§ On the Order for the Adjournd Debate on Second Reading,
*MR. GRAHAM MURRAY
said, that when the Bill was last before the House he was in course of pointing out that the Lord Advocate had made out very little case for the measure. Since the introduction of the Bill two years ago there had been, first the passing into law of the Notice of Accidents Bill of 1894; and in the present Session, there was a provision in the Factory and Workshops Bill for the holding of public inquiries whenever they were deemed necessary. With regard to fatal accidents arising from machinery, he asserted unhesitatingly that a jury was a bad tribunal to investigate a matter of the sort. A jury being full of sympathy, all you had to suggest was that if there had been some minute difference in the machinery the accident would not have happened, and then the jury at once rushed to the idea that that ought to have been done. What was wanted in order to avoid any suspicion of prejudice or favour on one side or the other was an opinion of experts, and this it would be perfectly easy to provide in the Bill. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman to face this fact, that every one of the learned bodies which had had 1684 this Bill before them, such as the Association of Procurators Fiscal of Scotland was against the provision as to a jury, and had condemned it. He looked upon the proposal contained in the Bill as an attempt to introduce the coroner's system of inquiry into Scotland, and thought that in embodying it in the Bill the right hon. Gentleman had yielded to the pressure that had been brought to bear upon him by the trade unions. He should have no objection to his right hon. Friend the Lord Advocate being placed in the position of having to decide whether an inquiry should or should not be held. He did not intend to oppose the Second Reading of the Bill, but when the measure got into Committee he intended to move such amendments as would give effect to the rooted objections to the methods of investigation which the Bill proposed should be adopted. The effect of the Bill as it stood would be to enable speculative agents to attempt to ascertain by means of the preliminary inquiry whether they had any chance of obtaining a verdict.
§ *MR. RENSHAW
thought that a Bill providing for a public inquiry into the causes of fatal accidents was one to which no great exception could be taken if it proposed to institute an inquiry into all cases of fatal accidents. But he objected to the limited application of this measure. He thought that the Bill submitted by the present Government in 1893 was a better Bill than this, and he believed he was correct when he reminded the Lord Advocate that a deputation waited upon him after that Bill had passed through the Grand Committee, and urged upon him the desirability of introducing a jury clause into the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman pointed out to that deputation the difficulties involved in such a proposal, and shewed that it would involve the appointment of a large number of sheriffs, and the summoning of something like 4,000 special jurors in one county alone. If those were good reasons for not inserting a jury clause in 1893, surely they were good reasons in 1895. He did not take objection to the Bill in any spirit of antagonism, but he thought that the House ought to be enlightened with regard to the definition of "industrial employment or occupation." He 1685 did not know whether it was intended that it should include domestic servants. He presumed that it was, and if that was the case it only led him to entertain a stronger objection to the Bill. There was a large variety of industrial employments, and in the case of many of them inquiries had already been instituted; but if it was proposed to include other occupations than those hitherto dealt with, it seemed to him as though that would put the question on a broader basis, yet the basis would still be so limited that it would be unreasonable to extend the provisions of the existing Act, unless the logical and true course were adopted of extending the system of inquiry into fatal accidents to all classes of the Scottish population. There were one or two points he would like to bring to the notice of the Lord Advocate, which showed the absurd manner in which this Bill would work. He would suppose the case of a master slater who employed one or two men. He might go out with one of his journeymen to work upon a roof. Not infrequently a rope was held by one man on one side of the roof while the other man descended on the other side to do the work. If the rope was held by the journeyman and the master slater fell to the ground, there would be no public inquiry, although the accident might have been due to some fault of the man. On the other hand, if the master held the rope, and the journeyman fell to the ground, there would be an inquiry under this Bill. He would suppose another case: a market gardener, working with a man employed by him. The man held a ladder while the employer ascended it, and fell and lost his life. There would be no inquiry; but if the master held the ladder, and the accident happened to the man, then there would be an inquiry. Again, a coachman went out in a dogcart with his master, and an accident happened while the coachman was driving, the