§ Motion made, and Question proposed"—"That a sum, not exceeding £96,868, be granted to Her Majesty to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1900, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of Her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Home Department and Subordinate Offices."
§ * SIR CHARLES DILKE
The annual Debate on the Home Office Vote ought, of course, to be based on the year's work. Here, in July, 1899, all we have before us is the work of 1897, which was already before us in July, 1898, when we discussed the Vote, excepting, indeed, mere tables and special reports on phosphorus and lead, supplementary to the regular work of that Department. The lead report, in its preliminary form, was itself before the Home Secretary in July last year. We have not received the report of the principal lady Inspector, for which we asked in February, and which has undoubtedly long since been ready, and is always, I believe, given to the House as a whole. Why should the reports be kept back? Three reasons were given in February. Apparently the main reason for a delay greater than ever occurred before was the preparation of a Bill which we have not seen. But in 1895, when the Department had a most important Bill, the report of Mr. Oram, then Chief Inspector, was presented on May 4, and was delivered to Members—Part 1 on June 8th, and Part 2 on May 9th. We are now told that the Report for 1898 is to be "left till autumn, and published towards the end of the year"; and the analogy of sonic other lagging Department is quoted. There are some Departments which publish their annual reports as early as March. Are they to be put eight months later. Are we also in future to have the Mines Report delayed for six months, which is now circulated in May? Last year the trouble of preparing the tables was given as a reason for a delay, which was, however, much less than the delay this year, for we had advance copies of the Report just in time for the Vote. 221 The tables this year have already been given. We are without the ordinary Report of the work, and we do not know how the Department is doing its work. I said that three reasons were given in February for the delay—that of the Bill which I have answered by this case of 1895; that of the preparation of special Reports, of which the lead Report, I believe, was really ready before the session, and both of which have long since been out; and that of reorganisation of the Department. Is not that reorganisation already over? The Bill has been dropped, and nothing survives of the reasons for further delay. Falling back upon all we have upon the work of the Department, namely, the 1897 Report, we are there told that it is too soon to judge of the working of the Truck Act of 1896, and this forms an additional reason why we should have had before us the Report of 1898. I cannot avoid moving a reduction of the salary of the defender of a system under which the work of the Factory and Workshop Department cannot be judged, for the Committee and the House are left in the dark, except as regards the special Reports—Reports which have not been fully acted upon. For the special Report on lead I have only praise. Its result, it was admitted in July last, ought to be a great improvement in special rules, and legislation if necessary. But arbitration on special rules remains, against which I gave a notice at the beginning of the session, and which has been condemned by the present Home Secretary and by the two last Home Secretaries on the Opposition side. There are two private Members' Factories and Workshops Bills before the House. Both of them have clauses abolishing arbitration in special rules, and there are also many other points in the admirable Bill of my honourable friend the Member for Berwickshire, which I hope the Home Secretary will include in his. In the Debate last year the Home Secretary said that it was not easy to get special rules, because they must be framed in such a way as to be successful on arbitration; and he said hehad to do the best I could under rather difficult circumstances.In that Debate he expressed his agreement with all of us who urged that arbitration on special rules should be got rid of; or, at least, modified "by legisla- 222 tion." Does the Home Secretary's Bill, as drawn, abolish arbitration on special rules? We must insist that that Bill, when introduced next year, shall do so. It was on this point that we divided last year, for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouthshire asked for an undertaking that in 1899 the Home Secretary would abolish arbitration on special rules—a pledge which in distinct terms he did not give. The session of 1899 has gone without our obtaining this, and now we ask for a definite pledge for next year. On the 10th April my hon. friend the Member for North Monmouthshire asked the Home Secretary whether the Factory and Workshop Bill to be introduced this session would contain provisions such as those suggested by Professors Thorpe and Oliver in their Report on lead in the potteries, for prohibiting the use of lead for glazing earthenware in those kinds of ware in which it has been proved unnecessary; for prescribing the use of fritted lead; for prohibiting the use of raw lead; and for prohibiting the employment of young persons and women as dippers, dippers' assistants, ware cleaners, and glost placers, where lead glaze is used. The reply was:The Bill to amend the law which he has prepared will give power to the Secretary of State to deal, under certain conditions, with all these points.In the Debate last year the Home Secretary announced that the use of headless glaze was "within measurable distance." But experiment is now being made a ground for delay; and surely we should fix a period within which the recommendations of Drs. Thorpe and Oliver must be adopted; and this means legislation to get rid of arbitration on rules. The Home Secretary last year appeared to be somewhat opposed to direct legislation on lead, but said that a suggestion which fell from me, that he should be given greater power as to special rules was "well worthy of consideration." This means legislation to abolish arbitration. He has, however, not only not proposed this year the legislation on lead itself, which he seemed to promise my hon. friend the Member for North Monmouthshire on the 10th April, but not even legislation to abolish arbitration on special rules, and he has not issued the further special rules which he led us to expect. In the Debate last year, towards 223 its close, my hon. friend the hon. baronet the Member for Glasgow asked whether, "Supposing that the Report of the experts did not justify the Home Secretary in prohibiting altogether the use of dangerous substances in the potteries and match trade, would he undertake that the special rules applying to those two trades should be strengthened at an early date, and that he would resort to legislation if he saw no prospect of arriving at the result desired by special rules? "The Home Secretary answered in the affirmative, except that he could not definitely pledge himself as to legislation in this session. The pledge, however, was a strong one as given, and it led to the hon. Baronet, who had spoken for the Amendment, not voting against the Home Secretary's salary. Will the Home Secretary pledge himself in the same terms, but in words involving the early introduction of the Bill next year? The Home Secretary's last words last year were, "Of course I know that in both matters I must go further, and I am going to do so." How far has he done so? We cannot find in the cases of lead poisoning brought to us from the Potteries any improvement on the whole. The need for lead legislation is pressing, and if I had thought that there was the slightest chance of obtaining satisfactory legislation this year I should have continued to ask for its introduction; but when on the 19th June no date could be fixed for that introduction, I foresaw the certainty of failure, and declared that, sooner than have a mere shred of a Bill this year—a Bill making a dangerous relaxation of the law with regard to fish and jam, and not abolishing arbitration upon special rules, we had sooner wait for it to be next year, what it was promised in two speeches of Cabinet Ministers to be this year, namely, one of the chief measures of the session. On the 19th June, however, the Leader of the House said that the Home Secretary had done so much by way of administrative action in the dangerous trades—and I think he meant in the Potteries—that the need for a Bill was much lessened; that is a statement the accuracy of which I entirely deny. What has he done since the Debate of July last year, and the declarations that I have quoted? What of his own admission that under the present system he can only do the best he can "under rather difficult circumstances"? I will 224 only mention one point in the Lead Report. We are all in favour of the use of leadless glaze, but the potters have insisted on delay, and, therefore, we ought at once, if we follow the advice of Professor Thorpe and Dr. Oliver, to discourage the employment of women and girls in the dangerous branches. Raw lead is still being used in the potteries, in spite of the Report, and in spite of the Home Secretary's advice, in vast quantities; and we seem to be no nearer definite action than we were last year. With regard to the Phosphorus Report, which is also good, the same difficulty as to rules and arbitration has admittedly arisen. In the use of phosphorus we are behind other countries. The Report points out that international agreement may not be difficult to obtain in this case. Are any steps being taken to bring it about? In the Debate last year the Home Secretary said that with regard to phosphorus he was within measurable distance of trying special rules, leaving legislation to be considered in the future if found necessary. What has he done as regards phosphorus since the issue of the Report, and since the Debate last year? I hope that we shall not again be put off with mere dentistry, because we had that last year at full length. We need still more women inspectors. We need one, for example, in the Potteries, as was clearly shown last year, and where the inspection continues to be feeble. We need one in Birmingham and its neighbourhood for longer periods than at present, and I would quote upon that subject a letter from a leading trade unionist—A flying visit of a day or two is worse than useless becaus it raises expectations which are never realised. If any good is to be done, we want someone here for at least two or three weeks. … Considering the enormous number of women workers in Birmingham and the district, a residence here for a few weeks of one of the lady inspectors is an absolute necessity.The same view was put before the Committee last year, and I believe the Home Secretary will be supported in any conflict he may have with the Treasury in order to strengthen this Department. When we do see the Factories and Workshops Bill early next year—I trust we shall be promised—may we hope that it will be a really considerable measure, and contain, not only the abolition of arbitration on special rules, but such necessary clauses on other subjects as, for example, 225 proposals with regard to sweated districts, to remedy the complete breakdown of Section 5 of this Act of 1895? Much, however, may be done, even under the existing law, with regard to outworkers, and, generally speaking, it is certain that the existing laws, through the insufficiency of inspection, are not adequately enforced. Cases are centinually quoted which inspection would remedy, and quoted even by Ministers. The Vice-President of the Council recently referred to "the champion boy, who is under six years of age, and works in a brickfield at brick-making." That brickfield is probably either a factory or a workshop, and the employment is illegal. As regards home work and sweated districts, the Bill of my hon. friend the Member for Berwickshire represents my minimum. May we trust that we shall have such provisions in that Government Bill promised by two Cabinet Ministers as one of the principal measures of the present year, and which we trust we may at least see next year? To delay the Bill beyond the early part of next session would be really inexcusable, but whatever may be the promises of the Government on that point—and I feel the Committee has a right to expect them—the delay in the annual Report is a matter which cannot be excused, and I shall therefore divide the Committee on the motion for the reduction. I move, Sir.
Motion made, and question proposed—
That Item A (Salaries) be reduced by £100, in respect of the Salary of the Secretary of State."—(Sir Charles Dilke.)
§ MR. STUART-WORTLEY (Sheffield, Hallam)
I rise merely for the purpose of saying, with respect to certain recommendations made by the Committee presided over by the hon. Member for Berwickshire, that I hope the Home Secretary will not give effect to such of them as apply to the manufacture and use of grindstones and to the cutting of files by hand without a further inquiry in the districts which they affect. The recommendations of the Departmental Committee have created great misapprehension in these districts, and have not commanded the confidence of either the employers or the working classes. Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that this apprehension is quite unjustified, and that the recom- 226 mendations of the committee are perfectly right; it is nevertheless obvious that with this want of confidence existing any legislation based on these recommendations would not have that general and moral support from all classes concerned which can and can alone form the proper foundation for legislation of this kind. It is undoubtedly thought in the districts affected that all the evidence that ought to be taken had not been taken, and that certain of the recommendations, if carried out to the full extent, might go far to driving certain industries out of existence. In respect to the file-cutting industry, I would ask of the Home Secretary, in the interests of the working men no less than of the employers, that some kind of new inquiry should be held before any drastic proposal is applied to it. The question of the efficacy of the present procedure has been raised by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean. The weak point in the procedure by arbitration, undoubtedly, is that it gives power to legislate for large classes in this country to persons who might be totally irresponsible to the legislature. On the other hand, the procedure does contain as an essential part that which must be an essential part of any inquiry by which you arrive at legislative results—viz., that there must be some kind of local inquiry among the persons principally concerned. All I plead for in this case is that there should be a full and complete local inquiry. The inquiry in particular cases has not been so satisfactory and complete as to lead to a change in the conditions under which the trade has been carried on. I hope that the Home Secretary, in the course of giving effect to his administrative powers, without the aid of further legislation, will secure full and complete local inquiry.
