§ [SECOND READING.]
§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ *(12.15.) MR. JACOBY (Derbyshire, Mid.)
It has been stated that "They also serve, who only stand and wait." For ten years I have stood and waited, and for many years balloted for this Bill, and now I find myself in the proud position of introducing this Bill to Parliament. It is nearly seventeen years ago that I was honoured with a seat in this House, and the great bulk of my constituents are men who strongly approve of the Bill I have the honour of moving today. They believe in it for no sentimental reasons, but because they recognise in its provisions the natural desire of the working classes to improve their social position. I think I may say with pride, after five severe contests, I have maintained my position in this House, thanks to the great majority of the miners who live in my division, and I feel proud today to say that my thanks are due to their disinterested and earnest efforts. I have received the largest majority in the county of Derby.
Now, Sir, this is hardly a Private Member's Bill. It is a Bill that has behind it, first of all, that gigantic organisation, the Miners Federation of Great Britain, and that organisation, Sir, undoubtedly represents the opinion of five-sixths of the miners of the country. It has not only that behind it—there is the vast majority of the organised labour of the country, as represented by the Trades Union Congress. I think there is no doubt about this, that, always excepting Northumberland and Durham, there is no trade more united in favour of the legal eight hours day, or more organised to work on those lines to the great advantage of all engaged in that employment.
473 Now, Sir, this Bill has been before this House on seven different occasions.† I remember very well in 1892 we were defeated by a majority of 112. Since then the feeling in favour of the Miners' Legal Eight Hours Bill has grown to such an enormous extent that, whereas on former occasions it was difficult to secure eleven Members of Parliament to ballot for this Bill, on this occasion not fewer than fifty Members gave their names to the ballot, and if the regulations of this House had permitted more than twelve names to have been on the back of this Bill, I venture to say that this might have been so long that, practically, the House would not have had enough space to carry the names in support of this measure on the front page. Now, what are the real motives at the back of this Bill? It is not any opposition on the part of those engaged in mining—any factious opposition to the employer; it is, I think, a very natural desire on the part of those men to enjoy a little more of the sunshine of life, and a little more time to their own social amelioration and improvement. This Bill is opposed by two kinds of opposition. There is that opposition that comes from the Mining Association of Great Britain, as represented by a petition presented at the Table of the House today, and there is also a minority opposition from miners in the districts of Northumberland and Durham. And here let me say how deeply I regret today the absence of my hon. friend the Member for Morpeth. I am convinced that I carry with me the general wish of the House in expressing the hope that he will be speedily restored to health. This opposition from the miners of Northumberland and Durham is a very curious opposition, because these men really work less hours than eight hours per day. But, Sir, on the other side of that question is undoubtedly the question of the employment of boys in those two counties.
§ SIR JAMES JOICEY (Durham, Chester-le-Street)
It applies to all counties.† The Parliamentary history of this movement is traced in a footnote on page 1303 of Vol. lxxix of Debates (Fourth Series)—(1900). The Second Reading debate on the Bill of 1901 is reported in (4) Debates lxxxix, 1357.
§ * MR. JACOBY
The hon. Baronet no doubt will reply to that later on: but it is undoubtedly a fact that in Northumberland and Durham all boys work longer hours than the men, but even there, in Northumberland and Durham, I am led to believe—of course if I am wrong my hon. friend the Member for the Chester-le-Street Division of Durham and the hon. Member for Mid Durham will correct me, when I say that there is a large minority who would be glad to see the passing of this Bill.
There are three methods, and three only, by which this question can be settled. There is, first of all, legislation, which is advocated by the vast majority of those who work in mining; then there is a voluntary agreement; and, thirdly, there is the deadly appeal to the arbitrament of an industrial war. Now, Sir, I think we must all regard the patience of the miners and the confidence they have in constitutional methods in constantly approaching year after year this House, and not resorting perhaps to the more serious and lasting appeal to arms. If anything, I think it ought to strengthen their case today. If there is any hon. Member here who has not made up his mind, that thing alone ought to induce him to give his support in favour of this Bill. Voluntary agreement has been attempted by the Miners Federation of Great Britain, and that, as everybody knows, was not attended with success. But, after all, what is the great objection to voluntary agreement? It is this—it does not secure permanence. Let me explain more fully what I mean. In a gigantic trade like the coal trade you have one district competing with another, and if you had voluntary agreement there would be a temptation that one district, in order to reduce prices, would get out of the agreement in sonic way or other. Therefore those who are in favour of a legal Eight Hours Bill can only bring it about, with fairness to the coal owners and to the employees, by the establishment of an eight hours day. Let me say, therefore, that of course I am sure, after the large number of times this question has been discussed in this House, there is very little new to be advanced in favour of it, as I am pleased 475 to say that there is very little new for my opponents to raise against the Bill.
Let me examine some of the objections usually heard against this Bill. The one main objection that we hear is this—State interference with adult labour. Now, Sir, this House has interfered with labour; it has interfered in the Factory Acts with the labour of women and children; and, as my right hon. friend the Member for; the Forest of Dean reminds me, in certain other cases the Truck Act, the Merchant Shipping Act, and all railway and sanitary legislation is undoubtedly an interference by this House with the hours of labour. What is the objection of this House to interfere with the hours of labour? Surely it is the best authority for dealing with this question, unless some gentlemen who are probably opposed to this Bill outside Northumberland and Durham, who do not represent their constitutents on this burning question, feel that they have no right to deal with the matter. It rests with this House, if it so chooses by the vast majority who sends its Members to this House to legislate for the benefit of their constitutents, that if they decide to fix a legal eight hours day, I fail to see how that can be called an undue interference with the rights of adult labour. There is also another objection to this Bill; it is said that it will raise prices and restrict output. Now, Sir, this is a very curious argument, for if this argument is supposed to be used as an argument in favour of increased prices, how can it follow that wages should be reduced? If coal owners reduce wages how can they increase prices, and if they increase prices where is the reason for reducing wages? I think it is universally admitted by all—by miners' agents, by engineers, and by all those who have any knowledge of the subject—that the legal mines eight hours day would increase prices considerably under sixpence per ton.
Now, as I have said before, this question has been brought so often before the House that I hope today we shall have many and short speeches, and a sure and certain division. I feel very strongly that now we are cleaning our slate we ought to find a place on a corner, if only a little corner, of that state I do not think we can 476 call the coal mining industry a decaying: one; it is increasing at the rate of 2½ millions yearly. I think myself that this measure, backed as it is, and, as I have said before, by the vast majority of the miners of the country, deserves the careful consideration of this House. These men, Sir, are sturdy, shrewd, law-abiding, intelligent men; they know what they want, and it is for this House to show its willingness to grant them this demand. This House is frequently called upon to deal with some phase of what is known by the generic term—the labour question. Here we have in this Bill a labour question in its most important aspect solved to the satisfaction of the vast majority of the labourers—labourers in the highest sense of the word, skilled labourers whose practised hands draw from the earth the fuel that is one of the chief necessities of our life and the power of the nation; and whose arduous and perilous toil it is the duty-of Parliament to lighten and ameliorate. I beg to move the Second Reading of this Bill.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ *(12.30.) MR. TOMLINSON (Preston)
I find there is a general desire on the part of those who either intend to support or to oppose the Bill to take a decision, on the direct question on the Second. Reading, and I therefore propose to con-elude simply with an Amendment that-this Bill be read a second time this day six months. Now, Sir, the hon. Member who has moved the Second Reading of this Bill has made a comparatively short speech, and if nearly all that is to be said for that. Bill were contained in his speech, I think those who oppose would have a very easy task before them, because just when we expected to come to the arguments in favour of the Bill the right lion. Gentleman sat down without really stating any one. I do not know whether speakers in a subsequent debate will have something more to say, but judging from the report of previous discussions on this question, it seems to me that the argument is all on one side. There is 477 no doubt that in the country generally there is a great deal of misapprehension as to the real bearings of this question, and therefore it is incumbent upon us who think that this legislation will be unsound and detrimental to the highest interests of the country to state our views as clearly and as fully as we can.
Now, my constituency is not a coal producing, it is a coal consuming, constituency, and if I had been merely here to give the House the benefit of any experience I may have had with reference to my interest in collieries, I should have probably have left it in the first instance to some Member belonging to a constituency where there is a large mining population. But the hon. Member who has moved this Motion seems to have forgotten altogether that besides the working miners and colliery proprietors there is a not insignificant part of the public who are also interested in this question, and that part of the public consists of the consumers of coal. Now if it can be shown, and we shall attempt to show in the course of the debate, that the result of a measure of this kind would be to make the production of coal precarious and seriously reduce the limits of its production, then it is obvious at once that the interests of the consumers of coal ought to be taken into consideration. I have no doubt that there is on the part of many supporters of the Bill a feeling that an arbitrary restriction with what is practically a very important part of the management of collieries would tend to their material disadvantage. And no one, and certainly not many of the very intelligent gentlemen who lead bodies of miners—the miners' representatives—can have failed to consider what bearing a Bill of this kind will have upon wages and upon output. I have no doubt that many of them have come to the conclusion that the result of this Bill will be to restrict the output, and therefore they suppose that with the restricted output the price will rise, and that the advantage of the mine workers will be secure. I do not say this without some information, because a friend of mine, some year or two ago, was in conversation with a very intelligent gentleman who represents the 478 miners of a certain district, and this miners' representative said to him that he really could not understand why it was that miners and colliery proprietors could not work together to press forward this Bill and thereby bring about a restriction in the production of coal. My friend replied—it is quite possible that if I took a shortsighted view of the question, I might think it was worth while to endeavour to work together on that principle, but I am satisfied that in the long run a dislocation in the production of this important element of our manufactures for all the inhabitants of this country would bring about serious difficulty in carrying on the industries of the country, and increase that very severe competition from which our industries are already finding it very difficult to compete with foreign countries, and be ruinous also to all interested in the production of coal.But it does not therefore follow from that that the interest of employers and workmen in this respect are not in harmony; I believe they are; I believe that it is the interest of all to work in harmony, and by reasonable freedom in the exercise of those faculties with which we are endowed, all may work together both for the good of the work-men and employers, and also for the general public who consume coal.
The hon. Member who moved the Second Reading of the Bill spoke of three possible alternatives to bring about the result which he desired. He first of all suggests it might be brought about by legislation; secondly, that it might be brought about by voluntary agreement; and thirdly, by a strike. It is very curious to listen to his reasons for thinking that it was impossible to bring about this change by voluntary agreement, because the real ground, stated in different words, on which he explained it, was that really the voluntary agreement is impracticable because it cannot be carried out. He says if you have voluntary agreement, some districts will in a very short time find it inconvenient, and they will break away from the voluntary agreement. If that is so, it is obvious that this is really a Coercion Bill. It is a Bill to coerce people into doing what they do not want to do, and to set up a hard cast-iron system of working which they believe to be detrimental to their interests. The hon. Member spoke of agreement being impossible, because, of course, the districts 479 would not agree. What does that mean? It means that the workmen in some districts would break away from any cast-iron system if it were attempted to be enforced.
§ Mr. JACOBY
I am sorry to interrupt, but I intended to convey that it was the difficulty of one district competing with another district which might cause a breakdown in this voluntary agreement.
§ * MR. TOMLINSON
I fail to see in what respect I have misapprehended my hon. friend. It is the same thing. The competition of one district with another would lead one set of workmen to think that this question was a disadvantage to them, and they would desire more freedom to carry on their work, and that is really what has happened in the past; because the first idea of those who proposed a scheme of the kind was to make a voluntary arrangement. I have had a curious instance brought to my notice of what happened twenty years ago in a colliery in Lancashire. It was a colliery with the Pemberton 5-ft. seam and the Pemberton 4-ft. seam, and it was first thought that those who worked these seams might be able to come to an understanding as to the length of hours to be worked. The proposed arrangement suited the Pemberton 5-ft. seam men very well, because their seam was worked without shots, but when it came to the 4-ft. seam men the shots had to be fired the night before, and consequently their places became full of coal, and in the morning when the man came to his work it took him until about ten o'clock to get the coal out and drawn to the shaft. The result of that was, as anybody who is acquainted with colliery work knows, that it took them a little longer than in the 5-ft. seam, and there was an attempt to induce the 4-ft. men to agree with the regulations which were thought desirable by the 5-ft. men; but in the end that failed and the system broke down, not because of any unwillingness on the part of the men to work in harmony, but because the different conditions of the two mines were such that what was suitable for one was unsuitable for the other. That is one of the real difficulties in carrying out any proposal of this kind. The circumstances are so different. What suits one man does not suit another. Young men, for instance, would prefer to work short hours 480 in hewing, and get down their coal first, but in the case of old men it takes them longer to do it, and all these older men would be at a disadvantage if they were bound to a hard and fast definite system as to the time of their work.
Now, in the Amendment I have placed, upon the Paper, which, as I have said, I do not intend to move, one of the principles I lay down is also in the Amendment of my gallant friend on my right (Sir Elliott Lees), and that is the principle of not interfering with the freedom of adult workmen during the time they are at work, and I say that that is unsound, and is only justified in cases of either some circumstances causing excessive danger which can be remedied in that way, or something affecting the health of the workmen. Now, Sir, my hon. friend who moved the Second Reading of this Bill has not dealt with any point of that kind. His sole ground of asking for the Second Reading of the Bill is his belief that there is a unanimous feeling on the part of the miners in most parts of the country in favour of it, and therefore what is unanimously asked for ought to be conceded. I deny that there is anything like unanimity of feeling on the part of the miners and I challenge those who support this Bill to tell me how it happens, if that is the case, that there are in this House at the present moment a large proportion of the Members representing districts in which the colliery workers have a ruling voice, who have again and again, election after election, proclaimed their strong opposition to this Bill and yet are returned as Members of this House. But those who are connected with mining districts—in fact, it is matter of common knowledge that in the mining districts a vast number of men, whether in a minority or a majority I do not say, and those who are most capable of exercising judgment in this matter, believe that this Bill would not be for their advantage, and they are strongly opposed to it. There may have been meetings at the pit heads where approval of the Bill has been expressed, but others have kept away and quietly decided to oppose this Bill. The hon. Member who moved the Second Reading of this Bill of course takes his cue 481 as much as possible from the County of Derby, and I am not here to deny that probably in Derbyshire there are a larger proportion of miners who support this Bill than in the case of many other districts. But the proportion is much less in many other districts. I should like in passing to give one instance. A friend of mine represents a constituency which is not, properly speaking, a mining district, but it comes into one edge of one, and he has two collieries in it. In one of these collieries there is no doubt a feeling in favour of this Bill, but in the other colliery the feeling of the men is decidedly opposed to it. Let me return to Derbyshire. Here is a letter which appears in The Times this morning; it is signed by "R. Morris," and it gives his address, "Blackwell, Derbyshire."
