourished, but we would, by the Bill, add 6d. per ton to the cost of producing coal, while there was the enormous discrepancy existing in the cost of coal in those two great commercial ports. Why was the Bill urged with such vehemence? No one had ventured to say that coal mining was an unhealthy occupation, and in the face of established facts such a statement could not with truth be made. The proportion in the total number of miners of men employed up to the age of 60 was larger than in any other industry. The only valid argument in favour of the Bill was contained in the half-and-half speech of one of the hon. Members for Durham, who first led his hearers to sup pose that he was going to oppose the Amendment, basing his opposition on the employment of boys, and who finished by saying he would support the Amendment. If it were true that boys were employed in any of our coal mines for unfairly long hours, he would vote for an inquiry into that matter, and, if necessary, would support legislation in the boys' favour, similar to that already passed in favour of women and children employed in factories and workshops. That, however, should be dealt with separately and distinctly, and afforded no reason for such a Bill as this with its effect on trade and industry throughout the whole country. Ho felt that if once this step were taken, with or without the introduction of the local option principle, similar legislation could not be refused to other industries when asked for. There had been indications in discussions at Working Men's Congresses of the set of ideas in this direction——


rose to Order. The hon. Member was not addressing himself to the Amendment: ho was considering what might possibly happen should the Bill become law.


understood the right hon. Gentleman to be arguing for the Amendment and against the Bill.


said, he preferred the Bill with the Amendment, although with the Amendment adopted his objection would not be removed, as it would afford some degree of elasticity to the operation. His strong objection to the Bill with the Amendment was that, if it passed, it would encourage other claims, which could not be resisted, for similar legislation in the interest of other industries. Parliament had no right to impose on workmen in this country an additional tax on coal for household use (which would also affect wages in regard to the cost of coal for manufacturing purposes), and yet refuse to other workmen the same protection to labour as would by the Bill be extended to miners. If the Bill as amended were proceeded with——


reminded the right hon. Gentleman that the Bill as amended was not before the Committee; the Question simply was whether the proposed Amendment should be adopted.


bowed to the ruling, but in following the course of the Debate he had heard the question of foreign competition discussed. The Bill would increase the cost of production, and in the result would affect this country unfavourably in regard to foreign competition as well as seriously and prejudicially affecting the home consumers. In deference to the Chairman's ruling he would not further press that point, but he apprehended be would not be out of Order in alluding to the argument put forward by the promoters of the Bill against the Amendment, that it was desirable to put mines in every district upon a somewhat equal level. In other words, as the mines of Northumberland and Durham were at the present time working more economically and with greater advantage to the miners than were mines in other parts of the country, therefore a Bill should be passed which would handicap those mines, and put them on a level with mines in the Midland districts. Against such a proposition he supported the Amendment; but should the Amendment become part of the Bill, he should vote against the Bill in its ultimate stage, believing that to pass such a Bill would be one of the worst day's work the House could do for the interests of the working classes of the country.

* MR. H. J. WILSON (York, W.R., Holmtirth)

said, only a few words would be necessary to explain why he should vote in favour of the Amendment. He voted for the Second Reading of the Bill with the intention of supporting certain Amendments in Committee, of which this was one. He had no interest in the coal trade, but he had a considerable number of miners in his constituency who, he believed were largely, if not unanimously, opposed to this local option proposal. He would like to please those mining constituents of his by the vote he gave, but he was quite unable to see that in order to please them he should vote for putting a burden on a large number of men in other places who believed that it would result injuriously to themselves, their employers, and the public interest, The Bill with this Amendment would give those who desired the change the opportunity of getting it, but he could not think it fair to forcibly impose the Bill on large minorities who did not desire it. This was his reason for supporting the Amendment, and he was not deterred from giving that support by the threat that if the Amendment were carried the Bill would be withdrawn. The responsibility for the loss of the Bill must rest with those who withdrew it, not upon those who desired these modifications in its terms.

* MR. PRITCHARD-MORGAN (Merthyr Tydvil)

