§ [THIRD READING.]
§ Order for the Third Reading read.
§ *THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. GLADSTONE, Leeds, W.)
said in moving the Third Reading of this Bill he had again to thank the House for the support and the assistance he had received from all quarters, from all parties, and through all stages. The House would remember that the Bill was to consolidate, as well as to amend, the law. The fact that hon. Members had not taken advantage of this to discuss at length that part of the law which it was not proposed to change had justified the course taken by the result, and he hoped by this Bill they would all have learnt to deal less in legislation by reference in the future. This measure contained no new question of the first magnitude, but it did deal with difficult and important points in connection with labour. He gratefully acknowledged the valuable assistance he had received from his hon. and learned friend the Solicitor-General, and from his 694 hon. friend the Member for the Cleveland Division, to whom the excellent machinery to carry out the purpose of Clause 8 of the Bill was really due. The Government were also indebted to the hon. Member for Berwickshire for his pioneer labours upon this question and his long persevering efforts in bringing those labours to legislative fruit. He felt sure he was voicing the views of all Parties in the House when he expressed his regret at the inability of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham to take part in the debates on the great extension of the parent Act which the right hon. Gentleman himself brought in in 1897. It was not without a personal tremor that he had looked forward to the co-operation of the right hon. Gentleman in this House either in the way of criticism or in support of these proposals, and he thought the House had greatly suffered from the absence of the right hon. Gentleman, the cause of which they all deplored. He had no occasion to detain the House long upon this subject. The recent discussion extended over four days, during which all the leading points of the Bill were fully discussed. But there was one matter upon which he desired to say a few words. The House in its collective wisdom had shown an inveterate hostility to all the attempts of the Government to exempt from the operation of this Bill the small employers. Now practically all classes of persons under contract of service, whether the employment was dangerous or safe, were included in the purview of this Bill. While in 1897 6,000,000 of people were brought within the operation of the Act, and in 1900 1,000,000, there were now 6,000,000 in addition. This great extension did involve benefit—he hoped great benefit—but it also, naturally, involved some danger to which this House should not shut their eyes. A number of small employers would be brought under the operation of this Act, and it was to be hoped that they would be raised to a sense of the duty imposed upon them by it; to a sense of the necessity which lay upon them to insure against the liability to which they would be exposed in order to be in a position to meet it in compensating a workman who might be injured. Experience showed that a mass of these people would not insure whatever steps were taken, and 695 that experience was reinforced by the opinion expressed in the Committee which considered this question. It was pointed out that 24 per cent. of those engaged in the building trades did not choose to insure, although the Act had been in operation for some six or seven years. If the Government required any pressure this knowledge and this information from the Committee would hasten their desire to deal with the whole subject of national insurance in rotation to the law of employers' liability. But in the meanwhile they would do the best they could through Government agencies or otherwise to warn employers, great and small, throughout the country, of the risks they were under and also to tell the workpeople of this country what rights were given to them under this Act. In the coming session at an early date the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade would bring in a Bill to provide a test of the financial solvency of the insurance companies, which dealt with cases under employers' liability, so far as it could be provided in the time at their disposal and, in that connection he desired to express the hope that small employers in particular would be specially on their guard against mushroom and insolvent companies. He wished to appeal through the House and to the Press throughout the country to give the fullest information in their power in regard to this Bill as soon as it passed into law, so that employers should realise their risks and the workmen their rights under it. He believed the provisions of the Bill would be helpful to masses of the people throughout the country, and in so far as they extended and improved the working of the Act of 1897 they would in no sense impair the good relations which existed between employer and employed, but would strengthen the foundations of the national industries by the free and general recognition of the claim to compensation on the part of those who unhappily were the victims of accident in the course of their daily toil.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."—(Mr. Gladstone.)
§ MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS (Kent, St. Augustine)
said this was the final stage of a Bill which every section of the 696 House had helped to pass. There had been no desire on the part of the Opposition to put any difficulties in the way of the Bill or to do anything else than make it a workable and good measure. He desired to associate himself with the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman in expressing regret at the absence of his right hon. friend the Member for West Birmingham, who had made this subject his own. The measure that his right hon. friend the Member for West Birmingham brought forward in 1897 marked a new era in the law of compensation, and no one could regret his absence on this occasion more than his colleagues on the Front Opposition Bench. He was glad to hear that the right hon. Gentleman proposed early next session to introduce a measure dealing with the question of the solvency of insurance companies. He had ventured on Report to point out the danger that existed with regard to the insurance companies designed by this Bill to pay the compensation. The small employers had not the same opportunities as the large employers of of finding out whether a company was solvent. He recognised the Government's desire to fill that gap. They had shown already their interest in the subject by introducing a measure this year. That measure, which was withdrawn, might be taken as a token of the measure to be introduced next year, and all that he would ask of the right hon. Gentleman was that he would introduce it at an early date, so that it might become law when this Bill came into force next July. The experience of nine years working of the Act of 1897 had shown the necessity of an amending Bill, and he himself last year introduced such a Bill. The right hon. Gentleman had taken a bolder course in this Bill, and had consolidated the law. Although the Opposition approved of the principle of the Bill, there were certain points with regard to which they were not quite satisfied with the decision of the House. First of all, there was the reduction of the fourteen days to seven, the period that was to elapse after the accident before compensation was to be claimed. The House, he thought, had by its action in connection with this matter unnecessarily increased the cost of compensation, and placed a heavier burden on the employers, because the fourteen days were certainly a check 697 on the malingerer. His experience at the Home Office was that no men were more anxious than hon. Members below the gangway to put an end to malingering, but by reducing the period they had taken away one of the securities against malingering. When preparing the Bill last year he consulted a large number of those who had knowledge of compensation cases, and their opinion was