master being thrown out and breaking his neck. There would be no inquiry. On the other hand, if the coachman met with a fatal accident while the master was driving, an inquiry would be held. Suppose, again, a fire broke out in a mansion house, and caused the death of one or two of the children of the owner. It might have originated through the carelessness of 1686 one of the servants, but no inquiry would take place. If, on the other hand, in consequence of the negligence or carelessness of a servant, a fire led to the death of a fellow servant, there would be an inquiry at once. This Bill seemed to him to suggest that there was a difference in the value of life among the different classes in Scotland; and he could not conceive why, if the Government were going to have an inquiry in one case, there should not be an inquiry in all cases where fatal accidents resulted from carelessness. What were the provisions with regard to factories, and mines, and other employments which already existed? In the case of mines, there was a provision with regard to inquiries; in the case of fatal accidents in factories, there was already legislation in the Act of 1891, which dealt very fully with that. There was a clause in the Factories and Workshops Bill, now submitted for the consideration of the House, rendering still more effective the provisions of the Act of 1891, with regard to inquiry in the case of fatal accidents under the Factories and Workshops Act. The Act of 1891 made a tolerably full provision in regard to this matter. In the 33rd Section, Sub-Section 5 of that Act, it was provided that, where a death occurred by accident in any factory or workshop, a public inquiry in open Court should be held by the Sheriff on the petition of any person interested. Surely that was an ample and sufficient provision? But it was to be extended in the present Bill, and it was proposed that, where it appeared by the 18th Section of the Factories and Workshops Act to the Secretary of State that a formal investigation of any accident was necessary, he might direct such an investigation to be held, and with respect to it Sections 45 and 46 of the Coal Mines Regulation Act should have effect. In those sections it was provided that the Secretary of State might direct an investigation to be held by a competent person in an open Court, which was to enjoy the same powers as a Court of Summary Jurisdiction; that a report was to be made, and the Secretary of State might make that report public. As an employer of labour he could not conceive why, with the existing provisions of the law in respect of 1687 any fatal accidents occurring either in mines or factories, there was any need for additional legislation. The Notice of Accidents Act of last year, by which the Board of Trade might hold an open inquiry in the case of serious accidents in railway, gasworks, building trades, and other employments, seemed to him to fill the gap left in regard to such inquiries by the provisions of the Factories Act, and the Coal Mines Regulation Act. He could not help looking upon this Bill as class legislation. Why was it proposed to inquire into fatal accidents, when they occurred to persons in industrial employment or occupation, while they were not going to inquire into the cases of men who were employers? Besides, it appeared that the Government were going to make everyone pay for the cost of this jury system, though they limited whatever benefits might arise to one particular class of the community. If there were a general feeling among Members who represented Scottish constituencies that a public inquiry in the case of all sudden deaths and fatal accidents, similar to the coroner system in England, was necessary, or a feeling of dissatisfaction with the existing state of affairs—of which he had not become aware during his long residence in Scotland—then he should be willing to support the Bill, if it proposed to extend the benefits suggested to all classes of the community in Scotland. But it seemed to him that it was an illogical proposal to limit the application of the Bill to one class only while all classes were to be compelled to pay for putting the provisions of the Bill in operation. Human life was just as sacred in one class as it was in another; and, therefore, the provisions of the Bill, as far as they were good, ought to be extended to the whole population in Scotland, if it was intended to establish a jury system and to throw the expense on all classes of the community. He did not believe, however, that public opinion in Scotland was in favour of anything of the kind. As far as he was aware, the Lord Advocate had the power in any case in which it was thought desirable to set in motion machinery with regard to a public inquiry which the Bill suggested. He could not see the necessity for a Bill when the Lord Advocate could hold 1688 such an inquiry in open Court, where witnesses could appear and be examined—an inquiry, moreover, which thoroughly satisfied the public. The powers of the Lord Advocate was not limited to persons engaged in industrial employment or occupation; and it was because he looked upon this Bill as unnecessary and useless, and because it reflected, in a very unfair and uncalled-for manner, on those who were the employers of labour in Scotland, that he objected to it.
