HC Deb 27 February 1906 vol 152 cc1076-109
SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean),

in moving "That, in the opinion of this House, it is necessary to put an end to fines and deductions from wages," said ii was perhaps a happy chance that the first occupation of time on the part of private Members of this House in the beginning of a new Parliament should be an occupation of time on behalf of a labour question of a practical description. This particular question of Truck was one of a severely painful kind, and it was also in the position of being ripe for further legislation. Timid legislation had been repeatedly tried in connection with this question and had repeatedly failed, and the time had come for heroic legislation. The question affected every class of labour in this country, including labour in shops and, for certain purposes, even agricultural labour, and the time had come when stronger remedies must be tried than had been tried in the past. The first Truck Act, the Act of 1831, was so good an Act that had it been enforced in modern times, had it not been killed by judge-made law, the country would have had very little to complain of. The abuses that had grown up under that Act, and which now could only be changed by heroic legislation, would have failed to have come into being at all. The Truck Act of 1831 if it was read by any Member of this House who had no acquaintance with it, either as a lawyer, a sucking statesman, or as an employer or one employed, would be satisfied with that Act. He would say it was a reasonable Act, and that there was little to complain of in it. Our legislation with regard to Truck seemed on the surface to be better than that of any other country of Europe, but the Truck Acts of Germany and those of Belgium and Russia, which were held to be the worst, were far better Acts than ours in the working. The principle of the Truck Act of 1831, which was the governing Act, forbade the payment of wage otherwise than in current coin of the realm: that was the first principle. The second principle was that the whole wage arranged should be paid with certain exceptions, which were distinctly named, such as for "miners' explosives," the exceptions to be agreed to in writing, and to be a sum not more than the actual value of the article, or cost, or loss, to the employer. That was a thoroughly clear law, and would have been satisfactory had it been acted upon, but it had unfortunately been upset by decisions in the Courts of law. Fourteen years after the Act of 1831, the first great case was decided, and decided against the intentions of that Act. The Act was virtually upset by a decision in the Courts of law where it was decided in a most extraordinary fashion that under the Act of 1831 it was legal to make deductions for "frame rents" in hosiery. Nothing came of that decision, which was in 1845, immediately, but in 1859 the full mischief of it was seen. In 1859 a case came before the Court in which there was a large number of fines and deductions. There were deductions for fire, for gas, for power, and what were called fines for discipline, for unpunctuality and so forth. All those things were involved in that case, and a most extraordinary result followed the first decision given with regard to it. The first decision was on the lines of the case of 1845. Then there was that appeal, which in the feeble state of the Trades Unions of that time had not followed the decision of 1845, and that appeal was heard before six judges who were divided three to three, with the result that the appeal failed. Two of the judges by whose action the appeal was dismissed said they felt great difficulty, but did not like to disturb the decision of the 1845 case after so many years. The third judge was Lord Bramwell, and anybody who remembered Lord Bramwell with his extraordinary intellect and absence of legal "tie" when he chose to put it on one side, would be amazed at the decision at which he arrived. Lord Bramwell used the argument he (Sir Charles Dilke) used to-day. Lord Bramwell explained how the Truck Act had I been killed, and, having explained that there was therefore no law of Truck, said that he had to construct one out of his own inner consciousness, and the judgment of Lord Bramwell was one of the most remarkable that had ever been delivered from the Bench. The judgment in 1845 held good in the teeth of the statute, because in the appeal case of 1859 three judges decided in the way that he and others held to-day, and two judges agreed, but thought it ought not to be carried to extremes, while Lord Bramwell used the language to which he had referred. So things stood until the Trades Unions came into their own in 1874. In 1874 there was a weak Liberal Government followed by a weak Conservative Government, and one of the results of the power of Labour in 1874 was the carrying through this House unanimously of a sweeping Truck Act in respect to one particular trade, the hosiery trade. That abolished the whole of what were commonly called deductions: it abolished all fines and deductions with one exception. It was an Act applicable to a single trade and was not universally acted upon in connection with that trade. It was not known. It was procured through the instrumentality of the late Mr. Mundella, and was supposed to be applicable to Nottingham. In 1887, in the time of the Conservative Government, an Act was passed, and in 1889, in spite of the Act of 1887, the Home Office, although armed with that Act, failed, in every case they undertook, in trying to upset the judgment which had been referred to. After their failures in 1889 they stopped taking cases and said that, pending legislation, they were unable to do anything. In 1895 a Truck Act was proposed by a Liberal Government and brought in and passed by a Conservative Government in 1896, and most of the Members of the House were [...]ed by the legal advisers of the Home Office to support that Bill. Unfortunately, that Act had been a complete failure; its utter breakdown had been recognised. In 1897 the hon. Gentleman the senior Member for Leicester brought in a Bill to repeal the Act of 1896, the first clause of which was— The Truck Art of 1896 is hereby repealed. It was a very ingenious Bill, and he did not think he was far wrong in saying that two of the most illustrious lawyers in the present Cabinet drew that. Bill. That Bill, which was on a different principle to former Acts, did not succeed. The great case of 1889 was the case of Redgrave v. Kelly, in which case the Home Office had the advice of the Treasury lawyers and the whole of the legal talent of the Government at its back. It failed, and the Act of 1895–6 was prepared on the basis of the breakdown of that case, and they all had had good hopes of the result, I He would now state to the House, without any attempt at adornment, a few of the cases which had been taken in recent times under the Act of 1896—the recent Act, together with the Act of 1831. He would take cases from Belfast, Birmingham, Edinburgh and London, and only cases for the year 1903, cases which had been taken by the inspectors of the Government themselves, and in regard to which answers had been given in the Home Office Reports or in this House. In Belfast there were three cases of soiling handkerchiefs in hemstitching, a work carried on largely by young girls at a small wage. In the first, a girl was fined 5s., her wage being 1s. a day. In the second case 1s. 5¾d. was stopped for soiling four dozen; the girl's wages for the work being 3d., she working at the rate of 9d. for twelve dozen. The third case was that of a girl aged fourteen. She had 8¾d. stopped, her wages being 2s. 10d. per week. Those three cases were held to be "reasonable," and the cases taken by the inspector at Belfast were dismissed. The next case he would take was one at Birmingham in the steel-pen trade, a case of "waste." In that case a girl was fined £2 for wastage, her wages being 12s. a week. The Edinburgh was a hosiery case; the case of a disciplinary fine for unpunctuality. The girl was absent for an hour: she was absent once, and once only. She was ill, and it was not contended that she was not. She was fined 7½d., her wages being 7s. a week. Although the German law was supposed to be the worst truck law in existence a case of this kind could not happen in Germany, because there no person could be fined more than a certain percentage. The last case was the London case, a case at the Guildhall of pressing n the tailoring trade. There a woman was fined £2 5s., and the extent of the fine was so huge in proportion to her wages that it was spread over two years. The only other class of cases he would like to mention were cases of an entirely new description which had come up lately; they were quite different to the others and more important; but they did not press in the same way, as those mentioned previously, on feeble women's industries. The first of this series was me that arose in 1904 at Oxford, where it was held legal to make stoppages for printed books containing the particulars required by law. That applied to the tickets upon which the particulars were put which a beneficent Government insisted upon. The case in the Potteries in 1904 was even more curious: in lat it was held to be legal to make deductions for fees of certifying surgeons under the Acts. It was proved in court that the employer made a profit of £1 5s. the month, and inspectors had reported cases in which a profit of 100 percent, was made on stoppage for certifying surgeons' fees. The most striking case of all was a Stroud Valley case, in which there had been deductions for insurance under the Workmen's Compensation Act. In some cases twice and even thrice the amount of the insurance had been stopped. The Home Office took the case under the Act of 1831 and were defeated, and the decision was upheld on appeal.