said, he did not take the same view on this subject as his colleague in the representation of Merthyr. Either he or his hon. Friend must be mistaken in the estimate formed of the views of the miners of the district, but each was prepared to take the responsibility of the position taken up. This was somewhat beside the question, but it was evident that each was more or less honest in his convictions, and offered his opinion in the House for what it was worth. The immediate question was whether or not there should be any option in regard to the application of the Bill. The passing of the Second Reading of the Bill by a large majority established the principle that there should be legislative limitation of hours of work in mines, and the question now was should some districts be excepted from the general rule. In his view eight hours' hard and honest work in a mine was as much as any man could possibly do; after that he ought to have rest. What a man did in the way of work beyond that eight hours was of very little value to himself or his employers. He could speak with some knowledge on the subject, for mining had for him a life-long interest, and he did not hesitate to say that eight hours' work in a mine was all that could be expected from a man having due regard to his own health and the safety of those who worked with him. He submitted that no man should be allowed to work more than eight hours in the bowels of the earth, his own interests and those of his family being alike opposed to it. He could not shut his eyes to the fact that the reason of the opposition to the Bill was based on their knowledge that the men would have the cards in their own hands if the Bill passed, and would insist on being paid a fair day's wage for what they considered to be a fair day's work. He was quite prepared to admit that if the Bill passed into law the men would still insist on having a fair day's wage, and he held that they were entitled to it. He noticed that throughout the Debate they had heard nothing from the Representatives of Cornwall and Devonshire as to the metalliferous mines of this country. It was the rule in all metalliferous mines in the world that no man should work more than eight hours a day; why was it not the rule in coal mines? On that point he would try to throw some little light. He himself was not interested to the extent of one farthing in collieries, but he was a Representative, in conjunction with his hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr, of a colliery district, and he had endeavoured to ascertain why the owners objected to the Bill before the Committee. The two grounds alleged were that it would restrict the output and that it would prevent competition with foreign producers. Well, the eight hours' limit could not restrict the output in Northumberland and Durham, where it was alleged that the men already only worked six and a-half and seven hours. But what happened in Northumberland and Durham? The boys and hauliers were sent down to arrange for the work of the day—to get the trams to the face ready for filling, and the roadways clear.

MR. J. WILSON (Durham, Mid)

I am sure the hon. Gentleman will excuse me for laughing; but this is the most amusing statement I ever heard in my life.


I may call attention to the fact that the only question raised by the Amendment is whether there should be local option or not in respect of this Bill.


said, he was endeavouring to give reasons why owners refused to assent to having the law made compulsory, and wished to have it left optional when he was interrupted by his hon. Friend, who apparently thought he did not know a mine from a mule, though probably he had been acquainted with mines almost as long as the hon. Gentleman. He thought it had been admitted all through the Debate that the boys in Northumberland and Durham were oftentimes engaged for 10 hours a day; and if that was the case it appeared obvious to a person of ordinary understanding that the boys were there for the purpose of facilitating the work of the men. What the miners of South Wales said, however, was that they desired that no one should be allowed actually to work in the mines for more than eight hours per shift. The hon. Baronet the Member for Chester-le-Street had stated as one of his grounds of objection to the Bill that in Northumberland and Durham the men would only be able to work one shift. The principal objection of his hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr, however, was that, by a limitation of the hours of labour, the double shift system would be introduced in Wales. The Representative of one colliery district, in fact, objected to having one shift, while the Representative of another objected to Slaving two.

MR. WOOTTON ISAACSON (Tower Hamlets, Stepney)

May I explain that in South Wales the boys work shorter hours than the men, and that if you introduce a double shift you increase the hours of the boys?


replied that he was not born in Palestine; he was born in South Wales. With regard to the question of foreign competition, he submitted that if the Bill were passed they would be exactly in statu quo. Wages on the Continent at the present time were undoubtedly lower than they were in Durham or in Wales, and foreign competition thus was and would be possible; but to say that the men of Wales were of necessity to work a larger number of hours than they ought to be called on to work, due regard being had to their health, simply because some men on the Continent were working for very low wages, was, to his mind, a poor answer to the supporters of the Bill before the House. He had been surprised on the previous day by a passage in the speech of the Member for Merthyr, in which his hon. Friend somewhat misled the Committee, though not, he was sure, intentionally, by saying that a ballot had been taken in the constituency they represented, and that the men in that locality were, by a large majority, in favour of the application to the Bill of the principle of local option. The only vote that had ever been taken in the Merthyr district was as to whether the eight hours should count as from face to face or from bank to bank. There was not a collier in the Merthyr or Aberdare Valleys who was opposed, so far as he knew, to the reduction of the hours of labour in the collieries of South Wales—he had never even heard the question raised. His hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr advocated in 1891 eight hours from bank to bank; then he advocated eight hours' winding——

MR. D. A. THOMAS (Merthyr Tydvil)

Where did I advocate that in 1891?

MR. KEIR HARDIE (West Ham, S.)

rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put"; but the Chairman withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.

