§ As amended (by the Standing Committee), considered.
Amendments proposed to the Bill—
In page 1, line 17, after the words 'deputy check-weigher,' to insert the words 'as the case may be.'
In page 2, line 10, after the words 'check-weigher,' to insert the words, 'or deputy-check-weigher.'
In page 2, line 14, to leave out the word 'so.'
In page 2, line 14, after the word 'paid,' to insert the words 'as aforesaid.'
In page 2, line 16, at the beginning, to insert the words 'For the purposes of the principal Act and of this Act.'
In page 2, line 19, after the word 'shall,' to insert the words 'be deemed to.'
In page 2, line 28, after the word 'gotten,' to insert the words 'be deemed to.'
In page 2, line 29, after the word 'those,' to insert the words 'who are.'
In page 2, line 29, to leave out the words 'in respect of,' and insert the word 'from.'
In page 3, line 10, after the word 'and,' to insert the words 'The Coal Mines Regulation Act (1887) Amendment Act, 1903, and.'"—(Mr. Compton Rickett.)
§ Amendments agreed to.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed "That the Bill be now read a third time."
§ MR. COMPTON RICKETT (Scarborough)
said he should like to acknowledge the treatment the Bill had met 1493 with in the Committee from the coalowners, who had behaved most fairly. Under all the circumstances he thought it was right also to mention that they were indebted very much to the Under-Secretary to the Home Office for medition and assistance.
§ COLONEL PILKINGTON (Lancashire, Newton)
said his hon. friend opposite had recognised the conciliatory spirit in which the coal-mine owners had received this Bill and had treated it in all its stages. They had had a great many conferences with the miners' representatives and with the hon. Member himself, and after all those conferences they withdrew the Amendments and allowed the Bill to go through all its stages without any friction or opposition. Now, what they pressed for was to attach to this Bill a clause which was really of the same nature as the check-weighing clause. He pressed for a clause to be put in with regard to the weighing of foreign matter. The hon. Gentleman and his friends pointed out to them that, although in some respects they would be ready to discuss such a thing as that, and although they admitted that it ought to be discussed, they considered that this was not the time and that it should be left for the future and for a larger Bill. He and his friends wished to do this now and they thought it was a good opportunity, because the Bill was not a long one and they thought the result was obtainable, but, when it was pointed out to them the great difficulties the miners had to contend with, they saw at once that there was great force in the position put to them, and they acquiesced and helped the miners with the passage of the Bill. Now what did the hon. Gentleman himself say, speaking at the Grand Committee. He said—Therefore, if this were a perfectly good case, still I would submit to the Committee that it is not the time, nor is this Bill the opportunity for pressing it. To put it into this Bill would most certainly wreck the Bill. This is a matter for discussion, and I am glad to say that the representatives of the men in meeting the coalowners have suggested that this question should come up at the Conciliation Board's meeting at once, and that it should be thoroughly threshed out, and that sooner or later it should form the subject of legislation in conjunction 1494 with the provisions of the Act of 1887, which will be looked at from more points than one.The Under-Secretary for the Home Office also gave great attention to the Bill, and he thought if the hon. Gentleman said anything now he would probably say he would be glad to see something done on the lines he had stated. These were his words in the Grand Committee—Now, as regards this particular Amendment which deals with this difficulty, it has been one that has been long felt. It is overcome now, and I believe it is overcome by illegal methods. Both parties, men and employers, are more or less guilty, in these arrangements come to, of technical illegalities. Under those circumstances I must have great sympathy with any measure to make legal that which is not legal, but which is generally agreed upon by both employers and workmen. Now this point has been considered by the Home Department on more than one occasion. Mr. Asquith and Lord Ridley endeavoured to meet it. Neither of them succeeded in doing so.Then his hon. friend n the further arguments of his speech went on to say—I think it is a very legitimate and proper one, but I have heard what the hon. Member who is in charge of the Bill has said. He says that there has been a meeting between those who promote the Bill on the one side, and those who are not promoting it on the other side, and that they have met to consider this question with every desire to come to a solution; and he pledges himself, on behalf of the workers, not to let the subject die, not to say anything in the future in a hostile way, but to take it into their early and immediate consideration; and, if a Bill is introduced to deal with this question, that it will meet with no factious opposition from the employed. Under those circumstances, we may consider this is a genuine, and a reliable, and a bona fide offer of the working men, and if they go away from that they will lose a great deal of weight. I hope and believe that that is their intention, and I say to hon. Members not to press even a good thing if it is going to have a disastrous effect upon a humble and useful measure. The fate of this Bill entirely depends upon the good will of the House of Commons. If there is one side or the other hostile we know that its doom is sealed. It has many good, useful, and modest provisions, and I commend it to the Committee. Under those circumstances I would suggest, although I have no right to do so, to my hon. friends who have been most reasonable, to meet the thing in this respect—that they should not press the clause, which is beset with so many difficulties at the present time.The result of all those appeals from the Home Office and from the hon. Members opposite was that they certainly fell in with their view. They felt it was only right to do so. They 1495 felt most thoroughly that the Bill as it at present stood did not go very far, but as far as it went it was a good, useful, and carefully-drawn Bill. Therefore, he had much pleasure on the Grand Committee in acquiescing in the desire expressed by the promoters of the Bill, and he was glad to-day to wish the Bill every success, and that it should pass its Third Reading.
