§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ [Mr. CALDWELL (Lanarkshire, Mid) in the Chair.]
§ CIVIL SERVICES ANT) REVENUE DEPARTMENTS ESTIMATES, 1907–8.
§ CLASS II.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £128,735, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on 31st day of March, 1908, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of His Majesty's Secretary of State for the Home Department and Subordinate Offices."
§ *THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. GLADSTONE, Leeds, W.)
said it might be convenient to the Committee that he should intervene with a brief statement of the work of his Department on the industrial side. He regretted that the statement had to be made at such a brief interval after the production of the Chief Inspector of Factories' Report, but in face of the complaints continually made 933 of the debate coming on so late in the session he had tried to expedite it. Starting with mines, the subject which chiefly interested those who were concerned—both employers and employed—was the eight-hours day. He hoped shortly to introduce a Government Bill providing that there should be an eight-hours day in mines, and that fact eased his duty on that occasion. The whole subject of safety in mines was still under consideration of a Royal Commission; and, although that did not prevent the Government from taking any measures which might seem necessary for further securing the safety of minors, he thought it best in view of differing opinions as to methods, especially of dealing with ventilation and explosives, to wait until they got the authoritative and considered opinion of the Royal Commission in regard to that question. Another question referred to the Royal Commission related to the sufficiency of the inspectorate of mines. Personally he had come to the conclusion that there should be a distinct mines branch in the Home Office. It appeared to him that this was necessary, but the question was so intimately concerned with the organisation and strength of the mines inspectorate throughout the country that he thought it best to wait for the deliberate opinion of the Commission before anything was done. He hoped that the Commission would report without much delay, but ho thought it possible that they might see their way to an interim Report in order to expedite a settlement of this part of the question. It must be a matter of great satisfaction to the Committee that His Majesty had intimated his intention of establishing a medal for gallantry in saving life in mines. Such a recognition supplied a long felt want. Passing to the Report of the chief inspector of factories and workshops, he regarded it as a Report of great interest, a proof of the admirable work done by the official staff, bus also of the heavy and perhaps the excessive labour of the present staff of inspectors. The one thing disturbing to his mind was the increased number of accidents. This matter necessarily attracted, and would continue to receive, serious attention. To what the increase was owing was, to some extent, a matter of speculation. Partly it was perhaps owing to an increased use of mechanical power and increased number of factories, 934 and partly to improvement in the reporting of accidents. Among the general causes suggested was the loss active supervision by employers consequent on their being covered by insurance. This was always one of the dangers which it was foreseen might accompany legislation on the lilies of the Workmen's Compensation Act, and without attributing any special blame to employers, it was but human nature that there should be a relaxation of vigilance when there was no financial responsibility. On the other hand, on reading the Report it was evident that some of the inspectors were impressed, he would not say with the in creasing, but continued carelessness on the part of the men. Constant familiarity with danger appeared to blunt the sense of danger; and that in itself created a trade danger, which the Home Office understood, and as far as possible endeavoured to provide against. It was recognised that there must be continued and increased diligence on the part of the inspectorate. Perhaps it would be well that he should mention a certain number of subjects discussed last year so as to show that the Government had been giving to them the promised attention. With regard to fish-curing, that he understood would be raised by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean later on. In regard to African boxwood poisoning, he had directed inquiries to be made. That form of poisoning had been added to the schedule of the Workmen's Compensation Act as an industrial disease. Anthrax had troubled him a good deal, for there had been a considerable increase in the number of cases, and it was very difficult to find a reason for it. He had thought, perhaps, the increased activity in trade might show a greater amount of wool handled, and in some measure ac count for the increase in cases of anthrax; but the figures did not point to that conclusion. As regarded Persia, the decrease in the number of cases had been from fifteen to nine, but there had been a decrease in the importation of Persian wool from 3,000,000lbs. in 1905 to 832,000lbs. in 1906. As regards East India the figures were for 1905 thirteen cases and for 1906 twelve, while the importation of wool rose from 39,400,000 lbs. in 1905 to 46,378,0001bs. in 1906. Thus there seemed to be no relation between the amount of wool handled and the number of cases of anthrax; but the 935 Home Office were doing everything in their power to investigate the subject, to stimulate inquiry, and to encourage the taking of precautions. A meeting of manufacturers and officials of the Department had been taking place to consider the whole question, and had not yet terminated. He could only hope that science would suggest an absolute remedy for this terrible disease, but if not, at any rate the Department would endeavour by all known methods to safeguard work men. Then he came to the question of poisoning by anilin and nitro and amido-derivatives of bezene; a Committee had been inquiring into that matter, and such poisoning had been added to the schedule of the Workmen's Compensation Act. A question on which the chief inspector laid considerable stress last year was that of sanitation and the hours of work in the fruit-preserving industry. The hours of work were still too long. Under the new Fruit Preserving Order, which had just been published, an improvement had been effected as regards sanitation, and it was now ordered that no woman or young person under sixteen engaged in this industry should be employed before six in the morning or after ten at night, and in the case of young persons ten hours must elapse between the end of work on one day and the beginning of work on the next. He hoped that by the issue of that Order very material improvement would be effected. The question of time-cribbing was also raised last year. He thought it would probably be agreed that there had been an improvement. Prosecutions had been undertaken and fines had been increased. In all 949 cases had been taken against ninety-one employers and thirty-four employees, and the result had been largely to increase the fines. An important advance made was that the co-operation of the police had been secured in five important centres —namely, Oldham, Accrington, Rochdale, Hyde, and Ashton-under Lyne. They had had great difficulty in persuading local authorities that they had a responsibility in this matter. All he could say -was that every effort would continue to be made to suppress this dishonourable practice, and the Government would be prepared, if necessary, to deal with it by legislation. He passed on to the question of dock inspection. A body of inspectors" had been organised, and great improvements had undoubtedly 936 been effected. Fourteen higher grade inspectors' assistants were engaged in the work, and their work had been fruitful of very excellent results. A circular had been issued to shipmasters, shipowners, and shipbuilders with regard to the new regulations, and 6,692 irregularities had been discovered. The number of prosecutions might seem very small in relation to so large a number of irregularities, but it was obvious that shipmasters and owners were unfamiliar with the regulations, and now that they had been warned they would no doubt adhere to them better in the future. Those were the leading subjects on which he was pressed last year, and he hoped the Committee would consider that the Department had been following them up with energy and not without practical success. Perhaps it was due to his Department that he should review briefly the main lines of duty which imposed such severe work upon it. At the present time they were conducting, or others were conducting on their behalf, many important inquiries. There were four Royal Commissions still at work—Commissions on Safety in Mines, on Vivisection, on the Metropolitan Police, and on the Care of the Feeble-minded, the reference to the last having been extended to the administration of the Lunacy Acts—and a number of Depart mental Committees. He included the Committee on the Truck Acts, the Mines (Eight Hours) Committee which he was glad to say had finished its labours and reported, and the Committee dealing with Industrial Diseases, which, thanks to the extraordinary zeal of his hon. friend the Member for the Cleveland Division and his colleagues, had added eighteen types of industrial disease to the schedule of the Workmen's Compensation Act, and thus redeemed the promises made last year on the subject. They had had Committees of inquiry into the ambulance system of the metro polis, into the prevention of accidents in building operations, and into the best means of determining wages due when paid by measurement or weight of material handled or produced. He was glad to be able to say that the last-named Committee had come to a unanimous conclusion, and he hoped on the Report which would be presented they would be able to settle the vexed question which had disturbed the minds of his predecessors for the last fifteen years. Then 937 they bad dispatched a Commissioner to Australia and New Zealand to investigate the results of legislation with regard to wages boards, home work, and shop hours in those Colonies. He mentioned all these, not for their intrinsic interest, but to show the House that all these Commissions and Committees imposed a very serious labour upon his Department. What between secretarial work, serving on Commissions and Committees, giving evidence before them, and the work of communications on the various subjects being considered, these inquiries entailed constant and daily labour on the Department. He would also remind the House in passing that last year's legislation had materially interfered with the energies of his Department, which had been responsible or guilty for adding nine Acts to the Statute Book, including the Work men's Compensation Act, and others of minor importance, such as the Betting and the Copyright Acts, but which entailed great labour. He would now pass to the other work of the Department and summarise what had been done on the industrial side. Two sets of regulations had been made, first in regard to paints and colours containing lead, and secondly with regard to locomotives in factories. Four sets of regulations had been issued in draft; first, as to the manufacture of hemp and jute with a view to the diminution of dust; secondly, in regard to the handling of horse hair, to guard against anthrax; thirdly, with regard to the heading of yarn (in the preparation of which lead compounds had been used); and fourthly, with regard to the casting of brass. In addition, three sets of draft regulations were in course of preparation relating to the use of electricity in factories, aniline and di-nitro benzol processes, and tinning and enamelling. In five more cases inquiries wore proceeding with the same object, viz., steel-grinding, East India wool, lucifer matches, building operations, and earthenware and china. They had also sent out many circulars, three only of which he would mention. They had sent out an important circular to Coroners dealing, among other things, with the new Notice of Accidents Act, and the representation of trade unions at inquests, a second large circular to employers calling their attention to recent legislation, and a third circular to medical officers of health with regard to the employment of women 938 before and after childbirth. He now passed to Orders. They had made one Home Work Order and two Particulars Orders, one relating to a number of manufactures, of which the most important was boots and shoes, and one to not-making, pea-picking, etc. A third relating to the brass trade was also under consideration, and they had been in communication with the employers and with the workmen's representatives in regard to it. In addition they had received, as a result of local and other inquiries, eight important reports. One related to exhaust ventilation for the removal of dust, and they were about to start another with regard to the conditions of labour where a high degree of humidity was found in combination with a high degree of temperature. They had had an inquiry into an important case at Moreland's match factory, and it showed that the accident was due to causes which preceded the special regulations which had since been brought into force. There had also been inquiries into accidents and the fencing of machinery in the cotton districts, and as to the incidence of anthrax from the use of horse hair and bristles, Hon. Members had further had a report giving preliminary statistics of accidents and poisoning. This was a new departure which he thought would be of some convenience. They had now a Return of the previous year's accidents and poisoning cases early in the year instead of waiting for their publication in the Report of the chief inspector. That Return had been laid on the Table this year for the first time. There was one other subject with which he thought it necessary to deal. Last year, with the sanction of the Treasury, he increased the factory department staff by adding four inspectors, three lady inspectors, and four inspectors' assistants. He thought that was not bad for a start. He had also fulfilled his promise of going into the question of the position of the factory inspectors' assistants. He considered that a material and not unsatisfactory advance had been made, and he believed the result would be to encourage a very deserving class of public servants. New duties had also been allocated to them. He did not say that they had arrived at a final arrangement in the matter, but the whole of the higher grade assistants had now other duties than they used to perform in connection 939 with docks, time-cribbing, and other matters. That was a beginning, at any rate. One of the assistants had been promoted to the rank of inspector. Fourteen of the higher grade inspectors had had duties allocated to them in connection with dock inspection. When he considered the added field of inspection, he found it impossible to be satisfied with the present condition of affairs. The staff at present comprised 110 inspectors, including the headquarters staff; thirteen lady inspectors; one inspector and four assistant inspectors of textile particulars; and forty inspectors' assistants; making a total of 168. That was a large body, but when one remembered that there were 106,000 factories and 142,000 workshops in the country, and considering other figures relating to their field of work, it was clear that a staff of 168 persons, however zealous, could not possibly cover the multifarious duties cast upon them under the Factory and Workshop Act. Not only was the field too wide for the labourers to deal with, but year by year the work was increasing in complexity and in difficulty. Year by year the need made itself felt of men of the highest possible intelligence, qualification, and training. A further increase was necessary in justice to the staff and in justice to the industrial population. The chief inspector was preparing statistics with regard to the five main divisions into which the country was divided, and the 47 districts into which it was subdivided in order to arrive, as far as possible, at an accurate idea of what was essential at the present time. As soon as this bad been done the question of the increase of the staff would be considered. He had already taken steps in regard to this matter. