HC Deb 01 March 1899 vol 67 cc920-93


Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed— That the Bill be now read a second time.

MR. ROBSON (South Shields)

The Bill which now comes before the House for the Second Reading proposes to enact that the earliest date on which a child shall be permitted to leave school shall henceforth be at the age of 12 instead of 11 years. The Bill, if carried, will come into operation on the 1st of January, 1900, and it contains a proviso, by way of a saving clause, preventing the Bill having operation with regard to those children who, on the 1st of January next, have already obtained an exemption, or partial exemption, from school attendance. That, substantially, is the whole of the enactment proposed. But still the Bill occupies a position which is not usual with Private Members' Bills, for it embodies a proposal to which the Government of the country is bound by international engagement, and a definite engagement, moreover, which has been recognised by both Parties in the State, and which, indeed, both Parties have made not altogether successful attempts to carry into effect. I refer, of course, to the agreement arrived at by the Berlin Conference of 1890. At that conference I think it was one of the leading propositions dealt with, for it was proposed that the minimum age of child labour should be raised to 12 years. The principal representative of Great Britain at that Conference was the right honourable Gentleman who is now Vice-President of the Committee on. Education, and he felt that although he could not assent to a proposal binding his country and his Government without explicit and specific authority, which authority he obtained in express terms—and I need not trouble the House with those terms—for they were given by Lord Salisbury, formally and officially, to assent to this proposal, which was, of course, intended to be binding as far as International conferences can bind all parties. This enabled the delegate for Great Britain to say, in opposing a proposition on the part of the Southern countries, that, so far as they were concerned, the minimum age should not go beyond 10. That was proposed by the delegate from Great Britain, and the right honourable Gentleman the Vice-President said— The delegates of Great Britain have agreed to the proposal limiting the daily labour of children, women, and young persons, and would even wish to extend it further. Then he says, and I draw the special attention of the House to these words, because they are the words of an English Minister— We can pledge ourselves for Great Britain, that our Government, faithful to its action in the past, Mill conform resolutely in the future—if it does not go beyond them—to the benevolent principles of the Conference. Now, Sir, I do not put that forward as binding this House, but it does bind the Ministry, and I think I may say that, in no small degree, it binds the Party to which that Ministry belongs. An attempt was made to carry that engagement into effect in 1893 on the part of the Liberal Government, but it was certainly not fully carried into effect. The proposal was that the age should be raised from 10 to 11, instead of 12 and 11, which was fixed upon as a provisional compromise between the Government of that day and those who advocated no extension whatever. It was urged then, on behalf especially of Lancashire, that to raise the age two years at once would cause a good deal of derangement of their particular trade, and that it would be better to proceed by two steps instead of one, and that was done. I find now that it is suggested by those who are opposed to this Measure that the Act of 1893 ought not to be regarded, as in fact it was, as a mere provisional compromise, but as a complete settlement of the Question which should not now be disturbed. I beg to say that that is a wholly erroneous view, due only to the exigencies of the case arising during the controversy, which has not been acted on by either side of the House at all. In 1896 this Parliament and the present Government endeavoured to carry into effect the Berlin pledge, and this very Bill which I am now proposing is nothing more than the clause taken from the Bill of 1896, making allowance only for the difference of date. Well, that Measure of 1896 was lost through causes not entirely connected with the merits of this particular Question, and my hope and belief is that if this proposal is put forward as a simple reform, and disentangled from all the dangerous controversies that arise when any Government try to deal with the Education Question, I hope it will be received with favour from both sides of the House. It is a source of some humiliation to us, and of some alarm also, that in our own time England should have become the laggard among European nations with regard to the protection and education of its young. In France the minimum age of child labour is practically 12; there are some unimportant qualifications, but in fact the effect is that the education of the child shall continue up to 12, and even then it gets no exemption unless it obtains a certificate of real proficiency in the subjects in which it has been taught. In Switzerland and Germany the minimum age is much higher, for it is 13. It varies a good deal in Germany, but, speaking generally, the minimum age there is 13. I see in one of the reports made by Sir Philip Magnus to the Education Department there is a statement made that in Germany child labour has practically disappeared from the factories altogether. What I think is not less important is that in these countries not only do they keep the child at school longer, but they are incomparably more strict with regard to the regularity of attendance, and they are also much more careful with regard to the qualifications of their teachers. These, I think, are very significant facts when one comes to compare this country with others. We hear some people complain of keeping our children at school until they are 11 years of age, but it must not be supposed that the attendances of children here are anything like what they are in the other countries which I have named. It is a favourite, and very often a very sound argument, in dealing with the hours of labour, that to restrict the hours of labour would expose us unduly to unfair competition with foreign countries. That argument, however, is conspicuously absent from the speeches and letters of those who have taken up an active opposition to this Bill, because here the situation is entirely reversed. Everybody admits that the foreigner in this matter is well ahead of us. He has preferred very deliberately to leave us without competition in the employment of child labour up to this age. I do not want to lay much stress upon this fact, but I do not think that humanity has been the only motive. The statesmen of Germany are intensely keen on the national development of their country, and it would take a great deal to make German statesmen do anything which would be detrimental to the present commercial rivalry which prevails between them and England. But the fact is that they are not missing a point, but they are making a point when they guard the physical and intellectual development even of the poorest of their people. Everybody recognises nowadays, at all events, that the great secret of the success of Germany in nearly every sphere of human energy is due to the fact that she began this policy earlier, and she has pursued it more strenuously than any other country in the world. So far, therefore, as the argument of international competition is concerned, all the examples and arguments tell in favour of the restriction which I am now proposing. Well, Sir, I dare say it will be said in the course of this Debate, and in the course of the controversy which will follow, that the poverty of the working classes of England is the reason why this reform should not be allowed. But, Sir, will any Member venture to say that the working classes of England are poorer than those of Germany, or Italy, or France? Is England too poor to afford what France and Germany and Italy, with their enormous armaments and their unjust systems of taxation, can not only afford, but what they regard as a necessity of industrial civilisaton? I wonder, if Europe were to call upon Great Britain to give effect to the decision of the Berlin Conference, would the honourable Member for Stockport suggest that England should put forward its poverty as a plea for not fulfilling its pledge? Well, Sir, with regard to the provisions of the Bill itself, they need very little explanation, because they are very simple and short; but there are two principles upon which I ought to say something. I ought to say something with regard to the existing state of the law. As is generally known, an English child is supposed to be in full school attendance up to the age of 11. At the age of 11 it may either obtain total exemption from school attendance and leave altogether, or it may obtain partial exemption. In the latter case, of course, it cannot obtain either total or partial exemption without satisfying Her Majesty's Inspector in a way which I shall describe immediately. If it obtains partial exemption, it becomes what is called a half-timer; although this is by no means a very accurate phrase. The word "half-timer" rather seems to imply that the child shall devote its time equally between the workshop and the school. But a half-timer may mean, and does mean, six hours in the mill against about two hours or two and a-half in the school. Now, it is desirable to understand what the conditions are.

MR. G. WHITELEY (Stockport)

That is so; but in the alternate weeks the division of time is reversed.


It is quite true that in the following week the child goes to the school in the morning and the mill in the afternoon, and that there are days on which it does not have so long in the mill as when it goes there in the morning, but even then the child spends a much longer time at the mill than at the school. The morning day is from 6 o'clock to 12 in the mill and 2 to 4.30 in the school. Then the following week the child goes to the school in the morn- ing at 9 and goes to the mill in the afternoon at 2 o'clock; therefore it is really at the mill for a longer time than it goes to school even in this ease. But what are the conditions upon which the child can obtain this right to go to the mill? The statute says that it can only leave school upon passing an examination in one of the standards fixed by the code of local by-laws. I do not think, as a matter of fact, that there is an actual individual examination held, but instead of it there has been substituted a standard ascertained by a particular mode of examination with which I need not trouble the House. But the important thing is to see what is the standard which is supposed to be enforced. In a great many districts of England there are no standards fixed at all after the age of 11. Practically speaking, a child before it can leave school, either totally or partially, should satisfy the inspector in one of the standards fixed by the local by-laws, and that is an important thing to remember. There are some districts, very few I know, where only the First Standard is fixed, but that only covers a population of about 60,000. But when we come to the First and Second Standards we are dealing with a much larger population. Now, what are the First and Second Standards? In the First Standard the children are confined to reading, writing, and arithmetic, and it has been decided that you cannot carry your test beyond those three subjects. In the First Standard I find it is sternly enacted that the reading examination shall not consist of words of more than one syllable only. In the Second Standard we have reading, writing, and arithmetic, but when I look at this standard for arithmetic, I find it laid clown that if you set sums in money in that standard the amounts with which you deal in your questions or answers must not exceed £10. It will be gathered from this that such a child is scarcely-fitted to deal with Conservative Budgets. Well, in the Third Standard we have a more daring advance in the matter of arithmetic—and remember that it is the Third Standard which is generally used for the purpose of partial exemption. I am not now dealing with some small section of the population, but with the majority of cases where the standard is fixed. In the Third Standard, when you come to arithmetic, you have suing in money given, and the amounts in questions and answers must not exceed £99. I know that the educational authority in future is at liberty to make by-laws fixing the standard for the First, Second, and Third Standards for half-timers. But what do we find when we get to the Fourth and Fifth Standards? Take the Fifth Standard, which is used, and most frequently used, for total exemption. I find that many educational authorities are very proud of this standard. This again consists of reading, writing, and arithmetic, which is very bold indeed, because the arithmetic goes up to addition, subtraction, and fractions. When I turn to the Code again I can scarcely believe it, for the child is required to do vulgar fractions, and we find that those fractions put before the child must be proper fractions, of which the denominator never exceeds 12. Now, what is this but a careful endeavour to prevent any test which shows whether the child really understands its work or not? Of course, the State provides a better education, which it offers and invites the children to accept, but, so far as compulsion is concerned, hitherto the English law has been content with a minimum of school attendance, and a, minimum of efficiency while the school life is going on. Now, people have got the idea that every child in England, at all events, carries with it from school some sort of permanent education. Well, there cannot be a greater and more absolutely erroneous statement, even if we had elementary education throughout the whole of England. There is, first of all, what I have already mentioned, and that is the irregularity of attendance. There is further the question, which is a serious evil, and I might almost say a scandal, of the employment of untrained and unqualified teachers who are not able to do the work efficiently. If we had a very strict law as to school attendance and a perfectly well equipped and efficient staff you might do something with a child before it left school, but when you have not got these things it is hopeless to expect that you can give an efficient education up to the age of 11. I have referred to the Reports of some of the inspectors in the course of my investigations upon this very question. I need not, however, go further than what the right honourable Gentleman the Vice- President of the Council said himself. He said— Twenty per cent. of the children who have learned, reading, writing, and arithmetic at school, when they leave school lose the faculty altogether. And, further than this, he said— Twenty per cent. of the remainder when they do pick up a printed page are unable to follow the author's ideas at all. One of Her Majesty's inspectors in the Blue Book for 1893 says— We lose the advantage of a great part of our expenditure because, just at the period when education in the proper sense begins, the children are withdrawn from it. When they turn up at continuation schools many of them have forgotten all they have learned. That is an observation which I commend especially to the Members who come from the agricultural and rural districts. This state of things tells more there than it does in the town. We have bad come rather striking facts laid before the House lately with regard to the investigations of those honourable Members from Ireland who have been inquiring into the cause of the agricultural success of other countries, and it has proved to be a very strong and striking testimony to the value of technical education, which is nowhere more necessary than in the agricultural districts. When these children turn up at continuation schools many of them have forgotten all that they have learned. That is a most significant statement, and shows that there is an enormous amount of educational waste. We have teachers and schools, and we have also an enormous taxation, but we do not get the most out of them. It would add very little to the national cost of our educational system to give this extra year to the education of a child; but while it would add very little to the cost, it would add enormously to the efficiency of the whole of our national system of education. I remember being very much struck, on reading the Prisons Report, with the large number of prisoners who appeared totally unable to read or write. I see from, the Prisons Report for 1896 it is there stated that "96.9 per cent. of the prisoners can neither read nor write, or can only do so imperfectly." Of course, doing so imperfectly means that, in fact, they cannot do so at all. I do not mention this figure for the purpose of making good my own argument for this Bill; I do not cite it for that purpose at all, but I do so in order to draw the attention of the House to the fact that an enormous number of our children, especially of the poorer class, pass through our national system without receiving any effective or enduring education at all. That, I think, is a fact which is not sufficiently appreciated, and it tells, as I have said, most strongly in the agricultural districts. Now these children go as infantile recruits to swell the great army of ignorant people who engage in industries, and this ignorance is one of the most deadly enemies, and is a great danger to any self-governing State. But in a self-governing State there is an interest which is paramount to that of employment, and that is the right to prevent the growth of a class which is unfit for the exercise of the right of free citizenship. That view now prevails very largely in England, I am glad to say, although it is, perhaps, not so strongly held in England as in other parts of the United Kingdom. Scotland and Wales, for instance, are enthusiastic about education, and England is fairly well resigned to it; but reformers have hitherto prevented and obstructed the progress of education. The reform which I am proposing has hitherto been prevented by the opposition of two or three districts in which a particular trade prevails. I am glad to say that this opposition is now lessening, and it is now considerably less than it was formerly. A few years ago West Yorkshire would have gone into the Division Lobby against this Bill, but I do not think that it will do so to-day. Even Lancashire does not stand where it did.


Yes, it does.


Well, I will read to the House a statement made by Mr. Mawdsley, the leader of the Lancashire operatives, which has been so generally quoted, and with which perhaps the House is familiar, although I do not think I can do better than read it again. Mr. Mawdsley is not a supporter of this Bill, at any rate, not officially. That "officially" we are all familiar with. Mr. Mawdsley was asked whether he sent his own children to the mill, and he said that so long as he could provide for his children he would not send them to the mills, but would allow them to enjoy the advantages which of right belonged to childhood. Well, that is the opinion of Mr. Mawdsley, and I think it will be the opinion of Lancashire to-morrow, and before the next election, and it is a point certainly well worthy of consideration on the part of the Lancashire Members. Now, what is this half-time system in Lancashire? The observations which I have been making hitherto apply chiefly to agricultural districts, but now let me make a few observations, and I will be very brief. With regard to the Lancashire half-time system, a child goes to the mill at about 6 o'clock in the morning, and it is there till 8 o'clock, when it has its breakfast at the mill. There is half an hour allowed for breakfast, and the child remains at the mill till 12 o'clock. Then at 2 o'clock the child goes to school. Now, what are the conditions of its life in the mill? I wish to put forward these facts without exaggeration and without comment, and let the House judge for itself upon this question. The temperature of the mill is very high, and it is essential for the purposes of the manufacture that the temperature should be high, and also that the air should be damp. You have a temperature amongst which you put these boys and girls of 11 years of age which ranges between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. There you have that temperature and atmosphere artificially made damp. Sir, the damping of the atmosphere appears to be done in a variety of ways. You have steam pipes going round the rooms, and at intervals there is steam ejected which condenses in the air and damps the material that is the subject of manufacture, and damps also the people who are working there. Now, a damp atmosphere is not a very good thing for the child, but at such a high temperature it is very injurious to a child. But the damp and the heat are not the worst features of the case, because the air is charged with fine dust which comes from the sizing of the material, and there is also a fluff which comes from the material itself. When under these conditions of high temperature and damp atmosphere charged with dust you add the din and clatter and noise of the mill, you have not got a condition of things which can possibly be very healthy for a child of tender years. The honourable Member for Stockport has said that he thinks the atmosphere of the mill is better than the atmosphere of the school.