§ * MR. TOMLINSON
I do not know what the hon. Member thinks about Benjamin Morris, but at any rate he has the courage to put his name to his letter, and he makes some remarkable statements. and those who support the Bill from Derbyshire will be able to state how far there is substance in those statements. He says—Petitions of a very misleading character have been presented in favour of the Bill. Those petitions have not been signed or even sanctioned by the miners. They are the work of the Committees of the various branches.Then he says, further—The miners, as a body, are totally opposed to the Bill in its present form. Again and again have the men's leaders been asked to take a ballot of the men on the question, but they refuse to do so.Then he goes on to argue that—If passed into law, it will seriously cripple the miner in the performance of his work to his own advantage. No miner can foresee one minute from another what is going to happen in his working place or stall. That being so, it is absolutely necessary for his own safety and advantage that no restrictions shall be put upon him as to the exact time he shall be compelled to leave his work. During my long experience as a miner, I have often found that a few 482 minutes' work after the loader—that is, the man who fills the coal—has ceased work for the day has saved me much labour on the following day and also averted danger.Then he says, in speaking of the case of old men—In order to avoid the dust and confusion of the men and horses travelling along the roads to the coal face, they avail themselves of the advantage of descending the mine a little earlier in the morning than the other workmen.He says they would be very hardly treated if this Bill became law, because some of them have lost their vigour and do not turn out the coal as fast as younger men; but they want to get out their proper quantity of coal each day. But, on the other hand, they care less about pigeon flying and the open air amusements which are so excellent a resource for the miners in any district, but they do like to have more time for the work. And he says—If the eight hours bank to bank clause becomes law, they will be denied that privilege, and many will be compelled to give up their work.Then he says there is another case to be considered which this Bill would entirely leave out of sight, and that is that of men who have been disabled by illness—If the Bill becomes law it will inflict a great injustice upon those who, being anxious to do their best to support their families, and being in poor circumstances, it may be through illness, put in a little extra time in order to do so.This is a statement of a practical miner of the difficulties which would occur if this Bill came into law. I say there is no case for this Bill. It is a Coercion Bill; it is a Bill to say that a man shall stop working when he wants to work a little longer—that is the sum and substance of the Bill. You are to say for every man, "You have got eight hours from the time you go down the pit to the time you come back again. It will take an indefinite part of that time to get to the working place, but you must find out how long it will take to get back to the bank, and when you have made that deduction, then you will know how much time you will have to work. When you complete that time, by some process which is not in the Bill, each of the workmen is to be brought out whether he likes it or not." That is the Bill. I say for a Bill of that character a case ought to be made out for it—either that the men are suffering from over-work, 483 or that their health is affected by what they are doing.
Now, I have a considerable number of figures here, but I am not going into detail. I have figures from Northumberland and Durham, but there are other hon. Members and right hon. Members who represent that part of the country, who are very well able to deal with their own part of the case, and as this is a case somewhat different to their districts, I propose to leave them to deal with them. But the result of the figures is that those who work longest work fifty-two, fifty-four, or fifty hours a week down the pit. They say that they are down the pit for those hours; but the average points to forty-two, forty-three, and forty for those who work longest. I have also figures from several other districts; I have several computations made in different collieries in South Wales, and it works out to something like forty hours, or, in some cases, thirty-eight hours per week. [Laughter from Mr. ABRAHAM.] I hear by that ejaculation that these calculations are not quite in accordance with the calculations made by the hon. Member for Rhondda. No doubt later in the day he will explain his figures, and possibly he may be able to show that the hours are unduly long, and that fewer hours should be required. Then why cannot this be done by agreement? The Welsh miners are organised, I believe, as well as those in other parts of the country. If they want shorter hours, why cannot they bring it about by arrangement, as they have brought about by arrangement many other things that they desired?
§ MR. WILLIAM ABRAHAM (Glamorganshire, Rhondda)
Does not the hon. Gentleman know that they have tried, and the employers would not come in?
§ * MK TOMLINSON
I do not think that the hon. Member is doing justice to the powers of the miners of the Rhondda. I believe that their powers will enable them to do a great deal, if they are united upon it; but there does not seem to be a desire to carry it out. I will just take one instance of a colliery in Lancashire. I think it is a fair instance of a colliery; the average hours worked per week per man are four and a half days, and the number of days in the year on which they work are 271. Taking the time 484 worked from bank to bank, they are down the pit an average of forty-five hours a week. The number of hours for which they would be at work at the face of the coal averages 41.37, and their average wages work out to 8s. 6d. per day. For my own part, I do not see now any reasonable man could say that hours of that kind constitute a hard week's work under these conditions, and say that it is an excessive amount for a man to do for four and a half days per week. Let me remark that one of the drawbacks of the Bill is that it would take away all elasticity from the system of work. I know that in Lancashire the colliers are very fond of getting off for two or three days and going to Blackpool or some other place, and many of them think that they are far better off if they are free to work somewhat more, and apart from doing their day's work completely, they prefer working a little more on four and a half days a week, and leaving themselves free either to take two or three days at the end of each week, or accumulating those days and taking a week or a fortnight at a time. Before I pass from that, I intended to refer to a summary which appears in The Times today just showing how the averages I refer to of a day's work appear if carried over a longer time. In 1884 the average number of days worked out for Lancashire and Cheshire was 3.93; South,Yorkshire was rather higher that year, it was 4.60; West Yorkshire was 3.63; Nottingham, Derby and Leicester were 3.90, and North Wales 4.37. Those vary. There are one or two districts in which they differ, and in one, a certain district gets up to something over five days a week; but speaking for the average, I think it works out at something like four and a half days per week. I submit that four and a half days per week under these conditions is not an extravagant or excessive amount for the diligent workman to carry on.
Now, it has not been suggested that this work is unhealthy. On the contrary, I have a statement here of the mean annual mortality of males engaged in different occupations in the three years 1890, 1891, and 1892, at successive periods of life, and there is no reason to suppose that there is any 485 difference between those years and the present time. Taking them by years the mortality (per 1,000) of all males between the ages of fifteen and twenty is 4.14; amongst coal miners it is 3.82. You come to the ages of twenty to twenty-five and the mortality for all males is 5.55, and for coal miners it is a little higher—5.62. When you get to the ages of twenty-five to thirty, the mortality for all males is 7.67, and for coal miners it is 6.29; from thirty-five to forty-five for all males it is 13.01, for coal miners it is 9.63. Then you go on to the next age, forty-five, for all males it is 21.37, for coal-miners 19.42; and then you go to forty-five to fifty-five, it is 39.01 for all males, and it has risen in the case of miners to a little beyond the thirty-nine, it is 43.79. But what shows the comparative longevity is that from sixty-five and upwards for all males it is 103.56, and in the case of colliers it is 146.43, showing that there is an average of mortality beyond sixty-five higher in the colliery districts, in those who work in the collieries, above those working in ordinary occupations. Therefore, so far from any unhealthiness, the expectation of life is greater in the case of coal miners than in the case of all males. Then when I get this analysed it will be found that except in the case of diseases of the respiratory system, in which the average of the colliers is a little higher, of all the diseases analysed the colliers show favourable results as compared with other workmen. And with regard to the respiratory diseases, I cannot help thinking that the remedy will be found in having better mechanical appliances, and that when we understand these appliances better, I believe we shall have a reduction of the excessive mortality from the diseases of the respiratory organ.
I should say that I have had a number of statistics before me, which show that the passing of this Bill in the terms in which it is drafted would result in reducing the output by at least 20 per cent.—that is to say, for the same cost, 20 per cent. less would be produced. Assuming that to be a fact, let us see how the wages question would be affected. The collier or hewer is paid according to the quantity of mineral he gets. If he gets 486 20 per cent. less coal, he will get 20 per cent, less wages. I do not know whether those who support the Bill contemplate an increase of wages as a consequence, but if they do, that increase can only be met by a rise in the price of coal. If they do not contemplate an increase of wages, then the earnings of the men will be less by 20 per cent., unless they are so enamoured of this scheme that they are ready to sacrifice some of their holidays, and work a greater number of days for a shorter number of hours each day. I see no indication of that. They love freedom, and no one who likes freedom would care to put himself in chains. Besides that, another question arises in connection with cost. By the Bill it is not merely the hewers of coal who are to be restricted as to the number of hours. It includes also men and boys who are employed underground in other capacities. They are necessarily paid by day wages for the time they work, and they are more numerous than the colliers altogether. If these men, as well as the colliers, are compelled to work less time, they will either be paid less wages or the cost of raising the coal will be increased. There is no complaint on the part of these men now that they are working too long hours. What is to be done with them? Are they to be paid the same wages? How can you avoid increasing the cost of production, if the hours of labour are shorter? Let us see how far this change would meet the convenience of colliers. It is a frequent occurrence for a large number of colliers to remain working down in the pit to a later hour than, under the regulations of the collieries, they are entitled to. A man when once down likes to finish the work he is at, and although the regulations of the colliery enable him to leave at a particular hour, he likes to stay down and finish the work he has in hand.
§ MR. PICKARD (Yorkshire, W.R., Normanton)
Will the hon. Member inform the House what these collieries are?
§ * MR. TOMLINSON
I cannot give the names of the collieries, but I know there are several of them. It happens that several of the collieries are in Lancashire. I speak from sufficient information to enable me to say that is the case in 487 many collieries. I say further that safety in the working of the mines depends upon care and attention and the avoiding of hurry. If you are going to say to a man that he must get through his work in a particular number of hours you may be certain that, human nature being what it is, there will be the greatest danger of scamping in the work. If the work is scamped, if there is carelessness, and if there is a restriction on the time allowed for putting in force the regulations which are necessary to secure safety, you must increase the danger in the collieries. Here let me say that there was one argument brought forward in past times in support of the Bill which seems to have disappeared altogether. It was suggested that accidents were caused by reason: of the men working at the collieries after they had spent the best of their strength, but the returns of the mining inspectors prove to us conclusively that that is not the fact, and that accidents occur most frequently in the early hours of working. I think no one will put forward that argument now. But remember this Bill includes all those men who are required to be there by the mining regulations in order to see that the work of the mine is safely carried on. By the Bill you are going to say to every man of that kind that he has to get through his work in a given number of hours. I ask whether anybody can say beforehand how long it will take for firemen and others in charge of the safety of the mine to get through their work. There is always an element of uncertainty as to when that work shall be done in order to make the mine safe. If you are going to say that they shall get through their work in a given number of hours, whatever the work is, then I say you must inevitably increase the danger. You must have the ventilation less perfectly looked after. All these matters which are incidental to mining work will be less completely carried out than they otherwise would be. If the employers have what I call the army of safety engaged for a fewer number of hours, that must affect the interests both of employers and workmen. Then, with regard to the public, if the output of fuel is decreased the price will be permanently 488 raised. It is admitted by the hon. Member who moved the Second Reading of the Bill that sixpence would be added to the price. I believe that sixpence is very short of the addition which would be required. Hon. Members who are to speak after me are better acquainted with this aspect of the question than I am, and they will give explanations. That increase would have an important effect on many of our industries. In consequence of the inevitable permanent increase in the price there would be greater difficulty than now in carrying on our industries, and in competing with our foreign rivals.
There is another reason for not pressing this Bill at the present time. Hon. Members are aware that the Government has recently appointed a Royal Commission for the purpose of inquiring into the coal industry, and one of the matters referred to the Commission is to inquire whether the mining industry of this country is maintaining its competitive power with the coal fields of other countries. Is it not right that before we put an additional difficulty in the way of carrying on our industry in this country we should wait for the Report of that Commission? These are the remarks I desire to make on the general principles. of the Bill. The framing of the Blll itself has been subjected to a good deal of criticism, and I think, therefore, it may be regarded as expressing the deliberate judgment of those who support it after they have given consideration to the difficulties put forward by those who are opposed to it. In the first place the Bill provides that—A person shall not, in any one day of twenty-four hours, be employed underground in any mine for a period exceeding eight hours from the time of his leaving the surface of the ground to the time of his ascent thereto, except in eases of breakage of machinery, explosions of fire-damp, or any accident causing the entire stoppage of the working of the mine.These words include everybody who has to go into the mine, and I presume if. His Majesty's inspector had duties which took him down a mine, and those duties were of a prolonged character, it would be illegal for him to stay down more than eight hours. At all events, that clause is universal in its application, and it would include a great. 489 many people who cannot be considered miners. This clause includes the manager, overlookers, and the whole staff of the mine. These men are responsible to Parliament for visiting the mine, and yet if you pass this Bill you will say that they are to be restricted in the hours they spend in the mine in order to make it safe for the men to perform their duties. Can anything be more absurd? There are also persons who hive to see that the machinery is in proper order. What happens if a pump breaks down? You have to send down men to put it right. It is a long business. Perhaps it would take ten hours to do it properly, but if they stop at the end of eight hours they must leave that pump unfinished until next day, This would probably interfere with the working of the mine. Whatever the intention of this provision, the effect of it would he to hamper every underground operation carried on.