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was not present and he had not been in any official communication with him at the present time, but he had had some conversation with him on the subject. He had to report that the conversation was of an extremely friendly character, and it encouraged him to hope that there might he an increase in the number of inspectors on the staff. That was really all he had to say at the outset of the question, but he thought it best to draw the attention of the Committee to certain details of the work which had occupied them during the last year. He wished, however, to show the Committee 940 that the discussion last year had borne its fruit, and he only wished he could show a better record. He did not, how ever, think it was a bad one. He could only say this on their behalf, that the work of the Department last year showed an increase of twenty per cent. All, therefore, he could say was that they had been continually in a state of activity up to the limit of their means. He would. also like to remind the House that out of the twenty months in which he had had the honour of holding his office fourteen had been in the session of Parliament. That, of course, involved costly and sometimes disastrous interference with Departmental work, because not only was there legislative work to be done, but there had to be constant attendance at the House and all that that attendance meant in the way of interruption to a Home Secretary. He was sorry to put it so high, but there was no doubt that each session did bring to the Home Secretary hundreds of questions with or without notice, and of late activity in regard to these queries had been unusual. There, had, however been in the last twelve months continuous and concentrated work in the sub-departments of the Home Office, but undoubtedly with no autumn session there was a i better prospect before them this year I and they would do their best.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucester-shire, Forest of Dean)
said the first part of the statement of his right hon. friend in regard to the industrial work of his Department dealt with the mines, on which other Members meant to speak. He thought he could leave to his hon. friends the discussion of the steps which should be taken to secure greater safety in mines and of improvements in regard to the inspectorate both as to mines and factories and workshops. He had no doubt the hon. Member for Leicester would follow him upon the latter point. There also ho would not intervene except to say that it was impossible to read the annual Report of the Chief Inspector of Factories and Workshops for 1906 without seeing the effect already of the additions which had been made in the women's departments in giving them power to do that work which they so wished to do. Those additions gave them power to cope with arrears of work by al lowing members of the staff to be detached 941 for separate inquiries and separate duties. There were two points in connection with industrial disease with which, however, he would like to deal. There was an allusion in the Report to the International Conference at Berne, but the matter was so completely discussed in the House of Lords on the Motion of Lord Lytton that he did not think they would be likely to raise any new points if they discussed it that day. Therefore he did not propose to do so. The point which Lord Lytton had at heart was one form of industrial poisoning which was not so important as others which had been mentioned, namely, yellow phosphorus poisoning in the match trade, and he named it that day chiefly because we had proceeded in this country in recent years to deal with the matter, and perhaps hold ourselves up to the contempt of other nations, by stating that we had adopted a particular course which would put an end to industrial poisoning without prohibiting the use of the dangerous material itself used in the industry. At the International Conference at Berne we told the other Powers that we could deal with phosphorus and lead poisoning by means of special rules and special regulations and that we could stop phosphorus necrosis by these special precautions. Unfortunately at than moment there was the outbreak of phosphorus necrosis to which his right hon. friend had alluded in his speech. His case was 'that there were efficient commercial substitutes for the use of lead or phosphorus. Of course the Committee knew that the "strike-on-the-box" matches were made from safe phosphorus, and it was the "strike-anywhere" matches from which the danger arose. If there was an efficient substitute it should be used. There was a French patent which had this result, and there was also a German patent which the Government of that country bought up and presented to the trade. Another substitute was used in the matches of Bryant and May, who used to be offenders in this respect, but whose matches were now safe. It was a commercial substitute, because it had been found that the use of yellow phosphorus was not necessary for cheapness. If they could also find a commercial substitute for the use of lead it became incumbent upon them to put a stop to those horrible forms of disease and suffering which were placed before them year by year in this Report. 942 Before the International Conference at Berne, there was a prohibition against the use of yellow phosphorus in matches in France, Germany, Holland, Denmark and Switzerland, and Italy had now also decided to take that step. In the United Kingdom reliance was placed upon special rules, and revision of these was under consideration. As to anthrax, there was no reason to discuss it, because there had been no retrogression of policy, but in the case of lead poisoning there had been a retrogression in policy. The Report of the Departmental Committee on compensation for industrial diseases in the pottery trade showed that they came to a negative conclusion as to one of them, although but for a single word it might be taken for an affirmative one. They said that after much anxious consideration they had arrived at the conclusion that potters' rot was a trade disease sufficiently distinguishable and specific to employment, but they said they could not recommend the immediate addition of this disease to the schedule. That was the conclusion arrived at, that it was a trade disease sufficiently distinguishable and specific to employment, but they could not recommend the immediate addition of this disease to the schedule. It was a curious fact that the Staffordshire Sentinel, which was the journal of the pottery trade both of masters and men, published the opposite conclusion in large type, and four or five days were allowed to elapse before the contradiction was allowed to become public, which looked as though there must have been some changes made at the last moment. However that might be, potters' rot was not to be treated as a disease for compensation. The other disease of the potter's trade was a very clear cause of horrible suffering which had been reduced and could be remedied by the action of this House. The reports showed that there was an increase in lead poisoning, not in the potteries only, but generally. From the Report of the Home Office the cases of lead poisoning which were the subject of Reports through the Home Office in 1905 were 209, while in 1906 they were 280. Some time ago the employment of women in white-lead making was entirely prevented, but in spite of the prevention the poisoning of women in white-lead works was rising rapidly. That subject was discussed at great length in the reports, 943 and the statement upon the subject by the inspectors was that their attention had, as usual, been more claimed by cases of injury through lead than by any other cause, and the deplorable incidence of plumbism among girls, in transfer making and in glass sign enamelling. Then there were the special reports of Miss Paterson on "Plumbism among women in subsidiary processes in white-lead works and amongst girls painting tape measures." The chief inspector, Miss Anderson, pointed out that—making transfers was a very serious cause of cases of plumbism among young girls.As also was the enamelling of glass signs, which she stated was—equally dangerous, that it was not a skilled occupation, and young girls were generally employed.Miss Vines stated that there were seven cases of lead poisoning, six of them girls under twenty, from one transfer works in the Staffordshire potteries in fourteen months, and, in addition, there was a girl of fifteen who died suddenly under suspicious circumstances. She went on to show that there was—in 1906, as compared with 1905, in earthen-; ware and china works, a rise of twenty-three cases, of which four, or one more than in 1905, were fatal. In the present year there has been a further increase in fatal cases.Miss Vines, the special woman inspector, stated that—the extremely high temperatures in dipping and ware-cleaning, and the heavy straining nature of the work done by the women engaged in lead processes contributed to lead poisoning, and expressed opinion that great heat predisposed to plumbism.That view was confirmed by high medical authority. The horrible amount of suffering and the great increase of fatal cases was accompanied by something which the Return did not shew, namely, an alarming increase in infant mortality, and an alarming increase of still-births. The statements as to infant mortality were terrible. The statements began with this. In Tunstall, where they were surprised at the present infant mortality, they gave cases of the effect of the cleaning of the dipping house boards which were coated with lead glazes, and the wiping up of the tubs, and the Inspectors declared that the work was quite unsuited to women and girls. Then followed the reports of the medical officers of health in all the pottery towns for the previous year, 944 which were terrible reading. The infant mortality, 1,100 or 1,200 deaths a year, was largely attributed by the medical officers to the women being employed in the china and earthenware works. The general statement made by the Home Office was that—this high mortality is undoubtedly largely due to the extensive employment of married women in the earthenware and china works.When they came to the reports of the medical officers they found the medical officer for Longton describing it as—a regular slaughter of the innocents every year;The medical officer for Hanley as—high infantile mortality;The medical officer for Stoke said—the infantile death rate was higher than for the previous two years … the rate for England was lower … the borough compared very unfavourably with it, and with that for the larger towns.The medical officer for Tunstall referred to the—high rate of infant mortality, and said surely some remedies ought speedily to be brought to bear.The medical officer for Burslem said—how unfavourably in the matter of infantile mortality Burslem compared with other districts.The medical officer for Fenton drew attention to—the large proportion of deaths among young children.Those were the official facts, and they were getting worse. The service of the Lead Fund Committee was named, but this subject could not be left to private individuals. One defect was pointed out in the earthenware and china rules with regard to the washing of the overalls and the clothing of those employed. That, he imagined, was a matter that could be attended to without legislation. It was a defect in the order and not in the law. And then there was the necessity of clearing up the "moist conditions." But, the larger points that were dealt with by the chief medical inspector in his statistics of the lead-poisoning cases could not be explained away in the manner in which he attempted to do. In the Report there was a footnote which explained the unsoundness of these statistics. In admitting the fatal cases and discussing them more in detail, the Chief Inspector used some words that he would 945 like to mention to the House. With regard to the tinning and enamelling of hollow vessels, the words of the chief Medical Inspector were—All the workers at this process become infected.That was a terrible admission, and he believed that in Germany, in this matter, they were far ahead of us. A Question was asked by his hon. friend the Member for Bradford on the 22nd March with regard to the number of fatal cases, and it was stated that there had been four fatal cases in the china and earthenware trade as compared with one in the previous year. There had been four in two months, six in the first six months and now seven. This proportion of fatal cases in the china and earthenware industry was the subject of a Question, and his right hon. friend the Secretary of State honestly announced—I do not think any explanation can be given of the number of deaths for this year.As; to the use of leadless glaze, Miss Vines in her report made an observation with regard to it which he regretted, because the process had answered most successfully. On page 218, dealing with lead-less ware, she said—I am told that by the use of leadless glaze all or most of the characteristics of earthenware would be at once destroyed.That was simply not the case. Anyone who had visited the leadless glaze works at Bristol would there see that the real characteristics of earthenware were preserved by the leadless process, even in the cheap ware. Of that there could be no doubt. She quoted a manufacturer as having said—It rests with the public. If they demand a leadless glaze they would have to forego brilliant and beautiful colours.Then she went on to say that an eminent potter had reported—Tender souled people talk about leadless glaze.