§ * MR. L. R. HOLLAND (Tower Hamlets, Bow)
I wish to join in the expression of regret which fell from the hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean that the report of the Inspector-General has not yet been put before the House. Surely it must be prejudicial to a proper consideration of the Home Office Vote that we have no acquaintance with the operation and administration of the Factory Laws during the last year. I should think that there can be no insuperable reason why the Report should be 227 seven months overdue, and I trust the Home Secretary will see that the Report is in future in the hands of Members in the month of May. If I remember aright, the discussion of last year turned mainly on two questions—namely, the evils associated with the use of raw lead and white phosphorus in the match industry. It was the opinion of many Members of the House that the criticism and the proposals made by my hon. friend the Member for Berwickshire and other hon. Members were perhaps too drastic and too sweeping, but every proposal and every criticism made during last year's debate have been more than justified in every particular by the invaluable reports which have been issued by Dr. Oliver and Dr. Thorpe. I should think that the Committee and the country must be grateful to my right hon. friend the Home Secretary for having directed such a valuable, minute, and authoritative inquiry into the evils of poisoning from the use of lead and phosphorus, and the remedies which may be applied to them. The contention last year of hon. Members who followed my friend the hon. Member for Berwickshire was, that as regards the lead trade, the age limit was too low, and that the employment of all young persons should be prohibited in dangerous trades; that either the use of raw lead should be prohibited, or that the process should be subjected to more stringent regulations than are applied to it now. Well, the report supported these contentions. Doctors Oliver and Thorpe recommend that the employment of young persons in the raw lead process should be forbidden, and a total prohibition of the raw lead process. This last recommendation will require legislation, as I imagine it cannot be effected by special rules. I confess that I am not sure whether the time is quite ripe for such legislation. However that may be, I do urge the Home Office, meanwhile, to insist that, at any rate, the same special regulations which are applied to dangerous trades scheduled under the Act of 1878 shall be applied to the use of the raw lead process, so far as to absolutely prohibit the employment of young persons where the process is in operation. Surely no person under the age of eighteen should be exposed at the outset to have his whole life wrecked by the diseases engendered in the raw lead process. The 228 application of more stringent regulations in the use of raw lead might encourage a higher standard of efficiency, by making it the interest of employers to discard the more dangerous process, and so be free to employ young persons. I was glad to hear the Home Secretary in answer to the right hon. Baronet attribute a considerable reduction in cases of disease to the operation of the special rules. In the course of the discussion last year the Home Secretary said that the special rules would have to be applied to 600 firms, that 450 had accepted the rules, and that 150 appealed to arbitration. I want to know whether it is the case that those employers who held out for arbitration have got the best terms, and have obtained the largest concessions. If that be so surely it is only another illustration of the absurdity of the arbitration clauses in the Act of 1891, that in the same district and in the same trade employers should be subjected to rules of varying stringency, and that the Home Office should acquiesce in that decision. It is probable that it is just in those works where the special rules in their integrity are most needed that these concessions have been made. Personally I trust the Home Secretary will see his way to fulfil the hopes he held out last session, and introduce legislation to get rid of this obstacle to the application of the special rules which the Home Office think it right to apply. I confess that it is a fair matter of complaint that legislation has not been introduced this session. At the same time, I would rather wait for a really substantial measure of reform than that the House should hurry through a slight proposal. Meanwhile, in many instances it is not so much legislation—though some legislation there ought to be—as efficient Home Office administration which is required, as, for instance, in the yellow phosphorus industry. I know it is proposed to prohibit the use of yellow phosphorus, as is done in Denmark and Switzerland. But I doubt the expediency of doing so. The demand for a strike-on-any-place match is very deep seated in England. I do not think it is established that there is any composition which does not contain phosphorus to make a strike-anywhere match which has been a commercial success. The trade of Denmark and Switzerland is not an export trade; but our trade, especially in yellow phosphorus matches, 229 Is mainly export, and largely with the colonies, and the prohibition of yellow phosphorus in England, unless it be accompanied by international agreement, would be only to transfer the trade to Japan, Sweden, and Belgium. The inevitable deduction from the Report of Drs. Oliver and Thorpe is that the Home Office do not employ their existing powers in regard to this trade to full advantage. I do not know what impression that Report has made on the minds of hon Members, but I confess it has made a most unpleasant impression on me, both as to the standard of efficiency required and as to the efficiency of inspection. The medical inspection required under the special rules of 1893 is inadequate. But the appliances for ventilation and the lavatory arrangements are to be such as are satisfactory in the opinion of the Home Office. Yet we read in the Report that the works are old, that the arrangements for mechanical ventilation are far behind those on the Continent, that in most of the English factories the protection in dangerous processes is absolutely incomplete, and that, with one exception—in the case of an American company which has a manufactory in England—the ventilation and lavatory arrangements are not comparable to those abroad. It comes to this, that in matters in which the health and safety of those engaged in this industry are intimately concerned, we have to go for precept and example to foreign countries. We boast ourselves as being pioneers in ventilation and lavatory accommodation, and yet we find our standard is infinitely below that which prevails in foreign countries; and the worst feature of the situation is that the standard is accepted by the Home Office and their inspectors. That is a matter which deserves the serious attention of the House. My hon. friend the Member for Berwickshire, in an article which he wrote, mentioned that the special rules of 1894 had broken-down in the Potteries district. The Employers' Association contested the statement of the hon. Member for Berwickshire, but only on the ground that the breakdown was not due to any inherent shortcoming in the rules themselves, but to insufficient inspection; that it was manifestly impossible for one inspector adequately to overlook a district containing 10,000 women workers. Since that a new inspector has been appointed, and yet we cannot be sure that the inspection is 230 as efficient as we desire. The efficiency of the appliances on which the safety of the people employed is dependent, depends on the efficiency of the inspection. It is clear from the report that the standard of Home Office requirements in regard to the match industry has not been of a very high character. I know that the inspectors have got obstacles to contend with, and that frequently they are not properly supported by the magistrates when they bring breaches of the Factory Acts into court. But, making allowance for all that, it is clear that much of the inspection in the case of the Potteries and the match factories is not of the best. I cannot help regretting that the Home Secretary has not seen his way to invigorate the system of inspection by appointing a larger number of women inspectors, who would make reports to the chief district inspector. In the East End of London, for instance, where a large number of women and children are employed in the match industry, inspection would be more reliable if a woman inspector devoted her whole time to the work. In the Potteries districts, where 20,000 women and 12,000 children are at work, efficient inspection is of paramount importance. In view of the whole circumstances and conditions on which inspection is carried out, there could be no more fruitful subject of inquiry by a small Commission or a Select Committee, or even a Departmental Committee.
§ * CAPTAIN NORTON (Newington, West)
I desire to support the appeal made by the hon. Member for Bow to the Home Secretary, more especially in regard to the match industry. The extent of this industry is very great, inasmuch as matches to the value of £1,500,000 are yearly manufactured in this country. Of course, it will be stated that when we desire to make any improvement in the conditions under which these matches are made we have to consider the question of foreign competition. I am well aware of that. There are 450 match factories in Germany and Austria, and 60 in Norway and Sweden; and in one particular place in Sweden no fewer than 6,000 persons are engaged in this particular trade. Therefore the importance of an international agreement of some kind cannot be deprecated, and more especially because we are led to believe that this is a favourable moment to take action in the matter. I 231 am disposed to think that the suggestion which fell from the hon. Member for Bow has much in it, and that the rules which exist in this country, if stringently carried out under an increased staff of inspectors, would lead to a more desirable state of things than at present. It is acknowledged in every country that all the diseases from which workers suffer are due to the fumes of yellow phosphorus. But there is another form of disease—fatty degeneration of the kidneys—which is manifested in those who work at this trade in all countries, although it is not so apparent as other diseases. The soundness or otherwise of the general health of the workers has much to do with the matter. We know that where amorphous, or red phosphorus is used necrosis does not prevail, and that the condition of the young persons is frequently due to the lowness of wages. If the rules in regard to this trade could be made sufficiently stringent we should not have so many young persons employed. The principal disease amongst them is anæmia, and the one cure for that is large quantities of milk and a nourishing diet of flesh food. But that diet these young persons cannot provide themselves with out of their low wages. The next most fatal disease is phthisis, and that is brought about by bad ventilation. Better ventilation is what is demanded by inspectors in their reports. We know that a certain number of persons engaged in these trades can resist in a greater degree than others the approach of special diseases. It is found that those who have no taint of syphilis, phthisis, or anæmia can resist the deadly effects of the phosphorus fumes. Another point which ought to be taken into consideration is the very detrimental effect which these fumes have on women in a certain condition, and in Sweden there are very strict rules in regard to the employment of women in such condition. Manufacturers in every part of the world declare that they use special mixtures, which are not so deleterious as those of their neighbours. Re the special rules, they are so framed that by arbitration or private agreement, any manufacturer can drive a coach through them. As to the restrictions on the amount of yellow phosphorus which can be used, we know that in certain countries they have reduced it to 8 per cent., and in Holland it has been reduced to 5 per cent. I therefore suggest 232 to the right hon. the Home Secretary to make some rule in that direction. I come now to another point, namely, the great importance of alternative employment. It has been found in different factories that by giving, say, two weeks' employment in the dipping house—which is the worst part of the process—and then passing the workers on to other rooms for a few weeks, their health is preserved for a much longer period. As regards the prohibition of young persons of fourteen or fifteen years of age, it is almost impossible to control them, and therefore I suggest the desirability of prohibiting any person under eighteen years of age from being employed in this industry at all. It is well known that it is especially at this period—from twelve and thirteen years of age to seventeen and eighteen years of age—that the teeth are most likely to go. A young person may be taken into a factory whose teeth are in perfect condition, and within a year a large number of these teeth may be found to be unsound. Therefore it is the duty of the Home Office to protect these young persons from the risks peculiar to these poisonous fumes. But perhaps the most important question of all is that of ventilation. This is a matter over which the Home Office distinctly can, by means of its inspectors, exercise control, and it is known that the introduction of a certain arrangement for ventilation in the dipping room will, with almost certainty, act as a preventive as regards phossy jaw. There is another matter that the right hon. Gentleman might favourably consider, and that is the desirability of greater stringency in medical examination. There should be a medical examination for all persons desiring to enter these trades, in order that it may be seen whether they have any tendency to the diseases to which I have referred. Then, again, there should be a periodical—say a monthly—visitation of all persons engaged in these factories. In Connection with that I would suggest the appointment, not only of a surgeon, who ought to be a paid official of the Government, but also of a dentist, who should likewise be a paid official. If these two officers made periodical visits to the factories, I am