§ As amended (in the Standing Committee), further considered.
§ *MR. LUPTON (Lincolnshire, Sleaford) moved to amend Clause 1 (Limit of hours of work below ground in coal mines) by inserting the words "in his place of work," with a view to further Amendments to limit the eight hours to time in the miners' actual working place. This Amendment was necessary not only in the interests of fairness between one man in a mine and another man in the same mine, but also in the interests of fairness between different mines. Some hon. Members in the House were, no doubt, aware that a coal mine was not simply 780 a little hole bike a coal cellar, but was a large place having railways many miles in extent, perhaps thirty or forty miles of underground railways branching in various directions from the bottom of the shaft. In some of the mines it might take an hour to get from the pit bottom to the working place, and in others it might take not more than five or six minutes. Under the Bill as it now stood, a miner who got to his working place in five minutes had very nearly eight hours work per day for the first three years, and after that he would have seven and a half hours work, but the miner who had to go something like two miles away from the pit bottom would not have more than six hours in his working place, and perhaps only five and a half hours. There would be a great disparity therefore in the earning power of the man who was working near the pit bottom, as compared with the earning power of the man working away from the pit bottom, and where the wages of the men were, say, 12s. a day it might make a difference of 3s. or 4s. a day in the earnings of the different workmen. He was aware that in some parts of the United Kingdom it was the practice of the men to change from one part of the mine to another at the end of a month or two months, so as to give each man a fair chance of getting a good working place, because some working places were better than others. That had not been carried on, however, in all parts, nor indeed in the majority of places. In the majority of places in the United Kingdom, according to the present practice of the working men, the man who had got a place kept it until it was finished. It might be for years that the same men were in a place. Those men near the shaft bottom had thus a great advantage. But if the time allotted under the Bill were the time in the working place, then each man would have the same time in the working place. It did not matter whether the Bill specified six or eight hours in the working place. He was merely now on the question of making fair time between the different men in different parts of the pit. It ought to be fair all round. If it was not fair all round he was afraid there would be a great deal of heart burning and disturbance. He noticed 781 when he mentioned 12s. that some hon. Members seemed to sneer as though that were excessive, but he had got out some figures this year in which he found that the earnings of miners in some cases were equal to 30s. a day in one shift. There were miners, of course, some who only earned 8s. a day, but he thought the majority of good men (coal getters) could earn 12s. He did not say rapscallions did that, but there were not many rapscallions in mines. He wanted to be fair to all the men working in the same pit, and he also wanted to be fair as between one pit and another. The effect of the Bill as it at present stood would be to cause the most undue favouritism. The man who had a new colliery fitted up with all the recent appliances in the way of winding machinery and so on could get his men to their places of work in a few minutes from leaving the bank. There were a number of collieries now started where the men would be got to their places of work in about ten minutes. These men would have a good time in which to do a fair day's work, but in the old collieries that would not be the case. The men there would only have six hours in their places of work. He did not say they would have six hours work, because something had to be taken off for refreshments and rest. The effect of the Bill if passed in its present form would be to ruin some collieries and to make the fortunes of others. As soon as the Bill was passed the men would all tend to crowd to the new collieries where they could get to their places of work immediately, and so earn better wages. The managers of those new pits would have men waiting to come on, and they would be able to turn out more coal than ever before. Their cost, too, would be less than before, because they would be able to send out more coal, and they would make enormous fortunes, while at the same time in the old collieries where the men had to march two miles, and even three miles, and where they could not travel by train, things would be very bad. In the old collieries it did not pay to make the necessary improvements. In order to convey men in a train underground, they had got to lay a first-class, railway with every possible 782 care before they dared to run the men in a train at seven, eight or ten miles an hour, although he knew that that would be rather an unusually high speed for underground travelling. For that purpose the road must be first-class, but in a great many of these old mines it would not pay to make an excellent and well-engineered road like that, and, therefore, the men had to walk a long way to their work. The men would, so far as they could, leave those old pits. A man who would only be in his working place for six hours a day, and perhaps only for five hours work a day, would be sure to leave if he could in order to try and get a place at a colliery where he could be for seven and a half hours in his working place The Bill would undoubtedly ruin many scores of collieries. It would mean their closing, and the villages near by would be ruined, the old people would go on the poor rate, and the young people would migrate to the new collieries. Hon. Members smiled and cheered, but they did not care twopence halfpenny about it, but he was telling them the facts of the case which he knew would happen. There would be scores of collieries ruined by the unjust provisions of the Bill. Hon. Gentlemen must remember that he was not now on the question of hours. He was on the question of making it fair between one colliery and another, and if they were to have fairness the time ought to be fixed not from the pit top and back to the pit top, but in the working places, and then it did not matter whether the working place was far from or near to the pit bottom. When the question came up before the Committee the Secretary of State referred to this point, and with his great knowledge of underground mines assured him that what he proposed to do was absolutely impossible. Now he had been a colliery manager himself, and he had had to grope about in a mine, and, therefore, he thought he knew something about the practical working of a mine. He was prepared to pledge his honour as a mining engineer and a colliery manager that it was possible to time with sufficient accuracy how long a man was actually in his working place. They travelled along the main road 783 of a mine for a mile, and then they came to a junction where the roads branched out in all directions, and that would be called the station. They frequently had stations where lamps were examined or re-lighted, or where communications could be made with the officials and others who were a long way from the pit bottom. There was not the slightest reason why every man should not be reported at that station as he passed it in going to his place of work. It did not matter what kind of work he was engaged in, he must pass the station if he worked in a remote part of the pit. With regard to those who worked near the pit bottom, of course the nearest station would be the pit bottom. At the station he assumed there would be a clock or a watch kept. It had been suggested that miners did not know anything about clocks or watches, and that only the man on the pit top knew the time of the day. His experience was that miners were not men of that sort; on the contrary, they were exceedingly clever men, and to say that they would not be able to tell when they passed their station what was the time was doing them a great injustice. It would be known in the mine to a minute how long a man should be going to his working place. Supposing, for example, it took ten minutes from the station. That would mean ten minutes to his place of work, and ten minutes back again, and they must add, therefore, twenty minutes to the time he was allowed after leaving the station. In the case of an eight hours day he would be allowed, in the instance he had mentioned, eight hours and twenty minutes from the station. If hon. Members were afraid that this proposal would cause a man to be too long in his working place, by all means alter the hours. All he wanted was that the regulations should work equally in all collieries. He was sure that before three years had passed some of the colliery owners would be ruined under this Bill, whilst others would make enormous fortunes. He thought he had now stated the case quite sufficiently, and he saw no difficulty whatever in carrying this Amendment into effect. He felt quite sure that the owners of collieries and managers would be found 784 quite willing to work this scheme. In any case whether they accepted the Amendment or not they would have to have extra officials to see that the colliers were not more than the Parliamentary time in their working place. If hon. Members had read the Bill carefully they would find that it said that a man should not be allowed to be below ground for more than a certain time. How were they going to get the man who worked two miles away from the pit bottom there and back again in the fixed time? They would have to have someone going round to see that those men did come out at the proper time. He should have an official ordering the men out at the time which he knew he must leave his working place, in order that at his ordinary pace he might get at the pit bottom, and reach the pit top at the proper time. Even all the difficulties that were anticipated from giving effect to his Amendment would have to be met for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of the Bill. There would be all the expense and difficulty of clearing the men out of their working place and driving them away like sheep. For the reasons he had stated, he did not think there would be any difficulty in carrying out the Amendment. In order to secure the equal working of this clause he hoped the House would adopt his Amendment.
§ MR. BECK (Cambridgeshire, Wisbech)
said he should not attempt to address the House at any length after the comprehensive and well-reasoned speech in which his hon. friend had moved the Amendment. As hon. Members were aware, they had this question discussed upstairs at great length. He thought those who sat on that Committee would agree that not a single reasoned argument was brought forward against the Amendment. Not a single argument was brought forward against the contentions they made in the Committee on that point. His hon. friend the Member for Sleaford did not touch upon one point of hardship in the present method of timing under the Bill—he referred to the case of the older men. As far as he knew, judging from the Bill, it would be necessary for the men going to their place of work to indulge 785 in a sort of foot race in order to earn as much money as they possibly could in the eight hours allowed to them. It had been pointed out that in that foot race the older men would be much handicapped; they would be forced to travel faster than their usual pace, or they would be fined for their age, because they would arrive at their place of work late, and consequently, they would be able to earn less money. It was said in the Committee upstairs that travelling underground was a form of hard work and ought to be counted in the eight hours, but although travelling underground was hard work unfortunately it was not paid for, and he contended that it was a great hardship, not only on the older miners, but on the men working the older pits that this hard and fast rule should be laid down of eight hours from bank to bank. They heard yesterday a great deal about the subject of safety. It was, unfortunately, quite true that this hurrying to work had led to many avoidable accidents. For these reasons he begged to second the Amendment, and if his hon. friend pressed the matter to a division he should have great pleasure in supporting him.
In page 1, line 6, after the word 'mine,' to insert the words 'in his place of work.'"—(Mr. Lupton.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. GLADSTONE,) Leeds, W.
As my hon. friend has already stated, this question was fully discussed in Committee, and this Amendment was rejected by a majority of thirty-six. The hon. Member for Windsor voted against this Amendment which every practical man knows to be hopelessly impossible from the point of view of practice. The hon. Member for Sleaford has pictured all kinds of evils which will follow if his Amendment is not carried, but he omitted to tell the House that under the present system a good many inequalities occur in all mines. As a matter of fact, it would be absolutely impossible to work the Bill with this Amendment. We should 786 have to have a time-keeper in every working place, and how are you to say when a man arrives at a working place and what time he leaves? Whatever may be said against this Bill, one thing is certain—and this is admitted by the members of the Coalowners' Association, mining engineers and managers—that whether right or wrong in regard to this proposal the machinery provided for carrying it out is the only possible machinery that can be adopted, and it would be ruined if this Amendment were carried.
§ MR. SAMUEL ROBERTS (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
said he had much pleasure in supporting the Amendment. The hon. Member for Sleaford was an expert in these matters. [Cries of "Oh, oh."] The hon. Member was an expert and knew more about this matter than any other man in the House, and he supported his Amendment for the reasons he had stated. As the hon. Member knew, mines differed considerably. In the case of a new mine where a man had perhaps to walk only a few hundred yards from the pit bottom, he would get to his work almost immediately. In another case a man might have to walk two or three miles before he got to his place of work, and if he happened to be an old man it was very hard upon him to include that period in the working time he was allowed under the Bill. Not only did mines vary one from another, but they varied even in the same pit. The hon. Member who seconded the Amendment referred to the matter of safety. A man who had had to hurry a long distance underground before he got to his work could not be in the same condition to do his work as a man who had had to go a short distance. As hon. Members were aware, most of the fatal accidents in mines occurred through falls of the roof which could be prevented by proper timbering. If a man was hurried in his work, and had not sufficient time to put up the necessary props to keep the roof up, that was a distinct danger which would involve the mine, and that was what would happen if a man had not sufficient time to get to his work and set his timber properly. The Government said that there might be some difficulty in keeping 787 a record which would enable this proposal to be put into operation. There might be some difficulty, but that was not their fault. This was a Government Bill, and the Government must provide the remedy. This was a hardship between man and man and between mine and mine, and some remedy for it ought to be found.
§ * MR. RIDSDALE (Brighton)
said he noticed that the Home Secretary had just said that no serious argument had been advanced by the hon. Member who moved or the hon. Member who seconded the Amendment. He was in some doubt as to what constituted a serious argument in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman. He did not know whether he implied that his two hon. friends were not serious in regard to this Amendment.
§ * MR. RIDSDALE
Did the right hon. Gentleman not consider it a serious argument that this Bill as its clauses were drafted would lead to injustice between man and man and mine and mine? Was it not a serious argument when his hon. friend behind him said that if they did not make the Bill read so that the time must be that which a man was at work they would largely increase the risk of accidents? Was not that a serious argument? He thought it was one of the most serious arguments that could be put forward. When he first considered this Amendment he did not think it was quite workable, and he thought that it must be necessary to count the time that the man spent down the mine. He did not think, however, that even the most serious advocates of the Bill considered that it was difficult to get a man down the mine to his work. He had listened on the Second Reading to the statement that the miners had to work in a position which seriously strained their muscles, and which was most uncomfortable. A very strong case could be put forward on that line, but that would be met by the Amendment. He really could not think that the House would join in a limitation of time that a man was to be allowed to move about underground.
§ MR. JOSEPH WALTON (Yorkshire, W.R., Barnsley)
asked his hon. friend how he would like to travel a couple of miles underground?
§ * MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is not in order in asking a question of that kind in the middle of a speech.
§ * MR. RIDSDALE
said he should not have risen at all if the Home Secretary had not said that he did not see any serious argument in favour of this Amendment.
§ LORD R. CECIL (Marylebone, E.)
said that he was a great admirer, a converted admirer, of the system of Grand Committee, but it seemed to him that it led to very serious difficulty. The Minister in charge of a Bill became so familiar with all the arguments for and against everything connected with the Bill that when the Bill came down to the House he did not think it worth while to explain matters or to try to convince the House. It might well be that the Amendment of the hon. Member for Sleaford was a quite impossible Amendment which the House could not adopt. But the discussion, so far as it had proceeded in the House of Commons, did not in the least convince him that that was the case. What did it all come to? Certain arguments of great weight had been put forward by the mover and seconder of the Amendment. The Home Secretary had got up and said that the matter had been threshed out in Grand Committee. That was not a matter which very much concerned him, as a Member of the House of Commons. He desired to make up his own mind apart from what had taken place in Grand Committee. Then it was said that precisely the same difficulties as those which had been pointed out must exist in mines where an eight-hour system now existed, but surely there was a great difference between an eight-hour system as a matter of freedom and an eight-hour system imposed by law. There was much greater power for making arrangements to meet a hard case under a voluntary system. It was said that the Amendment was impracticable, and that every person who knew anything 789 about it would say that it was impracticable. That was an argument which he profoundly distrusted, for unless anybody could explain to him why it was impracticable, he was not content to take a statement of that kind. If it was impracticable it ought to be perfectly easy for experts to explain why it was impracticable. He could not see why the hon. Member's suggestion, which he said was the fruit of great personal experience, could not be carried out. He did not see why they could not make an allowance for the time a man took in getting to and from his working place, or why they should not assume a time allowance quite easily, which would be perfectly fair. Unless some modification of the Bill was made in that direcion it was clear that they would greatly handicap the older workers. This was the one point on which he had never been able to understand the attitude of hon. Gentlemen, below the gangway. In so much of their legislation they seem to ignore the older people. That was the case with regard to the Workmen's Compensation Act. Everybody knew what a bitter misfortune that Act had been to some, of the older workers, and there would be a similar result from the passing of the present legislation. It appeared to him that hon. Members below the gangway naturally considered their own trade union supporters, who were necessarily mainly men in the prime of life and that they must be naturally biassed in favour of that type of worker. It was for the House and for those who were impartial, who had no interest either as coal masters or coal miners, to try and see that the balance was kept between the most able people and the least able type of worker. It was clear that unless some change was made in the Bill the older workers would be handicapped. That was a very good reason for making a change.
§ SIR F. CAWLEY (Lancashire, Prestwich)
said he was a supporter of the Bill, but he should like a better explanation why the Amendment could not be accepted. The proposal in the Amendment for which the hon. Member for Sleaford had made out such an excellent case was one about which they ought to have a satis factory explanation from the Home 790 Secretary. That explanation should be one which would convince any intelligent person that the right hon. Gentleman was right. He agreed with the noble Lord that if the provisions of the Bill were going to ruin the older workers it was not so good a Bill as he thought it was. He thought the House ought to have some better explanation than had yet been given.
§ MR. HICKS BEACH (Gloucestershire, Tewkesbury)
said that some further explanation was required from the Government why this Amendment could not be accepted. They had had the expert opinion of the hon. Member for Sleaford, who with a life-long experience as a colliery manager had stated that the Amendment was quite practicable. The Home Secretary had told them that the Amendment was impracticable, but neither upstairs in Committee nor to-day in the House had he given them any reason to convince them that he was right. He thought the discussion had made it clear to the House that the Bill, as the hon. Member who had just sat down had said, was an even worse Bill than they thought it was on the Second Reading. It was clear that unless an Amendment of the kind proposed was passed the Bill would have a very serious effect, not only on the old collier but on the old collieries. In the old collieries the coal was a long way from the pit shaft and they would therefore be severely handicapped. He thought the opinion of the House and of the country was that proper attention ought to be paid to the old collieries as well as the new, and if the Bill would have a very serious effect on the old collieries and the old colliers the Government ought to do something.
§ THE UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL,) Yorkshire, Cleveland
May I say a few words on this point? It will not take more than a few moments to explain it. If you say by an Act of Parliament that a man is not to be in his working-place for more than eight hours you must necessarily mark the time he goes into his workplace, and the time he remains there, otherwise it is impossible to carry out the Act. Unless indeed you provide 791 that each man should go down at a different time from the top. One shall go down at 6 o'clock who has a longer distance to go, and one shall go down at 6.30 who has a shorter distance to go. All that is utterly impracticable. It is administratively impossible. Almost every member of the Committee who had experience of coal mines, no matter whether he approved of the principle of the Bill or riot, voted in Committee upstairs against this Amendment. At the present time the hours of going down are fixed and well understood, and so also are the hours of coming up; and none of these difficulties suggested by the hon. Members occur.
§ MR. STUART WORTLEY (Sheffield, Hallam)
said that the humourous situation was that the right hon. Gentleman was evidently aware that he was heaping condemnation after condemnation upon his own Bill. It was evident that they could not work the Bill without some impractical provision noting the time when the men went down into the pit and when they came up. That showed that the whole Bill was unworkable. The right hon. Gentleman had bound himself to the opinion that it was not unworkable; but if the Amendment was incompatible with one of the objects of the Bill, so much the worse for the Bill.
§ * SIR CHARLES W. DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
said he wished to ask whether the hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment was in a position to name any proprietors or managers of mines in the West of England who were in favour of the Amendment, and whether he spoke with the authority of proprietors or managers of any mines in the West or England.
§ * SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
But the hon. Member is not in a position to say that any proprietor or manager of a colliery in that part of the country desires this Amendment?
§ * SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
said that, as he understood it, nobody desired this particular Amendment. With regard to its impracticability, the House did not seem to remember that a great many of the men were employed all over the mine, and not in one particular place in the mine.
§ SIR F. BANBURY (City of London)
said the right hon. Baronet had asked whether any proprietor or manager of any coal mine in the West of England was in favour of this particular Amendment, and had said that the hon. Member for Tewkesbury was not in a position to give the names of such proprietor or manager, and that, therefore, the Amendment ought not to be discussed. They were not there to consider the interests of any particular mine-owner or manager. That was an error into which many hon. Gentlemen fell. The object of the House of Commons was to legislate in the interest, not of one class or another, but of the public as a whole. He was a member of the Grand Committee, and he thought he attended its meetings regularly. One thing that impressed itself on his mind during his attendance at the Committee was that the work in the mines varied tremendously in different parts of the country. In some collieries it took a man at least an hour to walk from the bottom of the shaft to the working face. In the newer class of mines it took him only a quarter of an hour or even less. Unless something of the sort proposed by the Amendment were done, in certain collieries one man would take two hours going to and from his work, and in another colliery he would take only half an hour. In certain collieries, therefore, the workman would be handicapped much to his own detriment, and in other collieries he would have an advantage over those employed under the old arrangement. That should not be allowed. Again, there was the question of the older men. He challenged any practical Member in the House to get up and say that unless something of the sort suggested by the Amendment were allowed, the older men would not get their full share of the work, and that they would run a risk of accident which might be avoided if such an Amendment were carried. He 793 came to the point as to whether the suggestion in the Amendment was practicable or not. No doubt there were difficulties in the way. His hon. friend was quite right when he said that the Government had a fear in their own heads of showing the absolute impracticability of their own measure. He admitted that while the Amendment would be difficult to work, yet he thought it would not be impossible. He understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that it would be wrong to impose a penalty on a mine-owner for allowing a man to work more than eight hours a day and at the same time to take a note of the time he was in the mine. But why should he not relieve the mine-owner from the penalty altogether and leave the law in this position, that the man who contravened the law should be punished? He thought if that were done they could trust the trade unions to see that the miners did not contravene the law. He did not see why a regulation of that sort should not be put into the Bill. He was sure of this, that the people of the country would agree that without some such provision it would be impossible to work the Bill if it became an Act.