But in 1905 in an appeal case of an inspector, "Squire v. the Midland Lace Co." in the King's Bench Division, before the Lord Chief Justice and two other Judges, the appeal failed, but the Court expressed the unusual opinion that the Truck Law should be amended, and in answer to a Question in the House on the 4th May the right hon. Member for St. Augustine's Division of Kent said the Home Office admitted the necessity of amending and consolidating the Truck Acts, and that they must be amended by this House. In May, 1904, the Home Office admitted that there must be an amendment of the Truck Acts. If he and those who acted with him had chosen to put down the Motion which was put down last session, and the session before, simply stating that in the opinion of the House drastic and immediate improvement of the law of truck was necessary, that Motion, he thought the Government would admit, would have been carried without a division in the House. It would be impossible to resist such a Motion, but some of them who had had this matter before them for years had thought that it would be more courageous on their part to try to commit the House, not to a vague resolution, but to put before the House the policy which he was sure alone would succeed. He was aware that there were difficulties, but they had been driven to this view by the failure of every other measure. If they were driven to make some exceptions to the rule, then he thought those exceptions should be voted on and clearly explained. Some people thought that it was necessary to preserve fines for the purposes of discipline, but the evidence of the Home Office inspectors was conclusively on the other side. The most experienced inspectors took the view that the best governed factories were those in which there were no fines, and the Home Office had also taken that view. The Home Office Reports had said that all cases of serious misconduct or injury to employer's property could be dealt with by other Acts of Parliament, notably the Employers and Workmen Act. If in a fiery mining district a man smoked down below, he was not fined under the Truck Acts, but under other Acts of Parliament, having been brought before a police court for an offence against the Mines Act. As he had said, also, the Employers and Workmen Act covered the great majority of these cases. A Board of Trade return stated that a most frequent cause of strikes was the system of excessive fines, and in factories, he need hardly say, the fines inflicted for purposes of discipline were a frequent source of tyranny. In shops these fines were pushed to a most absurd extent, and he had seen a book of over seventy disciplinary fines which were in existence in one shop. He had heard of another case in which the disciplinary fines were over 100. These fines pressed most heavily not upon the great trades but upon the less organised trades, such as the sweated women trades. As to the question of the exemption of the mining industry, some thought that the effect of the abolition of fines would be to break the miners' agreements. That point was raised in 1897 against the Bill of his hon. friends the Member for Leicester and the Member for the Ilkeston Division, but it was quite wrong. The miner is paid by weight of mineral obtained, and the deductions were from the weight of mineral and not from the wages. He had there a legal opinion which was perfectly clear on that point. An appeal had been made by an hon. friend of his on behalf of the Northern Miners' Permanent Relief Fund, and no doubt a distinction could be drawn in favour of deductions which went towards public purposes or to public bodies; but he saw great danger in introducing special clauses of that kind. There was an amazing case, the name of which he could not mention, because the matter was hushed up, with a view of recovering the money. It was that of a poor girl. A large sum of money was deducted for many, many years for hospital treatment, and it was found that not a penny of the money had gone to the hospital. He mentioned that as showing the danger of making an exception in cases where the money went to a good cause. If, however, it was necessary to make an exception to their general principle, let the exception be explained and distinctly made known to the House at the time it was made. He begged to move.

MR. SHACKLETON (Lancashire, Clitheroe)

in seconding the Motion said he thought the House would thank the right hon. Baronet for his clear exposition of the law of truck. He seconded this Resolution, because he was asked by his association, of which he happened to be acting secretary, to do so. His society was the Weavers' Association, and they had come to the conclusion that they should not be liable to fines of any description. It might be asked whether the Association was not strong enough to deal with the matter itself, but they did not want to have a strike every time a man resented a deduction from his wages. It was because they wanted to avoid strikes in the future that he seconded the Resolution. The abolition of truck gave the impression that wages were to be received in full, and the average workman was not aware of the legal decisions which had taken away the rights he thought the Truck Act had given him. They wanted to get back to the idea their forefathers had when they passed the Truck Act, that the workman should be handed over in money exactly what he had earned. If the system of fines were abolished the workman would still be liable for any damage he had done, and it would not mean that for every misdemeanour or fault of the operative the man must be discharged. He would be willing to pay what he recognised as a reasonable claim. He asked the House not to believe that the fines were necessary for discipline in the mills. There were no fines in any of the mills of the operative spinners, and there was no lack of discipline. At the election the Cotton Operatives Association made this a question and saw the candidates, and a good percentage of the men returned were willing to support the operatives' demand. At that time he knew that some of the candidates and some of the manufacturers expressed the view that the abolition of fines would relax discipline and go against the progress of the cotton industry; he claimed, on the contrary, that the system of fines had hampered its progress. But the men and the employers were on an equal footing, and the men would not be unreasonable in carrying out the law. He was willing to consider the claim of the miners to exemption; but he hoped the law would be clear that as a general rule fines should not be deducted, and especially those which simply went into the pockets of the employer. He maintained that where it was necessary to organise subscriptions for charitable objects the public spirit of the operative was good enough to secure that. When the workmen got his wages from the overlooker subscriptions could be got without any pressure.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That, in the opinion of this House, it is necessary to put an end to fines and deductions from wages."—(Sir Charles Dilke.)