§ MR. MARKHAM (Nottinghamshire, Mansfield)
What about the proviso in regard to repairs of machinery?
§ * MR. TOMLINSON
I am coming to that. I do not forget that Clause 2 is a little more limited in regard to repairs to machinery, because it exempts what are called the officials of the mine, under the Coal Mines Regulation Act. But we do not know who comes under that clause. The hon. Gentleman says that in cases of accident all this comes to an end. All I can say is that the clause is very ambiguous, for nobody can say what the consequences of an accident would he. The word "accident" seems to be in the minds of certain hon. Members opposite like "the blessed word Mesopotamia," and they say "We have exempted all cases of accident," but nobody knows what is going to happen in case of an accident. Nobody knows what is an accident, because there is no definition of an accident in the Bill. The manager takes the responsibility of deciding what is an accident, and he may allow the men to remain down in the pit. But the Miners Federation may take a different view, and say, "This is not an accident at all," and with their large funds at their back, they might take the manager to the House of Lords, and compel him to justify his pronouncement that it was an accident. 490 I do not know that I need go more into the details of this Bill, but I would ask this question of those who support it—Why do you restrict the hours of work to eight hours a day? Why not select for restriction the number of hours to be worked per week? I have never heard any sound reason for preferring a standard per day for one per week. Mr. Samuel Woods, who, I think, once had this Bill in charge, and who, at all events, strongly supported it, when he brought in the Bill dealing with the, hours of labour of bakers, proposed to restrict the hours which the members of that trade worked to so many hours, per week. Why should miners be restricted by the day, and bakers be restricted by the week? In conclusion, I submit that there is no call for this Bill; no adverse conditions which would justify the restriction of adult miners' hours of labour. If it were carried into effect there would be an increase of; danger to the workmen; there would be an unnecessary interference with the regular and constant supply of fuel to our great manufacturing industries; and in the name of all that is manly and free, I ask the House of Commons to reject this Bill. I beg to move, "That the Bill be read a second time this day six months."
§ *(1.20.) MR. JOHN WILSON (Durham, Mid)
In seconding the Amendment, I do not anticipate that the lion. Gentleman who has just sat down will expect me to endorse all he has said in the course of his speech. He has taken his own side of the question, but I rise, in association with my colleague, the hon. Member for Wansbeck, to oppose this Bill, as we have done before, believing that we are right and our object is to put the other side of the question in a more reasonable spirit than that presented-by the hon. Member for Preston. I do not think the hon. Gentleman would ask me to endorse his construction of the Bill, for I do not think that he has appreciated what the Bill really means. I do not think, for instance, that there could be any dispute as to, what is an accident. An accident is that which entirely stops the working of a pit; and there should be no dispute about that. 491 I was amused, if the hon. Gentleman will allow me to say so, as must also have been my working colleagues, when the hon. Gentleman drew a beautiful picture of the life of a miner who worked three or four days a week and had a holiday on the other three or four days. I was rather regretting that I had never been in such a colliery, and that I had never been placed in these circumstances. I very much fear that the hon. Gentleman has been drawing a picture of some Eden like that described in "Martin Chuzzlewit," but which is not borne out by the facts of everyday life. He is not unique in that. Other men, especially newspaper editors, have the same idea. I saw in a London newspaper the other day an article in which the editor set forth that the miners were making a guinea a day and worked only a few months in the year—say six months and then went the rest of the year holidaying. This newspaper editor—I believe it was that of the Globe—said that there were other miners who only made seven shillings a day, and that these only took three months holiday! Now, I have urged on the young men working in our mines that they should save their money in order to take a holiday, but when I go back to my constituency I shall ask these young men to send a deputation to this editor to ask.an explanation as to how they can secure.a three months holiday. I am sorry that the hon. Member who moved the Second Reading of this Bill is not in his place; but I am still more sorry that the hon. Member for Morpeth is not here. I think there is not an hon. Gentleman, on whatever side of the House he may sit, but must feel regret at his absence. He is not only an ornament to the class to which he belongs, but he has added dignity and great usefulness to all our discussions in this House. Although the hon. Member for Morpeth is not very strong in himself, I have always felt the stronger when lie was behind me, because I know that there is not a man in this House who has a greater regard for the proprieties of everyday life and of the respect due from man to man; and, whether angels from heaven or any other place would weep, he would take the action which his conscience dictated. 492 The hon. Member who moved the Second Reading of the Bill spoke in very pathetic tones, stating that he had been waiting for the golden opportunity which had now fallen into his hands. That wait has put him to a disadvantage, because all the arguments which can be used for or against this Bill have been brought forward in years gone by. Therefore he felt the necessity of going back to the arguments employed in the long-ago. I have not the slightest reproach to offer to the lion. Gentleman in that respect, for it clears the way for myself; if he used stereotyped arguments in support of the Bill, I may use also stereotyped arguments against it. The hon. Gentleman is not in his place now, but I shall try to show on what grounds I collide with him. He very properly spoke of the number of miners in the county from which he comes, and he felt himself as a representative of the miners in that district. Now, I represent one of the most congested districts in the North of England, from a population point of view. Well, if the hon. Gentleman speaks assuredly on his part, if he is right in asserting that his opinions are in harmony with the views of his constituents, I have as strong an assurance in my own mind that I am right in opposing him, and that I represent the views of my constituents.
The hon. Member divided the opponents of this Bill into three categories. The first was my two hon. colleagues and myself—the representatives of the mining interests in Durham and Northumberland. Now, I do not oppose this Bill in any captious spirit. I oppose it looking to the exigencies and conditions of the county from which I come, which I have worked in, and which I represent. I have tried, night after night, and day after day, to work out whether, if this Eight Hours Bill were passed, with a due regard to the safety of the workers in the mines, in which I myself have laboured, it would conduce to the interests of the workers, apart from that of the public. I am as desirous as anyone that miners should have short hours—that they should have only an eight hours day—but of this I am confident, and well grounded in my opinions, that if this Eight Hours Bill were passed tomorrow 493 and came into operation next year, it would mean a danger—I do not say to employers, though I have a due regard to the interests of the employers, for I do not think that the workmen now imagine that their interests collide with those of their employers, and I speak only from the workman's point of view—I say it would be a danger to the workmen. A man must live by bread, and he must get it out of his every-day earnings. There is no man in this House who has more regret than I have in his heart regarding the division of opinion on this question among Labour 'Members. I feel grieved in my mind that there cannot be a working together in concert and harmony. I believe my hon. friends who are promoting this Bill are promoting it because they believe that their districts will benefit by it. We oppose it because we believe there is danger in it. They have a right to their opinion, we have a right to ours, and if they insist on this measure being accepted by us, I regret it, because I think if it were not we could all work in harmony together and bring about. a good result. But if we are divided on this question, and words are said that should not be said, it will prevent our coming together as otherwise we should.
I regret another thing, which I think is a corollary from the proposition which we lay down. If this Bill is to be passed for humanity's sake, then why in the name of all that is reasonable was it not accepted in 1894? We are, in Northumberland and Durham, in favour of local option. Let those counties who show, by even a bare majority, that they want the Bill have it. If this Bill were desired for humanity's sake, it would have been better for the whole country to have taken it in 1894, but there were other reasons stated then. It was not then on account of humanity, but simply because those who introduced the Bill said these districts would be in a better position in relation to competition, because there would be uniformity. I am really surprised. I can understand hon. Gentlemen saying such timings when intoxicated with the exuberance of their own eloquence, but not in the calm moments of debate. Is 494 it possible for this House to form a set of conditions under which the large coal fields in the whole of the districts would work uniformly together, taking into consideration the different conditions, the varieties of coal, and the differences in strata which arise in the different districts? Nature herself is against such rigid uniformity; it is impossible. And the reason why this Bill was refused in 1894, and the reason why our friends did not take the local opinion was, as stated by Mr. Samuel Woods, because it would place the districts in unfair competition with each other. There was also another idea, which was this. It would have tested the desire of the men for the eight hours. There is a very wide difference between a negative and exclusive Bill, and a positive and inclusive Bill. In my opinion, all those who want this Bill in any county should have it. If our friends want to obtain the wishes of the men, let them pass a local option Bill, and then in every district where it was wanted, the men by a majority would vote themselves into it. We have been charged with being opponents of this Bill. My hon. friend the Member for Normanton not long ago said—His friends in Durham, according to their own showing, enjoyed about four hours more, leisure than the miners he represented.
§ * MR. JOHN WILSON
It is a report of a discussion that took place in this House that I am reading from.
§ MR. PICKARD
I think, Mr. Speaker, when any quotation is made, it should be made from the authorised version. There is Hansardhere, and that is the proper authority to quote. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member.
§ * MR. JOHN WILSON
Whether the hon. Gentleman is sorry or not I do not know, but he certainly said it; but I accept his apology. Now I want to draw attention to the Bill itself, winch I believe is unfair in its form. There are nine reasons given why this Bill should pass. I will not trouble the House with them all, but only one or two. One is with regard to arduous labour, and for affording men time 495 for recreation and mental improvement. Our friends say it will not reduce the output.
§ * MR. JOHN WILSON
There is nothing here about "eventually." The Federation said, "We say there will be no reduction in the output, but an in. crease."
§ * MR. JOHN WILSON
I accept the statement that this Bill was introduced because of the man's necessity for recreation and self - improvement. If that is the case, and there is to be no diminution of output, if he is to have two hours cut off his day's work, and is to crowd into the shorter time as much labour as he did in the longer period, is it possible for a man, even if he has the desire, to have the energy to take advantage of this opportunity for self-improvement? The very fact of asserting that the output will not be reduced, that the man will do as much in eight hours as he would in ten, and that he would then come home and improve himself, destroys that argument altogether. If a man has to crowd as much labour into eight hours as he would do in ten, all his energies are taken out of him, and be would have no desire or relish at the close of his day's labours for mental improvement. The Bill is unfair to labour itself; it gives eight hours to every one of the men—that is admitted. Now, my position is this: the men who work near the shaft in the fresh air should not have the same hours as those who work right in the pit in the vitiated and poisonous atmosphere at the face of the seam. We want an opportunity to fit in our arrangements with those of our employers, and my opinion is that the man who works at the face of the seam should have shorter hours than those who work near the shaft and in the waggon way.
The hon. Member for Mid Derbyshire, in introducing this Bill, spoke of the Federation representing five- 496 sixths of the miners of England. I dispute that entirely. I will read a letter from Mr. W. E. Harvey, of Derbyshire, one of the most prominent organisers of the Federation. He says—In this matter they had to meet not only the selfishness of employers, but of some men who had contracts in the pits, and who were even worse than the employers. They had men not only in Derbyshire but in other counties whose delight it seemed to be at work five long days a week, and then to have what was called a holiday on the last day of the week. They called it a holiday; he called it a system of robbery. Any man who worked those under him five long days and then did not let him work or pay him for the short day was as big a tyrant as the employer.The inference from that is that there is a large number of men in Derbyshire who are against this Bill, and want some other arrangement; some such arrangement as the hon. Member for Preston advocated—that they should work four or five days, and then go on a holiday for the week-end. Now let us see about this five-sixths. In my hand I have a table of figures giving the whole of the men in the Unions, and the whole of the men employed about the mines. The figures of the men in the Unions I took from the Government Return, and those working about the mines I took from the figures of the hon. Member for Normanton, and from those figures I find there are 247,167 men who have never been consulted on this Bill, for whom no one can speak with assurance, out of 619,000. So that the five-sixths that the Federation speaks for is reduced to about one half of the men who are employed in and about the mines in the Federation's area. The position we take up is that the hours are best shortened, and more safely shortened, by negotiations between the employers and the workmen, than by Act of Parliament. And I am confirmed in that view by reading a book entitled "Greater Britain," written by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean, in which he says—For many years the custom of Victoria has imposed with the force of the law the eight hours limitation upon the labour of artisans.…The usual working day in Queensland is eight hours, and Trade Unions enforce the limitation under penalties of their own.…The eight hour day is universal for artisans; but has not received legislative sanction.497 I give the right hon. Baronet credit for believing that if the Unions had been strong enough he would have liked to have seen it.
§ * MR. JOHN WILSON
But that is only as a day in a Parliament like this. The right hon. Gentleman was entirely in favour of our action. I have also the figures from a Government Department—the Labour Department—which show a gradual reduction of hours every year in this country and, therefore, I come to the conclusion that the tendency of the time and the tone and temper of the people are in favour of gradual arrangements being arrived at for a uniform eight hours day. I have had a great deal to do with negotiations between employers and workmen, and when go to negotiate with an employer, I look upon him a sa man like myself. I do not say "This is the thing that shall be, or shall not be." But it has been said that efforts have been made by the Federation to negotiate with the employers. It is not exactly in my mind what those negotiations were. I believe I am correct, but the hon. Member for Normanton can correct me if I am wrong, when I say that when he went to meet the owners, he said that what they wanted was that they should arrange an eight hours system that should be as binding as an Act of Parliament. But we differ there very much in our methods of negotiations. I should not go at all in that spirit, and I believe on that occasion the employers asked for a scheme by which they would have a uniform eight hours day.
§ MR. PICKARD
I cannot allow perverted statements like this to be made. We made an offer to the employers, and ever since 1891 we have endeavoured to negotiate with them.
§ * MR. JOHN WILSON
I think I may take to myself the credit that in the few remarks that I have made I have not said anything offensive. I try to discuss these things from my own point of view that negotiation between employers and 498 employed is the best plan. Since we last met in this House, we have been trying in Durham to shorten the hours of some of our boys, and we have shortened the hours of 1,000 boys day's work from ten to eight. I signed the agreement on the 27th of January with a Gentleman who was then in this House. A contract of that kind may not be heroic, but it is safe and sound.
