HC Deb 04 June 1897 vol 50 cc269-80

The following provisions shall apply for settling any matter which under this Act is to be settled by arbitration—

  1. (1.) If any committee, representative of an employer ant his workmen. exist with power to settle matters under this Act in the case of the employer and workman. the matter shall. unless either party objects, be settled by that committee.
  2. (2.) If either party so objects, or there is no such committee, the matter shall be settled by a single arbitrator agreed on by the parties, or in the absence of agreement, by the County Court Judge, or, if the Lord Chancellor certifies that, under the circumstances of the particular district it is not convenient that the County Court Judge should be called upon to act as arbitrator, by a single arbitrator appointed by such County Court Judge.
  3. (3.) Any arbitrator other the County Court Judge, shall be paid out of moneys to be provided by Parliament, in accordance with regulations to be made by the Treasury.
  4. (4.) The Arbitration. Act 1889 shall not apply to any arbitration under this Act but an arbitrator may, if he thinks fit, submit any question of law for the decision of the County Court Judge, and the decision of the Judge en any question of law, either on such submission, or in any case where he himself acts arbitrator under this Act, shall be on financial; and any award made under this Act shall be enforced in the same manner as an order of a County Court.
  5. (5.) The costs of the arbitration shall lie in the discretion of the arbitrator.
  6. (6.) The duty of a County Court Judge under this Act shall, subject to rules of court, be part of the duties of the County Court, and the officers of the court shall act accordingly.
  7. (7.) Any sum awarded as compensation shall be paid on the receipt of the person entitled, and his solicitor or agent shall not be entitled to recover from him, or to claim a licit on the amount recovered for:, costs except such as have been awarded by the arbitrator.
  8. (8.) Any committee, judge, or other arbitrator may appoint a legally qualified 270 medical practitioner to report on any matter Which seems material to any question arising in the arbitration; and the expenses of any such medical practitioner, not exceeding two guineas, shall be paid by the employer.
  9. (9.) In the application of this schedule to Scotland "sheriff" shall be substituted for "County Court Judge."

MR. REGINALD McKENNA (Monmouth, N.) moved at the cud of Section (1) after the words last inserted, to insert the words, "a workman shall be entitled to defend every such appeal in forma pauperis."


Said that he should have to consider the question or these appeals very carefully before tile Report stage, and lie would not overlook the point raised by the hon. Member's Amendment.


thanked the right hon. and learned Gentleman for his statement, and asked leave to withdraw his Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

MR. HOLLAND (Tower Hamlets, Bow and Bromley) moved in Section (4) to unit the words:— and any award under this Act shall be enforced in the same manner as an order of a County Court, and to insert the words:— and the County Court Judge, or the arbitrator appointed by him, shall, when sitting its arbitrator, have the same powers of procuring the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents: as if the Claim for compensation had been made by plaint in the County Court, and the award shall be considered for all purposes and shall be enforced in the same manner as an order in the County Court.

Amendment agreed to.

Sin C. DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)

, on behalf of the hon. Member for Northampton (ME. LABOUCHERE), moved at the end of Section (4), after the word "court," to insert the words:— in any proceedings under this Act no party or other person shall appear or be attended by counsel or solicitor.


was perfectly certain the adoption of the Amendment would not be in the interest of the workmen. There was no necessity for counsel to appear before the Committee, but when a case was taken before the County Court Judge or the Court of Appeal, it was absolutely necessary there should be some one who was able to put the matter in a way which would command respect and attention.

MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

could not agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman. The main object of the Bill was to put an end to expense, but as every one knew when solicitors were employed considerable costs were run up. It was in the interest of working men that this Amendment should be accepted, and as it stood in his name he should go to a Division.


said that he was no particular friend of lawyers, but he recognised they were necessary evils in certain cases, and if ever they were necessary they were in these cases. if this Amendment were adopted a workman, or his widow, or children would be deprived of the opportunity of putting the case in a proper fashion. Again, why should an employer be obliged to attend every one of the arbitrations or trials?


