HC Deb 04 August 1904 vol 139 cc1002-51

Motion made, and Question proposed. "That a sum, not exceeding £104,094, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1905, for the Salaries and Expenses of the office of His Majesty's Secretary of State for the Home Department and Subordinate Offices."

*SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)

moved a reduction of the Vote by £100 on account of the present understaffed condition of the women's department for the work it had to do in connection with the Factory and Workshop Acts. A branch of the service which was most useful to the State was, the right hon. Baronet said, at the present moment insufficiently staffed for the work it had to do, and that was made very clear in the Report which had just been laid by the Secretary of State for the Home Department. The greatest of industrial sufferings in this country were probably those which were to be found among the very lowly paid women workers. The great trades unions which had been formed were generally able to affect the wages of the male workers, but undoubtedly there was much underpayment and sweating in the case of female labour, and a large amount of industrial suffering could be very directly affected by the enforcement of the law through the medium of the Home Office, and by the inquiries which were made by the women's branch of the Department. In the Factories and Workshops Annual Report for 1903 the principal woman inspector stated that there were "Six women inspectors for 1,500,000 women and girls in factories and workshops," to which should be added "laundry workers and outworkers." In the ten years which had elapsed since the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife inaugurated this most valuable Department eight women inspectors had been appointed, of whom one was now detached for the Potteries on work which, although described as temporary, occupied the whole of her time, leaving only six effective for the general work, or seven if the principal inspector who discharged central duties at thé Home Office was counted. The ill-effects of understaffing, effects which were increasing year by year, were clearly set forth in the Report. For three years complaints stood over on account of the shortness of the staff. The year before last the Report showed that "122 complaints had either to stand over …. or to be referred to another branch." Though the complaints had risen, the prosecutions had declined, and the women's department was, according to Miss Anderson, "greatly embarrassed in arranging for investigation."

The present condition of the Department nullified the value which the House very properly attached to its work. There had once been most valuable inquiries conducted outside the actual work of the women's department. The investigation of complaints specially made by women's societies had had to be dropped in consequence of there being no lady inspectors available to undertake them. The value of these inquiries had been demonstrated in past years, and notably in the case of the fish-curing industry. Complaints from women workers had to be referred to the male branch for investigation. The Pimlico Army Clothing Department, for example, employed women. The case of Alice Wright recently attracted a great deal of attention, and the Home Office was asked by the War Office to send an inspector. The inspector sent was not a woman although all those employed in these frightfully overcrowded and heated rooms were women. Again, the Department did not send a ventilation expert and that therefore could not be advanced as a reason for not sending a lady. It was not open to the Department to say that they sympathised with the demand for more women inspectors, but that they could not overcome the difficulty with the Treasury, because the fact was that the Treasury had permitted thirteen additional male inspectors to be appointed between April, 1902, and July, 1903, whereas no woman had been appointed.

Next there was the question of overtime in the fishcuring trade. When the Factory Acts of 1895 and 1901 were under consideration he opposed the special exemption on the ground that there would be great difficulty in distinguishing between legal and illegal overtime. In the report of the inspector dealing with Yarmouth and Lowestoft, it was stated— Kippering—women splitting herrings. They all appeared very tired, and no wonder, seeing the number of hours each woman worked that week.—9th November, Monday, 6 a.m. to 12 p.m.; Tuesday, 10th, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Wednesday, 11th, 6 a.m. to 11.30 p.m.; Thursday, 12th, 6 a.m. to 11.30 p.m.; Friday, 13th, 6 a.m. to 12.40 midnight; Saturday, 14th, 6 a.m. to 10.30 p.m.--total, 105 hours and ten minutes. Allowing, however, three hours off each day for meals, the total worked was 87 hours and ten minutes. This was not an isolated case. At 6 a.m. the women begin packing the kippers in wooden boxes, so that here the Committee had an illustration of the truth of the objection which had been raised in 1895, and 1901 that legal overtime invariably led to illegal overtime. Here the women were working factory hours on processes not subject to exemption, followed by long night hours under "the perishable exemption." On page 33 of the Report they had another instance of the unduly long hours in another trade at Southampton. They had cases where women were kept working from 8.30 a.m. to 11.45 p.m. He would like to draw the attention of the Committee to page 196 of the Report. There Miss Deane gave a most admirable statement on the whole subject. She referred to the fact that it was a dressmaking trade case, that this particular trade had recently been the subject of much comment in the Press and that it had been alleged that there had been much exaggeration. But what did Miss Deane say in her report— Places in which a staff has been employed for months on three-quarter time only have been found employing girls for nights on end till eleven o'clock or even all night long. The number of complaints of illegal or excessive overtime have increased. On page 237 they had a reference to a case which probably was the foundation of the correspondence on which the charge of exaggeration was based. It was also an illustration of the thesis contained in Mrs. Lyttelton's play of Warp and Woof. Miss Vines, in her report, stated— At the prosecution the defendant put forward the defence that a lady in a high position was pressing for a dress to be finished. The magistrate described the defendant's conduct as almost inhuman, and said that it was almost increditable that she should have treated her workers in the way described, knowing, as she must have done, that the strain upon the young women, if continued, would tend to shorten their lives. It was the very worst case he had ever had before him, and he had never heard anything like it since the Factory Acts had been in operation. In that case the woman had been employed for twenty-four consecutive hours. In the next case mentioned in the Report a girl was "discovered wandering insane." This brought him back to the point at which he started, viz., that alongside this startling state of things there was a decline in the total number of prosecutions by both branches of the Department: page viii. showed the decline in the total number of prosecutions; page 235 dealt with those in the Women's Department. It could not be alleged that that decline meant a decline in actual offences; the language used was quite contrary to that; it represented a decline in the efficiency of the Department compared with the amount of work there was for it to do.

Another important point calling for attention was the marked distinction between the penalties inflicted in certain districts by the local magistrates and those inflicted by the stipendaries. Hon. Members interested in the cotton districts knew very well that on account of the light penalties inflicted it was better to break the law than to keep it. On page 81 the inspector said— I prosecuted a large firm of dressmakers in Grimsby after warning several times. The whole facts in the case, with the correspondence, were laid before the magistrates, who inflicted a penalty of 1s. and costs. Again on page 97 they were told by the Sheffield inspector that the average penalty inflicted by the stipendiary magistrate was £1 5s., as compared with 2s. 11½d. inflicted by the ordinary magistrates. It was not very easy to suggest a remedy for this state of things, but the action taken a few years ago might be usefully repeated, and a circular couched in moderate and reasonable language might be sent round by the Home Secretary directing the attention of magistrates to the necessity of inflicting an adequate fine where a case was clearly proved.

Another example of slackness in the Home Office was the delay in extending the "particulars" principle to piece-work trades. He did not see why it should not be extended to all the piece-work trades in the country. Instead of wasting time—instead of wasting months and even years on inquiries into one small branch of a trade let them recognise the fact that this particular section was the charter of the rights of the people which protected them against being robbed of their wages, and let them have one general inquiry with a view to extending the section to all piece-work trades. He believed it was just as necessary as check weighing was in the interests of the workers in the coal trade. On page 232 of the Report Miss Sadler dealt with the net-making trade and said— The fact that few of the women could attend at the factories themselves to see the coils of twine weighed in and out led to deductions for short weight upon the return of the net which the worker had no means of disproving. The manufacturers acted upon my suggestion. The workers expressed their gratitude. The addition of the price had put shillings into their pocket. One or two manufacturers failed to carry out this plan. But why should such a matter be left to persuasion? Why not extend the law?

Now he came to breaches of the Truck Act. In his opinion fresh legislation was necessary to meet these cases, and if that were so he would not be entitled to pursue the point. But he believed the Home Office held that the existing law was sufficient if only properly administered. It was not right that it should be left to associations of voluntary persons to enforce the law as had been attempted by a branch of the Christian Social Union. On page 234 of the Report, one of the inspectors said— In one factory I found every machinist hopelessly in debt to her employer, working on to discharge a debt which grows instead of diminishing. That was a worse state of things than existed in coal mines eighty or ninety years ago. He was inclined to agree with the great French socialist writer, M. Jaurès, that the endeavouring to persuade employers on this point was like trying to "Persuade the golden calf to mint himself into sovereigns." If the Truck law was a right law, then for heaven's sake enforce it. They were told on page 235 that, apart from Truck cases, only 2½ per cent. of cases taken into Court were dismissed, while of the Truck cases nealy one-third failed.

Next he came to the dangerous trades. Last year they took credit for having reduced the percentage of suffering, but lead poisoning was again increasing he regretted to note. There had been one death again from phossy jaw—a Bryant & May case—and it would be interesting to know if it was a result of work done in former years. Switzerland, France, and Germany were acting together in this matter, and desired an international agreement in regard to the lead trades, and, in passing, he would like to point out that the Dutch standard of solubility, 2½ per cent. in glazes, was twice as good as our tentative 5 per cent. The cases in china and earthenware were increasing. Last year there was a slight increase, and that increase was continuing. In the first six months of the present year there were fifty-three cases, as compared with thirty-seven in the corresponding six months of last year. There was one very severe case of the old type, in which a girl of eighteen was almost struck dead. Another dangerous disease was anthrax. It was increasing generally in the country especially in the horse-hair industry. It used to be associated with wool and Bradford; but it was even more dangerous in the horse-hair industry. Dr. Legge had lately been studying this matter in Germany; and he hoped that regulations regarding it would soon be put into force. He congratulated the Government on having accepted the invitation of Switzerland to the International Labour Conference, to be held in 1905. It was now many years since the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University went to Berlin. It was no secret that this Conference was being promoted by the Governments of France and Germany, as they desired to bring pressure to bear on the recalcitrant nations. The labour treaty with Italy was a gratifying evidence of the intention of the French Government in this respect. The Conference was called mainly to deal with two points, namely, the use of white phosphorus and the night labour of women. He believed that the Government had accepted the invitation in a very guarded form. No doubt prudence was desirable; but he ventured to suggest that it was entirely in the interests of this country that recalcitrant countries should be brought up to the mark. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham said that he desired to exclude sweated goods from this country; but a better means would be to bring all foreign nations up to the proper standard in the hope of ultimately improving the standard of labour throughout the world.