§ MR. HARRY SMITH (Falkirk, Burghs)
pointed out that the second clause of the Bill had been misinterpreted by the hon. Member. It was not the intention of the Government to limit the inquiries to the servants who happened to be employed in industrial occupations; on the contrary, all occupations and all classes were embraced within its scope. If the hon. Member should have the misfortune to be killed in an accident, he might rest assured that, if the Bill passed in its present form, his representatives would have the consolation of a public inquiry. As to the costly nature of the proposed inquiry, the hon. Member said that in a year 4,000 jurors would be summoned for Lanark shire alone. But as the county of Lanark embraced the second city of the Empire, which really meant more than half of Scotland, it seemed to him that the Legislature need not hesitate to expend £5,000 for the purposes of this inquiry. He, indeed, congratulated the Government on having brought in this Bill, which, he believed, would meet a very great public want in Scotland. He thought, also, that the hon. Member had misinterpreted the feelings of the working classes in West Renfrew, when he alleged that there was no public feeling in favour of an inquiry of this kind. He knew Renfrewshire as well as the hon. Member did, and he asserted that there was a feeling existing there in favour of an inquiry—not absolutely confined to the discretion of a Government official, however highly placed. What the workmen wished was that there should be a compulsory inquiry in any case of accident. He represented a constituency in which the use of very large machinery was common, a constituency in which there were a great many miners. There were many accidents in his district, and he had received 1689 many communications from his constituents on this matter, and they were one and all in favour of the Bill of the Government, and all in favour of an inquiry by jury. Looking at it from the point of view of those who had to conduct these inquiries, the resident sheriffs, he thought they would feel it to be much better to have the aid of a jury in cases of extreme importance.
§ *SIR CHARLES PEARSON
said, the Bill was one which deserved serious consideration. He said so because, in the first place, it seemed to be a departure at once from the established practice in Scotland, and from the course of recent legislation in this matter. He had not heard any one allege that there was a defect in the system which exists which the present proposal would correct. He did not know whether hon. Members who had spoken had realised the effect that this Bill would have on the ordinary working of criminal inquiry in Scotland. The Bill would affect the Lord Advocate and the Crown Office as regarded all cases where this Bill applied. At all events, they would not go on in the normal manner, and it seemed to him that this would be a most serious infraction of the practice in Scotland. He should like to know if this was a correct reading of the Bill. In the second place the Bill, as it was framed, seemed to be a serious departure from the proposals in recent years on this subject, the tendency of which had been to vest one or other of the great Departments of State with a discretion to order a public inquiry in cases of industrial accidents. This Bill proposed to limit inquiries to cases of death. Why was it to be applied to cases only where death occurred? Suppose there was an accident where 100 or more were injured, and they all recovered? This Bill would not apply in this or any similar case, but if a single life was lost—though there is no fault alleged against anyone, though it was a case of the sheerest accident—then there must be an inquiry. He contrasted this with the system in existence, and contended that the Bill would exclude inquiry into a large number of cases where inquiry might be far more fruitful in discovering liability and disclosing fault. Not that he was in favour of extending this Bill to all such cases, but that he thought it right to point out this 1690 inconsistency. The Bill was absolutely compulsory, and they were told that the workmen would be satisfied with nothing less. Why? Why should they be put to the expense of a public inquiry instead of leaving it as hitherto to the discretion of the Department? He thought that all legitimate claims would be satisfied by leaving the matter to the discretion of the Lord Advocate for the time being. What was the tribunal that was to be set up? There seemed to be an idea that sheriff court jury trials were quite familiar in Scotland in civil cases, but that was not so. Except in the rare cases of jury compensation trials under the Lands Clauses Act, he was not aware that such a thing was heard of, yet this Bill assumed the contrary, and pointed to a state of matters which did not exist. He should like to hear some justification of this. The Bill introduced two years ago made no provision for a jury at all, and the proposal, when made in Committee, was torn to pieces by the Lord Advocate himself, and was not pressed to a division. He wanted some substantial reason for this change of front. There were two other points which he desired to touch upon. They heard almost every day in Scotland of bitter complaint by jurors of the waste of time and loss of business which they had to undergo in these inquiries. This Bill would put a very considerable burden upon the jurors in Scotland. Then, what about the cost of carrying out the provisions of the measure? Had the Government really thought out that most essential particular? So far as he knew, not a single penny was provided for by the Bill, except merely the remuneration of the jurors. Was his right hon. Friend serious in proposing that the jurors should be