§ (1.) This Act shall apply only to employment on, in, or about a railway, factory, mine, quarry, or engineering work.
(2.)"In this Act—
Railway" means the railway of any railway company to which the Regulation of Railways Act 1871 applies, and "railway" and "railway company" have the same meaning as in that Act.
Factory" has the same meaning as in the Factory and Workshop Acts 1878 to 1891, and also includes any dock, wharf, quay, or warehouse, to which any provision of the Factory Acts is applied by the Factory and Workshop Act 1895.
Mine" means a mine to which the Coal Mines Regulation Act 1887, or the Metalliferous Mines Regulation Act 1872 applies.
Quarry" means a quarry under the Quarries Act 1894.
Engineering work" means any work of construction of a railroad, harbour, dock, canal, or sewer, and includes any building or other work on which machinery driven by steam, water, or other mechanical power is used for the purpose of the construction thereof.
Employer" means any body of persons corporate or unincorporate.
Workman" includes every person who is engaged in an employment to which tins Act applies, whether by way of manual labour or otherwise, and whether his agreement is one of service or apprenticeship or otherwise, and is expressed or implied, is oral or in writing.
§ MR. CHARLES HARRISON
(Plymouth had given notice of an Amendment to omit Sub-section (1) and to insert:This Act shall apply only to employment on, in, or about a railway, tramway, factory, mine, quarry, or engineering work, and any employment or work to which the expression 'workman' in the Employer and Workman's Act 1875 extends.
*THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
said the Amendment seemed to be an ingenious way of getting the word "tramway" in at an early stage of the clause. He thought the hon. Member had put it in the wrong place, and that 1641 it ought to come after the word "quarry." All the Amendments ought, in fact, to conic after the word "quarry," as the Government, whose Bill it was, were entitled to have their proposals laid before the Committee before those of private Members.
§ MR. J. M. MACLEAN (Cardiff)
moved, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the word "mine." His object, he explained, in moving this Amendment, was to draw attention to the very serious consequences which the passing of this Bill would have if it was made applicable to the coal trade generally. He spoke on the authority of figures which had been supplied to him when he said that this Bill, if carried as it was now, and applied to the coal trades, would impose a special tax on the trade of Cardiff alone of about £150,000 a year. The Government had made several attempts to minimise the amount of the burden which would be cast upon the trade by their Bill, but, so far as he had seen, they had not been able to bring forward any exact figures showing how their calculations were made up. In fact, their statements amounted to nothing more than the expression of a pious hope that the Bill would not bear so hardly upon the coal trade as the coal-owners themselves seemed to imagine. Of what good was a statement of that, kind to contradict exact calculations, made by men who were conversant with the trade generally, and who knew exactly how the Bill would bear upon them? There was a letter in The Times of that day from Sir William Thomas Lewis, who certainly knew what he was talking about, and who pointed out that, whereas now the burden of providing compensation for accidents was only 1d. per ton, of which ¾d. was borne by the workman, in future the whole burden would be transferred to the employer, and would be raised to 3d. per ton. This was a very remarkable transference for the Government to attempt to make, and he should like to know upon what principle they proposed to single out the coal trade for this burden? He imagined that they were not acting upon any principle whatever, because the Home Secretary had already been told that there was no logic in this Bill, and no justice, but that it was a Bill which rested upon expediency. The principles of political economy had been long ago flung to the 1642 winds, and now it was said the Government were justified in laying a tax upon a particular trade, and transferring a large portion of property from one class to another in this trade without being actuated by any considerations of justice whatever—considerations of expediency being apparently all that they cared about. He did not know whether these were considerations of political expediency, or any other kind of expediency, but he would tell the Government that in the long run what was right and just would be found to be also expedient, and the Government, in doing an injustice because it was expedient, would bring calamitous results upon themselves. This was a matter which seriously affected the coal trade, and especially in that part of the country where he had the honour of representing a great coal shipping port. He knew it was of no use to press this Amendment to exclude mines from the Bill. The Government had chosen their course of action, and would, no doubt, persevere with it. But he protested against what he believed to be an injustice upon one particular trade, and this without adequate consideration of the burden which the Government were imposing. It was quite clear the whole course of legislation proposed by this Bill must ultimately be reviewed at much greater length than had been possible lately. The principles must be thoroughly discussed, and although this Amendment might not be pressed now, the Government would in a short time find it necessary to extend this Bill so as to take in the general industries of the country, and not levy a special tax upon a few specially selected industries. He begged to move the Amendment.
§ *THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir MATTHEW WHITE RIDLEY,) Lancashire, Blackpool
could quite understand the object of his hon. Friend in calling attention to the special way in which the mining industry of the country was affected by the Bill, but he protested against the hon. Gentleman's assumption that the Government, in framing the Measure, had had no regard to justice, but merely to expediency. He was perfectly prepared to defend the Bill upon the ground of its justice. ["Hear, hear!"] So far from being unjust or unsound in principle, the only industry in the country which was raising 1643 much protest against this legislation was the coal industry, and especially that of South Wales.
§ *SIR MATTHEW WHITE RIDLEY
said that, at all events, he was perfectly well aware that there was a feeling on the part of the coalowners of the country that the Bill did put upon them a more serious burden than was put upon other industries, and he was perfectly ready to express more than a pious hope that they were quite mistaken in the view they had taken of the matter. While admitting that there was a considerable burden laid upon all employers by the Bill, still, he said, it was not an unfair burden, and it was a burden with a limit much different from that which was suggested by Sir William Thomas Lewis in his letter to The Times, or by the actuary whom that gentleman had consulted. In introducing the Bill he mentioned that he had calculated the cost of carrying out the Measure as it stood, with all its provisions, in the coal trade in two different ways—namely, from the German experience, allowing for all the differences, and from the actual facts as known from the records of accidents that had occurred in. Great Britain, and on the estimates formed from figures derived from the excellent permanent relief societies such as the Lancashire and Cheshire. Applying this calculation over the whole districts, and not in any particular mine, he found that the percentage of compensation paid would amount to little more than 1 per cent, of the wages. He had since applied the calculation to the district of his hon. Friend, and, taking the year 1894—when the frightful Albion accident occurred, which caused a loss of 290 lives—and 1895, which was an ordinary year, he found that on the same basis the proportion of compensation paid under this Bill would not exceed 1 per cent, of the wages paid. He was borne out in that calculation by certain testimony he had received from South Wales itself, but which he was not at liberty at present to quote. He did not desire to minimise the importance of the Bill as regarded the coal trade of this country. He was quite conscious that many interested in that trade 1644 believed the Bill laid upon them a heavier burden than upon other trades. All he could say was that the Government had not proposed this Bill without calculating what they thought would be the burden, and without regard to the present liability of the coal owners, what was done in the countries they competed with and the necessities of the situation. The Government had not done what was unfair, unjust, or merely politically expedient in the case of the coalowners. The Government believed that the Bill would not have the effect on the coal trade that the hon. Member for Cardiff and others associated with him contemplated, and that the burden, if one considered all the present liabilities, moral, customary, and legal, would certainly not mean more than a difference of between 5s. and 15s. in the pound. When the Government contemplated such a big object as they had in this Bill they did not think they were asking the House to accept too much, and he believed this Bill would be accepted by the House and the country as imposing no unjust burdens and conferring great advantages. [Cheers.]
§ *SIR JOSEPH PEASE (Durham, Barnard Castle)
said those who, like himself, were interested in the working of coal mines, for the moment felt grateful to his hon. Friend (Mr. Maclean), but he was afraid his Amendment came rather late in the day. The House had passed the principle of the Bill, and the question now seemed to be more what industries could be brought into the Bill than what industries could be taken out. At the same time, he wished to reserve to himself, and he believed many others in the House wished to do the same, the position they would take towards the Bill if those other industries were not included. If the principle of this Bill was correct—a doctrine he did not admit, because he believed it a retrograde manner of dealing with workmen and employer—he should be prepared when they came to the Third Reading to give his reasons for thinking that the Bill was unfair, because it had been unfairly carried out, even according to the principle professed in the Bill. He thanked the Home Secretary for the way in which he had spoken of the coal industry, but he did not look 1645 upon the right hon. Gentleman's calculations as any more valuable than his own. It was very difficult indeed in the very short time they had had, by the way in which the Bill had been hurried on step by step, to know where they were, or to know where the incidence of the Bill would be. He was anxious that if they proceeded with the Bill they should have a little more time to discuss these very important matters which were on the Paper that day, and which would come in the course of the consideration of the schedules, because, after all, they came back in a great Bill like this to that which had been well said—whatever was best administered was best. If the detail of the working of the Bill was considered in Committee, because it had not been worked out in the Bill itself, he believed that those industries which ought to have been in and those which were already in the Bill, would feel the benefit of that additional attention. They had to look to the different positions which coal owners occupied in considering this question. In Northumberland, about 90 per cent, of the coal was in direct competition; with foreign coal: in the district he represented they had a smaller proportion of such competition, while the east side of Durham had rather more than one half of its coal dependent upon foreign export. On the other hand, many of the Yorkshire and Welsh collieries had a home market at their back, and their position was very different to that of those dependent on foreign competition. He did not believe his hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff would be able to proceed with his Amendment, because they had to look to the industries which should be included in the Bill rather than to those which should be left out.
§ MR. HENRY SETON-KARR (St. Helens)
said he could not support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cardiff. If the benefits of the Bill were: to be extended, the miners should be included in its scope. The House should appreciate the burden the Bill would impose on the mining industry before it passed this Bill, particularly when they remembered that it was allied to so many others. If the burden became too great, how would they shift it? Sooner or later some of the burden would have to be 1646 thrown on the State. The Home Secretary had kindly shown him privately the way in which he arrived at his calculations, and he was perfectly convinced that the right hon. Gentleman had gone very carefully into the matter. But Mr. Neison and other eminent actuarial authorities said the Government figures were not accurate. The latter put the cost of the Bill to the coal mining industry at 1 per cent, on the wages, while Mr. Neison and others said it would vary from 2½ to 4¼ per cent. Where high authorities differed so largely, great care should be taken to ascertain the extent of the burden proposed to be placed on one of the most important industries of this country. The trades unions, for the last seven years, had been trying to raise the price of coal. Arbitration and a great strike had been tried. Nothing that could have been adopted had not been tried. But the price of coal and also wages had gone down. Would this Bill produce better results than the efforts of the trades unions? Many were voting for the Bill on the assumption that the consumer would pay the cost of the Bill. Under present conditions, he could not pay, and if the shoulders on which they put the burden could not bear it, disaster to the working classes of this country might result. He was in favour of universal compensation, but he would not undertake the responsibility of convincing a Lancashire collier of the benefits of the Bill when he found himself walking the streets because his colliery was closed owing to foreign competition. The financial aspects of the Bill were so important and involved such large considerations, that time should be given to ascertain the exact nature of the burden to be imposed on one of our most important industries, and nothing should be done to rush the Bill through the House.
*MR. EMERSON BAINBHIDGE (Lincolnshire, Gainsborough)
said he would not support the Amendment, but he was indebted to the hon. Member for Cardiff for having elicited from the Home Secretary that he still adhered to the statement that the cost of the Bill would be 1 per cent, on the wages in the coal mines. But there was a marked difference between that view and the view taken by the coal owners. If the Home Secretary considered that 1647 1 per cent, indicated the amount of extra cost which, it was just that the mineowner should bear, what would be his view if on further investigation the 1 per cent, was increased to 4 per cent., which was much nearer the mark? If the coal trade came forward and said they would accept the Home Secretary's figure, and would agree to a tax equivalent to 1 per cent., would the Government in that case undertake that the State should pay the rest? He thought that a charge of 1 per cent, was quite enough for the mine-owner to bear. He was able to say from an extensive experience of coal-mining that the actual average profits on coal were now not more than 3d. per ton, and in a large number of cases, especially in Lancashire, l½d. per ton would be nearer the mark. It was very important to make the burdens imposed by this Bill as slight as possible. The Government must have been struck with the contemptuous satisfaction with which the Bill had been received by the labour section of the House, and he hoped they would have ample time to discuss at length some of the chief burdens imposed by the Bill.
§ MR. LEES KNOWLES (Salford, W.)
thought that to strike out mines from the Bill would not be in the interests of those who worked in collieries. All his sympathies were with the miners, and it was through the colliery interest that he had the honour to sit in that House. He thought it was a pity that there should be exceptional treatment for certain trades. They must hope that in the future other such Bills might be introduced in order that all trades might get the same advantages. If the Bill passed in its present form it would be extremely difficult for mine owners to make arrangements with the insurance companies for insurance, and if other trades were also included, they would be able to spread the risk, and bring down the terms of insurance. A representative of the miners in his own district had told him the other day that what the masters had got to do was to put on 2d. a ton. But who was going to pay that? He very much doubted if the masters would be able to charge it. A representative of the glass trade with whom he had spoken was in great anxiety because he imagined he would have to pay this extra 2d. a ton for the coal which, was required in 1648 his trade. That particular trade, in consequence of constant hampering by legislation, was being driven out of the country, and this man of whom he spoke had been obliged to erect glass works abroad and to import his own glass into England. He cited the case of an explosion which occurred in 1895, with which the name of his family was associated. The colliery was supposed to be absolutely free from gas, but there happened to be a sort of underground lake of gas, which was tapped, and nearly 200 men lost their lives. If this Bill had at that time been law it would have meant a payment of £60,000 in hard cash, and, £30,000 or £40,000 for putting the mine in order. It was easy to understand that in such a case as that an employer might be ruined, and that would not be to the interest of the men whom he employed. If all trades had been brought into the Bill it would not be so objectionable, but they must make the best of a bad job. They could not do that, however, by supporting the Amendment.