… but there is less than one-fifth as much made in Staffordshire that there was five years ago.In the use of leadless glaze it was not necessary to forego the use of the most beautiful colours, and they could have the most perfect dinner and tea service with the use of leadless glaze. He would undertake to show Members of the House articles which were as beautiful as anything ever produced in the history of the world—English objects produced within 946 the last year, all absolutely leadless, and all the most difficult colours accomplished— vermilion, scarlet, Indian red, etc.—thus showing what, by experiment and taking trouble, could be done. Those who had been engaged in this agitation for years to overcome the objections to leadless ware had succeeded in getting what they wanted, at the usual cost, though with a great deal of trouble, he admitted. There was a body of opinion among manufacturers against the leadless glaze, and they had to insist upon getting what they asked for; it involved some trouble, and they had to wait some time. It might be that the quality and colour of the leadless ware were the result of peculiar care. When once they induced manufacturers to undertake its production it was probable that they bestowed greater pains upon and watched more closely the manufacture under a new process, where they were trying an experiment. Of course, it was very difficult for private individuals to meet statements as to the deterioration of leadless ware, because they had to consider the treatment it received. For instance, if it were used for certain tooth powders or washes, its colour might be affected by the strong astringents or acids brought to bear upon it. He was happy to think that Miss Vines herself partly answered her quotations. She said "supineness" and "apathy" had been shown in "experimenting." If there had been a falling off it had been in the orders from the Government Departments. He should very much doubt, after the Leadless Glaze Exhibition at the Church House last autumn, that there had not been an increased demand on the part of the public for this ware, though great difficulties had been thrown in their way. He was going to do a very foolish thing, and he was going to do it deliberately, which was invariable where foolish things were done; he was going to criticise a distinguished Civil servant. He knew that attacks on Civil servants were deprecated because they were not present to defend themselves. In this instance the official was most hard working, most talented, and most artistic and imaginative. There was a lecture given by Mr. Burton on the 30th April at the Society of Arts, which was reported at the time, and there was mother report of it in the Journal of the Society of Arts published on the 7th June 947 A distinguished Member of the House was in the chair. Mr. Burton was one of the greatest of English potters as regarded knowledge of the trade and its conditions. Mr. H. H. Cunynghame, of the Home Office, was present at the lecture, and he made a speech with regard to pottery. The chairman had spoken of lustre ware, beautiful specimens of which Mr. Burton had exhibited. There was nothing controversial in Mr. Burton's lecture, and he never used the word "lead." He had the two reports, that which was taken at the time and the official corrected report, and the word "lead" did not appear. Having been called upon by the chairman to take part in the discussion, Mr. Cunynghame said—He took it that the beautiful pieces exhibited were heavily leaded and could not be produced without lead.The full report ran as follows—Some years ago … there was a movement on foot, conducted by philanthropic people, who urged that the use of lead in pottery should be forbidden, because a certain number of the potters were poisoned. It was thought by those who were advising the Government that it was possible to use lead without danger.He did not think that was the view of those who advised the Government at that time, because the Home Office offered totally to prohibit the use of lead to an extent over 2 per cent. That percentage scarcely meant the use of lead at all, and the ware would be almost leadless. Mr. Cunynghame went on to say—Wiser counsels now prevail.He did not understand that there had been any admission on the part of the Home Office that there had been a change of policy, except as to the possibility of obtaining local assent sufficient to carry their rules. Then Mr. Cunynghame further said that he would not—rashly press changes which … would ruin a national industry.… It was impossible to produce the finest class of work without the use of lead. In the beautiful specimens exhibited by Mr. Burton a considerable amount of lead glaze had been used, and it would, therefore, be a thousand pities if anybody pressed upon the industry a total prohibition of that material, which, with discrimination, could be used with perfect safety.To speak of "ruining a national industry" was a terribly exaggerated statement. According to those of his way of thinking it was without foundation; and according to those who might think it had some 948 foundation, it was a great exaggeration, even from their point of view. Then Mr. Cunynghame took the general position that "the most dangerous chemicals could be used with perfect safety," if with proper precautions. That was a policy to which he and others took exception. Mr. Burton in reply said that, although—most of the pieces exhibited were leaded, beautiful results could be obtained with both.…The old Persian lustre was made on leadless glaze, and some of his pieces were on leadless glaze.The report at the time was—You can obtain very beautiful results with a leadless glaze, but not the same results.The results might be different, but it took a skilled eye to discover that lead had been used, and often an analysis had to be resorted to. He would not detain the Committee further upon that point. The Home Office had published a table giving a list of manufacturers to whom they offered advantages for using leadless glaze, glaze under 2 per cent., and glaze under 5 per cent. In the year 1898 the Home Office addressed a communication to all the Departments and sent them reports in favour of leadless glaze and advised them that—In making or renewing contracts leadless glaze ware should be specified.He did not know whether Mr. Cunynghame advised that policy or not, but that was the policy at that time. Even the War Office was forced by the action of the Home Office, against the wishes of the manufacturers to place this stipulation in the contracts which were operative from the 1st February, 1900, for three years. The manufacturers alleged that certain articles could not be supplied in leadless glaze, but the "War Office in those contracts insisted absolutely upon leadless glaze, although it was argued that there would be delay. That, of course, was the ordinary excuse made when a customer insisted upon some change in the manufacture of an article. In 1901 the Office of Works and the Treasury sent out a circular in favour of leadless glaze, and in that year an Answer was given as to the use of leadless glaze by the Post Office, in which it was stated that the Postmaster-General hoped to overcome the difficulty so that none but insulators treated with leadless glaze would be used. In this instance there had been retrogression, because he found that a report had been received from the late Chief 949 Engineer proposing to discontinue the whole use of leadless glaze. The highest scientific authority which the Government could consult on this matter was of opinion that there was no ground for retrogression. He knew that the Postmaster-General was entirely upon their side in this matter, although he had great difficulty in inducing certain permanent officials to believe that leadless glaze was as good as others. There had in this matter been retrogression all round at the War Office, and the Admiralty, although the Home Office and the Treasury had told them to use leadless glaze in all their contracts. The only Answer given on this subject since the present Government came into office was given by the Chief Commissioner of Works, against whom he had not the slightest complaint, because he had taken every step that was possible to secure the object in view. His reply was—The advice of this Office has not; been sought lately by the Departments mentioned.That was a retrogression, because formerly the other Departments were willing to seek advice from the Office of Works in making contracts. The Office of Works had taken steps to bring up to their leadless level the refreshment departments of all Offices. There was a Home Office list given of the firms complying with the leadless, the 2 per cent. and the 5 per cent. standards on page 181 of the Report, but it should not be overlooked that there were a good many firms manufacturing leadless pottery who did not come to the Government at all in this matter and who did not appear in this large list of firms, which gave a very wide field of choice. He apologised for having detained the Committee so long upon this question of dangerous processes, but he had done so because he felt that it was one in which they had gone backward instead of forward. Another matter he wished to allude to concerned the emergency processes. The fruit and fish-curing exemptions were notoriously admitted to be very dangerous exemptions from the law. Those exemptions were bitterly opposed in 1895, and also in 1901, when the Factory Bills were before the House. His right hon. friend had said there had been an improvement as regarded jam, though he admitted that the hours were 950 dangerously long. He had said there was to be a new Jam Order, but that would not limit the hours in a very great degree, because it allowed work between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. which were long hours. He and others also fought the previous Jam Order in this House, and they discussed it until a very late hour, but they were beaten. The Report now showed that everything they prophesied then had come true. Women were working from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on four days a week, and on five consecutive days sometimes. Young Persons were working from 6.0 a.m. to 9.30 p.m. in these horrible places in July, and the inspectors pointed out that these long hours were "unnecessary." That was exactly his contention. The Report stated —All concerned are distressingly over-worked. There is confusion resulting from the multiplicity of exceptions and unlimited hours of work. In no instance is this limited exactly to cleaning and preparing fruit, and something additional is always done. The greatest difficulty is found in ascertaining that the Order of the Secretary of State is being observed. Illegality is frequent, though evidence sufficient to base a prosecution on, is not established.With regard to the fish-curing exemption they were told in the Report—The time is not ripe for further comment upon the condition of the fish-curing industry.In the Report of the Midland Division they were told that there were—no complaints in respect of fish-curing except in regard to emergency processes at Grimsby.That was the very point. There seemed to be a curious concealment about this matter, and in Scotland the annual Report informed them that the fish-curing establishments at Aberdeen were much better on account of the efforts of the sanitary authority at Aberdeen, but very bad elsewhere, although "elsewhere" was not explained. There had been Reports from Medical Officers in Scotland on this subject called for by the action of the Home Office. He asked for those Reports not long ago, and they were refused — quite properly, no doubt—on the ground that they would be very costly to print. That statement was not accompanied by the usual intimation that those interested could see the Reports. He had not seen them and they had not been seen, so far as he knew, by anyone outside the Home Office. He was sure that they were 951 Reports which under proper discretion should be shown to anyone interested in the question. Some action had been taken for the purpose of preventing the extraordinarily long hours worked by women in the making-up departments of florists' shops in London. Several hon. Members interfered, and expressed themselves hostile to the action taken by the women inspectors. In the Report it was pointed out that the women were working fifteen hours a day. They also worked on Sunday. He could not conceive why they should work these hours, and if the inspectors believed that their intervention was required, that should hardly be made a matter of complaint. He would suggest that the blame here, as in the case of dressmaking, lay with those who gave orders which could not be executed in the time allowed without involving a great deal of distressing over-employment of women who were not regularly employed all through the year. It was a case in which the public sinned through ignorance, and the more public attention was called to the real cause the better it would be for those concerned. He thanked the Home Secretary for the form in which the Particulars Order had been finally issued. He thanked the right hon. Gentleman also for the inquiries to which he had referred, almost all of which had been thoroughly beneficial. Insurance under the Compensation Act had been the subject of a promise of two inquiries. He had read with the greatest admiration the evidence given by the Under-Secretary of State (Mr. Herbert Samuel) before the smaller one. The larger issue in connection with that question would have to be inquired into. He would not enlarge on the reasons which made the inquiry necessary. The only other inquiry to which he would refer was one to be held in regard to the fair wages clause. Questions had recently been asked in this House as to the possibility of interference to prevent preference being given to non- unionist firms. If that inquiry was held it should not be confined to an inquiry into facts which were the subject of inquiry some years ago by a Committee of this House, but it should deal with the larger questions which had been raised.