MR. BELL (Derby)

thought that they were indebted to the right hon. Baronet for raising this question. Speaking for the railway employes of this country, he would point out that, although they were not subject to the same kind of deductions as those which had been mentioned, they had been subjected to fines for trivial offences. Four or five years ago, the London and North Western Railway adopted a far more severe and oppressive mode of punishment. Where the men were formerly fined 1s., 2s., or 2s. 6d., they were n[...]w suspended for one or two or even six days, and instead of having to pay 1s. or so the men lost 5s. or 6s. or 7s. a day. This system was far more oppressive upon the workmen than that adopted by other companies. On the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway during ten consecutive weeks from March 16 to May 18 last year at one station and in one Department alone—that of the Locomotive Department at Wigan—no less than ninety-five fines were imposed which amounted to £13 5s. 3d. There were also eighteen cases of suspension, amounting to ninety-eight days. Nearly all these were for trivial offences. The Midland Railway had also adopted this system. An engine-driver for smoking a pipe of tobacco upon his engine would formerly be fined 1s. or 2s., but recently the company had abolished this system of fine and adopted the system of suspension, so that the driver would nowadays lose 7s. or 8s. wages. The London and North Western, moreover, posted up a list giving the name of the individual, the offence he had committed, and the number of days for which he had been suspended. He found that in one week on the London and North Western Railway twenty-seven men were suspended sixty-three days, and seventeen of them were engine-drivers. The offences were most trivial, such as sticking with his goods train in the tunnel, extravagant use of stores when getting the engine ready, and the smoke nuisance. Upon another date he found that twenty-three men were suspended thirty-three days, and seventeen of them were drivers. Two men were suspended one day each because their engine happened to be blowing off steam in the station. It was almost impossible for an engine-driver who kept his engine up to the standard to avoid steam blowing off. Possibly some old timid lady might be alarmed on the platform by the steam blowing off, and if she complained the man would be suspended a day and thus fined from 7s. to 8s. according to his wages. In two other instances men were fined, or rather suspended for one day, for allowing the engines to omit smoke. Therefore it amounted to this—that a driver was suspended if he did not keep up steam, and in order to keep up steam to the standard he must consume a certain quantity of coal, and possibly in so doing the engine would emit a certain amount of smoke, and for this he was suspended. It was almost impossible for the men to know what was right and wrong, or what to do or not to do. Upon another date he found that thirty - nine men were suspended for fifty-nine days, and twenty-five of them were drivers, and ten of the offences were for allowing their engines to emit smoke. He thought hon. Members would agree with him that the emitting of smoke was not such a serious offence as to justify punishment to the extent of 6s., 7s., or 8s.[...] it was not necessary to inflict heavy penalties of that kind in order to enforce discipline. The treatment of the men by this company was such that people would hardly credit it unless they were acquainted with the facts as he knew them. There was one case in which a driver was concerned in a collision over which he had no control and he was suspended. Inquiries were held by the company's officials, and it was shown that this driver was not at fault. After he had been suspended for six days he was not allowed to resume his duties until he had signed the following form— I,—do, this—day of—agree to forego all claim, if any, from the London and North Western Railway Company [...]or wages during the time I have been suspended from duty from—to—,on condition that I may be allowed to resume, work. He ventured to think that the House would agree with him that that was a form of tyranny and punishment which no great corporation of respectable employers would tolerate for one moment. With regard to the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean, he was both for and against it in a sense. If penalties had to be inflicted for disciplinary purposes and if the effect of abolishing fines would be to substitute suspensions, he would rather see the fines retained. He felt sure that with all these heavy punishments inflicted by the railway companies upon their employees they got no more discipline and no more care than if they adopted less severe methods which would encourage the work people to take more interest in their employment. He knew that when a man had been suspended for paltry offences like those which he had described, he felt so aggrieved that he did not euro whether he did his best for his employer or not. He hoped that the exposure which he had now given to the London and North Western Company's plan of enforcing discipline and the system of fines and suspensions adopted also by other great corporations would lead them to consider the adoption of some other method as an experiment which would induce the work people to take a greater interest in their work. He hoped the Home Secretary, when dealing with this subject, would consider whether something could not be done to prevent the harsh punishments to which he had referred, which were really an evasion of the Truck Act.

MR. J. HAVELOCK WILSON (Middlesbrough)

thought it would be as well if sea-faring men were included in any Amendment of the law, because he knew that in several large shipping companies the seamen were fined without any trial whatever. It had recently been brought to his notice that on some large Atlantic liners the stewards at the end of the voyage were charged as much as 15s. for lost linen and cutlery. It did not matter whether the responsibility could be fixed upon any particular person or not, for the whole lot were fined to make sure. He thought that was a very hard case indeed. If the Truck Act was applied to sea-faring men they might be able to get some relief in this direction.

MR. FENWICK (Northumberland Wansbeck)

said he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean that there certainly was a case for a very strong remedy being applied for the removal of fines and deductions. It was very difficult for a layman to distinguish what was truck and what was not. In his own county they had deductions for various things, and he was not quite clear in his own mind as to whether they would come under the Truck Act or not. In the counties of Northumberland and Durham and Cleveland they had had for over forty years what was known as the Miners' Permanent Relief Fund for widows and orphans, and it also provided superannuation allowances for aged and infirm miners. Deductions for this purpose were made at every colliery from the wages of the miners. Would such deductions be regarded as truck? If so he would very much regret that any action which this House might take should interfere with an arrangement like that, because before they adopted the plan of having these deductions made from the wages in the office of the colliery the contributions of the workmen were very often neglected through carelessness, and when accidents happened it was frequently found that the workman, had allowed his contributions to lapse, and when the widow expected relief it was often found that no compensation, was forthcoming. Now that these contributions were deducted in the colliery office no such cases occurred; it had added considerably to the stability of the fund, and therefore he should regret any action which would interfere with or put an end to an arrangement of that kind. There were other deductions which might be regarded in the nature of fines, but they were arranged between the representatives of the workmen on the one hand and representatives of the employers on the other, and every precaution was taken to see that they were reasonable in their character, and that they are properly carried out. In the counties of Northumberland and Durham nearly all these deductions had been arranged at the request of the workmen themselves. No arbitrary deductions had been forced upon them by the employers, and he should protest very strongly against any employer forcing fines or deductions from wages in accordance with his own sweet will. As the miners stood upon terms of perfect equality with their employers in this respect, they were probably in a peculiar position as compared with other industries and other districts. He was not objecting so much to the terms or the principle of the Motion of his right hon. friend, but he was very anxious to guard and protect the interests of his own county and constituency in regard to a system which had grown up as the result of the experience of the past and been very successful. The miners had recently adopted nursing societies and paid their own nurses to attend serious cases of accidents and sickness. In order that the contribution for such purposes might be regular and sufficient to maintain these nursing institutions, appeals had been made to the colliery proprietors to stop a certain amount from each workman's wages to be handed over to some recognised official representing the workmen, and this system had been adopted and proved very economical because the cost of collection was saved. Nearly all these cases were matters of mutual and voluntary arrangement, and he did not know how far the Motion of his right hon. friend would affect that arrangement. He agreed with the suggestion that they should select certain cases of deductions and legalise them and place them outside the operation of the Truck Act altogether. That was an arrangement which he should certainly favour himself. He hoped, however, that nothing would be done to upset an arrangement which in his county had worked so well in the past, and which gave every prospect of working well in the future.

