§ (1.) If in any employment to which this Act applies personal injury by accident arising out of and in the course of the employment is caused to a workman, his employer shall, subject as hereinafter mentioned, be liable to pay compensation in accordance with the first schedule to this Act.
§ (2.) Provided that: —
- (a) The employer shall not be liable under this Act in respect of any injury which does not disable the workman for a period of at least two weeks from earning full wages at the work at which he was employed:
- (b) When it is decided, as hereafter provided, that the injury was caused by the wilful and wrongful act or default of the employer or some person for whose act or default the employer is responsible, nothing in this Act shall affect any liability, civil or criminal, of the employer or persons for whom he is responsible; but the employer shall not be liable to pay compensation both independently of and also under this Act, and shall not be liable to pay compensation independently of this Act, except in case of such wilful and wrongful act or default.
§ (3.) If any question arises as to whether the employment is one to which this Act applies, or whether the injury was caused by the wilful and wrongful act or default of the employer, or of any person for whose act or default the employer is responsible, or whether the injury was caused by accident arising out of and in the course of the employment of the workman injured, or as to the amount or duration of compensation under this Act, or otherwise as to the liability for compensation under this Act, the question, if not settled by agreement, shall, subject to the provisions of the first schedule fn this Act, be settled by arbitration, 1175 in accordance with the second schedule to this Act.
§ (4.) If the Registrar of Friendly Societies certifies that any scheme of compensation or insurance for the workmen in any employment is on the whole not less favourable to the workmen than the provisions of this Act, the employer may, until the certificate is revoked, contract with any of those workmen that the provisions of the scheme shall be substituted for the provisions of this Act, and thereupon the employer shall be liable only in accordance with the scheme, but, save as aforesaid, this Act shall apply notwithstanding any contract to the contrary made after the commencement of this Act.
§ MR. W. E. M. TOMLINSON (Preston)
moved, "That the Chairman do report progress, and ask leave to sit again," but the Chairman of Ways and Means being of opinion that the Motion was an abuse of the Rules of the House, declined to propose the Question thereupon to the Committee.
§ MR. T. W. NUSSEY (Pontefract)
moved in Sub-section (1) to leave out the words "to which this Act applies," and to insert the words "in which a workman (as hereinafter defined) is engaged." He stated that he wished to refer the Committee to the definition of "a workman" adopted in Clause 2 of the Bill. He proposed to adopt what was, practically speaking, the same definition as that contained in the Act of 1880. The effect of these words was to extend the scope of the Bill and make it practically a universal Bill, to include all classes of trade and employment with the exception of domestic and menial servants. He reminded the House that the Home Secretary laid special stress on the point that domestics and menials ought not to be included in the Act, as persons employing one or two servants might be ruined by the payment of compensation, owing to the wanton carelessness of a housemaid. Perhaps some exception might be taken to his Amendment on the ground that it excluded certain classes of people from the benefits of the Act whose position could not logically be distinguished from those actually engaged in manual labour. He referred to omnibus conductors, goods guards, and others, whose main work was not manual labour. But he would point out that the words of the Bill itself covered such cases. The definition clause said "whether by manual labour or otherwise," and the word "otherwise" covered 1176 all such cases. Having explained that his Amendment was intended to include seamen, the hon. Member said it might be objected that it opened too wide a field, but it was open to those who thought so to show, by argument, why any special trade or class of workmen should be excluded, and they could limit the Act by taking out one trade after another if any radical reason could be found why they should not share in the blessings which the Act was to bring on their fellow workers. He urged that they could not be too careful in defining what, was meant by the Bill. Different County Court Judges might have different opinions, and unless they were very careful and explicit, these differences of opinion were bound to form one of the greatest difficulties in the working of the Act. They ought to give the Judges some words to guide them; and it was for that reason he had introduced the words of the Act of 1880, because they were well-known and well-tried words. To appreciate the whole meaning of the words they must turn to Clause 2, and they found that it included five trades— railways, factories, mines, quarries, and engineering. He complained that some of the definitions inserted in the first clause were very stupid, besides being complicated. The word "factory" was included, and there was a definition of the word. Many arguments for the inclusion of factories had been based on the fact that they were in the main wealthy trades. Some hon. Gentlemen, indeed, seemed to be under the impression that all factory owners and mill owners were rich men. This was far from the case. There were many factories which came under the Factories and Workshops Act that were carried on by the proprietors who were extremely small men and often very poor, and very little removed in position from the class of men whom they employed. Then under the Bill as it stood there would probably be conflicting decisions as to the meaning of the term "factory," and he understood that from the County Court Judges who would give those decisions there would be no appeal. Thus there would be none of that uniformity which was so essential in legal administration. For example, in Leeds, Bradford, and Huddersfield there were different County 1177 Court Judges, and there might be possibly similar accidents in these three towns. The Judges, however, might give absolutely different decisions, so that the same circumstances would not have the same results. In engineering work, as referred to in the Bill, sewers would be included, but the word sewer did not include a drain under the Public Health Act of 1875. A man who met with an accident in a. drain would consequently have no claim to compensation, whereas the man who worked in an open sewer would be entitled to benefit under the Bill. Such anomalies were bound to cause friction and ill-feeling in the future, and the various restrictions to the operation of the Measure were certain to cause great differences between class and class, trade and trade, employer and employed. The Bill did not fulfil the pledges of the Members of the Government at the General Election, when the people were told that there was to be universal compensation for all accidents. On February 20, 1893, the present Secretary for the Colonies said:—I beg the House to consider whether it is worth while to deal with this subject in a partial way, and whether it would not be possible once and for all to settle the right of every workman to compensation.The right hon. Gentleman added:—This compensation would not be a very serious matter for trade. You could do it at a very small cost.On what grounds had certain trades been selected? One ground was that the Bill would throw a burden on employers, and that therefore it was desirable to select rich trades. In these trades, however, there were many poor employers who were in no sense better able to bear the burden of this legislation than shipowners or farmers who were excluded. Another reason assigned for the selection which had been made was that the trades in question were trades in which the proportion of accidents occurring was exceptionally high. But he was not sure that that was the case. The mere fact that there had already been legislative interference with these trades did not prove that those engaged in them were subject to an extraordinary number of accidents. He held that if the principle upon which this Bill 1178 was founded was sound there was no justification for excluding certain trades from its scope. In its present form it would place workmen in the selected trades in an extremely advantageous position as compared with other workmen and so it would violate the accepted principle that before the law all men were equal and of equal status. One of the arguments against the proposal to extend the operation of the Bill to other trades was that such extension would result in the bankruptcy of poor employers. For his part he did not believe that any such disastrous consequences would ensue. Similar fears were expressed in connection with previous factory legislation, and they had proved to be groundless. He begged to move the Amendment standing in his name.