Debate resumed.


resuming, said, that his hon. Friend, after advocating eight hours' winding, advocated eight hours from face to face, and then eight hours within a radius of 100 yards from the bottom of the shaft, while now he advocated local option. He would put a case—a case, say, where men and owners had combined in objecting to the principle of the Bill. They would assume that 2,000 men were engaged in the pit, and produced 1s. per day in the value of coal more than they would in the event of the Bill becoming law. They would admit that those 2,000 men obtained an advantage of 6d. per man per day, and that the proprietor of the mine also obtained a similar sum per man per day. That advantage, in the case of the proprietor, would amount to no less than £15,000 a year; and he contended that it would be better to suffer the workman to lose his 6d. per day and the owner his £15,000 a year than to allow the men to remain in the bowels of the earth working amid the coal dust for objectionably long hours day after day and year after year. The House was continually engaged in legislation dealing with cruelty to animals and to children, and in restricting the hours of labour of women and infants, and he submitted that the time had arrived for restricting the hours of adult labour in the mines. He thought the Amendment ought not to be carried, and he trusted that the Committee would not carry it, though at a later stage he would be prepared to vote for an Amendment making the eight hours apply as from face to face.

MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)

The Committee will, I think, feel indebted to the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down for breaking the monotony of the Debate. I do not know exactly how many speeches have been addressed to us this evening, but they are a great number, and, with one exception, every speaker hits spoken in favour of the Amendment, while the promoters of the Bill have not ventured to say a single word against it. That appears to us to be rather an extraordinary method of conducting a discussion in this House, though I have no doubt that as time goes on we shall be entirely used to it. Apparently, with the new Unionism and new Radicalism, a new form of discussion has sprung up, and hon. Gentlemen who promote a Bill, having ascertained beforehand in the Lobby whether they have a majority at their back, remain obstinately silent, moving the Closure from time to time, and testing the patience of the Chairman, and in that way endeavour to ram their measures down the throats of their opponents without taking the trouble to explain them. Perhaps they are wise in that. Having to defend proposals such as this before the House, and having declared that even the slightest deviation from the proposals in the Bill is to be followed by its withdrawal, they are, perhaps, very wise to refuse to allow any discussion, any examination of details, or any criticism. I should hardly think that they will be very much obliged to my hon. Friend below me, because, although he rose to oppose the Amendment, he seemed to me to give away the whole case by the statement he made at the commencement of his speech. He said, and I entirely sympathise with him, that eight hours' good work at the face, in all the discomforts of a mine, was as much as any human being should be submitted to, and that he was prepared to alter the Bill, so that the only thing it would prevent would be work extending over a longer period than eight hours carried on at the face of the coal. Well, Sir, we are all agreed as to that. But that is not the issue between us. I have taken the trouble to look at the Returns prepared some time ago, and I find there is hardly a district in which at the present time the average of work at the face exceeds eight hours. Where eight hours is ex- ceeded it is only by a decimal point, and I think there would, in no part of the House, be any objection to reducing it to eight hours. But we have a much larger question than that to decide. We are obliged to consider this Hill as raising the question whether all over the United Kingdom, as soon as this Bill is passed, work in mines is to be restricted to eight hours from bank to bank for everybody employed in the mine. We know perfectly well that that will, in many cases, reduce the work at the face to seven, six, and even five hours, and of course, therefore, greatly reduce the number of hours of bonâ fide work which can be put in at the mine. Now, Sir, I wish to address myself particularly to the promoters of the Bill, and I think I am entitled to do so as a friend of their object. I would remind them that in 1891, when they were in a small minority in this House, and when the very idea of legislative interference with the hours of labour was scouted in all parts of the House, I supported them and defended the principle of their Bill and voted for the Second Reading; but at the same time I said that whenever a Bill of this sort was read a second time I should claim my right to examine its details, and to endeavour to introduce into it that elasticity without which, I am convinced, it would disappoint its promoters, and fail of its avowed aim. But I adopted the principle of your Bill. My hon. Friend below me, in his speech against the Amendment, adopted the very convenient method, which I have noticed has been adopted by gentlemen who occupy a more prominent position, of saying that the Amendment violates the principle of the measure. That is a very convenient argument, because it dispenses with argument. You need only say "the Amendment violates the principle of the Bill," and then, because the principle has been affirmed on the Second Reading, you can add "I cannot discuss an Amendment which violates this principle." Let us ascertain what is the principle of the Bill. The principle of the Bill is, I venture to say, the right of the Legislature, under certain circumstances and for good cause, to interfere with the hours of labour of adults in mines. That is the principle of the Bill. Whether that right shall be exercised is purely a question of expediency, and this Amendment is purely a question of ex- pediency and not a question of principle at all. It is a question of whether, granting that we have the right to interfere in any district or all districts, it is expedient to stereotype this interference over the whole country, or whether we should limit that interference to those districts which are most desirous of it, and where we may well be convinced by the evidence we have received that such interference will do little or no harm. Let us, then, look at the matter from that point of view. Is it expedient to press a measure of this kind against a small minority? I say for myself, yes, it is. It was with that view that I supported the Second Heading of the Bill. It is in that sense that I am in favour of compulsion in certain eases, where you have an individual or a few individuals, or a very small proportion of a class behaving in a cantankerous manner, and preventing something which the vast majority believe to be to their advantage. Then I hold that it is right for the State to interfere, and to give the majority the power of controlling a small minority. But does that principle go so far as to cover the case of a very large minority? I say no, and that I may explain the ground on which I base that opinion. I go to the very bottom of our representative system. What is a representative system? It is a means of learning beforehand on which side of a question force lies. Without our civilised arrangements every question must lie decided by force, and the strongest, of course, gain their way. By means of a representative system you find out which party is the stronger, and we have always been content to accept the decision of the stronger party without, resorting to physical force to determine the matter. But it will be seen at once that, although in a case whore there is a majority of two to one Providence would no doubt be on the side of the big battalions, as Napoleon said, and the majority would win; yet when yon come to a small majority it is not at all certain, if you come to force, that the majority will win. Is it contended that if you left this to be decided