Motion made and Question proposed, "That item A (Salaries, Wages, and Allowances) be reduced by £100, in respect of the Salary of the Secretary of State."—(Sir Charles Dilke.)

MR. TENNANT (Berwickshire)

said that in supporting the Motion of his right hon. friend he desired to call attention to the fact that this was the first debate they had had on a labour subject during the session, except on one Friday afternoon. Let them look at the benches! On a hot afternoon on the 4th August they were asked to discuss the welfare of many millions of their fellow-subjects. At the beginning of the year a new Act of Parliament, called the Employment of Children Act, was in operation. Under that Act, it was the duty of the Home Office to sanction sets of rules to be submitted by the local authorities; yet, up to the present, only three sets had been sanctioned in the whole of England. Eleven sets were provisionally sanctioned and thirty-six were under consideration. The rules for the City of London and the County of London were still under consideration; and the right hon. Gentleman had stated that an inquiry would be necessary into the by-laws of the County of London. That seemed to him to be a very unsatisfactory amount of progress under a new Act from which they hoped to obtain lasting good. The right hon. Gentleman might think that the employment of children only concerned their morality; but it also touched their whole future life and physique, and whether they would be useful or useless citizens.

He desired to draw special attention to the question of the physical deterioration which resulted from the indifference with which the law was administered. Public attention had been drawn to the subject lately, particularly in connection with the number of recruits which had to be rejected. He wished to ask the Home Secretary whether he was satisfied that the powers which his Departments in connection with this matter were being fully and wisely used; and also whether the right hon. Gentleman was satisfied that the Department has sufficient powers. He would ask one specific question. Did the right hon. Gentleman consider that if forty persons were employed in a factory they should be protected from an outbreak of fire, whereas if only thirty-nine persons were employed in a similar factory no such protection was compulsory? Was the right hon. Gentleman satisfied with that condition of affairs? He wanted a declaration from the right hon. Gentleman that he would consider the whole subject. The right hon. Gentleman had under his control a considerable number of factory inspectors, though perhaps not as many as he himself would wish. He desired to pay his tribute to the admirable manner in which those inspectors, male and female, carried out their difficult duties. The right hon. Gentleman had also a certain number of certifying factory surgeons who certified boys and girls entering a factory, though they did not certify in the case of workshops. One of the recommendations of the Committee on Physical Deterioration was that boys and girls entering a workshop should also be certified. Further, he would suggest that boys and girls should not only be certified at sixteen but also later. Was the right hon. Gentleman satisfied with the present condition of infant mortality? That was a very grave question; and there was also the question of the employment of women before and after their confinement. Was the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that the law, as it stood, was being enforced?

He came now to the case made out by the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean with regard to the women inspectors. Any one who read the Report would see at once how unflagging in its efforts had been the women's branch, how devoted the women inspectors had been to their duty, and how successful in dealing with the difficulties confronting them. According to the census of 1901, there were over 1,500,000 women and girls in factories and workshops. In the laundry industry the disparity of men employed to women was enormous. In the regulated laundries the number of males employed was 8,400, while the women numbered 82,600, but in the unregulated laundries, the small domestic laundries, there were 9,600 men and 226,000 women. That would give the Committee an idea of the work which the women's branch of factory inspectors had to endeavour to overtake. He wanted the Committee to appreciate the importance of this work from what had been done by Miss Deane. It appeared from the Report that accidents had not tended to increase, but that in the area for which Miss Deane was responsible the accidents had decreased by one-half of the normal total. Most of the accidents in laundries were caused by the hydro-extractor, but none had occurred in Miss Deane's area. It stood to reason that there would not cease to be accidents so long as there were only eight women inspectors for industries employing 1,500,000 women. With regard to the carrying of heavy weights the Report gave a long list of cases. In this matter we were far behind other countries in the way we protected the workers with regard to these matters. He would just quote one or two of the cases. A boy of fourteen, who weighed seventy-seven pounds himself, was found carrying up a piece of clay to the moulder. That piece of clay weighed sixty-three pounds, fourteen pounds less than his own weight, and a woman fetching up clay to the moulder carried eighteen cwt. a day. Under these circumstances he thought he was justified in saying that the women's department was severely handicapped in their struggle to look after the comforts and needs of the women workers.

He deprecated the practice that had grown up under this particular Government of not putting into force the powers with which they were vested, but rather trusting to a voluntary system and persuasion. His right hon. friend had asked for a Committee to be appointed, but there had been quite enough Committees on this subject. The Government knew perfectly well what they ought to do, but would not do it. They accepted neither the recommendations of their inspectors nor of the Committees which had considered this matter. It would, no doubt, be stated that the voluntary system had worked well in the Bessemer steel and wharfinger trades, but even if the various firms in the bronzing trade, to whom the right hon. Gentleman had sent a circular making various suggestions, accepted those suggestions, there was no guarantee that they would continue to carry out the rules they had agreed to. That was the line the Home Office adopted; they made appeals and did not put into force the full powers this House had conferred on them. They declined to believe that anything was to be gained by uniformity of administration with regard to the question of the electrical trades. He had been able to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman in the previous year on what he had done with regard to electrical works, but he noticed that the inspector of electrical works had made recommendations, which he desired to see in force, which were almost identical even in their terms with some of the recommendations made by the Committee over which he himself presided in 1897. Electrical undertakings had greatly increased since that day. This inspector had pointed out that there were now 360 generating stations in this country, 100 of which had been added during the last year. In those generating stations there were bound to be accidents but they were not numerous. Last year eight fatal and 153 non-fatal accidents had occurred. But twenty out of twenty-six of the non-fatal accidents which had occurred in one generating station were so severe that it was doubtful whether the injured persons would be able to resume their occupation. Had the right hon. Gentleman enforced the powers he possessed with regard to electrical undertakings few of these accidents would have occurred. The inspector of electrical undertakings reported that new designs of works were now being put up and that safety was being sacrificed to cheapness. This was in great contrast to what occurred in Prussia, where the authorities could demand copies of the plans of the works before the works were put up. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman would require changes to be made in such works. Those changes would not be willingly made; why, then, should not the Home Secretary use the powers with which Parliament had invested him? On 22nd February of this year a man was seriously injured at the Westinghouse factory. The manager was warned in June, 1903, and again in November of the same year, but nothing was done, and then came this accident in the following February. Under the system instituted by the Home Secretary the manager's opinion was as good as that of the inspector. That surely was a position which ought never to obtain. If the recommendations of the Dangerous Trades Committee had been carried out, the accident to which he had referred could not have happened. Why did the right hon. Gentleman remain doing nothing beyond expressing hopes?

With regard to the question of anthrax, the Committee of 1895, upon which the present Chief Inspector of Factories sat, recommended that Russian and Siberian hair and bristles should be excluded from this country, and Dr. Russell had suggested that no eating or drinking in the works should be allowed. According to the Report of the Chief Inspector for 1902, four cases of anthrax occurred through contact with the kind of hair which the Committee of 1895 recommended should be excluded. One of the lady inspectors reported, in 1902, having seen this hair manipulated, not only in the same room, but upon the same table as that from which meals were being eaten. He desired to ask why this trade had not been scheduled as dangerous. The Government were deserving of censure for not having increased the number of women inspectors. They had endeavoured to foist upon the country a voluntary and bad system; and they had not used the powers with which this House had entrusted them. Pious hopes were not sufficient, inasmuch as they could not be enforced. To raise the standard of physique in this country, greater administrative efficiency was required than had been shown by the present Government, and he urged the right hon. Gentleman to evince a keener earnestness in the matters to which he had referred.

SIR JOHN GORST (Cambridge University)

drew attention to the administration of the Employment of Children Act. The fact that a large number of children were employed outside set hours to such an extent and in such improper occupations as to render them incapable of benefiting by the instruction given in the elementary schools had long been known to the public, and had excited a considerable amount of indignation. Six years ago the Government of the country were seised of the fact by an influential deputation which waited upon the Board of Education and represented the extreme waste of public money involved in the provision of schoolmasters under such circumstances. Five years ago he himself brought the matter before the House of Commons when, in introducing the Education Estimates, he urged that unless something was done to prevent this shameful overworking of school children, it was idle to vote the millions which Parliament was asked to provide for the purposes of elementary education. But no attention was paid to his warning either by the House or by the Government. The next step was the appointment by the Home Office of a Departmental Committee to investigate the subject, and to rediscover facts which were not obvious to the general public. That Committee consisted exclusively of officials, but nothing but praise could be given them for the manner in which they did their work. They made a most admirable Report, upon which was founded the Bill brought in and carried last year. That Act gave local authorities the power, but not the duty, of making by-laws to regulate the employment of children. That, he thought was the only way in which social reforms could be carried out. The general principles might be laid down by Parliament, but the administrative details must be left to the people themselves, acting through their county and borough councils. The Act vested in the Home Office the duty of approving the by-laws made by the local authorities. That sort of power was a great snare. The idea of Parliament in granting the power was that anything extremely outrageous, any provisions contrary to the liberty of the subject or to general principles of policy, should be eliminated before the by-laws were allowed to come into force; but the Home Office and other Departments were apt to interpret the power as meaning that the local authorities should pass by-laws, not in accordance with the wishes of the people of the locality, but based on a general scheme invented in the Department, from which no departures were to be permitted unless very strong local reasons could be urged. He was afraid that the making of these by-laws was being delayed by the attempt which the Home Office was making to reduce all these by-laws to one common pattern, instead of allowing the great county councils and borough councils a free hand to make such regulations as they thought proper. The Home Office were requiring these councils to send up their by-laws for revision and they would not be passed until they had been examined by a number of officials who were imperfectly acquainted with the circumstances, and this was causing great delay in the enactment of these by-laws. Since 1st January only three sets of by-laws had been put into operation in England and Wales. Amongst the public bodies whose by-laws were under revision by the Home Office was the London County Council. Now if there was any body fitted to make those by-laws it was the London County Council, who had done an extraordinary amount of admirable work for the Metropolis. Not only had these by-laws to be examined by the Home Office, but a public inquiry had to be held. There were certain capitalists and manufacturers who though the London County council by-laws might interfere with the transaction of their business, and no doubt they had "got at" the Home Office, and this had caused a vast amount of delay. He hoped the Home Secretary would tell the House exactly how these by-laws stood, who was opposing them, what bodies were objecting to them, and why this long delay in regard to the public inquiry, which must occupy many months, was taking place.

