§ 9 "That a sum, not exceeding £1,803,100, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1907, for Expenditure on the Army Services, including Army (Ordnance Factories), viz.:—
|5.||Volunteer Corps, Pay and Allowances||1,244,000|
|13.||War Office and Army Accounts Department||559,000|
§ Resolutions read a second time:
§ First Two Resolutions postponed.1075
§ Third Resolution: —
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
said upon this Vote an opportunity was given for raising certain questions which were of greater importance than was generally recognised. But on this occasion, when one saw so many new Members of the House who had a personal acquaintance with them in a degree more marked than that which previously existed in the House, there would be an opportunity of dividing this question between a larger number than was usually the case. While in past years the miners had been well represented on this Vote, there had been a great absence of those concerned with other trades. There were now present in the House a much larger number of Members who had a personal and more detailed knowledge of the working of the great trades though less of those which were most helped by inspection by Government departments. The great organised trades were, to some extent, able to protect themselves, and the miners, working under special rules, were closely regulated by law, and did not have to depend on the Department. The great textile trades were now represented by three Members in whom they had full confidence, but nevertheless there was one class of workers, especially women workers, whoso fate depended in a great degree on legislation and the enforcement of the law. Therefore there was one subject which always occupied the attention of the Committee on this Vote, namely, the efficiency of the law and inspection as regards those trades. It was only with the administration that the Committee could deal on this Vote, and year by year they had always called attention to the smallness of the number of women inspectors. On the woman inspectors especially fell the duty of enforcing the law in cases where inspection was most necessary. Early in the session questions were addressed to the Secretary of State as to the necessity of increasing the staff of women inspectors, and certain promises were made, and he understood there was to be an immediate increase of three. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman to tell the House what was the state of affairs with regard to the women inspectors. They were still, 1076 he understood, engaged in clerical duties and special inquires which took them off their regular work. The nominal staff, therefore, was much larger than the real staff. The increase in the number of working places was more rapid every year, and in the present year the increase of work-places under inspection was 28,000; and for all the work there were in all 154 inspectors, and inspectors' assistants, male and female, including all those detached for medical and other departments, etc. for special duty. The dangerous trades carried on under special regulations were increasing, and required more inspection. The result of the shortness of staff was seen in the Report. Miss Anderson, the principal lady inspector, reported "a representative case," Involving a long series of visits. The underground departments of a "world-famed provision manufacturer" were concerned, and "the firm had opposed every suggestion of improvement." But the manager ultimately promised to persuade the firm to remedy the "glaring defects" which had been pointed out. Miss Anderson added in her Report—It remains to note the results when a visit is possible.That was the result of the smallness of the staff of women inspectors. Not only were the numbers of complaints increasing, but the arrears were increasing also, so that a large number of complaints had to be set aside because there was no one to deal with them. A subject closely connected with that of the increase of the inspectorate was the extension of the principle of "particulars" to all piecework trades. As to some trades where the necessity was admitted — such as the paper bag and paper box trades—the "particulars" order had hung fire for many years. Three new industries were reported on as long ago as 1902, and yet the order had not been made in respect of them. How many such cases had the Home Office now under consideration? If it was impossible to get the extension of "particulars" To all piecework trades, the orders should be granted at once where the Inquiry was complete and the report had been received. In 1895 a Grand Committee considered a factory Bill, and some proposals were made to introduce a new 1077 system. In regard to the sweated industries, one of the proposals made in 1895 was the introduction of the New Zealand license system, but objection was taken to it on the ground that it would throw such work on the Department as would cause a breakdown of the whole system. A good deal of work under the Factory Act of 1901 was thrown on the local authorities, but the statement made by himself and others at that time that the duty would not be performed by some local authorities had been borne out. The Report now before the House stated that there was no provision by which the enforcement of the law by the local authorities in regard to "particulars" was possible. To his own knowledge there were within ten miles of this House medical officers of health of the local authorities, with all their staffs of sanitary inspectors behind them, who were absolutely unacquainted with the law on this subject, and who did not know what "particulars" were. On the other hand the Home Office inspectors, feeling that the local authorities were responsible for the enforcement of the other provisions of the law in those cases, had but rare opportunities of visiting the homes in which this work was carried on. The result was that the grant of "particulars" In those cases was illusory. He would suggest that something must be done to overcome this great difficulty by means of the issue of a circular to sanitary inspectors and medical officers calling attention to the fact that they might call in the inspectors of factories. As regarded the feebler trades, of which the greatest complaints had been made in the past, they were able to see some slight improvement, due partly to the Report laid annually before the House and the publicity which was given to that Report, and partly in some trades to the excellent results accomplished by social unions, and partly to the debates in this House. But the progress was not sufficient. The public had recently been startled by extracts from the factory inspectors' reports on the jam trade. It was bad enough now, but that trade was infinitely better than it was some years ago. The same thing might be said with regard to the fish-curing industry. 1078 During the discussions on the Bill of 1901 an optional clause was inserted by which the owners of jam factories were to make special provisions in regard to the standard weights carried by the employees. But still we were infinitely behind France in regard to the carrying of weights by women and children. On page 296 of the Report one of the women inspectors said—the heavy weights carried by young persons—equally striking in textile factories— whenever there is a fairly abundant supply of young, cheap labour The carrying, pushing or pulling of heavy weights was one of the duties of the apprentice in almost every trade.She went on to describe having found a child carrying a bundle which was proved to weigh 44 lbs, and that it was "pitiful to see the twisted little figures of the children doing their best to accomplish more than they were physically fit for." Miss Martindale, another lady inspector, said that she was "unable to give as much attention as formerly to the carrying of heavy weights by women and children." But in visiting one factory she had seen a boy "carrying a piece of clay weighing 69 lbs., his own weight being 77 lbs." She re-visited that factory two years afterwards and found that the boy was hardly grown, and only weighed" 81 lbs., an increase of only 4 lbs. "In two years. She added that the" undersized condition of many of the pottery workers was owing to the excessive physical strain to which they had been subjected in their early years."there were many other trades on which that remark could be made. All these matters brought them back to the point as to the necessity for increasing the number of competent skilled inspectors. Just as there had been an improvement in the fruit-preserving industry, and in the fish-curing industry, so there had been an improvement in the lead industry compared with three or four years ago; but still there was immense room for progress. At page 291 of the Report, the inspector made this significant comment—It is disappointing to find that the number of cases of plumbism amongst the women workers in the potteries has not decidedly decreased.And then she went on to say on page 292 that—A great deal of the ill-health and low vitality among the pottery workers.1079 would not be decreased until the Special Rules were more strictly enforced.
The words were—Until the standard of carrying out the Special Rules has been raised throughout the potteries the amount of ill-health amongst the workers will not be lessened to any considerable extent. There was a lack of interest in taking any further precautions than those required by the exact text of the Special Rules, and this was illustrated in one factory where during two and a half years eleven cases of plumbism amongst women had been reported, and nine cases of other ill-health, probably due to the employment. On investigation it was found that although there was fair compliance with the Special Rules, the workers had been engaged in processes which, although not prohibited, were still highly undesirable employment for women and girls, owing to the quantity of lead with which they came in contact.Another inspector reported that—Although some manufacturers were doubtless doing their utmost to comply with the regulations, the most striking feature to be observed in the inspection of the potteries was the absolute failure of the occupiers and managers to realise their responsibility with reference to the carrying out of the Special Rules.This was another case of insufficiency of inspection, because these Special Rules were highly technical and required highly trained and competent inspectors. Under this Vote they could not deal with legislation; but two or three Departmental Committees had been appointed to make suggestions in regard to future legislation. His right hon. friend the Lord Advocate was Chairman of the Committee on Truck, and he was sure that they would all be anxious to receive the full Report of that Committee with a view to legislation as soon as possible. There was another Committee as to which he wished to make some inquiry, and that was the Committee to deal with the pressing matter of insurance under the Workmen's Compensation Act. The House would remember that when the Bill was discussed he had put forward an Amendment raising this question of insurance in a general form. In the debate which followed his right hon. friend made a promise for the appointment of a Committee, and, being satisfied with that promise, he withdrew his Amendment. That promise was somewhat toned down on the 1080 following day by the Under-Secretary, but it was afterwards renewed in the same terms in which it was originally made. He would like the Home Secretary to State clearly the nature of the promise, because the subject was becoming more and more pressing. He begged to move the reduction of the Vote by £100.