§ MR. H. SETON-KARR (St. Helens)
, who seconded the Amendment, said that its real object was that the Bill should not be limited in its application, but should be made universal. This was one of the most important considerations to which the Committee could devote itself. Me might mention that he had placed an Amendment upon the Paper, providing that if the present proposal were carried I the words "not included in, the third schedule to this Act" should be inserted. A third schedule could then be added, containing the few special trades which it might be desirable on exceptional grounds to exclude from the operation of the Bill. This would be a convenient course, for it would give hon. Members an opportunity of stating fully the special measures for excepting any particular trade from the Bill. It seemed to him that the general principle of the Amendment was that the Bill should be universal in its application, and not specifically limited to certain specified trades. What were the reasons given by the two Ministers of the Crown for limiting the operation of the Bill? It was said that by extending the scope of the Bill they would be taking up too much of the time of the Session. But when dealing with such an important subject as this they ought to recognise that it was necessary to make a good Bill, and should not, therefore, grudge the time required for it. This was not a petty Bill dealing with some minor point. It dealt with millions of invested capital, and with millions of working men, and 1179 they ought to make a logical and good Bill. Were they to be told to throw logic overboard in order that they might pass the Bill quickly? He ventured to think that unless the Bill could stand on its own merits and could be made a really good all-round Bill, it had much better not be passed at all. He thought their object should be to make it a good and a logical Bill. The Home Secretary had told them that they were bound to proceed in a tentative fashion, and apply the Bill in the first place to the most dangerous trades. The right hon. Gentleman frankly admitted that this was not a logical thing to do. In that remark he absolutely and entirely agreed. He should like to paint out that the trades in which the most accidents happened were the trades in which the largest amount of compensation had to be paid. They were proposing to put a burden on those trades which it was most difficult to ascertain, and against which it was most difficult to insure. If, therefore, it was fair and equitable to apply the principle of this Bill to the dangerous trades a fortiori, it was fair and equitable to apply it to non-dangerous trades where the tax imposed upon the industry itself was limited in amount, where it could be in cat easily ascertained, and so insured against. If this was a question of caution, and they were to apply the Bill tentatively, he thought they ought not to begin with most dangerous trades, but with those in which the compensation was highest. The right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary devoted a large part of his speech to pointing out the reason why the Bill should be limited in its application, and stated that the Government were following the example of the Factory Act of Lord Shaftesbury in gradually applying this Bill. He ventured to point out there was all the distinction in the world between this Bill and the factory legislation which Lord Shaftesbury initiated. Lord Shaftesbury's legislation was preventive and re medial, intended to shorten the hours of children in mines, and to enforce conditions of health and safety. Those remedies had to be applied tentatively to the different trades according to the differing conditions of those trades. But this Bill, he submitted, was absolutely and entirely different. It was a money compensation Bill; it was a Bill which 1180 provided for money compensation in various limited trades. He contended that the principle of a money compensation Bill was equally applicable to every trade. It was only a question of the burden, of compensation in each particular trade. If this money compensation principle was applicable to dangerous trades, then it seemed to him still more applicable to trades which were not so dangerous, and in which the burden of compensation would not be so great. He ventured to remind the House that this Bill proposed to relieve the ratepayers in this country at the expense of the employers or of the industry itself. At present the cost of compensating injured workmen, if not met in the case of unavoidable accidents by the friendly societies to which both the employers and employed subscribed, fell upon the rates. By this Bill the friendly societies and the ratepayers were practically relieved from their liability. Thus the employers in the included trades were not only liable to their own workmen for all accidents, but were liable as ratepayers to the rates for compensation for unavoidable accidents in trades which were not included. He was absolutely unable to see how anybody could defend that principle. The included trades paid in two capacities. They paid as employers in their own particular industries, and they paid as ratepayers. But the non-included trades paid in one capacity only, namely, as ratepayers. A Bill of this kind ought to contain pecuniary relief in which all trades generally must share, otherwise a most serious injustice would be done. Under any circumstances it seemed to him it was perfectly certain that the most dangerous trade would have to bear the heaviest burden of compensation. He wanted to know why the most dangerous trades should be the pioneers in this most revolutionary and important movement. The Colonial Secretary advocated the limitation of the Bill on the ground of expediency. He had told them that if the Bill was applied to all trades without exception, it would arouse so much opposition that it would be impossible to carry the Measure. He was himself unable to understand that argument. Where was the opposition to come from? It seemed to him that the Bill must stand or fall upon 1181 its own merits. As a matter of fact the Government had a majority of 150 behind them. They believed in the principle of the Bill—and he himself was most heartily in support of the principle of general compensation—and if they had a majority who believed in the principle of the Bill, and it was demonstrated to them that it would not impose inequitable burdens of compensation upon any particular trade, then he wanted to know who was going to oppose it? The right hon. Gentleman had said that this was a Bill for giving relief to injured men, and what hon. Member, if he believed the Bill was going to bring relief to injured workmen, would vote against such a desirable object? The Home Secretary had stated that there were l3,000,000 wage earners in the country, and the Bill only applied to 6,000,000. Who was going to take the responsibility of denying relief to the other 7,000,000, unless it could be shown that in some particular cases the burden of compensation imposed on any industry was inequitable and unjust? The two largest interests which were excluded were the shipping and the agricultural industries. Were hon. Members representing those industries to be asked to support the Bill on the ground that it did not apply to their constituents engaged in those industries, who would not, therefore, have to share in the burden imposed. If so he ventured to think the proposal was unjust and inequitable. There was besides the consideration that these men would be voting to relieve themselves as ratepayers without giving any adequate compensation for that relief. He submitted that if this Bill was a wise and beneficent reform for giving relief to injured workmen it ought at all events to be general in principle and universal in its application. With regard to the general compensation scheme he believed that part of the Bill was most excellent in principle, and he only desired to see it carried out universally. Let all stand on the same ground and be tarred with the same brush. [Cheers.] He seconded the Amendment because he felt that the Bill should be made general and universal in its application, otherwise it would inflict a serious injustice on some industries.
§ *SIR MATTHEW WHITE RIDLEY
said that, important as was the principle raised by this Amendment, a good many Second Reading speeches had been delivered already on the same point. While, therefore, recognising the importance of the Amendment, and the strength of the feeling which animated the last speaker, he could not refrain from remarking that, while apparently his hon. Friend was blessing the Bill, he was doing his best to injure it, to impede, if not to prevent, its passing. The same remark might apply to this Amendment. Both hon. Gentleman stated that a very good principle of compensation had been embodied in the Bill, and they asked that, if the principle was sound, why not extend it? But to that proposition he replied that, however excellent the ideal, they must in politics try to aim at what was practicable, and they ought to take care not to overload the proposals by attempting too great a scheme, thereby failing altogether. The Government had drawn no arbitrary distinction between the industries included and those which were excluded. They were not prepared to accept the universal application of the Bill, and the Government would look upon any Amendment to that effect as having a fatal influence upon it. They were not, however, indisposed to discuss, when the clause defining the industries to which the Bill applied was reached, how far the particular definitions were inadequate; whether, for example, the definitions of the building trade ought not to include buildings 30ft. high, a point which had been mentioned by the Colonial Secretary. He hoped the Committee would soon settle the general principle as to whether there should or should not be certain exclusions. The Government believed that the principle which they had adopted was a sounder one than to insert the whole of the workmen of the country in the Bill in the first instance, and then on the schedule to have long discussions as to whether a particular industry should or should not be excluded. They had included in the Bill practically all of what were known as the dangerous trades. In the first instance the Bill must be in its nature an experimental Measure, the importance of which could not be exaggerated. He trusted that the Committee would support the Government in retaining the 1183 words as indicating the principle on which the Bill ought to be applied.
§ MR. HENRY BROADHURST (Leicester)
looked on the speech of the hon. Member for St. Helen's (Mr. Seton-Karr) with the gravest suspicion as an indication of friendliness towards the Bill. He and his hon. Friends looked upon the Bill with such favour that it would be impossible for them to sit still arid make no attempt to extend it to all the trades of the country. Could the Home Secretary give an assurance that two or three additional industries would be added to the Bill? Take the building trade. Accidents here were not so numerous as in mines, railways, and engineering works; but this, in his judgment, was an additional argument in favour of including this trade, because its inclusion would not mean a very great widening of the experiment which the Government were making. He regretted that the Government had not included in the Bill a class who had no means whatever of making provision against accidents—agricultural labourers. ["Hear, hear!"] He lived among agricultural labourers, and had known them all his life, and he knew the suffering that accidents caused during harvest time. They and their families had nothing before them but starvation, misery, or the workhouse. In his own trade he calculated that they had paid over £117,000 for accidents. The carpenters and joiners had paid £37,000. Yet these trades had not been ruined, and hon. Members need not be alarmed as to the injury that would be inflicted on any trade or industry by the Bill. The scheme could not rest where it was. It was inevitable that the State would come in and take the responsibility. The State was to a large extent the guardian of the general community, and it must provide protection for the community under certain conditions. He pressed the Government to tell the Committee what industries at present excluded from the Bill would be included in it. If they would do this it would shorten Debate, and the Bill could easily be passed through Committee this week.