§ MR. WILLIAM ABRAHAM (Glamorganshire, Rhondda)
said he did not know what object hon. Members had in view in making those remarks. It was obvious to a practical man that most of the remarks were made to make an eight-hours day simply a name and not a fact. He was willing to believe that Members were talking as they were because they did not know the subject. He was generous enough to do that.
§ MR. WILLIAM ABRAHAM
asked hon. Gentlemen who was most likely to do his work well and in the least time—the man of forty years experience or the man with forty days experience? The older man was more likely to take care of his life, as against the inexperience of a young man. One would have been thankful
§ after the passing of the Workmen's Compensation Act if the older men had not been thrown over in some collieries. There were not in some colleries one-tenth the number of older men there used to be. They who had been trained to work with old men knew that the old men were more able to take care of themselves and did their work better than young men.
§ * MR. PARKES (Birmingham, Central)
said he would very much like to be able to see the feasibility of the Amendment. If something of the kind could be introduced into the mines of the country it would be a very desirable thing; but there was not a mining representative or a practical miner who would say the Amendment was possible. This was a matter not affecting the principle of the Bill but of tinkering a detail, and of seeing whether the proposal was practised or not. Every manager would say that the whole thing was absolutely impossible. No real reason for it had been given. What was the difference in principle between getting two or three miles from the shaft to the working place under the old system and to a shorter distance under the new system? None whatever. He would like to know who would be responsible for reporting the time occupied by a particular man in getting to his work in a particular part of the pit. Would it be the inspector? Or would it be the man himself? If the inspector, how many inspectors would be required? If the man himself, would the colliery proprietor or manager be prepared to take the word of the man as to what time he got to a particular part of the mine? Both conditions were absolutely impossible so far as his experience went, and he had never heard any practical mine manager put forward the idea of the Amendment as a practical argument.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 49; Noes, 225. (Division List No. 441.)797
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hn. Sir Alex, F.||Banner, John S. Harmood-||Beckett, Hon. Gervase|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.||Bowles, G. Stewart|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks||Bridgeman, W. Clive|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert.|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Hill, Sir Clement||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Collings, Rt. Hn. J. (Birmingh'm||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)||Starkey, John R.|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Cox, Harold||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Valentia, Viscount|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||M'Arthur, Charles||Watt, A. Henry|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Whitbread, Howard|
|Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred Dixon||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Morpeth, Viscount||Wortloy, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Faber, George Denison (York)||Morrison-Bell, Captain|
|Fell, Arthur||Renwick, George||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Lupton and Mr. Beck.|
|Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Gooch, Henry Cubitt (Peckham)||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Findlay, Alexander||Lehmann, R. C.|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Flynn, James Christopher||Lever, W. H. (Cheshire, Wirral)|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Gill, A. H'||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Ambrose, Robert||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David|
|Balcarres, Lord||Glen-Coats, Sir T. (Renfrew, W.||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Glendinning, R. G.||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Barker, Sir John||Glover, Thomas||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)|
|Barlow, Sir John E. (Somerset)||Gooch, George Peabody (Bath)||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs.|
|Barnes, G. N.||Hall, Frederick||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift|
|Beale, W. P.||Halpin, J.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.|
|Bennett, E. N.||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)|
|Boland, John||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||M'Callum, John M.|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r)||M'Crae, Sir George|
|Brace, William||Hart-Davies, T.||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)|
|Brigg, John||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.||Maddison, Frederick|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Harwood, George||Mallet, Charles E.|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Markham, Arthur Basil|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Hayden, John Patrick||Marnham, F. J.|
|Carr-Gomm, H. V.||Hazel, Dr. A. E.||Massie, J.|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Hodges, A. Paget||Masterman, C. F. G.|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Median, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)|
|Cleland, J. W.||Henry, Charles S.||Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.|
|Clough, William||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Menzies, Walter|
|Clynes, J. R.||Higham, John Sharp||Middlebrook, William|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Hodge, John||Murphy, John (Kerry, East)|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Hogan, Michael||Murray, Capt. Hn. A. C. (Kincard.|
|Compton-Rickett, Sir J.||Holland, Sir William Henry||Murray, James (Aberdeen, E.)|
|Cooper, G. J.||Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N.||Myer, Horatio|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Hudson, Walter||Nannetti, Sir Henry|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Hutton, Alfred Eddison||Norman, Sir Henry|
|Crean, Kugene||Idris, T. H. W.||Norton, Capt, Cecil William|
|Crossley, William J.||Illingworth, Percy H.||Nussey, Thomas Willans|
|Curran, Peter Francis||Jacoby, Sir James Alfred||Nuttall, Harry|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Jenkins, J.||O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary, Mid|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Delany, William||Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||O'Grady, J.|
|Dillon, John||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||O'Malley, William|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Jowett, F. W.||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Duckworth, Sir James||Joyce, Michael||Partington, Oswald|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Kearley, Sir Hudson E.||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Duncan, J. H. (York, Otley)||Kekewich, Sir George||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Kilbride, Denis||Philipps, Col. Ivor (S'thampton)|
|Ellis, Rt. Hon. John Edward||Kincaid-Smith, Captain||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Erskine, David C.||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Essex, R. W.||Laidlaw, Robert||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Evans, Sir Samuel T.||Lambert, George||Price, C. E. (Eidnb'gh, Central|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Lamont, Norman||Radford, G. H.|
|Fenwick, Charles||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)|
|Ferens, T. R.||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Ffrench, Peter||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Aceringtop||Richards, Thomas (W. Monm'th|
|Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n||Soares, Ernest J.||Warner, Thomas, Courtenay T.|
|Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)||Wason, Rt. Hn. R. (Clackmannan|
|Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Strachey, Sir Edward||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Robinson, S.||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Summerbell, T.||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Sutherland, J. E.||White, J. Dundas (Dumbart'nsh.|
|Rogers, F. E. Newman||Taylor, John W. (Durham)||White, Sir Luke (York, E. R.,|
|Rowlands, J.||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Russell, Rt. Hon. T. W.||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Rutherford, John (Lancashire)||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr)||Whittaker, Rt. Hn. Sir Thomas P.|
|Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Lanark)||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Samuel, Rt. Hn. H. L. (Cleveland)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)||Tomkinson, James||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Sears, J. E.||Toulmin, George||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Seddon, J.||Verney, F. W.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Seely, Colonel||Vivian, Henry||Winfrey, R.|
|Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick B.)||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Sheehy, David||Walsh, Stephen|
|Silcock, Thomas Ball||Walton, Joseph||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Joseph Pease and Master|
|Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Sloan, Thomas Henry||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton||of Elibank.|
|Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie||Wardle, George J.|
|Snowden, P.||Waring, Walter|
§ *MR. LUPTON moved an Amendment that the hours of work should be ex elusive of "any periods of rest or refreshment duly authorised by the manager, not exceeding forty minutes in all." He said the Amendment received great attention in the Committee upstairs, and he could not help thinking that if the right hon. Gentleman would give the matter his kind consideration he would give great satisfaction, not only in the House, but throughout the country. A good deal had been said about the legislation in other countries, but in those countries where they had an Eight Hours Bill they also had the provision which he proposed, viz., that the time spent in rest or refreshment should not be included within the time mentioned in the Bill. It could not be said against the Amendment that the time allowed in the mine was too long, because they had not yet reached the time to be fixed, and all he said was that whatever time was fixed should exclude the time for rest and refreshment. Something had been said about humanity, and he brought this forward in the cause of humanity. Everybody knew it was not wise for a man to work for many hours without rest or refreshment. If they wanted to live to a good old age they should take a good meal in the middle of the day and after that a little rest. If they went to Staffordshire the miners in the mines there had been in the habit of having a right good dinner in the middle of the day, and a rest 798 afterwards and some discussion. In all the mines a man got refreshment during his shift. A man who left his home at half-past four o'clock in the morning needed some refreshment, and in many cases the miners adopted the rule prevailing in France and took two breakfasts with them, a little one and a big one, A man took with him sufficient refreshment in order that he might have a little snack as soon as he got to his place of work, and then three or four hours afterwards he had the bigger meal which he required, as these men worked very hard. It was very hard work indeed for a man who was getting coal. This proposal would enable the men to get proper refreshment. The miners now were strong, lusty men, but they would not be able to do their work unless they were properly fed. The whole of the men at work, including the hauliers, ought to get some refreshment, and also the animals engaged—the ponies and others ought to be fed at proper intervals. What he suggested was that the period of rest and refreshment should not be counted in the day's work, which was very short. The time the hewer was in his working place would average seven hours, and he was giving him good value in saying that very likely it would be less—very likely it would be six and three-quarter hours, because a man had to be there ten minutes sooner to avoid little accidents and delays in getting to the pit bottom. He was putting it at more than it averaged. When a man got to 799 his working place he allowed himself a Test, and in the six hours odd the man would want at least half an hour's rest, and he thought that he ought to have an opportunity of taking it for at least half an hour. If the right hon. Gentleman would not give him forty minutes he would take half an hour, and if he would not give him half an hour he would take twenty minutes. At all events, he trusted the Government would be able to foreshadow some Amendment. The time would be set by the manager and fixed for all men equally. It would be an extension of the time for a particular purpose, and it would be the business of those who had to carry the arrangement out to see that rest and refreshment were had during that period. He dared say the right hon. Gentleman in his reply would point out that nobody who knew anything about the mines could advocate such an Amendment as this, and that anybody who did so knew nothing whatever about the matter. When he heard that sort of argument he knew it was the best they had to offer; it reminded him of the old story of the instruction on a barrister's brief, "No case, abuse the plaintiff's attorney." If the right hon. Gentleman had any sound argument to bring against his proposal, he would advance it, and therefore he would sit down in order that the right hon. Gentleman might let them hear it.
In page 1, line 6, after the word 'work,' to insert the words 'excluding any periods of rest or refreshment, duly authorised by the manager, not exceeding forty minutes in all.'"—(Mr. Lupton.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. GLADSTONE
I quite agree that there would be sound argument for this Amendment if it was found necessary or desirable to fix a particular hour for letting the men have this rest and refreshment, but I submit that this is a question for the men themselves.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
But I understand the argument is that it is desirable to make the miners strong and keep them strong, and I therefore assume that the hon. Member is moving this entirely in the interests of the men.
§ MR. LUPTON
No, in the interests of the nation. In the interest of the mine-owners and of the miners whom they employ, and of the nation for whom they work.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
Then the argument of the hon. Member for Sleaford is hardly a correct argument, because he said it was necessary to make and keep the men strong and healthy, and if that was the reason for this Amendment it is the men themselves who ought to be consulted. There is one construction of this Amendment, which is that it is moved in order to extend the working hours below ground under the Bill. But, if that is the intention, I say that that is a matter to be considered on its merits as to what the time underground should be. You cannot seek to extend the working hours by means of an Amendment of this sort unless the Amendment depends upon the consideration that it is in the interests of the men. If that is so, we clearly see that the whole argument in favour of it must be the welfare of the men. What happens now? If hon. Members look at page 27 of the Report they will see that the average meal-times all over the country in the various mining districts vary from thirty-one minutes to as much as fifty-five minutes in Lancashire and Cheshire. This is arranged now. I do not know, and I have not been informed, that it is possible to fix a definite time for meals in the mines. So far as I know, but I only speak with diffidence, because the hon. Member contradicts me so sharply—
§ MR. GLADSTONE
No apology is needed from my hon. friend, but I say it would be impossible to fix an hour. As a matter of fact, we have the meal-times arranged now between the employers and the employees at such times as those personally concerned, namely, the 801 men, require according to the particular nature of their work. There are times when the hewers at the face are slick because they want to fire a shot or for some other reason, and they use those opportunities for taking their meals. I submit it would be impossible and certainly undesirable to provide a definite meal-time, having regard to the fact that a necessary meal-time is already provided to meet the convenience of the men personally concerned, and I therefore ask the House to reject this Amendment.
§ VISCOUNT CASTLEREAGH (Maidstone)
said the right hon. Gentleman appealed to him because he had supported him on the last Amendment, which he did not think was a feasible Amendment. In this matter, however, he joined issue with him. One of the chief objections they had to the Bill was rigid conditions. He believed that if they gave a certain amount of latitude it would be to the advantage of all concerned, and that this Amendment would be a great boon. This was a practical Amendment, it was a matter which probably would not be made much use of, but nevertheless it was desirable to give this amount of latitude in the Bill.
§ SIR F. CAWLEY
said that as he had a new clause down upon the Paper he desired to ask the Home Secretary whether he would be prepared to accept this Amendment in place of it. The right hon. Gentleman had said he considered that this was a question for the men themselves. He quite agreed that it was, and for that reason he put down the new clause which left it to be decided by the men whether there should be a period for rest and refreshment, and if so, how much that time should be. They might have a ballot on it in order to decide the point. He saw nothing impracticable in that. At the present time the practice varied in different parts of the country, in each of which they had different times. In the various places where the system existed different times were given for meals and there was no difficulty about it. If the men did not want any time for meals, then they 802 could by ballot decide against it, and he could not see what objection the right hon. Gentleman could have to it.
§ MR. J. F. MASON (Windsor)
said the right hon. Gentleman seemed to think of what would be the effect of putting the Amendment in the Bill as between the miner and the mine-owner. There was no difficulty now between the master and the miner in arranging the meal-time, because the managers saw no advantage in hurrying the men and therefore had no reason for not making the arrangement. But directly the Bill came into force it would give them an inducement to reduce the meal-time and to put difficulties in the way whenever the question came up. The only solution was that the time for meals should be entirely outside the eight hours.
§ MR. LAURENCE HARDY (Kent, Ashford)
was of opinion that there was a question here not only for the men, but for the public, because a great deal of the support given to the Bill was given on the assumption that during all these hours work went on. If hon. Members looked at the Report they would see that the time suggested by the hon. Member for Sleaford was right, because the Report stated that the average time given for meals was thirty-nine minutes. He desired, however, to look at the Amendment from the point of view of the Home Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman said it was not practicable, but he submitted that it could be made practicable by applying the same system to it as was applied to subsections (3) and (4), which dealt with the time for lowering and raising men from the pit. It could be arranged in the same way. Those who served upon the Committee knew that this question of rest came up very largely in the course of the discussion. Evidence was given showing there was no difficulty in arranging this because there was a stoppage of half an hour when winding ceased, and the men were allowed to use that time for meals. Many experts gave evidence to the effect that that time was of great importance to the safety of the mine itself, and he thought it would be more 803 necessary under the new conditions laid down by this Bill than under the old. He did not think that the proposal was impracticable, nor did he believe that the suggestion that it was impossible could be brought into the matter seeing that what had been done could be done again.
§ MR. LAURENCE HARDY
said it certainly could not be said to be impossible, but he certainly understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that it would be difficult. He, however, could not understand why it should be difficult when it was done all over the country. The moment a limit was put at each end of the day the more necessary such it period became in order that greater pressure should not be placed on the man. This period of rest was necessary to men working under great pressure, and the practice of having a period of rest was almost universal in other countries. Even if the working hours should be reduced to something like six and three quarter, as had been pointed out by some hon. Member already, he thought it would be far better that the period should be agreed upon between the owners and the colliers and a definite line taken on that matter. He trusted that the House and the Government would treat the matter with less light-ness than they seemed to do at the present time.
MR. MARKHAH (Nottinghamshire, Mansfield)
said the real object of the Amendment, which was very fully discussed ill Committee by nearly all the Members present, was merely for the purpose of extending the hours of work, and they were simply having a repetition in the House of the discussion which they heard upstairs. Eighty per cent. of the miners took their mod daring the time of waiting for turn, or when them were difficulties, such as that of getting the coal out of the mine, which prevented them from continuing their work. Every miner had always a difficulty in getting coal 804 away from the face, and during that particular period he usually found time to take his snack. It was said that when they got the eight hours day the whole of the mines would be disorganised. He himself had two mines where the men, instead of working nine hours worked eight, and when the change was made, instead of having half an hour, the men had twenty minutes during which the pit stood. In that twenty minutes the machinery was oiled, and the men did not experience the slightest difficulty in consequence of that period of rest in connection with their work. As he had said, the real object of the Amendment was to increase the working time, and he saw no reason whatever for introducing the method suggested by the hon. Member for Sleaford, who had no mandate to speak for the miners. When the hon. Member moved his previous Amendment, it was the laughing stock of the whole of the miners.
§ MR. LAMBTON (Durham, S.E.)
said the hon. Member who had just spoken, at the beginning of his speech, stated that the Amendment wan for the purpose of increasing the hours of work, and afterwards he said that in his own mines the men had a period of rest. That seemed rather a contradiction in terms.
§ MR. MARKHAM
said there were certain classes of men besides the hewers of coal—those who were on the pit bank. These men had to take their food at a different time from the actual hewers, who took their food whenever they could get it.
§ MR. LAMBTON
said the Home Secretary had told them that in Cheshire the time given was fifty-five minutes. He did not object on principle to the Amendment.
§ MR. LAMBTON
agreed that there would be a great many difficulties and inconveniences under the Bill, but that was no sufficient reason for opposing the Amendment, which would be useful in the interests of the men. It was very injurious that the miners 805 should have to take their meals in a hurry and that they should have no rest at all. The right hon. Gentleman must remember that the average fifty-five minutes was out of a ten and a quarter hours day which did leave some time to get coal. If they took fifty-five minutes off the eight hours, they would leave the miner very little time in which to gain his livelihood. He must do with insufficient rest and insufficient time for his meals. He thought the right hon. Gentleman on his own figures might give a little more attention and support to the Amendment.
§ MR. BOWLES (Lambeth, Norwood)
said the hon. Member opposite had remarked that the object of hon. Members on that side of the House was to increase the hours of work, and he had described the Amendment as a mere subterfuge to effect that object. That was not really a fair commment. They had not yet come to consider what was the time to be fixed for work under the Bill, and it would be perfectly open to hon. Gentlemen opposite, who desired to do so, to move such Amendments as they might think necessary, at a later stage, when they came to consider the hours of working, so as to bring those hours into conformity with any idea that they might entertain on the subject. The object of the authors of the Amendment had been frequently stated; it was simply and solely to ensure that there should be guaranteed for the men who desired it, by agreement with the masters, a proper time for rest and food, which everybody must admit were absolutely essential if the ordinary heavy work of the mine was to be properly carried out, without grave detriment to the health and efficiency of the colliers. The Amendment was a reasonable one, and everything the Home Secretary had said, either in the House or upstairs, showed—though no doubt inconveniences arose in all such arrangements—that a proposal of this nature should be adopted in the interests of the men. It was an arrangement which, he ventured to suggest, was very common, and he believed practically universal. He considered that such an arrangement, which was an essential necessity, should be incorporated in the 806 Bill, and if his hon. friend opposite went to a division he should certainly support him.
§ * MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
said that if they wished to insert this proposal in order to secure a period of rest, it would require that means should be adopted to ensure that the forty minutes should, in fact, be occupied for rest and refreshment. That could not be done unless either each man was watched, or unless the whole colliery was laid idle for that time. This course might, indeed, be taken now in some few pits here and there. But it was not the custom of the country, and neither masters nor men desired it to be the custom of the country If they did not lay the pit idle for forty minutes, and if they really wished to enforce this provision, they would have to watch every man to see whether he did occupy the forty minutes for rest and refreshment. If the Amendment were inserted it would simply be equivalent to substituting throughout the Bill eight hours and forty minutes as the period of employment, instead of eight hours. That would destroy the purpose of the Bill, and cause it to be of no effect in a great many districts in the country, and he could not think that any hon. Member, who in any degree accepted the principle of the Bill, could support this Amendment.
§ MR. SAMUEL ROBERTS
said he should be prepared to support the hon. Member's Amendment if he would accept the addition of the words "at the men's request," because that would leave it to the men to decide by a majority whether they wanted the rest or not. If the hon. Member for Sleaford would agree to those words he should be prepared to support his Amendment.
§ MR. SAMUEL ROBERTS moved to amend the Amendment by adding the words "at the men's request." The principal reason for the Bill was alleged to be that the miners in the various districts of the country were coerced to work longer hours than they wished. It could not be said that this proposal was coercion, because 807 the Amendment would not impose the period of rest unless they desired it. If the men wanted the period of rest, why should they not have it? It was true that the men would have to work much harder during the time they were at the face to get more wages and more coal. There was every reason why they should have a period of rest. The right hon. Gentlemen said that it was not practicable. Well, it was practicable in the collieries of France, where the men had a period of rest.