§ *MR. J. RAMSAY MACDONALD (Leicester)
, in seconding the Motion, said that the difficulty which Members experienced in taking part in a discussion on the Home Office Vote was the enormous width of the subjects which lay before them. For instance, there were the many problems which had been raised by the Sweating Exhibition in the Queen's Hall. There was also the question to which his right hon. friend had referred, of the relations between the Home Office and the local sanitary authorities. Personally he considered that to be one of the most important questions which the Home Office would have to face. A Return which had been presented upon his Motion showing how certain.sections of the Factories and Workshops Act were supposed to be administered, was really appalling in the facts which it disclosed, and the evidence which it afforded of that working. He never believed that these sections were being well administered, but he never thought that they were so badly administered as that Return disclosed. He refrained, however, from entering into that question, because there was one important matter which he wished to refer to, which was, he thought, fundamental to everything, and that was not so much the increase as the organisation of the staff of factory inspectors. He did not wish to dissociate himself from the proposals which were being made for a substantial increase of the inspectorate, and he himself desired an increase of that body. But they Wanted not only numbers, but quality, and it was a question not only of increasing the staff, but of increasing their efficiency. Some months ago he drew the attention of the House to the syllabus which had been issued in regard to the appointment of factory inspectors. All he could then do was to draw the attention of the House to the character of the preparation required, and he pointed out 1081 that the practical part of the examination had been dropped, that the examinations had become theoretical, and that its theory was of such a character that nobody who had not been to a University could hope to pass. He was now in a position to put before the House one or two questions which had been set at the recent examination under this syllabus. It must be remembered that these questions were put to the men who were to inspect machinery and see if it was properly guarded and whether there was any danger in the manner in which factories were carried on. The first question in English history was—How did William the Conqueror deal with the lands of the conquered? Is he correctly described as introducing the ' feudal system ' into England?Another question was—Give an account of the relations between England and Scotland from the time of William I. to the death of Edward IQuestion number 7 was—Describe the process of confiscation of Church lands under Henry VIII. and Edward VI.Another question was—Describe briefly the relations between Elizabeth and her Parliament. Do you consider that she was more or less despotic than Henry VIII.?Question 10 ran—Describe the treatment of the Roman Catholics throughout the 17th century.And Question 15 was as follows:Compare the extent of the British Empire in the 16th century with its extent in the 19th, and show the difference between the old Colonial policy or system of the 18th century and that of to-day.Finally, and he supposed the reason for this question was that the Labour Party had sailed into the political horizon, candidates were asked—:Show historically how the participation of the democracy in the Government of the country in the 19th century has broadened the power and humanized the policy of England both at home and abroad.That was the sort of questions in regard to history which were set to gentlemen who had to administer the Factory Laws and protect the lives and limbs of our people and see that the industrial law was properly administered. Taking the syllabus in regard to Economics it also contained extraordinary questions to 1082 be answered by this class of men. One was—Enumerate the essential points in the economic conception of a perfect market. To what extent are these conditions realised in the special conditions of the retail and wholesale markets, the money market, and the Stock Exchange? What conditions limit the development of the markets.Another question was—What is meant by the mobility of labour? How far is labour mobile to-day? Is its mobility implied in the theory of wages?A further question ran—the Ricardian theory of rent is true, perhaps, of a particular time and place; it does not, however, apply in general to India," or in places in which the system of 'Metayage' prevails. Examine this view.The candidate also had this put before him—Unless we are prepared to say that machinery is an evil, we cannot on economic grounds condemn as an evil the importation of cheap labour; whether it should be condemned on social grounds is another question. Examine and discuss.These were the nonsensical questions addressed to a candidate in order to establish his competence as a factory inspector. There was absolutely nothing on the practical side except that which was contained in Question 3. He gave this as an illustration on the other side, lest he should be unfair. That question was—Examine critically the arguments that are commonly used in support of Factory Legislation. What were the most important features of the Act of 1884?The point he wanted to emphasise was that so far as men of practical experience were concerned that syllabus was a clear and decisive notice that they were not wanted by the Home Office at all. Twenty-one nominations were made for seven vacancies, but not one of the assistant inspectors were nominated for examination. There was one nomination given to a clerk at the Home Office who had been a clerk in the Inspector's office, and that was the nearest approach to the nomination of a practical man. Mr. Daly, the organising secretary of the Amalgamated Tailors, wrote an article in which he discussed factory inspection from his point of view, in which he condemned the present system. A public inquiry, he declared, would disclose at the Home Office the same 1083 absence of administrative ability, the same power of social influence in the matter of promotion, and the same incompetence generally as was revealed as the result of the War Office Commission. His point was made still stronger by the sort of playing at inspection that took place. Two iron founders were appointed assistant inspectors because of their special ability, but they were employed not to inspect iron foundries but to look after dressmakers' assistants. The chairman of the Building Trades Federation was so disgusted to find that the duty assigned to him was to walk about certain districts at 11 o'clock at night to see whether the law was being observed in milliners' establishments that he threw up his post of assistant inspector. Two engineers and a cotton spinner had for thirteen years been looking after the dressmakers of South London. These men were appointed to do practical work, but were compelled to waste their time and the public money in this pettifogging tomfoolery. In a case of lead poisoning reported recently in the newspapers the case was discovered by the assistant inspector, but no sooner did he discover it than he had to drop it and report to a superior. He had to drop the whole thing although he had been reporting that the washing apparatus was inadequate and likely to result in disease. That was the rule of the department. No assistant inspector was allowed to deal with these dangerous poisoning cases. In the case of anthrax, too, these assistant inspectors went into the places where it is bred, but could do nothing when the disease appeared. Then in regard to the particulars clause. The moment an assistant inspector discovered in a work-room that the particulars had been imperfectly supplied and that the work came from a factory they could go no further, but had to report to a higher official, who had himself to go and make up his mind as to whether it was a case for a prosecution. He understood that the hon. Member for Bolton was going to raise the question of overtime cribbing, and he would say nothing about that except that he understood they were going to ask the police to assist in putting a stop to that, but they had not asked the assistance of the assistant inspector. The Truck Act also it was almost impossible 1084 to administer owing to the difficulty of tracing goods back. As showing the way the assistant inspectors were treated, he would point out that a monthly circular was issued from the Home Office giving information of everything that had happened during the month in the administration of the work of the Office, the legal decisions, changes in the law, changes in the responsible heads and so on. Although on the average half the circular dealt with things which assistant inspectors were concerned with, not a single copy was sent to any one of them, and when on one occasion by accident a copy was addressed to all the assistant inspectors, within twenty-four hours they were requested by letter to return it, as it had been sent by mistake. Was not the whole system of inspection absolute tomfoolery? Plain speaking was necessary in this matter. Those outside who had been watching carefully the inspection work of the Home Office had felt for a long time that matters instead of improving had been going from bad to worse. It was high time that this system which had grown up piecemeal, and which had never been adapted to the new conditions, should be made the subject of careful inquiry. The Home Office should make up its mind whether the assistant inspectors were worth keeping on. The time had come for the Home Office to consider what the organisation of the Factory Inspection Department was going to be. He challenged the Department to lay itself open to an inquiry. He challenged it to come before the public and give evidence to justify itself in drawing this clearly marked line between the full and the assistant inspectors, to justify the tendency that has gone so far towards divorcing the inspectors from the class with which they had to deal. This was a question of reorganising the staff, of increasing the efficiency. If he had to put it strongly and say they were not going to rest content with the present state of things it was because he was speaking for the wage-earning people of this country.
To leave out '£1,203,002,' and insert '£1,202,902.' "— (Sir Charles Dilke.)
§ Question proposed, "That '£1,203,002' stand part of the said Resolution."