Hear, hear!


He means church schools.


I hope that some Lancashire man, on behalf of the schools of this country, will resent that assertion, but I will leave operatives to judge about such things for themselves. There is absolutely no need for the House to trouble about such things, and I will let the operatives judge, for they have judged both ways. I have here a declaration made by the Bolton Operative Spinners' Association, in which they are opposing this proposal to raise the age to 12 years, and this is what they say— After full consideration of this subject, we consider that the proposal is uncalled for in the interests of the child itself, and we do hereby assert that a child does not suffer, either physically or intellectually, as the result of becoming a half-timer. Now, that is the Bolton operative cotton spinner on his child. Now listen to the Bolton operative cotton spinner on himself. There was another meeting of the Bolton Cotton Spinners' Association, and this is an extract taken from their annual report. It says— In addition to this, he (the cotton spinner) has to labour in a temperature ranging from 80 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit and in a vitiated atmosphere, which is not completely changed even once a week. And then the report adds— These conditions render him peculiarly liable to contract chest complaints and pulmonary consumption. Then I find that next year they passed a resolution that eight hours a day was quite sufficient for them to work in such an atmosphere. Now, I do ask the opponents of the Bill whether assertions of this kind, which are contradicted by the operatives themselves, are fair to the public. When the operative spinner is speaking of his child the conditions are not injurious, but when they concern himself the same conditions render him liable to contract chest complaints, and I will ask the House to judge as to the value of expert evidence of the character which I have just read. Well now, Sir, what is the effect upon a child of these insanitary conditions? There have recently been a series of experiments conducted with a view of comparing the height of the average cotton operative half-timer, first of all, with a Lancashire child who is not a half-timer, and then with the average English child, and I will give the House briefly the result of a thorough investigation of the matter. It is stated that the shortcoming in height at the age of 12 years of the half-timer is 2.3 inches. Now, that is a very substantial difference at 12 years of age. Now, at 13, again the difference is increased to the disadvantage of the half-timer to 3 inches, and there is a similar corresponding diminution in weight. I need not trouble the House with the figures as to weight, but it appears to me that they exceed even the diminution in height. But one has also to consider the effect of this half-time system upon the ordinary organisation at school. The textile operatives have been voting and speaking as if this question only concerns them; but it is not possible for any section or any trade to cut itself off from the rest of the community, and treat this question in that isolated way, because the result is that the half-timers disorganise the whole organisation of the school by one set going in the morning and another in the afternoon, and the children who are not half-timers are compelled to hear again the same humdrum lessons both morning and afternoon. But the most important consideration of all, and a matter which I think has been most conclusively dealt with by recent investigations, is the old argument about the poverty of parents. That is a legitimate argument, if it be true, against making any restriction whatever if it amounted to anything like a serious disadvantage to the parents of the half-timers. Well, now, this question has been completely disposed of by the investigations of one who has earned the gratitude of all interested in this matter, and that is the special commissioner of the "Daily News." That-gentleman has had access to the books of the manufacturers, and he has gone to the Board Schools to see the lists of the families of half-timers, and taking no less than 1,130 cases, he finds that the aggregate wages of the families from which the half-timers come to the schools over the whole course of his investigations is actually £3 10s. per week. Now, how much does a half-timer earn of that? Why, he gets about half-a- crown a week. Will anyone suggest that a reform of this nature, so imperative, so just, and so humane, is to be kept back in order that the operative may not have the half-crown of his child's earnings deducted from his £3 10s. a week? Well, I will say no more about the poverty of the parents, for that is certainly a most powerful argument against the Bill which has been conclusively and completely disproved. Then there is another argument. It is said that this half-time system is a kind of technical education for the children.


Hear, hear!


Well, "technical education" is a very fine phrase, and it is a very good thing, but is this sort of work which these little piecers do what may be termed technical education? It is quite true that when the little piecer is picking up the soft ends of the broken tread and splicing them together with a twist of the finger; and the knotter who goes on untying knots on the fringes of quilts, or the work of the little tenter when they are doing such work, this is in one sense technical education, and they are learning how to do it. You may, therefore, if you like, call it technical education, and yet not be more inaccurate when you say that personal interests are concerned instead of arguments. But is that what we mean by technical education? I know that "technical education" is a somewhat ponderous phrase, but it seems to me to mean something more than mere manual quickness in employment, for it means the training of the mental faculties also. Washing the doorstep, in one sense, is technical education, but it is much better and more accurately described as washing doorsteps. I do not think the importation of all these ponderous and portentous phrases will have much effect. The truth is that the half-time system is the worst enemy of technical education that exists. I have here a statement made by Mr. Waddington, the President of the National Union of Teachers, who points out that in Bolton there are between 3,000 and 4,000 half-timers. He says that there are 538 scholarships given in that town for technical and other forms of education, and, says Mr. Waddington, "Not one of these scholarships has been won by a half-timer."


Yes, one.


My honourable Friend near me corrects me by saying that one of these scholarships has been carried off by a half-timer, but it is astonishing to me how on earth that half-timer came to get that scholarship.


He was not a half-timer when he got it.


My honourable Friend explains the mystery by saying that he was not a half-timer when he got the scholarship. Well, in order to have anything like an efficient system of technical education, it must be erected upon a solid basis of general education, for that is the only way of doing it, and Lancashire will come to see that it is impossible for the premier industrial county of England to remain long behind the rest of England in a matter involving the education of the children. Well, Mr. Speaker, we have disposed of this old argument against this reform, and it will avail us no more, for experience and research have entirely settled the old excuses about technical education, poverty, and so on. We stand face to face now with the fact that this demand on behalf of the children has been recognised by the rest of Europe as being a question of plain humanity, and no section of interests or influences in this House have any right to stand in the way Any obligation that rests upon us at all, even if it were true—which it is not—that this trifling reform and restriction might affect the trade and prosperity of England, that is a very unsound argument and would be an insufficient argument against granting it. It is not easy for the nation to prosper by depressing the physical and mental capacities of its young, and if it did prosper by any such means, I would say "beware of such prosperity." Prosperity, unaccompanied by mental and moral advancement, is in itself a very dangerous thing, either to an individual or to a State; but material prosperity, purchased at the cost of such advancement, is, I venture to say, the most serious forerunner of national decadence. I hear leave to move the Second Reading of this Bill.

MR. KENYON (Bury, Lancashire)

I rise to second the Motion of the honourable Member for South Shields. Since I had the honour to be a. Member of this House I have heard several Debates on educational matters, and I have heard once or twice the remark made as to the influence of the Northern comities, more especially Lancashire and Yorkshire, upon educational advancement in this country. I know that it has been the frequent complaint of the Vice-President of the Council that the children were taken away from school too soon, and, indeed, all educational authorities are agreed upon that point. Mr. Speaker, the reason why I wish to support the Bill of my honourable Friend opposite is that the whole standard of education throughout the world is being raised almost every year, and, consequently, other nations are advancing much more rapidly than we are, and I do not think that we are making the progress in these matters which we ought to. Besides what I have heard in this House, when I go home it is the complaint of our technical school managers that the boys who come there are very deficient indeed in elementary knowledge, and that they are not really sufficiently taught in the ordinary elementary work, and they cannot grasp the instruction which is given them in the technical schools; and in effect, a very great part of the expense incurred in these technical schools up to the present time has been thrown away. Well, not only do the half-timers prevail in the North, and not only are they deficient through this lack of attendance at school, but from information I have received, not from teachers, but from managers of schools, I understand that they hinder the work of the other children in the school, and I quite agree with them. I am sure it only wants anyone to give an independent judgment on the matter to see what the effect is of these children going into school in the morning one week, and in the afternoon another week, to realise the confusion which must take place in the management. I should like to hear the opinion of the Vice-President of the Council on this subject. I understand that at the present time at the schools throughout the country, they are crowded, with the usual complaint that the classes are too large, and that with the present staff of teachers and their present salaries, it would be very difficult indeed to organise separate classes for half-timers. Then we have the old argument that these children going to the mill as half-timers can learn their trade and earn their bread, and that a child's fingers are more delicate and more able to acquire a fineness of touch than those older. Well, I have had considerable experience in the matter of mill work, and in the matter of half-timers and whole-timers, and I say advisedly that a child of 12 can do the work just as well as a child of 11, and that one of 13 is as able to learn as one of 12. There are plenty cases of young people who have done this work at more advanced ages. I have in my mind the case of a man who went to the loom when he was 17 and learned what he had to do in a fortnight; at any rate, he learned sufficiently to earn the standard wage. So that I think the argument of children not being able to learn the business falls to the ground. I have also had considerable experience in the management of men, and I believe that a good many honourable Members will bear me out when I say that the most difficult man to manage is the man who cannot read or write, who is wooden and as stupid as a mule. One very good reason why I support this Bill is that it would certainly brighten the intelligence of the workers if these children were at school, even if only for those poor six months. A higher standard of education is required now in every business in the country, and it will certainly be required in an increased degree in the next few years, not only in the cotton trade, but in every other textile business in the country. We have had most interesting evidence of this at a meeting in London last week, called by the North Lancashire Weavers' Association, who generally are opposed to the Bill. I must, however, say on their behalf that they have behaved with perfect frankness, were kind enough to answer any questions put to them, and gave the fullest information they possibly could. I should like to call the attention of the House to one statement by Mr. Burrows, the secretary of one of the most important of the northern districts in Lancashire. He said there was no doubt that in the future greater skill would be required by the workpeople of Lancashire and other parts of the country. He laid great stress on this, and I quite agree with him. There is no doubt that greater skill will be required, and I should like in this connection to call attention of honourable Members to a statement which was made in "The Times" by its correspondent at Shanghai. He there called attention to a serious decrease of imports from Great Britain. In 1887 the imports of cotton yarns and goods were £6,300,000, but in 1897 they had fallen to £4,800,000. In 1887 India sent China £1,500,000 worth of such goods, and in 1897 £4,000,000. The United States in 1887 imported yarns to the extent of £1,000,000, and in 1897 they had increased to £1,750,000. Japan sent nothing in 1887, but in 1897 her imports to China in this class of goods amounted to £1,000,000. Honourable Members will see from this statement that competition is going on in China, which is rightly spoken of as one of the greatest markets of the world. These figures provide food for serious reflection. Then the Shanghai correspondent points out that the British falling off is in grey goods, but that in fancy goods an improvement of over £200,000 has taken place in the period under review. This, coupled with Mr. Burrows' statement at the Conference, bears out what I am trying to prove to the House, namely, that in the foreign markets where competition is so keen the prospects for British trade lay rather in the higher and fancy class of work, which requires greater skill and intelligence in its execution. Well, Mr. Speaker, besides the question of skill which was brought forward at the Conference, the secretaries were good enough to reply to questions. In answer to one of them they told us that but 20 per cent. of the parents of half-timers are members of cotton weavers' associations, or in the cotton trade at all; the parents of the other half-timers are joiners, blacksmiths, or farmers. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, the poverty argument need not be brought in at all. But there was another Conference on this half-time question in Manchester, representatives attending on behalf of Lancashire Spinners' and Weavers' Associations and also the Yorkshire Associations, and at that meeting there was, to my mind, a complete answer given to the poverty of some people who are the parents of half-timers. A proposal was brought forward to raise the age from 11 to 12, and, three years afterwards, from 12 to 13, and every Yorkshire trades union secretary at that meeting supported the more drastic proposal. Now, there has been a tendency since this meeting to pooh-pooh and belittle the Yorkshire position in this matter. Will the honourable Member who has just spoken allow me to call his attention to the number of half-timers in Yorkshire? The total number of half-timers in the administrative county of Yorkshire is 20,070, and in the four great towns of Bradford, Halifax, Huddersfield, and Leeds there are 11,649. I therefore think they are entitled to some voice in the matter. I am a Lancashire man, and I am very proud of my county, and I always like to voice the opinions of my county; but we must remember the opinions of Yorkshire as well. There is another point I should like to mention whilst we are talking about Yorkshire—and I think the honourable Member for Stockport will not dispute it—and that is that the standard rate of wages in Lancashire in every trade I know—and I know a good many—is higher than it is in Yorkshire. So that if there is no objection from the Yorkshire trades unions as to the proposal of my honourable and learned Friend the Member for South Shields as to pinching the parents, Lancashire should be willing to accept the Bill and the benefits to be derived from it. Surely, Mr. Speaker, if the regulation school age on the Continent is 13 or 14, we in this country can very well go to 12. We pay far more than the Continental wage, and there is no military conscription standing in the way of the proposals contained in the Bill. I think this education question requires our most serious attention. The cotton trade, about which we have been talking so much, is not a rapidly-increasing business—I am afraid it has a tendency rather to decrease—and we require as far as we possibly can to prepare ourselves for what is coming. We have the competition, not only of Continental nations, but also of the United States of America. As regards the cotton trade, it must be remembered that it is not the only trade in the county. We have the woollen trade, calico printing, dyeing, bleaching, machine-making, and paper-making as well as the cotton trade, and those trades require the greatest benefits they can get from the technical school and the good education of the children. We require that this education shall be properly carried out, go that there shall be a sound foundation on which to build a thorough technical knowledge. That sound foundation must be made in your elementary schools. Give the children the chance of learning reading, writing, and arithmetic; let them be taught soundly; give them a good grounding in the subjects; and then they will be able to take full advantage of the benefits of technical education. I have mentioned other trades which are carried on in Lancashire as well as on the Continent. Let us consider for the moment the woollen trade. The woollen trade was a most important business in Lancashire at one time. In the county borough which I have the honour to represent we had 15 mills 50 years ago. We have only live to-day. Then we had three dye works; to-day there is not one; and if you want anything done in colours or dyes you have to go six or seven miles from the town. Look at the imports of woollen goods in this country. They amount to 8½ millions sterling per annum. At least three-fourths of those imports ought to be produced in Lancashire or Yorkshire. Technical education will be a very great help in getting that trade back, and I hope to live to see the day when we shall regain those manufactures for them. Well, Sir, my honourable Friend who has brought this Bill before the House mentions the sanitary conditions of the mills. If he will allow me to say so, I think there is a very considerable exaggeration in the reports in the newspapers, and possibly some honourable Members have the idea that the mills are the same as they were a few years ago. Now, I think it is only fair to the Government Department to say that there has been a very great improvement in the sanitary condition of the mills of recent years. The atmospheric condition of a great many mills is good, and there is nothing whatever to complain of. I am not going to say that the boys and girls would not be healthier outside, but I am bound to say that in a great many mills in my neighbourhood the air is quite as good as it is in the House of Commons. I do not believe that there is a mill in Lancashire or Yorkshire where the draughts are anything like what they are in the reading-room and smoking-room. As far as the sanitary conditions go there is not much to complain of. There is, however, one point to which I should like to refer, and that is the time for the children going out in the morning. No one will ever persuade me that it is a good thing for a child to be pulled out of bed at half-past five in the morning, especially in the cold damp weather we have in the north. They would be all the better for being in bed until seven, at all events for six months in the year. Altogether, I think it will be seen that the proposal brought forward by my honourable and learned Friend is a very modest one. It is an attempt to advance one year in the school attendance, and I believe it will be of incalculable benefit to the trade of Lancashire and Yorkshire, the trade of the country, generally, and also to the children themselves.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now" at the end of the Question and to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Mr. George Whiteley.)


