§ (As amended by the Standing Committee), Considered.
§ Clause 1:—
(2.30.) LORD HUGH CECIL moved the omission of the Clause. He made no apology for doing so, because this was a Bill which had not received any great amount of attention, on the part of the whole House, and therefore it was not at all improper or inappropriate that some discussion should be raised on the Bill now that it had come back from Grand Committee. It would be in the recollection of the House that the Bill was read a second time on the day before the adjournment for the Easter holidays, when there was a very slight attendance of Members, and after a very brief discussion. It then went upstairs, and was, of course, carefully scrutinised; but the Standing Committee was not the same body as this House, or
necessarily reflected the same opinion which it held. The first Clause was open to criticism, because it was an enactment which, though it had a high sounding phraseology about it, would actually produce no result whatever. He was told that the promoters of the Bill were not indisposed to leave out sub-section C.; but the other two sub-sections contained provisions which pretended to create a greater protection than at present to workmen from the oppressive use of their rights by employers, but what he thought created no protection whatever. The Clause ran—
It shall be an offence under this Act if an employer shall make it a condition of employment (a) that any workman shall discontinue his membership of any friendly society; or (b) that any workman shall not become a member of any friendly society other than the Shop Club or Thrift Fund; or (c) that any workman should join a Shop Club or Thrift Fund if he is already a member of a registered friendly society assuring similar benefits or benefits which does not divide its funds.
Now it was obvious that everything turned on the words "shall make it a condition of employment." What was a condition of employment? It was obvious that the phrase in itself was of a very vague character. Of course it would be easy to say that a condition of employment was if the employer propounded to the workman a definite, written document, setting forth that he should discontinue his membership of any friendly society, or should not become a member of any friendly society other than the Shop Club or Thrift Fund, and required him to sign it. But it could hardly be supposed that, under any circumstances whatever, that course would be taken, and how then would the words of this Clause ever strike at any employer whatever? It was unnecessary for the employer to say in so many words; "If you continue a member of a friendly society I shall not continue you in my employment." It would be quite sufficient for the employer to say; "I wish to have a Shop Society in my business, and I recommend everybody in my employment to join it. And then my standard of work is very high, and I require my workmen to have a very high standard of efficiency, but I engage you on your trial." Then, if the workman did not do what he was recommended to do, he was dismissed for inefficiency at the end of the period of trial. It was evident therefore that any employer who desired to
evade this Clause could do it without the slightest difficulty. He objected to the House passing Bills which had a popular flavour and no real meaning or effect. He did not think the working classes themselves admired that course, or that it increased their confidence in the House of Commons. It was the view of certain persons and some Members of the House that the working classes were caught by high-sounding phrases. He believed that was entirely untrue. The working classes were perfectly capable of understanding a reasonable argument, although it might not be popular. He did not think they liked or valued proceedings in Parliament which were mere popularity hunting and designed to catch their votes, and did no good whatever to them. When this Bill was passed into law, and it was found to be a wholly useless measure, the best working men would be very justly angry that Parliament had put upon them an Act which was of no value. The only good he could see in the Bill was that it might operate as a kind of exhortation to employers to leave their employees liberty of action. He would much rather go back to the practice of Parliament two centuries ago, when Bills were introduced with a long preamble setting out the evils it was desired to reform, so that the people might know that that was the opinion of Parliament. He was quite sure that nothing would injure or lower the character of Parliament more than the passing of such Bills as this. No employer, as he had said, would have the slightest difficulty in evading it, and it only imposed a penalty on employers who were fools.
In page 1, line 5, to leave out Clause 1."—(Lord Hugh Cecil).
§ Question proposed, "That the words from the word 'it,' in line 5, to the word 'or,' in line 8, both inclusive, stand part of the Bill."
§ Mr. HARRY SAMUEL (Tower Hamlets, Limehouse)
said that, if the noble Lord would forgive him, he thought he had introduced an academic discussion on a subject which the House would prefer to deal with in a rather different 639 manner. The noble Lord had said that the Second Reading of the Bill had been passed in a thin House after a brief discussion. He entirely disagreed with him; the House was not thin, nor was the discussion brief. What happened was that there was a consensus of opinion in favour of the Bill, and that therefore there was no necessity for a very long discussion. The House knew that the Bill was going to be sent to a grand Committee where it would be very carefully considered. He submitted to the House that this Clause was not a more paper enactment as the noble Lord had suggested. His contention was that an employer of labour would think very seriously before he dismissed any workman in his employment on frivolous grounds, or on the ground of incompetency when he was competent. He know of a case of one of the largest employers of labour in the country who I made it a condition of employment that every one of his workmen should join the Shop Club, and discontinue his membership of his friendly society. That was a concrete case, and unless the noble Lord said that employers were going to dismiss their employees on frivolous grounds this Bill was absolutely necessary. He sincerely trusted the House would reject the Amendment.
§ Mr. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
said he agreed with the last speaker when he stated that it was I perfectly true the Bill had been very well considered on the Second Reading.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
Shortly, true, because the whole House was in favour of it, and nothing was said to prevent it having proper consideration before the Grand Committee. He was not a Member of the Grand Committee himself, but he understood that it had received very careful consideration in the Grand Committee, and the objections brought forward were considered in a very reasonable spirit, and Amendments accepted. The noble Lord had said that the Bill when passed into law might be evaded. That was perfectly true; any Act of Parliament might be evaded. But if it was found in practice that the wording of it had not been sufficiently 640 carefully considered, that might be a very good reason for those interested in the matter to bring it before the House again and have the Act so amended as to prevent evasion. At all events if it did lead to some evasion it would stop a very considerable amount of what was called the oppressive use of Shop Clubs. If it did that in one case only, he thought the Bill was worth the consideration of the House. It showed the intention of Parliament whole in regard to the matter. Good as many of the Shop Clubs were they placed working men not in a position of slavery, but rendered their liberty of action much more difficult than before. It was well known that many employers would not use these clubs for that purpose, but it was also well known that there were employers who used them for the purpose of preventing their employees joining trade unions or obtaining improved conditions of labour; and it was against these employers that the Bill was directed. The noble Lord asked who could define "shall make it a condition of employment." That could easily be referred to a court of law, although it might be very well shown on the part of those representing working men whether it was or was not made on actual condition of employment. There was nothing in the Bill which would damnify bonâ fide Shop Clubs, but only those which prevented the working men from having full liberty of action. The noble Lord seemed to think that employers were fools, but that would mean that the working men were also fools.
§ LORD HUGH CECIL
said that what he had stated was that the Bill would be putting a penalty on employers who were fools, and making fools of the working classes.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
said that if it put a penalty on employers who were fools it might brighten their intelligence; and he thought that the working classes were somewhat shrewder than the noble Lord seemed to think. At all events the Bill could do no possible harm, and if it required amendment to strengthen it in any way that could be done at a future 641 date. He hoped that under the circumstances the noble Lord would not insist in his opposition to this Clause.
§ (2.45.) MR. GALLOWAY (Manchester, S.W.)
said that it was rather unfortunate that the remarks of the noble Lord, the Member for Greenwich, seemed to have been misunderstood. He was quite sure that the noble Lord was perfectly right when he said that no Act of Parliament which could be drawn could prevent an employer of labour dismissing a man for any object he might think fit. If Parliament said he could not dismiss an employee for this particular object, he could dismiss him without any reason at all, and therefore could achieve his purpose. He entirely agreed with the argument that the very fact of passing a law of this kind might have the effect of preventing some of the abuses attacked by the Bill, and therefore he would support it. He controverted the statement of the hon. Member for Poplar, that the Pill had received full consideration of the Grand Committee, and had emerged from it in a condition satisfactory to its original opponents.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
said that what he had stated was, that he was not a Member of the Grand Committee, but that he understood that the Bill had been carefully considered there, and had not been hurriedly carried through.