on the spot without legislation, without an appeal to law, in Northumberland and Durham, that the people who are in favour of this Bill would be able to carry it into effect? Clearly not. Unless you can bring the whole force of the country at your back to coerce the recalcitrant opponents of the Bill in Northumberland and Durham you could not possibly carry out your proposal in those countries. And even if you take the whole of the country there is undoubtedly a very large minority opposed to the Bill. If you take the miners in the North at 120,000 you must add a considerable number for those in South Wales and other districts, and my hon. Friend will admit that, although the Representative Bodies are on one side, there are a great number of individuals in places like the Midlands who are entirely opposed to this legislation. You have over the whole country a very considerable minority entirely opposed to this legislation. I do not say that that is a reason against the legislation—if I thought it was I should have voted against the Second Reading—but I do say that that is a reason why my hon. Friends should march cautiously. It is a reason why they should make some concession, and not stand in the irreconcilable attitude they have taken up. What is the objection that is taken to the Bill by this large minority? It is that the lessening of the hours that would take place in certain districts, especially in regard to the labour of boys in Northumberland and Durham, would very materially lessen the output of coal; that the result of that would be to raise prices; that that would lessen the demand for labour and the opportunities of the people for obtaining occupation and probably the amount of the wages they would receive. That is the statement which is made as to the probable result of this legislation in those districts, and it will be observed that everybody would suffer. The employer would suffer, no doubt. If he is making any profit he would have to submit to a sacrifice of those profits. The workman would have to submit to less wages and, above all, to a decrease in the amount of employment open to him, and the public probably would have to suffer, because the price of the article would be raised as far as it could be without materially affecting the demand. I do not want, myself, to lay too much stress on this argument. I pointed out on the Second Reading of the Bill that people are rather apt to take a too gloomy view of the probable result of changes of this kind; that the reduction in the output might not be so large as was feared; and that in many trades a reduction of hours had not led to a reduction of output. But then I venture to say that if that should be the result I do not think that the main object of the promoters of this Bill would be gained, because I cannot help thinking that one of their objects is to secure a reduction in the output—that is to say, that a certain number of men shall produce less coal than they do at present—and to secure that if the output is to be maintained it shall be by the employment of a larger number of men. Still, I admit that there may be some compensation in the case of a change of this kind, and it may be found that more work will be done per hour than is done at present. The hon. Member for the Ince Division said, "Oh, our ancestors heard the same story over 200 years ago, and you have cried 'Wolf' so often that we do not heed you when you call 'Wolf' now." I venture to say that attitude on the part of an influential representative of the working classes is a very dangerous attitude at the present time. My hon. Friend must see there is a point beyond which you cannot increase prices. It is an open question, which should be considered with the utmost care, whether you have reached that point in connection with the coal trade. Do not let us shut our ears to arguments which may be used in the matter. If we met every contention with the same blank denial and refusal to entertain it our commercial supremacy would sooner or later disappear. I say, speaking generally, and dealing only with the old-established, ordinary, and old-fashioned businesses of the country, which have no monopoly, and which hold no supremacy because of the possession of an invention, or something of that kind, that the margin of profit has at the present moment almost entirely disappeared. Many of them are being carried on at a loss; and when my hon. Friend says we have heard these jeremiads often before, and nothing has resulted, he is mistaken, for something has resulted, and whether our warnings were correct or not, it is certain that the trade of this country is worse than it used to be. The hon. Gentleman may be right in saying that the working classes have not suffered to any great extent; their wages are higher and better, and their work is less exhausting than it was 20 years ago; but at the same time the average percentage of profit obtained by the capitalist has been very materially reduced. That is a change which I am not sorry to have seen accomplished, only there must be a limit. Take the case of a person who has invested £100,000 in a mill and machinery, who finds he is no longer making a profit. He cannot close his mill at once; that would be a loss of capital; so he goes on working, even at a loss, hoping for an improvement, until the whole of his free capital has disappeared, and it is not, in fact, until he is bankrupt that the mill is closed and the workpeople go to join the ranks of the unemployed. I would urge the Committee not to treat this as a purely illusory danger, for it is a real danger which we ought always to have in view. When a Vast change of this kind is proposed I think it behoves those who propose it to be certain of each step as they take it, to follow the ancient ways of Liberalism, and to be satisfied with half a loaf rather than have no bread, and to feel, at least, that the change is unlikely to do more harm than good. Experience has shown that gradual progress is infinitely safer for the country and infinitely better for the projects of reform we wish to promote, and I would entreat my hon. Friend, as one who is friendly to this movement, to consider whether he will not gain more by taking to-day a Bill which he can have at this moment, and which can be passed into law during the present Session, than he will by refusing every Amendment and insisting upon the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill? It appears to me that if my hon. Friend insists upon the Bill in its present form and at this period of the Session, he has not the ghost of a chance of passing it this year. Does my hon. Friend believe he will be able to pass the Bill in its present form during this Session? I do not know what the men of Northumberland and Durham are, but I know if they were Irishmen this Bill would take a month to pass. On the other hand, if he would allow this amendment to be made, without necessarily admitting the grounds or reasoning upon which it is urged upon him, reserving to himself the right to demand more when the opportunity comes, I believe he would secure a very useful Bill, oven at the end of this exhausting Session, and he would gain for all of us a vast amount of useful experience, which would enable us with absolute certainty to proceed further, or with equally absolute certainty to retrace our steps. What argument has been offered to us which would prevent them from adopting this course? There are three arguments. In the first place, there is the argument of the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme, which is the philanthropic argument, and which amounts to this—that my hon. Friends behind mo from the North are such inconsiderate fathers, and their sons have to work such long hours, that it is absolutely necessary that he from Staffordshire should step in and defend the health and material welfare of their children. I do not think we are at all justified in taking such an unfavourable view of the character of our Northern friends, and that, at any rate, is not such a serious argument as to be sufficient to induce us to make such a change as this. When we were asked to interfere in the case of the Factory Acts, the Coal Mines Regulation Acts, and other Acts, there was