Mr. Speaker, in rising for the purpose of moving that this Bill may be read for a, second time this day six months, I desire to recognise the strong body of opinion on the other side of the House in favour of the Bill. I do not disguise that I have a strong case to meet on behalf of the constituents amongst whom I reside, and the trade in which I have had a lifelong interest, and I would ask honourable Members to give the same care and consideration to the arguments to be urged on the opposite side that they have done to the views so ably presented by the honourable and learned Member. I wish to deal with the matter from the standpoint of Lancashire, and leave other honourable Members to deal with the other sides of the question that affect agricultural and other districts. But I do not think it will be denied that, over and above all other counties, the county of Lancashire would be more affected by the raising of the age of half-timers than any other county. It is in Lancashire that the half-time system has reached its greatest development, and it is there that the full force of the change in law will be felt. Sir, some industries in the country will not be touched at all. I have made inquiries from London Members, and I am informed by those who speak with authority that so far as the half-timer is concerned in London he is practically a negligible quantity. In the few remarks which I shall endeavour to address to the House I propose to deal with the honourable Member's arguments from the point of view of statistics. Now, the honourable Member has most carefully abstained throughout the whole of his speech from adducing any statistics in support of this case; and he has been wise, because in every direction the figures themselves would refute it. Let me deal for a moment with the statistics of the half-timer. According to the latest return there were 110,000 half-timers over the whole country, or 2½per cent, of the whole of the children in elementary schools. Of that number 66,000 are in trades that come under the Factory and Workshops Act; 55,700 are employed in textile trades, of whom 31,500, or 60 per cent., are in the cotton trade. In the worsted trade there are 9,800 half-timers, in the flax trade 6,200, and in the woollen trade 2,200. Now, Sir, before I approach this question from the educational or hygienic point of view, I desire to say something with regard to Mr. Waddington's letter, to which the honourable and learned Member has drawn attention. I desire to go into that matter because there has been not only a great deal of misconception amongst honourable Members in the House, but a great deal of misrepresentation likewise. The letter from Mr. Waddington, to which the honourable Member has referred, reminds me of the "medal which was provocative or intended to provoke," because that letter is not only misleading, but even worse. The honourable Member cannot get over the fact that the cotton trade is the only trade in which there has been an honest and painstaking endeavour on the part of the officials to get at the root of the question and elicit the opinions of the operatives. I have in my hands a circular addressed to the operatives belonging to the Association in Lancashire, and I am credibly informed that the opinion obtained from them was obtained impartially. There was no pressure what- ever brought to bear upon the operatives, and if there was ever a banâ fide testimony on this great question it has been the judgment obtained in Lancashire. Sir, the honourable Member has mentioned, as I have said, the letter from Mr. Waddington, the President of the National Union of Teachers. In the first place, I venture to suggest that anything proceeding from the National Union of Teachers—a body of gentlemen who, well-meaning as they are, undoubtedly have an interest in keeping the children at the schools—cannot be looked upon as impartial or unbiased. In order to give an opinion upon this particular point, I will quote an expression of Mr. Mawdsley's— Personally, I am favourable to raising the age to 12, but I protest against the teachers and others attempting to ram the thing down the throats of the parties chiefly interested before they themselves are ready for it. Sir, this National Union of Teachers expressed its opinion of half-timers in the following phrase— They are absolutely wasting the lives of the children, and ministering to the greed of parents. I observe that the honourable Member for Nottingham endorses that statement. I say, Sir, that any body of teachers or any honourable Member in this House who adopts or endorses a sentiment like that put themselves out of court immediately. They would have us believe that the hard-working, intelligent population of Manchester are so little removed from the brute creation as to sacrifice the lives of their children in a spirit of greed. Sir, I venture to rebut that statement, and say that it is an outrage so to describe the action of the working classes. So far as regards the "greed" of these people in Lancashire, they are not influenced by the miserable motives which have been attributed to them by the National Union of Teachers. Now, Sir, let me come to the statistics for the purpose of refuting the figures given by Mr. Waddington. Mr. Waddington gives the number of weavers in Lancashire at 314,000. Let me, in the first place, point out that there are five distinct and separate processes in the weaving industry With regard to four of these, very little half-time labour is employed. Indeed, it would do no injury either to the "bloated capitalists" or to the "miserly and greedy operative" if in Lancashire the half-time system were entirely eliminated from these processes. But it is in the fifth process that half-time labour is employed. Sir, instead of there being 314,000 weavers in Lancashire, as Mr. Waddington said, I believe there are only 147,000, of whom probably less than 90,000 belong to the various trade unions. Therefore, it is possible for the officials only to get information as to the opinion of the members of the associations. A plain and bold circular has been issued to about 90,000, and what has been the result? Seventy-four thousand, or 84 per cent., replied, while 66,000, or 90 per cent., of the replies voted in favour of the continuance of the present system. Now, that is a practically unanimous vote. Whatever may be said in explanation, the fact remains, and I would press it upon the House, that of those who are best able to know the nature and character of the work—those who have worked in the weaving sheds the whole of their lives, and were familiar with the work themselves when they were eight or nine years of age—no less than 90 per cent. are in favour of the continuance of the present system. I would tell the honourable Member for Nottingham that the workmen of Lancashire have as shrewd and accurate a perception of all the attendant circumstances and all the bearings of half-time as he or any other Member of the House. They have as lively and full an affection for their children as any other human beings in the country; and to say, as the honourable Member for Nottingham has said, that they deliberately sacrificed the lives of their children for the purpose of greed is an outrage.

MR. YOXALL (Nottingham, W.)

I never made any such statement, and I never cheered any such sentiment.


I am in the recollection of the House. I read out that statement, and I thought the honourable Member cheered it. If I am mistaken I apologise. But there are times when the small amount that the half-timer can bring in is of material importance in finding food and clothing for the members of the family. And, Sir, these children themselves would be worse fed and go worse clothed if they had not the opportunity of earning this small sum of money. Sir, I have a large number of communications before me, and I will read one or two sentences from a letter which I received only yesterday. It is the letter of a man who himself has five children under the age of 11, and whose wage income is 30s. a week. He points out that it would have been impossible for him in Lancashire, where rent is higher than in other parts of England, to bring up that family respectably and well unless he had been able to send some of his little children to work when they were young.

MR. BURNS (Battersea)

Raise his wage.


What has been the result? That writer's second child is now the headmaster of one of the largest educational establishments in the kingdom. The letter ends with the jocular remark that if any such action such as this Bill contemplates is taken by the House of Commons it will make many a house of short commons in Lancashire. As a proof that the working classes in Lancashire do not necessarily hurry their children to work, it may be pointed out that the half-time system has been year after year a diminishing quantity. Every year masters find it more and more difficult to obtain half-timers, for, as the working men get better off, they keep the children at home. Now, Sir, let me quote from this book which has been placed in my hands. It contains a series of papers by the "Daily News" Commissioner, and is a simple little book of the penny-a-liner description. I desire, out of the very mouths of his own witnesses, to emphasise and press home the fact that the half-time system is a, diminishing factor at the present time— The half-time system is dying. Of that there is no doubt. The factory figures year by year prove it conclusively. Both sides admit it, and both sides use the fact to support their own view of the case. Those who are opposed to fresh legislation now say: The system is dying. Why raise a storm by attempting to hasten its decay? It is a system into which we have all grown up. It is a system for which many of our people cherish a kind regard. Well, in that I agree with the honourable and learned Member, only I think he is in too great a hurry. The half-time system is dying of its own accord. It is only a question of time. It is a social problem which is working out its own solution. The last of the few witnesses that I will cite is Mr. Mawdsley himself, who has been so frequently quoted by the honourable Member. This is what he says in an interview with the "Daily News" Commissioner in this rhapsodical book— As I have said, a big change has come over opinion upon this question. The best evidence of this is the rapid way in which the number of half-timers is dwindling. Upon the next page are the complete returns for 1892 and 1897. This shows a decrease of 61,709, or, roughly, 36 per cent., in five years. In Lancashire the number has fallen from 93,969 in 1892, to 36,937 in 1897, or a decrease of nearly two-thirds in five years. I ask the House to note that the diminution in the number of half-timers, caused by the great expansion of machinery, is very remarkable. Since 1877 there has been a reduction in the number of half-timers from 210,000 to 110,000, and this notwithstanding the fact that during that period the amount of machinery has been almost doubled. Now, Sir, touching the half-time question, I venture to say, in the words of Lord Melbourne, "Why can't you leave it alone?" It is a matter which is rapidly settling itself, and if you leave it alone it will be solved without any of the friction which would be created if the House interferes in a hurried manner and passes the Bill of the honourable Member opposite. I next come to the hygienic aspect of the case, and here, again, I say that all the evidence is against the honourable Member. Is it suggested that the half-time system stunts—I think that was the word used by the honourable Member for South Shields—the intelligence of the Lancashire operatives? Well, Sir, it is not possible to argue this in this House. All the House knows that nowhere in England is there such intelligence as there is among the Lancashire operatives. So as not to give offence to any honourable Member, I will say that nowhere is it greater than in Lancashire. What Lancashire of the half-time system thinks to-day the country will think to-morrow.

deny that there is an educational difficulty, but if there is then my solution of it is entirely different from that of the honourable Member. Instead of raising the age of half-timers, I venture to say that we should develop a system of evening continuation schools. I may, perhaps, cite the experiment tried at a school connected with the works of an honourable Member. The House will, I am sure, excuse my reading a passage from a pamphlet on the subject— The experiment at Messrs. Brunner, Mond and Co.'s schools nine years ago settled that point once for all. There the boys did go to the day school until they were 14, and there were better schools in the country; but they resented strongly having to go to school again. That experiment was an object lesson of the utmost value, and proved conclusively the necessity for compulsory attenddance at evening continuation schools, even when boys had enjoyed even advantage up to the age of 14. Those boys had passed the sixth and seventh standards, yet it was found that in two or three years' time they had forgotten everything they had ever learned. That experiment was a complete revelation. About 100 boys presented themselves; very few could read with ease or comprehension, hardly one could write a legible hand, some had even forgotten how to hold the pen, and not one in the lot worked correctly a simple sum in compound addition. What he wished to point out was that there would be absolutely no difference between those boys and a similar number of half-time boys who, like them, had been absent two or three years From school. Both would be equally ignorant. Sir, I would let a child begin his physical and practical education in the factories when his fingers are nimble and supple, and let him continue his theoretical and mental training over a larger number of years. Now, Sir, I come to the question of educational statistics. If the half-time system is such an unfortunate one for the boys' education, why is it not shown in the educational statistics? Educational statistics do not show that the half-time system is an unfortunate one, and that its existence conflicts with education. According to the amount earned by the Lancashire schools in 1896—the last year for which we could obtain the figures—it was 19s. 4¾d. per child. Of the other 39 counties in the country only 12 earned a larger grant, and 27 earned a smaller amount grant than the premier county. Lancashire, therefore, earns a higher grant than two-thirds of the counties of England. The opinion of the Bolton operative spinners has been referred to. There are 715 half-timers in connection with the Bolton spinning mills, and of these only five are in Standard III., 110 in Standard IV., 303 in Standard V., 242 in Standard VI., and 55 in Standard VII. These figures completely refute all the arguments of the honourable Member. He has not one single leg to stand on, and I challenge him to produce a set of statistics of any kind to prove that the Lancashire operatives have made less use of their intelligence or education than the inhabitants of other parts of the country. Let me cite an authority to the honourable Member, a gentleman who has been for 25 years chairman of a School Board in a Lancashire district—the Rev. William Procter, Vicar of Darwen. This is what he says— I quite agree with Colonel Mellor in what he says respecting the mental and physical condition of the half-timer when compared with his full-time companion in those places where there is no half-time employment. In the schools to which I referred there is hardly a scholar who has reached 11 years of age who attends school all day, and yet the schools have for 25 years had uniformly excellent results. During the whole of that time there has not been a compromising clause in any one of the reports of Her Majesty's Inspectors. The highest grant has always been earned. For intelligence and brightness the children will compare favourably with any children in the land, and they are as strong and robust as most children of their age and class. Well, Sir, I quite agree that the country should not fall behind other countries, but again, the honourable Member produces no statistics that show any likelihood of this country falling off. In the matter of the half-time system there has been a natural advance. That advance is continuing, and I venture to hope that the House will not put a stop to it by interfering with the system. Can any country show such a steady improvement in its trade and industry as England? Certainly the cotton trade of Lancashire is a thriving and prosperous one. Now, Sir, I come to the question of health. I should be sorry to labour this question, but I must say that statistics entirely disprove the assertions of the honourable and learned Member who introduced the Bill. To say that the system of half-time inflicts any physical hardship is absolute rubbish. I do not for a moment deny that the physique of the Lancashire operatives is not so good as that of other operatives in the country, but the House must remember that the present Lancashire operatives and their children are the descendants of six or seven generations of operatives, most of whom have lived their lives in mills under conditions vastly different from those which now prevail. But this Bill does not affect the physique at all. The pith of the contention of the honourable Member is, that instead of a child becoming a half-timer at 11 he should remain a full-timer at school. If it were argued by the honourable Member that instead of half-timers being in the mill or school all day they should spend a half-day in the open air, I quite allow that their physique, and perhaps their sanitary state, might be improved. But that is not the proposal. We have now an elaborate system of factory legislation such as we have never had before, and such as no other country possesses; the system under which factories are much better ventilated than the schools in which honourable Members are anxious to keep the half-timers. By means of fans and other mechanical contrivances the air in weaving sheds is constantly being changed. I have no hesitation myself in saying that at the age of 14 a child who has been a half-timer since 11 will bear comparison in physique with any other child who has spent those years in a school. As a matter of fact, the death rate is smaller in those towns in which the half-time system is in the greatest operation. If the half-time system were inimical to the health of the operatives, as has been suggested, it would be shown in the death statistics, but they prove the contrary. The death statistics of Blackburn, the centre of the weaving industry, show a death rate of 19 per thousand, whereas in Leicester and Nottingham it is the same, while Manchester, Liverpool, Bolton, Oldham, Leeds, Dewsbury, Wakefield, Sheffield, Hull, Middlesbrough, Durham, Sunderland, Gateshead, Newcastle, Cardiff, and Merthyr have all greater death rates. I have not looked at the rate for South Shields, but I do not think it would be found to be less—probably it is greater—than that of Blackburn. It is well known that in our Lancashire towns one of the chief factors in the death rate is the employment of women during their child-bearing days; and if the House passes this Bill that danger will be in- tensified, for the more children are prevented from assisting their fathers in their struggle to support -their families the more it will become necessary for the mothers to attend factories and work as loomers. Now, Sir, there are many other arguments which I could place before the House, but. I think I have shown on the educational ground the honourable Member who introduced this Bill has not a leg to stand upon; that, from the point of view of health, he can urge nothing in support of the Bill; and that, in the opinion of those who know most about the trade, there is practically a unanimous feeling in favour of the present system. The half-time system is a rapidly-decaying system. Solvitur ambulando—in a few weeks the question will solve itself. Meanwhile, I would urge the House not to give the coup de grace to a system which is much valued by those who have had practical experience of it. I beg to move that the Bill be read a second time this day six months.