said the lion. Member for King's Lynn had said he was no friend of the lawyers, but many Members were under the impression that the hon. Gentleman had been specially retained to speak on behalf of the legal profession throughout these Debates. The Attorney General had accepted the suggestion just made by the hon. Member for Monmouthshire. This Amendment was in complete harmony with his hon. Friend's proposal, and ought to be accepted.


said they were all animated by the desire to do the best they could for the workman as well as the employer. It was perfectly clear there might be cases in which the refusal toy the less educated of the right to appear by counsel would be a hardship. It would be much more of a hardship to the working man who was not accustomed to this kind of discussion than it would be to a richer man—say, the employer. At the same time, the Government were as strongly persuaded as any one could be that the constant interference of the lawyer would be an absolute injury— ["hear, hear!"]—and they were anxious to do everything they could to keep him out. Special cases, however, must be provided for, and he suggested they should add to the Amendment "except by the leave of the Court or arbitrator or in any action in the Court of Appeal.' ["Hear, hear!"]


expressed his readiness to accept the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion.


maintained that the object of hon. Gentlemen opposite was to bring in trade union secretaries, who would be retained at large salaries specially in order to argue cases of this kind. [Mr. BROADHURST: "Not a bit!"] Were they to admit the trade union secretary and exclude the solicitor?

MR. S. WOODS (Essex, Walthamstow)

thanked the Colonial Secretary for his suggestion.

MR. G. W. WOLFF (Belfast, E.)

said that the workman might appear through the trade union secretary. What was the employer to do? Was he to attend in person?


He would have the same choice.


He has not got a trade union secretary. [A. laugh.]


said he did not accept the general statement that in every case the workmen would appear by a. trade union official. He thought that in a great majority of cases the men would be perfectly content 10 appear before the arbitrator and make a plain statement. ["Hear, hear!"] And if a small employer could not state the facts of the case himself he must be very unfortunate if he had not a. friend who would do it for him.

Amendment, as amended, agreed to.

SIR C. DILKE moved to leave out Section (5), and to insert the following section:—"(5) Each party shall bear his own costs of the arbitration." He thought it would be very hard that what might be in some cases very heavy costs should fall on working people. He thought it would be better to adopt a uniform principle and say that each party should pay his own costs. This might also have a tendency to limit costs.


said lie could not understand anybody who had experience of working men Moving such an Amendment. What would happen? He would undertake to say that in 99 cases out of 100, where 'any award was made, the arbitrator would as a matter of course give the costs to the workman, and. lie could not understand why when a workman was successful and an award was made in his favour he should lose his costs. The only case he could conceive in which the arbitrator would say he should not have his costs would lie where an offer hail been made before by the master of a sum equally as large as the County Court. Judge was going to give to the workman. He was satisfied the practice all through would be for the County Court Judge and the arbitrator to award the costs whenever an allowance was made, and to insert these words would be to deprive the workman of all his costs.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

SIR ROBERT REID (Dumfries Burghs) moved at the end of Section (5) to insert:— Where the amount. of compensation under this Act shall have been ascertained, or any weekly payment varied, or any other matter decided, under this Act, either by a committee or by arbitrator, or by agreement, a memorandum thereof shall be sent by the said committee or arbitrator, or by any party interested, to the Registrar of the County Court for the district in which any person entitled to such compensation resides, who shall, on being satisfied as to its genuineness, record such memorandum in a special register without charge, and thereupon the said memorandum shall for all purposes be enforceable as a County Court judgment. Provided that the County Court Judge may at any thee rectify such register.

Amendment agreed to.

SIR. CHARLES DILKE moved in Section (8), before the first word "Any," to insert the words, "The Secretary of State at the request of."


accepted the Amendment, though he was not quite certain what form of words would be best. That might be reserved to the Report stage. ["Hear, hear!"]


asked whether there would be a practitioner regularly fixed in each district, or whether the arbitrator might from time to time appoint whoever he thought proper?


said lie should like to have ft little information about the operation of the Act before he said definitely what would be done. He thought that in all probability it would be better to appoint a special officer for each district, or it might be possible to use an officer who was already available.

Amendment agreed to.

SIR MATTHEW WHITE RIDLEY moved in Section (8) to leave out the word "may," and to insert the word "shall."

Amendment agreed to.