persuaded that by the diseases in every case being taken in time, a large amount of suffering might be obviated. I have already referred to the carelessness of workers. It seems to me 233 that there is a tendency amongst all workpeople to shirk the operation of washing, simply in order that they may gain greater time for their meals or amusements, more especially when it comes to leaving the factory in the daytime. I venture to suggest that if an extra ten minutes were given for the express purpose of ablutions, there would not be so much difficulty in enforcing this rule. There should be, moreover, every facility for all engaged in this industry to obtain a constant supply of antiseptic mouthwash. Another point of importance is that instead of the operatives taking their meals anywhere and anyhow, they should be obliged to take them in some dining-room, which should be fairly and comfortably heated. I must say that of all the points which have been brought to the right hon. Gentleman's notice, none appears to me to be of greater importance than the appointment of a woman factory inspector. I remember being present at a meeting of the deputation which waited upon the right hon. Gentleman in connection with the work in the potteries, and this seemed to be most strongly brought out by all present; and the same holds good as regards the match trade. There is yet another point, and that is the desirability of the extension, in some measure, of the Workmen's Compensation Act. I contend that the workers in these trades have as much right to come under the Act as those who suffer from accidents, for all these diseases to which they are liable are, as a matter of fact, accidental, and distinctly peculiar to these particular trades. We know that many of these unfortunate young persons are obliged to undergo operation after operation. Several cases have been brought to my notice where persons have undergone an operation three or four times, and have had portions of their jaw removed. In some cases they have had a great number of teeth removed; in fact, they have undergone great agony, and in many cases have as good as lost a limb. Well, some rule ought to be framed which would give them the same compensation, where due care has not been taken by the employers, as in the case of workmen who sustain accidents. The next point which I would like to suggest is that there should be some substitution of less dangerous materials in the workshops; and if the Home Office were more stringent in this respect, it would have the result of 234 stimulating invention. If manufacturers found that they could not go on in their old way without sufficient consideration for those they employ, they would undoubtedly, considering the great advance which has been made in chemistry of recent years, discover some different material which would be equally suitable for their purpose, and at the same time less deleterious to the health of their employees. In referring for a few moments to another industry, namely, the jam-making industry, which is connected in some parts of the country with the fish industry, I regret to say that the manufacturers engaged in these trades have taken advantage of the leniency of the Government for the purpose of employing the same individual to work in both trades, and thereby over-ride the wishes of this House and at the same time the regulations of the Home Office. In London, the jam industry is not only a very large but a constantly-developing one, and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that in one particular case, to my own knowledge, in the south of London, a state of things exists which is deplorable. The persons who suffer most are the young daughters of the very poorest of the working classes in South London. I am given to understand, however, that we shall be afforded an opportunity of dealing with this question on Monday week, and therefore I will not trouble the right hon. Gentleman with any further reference to the subject at the present moment.
§ * CAPTAIN GREVILLE (Bradford, E.)
In connection with this Vote, I should like to bring to the notice of the Committee, and of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary in particular, the steady—I might even describe it as the alarming—increase in the cases of anthrax among the operatives engaged in the wool trade. In bringing these statistics before the notice of the House, I may say that they only refer to the years 1896, 1897, 1898, and the first half of the current year. I have taken these three and a half years by reason of the fact, which is doubtless within the memory of the right hon. Gentleman, that in 1897—it was under his supervision—a new and revised set of rules was brought in for the protection of the wool sorter. Now, in 1896 the number of cases was three, in 1897 it had increased to nine, 235 and in 1898 the number of reported cases to the Home Office had mounted up to sixteen. For the half-year ending the 30th June, 1899, the cases of disease reported number thirteen. Taking that as the proportion for the year it will at once be noticed that the cases reported have doubled in number. The disease is of an alarming character, because, in the majority of cases, it is fatal. I have not been able to obtain the exact number of fatal cases during this year, but we may take it as a rough average that certainly half the cases are of a fatal nature. I would, therefore, ask the right hon. Gentleman if he cannot see his way to revise the special rules brought forward in 1897, and in doing so I wish to cast no reflection on the right hon. Gentleman, because, to my personal knowledge, he devoted a great deal of time and consideration to them in consultation with representatives of the employers and of the operatives engaged in the work. I desire to see the rules, which, I understand, only apply to wool-sorters, extended to wool-combers, and, at the same time, made more stringent. This is a matter to which inquiry should be made, either by a Department Committee or in some other way, and as it is one which affects the main bulk of my constituents, I feel certain that the House will pardon the liberty I have taken in drawing attention to the subject.
§ SIR FORTESCUE FLANNERY (Yorkshire, Shipley)
I desire, within the limits of two or three sentences, to associate myself with the complaint which has been made by the right hon. Baronet opposite that no legislation dealing with the question of rules has been introduced by my right hon. friend the Home Secretary. It will be remembered that a year ago a Debate of very considerable importance took place upon this Vote, the principal feature of that Debate consisting in the fact that not only the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, but also his predecessor in office joined in expressing the opinion that the system of rules formulated in the Home Office was inferior, as a protection for the workers, to an Act passed by this House. The reasons were made clear. The first was that the Department in framing the rules did not and could not possibly have the benefit of the debates and discussions on both sides as representing employers and em- 236 ployed; and secondly, that any rule made by the Home Office is always subject to emasculation by the employers in the process of arbitration. The latter point was, to my mind, an extremely serious one. It seemed to me that it was pitiful—almost humiliating—to find two right hon. Gentlemen, both of them at one time or other Home Secretaries, uniting in this House in proclaiming their impotency to deal with important questions of this kind, because their rules were subject to emasculation at the hands of some of the worst class of employers. That having been the opinion expressed by my right hon. friend with his usual clearness and cogency, a hope was entertained not only by the right hon. Baronet and his friends, but by many who are interested in these questions on this side of the House, that legislation on this subject would be made one of the important features of this session. Well, what has happened? We have had legislation introduced into this House, and plenty of it, but we have not had legislation upon this particular question, and I desire to emphasise my disappointment, and, I venture to say, the disappointment of my constituents, that this question has not received attention at the hands of the Government. Now, just one word upon the matter of lead poisoning in the Potteries. There is no difference of opinion on the question which the hon. Member for East Bradford, upon whose speech I offer him my hearty congratulations, has introduced. In the district represented by the hon. Member and myself, the dangerous trade of sorting wools has been grappled with by a joint committee of all the large employers and employed, who agreed together in debates amongst themselves, and who afterwards came before the Home Office and Home Secretary with rules which they had formulated for the protection of the workers. I regret to find that the rules have not been as effective as it was expected they would be. There you have a case in which the rules were made, not in the secrecy of the Home Office, not merely with the knowledge and skill and experience of inspectors advising the Home Office, but with all the skill and experience of the workers and the employers and their representatives. Yet they have not turned out to be thoroughly effective in reducing the cases of fatal illness; but here we have 237 only sixteen cases in the course of 1898, and thirteen cases in the first half of the present year, while in the lead industry there are 160 cases, a reduced number which the Home Secretary appears to regard as in some degree satisfactory. If in the textile districts it is found desirable and necessary that a special effort should be made to deal with a dangerous trade, which, after all, only produces twenty-six serious cases, how much more necessary is it that more drastic measures should be taken for a trade which produces at the rate of 160 cases in six months, or 320 in a year! Reasoning from that analogy, I believe that the lead industry requires the most specific and careful attention of the Home Secretary, and it is in the hope that he will recognise that there is a very strong feeling on both sides of the House that I beg him to consider the advisability of next session introducing a Bill which shall deal comprehensively with so great and important a social question.
§ * MR. FLOWER
I only want, in a single sentence, to associate myself with the observations of my hon. friend and colleague the Member for East Bradford in regard to the increase in the cases of anthrax in the wool trade. But I should not like the right hon. Gentleman to suppose that the rules which he was good enough to sanction some few years ago have proved entirely inadequate to grapple with the very serious evil which they were intended to remedy. Although sixteen is a large number of cases, I believe the increase is due to the fact that of recent years the experts who have devoted themselves to medical researches into the question have been able to locate the very subtle disease of anthrax with greater accuracy than they could a few years ago. I would also like to suggest to the Home Secretary in that connection that the Yorkshire College of Preventive Medicine at Leeds is doing a very great and important work in endeavouring to locate this disease, and I trust that that body will always receive sympathetic treatment at the hands of the Government. There is another matter which I hope he will consider, and that is not merely with regard to the wool-sorting but also with regard to the wool-combing. My hon. friend the Member for the Shipley Division spoke of the harmony which pre- 238 vails between the Bradford Chamber of Commerce and the Bradford Trade Council with regard to the rules for the prevention of anthrax. I am glad that this has been so in the past, and I sincerely trust it will continue to be so in the future. If it is not so I trust my right hon. friend the Home Secretary will not wait until there is complete unanimity and agreement upon all the many points which are raised upon this matter, but that he will endeavour to extend the sphere of his rules not only to the process of wool-sorting but also to some of the processes of wool-combing.
§ * COLONEL BLUNDELL (Lancashire Ince)
I hope the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary will give his attention to the question of the fees of medical witnesses who are brought to Quarter Sessions. They are at present very low, and I am afraid that the public service rather suffers in consequence.
§ MR. TENNANT (Berwickshire)
This is the first occasion on which the House has had an opportunity of discussing questions which must be interesting to all who are concerned in labour matters.
Attention called to the fact that forty Members were not present; House counted, and, forty Members being found present—
§ MR. TENNANT
At an earlier stage of this evening's proceedings the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Hallam Division of Sheffield accused the Committee over which I had the honour to preside of not giving to both sides adequate opportunities for giving their opinions upon the matters we had to investigate. That accusation is unfounded. We invited the Trades Council, and inserted in the local papers a general invitation to witnesses to state their views either in writing or by oral evidence. This being the first opportunity for discussing these questions since July 1898, it is very little short of a scandal that this Vote should not have been the first Order on the Paper. It was shown in the previous Debate that the system of inspection of factories in this country had so far broken down as to demand either an inquiry or some system of reorganisation. Any casual observer of the Estimates for this year 239 will see that there is about to take place a reorganisation of the Factory Department. I congratulate the Government on the increase of staff they are about to make. That increase comprises one deputy chief inspector—I should like to ask when that appointment will be made, and upon whom the office is to be conferred—a medical inspector, whose appointment was announced last year; one assistant examiner, fifteen inspectors of the ordinary class of varying degrees, ten inspectors' assistants, and two lady inspectors.