There was also the question of the theatrical and circus children who required the protection of the law. As hon. Members were aware, the theatrical managers had demanded that these children should be exempted. He also wished to know why the law was not being enforced in regard to the employment of young children in the streets. The general condition of the streets of London was discreditable to a country like ours. Putting aside the interests of the children, and looking at the question from other points of view, selling in the streets of London required urgent attention and reform. The Committee must consider that six years had elapsed since this question was brought to the notice of the Government, and the Home Office were still wondering and hesitating as to what by-laws ought to be enforced in the Metropolis and other towns in the country. These poor children were still being overworked and overdriven, and compelled to work many hours before they went to school and after school hours. And yet they went on spending money upon the education and training of these children, who were so worn out with toil that when they got to school the most merciful thing was to let them go to sleep.

* MR. SHACKLETON (Lancashire, Clitheroe)

called attention to the condition of cotton-weaving sheds, with a view to justify the statement which he made on behalf of the textile workers last year, and to claim that the law should be more stringently carried out than it had been during the six years in which it had been in force. The position in the trade was exceptional. As the result of a joint request of employers and operatives seven years ago, a new order was issued by the Home Secretary. During six years that order was not given a fair opportunity; the employers asserted that its provisions could not be carried out; and the Home Office advised that matters should be left to the good sense and good-nature of the masters. The operatives welcomed the inquiry which was directed by the Department last year. As representing, with his colleagues, the operatives on that occasion he asked the employers to assent to one condition—that, whatever the result of the inquiry might be, they would agree to have the law altered in accordance with that result, and they replied "Certainly." Then he asked whether, if it were shown that the standard of carbon-dioxide in the air in textile factories subject to the humidity regulation could be reduced to seven or eight instead of the standard of nine volumes per 10,000 volumes of air, they would assent to have the standard reduced, and they said. "Oh, no; the position is nine or more; no less." The attitude of the masters, he contended, justified the action of the operatives in declining to take part in the tests, for they were forced to stand where they were or to have their position made worse. In 285 tests that were taken it was found that in 205 cases the proportion of carbon-dioxide was seven volumes, in forty-eight cases it was between seven and eight, in twenty-nine it was under nine, and in only two did it exceed that standard. These results justified the attitude of the operatives, and their contention that the employers should not be granted any relaxation of the standard of ventilation. He was desired by the operatives to say that it was not their wish to press for a more stringent law; but they had waited patiently without having induced all employers to comply with the standard, and they asked the Home Secretary to insist that his regulations should be fully obeyed. The Chairman of the Employers' Association had said, "If it can be shown that nine can be maintained we will withdraw all opposition"; and the secretary of the same organisation said, "If you can prove it can be done, we will take down our flag and try to comply." The Home Office inquiry proved that it could be done, and was being done in a great many cases, and he urged that the Home Secretary should enforce the law in those cases in which it was being disobeyed. He pointed out that under the law two offences had to be proved before a conviction was obtained, and said that was an exceptional provision under the Factory Acts, and was not justified by the outcome of the Home Office inquiry and what took place at the previous conference with employers.

In 1892, when there were 729 mills in the district, three inspectors were employed; to-day, when the number of mills was 1,655, there was only one inspector, although work had to be done which in earlier days the officials were not called upon to perform. In these circumstances surely an additional inspector should be appointed at once, so that in future more of the requests made by these men would receive close attention. What could one man do with 1,655 mills to look after? One works in the morning would take up the whole attention of an inspector, and he would, therefore, be unable to attend to the others. This was not a mere question of catching men working overtime. It took a considerable time to conduct these tests. He hoped the Home Secretary would be able to give a satisfactory answer to the request for the appointment of an assistant inspector. He would quote the following paragraph from the Report of the Chief Inspector of Factories— It appears, therefore, that installations planned and carried out by competent engineers to keep the air of a shed within the prescribed limit do in practice fully maintain the standard, notwithstanding the inequalities due to local or accidental circumstances, provided that the appliances are kept in proper order and used to the full extent intended, and that their adequacy or efficiency is not impaired by subsequent alterations in structure or arrangement. The Chief Inspector's Report made that point quite clear.

He should like to say a few words in regard to a question which had been giving considerable trouble. There had been many complaints in connection with the system of running factories overtime. While short time was being worked in Lancashire, there were many complaints of "time-cribbing." One inspector spoke of the Working hours being increased by two or three per week by a few minutes being taken from each meal time. He knew one case in which overtime was actually being worked while the employer was in Court. The inadequate fines imposed for offences of this kind made it possible for an employer to make up the amount of the penalty by more overwork. He received as many complaints regarding overtime from employers as from workmen, and it was difficult to get the work-people to give evidence because any who did so soon had to find employment elsewhere. He asked if the Home Office would recognise a man in his position as secretary of a large trade union, and take proceedings upon the evidence which he could obtain. If it were known that the Home Office would do that, it would act as an important check upon the employers who made their people work overtime. Something might be done also by way of establishing a minimum fine, and by instructing the inspectors to take twenty or thirty or a hundred cases, instead of only two or three, because then the aggregate amount of the penalties would be considerable.

In regard to accidents in the spinning room, he regretted to have to complain that the Employers' Association had sent out a circular stating that they were prepared to support any employer who was fined for non-compliance with the rules concerning the guarding of machinery. During the last few years the number of accidents had teen decreasing; but surely a number of those which now took place might be prevented. One inspector reported eighteen accidents—fifteen of which happened to workers under sixteen years of age—all due to unfenced carriage wheels and slips. This state of affairs could be remedied, and the inspector who wished to see an improvement should be supported by the Home Office, and negligent employers should be forced to take precautions. There was a considerable number of accidents in carding rooms in which revolving flat carding engines were used, and these could be prevented by the adoption of a small appliance which caused the doors to shut automatically and made it impossible for them to fall open by vibration. During the past three years ninety-five injuries to fingers had been caused by loom hammers and sixty-six from duckbills, which could have been prevented by safeguarding those parts of the machinery and by lengthening or shortening the hammers so that they did not come in contact with operatives' fingers.

In regard to the supply of particulars and rates of wages, he pointed out that where wages were paid for piecework that fact alone was proof that particulars could be given by employers. He thought that the right hon. Gentleman would admit that the man who neglected to give in the particulars committed a smaller offence than the man who gave in false particulars. But as a matter of fact, under recent decisions, the fines had been less in the case of falsification than in the case of the man who had been merely negligent in his works. One inspector remarked that in one-half of the number of informations obtained it was proved that the particulars given in writing were incorrect. The operatives assumed that such particulars were accurate, and since such falsification had the effect of defrauding the workers, he hoped the Home Secretary would instruct the inspector to prosecute in more cases where falsification was proved, so that the fines would amount to more than the employer was able to pocket as a result of his action. The fines for falsification should be heavier than those for neglect to supply particulars.

MR. JOHN BURNS (Battersea)

said he wished to join with the hon. Member who had spoken in a respectful protest to the Home Secretary against the manner in which this Vote had been brought forward at this late period of the session. It seemed to him that no adequate discussion of this Vote could be secured on 4th August. It ought to have been brought on in March or April. He considered that this was one of the most important Votes on the Estimates. It referred to the most productive army of the people of the British Empire. He noticed that when they were considering the position of the Army they could get not only one but several days to discuss the position of field-marshals, or whether there should be three buttons on the right shoulder of a uniform or two on the left. But when it came to the Home Office Votes there was not that interest in them which there ought to be. In fact, the Home Office had not that self-respect which it ought to have. It was the Department which was responsible for the safety, health, and well-being of 16,500,000 of the people of this country, who produced and earned the taxes by which the country had been made what it was. In these days, when they were told to think Imperially, and not parochially, it should be remembered that this Empire was made by commerce and sustained by industry, and that that could only be done by the sacrifice of thousands of lives. Every year 150,000 men, women, and children were injured or killed in earning their living. If that were so, they ought to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, who was the guardian of these 16,500,000 of industrials in the country, to bring in his Vote at a period of the session when they could discuss the sweating and brutal overwork to which the hon. Member had referred, and the conditions under which workers laboured in dangerous trades.