always shown a tremendous case of cruelty, indifference, and neglect affecting large numbers of the population which justified the interference of the Legislature, but there is nothing of the sort here. The boys in the North were strong and healthy, and he should think they would be the first to resent interference. The second argument is that if you pass this Bill with the local option clause, you will be giving an undue advantage to the districts which will vote themselves out of the Bill. In the first place, I wish to say I do not think that is true. Whatever advantages, if they are advantages, these districts will have after the Bill has passed, they have now, and the real object of gentlemen who hold this argument is not to prevent them from getting the advantages which they have got now, but to take away the advantages which they have got. Let me point out how that arises. You have extraordinary differences in the conditions of trade. You have mines in which the coal is much more expensive to win than it is in others, or mines which are far from markets, and which would not be able to lie worked if the people had not in some way or other overcome the natural disadvantages. It is these methods which they have adopted for overcoming the natural disadvantages and putting them on equal terms with other districts, that you will take away from thorn. It is the most remarkable thing to notice how, in the course of these two days' Debate, the whole argument has been transformed from the argument on the Second Reading of the Bill. On the Second Reading it was to our common humanity that the promoters of the Bill made an appeal; it was said that men were working too hard and too long at a disagreeable and dangerous employment, and that therefore there should be some interference. But not one word, except from the Member for Merthyr, have we heard about the argument addressed to our humanity. What we have been listening to is ignoble strife and competition between different coalowners on the one side and coalowners on the other, between different districts and between individual mines, and I do say it is a most dangerous precedent if this House is going to interfere with a question of commercial competition, and is going to lay its strong hand on one set of tradesmen and take it away from another set of tradesmen. We have been looking with regret on the spectacle which has been presented to us by the Houses of the Legislature in America, where we have seen Senators and Representatives struggling for their personal interests or the personal interests of those whom they represent, without the least regard for the good of the nation. Are we going to follow that evil example, and are we going to throw ourselves into what has been shown by the whole course of the Debate to be a mere struggle between rival commercial and pecuniary interests in this country? Are we going to have to throw a balance into the one side or the other? No, Sir; on that ground, if on that alone, I would say we ought to press for this local option in order that these districts may fight it out themselves without asking the House to give a preference to one side or the other. There is a third reason which has not been alluded to in the course of this Debate, and which, I think, must weigh very materially with the Member for the Ince Division and other hon. Members in inducing them to reject anything in the form of a compromise, and that is the idea that by forcing a stereotyped eight hours throughout the country they will reduce the output, and that, as a result, either prices will go up and wages will be raised, or, if the output is to be maintained, a larger number of persons will find employment. I ask how on earth it can be expected that this result will be attained? Does the hon. Gentleman think he can fix the price of a product like coal? Can he altogether evade the effect of competition? Yet they would have us believe that they can force up the price. We have heard a great deal about competition. We have heard about foreign competition and foreign coal. No one, however, has considered it necessary to speak much about it during this Debate except to say that it was not so bad as it was expected to be. Surely, however, if you are going to increase the price of home coal it is clear that you will increase the demand for foreign coal, and that every ton of foreign coal sold means that one ton less of English coal sold, and so many more people out of employment. The commonest laws of economics cannot be voided for the benefit of my hon. Friends. But there is another point to be considered. Suppose you were dealing with the home trade, and that the foreign trade was not to be counted at all. In other words, suppose you could draw a circle excluding all foreign coal, then, no doubt, you could raise the price of coal. But, I ask, for how long? Surely you would keep the price up only so long as the consumers could afford to pay the increased price. But, again I ask, is the condition of trade throughout the country such that it could afford to pay an increase for the coal that it necessarily must consume? I am thinking especially now of the vast ironworks, and I say it is absolutely impossible for them, and also for many other great industries throughout the length and breadth of the land, to hold their own against foreign competition if the price of coal is to be increased. What would follow? These great centres of consumption would be closed. How then, in the long run, is this increase in the price going to benefit anybody? My view is that what the hon. Gentleman proposes to do—that is, to lessen the output and increase wages—is mathematically impossible. But I know that it is of no use to argue with those who hold these views. You cannot convince a man who thinks he can square the circle or make water run up hill. I do not press my opinion with any hope of bringing conviction; but I put it that supposing you are right and I am wrong, and supposing that good results would follow from your plan, still I would ask you why should not you, as you cannot get these results this year, consent to a compromise? You can gain nothing under the Bill this year, and if you agree to a compromise, we shall have a year's experience upon which to decide what is the best course for us to adopt in the future. The new method of discussing important matters seems to me, however, to render any appeal of this kind useless. I wonder how the hon. Baronet the Member for Barnard Castle (Sir J. W. Pease) and the hon. Member for Durham (Sir J. Joicey) like this state of things now that it is to be applied to themselves? They were very ready to Closure us on a former occasion after two days' discussion in Committee on an important Bill, and tonight we shall have been two days discussing this Bill, and I suppose to-morrow that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he is prepared to mete out equal justice to his friends as well as his opponents, will come forward again and stop further discussion by his guillotine method. I should like to know how those hon. Gentlemen will vote on that occasion? When my hon. Friend behind me, the Member for Mid Durham (Mr. J. Wilson) wanted, by the vote of this House, to coerce no less than 500,000 persons by the provisions of the Employers' Liability Bill, the hon. Baronet the Member for Barnard Castle strongly approved of the guillotine being applied on that occasion. It strikes me that some of these chickens are coming home to roost. I sincerely hope the lesson will not be altogether lost on some of my hon. Friends. I do not think I can do more than to once more ask those who have the conduct of this Bill whether they will not yield to circumstances, and take what they can instead of losing everything by claiming too much? If they will not do that I confess that the best course this House can take, and that another House can take, if they take my advice, which I do not suppose they will —I say, if a majority in this House is determined to ram the measure down our throats, the best thing is to allow them to do it in the crudest possible form, because the sharper the lesson and the deeper the wound, the sooner shall we come back again to the policy of reason and common sense.