§ * MR. JOHN WILSON
it may be that it is slow, but it is safe, and I have found from my experience that at times a slow process is not the worst in the end. The rapid growth of Jonah's gourd did not make it more useful. The workmen of this country have as great an interest in looking to the difficulties of their particular trade as the employers. Both recognise the difficulties that are to be met. We know the dangers and hardships of the mine, and bear in our bodies every day the marks of hard work, who are living examples, who have seen the inconvenience and the danger of these measures. Let me appeal to the employers and say it is all very well, and I thank you for the sentiment of humanity, the care, and the regard which you have for the class to which I belong; who work under dangerous conditions, whose trade is not safe; whose hours are so long—but I think it is political hypocrisy. If I were an employer, and voted for this Bill I would vote for an eight hours day for every industry. It is on self-reliance, on the great doctrine of self-independence, that we must rely. There is State interference in every step we take for the welfare of the country, and I have never disputed the right of the House of Commons to interfere with the hours of adult labour in certain trades, but I say we have the power of combination which other trades have not; let us put into operation the power that we have. We may be told that our forefathers appealed to this House, and so they did, but circumstances were different then; they had not the power of combination we now have, the laws were not equal. Workmen could not do then what employers could do with impunity. I have seen men, leaders on this question, 499 haled to prison, shackled and fettered like common criminals, because they dared to combine with their fellows.
As on former occasions, I have no hesitation as to the step I should take, but for pure love of the class to which I belong and the county in which I have the honour to live, I ask this House to give us the opportunity to work out our own salvation.
To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words 'upon this day six months.' "—(Mr. Tomlinson.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question." (2.2.)
§ (2.35.) MR. MARKHAM
supported the Bill. He recognised that there was a great deal to be said for the opposition they had heard, and that, looking to the interests involved, the effects of the measure would be far reaching. The labours of the greater part of last century in this House were in the direction of undoing what previous legislatures had done. Legislation formerly regulated both the hours of labour and the rates of wages. This proved injurious both to employers and employees. Dislocation of trade followed, and Parliament found it necessary, so far as possible, to leave trade unfettered, rather than to hamper it with rights and privileges, and to say what number of hours men should work. It was highly important, however, that Parliament should recognise that those trades which were dangerous or of an unhealthy character called for special legislation. That mining was a dangerous occupation no one could deny. This was proved by the insurance tables which had been in operation in connection with the Employers Accident Fund. The cost of insurance to trades generally was 5s. per cent., while for mining the rate was no less than 20s. per cent. It was proved by statistics supplied by His Majesty's Inspectors that the majority of accidents in mines occurred, as the opponents of the Bill said, not in the later but in the earlier part of the working hours. This House had accepted the principle of the Bill on several occasions by reason of the fact that mining was a calling entailing great physical exhaustion, and that an eight hours day was sufficiently long for a man to work in a mine. He 500 thought that anyone who had practical knowledge of coal-mining must admit that if a man was in or about a mine for eight hours a day he was working sufficiently long, and that a further period was not in the interest of trade generally. Of course, it be might argued that the rights of freedom, which ought to be enjoyed by each trade, were such that no State interference with the hours of labour should take place, but the whole tendency of modern thought, not only in this country but in the Colonies, was that, the hours of labour should be dealt with by legislation in such cases as milling and other dangerous occupations. The hon. Member who moved the rejection of the Bill stated that the miners were-not in favour of it because they did not gather on the pit banks and pass resolutions to that effect.
§ MR. TOMLINSON
said that what he stated was that there might be some resolutions passed at the pit bank, but that they did not represent the views of the whole of the men. Resolutions which were passed might represent the unanimous opinion of those who attended, but many of the men did not attend.
§ MR. MARKHAM
When men come out of the pit from their work, are they likely to gather together to pass resolutions? As a matter of fact, pit-head meetings are only attended by a few-score men. If the hon. Member had looked at the resolutions passed unanimously by lodges, instead of pit-head resolutions, he would have been in a better position to place the facts before the House. The hon. Member for Preston referred to Mr. B. Morris. That Gentleman, instead of being a miner, is a colliery official, but the hon. Member-did not tell the House that. He held. Mr. Morris up to the House as being a working miner.
§ MR. MARKHAM
said that Mr. Morris had always posed in The Times as a working miner, but he was not a working miner at all. As a matter of fact, a ballot had been taken, and by an overwhelming majority the men were in favour of this Bill. The lion. Member for Preston had argued that 501 if this Bill became law and the men demanded an increase of wages, there would be an increase in the price of coal of 20 per cent. That was put forward by the Coal Owners Association, but it was an entire misstatement. It might be that there were more men in and about the pit than the actual miners, but what they had to consider was that nearly two-thirds of the cost of the underground work was paid to the men who were "at the face." When the hon. Member referred to dead charges in the mine, such as the wages paid to odd men, he lost sight of the fact that the greater part of the money paid in the mines was paid to the men at the face and not to those on the roads. They had been told that there were men who liked to remain in the pit after the expiration of the regulation hours. One of the chief reasons for bringing forward this Bill was to stop overtime in mines. It was within his own knowledge and the knowledge of the miners' agents that, in consequence of the system which enabled them to stay for an additional number of hours, men were often detained in the pits no less than sixteen hours per day. If the hon. Member wanted confirmation of this, he could give him a collection of the names of the collieries where that took place. The names had been supplied to him by the Miners Association. Then they were told that the safety of the mines would be endangered by this Bill because the men would be careless. That was the argument which the hon. Member for Mid. Durham brought forward also.
§ MR. MARKHAM
said he did not think the hon. Member for Mid Durham would deny that his argument amounted to this, that if a man worked eight hours instead of ten he would crowd more work into the shorter hours, and would not, therefore, be so efficient as when he worked ten hours. One of the chief reasons for bringing this measure forward was that it would stop overtime. It was within his own knowledge that in every district of the country men were working an enormous 502 amount of overtime—as much as sixteen hours a day. The hon. Gentleman had said that the Inspectors' Reports showed that more accidents occurred during overtime than in the first part of the shift, but he went on to say that more 'accidents occurred in the fore part of the shift than in the latter. These were contradictory statements; and he found no reference in any Mines Reports which dealt with overtime. The hon. Gentleman said that the mining inspectors would not, under the Bill, be allowed underground for more than eight hours. But the Bill did not apply to officials, and even if that were so, no such Bill had ever gone through Committee without some alteration being made, and there must be some latitude for applying amendments.
Then, the Bill was held up to ridicule, because it was said that if a pump failed the men could not be detained in the mine. But the language of the Bill was specific that if an accident happened to any machinery in the mine the men were entitled to remain in the pit. The hon. Member took the further objection that if an accident did occur it would be necessary to take a case to the House of Lords to have it decided what was an accident; but surely if the Bill got into Committee the House was able to arrive at what was and what was not an accident. An article in The Times had been quoted to show the number of days worked in the pits, and the hon. Member supported The Times in saying that the pits did not work six days a week. Well, in his part of the world some pits only worked three days a fortnight in the summer time; and probably the average in the Midlands was two or three days a week. That broke down the hon. Gentleman's argument as to the number of days and the hours of work. The hon. Gentleman's average was therefore not a fair one. In his own County of Nottinghamshire the pits, according to the Mines' Report for 1900, worked 267 days in the year, while in Derbyshire the number of days was still higher. The hon. Member for Mid Durham said that in the cause of the humanity local option should be brought into effect, and that districts which wanted the Bill should have it, and 503 those districts which did not want the Bill should not have it thrust upon them; and he suggested that certain coal owners were guilty of political hypocrisy unless they put the principle of the Bill into operation in their pits instead of coming down to the House to advocate them. He was one of those who had carried this political hypocrisy into effect, and reduced cost by it. The argument was not worthy of consideration, for the reason that an employer could not generally put his pit on to eight hours whilst his neighbours were working longer hours. That was impossible without increasing costs by at least sixpence per ton. Coal owners were not philanthropists; they did not win the coal out of mere philanthropy, but for the sake of money as a pure business transaction. The hon. Member for Mid Durham went on to say that the Bill was not necessary, and he gave a case where one of his fellow workmen was so anxious for education that he worked long hours to obtain the needful money.
§ MR. MARKHAM
said it was a great pity that the hon. Member in making that statement did not say it referred to a case forty-five years ago, because it was evidently a misleading statement to be put forward at the present time. Then the hon. Member went on to say that 1,000 boys had, at last, received a reduction of working hours and an increase of wages. He was very glad that, after fifty years of agitation, the hon. Member and those whom he represented had at last been able to grant the boys a working day of ten hours in pits, where their own fathers and brothers were working seven hours per day from bank to bank. It could not reflect any great credit on those who represented the northern portion of the coal fields of the country that they allowed their boys over the age of thirteen to work ten hours a day, while they themselves only worked seven hours. He admitted that the boys had a play-day every other Saturday, but that did not affect the case. It might be said that when the boys became men they would get the 504 advantage, but that was not an argument which, he thought, would commend itself to the House. If legislation did not protect those of tender age, what was the good of it? He had always understood that hon. Members who advocated in this House the principles of trade unionism contended for equality between employer and employed, but the hon. Member now maintained that State interference was not necessary. If the hon. Member were to go to the Colonies, he would find that there was State interference in every industry.
§ MR. MARKHAM
said he had read "Greater Britain" many times, and approved of it, just as much as the hon. Member for Mid Durham; but the hon. Member, so far as he recollected, had not quoted the whole of the sentence in connection with the working of the mines at Newcastle, New South Wales. He had been down some of these pits at Newcastle, and knew the conditions prevailing in the mining industry in New South Wales, and if the hon. Member adopted the statement of the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean, in dealing with the miners of the Newcastle district of New South Wales, he must be aware of the enormous benefits which these miners had received from the passing of legislation by the Parliament of New South Wales. Even in the hon. Member's own part of the country, he was informed by Trades Union leaders that continual applications were being made to the Miners Federation from the hon. Member's own district. Was that statement true? [Mr. FENWICK: It is not true.] But the hon. Member for Mid Durham said it was true, and he was unable to choose between the two hon. Gentlemen. But it was an incontrovertible fact that when, in the federated districts and in Durham, a ballot was taken, it was found that there was a very large minority in favour of the Bill. Yet they were now told that Durham was unanimous in its opposition to the measure. That was not true, as there was a large minority in its favour, and his hon. friends thought that the rights. of minorities ought to be respected.
505 He would like to give some figures as to the actual cost of getting coal in the counties of England with which he was connected. That information had not previously been laid before the House by the coal owners, who had always concealed their profits, although he himself believed that good would be done by ventilating the question, and by letting the House of Commons know what were the actual working costs of every kind. If an average of years were taken, he believed that the majority of collieries in the country did not make 3d. per ton profit, and that even in good collieries the profit was not more than 9d. per ton. The opposition to the Bill was based on the ground that the country would have to pay an increased price for coal, and that everyone connected with the coal trade would become millionaires. There was no greater fallacy. There were mines in various parts of the country which, to his own knowledge, were losing money at the present prices of coal. He did not think that anyone would deny that. Therefore, it ought in fairness to be recognised that there were two sides to the question. The coal owners were met generally with hostility in this House because they were very unwise, in his opinion, two years ago, in putting on increase after increase, and shilling after shilling, to the price of coal. It was they who killed the coal trade of the country, not the mines, because after all was said and done the miners did not receive more than 8d. and 9d. per ton additional during those high prices. It was a very difficult and complicated matter to explain what the costs really meant, because they were made up in various collieries in different forms. He had not taken the best collieries, because that would not be a fair criterion; nor had he taken the worst collieries for that would also be misleading. He had endeavoured, to the best of his ability, to ascertain from collieries with which he was personally connected, and from friends connected with the coal trade, not the costs of individual collieries, but a very large number of collieries, and in some cases his figures were based on an average of twenty pits.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
I do not at present see what bearing the figures which the hon. Gentleman proposes to give can have on the question. The question before the House is a compulsory eight hours day for miners.
§ MR. MARKHAM
said the point he was endeavouring to make was that the cost was made up of various items, and that the effect of an eight hours day would only apply to certain of them; but if he were ruled out of order—
§ * MR. SPEAKER
I did not rule the hon. Gentleman out of order, but it appeared to me that he was rather entering on the general question of costs and profits, and I reminded him that his arguments must be made relevant to the Question proposed.