Having said that, he would get to the best side of his criticism. He wished to give his humble testimony to the excellent manner in which the Home Office inspectorate performed their work. The gratitude of the workers of the country was due to them for the excellent way they had discharged their duties. He had read with interest the extraordinary document produced by that staff in regard to hoists and teagles on the strength of which so many men's livelihood and even their lives depended. Another interesting report was that relating to explosives. The reports on docks and mines were also equally interesting, and he suggested to hon. Members that they should take these reports and that dealing with the physical deterioration of the people with them to read during the holiday recess, and they would find them better reading than the articles in the Daily Mail on which some hon. Gentlemen had been living too long. For the last five or six years a number of Members had been saying, "Was not this practical administration going too far?" In some particulars it was. But he was one of those Britons who would like to place his country before any other in the world for the moralisation of capital and industry. It was now thirteen years since they had had an International Conference on industrial subjects in Berlin. He would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman, the Home Secretary, that he might co-operate with the other Powers of Europe and America, to have another such conference, so that they could bring up to date the discussion of such questions as child labour, women labour, employment in dangerous trades, night-work, ventilation, etc. Extraordinarily good work might be done by such a conference.

Having made that suggestion, he wanted to support the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean in his plea in regard to the insufficiency of the factory inspectorate. There were 250,000 factories and workshops in this country; and notwithstanding what the Jeremiahs said as to the decline of British industry, these factories were increasing and multiplying. Nothing was more satisfactory to a real Briton than to see that these factories were improved as regarded health conditions. For these 250,000 factories and workshops, we had 116 inspectors and thirty-six assistants, or in all 152 inspectors who had to overlook 16,500,000 of people. He insisted that the Committee would be wise to insist on increasing the male inspectorate from 152 to at least 200, and that they should increase the lady inspectors by between twenty and thirty between now and next year. He declared that, measured by value to the community over whom the male and female inspectors had jurisdiction, the services of the twelve female inspectors were disproportionate. Relatively, the female inspectors did infinitely better work than the male inspectors, because their work had to do with matters which no average man could understand. He could not understand why the number of these lady inspectors had not been increased. Something had been said about the cost, but the cost of all the inspectors was only £73,000, which was a small sum—a mere flea-bite—in an expenditure of £140,000,000 which was voted every year by this House.

The hon. Member for Clitheroe very rightly congratulated the Government on the diminution of accidents in the textile industry. That was also true of mines and shipping, but was it altogether due to increased inspection? It was due largely to mechanical causes, and to improved mines and improved ships. The diminution of accidents which had occurred in the textile trade was not altogether true of other trades. There were increases in the number of accidents in various other trades. The Home Office might say that that was due to better notification; but he could not reconcile that statement with the figures. In 1897 63,000 persons were injured; that number increased to 112,000 in 1903. Making all allowances for improved notification, that was a great and serious increase. As regarded the number killed, the increase was also very large. In 1896 it was 596; and in 1902 it was 1,107. If hon. Members heard of a battalion of soldiers being wiped out, they would be properly sympathetic, and they would be naturally indignant if that loss were preventable. At least equal sympathy should be shown to the soldiers of industry. Some of these accidents and deaths had taken place in certain industries to which he wished to call the attention of the Home Secretary. A process of Americanising had been going on for some years in this country, especially in connection with certain industries. The result was shown in the greater number of men who were killed or injured. The Americanisation of British industry meant its brutalisation; and their business was to stop it as far as the law allowed He should like to know the number of men killed or injured on the Savoy Hotel buildings under the American system, and on the electrical installation buildings in West London. The comparison would be interesting. They could not allow an increase of accidents in docks and on buildings while accidents were being diminished in mines and on the sea. The abstract of labour statistics for last year presented this grizzly fact—4,622 men, women, and children engaged in British industry were killed as compared with 4,262 five years previously. It seemed to him that that condition of affairs ought to be stopped and could be stopped. It could only be stopped, however, by an increase in the Home Office inspectorate, both male and female, on the principle that prevention was better than cure.

He wished to support the hon. Gentleman the Member for Berwickshire in his demand for lady inspectors in connection with workshops. A play was recently written by the wife of the present Colonial Secretary; and he was almost prepared to forgive the idiosyncracies of the right hon. Gentleman in connection with Chinese labour, because of the excellent work in the interests of British labour accomplished by his wife. He would advise every hon. Member to see Warp and Woof when it was resumed. It was the finest picture of overwork ever put on the stage. It was said that Mrs. Lyttelton had exaggerated; but he had never seen a play which visualised a workshop better. He himself went to see it three times. Of the 1.692 cases of illegitimate employment of young persons which were brought to the attention of the Home Office, nearly all of them were connected with dressmakers, milliners, and tailors. It should be remembered that this work was not a matter of international competition. It was merely to provide "Lady Gay Spanker" with a fifty-guinea dress for Ascot, or to enable some healthy, decent-minded girl to be presented to Her Majesty at a Drawing-Room. The customers did not know how women and girls were making their own shrouds when they made these society dresses. This work prevented the workers leading healthy and comfortable lives, and from; having strong, healthy, and numerous families—not too numerous, however. Bricklayers, carpenters, and plasterers had their unions; but the women and, girls to whom he was referring had no; union. They could be seen in thousands crossing the bridges any morning between seven o'clock and eight o'clock, thinly clothed and badly fed and working under conditions which were a disgrace. They could not expect ladies to look into these matters; they paid rates and taxes for competent inspectors; and in his opinion, there ought to be at least fifty lady inspectors in order to prevent women and girls being treated in such a scandalous manner. He remembered hon. Gentlemen stating that the special rules with reference to phosphorus would drive trade out of the country, and would not do any good. But the fact was that in consequence of the efforts of some twelve Members, not all of them Labour Members, the special rules were put into force and the result was that the number of poisoning cases fell to less than one-half of what they were. That indicated that they were right in their criticisms and were justified in their rules.

The next point to which he wished to call attention was the report on physical deterioration. With regard to married women's labour, which he would like to abolish altogether, the Report said that the infants were of a miserably debased type in many cases. What was the use of talking of soldiers and sailors for the Empire when the embryonic soldier was described as it was in that Report? What was the use of talking of our troops not being up to the standard they ought to be in the face of that Report on Physical Deterioration? That Report pointed out that "The employment of mothers in factories was attended by fatal consequencies to themselves and their children, and that they would gladly see it diminished or discarded." That was his view. He believed married labour could be discarded, and, if it were, the number of fatal accidents would be enormously reduced. He asked those Members who in the past had tried to prevent special rules being made to deal with lead poisoning to listen to the cases he would now quote. He had a list from Dr. "A" of 177 cases of lead-poisoning among females. Of fifty children born to them alive, twenty had died in the first year, eight in the second, and seven in the third. Fourteen only reached the age of ten years. But worse to him than the babes that died and the cruel treatment of the mothers was the shocking condition of the survivals. If hon. Members wanted to see the survivals, let them go with him or the hon. Member for Poplar. Let them go to the industrial schools, the idiot schools, the schools for imbeciles, and to the lunatic asylums where they would see in their later years the product of the children reared under slum conditions, reared only furtively by mothers who could not be mothers to them, because of the labour they had to do in the factories and workshops and the conditions under which they lived.

He apologised to the House for giving his view of the situation at such length. He did not happen himself to be a very big man, but he had the good fortune to be fairly strong, but nothing depressed him more when at the County Council than to see asylum after asylum brought under discussion, asylums filled with people who, if their mothers, who had not been properly reared themselves, had been able to rear them properly, would have now been pursuing a useful life. This could only be stopped in one way; by taking the women out of the factories and by preventing boys and girls from working in the factories for long hours. When these two things had been done, they could be provided with good houses, and in this way also the evil of drink would be greatly diminished. In these days when we were talking of Imperial rights and doctrines, and when these children were wanted to uphold the Imperial destiny, he pointed out that the only way in which that could be obtained was by the Home Office taking its courage in both hands, and raising its staff of inspectors from 150 to 300. If they did that they would do more to arrest physical decay than all that had been done, and all that had been said and written during the last century.

*MR. ASQUITH (Fifeshire, E.)

said he shared with the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down the regret that this debate had been postponed till so late in the session. He agreed that it was not very creditable to the sense of proportion of the House that a debate of this kind, vitally affecting the well-being of great masses of the British people, should excite such a comparatively languid interest. They were considering, as they did only once a year upon this Vote, the actual operation of the machinery provided for the protection of the lives and health of something like 16,000,000 of His Majesty's subjects. There ought to be no subject which ought to be of wider interest, and he was perfectly certain that those who were responsible for the administration of the Home Office always went away after these debates with hints which they were not reluctant to accept, and with deeper knowledge, perhaps, than even official reports could give them of the actual conditions under which industry was carried on, and of the complaints of those who suffered, not so much from bad laws as imperfect administration. One was often amazed at the loose talk which prevailed about what was called the over-inspection of industry in this country. The whole of these 16,000,000 of operatives of whom he had been speaking had only 150 persons to administer the law for their protection, and that was a sensible increase compared with the past. When he was at the Home Office the number was less than 100. What could 150 inspectors do effectually to superintend the administration of the law affecting such vast masses of the population? We had only to take other European countries to find more stringent laws, and a more stringent administration of the laws. So far from suffering from over-inspection. we should never get that minimum of health and safety which the public conscience demanded until we had a much larger inspectorate. He hoped to see a gradual and progressive increase in the total number of the staff.