§ MR. STUART-WORTLEY
said it would probably be perfectly right that agricultural labourers and the building trade should be included in the Bill, but it was a cardinal rule that when legislation was applied to particular classes 1184 it should not be applied behind their backs. The farmers and master builders had practically had no notice that their inclusion in this Bill would be suggested.
§ MR. S. WOODS (Essex, Walthamstow)
agreed that if the Home Secretary would state what trades he would or would not include in the Bill the Debate would be much shortened. As to industries not having notice of their inclusion in the Bill, that applied all round. No one had the remotest idea what industries the Bill would affect until it was introduced.
§ MR. J. M. MACLEAN (Cardiff)
said it was remarkable that every speech on the Amendment had been in favour of extending the principle of the Bill to other trades than those included in it. The Home Secretary himself did not repudiate that idea. At the last election the principle of general compensation provided by the State, and not by the employers, was generally put forward by Members of the Unionist Party. It was unfair and invidious to select particular trades and levy upon them a particular tax intended not for the welfare of those trades, but simply for the good of the community. When the community laid such a burden upon any trade it should provide compensation. He had put down an Amendment intended to call attention to the effect of this Bill on the coal trade, the trade which would suffer principally by the Bill. Employers in the textile industries informed him that the Bill would not impose any special burden on them. Those industries were not liable to the disasters that happened in the coalmining industry, and which it was impossible for employers even with the greatest care and attention to avoid. Whenever an explosion entailing loss of life or serious injuries took place the community at large recognised the fact that the burden of providing for the victims should not rest with the employers, and invariably a public subscription was raised. This Bill said that the employers alone were to suffer by accidents of that kind. That imposed a serious burden on the employers. It had been estimated at 3d. a ton on the total output. It might be disputed whether this would fall on the coalowners or the workmen. But whichever it fell upon it was evident that under this Bill the trade would have to pay for it. He was much astonished to hear from the lips of the Colonial Secretary the 1185 argument that 3d. a ton was not very I much to lay on the coal trade because the price of coal went up a few shillings every now and then. But the price of coal varied owing to general causes which affected the coal trade not only of this country but other countries as well, and an extra 3d. on coal would make it still more difficult for the export coal trade of this country to compete with its foreign rivals. Nothing was more remarkable than the great transformation which had taken place in recent years in the way business was conducted in this country, the elimination of the private employer and the conversion of business concerns into limited companies. A man who had had a property of that sort might take up any new career he liked; he might become a politician and even a statesman, and then, to show his benevolence to the working classes, he might lay burdens on the ordinary shareholders whom he had left in his business and from which he would be perfectly free. [Laughter.] The difficulty they had to meet was to know who were actually carrying on the business of the country. The only way to get at these men was to call in the agency of the State and to ask the State to sweep them into its net and force them to contribute towards the efficient carrying on of business in which they were practically engaged. It seemed clear that the Conservative Party, by the novel and daring experiment which they were carrying out, were attempting to put in force for the first time the famous principle of "ransom." [Laughter.] They had all been converted now. That which they formerly denounced they now embraced. There was a great deal to be said for "ransom" as originally propounded. It attacked the idle rich—those who "toil not neither do they spin." [Laughter.] Now they had changed all that, for they were going to lay the burden merely on the captains of industry. [Cheers.] If they were to be Socialists let them be Socialists all round, dividing the burdens equally and distributing amongst all trades in the country any benefits that were to be obtained from the adoption of these new principles. ["Hear, hear!"]
1186 On the return of the CHAIRMAN of WAYS and MEANS, after the usual interval,
§ MR. WARR (Liverpool, East Toxteth)
said he represented a constituency which was for the most part composed of workmen for whom the question of compensation for accidents sustained in the course of employment was the one test question. Yet most of those men were excluded from any benefit under the Bill. They were the victims of the doctrine of common employment—a doctrine which was condemned by the common sense and the sense of justice of every one who had given it consideration. An employer of those men could escape from responsibility for an accident by showing that the accident was the result, not of his negligence or the negligence of any of his workmen, but of the negligence of some sub-contractor—it might be a man of straw—whom he had employed to do his own work. It did seem really shocking that a Bill to amend the law of employers' liability should leave the law as to any, particular trade, let alone as to every trade but five, open to such an injustice. Therefore, however much Members might approve of the Bill so far as the trades affected by it were concerned, however heartily they might congratulate the Government on the adoption of a principle by which he believed one of the most difficult of social problems could be solved, how could they who felt earnest about the matter, who felt that they were the representatives of the workmen who were excluded from the operation of the Bill, justify their action if they were to accept it in its present limited scope? It was their duty towards the men who were excluded from the Bill to urge that it was their right either to be brought within the scope of the Bill or to have the ordinary law so altered that the injustice under which they suffered might be done away with. In regard to the case of seamen, he would not say that the law should in respect to them remain unaltered; but he did say that their case could not be treated as identical in any way with the case of men employed on land. Holding those opinions, he would support the Amendment.
§ MR. W. J. GALLOWAY (Manchester, S.W.)
said that credit had been claimed by hon. Gentlemen opposite for the 1187 Second Reading of the Bill having been obtained without a Division, but he thought the credit, if any, was due to those employers of labour who had accepted a, new, very large, and grave responsibility without challenging a Division. During the Debates on the Bill no logical reason had been given for the exclusion of any trades. ["Hear, hear!"] It was a preposterous doctrine to ask employers of one particular class of labour to be responsible for all and every accident, and at the same time not to put a similar responsibility upon employers in every other trade. ["Hear, hear!"] While he did not agree with the proposal of the hon. Member to insert the particular words of the Amendment, he certainly agreed that it was necessary that the Bill should be applied to all trades, and he would vote for leaving out the words, "to which this Act applies." The Home Secretary's argument about what would have been said had the Bill applied only to the less dangerous trades was most extraordinary. Surely, if Members representing large commercial constituencies had a right, which the Home Secretary admitted, to have their constituents included, the agricultural Members had exactly the same right. ["Hear, hear!"] He hoped the Government, before it was too late, would reconsider their decision. He hoped that they would not have either at bye-elections or at the next General Election, Members going simply to get their particular constituents included in the Bill, but that the Government would allow their supporters to defend the Bill, on the ground that all working men were treated by a Conservative Government on an equal footing. The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Chamberlain) had raised the question of expediency, but his illustrations as to the franchise and the income tax not being logical in their application were very unfortunate, because, whether logical or not, both applied to everyone alike, and the whole community was at least treated on an equality. It was true that as to seamen and as to the Factory Acts Parliament had proceeded separately, but those were entirely different cases. They provided by these Acts that the health, safety, and conditions of labour should be regulated according to the necessities of each trade, but they 1188 did not provide that one class of workmen should be treated better than another. The Bill included the most dangerous trades. Why should less dangerous ones be left out, especially when, the danger being smaller, the change in the condition of these trades would be less? The Bill, as a whole, had his entire approval so far as it applied to compensation for accidents, but he did not think that the way the compensation was to be provided was entirely satisfactory, and it would be much less satisfactory unless all trades were included. Perhaps it was too much to expect the Government to recede from their position, but he would not cease to raise his voice on every opportunity to have all classes of working men receive the same benefit. ["Hear, hear!"] He could only hope that the Government would recede from their position, and, so far as he was concerned, he should raise his voice in favour of giving to all sections of the working classes the same privileges. ["Hear, hear!"]