MR. SEDDON (Lancashire, Newton)

said he hoped that if any alteration was to be made in the Truck Acts the Home Secretary would consider the case of the shop assistants. He knew that to a certain extent they were included, but the majority of those engaged in the distributing trade knew nothing about it. Shop assistants had inflicted upon them a system of living-in which would not be tolerated by any other workers in the country. The system of living-in was a vicious one, and carried with it the necessity of sleeping often under conditions inimical to good health, and it was not at all in the interests of the people who were compelled to submit to it. He had before him a list of fines inflicted in some of the shops of this great city which proved that the ingenuity of the employers had been taxed to the utmost to select cunning fines which were cruel in their operation. There was a fine of one shilling for not turning out the gas in the bedroom at the proper time. For exceeding time at meals the fine was 2d. and exceeding time for washing hands there was also a fine of 2d. A customer was not to be allowed to leave the shop unserved unless the shop walker was acquainted, and for breaches of this rule there was a fine of 6d. He could go on for longtime enumerating fines which would not be tolerated amongst any other class of workers. Speaking for something like three-quarters of a million of people, he thought the time had come when the Home Secretary should make a very determined attempt to include the shop assistants of this country in any future legislation for the protection of the workers. The system of living-in was, in itself, a contravention of the spirit of the Truck Act. They were told that the original conception of the living-in system was a very healthy one; that it carried with it the idea of guardianship for boys and girls coming from the country, who would be exposed to the evils of large towns and cities. That might be true of the past, but only the vicious part of the system had been perpetuated. Today the system of living in had degenerated to such an extent that it had become part of the business concern, and its only merit now was that it was an adjunct to the profits arising out of the business. The assistants were compelled to sit at a common table, they were subject to be called away at any time from their meals. The same class of food was given them, week by week, all the year round, with no variation except the day upon which the food was given. Another evil was that the living-in system gave to employers the right to give to their assistants food which, if sold to the public, would subject the salesman to the rigour of the law. A short time ago a case of this kind was tried in Bradford. It was proved conclusively that a large employer of shop labour had placed before his assistants food which was unfit for human consumption. A prosecution took place at the instance of the Bradford Corporation, and the stipendiary magistrate ruled tint, while the food might not be fit for sale, it was fit for the assistants who were boarded by their employer. ["Shame."] Another evil was the insufficient accommodation provided for the assistants who had to live and sleep in. He hoped the Home Secretary would be able to give the same supervision to the living-in accommodation provided by large business establishments for the assistants as was extended to common lodging-houses. If the Home Office obtained such a power, he felt sure that a large number of the swell West End houses would soon find themselves brought into Court. This evil had become a public scandal and a grave danger to the health and well-being of the shop assistants, and it was a positive danger in case of fire. The system of fines and deductions was a blot upon our civilisation and it pressed very heavily upon the slender earnings of the workers. There fore, he beseeched the Home Secretary when making any alteration in this Act to include the workers in the whole of the distributing trades.

MR. SAMUEL EVANS (Glamorgan shire, Mid)

thought the Home Secretary would have risen before this and given them some information as to the views of the Home Office upon this subject. This was a subject which was really worth the serious attention of the House, and one which must be dealt with sooner or later by the Government of the day. The original object of the Truck Act was to secure that the full amount of the wages should be paid to the worker. According to one of the best judges who ever presided in the English courts, Lord Bowen. the clear intention of the Truck Acts was to ensure to a workman his entire wages in actual current coin of the realm, unfettered by any obligation that it should be spent in any particular manner or in any particular shop— The Legislature," said he, "endeavoured to secure that the workman might have in his hand the actual amount representing his wages, in order that he and his family might freely carry it home without impediment in the open market. That would undoubtedly be the case if there were no qualifications. Not very long afterwards it was established that fines and deductions might be made other than those not specified in the Act. The hon. Member for the Wansbeck Division of Northumberland put a case which was almost, if not entirely, covered by the deductions now made legitimate by the Act of 1831, with the qualification that under Section 23 the workman must himself in his own hand sign the warrant of the employer to make good that deduction. He quite agreed with the hon. Baronet that the proper method of dealing with this matter was first of all to say that there must be no fines or deductions, that the entire amount of the wages must be paid in current coin of the realm, and that no portion of the wages must be withheld. In the case of contributions to provident and medical funds, an exception might be made, but these exceptions should be specified in the Act of Parliament, and should be only permitted when the workman authorised them in his own handwriting. How was it fines and deductions were first allowed? It was said they were not deductions at all from the wages. It was said by judges that they were a contract entered into, and that, therefore, the calculation of the fine was a mere step in the ascertainment of the wages. He thought the time had come when this system should be put an end to. It was true that the workman was protected in many instances by powerful unions, but it was equally true that in many cases where trades were not so well organised the workmen were not well treated. In certain specified cases, when the workmen might probably be induced to contribute either to a provident or medical fund, it would be unfair not to allow him of his own free will to enter into an arrangement. But it was monstrous that the system of fines should continue, because the very foundation of a system of fines was this—and it was fundamentally wrong—that the employer himself should be the judge not merely of non-attendance, but in the case of damaged goods. That was constituting the employer the judge in his own quarrel. Immediately a judicial system of fines was allowed, there was no practical prevention of their being part of the contract. What was the use of telling a workman who went to a factory that he could look at the list of fines? What he wanted was work and wages, and immediately the list of fines was put before him, if they were within the four corners of the Act, the workman took the contract. The only proper system was that which had been suggested by the right hon. Baronet, that there must be no fines and no deductions, subject to qualification. It was not in the Motion, but he understood from the right hon. Baronet's speech that he was willing to include such a clause. The deductions allowed ought to be very limited. There was a great deal to be said on this subject, but the speaking had all been on one side of the House. The Home Office, whose views the House was entitled to have, ought at the earliest possible opportunity to bring in a Bill, and not merely an amending Bill. It was no use bringing in a Bill to amend the existing Acts. Such a course would be a great inconvenience to all concerned, and would simply give a lot of work to lawyers. It should be a Bill which any ordinary intelligent man might understand. Therefore he urged the Home Secretary to advise the Government when the time came—and he hoped it would be very soon—to introduce a Bill directly dealing with the subject, and the foundation of that Bill should be that the whole of the wages must be paid without fines or deductions, that if deductions were to be allowed they ought to be of the most limited character and should be specified in the Act. and then allowed if only authorised by the employees of the. particular trade.