In the interests of the agricultural labourer I beg to second the Amendment that has been moved. It is with the greatest diffidence that I venture to take part in this Debate, as I am only a humble agricultural member, not experienced on questions of education. In venturing to oppose this Bill I do not even say that it would affect a large number of the children of agricultural labourers. The reason I oppose it is because—to use a phrase often heard in this House—it is the thin end of the wedge. If honourable Members opposite now succeed in raising the age from 11 to 12 years there is no conceivable reason why a hundred amiable enthusiasts on the other side of the House should not ballot for a Bill next Session raising the age from 12 to 13 years. It is, however, necessary for us who represent agricultural interests to draw the line somewhere, and to put our foot down. There may be a majority against us, but, of course, we cannot help it. It is useless to try to keep out the Atlantic with a mop. In fact, I am rather like Athanasius against the world, but I make my protest on behalf of the men I represent against the principle of this Bill, which I believe would be injurious to them. With reference to half-timers I should have thought that the ballot which took place in Lancashire, and about which we have heard so much, would have given the honourable Member for South Shields pause, but lie knows his own business best. I know very little about the manufacturing districts, but I have intimate knowledge and acquaintance with the views of the agricultural labourer on the subject, and I can assure the House that his feelings on this subject are acute and his language remarkably strong. I should like to deprecate the line of argument taken by certain portions of the Press and by honourable Members opposite with reference to the position we have adopted in this matter. The argument is that the farmers desire to keep the children of the agricultural labourer in brutal ignorance in order that they may accept the miserable dole given to them as wages. I need hardly say that is very far from the fact. The present low wages are the product of low prices and high rates. I think I shall be within the recollection of the House when I say that the late Leader of the Liberal Party the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Monmouthshire, during the progress of the Budget Bill four years ago, hardly let a fortnight pass by without stating that wheat was down to 19s. 6d. per quarter. The whole Liberal Party in 1894 followed the Member for Tradeston into the Lobby when he proposed to put extra rates on to the land. I remember a speech made last year in the country by the Vice-President of the Council, to whom I allude with the utmost respect. What he said, I think it was at Cambridge, was that the farmers do their best to keep children out of the elementary schools. That is not denied by the right honourable Gentleman, but he himself has not fathomed the agricultural question. If I might be permitted, I should like to direct the right honourable Gentleman's attention to a certain verse which runs— J. P. Robinson he, Didn't know everything down in Judee. I will refer to another speech by the honourable Member for Northampton. Speaking on the Education Bill four years ago, he said that Hodge—that was how he designated the agricultural labourer—was a fool. He is not a fool, and if he had been he would not have returned two-thirds of the Members on this side of the House to represent him. What he wants on the question of education is this: he desires that his children should get elementary education—that is the three R's—learn a trade that will be useful to them in after life, and when they have done that, and passed the standard before the age of 12, if possible, to do something to help to keep the pot boiling at home. I should like to know what honourable Members think the agricultural labourer wants with higher education and an increase in the age limit. His children do not become Doctors of Divinity or Members of Parliament, and they do not go to India as civil servants. What they do may be divided into three classes. A certain number of them come on to the land, a large proportion of them take the shilling and enlist, when they can induce the War Department to accept them, and the rest go into the towns, and, as a rule, come back to the villages before they are 40 years of age. They do not want the higher system of education, and that is the whole argument against this Bill. In East Anglia a child can earn from 3s. 6d. to 4s. per week at 11 years of age. It is not much, but it is a very considerable sum when we consider that the aggregate wages of the whole family do not amount to more than £1. Some time ago the right honourable Gentleman the late Home Secretary said he objected to the immature labour of young children. What does he think that those young children do? Does he think that they are driven into the fields to pick cotton from five in the morning until 10 at night? What the agricultural labourer's boy does is a healthy and a more or less remunerative occupation, such as looking after stock, keeping off crows, and weeding turnips. I do not intend to inflict upon the House a long speech on this or any other subject. All I have to say is that there is a large body of public opinion outside this House opposed to this Measure. Only yesterday that capable body, the Chamber of Agriculture, passed a vote against this Bill. I have no reason for further detaining the House. I know perfectly well that, as a humble agricultural Member, I am not an expert on questions of education. I cannot enter the lists with experienced dialecticians who are promoting the Bill. All I do is to make a protest on behalf of the agricultural labourers, not perhaps as strong or as accentuated as they would make it themselves.

On the return of Mr. SPEAKER, after the usual interval,

MR. BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)

Mr. Speaker, my honourable Friend the Member for South Shields, in the admirable speech in which he has moved the Second Reading of this Bill, has covered the whole of the ground so effectively that it will not be necessary for me to occupy the House more than a comparatively short time. But I should like to make a few observations in reply to the honourable Member for Stockport and the honourable and gallant Member for Essex who are opposing this Bill. I am glad to think that the compromise of 1891 is now to be succeeded by a further step in the direction of the prohibition of child labour. The auspices, too, are very much more favourable now than they were five or six years ago. The honourable Member for Stockport, in the first place, dealt with this subject in a totally different manner to that in which it was dealt with when the subject was discussed before. He really apologised for the system, instead of defending it. Everyone realises that the position of the Government of the day in regard to these questions is also totally different to what it was in 1891. In that year the Home Secretary, supported by the bulk of the Conservative Party, took up an antagonistic position, while now the Government are, by their proposals of 1896, practically pledged to support the Bill. I very much regret, however, to hear that the Government are not giving a lead in the matter, but are treating it as one on which they have an open mind, and are allowing the House to vote upon it as an open question. I should have thought that, in view of the pledges made at the Berlin Conference, the Government would have supported the Bill of my honourable Friend. I am quite sure, as regards public opinion outside this House, that we have made since 1891 considerable progress in the direction of a further protection for women and children, and for their greater educational benefit, and, therefore, their position is a very different one to what it was a few years ago. However, I think this Bill has this great advantage—namely, that the proposal is not confined, as it was in 1891, to factories, but is extended to all classes of child labour. That does away with what always seemed to me was the really strong argument used against us in 1891, that we were legislating for a particular industry, and that the Bill we then introduced might prevent a child from going into a factory, while it would not prevent him going into another industry which would, perhaps, not be so advantageous. This Bill, by dealing with the whole question, does do justice to all the different industries concerned, and to all the different classes of child labour. The honourable and gallant Gentleman the Member for Essex used arguments against this Bill so far as it affects agricultural districts. With regard to the effect of the Measure in agricultural districts, half-time is not really an institution there. Of the 120,000 half-timers, only some 12,000 are not employed either in textile factories or in other industries of Lancashire and Yorkshire, leaving only a few thousand half-timers for the agricultural districts. Therefore, this matter, so far as half-timers are concerned, is not one in which agricultural districts are largely interested, or to which there ought to be any agricultural opposition. The Bill will, however, affect agricultural districts in one respect. It will prevent a very large number of children leaving school altogether at the early age of 11 in consequence of the low standard of attendance prescribed by the local authorities. But I should be sorry to hear any honourable Member defend the position that our children ought to be able to leave school altogether at the early age of 11. This is only a proposition to raise the minimum age to 12; therefore, as regards agricultural districts, this Bill, though I do not for a moment deny that it does affect them in a sense, does not affect them so far as the principle we have been discussing this afternoon is concerned. I will turn, therefore, from the case of the agricultural districts to that of the textile industries. The honourable and gallant Member for Essex practically admitted that he did not expect to prevent this increase in the age from 11 to 12, and the honourable Member for Stockport made a speech in which., I am bound to say, on every point lie gave his case away. He did not use a single argument which we did not hear in 1891, and, when he used an argument he so whittled it away as to show that the forcible speech of my honourable Friend the Member for South Shields was practically unanswerable. He, of course, trotted out the old argument that in these matters the parents were more or less unanimous against the change. He gave us statistics and figures to show that the census which had been taken in regard to this matter had been much misrepresented. So far as I am concerned, I am ready to admit that every single parent in Yorkshire and Lancashire is against the change. I do not blame them for that. It has become, unfortunately, the custom in Lancashire and Yorkshire to take children away from school at an early age and send them, as half-timers, into various industries. It has become so much the custom to endeavour to make premature profit out of the children by the parents in Lancashire and Yorkshire that we find something like between 50,000 and 60,000 of the children there are employed in factories as half-timers, and we also find that out of the 60,000 or 70,000 half-timers employed in factories no less than 50,000 come from Lancashire and Yorkshire. The parents themselves are naturally interested in the matter, and most of them have been brought up on that basis, so that we cannot consider their opinion in any sense impartial, or one to which we can attach any importance. The principle of most of our factory legislation has been twofold—not only to protect those employed from their employers, but it has been largely, especialty in our Education Acts, to protect children from themselves. I think it is too late in the day to argue that the State should not interfere for the benefit of the whole community because the persons interfered with object to the change. My honourable Friend the Member for Stockport also went into the question of wages, and he seemed to argue that, if this proposal is accepted, the wages now earned by half-timers would no longer go into the pockets of the parents. I cannot see that at all. The work now done by half-timers must still be done by somebody, and the conse- quence of the change would probably be larger earnings for the parents. Then he said that the figures quoted by my honourable Friend behind me were incorrect, and he exaggerated the amount of wages earned by those working in Lancashire and Yorkshire. I have no moans of checking the figures, but I think it is obvious to anyone who has any knowledge of the question at all that the weekly wage of the ordinary Lancashire operative is, at any rate, no less than the ordinary wages earned in other industries in other parts of the United Kingdom, and, therefore, the necessity of the parents cannot properly be urged as a reason for making the children work as half-timers. Health and skill are the capital of the working man, and I should like to read what Dr. Barwise, a former Medical Officer of Health of Blackburn, has said on this subject. Dr. Barwise stated that the high death-rate of Blackburn was partly due to the injuries received by the weavers between the ages of 10 and 12, and that they probably lost more than the value of the earnings in those years by the damage which was inflicted on their constitutions. The honourable Member went at some length into the question of health. Well, he admitted, practically, that the disease of workers in the mills did not represent the average disease in other parts of the country. But he argued that the mortality in the particular district in question was not greater or worse than that which prevailed elsewhere. I do not think that anyone desired to argue that the employment of these half-timers for the two or three years they work half-time was fatal to the children themselves at that age. But the argument we have used is this: that by being put to work under the peculiar conditions they are in at that early age they are liable and are likely to acquire disease and to stunt their growth in a way that in the future would be injurious both to them and their descendants. The honourable Member said that the general death rate was not higher than elsewhere. Well, I understand that the figures which he gave included a considerable area in which no half-timers are working at all, and I would draw his attention to a quotation from the same Gentleman to whom I have referred. In his official report on the district, Dr. Barwise says— There is an extraordinarily high death-rate amongst weavers between the ages of 15 and 25, especially in regard to consumption, bronchitis, and inflammation of the lungs.


If the honourable Member will allow me, I wish to point out that the date of that report is so distant. It was made before the passing of the last Factories Act. In fact, that report was made in order to gain such an Act some 12 or 14 years ago.


The report I am using is dated 1891 it so happens, and it seems to me quite appropriate—as appropriate now as it was then; therefore I am entitled to quote it. But if the honourable Member objects to this quotation I can find another equally applicable. The honourable Member quotes statistics from a district in a large part of which there are no half-timers, but I answer that there are special diseases to which mill workers are liable—especially bronchitis and inflammation of the lungs. The mortality from these is infinitely greater than in other parts of the country. And this is due very largely to the fact that these children acquire these diseases, which become fatal to them later on, at an earlier age than in other parts of the country. But I do not wish in any way to exaggerate the dangers of half-time employment in the mills. It stands to reason that it cannot be for the physical benefit of any children to work under the conditions which have been described. The honourable Member, I think, in his speech said that these children were working in an atmosphere much better than that in which they would be doing their lessons if they remained at school. But surely anyone acquainted with the atmosphere of a factory and the atmosphere of a well-formed school—whether it be a Board school or a Voluntary school—cannot endorse the remark of the honourable Member in reward to that matter. The honourable Member dealt with the question of education, and he argued that as regards half-timers you get really better results from half-timers than from those children who went to school the whole time. I cannot understand where he got the particular figures which he quoted, for they are quite erroneous. It has been said in this House that the average number of passes is 15 to 20 per cent, less in the case of half-timers than in the case of those children who are at school the whole time. These are the official figures, to which there can be no reply. Not only is it the case that half-timers compare badly with other children, but there is a much larger proportion of bare passes amongst the half-timers than amongst the other children. But the honourable Member said that the half-timers worked as well in the schools, and got as good results, as the other children. I would only point out to the honourable Member as to this, that in the instructions given to Inspectors by the Education Department, it is stated that— This rule of action for inspectors is to be specially kept in view in schools attended by half-time children, where teachers have to contend with special difficulties, and you may then fairly accept a somewhat lower standard, both of attainments and of organisation, than in the other schools. That, at all events, is the opinion of the Education Department both in regard to drawing and needlework in special localities. In half-time schools it is not expected that the children will come up to the ordinary requirements. The honourable Member admitted, practically, that the change made a few years ago has in no sense injured the parents or the children. He said that the trade of Lancashire was prosperous. Now, that was an argument which was used at the different stages of this controversy when the age was raised by one or two years. And it is the argument used again against raising the age by another year. But considering that the number of half-timers as compared with the whole number employed is only two to seven, we do not think that any serious injury to the trade can be caused by the prohibition of child labour up to 12 years of age. But the honourable Member gave away the whole of his case by using what he thought was the strongest weapon in his armoury. He said that the number of half-timers in Yorkshire and Lanca- shire have been very rapidly decreasing of late years. It was decreasing before 1891, and it has diminished still more rapidly in the years since then. And he said that this showed that the system was gradually dying out, and that there was therefore no necessity for the House to interfere in the matter. But it seems to me that, if in many mills there are no half-timers, and if in others they are rapidly diminishing, that conclusively proves that there is no real necessity for the half-time system at all. And if there is no real necessity for the half-time system, surely it is the duty of this House, when we consider the question of education and the other national interests involved, when we consider the national honour in regard to the findings of the Berlin Conference—it is the duty of this House to put an end to child labour below the age of 12 years. I do not desire to detain the House at any greater length, for we are very anxious to have a straight division on the matter. I cannot help expressing surprise that a Government, pledged by the Berlin Conference and by their own Bill of 1896 have not come to a decision to support this Motion officially, but have left honourable Members to deal with the matter with an open mind—allowing those who are in favour of it to support it, and those opposed to it to vote against the Bill.

*SIR F. POWELL (Wigan)

I have only a few words to say on this question, and I shall endeavour to occupy the attention of the House for not many minutes. A communication has just been made to me as an indication of the opinion of Yorkshire at any rate on this question. The message reads:—''The Yorkshire Federation of Trades Council, with 50,000 trades unionists, have passed a resolution approving of the Bill." My next desire is to tender to my honourable Friend who proposed the rejection of this Bill my most respectful protest—and I know that many of my honourable colleagues associate themselves with me in that protest—against his habit of speaking in the House of Commons in behalf of the Lancashire Members. Lancashire Members, Sir, have their opportunity, when occasion arises, to speak for themselves.


I never said anything of the kind.