SIR, MATTHEW WHITE RIDLEY moved in Section (8), after the word "practitioner," to leave out the words "not exceeding two guineas."

Amendment agreed to.

SIR MATTHEW WHITE RIDLEY moved in Section (8) after the word "shall," to insert the words, "subject to Treasury regulations."

Amendment agreed to.

SIR MATTHEW WHITE RIDLEY moved in Section (8) to leave out the words, "by the employer," and to insert the words, "out of moneys provided by Parliament."

Amendment agreed to.

MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON (Dundee) moved after Section (8) to insert:— (9) The arbitrator shall slate briefly in writing the probable cause of the accident, the nature of the employment in which it took place, and the defects, if any, in the premises, machinery, appliances, plant, precautions, or arrangements which, in his opinion, contribute to the accident. A copy of such statement shall be sent by the arbitrator to the Home Secretary, and a summary of such statements shall be annually published. He believed that this sort of record would be very useful and would show in a comprehensive form the operations of the Act.


said he had considered the Amendment, and in his opinion what the hon. Gentleman desired to arrive at was on the whole met by an Amendment which had been already inserted. He quite agreed with its object. He thought it extremely desirable that so far as practicable the Government and Parliament should be made aware of what was done under the Act. When the Bill was recast he would consider how far this was provided for, and how far it might be desirable to make still further provision in this direction.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. GRAHAM MURRAY, Buteshire) moved at the end of Section (9), after the word "Judge," to insert the words,— in the application of this Schedule to Scotland, Sheriff' should be substituted for 'County Court Judge,' 'Sheriff Courts' for 'County Courts,' and 'Acts of sederunt' for 'rules of Court.' Any ward or agreement as to compensation under this Act may be recorded in the hooks of Commit and Session or Sheriff Court hooks, and shall be enforceable in like manner as a recorded decree arbitral. Any application to the Sheriff as arbitrator shall be heard, tried, and determined summarily in the manner provided under the 52nd Section of the Sheriff Courts (Scotland) Act 1876, subject to the declaration that it shall be competent for either party to require the Sheriff to state a case on any question of law determined by him and his decision thereon, and such case may lie submitted to either division of the Court of Session, who, if they considered that the point involved is of general importance—[cheers]— may hear and determine the same finally, and remit to the Sheriff, with instructions as to the, judgment to be pronounced. That, he thought, would bring the Amendment into line with the spirit of the decision previously arrived at. He might, perhaps, be allowed to say one thing on a point that would have to be considered again on Report; and if he was not quite in order he was dealing with a practical matter. He had a very strong opinion on the question of the legal representation of the workman in the Sheriff's Court. They had large experience in Scotland of small debt cases, namely, cases under £12. There the persons might appear by themselves or by their next friend; and yet the universal practice in Scotland was that they always availed themselves of the experience of a more or less trained lawyer. It was not only a question of arguing the case in Court, but of its preparation. The views of hon. Members who wished to prevent undue expenditure on litigation could be met by framing a scale of costs as was clone in the Small Debts Courts. As far as Scotland was concerned, he was quite sure that to deprive the workman of the assistance of a solicitor would be greatly against him. He was afraid he had been rather out of order—["hear, hear!"]— but perhaps the Committee would excuse him.


remarked that in regard to what the right lion. Gentleman had stated about legal agents, he should certainly like to make inquiries, because his impression was otherwise. At the same time, he acknowledged that the right hon. Gentleman had greater experience than himself. He must say that he regarded the Court as a sort of informal tribunal, and he should like to see the County Court Judge or the Sheriff, as the case might be, treat the thing exactly as a Joint Committee would treat it, and make the inquiry himself in an informal way. Of course that was a matter they could not settle at present, it must be dealt with on Report. As regarded the rest, he was extremely pleased to hear what the Lord Advocate had said. His proposals were very fair and liberal. ''The Sheriff," he supposed, would mean the Sheriff Substitute. [The LORD ADVOCATE: "Yes!"] There was one other point, the importance of which the right hon. Gentleman did not appear to appreciate. He had not said so, but it ought to he set out that proceedings were to be initiated "at the request or on the communication of any person interested." He should be glad if the learned Lord Advocate would consider that before Report. In a similar way it was provided in the Amendment of which he (the speaker) gave notice, that either person might send a memorandum to the County Court Judge, who, on being satisfied of the genuineness of the case, would authorise the commencement of proceedings. He noticed also that the' Sheriff only might state a. case. He supposed it was meant that the arbitrator; also might state a case. But that was a minor point. He thanked the Lord Advocate very much for stating that cases stated only were to be heard by the Court of Appeal.