§ MR. JOHN WILSON (Durham, Mid)
said he had listened with some surprise to the lengthy quotations read by the hon. Member opposite, and he wondered why they had been read. He thought there must be some ulterior motive in his reading them. Why did the hon. Member read those statements unless it was to put on record that the miners' representatives would, in cases of deductions for foreign matter, go in the direction of the proposals of the coalowners, upon which the men had strong opinions? It might be that in the future some large Bill would be brought in, as an improvement of the Mines Regulation Act, and that these statements read with such emphasis and clearness would then be brought before them as some pledge to force upon the miners' representatives some such clause. Speaking for himself, he knew of no inference or implied pledge given by the miner's representatives that they would go in any direction so far as deductions for foreign material were concerned, and he rose to safeguard himself from any such inference being drawn. He joined in thanking the coalowners for the conciliatory manner in which they had met the Bill, but if it had not been for the stubbornness of some coalowners it would never have been necessary at all. If they (the employers) had put into operation what they (the workmen) considered the legitimate powers given to them and the provisions provided for them under the principal Act of 1887, there would never have been any need to introduce this Bill or for any arrangement to be made, because, with the exception of one or two cases, in the whole of the United Kingdom the provisions of the principal Bill were carried out. He was aware of no case in Durham where the check-weighing system 1496 was in force where there was not a cabin and proper provisions for weighing.
§ COLONEL PILKINGTON
said that this was a serious matter. The deliberations upstairs did not appear on record anywhere to-day. He had only read out what his hon. friend and the Under-Secretary of State had said. If the Bill had been before the Committee of the Whole House everything said would of course have been on record. He would only say to his hon. friend that the coal proprietors and the miners' representatives had really co-operated in this matter, and he trusted on some future occasion the miners' representatives would co-operate with the coalowners.
§ SIR WILLIAM TOMLINSON (Preston)
expressed his satisfaction that this Bill had reached its Third Reading. He had always desired to treat questions of this kind in a conciliatory spirit, and the sooner that state of things could be brought about which would insure that the interests of both sides would be safeguarded and that each side would be able to carry on their trade in a peaceful way the better. The check-weighing system was at the root of the administrative working of the mines so far as economy was concerned. The hon. Gentleman opposite had truly stated that the irregularities which this Bill was intended to meet in their opinion only applied to isolated cases. It had certainly been a surprise to him that it was necessary to insert many things which he had round in the Bill. He did not think that any colliery owner would take any credit for having acted in a conciliatory spirit. That was the desire of all who were engaged in colliery affairs. It was their desire to do everything they could to do away with anything that caused friction and inconvenience. He thought it was wiser not to attempt to widen the Bill in any way.
§ THE UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. COCHRANE, Ayrshire, N.)
referring to what had transpired in Committee said it was at the time admitted that the question was one deserving of consideration, but the time was not propitious for it. He 1497 believed meetings of hon. Members interested on both sides had been held And that it had been agreed on behalf of the coalowners that such a contentious clause ought not to be introduced, while Ion. Members who had introduced the Bill had stated on behalf of the men that if it were brought up on a subsequent occasion it should not be dealt with in a contentious or hostile spirit.
§ MR. COMPTON RICKETT
I do not wish to interrupt, but I said that the matter would be discussed in the first instance by the miners at the Conciliation Board. The subject would be treated in a fair and impartial manner.
§ MR. COCHRANE
hoped that under the circumstances the House could agree to the Third Reading of the Bill.
§ Bill read the third time and passed.