HC Deb 03 July 1895 vol 35 cc148-63

"The following provisions—namely:

  1. (i.) Section eighty-two of the principal Act;
  2. (ii.) The provisions of the Factory Acts with respect to accidents;
  3. (iii.) Section sixty-eight of the principal Act with respect to the power of inspectors;
  4. 149
  5. (iv.) Sections eight to twelve of the Act of 1891 with respect to special rules for dangerous employment; and
  6. (v.) The provisions of this Act with respect to the power to make orders as to dangerous machines shall have effect as if—
    1. (a) every dock, wharf, quay, and warehouse, and, so far as relates to the process of loading or unloading, every vessel which is lying alongside of a wharf or quay; and
    2. (b) any premises on which machinery worked by steam, water, or other mechanical power, is temporarily used for the purpose of the construction of a building or any structural work in connection with a building,
    were included in the word factory, and the purpose for which the machinery is used were a manufacturing process, and as if the person who by himself, his agents, or workmen temporarily uses any such machinery for the before-mentioned purpose were the occupier of the said premises; and for the purpose of the enforcement of those sections the person having the actual use or occupation of a dock, wharf, quay, or warehouse, or of any premises within the same or forming part thereof, and the master of a vessel, and the person so using any such machinery, shall be deemed to be the occupier of a factory.

The provisions of this Act with respect to notice of accidents and the formal investigation of accidents shall have effect as if—

  1. (a) any building which exceeds thirty feet in height, and which is being constructed or repaired by means of a scaffolding; and
  2. (b) any building which exceeds thirty feet in height, and in which more than twenty persons not being domestic servants, are employed for wages;
were included in the word 'factory,' and as if, in the first case, the employer of the persons engaged in such construction or repair, and, in the second case, the occupier of the building, were the occupier of a factory."

MR. A. B. FORWOOD (Lancashire, Ormskirk) moved to omit the words which applied the provisions of the Bill with respect to the power to make orders as to dangerous machines, "to the process of loading or unloading every vessel which is lying alongside a wharf or quay." He said that it would be admitted that the shipowners, on whose behalf he spoke, were as anxious for the protection of the life and limb of the men in their employment as any other class of employers. Moreover, there was no industry in the country which was so hedged round with inspection as the shipping industry; and there were special circumstances in connection with the introduction and passing of this Bill through Committee which demanded the attention of the House. When the Bill was introduced and when it came for Second Reading not a word was said of any proposal to include ships. It was impossible to deal with shipping by the same clauses which applied to employment on shore. The capital invested in the shipping industry was probably unequalled by that in any other, and it was an investment which more than any other tended to promote the wealth and prestige of the country. Therefore, the shipping interest claimed some consideration at the hands of the House. No mention was made of shipping on the Second Reading Debate, and as the Bill was referred to a Grand Committee the House as a whole had had no opportunity of considering this clause affecting shipping. In appointing the Members of the Grand Committee the Committee of Selection, no doubt, had regard to the character of the Bill, and there was only one Member who could be regarded as a practical shipowner. Further, it was impossible for those who did not attend the Committee to know what arguments were used in favour of this clause. It was now proposed to regard a ship as in the same position as a factory or work-ship. But the fact was not to be forgotten that from the day when a ship was proposed to be laid down to the day when the ship made its first trip the owner was under the survey of Government authority. The engines could not be designed nor the boilers constructed until all the plans and particulars had been laid before the Board of Trade; a crew could not be engaged except in the presence of a Board of Trade official; and the provisions must be approved by a Board of Trade surveyor. The Bill now proposed to add another army of inspectors to that of the Board of Trade. The Home Office Inspector, who was accustomed to textile factories and ironworks, was now to be empowered to visit the ship, and, perhaps, to alter the very things which had been approved by the surveyor of the Board of Trade. [Cheers.] The Bill suggested the conundrum, "When is a ship not a ship?" The answer was, "When she is alongside the wharf;" but the truth was, there was much more danger attending the loading or unloading of a ship when she was lying in midstream than when she was lying alongside the wharf. He defied any practical man to explain the meaning of the words— and, so far as relates to the process of loading or unloading, every vessel which is lying alongside of a wharf or quay. What was meant by the process of loading and unloading? Did the words mean the suspension of the goods in the air, or the lowering of them into the ship's hold, or did they mean the process of stowing the cargo away in the hold? Did the words mean that the surveyor was to go on board, examine the donkey boiler, the steam winch, the hatches, and order, if he chose, alterations, although the ship had been built under the control and subject to the survey of the Board of Trade? He feared the words he had quoted would lead to trouble and probably to litigation, because they were unintelligible. There were something like 10,000,000 tons of shipping in this country. That shipping had been constructed according to rules and regulations approved by the Board of Trade. Were the owners of that shipping to be condemned to make such alterations as some chance or £150-a-year-Home-Office Inspector chose to order when he went down to the dockside? It was strictly unfair that a Grand Committee should be allowed to extend the Bill in the way in question, without the shipping industry having a single opportunity of putting their case either to the Committee or to the House.