§ MR T. W. LEGH (Lancashire, Newton)
said he did not see his way to vote for the Amendment. He pointed out, however, that there had been a serious conflict of opinion as to the exact cost which would be imposed on the coal industry, and the comforting expressions which had fallen from the Home Secretary had been somewhat vague in character. He thought some more definite statement should be made, and he appealed to his right hon. Friend to produce his figures. There was no need for desperate hurry in finishing the Committee stage of this Bill, and they might even adjourn over the holidays for the purpose. If the figures were produced before the Committee stage was concluded it would enable the public to judge between the two parties.
§ CAPTAIN BETHELL (York, E.R., Holderness)
said that in regard to this Bill, which introduced an almost novel principle into our legislation, statistics were the only means which men in his own position could have to enable them to form, an opinion. So far as he could gather there was no very strong objection taken to the Bill by the employers except by those engaged in mining. Although he was inclined to think that the principle embodied in the Bill was 1649 a sound one, if there had been serious objections taken by those mainly interested, he would not have been willing to force the adoption of the principle upon them until the question had for some considerable time been before the country.
§ *MR. J. W. LOGAN (Leicestershire, Harborough)
said he recognised the difficulty there was in discussing this question without any figures before them, but still they did know that every year 1,000 miners lost their lives while pursuing their employment. If the families of each of those men received the maximum amount of compensation allowed by the Bill, the total amount of liability cast upon the coal trade would be £300,000. If they estimated that for permanent or temporary disablement another, £300,000 was cast upon the coal owners, he thought they would be well within the mark. Personally he did not think the total liability would reach £600,000 per annum. He thought the estimate of ½d. per ton which was made by the Colonial Secretary was more likely to represent the liability than the 2d. per ton which was the estimate of the coal owners. But the more he found hon. Gentlemen like the hon. Member for Cardiff pleading for the exclusion of millers from the Bill, the more convinced he was that he ought to vote in favour of including miners. If it was right that this enormous sum of money should be paid in compensation for the death or injury of those engaged in the mining industry, it was high time that some Bill of this sort were passed.
§ *COLONEL BLUNDELL (Lancashire, Ince)
pointed out that the German system had not been followed in respect to the payment for small injuries. That would have an immense effect financially upon the Bill. In his opinion that was the greatest blot on the Bill, because the workman was no longer able to be a party to his own insurance.
§ MR. CHARLES SEELY (Lincoln)
rose, as a colliery owner, to oppose the Amendment. [" Hear, hear! "] He had always thought it was not very reasonable or just that a workman should suffer, and that the employer should suffer nothing whatever, and therefore he was glad this Bill had been introduced in order to amend that state of things. ["Hear, hear!"] It was proper, too, that the provisions of the Bill should be extended to 1650 mines. At the same time he would like the Government to realise that there was a difference of opinion between them and the colliery owners as to the burden laid on the trade. It was much more likely that the coal owners who had personal knowledge of all the accidents—and there were many resulting in sprained ankles and sprained backs and the like which were not serious enough to be returned to the Government inspector—were better judges of the amount of the burden which would be laid on the trade than those who had brought in the Bill. There was no doubt that the burden to be met by those who had to sell coal in competition with foreign countries would be very heavy, and the Government would act wisely if they considered whether anything could be done to lighten it. It must be borne in mind that an employer who had taken every precaution at very great expense to insure the safety of his workmen might have a burden of £60,000, £70,000, £100,000 or even £200,000 or £300,000 suddenly thrown upon his shoulders. He hoped he would not be considered as speaking in any way hostilely to the Bill. He most cordially supported the Measure and was most grateful to the Government for having introduced it.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Mr. J. CHAMBERLAIN,) Birmingham, W.
said he was sure the Committee would recognise the very liberal spirit in which his hon. Friend had dealt with the Bill. The Government made no complaint of the criticisms made by the coal owners, indeed they sympathised with the fears expressed. They still maintained that on the average the cost to the coal owners would certainly not be likely to exceed ¾d. per ton, though it had been put on behalf of the coal owners, as high as 2d. and even 3d. per ton. Some hon. Gentlemen suggested that they should delay the progress of the Bill in order that they might contrast the two sets of figures. He really did not see that any practical advantage would be gained, ["Hear, hear!"] It had been well said that statistics could prove anything, and without wishing to impugn the good faith of those who had put what he thought an extravagant estimate before the House he could not believe that under the present system they could arrive at any agreement upon the figures. Of course there 1651 was a great deal in the Bill which was uncertain and which was open to either side to interpret as they pleased. For instance, they dealt with the question of the lengthened period of incapacity during which payment might be made. No doubt that allowed an opening for a great variety of opinion. The mine owners, on the one hand, accepted in almost all these cases what he might call the maximum average, while the Government's maximum might be too low. The main thing he would press upon the Committee was that they did not think the charge, whatever it was, whether it was ¾d. or 3d. per ton, would really in the long run fall, at all events as regarded the major portion of it, upon the employer personally. They were dealing with all accidents, and not accidents by negligence. They did not want to treat this as a punitive Bill or to impose everything on the employers. On the contrary, they desired to see the charge imposed by the Bill spread over the trade, and in that way they thought it would not be an amount which would in any way interfere with the prosperity of the trade. His hon. Friend said a charge of this kind would place a trade at a disadvantage with foreign countries. He thought that the hon. Member forgot that the charge at present under the law in foreign countries was larger than the average stated by the mine owners themselves as the probable cost of this Bill. For instance, in Germany the cost upon the mine owners was something like 2 per cent., while in the opinion of the Government the cost under this Bill would not be much above 1 per cent. Another hon. Gentleman attached importance to the fact that under the German system the first 13 weeks were excluded from the accident fund. That was quite true, but the men were put upon the provident fund, but that included a great number of things with which the Government did not deal at all, and to the provident fund, which included sickness, superannuation, and other matters, the employer was compelled to contribute 25 per cent., in addition to paying the whole of the cost of the accident fund, and accordingly if the two were put together it would be found that the incidence of German taxation was even higher than anything stated, except, perhaps, the most excessive estimate of all, in regard to Britsh trade. Reference had been 1652 made to the question of uncertainty. In regard to that, the Government were fully alive to the difficulty, and were anxious to make the liability as definite as possible, because it was only by making it definite that insurance could be properly arranged to meet it. The Government would endeavour to meet the views of those who represented both the employers and the workmen in the desire that some greater definiteness should be given to this clause, and when that was done he believed a great deal of the objection would be removed.
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER (Stafford, Lichfield)
thought that if the Amendment were passed most of the supporters of the Bill would cease to take any interest in it, for to take mines out of the Bill would be to make the Measure a sham. And when it was said that the mine-owners would be ruined, he reminded the Committee that they said the same thing when the Mines Regulations Act was passed, and they were not ruined yet.
MR. FRANCIS NEWDIGATE (Warwickshire, Nuneaton)
, although a mine-owner, had not sufficient knowledge of himself to be able to form an opinion what the taxation on this particular industry would be. But if there was one class who ought to be protected by any Workmen's Compensation Bill, it was the miners. That being so, he should be very sorry indeed if the Amendment were carried, and he should most decidedly vote against it.
§ MR. MACLEAN
explained that his Amendment was put down before the general discussion on the principle of the Bill, and if he had persevered in moving the Amendment it was only for the purpose of drawing some definite statement from the Government as to what they understood to be the bearing of the Bill. He did not know that they had got any definite statement yet. However, he was obliged to the Home Secretary for the spirit in which he had met the Amendment. Would his right hon. Friend produce the figures he had cited, and have them placed before the country, because the country had not yet been afforded the means to understand the bearing of the Bill? He should be satisfied with the result of the discussion if the Government would promise that their 1653 figures should be placed before the country before the Report stage. He begged leave to withdraw his Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. EDWARD GOULDING (Wilts, Devizes)
moved, in Sub-section (1), after the word "quarry," to insert the word "agriculture," the object being to extend the Bill to agriculture. He submitted that it was impossible for an agricultural labourer, with the wage he earned, to insure against accidents; while, with reference to the objection that agriculture was not a dangerous trade, and the risks few, he urged that, with the growing use of machinery, those risks must increase, while even now the number of accidents was considerable. In his own Division no less than 21 accidents of a serious kind had taken place during the last two years. They included accidents from steam ploughs, threshing machines, chaff-cutting machines, carting and loading, and also two cases of blood-poisoning resulting from shearing. He found that only two of those people—and he had made careful inquiry—had got any compensation whatever; they got the small compensation of 2s. 6d. a week from their individual employer. If that sum had been spent in insuring against accidents, it would have given each of the men an adequate sum in case of accident. There were some localities where there were rich residents, but that class was decreasing all over the country. The Death Duties had relieved that class of a great deal of their surplus cash. They could not be expected to contribute to funds raised in relief of those people as they had done in the past. Among other objections, it was said that if this Amendment were introduced, old men would be driven out of employment, but that could not possibly be the case, because the insurance companies informed him that it would not pay them to send down their inspectors to inquire into the details of such cases. Taking a farm of 1,000 acres, and a man paying £1,000 in wages per annum, the whole liability placed upon his shoulders by making him insure would be a sum of £3 or £4 a year. He suggested that the Government might include agriculture in this clause, and then, in the definition clause, limit the word to farms over 200 acres, on which 1654 machinery worked by steam was used. He recognised the statesmanlike courage of the Government in bringing forward this Measure, and he had no wish to embarrass them; but representing, as he did, an agricultural constituency, composed almost entirely of working men, he felt that he should not be doing his duty if he did not do his best to secure the inclusion of agricultural labourers in the Bill. [Opposition cheers.]
said he hoped the Government would accept the Amendment, which was in the interests of the worst paid and most deserving class of the community. He personally would like to see all the toilers brought within the scope of the Bill, but as the Government could not see their way to do that, he implored them to include the most pathetic figure in our whole social system, condemned by apparently inexorable conditions to a life of unremitting toil, with the prospect of the poor-house as its only and probable termination. Of this he was positive—that this mighty Government was impotent to refuse the claims of the agricultural labourer if the representatives of agriculture in that House would be faithful to the trust which had been reposed in them. ["Hear, hear !"] As representing a large number of agricultural labourers, he implored those who had been returned to the House by the vote of agricultural labourers to be true to themselves, true to their constituents, and refuse to betray the men who sent them there. ["Hear, hear !"] The agricultural labourer was the last man in England who ought to be excluded from the provisions of the Bill, for, with the exception of those unfortunate outcasts of our industrial system who were compelled to work in sweated industries, the agricultural labourer was the worst paid white man in the world. ["Hear, hear !"] The nine or ten shillings a week which were paid to him in some counties was a disgraceful remuneration to be paid to any man in a Christian country. ["Hear, hear !"] But even the 14 or 15 shillings a week which might be taken on the average throughout England was, in his judgment, a miserable pittance to be paid to any able-bodied man, and more especially to the men who had to labour faithfully upon the spot whore their forefathers for succeeding generations had laboured before them, and to 1655 whose patient toil and homely skill they we're indebted for the most fertile fields in the -world. He need not labour the case, for it was well known that the wages of the agricultural labourer did not permit of his putting anything by, and when sickness or accident overtook him he was a miserable dependant upon the charity of others. ["Hear, hear !"] He appealed to all men in the House who secured the vote of the agricultural labourer at the last General Election by promising, either directly or indirectly, to better the lot of the unfortunate men—he appealed to all Members who fought under the title of the toiler's true friend to assist him in bringing before the Government this claim of the labourers to compensation when maimed by doing their duty. In his judgment it was not a farmer's question, but a landowner's question, for the farmer, after all, was only the landowner's bailiff, working at piecework. He also appealed to the owners of agricultural land. He would, f they liked, grant that they were badly off as compared with 1879–80, when rents were at their highest, but would ask them to remember that their land to-day was worth in the market at least 600 millions sterling more than at the commencement of the century, and the plea of poverty would not exonerate them from doing their duty by the men who had given their possessions that additional value. As a rough calculation he assumed that the inclusion of agricultural labourers would not cost one penny per acre per year for insurance against liability. One penny per acre on the 48 million acres of cultivated area would produce £200,000, or ten shillings per year on each £100 paid in wages, the annual wage bill being estimated at forty millions sterling. Thus, on a farm of 400 acres, the approximate cost of insuring compensation to all the men employed would be £1. 13s. 4d. per year, and if that proved too great a burden the Government might provide that the farmer should deduct the cost as he did the tax under Schedule A from the rent. But, on whomsoever the cost might fall, he was there to claim as a right compensation for the agricultural labourer, for he could not imagine that any attempt would be made to deduct the paltry amount from the wages of the labourers. The first charge upon the 1656 land was the maintenance of the people reared and cradled on its bosom, and if that were true, as it certainly was, when the men were in health, the claim was doubly great when they were incapacitated by accident from earning their daily bread. He appealed to the Colonial Secretary, who in days gone by had so eloquently represented the case of the agricultural labourer. ["Hear, hear!"] He appealed to the Government to add to the popularity which they would win by the introduction of this Bill by including within its provsions the most pathetic figure in their social system. He would tell them how to win Petersfield. [Laughter.] Let them include the agricultural labourer within the scope of the Bill. He appealed to the elected representatives of the agricultural labourer to do their duty by the men who sent them there, remembering that what they thought or knew or believed in the end was of little consequence as compared with the consequence of what they did. ["Hear, hear !"]