remunerated at the cost of the locality where the death occurred? Where were the Members for Edinburgh and Glasgow? In those large towns there were large infirmaries, to which accidents from all parts were brought, and the jurors in those cities were to be called upon to deal with the deaths occurring there, and the ratepayers of those cities were to pay for it. The fact was that the Government had thought out this subject in a wholly inadequate way. Then, were there to be no costs except the costs of paying the jurors? These 1691 cases were sure to be very keenly contested; every one of them would be a rehearsal for the civil action which was to follow. The Bill provided that the witnesses were to be paid; but who was to pay them? There was no provision. Were these witnesses really to be paid for by the ratepayers of the place where the death happened to occur? Again, the sheriff and sheriff clerk could not get to the place where the inquiry was to be held for nothing. In the absence of the sheriff, the Secretary for Scotland was to appoint a person to hold the inquiry; was he to do it for nothing? If not, who was to pay? In one case there was to be a skilled inspection. That involved, he assumed, a skilled inspector; but not a word was said in the Bill as to remuneration. There were to be shorthand notes of the inquiry. Shorthand-writers would not, as a rule, work for nothing; who was to pay them? Again, copies of the proceedings were to be furnished; but not a word was said as to who was to pay the costs of furnishing them. All these details bore on the working out of this Bill as a practical measure, and he thought that the House was entitled to know whether the expenses were to be put upon the rates or upon the Exchequer; and, if upon the rates, whether they were to fall upon those unfortunate towns which were public-spirited enough to provide infirmaries for districts far beyond their own limits. These matters, taken together, constituted a severe criticism on the Bill as it now stood though he still thought it capable of being made a useful measure. He trusted that his right hon. Friend would show himself as open-minded, if the Bill got into Committee, as he did on a previous occasion. If he did so, then the anomalies pointed out might be got over.
§ MR. DONALD CRAWFORD (Lanark, N.E.)
expressed gratification that the Representatives of the front Opposition Bench had not anything to offer in opposition to the Second Reading of this Bill. They had not got a coroner's inquest in Scotland, and the only investigation was by the Crown Authorities privately, to ascertain whether there ought to be criminal prosecution. He had a good deal of sympathy with the objections—perhaps he might call them prejudices—which were so strongly 1692 entertained on the opposite side against any innovation by the introduction of any new kind of public inquiry, but he believed that Members of the House would, to use a common expression, be living up in a balloon if they were not aware that when they had the community of interests and opportunity of intercourse between workmen in all parts of the country, it would be impossible to maintain the position that if a man in England lost his father or his son in an accident he was to have a public inquiry, but, that in Scotland, such a man was to be content with a private inquiry, to which he was not to have access, and where the true causes of the fatal accident were not to be brought to light. That was a state of things which, if possible to defend, it would be impossible to maintain. He thought it required a very prejudiced ingenuity to discover a motive of the kind suggested from the Opposition side. The suggestion took him entirely by surprise, and he thought it was very easily answered, because, if it were the case that the examination at these proceedings and the public inquiry were to be the basis of action of speculative change, surely it might, and he thought it would, result in a great many improper civil actions being stopped. Therefore, if there were much importance in that consideration at all, it would tell quite as much on one side as on the other. The essence of this demand was that the inquiry should be a public inquiry, and it was perfectly natural that a person who had suffered the loss of a near relative should desire that the accident should be inquired into, not by an expert, as had been suggested, but by a body of common-sense men, or, in other words, by a jury. That was the natural want and the natural demand of the people of Scotland, and it was only just and humane to those who were the sufferers by such accidents that it should be granted. The jury system in England was a perfectly natural one, and it had worked well, and it was only reasonable that the people of Scotland, if they desired it, should have a similar system in relation to the class of cases in question. The right hon. Member for Edinburgh and St. Andrew's Universities spent much time in showing that no provision was made for the expenses of those inquiries, and that the incidence of 1693 the expense would be fixed on the place where the death occurred, and not on the place where the accident happened. But the Government would be perfectly prepared to meet him on those points, which need not be debated on the Second Reading of the Bill. They could be easily adjusted in Committee. He admitted that to a Scotchman and a Scotch lawyer this question of a jury might seem a somewhat new one, except in the case of criminal trials, but he would remind the House that the demand had been a greatly increasing one until now it had become so strong that it could not be wisely resisted, and instead of blaming the Government for yielding to that demand, he would heartily commend them for doing so.