that a distinct period should elapse before compensation was given, and that they should not throw on the employer any expense not necessary to the work. Obviously one factor in wages was the expense of production, and if the cost of production was raised too high some part of it would be transferred from the employer to the workman. That was one point which he regretted had been altered in the Bill. On the introduction of the Bill in March he had expressed a doubt whether the seven days proposed by the Government would really please either the employer or workman. The former desired three days and the latter fourteen. However the right hon. Gentleman had struck the balance and the House had accepted it, and he trusted the result would be for the benefit of both the men and the masters, although he doubted whether they were not placing too heavy a burden on the shoulders of the employers. Again, he did not think this Bill could easily or properly be applied to seamen. He was still unconvinced as to the soundness of the policy of including seamen in this Bill, not that anyone in this House, and certainly not himself, desired to deprive seamen of the right to compensation, but he still thought the better way to have dealt with seamen was by an amendment of the Merchant Shipping Act, as recommended by the Committee. He did not think that the provisions and machinery of the Bill could easily or properly be applied to seamen. The prolonged absence of ships from home, and the frequent changes of the crew, which must in many cases prevent the production of evidence and the witnesses necessary to prove or disprove liability, would place great difficulty in the working of the Act. The recommendation of the Departmental Committee on this point weighed very strongly with the late Government when they deliberately omitted seamen with the view of including them in the Merchant Shipping Act. In regard to the 698 new proposals relating to industrial diseases, he was glad to see the hon. Member for Berwickshire back in his place. He was sure it had been a matter of very great regret to the hon. Gentleman that illness prevented him from being present during the Report stage of this Bill. He knew how keenly the hon. Gentleman had felt and pressed the necessity for legislation of this sort. He welcomed the new proposals with regard to industrial diseases, but there was one point he was not satisfied with and that was the deletion of the sub-section refusing compensation in case of a workman's wilful and persistent disobedience to special rules and regulations for his protection. He thought that if a workman persisted in breaking such rules he should not obtain compensation. It was well known that a large percentage of accidents which occurred in course of employment were due to sheer carelessness and disobedience to orders. He believed that if rules made by employers, which were known to, and conspicuously displayed before, workmen, were obeyed one fourth of those diseases would not be contracted. Rules in case of industrial diseases were more often evaded than rules made for protection against machinery. In the latter case, the workman had before him the danger of revolving machinery, which he could see in motion, and it conveyed to him the knowledge at once that it might cause death or mutilation. But in the other case the effect was more distant, and the workman did not take the same precautions. He persisted, notwithstanding the danger of lead poisoning, in eating with work-soiled hands, or in picking wool, which might lead to anthrax, without protecting his mouth. It was hard on the honest employer, who did all he could by rules to warn the employees of the danger they ran, that he should be liable for compensation. He wished to express regret that the Home Secretary had left the question of the old men an open one. He was aware that hon. Members below the gangway held that this proposal would not have the effect which he thought it would, namely, to make it harder for old men to obtain work. It was the opinion of the Departmental Committee that the effect of the Act of 1897 made it more difficult for old or infirm men to find employment, 699 because it was difficult to persuade the insurance companies to take the risks without charging a higher premium, and the result was that the employers preferred younger men, and older men found it more difficult to obtain employment. They were moving tentatively, and must move tentatively with regard to workmen's compensation, but this Bill was no doubt a great advance on, and carried forward, the Act of 1897. That Act for the first time gave to a workman, as an incidence of his employment, the right to obtain compensation for accidents received in the course of his work. But some day or other, some scheme of compulsory insurance would have to be devised, probably in the shape of State insurance. In the meantime he trusted this Act would work well, and though it placed in some cases too heavy a burden on the employer, he thought they all ought to agree to wish it God-speed, and hope it would shortly become law.
§ MR. H. J. TENNANT (Berwickshire)
expressed his acknowledgments to the Home Secretary, and also to the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, for their observations respecting himself. He thought it was generally admitted throughout the House that this Bill was a distinct advance in the law of workmen's compensation, and as such he thanked the Home Secretary and congratulated him upon having now entered upon the last stage of the Bill. At the same time his remarks would be more in the nature of a criticism of the Bill than a pœan of praise, although he prefaced those remarks by saying he felt very strongly that the Bill was an advance. There were two serious omissions in the Bill. The first was the omission of outworkers from the power of obtaining compensation. The other point related to dangerous trades. The exclusion of outworkers was to his mind a serious defect. He did not deny that there were difficulties. The objections raised by the Government were that the employer had no control over the outworkers or places in which they worked, and that it was difficult to say who was the person employing the outworker at the moment when injury to health arose or accident Occurred. The question as to who was the employer was not a very serious difficulty, because the outworker 700 did not often take work from more than one employer or did not take work from another until he had finished the work of one employer. As to the objection that the employer had no control over the person who undertook work for him, he would ask what real control had the ordinary employer over the ordinary workman? Had the employer any real control over his employees in a factory or in a mine which might be miles from the place where the real control was situated? Where a man avoided control over the worker by deliberately electing to give out his work he ought to be made responsible for accident or illness, for he derived pecuniary advantage from giving out the work to people who were not within the Factory Acts. When the small laundries were excluded by the law an enormous number of employers broke up their laundries into small branches in order to escape the obligations of the law. There was a danger not only to the workmen but to the public in certain small workshops. Any old dilapidated workshop, for example, seemed to be regarded as good enough for brushmaking, and where the work was carried on in living-rooms the risk of anthrax was greatly increased. The risk which employers with factories would run under the Bill would very likely lead some to give up their factories and employ outworkers who would not get compensation if they contracted anthrax. He regretted the decision which the House arrived at in regard to his Amendment which was so ably moved by his hon. friend the Member for West Ham. He could not help thinking that decision was arrived at owing to a misunderstanding. When his hon. friend pointed out for instance that the manufacture of india-rubber was not included in the reference, the answer of the Government was that it had been included.