§ MR. TENNANT
From the Estimates before the House. The Secretary of State said last year that he had already begun to find out that the special rules were not likely to be effective, and that it would be a matter for consideration whether it was possible by special rules to arrive at the end which all desired. From this and other statements, we are entitled to assume that the right hon. Gentleman wishes to abolish the system of arbitration with regard to the special rules in the pottery trade. Those special rules, admittedly feebler than were desirable, have had to go through the emasculating process of arbitration at the hands of the employers, and have emerged feebler than they went in. An important event during the past year has been the issue of the report of Doctors Oliver and Thorpe. We who have taken up a strong attitude upon these matters are justified in saying that every line of that report directly corroborates every position and argument we have urged. We diagnosed this disease for you, and recommended certain specifics upon that diagnosis. You thought fit to appoint your own experts, and they have recommended precisely the same nostrums. That being so, we have a right to demand to be told what steps you have taken to give effect to those recommendations. I am aware that the right hon. Gentleman has issued the circular which has been referred to, asking the employers what they are going to do; but I cannot help thinking the Home Office has been almost too kind to these people. There are, in the Pottery district, a certain number of employers who act as a sort of 240 anchor or drag upon any reforming energy or zeal which may be shown among other employers. The course which has been pursued is not the way to treat people of that kind. How much good has been got from the spontaneous action of the employers? The Report states that the experts who conducted the inquiry were forced to the conclusion that very little of an effective character had been even attempted. These gentlemen have now had six years in which to consider what they are going to do, and, so far as I am aware, they have done nothing at all. If further proof were required of the attitude which these gentlemen are inclined to adopt, it could be found in the arbitration of last autumn, when the special rules were made even feebler than they originally were. To take only one point. In regard to washing conveniences, it was laid down in the special rules that the employers should provide one basin for every five persons, and that each basin should have a tap. The employers resolutely refused to concede that simple and homely method of preserving the health and lives of their employees, but said they would only have one tap for two basins. Employers who are capable of adopting an attitude of that kind are not employers whom you should deal with in this courteous and considerate fashion. I have alluded to this circular, but what has been the answer? The answer amounts to this: "We don't want to do anything in a hurry." Already the employers have had six years, and yet they say that that is not long enough, and they must have more time. I maintain that if a case is wanted against the cumbrous machinery of the law, in this trade alone, the pottery industry has given you as good a case as you could possibly desire. But I do not wish to base my case on this one topic. I will pass on, if I am not detaining the House, to another trade. I will give as an illustration the aërated water trade. The Committee upon this subject issued their Report in 1896. The special rules as they left the Home Office were excellent, but owing to the threat of arbitration, certain concessions were made, and those concessions, I am afraid, have resulted in the greatest harm to the people employed; for I find that, in one factory alone, during one year, there were five workers who had to have their eyes removed—either one or both eyes. In one 241 London hospital in one week there were three workers under treatment, who each had to have an eye taken out. There are many other instances mentioned in the statistics presented to Parliament, and I find that accidents of this kind in factories in the bottling of aërated waters have not diminished, but rather increased, and these accidents are mainly attributable to conditions which could not have existed had the rules insisted upon by this Committee been adopted and enforced. That is a very strong case against this system, for if the rules had remained in force as they were issued at first, at least a dozen—eight of whom I have mentioned—of these unfortunate workers would never have lost their eyes. Now those are two particular trades in which special rules have been instituted and enforced; but I would ask the Committee, what about those other trades which have no safeguards of this kind? What of the trades where bronzing and paper staining is carried on, and lithographic work? The evils of these trades are admitted, but, unfortunately, the workers there receive no protection. What of the trades in which naphtha is used, in dry cleaning and in india rubber processes? I could mention other trades, but those I have mentioned could be dealt with without any fresh legislation. Such industries as electric generating works, locomotive factories, and the use of inflammable paints on board ships would require an Act of Parliament to deal with; but the particular industries to which I have alluded could be dealt with at once. I really think that there is absolutely no excuse for leaving the lives of the people in those particular trades in jeopardy so long. We may assume that nothing has been done, because the Home Office desires to avoid the threats of these employers of labour being carried into effect. There is just one more instance in the accumulation of arguments against this system. So long ago as 1893 the Committee appointed by my right hon. friend the late Home Secretary made a Report to the effect that in their opinion many old factories were unfit for occupation, and that there should be some authority, on the same principle as is the case with dwelling-houses, to declare them unfit for occupation. Professors Thorpe and Oliver agree with those remarks, and they say that it will be impossible for any reform of the 242 standard we have set up to be carried out in factories unless some authority is created by which you will be able to close these old factories. How can you possibly expect that you will get reforms of this drastic nature carried out, when you find employers firmly refusing to assent to special rules in minor matters, such as the provision of one tap to each washing basin? So long as you have this bogey before you of the power of rejection by the employers so long will your hands be tied, and so long will it be impossible for you to carry out what is necessary. It is six years ago since the Committee made that Report, and is six years not long enough for the Home Office to make up its mind as to what is to be done? We do not doubt the good intentions of the Home Office, but have we not had almost enough of this delay? Possibly, the workers in the Potteries themselves are even more tired than we are of this constant reiteration of good intentions, and we demand that the Government should introduce something drastic and which will be really effective.
§ MR. COGHILL (Stoke-upon-Trent)
I represent a large number of manufacturers and employees in three large pottery districts, and I say that it is no use shutting your eyes to the real facts of the case, as appears to have been done by hon. Members opposite who have already spoken on this subject. We must have some regard in considering this question to foreign competition. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean has criticised the operation of the special rules, but my experience of them is that they have been very successful, and that they have given satisfaction to both employers and employed. At all events, I represent three large pottery towns upon this subject, and I do not think that many of the hon. Members who have spoken represent a single pottery district.
§ MR. TENNANT
I have no pottery district within 100 miles of my constituency, and therefore, I have no axe to grind myself.
§ MR. COGHILL
I hope the hon. Member opposite does not accuse me of having an axe to grind, although I do represent three pottery districts. Hon. 243 Members have complained of the want of more special rules, but I think everybody in the Potteries will be thankful if there are no more special rules. We want the special rules we have got now to have an opportunity of working, and the employers do not want the trade which they have got driven out of the market altogether. If you abolish these rules you will be sure to throw out of employment several thousand workmen. Reference has been made to the report of Drs. Oliver and Thorpe, but they are not practical men, and this is not a question of theory, but one of practical application. Drs. Oliver and Thorpe do not pretend to have a practical knowledge of the pottery trade. If the Committee will allow me to say so, I am bound to say that in my opinion the House of Commons is the very worst tribunal for discussing the subject of the china earthenware trade. With regard to the use of fritted lead, the real question is whether its use will get rid of all the evils which are complained of. On this point we have the testimony of a great Swedish manufacturer—Mr. Armstrong—who has declared that the use of fritted lead will remedy all the evils connected with the manufacture of earthenware and chinaware. One or two speakers have spoken upon the question of the employment of young persons, but I may say that the manufacturers are not unwilling to meet the views of the Home Office in this respect, for they are perfectly prepared to have a system of monthly examinations of all workers who come in contact with the lead. There are a large number of women and young persons employed, and if their labour is dispensed with the cost of production will be enormously increased and the trade will go to the Continent, and these women and children will be deprived of the means of obtaining their livelihood. With reference to the precautions to be taken, one of the greatest difficulties in regard to lead poisoning is to get the operatives to use the means already within their reach. They always want to get away from their work in a hurry, and they are very reluctant to spend the necessary time, and they do not take the trouble which they ought to do in the matter. Dr. Oliver called attention to this matter in his Report. Surely you cannot expect people to acquire a knowledge of the use of fritted lead all at once.
§ MR. COGHILL
The manufacturers are prepared to adopt the system of fritted lead, and that will practically free the trade from all the evils which the employees suffer from. In the Potteries I am bound to say that we are surprised that we have so many friends in this House from pastoral districts. We have friends from all over the kingdom—from England, Scotland, and Wales; we have the hon. Member for Berwickshire, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean. Now I represent the views of three large Pottery towns, and I do not think that I have ever presented a single petition with regard to this question of lead poisoning from those towns, and I cannot recall having received a single letter of complaint with regard to this matter. I have gone about a good deal in my constituency, and I have had the honour of being returned to Parliament by these workmen, and although this is a burning question and a great grievance in the eyes of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean and the hon. Member for Berwickshire, it has not yet occurred to the workmen in these Pottery towns that they are oppressed. I wish to record this fact, that the operatives and the employers are upon the best possible terms throughout the country. The manufacturers are not all millionaires, and they try to do their best in very difficult circumstances, for competition is very keen and prices are very low. I think it is only right that I should mention these facts, and I hope there will be no repetition of these cruel aspersions against certain employers which, I am sorry to say, have been indulged in by some hon. Members opposite.
§ * SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derby, Ilkeston)
While I resided in the Midlands, in the district in which I lived I saw frequent examples of the effect of lead poisoning, and I have always been very much impressed with what I saw with reference to these dangerous trades. In dealing with this question I think the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary has had a very difficult and delicate task to 245 perform, and I recognise all the difficulties of his position. No doubt the hon. Member opposite has received representations from manufacturers in one direction, but he does not get representations to the same extent from the workpeople, because they are not, as a rule, the people who make the loudest noise. The work-people are very often influenced by the feeling in the trade, and they are very often not sufficiently well organised to raise anything like a serious agitation about their calling. Then, again, the people themselves are very often not aware of the dangers of their trade, and, therefore, I think it is the duty of the Government to exercise a sort of paternal care. What I regret more than anything about this matter, both as to lead poisoning and the evils of the phosphorus trade, is that the right hon. Gentleman has not been more speedy in his action. I think something might have been done since the report of Drs. Thorpe and Oliver was presented, especially in view of the remarkable developments in the phosphorus trade during the autumn of last year. This question of lead poisoning is one of great difficulty. It is a disease which does not appeal very strongly to the operatives, for it is a poison which is slow and insidious in its progress, and which enters the system unknowingly, so that the persons affected go on working day after day, and do not notice any difference in the state of their health until the symptoms are suddenly developed, and the people are then reduced to a state of comparative helplessness and sometimes impotence during the remainder of their mortal lives. These ale dangerous trades, and they ought to be looked after with the most scrupulous care by those in authority. In this report of Drs. Thorpe and Oliver there is a series of figures which tells us that out of 3,000 or 4,000 operatives there were in three years nearly 1,100 suffering from lead poisoning. That is a very large percentage, and it is a very serious commentary upon the dangers of the trade, and it is one which ought to stir the Government into action. This disease especially affects the young and promising lives of the country, for the elder people are not affected to the same degree. It is the young women and persons of tender years who are engaged in the dangerous processes who are affected the most, more especially the dipping process. Now, the 246 right hon. Gentleman belongs to a Party which is greatly interested in the extension of the Empire and the development of the English speaking people. I desire to remind him that while these large notions of Imperialistic development are going on the birth rate of this country is going down, and if this goes on we shall not be able to carry on these large schemes of Colonial enterprise. These young women—the future mothers of the working population—are so affected by this insidious poison that they cease to be prolific, and they transmit the effects of the disease which they have contracted to their unfortunate offspring. Therefore, the diseases caused by these trades not only affect this but also future generations. It is a national question which deserves national consideration. I think we have, at all events, to thank the right hon. Gentleman for one thing, for he is the cause of this very valuable Report presented to the House by Doctors Thorpe and Oliver. I think that Report ought to take away from his mind any lingering doubt as to the necessity for immediate action, for the Report goes into the whole question, gives a series of experiments, and comes to conclusions which are not by any means doubtful. The Report points out many facts with a plainness and directness which ought to carry conviction, and the more one looks over this Report, the more one is struck by the remarkable paragraph in which it is said that the day is practically at hand when lead glazes will cease to be used. I hope all difficulties will soon be overcome. I do not ask the right hon. Gentleman to go so far as to forbid lead glazes, but the Report says further that all the processes can be performed in a less dangerous and comparatively innocent form. According to these scientific experts, the time has come when we should insist upon fritted lead being used, and then we shall have a chance of avoiding all these horrors in the way of diseases which develop into blindness and paralysis, and which occur from lead. If this were done it would at least preserve the health of the working population, who would be able to carry on their work under conditions which would tend to the well-being of the country. I think the right hon. Gentleman should press those conclusions on the manufacturers, and I hope he will not allow many months to pass before he 247 insists upon the manufacturers adopting the less harmful processes. I also hope that the Government Departments will use their influence in this matter by purchasing all their materials from places where they are produced in a manner which will not be harmful to the producer, and where the processes employed are not injurious to the people engaged in the trade. I quite think that the right hon. Gentleman might at least take steps to instruct all these workpeople as to the very serious importance of cleanliness in this matter. The industrial population of these districts are apt to be careless about these points of detail, but if they were well disciplined the amount of cleanliness would be much greater, and if the inspectors insisted upon the means for cleanliness being supplied in no niggardly fashion in every factory, I think the people would be more inclined to use them. From personal experience, I can say that in many of these districts the standard of cleanliness and ventilation has gone up considerably, and in a recent visit which I paid to the Potteries I was very much struck with the many improvements made. I believe that the manufacturers themselves are now showing an inclination to abolish these evils, and it only requires a little firm pressure in order to remove them altogether. If these people are inspected by medical men periodically, the signs of lead poisoning can be easily detected very early in the disease. I took the trouble to look at some of these people when in the Potteries, and in some of them I distinctly saw traces of lead poisoning; now if I had been a medical inspector in the way I suggest, I should have had these persons taken out of that particular occupation and put to another which would be more conducive to health, and not have left them subject to this insidious disease. The medical inspection must be done frequently and thoroughly. If the right hon. Gentleman would adopt these suggestions—frequent and adequate medical inspection, and encouraging, so far as possible, in young persons habits of cleanliness in these industries—he would reduce the serious injury which is done to the population in the Potteries and other places where these dangerous industries are engaged in. I am disappointed that the right hon. Gentleman has not done more with regard to the distressing state of things exposed 248 last year in respect to the phosphorus match factories. I hope he will do something this year, having regard to the fact that there is a form of phosphorus which is harmless, and so do away with the use of the more deadly substance. The disease arising from the use of yellow phosphorus is even more preventable than lead poisoning, and I hope that in the course of the next few months the right hon. Gentleman will do something to do away with phossy jaw and other similar horrors. To do so is not so much a matter of Statecraft as a question of common humanity. The right hon. Gentleman ought to see to it and do something worthy of the age in which he lives for the lessening of human suffering and the prolongation of human life.
§ * MR. DRAGE
During the last twelve months, while expecting the introduction of a Bill, we have not pressed upon the Home Secretary very much the necessity for reform with regard to these matters, but there has been discussed the subject of reorganisation both of the women's and the men's departments so far as concerns inspection, and we have pressed upon the Home Secretary other work, such as the publication of the reports like that of Doctors Thorpe and Oliver on the conditions of labour abroad. So I think we must bear our own part of the responsibility of any delay that may have taken place in the publication of the reports of the inspectors at home. My hon. friend on my right, who showed so much technical knowledge of the state of this trade in the Potteries, said the employers in that district had agreed on the abolition of raw lead. That is very pleasant news to this House, and I hope the Home Secretary will take note of it, and that in the Bill we all look forward to next year the abolition of raw lead will take a prominent place. But if we are to place any reliance upon the reports of the specialists of this country and of Belgium and France and other Continental countries, the abolition of raw lead by itself will not be sufficient. There are many different kinds of fritted lead, and what we have to do is to get the right kind. I am informed that, roughly speaking, in the fritted lead used in Staffordshire the percentage of lead oxide ranged from 13 to 24 per cent. In the Government factories in France and other Continental countries the percentage is from 2 to 8. The Committee will 249 see at once, therefore, that the nature of the fritted lead is a very important factor in the situation. Further, lead-less glazes can be used for much ordinary white ware. The real truth is that lead-less glazes need a higher temperature—that is, a greater consumption of coal and more expense. In France ware is fired at a higher temperature, and a smaller percentage of lead is used. If lead is used at all it should he in the form of a double silicate of lead. This would abolish lead poisoning, because double silicate of lead is not soluble in the acids of the human body, such as the gastric juice, perspiration, and saliva. Now there are certain reforms upon which when we come to deal with this question we shall require the support of hon. Gentlemen opposite, for they will be opposed very strongly by the trade. One of those is the total exclusion of girls under the age of eighteen years from the dipping sheds, and I hope hon. Gentlemen will bear this in mind. At that tender age girls are absolutely reckless of danger. Between the ages of eighteen and thirty women by their constitutions are peculiarly susceptible to this desease, and girls of a younger age still more so. In France the employment of girls under 14 is prohibited, though this, I fear, is not strictly carried out. When the Home Secretary brings in his Bill I hope he will bear this recommendation in mind, because it will have to be carried out, and that regulations will be made with regard to this matter. There is another point of which no mention has been made, and which I venture to press upon the Home Secretary, and that is whether this House is prepared to go as far in the coming legislation as to prevent married women, under certain conditions, being employed at all. It is, of course, a subject very difficult to enter into, but I respectfully ask the Home Secretary to bear that in mind also. Above all, there should also be a complete and constant system of ventilation. This is a point of the utmost importance. In Belgium, at Ghent, where this matter has been particularly attended to, there have been, I am told, absolutely no eases of lead poisoning. The right hon. Gentleman opposite has alluded to cleanliness, and has referred to water and appliances for washing, but he has said nothing with regard to a most important point, and that is meal rooms. Although these seem, 250 to be provided, they are not properly ventilated and warmed, and the result is that the workpeople crowd into the only place where warmth is to be found—that is the work-room. In fact, the whole question of the construction of good factories and the demolition of bad factories requires more attention than it has hitherto received. Another matter which the Home Secretary must bear in mind is that of the registration and inspection, which must be systematic; and I may add that it is a disappointment to find that it has not yet been possible to detail a woman inspector for the Pottery district alone. A difficult point which the Government have to grapple with is the independence of the medical man. No one is likely to take a higher view of men in that profession than I am, but we must bear in mind that those who have to earn their living under these circumstances are very loth to undergo an inspection which must be systematic under new rules, and the employers in the district are also often averse to a change. The position of a doctor who depends for a livelihood on such a community is therefore no easy one. What I may suggest to the Home Secretary is that he may see his way to make medical men absolutely independent of private practice. Two years ago we passed an Act in this House for compensating workmen for accidents, and Ministers abroad are day by day and month by month having brought home to them the fact that those engaged in dangerous trades ought to be entitled to compensation for injury to health in the same way as others for injury to life and limb by accident. It has taken me a long time to come to that view, but year by year we are brought face to face with the solid fact that there are evils which call for remedy, and one sees no remedy but an extension of the Compensation Act. The Committee has heard at great length from the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley the report of the Doctors Thorpe and Oliver, and the reasons why we have not been able to arrive at the common action which some of us thought we might have taken last year. It is to be hoped, however, that the right hon. Gentleman will he able next year to find some means of remedying those evils. I hope that by the Bill of next year the unfortunate system of arbitration will be abolished once and for ever. 251 As it exists at present it involves a preference for backward employers over those who are more enlightened. In regard to the phosphorus trades I hope that at the Conference which is to be held next year in Paris in connection with the Exhibition, the representatives of Great Britain will succeed in arriving at some practical suggestion for international action such as I suggested last year. No "strike anywhere" match has yet been discovered which is satisfactory from a commercial point of view, and total prohibition of yellow phosphorus is impossible without international action. But, at any rate, if that fails we can learn something from Russia, who has succeeded to a great extent in expelling deleterious matches from her boundaries by placing an extra duty on them. I admit that this is not a form of action which is popular in this country, but if the worst comes to the worst it is a measure which we may find ourselves obliged to adopt. In the report of Dr. Oliver special practical suggestions are given, which may well be considered by manufacturers, such as the greater separation of departments, change of occupation for workers, and a substitution of machinery for obsolete methods. In a factory in the neighbourhood of Liverpool the introduction of new machinery has solved the whole question of the evils arising from the use of yellow phosphorus; and that is a fact which should not be lost sight of in any Bill which may be introduced. Further, the amount of yellow phosphorus to be used might be restricted as in Belgium. Better provision might be made for ventilation, as well as gargles, overalls, and proper vestiary accommodation. Better provision should also be made for inspection of teeth and general health. But there is also another question to be dealt with, and that is the inspection by the Home Office with regard to children. We have passed a Bill with regard to half-timers, and I did not attempt to press my views upon the House because I desired to see that measure become law; but it is no use for this House to pass the half-timers' Bill if we are not prepared to go further in this matter. The Inspectors' reports show that the Half-timers Bill may simply mean that the children will pass from controlled into uncontrolled trades, such as errand boys, newspaper boys, household drudges, etc. What is wanted is better provision for getting children to 252 school, better legislation and administration as to uncontrolled trades, better inspection by certifying surgeons, and, finally, a simplification and unification of the law as to the employment of children. At present there are the Education Acts, the Factory and Workshop Acts, the Coal Mines Acts, the Metalliferous Mines Acts, and the Act for the Regulation of Casual Employment in Streets and Public-houses. These Acts overlap, are inconsistent, and conflict. They refer to children of different ages, they differ as to the age up to which children are allowed to work full time, and they differ as to the standard of education necessary for exemption. The administration of the law with regard to inspection is at present a scandal to the country. The inspection of these children is placed under the Education Department, the Local Government Board, the Home Office, the local authorities, and I am informed that even the Board of Trade has something to do with the administration. I have not attempted to refer to the many other abuses as to the administration of such Acts as the Canal Boats Acts and the laws referring to Poor Law children which I have now for three years been pressing on the right. hon. Gentleman and his colleagues. I will only now express the hope that the whole question of the law for the protection of children will receive the consideration of the Cabinet, as it is a disgrace to this House and to the country.