§ MR. GALLOWAY
said that as a matter of fact the Bill was a subject of a compromise in the Grand Committee. Sub-section (c) of Clause was the subject of very considerable controversy in Grand Committee, and after they had discussed the Bill three or four days, his hon. friend in charge of the Bill agreed in behalf of the promoters to drop subsection (c) on the understanding that the opponents dropped their opposition. They agreed to that suggestion, because I it brought the Bill within the scope of the Report of the Parliamentary Committee, appointed by Lord Ridley, of which the right hon. Member for Birmingham and the Chief Registrar of Friendly Societies were Members. So far as he was concerned he would support the Bill without that sub-section, but not with it left in.
§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
said that as he had taken a very great interest in Friendly Societies for many years, he would like to say a few words on this; matter, promising them with the statement that a good deal of pressure had been put upon him to support the Bill. One of the great objects he had had in fostering the institution of Friendly Societies was, that they should encourage employers to interest themselves in such societies. Many of the great railway companies and other corporations had established funds, making provisions for the old age of their workmen; and the objection he had to Clause 1 was, that it seemed to him to hamper and retard that movement. Of course no one would wish to lay down a rule that an employer should have the right to discharge an employee for not joining a society, the funds of which were not deposited on absolute security. The great Railway Friendly Societies had security for their funds even before the debenture holders, and these Companies had done their utmost to induce then-employees to join their societies, for the reason that it promoted harmony and encouraged employer and workman to work together. It did not look like as if sufficient attention had been given to the Bill in Grand Committee when sub-Section (c) of Clause 1 was to be withdrawn without a word. The working; men who had created these great Friendly Societies, which were the glory of the working classes of this country, although many of them required improvement, were perfectly able to look after themselves. What he was afraid of was that the tendency of this legislation was mischievous, and for the House to make it an offence for an employer to concern himself with these Friendly Societies was a great evil. The result would be that most employers would cease to have anything to do with Friendly Societies at all, and would leave their work people to act as they chose. He thought that would be a great misfortune, and that legislation should be so framed as to encourage employers and employees to work together. Although he believed that the Bill was meant well, he very much regretted that it had been brought in and should become law.
§ MR. TOMLINSON
said he hoped that this Clause would not be rejected. He thought it rather late in the day, after the Bill had passed its 643 Second Reading, and had gone through Grand Committee, to say that the principal clause in it should be omitted. Hon. Members who have served on Standing Committees know that, as a Bill progressed, some things took a different complexion, and the compromise arrived at to drop sub-section (c), arose out of circumstances which emerged after the clause had been passed.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ (3.0.) MR. HARWOOD (Bolton)
said he spoke on behalf of a large body of people who wished to get the benefit of this Bill, viz., the co-operators. This was a Bill for the protection and encouragement of thrift. There had, of recent years, been an enormous extention of the avenues of thrift, and one of the most important of these was the institution of co-operative societies. In this country alone these societies had nearly a million and a half of members, with a share capital of £18,000,000, and a debenture capital of £7,000,000, or a total of £25,000,000, which represented the savings of these people. Now, these thrift societies ought to have some encouragement. He did not wish to discuss this question on pure academic grounds; but he had a concrete case to present to the House. In 1898 three men in a town in the north of England were discharged from their employment because they belonged to a co-operative society. It had been made a condition of their employment that they should not belong to a co-operative society, and when it was found that they continued members of the co-operative society they were dismissed. He begged to move the Amendment standing on the Paper in his name.
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MAJOR EVANS GORDON (Tower Hamlets, Stepney)
said he was afraid the promoters of the Bill could not possibly 644 accept the Amendment, which went outside the compromise arrived at in Grand Committee, although it might otherwise have great merit.
§ LORD EDMUND FITZMAURICE
said he knew a great deal of interest was taken in this Amendment amongst a section of the working classes, and on the merits he could not imagine that there would be a difference of opinion as to adding it to the Bill. It seemed to him germane to the objects of the Bill. At the same time, as the hon. and gallant Gentleman had said, this Bill was the result of a compromise upstairs, and if the Amendment was persisted in it might possibly result in the loss of the Bill. Under these circumstances he hoped the hon. Gentleman would not persist in pressing his Amendment, but he trusted, as representing a large constituency containing a great number of railway working men, that they would understand that the acceptance of the Amendment would imperil the Bill, and he was sure that they would prefer it as it stood rather than run the risk of losing all its benefits.
§ SIR JOSEPH PEASE (Durham, Barnard Castle)
said he wished to speak on the same lines as the noble Lord who had just sat down. There were a great many points in the Bill of an exceedingly technical character, covering a great variety of practices and operations of a huge number of companies. A great deal of time and care had been given to it in Grand Committee, and the compromise was arrived at after the whole of the items in the Bill had been patiently gone through and considered. It had been his humble duty to call attention more than once to the value of these Committees, and if they in this House began to pull to pieces, or to vary materially the whole tendency of a Bill which had been thoroughly examined, inch by inch, by the Committee upstairs, they would take upon themselves a great responsibility. He was not without experience on this special subject, and he thought that the House would do well to take the verdict of the Committee on the Bill. Sir Robert Peel, a great authority on these matters, said that even if they 645 saw in a Bill something of which they disapproved, they had better take the Committee's advice and follow it rather than put their own opinions into the Bill with the jeopardy of making a mistake, leaving the responsibility with the Committee.
§ MR. STUART WORTLEY (Sheffield, Hallam)
said he would call the attention of the House to another, and what he thought, a more important objection to the Amendment; it was clearly outside the title of the Bill.
§ LORD HUGH CECIL
said he could not accept the statement of the hon. Baronet the Member for the Barnard Castle Division of Durham that the House ought not to revise the decisions of the Committee upstairs. He would not however, regret the expression of the view of the hon. Baronet if he would apply it to a Bill just passed by the joint Committee of both Houses, viz., the London Water Bill, and accept that Bill as it came down to this House without substantial alteration or long debate.
§ Question put, and negatived.
(3.15.) MR. J. W. WILSON (Worcestershire, N.)
I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name, which proposes to omit Sub-section (c), of Clause 1. It is an Amendment which many of us feel to be necessary in the interests of a large number of shop clubs which exist from one end of the country to the other, which are managed by the work people themselves, and which have done a great deal in the cause of thrift, before many of the so-called friendly societies obtained their present proportions. While wishing friendly societies every progress, yet we feel that Sub-section (c) militates against the best interests of the working men, and the provision they themselves have established in cases of sickness and death. We believe that the existence and stability of these clubs depend on the support of the younger members as well as the older members, and many of them would be materially damaged by the passing of the Sub-section, which would result in a serious diminution of their membership. The noble Lord the 646 Member for Greenwich alluded to the impossibility of enforcing this Sub-section, and even the friendly societies themselves recognise the impossibility of enforcing such a claim. Further, the Committee which sat on this subject in 1899 reported very strongly in favour of the Bill, as it will stand without this Sub-section. There are many shop clubs, especially in the Midlands," some of world wide reputation—I have one in view which has a membership of between 3,000 and 4,000—and it is felt that this Sub-section would seriously interfere with their existence. I, therefore, unhesitatingly appeal to the House to support the Amendment.