had much pleasure in supporting the Amendment of his right hon. Friend. It was most unfair that shipping, the case of which was not mentioned in the Second Reading Debate, should have been introduced in the Bill in Grand Committee. It was very probable that many of the ordinary factory or workshop inspectors would lose their lives whilst inspecting ships already passed by the Board of Trade surveyors. Take the simple case of the ladders into the hold. He doubted very much whether one factory surveyor in 10 would venture to go down those ladders, yet such ladders were peculiarly suited to ships. Take the case of winches or other appliances for loading and unloading the cargo. They were all suitable for ships, and yet it was conceivable that an in spector might object to them on the ground that they were not protected from the weather. It looked as though ships would be inspected out of existence.

MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)

thought the hon. Gentlemen who had just spoken were needlessly alarmed in regard to this proposal. They seemed to think the desire was to bring the whole shipping industry under the Factory Act. That was by no means the case. The proposal which had been inserted in the Bill was really one which was consequential on the acceptance of a previous portion of the clause affecting docks. He trusted sincerely that the House would not reverse the decision of the Committee, because the Committee attached great importance to the clause as involving the interest of a very considerable number of men who were engaged in a somewhat perilous industry. But the matter was not of such great scope as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Orms-kirk had endeavoured to make out, because, if the House agreed to the inclusion of docks and quays in the operation of the Factory Acts as regarded accidents and other matters, the operation of loading and unloading was clearly intended to be included in the other operations. The right hon. Gentleman asked what was meant by the particular operations which were being brought under the operations of the Factory Acts by means of this clause. They were not now dealing with the question of ships, because they had specifically excluded the inspection of ships by Home Office inspectors.


Is it stated in the Bill that ships are not to be inspected by Home Office inspectors?


said, the only way in which the authority of the Home Office came in was in connection with loading and unloading. The right hon. Gentleman would remember that the object of the clause was to protect the dock labourer; it was not to interfere with the operations and machinery of the ship itself. The clause did not extend to the ship as a whole, but merely to those particular operations in respect to which the ship really formed, for the time being, part of the land. The portion of the clause relating to docks and quays could not be carried out if the jurisdiction of the Home Office ceased at the edge of the quay. When the same machinery and gear were used simultaneously on a ship it should be brought under the operation of the Factory Act. In their opinion, even if the words were omitted, that would be still so. But, at the same time, they desired that the matter should be made clear and that the words should remain in the Bill. Let him point out to the hon. Gentleman that certain portions of the principal Act intended to apply to docks had been excluded. The advantage of this, especially in regard to loading and unloading, would be that greater elasticity would be given to the clause and to the Home Secretary in drawing up rules for the protection of the dock labourers and stevedores. He himself hoped the Committee would not refuse the benefit of the dock clause by rejecting the words proposed, but would see that what was proposed was only the logical conclusion of the acceptance of the dock clause. Further, under Clause 8 of the principal Act applied to docks there would be ample opportunity for the Secretary of State so to frame his rules that they would not harshly affect the shipping interest itself.

SIR G. BADEN-POWELL (Liverpool, Kirkdale)

said, the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken had made the matter worse, because he told the Committee that not only were the regulations imposed by the Bill liable to be imposed on vessels in dock, but also any new regulations which the Secretary of State might make. He would point out, not as a shipbuilder or owner, but as representing a constituency which consisted largely of docks, that the Committee was dealing with a subject which they were told and believed would be specifically excluded from the Bill. The hon. Member who had just spoken had shown that no proper discussion took place in Committee on the subject. ["Hear, hear," and "No, no."] Had he known that vessels would be included, he should have objected to the Second Beading. All matters which referred to shipping, and especially Governmental regulations with regard to it, should be contained in the Merchant Shipping Act, and not this Act. As showing that the matter was not sufficiently discussed in Committee, although the hon. Gentleman said he could not draw a line as to loading and unloading, yet in this Bill the Government drew a line between loading and unloading when a vessel was attached to a quay and not to a buoy. Loading and unloading were not the only two processes in which life and limb should be protected. To his mind the question was too large to be placed by a side wind in an Act which dealt with factories and workshops and not with ships. The matter was not properly discussed in Committee, because the Committee was not constituted to discuss ships, and had not sufficient technical experience or knowledge to discuss shipping matters competently. He hoped his right hon. Friend would adhere to his Amendment, if only as a protest against the introduction of ships into an Act which dealt with factories and workshops.