I am glad my honourable Friend repudiates that allegation. The facts of the case are that so far as regards that part of Lancashire with which I am connected it is in favour of the Bill. The honourable Baronet the Member for North-West Manchester is in favour of the Bill. The Member for Bolton is in favour of the the Bill; and I myself want to say a humble word in support of the Bill. I took a part in the Debate of 1891, and at that time I was not in favour of the change. But we have learned much since the year 1891. The discussions of the Berlin Conference had not yet then saturated the public mind, or had received due attention. There was a difficulty then which does not exist now, and that is that the standard of exemption—full and partial exemption—was so much below the age that there was a great danger of years of idleness being passed by the children after they had passed the highest standard. But since that time the standard has been raised, and now that that interval has become less, the danger has ceased. I believe myself that if this Measure receives the approval of Parliament there will be a coincidence between the standards and the age at which child labour may commence. Sir, I feel that this question must turn on education; and it is as an educationist that I venture to take part in this Debate. We have heard observations made as to the contrast, so far as education is concerned, between Germany and this country. I have had the opportunity if seeing what is in progress in Germany, and in other foreign countries, and I have felt humiliated as an Englishman that in these foreign countries the young should be entitled to education up to 13 years of age, while our children should have to leave school at a much earlier age. I am quite aware that m some of these countries—not in all—you have a system of continuation schools. But until you have continuation schools all over the country you must raise the standard of age. Another alternative is —it is the old story—that we are told to wait. Sir, I am not willing to wait for these continuation schools, or to allow them to become a complete bar to the progress aimed at by this Bill. I hope, however, that the happy time of universal continuation schools will soon arrive. My honourable Friend said something as to the intelligence of the Lancashire people. That is a delicate subject for a native of Lancashire, and a Lancashire Member as I am, to talk about. But, granted that Lancashire children are so intelligent, to my mind that leads us in an opposite direction to that taken by the honourable Member. My honourable Friend says we are so intelligent in Lancashire that low standards are quite enough for us. My feeling is that the operatives of Lancashire are so intelligent that they desire a higher culture. They both desire and deserve it; and if I have any influence in such a matter as this I shall exercise it in that direction. Then the honourable Member said that the Government inspectors have reported the schools in Lancashire as being excellent. No doubt they are excellent, but although the schools are excellent so far as education goes, the standards are low. That struck me much, and painfully, during the Debate a year or two ago on the Voluntary Schools Act, when statements were made, which could not be denied, that the Lancashire standards are low. I will not be content till they are raised, and that is the reason why I venture to take part in this Debate. The honourable Member for Bury made a point as to technical education. Well, I am glad to say that Wigan intends to build a technical school at a cost of £40,000, and I hope the plans will be immediately approved. We do not desire in Wigan to confine the industries of our population to coal and cotton, but to do as our forefathers did. In the eighteenth century many other trades were carried on and flourished in Wigan besides coal and cotton. These trades have died out, but we want them revived. I am quite sure that if we pass this Bill, and set in operation the technical school, we shall soon have a restoration of many of the old trades to the great advantage of the operatives of Wigan and the whole people of the county. I wish to say one word as regards health. Now I do not think myself that the health of our half-timers is unsatisfactory. I may be mistaken, but I have made inquiry of our medical officer, and he tells me that the half-timers in Wigan are not inferior in health to the rest of the population. He bases his statement first on personal knowledge derived from his private practice, and as medical officer of health, and secondly upon the general statistics relating to the health of the town. Some reference has been made to a report in the "Daily News" as to a school in Yorkshire. I know that school well; I have seen it frequently, and I believe you could not find anywhere a more robust set of children than in that school. I am surprised that my honourable Friend made reference to the statement that had been made about Blackburn. There is probably a healthy rural district included in the Borough of Blackburn. Bradford is now a town of 300,000 inhabitants, and part of the borough is 300 feet above the level of the sea, in a breezy and healthy district,' and there can be no doubt that it should show far more favourably as regards health than towns of a more exclusively urban character. I am told that this is a parents' question, and that the parents are solving this question. In the year 1891 the office of the Home Secretary of the day was, crowded by operatives and the parents of operatives, all opposing the Bill when it was before the House. But I am not aware of a single deputation from parents which has waited at the Home Office on the present occasion. Not one letter has been read to-day against the Bill, while many honourable Members have received letters in favour of the Bill. The honourable Member says that this half-time question is solving itself, but I object to the slowness of the death of the system. I desire its speedy terminature, and I do most sincerely hope that the House by its action to-day will put an end to a system which, I believe, from an educational point of view, has been mischievous, and has retarded the educational progress of the country. It is very mischievous not only to the condition of our operatives, but in its working it is utterly prejudicial to the commercial and industrial progress of the country.

MR. JEFFREYS (Hants, N.)

I had a Notice on the Paper that it is inexpedient to raise the age of exemption from the obligation to attend school for children in rural districts, but I believe I shall not have an opportunity of moving the Amendment, and I therefore desire to say a few words on the general question, as no course is left open to me but to vote against the Bill in the interests of the rural districts. In regard to what fell from the honourable Member who introduced the Bill, if I thought for a moment that all our children were to work in the unhealthy and insanitary condition he described, I, for one, would not for an instant oppose the Bill. I would say, if he proposed some Measure protecting children from working in these conditions, I would be the first to support it. I noticed that the honourable Gentle man never alluded to the rural districts, but confined his attention to those children who had to work in very in sanitary conditions in the mills of the North. But, in regard to the rural districts, the whole case is entirely different. I do not know of any agricultural labourer who would allow his children to engage in work under the conditions spoken of by the honourable Member. The only allusion the honour able Member made to rural children was that if they left school at 11 years of age they would lose their technical education. There is no technical education given in our primary rural schools at present. It is given at a later age, and at that later age they can go and receive the technical education which, I am glad to say, is now given in nearly every parish in the land. If I may be allowed to remind the House, there has been a new departure of late. Formerly the age when children got exemption from school was from 10 to 13 years. But in 1893 the age was raised to 11. I must say I quite agree with raising the age to 11. But I think it should stay there, because even at the present time the agricultural labourers are dissatisfied at not being able to take their children from school at an earlier age. And why should we stop at 12? Apparently there is no finality in the matter, and you are upsetting the conditions year by year. Whenever any honourable Gentleman is fortunate enough in the ballot ho brings in a new Bill dealing with the question. I would sooner leave the age as it is, unless it is finally altered by some Government Measure after mature consideration, and then public opinion would find expression in regard to it. One point I would lay stress on. Honourable Mem- bers said they had received letters urging them to vote for the Bill. But I would remind them that this is only a Private Member's Bill. It was only printed and circulated on Monday—two days ago— and the people in general in the country —certainly the agricultural labourers— know nothing about it. But if there was an appeal to the country, so that the agricultural labourers could know how to express an opinion on the subject, I am quite sure many honourable Gentlemen on both sides of the House would have many communications from agricultural constituencies asking them to vote against the Bill. In regard to the law as it at present stands, it is usual in certain agricultural districts of the county I come from, if a child can pass the Fourth Standard he can leave school at 11 years of age, on receiving a certificate from the inspector. But not a great many children leave school at that age. Now, I should leave the law as it is at present. Why not have more confidence in the parents? Why should not parents in the poorer classes of life treat their children as we do in our class of life. If the parents think that a girl, having passed the Fourth Standard, can leave school and help her mother in the house and attend to the smaller children, why not entitle them to do so? Why not have more confidence in the parents themselves? In a similar way, if a boy passes the Fourth Standard, why should he not leave school to help his father in tending cattle or scaring birds? It is a perfectly healthy life with short hours, and these boys can earn a little money, which is greatly wanted by cottagers in the rural districts. An honourable Member talked about a family only earning 30 shillings a week. Wiry, there are hundreds of labourers in the country who have no chance of earning such an income. It is because agriculture is in such a wretched condition at the present time that the farmers cannot earn money to pay themselves, much less their labourers. But I point out that there are many agricultural labourers who have very small wages indeed, and the income of a whole family does not amount to £1 a week. And if the boy earns a few shillings it is of very great assistance to the poor family. I, for one, would never be in favour of forcing the age of exemption up. There is no compulsion in the matter, and the parents are the best judges. If they wish to withdraw their children from the schools then, I say, let them do so. A great many parents do not withdraw their children from school even after they have passed the Fourth Standard. Leave it to their own judgment. I know a great many cases in which boys and girls stay on at school much longer after they have reached 11 years. In my own county of Hampshire, the number of children who have passed the Fourth Standard is 15.4 per cent. of boys, and 15.9 per cent, of girls, while for the whole of England the number is 18.9 per cent, of boys, and 18.5 per cent. of girls. That shows that a good many boys and girls do stay on at the schools after passing the Fourth Standard. And that is an argument for letting the law remain as at the present time. Leave it to the discretion of the parents. Much better do so than make a hard and fast rule to prevent boys and girls being withdrawn from school. I must oppose the Bill; but I would have much sooner have proposed my own Amendment so as to restrict the Bill to urban districts. As I am unable to move my Amendment I shall vote against the Bill. I received a letter from a Gentleman who has a seat on the Bench who pointed out that although, in his opinion, 11 was too young an age for a child to leave school, he thought at the same time where proceedings were taken against parents of children of that age for neglecting to send them to school, where the children had been kept at home to assist their parents, that it would be extremely difficult to get a conviction and to fine these poor people who kept their children at home to help them. It is difficult to do so at the present time; and if that is so, how much more difficult will it be when the age is raised to 12. I should have thought that honourable Gentlemen of this House would not force children to go to school against the wishes of their parents. Honourable Gentlemen talk about what Measures are popular and what Measures are not, but I think this will be a very unpopular Measure. With regard to half-timers, in the South of England we know nothing about them. I find from the statistics that in the county of Hampshire there are no half-timers; in Lancashire there are 399,000, in York- shire 199,000, in Cheshire 5,000, and in Wales in the whole of the Principality there are only 55. There are so few half-timers there because their parents think it better to keep the children at school. But I do not wish to delay this question; I only rose to say that as I am unable to propose my own Amendment—I am not sure that I would have objected to it if anything had been said about the agricultural labourers; but nothing has been said about them, and I hope things will be left as they are. I say, as I cannot move my Amendment, my only course is to oppose the Bill. I do so because I know the agricultural labourer will resent it very strongly, and I should prefer to leave the law as it is and prevent the age being raised and leave the agricultural labourers to deal with the education of their children as they think best.

*MR. DUCKWOKTH (Lanes., Middleton)

I do not wish to give a silent vote upon this very important subject, although some things which I wished to say have already been said, and much better than I could say them. I will not go over the ground already traversed by honourable Members, but I have some experience with regard to this subject, which those who have spoken before me could not rob me of, and that experience I propose now to put before the House. I have noticed that in this House when an honourable Gentleman relates his personal experience of things which he has observed personally in regard to the matter upon which he is speaking, he is certain to secure attention. It is with some reluctance that I trouble the House with these personal references, but what I now propose to relate is well known to those who sent me here, because I have the honour to represent a constituency where I have laboured from childhood to manhood., I was left fatherless a little time before I was six years old, and a short time afterwards, when I was just turned six, I was sent to the mill "on short time" to learn to weave. I wore heavy wooden clogs, and I remember I-had a thick plank in front of my loom on which I had to stand. I worked as a half-timer until I was 11 years of age, and then I worked as a full-timer from that age up to my manhood. Now the House might conclude that I am not a very good specimen of the hardships which I describe; and that the fact that I have lived more than half a century, and have grown six feet high, does not show that the life is injurious; but I look upon myself as a physical survival of the fittest. I happen to come from an ancestry not composed of cotton weavers, but of yeomen farmers, who endowed me with a stock of vitality which all the hardships of my early life could not kill. But I often ask myself—where are the companions of my youth? With a few exceptions they are gone, and those exceptions are like the solitary trees now standing here and there in our Lancashire valleys and on our hillsides, where in earlier days dense forests grew, showing signs of stunted growth and more dead than alive. Sometimes I have met the companions of former days. They are younger than I am, but they are grey and bent, and show unmistakeable evidences of the hardships they have gone through. I need not say, then, that I am heartily in favour of the passing of this Bill. I think it would be in favour of the children, and I believe it will kill the half-time system, which, in my opinion, ought to be killed at once and allowed to live no longer. I believe it is injurious to the children both physically and mentally. No child except under the direst necessity ought to be turned out of his bed at half-past 5 in the morning, as I used to be, and have to walk half a mile in all kinds of weather to his work. You have had the testimony of one of the leaders of the operatives on this question—one of the shrewdest and most level-headed men we have in the north, and what he knew was good for his own children he knew was good for everybody's children. This is what Mr. Mawdsley said— I observed carefully, and came to the conclusion that early life in the factory meant diminished health and arrested growth and stunted education. Comparisons with those who do not work in the mills showed me this. With all this before me I looked at my children, and my mind was soon made up. I said —so long as I can earn sufficient to keep them, so long I will not let them go to the mill as half-timers, but will let them have all the joy and advantages that belong of right to a child's life. That is a very wise decision, and I wish that every parent looked at it in the same way. But another and stronger reason why I object to the system is because—

although now the age is raised and the conditions are improved, so that it may not be so injurious as formerly—yet it interferes greatly with the education of the children. I am ready to admit that the improvements in the departments of the mills where these young people work are very great. They are not so bad as they were 30 or 40 years ago, but it does seriously interfere with the education of these children to send them for half their time to the mill. We must not forget that at the present time much more is expected educationally from the children than was expected some years ago. We are beginning to realise the fact that we have to compete with people from Switzerland, Germany, and other Continental countries who have better methods than we have, and that if we are to compete with them we must have more regular and more continuous education, and we must improve our methods. The half-time system seriously interferes with the education in our elementary schools. Of that there cannot be any doubt whatever. That is the almost universal testimony of the teachers in our elementary schools. Let me quote one gentleman: he is a gentleman I know very well, and he is the headmaster in a voluntary school in our own town. He is a man not given to exaggeration, and he would not say that which he did not believe to be true. He says— Half-timers are a great drag on the educational progress of the school; they have to do the same work as their more fortunate school fellows in half the time. This often gives them a distaste for school work, which causes them to keep away from the evening continuation and technical schools for several years after leaving the day school. This fatal gap prevents them from ever taking up successfully more advanced work. That is a very serious thing to say, yet I can fully bear out that testimony. From the' point of view of the workpeople it is a very serious thing indeed. In our firm we employ a large number of boys who have to work in the shops, and they come to us at the age of 14. When they come to us we offer them two nights a week for the continuation of their education. But in a large number of cases we have very great difficulty in persuading these boys to take to their studies, and they go on doing nothing in that way until they are 18, when the thing begins to dawn upon them, and they find when it is too late that there is something wanting. Then we must remember that the standard of exemption is, of course, always passed by the smartest child first, and that is one of the most serious drawbacks in our present system, because it is these clever scholars who are deprived of the opportunity of getting a liberal education with a chance of making something of themselves in after life. It is in my judgment little less than a scandal. What we want is a system by which we can bring our children from the elementary school to the higher grade school, to the evening classes and technical school; a continuous system without a break, even to winners of scholarships enabling them to go to the University. We pride ourselves in this country that the way is open, and that it is possible for the child of the poorest to go on, by winning scholarships, from one school to another, till he finally wins a place in the University. It is a grand theory, but is it possible in practice? In some cases I believe it is, but it is very difficult; it would not be so difficult if we had not to deal with the half-timers. Now, before I sit down I would just like to say a word or two as to the attitude of the parents in this matter. At present, no doubt, large numbers of the parents oppose this Measure because they do not see the value of their children's education; but they will do so, and, in point of fact, they are seeing the value of it year by year more and more. I have received this bundle of papers since I came into the House, signed by many of my constituents in Middleton, asking me to support this Bill, and I have also received petitions to the same effect from the Women's Trades Association. I say it is a good thing that the workers year by year are opposing it less. I deny that it is the spirit of selfishness generally that actuates the parents or other persons in working their children at the expense of their education. They have no wish for the sake of a few shillings to deprive their children of their education. There are some selfish men in whose case thrift has degenerated into selfishness, but those men are known; so much so, that their creed is put in that terse Lancashire phrase," If tha does owt for nowt, do it for thisel. "But that is not the character of the Lancashire people generally; they are generous, and love their children; but these people have grown up under the half-time system. They went to work themselves at eight years of age, and when they find their children going to work first at 10 and then at 11, they think it is very liberal, and that they are very well off. But while I say this, let me point out what will be to some of our people a very great hardship if this Bill is passed. We have heard about the poor widow, and it has been tried to minimise the hardship of this class, or at least to show that there are not so many who will suffer if this Bill becomes law; but there are some, though the number is not large. I do not think the widow will come off worst in this matter, because I have always noticed that there is a Providence watching over the widow and her children, and I have noticed that, through the kindliness of the employer and the help of friends in various ways, the children of widows often come off better than other children. But there are a large number of families where the bread-winner has not been taken away, but where the income is very small, and where the hardship will be felt, and felt terribly. Take my own case again. My stepfather, through, defective sight, could not earn more than eight shillings a week; and I, when I was 14, was earning 15s. a week, and practically supported the household; and it is in a case of that kind, where a man has six children and only 20s. a week, that the hardship will be felt. But cannot exemptions be made in those cases? It seems to me that it would come in equally as well as in the agricultural districts; and in those cases where it can be proved that the income is below a certain amount, we might, I should think, have exemptions. We have had them in the cases of conscientious objectors last year in the Vaccination Bill. Why not have them under this Bill? Allow me to say—and I hope that the attitude of our people in Lancashire will be better understood because of the remarks I have made here now—they are not the hard, selfish lot that we have heard about; they are thrifty and generous. Their generous feelings are expressed in another homely phrase, which is— Here's to thee an' me, an' all on us; may we ne'er need nowt, noan on us; neither thee, nor me, nor onybody else; all on us, noan on us! That is the character of the Lancashire people. Our hills and valleys may not contain gold, but they do contain clay, stone, iron, and coal; and our people have a knack of tapping that clay, stone, iron, and coal, and turning it into gold. Half a dozen men form a company, and in an incredibly short time a large mill of seven or eight storeys high will be built and finished at a cost of £100,000, which will give employment to hundreds of people, and pay large dividends to the shareholders, who may be the workpeople themselves. This will show that, while some parts of the country are better adapted for growing cabbages, with the advantages of education which are now being offered, and which I feel sure will be used by us, the men will grow up who will be able to compete with any rivals from the Continent or elsewhere.