§ * MR. JOHN BURNS (Battersea)
The speech of the hon. Member for Stoke, and that which we have just listened to from the hon. Member for Derby, are widely divergent. The first is opposed to any change, whilst the other is sympathetically reminiscent of the Labour Commission, but both hon. Gentlemen were under the impression that foreign competition would have to be considered, but both agreed that the efficiency and administration of the Factory Acts would have to be reorganised. The hon. Member for Stoke said foreign competition lowered prices, and that the lowering of prices had reduced both masters and men to a condition under which they were very sensitive of any interference with their business. I always think I hear that blessed word "competition." It has been said, "O Liberty, what crimes have been committed in thy name!" So it is with 253 "foreign competition." I do not know of any evil, from the slave trade down to phossy jaw, that has not invoked foreign competition on its behalf. For my part, if I had to choose whether 4,700 men, women, and children are to be liable to these horrible diseases, or whether the trade should go to China or Japan, I would hold up both my hands against these trades being retained in this country. When the hon. Member for Stoke was talking about foreign competition in regard to matches and the pottery industries, the hon. Member for Derby said that foreign countries were far behind Great Britain in factory administration, but in the next sentence said that married women were prohibited altogether from engaging in these industries in Switzerland and Sweden, and he asked if these countries could do that what about Great Britain. When the hon. Member claims for Great Britain a monopoly of vigorous factory legislation and administration, I admit that they are relatively the best in the world. But I hold that they are not good enough, and that even in Great Britain and Ireland we have scandalous evasions of the Factory Acts, even by rich employers of labour. If proof of that is wanted go to the Shaw-field Chemical Works, owned by Lord Overtoun, the champion philanthropist, who praises God and weeps over the woes of the heathen, but keeps his workpeople under the most loathsome conditions. There are other instances in which powerful employers do evade the Factory Acts. The hon. Member for Derby said that a meal room was essential for the workpeople in certain employments, and showed that it could be provided in practice. I had the pleasure the other day of going down to inspect Cadbury and Co.'s great chocolate works, and I can frankly say that I never saw a factory so well appointed, or with meal rooms so well ventilated, although I had better couple that with the works of Messrs. Lever at Birkenhead, and other employers. If these firms can do that for healthy trades like the manufacture of soap and chocolate, I see on reason why it should not be done in the most dangerous trades, even if it is not so profitable. If we are within a pleasurable distance of losing our trade by factory legislation, as is said, in every industry where the Americans are our superiors, they are our superiors, not because of an evasion of the 254 Factory Acts, but by employing men at a higher late of wages than we pay them. It is not by evasion of the Factory Acts that the situation is to be saved. If so, let the Home Office and the House of Commons call at once an International Conference, at which there should be fixed a maximum number of hours' work, a minimum wage, and a minimum amount of sanitary and physical conditions laid down, below which no nation should be allowed to go in respect to employment in dangerous trades. The hon. Member for Stoke adduced the same old arguments which were adduced here sixty or seventy years ago in favour of slavery. He said that since he had been Member for Stoke he had had no complaints either from masters or men, and that they would prefer to have things as they are. All I can say is that if these men are morally and physically so degenerated at the present time that they prefer things as they are, then I would advise him to select a better constituency than the one he now represents. It is not creditable either to the masters or men that they should be content with the present condition of things after the Report of Dr. Oliver and Dr. Thorpe. I can remember when I was in the service of the Niger Company I had a favourite boy, one of the handsomest negroes I ever met. He had, at intervals, attacks of a disease rather peculiar to the lower regions of the Niger. When his work was done he would go down to a district where alluvial clay was mixed with the river sand, and he accentuated his disease by eating handfuls of the clay. I was very fond of the boy, and tried to prevent him killing himself; but he resented this, and wanted to be left alone. I do not say the Stoke employers or workmen have got down to the level of the negro, but they are within measurable distance of my boy on the banks of the Niger. It seems to me that this Report of Dr. Oliver and Dr. Thorpe is a moral stimulus in the right direction. The hon. Member for Stoke must remember that the slave trade was only done away with in the teeth of the slave-owners. He must know that in the Potteries beer is regarded as the best antidote to lead poisoning, and does he expect the publicans to say that beer is not the best antidote to ead poisoning? The men who are in the lowest position of life are always the last to move in the direction of improvement. Then the 255 hon. Member for Stoke said that Drs. Oliver and Thorpe, however qualified as physicians, were not practical potters. They may not be practical potters, but they can tell the physical effect of certain poisons on the human frame; and this Report is worth to me more than all the opinions of all the potters in the Potteries. I am glad that these gentlemen have not condescended to the paltry argument of the hon Member for Stoke, but have given their views straight on the conditions of affairs in the trade. Here is a rough test of the physical effects of the pottery trade upon those engaged in it. Last Saturday an excursion party of 2,000 or 3,000 men and women from the Black Country and the Pottery districts walked through the portals of the House of Parliament. With the exception of a contingent of Bushmen from near Timbuctoo, I never saw a body of smaller people than these excursionists from the Potteries. They had heads on them like sugar loaves, and shoulders like champagne bottles. A recruiting sergeant would not look at a single one of the men. On every face there was evidence of suffering and bad conditions before they were born, going to work too young, and while at work working under conditions disgraceful to employers and employed.
§ MR. COGHILL
If the hon. Member for Battersea will come to Stoke-upon-Trent I will show him among the potters some of the finest men he has ever seen.
§ * MR. JOHN BURNS
I have been both in the Pottery district and the Black Country oftener than the hon. Member seems to think, and I have told the people there what I now say across the floor of the House of Commons.
§ * MR. JOHN BURNS
We know that in one district they make chains and nails, and in the other they make pots and china; but as regards wages, hours, sanitary and factory conditions there is no difference between the two. The hon. Member says that the workmen want things to continue as they are. But time means money, and these workmen frequently give the time to their work which they ought to give to their meals, and to cleansing their persons. 256 The hon. Member will find that it is the industrial environment, the low wages, and the bad sanitary conditions that are responsible for the state of affairs disclosed in this Report. We find that 1,085 persons were suffering from lead poisoning out of a population of 4,703 working in lead, or just over 30 per cent. If that were the condition of our soldiers in India, in regard to another disease; if it were the condition of our garrisons at home, Parliament would be alarmed, and would pretty soon take action. And yet the hon. Member for Stoke says that that is a condition of things which ought to be left alone, and that that is the opinion of the people themselves. I do not believe it. Well, if that is so, the sooner this district is disfranchised the better. What has been the effect of leaving them alone? The effect is that the employers have done practically nothing during the last four or five years to introduce improvements. In many cases the factories are insanitary, and the premises dilapidated, and meal rooms are not introduced as they should be. Generally, the policy of leaving them alone has been to let things grow worse in the district. It is the duty of the Home Secretary to use every means in his power to bring public opinion to operate against such a state of things. Will the hon. Member for Stoke stand up in his place and say that fritted lead is universally used in the Pottery district? It is not so used, because in the Staffordshire district the good employers are dominated by the majority of bad employers; and what is wanted is that the good employers should be backed up by public opinion, by the Home Secretary, and by the Factory Inspectors, and then the good employers would dominate the bad. Then we are told it is difficult to get a substitute for raw lead. Is there an industry or trade in which similar excuses have not been used? Railway directors make the same excuse in regard to automatic couplings. There is not an industry where public opinion is not necessary to stimulate the best employers in the right direction. Then I come to the point about the employment of young persons in these dangerous trades. The opinion of every factory authority in every industrial country is against it; and I am sure it is the private personal opinion of the hon. Member for Stoke. 257 himself, because no one, especially if he is a married man—one of the advantages of getting married is that a man becomes wiser—would like to see a girl or boy of his own of fifteen or sixteen years of age a dipper's assistant, or engaged in drawing the ovens. These boys and girls are to be the fathers and mothers of the next few years, and they ought to be protected. It is the duty of Parliament to see that women should not be employed in these dangerous trades, not only for their own sakes but to prevent them from transmitting the loathsome and dangerous disease, proved by Dr. Oliver and Dr. Thorpe, and which, inn some districts, have rendered recruiting impossible, as the children do not grow up to be strong and healthy men. We are told that reforms should be introduced with care and caution, and that the manufacturers should not be pressed too much. I can only say that out of sixty-four prosecutions, sixty were against workpeople, and four against employers. That means that the inspector is not doing his duty up to the proper standard. When I read about the unsatisfactory condition of many of the works, I am driven to one conclusion, and one only, and that is, that the time has arrived when the Home Secretary should be scientifically disagreeable with the Pottery districts. The right hon. Gentleman is too sympathetic, too kind-hearted, too disinclined to apply the strong measures he ought to apply. My advice to him is to send down to Staffordshire some of the twenty - nine new officials and doctors he has appointed, and to give them the marching order to read Dr. Oliver's and Dr. Thorpe's Report between Euston and Stafford. Let him tell them to get to work at once, on the basis of that Report, and then, within the present law and sphere of administration, much can be done in the next twelve months to bring the bad employers up to the best possible standard. I must say also that the time has arrived when our magistrates the weakest link in factory legislation—should have brought before them in some special way the evils they are perpetuating by inflicting only nominal fines. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to get Drs. Oliver and Thorpe to summarise their Report, and then to circulate it to the magistrates through these Pottery districts. If that were done, and some stiff penalties were imposed, much good might be done. Four or five years ago I was snubbed 258 in the Grand Committee on Trade for saying that the special rules would very shortly be regarded as unworkable and arbitration on special rules ridiculous. I was glad to see that the hon. and learned Member the ex-Home Secretary now concurred in that view, and the speeches delivered in the course of the Debate indicate that the special rules must go, that arbitration must disappear, and that the factory inspectors, with regard to the enforcement of the law, should have the same power as an ordinary sanitary inspector in London has against a householder who is perpetuating a nuisance, or who has diphtheria or scarlet fever in his house. There should be prompt summary powers to stop these things, and if the Home Secretary is only inclined to do it, he has the means at his command already. Why is it that we have had no Factory Report within the last eighteen months? Is it that there is something in regard to these trades that we are not wanted to know? Is the Home Office under-staffed? I cannot understand why the Home Secretary should have suffered this delay, and I would suggest that he should employ more Female inspectors for dangerous trades, and reissue the circular urging on the factory inspectors to rise to the highest level of their duty and enforce all the Acts which come within their power. I suggest that the factory inspectors should be shifted from district to district, and that the medical should be placed above suspicion. Hitherto the factory inspectors have received the highest encomiums for their probity; but I am persuaded that a condition of things exists which demands a stricter enforcement of the factory laws. If more power is needed, it is the business of the Home Secretary to come to the House of Commons and ask for these greater powers. He will receive from all sides of the House support in legislation for the protection of the helpless and for the removal of evils which have too long prevailed in dangerous trades.