§ *MR. J. RAMSAY MACDONALD (Leicester)
said the Home Secretary 952 was mistaken in stating that there had been an objection raised to the taking of this Vote earlier in the year. That was not the point to which objection had been taken. The point was that this year the factory inspector's Report was not published until 11th July and that they were asked to discuss it to-day. Last year the Report was published a day earlier and the Home Office Vote was taken on 1st August. He and his friends would be only too delighted if the Home Secretary would let them have the Report a few weeks earlier, but what they did object to was that this important document of 400 pages which was delivered to members last Friday morning should be discussed that day.
§ *MR. GLADSTONE
said that if he had known there was an objection to the Vote being taken that day, he would have made representations at once in order that a more convenient day might be found. He thought it was known that the Vote was coming on that day. Questions had been asked several times as to when the Report would be published and he had the impression that hon. Members wished the Vote to be taken that day.
§ *MR. RAMSAY MACDONALD
said that his complaint was that whoever was responsible for fixing the date for the discussion of the Home Office Vote had not the courtesy to inform the Labour Party when it was coining on. The Prime Minister's announcement last Thursday was the first information they had that the Vote was coming on that day. The usual procedure in such a case was to fix the dates in consultation with those who were specially interested in particular Votes. It was perfectly well known that the Labour Members were very much interested in this discussion, but no approach was made to them and no agreement was come to. He did not blame the Home Secretary himself, but it was to be hoped that in future years the same mistake would not be made. In his criticisms he would confine himself to the question of factory inspection and the organisation of the factory inspection staff. The time at his disposal would not enable him to say the nice things he would like to say of part of the work of the right hon. Gentleman's staff, and if what he had to say took 953 the form mainly of criticism, the right hon. Gentleman could understand that behind his criticism there was a great deal of appreciation. He was very glad to hear the admission of the Home Secretary that the dual control of certain things provided for by the Factory and Workshops Act had broken down. He and other Members had predicted years ago that it would break down, and they thought that the Home Office should make itself absolutely responsible for those things. He ventured to make an appeal that medical officers of health, if they were really going to be allowed to exercise any authority under the Factory and Workshops Act, should be removed from the control of local authorities. If the medical officer was the servant of a small local authority, the members of which were in so many instances interested in the property and in the malpractices that went on in connection with home work, how could it be expected that either the medical officer or the local authority would carry out the law in the same way as the Home Office acting through national inspectors would do?
§ *MR. RAMSAY MACDONALD
said he could give the names of large local authorities as well as small local authorities which had acted in this objectionable way. He was extremely sorry that the Home Secretary in appointing the Committee on Home Work had not put any outsiders on it. No women had been appointed on it.
§ *MR. GLADSTONE
pointed out that nobody but Members could sit on Select Committees. Such a Committee was inevitable sooner or later because so many novel proposals had been made to deal with sweating in the homes of the workers. The Committee, however, did not take the place of any inquiry that might be necessary on the subject, but was appointed with a view to considering legislative action to solve the difficulty.
§ *MR. RAMSAY MACDONALD
thanked the right hon. Gentleman for his explanation. He did not want to pursue the subject very far, but he would urge one point. If legislation was to be 954 proposed after the Select Committee reported, he thought an inquiry into sweating and the conditions of sweating should have preceded the appointment of the Select Committee. In his opinion the Home Secretary had put the cart before the horse. The importance of the question of inspectors could not he over-estimated. His right hon. friend had brought before the House some very important points. He wanted to urge upon the Committee that a very large part of the failure of the administration of the law was owing to the inefficient machinery they had created for administering the law. Last year he pointed out that very foolish distinctions existed between what were known as inspectors and assistant inspectors. First of all, he called attention to the fact that the monthly circular's, full of important information, were withheld from assistant inspectors. Nobody had been able to explain this except by the "class" reason that the inspector was a superior officer to the assistant inspector. The efficiency of the work was thus impaired by some edict of the Department according to which assistant inspectors were not put in possession of the material which was necessary to efficiency. There was absolutely no reason why there should be this distinction. Then he wished to know why assistant inspectors were not more frequently asked to attend inquests. Last year there were 1,116 fatal accidents, but only on six occasions were assistant inspectors called in to assist at inquests, and in four of those cases the inspector was present as well. A very serious boiler explosion took place in South London, resulting in the death of two men, but, despite the fact that the two inspectors' assistants in the district were practical engineers, one having been a marine engineer and a boiler maker, neither of them was called to put his knowledge and experience at the disposal of the State and of the people affected. South London was one of the most industrial districts of the country, and yet experienced assistant inspectors there were given duties to perform which any schoolboy might do. It was perfectly true that the right hon. Gentleman had somewhat improved the position with regard to lead-poisoning, but there had been eighty-five eases of lead-poisoning in coach-building, an increase of 50 per cent, in 1905. An inspectors' assistant 955 was able to go into a coach-makers' place and advise the proprietor regarding the precautions he was taking, but, if an actual case of poisoning occurred, the assistant could no longer act. He had no status, and the ordinary inspector had to be sent for to go over the work with which the assistant had been charged. There was also the question which he asked the right hon. Gentleman regarding the power of inspector's assistants to enter factories. The right hon. Gentleman replied that it depended upon the district superintendent inspector. He was bound to say he did not quite understand what that reply meant. The warrant of inspectors' assistants entitled them to enter workshops, and, when the higher grade assistants were created, their new warrants entitled them to enter factories. How could inspectors' assistants, without that amended warrant, be entitled upon the order of a superintendent inspector to enter factories? As a matter of fact, they did not enter factories, and, so far as they could find out, no such order as he had referred to had been issued. Lady inspectors, with infinitely less experience, entered factories, and made most valuable reports. Why should not inspectors' assistants have the same facilities as the lady inspectors who had less experience in precisely the same sort of work? The question very seriously affected the existence of overtime in both factories and workshops. Inspectors' assistants might see lights in what appeared to be a workshop, but which might be a factory. They never quite knew whether they were entitled to enter. In the first blush of his enthusiasm an inspector's assistant would undoubtedly enter, but at last he began to settle down, and, because he was often thrown back from the door of a factory, he ultimately ceased to be an efficient inspector for detecting overtime in workshops.
§ *MR. GLADSTONE
said that as a matter of fact four inspectors' assistants were engaged in the work of factory inspection, and there was no finality about the change.
§ *MR. RAMSAY MACDONALD
said he was coming to that. He hoped his criticisms would help the right hon. Gentleman to come nearer to perfect finality. If the right hon. 956 Gentleman would seriously inquire into the evil effect of inspectors' assistants being hampered in this way, he felt perfectly certain he would discover a state of mind in assistant inspectors which he would see it was his duty to remove by changing the conditions under which they did their work. The right hon. Gentleman last year told them that the position of inspectors' assistants was an anomaly which could not be maintained, and he had undoubtedly done something to make changes. He had for instance, enabled some inspectors' assistants to visit docks, but if there happened to be a warehouse at the dock using machinery precisely the same as was used in the docks as part and parcel of the dock work, he could not enter. He was bound to pass that factory; and the ordinary inspector had to tread upon his footsteps. Certain inspectors' assistants were undoubtedly allowed to examine and inspect for time cribbing, but under what conditions? They might enter a factory before or after the legal hours, but they were not allowed to be inside during them. Another improvement which the right hon. Gentleman had made was very limited in its scope. The other day he allowed three inspectors' assistants to sit for an examination, and one passed. That was a most inadequate way of meeting the promise he gave last year, seeing that there was much leeway to make up. If the right hon. Gentleman looked at the Civil Service Commissioners' Report he would find that the difference between the three in marks was infinitesimal. Surely he was treating the matter in a petty-fogging way in dealing with it as he had done. He nominated three inspector's assistants to sit for this examination, and then although they had evidence that they would all be competent inspectors, yet two were rejected and one was passed. It must be remembered that this was not an open examination of outsiders. It was a test imposed upon men who, after ten or fourteen years service, were chafing under the limitation imposed upon them in regard to their service of the State. That was a very inadequate fulfilment of the promise that the right hon. Gentleman gave a year ago. Owing to the short time he had had to examine this Report he was in some difficulty, but he thought he was correct in saying there 957 was no account given as usual of the number of miles travelled by factory inspectors and of their inspections, If this information was in the Report it was not in its old place. It was a very serious omission, and he could not see why it was made except to avoid showing the very serious defects in the organisation of the staff. The right hon. Gentleman himself had said that those figures were an indication of the way in which the staff was organised, and the greater the number of miles travelled the more the inefficiency of the organisation of the staff was shown. He also complained of the artificial distinctions which existed in regard to the staff, and said that the failure to visit factories was becoming very alarming. It appeared that 6,700 had not been visited since 1904, and as many as 14,500 wore not visited in 1906. That was a reduction of 500 on 1905, taking the figures from the Blue Book, and he did not think that such a reduction showed that there had been any praiseworthy effort made. There was unnecessary duplication of working, owing to inspectors for different purposes being sent to the same place, and he knew of a case where three Government inspectors visited the same building and there were four local inspectors visiting it as well. Their duties were quite separate, and not one of them could do the work of each other's department. The right hon. Gentleman complained about his Department being overworked, but it appeared that all Departments were overworked, and he thought that a great deal of labour night be saved if this one were more soundly organised. Nor was he convinced that this Department had got the best material for its purpose. Better material was to be had to carry on its work, and it was possible to set about getting that material in a better way. If he had had any doubt on that subject it would have been dispelled by a recent visit abroad where he went into the question of the appointment of factory inspectors in the countries which he visited. They were admirably organised, and did their work in an admirable way. These countries did not adopt the superficial and artificial plan of selecting men by an examination which had nothing to do with the work which they would be required to perform. The Return of the staff and the occupations of its members before appointment 958 which had been presented to this House on his Motion was very interesting, and showed that there was a change in 1900 and 1901 in the tests imposed upon the candidates for inspectorships. Before that date the lists of candidates were practically one long repetition of "engineer," "engineer," "engineer." When they came to 1901 and 1902, however, they got a different class of men including analysts, university men of different degrees, a schoolmaster, a confidential clerk in a linen factory, a manager, science lecturers, electrical engineers, and others. A paper on English literature was set to test the capacity of men to protect the lives of people working where machinery was in operation. One of the questions was "How does the Shakespeare Comedy resemble and differ from the Ben Jonson. Illustrate your answer.'' Such a test was absurd unless it was so designed to select factory inspectors from the class possessing social distinction. 'The right hon. Gentleman had done something to meet them, but, taken as a whole the organisation of the factory department no longer commanded confidence. The Factory and Workshops Act required stiffening and supplementing at a good many points. The condition and organisation of the staff, the administration of the Act, and the alterations required in the law might very well be made the subject of inquiry by a committee of experts in order to guide the right hon. Gentleman in his future action. He was satisfied that there would be a recommendation that more assistant inspectors should be created, and that there ought to be a system under which they should be passed up in accordance with the efficiency they showed in administering the powers conferred upon them. Another point which he thought would be recommended was that the walls between the different portions of the staff should be broken down so that it should be a coherent whole, and so that the members might rise to the position to which they were entitled. The local superintendent inspectors should have more power than they now had to give directions as to how their assistants should occupy themselves. A complete change also should be made in the examinations now imposed on inspectors so as to bring them into closer touch with industrial life and life in the workshops. The head of the Department 959 should not be a medical officer of health. He believed an impartial inquiry would recommend such changes, and if the changes were made he felt perfectly certain that the taxpayers' money would be saved, that the Department would be more efficient and better men would be found to go on the staff. In spite of the improvements made by the right hon. Gentleman he still thought it would be possible to make much greater improvements.