§ THE UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Herbert Samuel, Yorkshire, Cleveland)
said the reference was not limited to any particular trades.
§ MR. TENNANT
said the hon. Gentleman stated distinctly that it was included in the reference. He thought it was an unfortunate slip and had considerable weight with the House. This trade was recommended a long time ago to be included in 701 the schedule of dangerous trades, but it was not included, and his right hon. friend the Home Secretary, in refutation of the argument of the hon. Member for West Ham, showed him a paper which he said contained all the things the Home Office had done in the last six or seven years, as if that were a refutation of the argument that these things had taken a long time.
§ *MR. GLADSTONE
said he only referred to that to show what action the Home Office had taken when it was stated that practically nothing had been done.
§ MR. TENNANT
said he had never taken the line that nothing had been done. He only said that what was recommended by the Committee had not been carried out. He regretted the decision of the House, because the workpeople engaged in trades outside the schedule would not be able to obtain compensation. He was sorry the two defects he had mentioned had been allowed to remain in the Bill. If wiser and less timorous counsels had prevailed with his right hon. friend, he would hot have allowed these two defects to remain in the Bill.
§ *MR. GILL (Bolton)
said he desired to support the Third Reading, because he believed the Bill was absolutely necessary. The existing law was of an altogether too restricted character, but that was not the case with regard to this Bill, which was a very extensive one. He thought, however, it was a pity that outworkers were left out of its operation. There were, he understood, a great number of difficulties connected with their inclusion, but he and his friends hoped that before very long some solution of those difficulties would be found. He liked the Bill because it removed so many anomalies with which workmen had been acquainted in the working of the present Act, especially in regard to the thirty feet limit, lending workmen, and loading outside of an employer's premises. The Bill contained very important provisions which would be welcomed by the working class. One of the most important was the basis upon which compensation should be assessed. Previously 702 if a man happened to be ill or off his work through slackness of trade he would not only have lost his wages, but have been penalised in the amount of compensation he would be entitled to receive. But he was pleased to know that under this Bill the workman would be entitled to get 50 per cent. of a full week's wages so long as it did not exceed £1. That would be very much welcomed by the working classes. There had been a great deal said about the question of dating back after the first fortnight, and also about the question of malingering. He thought the matter had been greatly exaggerated. There were 1,500 cases of accident in his own society and it was difficult for him to remember a single case among those of which he had charge of a person malingering. The great trade unions paid compensation as well as employers; that was a safeguard against malingering, and employers could be satisfied that their interests as well as those of trade unions would be looked after in that respect. The question of costs had been mentioned. He did not think that the cost was going to be so great as some people seemed to suppose. When the Compensation Act was passed in 1897 there were many gloomy prognostications as to the cost, but the fears then entertained had not been realised. An important provision in this Bill, which would be largely welcomed in Lancashire, was that in regard to the scale of compensation for young persons earning from 10s. to 20s. a week. They had been accustomed to receive only 50 per cent. of the average wage, and in many cases that had not been more than 5s. a week. It was now provided that it should be 100 per cent. so long as it did not exceed 10s. a week. A more important provision still was that in regard to permanent incapacity. He bad known several sad cases where lads had been permanently disabled, and when they were able to earn 10s. a week they were without compensation for the future. That was on account of the provision in the Act that when the person who had been injured was able to earn a sum equal to his previous wages in another job the compensation was to be stopped. There was a valuable provision in this Bill which enabled the Judge to review the award to give 703 the injured person 50 per cent. of what probably he would have earned if he had not been injured. The provision in regard to the medical referee would remove much suspicion which had prevailed. When the medical referees were also the medical advisers of insurance companies, whether they acted justly or not it was impossible to remove from the minds of working men the suspicion that in the capacity of judges they were not acting fairly. Another important provision was that dealing with the principle of commutation. There had hitherto been no uniformity in the awards, and the Bill would have the effect of putting the work of ascertaining the amount payable for commutation on a more satisfactory basis. As to medical examinations, injured person had been harassed very much indeed by too frequent examinations on behalf of insurance companies. He maintained that in this connection insurance companies should not be the arbiters of what was to be done. He had known cases in which workmen, in order to get rid of these harassing examinations, had accepted most inadequate commutation of the amount of their compensation. He was glad the Government had accepted the claim put forward by labour representatives that payment should be made to workmen suffering from industrial disease as well as to workmen suffering from accidents. Of course there were only a few of these diseases in the schedule, but he had confidence in the Home Secretary in this particular matter and believed that he would extend the provisions as soon as he could possibly do so and include other dangerous trades. he thought the Bill was a very satisfactory one. There were one or two points which might have been improved, but, taking the Bill as a whole, he looked upon it as one of the best pieces of industrial legislation ever passed, and he thought it would be taken in that way throughout the land. He thanked the Government for the sympathetic way they had listened to the views the Labour Members had put before them. He believed the Labour Members had done something to make the provisions of the Bill better than they were when first presented to the House.