§ *SIR MATTHEW WHITE RIDLEY
said that there were many Members who would naturally feel great sympathy with the Amendment. But in introducing the Bill he had explained the reasons why the Government did not see their way clear to include in it agricultural labourers; and he was bound to say that, if the agricultural labourers were introduced into the Bill now, it would be practically making the Bill inclusive of all labour in the country. [Opposition cheers.] He would not say that what was good for one class of labour was not good for another; but he submitted, as a practical argument, that in introducing a new principle like that of the Bill it was necessary to proceed in the first instance on the safest and soundest ground, and to leave further extensions of the principle to be made in the future. The Government hoped and believed that the time was not far distant when they would be able to apply the principles which underlay the Bill to all the industries of the country—[Opposition cheers]—as was the case in other countries. But what they said now was that if they were to seek to give to those principles a general application at the present time they would overload the Bill before the House. [Opposition cries of "No !"] That, at 1657 least, was the opinion of the country; and he thought that unless there was a very strong assurance from Members representing the agricultural interest, that the farmers of the country were willing to accept the principle of the Amendment any Government would shrink from making such a proposal. ["Hear, hear !"] He did not want to quote the case of Germany too much; but it was four or five years after the initiation of legislation of this character in Germany that the agricultural labourer was included in it. His position was this, that to apply the principle to the very small farmers of the country, who were themselves very little different from the labourers they employed, would be to frighten them—would be to deal unjustly with them; and, besides, they were not men who were most ready to insure themselves. ["Hear, hear !"] It had been said that the cost of insuring agricultural labour from the small risk involved would be trifling. He granted that. He thought it would not be even a half-crown. But he asked those who had any experience of the agricultural interest, who knew, not the large farmers represented by his hon. Friend the Mover of the Amendment, but the small men who farmed 50 or 60 acres by means of family labour, with the occasional assistance of a "hind"—as the agricultural labourer was called in his part of the country—whether they could induce farmers of that class generally to insure the casual labourer whom they employed on their farms? ["Hear, hear !"] The Government had admitted within the scope of the Bill all dangerous trades and industries. [Opposition cries of "No !"] Agriculture was not a dangerous trade or industry. With the exception of shipping, the Government had certainly introduced all dangerous trades about which they had specific information in regard to accidents. They had no such information in regard to agriculture. ["Hear, hear !"] His hon. Friend who moved the Amendment spoke about limiting the principle to farms of over 200 acres. But he thought his hon. Friend would find a difficulty in working out that suggestion logically. What about the difference between a farm of 200 acres in the moorlands of Scotland and a farm of 200 acres in the neighbourhood of London? 1658 His hon. Friend also spoke about drawing a distinction in favour of agricultural labourers who might be employed in charge of steam machinery. That, again, would introduce a principle very difficult of application. Those who were familiar with the agricultural industry would know how often it happened that intermediary and casual labour was employed in charge of machinery; how often a travelling threshing machine, the property of a small farmer, went the round of the various districts for the purposes of threshing after the harvest, and how casual labour was frequently used in looking after those machines. ["Hear, hear !"] They should not go beyond that which appeared to be practical. Let them confine themselves within the limits of the Bill as it stood. Even hon. Members who sympathised with the agricultural labourers must see that it would be dangerous to overload the Bill—that it would be far safer to be content with the present experiment, with a view to seeing later on how far it might be possible to extend the principles of the Bill to other industries. ["Hear, hear !"]
§ *MR. PERKS (Lincolnshire, Louth)
said that, as the representative of a division half of whose electors consisted of agricultural labourers, he joined in the appeal that had been addressed to the Government, especially as there must be sitting on the Benches opposite many hon. Gentlemen who had pledged themselves at the last General Election to do something for the social improvement of the labourer on the land. If this were a just proposal for the protection of the agricultural labourer, it ought to be included in the Bill; and it was no answer whatever to it to say that it would overweight the Bill. Was it just to the agricultural labourer to say that because he was not represented by a powerful trades union organisation, and therefore was not able to present his case with that authority and solidarity which such organisations commanded, he was to be excluded from the benefits of the Bill? There were, he regretted to say, a large number of women employed in agriculture, and it was necessary that women in the agricultural industry should be protected as well as women in the textile industries. He would present to the Committee a few instances of the injustice which would be done by the rejection of this Amendment. 1659 There were a number of small towns in agricultural districts with paper mills, cloth mills, and various other small factories. A man is injured in the course of his work in one of those factories, and under the provisions of the Bill he comes to his employer for compensation. An agricultural labourer is also injured in the course of his employment in the same village; but instead of coming upon his employer he comes upon the rates. The result was that the manufacturers who owned the mill had not only to pay under the Bill for the man injured in the mill, but he had also to pay, through the poor rate, for the labourer injured upon the farm. That manifestly was a great injustice. Then take the case of a railway company. There were many parishes in which 60, 70, or 80 per cent, of the rates fell upon the railway passing through the parish. If a man in the employment of the Company was injured he had to be compensated by the railway company. If an agricultural labourer was injured the railway company had also to pay for him through the rates. It was the same with manufacturers in such towns as Lincoln. They would have to pay compensation not only for their own accidents, but compensation also for accidents to injured agricultural labourers and to other workers outside the scope of this Bill. He trusted that even at this last moment the Government would accept this very reasonable extension of the Bill, and would not refuse to do an act of justice to a very large section of the industrial community of this country.
§ MR. ARTHUR JEFFREYS (Hants, Basingstoke)
said it was a matter of very grave doubt to him whether the granting of compensation under this Bill to the agricultural labourer would tend to improve his condition in life. If he were perfectly certain it would, he would have the greatest pleasure in voting for the Amendment. But he believed that, in the end, it would be found that it would cause the labourer to lose his employment under small employers. There was no compensation paid under the present law to agricultural labourers who were injured, but his experience of the country was that, when a labourer did meet with an accident, the landowners invariably made a subscription for him, and he got quite as much money in that way as he 1660 would by compensation. [Opposition cries of "No !"] Well, he could only speak of the county in which he lived, and he knew that what he had just stated, was the fact. If compensation, was to be paid, then, to begin with, they ought to have some fund from which to draw the compensation money. If they proposed to have a State fund from which they could draw the compensation money, well and good; but from whom would this compensation come now? The labourers in the country looked forward to some day having a small holding of their own. When they became small holders they employed labour—perhaps one or two men. How could they afford to employ labour if they had such a liability as this Bill would place upon them hanging over their heads? The small holder was, after all, very little removed from the agricultural labourer. If he met with an accident he would receive no compensation whatever, whereas if the man whom he employed, and who was as well off as the small holder himself, met with an accident, he would receive under the Bill a compensation which would be quite sufficient to ruin his employer. It was asked, why should they not insure? He would reply that the small employer of labour—the man who employed one or two labourers—would have great difficulty in insuring on the same terms as the man who employed 50 or 60 men. As a matter of fact, the small farmer did not insure his ricks and other property now, and the same thing would happen if this Amendment were carried. Then, when an accident happened, and this liability fell upon, him, he would be reduced to absolute ruin. He would like to point out, too, that one effect of the Amendment would be that no farmers would employ old and decrepit labourers. They would be in exactly the same category under the Bill as the strong labourers, and as they were more liable to meet with accidents than the younger and stronger men, no farmer would care to run the risk of increasing his liability by employing them. The result would be that these old men, who were still able to earn a little money during the long harvesting days, would be deprived of their employment. His hon. Friend had also alluded to the extension of the Bill to steam machinery. The Home Secretary, he 1661 thought, had given a sufficient reply to that point, and had shown how difficult it would be to limit the liability to the one or two men who were in charge of the engines. Everyone acquainted with farming operations knew that, in addition to the men in charge of the engines, there were half-a-dozen other men engaged either on the rick or in taking away the corn from the engine. Those men were brought in for the day, and were paid by the day, but if this Amendment were carried, he took it that in case of an accident they would receive the same compensation as the men in charge of the engine. His opinion mi the whole subject was that if the Amendment were carried, it would do more harm than good to the agricultural labourer.
§ MR. ROBINSON SOUTTAR (Dumfriesshire)
said he had also a similar Amendment on the Paper, but after the very strong way in which the Home Secretary had put his foot down, it was not, perhaps, wise that he should spend more than a minute in discussing the question, but he should like to spend that minute in grumbling on behalf of his constituents. He represented farm labourers, and he was not at all afraid, as the previous speaker had prophesied, that his constituents would find themselves without employment if the farmers were included in this Measure. He should like to thank the Government for what they had included in the Bill. He had miners and quarriers in his constituency, and he was thankful that they were included, but he should have been glad if he could have gone down to his constituency and told the farm servants what the Government had clone for them. As far as he could make out, the only objection to the inclusion of farm servants was the fear that it might, perhaps, ruin small farmers. He had plenty of small farmers in his constituency, and he should be very sorry to ruin any of them, but he did not believe for a single moment that they would he ruined any more than the small builders would be ruined by this Measure. He believed that in the end the landlord would have to pay the money. As to the number of accidents, it was said that they would be small, but although the gross percentage might be a small one it would not be a great consolation to a man 1662 who was injured to be told that he was one of a small number. The smaller the number the more easy it would be to include agriculture. Another point which might be urged was that the farmer's labourer was so poorly paid in Scotland and England that it was impossible to lay by for a rainy day. He was exceedingly glad to hear what the Home Secretary said with regard to the future, that he hoped the time would come, and come perhaps in the life of the present Government, when the farm labourers would he included. He did trust that the time of their exclusion would lie exceedingly brief.
§ MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
said they who represented agricultural labourers and were their champions, were bound to stand up for them. From his own experience, he did not think it would be to the interest of the agricultural labourer to include him in this Bill. [A laugh from the Opposition.] He thought he could explain to hon. Gentlemen opposite why not, and if an Amendment was put down as to machinery he should vote for it; but that was a totally different thing. It would be totally inapplicable to the farmers and labourers in the east of England, whom he represented. It was all very well for a farmer of 1,000 acres to become liable under this Bill, but those were not the men with whom he had to deal. How could they make a farmer of 150 acres, who sometimes could not make both ends meet, liable to the extent of £150? He ventured to say if such men were brought under the purview of this Bill the labourers would not be employed by the small farmer. For eleven years, since he entered that House, he had advocated the cause of the labourer, but he could assure the Committee that it was simply and solely from his own personal experience that he declared that if they brought the agricultural labourer under the Bill, it would deprive him of work. He could not, he regretted to say, vote for the Amendment.
§ MR. H. H. ASQUITH (Fife, E.)
I have already expressed an opinion that the more logical course would have been to include all the trades of the country. ["Hear, hear !"] That, however, has been decided in the contrary sense, and we are therefore driven, by Amendments 1663 on this clause, to consider the special claims of particular trades now excluded. I have listened to this discussion, and I observe a marked divergence as between the opinion of Her Majesty's Government and the opinion of the Members who sit behind them as to the ground on which this Amendment is to be resisted. ["Hear, hear !"] On one side the justice of the claim of the men who may have been injured, to be admitted, was acknowledged, but then we are told we must proceed by steps; they must proceed in a tentative fashion, and then the right hon. Gentleman held out the hope that the agricultural labourers may be at last admitted. But the hon. Members for Aldershot and Essex hold a totally different opinion. They in the interest of the agricultural labourer deprecate his inclusion. More extraordinary reasons than they have given I never heard. ["Hear, hear !"] The hon. Member for Aldershot says that the labourer would get less money under this Bill than he gets at present. The landowners and farmers are so liberal and philanthropic that they give the labourer a larger sum than anything he could expect under this Bill. A great many of the large employers of labour throughout the country might say the same, they are so beneficent as employers; but as I understand, the object of this Bill is that the labourer shall not be dependent on eleemosynary assistance given of charity, but that he should have it as a right to which each self-respecting citizen is entitled from the law without sending the hat round. [cheers.] Then we are told that if the labourer is included in this Bill he will cease to be employed. [A laugh.] Who then would till the soil? I believe that is an illusory apprehension. In what different position is the farmer from the small employers of labour in the towns? ["Hear, hear !"] I believe nearly half the factories are places in which not more than ten persons are employed, and they are all brought within the purview of this Bill. It is impossible that any ground more illogical can be taken up by hon. Gentlemen opposite. In other cases the burden is thrown upon the employer, and it is said he should protect himself by insurance. It is quite true that the accidents, owing to the increasing use of machinery in agriculture, are increasing, 1664 but the burden is almost insignificant. It is upon these grounds that I think a case has been made out and I trust the hon. Member who moved the Amendment will press it to a Division. ["Hear, hear !"]