challenged the statement of the last speaker that the subject did not receive adequate discussion in the Grand Committee. There were shipowners and men with technical knowledge of shipping on the Committee. The hon. Members for Sunderland and Middlesbrough were as much connected with shipping as the hon. Member who had just spoken. It was the unanimous opinion of the Committee that as far as accidents at sea or in harbour were concerned they should be dealt with by the Merchant Shipping Act, but in the case of distinctly industrial accidents occurring in loading and unloading it was better to give the Home Office the power over a ship alongside which it exercised in nine-tenths of the operations on the quay, in the warehouses, and about the docks. The hon. Member who spoke last said Home Office Inspectors would imperil their lives by inspecting ships, and they were not fitted for the work. If this statement were true, it implied that the conditions under which the men worked on ships were dangerous, and they ought not to be made more dangerous by exempting cranes, winches, and ordinary gear from inspection on board ship which they would be subjected to at the quay. He hoped the hon. Member who had charge of the Amendment would stick to the Bill, and he appealed to the right hon. Member for West Birmingham, who had taken, on the whole, a sympathetic interest in the protection of life on board ship and given specific consideration to this branch of industrial accidents, to bring the docker and stevedore engaged in loading and unloading within the protection of the law. If the Amendment was carried, one of the most valuable provisions of the Factory Act would be sacrificed in a way he did not think it should be after an honourable understanding had been made on both sides that a non-contentious clause should be introduced.


I am obliged to the hon. Member who has just spoken for his tribute to the interest I have always taken in all those who go down to the sea in ships, and I am perfectly willing to extend that sympathy to the dockers, stevedores, and the class of workers in whom he himself takes so much interest. I cannot help thinking, however, that he a little exaggerates the magnitude of the question with which we have to deal, and he spoke of the proposal as though it was a sort of new gospel for this sort of working people. I do not think that is the case, and I do not think it will have so great an effect as he seems to imagine. The proposed Amendment stands in a totally different position from those we have hitherto considered, and we must bear in mind the circumstances under which this provision was introduced. It did not appear in the original Bill. The hon. Member for Poplar said the promoters of the Bill were under the impression that what they were aiming at would be included in the word "dock"; but it was perfectly certain from what happened that it did not appear to be included in the view of those who had the fixing of the Grand Committee. There were 15 Members of the House to be added to the Committee as originally constituted to represent the interests involved; and there could be no doubt whatever that, if there had been the slightest idea that the great shipping interest was going to be included in the provisions of the Bill, a very much larger represention of that interest would have been placed upon the Committee. Although the name of one representative of that interest had been mentioned by the hon. Member for Battersea, it was certain that the representation of the shipping interest was altogether inadequate to enable the Committee to estimate fully what the effect of this new interference might be with that great industry. The hon. Member for Poplar said that this proposal dealt only with loading and unloading; but if that was the case the Bill was drawn very badly for its purpose. This was one of the consequences of attempting hastily to deal with a matter of such extraordinary complexity. Let him point out what possibilities there were under the clause as it stood so far as regarded docks, wharves, quays, warehouses and buildings. Section 68 of the Merchant Shipping Act provided that an inspector might enter, inspect and examine, at any reasonable time, by day and night, any factory or workshop or any part thereof, where he had reason to believe that any person was employed in contravention of the Act; he might take with him a constable; he might require the production of certificates of ages; he might make any inspection necessary to ascertain whether the enactments relating to the public health wore complied with; and he might, either alone or in the presence of any other person examine every person employed there. It was certain the late, Home Secretary did nut mean that all these minute provisions should be applied to ships merely in order to protect persons employed in loading and unloading. If that alone were the object it might be accomplished by some other and simpler provision directed to that particular object. He admitted that good cause had been shown for securing adequate protection for the whole process of loading and unloading instead of for part of it only; but he was convinced that this clause did not provide the proper way of doing it. Perhaps it might be done by some Amendment of the Merchant Shipping Act; but, if it was to be done in connection with the Factory Act, it ought not to be done in this extremely harrassing way, which it was evident was strongly opposed by the shipping interest. It ought to be done by a clause specially directed to the purpose; and, if this would give satisfaction, he was prepared to undertake, on behalf of the Government, if they continued to occupy their present position, that they would look carefully into the matter with the view of finding a way to remove the existing anomaly. As far as he was personally concerned he could not agree to the clause as it stood, because he thought it was defective and would involve needless difficulty.