*SIR JOSEPH PEASE
said he could not help thinking that the Amendment ought to be accepted. It did not go so far as several of the Amendments that followed on the Paper, but it opened the way to include in the Bill several of those large industries which had a claim to be included—a greater claim, he thought, to be included even than those already in the Bill. He had had a good deal of experience of some of these industries—the dangerous industries—but many of the dangerous industries were already provided for to a very large extent by their own provident societies. In the coal industry, for instance, with which, he was most familiar, according to the last Returns there were 141,775 men employed, and of these, to their great credit, 122,000 were enrolled in the Miners' Provident Society. To the widows of men who had been killed £52,000 odd was paid last year, and £34,000 was disbursed as compensation for accidents, to say nothing of payments made to aged members, which had nothing to do with this Bill. That £86,000 was subscribed almost entirely —within 6 per cent—by the men themselves. ["Hear, hear!"] The Government proposed to include that industry in the Bill, and yet they were leaving out of its scope a number of industries, 1189 the members of which were, in many cases, unable to provide for themselves, It seemed to him there was no logic in the system whatever. ["Hear, hear!"] The Government were going to take in those who were already fairly provided for, by their own forethought and industry, and they wire going to leave out those who, through being so widely scattered or for other reasons, were unable to form trade unions, such as the agricultural labourers and others, who were about three or four times the number of those employed in mines. The death rate amongst seamen was frightfully high, but no provision was made for them in the Bill. The fishing industry, which employed something like 25,000 or 30,000 men, was also left out, and whilst men employed on the railways were included. Road carriers were being entirely ignored. Legislation of this kind if promoted at all should be done completely, thoroughly, and well.
§ SIR ARTHUR FORWOOD
did not think the words of the hon. Member were applicable to the Bill. The Bill was spoken of as "petty legislation." He did not think any Bill which dealt with six or seven millions of people could be properly described as "petty." They were told that if this Amendment was adopted it would be fatal to the Bill. As practical men, they must accept that statement, and he did not intend, at that stage, to do more than protest that more classes of workmen were not included in the Bill. But he was not one of those who would jeopardise the Bill on that account. He regretted that seamen were not included in the Hill. As a shipowner, he should be glad to see seamen included in the Bill. He did not see why a man who met with an accident whilst driving a plough or a traction engine should not be compensated. There was no more dangerous occupation than the loading or unloading of vessels, and yet those engaged in it were precluded from the benefits this Bill gave. In view, however, of the statement of the Home Secretary, he should vote against the Amendment.
§ MR. FREDERICK CAWLEY (Lancashire, Prestwich)
said that while hailing the Bill with pleasure, he regretted that the Government did not propose to treat all trades alike. The 1190 excuse for making invidious exceptions would hardly hold water, for, as the hon. Baronet the Member for Durham had pointed out, most if not all the trades included in this Bill had relief societies connected with them, and were thus to some extent already provided for. It was said the Amendment would operate hardly on the small employer, but there could be no doubt the Bill would eventually lead to the insuring of all workmen within its scope, and so far as he could see there was no greater hardship in insuring a small number of men than in insuring a large number. As a matter of fact the small employer would get his men insured at a considerably less premium than certain people engaged in more dangerous trades. The agricultural labourer was not to receive the benefits of the Bill, but for the life, of him he could not see the difference between a man getting a hand hurt in a machine in his works or getting a hand hurt in a turnip pulping machine in the country. It seemed absurd that a man working in a factory in town, and getting, say, 30s. to £3 a week in wages, should be compensated for an accident, whilst a poor agricultural labourer, earning only 11s. a week, and whose only hope, if crippled, was to end his days in the workhouse, should be turned adrift without any compensation whatever. The Secretary for the Colonies once said that the agricultural labourer was the most pathetic figure in our whole social system. The right hon. Gentleman described him as condemned by apparently "inexorable" conditions to a life of "unremitting and hopeless toil," with the prospect of the poor-house as its only or probable termination. He further stated that the agricultural labourer had been "ignored, oppressed, and defrauded" for generations. He was sure the right hon. Gentleman would admit that, if the agricultural labourer was not being oppressed or defrauded now, he was certainly being ignored. He was not aware that the condition of the agricultural labourer had much changed, except that he was able to buy some of the necessaries of life much cheaper. He hoped the House would consider whether such a man ought to be excluded from any Bill brought in for the benefit of the working classes. During the discussion on the Agricultural Rating Bill 1191 of last year they heard a great deal from hon. Gentlemen opposite about stopping the influx of labourers from the country into the towns. He himself thought it was very desirable that, if possible, that influx should be stopped, and he asked hon. Members opposite to consider whether the best way of obtaining that object was by making the conditions of labour so much better in the factory than they were on the farm. In the one case a man was to be compensated for any injury he might sustain in the course of his employment; in the other he was to be turned adrift without it. In his opinion such a policy could not be defended, and he held that employers of labour who would be affected by the Bill had a right to demand that these invidious distinctions should not be made.
§ *COLONEL MILWARD (Stratford-upon-Avon)
said that many hon. Members who had joined in the Debate, did not seem to understand how the matter stood with regard to the smaller trades. As a matter of fact, many of the smaller trades were carried on in workshops which were now under the Workshops Acts. He was quite certain, that if they really meant to work the Bill, they must draw the line where it was proposed to be drawn, or else accept the offer of the Government merely to insert certain other trades by name. In the Midlands, trades were carried on in little workshops. A gun for instance, was not made in one manufactory in Birmingham. The barrel was made in one workshop, the stock in another, and so forth. Locks, saddlery and needles were largely made in small workshops. Almost the whole of the North Worcestershire nail and chain industry was conducted in small workshops in which the master was little better off than the man. They would find a father, mother and child, and, perhaps, one journeyman working together, and very often the master could not pay his men on the Friday or Saturday until he had collected the money from the manufacturers for whom he worked. It would really be absurd to suddenly throw upon the master in such a case a liability to pay down in a lump sum from £100 to £300, or 10s., 12s. 6d. or 15s. a week for life. This was a great measure with a very great principle underlying it. It 1192 could not stop here, but it must begin here. If they intended to cast at once their net over the whole of the working people, the Act would die of its own weight. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Because the smaller man could not bear a life-long liability. He felt that the time was not far distant when the smaller people would be brought under the Bill, but they could not be brought under it until it had been assimilated by the country, and a system of insurance, national, local, or by trades, had been formulated.
§ MR. BURNS
said that what they wanted was an authoritative statement from the Home Secretary as to where this Bill did apply and where it did not apply. If the right hon. Gentleman would do that, he would probably save two or three days' discussion; if he declined, he was afraid encouragement would be given to move Amendments, not with the object of wrecking the Bill, but with the legitimate and bonâ fide intention of improving it as far as that could possibly be done. The hon. Member had referred to the nail and chain industries of Cradley Heath, but surely he did not wish to impose upon those industries further disabilities and further injustices which, in other directions, they had suffered so long. The men, women, and children there were working under absolutely intolerable conditions of hard labour, long hours, insanitary conditions, and brutally low wages. And was that penalty to be supplemented by the further penalty that if a boy or man was injured while working in a shop where steam was not used, he was to get no compensation at all? Let them grapple with the small master at once. ["Hear, hear!"] Why should the Committee give to the small master, who very frequently was a greedy and ignorant and unscrupulous person, immunity from protective legislation in industry which was imposed upon a large master? ["Hear, hear!"] He could understand the argument that it was for his preservation, but he would point out that the master's preservation meant the death of, or injury to, the workmen who were not protected. The risk of the small master was proportionate to his business. Very frequently he engaged personally in the trade, and was able to take minute care in the workshop. This would quicken his sense of protection to 1193 his workmen and stimulate him to improve the conditions under which they worked. If it did not do that, it would drive him to insure the same as the large master, and he saw no reason why the small master should be exempted from that condition. ["Hear, hear!"] The hon. Baronet for the Ormskirk Division said that all trades in which machinery other than that worked by hand labour was employed should be included in the Bill. If he would move that he would vote with him with pleasure. The hon. Baronet went on to mention an industry in which machines were not used which was not in the Bill, but which he thought ought to come within its scope—namely, the unloading by stevedores and dockers of ships in mid-stream. They would not come within the scope of the Bill at all.