He wanted more particularly to add a word in support of the appeal made as regarded lady inspectors. When he went to the Home Office there were no lady inspectors. When he proposed to take the moderate step of appointing two lady inspectors to look after the interests of the women workers, he was told that it was a most revolutionary and pernicious innovation. Efforts were made to prevent a step which everybody now admitted to have been not only necessary, but long overdue. He had watched with great satisfaction not only the falsification of the ridiculous predictions which had been made, but the gradual development of this branch of the Department by his successors at the Home Office. In his opinion, it was still very much below the strength which it ought to reach. There were in the Estimates this year eight lady inspectors. That was totally inadequate, and although it was perfectly right to attach one lady for the time being to the Potteries—he had argued that himself as being most desirable—such a step ought not to be taken at the risk of weakening the efficiency of the Department as a whole. He was sure the Committee would gladly vote the small extra sum needed to replace that lady, or, indeed, to add two or three others to carry on the general work. The total Vote for the inspection of the factories and workshops over the whole of the United Kingdom was rather less than £70,000, which was small indeed when they considered the enormous sums they were in the habit of placing at the disposal of the Army and Navy and other Departments of the State, and he did not hesitate to say that they would get more value out of that £70,000 pound for pound than out of any other sum voted in the year. Economists as they all were in these days, no one on either side of the House, if the Home Secretary said he wished to increase his staff of lady inspectors in order that the girls and women of the country might be more efficiently protected, would be unwilling to accord him support. It had been pointed out that the necessity for the protection of this class of workers was as great as, if not greater than, ever before. They had only to read their newspaper daily to be convinced that, more from want of thought than want of heart—through carelessness, ignorance, or indifference on the part of the customer—women and girls were employed in making articles of luxury, not only at inadequate wages, but under conditions of health and hours which were a distinct violation of the laws which Parliament had passed for their protection. It was the most difficult and subtle of all forms of the contravention of the factory law, was the one which most needed skilled factory inspection, and was one of the main reasons for the appointment of lady inspectors. If those poor girls were to be protected as Parliament intended, they must have a larger body of the only class of inspectors who were qualified to do the work. He trusted they would get a satisfactory assurance on that point.

Then there was the question of dangerous trades. He was quite aware of the difficulty of the question, and the delicate task of dealing with the very complicated conditions of particular industries. At the same time he very greatly mistrusted the effects of a policy of what was called moral suasion. They had no security that their advice would be consistently and permanently followed. He would much rather lay down a set of rules which he knew to fall short of the actual requirements, but which would still deal with the substantial and main difficulties of the particular trade, than go pottering along year after year, endeavouring by exhortation, advice, and indirect pressure to get people to agree to things to which there was no security that they would permanently adhere. Of course, if they could get an adequate set of rules, so munch the better. At any rate, let them make a step to deal with those dangers which were actually threatening the lives of these people. The question of anthrax was brought up year after year, but nothing seemed to happen, although there was a most serious danger which could undoubtedly he very substantially mitigated if proper provision were made for the carrying on of the trade in which it occurred. He could not understand why some effective steps were not taken to deal with that admitted danger, and he was afraid we were falling a little behind the standard which we ought to work to. Nothing would give greater satisfaction to all interested in the industrial progress of the country than to learn that the problem of dealing with dangerous trades, and the still inadequate protection of the workers, was being made the subject of that special legislation which Parliament had empowered the Home Office to frame and administer. The Home Secretary must agree that the points raised were of practical administration, and not crotchets, fads, or extreme suggestions by those unacquainted with the actual circumstances. By exercising the powers the Home Office possessed, a large step in advance might be made towards the attainment of the object for which the Factory Department existed, viz., the protection of the lives and of the health of the workers of the country.

MR. COGHILL (Stoke-upon-Trent)

said the figures given by the hon. Member for Battersea with regard to lead-poisoning in the Potteries were somewhat misleading.


said he quoted the total number of cases of lead-poisoning as given in the Blue-book, and did not refer particularly to the Potteries.


thought a very different impression was left upon the Committee.


As I have been challenged may I read exactly what I said? "The lead-poisoning cases in 1899 were 1,258, in 1903 they were 614." I did not mention the Potteries at all.


said that was the impression produced upon the Committee, especially when the hon. Member went on to speak of the mysterious doctors, A, B, and C. In regard to lead-poisoning in the Potteries, the number of cases last year was only ninety-five, as compared with 200 in 1900. The decrease in the number of fatal cases was even more striking, the figures being, for 1899, 16; 1900, 8; 1901, 5; 1902, 4; 1904, 3. Considering that there were 46,000 persons employed in the Potteries, of whom 4,700 were engaged in the lead processes, the fact that there was only three deaths in what must always be a dangerous trade would compare very favourably with the condition of any other trade in the country. It was true that there had been an increase of lead-poisoning in other trades, but he entirely repudiated the statement of the hon. Member for Battersea with regard to the Potteries, and regretted the hon. Mem- ber should have repeated the aspersion he had previously made. With regard to moral suasion, which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Fife had referred to, he thought there was very little moral suasion in it as the Home Secretary relied upon the special rules. It was shown conclusively that those rules were absolutely impossible, and in the form submitted to the arbitrator they were given up by the Home Office. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife was entirely wrong when he talked about the Home Secretary and moral suasion. Most of the cases in the Potteries were of a very light kind indeed, and in the china and earthenware trade the figures in regard to serious cases and deaths would compare favourably with any other trade in the country. He reminded the Committee that an insurance society had been started there, and he was told that this always had a tendency in the direction of a general increase in the number of cases.

* MR. BROADHURST (Leicester)

said the first point he wished to raise was with regard to the inspection of the fishcuring industry. They had heard a great deal with reference to that industry during the herring season, and had been treated to some very picturesque descriptions of the life of the many thousands of women and girls who were engaged in it. Last November he visited Yarmouth about the height of the season in this fishcuring business, and he was bound to say that a more miserable and deplorable trade for a number of women to be engaged in he had never seen in his life. He admitted that he made his visit with the conditions at their worst, for it was a wet day, and there had been rain for two or three days previous. So far as he could judge, the field in which the work was largely done was a sea of water and mud. The field was many acres in extent, and it was closely and thickly studded with the trays containing the fish, each tray being surrounded by a body of women. He urged the Home Secretary to appoint a specially selected inspector for this work who would go thoroughly into the conditions under which these women laboured, and would report to the Home Office. The work was very exhausting and laborious, and, in his judgment, was quite unfit for women to be employed in. But if woman labour was to continue he thought it should be carried on under the best possible conditions. He saw many thousands of these women at work, and from their general appearance he should think it was work which begot exceedingly bad health. He was much surprised and alarmed to see the eonditions under which this great industry was carried on. He appealed to the Home Secretary to have a special visit paid at the end of October or the beginning of November, and to arrange that the inspector should be on the spot for a day or two because much of the work was carried on by night as well as by day. The inspector, he was sure, would report in favour of a much severer administration of the law in respect of this industry, and of greater precautions being taken with a view to preserving the lives and health of the people engaged in the industry. He did not propose that women should be prohibited from doing the work, but believed that the employment was quite unsuited for women labour.

With regard to the appeals to the Home Secretary for an increase of the staff of women inspectors of factories and workshops he wished to make a suggestion to the Home Secretary, and it was that, if the right hon. Gentleman would increase the staff at some future time, would it not be worth considering as to whether he could not strike another vein for this useful part of the public service. He had nothing to say against the present staff of women inspectors, but he thought that it would not be impossible for the Home Secretary to select some women whose avocation in life had brought them in close and constant contact with working women of all classes in the country, and often under conditions where confidences were regularly exchanged between the classes to which he alluded, and trained persons who, by many years of experience, knew the workers well and knew how to sympathise with them and advise and encourage them. It was not for him to suggest the quarter to which the Home Secretary should look for such women inspectors as he had referred to, but he had no doubt that with the resources at the disposal of the Home Office it would not be impossible for the right hon. Gentleman to find many highly suitable and capable women with such qualifications as he had ventured to suggest.

*MR. THEODORE TAYLOR (Lancashire, Radcliffe)

said that speaking as a factory owner himself he should like to acknowledge the very great debt of gratitude which employers generally were under to the women inspectors. There were many abuses which employers were not aware of until they were brought to light by the women inspectors, and he readily joined in the strong request which had been made by other speakers that the number of women inspectors should be largely increased, for he was sure that the adoption of this course would tend to the efficiency of factory work. He thought his own humble experience was well worth bringing to the attention of the Home Secretary. As the hon. Member for Clitheroe had said, it was amongst the young people that they were continually having these accidents, and he thought there ought to be more protection for the very young, because when they first left school and began to work amongst machinery they were very careless and they required extra precautions as regarded fencing. Owners of machinery were always ready to receive suggestions from factory inspectors to help them to prevent accidents. He supported the hon. Member for Clitheroe in urging the Home Office to act more vigorously and in making it more expensive for unconscientious employers to have accidents. To cheat people of their wages was a most abominable crime, and under the operation of the "particulars" clauses of the Factory Act he was quite sure the action of the Home Office had not been strong enough. An excellent suggestion had been made by the hon. Member for Clitheroe with reference to purposeful fraud, viz., that where several work-people were being defrauded, the Home Office should prosecute not only in one but in all the cases. An important point, however, was that where a loom or weaving machine was putting in more than the proper number of "picks" or threads to the disadvantage of the workman, it might be a temporary default of the machine only and not fraud at all. In any case some variation was unavoidable. Of course inspectors could soon discover the difference. The inspector must be careful to distinguish between purposeful wrong-doing and mere mistakes. But if the inspector found that these variations were habitually in one direction only and that to the disadvantage of the workman, once he was absolutely convinced by a sufficient amount of inspection that an employer was cheating his workpeople then he ventured to say, as an employer, the maximum penalties were not enough.