§ MR. SAMUEL ROBERTS
said that that was the first information he had had to that effect. At all events it was the law in France.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said he did not know whether the Amendment required a seconder, but if it did, he had much pleasure in seconding it. They had been told by hon. Gentlemen opposite that the Amendment was a subterfuge to increase the hours of labour, and the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department had practically said the same thing, because he had used the argument against the Amendment that it would be impossible to find out whether the men occupied the forty minutes in having refreshment and rest. But the subterfuge was on the other side, because if they looked at the clause it said—Subject to the provisions of this Act a workman shall not be below ground in a mine for the purpose of his work and of going to and fro from his work or be allowed to be below ground for that purpose for more than eight hours," etc.It appeared, therefore, that there was taken from the time of work the time occupied in going to and from it. It often took a miner two hours to get to and from his work, and if in addition to that they had the period for refreshment, they would make it a five hours day instead of an eight hours day. He saw the hon. Member for Glamorgan in his place. The hon. Gentleman had told them yesterday that on his side of the House they were actuated by humane feeling, and he would therefore appeal 808 to the hon. Member to support this Amendment on the ground of humanity. A man who was working hard underground for six or seven hours would certainly require an interval for refreshment. Did hon. Members opposite say that that interval for refreshment was not to be allowed except at the expense of some part of the short time he was underground? When it was understood that that was the objection which hon. Members raised, everyone would admit that the Bill was practically impossible and unworkable. But he maintained that it was right to give a man a period for rest and refreshment during six or seven hours work. In the improbable event of a man taking advantage of the forty minutes to work, the whole of the trade unions would be immediately upon that man—they did not want any inspectors—for contravening the section in the Act. But even if that was not so what harm would result if he worked for a few moments longer than was absolutely laid down by the Bill? He maintained that if they were really going to allow the men to do their work in a proper manner the Amendment was absolutely necessary. He admitted that on the last Amendment there was some difficulty about devising means of carrying it out. He did not think there would be the slightest difficulty in carrying out the present Amendment, and he should have great pleasure in supporting it. He should like to say a word in regard to the statement of the hon. Member for Mansfield, who seemed to consider it sufficient to get up when the hon. Member for Sleaford moved an Amendment and tell him that he was the laughing stock of the Committee.
§ MR. MARKHAM
I did not say anything of the kind. I said he was the laughing stock of all the miners in the Midlands.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said he was afraid he could not answer that, because he did not know what the opinion of the miners upon the hon. Gentleman was. All he could say was that if they really considered he was a laughing stock, they had made a very great error, and they could hardly have been acquainted with the action of 809 the hon. Gentleman. He did not sit on the same side of the House as the hon. Member, nor did he agree with all his opinions—in fact, he agreed with very few of them—but as a member of the Grand Committee he took that opportunity of saving he believed the hon. Gentleman did his best to amend the Bill in a single-hearted, honourable, and honest fashion, and he did not think he ought to be treated, certainly not by his own side, in the way he had been treated.
Amendment to the Amendment proposed—
After the word 'manager,' to insert the words 'at the request of the men.'"—(Mr. Samuel Roberts.)
§ Agreed to.
§ Question proposed, "That those words, as amended, be there inserted."
§ *MR. PARKES thought the Amendment to the Amendment was an improvement on what was moved in the first place. He had consulted people who were associated with the miners in the district which he represented, and he found there was a general feeling on their behalf that there should be time given for meals and for rest. And it seemed to him that was only natural. When they took the time a man left his home and the time he returned again, if this was an Eight-hours Bill, it would not be less than nine hours. Was it reasonable to suppose that a man would walk from his home and work very hard during eight hours and require no specified time for meals? He did not agree with the hon. Gentleman who said he might have a scrap. He thought a scrap was not enough for a man who worked eight or nine hours uninterruptedly. They must also consider the condition of the horses in the pit as well. They must have a time of rest and refreshment for them. He would give an instance of his experience with regard to the working of eight hours. In a certain trade which he knew very well, there had recently been introduced the eight-hour principle. The other part of the trade worked what was called two shifts in the twenty-four hours. One would naturally imagine that the working men 810 would choose the eight hours rather than the two shifts in twenty-four hours. But as a matter of fact he had men come back from the principle of the eight hours to the principle of the twelve hours, because they said the pace was almost killing during the eight hours; they were kept at it uninterruptedly the whole time and had scarcely time to snatch a mouthful of a meal, and they would sooner work under the easier conditions of the longer hours so that they might have rest and refreshment than under the eight hours principle. Of course, the thing was more accentuated when they came to seven and a half hours. In the present system there; was sufficient time for refreshment, but when they came to eight and seven and a half hours it simply meant that in some cases going to and from his work and the time he ought to have for meals would take one-and-a-half to two hours out of the time, and that would mean five and a half hours' work out of seven and a half, or six out of eight at the face of the coal. He wanted to know if that would not make a very great difference to the productive power of the collieries of the country. He looked upon this as a serious matter. It was a matter of principle which wanted looking at very carefully. Other countries had seen the importance; of it and had adopted it. They could not anticipate, at the present moment, what was going to be the actual effect of the Bill on this principle. It either meant that the men would be rushed during the whole eight hours or that they must have a time for refreshment. If they were rushed uninterruptedly for the eight hours for the purpose of the mine owner getting out the full possibility of his men, they did harm to the men. They should put this in the hands of the men themselves. Let them be the arbiters as to whether they wanted the quarter or half-an-hour as the case might be. The men he had consulted believed in some amount of rest and refreshment, and he thought they should put it in their hands as to whether they would like a reasonable opportunity of getting refreshment during the time of their work. To ask them to work nine hours right away and expect them to be satisfied with a scrap here and a bite there was asking too 811 much of the men, and he believed it would deteriorate the men themselves.
§ MR. ALBERT STANLEY (Staffordshire, N.W.)
wished to reply to one or two remarks of the hon. Member who had just addressed the House. He understood that the Bill would interfere with the hours in Staffordshire as little as it would with the hours anywhere in the country, and the feeling of the miners in Staffordshire was that the Bill had been made too elastic already. He did not know from what source the hon. Member had derived his information, but they already had their meal times arranged for. The Bill would very little interfere with those hours and they would be able to arrange in the future as now what time would be reasonable for refreshment.
§ MR. ALBERT STANLEY
said he would like the hon. Member to say where those collieries were, because he did not know any in Staffordshire where work was suspended for fifty minutes. They arranged now as they would be able to arrange under the Bill if it became an Act of Parliament, that some of the men would be working at the face of the coal while others were taking their meal time. That would be arranged without any inhumanity and without any great inconvenience either to the workmen or the colliery owners, and he could assure the House most confidently that there was not the slightest ground for the prognostication of the hon. Member.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN (Worcestershire E.)
I do not propose to intervene in the discussion between my hon. friend and the hon. Gentleman opposite as to the practice of the Stafford-shire mines, with which I do not profess to be acquainted, but the explanation of the hon. Member for Staffordshire is interesting. He tells us that the Staffordshire miners are very much in favour of this Bill, but that none of them will be affected by it.
§ MR. ALBERT STANLEY
I did not say so. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman 812 would not wish to misrepresent me. I said it would interfere as little with the hours in Staffordshire as in any part of the country.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Exactly. I thought it was a matter of common ground among us all that there are a great number of miners already working less than eight hours who would not be interfered with at all. When the hon. Member said it would interfere as little in Staffordshire as in any other part of the country I naturally assumed that it would not interfere at all. I quite accept his statement that that was not what he meant, but that the effect on the. Staffordshire miners would be merely trifling. But there is a good deal of evidence that this legislation is being imposed by people who will not largely be affected, because they already have the system, upon those who are, perhaps, not quite so heartily in agreement with them. But I did not rise for the purpose of referring to the hon. Member's speech, though I have been tempted to do so. I rise to ask for a little more explanation from the Government of a statement made by the Under-Secretary a few moments ago, which took me altogether by surprise in view of what happened yesterday. The Under-Secretary says, as an objection to this Amendment, that the limitation of hours in France is working so badly as to be practically a dead letter. I should like to know what evidence he has for that statement, and in what respects the French law is working badly. I think it is more, important that we should have this information because only yesterday the Secretary of State quoted the example of France in order to reassure us.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Yesterday, in a speech in the early portion of the afternoon, when he followed the Leader of the Opposition, and attempted to answer some of the questions which my right hon. friend had put, and to remove; from our minds the fears which have been expressed in certain quarters—fears, for instance, that, this limitation of hours would give rise to an increase of price which would 813 be serious, not only to the poor consumer directly, but also to our manufacturing industries of which coal is the universal raw material. The right hon. Gentleman then cited, amongst others, the example of France to reassure us, and said that none of those bad results had followed. My recollection is clear, and I have fortified it by the recollection of my hon. friend beside me. Of course, if the right hon. Gentleman says he did not cite France, or if he now says that if he did cite France it was an error, and gives us no comfort because the law is not at work there, that would be an answer.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
I have quoted France so often in the course of these debates, that it is difficult to tax my memory. I do not recollect quoting the case of France yesterday.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I do not want to press the point too far, because we are all liable to error as to what we have said and heard. The right hon. Gentleman has quoted the instance of France in relation to this Bill in order to draw inferences from what has happened in France as to what is likely to happen in this country. The Under-Secretary tells us that this particular law in France is a dead letter, and, therefore, we cannot draw any inferences from its working in that country. I hope we shall have the case of France cleared up so that we shall know exactly what is meant by the Under-Secretary's statement that this measure in France is a dead letter.
§ * MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
Although I think this is travelling far afield from the Amendment I cannot refuse a reply to the question put to me by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. In France the law is qualified by many exemptions for feast days and for the classes of men employed and so forth. In very many cases it has been found to be highly unsatisfactory in its working. I said that in France this measure had been found to be practically a dead letter, but perhaps that was putting it too strongly, and the word "practically" is not a satisfactory word and one which I seldom use. I should have said that in France the Act has to a great extent failed in its purpose on 814 account of the many exemptions and the restrictions placed upon its working. I make that statement on the authority of gentlemen connected with the Home Office who made inquiries into this matter in France. There is now a Bill before the Chambers to strengthen in many particulars the provisions of the law. I think I am entitled to say of this Act that it has been made less useful in France by its many exemptions and restrictions than it would otherwise have been and, I think my right hon. friend is entitled to quote France as a precedent for this legislation, first, because their law is the same in principle, and secondly because there is now a proposal in that country to restrict those exemptions.
§ MR. BONAR LAW (Camberwell, Dulwich)
This is really a remarkable discussion. The right hon. Gentleman claims that he has a right to quote what is going to happen in France as proof of what will happen in this country under this Bill. Already in France they have accepted the principle of this Bill and found that it does not work. The right hon. Gentleman however says it is going to work in the future and he quotes that as a good example in support of this Bill. I happened to have read some account of how the principle works in France, and I have no hesitation in stating that my recollection does not agree with the statement just made by the Under-Secretary, who implied that the Bill had failed to the extent it has failed because of the many qualifications contained in it. What I have read about it—and I invite the right hon. Gentleman's attention to this point—is that it has largely failed because the miners did not like it and would not work under it. That is the real reason why it has failed in France, and that is something which I hope the right hon. Gentleman will look into. I rise to support the amended Amendment. If it were really true that the Amendment were impracticable, I certainly would not rise to support it, because at this stage I think we should confine ourselves pretty much to Amendments which can be brought into practice. The hon. Member for the Mansfield division says it is quite impracticable and cannot be worked. I have 815 often heard people who are called experts make statements of that kind, but I have often heard them contradicted, and while I am not in the same position as the hon. Gentleman opposite to judge of that matter, I cannot see why it should be considered impracticable. There is no ground whatever for the contention that what we want to do is in the interests of any other class but the men. We should leave this question entirely to the men themselves. If the men in a particular pit prefer that they should be absolutely idle for a given time in order to take refreshments, why is it the wish of hon. Members who support this Bill to deny them that privilege? They say they do it because the work will go on just the same. The hon. Member for Mansfield says that in the pits with which he is acquainted the system prevails of stopping the whole machinery of the mine for twenty minutes. The Under-Secretary says it will mean an eight hours forty minutes day because the men will go on working, but surely he realises that in a great many mines the work at the coal face is regulated by the powers of winding-up. Obviously, if the winding-up is stopped, the men cannot do the extra work. There is another consideration in regard to the Amendment which even hon. Gentlemen who represent the miners should take seriously into account. One of the worst features of the Bill is that it is going to tell most hardly on the old mines. I am told that in many parts of the country if the Bill is rigidly enforced many of those old mines will have to go out of operation altogether. The reason of that is largely because the men have to walk such a long distance to and from the face of the coal after they get to the bottom of the pit. If in a mine of that kind the men prefer to have a regulated time for taking their meals, surely that should not be objected to by miners working in mines where they do not experience that difficulty. The fact that the Amendment would help these old mines should make the miners' representatives willing to consider it. It is not only that the coal hewers will be affected, but if the winding goes on uninterruptedly without any interval for meals, then the men on the 816 surface must absolutely take their meals whilst at their work. Is that a thing that we should make possible by Act of Parliament? I cannot understand why, when we leave it to the option of the men, the miners' representatives should object, and I am afraid the real objection is one which they would not like to acknowledge. I am afraid they are trying to get the thing which is preferred by a majority made compulsory on the minority. From any point of view I can see no reason why this Amendment, if it is to be left to the ballot of the men at the pit, should not be adopted.
§ * MR. LUPTON
said it was rather surprising to be told now that France afforded us no precedent. France was a most democratic country; it wanted to please the miners and so it adopted all those exemptions. The right hon. Gentleman had asked how they could enforce the Amendment without lengthening the hours? That could be done because the period of refreshment would be fixed by the management according to law, and it was contrary to all experience to say that that would lengthen the hours of work. Surely the men would not require an inspector to order them to stop work when they required a little rest.
§ MR. BECK
asked if the difficulty could not be overcome on the lines adopted in one of the new clauses which was ruled out of order yesterday. That Amendment gave power to the workmen to decide whether they would have this interval for refreshments or not. The Home Secretary had not answered the question put by the hon. Baronet the Member for St. Ives, and he did not know whether it was possible to arrive at some compromise on those lines. The argument seemed overwhelming in favour of some interval for refreshments. He was sure that if hon. Members were forced to remain in that Chamber for eight hours without any interval for refreshments they would feel it was a hardship.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
It seems quite unnecessary for the purpose of arranging for meals to set up machinery of the 817 kind suggested in the Amendment. I do not think we ought to endeavour to get an extension of the hours by a side wind in this way.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 79; Noes, 258. (Division List No. 442.)819
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hn. Sir Alex F.||Davies, David (Montgomery Co)||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Armitage, R.||Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred Dixon||Morrison-Bell, Captain|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (City Lond)||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Nield, Herbert|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Duncan, J. H. (York, Otley)||O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Faber, George Denison (York)||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Fell, Arthur||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Beauchamp, E.||Fletcher, J. S.||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Beck, A. Cecil||Gardner, Ernest||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Renwick, George|
|Bertram, Julius||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Guinness, Hn. R. (Haggerston)||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert|
|Bull, Sir William James||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Hill, Sir Clement||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Joynson-Hicks, William||Starkey, John R.|
|Cave, George||Kerry, Earl of||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Worc||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)||Whitbread, Howard|
|Clive, Percy Archer||Lockwood, Rt. Hn. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Coates, Major E. F. (Lewisham)||Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Collings, Rt. Hn. J. (Birmingh'm)||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||M'Arthur, Charles||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Lupton and Mr. Watt.|
|Cox, Harold||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Mason, James F. (Windsor)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Fuller, John Michael F.|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Gibb, James (Harrow)|
|Agnew, George William||Compton-Rickett, Sir J.||Gill, A. H.|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Cooper, G. J.||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Glen-Coats, Sir T. (Renfrew, W.)|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Glendinning, R. G.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Glover, Thomas|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Crean, Eugene||Gooch, George Peabody (Bath)|
|Barlow, Sir John E. (Somerset)||Crooks, William||Gurdon, Rt. Hn. Sir W. Brampton|
|Barnes, G. N.||Crosfield, A. H.||Hall, Frederick|
|Beale, W. P.||Crossley, William J.||Halpin, J.|
|Bennett, E. N.||Curran, Peter Francis||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Dalziel, Sir James Henry||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil|
|Brace, William||Delany, William||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r)|
|Branch, James||Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Hart-Davies, T.|
|Brigg, John||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.|
|Brodie, H. C.||Dillon, John||Harwood, George|
|Brooke, Stopford||Donelan, Captain A.||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)|
|Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Duckworth, Sir James||Hay, Hon. Claude George|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||Hazel, Dr. A. E.|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall||Hedges, A. Paget|
|Burnyeat, W. J. D.||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Ellis, Rt. Hon. John Edward||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Byles, William Pollard||Erskine, David C.||Henry, Charles S.|
|Cameron, Robert||Essex, R. W.||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Evans, Sir Samuel T.||Higham, John Sharp|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick||Fenwick, Charles||Hodge, John|
|Chance, Frederick William||Ferens, T. R.||Hogan, Michael|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Ffrench, Peter||Holland, Sir William Henry|
|Cleland, J. W.||Findlay, Alexander||Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N)|
|Clough, William||Flynn, James Christopher||Horniman, Emslie John|
|Clynes, J. R.||Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Hudson, Walter|
|Hutton, Alfred Eddison||Murphy, John (Kerry, East)||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Illingworth, Percy H.||Murray, Capt. Hn. A. C. (Kincard)||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Jacoby, Sir James Alfred||Murray, James (Aberdeen, E.)||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John|
|Jenkins, J.||Myer, Horatio||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncast'r||Snowden, P.|
|Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Nolan, Joseph||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Norman, Sir Henry||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N. W.)|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staff'sh.)|
|Jowett, F. W.||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Steadman, W. C.|
|Joyce, Michael||Nuttall, Harry||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Kearley, Sir Hudson E.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)|
|Kekewich, Sir George||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||O'Doherty, Philip||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Kilbride, Denis||O'Dowd, John||Summerbell, T.|
|Kincaid-Smith, Captain||O'Grady, J.||Sutherland, J. E.|
|King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Parker, James (Halifax)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Laidlaw, Robert||Partington, Oswald||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan)|
|Lambert, George||Philipps, Col. Ivor (S'thampton)||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr|
|Lamont, Norman||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Lanark)|
|Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)||Pirie, Duncan V.||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Pollard, Dr.||Tillett, Louis John|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Tomkinson, James|
|Lundon, W.||Power, Patrick Joseph||Toulmin, George|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)||Verney, F. W.|
|Lynch, H. B.||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Villiers, Ernest Amhurst|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Radford, G. H.||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs)||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)||Walsh, Stephen|
|Mackarness, Frederic C.||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro')||Walton, Joseph|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Redmond, William (Clare)||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampt'n|
|Macpherson, J. T.||Richards, Thomas (W. Monm'th)||Wardle, George J.|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down. S.)||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Wason, Rt. Hn. E. (Clackmannan|
|M'Callum, John M.||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|M'Crae, Sir George||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradf'rd||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Robinson, S.||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|M'Kean, John||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||White J. Dundas (Dumbart'nsh|
|M'Laren, Rt. Hn. Sir C. B. (Leices)||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||White, Sir Luke (York, E. R.)|
|M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Rogers, F. E. Newman||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Maddison, Frederick||Rowlands, J.||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Mallet, Charles E.||Russell, Rt. Hon. T. W.||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Markham, Arthur Basil||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Marnham, F. J.||Samuel, Rt. Hn. H. L. (Cleveland)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Massie, J.||Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Masterman, C. F. G.||Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co)||Sears, J. E.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Menzies, Walter||Seddon, J.||Winfrey, R.|
|Micklem, Nathaniel||Seely, Colonel||Wood T. M'Kinnon|
|Middlebrook, William||Shackleton, David James|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Shaw, Sir Charles Edw. (Stafford)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Joseph Pease and Master of|
|Mond, A.||Shaw, Rt. Hn. T. (Hawick B.)|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Sheehy, David||Elibank.|
§ MR. BOWLES moved to leave out the words "or be allowed to be below ground for that purpose." The object of the Amendment, he thought, was perfectly clear. The House would see that the clause, as it stood, imposed considerable penalties for a man not only to be below ground, but to be allowed to be below ground. He could understand perfectly well that it should be said that it was improper for the man to be below ground for more 820 than a certain stilted time, and he could understand Parliament saying that should be so, and making it an offence. If an employer gave authority or compelled a man to be below ground for more than that certain time, that also might very properly be made an offence, subject to a very heavy penalty. It was not right, however, to insist on imposing a penalty if a man was merely allowed to be below it the circumstances were such as involved no blame on the man or his employer, yet 821 a case of that kind would be covered by these words. The provision was one which ought never to be made, especially in view of the further provisions of the Bill, which imposed a very heavy penalty and assumed the guilt of the manager unless he went to the trouble and expense of proving his own innocence. The purpose of the Amendment was clear, and though, perhaps, it could be carried out in other ways than the way he had suggested, unless the Government could show some serious reason why this should be made a crime for which a man had to answer in Court the House ought to be disposed, after consideration, to agree to this Amendment.