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
I cannot help thinking that the Debate is a réchauffé of the Second Reading Debate on this Bill. Nothing new has been said, and I quite understand that there must necessarily remain a difference of opinion which can only be decided by a Division of the Committee. My right hon. Friend tells us that it would have been more loyal and more practical if the Government had included all trades in the Bill. Well, Sir, logic we have long ago given up in connection with this Bill. [Opposition cheers.] Indeed, I do think that it is the great advantage of English legislation that it does not pretend to be logical. And if the English Legislature ever did pretend to be logical, it would immediately find itself in the position of some foreign countries which have tried to be logical, and make the same mistakes those foreign countries have made. Our legislation would never be at all satisfying, it would never meet the varied conditions of English life, if it pretended to be logical. I am not at all, therefore, ashamed to plead guilty to the charge that the Bill is not logical. But when my right hon. Friends say that it would be more practical to include all these trades I confess that is a point upon which I entirely differ from them. It has been made a complaint against those who are opposing this Amendment that our arguments have been divergent; that while my right hon. Friend and myself have admitted that the claim of the agricultural labourer is a just one, and that it cannot be in itself distinguished from some other trades, my hon. Friends behind me have used altogether different arguments. They have used different arguments, but not arguments that are in any way inconsistent with ours. What my hon. Friends have said is this. They have not denied the justice of the claim made for the agricultural labourer, and I do not doubt that they would be willing to adopt the words of the Home Secretary on that point. But they say, be it just or unjust, in their opinion—and I think they are entitled to speak with authority—it would be inexpedient to apply it at the 1665 present moment. Why would it be inexpedient? It would be inexpedient in their opinion because it would undoubtedly lead to a lesser demand for labour and to the exclusion of many labourers who are now at work on the land, especially the older labourers. My right hon. Friend dismisses that argument in an airy way, and asks who will till the land. I might say that there is a great deal of land at the present moment that is not being tilled at all. ["Hear, hear !"] It has always been our desire, and I believe the desire of all who wish well to the agricultural labourer, to introduce a larger amount of labour on the land, and to secure that the land now unfilled shall be brought into cultivation and that as much manual labour as possible shall be employed upon it. ["Hear, hear !"] Another point put forward by my hon. Friend is that in the case of an accident happening to an agricultural labourer employed by a small farmer, the compensation would ruin and destroy that farmer. "Oh," says my right hon. Friend, "he should insure." I quite agree. But does he think, from his own experience as a matter of fact, that if we were at once, while this principle is still new, and has hardly penetrated into the minds of employers of labour throughout the country—["hear, hear !"]—does he think that as a class the farmers will immediately rush off to the insurance offices? We are told that the offices themselves are not yet prepared, that they have not even made their scale of charges. Would it not be well—is it not reasonable to urge, in the interests of the labourers as well as of the farmers, that some time should be given to see what the effect of the Bill is to be, and gain experience of these same trades and employers to which my hon. Friend referred? Is it not wise to wait for that experience before we impose the burden on such a trade as that of agriculture? It has been admitted, and hon. Gentlemen opposite cheered it, that if we were to admit the agricultural labourers we should no longer have cause or reason for refusing to include workshops and the whole of the rest of the trades of the country. They cheered that enthusiastically. ["Hear, hear !" from the Opposition.] Well, I don't want to throw in their teeth their past, action; but surely this is absolutely inconsistent with their past action. Take, for 1666 instance, the case of the agricultural labourer. What did they propose to do for the agricultural labourer? They proposed to give the agricultural labourer the advantages of the abolition of common employment. How many wounded labourers would have been helped in the course of a year by that? And, remember, that great boon—if boon it be—was to have been given to the agricultural labourer subject to litigation. The agricultural labourer who earns 8s. to 9s. a week was supposed to be able to prosecute his claim at an expense of perhaps £300 to £400 in law. I say that, as a matter of fact, in 1893 nothing was done for the agricultural labourer. In name something was done; in reality absolutely nothing. And at that time, as hon. Members recollect, I was urging upon the then Government that they should introduce this new principle which we are now recommending to the community. What was the answer? I am not complaining, but the answer at that time was that public opinion was not ripe. And now, when we do introduce it, when we are introducing what is admitted to be a very large Measure indeed, I find that all those hon. Gentlemen opposite who gave me no assistance then are all urging on the Government to include this and to include that. Is that a course really in the interest of the Bill? I address myself to hon. Gentlemen who are in favour of the Bill, and I ask them to deal with the Bill in a practical spirit. Do not they see—are not the signs of the times evident to them as they must be to everybody else—that to introduce a new principle of this kind is a great Parliamentary effort? We think we have carried that principle as far as we ought to be asked to do. But we do believe in our principle, and we shall continue to do so. We hope that as the result of experience a larger extension will be given to it after that experience has been fully before the country. But anybody who now presses us to introduce large additional classes, and at the same time involve ourselves in additional contests with those classes, can certainly not be called a true Friend of the Bill. ["Hear, hear !"]
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)
agreed with his right hon. Friend who had just sat down that it was extremely difficult to introduce the agricultural labourer into the Bill. But 1667 the difficulty of introducing many of the small trades affected was exactly as great. The right hon. Gentleman objected that those who attacked the Bill asked for logic. But the very ground on which he defeated the Bill of the late Home Secretary was that a logical proposal ought to be made to include all trades in its operation. It seemed to him that the Government had gone too far, or not far enough—["hear, hear !"]—and that it was impossible to justify the line which had been drawn in the present Bill. He could not resist the argument of the right hon. Gentleman, and he should not support the Amendment. But he was bound to say that the agricultural industry was affected by the Bill as it stood; for a casual dairy hand working at a churn moved by water-power would come under the Bill as he worked in a "factory," and that there were many such places worked by only two or three poeple which would come under the Bill, and where all the difficulties referred to by hon. Members on the other side would present themselves. He could not resist the conclusion that the more they looked at the Bill the more they felt that Government were bound to come to some principle as to the responsibility for compensation generally, for the small employer could not bear the strain the Bill would thrust upon him. He was certain they would have to come to that presently; and the value of these discussions was that they would more and more educate the country to feel that it was impossible to justify the arbitrary lines of distinction that must be drawn in a Bill of this kind, and that they must ultimately conic to the responsibility of the public or the State for the damages to be incurred. ["Hear, hear !"] The exclusion of the excluded trades would be much easier to justify if the Government had been prepared to introduce a Bill to improve the law as regarded the excluded trades. The right hon. Gentleman said he did not think the doctrine of common employment would affect the agricultural labourer. For his part, he believed that in all the serious accidents which befell the agricultural labourer he would find that it was common employment and contributory negligence which excluded them from compensation already. And when it was said that the agricultural labourer had no unions and would be 1668 unable to set the law in operation—was it not notorious that the law was set in operation at the present time on behalf of very poor labourers indeed, who had no unions, their cases being taken up as a speculation on the chance of getting damages. No, it was common employment and contributory negligence which did already exclude the agricultural labourer. Therefore, he held that the Government would be driven either to some form of recognition of public responsibility for loss in the case of a bankrupt employer, or else, if they continued to exclude certain trades, to improve the law with regard to the excluded trades.
§ *SIR MARK STEWART (Kirkcudbright)
said it had been suggested that as the Amendment would throw a burden on the land, the landlord would have to bear it. He did not object to it on that ground, but he did object to such legislation for Scotland at the present time, as many of the farms in Scotland—the greater part of the farms in the South of Scotland—were small farms held on a nineteen years' lease; and that being so, he held that the time had not arrived for the Bill to apply to Scotland. He could perfectly reconcile the different views which the right hon. Member for East Fife had referred to. But he contended that the Bill was not wanted, and there was no demand for it in the country. If there was a demand for it, he should be the last man to stand up against it, but there was none. There might be bad accidents in agricultural districts at times, but the sufferers were generally treated with great sympathy and liberality by employers and proprietors of the soil. Accidents, however, were extremely rare, and there was no reason for bringing the industry under the Act. The calculation of the number of accidents requirng hospital treatment was only one in three thousand in country districts. In the moorland districts of Ireland and in the Highlands of Scotland there were practically no accidents; and he was quite sure that very few Scotch Members would rise in the House and say that it would promote the general good to include agriculture in the scope of the Bill. He was sure that the effect would be that many small farmers would employ no labour whatever. They would endeavour themselves to do all the labour that was 1669 required on their own land, many old hands would be put off, and the labourers would be far worse off in many cases under this Bill than they already were.
§ MR. J. W. CROMBIE (Kincardineshire),
in supporting the Amendment, observed that the Colonial Secretary had once more warned them against logic. He would suggest that before the right hon. Gentleman asked them to remove the logic mote from their eyes he might remove the logic beam from the eye of the Home Secretary. The whole argument of the Home Secretary came to this that they could not include agriculture, because if they did so they would be obliged to include other trades. He submitted, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman was simply defending his position on purely logical grounds. The right hon. Gentleman had also said that there was no difference of opinion between the Front Bench and the hon. Gentlemen who sat behind. He submitted that there was. The Home Secretary said that he approved of the principle of including the agricultural labourer, but what he wanted them to do was to postpone that inclusion. He appealed to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Jeffreys) who had used certain arguments against the inclusion of the agricultural labourer, and would ask him whether he did not think that his arguments would be just as effective two years hence as they were at present. If they would be then there was a difference of opinion between hon. and right hon. Gentlemen. The Colonial Secretary did, he admitted, give them one argument in his attempt to reconcile those two things. He said in effect, "Wait a little; if you wait a little the farmers will learn to insure; at the present moment they do not insure, but bye-and-bye if you give them a little more time they will learn the principle of insurance." He submitted that at present the farmers had learned the principle of insurance. He had many small farmers in his constituency and he found that they insured against the burning of a hay stack which would be as great a calamity as that of a man falling off a hay rick. If they could insure against the one risk, they would quickly learn to insure against the other. This Bill applied to steam. In Scotland they had an enormous number of traction threshing machines. The workmen employed at those machines were 1670 employed at a travelling factory which was as much a factory as the factories included in the Measure. It was said that if they included the agricultural labourer in the Act they would do harm to agriculture itself. But at the present moment the greatest problem they had to face was that they could not get the agricultural labourers to remain on the land. They were tempted to the large towns by the much greater inducements that they got there. The Government were now going to add to that difficulty. They were going to give a fresh attraction to employment in the towns, and the farmer would have a worse difficulty in getting labourers. ["Hear, hear !"] The President of the Board of Agriculture was doing—and rightly doings—all he could to encourage cattle breeding. Kincardineshire at one time was a great cattle-breeding district but it had ceased to be so, and one reason for that was that no farmer could breed cattle because he could not get a sufficient supply of female labour. He submitted that if this Measure was passed and the agricultural interest left out the farmer would find greater difficulty in getting labourers. ["Hear, hear !"]
§ *LORD WILLOUGHBY DE ERESBY (Lincolnshire, Horncastle)
regretted that on this occasion he found himself not in line with the Government, but must support the Amendment of his hon. Friend. He was quite prepared to admit that a few of the oldest labourers, being more likely to suffer injury, might lose their employment, but he did not think that this should stand in the way of admitting the vast majority of agricultural labourers to the benefits of this Bill. His own feeling on this question was very strong. He believed the cost of insurance would be extremely small in the case of farm labourers, for almost all insurance companies would see perfectly well that there were very few risks which could occur to a farm labourer that were not brought about by his own fault and wilful negligence. There was the question of the small farmer, and as far as he was concerned he could not help thinking the landlords would have to look to themselves. A small farmer would be liable under this Bill, and if one of his labourers was killed or injured, he would suffer a very heavy loss unless he had insured. But it seemed to him that when he 1671 came with a farm agreement the landlord ought to see that such small farmer should insure his men. Personally, as far as he was concerned, in any estates he had to manage, he should make it a condition before such small farmers took a farm that they should produce the insurance policies for the one or two men they had to employ. He should be perfectly willing to deduct such cost from the rent, and he believed himself it would be a good thing for the landlords to act in this way, and for this reason. As the Bill stood if a man had to be called upon to pay a large sum it would mean practically ruin to the small farmer and the landlord would have a bankrupt tenant. But he considered the landlord was well able to look after his interest in that respect by making his small tenants insure the men he was likely to employ on his farm. He should support the Amendment of his hon. Friend in pursuance of a distinct pledge he had given to his constituents.
§ *SIR JOSEPH PEASE
remarked that it was a curious fact that those great industries whose employés had by their thrift obtained as good a position as they would have under the Bill were already included in the Measure. He spoke specially with regard to the industry he was connected with in Northumberland and Durham. He defied any man to show that the men who might meet with an accident or the widows of men who might be killed would not by the exertions of the men themselves and the help of their employers, be in as good a position as they would be under this Bill. Yet the Government had chose that industry and left out one which was worse off. Then with regard to the railways, they were included in the Bill, when it was well known that in connection with one or two of the larger companies the men would, by their own savings and care and by the help of the shareholders, be in a good position in the event of accidents happening, perhaps not so good as they would be in if the Bill were to pass into law. Under these circumstances it was a monstrous thing that those poor men in the agricultural industry, who earned worse wages than the railway men or the men engaged in the mines were to be left out in the cold. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham said that the day of logic had gone by. The day of equity, 1672 however, and of care, and of honesty of purpose had not gone by. He thought the views of a great many hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition side would change towards this Bill by the time the Third Reading stage was reached unless equity and public morality were carried to their full extent.