SIR E. LEES (Birkenhead)

I can only reconcile the latter portion of the speech of the honourable Member who has just sat down with a, desire to oppose the Bill. I confess that I never had a stronger argument produced against this Bill than the description given by the honourable Member of his own childhood, and the immense benefit which the half-time system offered to him. The honourable Member who, it is only fair to say, has been a half-timer himself, and has reached a physique which many of us would be proud to possess—has told us how very hard it would have been for his family and himself if he had been unable to earn wages as a half-timer. While I am in possession of the House, I also should like to give an experience of a few years ago, when I sat for Oldham. I was brought up in the smoke of that town, and I now sit for a town where there are no half-timers at all. I am only associated with the cotton trade of Oldham by old association, and therefore I can speak with impartiality. There can be no doubt at all as to the extreme unpopularity of this Bill throughout the cotton spinning districts of Lancashire. The one argument that would have caused me not to vote against it would be that the Government had come down and said that they had been pledged by the action of their representative in Berlin, and they put it on the ground of being an international matter. If the Government had urged that at the Berlin Conference they were pledged to raise the age of half-timers up to 12, then there would be stronger ground for voting for this Measure. But here we have a private Member's Motion on a Wednesday by a single-line whip of the Government, and it surely cannot be called a great Government Measure, and therefore let the House try to put itself into the position of the Lancashire working man. I do not think I need explain what the system is. The House was certainly not so full during the extremely able speech of the Mover of the Bill, but I may very briefly say it amounts to this: when a child has passed the standard required by law, then it may for one week go to the mill in the morning and the school in the evening, and in the following week it goes to the school in the morning and the mill in the evening. The work at the mill is of a very easy nature. There is a good deal of sweeping and dusting, but at the same time there is a certain amount of technical education, as the boy is taught to mend broken threads of cotton, and he familiarises himself with the machinery, so that he becomes a full worker at the age of 13, and is able to earn full wages, which he would not do had he not had this previous experience. There is no hardship to the child. I hope honourable Members will realise that this is not a question of walking through sunny, country lanes, through a pretty village, to a pretty, whitewashed school, enjoying the sun, the light, and the air; the road to the schoolroom is just as muddy, as smoky, and as black as the road to the factory, and I doubt if the atmosphere of the schools is any better. At any rate, in the matter of temperature, that at the factory is very much higher, and when we see it produces such splendid specimens of humanity as the honourable Member for the Middleton Division of Lancashire, I cannot see there is much to be said against it. Every possible care is taken that the sanitary condition of the factory shall be good, and the work is light. I do not think that the Lan- cashire boy differs very much from the ordinary boy, or that he prefers attendance at school and learning lessons to doing a bit of hard work. The fact is the children are fond of the time they spend in the factory, and they are really very proud to be able to earn a little money. We are told that such a high authority as Mr. Mawdsley is in favour of this proposed change. Well, he was opposed to it in 1891, and I am bound to say from, what I know of him, that I have great respect for him. He introduced a much more civilised way of dealing with employers than was in force before his time. Prior to this time, the ordinary trades unionist spoke to his employer just as if he were Omnipotence addressing a black thief. He has shown a good deal of savoir faire in, conducting trades disputes. But his opinions are a little versatile. I remember perfectly well that, while in the spring of 1892 he publicly opposed an eight hours day, in the autumn of 1892 there was no more strenuous advocate of it in the textile trade. Therefore, I am not prepared to accept his ipse dixit as an absolutely final solution. I know perfectly well what happened to myself on this matter. In 1891 the age limit was raised by the Conservative Government, which was then in power. In 1892 my colleague and I had to face our constituents. We had done all we could to persuade the Government not to raise the age. We had taken then, as I have taken to-day, the unpopular side, not only because we believed it to be the wish of our constituents, but also because we believed the alteration to be unnecessary. But we were supporters of the Government which had raised the age. It was put about that we ourselves had been in favour of it, but, at any rate, the fact that we were supporters of the Government was one of the main factors in losing us our seats at the next General Election. I should like to invite any honourable Member who represents Lancashire cotton spinners to fight an election in Lancashire on this question. That is a point which always seems to me a very serious one, and one which, I think, has hardly been sufficiently brought home to the House. If you deprive parents of the earnings of these children you will be taking away so much of the income that the children themselves will, in the poorer districts, be less well cared for and less well fed than they are at present. It may be very hard for a child to get up at half-past five in the morning to go to work, but it is better that he should do that than that he should go without his breakfast. Moreover, I, personally, would rather, and I think most honourable Members would rather, that children at the age of 11 should go out to earn their 2s. 6d. or 3s. per week than that those children's mothers should have to go to work themselves to make up the deficiency. That seems to me a very serious question indeed, for in quite a number of cases it follows that, if you deprive the family of these children's earnings, the mother herself will have to go to work. And really, when I think of the mothers of large families of very small children having to leave these children with no one to look after them, I am bound to say it can scarcely fail to present itself as a much harder case than that boys of 11 or 12 should go to work— truly in sorrow must such mothers bring forth children. That, at least, is the point of view which is taken by the Lancashire operative. He sees these young children healthy—healthier than he was at their age—and he cannot see why Parliament should come down and interfere with what is in accordance with the overwhelming mass of public opinion over the greater part of Lancashire. The Lancashire operatives, I would assure the House, are anything but hard-hearted. They have their faults, but hard-hearted-ness is certainly not among those faults; on the contrary, they are, if anything, too sentimental. I hope the House will pause before proceeding further with the Bill, though I know it is certain to be passed this afternoon. If the Bill should become law this Session, I do not think the Government will be left in any doubt at all as to what the opinion of Lancashire is. I thank the House for the patience with which it has listened to me, and I repeat that, much as I desire to see the children attain a higher standard of education than they now attain, I cannot consent to a Measure which would in many cases bring about new hardships without, perhaps, greatly lessening those which now exist.


I hope the House will let me say a few words before going to a Division. I shall not delay the House by expatiating on the educational side of this matter. I have often expressed in this House my own personal opinions, which were also the opinions of the Department with which I am connected, on that part of the question. Really, on the educational side there is nothing to be said against this Bill. Without being a teacher, one's common sense must convince one that five or six hours of morning labour in a mill is not a very good preparation for an afternoon at school. All tests which can be applied show that the half-time children soon fall behind the others in their educational progress; and the universal authority of all those connected with education is against the half-time system. I suppose the best judges of its effects are the teachers in these schools. I do not know why their testimony should be treated in the way the honourable Member for Stockport was disposed to treat it. They have no pecuniary interest in the matter; and I think their opinions are as honest and candid as those of any other members of the community. The teachers are absolutely unanimous against the half-time system, which not only injures the half-timers themselves, but also injures the other children who attend the schools. The only schools that are not injured by the system are those in which the half-time scholars are kept in separate rooms, and are really formed into separate schools. Then the inspectors are also perfectly impartial. I have in my box quotations from inspectors' reports, with which I could amuse the House till the time for the adjournment, and the testimony of the inspectors is absolutely unanimous against the system. There is not a single inspector who is in favour of the half-time system for children. Well, then, as to the managers of schools; the managers of schools are not generally unanimous, but on this particular subject there is almost an approach to unanimity. School Board members, members even of the Educational League, managers of Church schools, are at one on this matter, and agree that the raising of the age at which children should remain at school is eminently desirable in the interests of education. Then, I have frequently in this House expressed the official opinion of my own Department, and to that opinion I have nothing to add, and from that I have nothing to take away. I therefore think that, as far as education goes, there is really no doubt that the adoption of this Measure would improve the education of the country, and would, therefore, be of itself a national advantage, and really the only question we have to consider is whether the people of the country will pay the price which they would have to pay for this national advantage. I should like to say, in the first place, that the price which would be paid by the people on account of the passage of this Bill is a very small one. As far as I can make out from information I have received from the officials in my Department, the passing of this Bill will not very seriously disturb the existing state of things. The children who leave school between the age of 11 and 12 are only about 23,000, out of a total of some 600,000 Besides that, of course, a considerable number become half-timers, and it is no so very easy to make out how many of those who leave school between 11 and 12 are half-timers. But, without troubling the House at this late period of the Debate with the details of the calculation on which I proceed, they may take it from me that 50,000 would be a fair conjectural number of those between 11 and 12 who become half-timers. These 50,000 are to be found almost entirety in the great towns and manufacturing villages of Lancashire, Yorkshire, and the Midlands, and hardly any of them—I think scarcely one—is the child of an agricultural labourer. Then, it must be remembered that although the number of children who thus leave school is very small compared with those who remain, yet they are, to some extent, the pick of the children; they are children who have succeeded in passing some standard or other, and they are just the children who, by a longer continuance at school, would be likely to profit by the instruction and become more valuable workers in after life. The value of the labour of this small number of children would no doubt be lost to their parents by the passing of this Bill, but the nation would gain in the greatly enhanced value which these children's services in after life would have if they were allowed properly to develop their mental and physical qualities. The economic effect of a Bill of this kind should be considered in the case of the town children entirely apart from the case of the agricultural children. I should like to say a very few words on both those aspects. In regard to the town children, that is, the children who go as half-timers into the factories and workshops, it appears to me that the honour of the people of Great Britain is rather pledged to the raising of the school age by what took place at the Berlin Conference, and the more so because since the Berlin Conference all the other nations in Europe, with the exception of the southern countries, which were made an exception at the time of the Conference itself, have brought their factory legislation up to the Berlin Standard. Therefore, if what the honourable Member for Stockport said is accurate, and if the cotton-spinning industry is carried on more cheaply and better because of the use of this child labour, that is exactly an advantage which in honour we ought not to retain. We went to the Berlin Conference rather with a view to inducing the other nations in Europe to adopt the same restrictions upon textile and other manufactures, which, it was represented, were some burden upon British trade. The only point in which we were behind many of the nations of Europe was the age at which we allowed children to take part in these industries, and it was thought at the time to be a very good bargain on the part of this country to consent to do away with the advantage of juvenile labour in order to obtain from the other nations of Europe the regulations which were consented to at that Conference. It does not seem to me that it is altogether a satisfactory position for the people of Great Britain to occupy in the face of Europe, that they should have got the advantages of the Berlin Conference and should still hesitate to make that sacrifice which their representative pledged them to make on that occasion. It has been stated that the half-time S3'stem is dying out, but I do not know that I need enter into a discussion of that matter. I will come to the point which I want most of all to deal with, and that is the case of the agricultural children. That case is totally distinct from the case of town children for two reasons. In the first place the case of agricultural children was not contemplated at the Berlin Conference, and the second point is that the light employment of growing children out of doors in the fields is not only no disadvantage to them, but is positively a benefit to them physically. I am not speaking of hard labour, of which I believe there is very little, and if there is any it is reprehensible. I really sym pathise a great deal with my honourable and gallant Friend the Member for Essex and the honourable Member for North Hants more than perhaps they are willing to believe. I think the country has great ground for complaining of our pre sent educational system. It is a system which was invented for the towns. It is a very good system in the towns, but it is applied with a cast-iron rigidity to the country districts to which it is not applicable, and in which variation is eminently desirable. But I do not think it is impossible to reconcile the employment of children in the fields with proper progress in education. Nothing could be worse than the present system, which is that you pick out the best children of 11 years of age. The most promising, smartest, sharpest, and brightest of the agricultural children leave school at 11, and never have any more intellectual in struction at all, so that what they have learnt up to that age fades away from their minds just like an unfixed photo graph. The children who are backward remain at school till they are 13 years of age, when they are turned out on the dunce's certificate. I know that in a great many parts of the country where schoolmistresses, and not schoolmasters, preside over the rural school, many schoolmistresses complain just as much of having to keep at school these great big lads of 12 and 13, who destroy the discipline and good order of the school, as they do of the elimination of the smart children of 11 whom they have lost. But this problem is one which other countries have solved. In Canada, in many of the States of America, in Bavaria, in Switzerland, and in other countries on the Continent they had exactly the same difficulty, and they have solved it, and I do not see why it is impossible to solve it in this country. I do not know whether the honourable and gallant Member for Essex will agree with me or not, but I should like to see the country children made to attend school to a comparatively late age, but the schools should be closed in the summer so that the children might, during the time of hay and corn harvest and the active period of agricultural operations, work in the fields. That is what is done in Switzerland in all the different cantons. For instance, in the canton of Lucerne there are many communes in which the schools are closed during the whole of the summer from May to October, but the children are kept at school till they are 15 years old. They only attend nominally for about 26 weeks in the winter, yet that attendance is absolutely daily attendance, and no excuse is accepted except illness. The laws are so rigid and so efficiently enforced that practically every Swiss child in this canton goes to school every day during the winter months, and I dare say gets a great deal more school time within the year, than the average English child. That is a system which could easily be established in this country if we had, as Ave ought to have, any local authority in the country which could be entrusted with the duty of determining when the schools should be opened and closed. We at Whitehall think ourselves very able educators, but I do not think that even the staff at Whitehall would undertake to prescribe for every commune—or rather parish—in England and Wales the particular time at which the school might be closed in order to enable the children to take part in agricultural pursuits. But if you had a local authority, that might very easily be done. The County Council in Cambridgeshire would, I have no doubt, be perfectly well able to prescribe to the different villages in Cambridgeshire the particular times during which the village schools should be kept open and when they should be closed. Of course, a system of that kind would be a failure unless it was combined with a considerable raising of the age at which the children should continue to attend school, and such laws of attendance as would make the attendance at school a reality. A question really for the House to consider this afternoon is whether the people of this country are prepared to pay the price for this undoubted educational reform. I am very sorry that the price to be paid should fall on the poorer part of the community. The poor of this country have set an excellent example in the sacrifices which they have made, and which they do make, for the education of their children. The power of leaving school at the age of 11, and of becoming half-timers, is not by any means universally accepted. There are far more of the poor who, in spite of their poverty, in spite of their difficulties, do keep their children longer at school than there are those who take them away. I feel quite persuaded that it is for the interest of the country at large, and although the sacrifice on the part of some of the poorest of the population may for a few years be somewhat considerable, I believe that the whole of the country would be benefited by the passing of a Measure of this kind. I hope that the verdict of the House of Commons this afternoon will show how far the opinion of this country is ripe for the reform.