In Clause 1, page 1, line 10, to leave out from the word 'fund' to the end of the clause."—(Mr. J. W. Wilson.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ Mr. BARTLEY
It appears to me that this Bill was rather hastily got through on its Second Reading. I acknowledge that this Sub-section would have a serious effect. I agree with my hon. friend that it would militate against the best interests of the working classes, and, if it were left in, would produce an immense amount of mischief to many of these clubs and thrift funds which are most beneficial to many workmen.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
The Subsection which it now proposes to admit was in the original Bill and was passed by the Grand Committee, and there is no doubt that its omission will materially alter the Bill. I confess that unless I felt that if this Amendment were not accepted the Bill itself would be lost, I should be inclined to vote against it; but I think we should hear from a member of the Government whether they threatened that if the subsection were not withdrawn they would oppose the Bill.
§ MR. BANBURY
There were no threats, but it was understood that the Bill would not go through unless this Sub-section were omitted.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
I was a member of the Grand Committee, and the real truth is that this Sub-section was only carried by a majority of one. It is not, therefore, at all extraordinary that the promoters of the Bill should be quite willing to give it up rather than endanger the Bill in this House.
§ LORD EDMUND FITZMAURICE (Wiltshire, Cricklade)
I am not criticising the action of the promoters of the Bill, but neither have the promoters any right to complain if hon. Members, before they agree to the Amendment, require information as to what they are really asked to give up. It is said that the Sub-section was only carried by a majority of one in the Grand Committee, but we know that a majority of one in a Grand Committee does not necessarily mean a majority of one in this House, because the attendance at a Grand Committee is sometimes uncertain and irregular. The object of the Sub-section is to meet the case of a workman who may be a member of a bonâ fide friendly society in a perfectly-solvent condition. He may enter the employment of some large company, and he may be told that as a condition of his employment he would have to join the society under the company's control, which, no doubt, would also be perfectly solvent. But he is then called upon to pay twice over. We may be told that such a company would have no security that a man was giving up his payments, but that should not be considered as a final argument against the retention of the Sub-section. I do not think that the promoters of the Bill will have any cause to complain if we ask for more information, and, if necessary, take a division.
§ MR. HARRY SAMUEL
As primarily responsible for the introduction of this measure, may I explain to the noble Lord what exactly caused me to assent to the Amendment. First of all, no one in the House or out of it is more anxious than I am to get the principle of this Bill established; and I have been working at it for seven years. The Bill contains much that is valuable, and we preferred to sacrifice some of the measure rather than lose the whole. I have very carefully 648 examined the evidence given before the Grand Committee, and I find that all who opposed the Bill proceeded on one line, and one line only. That was that they were strongly of opinion that what the House ought to pass was the simple recommendation of the Committee of the Home Office. I came to the conclusion that if we obtained the Bill, even without this Sub-section, we should have proceeded a very long way indeed towards establishing the principle of the measure; and, under these circumstances, I would appeal to the noble Lord, who, I know, is actuated by the best motives, to enable us to do some good at all events, if we cannot do as much as we would wish.
§ Mr. COURTENAY WARNER (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
I do not wish in any way to prevent the promoters of a Bill doing what they think best. The Bill is so important that even in its mutilated form it would be better than no Bill at all; but when we are compelled to take such a Subsection out of the Bill, it ought to be brought home to those who are responsible. I understand that in the Grand Committee the Under Secretary of State for the Home Office was the great opponent of this part of the Bill, yet he now sits silent, and I am rather surprised he has not given the House the reasons for the action of the Government. The Sub-section will be a great loss to the Bill, and I, for one, will vote for retaining it if a division is taken.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ (3.30.) MR. JESSE COLLINGS
The Amendment I now desire to move is a drafting Amendment to provide that only compulsory clubs and not voluntary clubs shall be registered. I promised to insert words to secure that object.
In Clause 2, page 1, line 18, after 'Act' to insert 'and certified under this Act by a Registrar of Friendly Societies.' "—(Mr. Jesse Collings.)
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ COLONEL DENNY (Kilmarnock Burghs)
The Amendment I desire to move is—To insert in Clause 2, line 1, after 'member' the words 'who has contributed for live years or more.'649 It is possible under the Bill as it stands, that a man may be employed for a fortnight, and then leave and take up other work of a more unhealthy nature. He might fall into ill-health, and in that ease the liability would, perhaps, be thrown on the first club, of which he was only a member for a fortnight, and its funds injured. It may be said that such a case would be met by the regulations to be approved by a Registrar General of Friendly Societies, but I thought it better to firing the matter before the House in order to have an expression of opinion upon it.
In page 2, line, after the word 'member,' to insert the words 'who has contributed for five years or more.' "—(Colonel Denny.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. HARRY SAMUEL
I hope my hon. friend will not press this Amendment. If my hon. friend will look at Clause 6 he will find that it governs the whole question. I will read it—In any case where a workman, by the conditions of his employment, is a member of a shop club, he shall, upon his dismissal from, or upon leaving his employment, have the option, subject to the rules of the club, of remaining a member or of having returned to him the amount of his share of the funds of the club to be ascertained by actuarial calculation.These words govern the whole question of employment, and we think it far better to leave the men to frame their own rules. If the House thinks that the clause is not quite clear in that respect the promoters will he happy to accept words to make it clearer.
§ MR. RENSHAW
I think this Amendment deserves more consideration than it has received up to the present. The hon. Member refers the House to Clause 6, but we are now dealing with Clause 2, relating to the question as to the conditions on which the Registrar General of Friendly Societies is to register a club. I think the insertion of these words is necessary, and I agree with my hon. friend that cases of great difficulty may arise unless there is some provision as to the period in which a man is to be in some particular employment. A man may be in a 650 particular employment in no way dangerous to health, for a fortnight or a month. He may then leave, and get employment in another class of work which is highly dangerous to health; still he would be entitled to continue a member of the society of which he had only been a member for a fortnight or a month. I think such a case would be very unfortunate and undesirable. Again, a man might go a great distance away from the place were he was employed for a short period, or he might even go abroad; but he would still be entitled to continue a member. I think that is not what is intended; and I feel sure it is necessary that this matter should be further considered, and that these words should be inserted.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
There is a difference of opinion with reference to the difficulty which may arise in connection with this matter. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment, pointed out that the funds of a society might be seriously injured, and the only thing we have to consider is how to prevent that. I think what fell from the hon. Member who is in charge of the Bill was satisfactory. The rules of the Club would be drawn up by the workmen themselves, and they would, of course, be careful to provide a remedy against such cases as have been mentioned. Again, the Registrar General of Friendly Societies has great knowledge of all these matters, and this would be one of the particular points to which he would give special attention. Further, there is no particular virtue in five years; and I trust the hon. Member, after the explanation which has been given, will not press the Amendment.
§ MR. BARTLEY
As far as I can understand, the employer has to give a contribution to the club. Is it proposed then that after a member of the club leaves his employment he is to continue to receive a benefit from a fund subscribed to by his late employer? As far as I can understand, the club is not to be recognised unless it has had a substantial contribution from the employer; and, if what I have stated is the fact, I think it would be rather a hardship.