§ SIR M. WHITE RIDLEY
There has been a long and interesting Debate, and a great amount of advice has been given to me as to what should be the contents of any measure it may be in my power to introduce on any future occasion. The hon. Member who has just sat down seems to have an idea that it is necessary to see that there is more activity on the part of inspectors of factories. There 259 could not possibly be a more erroneous idea than that there is a want of activity on the part of the inspectors, and I can assure the House that to carry out the immense amount of work imposed on them by the Act of 1885 and other Acts, and by the new developments which have taken place from time to time, is quite as much as the present staff can undertake. The reduction of the Vote has been moved because of the lateness of the Report of the chief inspector. I regret that the Report should be late, but it is almost impossible to ensure that so elaborate a Report should be ready by the month of May. It could not be secured altogether by an addition to the staff, because there must be a master hand, and the master hand has to work on the Report exactly at the very busiest time of the year. It is almost impossible to bring out a Report of such magnitude so that it may be in the hands of Members before the Home Office Vote is discussed. I only wish it could be done, because the more the Reports of the inspectors are studied the more fully will it be realised how much the Home Office are trying to do what they can to enforce the Acts, and how great the difficulties are. The main part of the Debate has turned upon the two very important Reports with reference to glazing and the matchmaking industry, and I have been asked what I propose to do in reference to them. I admitted last year—and I do not go back on what I said—that in reference to both these industries I am convinced that new special rules will be necessary. I have proceeded upon lines which appear to me the most reasonable and fair—namely, to send the Reports to the various manufacturers concerned, who, after all, ought to be consulted and considered, and to ask them what they can do to meet the suggestions of Drs. Thorpe and Oliver. I submit that the best way for a Minister to secure the good administration of the law is to carry with him, as far as he possibly can, the goodwill of those with whom he has to deal. I have received answers from the manufacturers, which have been alluded to by one or two speakers, and I am about to have another conference with them in a few days, and I have every hope that we shall together be able to frame special rules, which will very much improve the conditions of this trade. As far as the Home Office is concerned, we shall not be indisposed to do 260 the best we can to support the views of the experts in this matter. The very great difficulties of the phosphorus business have been referred to, and I do not see how, without adequate consideration of the Report and reference to the manufacturers, special rules could be devised. A good deal was known of the facts last year, but only in a tentative way. The Reports have, however, added a great deal to our knowledge, and this circumstance ought to induce many manufacturers to enter into a new and more satisfactory arrangement. The question of arbitration and special rules is a difficult one, because it is not easy to secure the passing of special rules which would be fair to the various industries, and which ought to be adopted by the working men. I hope, however, that I shall be able to propose legislation which will materially alter the present state of the law. A Bill was prepared many months ago by those responsible for the administration of the Factory Acts, dealing with special rules; but the fates have been against me. I wish, however, to disabuse the minds of hon. Members of the misapprehension that the Government had no idea of introducing legislation on the subject this session. In the course of the present year I have been able to enter into successful negotiations with manufacturers, especially in the white lead industry, to secure special rules which I hope will be satisfactory to that trade, and which may have the effect of inducing others to accept similar conditions. It is impossible for me to give a definite promise to introduce a factory Bill next year, but it will be a matter of great disappointment to me if I find myself unable to deal with the particular question to which I have referred at an early period next session. Something has been said about the Reports as to fritted lead and phosphorus. Everybody will admit that, surrounded as we are with difficulties, yet special rules could be developed out of these Reports, which would be likely for the time being to effect very considerable results. I am asked to agree to an inquiry in reference to the file-cutting and grinding trade, but I do not for a moment propose to deal with these industries without communicating with those interested on both sides of the question. The hon. Member for Bow and Bromley spoke of the difficulties of arbitration, and said that those who held out longest 261 might get the best terms in the sense of having less restrictions imposed upon them under arbitration. If we take the last arbitration, as an instance, that is the case to a certain extent, but it is open to those who previously agreed to the rules to come under the arbitration terms. I am not defending this system of special rules, because in any legislation which I propose, though I do not suppose I shall go so far as to propose that the Secretary of State himself should be able to propose rules which shall be laid upon the Table of this House, I entirely agree that this principle of arbitration should be materially altered if not entirely done away with. My desire is that the power to make rules should be much more with the Secretary of State than at present, subject to a fair opportunity being given to those who are concerned of being heard before an impartial authority. I do not wish to be understood to have promised that there should be some special provision in my proposed Bill dealing in so many words with such questions as the employment of young persons, the use of raw lead, phosphorus, and so forth. What I do say is that I intend to take specific powers to make rules in regard to these matters, because it is very doubtful whether such rules can be made under the present law. I hope to make these proposals early next session, and I trust that they will not be found unsatisfactory. I admit that the key to the position is effective inspection. I cannot altogether agree that the inspection of the Home Office has been as inefficient as the hon. Member for Bromley and Bow suggests. I have not shrunk from making a very considerable increase of the staff in order to meet the difficulties which exist. I am asked to appoint a Departmental Committee to inquire into this question, but I have had a Departmental Committee sitting for some time, and they have presented a very exhaustive Report on the conditions which now attach to the inspection of factories, the relations of men inspectors to women, and the work women do. There is an addition at the present moment of one woman inspector, two or three junior inspectors, and a medical inspector. I hope very soon to appoint a deputy chief inspector. I have not yet made that appointment, because it is part of the general organisation, which we have not had time to carry out satisfactorily. The hon. Gentleman the Member for East Brad- 262 ford has spoken of anthrax in the wool-sorting, and has said provision ought to be made for making that trade less dangerous. I am sorry to hear what has been said about the increase of anthrax in that trade. But I am in a position to say that the diseases arise from subsequent processes, such as wool-combing. As to the controversy with the hon. Member for Stoke, I must say that I do not find unwillingness on the part of the employers to enter into arrangements with the Home Office. I have done my best not to flaunt special rules in a hurry before manufacturers, but to bring evidence and suggestions before them as to what can be done. Under the present state of the law that is the most practical way. Complaint has been made that the Home Office does not act more quickly. Everyone desires to ameliorate the conditions of workpeople in these dangerous trades, but the circumstances have to be considered, and the legal difficulties are great. A great deal has been done during the past few years by action which is far short of compulsion, or the imposition of such rules. There are many instances in which the Home Office has, by the action of its inspectors, by advice and repeated conference and suggestions, done a great deal to improve the conditions of the dangerous trades. While I do not go back from the position that it is desirable that legislation should be introduced for several objects, and especially for doing away with arbitration, I do not hesitate to assert that much could be done in a quiet way.
§ MR. ASQUITH
I wish to associate myself with the well-deserved tribute which the right hon. Gentleman has paid to the zeal and efficiency of the factory inspectors. If our system of inspection does not attain all the results which it is intended to accomplish, that is due, not to any want of efficiency on the part of the inspector, but partly to the defects of the law and partly to the insufficiency of the staff. I am glad to hear that additions to the staff are contemplated, and I should have been glad to hear that, with respect to the districts where the trades peculiarly dangerous to women and children are carried on, female inspectors were to be stationed in the districts for a considerable time, so that by personal contact with employers and employed we might not only see that 263 the law was enforced, but be able to make valuable suggestions for the amendment of the law. With regard to the late presentation of the Report, I cannot, although I have every desire to do so, recognise the explanation which the right hon. Gentleman has given as in any w ay satisfactory. When the House of Commons has on one occasion only in the year the opportunity of reviewing not the law, but the administration of the law by this great Department of State, surely it is a reproach to those responsible for the administration of that law that the representatives of the people should have to discuss it without having in their hands the statistics and facts, and the reports of the inspectors on those facts. I recognise to the full the zeal and efficiency of the staff, but whatever steps are necessary, whether by an increase in the staff or by other means, in order to secure that the presentation of the Report should be made a reasonable time before the Vote for the Home Office comes on, ought to be, and must be taken. I do not hesitate to say that such steps are necessary both in the interests of administrative efficiency and of the effective control of the House of Commons over one of the great Departments of State. As regards the dangerous trades in regard to which a great part of discussion has taken place, I am glad to find that the right hon. Gentleman recognises the urgency of effective action. The right hon. Gentleman, however, recognised that urgency as frankly and as fully in the Debate twelve months ago, and I must say, without going into the controversial questions raised by the hon. Member for Stoke, that having carefully considered this matter for a number of years, I do not consider it safe for the Department to rely on the spontaneous and voluntary action of the employers in this matter. Here as elsewhere, both as regards legislation and administration, the difficulty we have to deal with is not to persuade the humane and reasonable employer to resort to such means as his own conscience and common - sense suggest. The real difficulty is, that in every trade there are a certain number of employers who, partly from insufficient means, want of enterprise, or perhaps sluggishness of conscience, fall below the average standard of their own class. These are the people who constitute the real difficulty, and we shall never be able 264 to deal with them without clear legislation and stringent administration. I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman that our experience in this matter shows that in the present state of the law we cannot rely on special rules. The conclusion to which I have come from listening to this Debate and from the right hon. Gentleman's own speech is that if ever there were a case in which the necessity for legislation was clearly established it is this case. I think it is established on two quite distinct grounds. First of all, take those matters—I agree a considerable number—contained in the Report of Professor Thorpe and Dr. Oliver, which are dealt with by special rules. When these special rules are framed, the Home Office is brought up against the stone wall of arbitration, with the result, to use an illustration from the chess board, that a kind of stalemate is established. Some of the employers acquiesce in the special rules, but others dispute them, and one single employer who holds out, out of a hundred or a thousand employers, is able by means of the dilatory progress of arbitration to get substantial modifications of the provisions laid down by the Home Office for the safe conduct of the trade, not only for himself, but also for his fellow employers who did not ask to have the rules modified. That is a very unsatisfactory state of things. The hon. Member for Derby said that I was the author of the system of arbitration. I disclaim, as I am entitled to do, whatever credit or discredit attaches to the invention of that system. It was invented by the Act of 1891, before I had anything to do with these matters, and it was to me, while I was concerned with the administration of the law, as I am sure it now is to my right hon. friend opposite, a constant stumbling block. As regards those matters which cannot be dealt with by special rule, the hands of the Home Office are fettered and the efficiency of the administration of the law is impaired, as long as this power of resorting to arbitration is placed at the disposal of any employer. I was very glad to hear from the right hon. Gentleman that in his proposals for legislation he intended to deal with this matter, but I listened with a little alarm to his allusion to what he called an impartial tribunal. Arbitration is, I suppose, an impartial tribunal, but I would much rather that the right hon. Gentleman would keep the power himself. It would be 265 much better—I speak quite deliberately and after having given the matter a great deal of consideration—if Parliament would give power to the Secretary of State for the time being to make special rules, subject to such Parliamentary supervision and control as are involved in the laying of those rules on the Table of this House, and enacting that they should not come into force if the House of Commons really objected to them. I agree that the House ought to have full opportunity of discussing these rules, and that we should not be restricted to a capricious hour after twelve o'clock. I am quite prepared not only to admit, but to insist, that if such arbitrary and autocratic power is to be vested in the Secretary of State, the House of Commons should have the fullest opportunity of hearing all the arguments, and of considering, revising, and, if it pleased, rejecting such rules. I am satisfied there will never be a satisfactory solution of this question until an arrangement of this kind is substituted for arbitration. But even then, there are some matters which can be dealt with by special rules, and others which cannot. Take, for instance, the main recommendation of that excellent Report which has been referred to, that in future raw lead should not be allowed to be employed. I do not think at present that can be enforced by a special rule, and it would be a dangerous experiment for the Home Secretary to try. Here we have got a clear case for coming to Parliament for the necessary power to carry out that recommendation. At present it is a matter entirely beyond the purview and scope of a special rule, and it is one of the clearest cases for urgent and prompt legislation possible to imagine. I do not doubt for a moment the assurance of the right hon. Gentleman that if he had his own way legislation would be introduced, but we cannot isolate a particular Minister from his colleagues, or consider the policy of one Department; we must take the policy of the Government as a whole. When I think of some of the hours and days and 266 months occupied during the session in putting upon the Statute Book an Act which will not be exercised in one constituency in a hundred, for advancing money to wealthy working men; when I remember the time occupied with this and other nugatory work——
* THE CHAIRMAN
It would be very dangerous if we got into a discussion on the Workmen's Dwellings Bill.