§ *MR. HENRY HOBHOUSE (Somerset, E.)
had always been of opinion that if once the House accepted the broad principle upon which this Bill was based, before many years were over it would be absolutely necessary in logic and in justice to give to every labourer in the country the right of compensation. At the same time he was quite convinced that the Government had taken the wisest and most prudent course in not applying the Bill—which was professedly experimental—at present to such industries as that of agriculture. The Bill had been discussed on the basis of large employments, to which the system of insurance could be more easily and cheaply applied. But in extending the Bill to such industries as agriculture they would have to do with a class of small employers. They knew by experience that the farmers were very slow to adopt new habits and he thought it was most desirable, both in their interests and in the interest of agriculture as a whole, that they should have time to see those new principles of insurance applied before they were called upon to apply them themselves. The question had been raised whether the application of this Bill would or would not be beneficial to the agricultural labourer. He thought that entirely depended upon whether the employers of the agricultural labourer insured generally or did not. He felt quite confident that if they did not insure—and in the first instance, at all events, the great majority of them, he believed, would prefer to run the risks of accidents rather than insure—that state of things would not be beneficial to the agricultural labourer as a whole. A farmer might be called upon to pay, perhaps, £300 down. Having no ready money, he would be unable to pay, and that would bring his creditors down upon him, and he would become insolvent, so that, not only would the injured man not get any compensation, but the other labourers in the employ of the farmer would lose their work. He 1673 thought that the principle introduced in this Bill ought not to be applied in a hurry to small employments. The statesmanlike course was first of all to apply this principle to the larger industries to see how it worked, and then gradually to bring within its scope the labourers in the other industries. It might be found necessary to introduce some form of State aid before it was applied to small employers, but he felt sure that the Bill as it stood could not be applied in the way it was now sought to apply it, and he should have no hesitation in voting against the Amendment.
MB. BRYN ROBERTS (Carnarvonshire, Eifion)
said he intended to support the Amendment, not only because he was an agricultural Member, but also because he was an admirer of the logic displayed by the Government. He could not but admire the serpentine wisdom of the Government in the framing of this Bill. The Debate had shown that if the Government had included agricultural labourers, there were a large number of friends of the agricultural labourers on the Government side of the House who would prevent the passing of the Bill.
§ MR. HARRY FOSTER (Suffolk, Lowestoft)
said that, as representing an agricultural constituency, he was deeply disappointed at the decision of the Government. He was sure that every agricultural Member on the Government side would endorse every word which fell from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife. ["No, no !"] The Government admitted the justice of the claim, and the right hon. Gentleman merely enforced it by pointing out that the agricultural labourers, above all classes, were least able to provide against accident. It was said on the Second Reading that there was no demand on the part of agricultural labourers for inclusion in the Bill. There was, on the contrary, a very strong demand for it on their part, and he confessed that he would find the greatest difficulty in explaining to his constituents why they were excluded. He would venture to ask one question of the Government. They were told that the Bill was an experiment, and when it had worked a certain time agriculture was to be included. He had not yet heard what was to be considered a reasonable time. ["Divide, divide !"] Hon. Members might shout 1674 "Divide !" but he had risen to discharge a duty, and he asked the Government what they considered a reasonable time in which to reconsider the question of t he inclusion of agriculture? This was the third Session of this Parliament. What chance was there that during its continuance this question would be considered? The agricultural industry was one of the greatest industries of the country, and he would like to know on what ground they were to tell their constituents they were not to be included in the Bill? He felt bound to support the Amendment.
§ SIR W. HART DYKE (Kent, Dartford)
did not agree that this was a great question of justice. It was a question of common sense. ["Hear, hear !"] It was perfectly obvious that a Measure of this magnitude should first be tried in connection with those industries in which the workers incurred the greatest amount of hazard. Looking to the great crisis through which agriculture was passing, he believed the House could not take a more hazardous step than to include agricultural labourers in the Bill. It was clear that, if agriculture was to keep its head above water, it could only do so by the multiplication of small holdings. If that were so, by the application of this Bill to agriculture, the difficulties of the situation would be greatly aggravated. He thought that was a substantial reason why the House should pause before they applied the principle of the Measure to the agricultural system. ["Hear, hear !"]
§ MR. HENRY BROADHURST (Leicester)
said his colleagues representing labour in the House would agree with him when he said that the artisans asked for no benefit or protection which was not given to their colleagues the farm labourers. His first criticism on the Bill was that it did not include that class. They did not ask for logic. They knew they would not get that, but what they did ask for was that the poorest class of labourers in the country, those who had the least means of protecting themselves, should be included in this great Bill. ["Hear, hear !"] Small farmers understood insurance as well as large farmers or manufacturers. They had insured under the Act of 1880. There would be no ruination, no men would be discharged on account of this Bill. Old 1675 men wore now employed, not on account of philanthropy, but because younger men could not be found. He hoped the Committee might have a definite assurance as to the time when the amending Bill would be introduced.
§ *MR. C. T. GILES (Cambridge, Wisbech)
said he found it very difficult indeed to discuss this Bill and to come to a conclusion as to the inclusion of agricultural labourers from lack of information as to the way it would affect farmers, small owners, and occupiers, and even labourers themselves. This question having been raised by Amendment, there had been no opportunity to ascertain the views of those interested in the matter. Agricultural labourers incurred greater dangers than persons employed in many factories, and on that and other grounds were certainly entitled to a Compensation for Accidents Bill. But if agricultural labourers were included in the Bill, they could not well exclude seamen, persons employed in workshops, and the building trade. [Opposition cheers.] He was decidedly in favour of the principle of workers in all these industries being compensated for accidents, but this Bill did not seem applicable to them. Some form of State insurance would be necessary. He trusted the Government would bring in a Bill which would include the industries excluded from the present Bill, and he would do all he could to urge them to do so.
§ *MR. J. G. WEIR (Ross and Cromarty),
speaking amidst cries of "Divide!" said he was disappointed that agricultural labourers were excluded from the Bill. The hon. Baronet the Member for Kirkcudbright said there was no call for the Bill in Scotland. That may be his opinion, but there could, he thought, be no question that the use of machinery was increasing amongst the large farmers, of whom there were many in the eastern part of Ross-shire. The Royal Commission on Deer Forests had shown that there were two million acres of uncultivated land in the Highlands. [Cries of "Question !"] There was no question about it. [Laughter and cheers.] Let there be more small farms in the Highlands, and let the landlords pay the insurance premium for the protection of the farmers against any liability for compensation arising through accidents to 1676 farm servants. He hoped the Government would afford compensation for accidents to agricultural labourers not only in Scotland, but in England. ["Hear, hear !"]
§ Question put, "That the word 'agriculture' be inserted."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 123; Noes, 175.—(Division List, No. 226.)
§ MR. S. WOODS (Essex, Walthamstow)
moved, after the word "quarry," to insert the word "shop." He said that the Amendment would bring within the scope of the Bill a very large body of working men and women. In the City of London alone there were 100,000 persons engaged in work in shops. They were exposed to certain risks—for example, risks of lift accidents—and he held that they ought to be included in the Bill.
§ SIR MATTHEW WHITE RIDLEY
hoped the hon. Member would not press his Amendment. The Committee had rejected the proposal to include agricultural labourers, and a fortiori, unless this Bill was to be made absolutely comprehensive, it would not be reasonable to include shop assistants. The Committee, of course, sympathised with all classes of workers who were liable to injuries from accidents, but if the question were regarded from a practical point of view, he thought it would be admitted that this Bill ought not to be extended in the direction desired by the hon. Member.
§ MR. S. WOODS
said that after the statement of the right hon. Gentleman he realised that it would be useless for him to press his Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ SIR F. EVANS (Southampton)
moved, in Sub-section (1), after the word "quarry," to insert the word "ship." Considerable complaints, he said, had been heard as to the supposed oppressiveness of the Measure upon particular trades. Wishing to find out how it would affect the industry with which he was connected, he had caused calculations to be made showing how his company would have been affected if the Bill had been in operation since 1891, and had extended to seamen, firemen, and ships' 1677 servants. Those calculations showed that for the last six years the annual charge necessary to meet all risks under the Bill would not have exceeded £400. In his opinion the Bill, by fixing the compensation payable for injuries, would be advantageous to employers. The difficulty of employers at present was to gauge the amount that they ought to pay in cases of accidents. Under this Bill, if seamen and firemen were included, shipowners would know exactly what they would have to pay. The company with which he was connected had 90,000 tons of shipping, and on the average about 130 men per ship, yet, as he had said, the gross charge for accidents would not exceed £400 a year. Experience with "tramp" vessels, as distinguished from "liners," showed that the cost would have been not more than double, and he pointed out that the risk could easily be insured against. There were so few cases of permanent incapacity that he was of opinion that they might almost be left out of consideration. Forty years ago the company with which he was connected lost one ship and a portion of her crew off the coast of Africa, but since then there had been no case of total loss. If seamen and firemen were included, he felt it would be an additional inducement to them to come into the service. He entirely disagreed with the argument that a special Act was necessary to deal with seamen. The Merchant Shipping Acts of this country which applied to seamen applied only to questions of detail which had nothing at all to do with the principle at stake in this Bill. ["Hear, hear !"] He asked for the inclusion of these men as an employer of these men—[cheers]—and surely the Government could not but aid him. He was willing to accept their Bill just as it stood; and there was no shipowner in the country who, if he would make the calculations which he himself had made, would not be glad to accept the principle. He begged to move his Amendment. [Cheers.]
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
I feel that the hon. Gentleman is a friend of this Bill, and I would add that his desire to include his own trade in the Bill is much more defensible than the attitude of some other 1678 employers who desire to exclude their trades. ["Hear, hear !"] At the same time, I think he has minimised the difficulties in our way, which would not apply, I doubt not, to such businesses as he is himself connected with. We all know that the state of things in the great lines is altogether different from that in the average shipping of the country, and that passenger ships are remarkably free from accidents of any kind. We cannot say the same thing, unfortunately, of the mass of the merchant trade. There are other matters, which suggest themselves to anyone, which point to a very considerable difference between trades on land and trades on sea. I will give one single case, for I do not intend to labour the question. A man engages for a long voyage, he is away, perhaps, for six months: in the course of the voyage he meets with an accident, and he is laid up for three months. If he were a workman on land he would have to provide for himself, to get his own medical attendance, his own food, and lodging. But the man who is rendered absolutely useless, say, for a term of three months, on board ship is kept and paid his wages, and has such medical attendance as the ship can afford for the whole of that period. Any one who thinks the matter out will see that there are very marked differences between the shipping trade and trades on land. The Government considered that to put this vast industry into a Bill of this kind would be to overload it. What we have said about the agricultural labourers we say with infinitely greater force with regard to shipping. We cannot undertake the responsibility of admitting into a Bill of this kind, which introduces this principle for the first time, such a trade as the shipping trade, which would enormously complicate the issues and greatly increase the opposition and friction with which we have to deal. Therefore our position is that, while we do not include it in the Bill, we recognise that the condition of things with regard to the shipping trade will not be satisfactory, and that, therefore, sooner or later—we hope sooner rather than later—it will be the duty of the Government to deal with it.
§ SIR ARTHUR FORWOOD (Lancashire, Ormskirk)
said he must express disappointment at the tone of his right hon. Friend and at the reception he had given 1679 to this proposal. ["Hear, hear !"] He, for one, as a shipowner, was not prepared to throw the onus of responsibility as regards compensation for accidents on other employers which he was not prepared to accept himself. [Opposition cheers.] If there was one industry in the country which could have been brought without difficulty into the Bill it was the shipping industry. He took it that this Bill did not provide that a man should receive relief when incapacitated and full wages as well. He thought that if his right hon. Friend had realised the great dangers and suffering attendant on this industry he would have given the Committee a more definite assurance that, at any rate, at an early date—say, next Session—a Measure dealing with shipping would be brought in. There was nothing to be found out in regard to shipping—they had plenty of statistics. ["Hear, hear !"] At present the burden of the accidents which happened fell on those who were least able to bear it—the employés. He thought the capitalists ought to be called on to share the burden. ["Hear, hear !"] He had gone very carefully through the Blue-books to ascertain what the cost would be to owners, and he found that less than 6d. per man per week would amply provide a fund which would meet the loss of life through casualties and the inevitable accidents which happened at sea. Moreover, the shipping interest was exceedingly well organised, and all the systems of insurance were available to protect the small shipowner, who was not prepared to take these responsibilities. If there was one industry which was more thoroughly equipped to undertake this liability than another it was the shipping industry. He was bound to accept the decision of the Government, but he protested against its omission, and urged the Government, not later than next Session, to introduce a Bill dealing with merchant shipping on at least as liberal lines as were proposed in this Bill.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
said it was very remarkable that the desire which had been expressed by two shipowners who were well known and respected in that House should be neglected. He felt certain that there would be no dissent from those views by other shipowners present. ["Hear, hear !"] The inclusion of shipping would 1680 not necessitate the extension of the Bill to other trades. If by its inclusion certain Amendments would be necessary in the schedule and elsewhere, he felt sure no appreciable time would be lost, as the Committee generally would be ready to accept them. It was true that shipowners of the class represented by his hon. Friend behind him included the élite of the shipping trade, and it was because they had brought the shipping trade to this state of perfection that they would not be involved in any large expenditure for compensation; but what the Committee had to look to was the other portion of the shipping trade, where the same care was not taken, and in connection with which the real advantage of the Bill would be felt.