§ MR. HARRY SAMUEL
My hon. friend seems to have lost sight of the fact that this refers to compulsory shop clubs, I and cannot see any hardship in it at all.
§ MR. HARRY SAMUEL
Certainly; if a man belongs to a shop club for a number of years he may leave it at an age at which he may not be able to earn anything more.
§ MR. TOMLINSON
The question of dealing with the case of a man leaving his employment and wishing to continue a member of a society was very carefully considered in Committee; but I am not altogether satisfied that we have secured the best mode of expressing what we intended in the clause as it stands. I quite agree that it is necessary that we should deal with the difficult cases which may arise as the result of this Bill.
§ MR. BANBURY
I should like to move an Amendment to the Amendment of my hon. friend, which I think will meet the case. I propose to add the words—Except in accordance with the provisions of Clause 6.
§ COLONEL DENNY
My object was only to make our intention quite clear, and I am ready to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment by leave withdrawn.
§ Amendment made, in Clause 2, page 2, line 2, by inserting after the word "shall" the words "except in accordance with the provisions of Clause 6."—(Mr. Banbury.)
§ (3.45.) MR. JESSE COLLINGS
The Amendment which I now move is really a drafting Amendment. The Grand Committee suggested that the words in the Bill did not carry out the object in view, and I therefore undertook to propose words which would secure that object.
In page 2, line 13, to leave out from the word 'person,' to the word 'continues,' in line 10, inclusive, and insert the words 'who commits an offence within the meaning of this Act shall be liable on summary conviction to
a fine not exceeding five pounds, and if the offence is continued after conviction to a further fine not exceeding five pounds for each week during which the offence is continued.
'Provided that where an offence is committed in respect of several persons at the same time, the offender shall not be convicted of more than one offence.' "—(Mr. Jesse Collings.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. BARTLEY
I should like to ask what is meant by the word "continued." An employer may refuse to employ a man, but I do not understand how that refusal can be continued. An employer may say that he would not employ a man under certain conditions, but would he then continue to be fined because he continued not to employ the man? It seems to me that the employer would be bound to employ the man whenever he spoke to him. It is rather a peculiar penalty.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS
May I explain that it is the employer who keeps an illegal shop club that is to be fined. The object of the Amendment is that if he continues that illegal shop club after conviction he can continue to be fined.
§ LORD HUGH CECIL
Is it to be a continuing offence? An employer may desire to dismiss one of his men; but in certain circumstances he might be bound under a penalty of £5 a week to keep him in employment for the rest of his life.
§ MR. DUKE (Plymouth)
I really hope the Home Secretary will take notice of this Amendment, ft is impossible after reading these clauses not to see that the proposed Amendment is open to the observations made upon it. It is only necessary to examine Clause 1 and Clause 2. Clause 1 makes it an offence for an employer to make it a condition of employment that a workman shall discontinue his membership of a friendly society; and Clause 2 makes it an offence for an employer to require a workman to join a shop club. The Amendment before the House provides for a penalty of £5, for the first offence, which may be that of refusing employment to a man who does not discontinue 653 his membership of a friendly society. That is an offence complete in itself, but the Amendment provides that the person committing the offence is liable to a fine of £5 if the offence is continued after conviction, and to a further fine not exceeding £5 for each week during which the offence is continued. Therefore, if the employer continued in that state of mind, and refused to employ a workman who declined to discontinue his membership of the friendly society, he would be liable to a fine of £5 a week during the joint lives of himself and the workman. I do not think that that is the desire of the authors of the Bill. An undeserving workman may find himself in the happy position, apparently of his own motion—because the consent of no public authority is required to set the law in motion—of being able to penalise an employer who has refused him employment. It is not the intention of the Home Office that the Act should be open to this objection. If it would be possible that such cases could arise under the Act it would be monstrous, and they would have the effect of bringing it into odium.
§ MR. STUART WORTLEY
It is not my business to make clear the meaning of the Amendment introduced by the Government, but perhaps I may inform the House what is probably meant by the Amendment. The offence contemplated is an offence under Section 2, Clause 2 to compel a man to join an unqualified club, but I think the Amendment would be better if the word "repeated" instead of "continued" were used.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
I am a simple layman, but speaking, I hope, as a person of common sense, I think these words ought not to be inserted without further consideration. After the remarks of the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth it is quite clear that we may get into some difficulty if these particular words are inserted, and I would suggest that we should pass the clause as it stands, and it can be amended in another place if necessary.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS
This Bill is not a Home Office Bill, and the only thing the Home Office has done has been at the request of the Grand Committee, to bring up words to meet the difficulty. I do not wish to press the matter.
§ MR. GALLOWAY
As I was responsible for bringing up this clause, perhaps I may say that we had no intention that an employer should be fined fifty times for the one offence. The words of the clause, however, did not deal satisfactorily with the matter, and, therefore, it was left to the Home Office to bring up the words now suggested. If these words are not satisfactory it might be well for the Home Office to take the matter into further consideration.
§ MR. RITCHIE
It seems to me that the House is of one mind as to what should be done; and, also, that a construction has been placed on a particular word in the Amendment which was not intended. As, however, the Amendment indicates what the House desires, I will suggest that the words proposed should be inserted, and I will undertake that the matter shall be put right if necessary in another place.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
We know the danger of a Bill going up in the House of Lords and coming back amended, and I am sure the Home Secretary does not wish to incur that. I would only ask him if further Amendment is necessary, he will give the Bill such opportunities as will ensure that it is passed into law.
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER
I would suggest that the clause remains as it stands in the Bill, and that these ridiculous words should not be put in. The clause can be amended afterwards.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order ! Those words have now been struck out, and in is too late to argue upon them. The question is as to the words to be inserted.
§ LORD HUGH CECIL
What will happen if there is a division and the "Noes" are declared to be in the majority?