In page 1, line 7, to leave out from the word 'work' to the second word 'for' in line 8.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be loft out stand part of the Bill."
§ * MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
The words which the hon. Member proposes to omit are preliminary words to Clause 6, which imposes a fine for offences committed against the Act. This is the ordinary form of enforcing all Acts for the regulation of labour. The hon. Member is entirely in error in saying that this is the first time in the history of our legislation in which an employer is made liable for penalties because his workmen work longer than prescribed by an Act.
§ MR. BOWLES
I did not suggest that. I said that it was the first time in our legislation that the guilt of an employer was assumed until he had shown himself innocent.
§ * MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
The Coal Mines Regulation Act of 1887, provides with regard to the employment of persons in contravention of the Act that—If any person contravenes, or fails to comply with, or permits any person to contravene or fail to comply with, any provision of this Act with respect to the employment of boys, girls, or women,822 then he is to be liable to penalties. Then with regard to the Factory Acts, everyone knows that if a person is employed illegally, say, in working overtime in a factory, the employer is liable to a fine, and fines for such offences are recovered continually in the Courts. We propose in this Bill to make employment outside the hours mentioned illegal, and if the House passes the Bill, it would be only consistent with the dignity of Parliament to put in the Bill the means of enforcing the Act.
§ MR. SAMUEL ROBERTS
said he wished to make an observation which he thought would modify the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman. As drawn, this clause was, he thought, too severe. How could a manager tell whether a man was working beyond the hours in a mine the workings of which extended to two or three miles? He would suggest to the mover of the Amendment to accept the word "knowingly." If an owner or a manager knew that a man went down into the pit when he ought not, or did not come up when he ought, then perhaps that owner or manager ought to be guilty of an offence; but when the workings of a mine were distributed over two or three miles, the owner or manager could not possibly tell whether a particular man remained too long underground.
§ MR. LYTTELTON (St. George's, Hanover Square)
I should like to ask the opinion of the Solicitor-General on this matter. Section 6, as it stands, says that "if any person contravenes any provision of this Act" he shall be liable to a penalty. That does not seem to quite run with the provision of the section now before the House, viz., that any person who allow; a man to be below ground for the purpose of his work, etc., shall be subject to a penalty. But supposing that a mining manager takes every reasonable precaution to procure the enforcement of the Act, and makes every provision possible to secure that no man should be below ground beyond the specified hours, and supposing that by the wilful error of a subordinate or by the deliberate act of the workman himself, the Act is 823 contravened, does the hon. and learned Gentleman suggest that the mine manager should be fined? I venture to think that my friend's suggestion that the word "knowingly" should be inserted in the Amendment should be accepted. Or perhaps instead of "knowingly," "with the knowledge of." I do not pledge myself to the words, provided the Government will accept the principle; but it should be provided that knowledge must be brought home to the manager, or that he had failed to tike every precaution against the contravention of the Act by the workmen.
§ THE SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir S. EVANS,) Glamorganshire, Mid
The question raised by the hon. Member for Norwood is a very reasonable one but admits of a very easy answer. The insertion of the word "knowingly" would contravene the precedents in regard to this class of legislation. In the Coal Mines Regulation Act, passed by a Conservative Government in 1887, and in the Factory Acts the word "knowingly" does not occur at all. It is quite right if the owner or manager takes all reasonable steps to enforce the Act, that he should not be subjected to a penalty; and I think we have in Clause 6 taken ample precaution in that direction, and no words are necessary to make it stronger. I do not think stronger words could be found, but if they could be, we should be quite willing to meet the right hon. Gentleman opposite. The proviso in Clause 6 says—The owner, agent, or manager of the mine shall not be guilty of an offence if he proves that he has taken all reasonable means by publishing, and to the best of his power, enforcing, regulations as to the times of raising and lowering the men … and supplying to each workman, who makes application, a printed statement of the said regulations to prevent the contravention of non-compliance.So that all that the manager, agent, or owner proceeded against would have to prove would be that he has taken all the reasonable means pointed out by this sub-clause, and has taken steps to enforce the regulations. In answer to the hon. Member for Sheffield that we are here putting the onus of proof on the defendant, that has been done consistently in legislation of this kind. And it is only reasonable to do so; because the means 824 of knowledge are all within the power of the man on whom the onus of proof is laid. There must be prima facie proof, in the first place, that he has done his best to enforce the regulations. This principle is not new to our law. Under the Debtors Act, I think either Section 11 or Section 13, with regard to all offences which are described in that Act, onus of the proof is put upon the bankrupt that he is not guilty of these offences. Then, in the Coal Mines Regulation Act of 1887, Section 9 says:—If any person contravenes, or fails to comply with, or permits any person to contravene, or fail to comply with any provision of this Act with respect to the employment of boys, girls, or women, or to the register of boys, girls, and women, or to reporting the intended employment of boys, he shall be guilty of an offence against this Act; and, in the event of any such contravention, or non-compliance by any person whomsoever, the owner, agent, and manager of the mine shall each be guilty of an offence against this Act, unless he proves that he had taken all reasonable means, by publishing and to the best of his power enforcing the provisions of this Act, to prevent the contravention of non-compliance.The House will see at once that that section of the beneficent Act of 1887 passed by a Conservative Government is the very foundation of the whole phraseology and substance of this Bill.
§ VISCOUNT CASTLEREAGH
said it was very difficult to argue a point of law with such a well-known authority as the hon. and learned Solicitor-General, especially after the speech he had made, but he would venture to suggest to him that by inserting the word "knowingly" he would remove an objection which he seemed to share with some of them. At the present moment the defendant had to show that he was not aware of what was going on, but he thought that some word should be put in placing the onus of proof on the prosecutor.
§ SIR C. J. CORY (Cornwall, St. Ives)
said the hon. and learned Gentleman had quoted the Coal Mines Regulation Act; but that Act was a very different thing from this Bill. That Act applied to the safety of the men in the mines, and no doubt the employer should do everything in his power to see to the safety of the men, and the proof should be laid on him to 825 show that he had done so. But by subsection (1) of Clause 1 of this Bill the employer was to be fined if he allowed a man to be underground more than a certain number of hours. That seemed to him to be very unreasonable. If an employer had provided every facility for the workmen to come up to the surface and comply with the law, surely he had done all that could be reasonably expected of him. It was impossible for him to go to the distant stalls in the mine and see that every man was brought out in order to comply with the law. The Solicitor-General admitted that, but pointed out that under subsection (a) of Clause 6, it was provided that the owner, agent, or manager of the mine, should not be guilty of an offence, if he proved, that he had taken all reasonable means by publishing and, to the best of his power enforcing regulations as to the time of raising and lowering the men and supplying to each workman who made application a printed statement of regulations to prevent contravention or uon-compliance. Under that subsection, however, the onus of proof rested upon the manager or owner to show that he was not guilty, which he submitted was quite contrary to English law. It was said, secondly, that he had to publish regulations, but it was not said in what way he had to publish. They did not know whether he had to publish them at the pit-head or in the newspapers. He was to publish and to the best of his ability enforce the regulations. But how was he to enforce them to the best of his ability? He might endeavour to do it by visiting every working place in the mine, but that would be a physical impossibility. Further, he had to supply each workman who applied with a printed copy of the regulations. Therefore, he had to prove that each workman had had one of those forms, or that such and such a workman did not apply. Where 1,000 or 1,200 men were employed that was a tremendous task.
§ SIR S. EVANS
said that was done in many mines. The miner signed his name in a book on receipt of a set of rules.
§ MR. MARKHAM
said it was done in every case. Every man signed his 826 name in the book and had a copy of the rules.
§ SIR C. J. CORY
observed that, therefore, every man when he came signed a book and had to give a receipt showing that he had had one of these documents. In the case of 1,000 or 1,200 men that would be very difficult indeed. Therefore, he said that it was difficult to carry out the three conditions provided for under subsection (a) of Section 6, and the onus of proof was cast on the employer where it ought not to be.
§ MR. MARKHAM
replied that the clause was very simple and very clear. Every man when he came to a colliery had to sign a book as prescribed under the Coal Mines Regulation Act. There was an obligation that every man who signed received a copy of the rules and regulations under the Act which had been agreed by the local board, the inspectors of mines, and the owners in each district. Therefore, in this case all that had to be done was to attach to these special rules the particular provisions of the Act relating to this section. There was not the slightest difficulty in doing that.
§ LORD R. CECIL
thought they ought to know whether that was correct, because a more astounding version of what the provisions of this Bill were he never listened to. The hon. Gentleman appeared to think that all that would be necessary was that the rules should be handed to the miners and a copy of this Bill given to them.
§ MR. MARKHAM
said it was what happened in every district. Special rules were drafted by the owners and the men, in conjunction with the mines inspector and the local authority, and as soon as this Bill was passed these provisions would be incorporated with the special rules and become really law.
§ LORD R. CECIL
pointed out that that was a very small part of the employers' duty under the Bill. He did not think the hon. Member realised what the employer was exposed to under the Bill and when he did he thought he would agree with them, that some change must 827 be made in the wording of the measure. They proposed to strike out the words "or be allowed to be below ground for that purpose," because prima facie they compelled the employer not to allow anyone to be below ground for more than a particular time. The ordinary English meaning of those words was that the men must be forced out if it was necessary to drive them out of the mine. That seemed to him to be quite clear. If he said to a man: "I will not allow you to remain in this room," it meant: "I will turn you out by force if you will not go." It meant nothing else, but the Solicitor-General said "allowed" was used in a Pickwickian sense, and that the Government really did not mean "allowed" when they said it. He said they used it as a good mouth-filling word, and what they really meant was described in subsection (a) of Clause 6. But when he turned to I hat subsection he found that the employer had to prove that he had taken the precaution of publishing these rules. The hon. Member said that was a very simple matter, that he world include in his rules other rules framed under this Act, and then all he had to do was to do his best to enforce the rules. But if he was told that he must not allow, and he must take the best means of enforcing, then he was just where he was under the present clause, and he was bound to see that every man was out of the mine. If it did not mean that let them know where they were, because he thought that words in an Act of Parliament should mean what they said. He protested strongly against putting in words in the first clause of a Bill which had a perfectly clear well-known English meaning—there was no question here of lawyers or of construction—they had a perfectly well-known English meaning, and then attempting to define the words later on in another section and saying that they meant something which nobody would ever think they meant. It was thoroughly bad legislation, and, if that was what the Government intended to do, they ought not to do it. As he understood subsection (a) of Clause 6 however, he really thought it meant to convey by the word "allow" what was usually conveyed by that word.
§ * MR. G. D. FABER (York)
said he would take the Amendment, first of all, as it stood. The words proposed to be omitted were "allowed to be below ground for that purpose." In the first place, the words were not practicable. In answer to another Amendment which lad been discussed that afternoon to the effect that the eight hours should be eight hours in the miner's place of work, they were told by the Government that it was not practicable, and he now ventured to use that expression to the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill, and to say that the words "allowed to be below ground" were not practicable. The noble Lord behind hm put the case with unanswerable force when he said: "How is it to be decided? How can you decide whether or no a miner is allowed to be below ground for that: purpose?" Suppose a miner refused; to leave, what was the master to do? That was objection No. 1. Objection No. 2 was that a mine was not like a factory, and he would follow that argument for a moment or two because the Solicitor-General took the factory as an illustration for the purpose of his argument. A mine was not a factory. It was easy enough, or, at all events, comparatively easy to look round a factory and say "aye" or "no" whether a man was there. But if they had hundreds of men at work at hundreds of different places in a mine, it was almost impossible for an owner or manager to decide whether a man was in the mine or not after the eight hours had passed. The Government themselves admitted that, because the Solicitor-General, with his well-known legal ability and acumen, foil back upon subsection (a) of Clause 6. After all, he said it was easy enough to determine whether a man was "allowed to be below ground" or not by seeing what I the agent, owner, or manager had to do, and when they looked at that subsection they found that the owner, agent, or manager of the mine should not be guilty of an offence if he proved that he had taken all reasonable means of publishing, and to the best of his power, enforcing regulations as to the times of raising and lowering the men. But they 829 got no further, because what was the meaning of the expression "to the best of his power enforcing regulations?" How were they to enforce regulations to the best of their power? Was it by going and bawling into a workman's ear, "Time is up"? Must they go up to him, and take him by the shoulder and force him out? His right hon. friend below him suggested that they might adopt a Parliamentary expression and let the manager say, "Who goes home?" But he ventured to ask seriously was this a fair and reasonable onus to put upon the manager of a mine? He used to know something about the law in old days, but he had forgotten most of it now. He always understood that in cases of this kind the onus was the other way. The Solicitor-General quoted the Goal Mines Regulation Act as a precedent, but there were two distinctions. There the onus was upon the mine owner, because they were dealing with the safety of the mine, and he thought the Solicitor-General also said that women and children were involved. That took them into a very different relation altogether; first, in regard to safety, it was fair that the ordinary rule of onus should be shifted, and in the case of women and children who prima facie, were unprotected, it might require some extra precaution on the part of the law. But there was no reason why a grown-up man could not take perfectly good care of himself. He thought it was unfair, therefore, that the managers of mines should be put in this position as between man and man, and as between manager and worker. The onus in his opinion, ought to be entirely the other way, and the inspector should prove that the manager of the mine had not taken due precautions. He thought this was going to be a great addition to all the other inconveniences and unfairnesses which were introduced into this measure. They were going to alter the rule of law. In his opinion, the onus in matters of this kind should be upon the person who desired to prove the offence and not upon the person who was the owner or manager of the mine.
§ * MR. LUPTON
said he really thought there was a great deal to be said in 830 favour of the Amendment. The Bill endeavoured to make it compulsory for the managers and mine-owners not only to say how many hours a man was in his place but to see that he left it at a particular time. His experience in construing Acts of Parliament was that one man's opinion of what an Act meant was just as good as another's until there had been a decided case. Then the lawyers could tell what the strict interpretation was, but until there had been a decision it could only be interpreted according to a person's own opinion. Here was a Bill which said that a man should not be allowed to be in his place for more than a certain number of hours, and if he was in his place longer than he ought to be he was to be prosecuted. Supposing he was prosecuted, he would naturally say: "Well, I did not know what the time was," and his lawyer would naturally say that it was the business of the manager under this clause to let him know what the time was. The magistrate would probably take the same view, and say: "Did you not tell this man what the time was? If you did not how was he to know?" When he was hurrying and rushing to get his work done it could not be said that he should look at his watch every ten minutes; and besides, in all probability, he would not have his watch with him. It would be put away fifty yards off so that it should not be damaged by the falling of coal or anything else. The Government said it was impossible for the manager to take the man's time. If it was impossible for the manager to do that, and at the same time if the man was hard at work at the face, he could not be expected to know what the time was. Therefore, this responsibility must be put on the manager and he must let the man know what the time was. He would have thought it was easy to take the man's time in his working place, but as he had only been in the habit of managing a few hundreds of men the Government said he knew nothing about it. Still, he should have thought it was quite easy to let him know the time at which he was to leave. The men had all got to get out at one time, and a man who had half an hour to walk, and the man who had a quarter of an hour to walk, having to get out 831 in the one half hour, must leave their places at a particular moment; otherwise they would be too late to get out. Therefore they had carefully to calculate the time at which each man must leave his place. Every man would be given a ticket to tell him the time that he was to leave and then a man would have to go round when the time came to tell him he should leave. It was very hard that the mine-owner should be put to the expense and the trouble of having his manager or his deputy going round to tell the men the time at which they had to leave, not for the purposes of the safety of the mine or because it was for the benefit of the mine-owner, but simply because it was desired by the trade union. The manager having to look after the mine-owner's interest and the safety of the mines was readily forgiven by the men if in prosecuting a man for breach of rules he made himself nasty sometimes, because they knew that in the last resort their safety depended upon him. Therefore, let the Government which wanted this Act enforce it and enforce the time that these men should be up at the pit's mouth, and not the manager, because, if the manager had to do it and was constantly enforcing these provisions against the men it would only lead to difficulties. Why should they be forced into strikes in this way, because this was the very way to foment difficulties between the manager and the men? He therefore earnestly impressed upon the House the great injury which this clause would do.
§ MR. STUART WORTLEY
thought the words were inserted here for the purpose of catching the employer, but he supposed they must submit to the idea, the Bill having been road a second time, that there should be a prevention of grown men combining with others to supply a public want. He rose, however, for the purpose of asking the Government whether even for that dubious purpose these words were at all necessary. If they were necessary why was the definition in this clause in different words from that which occurred in Clause 6. It was a very embarrassing method of drafting, and he should like to ask the Solicitor-General to show, if he could, why the Words were different.
§ MR. LAMBTON
could not agree with the hon. Member for Sleaford in this matter. The only thing the manager had got to prove was that he had taken proper precautions and all reasonable means, by publishing and enforcing the regulations as to the time of raising and lowering the men, and if he could show that, no charge could be brought against him, so that the fuss that had been made about subsection (a) Clause 6 was unnecessary. At the same time, he thought the Amendment of his hon. friend ought to be inserted.
§ SIR S. EVANS
I will, with the permission of the House, now answer the right hon. Gentleman. There is a difference in the wording, but no difference in the substance of the first section of Clause 6 and the definition in Clause 1. You have in the one case the word "allow," and in the other the word "permit." What really happens is this: You first of all say a certain thing is not to be permitted or allowed, and then, in Clause 6, you are allowed or permitted to prosecute. You are not bound to prosecute, but if there has been a contravention of the regulations, as the hon. Member opposite has just pointed out, and the manager can prove that he has taken proper precautions, then there is no case against him. If he has taken reasonable precautions to prevent a breach of the regulations, then he is not subject to a charge.
§ MR AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I am afraid the hon. and learned Gentleman has not quite appreciated what has been said. Take the case which has been suggested, of certain men stopping too long at the face of the mine to get wound up within the statutory period. It would occur once, the mine manager would notice it and give warning that it must not occur again. It does occur again, and the hon. Gentleman says the mine manager need not prosecute. Is that quite clear? Would that be the effect of the Bill as it stands? I understand that the visits of the inspector may not be made daily, and there may be considerable intervals between one visit and another. Supposing an inspector came round and saw that these things had occurred day after day. He would say 833 to the manager: "Why did you not stop it?" The manager would say: "I did my best; I warned the man." But then the inspector would say: "When your warnings were not heeded, what steps did you take? Hive you to the best of your power and ability enforced the regulations? There is a penalty by statute attached to a man who commits a breach of this law. Why did you not enforce the law against him? You yourself are guilty of a breach of the law for not having enforced the law against him." Would not that be the effect of this section? Is not the manager bound to take any and every step in his power to ensure obedience to the law, not only by himself but by his workmen, and will it not force a prosecution on the part of the manager? Would he not himself be liable to a prosecution if he did not do so? That is with regard to the first part of the subsection. Now I want to ask this further question, arising out of the working of the regulation as to the raising and the lowering of the men referred to in Section 1. Some hon. Members have treated that question as if the manager could discharge his duty by seeing that one man was raised in the time specified, but in order to enforce the regulations, must not the manager get the men to the place from which they are to be raised? I see my point is plain to the right hon. Gentleman, therefore I will not trouble him further.
§ SIR S. EVANS
I think it will be necessary for the owner or manager to provide proper facilities for a man getting to and from his work. Where a man disregarded the regulation and the Act of Parliament, the owner or manager, in order to carry out the Act, could warn him on the first occasion and again warn him on the second, and it would be within the competence of the bench of magistrates to say that, in view of the constant disregard of the regulations by a particular man, the obligation of the owner or manager or agent under the Act to provide facilities to get the man to or from his work at the proper time had been fulfilled to the best of their power.
§ MR. KEIR HARDIE (Merthyr Tydvil)
May I ask the right hon. 834 Gentleman whether in the case of a workman being reported to the inspector of mines, the latter would take action thereupon?
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I wish to make this quite clear; I desire to know whether the manager would discharge his responsibility by simply reporting the matter to the inspector, or whether the manager would himself prosecute in the case of repeated disobedience?
§ SIR S. EVANS
I think in that case the bench would say that the manager had done the best in his power to enforce the regulations.