§ MR. BURNS
said that, unfortunately for those workers, the hon. Baronet was not the Home Secretary, and he wanted to get the view of the Home Secretary on that particular point. Were trades that employed machinery other than that worked by hand labour to have this Bill applied to them? If so, let it be said so that night. He also wanted to know a little more distinctly than he did at present why seamen had been excluded. What were they going to do with seamen who were actually engaged in sailoring occupations, but whose vessel was alongside a wharf or a dock or in mid-stream?["Hear, hear!"] Were they going to treat a vessel when it was not at sea or not in actual motion as a factory or workshop within the scope of the Bill? They were told that this Bill, being experimental in its character, should be limited in its scope. That was invariably the excuse of people who had not altogether made up their minds about the Bill they had introduced. That did not appear to him to be a satisfactory reason why the scope of its application should be restricted. This Bill was supposed to be a substitute for an Employers' Liability Bill, but it only took in half the workmen who came under the Bill of 1893, and, though it claimed to include the most dangerous trades, it excluded the most dangerous of all trades from the point of view of injury and loss of life—namely, seamen, while deadly 1194 and dangerous trades, where injury to health ought to be interpreted as an accident, were not to be admitted. The Bill was illogical and inconsistent, and, in its main provisions, could not be defended. It was, however, an experiment, of a tentative character, in the right direction, which they hoped to extend to trades that were now excluded. Let them have a schedule of trades which, when the included trades had had 12 months' advantages of this Bill, should slowly and automatically be co-opted within its provisions. He should also like to know from the Colonial Secretary what was going to be done with regard to the shipbuilding trade. Suppose there was a vessel on the stocks where, in the actual operation of shipbuilding, machinery was not directly used, but men were employed in plating and rivetting, mainly by hand, were those men to come within the Bill? Why was the dividing line so narrow? In building, where machinery was used for joinery and the cutting and preparing of stone, the Bill would apply, but in the case of building where machine-made articles were put together by hand, he was led to believe the Bill would not apply at all. He wanted to know why, when a mortar mill or a steam derrick was used, the man in charge should be compensated, if injured, and the labourer who carried bricks up a ladder in a hod should not? ["Hear, hear!"] The Government must make up their minds either to accept amendment after amendment extending the scope of the Bill and admitting trades unfairly and inconsistently excluded, or else they must take the Bill by the horns, and say: "There is our Bill. It is illogical. It is inconsistent, but it is a good step in the right direction, and we do not intend to accept any amendments." He could understand that course; but if the House was allowed to hope that shipbuilders and dock hands and seamen might be brought within the scope of the Bill, the discussion would go on for three or four weeks, and then with, unsatisfactory results. ["Hear, hear!"] He was friendly to the Bill. He wanted to shorten the discussion, and to see the Bill discussed in a statesmanlike way. No amount of criticism, no amount of misrepresentation of the real point of the Bill would dismiss the difficulty under which hon. Members laboured 1195 as to what was the real intention of the Government with regard to including amendments. For the moment hon. Members were wandering about without any guidance as to whether the Government intended to extend the application of the principle of the Measure at all. If there was no intention to do so, then let the Government have the decency to apply the Closure—[laughter]—and get the Bill through. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. BARTLEY
thought they would get on quicker with the Bill if more were included. All the delay would arise in discussing what should be included and what should not. The Bill would undoubtedly pass more rapidly if all trades were included. ["Hear, hear!"] As it stood, the operation of the Bill would be most anomalous. An accident took place in a trade included in the Bill—and the trades which were now included were, generally speaking, the best paid trades in the country—["hear, hear!"]—and if a man was killed his widow and family would get a substantial sum, and if he was only injured, he would himself get a substantial allowance as long as he remained incapacitated, and he would get it in an honourable way as his right under the law. ["Hear, hear!"] His brother, on the other hand, who was employed in very similar work, but whose trade was not included, met with a similar accident, and if he was killed his widow and family would have to beg for some sort of out-door relief from the guardians of the poor, and if he was incapacitated he would have to do so himself. How long would that state of things be allowed to last? It could not last. It would be an injustice. It would create a scandal and do an immense amount of mischief. ["Hear, hear!"] All trades must have the same advantage now or later. ["Hear, hear!"] Of course, it was true that in the case he had given the compensation was to come from the employer and the pittance in the other case from the rates. That was another grotesque anomaly, and could not continue—["hear, hear!"]— and although he believed that the ultimate result of the Bill must be that all trades and occupations must come within it, and that provision must be made by the State by special taxation or some other arrangement, it was quite clear it was impossible to trust entirely to the 1196 employer. The ultimate result must be to do the thing in a national way. He should, therefore, vote for the inclusion of all trades. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ *SIR FRANCIS EVANS (Southampton)
said that his hon. Friend on his left, the Member for the Barnard Castle Division, was very deeply interested in coal. He was himself very deeply interested in shipping. Under this Bill, if an injury occurred to one of his hon. Friend's workmen, and he was permanently incapacitated, his hon. Friend was liable, so long as the man was incapacitated, to pay him half his wages. An accident happened to a man in his own employ, and he was not liable. He was excluded by the Bill. He had no doubt there was very good reason why his hon. Friend should pay a large amount of money and he himself should pay none. [Laughter.] He ought, no doubt, to feel highly complimented that the precautions he took were sufficient to leave him out of the Bill. He had a great deal of sympathy, and he said so frankly, with the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary. In his speech made on the Shipping Bill of 1884—[cries of "Oh !" and laughter]—wishing to accentuate the claims of those for whose care he was himself mainly responsible in his own business—namely, firemen, seamen, and others employed on board ship, he pointed out that the loss of life in the shipping trade was 1 in 354, while the loss of life in collieries was 1 in 454; and that, he presumed was exactly the reason why the hon. Member for one of the Yorkshire Divisions to whom he had referred had to pay a large amount if an accident occurred in his mines, while he himself, who had, perhaps, a larger loss, was entirely left outside. [Laughter.] He did not want to press the point, because he believed that both the Colonial Secretary and the Home Secretary had taken a great deal of interest in the Bill, and really wanted to get something practical carried. [Ministerial cheers.] But the great difficulty was this—and if it could be removed one of the greatest obstacles to the Bill would disappear. He had put down an Amendment to include seamen, firemen, apprentices, and indeed all employed on board ship. There was, however, one difficulty, and it was the only one—he referred to the question of insurance. They could insure 1197 every single risk under the Bill except one; and if the Government could find a way out of it they would do a very great service to the working men of the country. It was the one point of the uncertain liability on permanent incapacity. ["Hear, hear!"] Every other risk was insurable; and if the Government would only widen their Bill—he saw the Colonial Secretary did not quite agree with him—
§ *SIR F. EVANS
was very glad to know that, because this was a business question; and, after all, if the Bill was going to do any good it must be settled on business lines. Now, as to this one question of insurance. His hon. Friend below the Gangway (Mr. Burns) had just referred to it. Insurance was a thing that was very badly understood by the working men representatives in this country. They said, "If you insure us, you are going to open the door to this kind of thing—that employers will not try to prevent accidents." Let him assure them that was not the point at all; because if employers did not insure outside, they insured inside. No man who had a large concern over thought of passing his profit and loss account until he had debited it with a charge for accidents and everything of that kind. If they insured outside, it was because experience taught them that they did not require to put so much upon it. If they put 4 per cent, against certain risks, and outside people were willing to take those risks at 3 per cent., as business men they went to the outside people. But to say that they must not insure, whether they went outside or not, was perfectly absurd. Now, if the Government would only find some way—he did not, care what it was—if they would only fix some date or some sum of money as a limit to this risk of permanent incapacity, it was the only risk that he cared about in the Bill. He did not know what the Home Secretary or the Colonial Secretary thought about it. He admitted that they could not include every trade in the Bill at this moment. If they tried to do so, they would probably prolong the Debates so as to prevent the Bill getting through at all. He wanted 1198 to get the Bill through, and he thought they ought to get it through. ["Hear, hear!"] He had taken very great pains to find out what would have been the effect of this Bill in the shipping industry had it been in operation during the past four or five years. The firm with which he was connected had hundreds of men in their employ, and he could tell the House that it practically amounted to less than they would willingly give themselves for the protection of those men. He pressed the Bill upon the House; he hoped it would be carried through this Session; and he regretted very much that the Government had not found it possible to include the whole of the workmen of the country. He was sure it would lead to that by-and-bye, to the great benefit of the workmen.