said, the right hon. Gentleman had used words of promise; he had admitted that it was necessary to inspect ships as regarded loading and unloading, with which the Board of Trade had no power to deal at present. If this was to be put under the Board of Trade, that would create fresh anomaly and difficulty.


said, he did not pledge himself; he only spoke of what might be done.


said, that was the whole point; if the matter was not to be dealt with under the Merchant Shipping Act, and so brought under the Board of Trade, why should they not accept this proposal? He did not believe any of the difficulties suggested by the right hon. Gentleman would arise under the operation, of the original clause, because the application was limited in the Bill by the words "for the purposes of loading and unloading." Nothing would be comprehended but what was included in those words. The hon. Member for Battersea had clearly stated the anomalies that might arise if the Bill were not extended to the processes of loading and unloading. Other illustrations might be taken from accidents that frequently occurred in the lifting of heavy bales of tobacco; a lever would break and a man would be crushed by the falling bale. There was no adequate inspection of the implements used in getting these heavy hogsheads on shore; and the anomaly was that the risk could be, dealt with only on the quay and not on or across the stage that connected it with the vessel. They would only get into further difficulty if they dealt with the matter in the manner suggested by the right hon. Gentleman. The fact that it was proposed to deal with the question was known beforehand to a larger extent than hon. Members seemed willing to admit. Many weeks ago, before the matter came on for discussion in Parliament, the Government received a deputation from the Dockers' Union, and there was published a full report of the proceedings, in which it was distinctly stated that the Government were considering a concession in this direction, that they thought the matter was covered by the Bill, and they were considering what words could be introduced to attain the desired object. Therefore the shipping interest must have been fully aware of the proposal it was intended to make. The matter was also fully debated upon in Committee; it was divided upon; and the proposal, as it stood, was carried by 29 to 13. Every Liberal Member voted in the majority; but it was by no means a Party majority; because the majority included six eminent Members sitting on the other side of the House. Then, they were now pressing what was supported, after full consideration by a majority of the Committee far exceeding a Party majority.

SIR E. HILL (Bristol, S.)

said, the alarm caused by this clause was shared by the whole shipping interest. He had received a communication from the Central Chamber of Shipping urging that a great interest like the shipping interest should not be included sideways in a Bill intended for land purposes. Nobody dreamed that the Bill would apply to shipping, or that a Home Office inspector would be regarded as a proper person to inspect shipping gear. If the matter was to be dealt with by an Amendment of the Merchant Shipping Act, it should be taken up in the interests of sailors as well as dockers, and, if gear, winches and discharging apparatus required further inspection that inspection should apply to a vessel, whether at home or abroad, whether in stream or alongside a quay. Then you would have the greatest amount of protection for the lives of sailors and dockers, whose safety was always a matter of solicitude with shipowners.


said, it was desirable that they should, if possible, arrive at a general understanding on this point, which he did not think ought to be a subject of acute controversy, certainly not between the two sides of the House or even between different interests. He took note of two admissions which had been made. The first was that it was an unreasonable thing that, if the process of loading required to be superintended in the interest of the dockers, the supervision should arbitrarily cease at the stage connecting the quay with the vessel, although the same machine necessarily lifted goods both over the vessel and over the quay. To draw an arbitrary line was really to make inspection and supervision nugatory, and to deprive dock labourers of a measure of protection which every section of the House desired to give them. On the other hand, the counter admission was made that it was more undesirable to bring ships, qua ships, within the purview of Home Office inspection. The Board of Trade inspection was mainly, if not exclusively, directed to seeing that the equipment of a ship was such as to make her a seaworthy vessel. He quite agreed that it would be undesirable to bring ships, as ships, within the scope of the Factory Act; still, it was desirable that the processes of loading should be subject to Government inspection. Might it not be possible so to modify the language of the sub-section as to remove the apprehensions of gentlemen who represented the shipping interest, and, on the other hand, to carry out the object of giving effective protection to dock labourers? He threw out the suggestion that all that was required might be gained by modifying the sub-section and making it read like this:— Every dock, wharf, quay, and warehouse, and so far as relates to the process of loading or unloading, all the machinery and plant used in that process. Thus the machinery and plant actually used in the process would come within the provisions of the Act, but the vessel would be entirely outside it. There would have to be a further consequential Amendment—namely, to omit the words, "and the master of a vessel." He thought that suggestion would meet the objection of his hon. Friend opposite. In that way they would exclude from the clause any mention of a ship, and at the same time give protection to the dock labourer.