§ MR. BRACE (Glamorganshire, S.)
said he desired to associate himself with every word of appreciation which had been uttered with regard 10 the action taken by His Majesty in connection with the mining industry. For a long time his attention had been directed to this matter, but in his most sanguine moments he never anticipated that His Majesty would have taken the action he had. He had also been much interested in what the right hon. Gentlemen had said with regard to the Eight Hours Bill, and hoped that it would be soon introduced. He also rejoiced in the statement that it was the right hon. Gentleman's intention to reorganise the Home Office, and that a purely mining section was to be established. He ventured to express the hope that in the reorganisation of that Office, with especial reference to mining, the right hon. Gentleman would give particular attention to considering the desirability of having a direct representative of labour attached to the Home Office staff. He had always felt that both the workmen and the Home Office lost considerably by having no direct connection between the miners and the administrative Department. He, however, rose for the purpose of dealing with two questions of first importance to the miners of this country, and of Wales in particular. He had recently received the very important Report of Mr. Atkinson and Mr. Lewis on the colliery accident in Genwen, and was particularly impressed with the way in which the inspectors reported. The point on which they thought there was a direct considerable and serious breach of the rules was the fact that—The firemen reported that if they found gas and cleared it out of the way they did not enter it upon their report, and the finding of the gas was never reported. General Rule 4 requires a report specifying where noxious or 960 inflammable gas, if any, was found present. It seems evident that the manager took no steps to ensure full compliance with this rule. No record of persons allowed to have lamp keys was kept, as required by Special Rule 183. The main separation doors between the intake and the return air currents consisted of a wooden door and a canvas sheet, whereas Special Rule 73 requires that all main doors are double.The inspectors very properly took proceedings against the colliery owners in consequence of the violation of the rules, and they were convicted and fined £5 and costs. What he desired to ask was, what earthly advantage was it to proceed against the colliery owners, and inflict a fine of that character? Was there no power in the hands of the Home Office to bring greater pressure upon colliery owners to conform to the rules, and to inflict heavier penalties than a fine of £5 and costs? In addition to that Report he had received one from the Miners' Federation, who always sent their own people to these inquiries. In their Report they spoke with much greater certainty upon this matter. But in the Home Office inspector's Report there was a strong case for the Department to do something to bring greater pressure to bear upon these who were responsible for sending men into eternity without a moment's notice. In this connection he found himself face to face with the interim Report of the Committee which sat to inquire into the question. In that Report they said with reference to the two explorers who were killed by after-damp in the return airway, that it was possible, or even probable, that if suitable appliances had been at hand and had been resorted to without delay, they might have been rescued, but the organisation of the rescue work was so defective that it was not known that those men were missing until several hours after they had gone into the return airway. In the exploring work two men gave their lives in the attempt to succour their comrades, but no arrangements had been made in any of the mines of this country by which exploring could be made safer. His Majesty had done well in instituting a decorative order, but surely in these days of science men ought not to be called upon to risk their lives in attempting to succour their fellows when with the appliances that now existed rescue work could be conducted under safer conditions. The adoption of rescue appliances was not a new suggestion. 961 In the interim Report of the Royal Commission he found that during the year 1881, an apparatus was used in connection with the explosion at the Seaham Colliery, Durham, and in connection with the Killingworth disaster in 1882. Since then nothing had been done to perfect the apparatus until interest in the matter was revived by the construction in 1900 of an experimental gallery for testing life-saving apparatus, by Mr. Garforth, at Messrs. Pope and Pearson's Altofts Collieries, in which the state of a mine roadway after an explosion was reproduced on a small scale in order to accustom men to the use of the apparatus in conditions such as were likely to be met with underground. In the event of an explosion, anything which facilitated the rapidity and safety with which the ventilation could be restored and the after-damp removed, must contribute towards the saving of life. Most of the deaths were caused by after-damp, and men were frequently alive for a considerable time after the explosion occurred. He ventured to submit to the Home Secretary that to talk of the invention being too cumbersome for a man to carry on his back when looking through a mine for his fellows was to miss the point altogether. That might be so, but a man with this appliance on his back would be able to make for and put up the doors that had been blown down by the explosion, and so give a current of air in the mines which would assist greatly in the saving of life. The question of the use of such apparatus was among the matters considered by the Royal Commission on Accidents in Mines (1880–1886), and after commenting on the services rendered by the "Fleuss" apparatus on the occasions referred to, they recommended that—Arrangements should be made for the establishment of centres in mining districts, where additional appliances for succour and relief, and also special appliances for exploring purposes, should be maintained in an efficient condition, so as to be ready for use at the shortest notice.They added that—It is most desirable that facilities should be afforded for the instruction of men in the use of special auxiliary appliances for exploring purposes.That recommendation had not been given effect to, because the right hon. Gentleman had no object in bringing pressure to bear on colliery owners to realise 962 their responsibility on this question. What other Governments could do the British Government could do, in mercy to these men who risked their lives. In some Continental countries greater attention had been given in recent years to the question of breathing appliances. In Austria their provision had been made compulsory; in Germany, though no regulations had been made by the Government on the subject, a great deal had been done voluntarily, and many of the larger collieries were provided with sets of apparatus. In France, as a result of the Courrières disaster, the question was referred for inquiry to a special commission, and as a result of their Report, a decree was issued in April. 1907, by the Minister of Public Works, making the provision of breathing appliances compulsory in French coal mines. If the French Government thought it desirable to take such steps, our Government ought to exert themselves, and not rest satisfied until these inventions had been perfected, even at the expense of the nation. He was quite aware that a Royal Commission was now sitting, and that they had not gone further than the following—After fully considering the results of experience here and abroad, we are of opinion that the question is ripe for further development in this country, and demands the serious attention of the industry. We have considered whether it would be desirable to make the provision of any of these appliances compulsory, and we have come to the conclusion that sufficient advance has not been made in this country to justify such a course at present.He thought that showed the attitude taken up by the Royal Commission. He had three esteemed colleagues on that Commission, and he desired to pay full deference to their judgment; but he would say to the Home Secretary that if the coal owners between now and the time when the final Report had been presented had not perfected the whole system of rescue appliances at their own expense, he should bring pressure to beat on the Royal Commission to do something more than consider the question of making compulsory the provision of rescue appliances throughout the United Kingdom He ventured to submit these proposals from South Wales and Monmouth, where they had sufficient cause to regret the long list of explosions. He suggested that if they did not possess the power they should seek it, to penalise either colliery 963 managers or owners who through their negligence, had been responsible for loss of life in the mines of the country; and, secondly, if it was found in practice that the colliery owners did not respond to this recommendation of the Royal Commission, and voluntarily agree to establish at the collieries these rescue appliances, for use in a mining disaster, something should be done to take the matter out of the category of recommendation, and to make such provision compulsory on all colliery owners in the United Kingdom. Undoubtedly, a large number of colliery owners when they saw these statements would feel their responsibility, and provide the appliances voluntarily; but if some of them proved indifferent to the claims of humanity, he hoped that the Home Secretary would bring the influence of his high office to bear upon them, so that if unhappily an explosion occurred, which God forbid, they would not have to regret the loss of brave rescuers, as in the two cases he had quoted, where the men went into the mine to save their fellows and were sent into eternity, simply because there were not the rescue appliances, and because the conditions at the colliery were such that they were not able to explore.
