§ 4. " That a sum, not exceeding £25,774, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1901, for the salaries and expenses of the Civil Service Commission."
§ 5. " That a sum, not exceeding £38,691, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1901, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of the Comptroller and Auditor General."
§ 6. " That a sum, not exceeding £5,197, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1901, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Registry of Friendly Societies."
§ Resolutions read a second time.
§ First five Resolutions agreed to.
§ Sixth Resolution, "That a sum, not exceeding £5,197, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1901, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Registry of Friendly Societies."525
§ * MR. STRACHEY (Somersetshire, S.)
The other day I raised the question of compulsory shop clubs, but the Secretary to the Treasury requested me to postpone the matter until the Report stage. What I desire now is to move to reduce the Vote by £100 in order to get an explanation with regard to the action of the Registrar of Friendly Societies with regard to compulsory shop clubs. It is a question in which the friendly societies are taking a very great interest. As the House is aware, a Committee was appointed to consider this very question, but I believe that up to the present the Registrar of Friendly Societies has taken no action or has been unable to do so. These compulsory shop clubs, or thrift funds, are being established in large numbers in different parts of the country, and a large number of Private Bills this session have been introduced making provision for thrift funds or shop clubs. Some of them have a provision that no member must belong to any other thrift society, which is found to be a very great hardship on members of friendly societies. There are other cases in which the members are not prevented from belonging to friendly societies, but it is obvious that in many cases a man may not be able to continue to pay a contribution to a society and also to the shop club. I think it is desirable that the Registrar of Friendly Societies should look into this matter and see that the rights of friendly societies and other bodies are protected, and if he has not now the power to reject or revise schemes for shop clubs or thrift funds, he should have it given to him. I beg to move the reduction of the Vote by £100.
To leave out '£5,197,' and insert ' £5,097' instead thereof."—(Mr. Strachey.)
§ Question proposed, "That '£5,197' stand part of the Resolution."
§ * MR. LEES KNOWLES (Salford, W.)
I wish to allude to a matter which is to some extent personal. On Friday evening last the hon. Member for Walthamstow moved in Committee a reduction of this Vote, in connection with the action of the Registrar of Friendly Societies, in sanctioning certain schemes under the Workmen's Compensation Act. The hon. Member alluded to 526 two schemes, with one of which I am intimately acquainted, and I will only refer to that. I must say that the hon. Member did not show me the courtesy of giving me any intimation that he was about to refer to that scheme. If he had, I should have been here to have answered him, and I was unavoidably absent on the occasion. The hon. Gentleman stated that considerable influence was used in Messrs. Andrew Knowles and Son's collieries at Pendlebury to induce the workmen to accept the scheme in place of the Act, and further that the manager went to the pit bank and actually forced the men to go to the office and sign the contracting-out form, and that there had been nothing but friction and bad feeling since the scheme came into operation. I have received a letter from the manager in which he states that no undue influence was brought to bear on the men; that, as a matter of fact, most of the men were satisfied and were better off under the scheme than if they had remained under the Act. He goes on to state that only about 14 per cent. of the workmen are outside the scheme, and that they include the men who are directly concerned in an opposition scheme promoted by the men's trade union. Had it not been for the opposition of this clique, all the men would have gladly joined the scheme. As a specimen of the influence used by the trade union officials I have here a circular which has been issued headed "Fellow working men, beware! beware! beware!" It urges the men not to join the scheme, and concludes—Let your answer be straight and to the point—No! no! no! Do not be gulled! Have nothing whatever to do with such absurd proposals!That is a specimen of the pressure brought to bear by these trade union officials on the men. My correspondent also states—Mr. Wood's figures as to the number of men are exaggerated. The number he gives as the result of the ballot referred to a first proposal, which was not carried any further, and which was entirely different from the scheme submitted to and certified by the Registrar of Friendly Societies, a fact of which I have no doubt Mr. Woods is aware. The statement that there has been nothing but friction and bad feeling since the scheme came into operation is utterly untrue. I have never heard of any dissatisfaction among the members of the society. There has, however, been an unconciliatory spirit shown by the men who 527 have remained outside the society, and litigation has been resorted to by them on the slightest pretext, backed by the officials of the union.If the hon. Gentleman had made these statements outside the House of Commons it might have been possible to deal with them. One of the local leaders of the miners recently made somewhat similar statements; an action was brought, and he—or, rather, the Miners' Union on his behalf— had to pay £100 for libel. I should like to add that, after deducting about £30 for costs, the balance of the £100 was voluntarily refunded to the union. I only wish that the hon. Member for Walthamstow would make his statements outside the House.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is now going into a previous dispute which arose with some other person.
§ * MR. LEES KNOWLES
The hon. Member for Walthamstow happens to be associated with this particular person. With regard to the scheme which the hon. Gentleman has attacked, during the last twelve months the men have subscribed £1,600 to the fund and the employers have subscribed a similar sum, and compensation has been paid for all accidents which have occurred, including all those for which compensation would not have been paid under the Act. In order to show the excellent results—
§ * MR. SPEAKER
I did not prevent the hon. Gentleman from making a statement in answer to one which he thought reflected upon himself; but he is now going altogether beyond the question before the House. The hon. Member has already said that the statements of which he complained are not founded on facts.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. HANBURY,) Preston
The hon. Member for South Somerset said that force had been used to make members join the shop clubs to which he has directed attention. That is a matter with which the Registrar of Friendly Societies has nothing whatever to do and over which he has no control. With regard to the hon. Gentleman's statement that members of these clubs are not allowed to be members of other friendly societies, that is a matter over which the Registrar has control; but the hon. Gentleman does not seem 528 to be aware that it is a very general rule among friendly societies that their members should not belong to other societies, because if they belonged to several societies they might in time of sickness be getting more money than when in full work. It would be distinctly opposed to the interests of the friendly societies that anything of that kind should be allowed, and the Registrar in sanctioning such a provision has done nothing more than is done in the case of all friendly societies.
§ * MR. STRACHEY,
in asking leave to withdraw his Amendment, said what he objected to was that the schemes under which these clubs and thrift funds were established were not submitted to the Registrar of Friendly Societies, and the Government ought to see to this.
§ MR. GALLOWAY (Manchester, S.W.)
asked if it were not illegal under the Act of 1897 that a man should join a club under a condition of hiring.
§ * MR. JONATHAN SAMUEL (Stockton)
These shop clubs are entirely distinct from schemes under the Act. It is illegal to make it a condition of hiring that a man should join a scheme, but the point raised by the hon. Member for South Somerset in the interests of the friendly societies is that some of the shop clubs impose a condition of hiring. The societies complain that the practice inflicts a great injustice on them, and the point we wish to press on the right hon. Gentleman is that the practice is unfair to the friendly societies and to the workmen.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Resolution agreed to.