§ MR. TENNANT (Berwickshire)
said the most salient feature in connection with the issue of the new Blue-book was the interest almost amounting to excitement at the sudden discovery that all our food manufactories were not all that they ought to be. Why this new interest ! There was certainly no new fact. The British public were a truly apathetic body. It seemed to require at least two members of one family to be boiled alive at Chicago before interest could be aroused. Any time these last ten years past cases had been brought before this House of intense dirtiness of jam factories, fish-curing places, chocolate manufactories and others, and the public had been not perturbed. And yet, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean had said, these places had been improved. Take any of the old reports. He took that for 1898 at random, and he found that both Miss Deane and Miss Paterson spoke of indescribable dirt, dilapidation and disorder.the impression sometimes carried away from inspection of one of these places was that a building too insanitary for any other purpose was considered fit for the manufacture of jam and pickles.In another Report, that for 1902, Miss Paterson had said:—In a new fruit preserving factory where considerable use was made of the exception which permits unlimited hours of work in order that fruit may be preserved in as fresh a condition as possible, I found the cleansing of the fruit being done in the hot and steamy boiling room. Built into the same room and ventilating directly into it was the sanitary accommodation. This had been primarily intended for a cloakroom, but its possibilities as a place to store fruit had been realised, and I found it in use for that purpose. Even the lavatory basin was piled high with fresh fruit.These cases had been brought forward year after year, and no one had paid any attention. Only a handful of interested and informed Gentlemen, such as he saw present now, and two bewildered and embarrassed Members of the late Administration were there to listen. It was only when they heard at their backs the grunting of the hogs of Chicago that they were able to get any attention given to the subject. Perhaps now they might 1086 hope for better things. Closely allied with the jam trade was the preserving of fish. Anybody who studied this Report, especially the very interesting Report from Miss Paterson as to the conditions prevailing in the North of Scotland, particularly Shetland, would feel how instinct that Report was with the anxiety and desire to improve the lot of those fisher-girls, an anxiety and desire it seemed very difficult to put into effect. The conditions of the fish-curing industry were very bad, and there was a very high death-rate. Miss Paterson spoke of a great lack of sanitary accommodation, and she particularly dwelt on the shy and sensitive feelings of these Highland girls, to whom the common obligations of decency seemed to be denied. This absence of sanitary accommodation not only produced grave risks to the girls, but to the public health as well. A very common excuse made by employers in this industry was that these girls were only there between three and five week's at the outside and, therefore, it was not' worth while spending money on sanitary conveniences and effecting other desirable improvements. It was, one curer expressed it, in the nature of a summer outing. But with the exception of the Shetlanders, practically all the women in the industry worked at it for six months in the year. Kipperers worked the whole year round. The irregular hours of work made it all the more necessary that the conditions of work should be satisfactory. Another extraordinary fact was that drinking water was almost impossible to be obtained in many cases, and one of the lairds charged 1s. a barrel for it. What was the right hon. Gentleman prepared to do with regard to the appalling conditions of employment of girls who worked in foreign ships at British ports? The Report said —We found the complaint fully justified and the conditions so bad that it was amazing to us that women could be found to accept work under them.…It is difficult to write moderately about the living and the sleeping quarters provided for these women. Down in the hold of the ship boards were laid on the top of the herring barrels, and on these, with some tarpaulin laid on them, the women slept, and not only slept hut cooked their food; the hatch above the hold, if open, would admit some light, and would also of course, admit the rain. There was no attempt at either cleanliness or comfort; indeed we had 1087 felt some indignation when we saw, on our way north, some Shetland cattle lowered for one night into similar quarters to those in which these women live for long periods.It was a disgraceful state of things, and he hoped his right hon. friend would communicate with the proper authorities to see if they could not have improvement in these conditions. He came to an old subject of his, namely, that of means of escape in case of fire. The Report showed numerous instances in which narrow wooden and, in many cases, steep staircases were the only outlets. His right, hon. friend might say that this was the business of the local authority, and that they ought to have put their powers in force. That was quite true, but where less than forty persons were employed the Home Office had no compulsory powers over the local authority as it ought to have. There again he trusted his right hon. friend was fully impressed with the urgency of the question. The Report showed that even in new factories the means of escape in the event of fire were very inadequate. For example, in one factory visited by Miss Martindale, which had been built as recently as eighteen months ago, she found 160 workers employed on the top floor from which there was no exit except one staircase. Miss Squire reported that a chief officer of a Fire Brigade told her he had himself in vain reported to the corporation that a factory was very unsafe years ago. She had written to the local authority and had received a reply that the Committee were of opinion that no additional means of escape could be provided at a "reasonable expense." Were they going to wait to provide real means of escape from fire until it could be provided at a reasonable expense? The whole of this subject required investigation, and he trusted the right hon. Gentleman would re-appoint the Select Committee on Fire, appointed last session, at the earliest opportunity, and that it would go thoroughly into the matter and report what ought to be done. He now came to such questions as precaution for life and limb in electrical generating works. It was an extremely dangerous trade, the workers being struck down without anything in the nature of a warning. 1088 There was in the inspector's Report in all eighteen deaths from this cause in the year. He did not say they were all electrical deaths, but they were all due to shocks or falls or other accidents on account of shocks. Five of the eighteen were on railways, four in mines, three in consumers' premises, and six under the Factory Act. Of course there were in addition a large number of injuries. Special regulations were recommended for this trade seven years ago, but none existed at the present day. The Home Office had pursued a policy of reliance upon voluntaryism. He objected to voluntaryism for two reasons; one was that they might get one employer to fall in with their ideas and not the other, in which case unfair competition arose; and, in the second place, the management of a place might change, and with it the methods. There was no power of compulsion. There were two new trades reported upon in the Chief Inspector's report, both of extraordinary interest. One was the aniline dyeing trade and the other the trade of making shuttles of West African wood. In the aniline dyeing trade illness had been so rife that out of sixty persons employed in seven factories examined by the medical inspector twenty-eight persons, or 47 per cent., showed pale grey or blue colour of the lips; thirty-four persons, or 57 per cent., characteristic pallor, and five scars, the result of previous work in chrome or of injury to the skin, showing that the whole of these persons had suffered in one manner or another and seven of them had suffered doubly. Again, among eighty-two persons employed in the chroming, washing, drying and other processes, twenty-eight (34 per cent.) showed the game conditions of the lips, sixteen (20 per cent.) the pallor, and eleven (14 per cent.) present or past effects of chrome. He would give one illustration in the shuttle-making trade in which West African wood was used. There was a case reported of a man working in that trade who had not been previously ill; very soon after commencing work he began to run at the eyes and nose, and his breathing rapidly became so difficult that he could neither speak nor swallow. After one severe attack he 1089 was three weeks at home, and then three weeks at a convalescent home, after which he felt better, but the day he resumed his work he was as bad as ever. He used a respirator, and this case was a good example of the danger of placing reliance upon respirators. What was the Home Secretary going to do? In this trade manufacturers in conference recommended the use of exhaust ventilation, and he should like to know what the Home Office was going to do, because this West African wood was very dangerous indeed. He trusted he would not rely upon his powers of "peaceful persuasion." With regard to the regulation of the wall-paper trade, the Home Office appeared to be relying upon those powers. They were also relying upon peaceful persuasion in regard to the iron and steel trade for the protection of workers upon Bessemer steel, and also in regard to lithographic processes in which bronze was used. With regard to Institution laundries, the voluntary system had failed, and the Reports of the lady inspectors showed that in the cases he quoted no improvements had been achieved in regard to the fencing of machinery or the ventilation of wash-houses. Their Reports also showed a lamentable want of care in regard to children employed in such laundries. The inspectors were very emphatic in their reports as to the unreliability of the statements furnished to them by those who were in authority. They report—In only a few places do we feel that we have been met with complete frankness, even where the courtesy with which we have been received has also been the most marked."… "We have no meats whatever of checking these statements, as we had no opportunity of speaking to the workers or visiting at unusual hours."…. "We were constantly assured that no accident could occur in a wash-house crowded with machinery and in which numbers of persons are employed because a man was in the room ! We feel strongly that the information received with regard to accidents was entirely unreliable, and whenever we had the means of checking it we found that it was not upheld.He thought the Home Secretary would see that this system of voluntary inspection had entirely broken down, and he appealed to the right hon. Gentleman - to put an end to it. 1090 He wished to remind the House of the enormous importance of the subject with which they were dealing. As the hon. Member for Leicester had said, that the great difficulty of dealing with this question was the enormous amount of ground one had to traverse and the difficulty of choosing any particular part of the subject. On a previous occasion the right hon. Gentleman rebuked him for urging the Home Office to do more, because he said they had a number of very important matters in hand, such as the Workmen's Compensation Bill, the Truck Acts Committee, and the Committee dealing with the police, not to speak of the preparation of a Licensing Bill for next year. He should be the last person in the world to minimise the great responsibility which attached to the right hon. Gentleman's high office. But although he had great responsibilities he had also stupendous opportunities. He had be hind him at the Home Office an able body of energetic, active, and sagacious members of the Civil Service. He had also in that House a large number of hon. Members keen and eager, almost spoiling for reform, and in these circumstances he appealed to him, and he did not think his appeal would fall upon deaf ears: he appealed to him to use in the best possible manner all those great powers which the wisdom of Parliament had entrusted to him in order to bring an increased measure of happiness, of light, and of hope, into the lives of thousands of our workers.