§ *MR. H. J. TENNANT (Berwickshire)
said the hon. Member who had last addressed the House complained of too little notice of the date of the debate and of too little time for the study of the Blue-book which reached him only on Thursday. In some respects he was more fortunate than the hon. Member, but in some he was less so. For though he knew earlier of the date of the debate he did not receive a copy of the Blue-book until Monday. The hon. Member for Leicester had referred to the examinations for inspectors of factories and had thrown ridicule on literary subjects being included in the test. His own experience of these matters ranged over a considerable number of years, and he felt convinced that higher education and culture, though not indispensable, were most likely to make the inspector an efficient officer. He could not help thinking that a University education was no drawback to an inspector of factories, but was calculated to make him a more efficient public servant. Before he passed to the main theme of the industrial conditions referred to in the 964 Blue-book, he wanted to say a word about the children in prisons. He was not going to trespass on anything which would entail legislation. His right hon. friend had certain powers under the Youthful Offenders Act for the framing of regulations. The right hon. Gentleman had told them in the speech to which they had listened with so much interest and pleasure, of the numerous circulars and orders which he sent out under his powers, conferred by the Act of 1901. Having these powers to frame regulations under the Youthful Offenders Act, would it not be in the power of his right hon. friend to ask local authorities to treat children under sixteen years, who were under arrest, better than they were being treated at present, and not put them in gaol? Children arrested in London and in some other large towns after the police courts had risen for the day, were, in default of bail, detained in police stations until the following day. If arrested on Saturday, they might be lodged in cells until the following Monday morning. During 1905, thirty seven children under ten years, eighty-six between ten and thirteen, and 293 between thirteen and sixteen years, slept in police stations, prior to admission to the remand homes. In Manchester, however, boys under seventeen and girls under eighteen were never detained at police stations, but lodged after arrest in the Boys and Girls Refuges. It should be remembered that out of a total of 2,518 convictions for non indictable offences, registered against juveniles under sixteen, during 1904, 554 were for contraventions of police regulations, 1,132 for offences against the Vagrancy Act, while out of 450 cases of stealing, 432 were for stealing fruit, and plants. The present procedure whereby youthful delinquents were brought before the ordinary Courts, and were sentenced by magistrates accustomed to judge hardened offenders, needed reform. Passing from that, he would draw his right hon. friends attention to the figures in the Blue-book showing the increase in the number of accidents. The increase in the number of fatal accidents had been 5 per cent., and of accidents of all sorts 11.5 per cent. There had been an increase in the number of electrical accidents, though there had been no increase in the number of persons employed. The increase of 965 electrical fatalities was 4.66 per cent. There was an increase of deaths from lead-poisoning, the total of deaths being thirty-three the percentage increase being 1030 per cent.; the total number of these cases was 632, or an increase of 40.6. The increase in the number of cases of anthrax was twenty-two, or 4.18 per cent. It was difficult to assign these figures to any one cause, but among the causes which must be taken into account was the looseness of control due to the voluntary system. He would urge the right hon. Gentleman to consent to the abolition of a system under which they had to ask people to do certain things which they had no right to enforce. Whether they considered electrical works or laundries, or bronzing in lithographic works, or dry cleaning, he could prove that the voluntary principle had continued to be a serious source of accidents. The administration of the law was lax, and they wanted in the hands of the Minister power to enforce what was required. For instance, on page 187 of the Annual Report for 1906, Miss Tracey said—Where machinery is used, the dangers of it appeared but little recognised, and in several cases my suggestions as to protection were not carried out for the avowed reason that they were not compulsory.This had reference to laundries in institutions, but he would not labour the point, because it was one with which every hon. Member was familiar. He would pass to electrical works. He must say how grateful and how glad he was to hear from his right hon. friend the Home Secretary that at last there were in draft certain rules which he proposed to issue to these electrical works. It was a matter in respect of which he had been agitating for a considerable number of years. He wanted to quote three sentences from Mr. G. Scott Ram, who was electrical inspector. Mr. Ram, on page 262 of the annual Report for 1906, said—In my previous Reports I have described a number of the various dangerous conditions of electrical plant which I have come across during the year. I have again a similar selection to bring to your notice.After describing the death of a man from shock, in which he had received 230 volts through his body to earth, being unable to release his hold of the 966 lamp until the current was switched off Mr. Ram went on to say—I described and commented upon an exactly similar fatality in my last year's Report. There is little, if anything, new in the nature of the accidents, and any comments which I make upon them must necessarily be in the nature of repetition of the remarks I have nude in former Reports.He noticed that Mr. Scott Ram made that kind of apology, and it was with great pleasure that he heard that the right hon. Gentleman was going to frame some new regulations. Again, Mr. Scott Ram said—This switchboard was apparently satisfactory so far as the working platform was concerned, but the various passage ways in connection with it were a series of death traps.⤦. three bare and unprotected bus bars at 6,000 volts. The floor of this passage way was of iron, and the clear width was about 18 inches ….No means of access was, however, provided for getting to these plug switches other than along the passageway described. Even assuming that the attendant should safely reach the plug switches there was no room for him to work them,…. there was exposed live metal within 3 or 4 inches of the handles, and the bus-bars were, of course, close to; (the combined arrangement being such as to offer a great and totally unwarrantable risk in operation.")He read that quotation because one of the recommendations made by the Departmental Committee appointed ten years ago was that passages and gangways should be covered with an insulating mat and kept in an efficient state of insulation. Mr. Ram described another case—An undesirable feature, not unfrequently met with, was also present here, namely, apparatus, requiring occasional handling, fixed on the wall of the other side of the passageway. In this case some of it was arranged in a particularly dangerous manner. Some high pressure switch fuses for instrument transformers were fixed on the back wall at 6 feet from the iron floor. In order to handle them a man would have to stand with his back towards the live terminals of the main portion of the switch-board, one of which was so placed that he would almost certainly touch it with the back of his head when handling the switch fuses. It is difficult to account for the apparently reckless want, of thought in cases such as this, where the danger is so obvious and of such serious kind, i.e., sudden death to the unwary attendant.Another of the same Committee's recommendations was that in all switchboards the main switches should be insulated or arranged in such a way as would render it impossible for any person to touch them. He gave those two illustrations 967 to show how necessary it was that this danger, which had been the cause of an increased number of deaths, should be placed under more strict regulations. He noticed that Miss Deane and Miss Slocock had made a special report on bronzing in which they said—We have seldom found the voluntary Special Rules satisfactorily carried out.We have found bronze dust lying thickly all over and around the machine, and powdering the hands, faces, hair, and clothes of the workers.Then they described a new bronzing machine which they said was expensive, but the cost would be quickly repaid, not only in the bronze which would be saved, but in time and greater efficiency in the work and the safety of the workers. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would consent to pass special regulations for bronzing in lithographic factories, and those people who were good enough to provide themselves with this expensive bronzing machine need not necessarily comply with the more stringent regulations. In Germany they had special rules dealing with this trade, and he would remind the right hon. Gentleman that Inspectors Miss Deane and Miss Slocock reported upon this point that they—look upon it as a serious feature in conditions of industry, requiring more attention than has been given to it.With regard to dry cleaning there was a circular in the Report in which his right hon. friend expressed some pious opinions which were admirable, but they were only pious opinions and nothing else, and they were expressed by his Committee which sat in 1896. All sorts of recommendations were made that the women and girls should wash their hands and be provided with wet sand and other materials for putting out fires, because there was great danger of the benzine igniting. The Memorandum went on to say—It is desirable that women and young persons should be periodically examined by the Certifying Surgeon.Then, if it was desirable, why, in the name of common sense, was it not made obligatory? That brought him to the Report of the Under-Secretary's Committee on industrial diseases to be scheduled for the Compensation Act, an interesting, and a valuable contribution to the industrial literature of that House. 968 But there were one or two important omissions in that report. One of them had been dealt with by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean, and the other was the dangers incurred by naphtha. Last winter, in replying to the speech of the hon. Member for West Ham, the Under-Secretary rather poohpoohed the idea that there was any danger from naphtha. He wanted to deal with this question because Professor Glaister brought two cases of death from naphtha before the Committee. He would like to call attention to Miss Paterson's report in 1899, in which she said—I visited a number of them (workers in naphtha) in their homes and also the doctors near two large factories employing a large number of girls, and learned that a reduced state of health is looked on as the usual result of such employment.Later on in 1902 Miss Paterson reported—I have had interviews with a number of workers, and have heard from them much of the varying symptons of anæmia, shortness of breath, palpitation, headache, with some pain and functional disturbances.Why had naphtha been rejected by his right hon. friend? He had stated that when a man died from naphtha in the cases quoted it was considered to be an accident, and in other cases where the girls had suffered he understood that the Committee's position was that there was no definite illness and nothing which could be called chronic, which was specifically attributable to this substance. There was another case in the Glasgow Western Infirmary under the care of Dr. Finlayson, which was reported in the British Medical Journal—At that lime he was unconscious and lay breathing heavily,… he afterwards became very restless and almost maniacal, he tried to get out of bed, saying that he was late for his work. He vomited several ounces of greenish fluid.… For the most part the patient continued exceedingly restless, with diarrhœa and vomiting at intervals.The necropsy, made by Professor Muir, showed that the lower portions of both lungs, were consolidated, of a reddish grey colour, and at parts coated with a thin film of fibrin. In the upper part of the left lung there were a number of small ragged cavities where the lung tissue was beginning to break down; both lungs showed signs of an acute bronchitis.Any material used which was capable of producing such results as those ought certainly to be scheduled as dangerous. On this matter he wished for a moment 969 to analyse the position of the Committee. If it was true that the man died from naphtha poisoning, and that it was an accident, let them compare it with anthrax. It had been held in a Court of law that anthrax poisoning was an accident, yet anthrax was scheduled in the Workmen's Compensation Act. There was all the more reason why they should schedule naphtha, whose evil effects had never been held by a Court to be an accident. The effects which were produced in workers connected with the naphtha trade should surely make the trade rank as a "dangerous trade" in which compensation should be given. He begged his right hon. friend to consider this case. If he did so in the way suggested he would earn the gratitude of a very large and increasing number of workers using this substance. Workers in naphtha were denied special protection; for the want of it they got ill, and were then denied compensation.
§ *MR. SUMMERBELL (Sunderland)
said the reasons which had been urged by the hon. Member for Leicester against the present method of appointing factory inspectors applied equally to the method of appointing mining inspectors. During the past year he had asked the Home Secretary several Questions on this subject. From a Return with which he had been supplied he found that in regard to the mining inspectors there had been four separate examinations. Two applicants were exempted from examination, and he wanted to know why they were exempted. He found also that out of six cases where there were examinations only one nomination was made. He wanted to know how many applicants there were. There were fifteen separate examinations in respect of assistant-inspectors, but out of six cases there was only one nomination. Two applicants were exempted from examination. One man had acted as assistant inspector twenty-two weeks before he sat for examination. In his own district there were men who held the necessary certificate, and had sent in applications with the view to becoming colliery inspectors, but none of them had been allowed to sit for examination. He would like to get an explanation why they were not examined. He was against the system of selection and nomination. He contended that more 970 efficient inspectors would be obtained if their qualifications had previously been ascertained by examination. Many men who had done practical work in the mines were prevented by the present system from obtaining positions as mining inspectors. Ho called attention to the terms of the contracts under which the clothing for prison warders was made, and stated that a complaint had been made that the regulations required in regard to work for other Government Departments were not complied with in the case of the Home Office. In the case of the Post Office the contractor undertook that all garments should be made in his own factory, and that no work should be done at the houses of the workpeople. Any infringement of that condition, if proved to the satisfaction of the Postmaster-General, rendered the contractor liable to a penalty not exceeding £100 for each offence. The clause in the contracts for work done for the Homo Office was not, in his judgment, so satisfactory, and he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would introduce into future contracts a clause similar to that in the Post Office contracts for clothing. If the right hon. Gentleman could do so, he would remove much friction which existed at present, and they would be in a position of knowing that there was no danger from infectious disease and unfair conditions of labour.
§ SIR SAMUEL SCOTT (Marylebone, W.)
said he desired to call attention to a matter which he hoped would receive the sympathetic consideration of the Home Secretary, namely, the question of the police charges levied on the cab industry in London. He did not think many hon. Members were aware of what these charges were, nor could they know that the industry at the present time was not in such a flourishing condition as it was some years ago when the charges were first instituted. Since those days there had been introduced the competition of the "tubes," motor cabs, and motor omnibuses. These new modes of travelling had had a prejudicial effect on the cab industry, and yet the charges to which he was referring remained the same as before. The driver's licence cost 5s., the plate licence £2, and in addition there was the Inland Revenue wheel tax of 15s., making £3. The money was applied to payment of an inspecting 971 staff; but, inasmuch as inspection was as much, if not more, in the interest of the public as in that of the cab drivers, it would be only fair that the public should contribute a share. In 1905 the revenue from cabs and omnibuses, including motor omnibuses and cabs, was £40,000, and the expenditure £39,000. He appealed on the ground of common fairness on behalf of horse drawn cabs, which were now subjected to keen competition, for a considerable reduction in the charges.