§ *SIR CHAELES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
agreed with the hon. Member for Bolton in expressing general approval of the Bill, and he congratulated the Home Secretary on the admirable manner in which he had conducted it though its various stages. The Bill had been greatly altered in many matters against the will of the Government, and they could not blame the Government for defects which they might foresee so far as it had been extended beyond the extent to which the Government themselves desired to push it. There was perhaps some haste shown in one matter with which he would not now deal at any length. It was a matter in which sudden action was taken. It was felt that what was said by the Attorney-General went further than the words which were put in the Bill. He thought that should be kept in view and that the words should be changed if there was any possibility of doing so. The hon. and learned Gentleman argued that persona who were substantially dependent should not be excluded in certain cases of obvious hardship. The particular words adopted were perhaps a little crude in form and did not extend to all those cases. He only now called attention publicly to the matter in the hope that it might be dealt with in a better manner than by the words adopted. As to the inclusion of industrial diseases as well as accidents in the Bill, he pointed out that the dangerous trades which had been scheduled employed only an infinitesimal portion of the workers of the country. It was conceded that the schedule did not covet all the diseases, but no procedure by schedule could deal with the major part of the suffering from industrial disease. He agreed with his hon. friend behind him, who had rendered great service in these matters, that the blot on the Bill was the conspicuous exclusion of outworkers. There was the great difficulty of compulsory insurance in connection with the extension of the Bill to workers in small shops and to domestic servants. When he referred to the French law in a recent debate, the Under-Secretary of State argued in reply that, in the case of small employers, servants could not get compensation without making the employers bankrupt. It had already been the case in regard to 'small" 705 agriculture that either there was no compensation or the employers had become bankrupt. Cases of that kind had occurred in England. In Ireland the Compensation Act passed by the last Parliament had been absolutely a dead letter in regard to small agriculturists. When they introduced to the benefits of the Bill domestic servants and shop assistants without restriction they ought to face all the difficulties to which his right hon. friend alluded, and see that the law was not illusory. They ought to see that people did get compensation if they were entitled to it. His right hon. friend, he believed, was making inquiry as to the possible treatment of the outwork system, and he only hoped that if the Government saw their way to legislation, and if their insurance scheme was in working order, they would extend those principles to outworkers.
§ *MR. J. WILLIAMS (Glamorganshire, W.)
said he would like to express his sincere appreciation of the manner in which the Bill had been handled by the Home Secretary. The Bill was a great improvement upon the existing law, and for that Labour representatives were very grateful. He hoped that the Third Beading would be allowed to pass without a division, and that the treatment of the Bill when sent up to the House of Lords would be such as to carry the approval of both groups of Labour Members and the Government. He did not propose to speak at length upon the Bill, because he believed that all that could be intelligibly said upon it had been said, and that the greatest intellect in the House at the present time could not find anything new to say about it. The Amendments that had been embodied had given great satisfaction to the large number of workmen in his constituency. He would not go into detail upon those Amendments, but he would say that he was very glad that payment of compensation where the incapacity for work was not less than two weeks was to be for and from the first week. There was another matter which this Bill put right, and that was the computation of the average earnings. An unlimited amount of money had been spent in. litigation upon this matter, and he was very glad to find that this clause would meet the requirements 706 of the workmen of the country. The wilful misconduct clause was a great improvement on the existing law. He believed that under the existing law the employers and the insurance companies had greatly abused this clause and that the modification would be a means of avoiding a large amount of litigation. He was glad to find that the Government had extended the provisions of the Act to domestic servants. The principle underlying the present law had been lost sight of by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite. That principle was to give compensation and not to prevent the giving of compensation. There was, in his opinion, a vital difference between awarding compensation and the principle of assessing the damages to be given. He hoped that the House of Lords would bear that difference in mind in dealing with the Bill. Good as the Bill was, they wanted another Bill which could be applied more generally and more closely to the economic conditions of the huge masses of the people constituting the labouring classes of this country.
§ MR. HUGH LAW (Donegal, W.)
said that the Home Secretary in his opening speech told the House that this Bill practically covered all classes of workmen whether employed in dangerous or non-dangerous trades. They all recognised full and frankly the great advance made by the Bill over the existing Act, but the right hon. Gentleman had betrayed a little parental partiality towards his measure.
§ MR. HUGH LAW
said that there was one class of people who had been left out of the Bill, the outworkers; and his fear was that in the course which the Government had taken they had done injustice to that class. His contention was that everything which Parliament did to tighten the obligations of the employers in factories drove the work out of the factories into the homes of the work people. He would quote one trade which had formerly been carried on in factories with hardly an outworker—he meant the 707 scouring of clay pipes. The Board of Trade lady inspector in a recent Report said that that trade was exceedingly injurious to the health of the girls employed, and that the only method of preventing the danger was the erection of large ventilating fans. Many of the best employers had erected these fans at large expense, but one employer who was asked to do so refused, and got rid of all his girls. If the conditions in the factories were made more stringent, and at the same time the conditions of the outworkers were not correspondingly tightened, the tendency would be to increase disease. He was glad that the Government had included anthrax in the scheduled diseases, but he would point out that a great deal of the handling of wool, hair, and bristles was carried on in the homes of the workpeople, and unless the obligations on the employer in factories in respect to ventilation and compensation were pro tanto applied to outworkers the danger of carrying on those dangerous processes in the home would be infinitely increased. As to accidents to domestic servants, it was said that these were very rare. He doubted that very much under modern conditions. He knew there was a difficulty of proof in the case of the outworker, because he was away from the immediate control of his employer; but because that class of employee would have a difficulty in establishing his claim was no reason why he should be deprived of the chance of doing so. He thought the balance of advantage was strongly in favour of throwing this liability on the employer, whether the workman was occupied in the factory or outside. He appealed to the Government to do something in this matter, but at all events he hoped they would take into very real and serious consideration the whole question of this class of labour, bearing in mind how much misery existed among this class in cases where accidents had occurred.