As to the question of cribbing time he was not quite sure that the hon. Member for Clitheroe made it clear, because in one part of his speech he suggested that the workpeople were being wronged while in another part he said that they were apt to wink at it. There were in most textile mills two classes of employees. There were those who were paid by the hour and those who were paid by the amount of work. The unfortunate part of the business was that in Lancashire, where owing, to the shortage of cotton, short time still prevailed, the hour-worker who was in the minority was apt to be defrauded. The great bulk of the workers who were piece-workers were on short time at present. The more hours the engine ran the more wages they could make. Therefore they were not under any inducement to report that the mill was running more hours than it professed to be. But if the engine was running more time than it professed then the time-workers were really robbed of the extra time. He was bound to say, from his experience of employers as a class, there were not many of that description. Whether there were many or few, however, he was sure the respectable employer of labour wanted these men punished as a disgrace to all connected with the trade.

He also drew attention to the condition of many of the common lodging-houses in this country. He did not know whether the attention of the Home Secretary had been drawn to the Society of Women Guardians in Manchester, which had pubblished a pamphlet giving the experiences of a lady who for five days went to certain workhouses as a tramp, with a friend, and spent two nights in common lodging- houses. He had spoken on a previous occasion about the tramp wards, but in the common lodging-houses there was a state of things that many of them could not be fully aware of. Sanitary conveniences hardly existed in some of those places. There was no arrangement for bathing or washing; and the sexes were jumbled together in a way the law did not allow. They could imagine the moral effect on single women who had sometimes to move from place to place to get work or to visit friends. There were poor women who were as respectable as any lady in the land who had occasionally to make use of these common lodging-houses. The condition of many of these lodging-houses was a disgrace to our civilisation. In one place the lady tramp—and her bona fides was absolute—said the only sanitary con-convenience was one which was being used by at least forty people, this being a small closet which was perfectly dry and the stench from which was "enough to knock one down." Some of the lodgers in that house had been there for six weeks. There was a small sink by the fireside which was the only provision for sanitary purposes of all kinds. In another part she mentioned an instance of a casual ward where they could wash themselves but could not wash their linen. In the common lodging-houses there appeared to be no provision for personal ablutions of the most elementary kind. He knew the Secretary of the Home Office could only do a little, but he wanted him to do what he could to remedy this state of things. It was a matter of the greatest public importance that these places should be made civilised, which many of them at present were not. The effect upon tramps' families was deplorable. Yesterday he asked the Home Secretary a question regarding the recent publication of particulars as to making counterfeit coins. A criminal was brought up at the Old Bailey, and he gave as his reason for knowing how to do it that he had seen a full description of the operation in the newspapers. The Judge and jury were unanimous in strongly condemning the action of the newspaper, and he should be glad if the Home Secretary would inform the House what he thought might be done in the matter and if he proposed to do anything.

*MAJOR EVANS GORDON (Tower Hamlets, Stepney)

said he listened with great interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Battersea. As to the necessity for more factory inspectors, he himself could not profess to speak as an expert, but judging from what had fallen from many hon. Members it seemed that it would be highly desirable to have more inspectors appointed. He was sure that the Home Secretary, if convinced of the necessity for them, would be the very first to come to the House and ask that the requisite provision should be made. In regard to the East-End of London it was not in the factories where the great evils existed. It was much more in connection with home work, and he for one had always felt that it would be a valuable measure of reform if some control over home work could be established. That had been done in America with, he believed, success. He had studied this matter closely in the East-End of London, and he did know there were places where conditions prevailed which were really a disgrace. The conditions under which the labour was conducted were inconceivable by those who had not made themselves familiar with the state of affairs. Reference had been made by previous speakers to the fact that poor people were sometimes engaged at very low wages in making articles of luxury to be used by wealthy people who were not aware of the conditions under which they were produced. This remark did not apply to articles of luxury or the wealthy classes alone. There was a craze for cheapness running through all ranks of the population. He came across an instance the other day where a dozen pairs of corsets were being finished for a few pence. Shoes were being made at 11½d. per pair; and trousers were being finished for 1½d. per pair instead of 6d. or even 10d. which was formerly paid. Out of that small allowance the workers had to find the thread and needles. These things were not worn by the wealthy. They were used by the poorer classes, and he believed if they could realise the conditions under which they were made they would gladly pay a little more for the articles. In that respect they were just as blamable as the wealthier classes, if any were blamable. It was absurd to try as the hon. Member for Battersea had done to raise prejudice against the upper classes and accuse them of luxuriating in finery produced by sweated labour. The play written by the Hon. Mrs. Lyttelton which had been referred to only gave one side of the picture and that not the worst side. These bad conditions had been undoubtedly largely contributed to in the East End of London by the cutting of prices, due to the introduction of labour from abroad. It was absolutely impossible that a movement of this magnitude should go on without producing a disastrous effect upon hours and wages. Forty per cent. of the foreigners who came to this country were in a condition of absolute destitution, and that was having a very serious effect on our own working classes. He did not believe their presence in this country had much influence on the great organised trades, but wages had been seriously depressed in the small employments, such as the making of shirts, trousers, hand kerchiefs, and shoes. Wages must continue to be depressed so long as there was an inexhaustible supply of very cheap foreign labour coming to the country. He was quite certain from personal observation that the poor people in the East-End of London, alien and English alike, were being dragged down owing to the foreigners, and to the cut-throat competition set up by the influx. It was amazing that hon. Members opposite who were apparently so solicitous for the welfare of the working classes should systematically ignore the injury done to our own people by the unrestricted importation of destitute foreigners.

MR. HARWOOD (Bolton)

said he wished to say a word or two in favour of increasing the number of factory inspectors. He pointed out to the Home Secretary the distinctly changed attitude of employers towards factory inspectors. As an employer for more than thirty years, he had seen what amounted almost to a revolution in the change of sentiment against employers of labour towards the inspectors. He could remember when they were regarded as a most deadly enemy, and when people were posted in particular places to await their coming. There was a great reason for the change of feeling. The objects served by factory inspectors were good for the respective trades. They had learned very slowly, as stupid English people learned everything, but they had learned surely, that it did not pay to have unhealthy workmen. It did not pay to have unhealthy conditions of work, and the consequence was that the conditions which they first regarded with aversion had increased the prosperity of business. Another reason why an extension of inspectorship was necessary was that they had come more and more to look on them as their advisers. In their large experience they advised employers on many problems which only inspectors could. The problems of ventilation were associated closely with the health of workpeople. He supposed many Members—certainly Lancashire Members—had noted with extreme pain that a much larger percentage of Volunteers offering from Lancashire were rejected on account of their physical inferiority than in almost any other part of the country. That was the result of the neglect of the problems of sanitation in their leading trades. Therefore, from the patriotic point of view it was necessary to face these problems. The time was coming when the Home Office would be used by the trades much more in a consultative way than it had been hitherto. The Home Secretary must provide for helping them in that way. He would say, as regarded employers of labour, that the old feeling had gone. They all as a body wanted to do the right thing. The question was how to do it. They wanted the inspectors to help them to understand what was the right thing, and then how to do it.

There was another practical problem, viz., that of cribbing time, which was a very great evil in his part of the country. That might easily be dealt with not by inspectors hiding themselves and furtively rushing to places; but by a mechanical contrivance, somewhat similar to one used at his own place, which recorded the exact minute an engine started or stopped. It was a most simple arrangement, and quite cheap. By compelling the use of some arrangement of that kind he believed the evil could be cured at once. He threw out these suggestions because he recognised the friendliness of the Home Secretary, than whom there was no official on the Ministerial Bench who could do more for the well-being of the people.


said that he shared the regret expressed by the right hon. Member for East Fife and others that this Vote should be taken so late in the year. He himself would infinitely rather that it had been taken at an earlier period of the session. But he should like to point out that under the new rules of procedure the Prime Minister had made it his practice to take the Votes in the order in which hon. Members opposite and the House generally desired. Another reason for the delay was that they had got into the practice of waiting for the Report of the Chief Inspector of Factories before they considered this Vote. The preparation of this Report had become more difficult every year from the continually increasing amount of information that had to be embodied in it. There was another reason why the date of this discussion was later than usual. There was no more able or energetic servant of State than the Chief Inspector of Factories, and he had, in addition to his ordinary duties this year, a most difficult and delicate inquiry on hand in regard to the regulations at the docks. On that account the Chief Inspector had not been able to go on with the preparation of his ordinary Report in the same way as in former years. The hon. Member for Battersea suggested that the annual discussion on this Vote should, in future, be taken at an earlier period in the session, even if the Inspector's Report was not in hand. That would be a matter for consideration next year.

After all, the chief point in the whole discussion had been as to the adequacy or inadequacy of the number of the factory inspectors. As the right hon. Member for East Fife had pointed out, this question of the number of inspectors was not settled by their recent growth. He himself looked forward to a gradual and progressive increase in the staff. During the past ten years the male inspectorate had been increased from 100 and 150. The lady inspectors had been increased since the time of the hon. Member for East Fife from three to eight. A large addition to the number of male inspectors had been made last year, and the result fully justified the action taken by the Department. It was now some three years since the number of lady inspectors had been increased. He had been carefully considering this question and had been very much struck by the unanimous opinion expressed that day on the point. After the inquiries which he had made, and after reading the very valuable report of Miss Anderson, he had come to the conclusion that he should be justified in asking next year for an increase in their number.


asked if the right hon. Gentleman was prepared to say what increase he would recommend.


said he could not tell the right hon. Gentleman the exact number, because he was making inquiry.


said his reason for pressing the point was that he understood that two ladies had been taken on temporarily.


At the present time one of the inspectors was temporarily resident in the Pottery district, and was doing most excellent work there. He did not agree with the right hon. Baronet that the women inspectors should be resident in any particular district. It was far better that the staff should be a central one, available for work in any particular district, and that they should be constantly in touch, not only with the other lady inspectors, but should also work in harmony with the male inspectors. Independently of the appeal which had been made to him, he had come to the conclusion that it would only be fair to increase the number of the women inspectorate. The margin upon which the Department had been working was a great deal too small, but hon. Members in this matter must be a little trustful.


asked if the proposed increase would be more than the two temporary inspectors who were now employed.


said he was not including the temporary inspectors. He could not, however, explain further just now.