§ MR. MARKHAM
said he would endeavour to show what in actual practice the effect of the measure would be on the question of cost. In Yorkshire, the hours of labour were eight and a half. In every case he was taking the hours from bank to bank, because he thought the leaders of the movement ought to accept an amicable arrangement as to the lowering and raising of the men. He believed that if the House sent the Bill to a Committee some reasonable proposal carrying out the principle that men should not be in the mine more than eight hours would be accepted. He had, however, no authority for stating that, but he believed that what the miners actually required was an eight hours day in the mines, and not from bank to bank. In Yorkshire, the average cost of coal—he was not taking t he best or the worst pits—was from 6s. 6d. to 7s. per ton, of which probably from 1s. 6d. to 1s. 9d. was made up in royalties, timber, and other charges. If the eight hours day were brought to bear on that cost, it would not effect such charges as royalties, timber, or rails. In Derbyshire the hours underground were eight and threequarters, and the average cost was 6s. 6d. per ton. In Nottinghamshire the hours were nine, and the average cost 6s. 9d. per ton. In Warwickshire the hours varied from eight to nine, and the average cost varied considerably, but it was probably between 6s. 9d. and 7s. 507 In South Wales the hours of labour were ten, and the cost varied very considerably. It was impossible to fix any mean, but taking the coal through and through, small and large, the average was about from 7s. 6d. to 9s. In Durham, the hours were seven from bank to bank, the hours for boys from bank to bank being ten, and he had no knowledge of what the costs were in that county. In stating those figures he desired to explain that he did not wish to mislead the House into concluding that coal could be sold at a much lower price than at present. The amount of slack varied from 10 per cent. to 50 per cent., and hon. Members might not be aware that slack in Nottingham and Derby was worth only 6d. per ton. Then again, on an average, 5 per cent. of the total output was used in the colliery. He did not wish the House to run away with the idea that the costs he had mentioned were the prices of coal in the different districts. The amount of slack had to be deducted, inferior quality, colliery consumption, and free coal to the men had to be allowed for, which very materially altered the price of the coal. What he wished the House to realise was that if the Bill were brought into operation it would only affect the cost of labour. He had very carefully considered the matter, and had consulted many eminent mining engineers, and had arrived at the conclusion that the general estimate of increased cost as a result of the operation of the Bill would be approximately 6d. per ton; but he thought that everyone was agreed if there was increased production by reason of double shifts, that there would not be any appreciable increase in the cost of production. I le knew that the argument would be brought forward that there would be a sudden rise in the price of coal if they dislocated the whole trade of the country, and that they had only to look back to two years ago in order to appreciate the danger of that. But the high price of coal two years ago was occasioned in the summer months by a sensational London halfpenny paper. By reason of the sensational reports which were published as to what the price of coal would be in the winter months, poor people in London were actually storing coal away 508 under their beds. As a result of those sensational statements, made by a paper which was well known, the trade of the country was done in the summer months, and not in the winter months, and as a matter of fact many pits were working short time in the winter, although they had been working full time in the summer. That was a fact that could not be denied by anyone connected with the coal trade.
Of course, he knew very well that everyone who rose in this House to make any attack on what was called large vested interest was immediately put down as one doing his best to ruin the trade of the country. Only the previous night one of the largest employers of labour in the Midlands told him that he was doing his best to ruin the trade of the country, by not studying the interests of trade generally, and by placing burdens on the industries of the country. As a matter of fact, the total burdens placed on the coal industry did not amount to one half-penny per ton, and it could not be said that the burdens on the coal trade were greater than it could bear. No doubt the hon. Gentleman made that statement believing it to be accurate, but that only showed how misleading it was to rely on figures put before one. The House should, therefore, consider and remember that when the coal owners had come forward and preached as to this horrible burden they were going to bear, as a matter of fact, the total burden placed on the industry was only one halfpenny a ton.
He had not the time to continue what was, after all, a most complicated and difficult question. It had been approached in this House on many occasions wholly and solely from a political interest, and not from the interest of the coal trade or the far greater interests of the manufacturing industries of the country. If he thought this Bill was going, if passed, to permanently raise the price of coal and put a tax on the industries of the country, and impair and injure the trade of the country, he would not vote for it or speak for it in this House, but he believed that when the conditions of the mines were altered and proper facilities were given for dealing with the coal in the increased quantity that would be got under this Bill, it would be found, not only that the cost was not increased, but 509 as a matter of practice that when more was got out of the pits the Bill would tend to satisfy the reasonable demands put forward by the miners that they should not work more than eight hours a day. He had a confident belief that this House, although they might not pass this Bill, would remember that those who advocated this measure had a double object to serve—the object of those they represented and also the object of not placing any grave restriction on trade which would be likely to injure the manufacturing interests of this country.
§ *(3.18.) MR HARRIS (Tynemouth)
My only excuse for taking part in this debate on the condition of labour of a great trade like the coal trade, in which I am neither interested as an employer nor a delegate of the employed, is the fact that I represent a Northumberland constituency whose welfare is largely dependent on that trade, and because the miners and pitmen of that county and of the neighbouring county of Durham have, over and over again, opposed this Bill in this House as a measure likely to prejudice their interests and the colliery owners' welfare, and I take this opportunity of opposing this measure because in a trade of this great importance, on which is dependent every industry that this country possesses, I think that any Bill which has for its object a reduction of the hours of labour and which must have as its inevitable result an increase of price and a shortage of the out-put of the commodity should be approached with the greatest caution and circumspection. If it is expedient for us to interfere with the freedom of contract between employer and employed, and to say to the one "You shall only purchase," and to the other "You shall only sell a given amount of labour in twenty-four hours," I hold that we are only entitled to do so if it can be shown that the present conditions of that particular trade are dangerous or injurious to the health or the moral welfare of those concerned, but if it can be shown that that is not the case, but that this most important industry is likely to suffer, and that the manufactures and commerce throughout the country are likely to be injuriously affected by the Bill, then I trust the House will not allow sentiment to over-ride common sense, but that it will reject this measure 510 as one likely to prove most dangerous and injurious to our trade and prosperity. I do not exaggerate when I say that the trade and prosperity of this country are due to the great coal field we are happy to possess. Professor Jevons in a well-known work wrote as follows—Coal, in truth, stands not beside but entirely above all our other commodities. It is the material energy of the country, the universal aid, the factor in everything we do; with coal almost any feat is possible or easy, without we are thrown back into the laborious poverty of early times.And he goes on to say that without coal we would only be a pastoral country, without manufactures, or with only sufficient for our demands, and that we should be unable to withstand the competition of the other coal producing countries of the world. So intimately is the coal trade associated with other industries that the harm that will be done to it is only a tithe of that which will be suffered by the others. Not only will the 750,000 people employed in the coal trade be affected by this Bill, but the economic change which this Bill will produce must be felt by all manufacturers and the millions of people employed by them throughout the country. When it is remembered that £120,000,000 of coal is extracted from our mines every year, it is superfluous to enlarge upon the important issues likely to be raised by this measure, but there is one special trade I should like to call attention to, and that is our Mercantile Marine. The Mercantile Marine has to face in the future the State aided and subsidised competition of the United States and of other nations. Now, a large proportion of the working cost of our steamers is their coal bills, and I recently worked out some figures which astonished me, and which, I think, will interest the House. Taking the consumption of the most economical of our modern steamers, I found that one ton of coal will transport one ton of merchandise 50,000 or 60,000 miles, and consequently one penny-worth of coal will carry a ton of goods from one place to another 300 miles apart. I give those figures to show how this great industry of the Mercantile Marine will suffer from such a rise in the price of coal as has been predicted by the hon. Member who has just sat down.
511 I also desire to call the attention of the House to the increasing advantages our competitors in the United States are obtaining from the diminishing price of coal in their country as against our manufacturers with the increasing price in this. In 1888 the average price of coat at the pit's mouth in this country was 5s. 0¾d. perton; in the United States it was 6s.; ten years after our price had increased 30 per cent., whilst that of the United States had decreased 25 per cent., and today our competitors in America are able to obtain coal at almost half the price that we have to pay. Those who have read the Consular Reports from our Consuls in the United States will notice that everyone predicts that we shall in the future have to face the strongest competition from manufacturers on the other side of the Atlantic. The competition of the past will be nothing to the competition we shall have to face in the future. Are we so sanguine of victory in the industrial war before us that we can consider with equanimity today a measure which will so excessively increase the price of coal in this country, and that at a time when every shilling of expense has to be considered in keeping a business going or closing it, and when a shilling or even sixpence a ton in the price of coal turns the balance one way or the other. I do not pretend to give any estimate of what the increase in the price of coal is likely to be if this Bill becomes law, and which could only be theoretical and misleading, but taking the figures of the hon. Member who has just sat down, and the hon. Member for West Nottingham, who introduced this Bill for Second Reading last session, I would point out to the House that even an increase of 6d. per ton which they have given means a tax on the manufacturers of this country of between £5,000,000 and £6,000,000 per annum. This Bill has been opposed over and over again by the miners and mine owners of Durham and Northumberland. The seams in those two counties are worked under the system known as the double shift system. It is the natural outcome and development of many years, and is found to be the most economical and best suited to the coal measures which exist in these counties. In laying out the mines and 512 in equipping them for winding coal this system has always been kept in view. If this Bill passes, all these arrangements will have to be reconsidered, and that will entail an enormous cost to the colliery proprietors, with the inevitable result that the price of coal will be raised and the production diminished.
We are told that this may be avoided by increasing the number of boys at work in the mines. That increase must amount to between 50 and 75 per cent. to be of any economic use. But I would venture to point out the great difficulty of obtaining boys, and that the labour of men can be far more easily obtained than that of boys. A man can move from one district to another; he can take his family to whatever part offers the most suitable employment. A boy who lives at home cannot be transferred in this way unless employment is also found for his father, or for the person with whom he lives. Then at the present time, in the big manufactories and shipyards on the Tyneside, boy labour is every day becoming more scarce and valuable. Day by day labour-saving machinery which can be looked after by a boy is replacing the older-fashioned methods which required the attention of skilled men. This will be more than ever the case in the future in this particular district, and, in fact, throughout the country. Therefore, the extra labour that the collieries in Northumberland and Durham may need, as regards boys, will have to be obtained from the large towns and manufacturing districts, to the detriment of the trades that already exist in those districts. If those who have spoken in favour of the Bill could show that the conditions of labour are unhealthy to those employed in the collieries—that the boys grow up unfitted for the hardships of life—I would only too readily and heartily support any measure for the amelioration of their condition. But the statistics of the coal trade show that that is not the case. The greatest argument in this respect is that the colliers of these counties have opposed and are opposing this Bill most strenuously and vigorously. These men know the exact conditions under which the boys work; they have worked under similar or severer conditions themselves, and no one can suppose that they 513 are so indifferent or so hard-hearted that they would oppose the Bill if under existing conditions their children were engaged in work that was detrimental to their health or would handicap them in the future.
In conclusion, I hope the House will not be carried away by picturesque descriptions of the hardships which miners have to undergo. The statistics of the country show that the miner's life is not an unhealthy one. It is far more healthy than the average life of the British workman. But if this Bill becomes law, not only will this great trade—the greatest trade we have in this country—suffer, but every branch of our industries must inevitably be affected by the consequences, and this at a time when we have before us a struggle against our industrial competitors in other countries to retain for ourselves those markets in the world which are a tribute to our industry and our enterprise.
§ *(3.36.) MR. WILLIAM ABRAHAM (Glamorganshire, Rhondda)
The House will undoubtedly agree with me in saying how glad we are to receive the able address of our esteemed colleague on the other side. But I regret that his ability should have been devoted to building up a structure on so many false bases. We are told that if this Bill passes it will destroy freedom of contract between employer and employed. Where and how? Where is the freedom of contract now that can be destroyed by this Bill? Does not the employer settle the time we are to descend into the pits and the time we are to come up from the pits? We have no freedom of contract as far as that goes. The employer will not employ one single man more than he wants, and whatever decision he gives as to conditions of labour will be carried into effect. There can be no freedom of contract where one side have the monopoly of work to give, and the living of the other must depend upon whether or not they can get the work to do. There is no more freedom of contract than if you were to take a man out to mid-sea, put him on a plank, and say, "You are free, walk home."
Then we are told that the coal trade will suffer. It does puzzle one to find Gentlemen seriously putting forward the state- 514 ment that the coal trade will suffer because of the extent to which the price of coal may be enhanced by the passing of this Bill. The hon. Member for the Mansfield Division put it down at 6d. per ton. We all remember this argument being put before the House on a number of occasions. In regard to South Wales, we were definitely told that it could be easily proved that the Compensation Act would cost 3d. per ton. Up to the present it has not cost ¾d. I predict that the result will be much the same with regard to this 6d. per ton. What puzzles me is this, that Gentlemen come down here and speak against a movement which has a tendency to increase the safety of life and limb. Some of my friends may differ from me, because their experience is different; I allow them to have the freedom of their opinion. But I believe, and I think I shall be able to prove, that this measure, so far as South Wales is concerned, would be the means of giving us further safety of life and limb. The very Gentlemen who oppose this 6d. per ton being involved by safeguarding life will vote money by the million to destroy life in other parts of the world. No matter, then, if the price of coal is enhanced by 10s. or 30s. per ton. It is time we had a little more consideration of these matters.
Then I am glad to have this opportunity to say a word on the question of competition. It is high time we should define what is meant by "coal." Indeed it would be worth while informing the House that there are different qualities of coal. Not long ago everything black that could be dug from the earth would have been considered to be coal. Then there is the coal from other parts of the world. We have all heard of American coal. I saw it at work not long ago. I had the pleasure and the displeasure of coming home from America in an English boat, owned by a Welshman. If hon. Gentlemen did not know me they would not believe what I am going to say, but they know I always make an effort to state the truth. I saw the coal in use, and the fires had to be cleared out with twelve inches of clinker after every twelve hours. You call that coal! My hon. friend looks surprised, but I could name the ship and the captain. The men were anxious to get home by 515 New Year's eve, and we could not understand what was the matter, but we had been on board only two or three days when we heard what was the matter: it was that coal from Nova Scotland and Cape Breton. I give you my word of honour, I went down and saw the men working, and there was an average of an inch of clinker collecting on the bars every hour. There was a paragraph in the Daily Mail stating that at Copenhagen coal was being sold to the shipowners at 8s. 6d. a ton. I wonder what the hon. Member for Northumberland thinks of that.
§ * MR. WILLIAM ABRAHAM
I have seen them producing coal in America, and at the pit mouth of thirty collieries not one of them produced more than 15 per cent. of large coal. I think we ought to be better informed before we believe in this bogey of foreign competition. Two or three hon. Members have been speaking about the healthy occupation of a collier, and from some of the statements made, one would think that there were roses growing down there and that there were recreation grounds in collieries. I wonder some hon. Members do not try their hands at it and then they would see what kind of recreation it is. Nothing troubles me so much as the fact that the Member for Mid Durham and myself have to cross swords upon a question like this, but those who oppose this Bill have the interest of the miners in their own constituencies at heart and so have we. However, when hon. Gentlemen get up to speak I should like them to be a little more careful in their facts. I do not think the hon. Member could have been hinting at me when he spoke of agitators, because I have always been a peaceful agitator. I never went to an employer to ask for a thing with my demand in one hand and a pistol in the other. The Member for Preston invited us to throw down the sword.