I entirely recognise the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken as one of the friends of the Bill. I thank him for what he has said in reference to the particular trade of which he is such a distinguished representative, and I will endeavour to reply to the remarks he has made in reference to that particular trade. Certainly the Government have no right to complain of the full discussion of the very important point which has now been raised again—which was raised on the Second Reading of the Bill, and which is now raised again at the very outset of the Committee. I am afraid it will be necessary for me to repeat myself in endeavouring to answer the arguments that have been brought forward. Sir, the point which we are discussing is really what I may describe as a point touching the principle of the Bill. ["Hear, hear!"] It is a question of principle whether this Bill shall apply universally to every form of manual labour, or whether it shall be in any way restricted. We are not dealing now, as some hon. Members seem to think, with the question whether it should be applied to this or that particular trade; we are dealing with the point whether or not there should be any kind of restriction whatever. Upon that we take our stand. This is not a Bill which is to be applied without exception to every trade and to every form of labour; and I must protest against the line taken by some hon. Members opposite, who complain that this Bill is a very unsatisfactory Bill because it does not apply to every form of 1199 labour. Why, Sir, who are the persons who make this complaint? They are the persons who received as if it were a new gospel, who described as the charter of the working man, the Bill of my right hon. Friend the Member for East Fife (Mr. Asquith). That Bill proposed to deal with an additional one-tenth of the whole of the accidents which occur in our industrial occupations.
That has nothing whatever to do with the argument. It surely is no answer to the argument I am bringing before the House, which is this—that hon. Members opposite, when they were supporting a Government, could not be too enthusiastic with regard to a Bill which added only one-tenth of the accidents which take place to those that were already dealt with in the Statute Book, and it is not consistent in them to complain that this Bill does not go far enough because it only deals, say, with 60 or 70 per cent, of the accidents. ["Hear, hear!" and dissent.] Well, it deals with the whole of the accidents that occur in the trades with which it is concerned; and I undertake to say that this Bill will deal with between 60 and 70 per cent, of the whole of the accidents which occur in the country, while my right hon. Friend's dealt only with 30 per cent. I do not complain now of the Bill of my right hon. Friend, although I think that the principle of that Bill was wrong and that, it would have been a better Bill if he had adopted the principle which we now submit to the Committee. But I do not wish to go back to old controversies. All I say is that it is unreasonable to complain of us, who have covered so much larger a field, on the ground that we do not go far enough when, only a few years ago, all the Members on the other side of the House were perfectly satisfied with the small contribution of the right hon. Member for East Fife to the settlement of the question. We have to deal with three classes of criticism. There is the criticism of those who are sincere friends of the principle of this Bill and who think that in some ways it may be improved, amended, and extended, and whom I have no doubt we shall be able in the course of these discussions to meet to some extent. Then 1200 we have the critics who are confessedly opposed, to the Bill in the interests of the trades which they represent. That is the legitimate form of opposition if it comes into the open. If hon. Members who hold the view that their trades will be sacrificed by this Bill would tell us so and oppose the Measure on that ground, I should be prepared to give the greatest consideration to their arguments and I could appreciate their position. But I do not think it is quite fair that the opposition of these Gentlemen should take this indirect form. It is not fair to overlay the Bill with Amendments which are intended to extend its scope, and so to bring into the field a larger amount of opposition. It is plain that these Gentlemen are actuated by a desire to obtain allies, and, therefore, I cannot pay the same attention to their arguments as I should do if they openly avowed their opposition. It is not a fair way of meeting the complaint that a particular trade will suffer under this Bill to urge that a number of other trades should be included in order that the representatives of those trades may be added to the existing opponents of the Bill. Then there is another class of criticism. It is that of Gentlemen who think that this is a most admirable Bill, but who regret that it has been brought in by what they are pleased to call a Tory Government. [Laughter.] But as practical people we are not arguing at this stage the logic and consistency of the Bill; we are not contending that it may not be found, when this Bill is passed, that an extension of its application is desirable. All we say is that, knowing what the House of Commons is capable of, and knowing what public opinion is at the present time, we have gone practically and substantially as far as we can safely go. ["Hear, hear!"] That is a statement which I have made again and again, and of which I am not in the slightest degree ashamed. It does not affect that statement in the least to bring forward the case of two brothers, one of whom is in one business and the other in another, one of whom will get the advantage of the Bill, while the other will not. Let the one who gets the advantage be glad, and let the other not stand, like the dog in the manger, in the way of his brother. Let him wait his opportunity—[laughter]—and if it be 1201 found that his brother has got this advantage without all the injury to trade which many hon. Members, possibly on both sides of the House, conscientiously believe may be inflicted by this Bill, then he will have a superabundant case, an unanswerable case, for claiming an extension of the Measure to his particular industry. In the meantime it is no answer to tell us that this Bill is worth nothing: because it only deals with 60 or 70 per cent, of cases, and that there are some people outside its scope who might make out as good a claim as those within it. We do not deny the claims of those who are left out, but we say, let them wait for the experience which will be gained when this Bill has become law, and if that experience is what we believe it will be, then will be the time for them to make their demand. In making our proposals in this form we are following the precendent of all legislation which touches large and important industrial interests. And nothing would be more foolish than to make a vast scheme of this kind applicable universally before we have gained experience. Substantially, therefore, we have gone as far as we ought to go.
§ SIR F. EVANS
Will the right hon. Gentleman kindly give the Committee his views on the point to which I have referred? If you limit the area to which you apply the Bill, of course you affect the question of insurance, and so, in a sense, handicap your own Measure. By limiting the application you must raise the insurance premium. I want the Bill to be made as wide as possible for that reason.
My hon. Friend is a little impatient. I am going to deal with the arguments he has used, but before I come to particulars I must dispose of the general question. I repeat that, it being a question of principle whether the Bill should be universally applied or whether it should be restricted, the Government hold that it ought to be restricted, although the question of what the restriction should be may be a matter for subsequent discussion. We hold, therefore, that the Committee ought not to accept the Amendment. The hon. Member for Battersea says that we are allowing the Committee to drift, and urges that if we take the view that the 1202 Bill should be more or less restricted we might at once to declare that we will allow no Amendment, no extension of any kind, and that we will use the Closure freely to bring the discussion to an end.
§ MR. BURNS
The Chairman will call me to order if I transgress. If the right hon. Gentleman will have the patience to listen I will put him right. The right hon. Gentleman is in error in saying I want to prevent any Amendments from being moved. What I want is that the Government should tell the Committee whether or not there are to be any additions to the trades dealt with under this Bill. Of course, as regards points of machinery there must be Amendments.