§ MR. GILL (Bolton)
said the subject he wished to bring before the attention of the House was time-cribbing. The number of hours worked in cotton mills per week was fixed at fifty-five and a-half hours. The operatives commenced work at 6 o'clock in the morning and stopped at 8 for half-an-hour for meals. They then worked on from 8.30 to 12.30, and from 1.30 to 5.30. At the end of the week the machinery was stopped at 11.30 and work ceased altogether at 12 o'clock. A large number of the workpeople were paid day wages in the texile factories which were calculated on the basis of fifty-five and a-half hours per week. The time-cribbing of which he complained was done at the stopping and the starting of the work. It was a common thing for many of the workpeople to 1091 go to work five or ten minutes before the proper time, and they found the engines running, and frequently at noon on Saturdays during the period which had been set aside for cleaning, they found the time encroached upon by the manufacturing process being carried on at twenty minutes or a quarter to 12, whereas it ought to cease at 11.30. He had been furnished with the returns in some instances of the amount of time which had been worked over the proper number of hours. He had in his possession a letter from one of the branch secretaries of the Employees Association which gave the figures for five different mills upon which observations had been kept for a week. In the first mill three hours thirty-five minutes were worked over the proper time, in the second mill two hours sixteen minutes, in the third three hours forty-five minutes, in the fourth three hours forty-one minutes, and in the last case two hours forty-nine minutes. In each of those cases the workpeople had not been paid one penny extra. The House would realise the extent of this practice when he stated that in Lancashire there were close upon 50,000,000 spindles. There were a considerable number of employers who did not carry out the requirements of the Act in a satisfactory way. He believed he understated the fact when he said that the owners of 30,000,000 spindles were getting their employees to work overtime in the way he had described to the extent of fully two hours per week. If this was worked out it would be found that each employer of 120 persons, taking the wages at 4d. per hour, was putting into his pocket £4 per week to which he was not entitled. This meant that £60,000 per year represented labour given by the operatives for which they were not paid. This was unfair not only to the operatives themselves, but also to the good employers. Many of the employers would scorn to take a penny which the operatives had earned, but the fact that others did as he had described meant that the good employers who observed the law were subjected to unfair competition with the bad employers in whose case the cost of production was so much cheaper. There was another aspect of the question. The President of the Local Government Board was 1092 anxious to find a remedy for unemployment. A reduction in the hours of labour was a remedy which was favoured by many people. In this particular case he had made a calculation which showed that, taking two hours per week on 30.000,000 spindles, if the law was kept as the good employers kept it, there would be employment found for 2,500 additional workpeople if the same amount of work was turned out. That was in connection with the spinning department; but there was also the weaving section, where things had gone on the same lines. This system had been going on for a long series of years, and it did not seem to mend. He did not blame the inspectors. There was not a sufficient number of them. They were trying to do their duty manfully, but it was utterly impossible for them to see that all employers carried out the law. The Home Office desired the law to be carried out, but the staff at its disposal was unequal to the work. He found that the last Reports of the Inspectors of Factories and Workshops were generally to the effect that the practice of time-cribbing showed no sign of diminution. The deputation which waited upon the Home Secretary suggested that the police should be called upon to assist in this matter. The Home Secretary consulted nineteen Watch Committees, and of these sixteen reported unfavourably and three favourably. They never expected any favourable replies at all. He had obtained the constitution of these Committees in twelve towns, and his information showed that of 136 members no less than ninety-three were employers, and fifty-one were engaged in the cotton trade. Two of the towns which reported favourably were Hyde and Blackburn. In Hyde there were no cotton employers on the Committee and in Blackburn there were four labour members on the Committee. That seemed to prove that in the bulk of the cases the employers were looking after their own interests. The fact that most of the Watch Committees had reported unfavourably should not, he thought, deter the Home Secretary from taking action in the matter. He held that the police should be employed to give information to the inspector, who would bring the cases before the Court. The police were 1093 used for administering the Shop Hours Act and they prevented time-cribbing in public houses, and why should they not be employed in doing the same thing in factories? He asked too that all the inspectors and inspectors' assistants at the Home Secretary's disposal in textile districts should be employed in combating this evil. If this were done there would be a sensible improvement in the present condition of affairs. The penalties should be increased so that it would not pay an employer to break the law. A determined attempt should be made to stop this growing evil, to see that the women and children were protected, and to prevent honest employers being handicapped in competition with dishonest employers. It was for the Home Secretary to see that the Factory Acts were administered in such a way that there would be no cause for complaint.
§ *MR. JOWETT (Bradford, W.)
said he desired to acknowledge the trouble which the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean had always taken in regard to questions affecting labour. The hon. Member for Berwickshire had referred to aniline and chrome poisoning. He would ask the Home Secretary to give special attention to this matter, not so much because of the number of fatal cases, but on account of the large number of cases where the sufferers lingered on, were rendered unhappy and uncomfortable by reason of its effects, and who still had to go on struggling in order to get their living. It seemed to him that it was not right or fair that a section of the population like the workers amongst wool should be put in the conditions in which they now had to labour. Therefore, he asked the Home Secretary to consider very carefully the representations that had been made to him, and to see whether nothing could be done to arrest the ravages of anthrax. He made no imputation against the Home Office as to the way in which the officials were performing their duties. He quite agreed that the rules which they tried to carry into effect were good, so far as they went, and perhaps effected all that they were expected to do; but he respectfully submitted that the line of action taken 1094 by the Home Office Department in regard to this disease of anthrax started at the wrong end. It started when the disease entered the factory, instead of preventing it entering the factory. He asked the Home Secretary, in conjunction with the President of he Local Government Board, to take action under the Public Health Act to deal with his disease. Last year there were not fewer than twenty cases of anthrax recorded in the town with which he was immediately connected, and of these ten were fatal. There were no signs of any permanent diminution in the disease in that area from the fact that there was no diminution in the quantity of infected material which the men had to handle. Most of that material was ditty, low grade wool which came from Persia and other Eastern countries. A large amount of it was worked up into what was called "oil-backing" In which cotton-seed and linseed oil was pressed to extract the oil from the seed. Most of the low-grade wools from which the mischief had arisen during the last few years was made into that kind of fabric. He asked the attention of the Secretary for Home Affairs particularly to the fact that there was one firm which had for the last fifty years made this fabric without having a single case of anthrax in their factory, although they were in competition with all the other great manufacturers in Yorkshire. Therefore, he maintained that no harm could be done to the wool and cloth industry of Yorkshire if this matter of dealing with the prevention of anthrax was undertaken seriously and effectively. He suggested that the Home Secretary should make careful inquiry as to what kinds of wool were infected, and having got that information he should not allow that wool to come into the country except under conditions in which it would be safe for the workers to deal with it. Dr. Bell, of Bradford, who was perhaps the greatest authority in this country on the disease of anthrax, had said that in nearly all cases the disease was derived in men from the handling of wool or hair from animals which had been diseased. The countries from which the wool and hair from these diseased animals came were well known 1095 It was all very well to issue regulations from the Home Office that the men who were handling these wools should wash their hands and so forth; but if the disease was in the material there was the potential risk of contracting the disease offered to all who handled it or inhaled the dust which came from it. The downward draft imposed by the regulations when the men were handling the wool did not remove, it only diminished, the risk of infection. He, therefore, asked the Home Secretary to get into communication with the Local Government Board with a view to action being taken under the Public Health Acts to prevent these disease-engendering wools from entering the country.
§ *MR. BYLES (Salford, N.)
said that the House of Commons might be congratulated on the fact that there were men in this Parliament who had expert knowledge derived from their own experience of the conditions of labour which they wished to see ameliorated. A large amount of the legislation passed by Parliament was not operative. That often might be the fault of the local authorities who administered these Acts of Parliament; or it might be largely due to the want of anxiety on the part of officials to insist upon the provisions of the Acts of Parliament being enforced. It should be the business of Parliament to see that the public got the full benefit of every Act of Parliament passed for public advantage and safety. In 1895 it was agreed that there was a great improvement in the administration of the Home Office when the present Chancellor of the Exchequer held the portfolio of Home Secretary. He hoped that the present occupant of the Home Office would show equal energy and give a momentum to the administration of his department. Only that day he had had an interview with a deputation who desired that the working classes should have representation on the inspectorate. That only confirmed what had been said by the hon. Member for Leicester, that great improvements might be made in regard to the work of inspection. The matter which had been referred to by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean in asking for an 1096 extension of the "Particulars" Clause to all piece-workers deserved the attention of the Home Office. In the borough which he represented he had been astonished to find the number of piece-workers —many of them ignorant and un instructed—who were unable to ascertain the proper amount which they earned. When one went to an hotel one got a bill of what was due, and he thought in the same way that the worker who went into a factory and did piece-work ought to be entitled to a note showing what work he had done and what money he was entitled to, so that he might go away satisfied that he was not underpaid, as well as the employers being satisfied that he was not overpaid. Upon the subject of "time-cribbing," he had been amazed at the figures given by the hon. Member for Bolton. If it was going on to the extent stated it must be characterised as robbery—robbery of the poor by the rich, some of whom were thus fattening on the earnings stolen from their workpeople. The suggestion had been made that the police might be employed o carry out a system of detection of these frauds upon workers. He did not see what objection there could be to a proposal of that kind [Mr. JOWETT: There is only one objection to it; it would be successful.]. Quite so, and he really did not see why such a course should not be followed. Last night they were engaged in passing a Musical Copyright Bill for the protection of another class of property under which the police had power to in erven, and when an employer deliberately and persistently robbed his workpeople he did not see why the police should not step in and protect the persons who were being robbed. He commended that idea to the Home Secretary, and he thought that until the inspectorate had been largely reinforced the police should look after the thieves. That was their business.