§ *MR. JOSEPH WALTON (Yorkshire, W.R., Barnsley)
said, that taking as he did a very deep interest in the question under consideration by the House, and having more than once in the last Parliament introduced a Universal Workmen's Compensation Bill prepared by the 708 Parliamentary Committee of the Trades Union Congress, the Miners Federation and the Textile Workers Union, be felt that he must not allow this opportunity to pass without offering his warmest congratulations to his right hon. friend, the Home Secretary, the Solicitor-General and the Under-Secretary, on the enormous step in advance the Bill that was now being passed through one of its final stages would effect. It came very nearly to giving effect to the Bill he had had the honour to introduce, inasmuch as it would increase the number of those workers enjoying the benefit of workmen's compensation from 6,000,000 to 12,000,000. He felt sure that the 6,000,000 additional workers—men and women—to whom this measure did what was an act of justice in regard to this matter, would greatly appreciate their inclusion within the scope of the measure. He had had no sympathy or support whatever from the Tory majority in the House, when he had introducd his Bill, but he gathered from speeches made by Members of the same political Party now sitting in Opposition that he might regard them as repentant sinners. It was indeed a death-bed repentance when they rose the other night and proposed the inclusion of 2,000,000 of domestic servants within the scope of the Bill. He welcomed that inclusion, but it was so hastily adopted by the House that he hoped, now that they were included, it was clearly understood that in case of accident they were to receive not only half their wages, but half the cost of their board and lodging as well, in case they were deprived of that, as that formed the greatest part of their earnings. He cordially supported the Bill.
§ *MR. REES (Montgomery Boroughs)
said he recognised the impatience of the House to get this Bill through. He hoped, however, he might be allowed to call attention to the case of the lascars. When he last referred to their case and upheld their claims the hon. Member for Stoke thought fit to place him under the ban of the Labour benches, not appreciating the fact that the lascar, though a brown brother, was a British subject, a tremendous trade unionist, and, indeed, in one sense, an employer of British labour in so far that wherever he worked he provided work for 709 the Briton who overlooked him. Thus it was wherever white and coloured labour met—and might this simple elementary fact one day dawn upon those who represented labourin and out of this House. The function of white labour was the supervision of coloured labour wherever the two colours met. He thought that when the dread sentence of excommunication had to be passed it was the Hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil who tolled the bell, read the book and held the candle, and he wondered if that hon. Member appreciated the fashion in which his lieutenant wrote "Ego" over the first, and "et rex meus" over the second Labour Bench. He had supported this Bill right through, except that he did not follow the hon. Member for Thanet in his chivalrous campaign on behalf of the domestic servant, nor the hon. Member for North West Ham who represented secularism, socialism, and sentimentalism in their most attractive guises, or disguises in this House. No one, however, had spoken for his Indian friends. His right hon. friend would no doubt tell him that the Lascar was included in the benefits of Clause 7, and reading the definitions of "seaman" in the Act and in the Merchant Shipping Act of 1894 he agreed, but they had had spirited object-lessons of late to make them realise that the intentions of draughtsmen and frontiers of Bills were of little account in the Courts, and he should like either a positive pronouncement, or a promise of an Amendment in the Lords. Hon. Members would allow that seeing how many clients he had, and how greatly they were interested in the Bill, he had not taken long in putting their case, and it must be remembered that lascars had no such legislation to fall back upon in India at the other end of the voyage.
§ MR. JOHN O'CONNOR (Kildare, N.)
said he wished to join those who had preceded him in giving his blessing to the Bill, and he thanked the right hon. Gentleman for having included the law on this subject within the corners of one Act. He was quite sure that it was a great advantage to those who had to put this Act into operation or to assist the Courts in its administration, to find all the provisions in 710 one statute, and not to be driven as they often were to many statutes in order to get the full meaning of the Act itself. He had also to thank the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues for the readiness with which they had acceded to many suggestions made upstairs in Committee and upon the Report stage. No doubt some of the principles embodied in the Bill were not accepted at first by those who represented the Government, but when it was shown that a vast body of people were in favour of them the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues, with graciousness and reasonableness, at once adopted them. He wished most heartily to echo the remarks of the Home Secretary with regard to the Press. The Press could help this Bill immensely by calling the attention of employers to their responsibilities and of workmen to their rights. There were a number of 'small organisations organised by men who had been working men themselves, or still were working men, which had for their object the bringing before the vast bulk of the people a knowledge of the law and placing before them a knowledge of the means of obtaining the compensation to which Parliament was giving them a right. He noticed that a certain section of the newspaper Press had been attacking these small organisations and had called for their prosecution. He knew that there were such things as champerty and maintenance, and that there was good ground for thinking that cause for these classes of actions had existed in the past, but he thought there was no justification for the attacks which had been made. It was never intended that the law in those matters should be put into force for the purpose of depriving vast multitudes of people of the benefits of the humane laws put upon the Statute-book, and he hoped the Solicitor-General would not put the law into operation against those small societies, which existed for the purpose of bringing to the knowledge of the people a series of laws made for their benefit. Those small societies had been dealt with very unfairly by a section of the newspaper Press, who had done absolutely nothing in the past to help the people for whose benefit this law was introduced. There was only one other, point with regard to the machinery 711 for carrying out this law. The county courts had had their jurisdiction for cases at common law increased from £50 to £100. That had increased their business considerably. The scope of this Bill having been widened and vast numbers having been brought within its operation, there would inevitably be thrown on the county courts an amount of business which in all probability they would not be able to do. Had the right hon. Gentleman borne that fact in mind? Those who were associated with the operation of these Acts knew perfectly well that the county courts were overwhelmed with work. There would have to be some, devolution which would enable the Judge to take up these cases in the morning and to throw upon the registrar more of that class of work which now wasted the time of the Court in the morning, the best time of the day. It was a fact that workmen attended at the Court with their witnesses and doctor and sat there all day only to come away at the end without their case having been reached. That would occur two, three, and four days running. He hoped that point would be considered. It could not be done in this Bill, but certainly something would have to be done to prevent the congestion of work, and the Government might consider whether they should not bring in some Amendment of the County Courts Act for that purpose. This Bill, in which he took great interest, was now going to another place. Although he had not got adopted all the Amendments he moved, he was successful with some, which would be found to be useful when the Bill came into operation. Others he had not succeeded in, but he was going to have another shot with them elsewhere. He was grateful for what he had been able to accomplish, and he joined with those who had preceeded him in thanking the Government for this measure and the manner which they had crarried it through. It was a useful piece of legisation which he hoped would bring security and relief to hundreds and thousands, he might even say millions of the workers of this country.