Mr. ASQUITH (Fife, E.)

The right honourable Gentleman has spoken with his accustomed lucidity, but there is one matter which remains as obscure at the end of his speech as it was at the beginning, and that is, What is the attitude of Her Majesty's Government on this question? The state of the Treasury Bench during the Debate has not betokened a very widely diffused or a warmly enthusiastic interest in the subject, and perhaps it is not altogether uncharitable to suspect that those colleagues whom we do see sitting on the Bench with the right honourable Gentleman are there rather in the character of detectives than of supporters. Indeed, in what capacity, at any given time, and under any given conditions, the right honourable Gentleman speaks to the House, is one of the standing problems of Parliamentary life. It is puzzling enough when he addresses us as the mouthpiece of the dimmest and the most mysterious of our constitutional fictions—the Committee of Council. But this afternoon, if I understood aright the opening words of his speech, he has stripped himself even of that vestige, even of that shadow of representative authority, and we have been listening to his personal opinions, and to his personal opinions alone. The right honourable Gentleman, as we all know, has in this matter an honourable and unblemished record. There are few men in this country, to whatever Party in the State they may belong, to whom we are more indebted for keeping to the front this great question of social reform, and we can never forget the great service he rendered at the Conference of Berlin, to which he himself has already alluded. But one swallow does not make a summer, and I am sorry to say that we cannot vicariously impute to Her Majesty's Government as a, whole the qualities which we gladly recognise and admire in the Vice-President of the Council. It is impossible at this moment to forget that Her Majesty's Government brought in, only three years ago, an Education, Bill which contained the very clause which my honourable and learned Friend is now seeking to put on the Statute Book. I ventured to say at that time that I thought it was the one useful provision of the Measure, and that it appeared to be probably the only provision of the Measure for which the Vice-President of the Council was personally responsible. But it is of interest to the House and to the country to know whether the Government have or have not receded from the position which 'they took up in 1896. Certainly, although, as the honourable Member for Birkenhead has said, this is a private Member's Bill and we are met on a Wednesday afternoon, it is a matter of sufficient importance, in the best interests of the country, to entitle the House of Commons to have upon it the deliberate and considered judgment of the Government, and we ought not to be put off with the pious opinions of an ostentatiously detached colleague, however eminent that colleague may be. I must say that, in my experience of the House of Commons, I have rarely heard a more one-sided Debate. The right honourable Gentleman the Vice-President of the Council in his remarks has demolished the only solid or serious argument brought forward in the whole of the discussion, which rested on the somewhat anomalous condition of the children who are employed as half-timers in our agricultural districts. He has pointed out to the House, with unanswerable force, how that difficulty may be met. But if you look at the system as regards the manufacturing districts, the figures which have been quoted to us are, to my mind, absolutely conclusive. This system is dying a natural death. It is dying slowly, it is moribund; but, inasmuch as it is also mischievous, that is no good reason why you should not accelerate its end. I will not go into statistics. It is enough to say that if you take three or four of our most important manufacturing towns you will find that the number of half-timers has diminished between 1891 and the present day in some' cases by 60, in some by 70, and in some even by 80 per cent. Then I should like to ask my honourable Friend the Member for Stockport what, in place of those figures, becomes of the argument of the nimble finger; what becomes of the suggestion that unless the children are employed in the factories at this early age they will never acquire the manual dexterity which is necessary in the textile industry? That argument is being disposed of by the action of the parents themselves. The same remark applies to another argument which was used, if not by the honourable Member for Stockport, certainly by other speakers—I mean the argument of voluntary discontinuance. If the parents are voluntarily discontinuing the sending of their children into the factory to work half-time, whatever be their motive, how can it be said that if we make it compulsory we should be imposing an intolerable burden on the working classes of Lancashire? There is only one other-argument I should like to bring to the* attention of the House, and that is the argument of experience—the experience of our own country and the experience of other countries. I remember perfectly well that in 1891, when, through the efforts of my honourable Friend the Member for Poplar, we succeeded in introducing into the Factory Act of that year the age of 11 in substitution for the age of 10; every one of the considerations presented to the House in the course of this Debate was pressed with at least as much force upon us as on that occasion. What has been the result? We have had now something like six or seven years' experience of the raising of the age from 10 to 11, and I venture to say there is not a single Lancashire representative in this House who, if the question were put to the House to-day, would vote for going back to the age of 10. What was the case when we raised the age to 11 will happen if we raise the age to 12. The honourable Gentleman has pointed out that every European country, even, countries like Portugal and Russia, have now raised the age to 12, and they do not complain that they are handicapped by that raising of the standard in the industrial struggle which they carry on. I quite agree that this is only an instalment of the reform which is needed.

Even after we have raised the ape to 12, there will still be a great deal to be done. In the first place, as the right honourable Gentleman has said—and I think this is a point which deserves the most serious attention of the House—it is no use raising the age unless you improve the enforcement of the law as regards attendance. It is the fact that the children do not attend school quite as much as fact that they leave school too soon which accounts for a great deal of the impoverishment of our educational system. Then, again, I do not know that there is anything antagonistic or even alternative in the remedy proposed by this Bill and that suggested, and I think very properly suggested, by the honourable Member for Stockport—namely, that we should largely develop our system of evening schools. It is the gap between the time when the child leaves school, whether at 11, 12, or even 13 years, and the time when ho comes back to it, as he very often does at 16 or 17 years, —it is that interval, that unbridged gap in his educational history, which accounts for so much of the waste that is characteristic of our present system, and until you have filled that gap you will never have a system which is satisfactory to the nation. I would even go one step further and say that you cannot stop at raising the age for half-time. You must raise the age for full time too. When I was at the Home Office I had the pleasing duty, in conjunction with my right honourable Friend Mr. Acland, whose absence from the Debate we all deplore, of exercising the power of the Secretary of State under the Factory Act of raising the standard at which children of 13 are allowed to be employed in full time labour from the fourth to the fifth. I think the standard is still ridiculously low, and, in my judgment, until you have raised the age from 13 to 14 and the standard of efficiency and of attendance to a much higher level than now exists, you will not have done more than take the first step towards the solution of this great problem. But that is no reason why you should not take this step, and I trust the House of Commons will pass the Second Beading of this Bill by such a decisive majority as will redeem its too long delayed pledge made to the nations of Europe at the Confer- ence of Berlin, and will put us in a position, at any rate, to get a reform of our educational system.

MR. GRANT LAWSON (York, N.R., Thirst)

Mr. Speaker, as a Member for an agricultural constituency, I have listened with great interest and great thankfulness to what has fallen from my right honourable Friend the Vice-President of the Council. The right honourable Gentleman made his speech, as has been said, in a detached position, and not as representing the views of the Government; but it must be remembered that he is the Vice-President of the Council, and that, therefore, his views on education must carry considerable weight. I rise to-night principally because I believe that the House is about to vote under an entirely wrong impression. I think a large number of Members are of opinion that when a child reaches the age of 11 years, and passes its standard, it may then at once, and without further preliminaries, go out to work as a half-timer. That is not the ease. There are certain necessary preliminaries to be gone through before a child can be employed at half-time even at the full age of 11. First of all, it must show a certain amount of knowledge by passing the necessary standard. Secondly, it must be shown that the parents desire the child to go to work; and, finally, it must be proved to the local authority that the child is to be beneficially and necessarily employed. A child cannot work without a labour certificate which contains the statement that the local authority is satisfied that the child is going to be beneficially and necessarily employed. If these certificates were granted with sufficient care by the local authorities this Bill would be unnecessary. Who are we legislating for? It has been shown again and again to-day that the number of children who go to work as half-timers is rapidly decreasing in this country. Various deductions have been made. I will lay before the House another deduction. Surely these figures show that good parents, who can afford to keep their children at school longer, and who think it is good for the children that they should remain at school, are keeping them there more and more. We are only legislating for the selfish parents and I do not believe they are a large body in this country. If we try to make laws to deal with exceptional cases we shall make bad laws. Then there are the parents who believe that it is better for their children, in view of their future walks in life, to acquire some manual dexterity instead of continuing to acquire book learning, which it is generally admitted they will soon forget. I do not admit that they are right or wrong, but the third class are the parents who are too poor to be able to do without the money which these children would earn. I consider the substantial feeding of the body is of more importance than the substantial feeding of the mind, and I think it is hard and, indeed, cruel on those parents who are earning insufficient wages that this Bill should, without exceptions, be passed into law. The right honourable Gentleman has said that we have raised the age in recent years from 10 to 11, and that, therefore, it would be easy to further raise it from 11 to 12. With these poor struggling parents that is not so. It is not a case for a hard-and-fast line, but for the administration wisely and prudently of the law as it at present stands, and the gradual increasing wisdom of the parents.

MR. SETON-KARR (Lancashire, St, Helens)

Mr. Speaker, I desire to express very shortly my opinion on this Bill, the Second Reading of which I intend to oppose because I believe the Bill to be an unnecessary and uncalled-for piece of legislation, which is opposed by the very class to whom it would apply. I listened with great interest to the speech of the honourable Member who brought in this Bill. The speech interested me very much, but if he will allow me to say so with all respect, my impression was that he was a political Rip Van Winkle. He might have been dealing with the Factory Act- as introduced 30 years ago into this House. His arguments are true in the abstract, but they do not apply to the present case, and I entirely fail to see their force. This morning I received from the Lancashire and Cheshire Conservative Federation, which has a, large number of branches all over Lancashire, embracing a very large proportion of the working classes of the county, a statement as to their views upon this Bill, and I beg to inform the House that they are almost entirely opposed to it. Very strong feeling exists on the subject, and I appeal to the House to seriously pause before passing a Bill of this kind, which is absolutely opposite to the wishes of the people, and would not promote the welfare of those whom it will affect. The speech of the right honourable Gentleman the late Home Secretary recalled to me his Bill of 1895, in respect to the principles of which we had a long discussion in the Trade Committee upstairs. This question of half-time was reasonably settled then, and I do not think we can go back upon the decision we then arrived at upon this very important point. I was convinced then, and I am still convinced, that this is a kind of legislation which the House ought to be most careful before it passes. We have considerable foreign competition, and many of our industries are struggling at the present moment. This legislation will increase the cost of production, and by passing it we shall be doing to the industrial classes a serious injury, and be practically throwing bread into the hands of our foreign competitors. It is chiefly on that ground that I am opposing this Bill, and I speak not only in my personal capacity, but I have the honour to represent a great Lancashire industrial community, and, as far as I have been able to- ascertain, something like a majority of 10,000 of the working men in South-west Lancashire are in no way in sympathy with this Bill. I have not had a single letter in favour of the Bill, but I have had many communications asking me to oppose it, and I am quite sure that the constituency which I represent do not desire it. The House will be doing an unwise thing, in my opinion, if it, hastily passes a Bill of this description. A great many honourable Members who will vote for this Measure are men who probably eat the bread of idleness, but I would appeal to them not to deny the men who earn their bread by the sweat of their brow the means whereby they can support their wives and families. I candidly believe that this Bill, if passed, will do something which the industrial classes of this country do not want, and will inflict on a portion of them serious and material injury. I therefore oppose the Bill, and I hope the House will not give it a Second Reading.


It seems to me that this is a question which ought not to to be decided by a snap vote of this House. It is a question of settled legislation. This question was settled in 1893; and in 1895 the whole of the factory legislation was reviewed by the late Government, and a Bill brought in, which was referred to the Standing Committee on Trade, and received very careful attention on both sides of the House. This question of trade is to the country very important because, of the growth of competition. I remember at the time it was felt that to meddle with trade or interfere in any way with trade, without grave consideration and inquiry, was a very serious thing indeed. There was a good deal of friction in 1895 about what was going to be done, and a great many sections of the manufacturers expressed their views to the Government of the day, as also did the representatives of the operatives. Now, at this time, nothing of that kind has been done. We find that the Lancashire cotton trade is solid against this Measure. I think something like 66,000 or 70,000 operatives—or something like that—are distinctly against it, and only 3,000 for it. Now, the Lancashire cotton trade is one of the greatest industries in the country, and this matter ought to be very carefully considered. This question is an educational question, and has been brought forward by the educationalists themselves. The agitation in favour of the Bill has been started by the school teachers, and by letters to the "Daily News." The half-time question is a very small part of what is brought forward in the "Daily News" letters, and a very small part of the education case. Why, in the metropolis, there are something like 1,000,000 children who ought to be in school and who are not; but the half-timers, who only number 110,000, do attend school, and they get into good trades, instead of joining idle classes. There is no representation or agitation by any local authority. There has been no opinion or report from any factory inspector. These half-timers have to attend before the local committee on education, they have to pass the educational standard, and they have to submit to the following tests: they first have to submit where they are going to work, and that is inquired into and approved by the committee; and the second test is that, under the Factory Act, they have to be passed by the medical officer, he has them before him and passes them as fit for work. So that you have two tests: first, that these children are tit to do their work by the Education Committee: and second, they are fit as to health by the medical officer. The Lancashire cotton trade express their opinion, but there are hundreds of small trades all over the country which are inarticulate, and this grievance will come down on the whole of our trades if this is done. Now, I think nothing should be done except after careful consideration, and that anything that could be done should be done by the Government of the day, and by a Government Bill. I think the whole agitation has been got up by the school teachers and the letters to the "Daily News," and if you look into the matter, you will find that the greatest difficulty is in London. I say the question of half-timers does not touch London, and you will see, according to the letters of the "Daily News," children of eight, nine, and ten going to work at some wretched trade in London while they ought to be at school. I say the first thing to do is to get those 1,000,000 children who are breaking the law back into the schools, and then you can talk about the 100,000 half-timers who are obeying the law. You are actually touching the very thing that does not want touching; the thing which is really a credit to the country. One of the London elementary teachers quoted in the "Daily News" said that if his children could get into some good trade he would be very glad, but they did not; they went to work before they left school, and at the age of 18 they entered the ranks of the unemployed, instead of entering the ranks of some established trade. I speak in the interests of what I know to be the universal feeling in Lancashire, and I say that trade ought not to be interfered with, and that care ought to be taken to develop trade to its utmost extent. I hope that this Bill will be rejected by the House.