There need be no heat in this matter. I am not at all anxious to misrepresent the hon. Member. I understood him to complain of the Government because they had not made a clear declaration, and I think he used these exact words—that they had two alternatives, either to admit all trades or to say that they would admit none, but use the Closure and bring this discussion to an end. I was going on to say that we cannot accept his position that there are only two alternatives or that that would be at all a reasonable point of view to take. We do not intend to treat the House in that manner. [Cheers.] We have said we will not accept Amendments which point to universal inclusion. I do not say we will not accept any extension—that is going too far—and we are not prepared to put the Closure on if, hereafter, at the proper time, reasons are given why a particular trade should be included which is now excluded, or a particular portion of a trade in the same way. That, I think, is perfectly reasonable. ["Hear, hear!"] I have tried to point out to the House that we are now, as it were, discussing the Second Reading of the principle 1203 whether or no there shall be universal inclusion. I have made clear what is the intention of the Government in regard to it. Then comes the question whether a particular trade which is now excluded should be included. This is not the time to discuss it. That point must come upon the definition clause which defines the trades to which the Bill applies, and when the time comes that hon. Members will accept the general decision—or after the House has voted upon it—and reserve their Amendments till the second clause, then the Government will be prepared to give most careful consideration to any Amendment proposing to include any particular trade. [Cheers.] Let me say that I do not think there are many trades excluded by this Bill in its present form which it will be right to include, but I have already pointed out on the Second Reading that there is one inclusion which we ought to make—namely, with regard to the building trade. I then explained that owing to a slip in the drafting of the Bill it would appear that we had not included all that is now included in the Factory Acts which we had intended to do. I believe there is an Amendment on the Paper in the name of the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean to include buildings which are over 30ft. in height, and to that we shall most certainly assent. [Cheers.] There must be cases of omissions of a similar nature which we ought to include. But a much larger question was raised by my hon. Friend opposite, and I now come to his point. He, I think, suggested that the shipping trade as a whole should be included, and he pointed out with great candour that the great business in which he is engaged is responsible for a larger loss of life than many other trades included in the Bill.
At the time at which I spoke on this subject the loss of life in shipping was larger than the loss of life in mines or any other industry with which I was then acquainted. I know that, as a consequence both of the agitation which took place then and also of subsequent legislation, and of the care and regulations which have been adopted by my successors at the Board of Trade, the proportion of loss of life has very much diminished, and is now 1 in 124, 1204 or something of that sort, whereas when I spoke in 1884 it was 1 in 51. ["Hear, hear!"] So that it very material change for the better has taken place, although it is still true that the loss of life is very large. And what do I gather from that? I gather from that that the shipping trade must be dealt with. ["Hear, hear!"] I make absolutely no pledge on behalf of the Government, because I think pledges of this kind are very imprudent, as no one knows what may happen in a Session that has yet to come. But I say that after this Bill has been passed, it will be the duty of some Government to deal with the shipping trade. [Cheers.] All I have argued for is that the shipping trade should be dealt with on somewhat different principles to trades on land, because I think the conditions under which the trade is carried on are essentially distinct. ["Hear, hear!"] Now comes my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, and I think he suggests that the trade is already ripe to be dealt with, and that it might safely be included even in the present Bill. Does he speak for the shipping trade? Because if my hon. Friend, who is most influential in the shipping trade, is able to bring to this House the assurance that the trade which he represents—not himself alone, but the trade, which is a vast and great industry—has convinced itself from a perusal of this Bill that it can safely be applied to that industry, all I can say is that a statement of that kind is unanswerable, and I cannot conceive that any Government could under any such circumstances refuse to include that trade.
I must leave it there. All I can say is, that up to the present time the indications go to show that the vast majority of the trade do feel that some special consideration should be given to the special circumstances under which this great industry is being conducted. If that is their view, I think it would be wise for the House to postpone all dealing with the shipping trade until it can be dealt with in a separate Bill. ["Hear, hear!"] I have only one other remark to make, and that is as to what fell from my hon. Friend with regard to insurance. Certainly it is most important, in dealing with a Bill 1205 of this kind, in which we are seeking: compensation of and relief to the workmen, and not punishment of the employer, that insurance should be encouraged, and should be made easy in every way in which we can do so. I agree with my hon. Friend that the uncertainty which may prevail at present in regard to the scheme for compensation in regard to permanent incapacity, may interfere with the framing of a proper scale of insurance. If that be so, I think it would be perfectly possible to make that provision more definite so as to facilitate the process of insurance. But as regards the question of including other trades, I can only say that, dealing with a constituency of 6,000,000, which is the least number of workmen we are dealing with in the Bill, you have got a field so large that there should be no difficulty in framing insurance regulations with regard to them, and I am assured by those most expert in the matter that there will be no difficulty whatever in framing insurance in connection with the trades specified in this Bill if the schedule which deals with the amount of compensation is made more definite in all its particulars. That does not necessarily mean that it is made less favourable to the workmen, but only that it is made more definite, so that the actual amount of the insurance can more easily be calculated. I think I have said enough to show that the Government are prepared to meet all practical points as far as they can in deference to opinion from all sides of the House, and I hope that the House will be content very speedily to come to a decision on what I have said is a point of principle—namely, whether or no there shall be any restrictions in the scope and purview of this Bill. [Cheers.]
§ MR. HALDANE
said he was thankful that this Bill had been brought in by a Tory Government, though he could not refrain from stating that, had it been brought in by their opponents, those who framed the Measure would have been subjected to denunciations, called at the very least pinchbeck Robespierres, and denounced as the exponents of Socialism. The Bill, it was true, had been received with a chorus of assent expressed in different ways, but that assent rested on grounds more substantial than the mere desire on the part of great employers of labour to come within its provisions. It was a Measure which let off those who 1206 came within its provisions from a large share of liability for accidents, and the ground on which he objected to the exclusion of a large number of cases of employment was that the Bill did not place employers of labour on the same rooting in the matter of benefits. The law was being substantially altered, and he objected to the arbitrary division of the employers of labour into two classes—those who remained under the law at the present time, and those who were exempted from all liability under existing provisions. Looking at the latter portion of Clause 2, it would be found that an employer of labour was only liable in the case of accident if his act was "wrongful and wilful"; and what that phrase meant remained yet to be determined, but it might moan something different from what was the case under the existing state of things.
§ SIR JAMES JOICEY
said that, having listened carefully to the Debate, he had come to the conclusion that, whatever might be the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman, the strongest arguments had been adduced in the discussion in favour of making the Bill general. ["Hear, hear!"] He failed to gather from the Colonial Secretary one sound argument in favour of the course which the Government had adopted. What they objected to was the injustice which this Measure created. Instead of putting all employers on the same footing, it selected special industries, and he had failed to glean the real reason why this method of treatment had been followed. What became of those injured in the excluded trades? If a man was killed, his widow and family in all probability came on the rates. Who paid those rates? The very industries included in the Bill. So the included industries not only paid for their own accidents, but had to pay a considerable proportion for the accidents of other trades. The Home Secretary had divided into sections the supporters of the Bill. He did not gather from anything that had been said that there was any section of Members Mho wished to destroy the Bill. As to motives, if they began to inquire into these, he was afraid the motives of some of those who supported the Bill would not, perhaps, bear close examination. But he was glad to find there was no opposition to the principle of the Bill. That was one reason why the principle of the Bill should be applied to every trade. In excluding 1207 certain trades the Government not only created a great injustice as far as employers were concerned, but as regarded workmen too. There were as many fair-minded men among the working class as in any class of the community, who believed in justice even to an employer. When this Bill came to be understood by the working men of this country it would be seen by them to be most unjust, not only to their fellow workmen left outside, but to the employers included. He was surprised that the agricultural labourers were not included in the scope of the Bill. He should have thought that if there was any Government which would attend to the interests of the agricultural labourers in this matter, it was a Government composed of gentlemen like the President of the Local Government Board, the Under Secretary to the Local Government Board, and the Under Secretary for the Home Office. The latter had raised his voice in the country when injustices were done to the agricultural labourer, but was silent in that House when an injustice was being done to them. He was surprised that a class like the agricultural labourers, so represented and patronised by the Conservative Party should have been left out of its scope altogether. He was glad the fishing industry was to be included. He intended to press on the Government to include as many interests as possible, and he hoped they would listen to reason in the matter.