§ * MR. BECK
said there appeared to be an extraordinary difficulty in determining the meaning of this clause at all. He might say that the noble Lord opposite had thrown a great flood of light on this question. He wanted to bring to the notice of the House what was said by the Home Secretary on this Amendment, when it was moved upstairs in Committee. The right hon. Gentleman on that occasion said that they were perfectly well accustomed under the existing law to a limitation of hours. In this case, what would happen was that if the owner, manager, or agent desired to fulfil the requirements of the law he need only provide for facilities at the right time for getting a man to and from his work, and it would be perfectly clear that all reasonable means had been taken. That was obviously the intention of the Government, but it was by no means clearly shown to be their intention by the draftsmen of the Bill. He appealed to the Government to alter the Bill in order to fall into line with what the Home Secretary authoritatively laid down upstairs as the intention of the Government on this matter. He felt it was an appeal which could not be resisted by any logical mind.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil had asked the Solicitor-General whether it was a fact that all an employer would have to do under this section, and under subsection (a) 835 of Section 6, was to give notice to the inspector, and that if the man did not come up in proper time, a bench of magistrates in all probability, according to the opinion of the Solicitor-General, would say that the manager had taken all reasonable precautions. He did not know why the hon. and learned Gentleman thought that, because it was absolutely contrary to the provisions of the Bill. There was nothing in the Bill about giving notice to the inspector. The Bill said that the man was not to be allowed to remain in the mines, and that if he remained underground steps must be taken to enforce his removal, otherwise certain penalties would accrue. It was said, when they were passing an Act of Parliament, that the Law Courts would give their decision on the provisions of the Act. Now the provisions of the Bill were perfectly clear, and he, would put a concrete case to the hon. and learned Gentleman. Let them presume that he was the Judge, and that this case came before him. The propel time for the workmen during the three years, when both windings were excluded, was to come at two o'clock. But if it was found that the first man did not come until a quarter past, two, and the employer or manager did not go down into the pit, then delay was caused. If they did not do that, then the hon. and learned Gentleman would contend that it would be sufficient for the manager merely to state in defence that he had given notice to the inspector that the man did not come to the surface. If that was so, and if that was what the hon. and learned Gentleman said, why did he not amend the Bill so as to give force to his own wish? It would be perfectly easy to amend the Bill so that it would be quite clear that what the magistrate would determine was to be the interpretation to be put upon the provision.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said he now understood. The hon. and learned Gentleman gave the case away. If they could do that and they might possibly do that if they liked, then that was all they contended 836 for. But the provision was not clear, and the result of it to any ordinary and reasonable man must be that it would have to be decided whether the manager and the employer had to go round and force the men to leave the pit. He submitted that the hon. and learned Gentleman had completely given his case away.
§ MR. WATT
said that if a man remained down the mine longer than the law permitted then the manager must report to the inspector, and the inspector would write back to say to the manager that he was to prosecute. Would the manager in that particular case be guilty of an offence if he did not carry out the instruction of His Majesty's inspector?
§ SIR S. EVANS
That is one case, I am bound to say, which must be put out of account. I may tell the hon. Gentleman that it would be a portion of the circumstances of the case which the justices would take into consideration in determining whether or not under the regulations and so on, the owner, agent, or manager had done his best.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (City of London)
Surely right hon. Gentlemen opposite must see how difficult it is to get, through the Bill with any reasonable degree of speed if they adopt this non-possumus attitude in regard to a provision which may obviously produce a great sense of injustice. We have been discussing this clause from four o'clock till a quarter past seven, and most of that time has been occupied with Amendments moved by the other side of the House. I must honestly say that if the Government cannot see their way to make concessions on matters which may produce the greatest hardship it will be impossible to get the Bill—you cannot get the Bill. Really in the interests of the progress of business I would ask the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill, when points of real substance are raised, but which do not touch the essence of the Bill at all, or its effectiveness for the purpose the Government have in view, whether he cannot see his way to making some concessions.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
I am most desirous, on a question to which great interest is attached, that both sides should be able to give it full consideration. The debate, so far as I have followed it, really has reference to what subsequently follows in Clause 6. My hon. friend behind me quoted from a speech I made upstairs in which I described our object. I quite agree that critics of the Bill are justified in saying that if we agree to what is the object of the Bill we should give effect to that object. Speaking broadly, what we want, of course, is that proper arrangements should be made for providing that the men get to and from work at a given time. I know that there are varying conditions at different collieries, but our object is that the men should be got to and from the pit at the statutory time. The question is what arrangements may be necessary in the event of a man not presenting himself to be wound up at the given time? That is our one object. I am simply stating what we want to provide. We want the manager or owner or agent to provide reasonable facilities for the men to go up and down.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
The whole question is how it is to be done. I only wish to state, being responsible for the Bill, what it is we want to get done. We do not in the least want to overload the measure; we only want to secure reasonable terms in the Act. I do not think it is at all necessary to provide such drastic penalties, because, if this Bill passes, those who are responsible for the management of our mines, and those who are organised leaders of the men, are all reasonable, rational, and humane, and I have not the slightest doubt that they will work the Act in the right spirit. The only question is as to the occasional instances, the rare occasions, when a man might not come up from the mine at the proper time.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Will the right hon. Gentleman explain why it is that these words are necessary at all.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
They are necessary at one time or another. Neither my 838 right hon. friend nor the Solicitor-General, as I am told, attach much value to these particular words; they thought that perhaps on the whole they would strengthen the clause and make plain its purpose. Neither of them says that the words are essential. I am quite prepared, having regard to our object, to give up these words.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ *MR. WATT moved to leave out the words "for more than eight hours during any consecutive twenty-four hours" and to substitute the words "for more than forty-eight hours per week." The principle involved in the Amendment was precisely the same as the principle in the Bill, only the system adopted under his Amendment was that the limitation of hours should be forty-eight in the week instead of eight hours per day, amounting, of course, to the same number of hours per week. By the Amendment, however, a choice would be given to the men to take whatever days they liked in the week to work longer and to take whatever days they liked in the week not to work at all. The system that the men had adopted for some years had been the system of working four or five days in the week, and resting for one or two, or working four or five days in the week and having what was called a short day's work on the sixth day. If the House would refer to page 13 of the Report of the Committee which inquired into this matter, they would find that of all the localities which were mentioned on that page that had twelve days in the fortnight to work, there was only one of those localities which worked for the full twelve days, namely, the Forest of Dean, and he was told that that district was an exception in this respect, that it worked only during the winter months, and had practically a full holiday during the summer months. But of all the other districts in that list there was not one that worked during the twelve days of the fortnight, so that the system which had been in vogue and was in vogue at the present moment was that a holiday was taken in the fortnight in practically every district in the United Kingdom, and that in a great number of them two holidays were taken in the fortnight. 839 Under his Amendment they would be permitted to adopt that same system, and have days during the fortnight when they would not require to work. Moreover, the men at the present moment seemed to prefer this system, because within the last few weeks at the Tredegar pit, which the hon. Member for Mansfield knew well, the men met and asked of their employers that they should be allowed to reduce the hours of working on four days of the week, and to have the extra time added to the fifth day, indicating that the system of forty-eight hours working in the week would be more acceptable to them. Under the Amendment, too, the difficulty of the windings would be excluded. The windings of the men had led to considerable discussion and the question of the safety of the men under the rushing of these windings had been a moot point in all the discussions on the Bill. But by the system which he suggested the windings would not be included at all, and moreover the windings of the men would be fewer in number, because if they worked longer hours on some days of the week and shorter hours or not at all on others, the safety of the men would be provided for in that way. The weakness, he thought, which occurred in the clause was this, and reference had not often been made to it. If the eight hours system was insisted upon and carried into law, a peculiar result would take place. If for any cause the workmen were, say on a Monday morning, unable to go down at the usual time, six o'clock, and were delayed two hours, say by a shortage of trucks, which he understood was quite a common occurrence, under the Bill as it stood they would not be allowed to go down during the currency of that week earlier than eight o'clock. If they stayed down eight hours on that day they would work till four o'clock in the afternoon, and until twenty-four hours had elapsed from the time they went down they would not be permitted to go down again. That would be obviated by the adoption of the system of working forty-eight hours in the week instead of six days of eight hours.
§ MR. HICKS-BEACH
seconded. It seemed to him that this was one of the most desirable Amendments that could be 840 moved to the Bill, and that it would help to do away with some apparent difficulties that obviously would occur when the Bill had passed into law. If the House would refer to the Report of the Departmental Committee and look at page 13, they would find, as the hon. Member had pointed out, that in only one district, the Forest of Dean, were the miners accustomed to work for six days in the week, and that was due to the fact that the Forest of Dean coal was almost entirely house coal at present, and consequently there was a great demand for this coal in winter, and a small demand for it in summer, and the colliers only worked about three days in the summer time. If they would also refer to page 16 of the Report they would find that there was a very large amount of absenteeism in various collieries throughout the country on certain days of the week. For instance, if they would look at the Return at the bottom of page 16, they would find that on Monday there were 601 hewers at work in a certain district, and on Saturday there were 712, whereas in the middle days of the week, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the number of hewers in each case went up to over 800 As to the mineral produced, whereas on Monday the total amount was only 1,200 tons, and on Saturday, 1,400 tons, on the other days of the week it went up to from 1,600 to 1,896 tons, which showed conclusively that in that district, at any rate, it was the custom of the miners to take a full day's work on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, end to have a whole day off perhaps on Saturday, or, at any rate, to work only a short time on Mondays and Saturdays. He could not help thinking that if the Bill was made to restrict the hours of labour in mines to a certain number in the week instead of a definite fixed number per day, it would be much more in consonance with the general desire and feeling of the miners themselves, because everybody knew that the miner was as fond of outdoor sport as anybody else, and he supposed the pit men in the North country were more fond of outdoor sport than any, other class. They would, he felt confident, much prefer to work for eight hours on four or five days in the week and to 841 get a whole day free, than to spend the greater potion of each day in the mines. He could not really see what serious objection there was to the Amendment. The object of the Bill was to prevent, he supposed, miners being down in the mine beyond a certain time. The Amendment left it open to be a matter of arrangement between the men and the masters. In certain districts they might prefer to work eight hours each day in the week. In other districts they might prefer to work ten on a certain number of days and six on others, or to have a day off altogether. There was nothing in the Amendment to prevent the various districts of the country carrying out the desires of the men in each mine. But what he thought was more important was that it would help a very great deal to solve the difficulty of the Durham and Northumberland miners. The Home Secretary told them yesterday that the difficulty in the case of the Northumberland and Durham miners was a very real one, and that there would have to be some special provision in the Bill, at any rate for six months or so, to enable the Durham miners and masters to come to some definite arrangement which would enable them to go on and work under the Bill. All these difficulties would be removed if the restriction of hours was limited to hours per week instead of hours per day. It would enable the coal-getters and the boys in Durham to go on working under their present arrangement, and without any hitch being produced by the Bill. It would, again, by removing coal windings from the operation of the Bill, enable the Forest of Dean collieries to be worked exactly on their present system. He most earnestly supported the Amendment, because it appeared to him to be in consonance with the ordinary habits and customs of the miners themselves, and even the House of Commons could not, by passing one measure at the end of an autumn session, radically change at once the manners and customs of all the miners throughout the country. He believed it would help the Bill to bring it into consonance with the feelings and desires of the miners, and by passing it in this form they would enable the miners in Northumberland and Durham to come under the Bill, 842 which, otherwise, it would be absolutely impossible for them to do.
In page 1, line 8, to leave out from the word 'purpose' to the end of the subsection, and to insert the words 'over forty-eight hours in one week.'"—(Mr. Watt.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'more than' stand part of the clause."
§ MR. GLADSTONE
The hon. Gentleman need be under no apprehension as regards this clause. He has said that if this Amendment were accepted it would settle the Durham and Northumberland difficulty, but it would not do even that. This Amendment provides for forty-eight hours work per week, but at the present time the boys in Durham and Northumberland work in the mines considerably longer than that. The limitation of hours per week is quite right in some classes of employment such as factories, but even under the Factory Acts there is a daily limit. In regard to coal mines I think it would be most dangerous and disadvantageous to allow men to work an unlimited number of hours per day in order to have two short days during the week. That is a very bad principle, and on that ground alone I could not assent to the Amendment. Of course, there is a great deal to be said for shortening the hours of labour by limiting the number per week. My second main objection to this Amendment is that it is not the Bill. It may, as a separate system, apply to this or that industry, but it is a totally different, proposal from the basis of this Bill. The basis of our Bill is an eight-hours day, and that is the short title of our measure. It is perfectly clear that the object and intention of this Bill is to provide for an eight-hours day, and if you substitute for that a provision giving forty-eight hours per week, then it is a different proposal altogether, and it would involve different rules. This Amendment is one which goes to the root of the principle of the Bill, Those are my two main objections, but I also object to the principle which allows miners to work ten, twelve, or even more hours underground at a stretch, and that is something which goes to the very root of this Bill.
§ MR. JOYNSON-HICKS (Manchester, N.W.)
said he approved of the Amendment, and he was not surprised that the right hon. Gentleman had not seen his way to accept it. It did not, as the Home Secretary said, cut to the root of the Bill, so far as limiting the hours was concerned, but it did cut to the root of the position taken up by the Government that they and the miners' representatives were the persons to decide whether adult men were to be allowed to conduct their own business in mines in their own way. The Amendment meant a certain amount of freedom to the men themselves, and the object of the Government and the miners' representatives was to abolish all freedom on the part of the men who disagreed with them. He would not argue whether it would do away with the difficulties incurred, or with the difficulties in regard I to winding, but the Amendment did raise a question of vital importance, and that was whether, assuming it was desirable to make any curtailment in the hours worked in mines, the men, or any collection of men, were to be allowed the slightest freedom whatever in disposing of their own time, or whether this Government and the active leaders of the miners' trade unions were to become complete dictators of the way in which miners were to spend their working hours. There were obvious advantages in allowing a forty-eight hours week. That was the basis upon which the Factory Acts were worked, and it was the basis upon which the trade unions regulated their own hours, and there was a growing tendency in all sections of the community to have an off day on some day of the week. Under the provisions of the Bill these off days were entirely put off unless the men took a whole day off; there was a possibility of working ten hours one day, and having an off day on Saturday or Monday, unless the whole arrangements were upset by this clause. He appealed to the general body of opinion in the House, and to those hon. Members who were not altogether dominated by the fear of miners' votes. He suggested that this was an Amendment in favour of freedom, and the rejection of it was a distinct acknowledgment on the part of the Government 844 that they intended to leave the whole mining industry to the leaders of the miners' trade unions, who woulfl not allow men to say what number of hours they would like to work.
§ * SIR IVOR HERBERT (Monmouthshire, S.)
said he wished to correct an impression that might arise from something that had been said by the mover of this Amendment. The hon. Member mentioned an application made by men working in the Tredegar pits for a reduction of the hours of winding to forty-eight hours a week, and the inference from that in the minds of hon. Members would be that the men in the pit favoured a forty-eight hours week rather than an eight-hours day. He rose to say, as one who was intimately connected with the coal-field referred to, and knew very well the feelings of the men there, that such an impression would be a together a false one. The representation made by those miners was in favour of a reduction of winding hours from fifty-four to forty-eight per week. It was a case of taking the best the men could get. Obviously the men there would wish to have a reduction from the long hours of winding which at present obtained, and would be willing to take forty-eight hours winding per week, but that was not the same thing as having an eight-hours day, which was what they desired. Perhaps it might be a step in the right direction had it been granted, but he wished to say in an emphatic manner that in that part of the South Wales coal-field this Amendment would give no satisfaction whatever.
§ MR. J. F. MASON (Windsor)
said he was not surprised that the right hon. Gentleman remained unmoved by the appeals made to him, but he was surprised that he did not regard more seriously the suggestion that the acceptance of the Amendment, or one very similar to it, would get him out of a difficulty. The Bill as it stood would be difficult of application in Northumberland and Durham. The hon. Member for Mid Durham, in his evidence before the Committee, brought out very clearly the injustice which would be done in that district by 845 the application of a rigid eight-hours day. Of course, under that system the hewers worked six and a half hours, and there were two shifts a day served by putters who worked for ten hours. The whole of that system must be upset if a rigid eight-hours day was applied, and it was quite evident that a fifty-hours week would leave the position as it stood, and enable them to work five days a week as they did now without altering their arrangements. But even a forty-eight-hours week would make such a small difference that its effect would be only to reduce the time of the putters by twenty minutes a day. He thought the right hon. Gentleman might give some further consideration to this proposal, and it would, at any rate, get the House out of a difficulty which, judging from his speech yesterday, he fully realised.
§ * MR. LUPTON
said that if this Amendment were accepted, it would do away with the chief practical objections to the Bill and it would make its application throughout the country much more fair. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment said it would get over the difficulty as regarded Durham and Northumberland. Under the Amendment the hauliers could work ten hours a day for four days, and they could have some men coming in on Tuesday who would work on up to the Saturday. Until they were wanted for hauling, they would be repairing, and when Friday came and the other men had finished their forty-eight hours, these men could come in from the repairing to finish off the shifts on Friday and Saturday. By means of the forty-eight hours a week plan, they got over the difficulty not only in the North of England, but in every other part of England. The House would be aware that the chief advantage which the Miners' Union hoped to get by the Bill was a reduction in the output of coal which would raise its price, and consequently wages. That, at any rate, was what the hon. Gentlemen below the gangway desired it to do. They thought that as a result of shorter hours they would have five or six men in the pit where they now had four, but a forty-eight hours 846 week would not give that advantage, for very few of the colliers worked forty-eight hours a week now. The Bill would not restrict their hours at all, on the average, throughout the country. The great aim of the Bill from the point of view of the Miners' Union would therefore be lost. It was said that the Bill would prevent men from working excessive hours. It could not be said that to be below ground forty-eight hours a week in our coal mines, which were well ventilated and carefully examined by inspectors from time to time, was an unhealthy life. He did not expect even that many of the hewers would be forty-eight hours a week underground if the Bill was passed. The forty-eight hours a week was a maximum, and he therefore hoped that the Government would accept the Amendment. The Home Secretary, in what he considered to be the interests of humanity, wanted to force a man down the pit six days a week so that he would put in more unprofitable time walking to and from his work, and injuring himself, when he might be far better employed above ground attending to his land, for some colliers had small holdings or engaged in some other occupation. It was said that in South Wales there were long hours; but why was that? It was because the men would not work the double shift system, and if the men would not work the double shift system they had to work long hours in order to keep up the output. As long as the single shift system was insisted on, the hewers would have to work long hours. Under the Amendment the mines would be enabled to maintain the output and they would escape the terrible results which would follow a shortage of fuel, which were too terrible to be imagined.
§ MR. D. A. THOMAS
asked whether the Amendment was consistent with the title of the Bill, and if passed, would it not require the title of the Bill to be changed?
§ * MR. SPEAKER
There are six days in a week, and if you multiply six by eight you have forty-eight hours.
§ MR. SAMUEL ROBERTS
said he had pleasure in supporting the Amendment. The miners in the part of the 847 country with which he was best acquainted, that was South Yorkshire, had shown no enthusiasm for the Bill at all, but they would regard it as an improvement if the Amendment were accepted. They liked their liberty, and they preferred to work four or five days a week, and to have Friday or Saturday as a holiday. This they thought was a better system than working six days a week. Mining was said to be an unhealthy occupation. It was perhaps not one of the most pleasant or the most healthy occupations, but that was all the more reason why the men should continue to have their holidays at the end of a week. The Amendment would give that elasticity which he considered to be so desirable. He was very much astonished that the Members representing Northumberland and Durham were not supporting this Amendment, and were not speaking for it.
§ MR. SAMUEL ROBERTS
said that if the Amendment was fifty hours a week it would meet the case of Durham, for it would enable one shift of boys to work for ten hours on five days. He was astonished that the hon. Member for Mid Durham was not in his place supporting this Amendment, for it would exactly meet the difficulties he and his friends had had so much to say about in the House for years. This was the first occasion, and this was the first year, when they had not found these Gentleman speaking against an Eight-Hours Bill. The reason for that was that they were now under a certain amount of coercion. Being now in the Miners' Federation their mouths were sealed and they were not in their places to support this Amendment as they ought to be. It was his privilege to go to Newcastle to be present at the late bye-election there. He noticed then there was no enthusiasm shown for the Bill at all. They could not even get the miners to go on the platform and support the Radical candidate when he spoke in favour of the Bill, and to his great astonishment, he found that they had actually to get miners to come from Lancashire. The Newcastle election had shown that, in that 848 district at any rate, there was not much desire to see the Bill passed, for they could not get their own people to support it. If the Amendment was carried, it would give a certain elasticity of choice to the men. He supposed the Government wanted to satisfy the men, for the only reason that could be brought forward for the existence of the Bill was that the men had been coerced to ask for hours which they did not want.