§ *MR. CHIOZZA MONEY (Paddington N.)
said that, if the few words he had to say were directed to points of criticism and suggestion, he was sure that his right 712 hon. friend would believe that it wag not because he did not fully appreciate the value of the Bill which had been so successfully piloted through the House. The first point he desired to raise was with regard to the definition of "workman." He particularly drew attention to the fact that not only was the outworker excluded from the provisions of this Bill, but also the casual worker under certain conditions. He had one instance in mind which would serve to ill strate his point. There was the case of the charwoman, who was employed in most cases in a domestic establishment, and he thought this Bill would not only be unjust to her, but also to the regularly employed domestic servant who would be in some danger of dismissal and whose place would be filled by the charwoman. With regard to the outworker, he had taken an active part in the organisation of the Sweating Exhibition which excited so much attention during the past summer. In connection with that work and other matters he had been frequently brought into contact with the outworker, the sweated worker. In a great number of instances it was not true that the outworker was working for more than one employer, and yet this appeared to be the chief argument for their exclusion. Not only with regard to this Bill but with all legislation they were often too much inclined to give attention to exceptional cases. It was as a rule the exaggerated attention given to exceptional cases that created more trouble and litigation than the inclusion of what was universal. He hoped that even at this, the eleventh hour, the right hon. Gentleman would include the outworker in the Bill. Another point to which he, wished to draw attention was the case of the posthumous child, to which apparently no attention had been given. A case had recently some before Judge Bryn Roberts in which a woman had borne a child to her husband after his death. She brought in action against the insurance company for compensation and Judge Bryn Roberts had to decide the case against this poor woman because it could not be said that either the woman who had lot been co-habiting with the man for some months or the child who was born 713 after his death was dependent upon him. The dependency of posthumous children had been entirely overlooked by the Legislature. Then there was that serious question which had been raised so eloquently on the Report Stage by his hon. friend the Member for North West Ham, the question of the diseased worker. The introduction of the principle of compensation in the case of industrial disease was perhaps the point upon which the Government could most congratulate themselves. It was here that we were taking the lead in the world instead of following the example of France and Germany in these labour matters. The right hon. Gentleman put into the schedule certain cases of disease which were known to belong to particular trades, and then set up a Departmental Committee to inquire into various diseases. When that Committee was assured that those diseases belonged to a particular trade they were to be added to the schedule. The scheme was a good one, for this reason, that in these scheduled cases when the workman was able to get from the certifying surgeon a certificate that the disease from which he suffered arose from the occupation he followed, his case for compensation must be disproved by the employer or compensation must be paid. He desired to retain that system of scheduling and he wanted his right hon. friend to continue the operation of that Committee. There remained a tremendous number of heart rending cases. What was to be done with such cases? He suggested that the present schedule should be kept exactly as it was, and that at the end of the clause some such words as these should be introduced, "The provisions of this Act shall also apply to cases of disability arising from disease, the result of processes not mentioned in the third section of this Act, but in regard to such diseases the onus of proof that the incapacity arises through the employment shall lie with the workman." In other words, the cases of industrial disease or incapacity from industrial disease would be divided into two parts—one the scheduled cases (those in which the largest number of cases of disease arose) and the other the industrial diseases not included in the schedule, and as to these 714 the onus of proof would lie with the workman. If they put such a provision in the Bill they would confer by it compensation in more cases than they would through the scheduled trades, because the man who had his lungs choked by dust or filings could in the great majority of cases prove that the injury occurred through his employment, and the onus of proof Tested with him. He thanked the Home Secretary for his Bill, and for the sympathy and skill with which he had put it through this House. The right hon. Gentleman had a right to pride himself upon the introduction of the principle of compensation for industrial diseases into the Bill, and he hoped he would complete his work by giving consideration to the point he had put before him.