* SIR C. W. DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)

said, although, no doubt, the Commttee would be anxious to divide, yet some reply would be expected from the promoters of the Bill to the powerful speech to which the Committee had just listened. His right hon. Friend began his speech by asking whether or not any serious Amendment was to be accepted, and whether this Amendment and other Amendments on the Paper would be opposed; and he seemed to say that this Amendment represented his views. There was a slip made by the hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment yesterday in referring in terms of commendation to another Amendment which appeared on the Paper. The colleague of the hon. Member who made this Motion, and to whose speech the right hon. Gentleman alluded, said he should support another Amendment, which was one to which they would come later, and which placed a point of 100 yards from the shaft as that from which the eight-hours day should be taken. His right hon. Friend had stated that throe arguments had been used in support of this Amendment, and he had traversed two out of the three at considerable length. He would first dispose of the argument of colliery against colliery, and one part of the country against another part of the country. They thought, without putting it too high, that there would undoubtedly be a considerable amount of inconvenience and some cost in all parts of the country in bringing the new system into effect. But changes of this kind had been imposed upon the coalowners of this country on former occasions, and they had been resisted, and resisted in very strong language—in 1872, when there were prophecies of the ruin of the industry, and again in 1887. They admitted that there would be cost and trouble, and they said it was unfair that the masters of Staffordshire and Lancashire and the Bristol districts, where the hours were long and the mode of working very slow—they said it would be unfair to put them to all this inconvenience when their rivals and competitors in trade were not inconvenienced in the same way. That argument was met by saying they were not competitors in trade. He could not admit that for a moment. The seaborne' trade of Northumberland and Durham was very large, but a very large proportion of that coal arrived in London, and came into direct competition with the coal produced in Federation districts. It was owing to the high rates of the Railway Companies that this seaborne coal got the advantage. He laid much more stress upon the philanthropic argument of the right hon. Gentleman. He did not see how it would be possible for any of them who were concerned in promoting this Bill, and who had been supporting it for years past, without sacrificing every principle and argument, to give up the case of the Northumberland and Durham boys. It was said they should not express more concern for the boys in this district than did their fathers. As to carrying this change against the wishes of the great minority, the right hon. Gentleman seemed to have forgotten his own arguments about minorities on former occasions. He admitted that it would be a serious thing, even in the name of philanthropy, to coerce a large minority. But he had exaggerated the matter. With regard to Northumberland and Durham, his hon. Friend the Member for Chester-le-Street (Sir J. Joicey) had referred to 120,000 men, but the last ballot taken on the subject showed that the majority was only 36,000.