§ MR. LAMBTON
said his hon. friend who had just sat down had commented on the fact that none of the Durham Members were there to support this Amendment. He supported it, but did not do so because he thought it was suitable to Durham. His belief was that Durham did not want any legislation at all. The coal owners and miners in Durham were quite able to settle their own affairs without the interference of Parliament. The hon. Member for Sleaford had on the previous day told them how free from accidents the coal-trade in Durham was, and said that the working of short hours was the greatest benefit in the world. The Home Secretary said that Durham and Northumberland were very highly organised.
§ MR. LAMBTON
said he thought that was the same thing. The right hon. Gentlemen said that Durham and Northumberland stood by themselves. That meant that they were very highly organised, and he did not see why he should wish to apply a Bill of this kind to them. They had got on very, well without this legislation, and he had never come across anybody who had asked for the Bill at all. The hon. Gentlemen below the gangway did not look upon him as representing the mining industry. There were, however, 3,000 or 4,000 miners in his constituency. Whether he represented them or not he did not know. He had never asked how they voted, and he only knew what had been the result of the poll. He had not received a single petition in favour of the Bill from them. They were not chary about expressing their opinions 849 in regard to other Bills, such as the Licensing Bill, but they had never asked him to support this Bill. The Amendment might meet the case of Durham it was said, but he did not think it quite would. The Amendment asked for a forty-eight-hours week. In Durham some men worked thirty-seven hours a week; another class worked forty-seven hours and some of the boys worked fifty-two hours or fifty-four hours a week. These were, lads whose work was not heavy. He was quite convinced that they were not very hard worked from the way in which they played football at the end of the week. As regards physique the Durham miners would compare favourably with those anywhere else. Ever since this matter had been before Parliament all the Members for Durham and Northumberland had opposed an Eight Hours Bill. The hon. Member for Wansbeck and the hon. Member for Mid. Durham had told the House on more than one occasion that the boys and men in Durham had not suffered physically or mentally from their work in the mines. Now it was proposed compulsorily to alter the whole system. That, he thought, was a most dangerous thing. Would the Home Secretary show him that the Bill would not cost more than 1s. a ton more in Durham and Northumberland? There 80 per cent. of their trade was export trade and this increase might seriously affect it. The right hon. Gentleman and his party had taken off the tax on exported coal, but they were imposing a new tax which would be put on at the pit mouth. The dislocation of trade caused by this might involve the loss to Durham and Northumberland of the whole of their export trade. He should support this Amendment because he thought it was better than the Bill, not because he thought it was good for Durham.
§ MR. ATHERLEY-JONES
said the observation by his hon. friend who had just spoken that lads in Durham were not suffering from physical disease because they were experts at football, reminded him of a similar expression used nearly fifty years ago in the House by the right hon. Baronet who was then the Member for the county of Durham. At that time the 850 boys and men were working in the pit sixteen hours a day. The right hon. Baronet in opposing the Bill made the statement that the physique of the children was magnificent, and that he had seem them gambolling about like young lambs. Fortunately that argument did not prevail with the House of Commons, and boys of tender years were no longer permitted to go down the pits under the noisome and horrible conditions under which mining was carried on in those days. He need hardly say that he believed that there was no Member in the House who was more animated by humanitarian sentiments than, the hon. Member for South-East Durham, and that he would not be indifferent to the real interests of the children. He also was a Member for Durham, and although he could not speak with the authority of his hon. friend, at the same time this was a question to which he had given very long and earnest attention, and ever since he had been in the House of Commons, he had supported a general eight-hours day. He was quite sure of this, that the hon. Member for South-East Durham and the hon. Member for Wansbeck never did take up any attitude except that which they honestly conceived to be in the interests of the miners of Northumberland and Durham, and it was in that frame of mind that they expressed their hostility to the eight-hours measures formerly introduced. But there were many conditions about this Bill which might render it acceptable to those who formerly opposed the old Eight Hours Bill. The hon. Member for Wansbeck required no commendation from him, but he was perfectly certain that that hon. Gentleman was the last man in the world who would be coerced, and if there was any modification in his views, it reflected a modification of the views of his constituents. He had preached the doctrine of an eight-hours day in Durham for many years, and had met with considerable hostility because of it. His hon. friend who spoke last stated that the County of Durham did not want this Bill, and that the men there were strong advocates of forty-eight hours per week. But forty-eight hours a week would defeat the whole object of the Bill so far as the County of Durham was 851 country, was to do a wanton and indefensible thing. He hoped that the Government would earnestly consider this Amendment, not only in the interests of the coal trade, but to secure the welfare of all the interests involved. He had great pleasure in seconding the Amendment.
In page 1, line 13, to leave out the words 'During the three years after the commencement of this Act.'"—(Mr. Beck.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'During the' stand part of the Bill'"
§ MR. GLADSTONE
I do not in any way complain of this Amendment, Looking at it from the point of view of the Opposition, I quite agree that the Amendment is a very reasonable and intelligible one; but I am afraid I cannot accept it. In the first place, I would like to deal with one or two points raised by the hon. Gentlemen opposite. Let me deal, first of all, with the point which he raised and endeavoured to make about my action upon the Committee. He says that the proposal which I made to make the period five years was rejected as such by the Committee.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
The hon. Member for Norwood says "Hear, hear," but I will tell the House what really occurred. I put down an Amendment to fulfil a promise which I made on the Second Reading to change the words in the first clause so far as to substitute a period of five years for the period of eighteen months. I put down that Amendment and in it, of course, occurred the words "five years." My hon. friends below the gangway representing mining constituencies, were very much opposed to this five years period because they thought it was an undue concession to make from their point of view, and when the question was pressed they voted against the words standing part of the Bill. The result was that an equal number—I think, putting it roughly, about fourteen on each side—voted for and against this proposal. Those who voted against it were not all hon. Members sitting opposite, because some of my own friends were against it, but an equal number of strong critics of 852 this Bill wanted to eliminate altogether my Amendment in order to make the exclusion of both windings permanent. On this point a number of my hon. friends joined forces with hon. Members below the gangway in opposing the question that those words stand part of the Bill. The result was that the Government were defeated, if I may say so, without offence, by this fortuitous combination of atoms. [Cries of "Oh!"] I pointed out to the Committee that the result of the division did not carry the weight it would have had if the Government had boon defeated on the Amendment upon its merits. I think my hon. friends below the gangway wanted a lesser period, but hon. Members opposite did not desire any figures at all inserted. The point is that that vote on the Committee did not carry any substantial unanimous wish of the Committee; in fact, it was really accidental, and all I am anxious is that the House should know the facts. When the five years period was knocked out the Committee was in an impasse, because there was a blank in the Bill, and if the Government had not given some advice, it would have been impossible to have agreed upon any proposal. As a matter of fact, there were something like six alternative proposals, and I had to recommend some course. The result was that, in order to fill in the blank, I recommended the acceptance of an Amendment proposing three years, and I stand by that Amendment now. Therefore, I think there is nothing in the point of the hon. Member, because it is merely one of the accidents which often happens under the Rules of the House. At that time I distinctly said that I was not committed to my Amendment, and that when the Bill returned to the House of Commons the Government would have to stand by their own proposals. The quotation from my speech which has been made by the hon. Member for Norwood was precisely the same as that which was made by the hon. Member for Dulwich, but I observe that the passage which has been road out must have been either my second or my third intervention in the discussion. I can easily explain what I meant at any rate. It is quite true that at all stages of this Bill I have dwelt on the necessity of guarding against any possible danger which might be accentuated by its passage. In the course of my observations I had to reply to the argument 853 would fall on the shoulders of the consumer. He was sure every Englishman had an innate love of liberty. It was one of the things they all felt strongly about, except, of course, the present Government. Miners were particularly fond of their liberty; they were a liberty-loving race. The hon. Member for North-West Manchester said that the Amendment meant freedom for the workers in the coal mines and allowed the men to arrange their own time. The Bill, as it stood, was going to deprive them of their rights and liberties.
§ MR. HUNT (Shropshire, Ludlow)
said he had voted for the principle of the Bill, but he must say that he could not understand the Government not agreeing to this Amendment. After all, the men under the Amendment would only actually work on an average about seven hours a day; and that was very much less than was done in other occupations where there was distinctly hard manual labour. There was this also to be considered from the workman's point of view, that if a man lost two or three days from any cause, under the Bill he had no way of making up for them. He was tied up and must only work seven hours a day. He thought that was a very considerable curtailment of a man's liberty. He believed that when Liberal Members began to understand that they would not like it at all. The Amendment, in his opinion, would do away with a great many objections to the Bill, and it would give the men a very fair amount of freedom. If the Government would not accept the Amendment and give the men their freedom, they were going to tie them up very severely, and in his opinion they would not like it at all. He was sure that it would be very much better if, instead of practically tying down every man in every mine to what he might call perhaps a Government system, to which probably eventually he would very strongly object, some other course were adopted. He hoped the Government would consider this Amendment very seriously. The miners in his division were all in favour of an Eight Hours Bill, but he did not think, as far as he knew, that they would have any objection at all to this Amendment, and he was sure that in another part 854 of Shropshire it would be welcomed very much indeed, by at all events a very considerable number of men.
§ MR. MARKHAM
said that when this clause was under discussion in Committee, a statement of immense importance was made by the hon. Member for South Glamorgan, in reply to certain remarks of his on this question of forty-eight hours a week, which statement he thought ought to be placed upon the journals of the House in some way, there not being any Reports taken in Committee. The hon. Member for South Glamorgan stated definitely to the Committee that he gave a pledge that the miners of South Wales would work when this Bill was passed six days a week, and it was not the intention either of his constituents or of the Federation to prevent the miners working six days a week. For his own part, knowing the interest that miners in South Wales took in football he doubted whether they would work six days, but he thought that difficulty could perhaps be met to a great extent by altering the hours of work on Saturday morning. If he were not travelling outside the Amendment, he should like to say on the question of diminution, that he was sure, if his hon. friend and those associated with him would follow his advice as to double shifts, there would be no need for anxiety about South Wales. He should like to say a few words about the position of Durham. It seemed to him an extraordinary position that hon. Members should come and state that the Durham coalfield would be dislocated by an Eight Hours Bill. What was the position? He did not know a single coalfield in any part of the world where boys were worked longer hours than adults, and if it was possible in every other part of the world to work mines economically and well under another system, it was possible for the managers in Durham so to organise matters that the same difficulties which had been overcome by other bodies of men were overcome in Durham. He could not think that the House, which had so often dealt with the question of child labour, was going to allow children of thirteen years 855 of age to be employed in that way. Children of thirteen years of age could be employed under ground, though not above ground, and these children worked long hours in Durham. Surely that could not be for the advancement of the mining industry of that county, whatever the men might think, and he could not help thinking that that good sound common sense which all North Country men had would settle the matter if the men and the owners put their heads together. If they did that he was sure these difficulties would disappear. As to the Amendment, it would destroy the whole principle upon which this legislation was founded. The House had accepted the principle of an eight-hours day, and to permit the men to work twelve hours a day, as they could if this Amendment were accepted, would destroy the whole intention of the Bill.
§ MR. GOULDING (Worcester)
, in supporting the Amendment, said that with many others he greatly regretted that the Government had not seen their way to accept it. It would have given that elasticity to the Bill which would have enabled them to overcome a great many of the big obstacles which were introduced. The hon. Member who had just addressed them had stated that the hon. Member for Glamorgan said that the miners, so far as he knew, were not going to use their opportunities hereafter to try and reduce the number of days that they would work or in any other way to encroach upon the time that the Bill assumed that they would work. He did not doubt for one moment the bona fides of the hon. Gentleman, but he was perfectly certain that he would agree with him that representatives only spoke for the time they were representatives, and what the miners said to-day when this Bill was before Parliament they might materially alter at a later date under different circumstances, so that really that statement carried no weight whatsoever. What did carry weight was this. He believed there had been a meeting of the Federation of Miners at Chester within the last twelve months, and there it was desired by representatives of the miners to carry a resolution that they should not work more than five 856 days a week, and it took the intervention of the hon. Member for Hanley to prevent its being dealt with. He appealed to them not to hamper the Eight Hours Bill by unpleasant proposals of that sort, but to leave them by for a convenient opportunity. As a consequence, the miners there, acting under the strategic advice of the hon. Member for Hanley, did not proceed to deal with the five days a week resolution. Now the point which they had to consider more than any other that night was how this Bill was going to deal with the miners in Northumberland and Durham in regard to this very proposal. The Home Secretary said he opposed the Amendment for the forty-eight-hours week because it was dangerous. What the danger was he did not proceed to tell them. The only danger that he saw, as regarded the eight-hours day, was the inevitable result that wages would be reduced. Individuals could not earn sufficient to justify their present wage and consequently the cost of fuel must inevitably be increased to the vast majority of the people. If there was any danger with regard to forty-eight hours per week in reference to this work below ground, he should like to move as an addition to the Amendment the words "but not more than ten hours in any day," and that would put it out of the power of any of these individuals to work those hours which people considered deleterious to their health. It was a remarkable thing that, although this Eight Hours Bill affected so adversely the great counties of Northumberland and Durham, they had not had the presence that night of any of the eminent miners' representatives to speak of the clause as it stood. Many of them would remember that some of the most eloquent, powerful, and convincing speeches ever delivered on the floor of the House had been delivered by representatives of those miners against this very Bill. Such being the case they were without the evidence of what was the actual position of the miners in those two counties upon the proposal of a definite eight-hours day, and one was driven back to the only statistic before them, and that was that in the year 1903 the miners, by a majority of 17,000, gave an adverse vote against the Mines Eight Hours Bill. From that day to the 857 present the miners in Durham had never varied that result. That was their record, and their representatives were not there to say on their behalf whether they had changed their position in regard to it. Then they came to Northumberland. In Northumberland there had been a poll of the miners, and out of 46,000 only 18,000 took the trouble to vote, and on that vote a simple majority of 465 was declared in favour of the Bill.
§ * MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. CALDWELL,) Lanarkshire, Mid.
I wish to point out that the Amendment raises the question of whether there should be an eight-hours day or forty-eight hours a week, and the hon. Member must not stray beyond that.
§ MR. GOULDING
said he was only going to explain to the House that forty-eight hours a week would naturally be more in accordance with the wishes of Durham and Northumberland than the strict limit of eight hours a day.
§ * MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The question he is discussing is the opinion of the Durham and Northumberland miners on an eight-hours day. The House has already determined the principle of an eight hours day on the Amendment to leave out subsection (1). The present Amendment is whether the limit should be a daily limit of eight hours, or a weekly limit of forty-eight hours.
§ MR. GOULDING
said he at once bowed to the Chairman's ruling, and he left that part of the Bill, but he desired to point out that if an eight-hours day was applied to these miners it would inflict a very great hardship which would be avoided if there was the elasticity which was given by a forty-eight-hours week enabling them to work not more than ten hours a day. In the evidence of the hon. Member for Mid Durham he stated that while the "putters" would have their hours reduced from ten to eight, the actual "getters" might have their hours increased 858 from six and a half to eight if they were to be able to keep up the output which was necessary to keep these men in employment. Surely it was not desired by any party gratuitously to curtail the amount of production that could be secured from any mine. He therefore desired to give that elasticity to these counties which they would have by a forty-eight-hours week. They would be able so to arrange the forty-eight hours in the week as to secure the greatest amount of output and consequently the greatest amount of employment. Lastly, he wished to refer to another point of importance. There were mines in which a miner had to travel a great distance before he got to his stall. Surely, it would be in his interests and to his advantage to enable him, when he reached that stall, to spend as much time there as possible and not use perhaps an hour each day, as might be the case with a simple eight-hours day, in getting there.
§ MR. GOULDING
said he supported the Amendment on the grounds he had stated, moving, as he did, to add at the end "but not more than ten hours in any day."
§ * MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The hon. Member's Amendment cannot be accepted at this stage. The question before the House is that certain words stand part, and until that is disposed of no new Amendment Can be moved.
§ * MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
You can only move another Amendment if the words proposed to be left out are left out.
§ MR. GOULDING
concluded by saying he desired that this system should be secured for miners in these different localities where circumstances were peculiar and where they must be the best judges of what was advantageous to the industry to which they belonged.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
was sorry the hon. Member for North Shropshire was not in this place, because he was always interesting in any role he took up, and he had taken up the role in this case of an innocent supporter of the Government, and appealed to them to accept the Amendment.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said he would like to point out to the hon. Member that when he was a half and half supporter he got no consideration from the Government, and he was going to press upon him the advisability of opposing the Government on principle. The hon. Member for Mansfield and the hon. Member for Durham had opposed the Amendment on the ground that boys should not be compelled to work long hours underground. The hon. Member for Mansfield said children of thirteen years of age should not be compelled to pass long hours underground. He quite agreed with him, and he did not believe there was a single man on that side of the House who would not agree that children of thirteen years of age should not be long hours underground. That, however, was not the object of the Amendment. The object of the Amendment was to provide that people generally employed in the mine—and there were a good many people employed besides children of thirteen years of age—should be allowed to work forty-eight hours in one week. If the hon. Member would bring in a Bill to exclude children from working above a certain number of hours underground, he would support him, but his arguments were hardly apposite to the question before the House. The same remark applied to the hon. Member for Durham. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, interrupting the hon. Member for Worcester, said he opposed the Amendment on the ground that it would permit men to work twelve or fourteen hours a day. He presumed the reason he objected to it was because he thought that would be deleterious to their health. He would however point out that there was nothing to prevent men working twelve or fourteen hours a day now. They did not do it, 860 and they did not do it because they were combined in a powerful organisation and could practically choose the hours they worked without any interference from anybody. He thought he might venture to say that that argument—he did not wish to use any offensive language, and he would put it midly—was a foolish one, and one which would not bear investigation. What was the real argument for the Amendment? It was that it would enable the men to have a holiday once a week. They could earn good wages in forty-eight hours, and at the same time secure to themselves on the sixth day a holiday. He did not pretend to have an intimate acquaintance with miners, although he had taken a good deal of interest in this subject, and especially when he was on the Grand Committee, but as far as he knew, the habit of the miner was, if possible, to have one day in the week on which he could play football and take part in any other sports, and enjoy himself. That was a very strong argument for supporting the Amendment. He had never been in a mine himself, but he quite admitted that in order to get to their place in the mine the miners had to go through difficulties and discomforts. The Amendment would allow them to work nine and a half hours in five days, and would give them the power on the sixth day to enjoy themselves. All of them in that House who had any knowledge of human nature must admit that when a man had once started upon his day's labour, it was much more to his interest to spend nine or ten hours at that labour and to get a whole day off, than to spend a smaller number of hours over that labour every day in the week. He saw the Chairman of the Departmental Committee opposite, and he thought he would confirm, him when he said that the Report of that Committee remarked upon the absence of men, and bore out the fact that they did not want to work every day in the week. If the Amendment were not carried, unless the miner changed his whole nature and became a machine who would work readily for eight hours every day in the week—a thing he had never done in the history of mines—he would have to do one of two things: he would either have to lose wages which 861 he was already earning, or he would have to go to his trade union and ask them to increase the amount paid per ton of coal. He did not think there could be any doubt as to what he would do. He would go to his trade union and say: "I do not want to work eight hours for six days in the week; I am not allowed to work forty-eight hours in five days, and I must, therefore, ask you so to increase the piece-work price I am paid for getting out a ton of coal, that the result will be the same to me, and I shall be able to work five hours and get the same wage as I do, now that I work longer hours." The result which would follow under those circumstances was evident. There would be a great rise in the price of coal, and a very large amount of restriction would be placed upon the manufacturing community. He did not want to go into the evils which would follow that. Everybody in the House knew what they were, though he did not think the country outside realised it. If the Amendment were carried, it might be possible to avoid all that, and to go on with the same system they had now without that dislocation which he believed would follow if the Bill passed without the Amendment. He should, therefore, for those reasons, have much pleasure in supporting the Amendment. This was evidently, in no way, a party question. The Amendment had been moved, and he believed had been supported by hon. Gentlemen opposite. If the Solicitor-General considered his hon. friend the Member for North Shropshire a half-and-half supporter, he did not think he would consider the mover of the Amendment one. He therefore, appealed to him to give that consideration to his own supporter which he refused to his hon. friend.