This question belongs to a class of subjects in which, I believe, the new Parliament will take a special interest. Many Members have come to the House in the hope that they will be privileged to take some part in legislation to remedy industrial grievances precisely such as those mentioned tonight, and I do not think the Home Office will fall short of these expectations. Perhaps those new Members will see with some, disappointment, though not with surprise, the desolate condition of the Front Opposition Bench. The question of fines and deductions may seem to many of comparatively trivial importance, but it is these small, petty, but irritating grievances which frequently make all the difference between a state of comparative contentment and a state of constant bickerings and bitterness. It is often easier to bear a great hardship than a small injustice. Certain it is that these grievances cause a very real discontent, often disproportionate to their weight. My right hon. friend the Home Secretary is convinced that legislation on the subject is necessary, and legislation will certainly be introduced. The Act of 1896 aimed at securing that fines and deductions should be fair and reasonable, but the Act has failed in its purpose. Much, however, has been done. The inspectors have done their best with it, and figures show that in many respects large improvements have been made; I but the inspectors have been greatly hampered by the limitations of the Act, and an extraordinarily large number of prosecutions under it have failed. In 1904 no fewer than 40 per cent, resulted in failure. As to deductions for premiums for insurance against liability under the Workmen's Compensation Act, it is clearly the intention of Parliament that the burden of insurance should rest on the employer. It has been mentioned that employers in various parts have deducted from their workmen sums of money for the purpose of paying the premiums of insurance, and cases have been quoted in which, though the premium was only 8s. the employer deducted 17s. per £100, and when the factory inspector prosecuted it was declared by the Court that such deduction was not illegal. The Factory Acts and the rules and regulations mule by the Home Office have placed burdens on the employer, but in many cases, especially in the Potteries, the burden of carrying out those regulations has been thrown on the workpeople in the form of compulsory deductions from their wages. Employers have engaged persons to sweep the workplaces and keep the sanitary appliances in order, and have recouped themselves for the expense by means of these deductions. Here again prosecutions have been undertaken by the factory inspectors, and the deductions have been declared not to be illegal. In the boot industry many factory owners near Bristol make charges in the form of deductions for standing-room, light, and tools. Cases have been taken to Court by the inspectors. In the case of one woman, whose working wages were 14s. 6d. a week, the deductions amounted to 2s. 1d. for thread, standing-room, and use of machine, besides a penny to the doctor, and when this case came into Court, the defence was urged that the employer made no profit on the thread, and that as regarded the shilling for standing room and use of machine, he urged that considering the prime cost of the machine, £5, and the running and depreciation, and the light, rent, and rates of the factory, the charge, was not excessive. Taking all these matters into consideration the Bench held that the employer was right, and the case was dismissed. In the Potteries there are many survivals of a bye-gone system. Because fathers and grandfathers used to bring their own lanterns and candles to light them at work, now that gas has taken the place of such primitive methods workmen are required to pay for it. Because the grandfathers of the present generation paid assistants to turn their lathes and bring their materials, now that the steam engine does the same work, in a great many of the factories in the Potteries the workpeople are compelled to pay for providing and running the engines. It is impossible to tell whether deductions under some of these heads are fair or not, because the inspector has no power to call for the production of the gas bill or the rent-book of the factory owner, and it is impossible to say to what extent the workpeople are imposed upon in these ways. The right hon. Baronet also mentioned the extreme hardships that occur in relation to charges made for damaged goods. Workpeople are often compelled, for some slight fault in a garment, to purchase from the employer the article at its full value. Occasionally they are able to dispose of it, and the loss might not be so great, but this is not always the case. During the South African war there were many cases of khaki suits made for the soldiers being defective in some slight measure, and the unfortunate out-workers were compelled to pay their value without being able to recoup themselves. The reports of the factory inspectors are full of instances of fines which ordinary magistrates would consider unreasonable and unfair. An old woman, who was paid 6s. a week for cleaning a factory, was charged 1s. 6d. out of that amount for the rent of a dirty dilapidated room belonging to her employer, and an extra shilling a week for being late in the morning, so that the sum she received, after the deductions, was 3s. 6d. a week. This case was prosecuted by a lady inspector, and the magistrates dismissed the claim on the ground that these deductions were not unreasonable, and the employer promptly dismissed the woman. These things ought to be impossible. They are not impossible at the present time, and therefore the House must legislate to make them impossible. I have not exhausted the number of instances in which general grievances arise. The Act says that fines must be for specific acts or omissions.


That is done now. It will not do at all.