said, he had spoken of 120,000 men as being connected with the mines, and not as being miners.


went on to say that very large sections of Federation districts had been balloted upon this Bill, and in those sections there had been virtually no minority; whilst, on the other hand, in Northumberland and Durham the ballot showed 36,000 against the Bill and 14,000 or 15,000 in favour of it.


Out of 72,000 who were capable of voting.


said, his point was that hon. Members ought not to quote 120,000 as being against the Bill when, as a matter of fact, only 36,000 voted against it. Then there was the question of the boys. The men in the North worked sometimes as little as five and a half hours, and never more than seven hours, as far as lie had been able to ascertain, and he had been in pits both in Northumberland and Durham.

MR. J. WILSON (Durham, Mid)

What pit was the right hon. Gentleman down in Durham?


I will give my hon. Friend the names privately. In connection with this question I went down two pits in Northumberland and five or six in Durham.

MR. FENWICK (Northumberland, Wansbeck)

Which were they?


said, his hon. Friend surely did not doubt his word upon the subject. He found that the men worked from 5½ hours to 6½ or 7 hours, while the boys were below ground 10 hours, and worked from 9 to 9½ hours. He understood that the case of the hand-putters was given up by his hon. Friends, who did not contend that the state of things with regard to them was defensible. There were very few of these handputters now, and they were confined to a few old-fashioned pits. The case of these handputters, however, was very hard. They worked naked, and their work was very hard.

MR. J. WILSON (Durham, Mid)

I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not make us out to be greater barbarians than we are by saying that we work naked.


I saw men working naked with my own eyes. I admit that this work is confined to old-fashioned pits.

MR. J. WILSON (Durham, Mid)

Will you name the pit where they work naked?


said, Walker, near Newcastle, was a hot pit and an old fashioned pit. What had been ignored throughout the Debate was that the hours of the boys had been regulated by Statute. Many of the masters had complained of the introduction of the 54-hours week for the boys, but that provision was introduced, and the result was that they were not able to employ their boys now for more than 54 hours a week. One week in the fortnight the boys worked only 50 hours, but in the other week there had to be an extra shift of boys in order to take the places of the boys who otherwise would have to work overtime. The work of the boys was hard and dangerous, and when it was said that they were merely in charge of trains it must be remembered that in the course of their occupation they had to lift enormously heavy weights, and they developed a lifting capacity which no man could keep up to.

MR. J. WILSON (Durham, Mid.)

They are all Sandows.


said, the House had been told over and over again that eight hours were quite long enough to be below ground. These boys were 10 hours below ground, and they did work which was very severe indeed. His hon. Friend the Member for Durham (Mr. J. Wilson) and other supporters of the Amendment were committed to the view that this was a state of things which ought not to continue, and which it was the object of the Miners' Association in Durham to bring to a close. They offered no suggestion, however, as to how it was to be brought to a close, and this was why he (Sir C. Dilke) said it was impossible for the supporters of the Bill to avoid pressing the philanthropic argument.


asked whether the right hon. Gentleman had anything to say about the case of the boys in South Wales?