§ *THE LORD ADVOCATE
said he was glad there had been a certain amount of discussion on the Bill, for undoubtedly it excited a great deal of interest in Scotland, particularly among the industrial classes. Before he answered the chief questions which had been put to him by hon. Gentlemen opposite, he would briefly explain what the present system of inquiry into violent and sudden deaths in Scotland was. There was no coroner's inquest, and no public inquiry, but there was a carefully conducted investigation by the Procurator-Fiscal in every case, and that official reported to the Crown Office, which was under the control of the Lord Advocate, and further inquiry was then made if there was any reason for suspicion or doubt—thus, in Scotland very sudden or violent death was inquired into. That system he believed to be satisfactory in the great majority of cases, and not only so, but it often saved private feeling in regard to matters the publication of which must be painful to relatives and families without being of any advantage to the public. Accordingly, the last Commission which inquired into this and other matters connected with the administration of justice in Scotland, reported about 1872, that there was no general desire in that country that the system should be altered by the introduction of coroners' inquests. But within the last 10 or 12 years a strong feeling has arisen among the industrial classes that it would be desirable that inquiries in regard to fatal accidents occurring in industrial pursuits, should be public. 1694 Among the reasons for this there was the very cogent one that if any fault or weakness was found in the system of conduct or management of any industry, the publication of the fact enabled it to be noted, and the recurrence of the evil prevented by regulation or change of method. There were many other reasons, but undoubtedly the desire for public inquiry strongly existed, and it increased with the growing complexity and danger of certain forms of industry. When the Government came into Office, the matter was pressed upon them, and they came to the conclusion that, under the circumstances, it was reasonable to provide for a public inquiry in cases of the class referred to. His right hon. Friend opposite had twitted him with first making a proposal to hold such inquiries without a jury. It was true that he did so, and the reason was that it was desirable to provide a public inquiry with a minimum of change, expense and alteration of machinery; and those who had had great experience in such matters would feel confidence in such an inquiry conducted by the Sheriff, with the assistance of the existing officials, although there would be no jury present. But it was undoubtedly the case that legal and official persons were not always the best to deal with industrial facts in cases of the class referred to. At all events, the Government did bring in that proposal involving a minimum of change, but shortly after it came from the Grand Committee, very strong and numerous representations were made from nearly all the industrial centres of Scotland that there was an almost unanimous feeling that it was desirable to have a jury in the conduct of such cases in future. These representations came from the persons who were most directly interested in the matter—the persons whose lives and limbs were at hazard, and who, therefore, had the right to know how it was a man came by his death if a fatal accident occurred. The Government were not ashamed to say, when a demand of that kind was made by persons well entitled to make it, that they considered that it ought to be granted, especially when the demand was a reasonable one in itself. There was another strong consideration—namely, that there was often found upon a jury some one who could 1695 contribute from practical experience information or knowledge affecting the inquiry, which professional and official persons could not give or did not possess. The Government would not have been doing their duty if they had not recognised the perfectly natural and legitimate feeling which existed in all the trades in Scotland in regard to a matter affecting deeply the lives and limbs of those concerned, and taken the judgment of Parliament upon it. A number of small objections had been raised which, perhaps, were rather for a Committee; but out of respect for those who had raised them he would deal with them. The hon. Member for Buteshire said that the jury was the worst tribunal to have in a matter of this kind, but he could not expect a general assent to that. The hon. Member seemed to think that there would be a temptation to the jury to sympathise with the servant against his employer, but this was not a question of money damages, or of litigation of any sort; it was an inquiry, it was an inquest, and the answer to the inquiry would be not what damages should be given to A as against B, but when and where the death or deaths to which the inquiry related took place, and the cause or causes of the death or deaths.