§ *MR. CARLILE (Hertfordshire, St. Albans)
pointed out to the hon. Member for North Paddington that the posthumous child was provided for in the definition clause. The hon. Member for Barnsley rather twitted hon. Members on the Opposition side with what he called a death-bed repentance in regard to the domestic servant at the end of the discussion on the Bill. But if anyone came to a death-bed repentance on the subject it certainly was His Majesty's Government and not the Members of the Opposition. The Opposition were favourable to the Bill when introduced, and though Amendments and criticisms had been made their feeling towards the Bill was sympathetic and kindly. All they desired was that the measure should if possible be thoroughly discussed, and if they on that side could in any way contribute towards improving the measure, they were nothing loth to do so, and they heartily congratulated hon. Members in all parts of the House upon the measure as it now stood. They realised that a voluntary system on such a subject would be absolutely impossible, and while this measure brought compulsion upon employers he hoped it would not in any way interfere with or discourage the great voluntary efforts made from time to time by employers for the good of their workpeople. Undoubtedly a great burden must fall upon some one, and the employer was the best able to bear it, and to make provision for it. They 715 could not help feeling a great deal of sympathy with the small employers, who under the provisions of this Bill would have to bestir themselves. He hoped the workpeople would not show less concern in the friendly societies, but would increase, if possible, their industry and enterprise in connection with these, most valuable societies, which were doing such grand work in the country. With reference to Clause 16, he feared employers would be called upon to take out two years policies, although he did not think that was the intention of the Government, but if a workman developed a disease which he had contracted in a previous employment, then the previous employer was liable under the Bill. If the provisions did not come into force until July, 1908, instead of July, 1907, so far as that was concerned such employers would have been, protected. As it was they would have to take out policies of insurance for that liability covering the two years. A new departure in this Bill was made in respect of those whose relations to their parents were not on a legal basis. Their position had for the first time been legally recognised. Whilst they appreciated the dreadful handicap such children had in life, and approved that addition to the Bill, yet when it came to admitting claims by the parents he thought that was going too far. He was not sure that it would make for public morality. It would be impossible for a measure to be put on the Statute-book of this country without its containing some regrettable things, and to some that provision was regrettable. Another thing was that old persons and cripples who were very seriously handicapped in their fight for a living, had not had in this Bill the consideration they ought to have received It would have been only reasonable if this Bill had allowed them to seek employment from employers who were relieved from the necessity of paying full compensation to them. Old men and cripples were far more exposed to accident than the able-bodied. By the exclusion of such a provision from this measure these persons would find it increasingly difficult to obtain employment, although many of them were quite skilled, industrious, and perfectly able to earn a good day's wage. The omission of such a pro- 716 vision would result in increasing numbers of these persons being thrown upon the rates instead of getting such employment as they were able to undertake. Apart from those considerations he congratulated the Government and the House upon the passing of a measure which would do much to lessen the sufferings and evils which would otherwise fall on the working people of this country.
§ *MR. HERBERT SAMUEL (Yorkshire, Cleveland)
said it was necessarily a source of great gratification to the Government to remark the harmony which characterised this debate. When they heard the late Home Secretary wishing the Bill God-speed, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee of the Trade Union Congress describing the Bill as one of the best industrial measures that Parliament had ever passed, and the unanimous expression of satisfaction with which the House had received this measure, it could not but be a source of gratification to his right hon. friend the Home Secretary and those who had assisted him. There had been some gentle criticisms from the right hon. Gentleman opposite, in connection with the burden which would be thrown upon employers, but a point which had not yet been made was that, as against the small extra charge that the measure would throw on the employer, was to be reckoned the great benefit that would indirectly accrue to industry generally from any measure which helped to make more secure and stable the position of the workman. It was the insecurity of the workman's life that detracted largely from his capacity. Insecurity bred recklessness and insobriety. The fact ought to be borne in mind by this House that the more they safeguarded the workmen against the fear of destitution, whether from old age, from unemployment, or from incapacity due to accident, the more they raised his status, and the more they increased his value as a worker. A great part of this debate had turned upon the position of the outworker. For his part he regretted most deeply that it had not been found possible to bring the outworker within the scope of the Bill. The outworker, with his hard conditions, excessive hours, and wretched pay, was perhaps the most pathetic figure in the 717 whole industrial system. But the practical difficulties were insuperable. In the first place it was impossible to decide who was the employer, because, while a great majority of outworkers might as had been said, work for one employer, still there was of minority who took in work from different employers. The vista of litigation which this fact opened up as to whose employment the outworker was in when an accident happened was obvious enough, and the question would often be incapable of proof one way or the other. Who was to say, if a man cut his hand or a woman scalded her arm; whether the accident happened in the course of the employment or in the ordinary culinary operations of the household? And how was the employer to insure the outworker? No practical suggestion had been made by any of the critics as to the manner in which these difficulties could be overcome. To have brought the outworker within the scope of this Bill would have given the Government the greatest gratification, but the difficulties were insuperable. As to the question of industrial diseases there ought not to be such a thing as industrial disease, but until by the operation of science and of law we had rid our industrial system of those maladies which attach to it, employers ought to recoup financially the workers for injuries which they suffered owing to these maladies. With regard to the complaint of the late Home Secretary, he might point out that in the case of disease being contracted owing to continued infraction of rules it would be open to the employer to plead that the injury was due to serious and wilful misconduct. The hon. Member for Berwickshire said that every industrial disease ought to have been brought into that schedule. That question was debated for some hours a few days ago, but his hon. friend was in error if he thought the House was misled into the conclusion they had adopted on that occasion by any observation which he made.
§ MR. H. J. TENNANT
said the hon. Gentleman had misled his hon. Friend the Member for North West Ham.
§ *MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
said the reference of the Industrial Diseases 718 I Committee was simply to inquire what diseases were suitable for inclusion in this Bill. They were not limited to any industry or trade. The hon. Member for North West Ham had asked whether they were investigating a particular disease due to the use of naphtha in indiarubber works, and he had answered that they were. His hon. friend had then said that it was not on the list of diseases which had been published, and he had replied that he thought it was. He had been mistaken in that, but the fact remained that the Committee had intended to inquire into that particular disease, among a large number of others. The list was a provisional list which was circulated among the trade unions and employers' associations, and it was circulated in order that those associations and trade unions might make suggestions as to other diseases which they thought ought to go into the schedule. On the question of diseases his hon. friend the Member for North Paddington had suggested that while there were certain diseases which were specific and should come within the scope of the Act the burden of disproof resting on the employer, there were many other diseases which were not so distinctly industrial, and in regard to which the burden of proof should be thrown on the workman.