I venture to point out that it is not done now. I am not saying that the Act, as it stands, is sufficient to carry out the express purpose for which it is made. In a certain factory a notice was exhibited that workers must observe due order and decorum in the factory, and should in all respects obey the lawful demands of the manager, forewoman, or superintendent, and that they were to be subject to fines if in any degree they infringed any part of so sweeping and vague a regulation. The case was taken into Court, and it was urged that it was not a specific statement of acts and omissions for which,fines should be inflicted, but the Court of Appeal held to the contrary, and that case was sufficient to rob the Act of 1896 of its utility. Then, again, there are three large groups of workers wholly excluded from the benefits of the Act. There is the case of the shops, where there are frequently as many as 200 rules to be observed, and for the infringement of which an assistant may be fined. He would be indeed an immaculate being who could tread his way through without breaking a single rule. Shops under the Truck Act are a peculiar instance of the hiatus of the law. Inspectors under the Act may enforce the Truck Act, but may not enter shops. Shop inspectors may enter shops, but cannot enforce the Truck Act. There is, therefore, no proper source of inspection, and shop assistants cannot take action, for fear of dismissal without a character. The whole of the cotton industry is exempted at the request of those engaged, which is not perhaps altogether wise. Thirdly, the great class of out-workers is excluded from all the Truck Acts, although they are the most poverty-stricken of all, the least organised, and the most open to oppression, and the class which should especially receive the care and solicitude of the House. The Court of King's Bench in a recent decision, in almost unprecedented circumstances, made the suggestion to Parliament that it was high time that the Act should be amended if only to bring in this great body of out-workers. I do not believe that good employers will object to legislation to get rid of the abuses that prevail. Harsh treatment does not make a good workman, and the great majority of employers are far too considerate and far too sensible to permit injustices of the description I have quoted in their works. But the Truck Acts, like the Factory Acts, have no concern with the majority who do right; they are intended for the reproof and correction of the minority who do wrong. For these and similar reasons my right hon. friend has decided to bring in a Bill to amend the Truck Act, but not this year. The Government has the Workmen's Compensation Bill and the Trade Union Bill to deal with this Session. But my right hon. friend intends to introduce and hopes to pass a measure to amend the Truck Act in the next session of Parliament. The interval between now and then might be properly used for an inquiry into the whole subject and for collecting further information. I wish it were possible to accept the easy and simple solution which is proposed by the right hon. Baronet straight off and without further examination, but as the right hon. Baronet himself recognises, the matter is not so simple as it appears at first sight. With regard to the system of deductions, such as was mentioned by the hon. Member for the Wansbeck Division of Northumberland in the case of miners, the employers are used as a collecting agency, so to speak, for a number of institutions in which the miners are interested. If the Motion of the right hon. Baronet were carried the whole of this system, which largely prevails in the mining districts, would be swept away, to the great disadvantage, I believe, of both employers and employed. Then in the case of goods which are given to outworkers and damage is done, the House will need to be quite sure, before prohibiting any form of deduction, that they are not precipitating a system which may be still worse. Supposing it were found that employers, whose work was damaged, were unable to get any re- dress except by prosecution, a system might arise whereby employers would refuse to give out work unless the workers paid a deposit to cover any liability that might fall on the employer in consequence of damage to goods, and that might cause a great hardship to be inflicted on out-workers. We must be sure, too, that legislation would be able to be enforced and would prevent secret arrangements between employers and employed that damage when done should be paid for in the form of deductions from wages. For my part I hope the inquiry will prove the possibility of prohibiting all sorts of fines, but sweeping and hasty legislation in that direction might have undesirable consequences. We find in the factory inspectors' reports that large numbers of the better managed laundries have abolished fines altogether, and that the discipline of the workers has not at all been affected. We find that the manager of the London and North Western Railway, Sir F. Harrison, said before the Commission on Accidents on Railways that— fines of small amount which generally used to be the custom are a very objectionable and very irritating kind of punishment. That railway company decided to abolish fines altogether.


In my remarks just now I pointed out that the general manager of the London and North Western Railway had adopted a more severe form of punishment by suspension, which was far more expensive to the workman.


That you can see, is what may be the unforeseen result of sweeping legislation of this character. The hon. Member for Derby, who represents the railway servants, has pointed out that the result of the abolition of fines has been to impose far heavier punishments on the workmen, and far greater financial results. I gather from him that if he had his choice between the system of suspension on the one hand and fines on the other, he would rather have the fines with their irritation than suspensions with their heavy loss. Further, there is the question of offences committed by workpeople in the form of breaches of special rules made for their own safety and the safety of those who work with them. The Home Office is constantly instituting special rules to secure greater safety in dangerous trades. Occasionally workers transgress against these rules. They must be compelled in some way to conform to the proper requirements of the law. Are they to be prosecuted in every case, however trifling? Of course they must be prosecuted in grave cases, but trifling cases might possibly be met more expeditiously and more satisfactorily by fine than by prosecution. The matter has also to be considered whether by abolishing fines you will not be making employment far less secure—whether it will not become more usual for employers to dismiss workpeople for small and trivial offences. I believe that in great shops where fines are not in vogue the position of the workmen is far more precarious. I do not wish to prejudge the inquiry. For my own part I again express the hop e that it may be possible simpliciter to abolish all fines, but I do suggest that this House would be ill-advised to decide to-night without inquiry that all fines and all deductions should necessarily be abolished in every case. In these circumstances it is impossible to accept the Resolution of the right hon. Baronet in the form in which it now stands. It is too wide in one direction, and in another direction it is too narrow. The hon. Member for the Newton Division of Lancashire observed that no amendment of the Truck Act could be in any degree satisfactory which did not take into consideration the system of "living-in" in shops. Here again you have the survival of an old system. In industrial establishments employing scores and hundreds of assistants you have the old system which existed when the shopkeeper employed just one or two assistants wild lived in his home as members of the family and dined at his board. This system may, and I believe docs, give rise to very grave abuses. The assistant must live in the employer's boarding house. The food may be bad and the accommodation inferior. There may be no privacy and many irritating restrictions, but he cannot change his lodgings without losing his situation. On the other hand, the system has its advantages. There are many of these places in which I believe the accommodation is excellent, and in which the employer makes, and seeks to make, no profit, and where the assistants are quite content. Then there are numbers of young women who come to London and who are engaged as shop assistants who would rather find lodgings with a respectable firm than be compelled to go perhaps to somewhat doubtful lodgings. There is also the special case of the seaside towns and watering places. They in the summer have a largely increased staff of shop assistants, and it is the custom to take these extra assistants to lodge in the shopkeeper's house because in many cases lodgings are specially difficult to obtain and are specially dear. It would cause extreme inconvenience if, by a simple enactment, you were to sweep away this system wherever it prevails. Further, it is necessary, as the hon. Member has pointed out, that any amendment of the Truck Acts should endeavour to consolidate and simplify the Acts which now stand on the Statute-book. I hope that may be possible. I cannot give any pledge on the subject of sweeping away all the Acts as they now exist and re-enacting truck legislation de novo. But the failure to comply with the Acts is often due to the failure to comprehend them. They are a maze of narrow and tortuous legal paths in which few find their way, and it may be necessary to cut a clean straight road through this tangle of legislation. There has been no inquiry into the working of the Truck Acts for the last thirty-five years, and my right hon. friend proposes forthwith to appoint a Committee to investigate these various questions. It will involve no delay, because in any case I hope that the inquiry may be completed before the next session of Parliament begins. Such an inquiry should not be made by a merely departmental and official Committee, and my right hon. friend was inclined to recommend the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into this matter. But there are three reasons why such a course might not be satisfactory. This is a matter in which the assistance of women is required in regard to the question of deductions from wages, out workers, and all those things specially calling for such assistance. A Select Committee would be deprived of such assistance, because we are not yet privileged to number ladies among our members. Secondly, it is desirable that the inquiry should be concluded within this year for the reason I have given I doubt whether it can be conclude within this session. Thirdly, it is ad visable that the Committee should have at its disposal the great store of information on this subject which the Home Office has collected. Therefore, as a present advised, my right hon. friend will propose the appointment of a Depart mental Committee in name, but not in composition, with its chairman and the majority drawn from outside the department concerned, and including women among its members. I trust that under these circumstances my right hon. friend the mover of the Resolution and the hon. Member for the Clitheroe Division will not think it necessary to press this Resolution in its present form, assured, as they may be, that the Government is as desirous as they are of securing at the earliest possible date[...]a comprehensive, well considered, and effective amendment of the Truck Acts. I believe that this House has given to the nation no greater boon than that beneficent, code, so gradually and laboriously created, of industrial law which is to be found in the Factory Acts, the Mines Acts, the laws affecting the working of railways, compensation for accidents, and the Truck Acts, and the House may be confident that those who are now responsible for the Home Office will not be found lacking either in the will or the ambition to carry to its proper development so much of this social reform as is entrusted to their charge.