§ *THE LORD ADVOCATE
said, the criticism which had been made did not apply to an inquiry of this kind. It was complained that the inquiry was to be universal in the case of fatal accidents in industrial occupations; and it was proposed that instead discretion should be vested in the Lord Advocate. He thought, however, it would be better that it should be automatic; in the first place it would be known that the holding of an inquiry did not depend on the judgment of any official; and, secondly, in any inquiry relating to an accident time was of the essence of the matter. Before they could make a preliminary inquiry, report to the Lord Advocate, and obtain the issue of an Order, some days, perhaps longer, might have elapsed, and in the meantime valuable evidence might be lost, and possibly further danger incurred. It had also been argued that they were covering ground already to a large extent occupied by a 1696 number of separate Acts. It was true that under various Acts, such as the Mines, Boiler Explosions, Factories, and Merchant Shipping Acts, there were provisions for the institution of an inquiry at the discretion of a public Department. But experience had already proved that when an inquiry had been made by the Lord Advocate's Department, the other Department interested had been satisfied, and if this Bill became law the holding of an immediate public inquiry, where all parties were heard, would supersede all these optional inquiries. He was sure the President of the Board of Trade, or any other Minister, when considering whether an inquiry should be held, would first send for the papers relating to the inquiry which had been held on the spot, and if he found in them all that could be ascertained he would not open another inquiry. Consequently, there was no inconsistency, and they were not duplicating, but simplifying, these inquiries. It had been argued that the Bill was too large, and that it was too small; if any hon. Members wished to enlarge its scope they would be glad to consider their Amendments. He did not agree that the Bill was a class Bill; it affected industrial employments or occupations, and thus dealt with both master and servant.
§ *THE LORD ADVOCATE
said, that that was an industrial employment. The matter of expenses had also been referred to, and it was true that they had provided that the expense of the jury should be paid in the same way as inquests in England were provided for, as that was an expense new to the law of Scotland. The other expenses would be official expenses, because they would be using a staff and a machinery which they had at present. He hoped the House would assent to the Second Reading of the Bill.
§ *MR. A. C. MORTON (Peterborough)
held, that the Bill would have passed long ago but for the opposition of the Tory Party. The hon. and learned Member for the Edinburgh University said the Bill might be made a capable Bill; if that were so why had he blocked it for the last two years.