§ (4.3.) Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 276; Noes, 12. (Division List No. 223.)657
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.||Dunn, Sir William||Knowles, Lees|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Durning-Lawreuce, Sir Edwin||Lambert, George|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Law, Hugh Alex. (Donegal, W.)|
|Ambrose, Robert||Elibank, Master of||Lawrence, Joseph (Monmouth)|
|Anstruther, H. T.||Emmott, Alfred||Lawson, John Grant|
|Arrol, Sir William||Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Layland-Barratt, Francis|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Evans, Sir Francis H (Maidstone||Leamy, Edmund|
|Austin, Sir John||Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Lee, Arthur H. (Hants, Fareham|
|Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch.||Followes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Fenwick, Charles||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Fergusson, Rt Hn Sir J. (Manc'r||Leigh, Sir Joseph|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Ffrench, Peter||Leng, Sir John|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Field, William||Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S.|
|Beach, Rt. Hn Sir Michael Hicks||Fisher, William Hayes||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine|
|Bell, Richard||Fletcher, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Flower, Ernest||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
|Bignold, Arthur||Flynn, James Christopher||Lloyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Blake, Edward||Forster, Henry William||Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft)|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.||Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth|
|Boland, John||Fuller, J. M. F.||Lundon, W.|
|Brand, Hon. Arthur G.||Gardner, Ernest||Macdona, John Cumming|
|Brassey, Albert||Garfit, William||MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Gibbs, Hon. Vicary (St. Albans)||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Gilhooly, James||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Bull, William James||Goddard, Daniel Ford||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)|
|Burt, Thomas||Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick||M'Cann, James|
|Caine, William Sproston||Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin & Nairn)||M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinburgh W|
|Caldwell, James||Gordon, Maj Evans-(T'rH'mlets||M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire|
|Cameron, Robert||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Majendie, James A. H.|
|Campbell, Rt Hn. J. A. (Glasgow||Grant, Corrie||Mansfield, Horace Rendall|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe|
|Carew, James Laurence||Gunter, Sir Robert||Martin, Richard Biddulph|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Mather, William|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hall, Edward Marshall||Maxwell, W. J. H. (Dumfriessh.|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Hammond, John||Mellor, Rt. Hon. John William|
|Charrington, Spencer||Harris, Frederick Leverton||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Harwood, George||Mooney, John J.|
|Clive, Captain Percy A.||Hayden, John Patrick||Morgan, Hn. Fred. (Monm'thsh.|
|Cogan, Denis J.||Hayne, Rt Hon. Charles Seale-||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D.||Muntz, Philip A.|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Heath, James (Staffords. N. W.||Murphy, John|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Helder, Augustus||Murray, Rt Hn A. Graham (Bute|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||Myers, William Henry|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow||Hobhouse, Henry (Somerset, E.||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Holland, William Henry||Newdigate, Francis Alexander|
|Craig, Robert Hunter||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West||Nolan, Col. John P.(Galway, N.|
|Crean, Eugene||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Nolan, Joseph (Lough, South)|
|Crombie, John William||Horniman, Frederick John||Nussey, Thomas Willans|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Hoult, Joseph||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)|
|Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham)||O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Hozier, Hon. James Henry Cecil||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Davenport, William Bromley-||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)|
|Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan||Jacoby, James Alfred||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.|
|Delany, William||Johnston, William (Belfast)||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)|
|Denny, Colonel||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||O'Dowd, John|
|Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.||Joicey, Sir James||O'Malley, William|
|Dillon, John||Jones, David Brynmor (Swansea||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Doogan, P. C.||Joyce, Michael||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Kennaway, Rt Hn. Sir John H.||Partington, Oswald|
|Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Kinlock, Sir John George Smyth||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlingt'n|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||Kitson, Sir James||Pease, Sir Joseph W. (Durham|
|Peel, Hn. Wm Robert Wellesley||Ropner, Colonel Robert||Walrond, Rt Hn Sir William H.|
|Pemberton, John S. G.||Russell, T. W.||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Philipps, John Wynford||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Pilkington, Lieut.-Col. Richard||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Pirie, Duncan V.||Schwann, Charles E.||Welby, Lt-Col. A. C. E (Taunton|
|Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Sharpe, William Edward T.||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Plummer, Walter R.||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)||White, Patrick (Meath, North|
|Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel||Whiteley, George (York, W. R.|
|Power, Patrick Joseph||Shipman, Dr. John G.||Whiteley, H (Ashton und. Lyne|
|Price, Robert John||Simeon, Sir Barrington||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Purvis, Robert||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)||Williams, Rt Hn J Powell-(Birm|
|Pym, C. Guy||Soames, Arthur Wellesley||Wilson, Chas. Henry (Hull, W.|
|Rankin, Sir James||Soares, Ernest J.||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Rasch, Major Frederic Carne||Spencer, Rt Hn C. R. (Northants||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh. N.|
|Ratcliff, R. F.||Stanley, Edward Jas. (Somerset||Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks.)|
|Rattigan, Sir William Henry||Stevenson, Francis S.||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)|
|Rea, Russell||Stone, Sir Benjamin||Woodhouse, Sir J T (Huddersf'd|
|Reddy, M.||Strachey, Sir Edward||Worsley-Taylor, Henry Wilson|
|Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Stroyan, John||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Redmond, William (Clare)||Sullivan, Donal||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Reid, James (Greenock)||Talbot, Rt Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ.||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Reid, Sir R. Threshie (Dumfries||Tennant, Harold John||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Renshaw, Charles Bine||Thomas, Alfred (Glamorgan, E.||Young, Samuel|
|Ridley, S. Forde (Bethnal Green||Thomas, David Alfred (M'rthyr||Younger, William|
|Rigg, Richard||Thompson, Dr. E C (Monagh'n, N||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Ritchie, Rt. Hon Chas. Thomson||Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)|
|Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)||Thornburn, Sir Walter|
|Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)||Tomkinson, James||TELLERS FOR THE AYES— Mr. Harry Samuel and Mr. Galloway.|
|Robinson, Brooke||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Roche, John||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye||Wallace, Robert|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose-||TELLERS FOR THE NOES— Lord Hugh Cecil and Mr. Duke.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie|
|Balfour, Captain C. B. (Hornsey||Macartney, Rt. Hn W. G Ellison|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Wills, Sir Frederick|
|Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Coddington, Sir William||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
§ MR. PIRIE (Aberdeen, N.)
asked whether, when the Speaker had reason to think that the numbers would he very small on one side or the other, recourse might be bad to the method of requiring those whom he believed to be in a minority to stand up and he counted.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order ! The hon. Member has deliberately disregarded my ruling. The hon. Member rose to a point of order, knowing very well that he was not going to raise a point of order. That is not a proper way to act.
§ (4.20.) MR. BELL (Derby)
I rise to move the deletion of Clause 5 on page 2 of the Bill, and the reason I do so, is that I am at a loss to know why 500,000 men belonging to a particular class, many of whom 658 are members of shop clubs, should be excluded from the benefits of the Bill; and may say that unless I get a satisfactory reason, I shall certainly press the Amendment to a division. In the Committee upstairs all classes of employers, I believe, were represented, including the railway companies, but so far as I am aware none of the railway workers (numbering, as L say, half a million) were in any way consulted as to their desires and wishes on this very important matter. Why railway men should he singled out and subjected to a different class of legislation to that which is to apply to all other working men, and why railway companies of ail employers should be exonerated from the stringent laws which apply to other classes of employers, I am unable to conceive. At any rate, the hardships which this Bill has been designed to cope with are as great amongst railway men as amongst any other class of workers in the country. It is quite possible that there exists in the minds of some Members of the House an idea that 659 there prevails amongst the class for whom I speak a division of opinion on this important subject, for we have had during the last three days deputations of workmen employed on the North British Railway lobbying Members with a view of inducing them to do their best to secure the retention of this clause in the Bill as it is.
There is one incident in connection with this matter of lobbying which I very much regret, and I may as well explain it for the benefit of the House. Four or five of the men connected with these deputations are members of my own organisation. Two of them have been on the Executive Committee of the organisation dictating the policy of the organised railway men of the country. One of them was on the Executive Committee during last year at the time the Great Eastern Railway Bill and the compulsory clause relating to their benefit society were before this House. Strange as it may seem this member of the Executive Committee was one of the number of men who framed and directed the policy of the organised railway men for the purpose of doing away with compulsion in connection with railway workers joining railway benefit societies on entering a company's employment. It is a very remarkable thing that directly these men got out of office in their society they devoted their time to lobbying Members in order to got them to do that which, whilst in office, they used every possible means in their power to prevent, actually framing the policy of the society against railway shop clubs. It seemed to me only fair that I should offer this explanation to the House as to the personality of, at least, some of the men who have been here lobbying on behalf of the railway company in this matter. I have always understood that the object of Parliament was to do the greatest amount of good to the greatest number of the community. That is the policy of this House, and I may be excused if I say that it has always been my own policy too. Well, there are, as I say, 500,000 men employed on our railways in all departments, and the majority of these are compelled by the conditions of their employment to become members of different clubs attached to the companies with which they are connected.