was very pleased to hear the Lord Advocate say he retained his own right to make this Bill more sensible and more reasonable as regarded Scotland upon the Report. In reference to the matter of appearance by solicitors or with the assistance of solicitors, he (the speaker) was only sorry that he did not take up the cause of England; but he was extremely glad to find that the stronger common sense that always marked Scotchmen would not be lost sight of in the Bill, and that the Bill would be rational and reasonable in Scotland even if it was not in England. [Laughter.] He was glad that the Lord Advocate, after consulting Her Majesty's Government, was to be permitted to make the proper alterations in this respect upon Report; and he hoped Her Majesty's Government, under the circumstances, would not put the English Members in a much worse position than the Scotch, and would also consider on Report the matter of employing solicitors in the English Court. [Cries of "No, no!"] Then he thought it was extremely hard that he was not born in Scotland. [Laughter.] It seemed to him that Scotchmen would have far greater advantages and a far more reasonable Act than Englishmen. With regard to the Court of Appeal, he did not quite see how the Court was to decide whether the point they were to decide upon was one of general interest when they had not heard the facts.


said that in a special case stated all the facts and everything that was required for forming a decision appeared on the face of it. No fact could be added by counsel; and if they chose, the Court could settle it in two or three hours without counsel.


The right hon. Gentleman has added another cause for gratification. I see now that in Scotland you may understand a case before you have heard it. [Laughter.]

MR. J. CALDWELL (Lanark, Mid)

said he understood the procedure before the Sheriff was to be in accordance with the second Section of the Sheriffs' Courts Act. The effect of this would be that only the parties themselves or their solicitor or counsel could appear. Thus, a miner's agent, for instance, could not appear before the Sheriff. He understood an arrangement was to be made in cases dealt with in the English County Court, whereby some non-professional person might appear on behalf of the party. He presumed if that was to be so in the case in England, a similar proviso ought to be made in the case of Scotland. [Cries of "Agreed, agreed!]

MR. PARKER SMITH (Lanark, Partick)

said the proposal of the Lord Advocate seemed for the moment to be satisfactory. But he thought it would be very carefully scrutinised in Scotland before the Report stage, because in Scotland they had suffered far more than in England in the matter of employers' liability from the extravagant cost of the law, which for reasons he would not now enter into was very much more expensive in Scotland than in England. People would therefore pay much attention to this matter, and he hoped the scheme of the Lord Advocate would pass the scrutiny satisfactorily.

MR. PICKARD (Yorkshire, Normanton)

said he should like to know if the position with regard to representation by a friend and other matters would be like that in the Small Debts Court. If so, he thought it would be satisfactory to their friends in Scotland.


said it was not altogether like the Small Debts Court, because in that Court there was no appeal on a case of law stated. That was one difference. Of course the matter as to appearing by next friend would have to be considered on Report. This was not the time to go into it, but, obviously, if the parties were to be debarred from what really in Scotland was every man's next friend, the solicitor—[laughter]— a serious grievance would be established.


said he had to thank the Lord Advocate for his suggestion as to the Court of Appeal, and he could only hope that the Government would do something of the kind for this country.

Amendment agreed to.

THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. J. ATKINSON, Londonderry, N.) moved, at the end of Section (9), to add:— (10) In the application of this schedule to Ireland, the expression County Court Judge' shall include the Recorder of any city or town.

Amendment agreed to.

Schedule, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Bill, as amended, reported amid general cheering.

In reply to Mr. PARKER SMITH,


stated that the Report stage would be put down pro forma for Thursday 17th June.


said it would be for the general convenience of those interested in the Bill if some idea could be given as to when the Report stage would be really taken.


replied that the Report stage would not be taken until early in July.

Order made that the Bill be printed.—[Bill 287.]