§ MR. ASQUITH
I appreciate the risk, and I will only say as a general argument that there have been projects of legislation placed before the House of Commons which cannot compare in point of social urgency with this admitted necessity to preserve the lives and health of our working population. We know that in this matter we have the fullest sympathy of the right hon. Gentleman, and I can only express a sincere hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to impress his colleagues with the views he himself entertains. As regards the general administration of the Factory Laws, I heard with very great satisfaction what the right hon. Gentleman said as to his proposals for the general reorganisation and improvement of the staff. I am quite satisfied that with laws of this kind increasing yearly in complexity and also in social and industrial urgency, the administrative arrangements, which were perfectly adequate five years ago, have now fallen very much below the level we ought to seek to attain. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that in any proposals he makes to enlarge the scope and to increase the sufficiency of the staff by which the urgent work of administration is carried on, he will have not only the sympathy but the active support of all sections of the House. I think this has been on the whole a very satisfactory and illuminating discussion. Certainly the impression it leaves on my mind is that until by increased legislative power the good intentions of the Home Office, which always exist, are able to carry themselves into effective action, I will not say 267 the money voted to-night will be wasted, but I will say that it will not be put to such a beneficent purpose as it might. My right hon. friend the Member for the Forest of Dean has moved the reduction of the salary of the Secretary of State. I do not know whether he intends to press that motion to a Division, but if he does, for my part, although I sympathise with a great deal, if not all, of what he said, I cannot support him in the Lobby. I am satisfied that the Debate has served the purpose for which it was intended, and I can only hope that the assurances, indefinite though they be, which have been given by the right hon. Gentleman will be carried into effect.
§ MR. TENNANT
I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will consider the advisability of having his Bill read a first time this session, in order that we might discuss it in the autumn, and that he might have the views of both employers and employed throughout the country on it.
§ MR. JOHN BURNS
I would wish to call the attention of the Home Secretary to one fact. He was under the impression that I had been too severe in my criticism of the employers.
§ MR. JOHN BURNS
In using the language I did, I was more than justified. The right hon. Gentleman said he frequently found employers anxious to assist him, but the report of Messrs. Oliver and Thorpe states that all the evidence they were able to collect forced them to the conclusion that very little of an effective character had been even attempted by the employers. That is the description given by the right hon. Gentleman's own officers; and in the language I made use of, I was only confirming what their experience was in the Pottery districts.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 35; Noes, 115. (Division List, No. 229.)269
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Hazen, Walter||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Hedderwick, Thomas C. H.||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Caldwell, James||Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.||Steadman, William Charles|
|Crilly, Daniel||Lawson, Sir W.(Cumberland)||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Macaleese, Daniel||Tennant, Harold John|
|Davitt, Michael||M'Ghee, Richard||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Doogan, P. C.||M'Kenna, Reginald||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Weir, James Galloway|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||Paulton, James Mellor||Williams, John Carvell (Notts.|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Reckitt, Harold James|
|Foster, Sir W. (Derby Co.)||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Sir Charles Dilke and Mr. John Burns.|
|Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale-||Shaw, Thomas(Hawick B.)|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Bir.|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc.|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Bethell, Commander||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Bond, Edward||Charrington, Spencer|
|Balcarres, Lord||Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Chelsea, Viscount|
|Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W. (Leeds||Butcher, John George||Coghill, Douglas Harry|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Carlile, William Walter||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East)||Compton, Lord Alwyne|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen B.||Cecil, Lord H. (Greenwich)||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)|
|Cox, Irwin Edwd. Bainbridge||Helder, Augustus||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Henderson, Alexander||Pilkington, R. (Lancs, Newton)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Holland, Hon. Lionel R. (Bow)||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Denny, Colonel||Howell, William Tudor||Purvis, Robert|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Jolliffe, Hon. H. George||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Douglas-Pennant, Hon. E. S.||Kenyon-Slaney, Col William||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Drage, Geoffrey||Keswick, William||Ridley, Rt. Hn. Sir Matthew W.|
|Drucker, A.||Lawrence, Sir E. Durning-(Corn||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson|
|Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel W.|
|Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Mncr.||Lea, Sir Thomas (Londonderry)||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Field, Admiral (Eastbourne)||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Ryder, John Herbert Dudley|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn-(Swan.||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Seely, Charles Hilton|
|Fletcher, Sir Henry||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)|
|Fry, Lewis||Long, Rt. Hn. W. (Liverpool||Stanley, Hon. A. (Ormskirk)|
|Galloway, William Johnson||Lorne, Marquess of||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Gedge, Sydney||Lowles, John||Sturt, Hon. Humphrey Napier|
|Gibbons, J. Lloyd||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf. Univ.|
|Giles, Charles Tyrrell||MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Godson, Sir A. Frederick||M'Arthur, charles (Liverpool)||Ward, Hon. R A. (Crewe)|
|Goldsworthy, Major-General||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Warde, Lieut.-Col. C. E. (Kent)|
|Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Milton, Viscount||Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.|
|Greene, H. D. (Shrewsbury)||Monk, Chas. James||Wentworth, B. C. Vernon-|
|Greene, W. Raymond-(Cambs.)||More, Robert J. (Shropshire)||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath|
|Gretton, John||Morgan, Hn. F. (Monmouthsh)||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Greville, Hon Ronald||Morrell, George Herbert||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Lord George||Morton, Arthur H. A (Deptford|
|Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robt. Wm.||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Hanson, Sir Reginald||Pease, Herbert P.(Darlington)||Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Hardy, Laurence||Pender, Sir James|
|Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo.||Percy, Earl|
§ Original Question again proposed.
* MR. CARVELL WILLIAMS (Notts., Mansfield)
If I did not fear being called to order by you, Sir, I should be glad to avail myself of this Vote to urge on the Home Secretary the necessity for Burial Law reform. I have to make a complaint very different from the complaints to which we have listened to to-night. Complaints have been made of the Home Secretary for not doing things he ought to have done. My complaint is that he is doing things which had better be left undone. I think we are entitled to ask the Home Secretary not to administer the existing law with unnecessary rigour. The point to which I wish to call his attention is the requirement of consecrated in addition to unconsecrated ground in the case of cemeteries under the Burial Acts. I am quite aware that in regard to new cemeteries the Home Office is entitled to insist that there shall be consecrated and unconsecrated parts, but the law is not so clear with regard to additions to cemeteries. Some time ago the late Home Secretary was engaged in 270 a lengthy controversy with the Corporation of Hull. He required a large amount of additional ground to be consecrated. The Corporation refused, and ultimately the Home Secretary ceased to put pressure on the Corporation and abandoned his contention. Since then the Basingstoke decision has been obtained, which I admit enables the Home Office to insist that additional ground should be consecrated, and at the present moment the Home Office is pressing Colne, in Lancashire, to consecrate the proposed addition to the cemetery which the Burial Authority considers is absolutely unnecessary. The facts are that the existing unconsecrated ground is quite full, and that therefore unconsecrated ground is needed. But the existing consecrated ground is not full, and may last for some considerable time longer. Yet, notwithstanding that, the Home Office is insisting that the new ground shall be divided into consecrated and unconsecrated parts. That is not only absurd, but very embarrassing to the Burial Authorities, who have a difficulty in deciding how much shall be consecrated and how much un- 271 consecrated. They do not know what the facts of the case may be in years to come, when additional consecrated ground may be required; and I submit that the Home Office might very reasonably allow this question to rest until the necessity for new consecrated ground actually arises. This is one of those cases of which it cannot be said that delay is dangerous. No conceivable harm can result if the Home Office lets the matter rest, whereas hasty action may cause much that may hereafter be regretted. I think the Home Office in matters of 272 this kind might be a little more accommodating.
It being Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Resolutions to be reported upon Monday next; Committee also report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.
§ House adjourned at five minutes after Twelve of the clock till Monday next.