§ MR. BOWLES
was not surprised, particularly after their experience upstairs, that the Home Secretary had found it impossible to accept the Amendment, but he was rather surprised at what he considered the extremely singular reasons which the right hon. Gentleman gave for the course he was taking. So far as he could understand the right hon. Gentleman, the Government had only 862 two reasons against the Amendment. First of all the right hon. Gentleman said, with a great appearance of solemnity, that he could not possibly agree with the Amendment because it was not the Bill. Of course, it was not the Bill. He did not see how an Amendment could be the Bill. The whole point of an Amendment was that it was not the Bill, and, when the right hon. Gentleman with a serious face stood up at the box and set forth as a serious reason for not accepting the Amendment that it was an Amendment and not the Bill, he was bound to say he was taking up a singular position for a member of the Government. The Amendment would make the system they were setting up in one of the most important industries of the country elastic and make it apply fairly and equally all over the country. It would make the Bill apply fairly and equally over the whole of the coalfield, and it would carry out the objects of hon. Gentlemen equally as well as they were carried out in the Bill as it now stood. It would achieve that result all through fairly and equally as between man and man and as between master and man. The Government throughout, both in the House and upstairs, had insisted upon an absolutely cast-iron and rigid rule which was to apply up and down the country to all mines of which the conditions varied. It must be quite clear to any reasonable men that any such attempt as that was an attempt which they ought not to make except upon the clearest and the gravest grounds. Upon what grounds were they invited to make that attempt? The right hon. Gentleman had given them as a reason, and it was all they had heard against the principle of the Amendment, that if it were adopted there would be nothing to prevent people working under their present system. That was to say, that they would work longer hours than eight on certain days in order to get off-days on other days of the week. What did that mean? If that objection had any meaning, it meant nothing else than that in those collieries where at present off-days existed those off-days under the operation of this Bill would cease if the Amendment came into operation. It must mean that; it could not mean anything else. He asked the 863 Solicitor-General, who had every qualification to answer, to give them an explanation. The hon. and learned Gentleman was a Welsh Member, well-acquainted with coal mines, and he was also a member of the Government. He asked him whether the Home Secretary meant the House to understand by his objection to the Amendment what was the only meaning he could put upon his words, that if the Bill became law one effect of it would be that, in those districts where there was a system of working longer hours in order to get off-days or short days, that system was to be given up; in other words, that where, for instance, the men worked nine hours a day for tour days a week in order to have two days off, that system was to be replaced by a rigid system of eight hours day by day. Surely there was no theory about a matter of that sort. It was a practical question. The Government had invited them to pass a rigid cast-iron system for the whole of the collieries of the country, but he would respectfully ask, and he thought they were entitled to know, what was the real object of the Government? If the right hon. Gentleman and the Government really meant that off-days ought to cease, and that every man was to earn the same amount of money by working every day of the week, although shorter hours on each day, then that ought to be explained. He very much doubted whether hon. Gentlemen below the gangway agreed with the Government in the slightest degree in that interpretation. If he might respectfully say so, the House had been deprived of all sorts of information which they alone, according to their asseverations, both upstairs and downstairs, were competent to afford. This was a purely practical matter, and he would like to ask hon. Gentlemen below the gangway whether they agreed with the Home Secretary in his statement to the House that the Amendment must be resisted, because if it were to be accepted it would put an end to the system he proposed, namely, that off-days which were secured by working longer hours on certain days was to be given up. The Government were asking them to press upon the great district of Northumberland and Durham, where 864 they worked under a system entirely different from that in other districts, the same rigid, cast-iron rule. Surely they were entitled to know whether this system of eight hours a day, day by day and no more, was going to be worked in Northumberland and Durham. In spite of what had been said by the right hon. Gentleman, he submitted that if the Amendment were adopted it would really substantially and practically meet the difficulty in the counties of Northumberland and Durham. But if the Government said that was not so, then what they wanted to know was, how, in their opinion, the Bill was going to work in practice in Northumberland and Durham.
§ * MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. CALDWELL)
The hon. Member will remember that he is occupying a considerable time in putting questions that have already been asked by several hon. Members.
§ MR. BOWLES
said he was well aware of that, but those questions had not been answered. Of course if they had been answered, he would not have repeated them.
§ * MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The mere fact that a question has not been answered is no reason for continued repetition by subsequent speakers.
§ MR. F. E. SMITH (Liverpool, Walton)
Is my hon. friend not entitled to put questions, though already addressed to the Government, to which in his belief, and in our belief, no adequate answer has yet been given?
§ * MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
No, I do not think he should continue to repeat questions. If the Government wish to answer they will answer. But it is against the rules of debate in this House to continue repeating questions and arguments which have been repeatedly pub and advanced by previous speakers.
§ MR. BOWLES
said he, of course, bowed to the ruling, but he would like an answer to two very short questions. The Solicitor-General well knew, and it had been constantly repeated in the debates, that at the present moment the system in Northumberland and Durham 865 was six and a half hours a day. If the Amendment were carried were they to go on working six and a half hours a day, or were they to work longer? Surely, the Government must have considered this matter. If so, what was the result of their consideration? If hon. Gentlemen below the gangway had not considered this point he ventured to suggest that they ought to do so. Was the six and a half hours a day in Northumberland and Durham to be continued or not? Or were those hours to be increased? He thought it was extremely important that they should know. That was a simple question which had not yet been asked, and on which the Amendment turned. Then there was the question of the boys in Northumberland and Durham. They had days off, and they wanted to know whether the days off of those boys would be continued if the Bill came into operation in its present form. He left the question of Durham and Northumberland, merely observing that they had no intelligible theory from the Government as to how the Bill, as it stood, if the Amendment were not carried, would affect that great coalfield. They had been told that the great advantage of proceeding in this matter by way of legislation was that it would avoid disputes and strikes in the trade. He said that if the Government really wished to bring into operation the real principle of the Bill, if it were indeed a real principle, namely, to increase the opportunities for leisure of the mining community with less risk of disputes and strikes, they would do it by accepting the Amendment, and by preserving elasticity and variety in the system which they were attempting to apply to the whole country. He submitted, in the absence of any explanation as to how they were going to meet the practical difficulties raised by the Bill as it stood, the House of Commons would be taking upon itself a very serious responsibility if it agreed to this measure in its present form, and without accepting the Amendment.
§ MR. FELL (Great Yarmouth)
said there could be no doubt that the Amendment was entirely in harmony with the spirit of the time. The tendency of the present day was in every case to concentrate labour, to work longer hours, 866 and to concentrate oneself more upon one's work for a short while so as to have a holiday at the end of the week. He had noticed how this had increased in every quarter, and how entirely different our habits and wants were now compared with what they were twenty years ago. If they constituted an eight-hours day every day of the week they would be putting the clock back, and they would not get Englishmen to do it. They might pretend that pitmen were going to work eight hours a day every day of the week, but it was not true. They did not mean to do it. There was not the slightest idea that they were going to do it. Though he was not practically acquainted with mines he had seen many of them, and had examined the facts in connection with them, and his examination went to show that the men in the mines should not work more than about four and a half days a week. To suggest that instead of working four and a half days a week, the men should work every day in the week was to change the habits of the whole of those men, and he was sure that they were not going to do it by Act of Parliament. They would find that when they put this change into actual operation it would not operate in the manner they expected. The Amendment would enable the old and nearly worked-out mines to be worked to advantage. There was no dispute about that; and it would also enable old men to do their work. To suggest that for the men to walk to and from their work, occupying a considerable time, and to be at their work only for a short period, would be a profitable and economical mode of working was an illusion. The further a man had to go to work naturally the longer it took him to get there, and when he was there, naturally he wished to remain longer at his work in order to make it more profitable. In another colliery where it took only a quarter of an hour to go down, they would work nine hours a day. It was admitted on all sides that old collieries would not be able to continue working if they had this rigid eight hours a day for what was suggested would be six days in the week. It did not require them at this time of day to say that business and work was now done under 867 higher pressure than it used to be. They could not make men become plodding machines instead of men who were doing actively all they could positively do and making the largest amount of money they could in the shortest time. To suggest that they should do this at the present day was beyond comprehension. They would not care to work slowly on every day at a moderate amount. They would do as all men were doing, put on the steam and work as hard as they could for about four days in the week and then take a holiday, and he did not grudge them that holiday. Far from it. If this Bill would give them that holiday he would be only too delighted if they could enjoy it with plenty of money in their pocket. But if they worked eight hours, and still took their holiday, they would not have the money in their pocket. They would take it all the same but they would have less money to spend when they had a holiday. He heartily supported the Amendment, and believed there was none which had been proposed more in accord with the spirit of the times.
§ MR. RIDSDALE
said he did not often trouble the House—on the few-occasions when he did he was very sorry for his auditors—but he conceived it his duty to support this Amendment. On this occasion he had listened with considerable patience to a large part of the debate, and had heard serious arguments addressed to the Home Secretary, the Law Officers of the Crown, the Under-Secretary of the Home Office or whoever might be in the position of defending the Bill, but he had listened in vain for any answer to them. In addition to commenting on the silence of those in charge of the Bill he might be allowed at the same time to say that those hon. Gentlemen who were mainly interested in the success of this Bill had also been conspicuous for their silence. What did the Amendment propose? It proposed to introduce into the cast-iron system of eight hours per day a certain amount of elasticity. It allowed the number of hours to be the same per week as the more rigid proposals of the Government, and it allowed a certain amount of liberty to the individual colliers that they should work rather 868 more than eight hours on one day and rather less on another day. He could not conceive any Government really seriously wishing arbitrarily to limit the discretion of a man as to whether he should work a longer or a shorter period on one particular day than another. There was no principle involved. Was there any extraordinary quality in the figure 8, that it must be applied to every one of the days of the week, and not extended to nine on some and diminished to seven on other occasions? If there was any argument for the Bill, which he occasionally doubted, surely if the number of hours worked per week was the same under each method, the best method to adopt was the one that gave the most elasticity and liberty to the individual. He had listened to the right hon. Gentleman and the reasons why he would not accept the Amendment. The first reason he gave was that it was not the Bill. A more admirable reason in support of the Amendment he had never heard. It was an Amendment proposed in older to give liberty to the various men as regarded the hours they worked on a particular day, and it was designed to extend that liberty as far as possible. He could not understand why it should be in the mind of the Government to restrict the liberty of the men to this absolutely arbitrary period of eight hours. There was nothing more in eight hours than there was in eight and a half or seven. Then the second reason given was that actually these wrong-doing men might on certain days of the week have the iniquity to work for ten or perhaps twelve hours in order to get off for a holiday on the last day of the week—a most monstrous thing for any collier or anyone of His Majesty's subjects to perpetrate. Was that argument put forward seriously? They were the only two arguments they had heard from the Government bench against this proposal. If, as they heard originally, the case in favour of the miner was that it was a dangerous occupation, and that to spend more than eight hours a day in the mine incurred a certain amount of risk as the hon. Member for Merthyr said, that argument was met entirely by this extension of the time to forty-eight hours for a whole week, and they had the additional advantage of 869 allowing these men to have a certain discretion with regard to the splitting of the hours he was to work in any one day. He was not entitled, as his hon. friends below the gangway would at once inform him, to speak on behalf of the miners in any respect, but it seemed to him to be an impossible position that any man, be he a collier or anyone outside the four walls of an asylum, should not wish to have the power, at any rate, whether he exercised it or not, so to divide up his time that he might work a little longer at one period or a little shorter at another. In that House they had not a cast-iron system by which they were always there at a quarter to three and left at eleven o'clock. There was a certain amount of discretion. Unfortunately he was there until 3.30 that morning, and had only three hours sleep, but he felt he had been exercising his individual liberty, and, as he thought, trying to do a little good for the country in preventing this Bill getting through, and he intended to sit up for the rest of the night if necessary to achieve that object.
§ SIR S. EVANS
The last observation the hon. Member made was that he conceived it to be his duty, not only to his constituency but to the country, to do his best by all the means at his hand to prevent the Bill becoming law. That was the whole tenour of his speech. But I do not think I heard a single piece of argument in the course of the speech in favour of the Amendment now before the House except the mere phraseology which he used that there ought to be elasticity. Let me test the hon. Member and see whether he is honest in supporting the Amendment. He is perfectly honest in his opposition to the Bill, but is he honest in supposing the Amendment? He wishes to give full liberty to anyone to work as long and under what conditions he likes. Just as he has enjoyed thoroughly the liberty of staying in this House for twenty-one hours out of the twenty-four, and only enjoyed three hours sleep—and some of us would have preferred that he had indulged in a little more—so he thinks every collier in every coal mine in the country, whatever the state of things in the colliery was and whatever the danger 870 was to him and whatever the consequences to his health if he was foolish and selfish enough to work all these hours, ought to be allowed, in the exercise of his full liberty as an Englishman, to spend any quantity of time he likes underground. Let me put to him one or two questions and see whether or not he has even grasped the Amendment. A man works forty-four hours on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Admirable, according to the hon. Gentleman. He ought, therefore, to be allowed to work ten hours on the Friday.
§ SIR SAMUEL EVANS
Exactly. And the Amendment is that he must not work more than forty-eight. That is exactly what I was pointing out to the House, and the hon. Member has not thought fit to grasp the meaning of the Amendment.
§ MR. RIDSDALE
If I might interrupt, I have endeavoured to make clear that under the Government Bill it would be eight hours for six days which makes, in my view, forty-eight hours, and that under the Amendment there were forty-eight hours, but there was the power to any man to work ten hours on one day and take off the extra number on the next.
§ SIR SAMUEL EVANS
The hon. Member was speaking in favour of an Amendment to limit the hours of working of colliers to forty-eight a week. That is the Amendment. I put to him this, that if they are entitled to work, as he thinks they ought to be, eleven hours for the first four days, why, according to his theory, should they be prevented from working more than four on the fifth occasion.
§ SIR SAMUEL EVANS
The Second Reading of this Bill is that we are not regulating the hours per week, but regulating the hours per day, and if the hon. 871 Member had as much regard as he pretends to have for the principle of the vote on the Second Reading, that is the principle underlying the Bill. He said lots of questions have been put, and not answered. No questions have been put which have not been answered from this side of the House. No question of a legal character has been put to me in the course of the Amendment. The real reason why we did not think it necessary to get up — I am rather sorry I am up now—is that we want to see the Bill pass into law. The real reason of his getting up is not to support the Amendment, but to prevent the Bill becoming law. The principle of the Bill is that we want to attempt to regulate the hours per day, and in doing that we think we are doing what is good for the people of the country and for the people engaged in this industry. It is not good to encourage a man to do injury to himself for three or four days in the week, and to go on holidays or some other expedition on two other days of the week. It is bad for the industry, bad for the employer, and bad for the men. It is right, not merely from the point of view of safety, but of the industry in every direction, that it should have as much regularity as possible in the working of the colliery and in the output from the colliery, that in that way you regulate the hours of the men themselves working in dangerous conditions, and enable the enlightened employers also to show to their customers what they are able to produce day after day. It will not be spasmodic or sporadic. So far as we can we are regularising the method of working, and I am very pleased to see the workmen and their leaders are putting upon themselves self-restraint in this matter. I do not think we are right to say: "Why not enjoy your life when you can." It is better, in their interest, in the interest of the families and of the great industry in which they are engaged, that there should be as far as possible, a limitation of hours and a regulation of the industry so that the employer may know what the output will be.
§ MR. RAWLINSON (Cambridge University)
said he wished to enter his 872 protest against the speech made by the hon. and learned Member who had just sat down. When one of the supporters of the Government got up and had the courage fairly and squarely in face of a hostile audience freely to criticise the Bill the Government bench refused to answer his criticism.
MR. THOMAS RICHARDS (Monmouthshire, W.)
said they were all answered in Committee upstairs over and over again.
§ MR. RAWLINSON
said that no explanation of this proposal had been vouchsafed to them from the front Government bench, and the only excuse given to them was that an answer had been given to the questions in the Committee upstairs. [Cries of "Question."] That was the reason why he had risen to protest against the speech of the Solicitor-General. The only reply they got was that the Amendment went against the spirit of the Second Reading of the Bill, and to prove this the Solicitor-General went to the trouble of reading the heading of the Bill or rather the short title. But the hon. and learned Gentleman never said a word about limiting the hours of work per day. The object of the Bill was "to amend the Coal Mines Regulation Acts for the purpose of limiting the hours of work below ground." Not one word was said there as to whether those hours were per day or per week. When the Law Officer of the Crown was forced to get up and reply to a Member of his own party in that way, the Liberal Government must be hard driven for an argument. He did not propose to discuss further the merits of this particular Amendment, because it had been made abundantly clear that a man ought to be allowed to work ten hours a day for so many days, and so many days at a lesser number, providing he did not make the total more thin forty-eight hours per week. If hon. Members voted for the Amendment as he proposed to do, it did not follow that they were unfavourable to a restriction upon the hours of labour in mines. The Amendment was 873 a great improvement upon what was proposed in the existing Bill, and the arguments used in favour of it had been unanswered. He should not have intervened at all in the debate only he desired to protest against the suggestion that by the Second Reading they had been in any way bound upon this question.
§ MR. LAURENCE HARDY
said that those Members of the House who were not members of the Grand Committee had no opportunity of hearing the arguments on this question, and now it was being claimed that the House ought not to be allowed to have the full benefit of those arguments. He thought the learned Solicitor-General was not quite right in saying that the Amendment was contrary to the spirit of the Bill. It had already been pointed out that the title in no way limited it. In the only precedent which the learned Solicitor-General brought forward earlier in the evening, namely, the Coal Mines Regulation Act, 1877, there was a provision limiting the hours of work for boys and girls to fifty-four per week. Therefore, a week had been considered to be the natural term. If they turned to the Report upon which this Bill was founded they would find further evidence in favour of that contention. Therefore, the week was a term which had always run through these proposals in connection with limiting hours in coal mines. It was desirable to ask what were the number of hours which the Government believed the miners were going to work? They were told eight hours per day, and of course most people who did not know took the eight hours and multiplied it by six, imagining they were going to have a forty-eight hours week, and by that method they judged the output of coal. When they looked at the Report which had been issued they found that under the present system there was not going to be any reform whatever. It was just as well to make it perfectly clear that there was no chance of the eight hours per day being worked. Therefore, they should adhere to what was really the principle of the Bill, that was a forty-eight hours' working week per colliery. 874 If they desired to limit the hours per day to ten as was done in connection with boys and girls under the Act of 1877, he had no objection, and he thought that would be rather an improvement upon the Amendment. But so far as the forty-eight hours was concerned it was distinctly within the limits of this Bill. It was a reduction from fifty-four hours, and, therefore, the argument just put forward by the hon. and learned Solicitor-General ought not to weigh with them in coming to a conclusion on this Amendment.
§ MR. BECK
said he wished to associate himself with the speech which his hon. friend had made. They had now got a step further in the progress of the Bill. With regard to what the learned Solicitor-General had said, all he wished to say was that if he expected to have his theory of an even number of hours each day put into practice, he would have his hands full. He had before him the hours actually worked in the coal mines. In Monmouthshire the number fell short of eight full days in a fortnight, and in Swansea the same thing occurred, and so they might go on with other districts where they got one idle day and then a full day, and so on throughout the whole colliery district. He understood from the speech of the Solicitor-General that he disapproved of this practice, and approved of a regular daily number of hours of work. But how could a colliery proprietor calculate what would happen everyday of the week? What they were arguing was that the principle of an eight-hours day of work was carried out by a forty-eight hours week, and the men would have a certain amount of liberty—that liberty was no doubt hostile to the Bill—but they did not approve of the spirit of the Bill, and they thought that the men should be at liberty to divide the forty-eight hours per week up in anyway they please. He remembered talking over this subject with a gentleman interested in the question, who said that the only argument against it was that the Socialist Party had pledged themselves to a system of "eight hours work, eight hours play, eight hours sleep, and 8s. a day." He suggested that "forty eight hours work, forty-eight hours play, forty-eight hours sleep, and 48s, pay" 875 would look just as imposing upon a poster. It was trifling with the House to use arguments such as those they had heard from the front bench in regard to one of the most important Amendments moved in the course of the debate. For these reasons he should heartily support his hon. friend's Amendment if he pressed it to a division.