§ SIR EDWARD HILL (Bristol, S.)
said that in former years he had been a supporter of a universal system of compensation to all workmen for all accidents, and he was so still. He had drafted Amendments to the Bill of the late Home Secretary, and he was now surprised to find that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who then gave him no assistance were now anxious to see all classes of labour included. Whatever the cost of accidents at sea might be, he thought that the cost should be borne by the shipowner, and he was prepared to vote in this direction. If, moreover, it were a question now whether or not sailors should be included in the benefits of the Bill he would be prepared to vote for it; but that was not the question. The question was whether it was desirable sailors should be brought under this Bill or under the Bill suggested by the Colonial Secretary next year, which would be more suited to the peculiarities of employment at sea. It must be manifest that there was a considerable difference in the employment at sea as compared with the employment on land. Shipowners had already adopted the principle he had indicated by forming themselves into a federation which comprised three-fourths of the tonnage owned in the country, and these shipowners had given of their own accord compensation, to the sailors serving in their ships in all accidents. He wanted the Bill to pass because he believed it would be of enormous benefit to the working classes, while the burden on the employer would not be so heavy as some anticipated. Though 1681 in favour, therefore, of universal compensation, he believed that the Government had done wisely in introducing this Measure tentatively. There would be little difficulty hereafter in extending the principle of the Bill further, and especially after it had been in operation for some time. He could not support the Amendment.
§ MR. J. SAMUEL (Stockton)
thought that the argument of the hon. Member was very inconsistent. If the Government were to include the shipping trade it was clear from the speeches which had been made that there would be no opposition from the shipowners themselves. The Colonial Secretary urged that the Bill should be applied to the dangerous trades of the country, but statistics showed that the shipping trade was the most dangerous of any calling. Under the Factory and Workshops Act during the last ten years the loss of life had been 4,000; in mines 11,000; and at sea 22,000. The Bill might tend to reduce the loss of life and the number of accidents by causing employers to be more careful in guarding machinery, and the same observation would equally apply to the care which would be imposed upon shipowners in looking after the welfare of the seamen in their ships. He protested against the decision of the Government in excluding seamen from the provisions of the Bill.
§ [After the usual interval, Mr. GRANT LAWSON (York, N.R., Thirsk) took the Chair.]
§ SIR H. S. KING (Hull, Central)
said he was in favour of the extension of the Bill to all seamen without exception; but, assuming that the Government persevered in their hostility to the Amendment, he hoped they would so far listen to the sweet charms of logic as to include within the operation of the Bill all persons employed on ships in port or harbour. By the next clause of the Bill protection was extended to men employed at wharves, docks, and quays; and, that being so, surely it was illogical to exclude men working on ships in port or harbour.
§ MR. E. H. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
said that as he understood the Bill it would have the effect of protecting persons who were engaged in loading or unloading a ship if that ship 1682 was drawn up by the side of a dock or quay; but, if that ship was in the centre of a dock or anchored in mid-stream and was being unloaded by a lighter, there was no such protection. That was a distinction that must arouse the opposition of London Members especially. ["Hear, hear !"] It was grossly inconsistent to protect a docker when he was loading or unloading a ship drawn up by the side of a dock or quay and to give him no protection when he was engaged in the far more dangerous occupation of unloading a vessel into a lighter.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
did not think that as the Bill now stood a ship in mid-stream would be included, but he understood his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary proposed to introduce words later on which would include a ship lying at a quay.
§ MR. JOHN BURNS (Battersea)
asked what would happen in the case of a vessel which was loading corn, say, by means of an elevator within 9 feet of the dock side?
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
said that the words to be introduced would cover the case of vessels being unloaded at the quay by machinery.
§ CAPTAIN NORTON (Newington, W.)
asked what would happen in the case of a vessel partially unloaded in mid-stream and partially in dock?
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
said that it was perfectly obvious from what he had previously said that the operation in midstream would not be covered by the Act, but that alongside the quay would be included.
§ SIR H. S. KING
stated that there were a hundred and one operations performed when a ship came in which, being under the supervision of the employer, ought to be covered by the Bill. If in order, he would move to amend the Amendment by adding after the word "ship" the words "while in any port or harbour of the United Kingdom."
§ *MR. HARRISON
said the Attorney General had reminded the Committee that in the selection of trades or occupations the promoters had proceeded on the lines of including those trades or occupations in respect of which protection 1683 and insurance were the most accessible. The shipping trade, therefore, was most suitable for inclusion in the Bill, for it was a matter of almost common knowledge that ship owners had agreed upon a system of universal insurance. Why should the shipping industry be excluded? There could be no reason why the Bill should not be extended to an industry which all those interested in it were perfectly willing it should be extended to. He trusted that under the circumstances the Government would assent to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Southampton, and would not limit it, as proposed by the Amendment of the hon. Member for the Central Division of Hull.
§ *MR. W. F. LAWRENCE (Liverpool, Abercromby)
said that although there seemed a consensus of opinion that it would be well if they could extend the Bill to ships actually lying next to a quay, it was evident that the present Amendment could not be adopted by the House. Its terms were wide enough to include the channels of the Mersey, where collisions were not infrequent. The Government had done well in restricting the Bill to a limited number of classes of employment. It would have been very easy to earn a certain amount of popularity by enlarging the Bill, but he was glad that the Government were very carefully scrutinising every Amendment. He was perfectly prepared to approach the question, of the insurance of seamen with an open mind, for he felt certain that the principle must be extended to all classes of workers systematically. For years past, however, seamen had been treated in. a different category to other workmen. Why should they now be included in this experimental Measure? It must be remembered that seamen were not all of one nationality, and that of itself was a reason why they should be treated differently from other classes of workmen. He thought the Government were right in taking a firm stand. If they did think fit to include seamen strict words should be inserted providing that when a ship had started on her voyage she should not come under the purview of the Bill. During the Debate important and successful ship owners had spoken in favour of a universal system of insurance for sailors, but he did not think the House ought to consider that 1684 their evidence covered the whole shipping interest. The hon. Member for Southampton spoke of 40 years' experience free from accident. The hon. Member was a very happy man, and the Chairman of a very happy company, but there were a crowd of companies managed with as much care as the hon. Member's who had not had equal happiness and success. He did not think the gay manner in which the hon. Member proposed that this Bill should be extended as a result of his own happy experience justified the Committee in thinking that all ship owners were of the same opinion. A few years ago the hon. Member for Ormskirk told the House there was no analogy between the management of a coal mine and the navigation of a ship, and asserted that the two ought not to be dealt with in the same Bill. He thought there were sufficient grounds why they should move slowly in a measure of this kind. He believed there was so much truth in the principle that assuredly the longer it worked the more effective it would be, and that there would be no permanent objection on the part of the shipowners to be subject, in a future Act, to the principle of this Bill.
§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON (Middlesbrough)
was somewhat surprised to hear the hon. Gentleman opposite, who said he represented the seamen, venturing to advise the House to reject the claim which had emanated from two shipowners of great prominence in that House. He was there to fight for the seamen having this Bill. Since 1880 they had been excluded from the protection of the Employers' Liability Act, and he felt sure, from what he knew of the sea, that, had they had that protection, hundreds, perhaps thousands of men who had met their death at sea would have been alive to-day. The hon. Gentleman opposite said there was a great difference between employment on shore and employment at sea—that the shipowner could not exercise control when the ship was at sea. That was an argument, he ventured to say, which would not hold good for a moment. The shipowner, he held, was in exactly the same position as the mine owner. So long as the captain was on board the ship representing the owner, the owner's interests were well represented equally as much as the interests of the mine owner. Perhaps more so, because of late years a system had sprung up in the shipping 1685 trade whereby no captain could pet employment on a tramp steamer unless he was prepared to introduce £500 or £1,000 for the purpose. Consequently one of the part owners were on board the ship, and he knew as a matter of fact that on the bulk of the tramp steamers to-day, the engineers, captain, and officers were compelled to be shareholders before they got their command. Would any one say then, that the owners were not well represented on board these ships? The Colonial Secretary used an argument which very much surprised him. The right hon. Gentleman said that when a seaman was injured on board ship he was in an altogether different position from the man on shore, because the seaman might be injured at the commencement of a long voyage and would continue on board for three or four months, and his wages would be paid for the whole time. Where did the hardship come upon the shipowner in that case? He did not take on any fresh men. The men who were left on the ship had to do the work of that man, and consequently no hardship tell upon the shipowner through the man being laid aside. But he would point out to the Colonial Secretary that the bulk of the work was earned on in steamers, and it was seldom that more than 15 days elapsed between a steamer leaving one port and reaching another. The moment that ship arrived in port the injured seaman was put ashore and his wages ceased at once. All the shipowner was responsible for after that man was landed was the hospital expenses and his conveyance home to the United Kingdom at the rate of 3s. a day. They had been told from both sides of the House that a special protection was given to the seaman that was not given to the working man. He ventured to say that there was more protection afforded to the miner under the Coal Mines' Regulation Act and to the operative under the Factory Act than was given to the seaman under the Shipping Act. The Colonial Secretary had stated that "we have applied the principle in the first place where there are the most accidents," and that "every trade which may fairly be called dangerous is included." He found from the Board of Trade Returns for May that for one month the number of men killed on the 1686 railroads was 27; in mines, 64; in quarries, 10; and seamen, 191. These figures, taking the test of the Secretary for the Colonies, constituted the highest claim for the extension of the protection of the Bill to seamen. But if they compared these figures with the number of men employed in these several industries the result was even more startling. There were 370,000 men employed on the railroads; in mines, over 700,000; in factories and workshops, close upon 5,000,000 people were engaged, while the number engaged at sea varied from 180,000 to 200,000. If a monthly death-roll of 191 out of a total employment of 200,000 was not a strong argument in favour of this Bill being extended to seamen, he should like to know what was. Would it be a hardship to apply this Bill to shipowners? He did not think it would. An ordinary tramp steamer that was not worth more than £12,000, ac-according to present value, would be insured for £16,000 or £17,000. Therefore, if the shipowner lost that vessel he made a clear profit of £5,000. Would it be any hardship in that case to pay out of that £5,000 a little to the widows and orphans of the men who had been drowned with that vessel, whether the owner was responsible or not? Another point which ought to carry weight with the Committee was the fact that shipowners paid no poor rates. No matter if a ship was worth £100,000, he did not pay a penny of poor rate, although if they had a mine worth £100,000, the owner would probably pay from £5,000 to £10,000 a year in poor rate. There was no poorhouse in which they would not find a large number of seamen—young men, injured for life—kept there at the expense of the ratepayers, while the ships from which these men came and on which they were injured, did not pay a single farthing of poor rate. He found that every day large numbers of seamen were injured on board ship through carelessness on the part of officers. Were those officers dismissed? No, they were kept on, and no notice was taken. Why, if sailors were killed on board ship, there was no inquiry whatever. Hundreds of men were killed on board ship; the vessel arrived home, and unless one of the crew made a special report to the superintendent no notice whatever was taken. True, it was entered 1687 in the official log, which went to the Registrar General; but they had no special right to make inquiries into these accidents, and no notice was taken of them. If ever there was a body of men deserving the protection of this Bill, it was the seamen. The special protection of the Shipping Act ! One hon. Member ventured to tell the House that seamen should not have the Bill, because the owners were compelled to provide medical and surgical attendance on board ship. On hearing that, one would suppose that every ship carried a doctor. As a matter of fact, the only ships which carried doctors were those carrying over 100 persons. Where did the medical attendance come in? Not one captain out of a hundred could set a limb; and if a man got a limb broken on board a sailing vessel, on a passage, he had to lie in agony two or three months, and when he was landed, probably through the neglect he had suffered, he was obliged to have it cut off. He had found a large number of unfortunate men injured on board sailing ships while on long passages, who were cripples to this day—young men many of them. Then for the medical part of the business. A lot of knowledge the captains and officers had about medicine! Why, they had only one remedy for every injury a seaman was liable to, and that was a dose of salts [Laughter.] That was absolutely safe. [Laughter.] Why he had known them give a man with a broken leg a dose of salts. [Muck laughter.] And then they were told that because seamen got medical attendance they should not be included in this Bill! Then as to the funeral expenses. Well, he had not yet found the ship that carried a full-rigged undertaker on board. They did not carry mourning coaches, nor did they carry coffins to fit every man. If a sailor had the misfortune to die at sea, they stitched him up in a few yards of canvas—old canvas preferred—and they threw him overboard before his body was cold. [Cries of "Order!"] Yes, but he was answering the arguments of hon. Gentlemen who had made use of these statements about medical assistance and so on, as a reason why seamen should not have the Bill. It might not be palatable, but it was true; and when these arguments were brought up to induce the House to deny seamen the right to the 1688 protection of this Bill he was entitled to answer them. A ship owner said, "I fit my vessel out and send her away thousands of miles, and I have no control over her." He maintained that he had as much control over his ship when she was at sea as a mine owner who might be in Egypt had over his mine in this country. ["Hear, hear!"] It had been said that the Bill might be applied to seamen when in English ports. That would be simply a farce; because as soon as the ship arrived in a British port the crew were discharged within 24 hours. In fact they ceased to work as soon as the vessel was made fast alongside the dock; they were paid off at once, and all claim on the owner ceased. It would be simply a farce, therefore, to apply the Bill to the men when they were no longer connected with the ship in any way. He should be sorry if the question of the dockers and that of seamen were mixed up in this Debate. The question of the dockers was already apart from the question of seamen and ships. This Bill would apply undoubtedly to all ships lying alongside the quay or wharf in docks, but not to ships in mid-stream or to ships discharging in the centre of a dock. Now in the port of Hull, a large part of the work connected with ships was done in the centre of the dock, when the vessels were being discharged into lighters; and as the Bill stood at present it would not apply to the men so engaged. And then on the Thames there was a large amount of work carried on in mid-stream, and in that case, the work was far more dangerous than when the vessels were lying at quay, because at quay they had the use of cranes, whereas in mid-stream they used the gear of the vessel, and there was not the same supervision over a ship's gear as over the cranes on the quays. But, as he had said, he hoped they would keep the cases of the seamen and dockers apart, because the seamen had a special claim to come under the Bill. And after it had been asked for by two of the leading ship owners in the country, he could not understand the Government at all. If the ship owners had come down in a body, and opposed the Bill the same as the mine owners had done, he could have understood the position of the Government. They had the ship owners saying "Give us this Bill," but the Government 1689 said, "No, we can't; we must experiment on the mine owners, because they don't want it." That was a funny position for the Government to take—a very clear one no doubt. In the past ten days he had seen large deputations of mine owners lobbying Members of the House of Commons and asking them to oppose the Bill. They had seen nothing of the kind on the part of the ship owners. In fact, all the respectable ship owners were desirous—[laughter]—there was no mistake about it, it was perfectly true, all the respectable shipowners were in favour of the Bill being applied to seamen. It was only the managing owners who had ventured to pass a resolution or two and send up a petition—a very badly drawn petition it was—[laughter]—using arguments that would not hold water for a moment, about funeral expenses and medical expenses on board ship. He intended to press this thing to a Division and to fight it every inch of the way. He had been asking for; 16 years that the seamen should be given justice by extending the Employers' Liability Act to them; and now in Her Majesty's great Jubilee year they were still to be left out. Was it because seamen had no votes? The miners could vote in a solid body and make their Members sit up. [Laughter.] But if seamen had no votes, they knew the men who had got them; and one thing was certain—they would take particular care of the Division List and would know how to talk to those gentlemen who refused them justice. [Cries of "Order, order!"]