660 The hardship to these men is equally great as that in connection with any service outside the railway service. It is for this reason that I want to know why it is proposed that there should be an exception made in the case of railway men. I have here a few typical instances of the hardships these men have to suffer. On the South Eastern Railway they have a Sick Benefit Fund. Men joining the service of the South Eastern Railway have 3d. per week deducted from their wages for the "sick fund." When sick, they are paid 10s. per week. I am not going into the question of the merits of this club. I am not going to say that some clubs may not be good whilst others are notoriously bad. My only point here today is to ask why railway companies should be allowed a special privilege in this matter, and why they should be able to require their workmen to join their society against their own will. The men are not asked to join, nor do they have a chance of declining to be members of the fund. The 3d. per week is deducted from their wages whether they like it or not. There are no rules for the guidance of the men—at any rate, none are given to the men. And when they leave the service of the company they receive nothing. There is a case arising out of this society which we are trying in the law courts. A man named Warman was in the company's service and in the sick fund for thirty-four years. He received comparatively little benefit, and when he left the company's service he asked to be allowed to retain his membership of the fund to which he had been compelled to contribute for so long. The House will observe that this man had been in the service of this company for thirty-four years, and it will be readily understood that he, on leaving, was too old to be admitted to membership of any other society outside the company's fund. But his request was refused. I do not know what the result will be, but we are carrying the case to the law courts. The London and North Western Railway Company also have a club, and I have a copy here of one of their rules—Rule 8—taken from the Rule-book. It says—Superannuation, Insurance, and Provident and Pension Societies have been established or 661 authorised by the Company, which the servants are required to join in accordance with the regulations.A man entering the London and North Western Company's Service, is compelled to join; and on resigning his position in the Company's service, he is compelled to sacrifice all he has paid to the fund, for he is not allowed to remain a member of it. Only when leaving through reduction of staff, can a man possibly get his premiums returned. I may be allowed to say that I know a little about the London and North Western Railway, and not to my knowledge has an instance occurred in which depression of trade has led to a reduction of staff. Instead of that, however, men are removed and degraded. A man may be removed to a distance from the place where he was stationed, possibly at a reduction of wages, and possibly at great inconvenience to himself. A man sometimes cannot see his way clear to leaving a particular centre, owing to the circumstances of his surroundings. He may be offered work at a new place at a reduced wage, and he may decline to go. If he declines to go, it is insubordination, and that comes under the head of misconduct, and he receives nothing from the Provident Fund when he leaves the Company's employ. We are constantly having cases brought before us, in which men are treated in this way on the London and North Western Railway. Rule 50 of the London and North Western Rules, relating to the Provident Fund, says—Members who have paid the premiums shown …. shall, upon leaving the service, from other causes than misconduct or voluntary resignation, before being entitled to a pension, receive back one half the pension portion of the premiums of 2d. and 1d. per week, according to class, which they have paid into the Fund, provided an application for the same be made by the member within a period of four months from the time of his leaving the service.I would ask hon. Members to put it to themselves from what other circumstance a man can leave a company's service other than voluntary resignation or misconduct, and for each of these causes the railway company is entitled to retain his contributions. And now I will give an instance or two from the 662 Great Western Railway Company. Rule 8 of the Great Western Rule-book sets forth—The following societies have been established or authorised by the company, which the servants are required to join in accordance with regulations:—(A) G.W.R. Superannuation Fund; (B) G.W.R. Guarantee Fund; (C) G.W.R. Provident Society; (D) G.W.R. Widow's and Orphan's Benevolent Fund; (E) G.W.R. Pension Fund; (F) G.W.R. Engine-men and Firemen's Mutual; Assurance, Sick, and Superannuation Society.Note.—A. and B. refer to clerks and station-masters. C., D., and E. refer to uniform staff, and F. refers to Locomotive Department only.With regard to the Provident Fund I find that Rule 5 of the Fund says—The said directors may require that any person may be admitted a member of this society who is entitled to admission under the Rules.Rule 4 of the Pension Fund says—The directors may from time to time require not only those entitled to become members under Rule 3, but any other of their servants whom they may designate by name or class to become members of this fund.Now, some of these societies inconsequence of the very small area from which they are able to obtain their members have got into a state of insolvency. There are, indeed, very few railway societies that are anything like solvent. [Cries of "Oh !"] Well, will hon. Members just wait a moment. I should like to have their opinion on the following. Mr. R. P. Hardy, actuary, reported on the 7th August, 1894, as follows. It is a very lengthy document, and I will not trouble the House with the whole of it, but he comes to this conclusion:—This very serious position of affairs, and the practical hopelessness of attempting to impose such a burden upon members of only limited means, leaves me no alternative but to advise the Committee of Management and the members that the Society is irretrievably insolvent, and that measures should, in the interests of all, and especially in those of the more recent entrants, be at once taken to bring about a dissolution of the Society, and its reconstruction upon a basis that will give the younger men a fair equivalent for their subscriptions, together with relief from the uncertain, but pending heavy levies for which they are liable under the rules.And again, in a report as to the financial position of the society, as at the 31st December, 1897, Mr. Hardy said—The deficiency shown by the valuation was £ 202,073, and was due to circumstances well within the cognisance both of the Railway Company and the Management of the Society.663 And, he says, further—In the last report I pointed out that the Society was irretrievably insolvent, and on the present occasion I can only most regretfully reiterate this view, and advise the Management that the position of the Society is so hopeless that they are doing serious injustice to young men in allowing them to join an association which is evidently beyond the unaided powers of the present members to restore.Now, I think that the House will, at any rate, agree with me as to the seriousness of Mr. Hardy's reports of 7th August, 1894 and 31st December, 1897, but still the company is allowed, as a condition of employment, to require the men to become members of the society. There is a great hardship in this. I do not know if hon. Members realise what it is to live on small moans. A very large proportion of the working men of this country are thrifty and do belong to provident, sick and friendly societies, and the result of the attitude of such a railway company as this is that a man who wants to enter its service who may belong already to one or two societies is asked to join yet another. If the company whose service he seeks to enter has one of these friendly societies attached to it, they make it a condition of employment that he shall join it. They say, "Before we take you on you must become a member of this or that or the other society." The man cannot afford it. The wages paid in connection with railways are less than working men receive generally, and a man finds himself unable to pay from 5d. to 1s. 3d. per week in addition to what he is already paying to his own friendly societies. The result is that the man has to sacrifice many years of contributions which be has been paying into his friendly societies outside, or bear the loss which accrues, whatever it may be. He has to join the railway company's society.
I am not going to argue the merits or demerits of these societies. My one point and I have only one point—is that railway directors should not, any more than any other employers, have the right or power to compel any man as a condition of employment to attach himself to any particular society. So far as the working men themselves are concerned, if pressure is put upon them to join a trades union it is resented very bitterly by the employers. If we use coercion to 664 compel men to join trade unions, it is tyranny of the blackest and most outrageous kind. [Cheers.] I am bound to say to hon. Members who cheer that that they will not distinguish between the case of the workman and that of his employer. I hope hon. Members will be broad-minded enough to see that if it is tyrannical to compel one of their fellows to enter a society, it is equally tyrannical on the part of an employer to refuse to employ a man if he will not join his society. That is my argument—that this Bill should apply equally as much to railways and to railway workers as it does to any other employment and workmen in the country. I see no earthly reason why railway companies should have exceptional treatment; there is no excuse for it; there is no call for them to be exempted from legislation which is applicable to all other employers. I fail to see the slightest ground for making any distinction. I am not one who would wish to press hardly on railway companies or on anyone else, nor am I one of those who desire to give the railway companies any undue advantage over other employers. That which is applied to one class should be applied to the other without favour. I beg to move my Amendment.