§ * MR. WILLIAM ABRAHAM
Then I will give the hon. Member the credit for saying that which he did not intend to say. The hon. Member told us distinctly that we could get all we wanted from the employers by organisation if we only demanded it. I may say that we have tried all ways. We have tried locally and generally, and still the answer has always been the same. What are we to do? If you throw this Bill out does that mean that we shall have to fight the employers? There is another side to the argument. South Wales is mentioned very often by a good many people and they profess to know a good deal about it. They say that the number of hours worked in South Wales is fifty-four, but they never think that we are winding fifty-four hours. The passing of this Bill will reduce the number of hours by two per day. It is said that it takes forty minutes for the men to go in and out of the mine, and that the men are allowed forty minutes for food. I wish that I had been a collier when they allowed forty minutes for food. The extreme way which hon. Members have of putting these cases is very unfair, because there are two sides to the argument. If it is true that the operation of this Bill will reduce the number of hours by twelve, the miners must now be working sixty-six hours a week. That is equally as true as the other argument, but the fact is that neither of these arguments are true. It is the exaggeration indulged in upon this question that I regret. The hon. Member opposite said that the passing of this Bill would create a deadly danger, but he subsequently withdrew the word "deadly." Look at the collieries in my district. Take the two collieries where we had the last two explosions. Let us take the facts and look them in the face. In this case they were working ten hours because the employer years ago decided to do so. There is no shot firing during the ten hours, and I s ay that ten hours is too much for any man to be in a mine. The shots are prepared when the men leave the colliery, and they travel through ankle deep of small fine coal which creates clouds of dust, and then the shot-firing is allowed to 517 take place. If you do reduce the hours you should make it compulsory that there shall be no shot-firing for two hours after the men are out of the mine, for it is not safe as it is done now. In the South Wales coal-field it is essential to have this Bill, and if my hon. friend the Member for Mid. Durham can do without it in his district, then let him help us to get it. My hon. friend tells us that this Bill will be deterimental to the miners at large.
§ * MR. WILLIAM ABRAHAM
I know thatA man convinced against his willIs of the same opinion still.I appeal on behalf of the most dangerous coal fields in Great Britain to hon. Members to help us by supporting this Bill.
§ * (4.0.) MR. FENWICK (Northumberland, Wansbeck)
I intend to confine my observations upon this Bill to as brief a space as possible. The hon. Member for the Mansfield Division has told us that the object which he and other hon. Members who are supporting this Bill have in view, is the interest of those they represent. We oppose this Bill on precisely the same grounds. My hon. friend who introduced the Bill this afternoon spoke of his title to introduce such a Bill as this. He told us that he owed his return to this House to the mining vote in his constituency. Well, I think I can show as good a credential as my hon. friend in the opposition I have to give to this Bill. I owe my election to the vote of the miners in my constituency, and they constitute about five-sixths of the electors. My majority in the five contested elections which I have now gone through has, I should say, in any one been equal to the majority by which my hon. friend has been supported. I hope his majority will never be less—so that my credential to speak in opposition to this Bill is equal to that of my hon. friend. I think it is essential that I should make that observation this afternoon. 518 Indeed, it is essential in the interest of those whom I represent, and in justice to myself, that I should here proclaim that my opposition to this Bill is not a factious opposition, that it is not based on any ground of sentimentalism, and that I honestly represent the views of those whom I am sent here to represent. I am speaking within the recollection of gentlemen who were present when this subject was debated last year.
I am glad now to find my hon. friend the junior Member for Merthyr Tydvil in his place. It will be in the recollection of hon. Members that in criticising the views I put before the House in opposition to this Bill, he stated—If the angels in heaven do weep, it must be when a representative of working men, paid by workmen to come to this House to protect the interests of workmen, draws forth the enthusiastic cheers of employers of labour, in opposing a measure which is introduced for the benefit of working men.I have never been disposed to conceal the fact—indeed I am rather proud of it—that I am paid by the men who sent me here to represent their interests. I feel no disgrace in making that admission, but I should like to put this question distinctly to my hon. friend. Does he suggest that the views I expressed last year in opposition to this Bill are contrary to the views held by the majority of the men whom I have the honour to represent in this House? I venture to say that he will not accept that challenge. I am certain that he will not say that I misrepresented the views of my constituents in this respect. Then what becomes of the offensive charge that is implied in the statement he made that I am paid to represent interests which, when I am here, I deliberately speak against, amid the enthusiastic cheers of employers of labour? Does he suggest that I, or any one who is sent here by a working class constituency as a representative of labour, ought not to speak the truth as we apprehend it for fear the speaking of that truth in the ears of employers of labour should elicit their hearty and enthusiastic cheers? I am sure he does not. I have no doubt spoken with some warmth on this subject, but I feel that I am justified by the facts of the case. No man can 519 be long in public life before he realises that it is a very easy thing to point an argument with an offensive insinuation, and I fear that it is equally true that for some minds there can be found no more congenial occupation. But I have always held, and still hold, that a cause which requires to be bolstered up by personalities and offensive insinuations, such as that which was levelled against me on a former occasion by the junior Member for Merthyr Tydvil, only shows how hollow and indefensible their position is.
My hon. friend who introduced the Bill told us that the opposition of Northumberland was a curious opposition, because he says there is a large minority in the two northern counties in favour of the Bill. But is it not equally true that in the districts that favour this Bill you have also a large minority against it? The hon. Member for the Mansfield Division of Nottinghamshire spoke of the absurdity of taking the opinion of miners by what he called pit head meetings. But is it not almost universally true—I will not say it is universally true—that the ballots which have been taken in the Federation districts have not been secret ballots, such as we take in Northumberland and Durham, but that the vote has been by means of open pit head meetings? What we have done we are not afraid to proclaim on the housetops. We have recognised that there might be a feeling in the two northern counties in favour of such a change as is proposed in this Bill, and we have taken every care to give the members of our societies perfect freedom in declaring whether they were for or against it, and we have provided a secret system of ballot similar to that which is used in Parliamentary elections. Let that be done in all the federation districts so that the men may be perfectly free from every influence whatever, and then we will be able to accept the genuineness of the ballot spoken of, but I fear not until then.
My hon. friend in charge of the Bill said nothing to-day of the practical difficulties that lie in the way of a proposal such as this. He never attempted to discuss the practical difficulties. I do not myself intend to go into the cost that would be 520 involved in the working of this proposal if it became law, nor do I intend to follow my hon. friend the Member for the Mansfield Division into the profits made by coal-owners. I admit at once that he is in a better position to speak of these things than I am. I am not a coal-owner, and I know nothing at all of the cost of production, or the profits the coal-owners are making, but I do know something of the practical difficulties with which we would be confronted in Northumberland if this Bill were to become law. It has been said very truly by gentlemen who support this Bill that any one who is well acquainted with pit work and pit life knows that it differs in its essentials from other employments and any other kind of life. There is no industry that you could select where you have such an endless variety as you have in the mining industry, and yet it is in this industry that you propose to introduce uniformity of action—a uniformity of action which has never yet been proposed for any other single industry in the whole of the United Kingdom. There are Gentlemen in this House this afternoon, themselves employers of labour, who will go into the Lobby in support of the Second Reading of this Bill, but if you were to propose seriously to apply this principle to the industry in which they are directly concerned, they would be the very first to describe it as tyranny on the part of the House of Commons to fix and to saddle them down with such restrictive proposals. Take the industry of engineering, shipbuilding, or boiler and machine construction, and there I could understand the plea for the uniformity of an eight hours day which is being put forward by the supporters of the Bill. There all your methods of production, and all the principles on which you proceed, are practically uniform in their character, but here where you have great variety in the formation of seams, and such like, you would attempt to apply this experimental legislation. Where you have a simple industry and not a complex one, such as you have in mining, you would not attempt to apply this principle.
Let it be admitted at once, as I have in all these debates frankly admitted, that our chief difficulty in the north of England is that 521 which arises from the employment of boy labour. What are the difficulties we are surrounded with? It was stated this afternoon very fairly and frankly by the hon. Member for the Mansfield Division that the double shift system, while reducing the hours of the work people, has also reduced the cost of production. But that is what I should expect to find. The double shift method of producing coal is the most economical that has ever yet been tried in this country. I am not at all surprised that by adopting the double shift method the hon. Gentleman has succeeded in reducing the cost of production; but I must say that if the coal-owners in South Wales enforced the method of double shifts they would find a considerable resistance to it, as my hon. friend the Member for Rhondda Valley could tell us. We have found from experience that it is the most economical method that can be adopted, and our collieries have been worked on that principle for generations, and the relays of coal hewers are served by one shift of boys. The mine owners and the representatives of the miners in Northumberland and Durham have carefully considered this question, with a strong desire to fall into line with my hon. friend. We have considered every alternative open to us. These were three in number. We had either to abandon the double shift system—the working of which, let the House bear in mind, is the most economical method ever introduced—and take a method which is less economical than the one we are now pursuing. But the adoption of such a system would involve the dismissal of a considerable portion of the men now employed in getting coal. Or we might continue the double shift system if we can get the boys necessary in order to carry it on under an eight hours day. Now, we contend, and I think rightly, that it would be impossible for us to get the boys. My hon. friend the Member for the Forest of Dean, on a former occasion, when we were discussing this subject, misrepresented—not intentionally—something I said in our conference on this question. He alleged that I had said that the adoption of the single shift would lead to the dismissal of a number of boys, and that the hon. 522 baronet the Member for Chester-le-Street took the opposite view. The reverse was the case. What I said was—and here I think the hon. baronet confounded my words, used in reference to another Bill which comes up for consideration next Wednesday, and my position in regard to the Bill now under discussion—that we would have the greatest difficulty in getting the necessary number ber of boys. That is the opinion of every man who has considered this matter in the North of England. Let the House understand we have a full complement of hewers, every place is filled; we want no more. But if this Bill were adopted, we should want fresh relays of boys, and no parent, for the purpose of getting employment for his boys, would go into a district where he could not get employment for himself. And so I maintain that the practical difficulties with which we are confronted are insurmountable. Not a single Member who supports this Bill has devoted a moment to these practical considerations. The hon. Member for Mid. Derbyshire said that it surely could not pass the skill of man to devise some workable scheme; all I can say is that it passes our skill. If either the hon. Member for Mid. Derbyshire or the right hon. baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean will present such a workable scheme to us, I am certain that they will earn the eternal gratitude not only of those of us who have the honour to speak on behalf of the miners, but also of all the miners in the North of England. The hon. Member for Mid. Derby said that the great difficulty was the boys, and if that difficulty could be solved we might all come into line with the supporters of the Bill. But neither the hon. Member nor any other supporter of this Bill has ever ventured to suggest a solution of that difficulty.
§ * SIR CHARLES DILKE
What is the difference in the position now as compared with a few years ago, when the hon. Member voted for a Bill for shortening the hours of labour for boys?
§ * MR. FENWICK
All I can say is, that to the best of my recollection that is not so; but I accept my right hon. friend's statement until such time as I have had an opportunity of verifying it. As my hon. friend the Member for Rhondda would say, I accept the right hon. Baronet's statement, although I still hold to my own opinion. There is another difficulty which we have to face, and which is of a somewhat different character because it is economic. It will not be contended that Northumberland competes with any district in England which would be affected by the provisions of this Bill, if it were to become an Act of Parliament. The only district with which we have effective competition is that of Fife and Clackmannan in Scotland. In Yorkshire, Lancashire, and Nottinghamshire, there is a margin on the average realised selling price of coal of from 10d. to 1s. per ton; whereas the margin between the average realised price of coal in the Fife and Clackmannan district and the Northumberland is only 1d. and sometimes only ½d. per ton. The closeness of the realised price in the two districts is the clearest indication you can have of the keenness of the competition between them. Fife and Clackmannan would not be affected by this Bill, because for twenty-two years they have worked on the principle of eight hours a day; whereas, if the Bill passed and the cost of production in Northumberland was increased only by 1d. per ton, that would be sufficient to change the commercial balance between the one district and the other. And I take it that this House has no right to pass legislation, the effect of which would be to transfer a commercial advantage from one district to another. I sincerely hope that this House will not be induced to pass such legislation, but if it does I trust that in Committee, the same justice will be granted to us as was granted in 1894 by accepting a local option clause. The House may pass the Second Reading of this Bill, which it has a perfect right to do, but I ask hon. Members, as reasonable and intelligent men, to pause before they inflict—as undoubtedly they would 524 inflict upon Northumberland and Durham—a much greater hardship than this Bill proposes to remedy.