§ *THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. GLADSTONE, Leeds, W.)
said the Home Office had no statutory power in the matter.
§ *MR. BYLES
said the House ought to give the Home Office statutory power. In regard to anthrax, having lived in Bradford for years he knew the prevalence of 1097 the disease amongst those who worked in wool and also the terrible nature of the disorder. It was a terrible disease, and if a man contracted it two days sufficed to kill him. A man went to work perfectly well and came home with a headache and in forty-eight hours he was dead, although previously he was a strong, healthy man. He had seen that happen time after time. Efforts were made thirteen years ago and orders issued in regard to certain precautions, but they had that evening heard upon the high authority of his hon. friend, who was the highest authority obtainable, that there was no improvement or reduction in the number of cases. He therefore appealed to the right hon. Gentleman to do what was necessary to prevent the spread of this terrible scourge which afflicted his own town, and pass more legislation if it was necessary. It had been argued that the wool should be excluded at the port of entry, and he might point out that, with a view to precluding the importation of disease, we already excluded foreign and even Canadian cattle. If steps of that sort were taken in regard to cattle why not in the case of wool? Another subject he wished to call attention to was the conditions under which girls worked in factories. In Salford where he had resided for many years he had been shocked at the conditions under which girls worked. There, as in many large towns, the growth and physical development of the young women suffered, and this must involve injury to the race when they become mothers. Many of these girls worked under most unhealthy and insanitary conditions. The factories and workshops were not properly inspected by the inspectors. He had promised his constituents that he would raise his voice upon this question, and he now did so. Their best hope was in the Home Office and in the earnest and vigorous administration of the factory and workshop legislation which this House had passed. He believed that the men who now formed His Majesty's Government were in full sympathy with the workers of this country, and were determined to do justice as between rich and poor; to relieve those who were helpless and cast down and those who were ill able 1098 to help themselves, and to give them all the advantages which Parliament had placed at their disposal. He hoped His Majesty's Government would see that the great and beneficent Acts which had been passed from time to time would not be allowed to remain inoperative, but would be allowed to fructify for the benefit of the poor.
§ *MR. O'GRADY (Leeds, E.)
said he wished to call attention to the general question of factory inspection, and to remind the Home Office that those interested in labour were still clamouring for more factory inspection. At the present moment there were in London thousands of small factories and workshops in the East End that had never been seen by an inspector, and in these places men were being done to death for want of ventilation and sanitation. When a factory inspector put in an appearance the most beneficent results followed, and usually his requirements were so costly that it was found impossible to carry on a sweated industry under which men were done to death. He would like to take hon. Members to some of those premises, and he was sure that if he did so they would come back and make a considerable noise in this House over what they had seen. Then with regard to the dock labourers. Those who knew anything about shipping knew that the dock labourer was subjected to all kinds of risks every moment he was working. But most of the accidents occurred from defective gear. In regard to the dock labourers there should be special inspectors, acquainted, not only with all the rules of factory inspectorship, but having a special knowledge of the gear used in unloading vessels. As regards the cabinet makers he might point out that recently in cabinet making certain peculiar woods had come into use from the Congo and South Africa, and he asserted that 27 percent. of the deaths of the members of the Society of Cabinet Makers were due to the poisonous substances exuded from these woods and absorbed through the skin of the workers. They had even to go to the length of striking as a protest against the employment of these kinds of timber in the trade. The shuttle makers had protested in this way time after time against the same 1099 thing, The Wood was not essential for making shuttles and was only used because it was cheaper than the ordinary boxwood that ought to be used. The Report stated at page 382 that the remedy for this evil was the use of exhaust ventilation. It might minimise, but it would in no sense remedy it. Quite apart from the dust, the men absorbed the poison through their skin, and the only remedy was to prohibit the use of the wood. He appealed to the right hon. Gentleman to consider this matter. It was felt that many of these disasters could be minimised if not altogether remedied if the right hon. Gentleman would give broader and more definite instructions to the factory inspectors. £20,000 a year expended in additional inspectors would mean the saving of hundreds of lives and the prevention of many of the accidents that desolated the homes of the people engaged in workshops and factories. In this new Parliament was a new spirit which recognised that the most valuable thing on God's earth was the life of the workers, and its safety and well-being should have primary codsideration; he therefore hoped the right hon. Gentleman would put the effective machine which he had in his hand into operation towads that end.
§ MR. BRACE (Glamorganshire, S.)
said he almost sympathised with the right hon. Gentleman who had been asked to do so much. He rose to ask him not to do one thing which he had commenced to do. Yesterday a Committee was appointed to inquire into the economic results which would follow an eight hour day if put into operation in the mines of the country. He objected to the Committee. The Miners' Federation of Great Britain, which represented every coalfield in the country except those of Durham, and Northumberland, felt they had not been treated as they ought to have been. For twenty years they had agitated for an eight hour day from bank to bank by Act of Parliament. They had spent thousands of pounds to advance their cause, and when in this Parliament they saw a large number of Members pledged to give this reform that the miners had sought for twenty years they were given a Departmental Committee and they were expected to be satisfied. There was 1100 upon the records of this House all the information that Parliament needed in order to determine whether there ought to be an eight hour day or not. In face of the fact that there had been twenty years of agitation and that the majority of the Members of this House were pledged to the people it was not treating them as they had a right to expect, to create this Departmental Committee, How could it assist them? So strongly did they feel upon this point that he was authorised to say that they would be no parties to this Committee. They felt so strongly that they would carry this Vote to a division; they would not recognise the Departmental Committee, and they would not prejudice the cause of this great reform for which they had agitated for twenty years and for which they had spent thousands of pounds.
§ *MR. GLADSTONE
said he very much regretted that his hon. friend should have committed himself to a view which was so much at variance with the facts. The Departmental Committee was appointed to help the Government in legislating for the purpose of carrying out the unanimous decision which the House arrived at a few months ago on the Second Reading of the Eight Hours Bill. He wished to remind hon. Members that no Government had ever brought in a Bill dealing with a question great enough to affect the whole country, dealing with difficult relations between employers and employed, and also suggesting many points of economic doubt and difficulty, without fortifying themselves for the task with full, careful, and impartial information. His hon. friend said they would not accept this Committee; they would not give evidence. Would his hon. friend allow him to point out what a Departmental Committee really was? It was a Committee appointed by the head of a department to help him in a particular task. It was not to help the House of Commons, or to retard the House of Commons or to deal with any political movement in the country. It was appointed for a certain purpose which the head of a department might have in view in order to assist him to deal with whatever task might be put upon him. They had no authoritative, skilled, authentic, information. He could imagine himself 1101 bringing in a Bill and hon. Gentlemen opposite putting questions to him as to the effects of this Bill with regard to economic questions of output, foreign competition, and so forth, and all he would be able to say would be, "these are matters of mere speculation. Some way one thing and some another." If the hon. Member for South Glamorgan had sat in this House for twenty-six years, as he himself had, he would not so misconceive the nature of a Departmental Committee. He had on a previous occasion stated that he would be guided in the nature of the inquiry by the opinion of those most concerned. To begin with, this Committee was suggested to him by his hon. friend representing the mines of Durham and Northumberland. The hon. Gentleman said that Northumberland had changed its opinion on the question. That had nothing to do with this Committee, and, if he might say so, the objection of his hon. friend was very irrelevant to the purpose. They asked for the Committee, and it was clear to him that his hon. friends honestly wished to find some way of getting general assent with regard to the eight hours. It was not only in their interests, but in the interests of all concerned in the rapid and future progress of the question that this inquiry should be held, and that the Government should be armed with the information necessary to its task. He was not depending on that altogether. He had had a frank talk with his hon. friends about it and expessed the hope that they would not come to any Resolution. He explained to them that the Committee was appointed in a spirit of friendliness, and in no sense in a spirit of hostility to the eight hours question, and that it would accelerate progress and not retard it.