In page 2, line 17, to leave out Clause 5."—(Mr. Bell.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words of the Clause to the word 'to,' in line 20, stand part of the Bill."
§ (4.40.) MR. ANSTRUTHER (St. Andrew's Burghs)
I trust that the hon. Member for Derby will not take it amiss if I suggest to him, with great respect, that if he persists in this Amendment he will be jeopardising the passing of the Bill through the Report stage today. It will be fatal to raise a point such as the present, however important it may be in his own view. The hon. Member is, of course, perfectly within his right in making this protest on behalf of those whom he so ably represents in this House, and I make no complaint of that. But I myself have the right to speak 665 here for a very important railway insurance society, whose views differ in toto on this matter from those of the hon. Member for Derby. The hon. Member has alluded to the presence of a deputation from that society here during the present week. Well, Sir, I do not think the House will for a moment object to men coming here as a deputation to make representations in defence of the interests of their class. Or, at any rate, if the House does object it will have to do so on many more occasions than the present. It will have to interfere with the action of individual voters, or groups of individuals or representatives of important corporations, who come here to influence by legitimate means the opinions of hon. Members who have to give their decisions on questions as they arise in this House. I do not say myself that sometimes this lobbying is not overdone; but we Members, as we grow older in this House, become ease-hardened in matters of this kind, and we take the liberty of weighing such action in scales of which we ourselves know the justice.
But the particular point of the hon. Member for Derby is that benefit societies connected with railway companies should not be exempted from the provisions of this Bill. I believe the hon. Gentleman the Member for Limehouse, who has so far so ably piloted the Bill through Committee and this House, has, from the first, been single-minded in his intention that the Bill, if it becomes an Act, should not apply to those societies belonging to or connected with railway companies, to which the companies themselves make substantial contributions.
And it is noteworthy that so long ago as the year 1898, this question of Shop Clubs and compulsory membership first became agitated in this House, and a Departmental Committee was appointed by the late Home Secretary to inquire into it. Members of the Insurance Society of the North British Railway Company at that time entered a strong protest against any interference with the society for which they were entitled to speak. It is not by any means an afterthought, nor has the question been raised with the view of frustrating the passage of this Bill into law; and I can assure the House that, although I am not very particularly interested in the general question, as it was 666 presented to the House on the Second Beading, I am content to accept the general desire of the House that the Bill should become law. It will certainly not be through any action of mine if the Bill is prevented from passing through this House this afternoon.
The hon. Member opposite has brought forward the point under discussion as one upon which the employers are antagonistic to the interests of their men. I am bound to say, on behalf of those for whom I am entitled to speak, that this is not a directors' nor a shareholders' question at all. It is a men's question. We have had the strongest representations, on the part of the men, in favour of retaining Clause 5 in the Bill, and against hampering or in any way prejudicing the society of the company with which I am connected. The protest of the members of the society was couched in four sentences. It is so comprehensive that I think I may claim the indulgence of the House if I read it in this debate. Their fear was—That such legislation would he fatal to the interests of their society; that a great many members, who are looking forward to receive the benefit of the society's superannuation allowance, would be deprived of that allowance, and that they would be debarred from joining any other society on account of the age limit; that the superannuated members would be deprived of their allowances, which would be to them a great hardship; and that the members of the society did not wish the existing arrangements of the company to be interfered with.Well, that is the position I take up on behalf of these men, and I believe that I do it with almost the unanimous acquiescence of the whole membership of the society. And further than that, I do hope that, apart for the moment from the merits of this particular question, whether railway societies should be included or not, the hon. Member will not press his Amendment upon the House, to the jeopardy of arriving at an amicable conclusion on the Bill before the rising of the House this afternoon.
§ SIR ALBERT ROLLIT (Islington, S.)
I rise to make an appeal to my hon. friend the Member for Derby. I quite agree with many of the views he has, expressed, more especially those in regard to the results when the men leave the society, and leave the neighbourhood, for which reason I intended to press upon 667 the Committee the consideration of those words I have put down, in regard to Clause 6, about getting for the men the full actuarial value, of their interests under this Bill. I desire to urge, in the interests of friendly societies, that my hon. friend will do a great service to this Bill by not insisting upon his Amendment at this period, for it might jeopardise the passing of this Bill. For the same reason I do not propose to move the Amendment I standing in my name, although I believe the exemption ought to be confined to I the great railway companies incorporated by Act of Parliament. I feel that while such action on my part might have the effect of improving the Bill it might, on the other hand, be fatal to the passing of the measure at the present moment. My hon. friend the Member for Derby not only has an interest in railway companies, but also in the great friendly societies, and I hope for this reason he will facilitate the passing of this Bill by withdrawing his Amendment, and so permit this Bill to confer a great benefit upon a large class of the community.
§ MR. BARTLEY
I am in a difficulty to know what to do, because there can be no particular reason why an exception should be made in favour of one particular class of workmen. I think this Bill is a mistake, and will not have that beneficial effect which we all desire, but having passed the Bill so far, if it is a good measure for the working classes I cannot understand why one particular class should be treated differently to another class. There is another large section of workers in the docks, and they will be included in the Bill, but why a large number of workmen employed in the docks should be included, and not the railway servants, I cannot understand. It seems to me that we are departing from the wise course which has hitherto prevailed of doing everything we can to encourage and facilitate the relations between employers and employed. If we are going to have this Bill passed I cannot see the logic of exempting one large section of the community, although I should be very sorry to see this clause taken out, because I believe great work has been done in this direction by the railway companies, and they are at present doing an immense deal for the 668 benefit of the men, which I am sure we are all anxious to preserve. It seems to me absurd to pass a Bill framed as it is to do a certain work, and then make a very large and important section of the community exempt from it. If the Bill is a good measure for the working classes in the country it should be applied to all, and if it is not good for all I cannot see why it should pass.
§ LORD EDMUND FITZMAURICE
Considering that I represent a large constituency which includes a large number of railway men, I do not think I should be doing my duty if I did not say a word upon this occasion. The two hon. Members who have preceded me in this debate have spoken for very large bodies of railway men and they have pointed out, and more especially my hon. friend the Member for South Islington, that we have to consider the undoubted wish and desire of this House to pass this Bill. But although I am willing to make the largest possible concession in this direction, I cannot see how anybody can complain of my hon. friend the Member for Derby, or of any other hon. Members representing large railway constituencies, if they insist upon placing upon record an emphatic protest against the omission of railway servants from benefits under this Bill. I shall tell the Committee in one sentence why I think we have an unanswerable case. If hon. Members will go back to the early history of this question they will find that the agitation upon which this Bill originated occurred very largely among railway men. I would remind the House that there are companies and companies. I know myself of that great company which my hon. friend the Member for St. Andrews Burghs mentioned at the conclusion of his observations, and I can certainly say that I know from my own experience that the relations between the Great Western Railway Company and its employees are almost of an ideal character, and if there is any such case as that indicated by my hon. friend the Member for Derby there must be some mistake, for I feel perfectly certain that the directors and shareholders of the Great Western 669 Railway Company would not allow an old servant to be treated in that way. We cannot in this Committee trust to fixing our legislation upon the basis of the benevolence or goodwill of any particular company, and as my hon. friend the Member for South Islington has pointed out, this clause is not limited, as it might have been, to a schedule which might have consisted of some of the great incorporated railway companies. I feel that my hon. friend behind me the Member for Derby was fully justified in raising this protest, and it is for him to decide whether he will carry this question to a division, or for the salve of this Bill allow his proposal to be withdrawn.