§ *MR. CHIOZZA MONEY
said his suggestion was that the second list of diseases should include all those which were not specific, and that in such cases the onus of proof should rest on the workman.
§ *MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
said he understood his hon. friend's point. It was that there should be a list containing obvious trade diseases, and that the workman should be entitled to compensation unless the employer could prove that the disease was not due to his employment. With regard to other industrial diseases the hon. Member's suggestion was that the workman should only have the right to recover compensation if he could prove that any disease from which he suffered was due to his employment. His difficulty with regard to the latter proposal was that there were many complaints of which no one 719 could say whether they did or did not arise from the trade in which a person was engaged. In the case of an agricultural labourer, for example, it might be difficult to say whether rheumatism arose from exposure to weather or bad housing. In cases of that nature, and others which he had mentioned in the previous debate, if they tried to give effect to the proposal, there would be an infinite amount of litigation, and no Court would be able to decide with certainty whether the diseases arose from occupation or not. It was true that there were certain diseases which were in. some degree trade diseases, and in regard to these it might be advisable to have a separate schedule and to give the workman the right to claim and recover compensation when he could show that the disease, although not always specific to the employment, was in his case due to that employment. From the beginning of the debates the Government had always regarded the schedule as provisional and had recognised that there were many diseases that ought to be added to it as soon as inquiry had decided their nature and the trades to which they specifically belonged. In reply to the hon. Member for Montgomery, lascars would be in the same position as British sailors. He did not think that the apprehension of the hon. Member for Kildare as to the increase of County Court litigation was justified. The litigation which had taken place under the previous Act would he hoped be lessened by this Bill on account of the simplification of the procedure, and on account of the provision for the settlement of medical questions outside the Courts by the medical referees. He congratulated the House on the passage of a Bill of precisely the kind which this new House of Commons desired to pass for the direct benefit of the poorer class—a Bill which without imposing any undue burden on any shoulders would bring relief—and at the moments when it was most needed—to tens of thousands of necessitous homes.
§ *MR. KEIR HARDIE (Merthyr Tydvil)
said he was sorry that the hon. Gentleman had not held out more hope in regard to the inclusion of outworkers and an extension of the diseases clause of 720 the Bill. Nobody sought to minimise the difficulty of bringing outworkers in, but if the Home Secretary was willing some way would be found of overcoming that difficulty. The chief difficulty seemed to be to determine whether the accident arose out of the employment or from some other cause. If an accident were met with and the workman felt he had a claim why should he be barred from going to Court and taking the risk? In all probability both these questions would be raised in the House of Lords and serious effort made to remedy what were admitted to be the two defects in this otherwise excellent measure. His suggestion to the Government was that if those questions were raised in the House of Lords they should not only put no obstacle in the way of trying to find a solution to them, but should co-operate with those who were seeking to make the Bill even more perfect than it was when it left the House of Commons. He trusted too that the suggestion made with regard to the inclusion of workmen suffering from dangerous diseases other than those contained in the schedule if they proved that their incapacity was due to their employment, should also be favourably considered. He wished again to urge the Government to co-operate in the House of Lords with those who would seek to bring outworkers and workers suffering from diseases not included in the schedule within the scope of the Bill.
§ SIR CHARLES SCHWANN (Manchester, N.)
suggested that means should be taken for publishing the provisions of this Bill among the workers in order that they might know the advantages they had. The hon. Gentleman had promised that the State offices would be used for advertising the Act. He suggested that a synopsis of the provisions of the Act should be exposed in every factory and workshop, and also that copies of the Act should be available for reference so that workers might know what the advantages were if an accident occurred. It had been said that trade union secretaries would point out the advantages to the members of the unions, but it should be remembered that a large number of workers did not belong to trade unions.
§ MR. LUPTON (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)
said it would add to the value of the Bill if employers who made especially good arrangements for the health of their workers could receive certificates which would, according to their classification, he regarded by insurance offices as justifying a reduction of insurance rates.
§ MR. HARWOOD (Bolton)
asked that when diseases were added to the schedule one should be put in for the benefit of Members of Parliament themselves. It arose from their occupation and might be called "brain rot." He admitted that it might be objected that if they had not already the germs of that disease they would not have come there at all.
§ Me. T. F. RICHARDS (Wolverhampton, W.)
drew the attention of the Home Secretary to diseases which affected operatives in the boot and shoe trade—blood poisoning from the stain used and consumption from the dust caused by the rapid machinery used in dealing with chemically tanned leather. In his judgment there was no provision in the Bill for the protection of the workmen in the shoe-making industry suffering from blood poisoning. He wished to emphasise the remarks of the hon. Member for North Paddington so far as dust was concerned. In the boot and shoe industry they were accustomed to work with machinery which moved with extraordinary velocity whereby the leather was ground. The result was that the air was laden with dust. It should be remembered that whereas formerly it took seven years to tan leather, it could now be tanned in as many weeks, and the men who worked with the leather suffered from consumption to such an extent that the deaths amongst them were 38 per 10,000 above the average of ordinary trades. The medical officers of health in Northampton and Leicester had reported in 1905 that the Government should take the diseases arising from leather working into consideration. He therefore hoped that the Government would endeavour to widen the schedule so as to include those particular diseases, whether the persons afflicted by them were factory hands or outworkers.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read the third time, and passed.