Mr. Speaker; I desire, Sir, to say a few words on this occasion, because I represent a constituency which I believe contains more half-timers than any other in the country. The observation made by the right honourable Gentleman the late Home Secretary that this was only one step in the direction of the completion of this question is to my mind one of the strongest arguments against the Bill; for why should you disturb existing conditions before you are prepared to pursue the matter to its conclusion? If it is the intention of the Bill to do away with the half-time system, it ought to have been brought in by a Member of the Government, who should tell the people of Lancashire straight out that they meant to do away with the half-time system altogether. In reading the Debate which took place in 1891 on this question, I was very much taken by the observation of the honourable Member for Morpeth. He said— We are not attacking the half-time system. It may be a good thing—I believe it is a good tiling—to combine school leaching with manual labour, but the process should begin at a later age than 10. When that argument was put forward, it was proposed to raise the age from 10 to 11, and therefore I do not think, after five or six years' experience, that we should begin to alter the age by means of a private Bill brought in by the honourable and learned Member for South Shields. Something has been said about the health of a weaving shed. I should much like to draw attention to the fact that last year an Act came into operation which required a very high standard of ventilation in these mills, so high indeed that there has not to be more than nine volumes of carbon dioxide in 10,000 volumes of air. It has been said, and laughed at, that schools and public places were not so healthy as weaving sheds. I wish to draw the attention of the House to a lecture on the humidifying and ventilating of weaving sheds, given by Mr. Percy Bean at the Blackburn Technical School last Friday night. The figures which Mr. Bean gives are of an interesting character. A test he made in the basement of a local church showed the presence of 23.3 volumes of carbon dioxide, while there were 52.8 volumes present in the air of the gallery, or nearly six times the amount allowed in a weaving shed. On Thursday, he found 15.5 volumes in the air of the Borough Police Court; on Tuesday, 23.3 in the Manchester Exchange, and in a local school, which is supposed to be well ventilated, 23.7 volumes. So, Sir, it would appear from these tests, that the weaving shed, with an atmosphere containing not more than nine volumes of carbon dioxide, is one of the healthiest places to be found. Sir, a suggestion has been made that all half-timers should go to work at breakfast-time, but that the children of both morning and afternoon turns should be allowed to go on Saturdays, when most of the cleaning has to be done. This change the Masters' Association has agreed to unanimously, and if this alteration were agreed to by all parties, the half-timers would work on an average three hours less per week, and it would do away with the greatest objection of the hall-timers—that is, children of tender years leaving their warm beds at half-past five in the morning in ail kinds of weather. I am certain, or I ought to say I believe, that in no foreign country do the people work such short hours as they do in this country, or under more healthy conditions. I should further like to say, if the Government came down to the House and declared that they were bound in national honour to fulfil the pledge given at the Berlin Conference, my opposition to this Bill would cease, though it would not be pleasing to my constituents; but I place the national honour far above the retention of a seat in Parliament. Sir, if the Government thought it was necessary to fulfil our national pledge, as given by our representative at Berlin, they ought to have brought in a Bill themselves, and not left it to a private Member. They not having done this, I shall vote against the Bill.

*MR. KEMP (Lancashire, Heywood)

I do not wish to detain the House for more than two or three moments; but I have listened with great attention to the honourable Member who brought in this Bill, and I was not quite clear about one point. He said that at the Berlin Conference it had been decided by the northern countries of Europe to raise the age of the half-timer to 12, but I did not understand him to say that that resolution had been carried out. In point of fact, I have reason to believe that it has not been carried our; and I think the House ought to know whether those countries have carried it out or not, for the reason that it makes a certain amount of difference, because we are bound, to a certain extent, by what our representatives at Berlin said upon that point. One other point I want to refer to is the statistics regarding the physical condition of the children. It struck me that, those statistics referred not so much to the half-time as to the whole mill system, and one thing which conduces to this physical condition of the children is possibly the food. We find the Lancashire operative's child is not so fully developed as the public schoolboy of the same age, and it is no doubt due to the food he eats as much as to the conditions under which he works. The milk and porridge have given way to tea in the case of the parents, and as it is with the father and mother so it is with regard to the children, and I shall submit to this House that that is the reason of the difference of physique between the operative's child and the public schoolboy. I might say, though I have carefully followed the speeches delivered on both sides of the House to-day, I have not been able to define the faults which have been attributed to the half-time system, or that can be specialised or put down to the system. But I believe they are really inherent in the whole mill system as well. One thing before I sit down as to the benefit to the workmen. It is not the case of the widow, but of those men who have married early, and have a large family and a small wage of 20s. or 25s. a week by which to keep them. They think it is better that there should be a certain amount of wage earned out of the child's labour to enable the family to tide over a bad time and to enable parents to procure necessaries for the children themselves. These remarks apply so far as the constituency I represent is itself concerned. It is not in the interest of the employer, it is in the interest of the children, and the children alone, that I speak. The arguments that have been brought forward from an educational point of view I quite agree with, and I agree with the honourable Member who moves the Bill so far as the educational case is cerned. But the point which has not been sufficiently emphasised to my mind is this: suppose the age is raised from 11 to 12, then I think there should be continuation teaching from the age of 12 upwards. Every parent in Lancashire would be glad that their children should be educated up to 16 or 18 years of age, if the question of earning wages had not to be considered. But the exigencies of the case must be remembered, and is it not more necessary even than education that the children should have the necessaries of life?

MR. H. WHITELEY (Ashton-under-Lyne)

With regard to the statement made by the honourable Member for South Shields, so far as the sanitary stale of mills go, it is totally erroneous to suppose that the children work under conditions which are detrimental to life or health. In most cases the mills are as healthy and as comfortable as any other place in the country, and the children going into the mill as early as they do do not suffer, as far as I can see, from so doing. I think you might go into many of the elementary schools of the country and say you found a worse atmosphere than you find in the mills, and I will go further, and say that in all probability the atmosphere of this House of Commons is more enervating and not so pure as the air of our Lancashire cotton mills. I have very little time to touch on any reasons, but I shall oppose this Bill because I do not believe that educationally the half-time system interferes with what the children ought to learn. Children are so constituted that some are more calculated to learn mechanically than mentally, and I do not think that this half-time system is detrimental to their health. In conclusion, I will merely say, on behalf of my constituency and of the cotton trade, with which I am intimately concerned, that I am opposed to the raising of the age of the half-timers, and I shall oppose the Bill.

Question put. "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes, 317; Noes, 59.—(Division List No. 25.)

Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N.E.) Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P. Hutchinson, Capt. G.W.Grice-
Allan, William (Gateshead) Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)
Allen, Wm. (Newc.underLyme) Dillon, John Jacoby, James Alfred
Allhusen, Augustus H. Eden Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph Jessel, Capt, Herbert Merton
Allison, Robert Andrew Donelan, Captain A. Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)
Anstruther, H. T. Donkin, Richard Sim Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)
Arnold-Forster, Hugh O. Doughty, George Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H.
Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark) Kimber, Henry
Atherley-Jones, L. Drage, Geoffrey Kinloch, Sir John Geo. Smyth
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Drucker, A. Kitson, Sir James
Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire) Duckworth, James Knowles, Lee
Austin,. M. (Limerick, W.) Dunn, Sir William Labouchere, Henry
Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm. Hart Lafone, Alfred
Bailey, James (Walworth) Egerton, Hon. E. de Tatton Lambert, George
Baird, John Geo. Alexander Elliot, Hn. A. Ralph Douglas Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)
Baker, Sir John Ellis, John Edward (Notts) Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (C'mbl'nd)
Baldwin, Alfred Ellis, Thos. Ed. (Merionethsh.) Lea, Sir Thos. (Londonderry)
Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan) Lecky, Rt. Hn. William Ed. H.
Balfour, Rt. Hn.J. B. (Clackm. Evans, Sir Francis H. (South'ton Leng, Sir John
Banbury, Frederick George Farquharson, Dr. Robert Llewellyn, Evan H. (Somerset)
Barlow, John Emmott Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith) Llewellyn, Sir Dillwyn (S'nsea)
Bartley, George C. T. Finlay, Sir Robt. Bannatyne
Barton, Dunbar Plunket Fisher, William Hayes Lloyd-George, David
Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire) FitzGerald, Sir Robt. Penrose- Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine
Beach, W. W. Bramston(Hants) Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond Logan, John William
Beaumont, Wentworth C. B. Fitz Wygram, General Sir F. Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham)
Beckett, Ernest William Flannery, Sir Fortescue Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller
Bentinck, Lord Henry C. Flower, Ernest Lorne, Marquess of
Bhownaggree, Sir M. M. Folkestone, Viscount Lough, Thomas
Bill, Charles Forster, Henry William Lowe, Francis William
Birrell, Augustine Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.) Lowles, John
Blake, Edward Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Lubbock, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Blundell, Colonel Henry Fry, Lewis Lucas-Shadwell, William
Bolton, Thomas Dollin Galloway, William Johnson Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred
Bond, Edward Garfit, William Macaleese, Daniel
Boscawen, Arthur Griffiths- Gibbons, J. Lloyd Macdona, John Cumming
Bousfield, William Robert Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H. (CityofLond. MacDonnell, Dr. M. A. (Qn'sCo.)
Broadhurst, Henry- Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John MacIver, David (Liverpool)
Brown, Alexander H. Goddard, Daniel Ford Maclure, Sir John William
Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk. MacNeill, John Gordon Swift
Bryce, Rt. Hon. James Gold, Charles M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)
Burns, John Goldsworthy, Major-General M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)
Burt, Thomas Gordon, Hon. John Edward M'Cartan, Michael
Butcher, John George Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon M'Dermott, Patrick
Buxton, Sydney Charles Goulding, Edward Alfred M'Ghee, Richard
Caldwell, James Graham, Henry Robert M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinb., W.)
Cameron, Sir Chas. (Glasgow) Gray, Ernest (West Ham) M'Kenna, Reginald
Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H. Greene, By. D. (Shrewsbury) M'Laren, Charles Benjamin
Carew, James Laurence Gretton, John Maddison, Fred.
Causton, Richard Knight Grey, Sir Edward (Berwick) Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe
Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.) Gull, Sir Cameron Marks, Henry Hananel
Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.)
Chaloner, Captain R. G. W. Haldane, Richard Burton Martin, Richard Biddulph
Channing, Francis Allston Harwood, George Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand
Clare Octavius Leigh Hayne, Rt. Hn. Charles Seale- Middlemore, John Throgmorton
Clark, Dr. G.B. (Caithness-sh.) Hazell, Walter Mildmay, Francis Bingham
Clough, Walter Owen Heath, James Molloy, Bernard Charles
Cochrane, Hn. Thos. H. A. E. Heaton, John Henniker Monk, Charles James
Cohen, Benjamin Louis Hedderwick, Thomas Chas. H. Montagu, Hn. J. Scott (Hants)
Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Helder, Augustus Montagu, Sir S. (Whitechapel)
Colville, John Hemphill, Rt. Hn. Charles H. Moore, Count (Londonderry)
Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W. Hill, Rt. Hn. A. Staveley (Staffs.) More, Robt. Jasper (Shropsh.)
Courtney, Rt. Hn. Leonard H. Hill, Sir Edwd. Stock (Bristol) Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)
Crilly, Daniel Hobhouse, Henry Morgan, W. Pritchard (Merthyr)
Crombie, John William Holden, Sir Angus Morley, Charles (Breconshire)
Currie, Sir Donald Holland, Hn. Lionel R. (Bow) Morley, Rt. Hn. John (Montrose)
Dalbiac, Colonel Philip Hugh Holland, Wm. H. (York, W. R.) Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford)
Dalrymple, Sir Charles Howard, Joseph Morton, Ed. J. C. (Devonport)
Dalziel, James Henry Howell, William Tudor Moulton, John Fletcher
Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan) Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)
Davitt, Michael Hughes, Colonel Edwin Newdigate, Francis Alexander
Denny, Colonel Humphreys Owen, Arthur C. Nicol, Donald Ninian
Norton, Capt. Cecil William Robertson, Edmund (Dundee) Tritton, Charles Ernest
Nussey, Thomas Willans Robertson, Herbert (Hackney) Wallace, Robert (Edinburgh)
O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Robinson, Brooke Wallace, Robert (Perth)
O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal) Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse) Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)
O'Connor, Jas. (Wicklow, W.) Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees) Wanklyn, James Leslie
O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool) Savory, Sir Joseph Warde, Lt.-Col. C. E. (Kent)
O'Kelly, James Schwann, Charles E. Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Oldroyd, Mark Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh) Warr, Augustus Frederick
Orr-Ewing Charles Lindsay Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.) Webster, Sir R. E. (I. of W.)
Palmer, Sir Chas. M. (Durh'm) Simeon, Sir Barrington Wedderburn, Sir William
Palmer, Geo. Wm. (Reading) Sinclair, Capt. John (Forfarsh.) Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.
Parkes, Ebenezer Smith, Jas. Parker (Lanarks.) Whitmore, Charles Algernon
Paulton, James Mellor Smith, Samuel (Flint) Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
Pearson, Sir Weetman D. Soames, Arthur Wellesley Williams, John Carvell (Notts)
Pease, Herbert Pike (Drlngtn.) Souttar, Robinson Willox, Sir John Archibald
Percy, Earl Spencer, Ernest Wills, Sir William Henry
Philipps, John Wynford Spicer, Albert Wilson, Charles Henry (Hull)
Phillpotts, Captain Arthur Stanley, Henry M. (Lambeth) Wilson, John (Falkirk)
Pickard, Benjamin Steadman, William Charles Wilson, John (Govan)
Pickersgill, Edward Hare Stephens, Henry Charles Wilson, J. W. (Wrcstrsh., N.)
Powell, Sir Francis Sharp Stevenson, Francis S. Wilson, Jos. H. (Middlesbro')
Power, Patrick Joseph Stock, James Henry Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks.)
Price, Robert John Stone, Sir Benjamin Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)
Priestley, Briggs (Yorks.) Strauss, Arthur Woodhouse, Sir J. T.(Hdrsfld.)
Priestley,SirW. Overend(Edin.) Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley Woods, Samuel
Provand, Andrew Dryburgh Stuart, James (Shoreditch) Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-
Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier Wylie, Alexander
Purvis, Robert Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath) Wyndham, George
Pym, C. Guy Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester) Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy
Redmond, John E.(Waterford) Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'dUniv. Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong
Reid, Sir Robert Threshie Tennant, Harold John Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)
Richards, Henry Charles Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.) Yoxall, James Henry
Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlep'l) Thomas, Alfrod (Glamorgan, E.)
Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson Thomas, David Alfd.(Merthyr) TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion) Thornton, Percy M. Mr. Robson and Mr. Kenyon.
Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.) Tollemache, Henry James
Arrol, Sir William Goschen, George J. (Sussex) Morgan, Hn. Fred. (Monm'thsh.)
Balcarres, Lord Halsey, Thomas Frederick Morrell, Geo. Herbert
Barry, Rt Hn AH. Smith-(Hunts) Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo. Muntz, Philip A.
Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe Hermon-Hodge, Robt. Trotter Myers, William Henry
Biddulph, Michael Hornby, Sir William Henry Nicholson, William Graham
Boulnois, Edmund Jackson, Rt. Hn. Wm. Lawies Northcote, Hon. Sir H. Stafford
Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn) Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick Pilkington, Richard
Brassey, Albert Jolliffe, Hon. H. George Russell, Gen. F. S. (Chltnhm.)
Chelsea, Viscount Kay-Shuttleworth, Rt. Hn. Sir U. Rutherford, John
Compton, Lord Alwyne Kemp, George Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone)
Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth) Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.) Seton-Karr, Henry
Cooke, C.W. Radcliffe (Heref'rd) Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead) Sidebottom, Wm. (Derbyshire)
Cranborne, Viscount Lowther, Rt. Hn. Jas. (Kent) Stanhope, Hon. Philip J.
Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton) Macartney, W. G. Ellison Thorburn, Walter
Cruddas, William Donaldson Maclean, James Mackenzie Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir Wm. H.
Cubitt, Hon. Henry M'Killop, James Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under-L.)
Davenport, W. Bromley- Maden, John Henry Young, Commander (Berks, E.)
Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. Dixon Maple, Sir John Blundell
Fergusson, Rt Hn Sir J. (Manc'r) Mellor, Rt. Hn. J. W. (Yorks.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Fletcher, Sir Henry Melville, Beresford Valentine Mr. George Whiteley and
Giles, Charles Tyrrell Milner, Sir Frederick George Major Rasch.

Main Question put, and agreed to. Bill read a second time, and committed for To-morrow.