§ *MR. GLADSTONE
said that in that case his hon. friend the Member for Hanley was under as great a misapprehension as his hon. friend the Member for South Glamorgan. His hon. friend had said they wanted to hurry the matter up. France, he said, 1102 had gone ahead of this country, and we stood where we were. He agreed that France had shown progressiveness on this question, but when his hon. friend said that France did not need an inquiry, he would ask, Was that true? What was the nature of the Bill adopted by the French Government? He was not aware that this debate was coming on, and so he did not arm himself with exact information but, speaking from recollection, in the first place it was not what was called a bank to bank Bill at all. It was an Act by which hours from nine or nine and a half came down in half hour stages to eight, but the time was not reckoned from bank to bank, and the Act only affected the hewers of coal; further, if it was found that the Act worked harshly upon a poor man or a poor mineral district, that it really did reduce employment, restrict output, or play into the hands of the foreigner, then there were powers under that Act to suspend its operation. That might be one effective method of action, but was that the method his hon. friend would throw upon this country? Was that the method which the hon. Gentleman and his friends were ready to adopt? His hon. friend had said "follow France."
§ *MR. GLADSTONE
said they should follow everyone in the principle of progress. He really did appeal to his hon. friend not to act hastily in this matter. He could assure him, as one who had voted on every occasion in favour of the Eight Hours Bill, that they had taken up and committed themselves to the principle. His hon. friend and his colleagues were so conscious of the difficulties he had indicated to the House that they themselves had had reluctantly to take the Bill based partly on the French system. What was the nature of the difficulties? He did not know, nor did his hon. friends know. They existed in the air. The hon. Gentleman and his friends proposed a plan, but he did not know that this plan was necessary at all. The result of a skilled and impartial Committee might be that they could have an 1103 Eight Hours Bill forthwith over the whole country. If that were so and his hon. friend took up the position the had indicated to the House what would then be his position? He would have done his best to impose a less perfect Bill upon the House, the country, and those he represented. He did appeal to his hon. friend to hold his hand. He was sure he had spoken under a misconception, and he begged him to, confer again with his hon. friend the Member for Hanley, and, at any rate, not to commit those for whom he acted to any action which was absolutely hostile to this inquiry. The inquiry was quite removed from the principle of eight hours. They wanted to find out exactly, as far as they could, the true economic value of the question as between one district and another and one class and another, and in the interests of the miners themselves he hoped his hon. friend would hold his hand. He passed on to the questions which had been brought to his notice this afternoon. His right hon. friend the Member for the Forest of Dean had surveyed the general question with all his great knowledge, and he confessed that on the whole he felt reassured from the character of the speech and the nature of the criticisms which the right hon. Gentleman made. He would answer one or two of his points at once. The right hon. Gentleman asked about the non-textile industries. He was paid he could not give the right hon. Gentleman the details, but he would by to ascertain them and send them to him. Certain trades, namely, brush-making, net making, indiarubber balloon making, boot and shoe manufacture, umbrella making, fustian cutting, certain branches of food manufacture, paper box making, and others were being considered and, he hoped, would be included in a comprehensive order. With regard to home work the recent sweating exhibition, for which the Daily News deserved great credit, had made a great impression on the public mind. It was of great importance that this question of sweating should be kept in full view of the public, and it ought to be pulled out continually from the holes and corners where it existed and shown in the quarters of the well-to-do and well-fed, who little knew under what conditions these people worked. 1104 His right hon. friend had dwelt upon the importance of the fusion of the duties of sanitary and factory inspectors That was a matter to which he would give his attention. In 1894, when they first dealt with the question of outworkers, hey found very great difficulty in bringing about any fusion of duties between the two classes of inspectors, but he would certainly consider the matter and see if anything could be done. He was sure that in this matter he could rely upon the co-operation of the President of the Local Government Board. The Member for Berwick had dealt with various important matters, including factories in which food was made, jam factories and the fish curing trade. So far as the protection of the general public was concerned that was a matter more for other authorities than the factory inspectors. Of course cleanliness bore upon that question, and he had called the attention of the Chief Inspector to the reports upon this subject, and special inquiries were being made during the busy season with a view to a special r port upon the whole subject. As to accidents arising from the use of electricity, electricity was a comparatively new power applied to industrial life, and one of the difficulties of the Home Office naturally arose from the fact that the present staff were not electricians, and a knowledge of electricity was not required in the original equipment of the present staff of inspectors. But an electrical expert had recently been appointed an inspector to pay attention to this subject. With regard to what had been said about aniline dyes, he would give the subject special consideration, and he would call the attention f the Chief Inspector to the matter. The question of the use of poisonous wood in the making of shuttles and cabinet-making had been referred to by his hon. friend the member for East Leeds, and he agreed that that was a matter which ought to be closely examined. Some safeguards had recently been adopted and the Home Office had asked or a report on the subject. He would undertake to have a special report made in regard to any woods used for industrial purpose which endangered life. The hon. Member for East Leeds aid there were thousands of workshops which Were never 1105 visited by an inspector, but because they were not visited in one particular year it should not be assumed that they were never visited at all. There were places inspected which were found so satisfactory that they were often written off for a time in order that other places might be visited. The Hon. Member had referred to the dangers of dock labour. He would take note of what had been said, particularly in reference to defective gear. He was proposing a special increase of the staff for this work by appointing four inspectors' assistants for London, Newcastle, Liverpool, and Glasgow, whose duty it would be to look after the safety of those employed in the docks. The hon. Member for West Bradford had made an interesting speech on the subject of anthrax. The hon. Member for Salford had also referred to the great outbreak of this deadly disease. The figures showed that in 1899 the fatalities were fifty-five; in 1900, they were thirty-seven; 1901, thirty-nine; 1902, thirty-eight; 1903, forty-seven; 1904, fifty; and 1905, fifty-nine. That progressive rise in the statistics necessitated a very close and careful inquiry, and it was obviously a matter for very grave consideration. He agreed with everything that had been said as to the unfortunate extent of this disease. It had been suggested that the imported wool which was supposed to harbour the germs of this disease should be dealt with at the port of entry. That sounded a very good suggestion if it could be carried out. It was, however, somewhat difficult, because the wool was imported in large quantities, made up in bales, and to have it unpacked on landing would mean the placing of a very heavy tax on the trade. If no other way of dealing with the matter could be found, and if this way could be made effectual, he granted that it ought to be done. The question at the present moment was whether it would be possible. It was a complicated question, and there were great difficulties when they came to differentiate in matters of this kind in connection with imports. The question was whether the material could be subjected to any process which would really effect a cure for the evil. The difficulty was to find something which would sterilise those spores without injuring the material. That was the problem, 1106 and it had been engaging the serious attention of the Home Office for some time past. A Committee had been appointed in Bradford, with a Government subsidy, for the special purpose of experimenting in regard to the disease He was informed by a friend of his of much experience in the Bradford trade that there were real hopes of a remedy being found by means of some process involving the submersion of the wool, or whatever the material might be, in a vessel containing chemical ingredients. He would not say more about that at the present time. There was no use of being over-sanguine about remedies, but in this matter he had good reason for believing that there might be something done at no distant date.
§ MR. JOWETT
said his suggestion was that wools which were actually dangerous might be excluded, though he did believe that steam pressure at 230 degrees Fahrenheit would prevent the danger.