said, he had nothing to say about them. He had dismissed the South Wales case by saying he was certain that the South Wales Members meant to support, not this Amendment, but another Amendment on the Paper. He knew that the feeling in South Wales, as far as there was a feeling there against this Bill, was a feeling against the eight hours bank-to-bank provision, and not against legislative interference. His hon. Friend the Member for the Wansbeck Division (Mr. Fenwick) had in 1887 spoken of work done by women on the pit bank of a very similar character to that done by the boys at the bottom of the pit as being very arduous. He knew that his hon. Friends the Members for Wansbeck and Morpeth (Mr. Burt) felt very strongly about the case of the boys. They knew that the boys did not get a fair chance, and that the present state of things ought to be brought to an end. The Members for Chester-le-Street (Sir J. Joicey) and Barnard Castle (Sir J. Pease) said there was a difficulty in making any change in Northumberland and Durham. The witnesses from Northumberland and Durham before the Labour Commission never brought out the fact mentioned that evening, that there were If collieries working in Durham where a system that would easily adapt itself to this Bill was in force.

MR. J. A. PEASE (Northumberland, Tyneside)

The Labour Commission was quite aware of the fact, as they sent an inquiry both to owners and men.


said, that was afterwards, and he thought it was in consequence of a letter from himself to the Labour Commission that the inquiry was made. There was not a word about it in Mr. Patterson's evidence, nor was any evidence given from Durham on the subject. All that was said was that the system proposed was not workable, and yet there were If collieries actually working on it—three shifts of men and two shifts of boys. The hon. Member for the Tyneside Division (Mr. J. A. Pease) had made a mistake in quoting the Labour Commission with regard to the neutrality of the Federation districts on this question. He had quoted an analysis of the votes of the Trades Congress at a meeting at Belfast. That analysis ought never to have been issued by the Labour Commission. The vote was taken at a very empty Congress without any debate, and, as a matter of fact, every single one of the delegates who were described by the Labour Commission as neutral were sent to the Congress to vote in favour of the resolution. As to the arguments about foreign competition, such competition was of entirely different kinds. As to the competition of France and Belgium, the mines in those countries were extremely deep, and we had nothing to fear from such competition, whilst in Germany the mines were far from the sea, and consequently the competition was not serious. As a matter of fact, the contracts for coals required for the German Army were now being made in this country. There was, however, quite a different kind of competition—that of Tonkin, Japan, New Zealand, India, and America in steam coal. Nothing that could be done in Great Britain could affect the development of such coalfields as these. They lay, many of them, on the route of trade, especially the Japan and Tonkin fields. Whatever was done here, those fields would be developed, and undoubtedly in course of time they would supply stations like Singapore even more largely than they did at present. It had been said that the promoters of the Bill intended to treat all alike—the strong and the weak, the old and the young, the man with 11 children and the bachelor. Well, were men at present allowed to choose their hours of work, and to work as long as they pleased? Certainly not; they were absolutely at the discretion of those who fixed the hours of the pit. The hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Sir J. Joicey) had said that under the proposed new system the old men would not be able to continue at work, but he had known cases in which old men had not been allowed to continue at work because of that very county average to which allusion had been made.


said, there were exceptions.


said, he was very glad to hear it, and he hoped they were small exceptions. To conclude, he thought local option might be an excellent thing in such cases as shop hours, but was not applicable to a Bill of this kind. In his opinion, it would be better to risk the loss of the Bill for a year or two than to accept the Amendment now before the Committee. The principle of this Bill was that of a uniform eight hours all over the country. The question of what the eight hours meant was a question not of principle, but of detail. He should be willing to accept the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr (Mr. D. A. Thomas), although he was not favourable to it, rather than lose the Bill; but he thought it would be better to drop the Bill than to accept the Amendment now before the Committee.

MR. FENWICK (Northumberland, Wansbeck)

rose to continue the discussion, but.

Mr. WOODS (Lancashire, Ince)

rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 120; Noes 98.—(Division List, No. 231.)

Question put accordingly, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 112; Noes 107.—(Division List, No. 232.)

MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)

I beg to move, Mr. Chairman, that you do now report Progress. I do so in order that we should hear a statement from the promoters of this Bill as to what they intend to do.

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


I beg to move that you do report Progress.

MR. A. J. BALFOUR (Manchester, E.)

The Motion was moved by my right hon. Friend for the purpose of extracting from the hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill a statement, and all he has done is to make a Motion in his own name, which he is not competent to do. He has given no information on the subject in reference to which the Motion was moved.

SIR C. W. DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)

It has been stated frequently in the course of the Debate that it would be impossible to proceed with the Bill in these circumstances.

Motion agreed to.

Committee report Progress.

House resumed.


I beg to propose that the Bill be put down for to-morrow, with a view of then withdrawing it.

Committee to sit again To-morrow.