SIR EDWARD CLARKE (City of London)

said he should be sorry if this interesting debate were brought to a close without a few words being said from the Opposition side of the House. Those words would be entirely sympathetic with the position taken up by the Undersecretary. There was every reason why he and his friends should be sympathetic in this matter, for a great mass of that large body of legislation which had been passed for the improvement of the condi- tion of the working classes had been given to the country by the Conservative Party. [Laughter, and cries of "Oh."] Only those laughed who did not know the history of these matters. The Factory Acts were in a great measure owing to the Conservative party. [An HON. MEMBER: Ashley.] Lord Ashley was a staunch Conservative. While he did not wish in any degree to draw a distinction between parties in the matter discussed to-night, he could not help congratulating himself and those who thought with him that the Acts of 1887 and 1896 were both owing to a Conservative administration. Bat it was said that they had been a failure. At all events they had been the best efforts made in that direction, and if they had not been completely successful, they had failed, not through the weakness of the legislation, but by the difficulties which from time to time had arisen in giving effect to these Acts. What did more towards abolishing the abominations of the truck system in this country than any dozen Acts was Mr. Disraeli's novel "Sibyl," which brought home to the people the horrors of the system. He was glad indeed it had been decided that a Bill should be introduced. A Committee was to be appointed—he present Government was already fruitful in Committees—and he did not in the least object to the careful discussion and consideration of important matters like this, but he confessed he thought that on this matter the facts were pretty well ascertained. If it was really intended to appoint a Committee, he loped it would be done promptly, so that the Committee might report and a Bill be introduced dealing with the matter before the end of the present session. If the Committee sat during the present year, and if the Bill came fresh to the House next session, it would not get the consideration which it would other-wise receive. He thought a great deal would be gained if the. Bill could be laid before the House before the close of this session. It could be examined between then and the beginning of next session. He ventured to commend that course to the consideration of the Government. His hon. friend opposite might be quite sure that he would have no lack of support in this House in endeavouring to deal with the difficulties which did exist. That there were difficulties no one who heard the speech of the hon. Member for Derby could doubt. If this Resolution were to be proposed to the House in the form in which the hon. Member desired, it would not only forbid fines and deductions from wages, but suspension from duty as a punishment for small offences. If it did so, it would have the very serious defect which was pointed out by the Under-Secretary, who spoke on behalf of the Government, that employers unable to inflict small penalties for small offences might be obliged in self-defence to dismiss a man when the offence he had committed was one which might have been met by a small fine or by a slight suspension. That was a practical difficulty which he had no doubt would be carefully considered by the committee to be appointed.


The hon[...]and learned Gentleman opposite seems to think that there is no necessity for the Committee which we propose to appoint, but I would really suggest to him that there is one subject alone which has been referred to to-night in the interesting and instructive speech of the hon. Member for the Newton Division of Lancashire—the subject of "living in"—require inquiry before being dealt with. I do not propose to indicate any opinion at present in regard to the system of living in, or what changes might be proposed to accommodate those who now live in these places. I rise now for the purpose of making a suggestion, because there has been practical unanimity on the part of all who have spoken to-night. My hon. friend the Under Secretary, in his very able and interesting speech, has really indicated the spirit in which the Government will approach this question, and it is desirable that we should agree on the Motion before the House. I, therefore, propose practically to accept in principle the Motion of my right hon. friend, but to add at the end— Other than such as may be specifically legalised by Parliament. I hope that that will meet with general support.

Amendment proposed— At the end of the Question, to add the words 'other than such as may be specially legalised by Parliament.'"—(Mr. Secretary Gladstone.)

MR. KEIR HARDIE (Merthyr Tydvil)

said he was not sure that the words suggested by the Home Secretary would do much to get over the difficulties in this matter. In the Mines Regulation Act there were certain subjects specified and rules laid down for ascertaining what the deductions ought to be. Everything was provided that the ingenuity of man could suggest to ensure that fines for dirty coal should be fair and legitimate. It was also provided that deductions should not be made until mutually agreed upon between employer and employed. There was also an inspector fully empowered to enforce the provisions of the Mines Act, but in face of all that he could give instances where the Act had been practically a dead letter. He instanced a case in which the miners refused to accept a scale of deductions which they considered exorbitant, with the result that they were locked out for six weeks. They resumed work under the scale proposed by the employer, and a case was taken into Court to test the legality of the scale. The Court held that the fact that the men went back to work knowing the scale to be in existence, was proof that they had accepted it. No matter how much they might safeguard fines and deductions, there would be difficulty. It seemed to him that there was one safe guiding rule in this matter, namely, that no fines or deductions should be allowed which in any way benefited the employer. Deductions for hospitals, infirmaries, doctors, pick sharpening, and other things, could be made without difficulty if handed to a committee of workmen to be applied to the purposes for which they were made. He suggested that the difficulty might be got over if there was no possibility of bad and greedy employers getting advantage from fines imposed under provisions made to safeguard the interests of the workmen. If that idea could be embodied in the Resolution now before the House, and introduced into the Bill, it might lead to a solution of this very difficult question.