The right hon. Baronet had asked about a case of phosphorus poisioning. There was no evidence that the poisoning, of which the woman died, had been contracted in any particular works, but he had followed the case as far as it was possible for him to do. Then the right hon. Gentleman made a very serious attack on the administration of the Truck Acts. The right hon. Gentleman had been in correspondence with the Department on the matter; and, in consequence of that correspondence, he had directed the Factory Department to obtain the particulars of all the factory prosecution under the Truck Acts between 1st January, 1888, and 31st May in the current year. The figures certainly showed that the administration of the Truck Acts had not broken down, and the Department was not negligent of the duty imposed upon it. No doubt the proportion of dismissals to conviction was high. During that period, 313 cases had been taken against 121 firms. In 229 cases convictions were obtained, eleven cases were withdrawn on payment of costs, and thirty-three proscutions were dismissed. His object was to show, without submitting further figures, that the Department was not neglectful of the duties cast upon it. The Department was prepared to take a part in the Swiss Conference in the hope that some good might come out of it, not only to the workers of this country but to those of other countries. The risk of fire in factories, and the facilities for escape had been carefully considered by the Department. He had promised the hon. Member for Berwickshire a short time ago that a Select Committee would be appointed to inquire into the subject. That promise would hold good, though the inquiry could not be finished this session now.

The hon. Member and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University had asked for some particulars of the carrying out of the Employment of Children Act. That Act came into force in January last. Several hon. Members believed that great delay had occurred in respect of the setting up of by-laws, and that the blame for the delay lay at the door of the Home Office. The position, as a matter of fact, was that more than fifty sets of by-laws had been received from local authorities, and in each case it had been necessary to consider generally the circumstances of the district and also to examine the details of the proposals submitted by the local authority. The subject-matter being entirely a new one both to the local authority and to the Home Office, the consideration of the by-laws had been more difficult and had perhaps taken a longer time than the consideration of by-laws on matters with regard to which there had been long experience. Up to the present three sets of by-laws had been confirmed and eleven others had been provisionally approved. As regards the remaining cases, in twenty-one the Home Office was still waiting for replies from the local authorities to letters addressed to them by the Secretary of State on the subject of the by-laws, asking for information, making suggestions, etc., many of which were written two or three months ago. Where the local authority before drafting by-laws had made a careful study of the circumstances of the district there had been little difficulty in arriving at a settlement with regard to the by-laws. In many cases, however, the local authority seemed to have prepared by-laws without sufficient inquiry as to or consideration of the actual circumstances and needs of the district and apparently found it difficult to answer the questions in the Home Office letters. As regards the by-laws proposed for London by the County Council he had now received the Council's reply to his letter of the 15th of April. In substance the Council adhered to their previous proposals which, among other things, prohibited the employment of children under the age of eleven in any occupation whatever, fixed the same hours of employment for all occupations for children above that age, and imposed a maximum weekly limit of twenty hours on the employment of all children liable to attend school, whether full or half time. He informed the Council in his letter that having regard to the size of London, the number of its inhabitants, and the different conditions of life in various parts, it would probably be necessary to hold an inquiry at which all persons interested in the by-laws would have an opportunity of being heard, and though the County Council in their reply said that "having regard to the very valuable evidence given before the Inter-departmental Committee, they are of opinion that no further inquiry is necessary or desirable unless substantial objections to the draft by-laws should be submitted on grounds not considered by the Committee, or from classes of the community not represented before the Committee," it seemed clear that such an inquiry would be necessary before by-laws of such a sweeping character as proposed by the Council or anything like them could properly be confirmed. There had been no idea of forcing upon local authorities any cast-iron or pattern by-laws. The Department had acted with the local authorities to the best of its ability to provide rules sufficient for the purpose and suitable for the locality.

Some very important suggestions had been made by the hon. Member for Clitheroe for the further prevention of accidents in cotton mills which would be fully considered by the Department. The hon. Member would see from the Report that in many respects his views were thoroughly shared by the inspectors. He could not deal with all the points the hon. Member made, but there was one subject he would deal with, the question of ventilation. The question of ventilation of humid cotton cloth factories had been under consideration during the year. It had been alleged by the manufacturers that the standard fixed by the Factory Act of nine parts of carbon- dioxide to every 10,000 of air was too stringent, on the ground that while with the best appliances it was possible to conform generally to that standard, and in so doing they would usually work to a point well within it, yet under temporarily unfavourable conditions not under their control they were unable to avoid occasional excess over the statutory limit. In support of their allegation they referred to the opinion expressed by Dr. Haldane and Mr. Osborn in their Report on Ventilation of Factories that the present standard was somewhat stringent and might be relaxed. The manufacturers suggested that in order to determine the point definitely one way or the other an investigation should be made by an independent expert and they undertook to abide by the result of the investigation. He agreed to that proposal and invited the operatives to take part in the inquiry. That, however, they declined to do unless the inquiry were widened so as to cover the further question whether a more stringent standard than that fixed by the Act could be adopted for humid cotton cloth factories. The manufacturers' contention was a definite and limited one which could be proved or disproved at once by an investigation on the lines suggested, but a much wider and more protracted inquiry would have been necessary if the substitution of a new and more stringent standard were in question.

Mr. Scudder, an eminent analytical chemist at Manchester, was appointed by the Secretary of State to carry out the investigation, an appointment which was approved by the masters, and, it was believed, was satisfactory to the men, and the result of the inquiry, which had just been published, was to disprove the manufacturers' contention, and to show that "installations planned and carried out by competent engineers had in practice fully maintained the standard, notwithstanding inequalities due to local or accidental circumstances, provided that the appliances are kept in proper order and used to the full extent intended, and that their adequacy or efficiency is not impaired by subsequent alterations in structure or arrangement." In view of these results the manufacturers would doubtless accept the situation and, in accordance with their undertaking, make every effort to comply with the statutory requirement. That requirement would, of course, be fully enforced by the inspecting staff, and the suggestions which had been made in the discussion would be carefully considered by the Home Office.

As to the alleged insufficiency of inspection, the apparent reduction in the number of inspectors was due solely to a change of organisation. There was one inspector for the technical work, while the ordinary inspectors did the general work when visiting for other purposes also. Any change that was made was intended for the better enforcement of the Act. He would, however, bear in mind the hon. Member's suggestion that the Department was understaffed and would see whether any addition was necessary. The question of "time-cribbing" was a very difficult matter to deal with. One of the greatest difficulties was the existence of "scouting." He could not help thinking that the operatives themselves were prone to act as "scouts," because in many cases they were interested in the increased work done. He did not think the hon. Member's suggestion as to an interchange of inspectors would work over a large area, and he certainly did not like the idea of inspectors going about disguised for any purpose whatever. Another suggestion was the fixing of minimum penalties. Minimum penalties were always unsatisfactory, because if the magistrates thought the penalties too high they would simply dismiss the case. The hon. Member suggested that the inspectors might take up more instances in a particular case. He would have the matter looked into. With regard to women inspectors, in the making of the appointments the general fitness of the candidate had to be considered, and amongst the qualifications to be considered was certainly acquaintance with the life of the working classes. The lady should also be able to extend her sympathies to those whom she was appointed to protect and the class with whom they worked. He had recently received a suggestion which he thought was worthy of consideration, viz., that in addition to the qualifications which they now possessed they should have some experience in hospital work and nursing—not that they would have to do such work themselves, but it was thought that the operatives would go to them with much greater confidence if it was known that the inspectresses had this knowledge and experience.

As to the question of fish-curing, referred to by the hon. Member for Leicester, he was glad to think that matters in that respect had been considerably amended, and the hon. Member, if he would read the Report of this year, would see that many of the complaints made on a former occasion had been dealt with. He thought the hon. Member would admit that. Hon. Members ought not to assume because they had discovered one or two bad cases that the whole industry was naturally teeming with instances of that sort. With regard to the case of fish-curing at Yarmouth, which had been referred to by the hon. Member for Leicester, careful inquiry into the matter had been made. The case of Lowestoft last year looked very bad, but he found on inquiry that a considerable improvement had taken place. That view, he thought, was borne out by existing reports.


Not as regards hours.


said that it was the sanitary aspect of the matter which he promised to inquire into.

There was one point raised by the hon. Member opposite in regard to the publication of certain matters in newspapers. He had already put a Question

to him in the House on this matter and the hon. Member had been kind enough to say that the Answer he had given him had been quite satisfactory. He was afraid that he could not enlarge upon that Answer beyond saying that he was considering with the Public Prosecutor what could be done in the matter. He agreed that the instruction, if he might use the term, given in periodicals and newspapers upon this subject was to be condemned, and he would see whether measures could be adopted to bring pressure to bear in order that there might be no repetition of the complaint which the hon. Member brought forward. He did not expect that his answers to the requests made to him would in every instance have given satisfaction, but he assured the Committee that the Home Office was most anxious to carry out the administration of the Factory Acts in the best possible way.


appealed to hon. Members to allow a division to be taken at this point on the Amendment, as they were anxious to pass on to the discussion of other important questions.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 101; Noes, 170. Division List No. 309.)

Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.) Dobbie, Joseph Joyce, Michael
Ainsworth, John Stirling Donelan, Captain A. Kearley, Hudson E.
Asher, Alexander Doogan, P. C. Kennedy, Vincent P.(Cavan, W.
Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark) Kilbride, Denis
Atherley-Jones, L. Edwards, Frank Labouchere, Henry
Bell, Richard Ellice, Capt. E C (S. Andrw's Bghs Layland-Barratt, Francis
Benn, John Williams Emmott, Alfred Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington
Boland, John Evans, Sir Francis H. (Maidstone Levy, Maurice
Bolton, Thomas Dolling Eve, Harry Trelawney Lewis, John Herbert
Brigg, John Farrell, James Patrick Lundon, W.
Bright, Allan Heywood Fenwick, Charles Lyell, Charles Henry
Broadhurst, Henry Ffrench, Peter MacNeill, John Gordon Swift
Bryce, Rt. Hon. James Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond MacVeagh, Jeremiah
Burns, John Flynn, James Christopher M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)
Burt, Thomas Fuller, J. M. F. Moss, Samuel
Caldwell, James Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John Nannetti, Joseph P.
Cameron, Robert Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)
Campbell, John (Armagh, S.) Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B. Norman, Henry
Causton, Richard Knight Hayden, John Patrick O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)
Channing, Francis Allston Hayter, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur D. O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary, Mid
Condon, Thomas Joseph Hemphill, Rt. Hn. Charles H. O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Cremer, William Randal Higham, John Sharpe O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)
Crooks, William Horniman, Frederick John O'Dowd, John
Cullinan, J. Johnson, John (Gateshead) O'Malley, William
Delany, William Jones, David Brynmor (Swansea Partington, Oswald
Devlin, Charles Ramsay(Galway Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) Power, Patrick Joseph
Rea, Russell Slack, John Bamford Weir, James Galloway
Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion) Soares, Ernest J. White, Luke (York, E.R.)
Robson, William Snowdon Sullivan, Donal Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)
Runciman, Walter Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe) Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)
Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland) Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.) Yoxall, James Henry
Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel) Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr
Shackleton, David James Tomkinson, James TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir Charles Dilke and Mr. Tennant.
Sheehan, Daniel Daniel Wallace, Robert
Shipman, Dr. John G. Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Morgan David. J. (Walthamstow
Allhusen, Augustus Henry Eden Firbank, Sir Joseph Thomas Morrell, George Herbert
Anson, Sir William Reynell FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose- Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer
Arkwright, John Stanhope Fitzroy, Hon. Edward Algernon Mount, William Arthur
Arnold-Forster, Rt. Hn. Hugh O. Flower, Sir Ernest Murray, Rt. Hn. A. Graham (Bute
Arrol, Sir William Forster, Henry William Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Foster, Philip S.(Warwick, S.W. Newdegate, Francis A. N.
Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy Gardner, Ernest O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens
Bailey, James (Walworth) Gibbs, Hon. A. G. H. Parker, Sir Gilbert
Bain, Colonel James Robert Gordon, Hn. J. E.(Elgin & Nairn) Percy, Earl
Balcarres, Lord Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S.) Pierpoint, Robert
Baldwin, Alfred Gordon, Maj Evans-(T'r H'mlets Platt-Higgins, Frederick
Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby- Plummer, Sir Walter R.
Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W.(Leeds Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon Powell, Sir Francis Sharp
Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch. Goulding, Edward Alfred Pretyman, Ernest George
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Gretton, John Purvis, Robert
Bartley, Sir George C. T. Greville, Hon. Ronald Pym, C. Guy
Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir Michael Hicks Hall, Edward Marshall Randles, John S.
Bill, Charles Hambro, Charles Erie Rankin, Sir James
Blundell, Colonel Henry Hamilton Marq. of (L'nd'nderry Reid, James (Greenock)
Bond, Edward Hare, Thomas Leigh Remnant, James Farquharson
Bousfield, William Robert Haslett, Sir James Horner Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)
Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn) Heath, James (Staffords, N.W.) Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye
Brassey, Albert Heaton, John Henniker Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Helder, Augustus Round, Rt. Hon. James
Burdett-Coutts, W. Henderson, Sir A.(Stafford, W.) Rutherford, John (Lancashire)
Butcher, John George Hope, J. F.(Sheffield, Brightside Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)
Campbell, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Glasgow Hoult, Joseph Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H. Hozier, Hn. James Henry Cecil Saunderson, Rt. Hn. Col. Edw. J.
Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire) Hudson, George Bickersteth Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)
Cayzer, Sir Charles William Hunt, Rowland Seton-Karr, Sir Henry
Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich) Jeffreys, Rt. Hon. Arthur Fred Sinclair, Louis (Romford)
Chamberlain, Rt Hn. J. A.(Worc. Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton Skewes-Cox, Thomas
Chapman, Edward Kenyon, Hon. Geo. T. (Denbigh) Sloan, Thomas Henry
Charrington, Spencer Keswick, William Smith, Rt Hn J. Parker (Lanarks.
Clive, Captain Percy A. Knowles, Sir Lees Spear, John Ward
Coates, Edward Feetham Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool) Stanley, Rt. Hn. Lord (Lancs.)
Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E. Lee, Arthur H. (Hants., Fareham Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.
Coghill, Douglas Harry Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage Stone, Sir Benjamin
Cohen, Benjamin Louis Leveson-Gower, Frederick N.S. Stroyan, John
Colomb, Rt. Hon. Sir John C.R Llewellyn, Evan Henry Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Compton, Lord Alwyne Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G (Oxf'd Univ.
Corbett, T. L. (Down, North) Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham) Thornton, Percy M.
Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S.) Tomlinson Sir Wm. Edw. M.
Cripps, Charles Alfred Lonsdale, John Brownlee Valentia, Viscount
Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile Loyd, Archie Kirkman Walker, Col. William Hall
Dalkeith, Earl of Lucas, Reginald J.(Portsmouth) Whiteley, H.(Ashton und. Lyne)
Davenport, William Bromley- Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred Whitmore Charles Algernon
Dickson, Charles Scott Macdona, John Cumming Wilson, A. Stanley(York, E. R.)
Dimsdale, Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph C M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool) Wilson-Todd, Sir W.H.(Yorks.)
Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire) Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Majendie, James A. H. Wrightson, Sir Thomas
Doxford, Sir William Theodore Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F. Wylie, Alexander
Duke, Henry Edward Melville, Beresford Valentine Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin Milvain, Thomas
Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir William Hart Molesworth, Sir Lewis TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir Alexander Acland Hood and Mr. Ailwyn Fellowes.
Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)
Finch, Rt. Hon. George H. Moore, William

Original Question again proposed.


called the attention of the Home Secretary to the recent case of "Sievier v. Duke," and to the fact that a police-officer holding the rank of inspector was called to give evidence as to the repute of one of the parties. He asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he would frame regulations which would, in future, prevent officers of police doing what had been done by that officer. Such conduct was reprehensible and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to give the House some assurance that steps had been taken to prevent its recurrence.


said that the officer was subpœnaed to give evidence as to the character of the plaintiff. There was nothing irregular in the proceeding. When a plaintiff sued for damages for defamation, the defendant might, in mitigation of damages, call witnesses to show the general bad character of the plaintiff. The policeman, being called, had to state what he knew as to the general character of the plaintiff. He received no reward or gratuity other than the ordinary conduct money which must accompany the service of a subpœna. So far as the individual case went, there was no ground for any censure or disapproval. On the general question there was no doubt that it was, as a general rule, most undesirable for many obvious reasons that the police should give evidence on matters of opinion in civil cases, whether libel cases or otherwise. It was safe to say that, as a general rule, police evidence should be confined to questions of fact. Of course when a subpœna was served, it was necessary for a constable to appear and answer any questions which the Judge allowed to be put to him. No interference was possible there; but it was, in his opinion, perfectly proper and desirable to place restrictions upon the powers of police officers to grant interviews or give proof of their evidence on matters of opinion to parties to a civil suit. He had accordingly given instructions that no such facilities were to be accorded except after reference to and due consideration by the Commissioner of Police. He had ordered, further, that the conduct money or gratuity which a police officer should be allowed to accept and retain should be very small—not exceeding the rates fixed for expenses and allowances when an officer gave evidence in indictable cases outside his own district. He hoped the hon. Gentleman would agree that the point which had been raised by him had been satisfactorily dealt with.


said he was perfectly satisfied with the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman.

MR. CROOKS (Woolwich)

said he wanted to ask two or three questions of the Home Secretary as to the important question of street trading. After all, the first thing they had to consider was the interests of the children and not of the persons who employed those children. Everyone who knew anything about the condition of London streets would support the Home Secretary in issuing these by-laws regarding the children engaged in street trading. The present position was perfectly scandalous. Children were found, late at night, offering newspapers containing the latest winners, and naturally that led to numerous arrests on the ground that these children were wandering about without any visible means of subsistence. They were taken to the police station, kept all night, and then remanded for inquiry to be made. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would push the passage of by-laws to deal with such cases, and make some arrangement whereby the stipendiary magistrate might deal with these children without bringing them into the Police Court.

MR. LOUIS SINCLAIR (Essex, Romford)

said that on 5th March last, a Motion was made for inquiring as to the various functions of all the Government Departments. The Committee reported on the Board of Trade, and on the Local Government Board, but left out of consideration the functions of the Home Office. The Home Secretary was really in this House the Minster of Justice, but had also to undertake the administration of the inspection of factories—a duty which the right hon. Gentleman had discharged in the most creditable manner. He agreed with the hon. Member for Bolton that sufficient scope was not given to these inspectors. He thought that our Consuls abroad should be instructed to tell us how we should battle with our foreign competitors in commerce; and the various functions given to this great Department of State should be reviewed and put on proper business lines in order to meet present circumstances. Then, as to the police force of the country, he did not consider that justice had been tempered with mercy. A case had occurred the other day of a poor woman who was summoned for not having sent her children to school, and she pleaded that her boy who was absent from school was minding an infant of twelve months old, while she went out to earn a few pence for bread for her children.

And, it being half-past Seven of the clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.

Committee report Progress; to sit again this evening.