wished, by leave of the House, to say one word in acknowledgment of the handsome way in which the late Home Secretary had met this matter. He was at one with the right hon. Gentleman, in holding that proper and secure appliances should be used for the transfer of the cargo from a vessel to the quay or from the quay into the hold of a vessel. He wished to point out the great difficulty of applying the provisions as to the fencing of machinery on board ships. There were certain parts of the machinery on board a ship which it would be impossible to fence.


said, that in the clause as originally drawn it was sought to apply these provisions, but, in deference to representations made, they were omitted, and power was given to the Secretary of State to make rules as to dangerous machinery.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

MR. ASQUITH moved to leave out all the words from "unloading" to "quay," and insert "therefrom or thereto, all the machinery and plant used in that process."

Amendment agreed to, and on the Motion of Mr. ASQUITH, the words, "and the master of a vessel," in the latter part of the clause, were struck out.

MR. ASQUITH moved, in Clause 29, Subsection 3, which requires written notice of every case of lead, phosphorous or other poisoning or anthrax occurring in a workshop, and provides for the application to such cases of Sections 3 and 32 of the Principal Act and Section 22 of the Act of 1891, to leave out "Sections 31 and 32 of the principal Act and Section 22 of the Act of 1891," and to insert "the provisions of the Factory Acts with respect to accidents."


also moved, in that part of Schedule 1, which provides that no grindstone shall be run before any fire-place or in front of another grindstone, to insert "except in pursuance of a special exemption granted by the Secretary of State.'' He said, he moved the Amendment in consequence of a report made to him by the Inspector of Factories in Sheffield, who had pointed out that in certain classes of grindstones this section would not apply.


asked whether an emery wheel would come within the section. There was a great distinction between grindstones worked with water and emery wheels worked dry.


said, that if grindstones included emery wheels, then an emery wheel would prima facie fall within the regulation.

Amendment agreed to.


further moved, in Schedule 3, "to insert Section 31 as well as Section 42 of the principal Act as repealed," and again in the same Schedule, ''to insert Subsection 2 of Section 22 of the Act of 1891 as repealed, as well as Subsection 1."

Amendments agreed to.


then said, he hoped it might be in accordance with the general wish of the House that the Third Reading of the Bill should be taken at once.

MR. H. SETON-KARR (St. Helens)

said, he did not desire to postpone the Dissolution, but he wished to say he gave a most unwilling consent to this Bill. He objected to a Bill of this importance being rushed through the House with such indecent haste. On the last day on which the Committee sat something like 25 clauses of the Bill were passed in as many minutes. He thought the Bill was worthy of a whole Session's work, and it was being passed at a time when the House was demoralised by an impending Dissolution. For these reasons he gave a most unwilling consent to the Bill. He was particularly concerned in the clause dealing with the glass trade. He was quite aware that the late Home Secretary had made some very important concessions, but he would like to say that had the Bill been passed in its original form, he believed the glass trade would have been absolutely ruined. There was one harrassing restriction still remaining in the Bill, and he did not think the House was aware what a harrassing restriction it was. The hon. Member for Battersea and his friends seemed utterly regardless of the fact that their trade was leaving the country. The hon. Member and his friends had endeavoured to endow the Home Office as a kind of arbitrary tribunal with the power of dictating to every manufacturer and shipowner how he should carry on his business. He protested that they were doing a hasty and ill-considered thing in passing this harassing legislation. In the Grand Committee, towards the end of the proceedings, 25 clauses were disposed of in 25 minutes. The responsibility for this measure rested with the late Administration, and he should be careful to explain that to his constituents.


denied that the Chairman of the Grand Committee had allowed the work in Committee to be scamped. He wished to thank the hon. Member (Mr. Stuart-Wortley) for his conduct in the Chair, and to record his admiration of the brilliant manner in which the late Home Secretary had piloted the measure through its different stages.

Bill read 3° and Passed.