§ *MR. SHACKLETON (Lancashire, Clitheroe)
said the speech of the right hon. Gentleman was one of the most encouraging they had had on the Home Office Vote since he had been in the House, and they were very grateful for the work he had done. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to the inquiries which were going on, and they looked forward to his having opportunities of dealing with the matters which were being inquired into. He wished to refer to the inquiry with regard to the humidity in the cotton cloth factories. The question had been brought before the right hon. Gentleman's notice, and he wished to express his extreme pleasure that he had responded to their requests in such a speedy manner. They were fully confident of their case, and if the employers, when they were brought together, could not agree, they would have to persist in it. It was also highly gratifying to know that the staff had been increased, and one remark by the right hon. Gentleman led them to believe that there was room for still greater increase. The right hon. Gentleman said he had not consulted the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but in this case there would not, he imagined, be much difficulty, because the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been in the position of Home Secretary, and no doubt had full knowledge of the requirements of that department. This, coupled with the earnestness with which ho knew the right hon. Gentleman would make his requests, should be sufficient to get for them a grant which would enable a big increase to be made in the staff. The annual Report proved that the Inspectors required more help; their districts were too large, and they had too many factories and workshops to attend to. Proper inspection could not be attained unless 972 there was some further increase. It was for that reason that in the cotton district they had asked for outside assistance in the matter of time cribbing. They felt that the employers were defying the inspectors and that the staff could not meet the urgency of the case. Hon. Members might not understand what time cribbing was. Some of the people in the cotton mills were paid by the piece and some by the day. The engine was started some few minutes before the time and was kept running some minutes after the time, and all this extra work was put in in many cases without pay. From the point of view of physique alone, this time cribbing ought to be stopped. Of course, so far as individual members were concerned, the Operatives Associations could not be responsible, but they discouraged the practice of working during the meal hour in every possible way. There might be cases where the operatives were somewhat to blame, but the employer was solely responsible for the engine being started and stopped at the proper time. So far as that was concerned, no stones could be thrown at the operatives. The inspector for the South-West Division reported as follows on the question—Very little that is new can be said on the subject which in its generally accepted term refers solely to cotton mills and to their practice of running the engine and machinery a few minutes both before and after the legal periods. For this the employers alone can of course be held responsible, though up to now at any rate many of the employed, being on piecework, had not been averse to the practice, and where it had been checked complaints had been heard of the consequent reduction in money earned. There are signs, however, now that the more recent Rotation carried on by the Operatives Associations will have the effect of leaving those dishonest employers who continue to crib time without any sympathiser.They were glad to notice that from the Superintendent Inspector in their district. He would like to call the attention of the right hon. gentleman to p. 136 of the Report, where there was a reference by the Inspector. He said—Mr. Lewis (Manchester), Mr. Crabtree (Oldham), and Mr. Clark (Bolton) each write strongly on the prevalence of this offence in their districts, whilst Mr. Taylor (Blackburn), and Mr. Rogers (C.C.F.) report more favourably on theirs.The Superintendent Inspector therefore went out of his way to give two quotations from the inspectors who reported favourably, whilst he did not give a 973 single sentence of the three men who condemned the practice seriously. He asked whether there ought not to be as much attention called to the condemnation of the practice as to those cases where it was said there had been an improvement, and whether the Chief Inspector should not at least do what he could in his report to discourage it by giving prominence to the condemnation of it. Then there was another point with regard to the number of prosecutions. There were eight districts, affecting thousands upon thousands of operatives, 'millions of spindles and hundreds of thousands of looms, but there had been only 886 cases reported, and the fines and costs totalled only £1,149, an average of 16s. 4d. in fines and 9s. 7d. in costs. Those who knew the cotton mills in the last few years know that these fines could be made up in a day by running excessive time. It was absolutely nothing to a man who had thousands of spindles and looms running overtime for three hours a week to be fined a paltry sum of 16s. 4d. in each case. So far as fines were concerned, the question would have to be dealt with in a more severe manner. If in a mill there were 150 operatives being employed illegally cases should be brought in regard to them all, and not merely in regard to twenty, and if the magistrates exercised any leniency it should be in regard to the whole number and not merely with regard to a half dozen or so. They had to thank the right hon. Gentleman for having obtained the assistance of the police through the watch committees in checking time cribbing. The method they suggested and which the right hon. Gentleman had accepted was that the police, who numbered roughly 1 to 1,000 of population, should, if they found on their rounds a mill going before or after the proper time, report the matter to the inspectors. Any policeman in Lancashire could tell without going into the mill whether a mill was running for production or merely for trying purposes. The Home Secretary had asked as many watch committees as would to adopt this policy, but they thought he might move a little further in the matter and extend his inquiries. There were a number of watch committees where there were no borough police, and they, as well as the watch committees where there were borough police and the county authority at 974 Preston, should receive the Home Office circulars. They had to complain that in this connection they did not think the inspectors were taking kindly to the police coming into the business. They had this from people who were in the towns and who had to make reports. He would give a case which occurred within the last two month. In April of this year the police saw and heard the machinery full at work at 5.55 in Royal Mills, Oldham. The assumption was that the mill had been running some minutes then. Information was sent to the inspector, but he suggested that it would be better if he tried to catch them himself. It was a firm which was known to be guilty of the practice, and he suggested that it would be better if he went and saw what he could do on his own. He went and caught them, but he only took out twenty-six summonses, though ho might have taken at least eighty. The management were very obstinate, and denied it. They said it was an odd case which the inspector had happened to come across. This was the usual excuse of employers who did all they could to prevent inspectors doing their work efficiently. There was in a mill what was called a Moss crop indicator, and this machine indicated the correct time. Reports were made frequently that the mill was running overtime, and both the inspector and the police had discovered it, but still the indicator only gave the correct time. The secret was found out afterwards and before the case was tried, but still the inspector did not proceed. It was found that the indicator would only indicate at sixty strokes a minute of the engine, and in order to deceive the inspector the engine was run at fifty-five strokes a minute till the correct time. Surely in such a case the inspector ought to have been as severe as possible, and to have taken more than twenty-six cases. The result was that fines of 20s. and costs in ten cases were inflicted, the costs only being required to be paid in the others. What was the language of the inspector? He said he thought the firm ought to be more careful because they knew of the fact as to the working of overtime, He said he did not want to be hard with them, but he wanted it to be known that the Factory Act must be carried out. Coming to the case of the Clough Mills, Shaw, the House would rind it reported 975 that the inspector only brought thirteen cases where he could have brought eighty. While these proceedings were going on a notice was found posted up behind. a door to the effect that if certain classes of workpeople left the mills before the engine stopped they would be discharged without notice. It was well known that this firm had been caught by the inspector and prosecuted, and yet the notice was put up. The chairman of the bench stated that he thought the inspector had dealt very leniently with defendants by bringing only thirteen summonses. He thought it was very lenient, as they had attempted to hoodwink the inspector, and the firm had been brought before the Court several times. His correspondent said he must frankly confess that he was of opinion that the inspectors were against the police being called upon to have any thing to do with this time cribbing business because they believed it might take some of the authority from their hands. He could truthfully say on the most reliable information that already in Oldham the sanction given to the police to assist in the work of detecting time cribbing had materially tended to make their limited companies more honest in loyally carrying out the Factory Acts, as in the space of time in which the police had been employed they had had considerably less complaints than formerly. He thought the police should be brought in to assist the inspectors. There was a machine for checking the action of the engines, and he thought the employers had had sufficient time given to them to improve this state of things. He thanked I the Home Secretary for his promise, and on their part they would give him all the encouragement they could in their several districts.
§ *THE UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (MR. HERBERT SAMUEL, York- shire, Cleveland),
replying to some of the points advanced during the debate, said that his right hon. friend entirely agreed with the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken as to the evils of time cribbing. It was certainly a mean action on the part of employers to steal the workmen's time, as was being done notoriously in many mills in Lancashire. A difficulty in the matter was that of securing cumulative fines. In one case, for instance, where twenty. 976 six charges were made against a firm the magistrates imposed fines in respect of only ten. The factory inspectors had now definite instructions no longer to take only one or two cases but to take out a number of summonses in every case. As to the provision of an automatic indicator of the running of the engines, that was a matter for legislation. The right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean had raised three questions—the questions of lead, fruit preserving, and fish curing. On all these points the Home Office had within the past twelve months taken action. It was no doubt lamentable that the figures in lead poisoning again showed an upward tendency. Every case meant a terrible amount of human suffering, and it was but a poor consolation to say that compensation would be paid. The number of cases last year was 632, against 592, a considerable increase; but it should be noted that in 1899 the number was 1,258, and in the year after that 1,058, so that they had, at any rate, the consolation of knowing that the average number had been reduced by something like 50 per cent, since that time. Although the reduced figures might give some satisfaction, they in no sense afforded any reason for the relaxation of efforts to stamp out industrial diseases. The condition of things could not be described as satisfactory until they had been reduced to an absolute minimum. The Home Office had endeavoured during last year to cope in various ways with this question. They had made regulations for the safety of workers in the trade of grinding paints and colours. Regulations were in draft dealing with the processes of tinning hardware. The whole china and earthenware trade regulations were about to be overhauled, and it was hoped they would effect a large reduction in the cases of lead poisoning. The draft of a new Order dealing with the fruit-preserving industry had been published. Should the new Order be criticised on the ground that it did not go far enough in regard to the hours of labour, it should be remembered that in the case of the fruit-preserving and fish-curing industries the powers of the Department were limited by the form in which statutory exemptions were extended to these industries, and that though the Secretary of State might impose conditions to qualify those exemptions ho could not 977 make conditions which nullified them. The fish-curing industry was being made the subject of a special inquiry with a view to deciding as to the best mode of revising the regulations. The inquiry would specially include the question of sanitation, which was one of great gravity. The chief inspector of factories would personally visit a number of these fish-curing factories before long, and when he reported, the Home Office hoped to have a scheme to deal with the whole situation. The medical officers' reports referred to by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean were exceedingly voluminous, and would need condensation to make them proper for publication, but such portions of them as could properly be published would, he hoped, be published with the Report of the inquiry. The Departmental Committee on Compensation for Industrial Diseases regretted that they could not recommend the scheduling of fibrosis of the lungs, although it was a disease which could be definitely traced to certain industries. He recognised from the beginning that the scheduling of this disease would meet with grave objection, not only from the employers, but also in the interests of the employed. The initial stages of the disease usually extended over several years, and in the early period it was indistinguishable from ordinary cough or bronchitis, and the result of scheduling it would be prejudicial to workmen, who might lose their employment on mere suspicion that they were developing the disease, the employers finding that they would be unable to insure them. This view was supported by the witness who attended on behalf of the Sheffield grinders, who urged them not to schedule the disease. Dr. Haldane took the same view, and said that to schedule the disease would be disastrous to the tin miners of Cornwall. Dr. Oliver, one of the greatest authorities on dangerous trades, took the same line, and said that on the whole it was not to the advantage of the workmen that this disease should be scheduled. With regard to the opinion of the hon. Member for Berwickshire that they ought to have scheduled poisoning by naphtha, on the ground that it was clearly an industrial disease, if the Committe had thought it was an industrial disease and that it incapacitated the worker from his work 978 they would have scheduled it, but they took a good deal of evidence and had come unanimously to the conclusion, after visiting a number of india-rubber factories where the naphtha poisoning was alleged to take place, that there was no industrial disease due to naphtha. The inference they had drawn from the medical evidence he had quoted was that the poisoning attributed to the naphtha was due to carbon bisulphide.