§ *MR. GLADSTONE
said that if the wool, or whatever the material might be which contained these spores in dangerous quantity did not yield to treatment, the only remedy would be to exclude the wool altogether. No doubt that could be done, but though they might get rid of the worst part of the evil by excluding wool which came from certain parts of the world the anthrax evil would always be with them, as wool was necessary in our textile industries. He would do everything in his power to further the investigation which was now going on. Information and instruction on the subject would be issued by his Department to those engaged in the industries concerned, so that when the disease was found to exist prompt action might be taken, in which case probably no harm would arise. On the subject of laundry inspection he had expressed his views over and over again. It was one of the questions with which they would be obliged to deal, and he would only say that he hoped to bring in a Bill next year. With regard to time-cribbing, he was perfectly ready to cooperate with his hon. friends or anyone in order to put down this evil. The time had come when employers should be formally warned that this infringement 1107 of the law for their personal gain was wrong, and that they had better put their house in order lest some drastic reforms might be found to be necessary. He hoped employers would be wise in time. It was fair, however, to say that some responsibility attached to the workpeople who gained [An HON. MEMBER: No], or thought they gained by the working of overtime, and he claimed their cooperation in putting a stop to a practice which was thoroughly bad. He had omitted to deal with one question of his right hon. friend the Member for the Forest of Dean. As soon as they got clear of the Workmen's Compensation Bill the subject of insurance should be taken up, and the Government would consider the best form of inquiry into the whole matter. Turning to the question of factory inspection, he said that with the manifold duties of his Department it had been wholly out of their power this session to devote themselves entirely to any one line of inquiry and investigation. He doubted whether the Home Office had ever been more severely pressed. In addition to the Workmen's Compensation Bill, the Department had been responsible for no less than ten small Bills. There had been heavy work on the criminal side, which had put a heavy strain upon the Department; they had had to deal with special difficulties in the administration of the London police, of the Aliens Act, of the Licensing Act of 1904, and of the Employment of Children Act and the bye-laws made under it. Then they had had heavy work in connection with lunacy and vagrancy; vaccination had been hurled at his head almost every Parliamentary day; and there was also vivisection, on which he had been tormented perhaps more in private than in public. They had had to deal with the question of criminal appeal and the big question of London traffic; and further, they had had to consider arrangements for the International Conference at Berne, at which this country for the first time would be officially represented. The hon. Member for Leicester had brought a somewhat menacing charge against the administration of the Factory Department. What he maintained was that the efficiency of the Factory Department of the Home Office had increased, was 1108 increasing, and would increase. He did not claim that it was perfect or that it had not its weak spots. All that he claimed was that as a Department it contained a large number of extremely competent and self-sacrificing men who were keen in the public interest to do their duty. He wished, in passing, to pay a tribute to the work of Sir Hamilton P. Freer-Smith, to whom on his retirement a word of public acknowledgment was due for his great and meritorious services in connection with the work of the Factory Department. He admitted that the Department might be open to attack in regard to the number of miles travelled by the officers when engaged in inspection duties. Comparing the number of miles travelled last year with the number of miles travelled in 1895, which he believed amounted to 94,400 miles as against 32,700 miles, he found that there had been an increase out of all proportion to the number of additional factory inspectors appointed. Obviously, when a man was travelling he could not be inspecting, and it would be his endeavour to see whether the high figure of miles travelled could not be reduced by a better system of organisation so as to concentrate the staff more directly on the factories and workshops under their charge. As to the attack made on the new examination syllabus, there was nothing sinister behind the scheme. The idea underlying the system introduced by the right hon. Gentleman opposite during his last year of office was to have an examination on a fairly wide range of subjects of general knowledge, and then, after a probationary period of two years, a qualifying examination in the special subjects of Factory Law and Sanitary Science, which were really better learnt during a period of actual work in the Factory Department than they could be from books alone. The object was to throw open the door as widely as possible to the best candidates from all quarters. As the syllabus stood, however, it was possible for a candidate to qualify by simply confining himself to history, French, German, or Italian. But the idea was not to stop there. There was the period of probation to consider, and after that there was the qualifying examination, so that the 1109 inspector would have time and opportunity to acquire the technical and practical knowledge necessary for the discharge of his duty and to show his aptitude for that work, such as appearing in Court and conducting a case, as well as in the practical and technical work he had to undertake. He did not object to the hon. Gentleman's criticisms as to examinations, but he did to the suggestion that there was undue predominance given to what was called social influence.
§ *MR. GLADSTONE
said he wanted to get quite clear from his hon. friend what he really meant. He was therefore glad to hear that the hon. Gentleman had made no such charge. As to inspectors' assistants, he admitted that the system was open to his hon. friend's criticisms, and he had prepared a scheme which would go before the Treasury. At present the average age of these assistants was about thirty-eight, and a large number of them had arrived at the maximum salary of £150. They had therefore in prospect 27 years of public service without any advance in pay or in duty. He agreed that assistant inspectors had but a shadowy chance of getting into the inspectorate. But both as to their status and as to their duties he hoped to make a change which he trusted would be viewed by hon. Gentlemen as satisfactory. In many parts of the country and especially in Lancashire, workshops were being turned into factories owing to the application of electrical power. There were nearly 600 new factories in Lancashire alone, and under these circumstances the anomaly of the assistant inspectors' position could not be maintained. The system must be overhauled and expanded, and he hoped that more responsible duties would be given to the assistant inspectors under the new classification which would be set up, but he could not say more at present. He wished to say a word about the nominations of the full inspectors. The question was not quite so easy a one as it appeared at first sight. The only alternative to the present system of selection and nomination before examin- 1110 ation was to accept all applications and cause the Civil Service Commissioners to hold an open competitive examination for the whole mass of candidates. There were hundreds of Candidates, some well qualified to show up in an examination, but who were not necessarily fitted to make the best inspectors. That was the alternative to the present system. What happened under the system which had hitherto prevailed? The practice which had grown up in the department was at the least based on the honest wish to get the best men available, and it included personal interviews with the candidates, a very necessary precaution, in order to see whether certain personal qualities were possessed by them which one could only judge of by conversation with the men themselves. He did not make any charge against that practice or throw any blame upon anyone, but it seemed to him that they wanted something more. He had therefore set on foot a small Committee, with the Under-Secretary as chairman, to go through the papers of those who applied for the position of inspector, inspector's assistant, or lady inspector, and that Committee reported to him on the whole case and, having been so assisted, his final selection for nomination was made. Recently they gave twenty-one nominations for seven places, and he would request the House to listen to the qualifications of those who were nominated. Here was the fifth of the successful candidates, a Cambridge man who took honours in the history school and was placed in this competition in consequence of his general knowledge on the subject. Here was another of the successful men, who was trained at the Manchester Technical School, was a Whitworth scholar, had been apprenticed to an engineering firm, had been employed for some five years by a Birmingham firm of mechanical engineers, was with Armstrong, Whitworth & Co. engaged in special work from 1897 to 1899, when he became foreman fitter. He was the manager of another firm in 1901. That he thought was a pretty good qualification for the post of factory inspector. Here was another, who gained an open studentship at Liverpool University, was a Bachelor of Science 1111 of the first class of the Liverpool University, and had passed an examination in electrical engineering. From 1898 to 1901 he was pupil teacher at a grammar school. In 1904 he was science master at another school, and although he did not know what he would turn out to he in after life, it did not seem necessary for his hon. friend to use his imagination in conjuring up in the case of such a man the defects of those who might come under this scheme of nomination. Another was educated at Bromley Board School and made himself. He had obtained a scholarship at University College, had obtained exhibitions and a County Council scholarship at the South London Technical College. He had matriculated at the London University, and had passed the intermediate examination. A man who had raised himself like that and was qualifying himself still further was surely a man who was suitable to be a factory inspector. Another was educated at the Manchester School of Technology, and had obtained various scholarships and held various certificates from the Board of Education in regard to his attainments on various technical subjects, including steam, heat, light, and sound. He held many qualifications, and that was the sort of man that his hon. friend wished to exclude from the inspectorate. He would have romped in in any examination, and was equipped in every point, the alleged absence of which formed the staple criticism of his hon. friend. Another again won an exhibition at the Royal College of science, London, a Whitworth Scholarship, and was at present taking an advanced course in electrical science at the Technical College, South Kensington. The remaining one of the seven successful candidates held a certificate as a sanitary inspector and a first class certificate in hygiene. He was employed by a firm of sanitary engineers from 1894 to 1901, employed by similar firms in 1902, in which year he was appointed sanitary inspector for the Hampstead Borough Council. It seemed to him that these were the right class of men to nominate and the very men that were wanted. He could not agree that an amalgamation of the inspectors and assistant inspectors would be desirable. The demands on the inspectors were such 1112 as to require men to devote themselves for years to preparing for the satisfactory discharge of the duties of inspection. Whatever was done, however, the factory inspectors' assistants ought to have the opportunity of advancement. Possibly places among the inspectorate should be reserved for them, and they ought to rise in grades to positions for which their powers and capacities fitted them. The hon. Member for Leicester had made out no case which would justify an open public inquiry, but he would promise to give careful consideration to the question of the organisation of the factory department. If he had thought that public confidence in that department had been shaken or that anything was to be gained from a departmental inquiry he would be the first to seek it. But he did not think there were any dark places in the Home Office. There should not be so long as he had anything to do with it, and there was no subject connected with the Home Office which interested him more than that side of it which dealt with factories and workshops. With regard to recent appointments of inspectors, he had nominated three lady inspectors, and the total number, if those three passed the examination, would be fifteen. They had also appointed four additional factory inspectors' assistants and four junior assistants. As to the reorganisation of the inspectors' assistants department, his wish and hope was not only to improve the condition of the assistants financially, but to add to the duties in amount and in importance.