§ *MR. A. C. MORTON
said the Bill of last year did not go to a Committee, and either the hon. Member or somebody who acted for him prevented its going through. It was practically his (Mr. Morton's) Bill. In 1893 he had moved to reduce the salaries of three of Her Majesty's Ministers in order to get this Bill introduced, and he was very glad the Government had given way. The hon. Member for the Edinburgh University said the Bill was a departure from present practice, but that might be urged against any and all reform. He also said that there was no defect in the present system. When he (Mr. A. C. Morton) induced the Government to bring in this Bill, however, he had proved up to the hilt that there was a defect in the practice in Midlothian. At present the Home Secretary only ordered an inquiry into accidents in mines in very special cases. The House was told there was no demand for this Bill. But long before he mentioned it in the House, the representatives of the working men of the United Kingdom, in their annual assemblies and at their Trades Councils, unanimously passed resolutions asking that the law on this subject might be altered. It had been said to be contrary to the practice of the Lord Advocate's office that the relatives of deceased men or anybody should see a copy of the Report of the Procurator Fiscal. So they were unable to find out whether anyone was to blame. What was wanted was, an immediate and open inquiry, so that before anything was removed or altered, they could find out if there was anyone at fault, or blame to be attached to any body—employers or workmen. It had been said that extra expense would be involved if the Bill became law. But he submitted that it would save expense and trouble to everyone concerned; because, when an inquiry was open, and everyone knew what went on, the friends of the deceased would be able to see whether there was any ground for going to law. At present the only possible way of finding out whether the employers were wrong or not was to spend £400 or £500 in lawyers' expenses, 1698 He was told that the real opposition to the Bill came from the legal profession in Edinburgh. Why they should object to a reform of this kind he could not say, unless it was that some legal officers, who had not enough to do at present, might have to earn their salaries more than they had hitherto done. His hon. Friend opposite said: "Why not an inquiry into every accident?" He should like to see in Scotland the system of coroners' juries that prevailed in England. It was said that a great many people were not in favour of that. But perhaps it would come by-and-by. They must be content with what they could at present get. He would like to see inquiries into non-fatal accidents. We were not, however, far enough advanced for that. But by a special Act in the City of London there were inquiries by the coroner into fires whether accompanied by loss of life or not. The English system of coroners' inquests was for the benefit of the people, and a system something like it in Scotland would enable working people and others to find out how accidents occurred and who was to blame. He did not think there would be very much expense in connection with the working of the Act, The Bill had been blocked for several years, and he hoped that now those who had blocked it would give way to the general feeling of the industrial classes in Scotland, and allow them to have these inquiries, which would be as much to the interests of the masters as of the men.
§ MR. JOHN BURNS (Battersea)
said, that as a Member of the Committee that dealt with this Bill two years ago, it was only just to say, in answer to the hon. Member for Peterborough, and in justice to the Scotch Members generally, that he alone could not be credited with sympathetic interest in the promotion of the Bill. Nearly all the Scotch Members, irrespective of politics, and who understood industrial questions, did everything to make this Bill a replica of the English coroner's jury system. In justice to the Scotch Members, this should be said by one who did not claim, like the hon. Member for Peterborough, to be Member for the Universe—Scotland included. The hon. Member for Renfrew asked why this Bill should be limited to employés and not extended to the employers and other sections of 1699 society. But Parliament was compelled to pass legislation affecting the industrial classes, because, by virtue of their employment, they laboured under disabilities that other sections of society did not. But if the hon. Member would guarantee that the employers in Scotland and elsewhere would have the good taste to be killed in as large numbers as the, workmen, he would move that the Bill be extended to them. The change proposed by the Bill was justified; and, as showing the opinion of the working classes in Scotland, he would read the following Resolution, which was passed two years ago by their representatives:—That we express our great dissatisfaction at the action ef the Government in refusing to provide in the Fatal Accidents Public Inquiry (Scotland) Bill that investigations should be made by the Sheriff, or other competent officer, and the jury.The Government had, by the Bill, complied with the universal demand of the Scotch workmen. It was based on the principle of the coroners' jury system, but provided the advantage that there would be more competent officers to advise the jury than we had in England, and the Scotch jury was smaller than the English jury of 12. He cordially approved of the change proposed, and on behalf of the representatives of the working classes, and the trades unions in particular, who for the last 15 years had pressed this Bill on Liberal and Tory Governments, he sincerely trusted the Bill would be read a second time, and that the Scotch workmen would be living under its advantages that day 12 months.
§ DR. MACGREGOR
asked whether the Bill would cover deaths from violence occurring in the industrial departments of lunatic asylums; he thought the Bill should cover them.
§ *THE LORD ADVOCATE
said, that, inquiry into cases of violent deaths in asylums was already provided for, and he did not know whether the persons to whom the hon. Member referred could be described as carrying on an industry, but he had no doubt that all that was required was already provided for by the Lunacy Acts.
§ DR. MACGREGOR
would put the case if one lunatic assaulted another when engaged in farming operations.
§ Bill read 2°.