§ *COLONEL DENNY (Kilmarnock Burghs)
said the final remark of the hon. Member for Middlesbrough reminded him of a similar remark he made to himself in private about two years ago.
§ *COLONEL DENNY
Let it be private, then. He would only say that, representing a constituency which included a seaport town, he would challenge the hon. Member to go down there and say what he had just said in the House.
§ *COLONEL DENNY
said no Member of that House would be moved by threats. There were very grave reasons why sailors should not be included in the Bill; and if the ship owners had not 1690 agitated it was because the Government had given a solemn pledge that the Bill should not be extended to shipping. [Cries of "Oh, oh!"]
§ *COLONEL DENNY
said a pledge was given on the Second Reading; otherwise very distinct representations would have been made on behalf of the ship owners.
§ SIR F. EVANS
I deny that there is such a feeling. If there is such a feeling it ought to be given expression to on the floor of the House of Commons, so that we may all know it. It is no argument that the hon. Member should state that the Government have given a pledge which is entirely unknown to me or any of my friends.
§ *COLONEL DENNY
I think I am entirely justified. The Attorney General will correct me if I am wrong in saying that the Secretary for the Colonies stated that it was not the Government's intention to apply this Bill to seamen. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ SIR F. EVANS
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member. I would not do so if I had not particular reasons. [Cries of "Order, order!"]
THE CHAIRMAN (Mr. GRANT LAWSON)
The hon. Member ought not to make the interruption. This is the second time he has done so.
§ *COLONEL DENNY
The statement was made on the floor of this House by the Secretary for the Colonies—I believe I am correct—and the Home Secretary repeated it. That was a very strong reason why ship owners should not be included; but even if that were not the case, the objection to it was very strong. The ship owners' organisation was greatly opposed to this Measure. If the Government fulfilled their promise and brought in a Bill to meet the wants of the seamen, then this could be done. Let them take his own case. In their own works they were entirely responsible for the overseers whom they appointed. They were in easy reach of their places of business. But on board ship everything was provided, and every care taken that the sailor should have a safe voyage. None of these 1691 precautions prevailed ashore; they were obliged to carry out their business without any assistance from the Government. Suppose a ship went to sea and was absent for six months, it might return in an entirely different condition from that in which it started. The hon. Member for Southampton told them that £400 would cover his expenses under this Bill. He knew the hon. Member's fleet, and confirmed every word he said about it. A man who went down to the sea in such ships did not run more, perhaps not so much, risk as a man walking about the streets. ["Hear, hear!"] He hoped the hon. Member did not say that at no time could there be a loss through accident. Take the case of a railway manager stating that they had never had an accident, and the reply to that was, "Your time has not come yet." And that was true, for according to the doctrine of chance, certain accidents must happen regardless of all care. They would find two ships equally well provided, and one would come back free and the other with a very serious accident. He admitted that as to these great lines they had everything to be proud of; but the bulk of the shipping was in other and smaller hands. It was in the hands often of owners who had one or two ships only, and their responsibilities would not be met by £1, but by scores of pounds, and even hundreds. No owner outside of the House had yet made his voice heard, and when they were considering legislation of that scope they should look farther than mere individuals. After the statement made by the Colonial Secretary and repeated by the Home Secretary, that the shipowners would not be called within the scope of the Bill, he did not think it would be fair to insert this Amendment.
§ MR. WALTON (Leeds, S.)
said as it was almost hopeless to expect to get the Amendment carried in its present form he hoped the Government would accept it when modified. He proposed to move an Amendment to confine the Bill to all men employed upon vessels on inland waters.
THE CHAIRMAN (Mr. GRANT LAWSON)
said it would be inconvenient to propose another Amendment at this stage. It could be prepared later.
§ *SIR C. DILKE
said some hon. Members seemed to think that a definite 1692 pledge had been given by the Government not to include sailors. He had listened attentively to the Debate, and he had not heard such a pledge given, and no such pledge had been given. The Government had introduced the Bill without ships in it. They had to give reasons for the form in which they introduced the Bill, and no doubt they gave the best reasons which occurred to them, which were that it had never been the practice to bring seamen under Bills of this kind.there is sufficient reason, I think, for excluding them, but the Government are not indisposed to listen to arguments which may be brought forward for their inclusion.He thought, therefore, they might dismiss from their minds any idea about a pledge. No doubt if the Committee were to include ships in the Bill, and make a considerable change the ship-owning class would have some reason for asking that there should be time given it to make its voice heard in the matter. But ships to some small and limited extent came within the Bill at the present time, because they were factories. They were included in the Bill when they were discharging or receiving cargo from the dock by means of machinery. They were factories when discharging in a dock, but not when discharging into lighters, and in the latter case the Act did not apply. So that compensation would apply in the case of machinery used on board the ships for discharging in the dock if a man was injured in that process, but if he was injured during a corresponding process by the same machinery when discharging into a lighter lying on the other side he would not receive compensation under the Bill. The Government made a plausible defence on the Second Reading for resisting an Amendment of this kind stating that shipping had never been included in factory legislation with the exception he had indicated, and that ships ought to be dealt with by a separate Bill. He should be perfectly prepared to accept that view so put forward on behalf of the Government, if they had any certain or firm belief that the Government were going to deal with the matter by means of a separate Bill. But when they asked some questions with regard to the introduction of the Bill this year, or next even, they were put off and told that at 1693 some very distant date the thing might be done. In other words, he thought that by some future Government it might be done, rather than by the present administration. While he, for one, should be inclined to listen to anything the Government had to say as a reason for dealing with the matter in a separate Bill, he could not accept that as a reason for not supporting this excellent Amendment, when they had nothing approaching a definite pledge as to dealing with the matter. The fact was the Government were afraid of the ship owners. Some of their Members having burned their fingers on former occasions when dealing with the shipping trade they were perhaps a little afraid of including them in this Bill. The Government feared to introduce the shipping trade on the first introduction of the Bill because that might have overweighted the Bill and produced a pressure of opinion against it in that House. Would the Government mind so much if the Committee themselves were to take the bull by the horns and introduce shipping into the Bill? He doubted it. He did not believe that the Government would object to having this Amendment forced upon them by the feeling of the House itself. Shipping was one of those industries which ought to come into this Bill, considered as an experimental Measure. Those reasons which had been advanced for the exclusion of the agricultural labourers from the Bill were the very reasons which called for the inclusion of seamen. The shipping industry was a great and wealthy industry where, in the main, the employers were persons or companies more substantial than the average employers in other trades, and above all they had the practice of insurance always present to them. Every company engaged in the shipping industry was constantly in the habit of insuring. They were including in the Bill all sorts of industries which were not dangerous. They were told that the object of the Government was to include those industries in which the most accidents occurred. Here was one in which most accidents occurred, yet in the case of this great industry which came so thoroughly within the provisions of a tentative Bill, the matter was excluded. The only reason could be that the Government must have shrank originally from including this great industry in the Bill 1694 for fear of the opposition which the Measure might be exposed to on that account. But the Government could not mind if the Committee were to force this view upon them, and the Government having given no sort of pledge to deal with the matter themselves in the course of the next year or two by a separate Bill, hon. Members, in the absence of such a pledge, were bound to support the proposal which had been made.
§ SIR DONALD CURRIE (Perthshire, W.)
was in favour of the Amendment to the Amendment which would apply the Bill to vessels in a port whether in mid-stream' or otherwise. He must not be supposed for one moment to be objecting to the inclusion of sailors in the benefits of compensation—["hear, hear!"]—but he thought they should not be included in this Bill. A special Bill was really required, and that Bill should be brought in as speedily as possible, and he should be glad to support it with all his power. The Government had the responsibility for this Bill, and they suggested that it would be endangered if other trades were included. Upon them must be the responsibility. He wished to do nothing to hinder the passage of this Bill, and he thought there was sufficient danger before it to make hon. Members careful not to hamper its progress in any way with additional complications. His hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough (Mr. J. H. Wilson) spoke of a case in which a, hatch was left off by the fault of the officers, and said that if a man was injured in consequence he would be all right if he came within the scope of this Bill. But he submitted that if it was the fault of the officers, the owner was already liable. He ventured to hope the House would adopt the Amendment to the Amendment. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
said that if the House was really desirous of carrying out this Amendment, it appeared to him that this and not next year was the most suitable time. ["Hear, hear!"] He quite admitted that if the shipping trade was included certain Amendments would have to be carried out, but on his side of he House no undue delay would arise on those Amendments, and if the Government were prepared to accept this proposal he could assure right hon. Gentlemen opposite that those on his side of 1695 the House would accept the necessary Amendments with the greatest possible alacrity. He would suggest to his hon. Friend the Member for Hull that he should allow the Committee to have a clear issue and a clear vote on this matter. ["Hear, hear!"] His hon. Friend proposed that this proposal should only apply to ships in any port or harbour in the United Kingdm. He understood that his hon. Friend himself was in favour of the application of the Bill to sailors generally, and he would appeal to him not to press his Amendment so that the Committee might have a clean vote with regard to the inclusion of sailors. They could afterwards discuss how far the Factory Act of 1895 or this Bill ought to apply to ships in dock or in mid-stream. He could only express his regret that the Government had not seen their way to accept an Amendment which had been pressed on them by the most representative of the employers as well as by those who represented the men themselves. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ *SIR THOMAS SUTHERLAND (Greenock)
wished to say a few words from the ship owners' point of view. With regard to the application of the existing law to accidents which happened on ships in port, whether discharging on to the quay or into lighters alongside, he believed that if an accident arose from some blunder committed on board the ship, the injured man could bring an action against the owner; and such actions had often been successful. But that was, perhaps, a not very material point with regard to the question now before the Committee. In this matter he stood simply on the evidence given before the Select Committee of 1886 on the Employers' Liability Act of which he had the honour to be a member. The whole of this question was thoroughly investigated, and as far as he recollected the members of the Committee agreed to a recommendation, without a dissentient voice, that shipping should not be included in the operation of the new Act except to the extent of making owners responsible when their ships are in port and under their control. That was a recomendation he was sure every ship owner would readily endorse. The hon. Member for Hull was under a slight misapprehension as to the accidents occurring to seamen as seamen. There were comparatively few seamen on board 1696 ship in port, and the accidents which occurred there were to stevedores, dockers, and labourers, who had full opportunity of bringing an action. Conditions applicable to great steamship companies were not, and ought not to be, any criterion of the conditions which would apply to owners of sailing vessels, and especially coasting vessels. Although in magnitude of tonnage and the distances they travelled steam vessels outnumbered sailing vessels by 50 to 1, the loss of life in sailing vessels was fully half the total loss of life in the mercantile marine. So if the Amendment were brought into operation and ships of all kinds were put under it, it would be one more nail in the coffin of the sailing ship and coasting vessel interest, and our supply of British seamen would be hindered by the loss of coasting vessels more than by anything else. Therefore this was not a question for rich companies such as the hon. Member for Southampton represented, or for poor companies such as he himself represented. [Laughter.] We had better follow the example of the Germans one step further and leave alone what they had left alone—compulsory insurance on the part of German shipping. There was no one behind the scenes in connection with this subject who was not fully aware that one of the dangers of the future would be German competition. He did not pretend to be a philanthropist like the hon. Member for Southampton and others beside him. He stood on the evidence given before a Committee of the House, which evidence had never been superseded, to which the hon. Member for Middlesbrough contributed in a marked degree and in the fairest manner by absolving ship owners from any responsibility in cases where it was impossible for them to exercise any practical control.