MR. J. JOHNSON (Gateshead)

said the workmen's representatives were all deeply grateful to the right hon. Baronet for bringing this question before the House. He had done this at considerable labour to-himself, and he had certainly conferred a signal benefit on the Labour Members of the House. The right hon. Baronet had instanced some glaring cases of hardship from the infliction of fines and the making of deductions. When he came to the House he had considerable doubt as to the advisability of carrying the Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman in toto, but after the speeches to which he had listened, his trepidation on the matter had disappeared. He thought a Member should not be always anxious to get what he conceived to be the precise form of the particular legislation he desired, and that he should waive, to a certain extent, special interests in order to fall in with the general concensus of opinion. In view of the hardship which the system of deductions inflicted on the weakest members of the community, on women and girls, it was incumbent on the Government to take the earliest opportunity of introducing legislation on the subject. The Under-Secretary in his very able statement had given evidence of his sympathy. He was thankful id so to the hon. and learned Member on the Front Opposition Bench for his sympathy, although he might add that it came very late in the day. All the facts, regarding the hardships suffered by the workpeople of which they had heard that evening must have been under the cognisance of the late Government for the last ten years. He did not want to say anything derogatory of the magistracy, except that they showed so little fellow-feeling when cases between workmen and employers came before the Bench. It required an overwhelming case before the workmen got the benefit of any doubt. He only wished that they, as workmen, should make an earnest endeavour to get some of their own kith and kin on the magisterial Bench, in order that they might have a little more humane interpretation of the law, not in favour of the workman, but in favour of justice and right. The glaring instances which had been given that evening by the right hon. Baronet and by the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department were such that there ought to have been some disposition on the part of the Government to restrain the magistrates from giving such verdicts and sentences. He hoped that the workmen in this House would, in season and out of season, press this Government, or any Government, to introduce legislation that would restrain capricious employers of labour from inflicting fines which were not only a deterrent of the employés, but cut into the very means of their existence. He, and all his fellow trade unionists, were highly, gratified at the tone which the debate had taken, and or the words of sympathy which they lad not been in the habit of listening to or many years; and he trusted that these would be followed by legislation which would improve the conditions of life of the working people of the country.

Mr. CRKMEE (Shoreditch, Haggerton)

said the hon. Member for the City if London who spoke from the Front Opposition Bench had claimed that preceding Truck Acts and all other measures for the benefit of the working lasses of the country had been passed by he Conservative Party. That was a mistake. The Amending Truck Act of 887 was the work of Mr. Bradlaugh, and Mr. Bradlaugh was certainly not a Member of the Conservative Party. There were Members of the present House who took part in the debates on that measure and who made serious efforts to amend the Bill on the lines of the Resolution now under discussion. He himself had moved several Amendments to the Bill with that object in view, but the Conservative Government of the day resisted them, and unfortunately the failed so that when the Bill became law it was so limited in its operation, as to be practically useless.

MR. H. J. TENNANT (Berwickshire)

said there was another matter which he wished to bring to the recollection of the hon. and learned Member for the City of London, whom he might congratulate on having now a colleague in this House, when he stated that all the beneficial working class legislation had been passed by the Conservative Party.


I did not say all.


Nearly all.


I said the greater part.


Well, the greater part. To his mind that was only one of the fictions which it was thought worth while by some people to circulate from time to time from the platform, and he rather thought it need not have been introduced into this debate. He wished to make one or two observations on the subject of the Resolution before the House, which he had studied for many years. The hon. Member for the Newton Division for Lancashire2 who had made a very interesting speech, fell into a slight error when he said that the Truck Act did not apply to shops, that the factory inspectors were not allowed to enter the shops, and that they could not put the Act into force. He wished to point out that under the existing law the inspectors under the Shop Hours Act only were at liberty to enter shops, but the Act was almost a dead letter because there were so few of these inspectors. The only method of enforcing the Act was to see that the terms of notice or contract and the list of fines were put up in the shops. If an inspector proceeded against an employer for neglect to put up particular notices or the terms of the contract signed by the workpeople, the employer, through the solicitor defending him, almost invariably pleaded guilty, but said that it was merely a technical offence, and a merely nominal fine was imposed. That was the only means of getting at an employer at all, although it might be the case that a workman had been fined a hundred times in sixpences to recoup half a crown. He put this point before the Government so that there might be in their minds the danger which resided in the words of the Amendment to the Motion of his right hon. friend. Those words would not save the situation, and he thought they would have gone the whole hog and abolish fines altogether. From the first part of the able speech of the Under-Secretary he imagined that he could come to no other conclusion than that the hon. Gentleman was going to abolish fines altogether; but then the hon. Gentleman went on to say that it was not an easy question to decide whether it was harder to bear fines or to have dismissal or suspension. Enough, however, had been said to show that this subject was eminently one fitted for the consideration of a Committee, and he was glad to hear that such a Committee was to be appointed.

MR. R. DUNCAN (Lanarkshire, Govan)

said that as an employer of labour he could heartily endorse much that had been said during the debate, but it must be remembered that if there were bad employers as well as good, there were also bad trade unionists as well as good trade unionists. He knew that many employers desired to raise the standard of living amongst their workpeople, and to see them industrially organised. He himself wished that what were called casual labourers were better organised. He had no objection to arrangements as to fines being made jointly by employers and employed, and that if fines were retained, that they should be devoted to the charitable institutions of the district. The latter was a principle which if more generally acted upon would meet the case, and was already practised in the Clyde district.

Amendment proposed— That the words 'other than such as may be specifically legalised by Parliament,' be added to the Motion."—(Mr. Secretary Gladstone.)


said that these words were very much on the line of the suggestions he had thrown out at the end of his speech, and he could therefore offer no objection to them.

Question, "That those words be there added," put, and agreed to.

Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.

Resolved, That, in the opinion of this House, it is necessary to put an end to fines and deductions from wages other than such as may be specially legalised by Parliament.