§ MR. HARRY SAMUEL
Will my hon. friend the Member for Derby allow me to make an appeal to him, and to express to him my absolute sense of the justice of the course he has taken. I fully understand that had he not taken this course he would not have been doing his duty, and this is a question upon which many hon. Members of this House look to the hon. Member for Derby to guide us. I wish to point out that there is no one inside
§ this House who takes a deeper interest in the principles contained in this Bill than the hon. Member for Derby, and for the sake of those principles I trust that he will allow this Bill to pass. I know that by the very nature of things a very large number of important railways are absolutely outside the scope of this Bill, and therefore it is only a few of them which are included in this particular clause. Under these circumstances I do appeal to the hon. Member to withdraw his Amendment and allow this Bill to pass.
§ Mr. JOHN WILSON (Falkirk Burghs)
I appeal to the hon. Member for Derby to accede to the suggestion to withdraw his Amendment, because if it were passed a large number of these men would not be able to join any other society. Therefore, I hope the hon. Member will withdraw his Amendment.
§ (4.53.) Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 155; Noes, 142. (Division List No. 224.)673
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex F.||Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Greene, W. Raymond-(Cambs.)|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Greville, Hon. Ronald|
|Anstruther, H. T.||Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Gunter, Sir Robert|
|Arrol, Sir William||Compton, Lord Alwyne||Hall, Edward Marshall|
|Balcarres, Lord||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Harris, Frederick Leverton|
|Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey)||Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Henderson, Alexander|
|Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch.)||Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Hoare, Sir Samuel|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Dalkeith, Earl of||Hobhouse, Henry (Somerset, E.|
|Beach, Rt. Hn Sir Michael Hicks||Davenport, William Bromley-||Hornby, Sir William Henry|
|Beckett, Ernest Will am||Denny, Colonel||Horniman, Frederick John|
|Beresford, Lord Chas. William||Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. Dixon||Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Hoult, Joseph|
|Bignold, Arthur||Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham)|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Hozier, Hon. James Henry Cecil|
|Brassey, Albert||Fergusson, Rt Hon Sir J (Manc'r||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.|
|Brown, Alexander H. (Shropsh.||Fisher, William Hayes||Johnston, William (Belfast)|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose-||Joicey, Sir James|
|Bull, William James||Fitzroy, Hon. Edw. Algernon||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H.|
|Campbell, Rt. Hn J. A. (Glasgow||Fletcher, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Kitson, Sir James|
|Cavendish, V. C. W (Derbyshire||Flower, Ernest||Knowles, Lees|
|Cecil Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Forster, Henry William||Lawrence, Joseph (Monmouth|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Galloway, William Johnson||Lawson, John Grant|
|Chamberlayne, T. (S'thampton||Gardner, Ernest||Lee, Arthur H. (Hants. Fareh'm|
|Charrington, Spencer||Garfit, William||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage|
|Clive, Captain Percy A.||Gibbs, Hon. Vicary (St. Albans)||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk.||Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S.|
|Coddington, Sir William||Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin& Nairn||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Gordon, Maj Evans-(T'rH'mlets||Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham|
|Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Purvis, Robert||Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward|
|Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Rankin, Sir James||Valentia, Viscount|
|Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft)||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne||Walrond, Rt. Hn Sir William H.|
|Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth||Rattigan, Sir William Henry||Welby, Lt.-Col. A C E (Taunton|
|Macartney, Rt Hn W. G. Ellison||Reid, James (Greenock)||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-|
|Macdona, John Cumming||Ridley, S. Forde (Bethnal Green||Whiteley, H (Asht'n und. Lyne|
|M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Majendie, James A. H.||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Malcolm, Ian||Robinson, Brooke||Wills, Sir Frederick|
|Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Martin, Richard Biddulph||Ropner, Colonel Robert||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh. N.)|
|Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.||Russell, T. W.||Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks.)|
|Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath|
|Morgan, Hn Fred. (Monm'thsh.||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert||Worsley-Taylor, Henry Wilson|
|Murray, Rt Hn A. Graham (Bute||Sharpe, William Edward T.||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Myers, William Henry||Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||Simeon, Sir Barrington||Younger, William|
|Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlingt'n||Stanley, Edward Jas. (Somerset|
|Pease, Sir Joseph W. (Durham)||Stock, James Henry|
|Peel, Hn Wm. Robert Wellesley||Stone, Sir Benjamin||TELLERS FOR THE AYES— Mr. Harry Samuel and Mr. Renshaw.|
|Pemberton, John S. G.||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Pilkington, Lieut.-Col. Richard||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Mansfield, Horace Rendall|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Evans, Sir Francis H. (Maidst'ne||Mellor, Rt. Hon. John William|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||Mooney, John J.|
|Ambrose, Robert||Ffrench, Peter||Murphy, John|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Field, William||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Newdigate, Francis Alexander|
|Austin, Sir John||Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Nolan, Col. John P. (Galway. N.)|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Flynn, James Christopher||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Gilhooly, James||Nussey, Thomas Willans|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Gordon, Sir W. Brampton||O'Brien, Kendal (Tipper'ry Mid|
|Blake, Edward||Hammond, John||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)|
|Boland, John||Harwood, George||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W)|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)|
|Burt, Thomas||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||O'Malley, William|
|Caldwell, James||Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D.||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Cameron, Robert||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||Partington, Oswald|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Holland, William Henry||Philipps, John Wynford|
|Carew, James Laurence||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Jacoby, James Alfred||Plummer, Walter R.|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Jones, David Brynmor (Swans'a||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.||Price, Robert John|
|Cogan, Denis J.||Joyce, Michael||Priestley, Arthur|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Kinloch, Sir John George Smyth||Ratcliff, R. F.|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Lambert, George||Reddy, M.|
|Craig, Robert Hunter||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Crean, Eugene||Law, Hugh Alex. (Donegal, W.)||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Crombie, John William||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Rigg, Richard|
|Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan||Leamy, Edmund||Roberts, John Byrn (Eifion)|
|Delany, William||Leigh, Sir Joseph||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.||Leng, Sir John||Roche, John|
|Dillon, John||London, W.||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Donelan, Captain A.||MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Doogan, P. C.||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||M'Govern, T.||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Dunn, Sir William||M'Kean, John||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Elibank, Master of||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Emmott, Alfred||M'Laren, Charles Benjamin||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Spencer, Rt Hn. C. R. (Northants||Tomkinson, James||Woodhouse, Sir J. T (Huddersf'd|
|Stevenson, Francis S.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips||Young, Samuel|
|Strachey, Sir Edward||Wallace, Robert||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Sullivan, Donal||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Thomas, Alfred (Glamorgan, E)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Thomas, David A. (Merthyr)||Whiteley, George (York, W. R.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES— Mr. Bell and Mr. Warner.|
|Thompson, Dr. E C (Monagh'n N||Wilson, Chas. Henry (Hull, W.)|
|Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
Bill read the third time, and passed, with Amendments.
§ Other Amendments made.
§ Schedule amended, and agreed to.