§ *(4.30.) MR. KEIR HARDIE (Merthyr Tydvil)
In the course of this discussion, not a single new argument has been brought forward, either for or against the Bill. I do not want to indulge in a personal quarrel with the hon. Member for Wansbeck, and I regret to find that a chance remark made in the heat of debate a year ago should still be rankling in his mind. I may say that my remarks did not apply to his opposition to this Bill, the grounds for which I know and understand, but were directed to the arguments he brought forward in support of his opposition to the Bill—arguments which cannot be substantiated. There are three main lines of objection taken to the Bill. First of all, that t would restrict the output, and so increase the price of coal, and thereby burden industry; second, that it would increase the accident and death-rate in connection with the getting of coal; and third, that there is such a variety of conditions in connection with coal winning—thick seams and thin seams, deep pits and shallow pits, that you cannot apply a sort of cast-iron regulation to all these varying conditions. I will take the last point first. It is perfectly true that you cannot apply cast-iron regulations to all those various conditions; but no one in his senses proposes to apply east-iron regulations. What this Bill proposes is, that no matter what the conditions may be, eight hours should be the maximum that a work-man should be allowed to be employed underground. Make the number of hours as much less as you please; take all the elasticity you want; but this Bill says, you shall not be allowed to go beyond these hours. I ask the two hon. Members from the North of England who are opposing this Bill, whether or not that is the principle on which their own counties are worked. I understand that in Durham the number of hours worked is the lowest in Great Britain—some seven hours per day from bank to bank being the average—and that in Northumberland about seven and a half hours is the average. In 525 those two counties every variety of condition obtains which can be found in the whole coal field of Great Britain, and yet the Union has prescribed a hard and fast rule that seven hours in the one case and seven and a half hours in the other shall be the maximum that men should continue to work in the pits. If that be so, and no harm accrues from it, why not apply it over the whole coal field area. As to the argument of the hon. Member who has just sat down about these varying conditions, and about the simplicity of other occupations, the hon. Member for Battersea reminded me when the hon. Gentleman was speaking, that the conditions are a hundred times more varied in Woolwich Arsenal than in the whole coal field of Great Britain. [An Hon. Member laughed.] My hon. friend laughs. I have worked in the pits as he has, and and I have seen Woolwich Arsenal as, perhaps, he has not. My statement is that the eight hours day does not interfere with the work at Woolwich Arsenal.
Now I come to the restriction of output. I would not object if this Bill did restrict output. I advocate regulation of output as a means of keeping up wages; and in so doing I am following the example of manufacturers in this country. No manufacturer in his senses would go on turning out goods for which there was no market. He knows that the result of over-production would be reduction of price, and loss of profit. If that is conceded to the manufacturer, why is it denied to the collier? He has the same right to regulate the value of his labour by regulating his output. But this Bill, I submit, will in no way whatever reduce output. I have said before, and I repeat it here today, that in the coal industry, as in every other industry, output increases as the hours of work decrease. I will endeavour to prove my statement by facts and figures—not theories and opinions—taken from the annual returns for the year 1899–1900, submitted to the Home Office by the various inspectors of factories. In Durham the hours worked were the shortest in Great Britain. The average output for persons employed in the mines in Durham was 419 tons per man per 526 annum. In Northumberland, where men work for half an hour longer, and where the seams, I understand, are practically identical, the output was only 364 tons per annum. If we take Yorkshire, where men work longer hours than they do in Durham and Northumberland, the output for persons employed in the mines is only 368 tons per annum. Come to Scotland for a further illustration. In the East of Scotland, in Fife, Clackmanan and the Lothians, the miners have been working eight hour shifts, and the output per person employed in the mines is 465 tons per annum. In the West of Scotland, where longer hours are worked and where the seams are thick and more easily worked than in the East the output is only 421 tons per annum; that is to say that every collier in the East of Scotland working eight hours a day produces, on an average, 44 tons per year more than his fellow collier in the West of Scotland who works longer hours. I hope these figures will go some way towards showing that reduction in the hours of labour does not necessarily mean a reduction of the output.
I pass to other arguments. Take the argument that the death-rate from accidents would be increased by this reduction of the hours of labour. Hon. Members opposite speak of the mines as being places of safety and health, and, in fact, pleasure grounds. Members who speak in this strain are quoting the figures from the Return of the Registrar General, and to that extent they are doubtless correct. But, in judging the effect of these figures, one requires to understand the circumstances out of which they arise. In our colliery districts, when a man becomes weak in the chest through working in the pits, when his health becomes debilitated, he seeks and finds employment where he is able to be in the fresh air, and if he does die from consumption or from "collier's lung" or any other chest disease, he dies away from the colliery, and is not classed as a collier at the time of his death. Now I come to accidents, and here, again, it is proved conclusively, so far as anything can be proved by figures—they are not always reliable—that the short working day gives the greatest safety to the person employed. Take for example the North of England, where the short working day 527 obtains. [Mr. J. WILSON: They are careful men.] As the hon. Member for Mid. Durham says, they are careful men, but that is the outcome of the short working day. We want the same system and the same result elsewhere. In the North of England, the accident rate per thousand persons employed is 1.8. In South Wales, where there is a longer working day, the accident rate is 1.847, and in Scotland it is 1.42. That, again, shows that in the matter of safety the shorter the working day the better the chance of escaping accidents; and, as I endeavoured to point out in this debate last year, the reason is plain and appears on the surface. Working long irksome hours in a pit engenders a feeling of lassitude, indifference, and carelessness, which makes a man less ready to detect possible sources of danger, whereas a man working a short active day with all his faculties alert, is much more likely to avoid danger and to take precautions against it than the other man.
With regard to the last argument with which I will deal—the increased cost—it has not been shown that in districts where the eight hours day obtains it costs more to produce coal than in districts where longer hours are worked. I would remind the House that in spite, of al the burdens which it has imposed on the coal industry, and in spite of the terrific burden which our system of mineral royalties imposes on coal, our working collier is still the cheapest in Europe, and our selling-price of coal is the lowest of any country in Europe. We have to go to America where prices are very much cheaper, to find lower prices, but so far as Europe is concerned, our country is still the cheapest. The average selling-price last year was 7s. 7d. per ton in Great Britain; in Germany it was 7s. 9½d; in France 9s. 11¾d., and in Belgium 9s. Therefore the British coalmaster has the advantage of 2d. per ton over the competitor nearest to him, and 2s. 4d. per ton over the Belgium coalmaster. It lies ill on the lips of colliery owners to come to this House, and seek to create a feeling of fear that this Bill is going to injure industry, because it may slightly increase the cost of production. It will be well within the recollection of the House, 528 that the Chancellor of the Exchequer twelve months ago proved to demonstration that these same colliery owners had pocketed £34,000,000 sterling over and above their legitimate profits; and that they had imposed a burden, not of 2d. or 3d. per ton, but of from 3s. to 5s. per ton. If men act in that fashion for their own selfish aggrandisement, surely the argument about increasing the cost of production 2d. or 3d. per ton, in order to obtain a public advantage, will not carry much weight with the public outside this House. One word in regard to the North of England difficulty. I submit that this is not the stage at which to argue it. This is the Second Reading stage. In Committee is the time and place to discuss the application of the measure to the varying conditions of the country, and if it can be shown that a uniform application of the Bill is impossible, or that it would inflict permanent injury on any section of the coal field, I am quite certain that the Federation—for whom I do not pretend to speak officially—will not stand in the way of a settlement. I therefore express the hope that whatever diversity of opinion may rise up in the Committee stage the House will once again pass the Second Reading of this Bill by a greatly increased majority.
§ (4.38.) COLONEL PILKINGTON (Lancashire, Newton)
said he rose to oppose the Second Reading of the Bill because he believed it was absolutely impossible for a limit to be laid down for the necessary underground operations in a coal mine. He thought it had been shown that there were various preliminary operations which were not actually connected with the working of the coal itself. The miner had to be let down in a cage and had to proceed along the underground road to his work, to get his tools together and then set to work. He had to have time for meals, and after the second spell of work had to leave his place in good order, ready for next day's work. It had been proved by previous speakers that that would take about two hours off the eight. It seemed to him that many people who did not understand mining were completely misled in regard to the particular line of argument used in favour of what was called a working 529 eight hours day. Hon. Members knew very well that in an engineering shop or a mill of any sort where there was an eight hours day, when the work people got inside they immediately began to work, because they all worked together. When the dinner hour came they had an hour for dinner, and after that they worked another four hours, and then all went out together. That was in places where the workers all worked together. The question of Woolwich Arsenal had been mentioned, but the arsenal, although much larger, was exactly the same as a great engineering works or a great factory, where all the people came in and went out together. He thought it was clear that that principle could not be applied to coal mines. A coal owner in Lancashire, Mr. John Knowles, of Messrs. Pearson & Knowles, Coal and Iron Company, Limited, one of the largest coal and iron companies in Lancashire wrote to the following effect—In accordance with your request I have now pleasure in submitting to you the results for the twelve months working ending December 31st, 1901, in one of our pits near Wigan. You will see that this pit only worked 233¼ days last year, being an average of 4.48 days per week, and that it raised during the year, 323,202 tons.The hon. Member for the Mansfield Division said that two years ago the miners were working full time in the summer and short time in the winter, but he could say that during 1900, the pits were working full time in summer and full time in winter, and had been working full time for the last two years. Therefore the question of three days a week completely disappeared from the calculation. The letter proceeded—It is a modern colliery and averaged over 1,000 tons per day last year, and it is fitted up with the best appliances for meeting its requirements. The weight of coal raised from six to two, allowing half an hour's stoppage for breakfast and half an hour for dinner, was 187,396 tons, equalling 80.32 per cent, of the 'get,' and the weight of coal raised from 2 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. was 45,936 tons for the year referred to, representing 19.68 of the 'get.'The letter further stated—In an eight hours winding day, and at present the men are all down in the pit by six o'clock and would begin to come up after 2 p.m., but if an eight'hour's bank to bank Bill is made law the weight of coal will be further reduced by another half hour's winding per day, 530 making the reduction of our present 'get' 25 per cent, for the year, allowing one half hour's stoppage for meals.Therefore a reduction of 25 per cent, would be inevitable. The custom of the men and the custom of the collieries had been the same for many years. In many of the pits in Lancashire all that the men wanted, and the employers wished, was that they should be left alone to work in the way they had always been accustomed to work, and to take time off as they had been accustomed to take it. The men wished for no interference; they got very good wages and, generally speaking, they had a very fair time. It would be seen that 25 per cent. of the present output would be lost to the collieries, and as the colliers were paid on piece work they must lose 25 per cent, of their wages. Moreover, in additions to the colliers, all the other people attending the mine would also lose 25 per cent, of their wages, and as they received far less wages than the colliers, a reduction of 25 per cent. would be very hard indeed on them. Was the House of Commons going to reduce the wages of colliers and the people about the mines by 25 per cent., or even by 15 per cent. or 20 per cent.? Then, again, work in the pits was very different from work in a mill or an engineering shop. A pit was generally scattered over a large area. The underground roads in some cases ran for a mile, and the operations in a pit were carried on, not between firm walls, and under a slate roof, but between moving walls and under a moving roof, which was never still, and which sometimes fell. When the working day was at an end, how was it possible that the mine could be worked next day, unless the men cleared up their work, timbered it, if there was any change, and performed a number of other operations. Then again, shot firing was a very important thing; and if a man for some reason or other had not finished his arrangements for firing a shot before two o'clock it could not be fired on that day at all. Then that man next day went to finish his arrangements, which occupied perhaps another hour, and he had then to leave off, as he could not do anything else that day.
There were many other difficulties in connection with the Bill. It had been already stated that its tendency would be 531 to increase accidents. It was impossible to suppose, that in the hurry and struggle of trying to do all the necessary operations in eight hours, there could be anything else except a very undue degree of haste, and things would be overlooked, because it was out of the power of human nature that they could all be done in the time. There was another point, and that was the elimination of men of middle age. It was quite clear that if there was an eight hours day from bank to bank, only young and active men would be employed. An employer would want first grade in every respect, and would employ young men efficient in mind and body to do his work. What was to be done with the middle-aged men and the old men? They had local knowledge and wisdom; they knew the peculiarities of the mine and where danger was to be feared, and they were the only persons who could teach the younger hands. If, as he had said, this Bill would reduce wages, increase accidents, take away the matured wisdom of the elder men, and cause fewer men to be employed, what on earth was the good of passing the measure?
Then there was another phase. Who was to supply the 25 per cent. reduction of output? It was well known that there were two nations—America and Germany—who were thoroughly equipped, ready to take our place in the world, and to supply the Mediterranean or France or the East with coal. At the present time the amount of coal raised in the United Kingdom was 225,000,000 tons, in Germany 109,000,000, and in America 245,000,000. As to price, the price of English coal in 1900 was 10s. 9¾d., German 8s. 10d., and American 5s. 5½d., so that American coal was half the price of English. The hon. Member for the Rhondda Division made great fun of the American competition. How could a country like England, raising 225,000,000 tons, make fun of a country raising 245,000,000 tons t There was no doubt that a great deal of American coal was finding its way to the Mediterranean and France, although the Americans had as much as they could do to supply their own markets for the big iron and steel manufactories, America being at present in a booming state.
532 Another important element was the output per man. That was a most serious question, and would have to be looked into. The output per man in the United Kingdom in 1883 was 333 tons, but since then it had slowly gone down to 296 tons. In the United States it had gone up from 421 tons in 1889 to 490 tons in 1898. That was an enormous amount over that raised per man in the United Kingdom. He did not want to rush our men at all; he wanted the collieries to be well managed, and the men to do their best to get a sufficient supply of coal for the country. But the American workman appeared to be a very energetic sort of person and went at an enormous pace. The opponents of this Bill did not want our men to do more than they could, but certainly they did not want such a law as that now proposed which would crush all prospect of successful competition.
The Bill, if passed, would do a great deal to destroy the efficiency, freedom, and comfort of the miners. It would deal a very heavy blow to our industry. Coal was the foundation stone of all our industries. Up to the present we have had almost the cheapest coal in the world, but now America and Germany are over-lapping us and increasing their output, and if our output was to be reduced by 25 per cent. he believed the price would go up 25 per cent., and if that happened many of our great industries would inevitable have to be silent. Those industries had to compete with all the world, and during the past twenty or twenty-five years the competition had been very severe, but the prospects of the future were that the competition would be even greater than hitherto. That in itself ought to be sufficient to prevent Parliament proceeding with the Bill. What use was therein proceeding with it? Why was it even thought of? Werefree-traders to pass such a measure? In such a case what would become of free trade? Had any great country, such as America or Germany, a law of this kind? There was also another reason why the House should pause. A Coal Commission had recently been appointed to go into these questions. One of the terms of the reference was that it should inquire into where the mining industry of the country under 533 existing conditions was maintaining its competitive power with the coal fields of other countries. That was a very logical and strong reason why the House should pause before passing such a Bill. If the measure passed, a crushing and permanent tax would be imposed on every householder in the kingdom. Although he had listened to the whole of the debate, he had not heard a single argument in favour of the Bill, and on every ground, for the reasons lie had stated, he urged the House not to agree to the Second Reading.