§ SIR H. S. KING
said he recognised the extreme difficulties of bringing this matter to a practical issue, but after the discussion that had taken place he asked leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ SIR FRANCIS EVANS
commented on the careless manner in which the opponents of the Bill had arrayed their forces against it. His hon. Friend the Member for Greenock, relying upon some calculations made 11 years ago in connection. 1697 with a Bill which, of course, was not before the House, said that he was not prepared to change his opinion now. The hon. Member, in fact, said, "I won't play." That was a nice way of disposing of a question which, concerned the interests of the seamen of our mercantile marine. The right hon. Member for the Ormskirk Division had spoken in favour of his Amendment, but said that a special Bill was to be brought in and that, therefore, the Amendment need not be pressed. The right hon. Gentleman "would not play." Next came the hon. and gallant Member for South Bristol, who said that the Amendment was reasonable, but who also, like the right hon. Member for Ormskirk, "would not play." The same attitude had been taken up by other Members. Where then was he to look for support on behalf of men who, hon. Members knew in their hearts, ought to have the benefit of the Bill? Hon. Members expressed themselves in favour of his proposal, and yet would not vote for it. The way in which his Amendment had been met did not reflect great credit upon the ship owners and their representatives. [Sir A. FORWOOD: "I never said I would not vote for the Amendment!"] He hoped that he might understand from that that the right hon. Baronet was going to vote for the Amendment. As he had previously said, the difference as regards insurance between liners and other vessels was the difference between 6d. and 1s. That was proved by their 20 years' experience of insurance in Protection clubs.
§ *MR. WARR (Liverpool, East Toxteth)
said nothing had shown the rapid advance of public opinion in England more than the reception, he might say the welcome, which the proposals involved in this Measure, rightly called a revolutionary Measure, had received at the hands of employers of labour. That this should be so was to the infinite credit of employers. When one set of employers—ship owners—were definitely opposed to the Measure so far as their trade was concerned, it was not unreasonable to suppose that there were at all events some reasonable grounds upon which their views were based. In Liverpool the Steam Ship Owners' Association had expressed total disapproval of the inclusion of the shipping industry within the scope of the Bill, and so had the Sailing Ship Owners' Association. So also had the 1698 Shipowners' Parliamentary Committee, representing nine-tenths of the ship owning interest of this country. He believed that the hon. Member for Southampton and the right hon. Member for the Ormskirk Division of Lancashire were probably the only two ship owners who would support the inclusion of ships in this particular Bill. He pointed out the fundamental difference which existed between the risk in land and sea employment. In truth, there was very little in common between the two employments. In the one the trade was regulated by a code of shipping involving no less than 748 sections, to which two more sections had been added this Session. This code provided for the health and accommodation of seamen, and for their expenses during illness. But wholly apart from considerations of this kind, the conditions of the employment of seamen were totally distinct from the conditions of the employment of men ashore. It was impossible for a ship owner to select the men he employed in the same way as an employer on laud; when once the men were shipped, and the ship gone to sea, the ship was beyond the control of the ship owner until she arrived at the next port. Then the risks and the consequences of accident were different. The two things could not be compared; there was no analogy between them. The law, not only in England, but abroad, recognised the difference which existed. On these and many other grounds he held that there was no ground for the inclusion of shipping in this Bill. He did not wish to say that there was not room for the improvement of the law as far as seamen were concerned, but they ought to be dealt with separately. He pointed out that the burden of insurance was especially heavy on ship owners, and if the proposed liability were added to their other liabilities, the burden on this industry would be out of all proportion to that on trades ashore.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
said he was very unwilling to press the Committee in regard to this Bill, but he had abstained from moving the abolition of the Twelve o'clock Rule because he was told that it would force Debate and be rather inconvenient to the majority of Members. He did not desire to curtail the Debate, and he recognised the great 1699 importance of the subject they were discussing, but he thought it would be to the general convenience if, when an argument had been thoroughly developed on both sides of the House, a decision were come to. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON
said the seamen's case was a very hard one, and he must ask the indulgence of Members on that occasion. He would point out, in answer to the hon. Member for Greenock, with reference to the Committee of Inquiry, that at the time it was held the seamen were practically unorganised; they had no unions, while the ship owners had a very strong organisation, and were strongly represented on the Committee. He believed that he was the only seaman who gave evidence before that Committee; the other witnesses were shipowners; and naturally the weight of evidence was on the ship owners' side. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock Burghs had argued that it was a hardship on the ship owner if a captain died, and another captain was appointed abroad, but it would be equally hard on the seamen, who would have no voice whatever in regard to the second captain. They had not had one solid argument against seamen being included in this Bill, and the arguments which had been brought forward might be applied with equal force to the case of the mine owners. He appealed to hon. Members on behalf of the widows and orphans left in our seaport towns to include seamen in this Bill.
§ *SIR JOHN COLOMB (Great Yarmouth)
said he would like to say a few words on behalf of the small owners. If the Amendment were included, he understood that every fishing smack all round the coast would be included. He pointed out that in his constituency men of energy and endurance who saved money invested their savings in buying a smack. They thus became owners, and as the vessel represented all the property they possessed, not only was the best possible care taken of the vessels, but there was the strongest inducement on their part to prevent the loss of life as well as the occurrence of accident. If the Amendment was adopted, however, the Committee would extinguish the small owners of fishing and coasting vessels, while prospects of compensation would be fictitious in case of loss, for all the 1700 owners' property might be at the bottom of the sea.
§ MR. BURNS
desired to appeal to the First Lord of the Treasury to release his supporters from Party allegiance in recording their votes on the inclusion or exclusion of seamen. If the right hon. Gentleman gave this permission, he was convinced, after the arguments which had been brought forward, that seamen would be included in the Bill. The Colonial Secretary and the Home Secretary had resisted the extension of the Bill on the ground that, if it were extended, the Measure might be defeated and ultimately abandoned. There was no fear of this result as to the inclusion of seamen, because eloquent and powerful speeches had been delivered in favour of the seamen being included from the largest and best ship owners on both sides of the House. He trusted that the Committee would not be influenced by the speech and the unintentional misstatements of the hon. Member for Greenock, who was apprehensive as to the effect of the Bill on English ships competing with foreign ships. The Government had supplied hon. Members with a return as to the liability of ship owners in foreign countries, and our chief competitors, Sweden and Norway, France, Denmark, and Germany, already incurred the cost of employers' liability. He therefore appealed to the right hon. Gentleman to allow the hon. and the lamb to associate together in dealing with this Amendment in the Division Lobby. [Laughter.]
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
I do not know which is the hon. and which is the lamb—[laughter]—nor have I any power to dictate into which Lobby either the hon. or the lamb shall go. But I cannot recede, even in response to the sympathetic appeal of the hon. Gentleman, from the attitude taken up by my colleagues on this Bench—that in the opinion of the Government it would be in the highest degree inexpedient to overload this Bill at this time, or possibly this Bill at any time, with clauses which would introduce seamen within its purview. That the case of seamen has to be dealt with we all admit—[Opposition cheers]—whether it shall be by a simple, extension of this Bill or by a separate Bill remains for future consideration. But at this moment, and in 1701 the Committee stage of this Bill, I must emphatically repeat that we do not think it would be desirable in the interests of this Bill that the Amendment should be accepted. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON
asked if the right hon. Gentleman would give a pledge to bring in a Bill this year to extend the Employers' Liability Act of 1880 to seamen, or, failing that, next year?
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
I am very reluctant to mortgage a property over which I have no control—that is, the time of the House—in regard to future legislation. We are already rather deeply pledged in regard to that.
§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON
suggested that a very short Bill of two or three words was all that would be required.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
I think I must ask hon. Gentlemen to be content with the emphatic assurances given them by my right hon. Friends the Home Secretary and the Colonial Secretary and by myself. [Cheers.]
§ Question put, "That the word 'ship' be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 117; Noes, 209.—(Division List, No. 227.)
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
moved in Subsection (1) after the word "quarry," to insert the word "lift," in order to extend the benefits of the Bill to persons in charge of lifts.
§ SIR MATTHEW WHITE RIDLEY
said that as lifts in private houses were worked by domestic servants, the adoption of the Amendment would lead to complications; and as, besides, it only affected a very small class, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not press it.
§ MR. McKENNA
said there were very few lifts even in private holies worked by domestic servants. The lifts to which the Amendment would mainly apply were lifts in hotels and other large buildings.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ *MR. CHARLES HARRISON (Plymouth)
moved, in Sub-section (1), after the word "quarry," to insert the word "tramway," in order to include tramways within the operation of the Bill. As it was probable that in a short time all tramways 1702 would be worked by mechanical power, there was no reason why they should be excluded while railways were included in the Bill.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
said it was clear this Amendment could not be inserted here, but possibly it might save discussion if he said that the Government proposed to take the definition in the Regulation of Railways Act 1873, not that in the Act of 1871. Certainly they would take care that the words of the Bill were sufficiently wide to include tramways connected with mines and light railways. They did not, however, intend to include the ordinary street tramways.
§ CAPTAIN NORTON
pointed out that the difference between a tramway and a light railway was not so great as the Attorney General supposed, and that if tramway men were included in the Bill the inclusion would be very small—according to the last census about 7,000. As compared with railway workers, who numbered 200,000, the responsibility cast upon tramway men was very great. The tramways carried something like 600,000,000 passengers per year, while the railways did not carry more than 900,000,000, excluding season-ticket holders. Therefore, each tramway employé was responsible for a much larger number of passengers in proportion—for 15 times as many, in fact—as the railway man. He frequently used the tramways in his constituency—[ironical cheers]—and he really believed that the driver of a tramcar had a much greater responsibility cast upon him than the driver of a mail train. [Cries of "Oh!"] He appealed to the Government to ex-lend the benefits of the Bill to the 7,000 tramway men.
§ Question put, "That the word 'tramway' be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 99; Noes, 195.—(Division List, No. 228.)
§ MR. BROADHURST
moved in Subsection (1), after the word "employment," to insert the words:—in any place where material is being prepared for building work, or where any building is in course of construction.It would be seen that his object in moving this Amendment had special 1703 reference to the building trade. His intention was to meet the case of stone-yards mostly. All up the Thames riverside there were large wharves where stone was landed from ships, and prepared by masons, to be carted to all parts of London for use in the erection of buildings. Scarcely any of these wharves had any machinery except hand jennies and hand travellers. There were a great number of men employed, but there was no machinery to include them in the Bill, and he thought it would harmonise with the intention of the Government if these works were included. The same argument would apply in a large measure to the joinery and carpentry trades, in which large timber roofs were often prepared at a considerable distance from the site where they were to be used in building. They had had considerable discussion at several stages with regard to the inclusion of the building trade, and he did not propose to continue his argument any further that night than to ask the Government whether they had considered the case of these stone wharves, and places connected with the joinery trade? If not, there could be no doubt that a large number of men whom it was intended to benefit would be excluded under the definition of the Bill unless some such words as he had moved were accepted.
§ *SIR MATTHEW WHITE RIDLEY
said he was afraid the words moved by the hon. Gentleman opposite were rather too wide. The Government had been considering the question of extending the operation of the Bill further in regard to the building trade, and he proposed to accept the words of the Amendment placed on the Paper by the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean with any addition that might be required. The right hon. Gentleman then read the terms of his Amendment as follows: After the words "engineering work," to insert the words:—and to employment on, in, or about any building exceeding thirty feet in height which is being constructed or repaired by means of a scaffolding, or on which machinery driven by steam, water, or other mechanical power is being used for the purpose of the construction or repair thereof.
§ ME. BROADHURST
thought that this was a very considerable concession, and 1704 though it did not give him all he wanted, he should accept it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ *MR. J. A. PEASE
moved, in Subsection (1), after the words "about a," to insert the word "shipyard." He understood it was the intention of the Government that shipyards should be included within the provisions of the Bill; and he, therefore, in moving the Amendment, moved it in order to point out how the intention would not be carried into effect, unless some additional words were inserted. The 93rd Clause of the Act of 1878 indicated that those industries named in the second part of Schedule 4 of the Bill were "workshops," but he was advised that a shipyard would be included in the word "factory" so long as the work was done within the precincts of a yard where steam, water, or mechanical power was used to drive machinery. But a good deal of rivetting might be done outside a factory or workshop, such, as for instance, in the erection of a gasometer, or repairing ships outside a shipyard. He thought the Government ought to let them understand what was intended to be included in the Bill. He would give one or two cases. If a ship was in mid-stream, would the men at work upon her be included in the provisions of the Bill? He thought not, and he contended that there should be provisions introduced to meet that case.
THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
called attention to the fact that the Amendment was "shipyards," not ships in mid-stream.
§ *MR. J. A. PEASE
submitted that as the word "shipbuilding yard" in the Act of 1878 included other work, he was in order in raising this question. It was perfectly absurd that any distinction should be made between men, all in the same employ, at work in the yard or in the dock, and those at work on repairs on a ship in mid-stream—the one to be compensated and the other not. They should all be included, for all the conditions of labour were very dangerous, and shipyard accidents were 16 times more numerous than those on railways.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
said this matter was already dealt with in the Bill, and he could not accept the Amendment, which was not necessary.
§ It being midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.