§ *MR. H. J. TENNANT
said that in cases of lead poisoning they had cases of chronic illness, and he himself had produced cases of almost exactly similar chronic illness from naphtha poisoning.
§ *MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
said they could not find it. They took evidence, and Dr. Oliver said in reference to the question of naphtha poisoning in india-rubber works that, while there might be some inconvenience caused to some of the workers, there was no incapacity lasting for the week that was necessary to qualify for compensation, duo to this cause. There was very much more evidence to the same effect. He had dealt with it at some length because it was an important point, and if there was a naphtha disease, they would be deservedly open to censure if it were not scheduled under the Act; and if it could be shown that the disease existed, he had no doubt that the right hon Gentleman would add it to the schedule. The other points which had been mentioned would be carefully noted by the Department. As to accidents due to electricity, regulations were now being made which had taken a long time to prepare. The hon. Member for Leicester had raised two points—one a large one and the other a small one. The small one had reference to the omission of mileage statistics from the factory inspector's report. These had been omitted because they could draw no conclusion whatever from them. If the figures were small, it might be stated that they showed that the districts were well organised. If they were large, they might be held to prove how hard was the work,of the inspectors, and the large amount of inspection they did. In 1905 the mileage was 944,000 miles; in 1906 the figures showed a reduction to 935,000 miles—a very small decrease. The number of visits paid—which was of much 979 more importance—in the course of the year showed an increase from 372,000 to 382,000. The rest of the hon. Member for Leicester's speech was devoted to the point that the inspector's assistants had not got sufficiently large functions, and were not given the work to which their qualifications entitled them. As far as he understood the hon. Member, he advocated that the two branches of the service should be amalgamated more or less, and that the same functions should be given to all classes of factory inspectors. But he would point out that the work of factory inspection was very various and required various qualifications. The inspectors had to investigate difficult questions in safeguarding complicated machinery; they had to administer elaborate and detailed codes of special safety rules; they had to conduct cases in Court and examine and cross- examine witnesses; they had to write full reports on the condition of the various industries with which they had to deal, and they had to deal with scientific questions of humidity, temperature, and so forth. There was also a great deal of much simpler work, such as the inspection of workshops and other matters. It was held by the Home Office that it was not desirable to employ men at comparatively high salaries and of a high standard of education to do the simpler work of inspecting workshops and other places, while a class of men could be obtained with economy to the State at a lower salary—men of lower educational qualifications, but who could do this simpler work. The latter, however, would not be so well qualified to take cases into Court or deal with the higher branches of inspection. There were 140,000 workshops which urgently needed inspection, and if they took the inspectors' assistants from that work someone else would have to replace them, and they would have to get the more highly paid and more highly educated inspectors to do the simpler work. It might be asked why did not a non-commissioned officer do the work of a commissioned officer, or a second division clerk in the Civil Service the work of a first division; clerk. The assistant inspectors were able men, but in the view of the Department the work of the higher grade was more; suited to the men who were members of that higher grade. He much regretted to hear the hon. Member deride the edu- 980 cational standard by scoffing at questions on Shakespeare and examinations of that kind, and he apparently held the view that the qualification for these inspectorships should be technical and not educational.
§ *MR. RAMSAY MACDONALD
My contention was that education should be technical and scientific, and not literary.
§ *MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
The hon. Member might say the same thing about Army examinations in subjects which have nothing to do with warfare.
§ MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
said the same ridicule might be cast on the examination papers for entrance into the Home Civil Service or the Indian Civil Service. The questions asked often had little direct relation to the work which the successful candidates would be required to perform. The examinations of Civil servants in various subjects was to ascertain that the candidates were men of a high educational standard. He should have thought that the hon. Member himself, who in his own life showed the immense importance he attached to wide culture, would be the last to lower the educational standard of any branch of the Civil Service. In nominating for examinations they endeavoured to obtain, as a rule, a combination of educational and technical qualifications. In conclusion, he would just deal with two or three other points which had been raised by hon. Members. The hon. Member for Sunderland had complained that all the persons who applied for posts as inspectors of mines were not allowed to attend the certificate examinations. He did not think there was a hall large enough to hold all the candidates for inspectorships. at one time. It would appear, he often thought, that the constituents of hon. Members were divided into two classes— those who wanted to be factory inspectors and those wanted to be mine inspectors. It would be ridiculous to assemble all the scores of hundreds of candidates for mine inspectorships when perhaps there were only one or two vacancies to fill. The rule was to nominate three or four of the 981 candidates with the highest qualifications, when a vacancy was to be filled. In his own view it was not desirable to have merely qualifying examinations, and there ought to be competitive examinations for these posts. The question had also been raised as to the form of contract for clothing. He would take care that it was carefully looked into to see if it was possible in any way to improve it. The hon. Member for Marylebone had raised the question as to the charges imposed by the Home Office on omnibuses and hackney cabs. He would be only too glad to reduce, even to abolish, many of those charges, but it was purely a question of finance and of ways and means. When the Select Committee not long ago reported on the subject they recommended the abolition of the charge of £2, his right hon. friend carefully considered the question, but the condition of the Police Fund was such that it was already trembling on the verge of a deficit. It was purely a matter of balancing accounts, and the Police Fund could not afford to lose the amount which now went to the public expenses of the police in respect of cabs and omnibuses. He was exceedingly grateful to the Committee for their appreciation of the work done by the Department during the last twelve months, and he could assure the Committee that their activity in relation to the very important matters entrusted to their charge would continue.
§ MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS (Kent, St. Augustine's)
said he wished to express his hearty appreciation of the action of His Majesty in regard to the granting of medals for life-saving in mines. He thought it only right that some reward should be given to encourage that kind of gallantry. He noticed that the Home Secretary had stated that he intended shortly to introduce a measure dealing with the eight-hours question. Of course, he could not deal with that subject now, but he took it that the right hon. Gentleman was only going to introduce it this session in order that it might be proceeded with at a later date. With regard to the Report, he was sure they all regretted to see an increase in the number of accidents. He did not know whether the Home Secretary had formed any opinion as to whether that was due to the increased tendency to adopt mechanical power or to the fact that accidents were more 982 rapidly and regularly reported than in the past. It was quite possible that the Workmen's Compensation Act had something to do with the result. He regretted the increase, and felt certain that the Home Office would do all they could to render accidents as few as possible in the future. He noticed from the Factory Report that there had also been an increase in the number of industrial diseases. He should not have mentioned the subject but for the remarks of the hon. Member for Berwickshire, who seemed to think that the pains and penalties which would accrue in consequence of the Compensation Act would make the employers more careful. He had observed in other occupations that if people knew they were insured they wore not always so careful as they otherwise would be. [Cries of "No."] He desired like other hon. Members that there should be as few accidents as possible, and that every precaution should be taken by the Home Office to reduce the number. He would also like to know when the Home Office expected to receive the report of the Commission on the Metropolitan Police. That Commission had been sitting a very long time, and such a splendid body of men ought not to be kept in suspense. The right hon. Gentleman had paid a thoroughly well-deserved compliment to the able and most efficient and hard-working officials of the Department over which he presided. He also wished to offer his congratulations, because he was perfectly certain that no Department last year had harder work to perform than the Home Office. The number of inquiries taking place there, and the amount of legislation undertaken by that office, had thrown a great amount of work upon the officials, and he congratulated them upon the way they had got through the work and the excellence of the work they had done. He trusted that this year they would not have an autumn session, because, quite apart from the fatigue and inconvenience to hon. Members, his sympathies were with those officials in the Government Departments who would have an extra amount of work thrown upon them in addition to the ordinary administration of their office. It was quite impossible for a Minister properly to administer his Department if he had to be in the House of Commons for about ten months in the 983 year. With regard to the Berne Conference, the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean said that he had not dealt with that subject because it had been fully dealt with in the House of Lords. The debate in the other Chamber was, however, an exceedingly short one, because their Lordships were waiting to take up a bigger subject. One of the subjects considered at that Conference was the night work of women. The right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean thought that when the first Conference took place the Home Office were very much to blame for not giving a freer hand to their representatives. The Under-Secretary found at the second Conference that upon this subject it was desirable they should move cautiously. He should like to know whether any arrangement was come to at the second Conference with regard to the prohibition of white phosphorus and whether Japan had come into the Conference or not. They must have unanimity in the matter or they would have to leave it alone. He had always found that if they prohibited the use of white phosphorus in this country, they would inflict a great hardship upon manufacturers unless at the same time they prohibited its importation from abroad. He thought they were very wise not to proceed too rapidly in the matter. In the past they had succeeded in this country in dealing with this question by strict regulations as to ventilation, cleanliness, and the separation of the dangerous processes, and by an examination from time to time of the workers, and in that way they had practically succeeded in stamping out the disease. He thought that by carefully carrying out good regulations they would be able to secure the end which they all desired without prohibiting the use of white phosphorus. With regard to the night labour of women he was glad to notice that some arrangement had been arrived at. In reference to the question of laundries he would like to know whether the convent laundries were accepting voluntary inspection. He did not for a moment think that voluntary inspection was equal to compulsory inspection, but he was anxious to see some better system adopted. He took a great interest in this matter because when he was at the Home Office they were very anxious to 984 try the voluntary system of inspection pending fresh legislation, and he should like to know whether those religious and conventual houses where laundry work was carried on had submitted to any inspection and whether they were still willing to receive that inspection voluntarily. With regard to the administration of the Aliens Act he noticed that the statistics were furnished in an entirely different form, and were very much clearer. They could not, however, compare them with former years because they were drawn up on different lines from those issued by the Board of Trade in the old days. MR. Haldane-Porter's first Report showed that very great care had been taken in the compilation of these statistics, and he thought this would be the first of many Reports which would justify the appointment of so able an official. By the alteration which had been made in the number they had admitted many undesirables. He wished to refer to the question of the expulsion of aliens under Section 3, which dealt with persons convicted of offences for which a man was liable to be sentenced to imprisonment, without the option of a fine. No less than 418 recommendations were received by the Home Office, and some of those were still undergoing terms of imprisonment. Over 310 cases came up for the Home Secretary's decision, and expulsion orders in those cases had been issued. He was glad to notice that the operation of the Act was having some effect in reducing the alien prison population, and he hoped the Returns would show that in future years they would have a very small number of criminal aliens in the home prisons. The figures were very encouraging this year, but he had hopes that they would see a still further reduction in future years. There was one other question he would like to put to the Home Secretary, which, owing to lack of time the other night when the Home Office Vote was discussed, he was unable to ask. His question related to the Kynoch case. He wished to know in the first place what was the position of the Home Office, the War Office, and the Admiralty in the matter, and, in the second place, whether the 3.000 tons of cordite supplied by Messrs. Kynoch to the Army and Navy—
And, it being a quarter-past Eight of the clock, and there being Private 985 Business set down by direction of the Chairman of Ways and Means under Standing Order No. 8, further Proceed-was postponed without Question put.