§ *MR. TOMLINSON
wished to complain of the undue haste with which the Committee stage of what was admitted to be a, Bill of great importance had been pressed on. It was remarkable that, though as far as the principle, of the Bill was concerned it had received the general approval of the House, there had only been five days to consider what Amendments were required to meet the necessary difficulties in the detail of the Measure. The Bill as it stood included certain industries and left others out. The alternative proposal was that they should put all industries primâ facie, into the Bill, and exclude by exception those to which the Bill was not applicable. Time had not been allowed to frame the necessary exceptions, and therefore it was only possible to vote with imperfect knowledge of the alternative scheme. He thought, on the whole, that the preferable course was to begin with inclusion and exclude by exception.
§ MR. MCKENNA
reminded the Committee that the Home Secretary said he would give a favourable consideration to any proposed amendments to the existing employers' liability law which would affect trades excluded under the Bill as it now stood. But under the decision of Mr. Speaker it was quite clear that the hope held out by the Home Seecretary would fail, and they should not therefore have any opportunity of reviewing the action of this Bill in comparison with a good employers' liability Bill such as that introduced by the late Home Secretary. He would point out the condition under this Bill of certain trades carried out in the same town in workshops, in factories, and in home industry. A factory employer would be bound to compensate the workman, but the very same workman, engaged in the same trade and the same town, under identically the same regulations, rules, and conditions as to wages, would not be compensated if engaged in workshop labour, and still less would he be compensated in home industry. Therefore, under this Bill they were inflicting a punishment upon a particular employer as against other employers engaged in the same industry in the same locality. That alone would be a sufficient reason for including all industries in the Measure. He supported the Amendment on the ground that its tendency undoubtedly would be to make insurance universal. If all trades were included in the Bill the inevitable tendency would be for the State to form an insurance office in which every employer would be compelled to insure, and that was the only possible solution of the question.
§ Question put, "That the words 'to which this Act applies,' stand part of the clause."—The Committee divided:— Ayes, 233; Noes, 155.—(Division List, No. 216.)
§ MR. MCKENNA
moved in sub-section (1) to leave out the words "arising out of and." These words, he contended, were unnecessary and would lead to confusion. He put the case of two hewers working in a colliery side by side. If the pick-axe of one hewer flew out of his hand and injured the other, was that an accident arising out of and in the course of his employment?
§ MR. MCKENNA
said that covered the case so far as the action was unintentional, but what if the pick-axe was intentionally thrown by the one man at the other? If that case also came under the Bill these words were surplusage. He might also take the case of a fall in the roof of a colliery which injured a man, but which might be from some extraneous cause, such as the tiring of a shot in another part of the mine.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
said he understood the hon. Member to suggest that anything which happened to a workman while he was engaged on his work should be within the Bill, but that was not what they intended. To take the case cited by the hon. Member, if the hewer out of malice, drove his pick-axe at the other man, it was not an accident arising out of the man's employment. The words were really necessary.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ MR. GALLOWAY
moved at the end of sub-section (1), after the word "Act," to insert the words—notwithstanding the fact that any such workman may be at the same time in receipt of any benefit from any registered friendly society.The object of this Amendment was very plain and simple. The Secretary for the Colonies said there was no intention to do anything that would injure the great friendly societies of the country. The Amendment would guard the members of these societies from being penalised, because they were members.
§ SIR MATTHEW WHITE RIDLEY
could not see that it was the intention of the Bill to in any way penalise members of the friendly society, and the words proposed were absolutely unnecessary.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ MR. J. L. WALTON (Leeds, S.)
moved to insert at the end of sub-section (I) the words:Such compensation shall be payable, whether the injury occasioned arises from the act of the employer or of some person in his employ, or from the act of a stranger thereto. 1210 Provided that where such injury shall be occasioned by the act of a stranger under circumstances creating a legal liability to pay damages in respect thereof, the workman may, at his option, proceed either at law against such person to recover damages, or against his employer for compensation under this Act, and if he be compensated under this Act the employer shall be entitled to enforce in the name of the workman all rights of action possessed by him against the person occasioning such injury as aforesaid.He thought the right hon. Gentleman would admit that this was a reasonable Amendment, and in illustration he mentioned the case of a stevedore. The workman should be entitled to compensation under the Act, in which case the employer would pay the compensation which devolved upon him, but the employer should be entitled to pursue a cause of action for negligence at common law when negligence had occasioned the injury to the workman, and involved liability to the employer. The Amendment was conceived in no spirit hostile to the Bill, but with a view to advance what he felt must be the aim of those responsible for the Bill.
§ SIR MATTHEW WHITE RIDLEY
thought that this was a. very reasonable proposal, but he had some doubt as to whether it should not be brought up in the form of a new clause. He was willing the Amendment should be inserted, subject to its form being reconsidered at a later stage.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ COLONEL DENNY (Kilmarnock Burghs)
moved, in Sub-section (1), after the word "Act," to insert the words:—Such compensation to have a like priority in payment, in case of winding up or bankruptcy, as have wages under the Preferential Payments in Bankruptcy Act 1888, or any Act for the time being regulating the priority of wages in bankruptcy or winding up.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
said that the Government were disposed to accept the principle of the Amendment, but they suggested that the proposal should take the form of a new clause. One reservation he had to make. It was not quite clear that the capital amount—£150 or £300—ought to be in exactly the same position as the preferential claim.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.1211
§ MR. SETON-KARR
proposed, in Subsection (2), after the word "that," to insert: —(a) The employer shall not be liable under this Act to pay compensation to any workman by whose wilful and wrongful act or default the accident arises in respect of which compensation for injury may become payable.As long as the Government accepted the principle of his Amendment, he was not particular as to the form it took. It did, however, seem to him but fair that compensation should not be paid to a workman who was injured through his own wilful act of negligence. The Amendment of the hon. Gentleman opposite contained the words "for his defence." He did not desire to see those words inserted. He did not desire to see inserted in the Bill words which would in the case of a man who was killed through his own fault or wilful negligence prevent his widow and family from getting compensation. They were not concerned in the act of the man himself, and he would only desire to move the Amendment so as not to allow compensation to a man who was injured by his own wilful negligence. He pressed his Amendment on the Government. All he asked was that they should take the idea and put it into the Bill in their own way.
said he did not suppose the House would desire to decide this question that night. [Cheers.] It raised a matter of considerable importance—["hear, hear!"]—upon which the Government would like to have some guidance from the House. The fact was, that even supposing they accepted the principle of the Amendment, there would be a question as to the form in which it should be carried out. There was an important Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Baronet the Member for Durham which was intended to make a similar provision, although it was in different words. The House, of course, would have to consider really the question between justice and expediency. Justice required that something in the nature of this Amendment should be accepted. [Cheers.] There was no doubt about that. It was most unfair that a man who had deliberately disobeyed, in the most flagrant way, an order given to him, and had thereby caused injury to others as well as to himself, should be 1212 himself compensated for his wilful or wrongful act. The people who had suffered by his action would, of course, be compensated in any case, but it was grossly unfair that the man should himself be actually paid for his wrongful act. That was what he called the side of justice. On the other hand, there was the question of expediency, which arose out of this consideration—was it worth while to add another litigable point to the Bill in connection with cases which, after all, must necessarily be rare? [Opposition cheers.] He had stated the problems the House would have to consider, and he hoped that to-morrow they would have some guidance from the House. The Government at present preserved an open mind. [Cheers.] He would now move "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again." ["Hear, hear!"]
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.