§ *(5.12.) MR. JOSEPH WALTON (Yorkshire, Barnsley)
In rising to support the Second Reading of this Bill. I may say that I represent 10,000 men and boys engaged in the coal mines in the Barnsley Division of Yorkshire who are unanimously in favour of the proposal. A good deal has been said in the course of the debate against Parliamentary interference with the hours of adult labour. I venture to submit that the occupation of the collier is of that arduous and dangerous character which justifies legislative interference. Though the miners of Northumberland and Durham are to a large extent against the measure, yet an overwhelming majority of the miners throughout the United Kingdom are strongly in favour of it. But I advocate the passing of the Bill mainly in the interests of the boys. While adult miners in the county of Durham only work from six and a half to sevenhours from bank to bank, youths from thirteen to sixteen years of age work ten hours from bank to bank. It is perfectly clear that for boys of thirteen, fourteen, and fifteen years of age to be roused up from their sleep at five o'clock in the morning to go down into the pit and remain there for ten hours tends to prevent their proper development both physically and mentally. I have been told that the pit lads of Durham and Northumberland are very fine, sturdy fellows, but how much better would they be if the time down the pit was limited to eight hours from bank to bank, allowing them a little more fresh air and sunshine.
There is also the question of education. I would remind the House that under the Bill passed in 1899 boys cannot be employed in coal mines under thirteen 534 years of age. A boy up to the age of thirteen receives a certain amount of education in our elementary day schools. At thirteen he is sent underground and employed in the mines for ten hours a day. I ask whether a lad employed ten hours a day underground s likely to be in a condition after lie has finished his labours to continue his education at evening continuation classes? He cannot be either physically or mentally in a fit condition, and therefore under the conditions that now apply to the coal industry thousands of boys forget all that they have been taught at the day schools, and grow up to be less intelligent and capable citizens than they otherwise would be with shorter hours. We have recently had a most striking illustration of the necessity of framing our legislation so as to maintain a high standard of physique amongst the people. During the recruiting which recently took place for South Africa the proportion of rejections in various parts of the country was enormously high, and I believe it is our duty to do everything we can, by legislation and otherwise, to create a higher standard of physique than we have at present in the country. The question is how is this shortening of the hours which boys are employed underground to be brought about? There are two methods. In the first place, it can be done by Trades Union efforts; and in the second place, by legislative measures. In my opinion, the latter method is more likely to secure what is desired. Everyone agrees that it is most desirable to reduce the hours which boys should be employed underground, and the only difference between us is as to whether it is practicable to apply the Mines (Eight Hours) Bill to the Counties of Durham and Northumberland.
I will endeavour to answer the question raised by the hon. Member for the Wansbeck Division as to how this Bill can be applied. I have made a very careful examination of this subject, and after receiving a statement prepared for me by two mining experts, the result is that we are all agreed that it would be practicable to apply the Eight Hours Bill to Durham collieries. Two shifts of coal hewers are at present employed, working from 6½ to 7 hours per shift bank to bank. The datal men, such as deputies, 535 shifters, stone men, waste men, &c., work eight hours bank to bank. Therefore, practically all adult labour would remain unaffected by the passing of the Bill. The one question confronting us therefore is whether in the interests of the boys and youths, varying in age, say from thirteen to twenty, who are now underground ten hours a day from bank to bank, arrangements could be made to enable the produce of the two shifts of hewers—which I would continue as at present—being brought to bank in eight hours instead of ten hours now occupied. The application of the Mines Eight Hours Bill would require the system of working and appliances to be modified. In some cases this might be facilitated—(1) by employing 25 per cent. more boys for an eight hours shift; (2) by providing 25 per cent. more pony haulage or mechanical haulage to bring the same quantity of coals from the face to the shaft in the shorter time; the motive power of electricity might be utilised much more extensively underground to assist in securing the desired result ; (3) in some cases more powerful winding engines capable of raising a greater quantity of coal to the pit top at each drawing might be necessary. The fitting up of a winding apparatus, however, in the second shaft so as to set free the large winding engine to the work of drawing coals only, would render the putting down of new winding engines unnecessary at many collieries. An increased number of coal tubs would also be required, in order that a larger number might be filled, ready for drawing, by the hewers before the hours of winding began. There must be given liberty to managers and men to mutually
§ arrange times of employment to hours most suitable, so long as the working hours do not exceed eight in every twenty-four. The Bill should not come into operation for eighteen months after it is passed, in order that there may be sufficient time for remodelling the plant above and below ground, to comply with with the requirements of the Mines' Eight Hours Bill with the minimum of reduction in output and of increase in cost. The estimate of two mining engineers which I have had made as to the effect upon cost that the passing of this measure would entail, is that the cost would be increased probably from 2d. to 4d. per ton, varying according to the rates of wages payable from time to time, and the character of the different pits. The universal application, however, of this measure is essential in order that different districts and collieries may conpete on equal terms.
§ One thing I would say in conclusion, and it is that I am perfectly certain that if hon. Members of this House had to go underground and earn their daily bread in a coal pit, there is not one on either side of the House who would not vote for this measure.
§ Question put accordingly, "That the word 'now stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided :—Ayes, 207; Noes,. 208. (Division List No. 59.)539
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Broadhurst, Henry||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Craig, Robert Hunter|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Burns, John||Crean, Eugene|
|Allen, Charles P. (Glouc., Stroud)||Buxton, Sydney Charles||Cremer, William Randall|
|Ambrose, Robert||Caine, William Sproston||Crombie, John William|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Caldwell, James||Cullinan, J.|
|Asquith, Rt Hon. Herbert Henry||Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Dalziel, James Henry|
|Austin, Sir John||Campbell Bannerman, Sir H.||Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Carew, James Laurence||Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Carvill, Patrick Geo. Hamilton||Delany, William|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Causton, Richard Knight||Denny, Colonel|
|Bell, Richard||Cawley, Frederick||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Channing, Francis Allston||Dillon, John|
|Black, Alexander William||Churchill, Winston Spencer||Donelan, Captain A.|
|Blake, Edward||Clare, Octavius Leigh||Doogan, P. C.|
|Boland, John||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Dunn, Sir William|
|Brand, Hon. Arthur G.||Condon, Thos. Joseph||Elibank, Master of|
|Emmott, Alfred||Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Lundon, W.||Reid, Sir R. Threshie (Dumfries|
|Evans, Sir Francis H. (Maidstone||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Ridley, S. Forde (Bethnal Green)|
|Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||MacVeigh, Jeremiah||Robinson, Brooke|
|Ffrench, Peter||M'Crae, George||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.|
|Fison, Frederick William||M'Govern, T.||Runciman, Walter|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Rutherford, John|
|Flannery, Sir Fortescue||M'Kenna, Reginald||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Flower, Ernest||M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire)||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)||Schwann), Charles E.|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||M'Laren, Charles Benjamin||Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)|
|Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Mansfield, Horace Rendall||Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln)|
|Gilhooly, James||Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe||Seton-Karr, Henry|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||Markham, Arthur Basil||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Mellor, Rt. lion. John William||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Grant, Corrie||Mooney, John J.||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Gretton, John||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||Morley, Charles (Breconshire)||Spencer, Rt. Hn. C R (Northants|
|Groves, James Gribble||Moulton, John Fletcher||Spencer, Sir E. (W. Bromwich)|
|Haldane, Richard Burdon||Murnaghan, George||Stanley, Hon Arthur (Ormskirk|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Murphy, John||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Harwood, George||Newnes, Sir George||Sullivan, Donal|
|Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo.||Nolan, Col. John P. (Galway, N.)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Hay, Hon. Claude George||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Norman, Henry||Thomas, Alfred (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||Norton, Captain Cecil William||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr)|
|Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D.||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Thomas, J A (Glamorgan, Gower|
|Healy, Timothy Michael||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)|
|Helder, Augustus||O' Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid||Tomkinson, James|
|Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Chas. H.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Henderson, Alexander||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Wallace, Robert|
|Holland, William Henry||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Walton, John Lawson (Leeds, S.)|
|Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Hozier, Hon. James Henry Cecil||O'Dowd, John||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Jones, David Brynmor (Swansea||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.||Webb, Colonel William George|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||O'Malley, William||Weir, James Galloway|
|Joyce, Michael||O'Mara, James||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Kearley, Hudson E.||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||Whiteley, George (York, W. R.)|
|Kennedy, Patrick James||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-und.-Lyne|
|Kinloch, Sir John George Smyth||Partington, Oswald||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Labouchere, Henry||Perks, Robert William||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Lambert, George||Pirie, Duncan V.||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Langley, Batty||Power, Patrick Joseph||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Lawrence, Joseph (Monmouth)||Price, Robert John||Woodhouse, Sir J T (Huddersf'd|
|Leese, Sir Joseph F.(Accrington||Priestley, Arthur||Wylie, Alexander|
|Leigh, Sir Joseph||Randles, John S.||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Levy, Maurice||Rattigan, Sir William Henry|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Rea, Russell||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Jacoby and Mr. Pickard.|
|Lloyd-George, David||Reddy, M.|
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F.||Bignold, Arthur||Charrington, Spencer|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Bigwood, James||Clive, Captain Percy A.|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Bill, Charles||Cohen, Benjamin Lewis|
|Allhusen, Augustus Henry Eden||Blundell, Colonel Henry||Collings, Rt Hon. Jesse|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Bond, Edward||Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)|
|Anstruther, H. T.||Bowles, Capt. H. F. (Middlesex||Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Brassey, Albert||Cripps, Charles Alfred|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Brookfield, Colonel Montagu||Cubitt, Hon. Henry|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Brown, Alexander H. (Shropsh.||Dairymple, Sir Charles|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Brown, George M. (Edinburgh)||Davenport, William Bromley-|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Davies, Sir Horatio D. (Chatham|
|Balcarres, Lord||Brymer, William Ernest||Dickinson, Robert Edmond|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Bullard, Sir Harry||Dickson, Charles Scott|
|Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W. (Leeds||Cameron, Robert||Dimsdale, Sir Joseph Cockfield|
|Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch.||Campbell, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Glasgow||Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Carlile, William Walter||Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred Dixon|
|Barry, Sir Francis T. (Windsor)||Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Doughty, George|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Cavendish, V. C. W.(Derbyshire)||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Doxford, Sir William Theodore|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Renshaw, Charles Bine|
|Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir William Hart||Lawson, John Grant||Renwick, George|
|Edwards, Frank||Lecky, Rt. Hon. William Edw. H.||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Chas. Thomson|
|Egerton. Hon. A. de Tatton||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)|
|Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Faber, Edmund B. (Hants, W.)||Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S.||Ropner, Colonel Robert|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Round, James|
|Fenwick, Charles||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r||Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Lowther, Rt. Hon. James (Kent)||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth)||Sandys, Leut.-Col. Thos. Myles|
|FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose||Macartney, Rt. Hn. W. G. Ellison||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Fitzroy, Hon. Edward Algernon||Macdona, John Cumming||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Fletcher, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew|
|Forster, Henry William||M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinburgh, W||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Fuller, J. M. F.||Majendie, James A. H.||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Carfit, William||Maple, Sir John Blundell||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, E.)|
|Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Smith,H C (North' mb. Tyneside|
|Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S.)||Massey, Mainwaring, Hon. W. F.||Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.)|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Maxwell, Rt Hn Sir H. E. (Wigt'n||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Maxwell, W. J H (Dumfriesshire||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart|
|Greene, Sir E W (B'ry S Edm'nds||Milner, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Milvain, Thomas||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Hambro, Charles Eric||Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Hamilton, Marq. of (L'nd'nderry||Montagu, Hon. J. Scott (Hants.)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Asnford||Moore, William (Antrim, N.)||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Hare, Thomas Leigh||More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire)||Tutnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward|
|Harris, Frederick Leverton||Morgan, David J. (Walthamstow||Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir William H.|
|Haslett, Sir James Horner||Morrell, George Herbert||Warde, Colonel C. E.|
|Heath, Arthur Howard (Hanley||Morrison, James Archibald||Wason, John Cathcart(Orkney)|
|Heath, James (Staffords. N.W.)||Morton Arthur H. A. (Deptford)||Welby, Lt.-Col.A. C. E (Taunton)|
|Higginbottom, S. W.||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Welby, Sir Charles G. E. (Notts.)|
|Hoare, Sir Samuel||Murray, RtHn.A.Graham(Bute||Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd|
|Hobhouse, Henry (Somerset,E.)||Myers, William Henry||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Hope, J.F.(Sheffield, Brightside)||Nicholson, William Graham||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Howard, Jno. (Kent, Faversham||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Howard, J.(Midd.,Tottenham)||Parker, Gilbert||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Hudson, George Bickersteth||Pemberton, John S. G.||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Jackson, Rt. Hon. Wm. Lawies||Penn, John||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)|
|Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Pierpoint. Robert||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Johnston, William (Belfast)||Pilkington, Lieut.-Col. Richard||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Plummer, Walter R.||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Joicey, Sir James||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Young, Samuel|
|Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H.||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Keswick, William||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Tomlinson and Mr. John Wilson (Durham).|
|King, Sir Henry Seymour||Purvis, Robert|
|Kitson, Sir James||Pym, C. Guy|
|Knowles, Lees||Rankin, Sir James|
Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
§ Words added.
§ * MR. CAUSTON (Southwark, W.)
Upon a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I should like to ask a question. When I came out of the Lobby I was under the impression that 208 Members came out of the "Aye" Lobby. I only draw attention to the matter to ask whether this point can be raised now or only after looking at the Voting Paper tomorrow morning.
§ Second Reading put off for six months.