MR. T. RICHARDS (Monmouthshire, W)
said that after there had been so much criticism of the Home Secretary he thought it was only right that he should give his tribute of praise and commendation to the right hon. Gentleman for the promptness with which on his taking over the duties of his office he had considered the interests of the mining population. Labour Members had for years been urging upon the late Government the necessity of doing something by way of research and investigation into the means of preventing a great number of the accidents which occurred in mines. The mining population generally of the country were much gratified at 1113 the appointment of the Commission, at its composition, and at the terms of its reference. There was only one point in connection with the terms of reference to which he wished to call attention. He was not quite sure that the reference permitted the Commission to inquire into the efficiency or adequacy of the mining inspectors. The present system of mine inspection was totally inadequate. In one case he could cite there was only one chief inspector with two assistants to supervise 100,000 workmen. Inspection under such conditions was of course a sham. The last coal mine disaster in South Wales in which a number of men lost their lives was in consequence of the inundation of water. It was said that the manager omitted to take the proper precautions. But, as a matter of fact, a short time before the water broke in, the mine inspector had himself been to examine the colliery and its plans, and if the precautions had not been taken he ought to have known. They congratulated the right hon. Gentleman on appointing the Commission. The chief thing he desired to say was that he was himself surprised that the right hon. Gentleman should have expressed surprise at the passionate speech of the hon. Member for South Glamorganshire in regard to the Departmental Committee appointed to consider the eight hours day, having regard to the history of the question, and to the fact that the Prime Minister and nearly every Member of the House had repeatedly voted in favour of an eight hours day. Nearly every Liberal had repeatedly given pledges at their election in favour of an eight hours day for miners. The miners of Wales had a stronger case than those in other parts of the country, because the Welsh Party as a whole, notwithstanding any difference there might be between them on other matters, were unanimous upon this subject. Had he spoken before his hon. friend he would have been quite as passionate as he on the question of the appointment of this Committee. His hon. friend at all events was to be congratulated in having drawn an equally passionate speech from the right hon. Gentleman. It was absolutely ludicrous to say that the reduction of the hours of a few thousand boys from ten to eight was going to upset the 1114 conditions of this country. He did not wish to labour this point, and after the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, as far as he was personally concerned, he did not wish to force the House to a division on the question. He hoped the Committee referred to would get to work, and; he trusted that next session the Government would be able to take up an Eight Hours Bill for miners.
§ MR. FENWICK (Northumberland, Wansbeck)
said he was glad that his hon. friends opposite did not intend to take up the extreme attitude suggested by the hon. Member for South Glamorgan. Throughout this controversy for over twenty years the Northumberland and Durham representatives had been quite as anxious as anyone else to see a satisfactory solution of the eight hours question. The reason why they suggested that an inquiry should be instituted was in order that the Committee might have an opportunity of guiding them along right and proper lines. Some of the promoters of this measure had declared that they had a perfect solution of the question which would not impose any additional injury upon the districts of Durham and Northumberland. As far as he was concerned he had been calling for that solution for the last twenty years, and it had never yet been forthcoming. With regard to the ballot upon this question which had been mentioned, 18,000 out of 22,000 voting papers were returned, and yet that only gave a majority of 465 in favour of the proposal. What he would like to see was a similar vote taken throughout the whole of the Federation area. There was scarcely a case where a ballot had been taken in the Federation area in the same way as it had been taken in the county of Northumberland.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the, Committee in the said Resolution."
§ *MR. STUART (Sunderland)
said he desired to refer to the question of the 1115 qualification of factory inspectors. He had listened with much interest to the series of qualifications of the seven successful candidates who had been nominated, but it was rather remarkable that there was only one of those inspectors who had had direct personal acquaintance with practical work in any factory. They required on the inspectorate men who had a great amount of such experience, which could only be gained by those who had themselves worked in the actual processes in the factories. No doubt the men appointed would develop excellent qualities and most of them had had an excellent training, but the one element that was wanting was their actual experience of practical daily life and work in the factory, and he thought that that element could be easily introduced without any diminution of value and character of the inspectors. The object was of course the safety and the security of the workers, and personally he believed there was no one so capable of finding out what was dangerous to workpeople as the man who had been through the mill himself. He hoped that in future a certain amount of extra consideration would be given to those candidates who had had actual practical experience, and if this suggestion was adopted it would tend not only to the benefit of the workmen, but also to the benefit of employers, who liked nothing worse than interference in their businesses by persons who did not understand the thing practically.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
asked what had been done to strengthen the staff of the Home Office on its criminal side.
§ *MR. GLADSTONE
said it had been strengthened by the appointment of an additional assistant Under-Secretary.
§ MR. SHACKLETON (Lancashire, N.E., Clitheroe)
said that vigorous measures should be taken to put down time-cribbing in textile factories, which was not only injurious to the workers, but competitively unfair to honest manufacturers. More summonses should be issued and heavier fines imposed. He cordially 1116 agreed with the action of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean in withdrawing this Amendment. The answer they had received from the Home Secretary was fairly satisfactory and gave them encouragement to hope that before another year came round the right hon. Gentleman would have achieved something in the direction which he honestly desired to go. With regard to the use of dangerous wood, some of his constituents were anxious to know whether there was any bad effect upon the weavers who had to use the shuttles made from that particular kind of wood. The weavers frequently had to put these shuttles to their mouth and suck them in order to get the thread to go through. He did not know whether there was any danger attending that, and perhaps the Home Secretary would include that in the promised inquiry. With regard to time-cribbing he thought the right hon. Gentleman was mixing up two questions, time-cribbing and meal hour work. They had encouraged the people not to persist in meal-hour work, but in regard to time-cribbing the operatives had no choice, because if the engines were running they were bound to be there. They could not leave until the engines were stopped, because they would have to run the risk of having a sudden stopping of machinery which might result in a breakdown in the mill. He believed the right hon. Gentleman had two remedies which he might apply. In the first place there was the question of the police, which required legislation, but he believed that so far as administration was concerned the Home Office had power to take more cases. There was very little danger of getting wrong in regard to the evidence if they found the mill running and persons under eighteen years of age were working them, because that was illegal. If the police went into a weaving shed and found 600 persons working, an action in every one of those cases could be taken against the employer. An inspector recently took proceedings in thirty-nine cases against an habitual offender, and he was fined nearly £30. Those men who competed so unfairly with other employers ought to be made to pay very heavily. After all, it was merely a question of money, and a fine of 5s. and costs was a mere bagatelle 1117 to the employers. If the Home Office meant to put the practice down they must issue a summons in every case, and the only way to deal effectively with it was to make the fines amount to a few hundreds of pounds. Let the Home Office issue instructions to the inspectors to take up more cases. With regard to the qualifications for inspectors he was not in a position to judge whether the various questions put before the candidates were necessary or not from an educational point of view, but he had no hesitation in saying that they were not required from a practical point of view.
§ *DR. COOPER (Southwark, Bermondsey)
urged that the number of paid Lunacy Commissioners should be increased. They were required by the Lunacy Act to see every lunatic detained in an asylum at least once a year. The Board as at present constituted was unable properly to discharge its duties. There were six Commissioners, three barristers and three doctors. On the work of inspecting lunatic asylums they went in pairs, a legal member always accompanying a medical member. If all the lunatics in the asylums were examined each pair of Commissioners would have to examine 39,943 in the year. It was physically impossible that they could do so and determine whether anyone was wrongly detained in an asylum. He had been associated with the administration of the Asylums Committee of the London County Council, and he found that instead of the Lunacy Commissioners taking three days to visit an asylum containing 2,000 inmates, it was a very rare thing to find that they took longer than two days, and he had known them visit the whole of the people in a large asylum in one day. He did not think anyone could say that that was efficient inspection. As a rule these Commissioners took round with them the Medical Superintendent of the Asylum, who explained the cases. He did not think this method was contemplated when the Commissioners were first appointed, and it was intended the Commissioners should be absolutely free to go round the asylum without the superintendent. He thought this was necessary for the safety of the people who ought to have the privilege 1118 once a year of being seen by an independent person who was not interested in their detention. He believed that the legal Commissioner was a valuable man in the Committee room, but he could not conceive of what use he was in going round an asylum. An important point to which he wished to call attention was the practice of the Commissioners in regard to the examination and passing of plans for new asylums and for alterations on existing buildings.
And, it being a quarter past Eight of the clock, and there being Private Business set down by direction of the Chairman of Ways and Means under Standing Order No. 8, further Proceeding was postponed without Question put.