§ * SIR HENRY CRAIK (Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities)
said he had listened to the debate with a desire to learn what were the real arguments on which the Amendment was resisted. He thought the House had some right to learn from those who so repeatedly told them that they represented the working classes what were the real reasons which they suggested in support of the resistance which was being offered to the Amendment. Looking at the question fairly and impartially he could not see that the action of those who were opposing the Amendment was in any way in the interests of those they represented. They denied the right of any one section of the House to do that. They were just as anxious to look after the interests of all classes, including the class which hon. Gentlemen below the gangway thought they specially represented, as they were. They had been deprived by a conspiracy of silence on the part of hon. Members from hearing the arguments of hon. Gentlemen below the gangway. Being deprived of hearing their arguments they had had to be content with the arguments which had been put forward by the Solicitor-General. In his opinion, they could not have had greater travesty of argument than the travesty which the learned Gentleman gave of the arguments of the hon. Member for Brighton. He had said that they were bound in consistency to hold that a man ought to work more than forty-eight hours a week because they said in certain circumstances they would allow him to work ten hours on one or two days. The hon. and learned Gentleman said that if they allowed that they could not consistently object to a regula rten-hours day. He did not think that he was misrepresenting his argument when he said that, for when the hon. Member for Brighton argued that a ten-hours day might be allowed on one or two days a week, the hon. 876 and learned Gentleman said that he was entirely inconsistent if he denied a man the right to work ten hours on every day. That was not the argument they put forward. They said the restrictions on the hours of labour were necessary, but it did not follow they must compress the limit of time to be worked into each twenty-four hours. The hon. Member for Yarmouth had rightly pointed out that it was against human nature that the workmen should submit to the slavish restriction imposed by the Bill. Not only was it against human nature, but he did not think that such a restriction was an ideal at which they should aim. Was it not the case with all who had worked hard in their time that they had repeatedly put on a spurt and worked longer hours in order to have a holiday? Would they like to be restricted to eight hours a day? Had they not occasionally—every one of them in their various occupations—worked more than eight hours a day in order to be able to have a holiday? Why should those who claimed alone to speak for the working men wish to impose this hard and rigid fetter on the working men? This was a fetter which they would not be prepared to accept for themselves. It was perfectly clear to every one who had listened to the way these Amendments had been resisted by the Government without argument, and without any reason for their refusal, that the aptitude for restriction grew on what it fed on. Now they were trying to impose restrictions on adult labour.
§ * MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
It is possible to speak to the Amendment and at the same time to make a Second Reading speech.
§ * SIR HENRY CRAIK
said that presently they would have restriction applied not only to the day, but also to the hours of the day. They would say that at a certain hour a man must begin his work, that at a stated 877 hour he must finish his work, that at a certain hour he must take his meals. Was that what the working men of the country wanted? Did they want a hard and fast rule as to when they should work and when play, when they should eat and when they should sleep? He was glad to dissociate himself from the future they were making for the working men of this country.
§ MR. RUSSELL REA (Gloucester)
said his objection to this Amendment was that it was practically impossible to carry it out. How were they to restrict a man's weekly work to forty-eight hours? Was a man to carry forty-eight tickets which he was to give up hour by hour, or how did they propose it was to be done? Hon. Gentlemen opposite knew nothing about the matter. If a man was to be allowed to work thirteen hours one day, ten hours another day, and two hours on a third day, how was the colliery to be worked? Was a colliery to be worked sixteen hours a day in order that certain of the men might please themselves when they should work and when they should not?
§ MR. RUSSELL REA
said it was not worked with any such liberty as hon. Gentlemen opposite had implied. If they restricted the work in a colliery to forty-eight hours a week as regarded the machinery and the engines, they simply got an eight-hours day. The proposal which had been made would be found to be absolutely impracticable in practice, and an eight-hours day was the only possible method of regulating this industry with any degree of sure-ness that they would succeed.
§ MR. BELLAIRS (Lynn Regis)
said he should not have risen had it not been for the severe attack which the Solicitor - General had made on the hon. Member for Brighton. It had become necessary in consequence of that attack that every one of those who agreed with the hon. Member for Brighton should associate themselves with what he had said. He claimed the right, though he thoroughly disapproved of the Bill, to vote for this 878 Amendment, because he thought it would effect an improvement in the clause. He had been one of those who felt to a certain extent ignorant with regard to this measure. He thought they were entitled to have full answers from the Treasury bench on the questions which had been asked notwithstanding the proceedings in Committee upstairs. He had come into the debate many times and had been waiting to hear the voice of hon. Members who represented the miners. He was one of those who did not see the necessity for nursing a great industry which had something like 600,000 trade unionist members. He wanted to know what the representatives of the Durham mining industry thought in regard to this matter. Did they think that the Durham miners could not protect themselves although they had a trade union which in 1906 had an expenditure of £94,000?
§ * MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. CALDWELL)
The hon. Member is not addressing himself to the Amendment. The Amendment is whether it is to be an eight-hours day or a forty-eight-hours week.
* MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER
This Amendment only deals with the question whether it shall be an eight-hours day or a forty-eight hours week.
§ MR. BELLAIRS
asked how was it then that comparisons had been drawn, and that they had had appeals by those who claimed the monopoly of humanitarian sentiment on this very question. The Solicitor-General had referred to the question of the health of miners, and he claimed a right to speak in regard to this and the other subjects that had been raised. Why were they applying this clause providing an eight-hours day to miners on the ground of health, when the health statistics proved conclusively that the health of the men was very good? They were told then, an eight-hours day would reduce the number of accidents, but he found that in 1907—
§ MR. BELLAIRS
said he had been trying to follow the example of the Treasury bench, but in consequence of that ruling, he should defer his remarks to the Third Reading of the Bill. At the same time he thought the Government ought to give them some guidance in regard to this question.
§ MR. BONAR LAW
I do not understand why there should be so much objection to the discussion of what is undoubtedly one of the most important points raised in the whole Report stage of the Bill. The point I have risen specially to refer to is the speech of the hon. Gentleman who was the Chairman of this Committee. I am bound to say that when he rose I expected to find some solid, tangible, arguable reasons given why this Amendment should not be accepted, but all that he said was that it is impossible. He said that to have a forty-eight-hours week will mean an eight-hours day. Has he absolutely forgotten his own Report? If he will look at the Report given by his own Committee he will find that the hours per week are often systematised in such a way that the length of the day varies. He says it is impossible to have a forty-eight-hours week without an eight-hours day, but it is known to everybody that this system does prevail.
§ MR. BONAR LAW
I did not hear anyone make any suggestion that that should be the case. I ask again, what possible reason is there why this law should be applied to mines, unless hon. Gentlemen who are interested in this case are not merely desirous of rushing the Bill through to-night, but have some other ulterior purpose. If the hon. Gentleman will consider for a moment he would see that there is a strong economic reason which should make this Amendment much more suitable for mines. In mines there are cases where the individual miner has
§ to get to the bottom of the shaft, and then has to walk an hour to his work, and an hour back when he has finished his work. Would not that man prefer to spend that useless time three days a week in the open air even if he has to work longer on two days a week? I say, without question, that every argument that makes this a good principle for factories makes it an equally good principle for mines.
§ MR. BONAR LAW
Does the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State say that there is not a weekly limit in factories?
§ MR. BONAR LAW
The obvious point for which we are fighting is that a man should be allowed, if he chooses, to work longer hours from Monday to Friday in order to have a half-holiday on Saturday. I say that a man should have a right to decide whether the forty-eight hours to be worked each week should be graduated over all the days of the week. There is no reason whatever for pressing the scheme embodied in the clause in this rigid form. It has received the support of a great many hon. Members as a first step in what the President of the Board of Trade has described as a great onward movement; and it is for that reason that they support it and not for the sake of the miners.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 225; Noes, 57. (Division List No. 413)883
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Ainsworth, John Stirling||Balcarres, Lord|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Atherley-Jones, L.||Beale, W. P.|
|Agnew, George William||Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Beauchamp, E.|
|Benn, Sir J. Williams (Devonp'rt||Hogan, Michael||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Benn, W. (T'w'r Hamlets, S. Geo.||Holland, Sir William Henry||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Hooper, A. G.||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Boland, John||Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N.||Rainy, A. Rolland|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Horniman, Emslie John||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)|
|Brace, William||Hutton, Alfred Eddison||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'|
|Branch, James||Hyde, Clarendon||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Brigg, John||Illingworth, Percy H.||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Brodie, H. C.||Jacoby, Sir James Alfred||Richards, Thomas (W. Monm'th|
|Brooke, Stopford||Jardine, Sir J.||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n|
|Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Jenkins, J.||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Robinson, S.|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Burnyeat, W. J. D.||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Russell, Rt. Hon. T. W.|
|Byles, William Pollard||Joyce, Michael||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)|
|Cameron, Robert||Kearley, Sir Hudson E.||Samuel, Rt. Hn. H. L. (Cleveland|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Kekewich, Sir George||Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Kilbride, Denis||Sears, J. E.|
|Cleland, J. W.||Kincaid-Smith, Captain||Seddon, J.|
|Clough, William||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Seely, Colonel|
|Clynes, J. R.||Laidlaw, Robert||Shackleton, David James|
|Cochrane, Hn. Thos. H. A. E.||Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster||Shaw, Sir Charles Edw. (Stafford|
|Compton-Rickett, Sir J.||Lambert, George||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick B.)|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinst'd||Lamont, Norman||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John|
|Crean, Eugene||Levy, Sir Maurice||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Crooks, William||Lewis, John Herbert||Snowden, P.|
|Crossley, William J.||Lyell, Charles Henry||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Curran, Peter Francis||Lynch, H. B.||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Dalziel, Sir James Henry||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N. W.)|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs)||Steadman, W. C.|
|Delany, William||Macknarness, Frederic C.||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Summerbell, T.|
|Dillon, John||Macpherson, J. T.||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Dobson, Thomas W.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Duckworth, Sir James||MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||M'Callum, John M.||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr|
|Duncan, J. H. (York, Otley)||M'Crae, Sir George||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.|
|Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall||M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Lanark)|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||M'Laren, Rt. Hn. Sir C. B. (Leices.)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Erskine, David C.||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Tomkinson, James|
|Essex, R. W.||M'Micking, Major G.||Toulmin, George|
|Evans, Sir Samuel T.||Mallet, Charles E.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Fanwick, Charles||Markham, Arthur Basil||Verney, F. W.|
|Ferens, T. R.||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Ffrench, Peter||Marnham, F. J.||Walsh, Stephen|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Massie, J.||Walton, Joseph|
|Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||Menzies, Walter||Waring, Walter|
|Gibb, James (Harrow)||Micklem, Nathaniel||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Gill, A. H.||Middlebrook, William||Wason, Rt. Hn. E. (Clackmannan|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||Molteno, Percy Alport||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Glen-Coats, Sir T. (Renfrew, W.)||Mond, A.||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Glendinning, R. G.||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||White, J. Dundas (Dumbart'nsh.|
|Glover, Thomas||Morse, L. L.||White, Sir Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Murray, James (Aberdeen, E.)||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Gooch, George Peabody (Bath)||Myer, Horatio||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Gurdon, Rt. Hn. Sir W. Brampton||Napier, T. E.||Whittaker, Rt. Hn. Sir Thomas P.|
|Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Hall, Frederick||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncast'r||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Halpin, J.||Nolan, Joseph||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.||Nuttall, Harry||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Harwood, George||O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh, N.)|
|Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||O'Grady, J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Joseph Pease and Matter of|
|Henry, Charles S.||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Elibank.|
|Higham, John Sharp||Pollard, Dr.|
|Hodge, John.||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hn. Sir Alex. F.||Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred Dixon||Morrison-Bell, Captain|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Faber, George Denison (York)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Fell, Arthur||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)|
|Baring, Capt. Hn. G. (Winchester||Fletcher, J. S.||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Gretton, John||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Beck, A. Cecil||Guinness, W. E. (Bury S. Edm.)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashf'rd||Renwick, George|
|Bertram, Julius||Harris, Frederick Leverton||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Houston, Robert Paterson||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Hunt, Rowland||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Joynson-Hicks, William||Smith, F. E. (Liverpool, Walton)|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)||Starkey, John R.|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Chance, Frederick William||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Coates, Major E. F. (Lewisham)||Lupton, Arnold||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||M'Arthur, Charles|
|Cross, Alexander||Magnus, Sir Philip||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Watt and Sir William Bull.|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.||Mason, James F. (Windsor)|
§ * MR. SPEAKER
said the next Amendment standing upon the Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Great Yarmouth, which proposed to leave out the word "eight" and insert "nine," was out of order.
§ * MR. FELL
, in moving an amendment providing that the regulation "shall not apply to a new colliery being opened out until such colliery shall be in working condition for the regular output of coal," said he wished to draw the attention of the House to the case of a colliery which was being opened up. He did not desire that such a colliery should come within the scope of the Bill until it was in a working condition for the regular output of coal. He suggested that the whole invention and spirit of the Bill was that it should apply to a colliery in full working order in which the men went down in their shifts to the headings and working places and returned from the mine to the open air, but while a colliery was being opened out a different state of affairs existed. To begin with, the men wire working in the open air and their work had nothing to do with the working of a mine. But if this Bill became law, and no exception was made, from the very moment a colliery started, these 884 regulations would take effect in regard to men working in the open air putting up buildings and making the preliminary works for lowering shafts. In that case all these regulations would apply and they would only be allowed to work eight hours, and so on.
§ MR. KEIR HARDIE
As a point of order, Mr. Speaker, may I inquire if there is anything in this Bill which would refer to a man working in the open air and not underground?
§ MR. FELL
thought there were clauses in the Bill which would provide for the men over-ground—distinctly there were. He knew there were. [Cries of "No."] Well, there were the men who were winding. They were working above ground, and in the case of men who started sinking a shaft they were at first working in the open air though they must get down later on. [Cries of "How far do they get?"] He did not know that this was such an entirely comic affair as hon. Members seemed to think. He did not know what it was they were laughing at. Did his hon. friends below the gangway suggest that anyone sinking a shaft was doing the work contemplated by this Bill? He said they were doing a totally different work. The men who were sinking a shaft in the open air were not engaged in a mine, and the Bill should not apply to them. In many cases it was 885 two years before a colliery was in a working condition for the regular output of coal, and during that time it seemed to him absolute common sense that regulations which were made for a working collier should not be applied to them. He did not wish to labour the point. He only put it to the House that there was a very great difference between the two cases. Take the case of a man who was sinking a well, or an ordinary bricklayer lining a shaft which was being sunk. Why should they have their hours of labour regulated more than ordinary bricklayers and labourers? He submitted that the opening of a colliery was just like the beginning of a factory, and the factory regulations would not apply until the factory was started. There seemed to him such an immense difference between the two that he was justified in suggesting and pressing upon the House an Amendment of this kind. Everyone would desire that collieries should be opened up as far and as soon as possible, and he did not think that work of that kind should be hampered by regulations such as those contained in the Bill. He had received many pamphlets and papers from landlords who owned coal land which they would not allow to be worked, and there was nothing that would stop the opening of such land like a Bill of this character if it applied to the preliminary operations. The owners of the coal land would wish to have the work done in the quickest possible way, and if these conditions of the Bill were applied they would be considerably delayed and certain men might not think it worth while opening a colliery at all. That would be to the prejudice of the country and to the prejudice of the men, and under these circumstances he begged to move.
§ MR. BOWLES
seconded. It was perfectly true, as was suggested by the interruption from the benches below the gangway, that the Bill applied only to persons below ground, but the work of opening up a new colliery was for the most part work above ground. He was not an expert lawyer, but it appeared to him that such work would be covered by the Bill, and he did not imagine that anybody desired that it should come within the scope of the measure. He 886 thought the House was under a debt of gratitude to his hon. friend for having pointed out this difficulty and moving this Amendment. If the Government were satisfied and gave an assurance that this case was not within the Bill, he was sure his hon. friend would withdraw his Amendment.
In page 1, line 9, at the end, to insert the words 'but this shall not apply to a colliery being opened out until such colliery shall be in a working condition for the regular output of coal.
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ SIR S. EVANS
said they would be very sorry to do anything by this Bill to discourage the opening out of new collieries, but he did not think that the hon. Members who moved and seconded the Amendment need be under apprehension on that point. He did not think the Amendment was necessary, because the contingency of sinking a new shaft and opening out a new colliery was already provided for by the Bill. The measure provided for the fixing of the hours of lowering and raising of the men to whom the Bill applied by means of shifts, and the clause would not apply to the ordinary men employed in sinking a shaft, and in working above ground. The Amendment of the hon. Gentleman went, however, a little further, and he said that the Act should not apply at all to a new colliery—whatever a new colliery was, and he was sure he did not know—until such colliery should be in a working condition for the regular output of coal. It was not possible to say what was meant by those words "the regular output of coal." Provision was made applicable to sinking operations, and it was quite certain that the Bill would work injustice to nobody. Practically speaking, the eight hours allowed by the Bill might be utilised and would be utilised in the working of coal.
§ *MR. CARLILE (Hertfordshire, St. Albans) merely rose to ask a question. The hon. and learned Gentleman had just referred, he supposed, to subsection 887 (7) of Clause 1 in reference to sinking operations, but he noticed that under sub-head (b) the number of hours would not exceed six, so the hon. and learned Gentleman had not explained how that provision helped them. What they wanted was to protect experimental work, that the hours of men engaged on that work might exceed eight, but the hon. and learned Gentleman alluded to a subhead which said that the hours should not exceed six.
§ SIR S. EVANS
said that was only a case which applied to an ordinary shift in which the workman was working, but that did not affect the Amendment or the observations that he made.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ MR. RIDSDALE moved the insertion of the following proviso in Clause 1:—"The workmen in any mine may, by a majority of them signing a declaration to that effect, contract themselves out of this Act. Such declaration must be notified to the Secretary of State for the Home Department, and, one month after such notification, the provisions of this Act shall not apply in that mine." He said the Amendment was put down with the object of bringing into the Bill a little more elasticity than was at present contained in it.
§ MR. RIDSDALE
respectfully submitted that there was nothing in his Amendment which was contrary to the spirit of the Bill as a whole. According to the spirit of the Bill the majority of the miners of the country were to be allowed to impose their will generally, but in his Amendment he suggested that a majority of men in the particular mines who desired to do so should be able to extend the limit and to contract themselves out of the Act and work forty-eight hours a week or any 888 hours which they in their absolute discretion thought fit. It was obvious that the circumstances of mines might vary very much indeed, and that while certain mines might well come under the operation of the Bill, other mines would be very much pressed by it. It might be a question as to whether a mine would not have to shut down in consequence of the restrictions which the Bill placed upon it, and in that case it was only fair to the men that they should have an opportunity of saying whether they should not be allowed to work a few more hours. He did not see that it destroyed the Bill in any particular. If a mine in some part of the country was in such a condition that it would have to shut down, and the men by a vote of the majority said that they wished to put the mine in a position to continue working, was this a time, when unemployment was so rampant throughout the country, to say that the miner should not have an opportunity, if he so desired, to work nine or ten hours a day in order to keep a home over the heads of his wife and children? It was absolutely preposterous. The Amendment did not impose on anybody the necessity to work so many more hours than they were pleased to do. It merely allowed the majority of the men, if they chose, after considering the situation in meeting assembled, to say by a majority that they did not wish to be fettered by the operation of the Bill; to sign a declaration to that effect, and having sent it up to the Home Secretary, enable him to say, after one month, which would give him plenty of notice, that in respect of such and such a mine this Act should cease to run. The Solicitor-General might accuse him of trying to wreck the Bill again if he proceeded to expound the various reasons which he could adduce in support of the Amendment, but he thought the Amendment spoke for itself, and he was content to leave it to the House to say whether or not it ought to be accepted. He wished now to touch for one moment on a personal point. He would like to reply to the hon. and learned Gentleman with regard to the remark that he always attacked the Government. If the hon. Gentleman looked up the record, he would find that he had voted over 800 times during the last three years in 889 support of the Ministers of the Crown, and he would be very much surprised if, when the hon. and learned Gentleman looked up his own record, he found that he had supported the Government as many times. He thought, therefore, it should be open to him, when he found there was a Bill which he did not think was quite just, to express his opinion freely upon the subject without being accused of disloyalty. With these few words he ventured to submit the Amendment to the House.
§ * MR. HUNT
said he was glad to be able to second this Amendment, although he was in favour of the principle of the Bill, because the principle of the Bill, like the principle of tariff reform, was for the protection of labour. It seemed to him that the miners of a particular mine certainly ought to be able to have a chance of working more than seven hours a day, at all events during some days of the week, if it really suited them, and they really wished to. There was this to be remembered, the men in some mines, especially old men, where they had to travel underground for two or three miles to get to their work, would be very severely handicapped indeed with younger men in other mines who perhaps had only to walk a quarter of a mile. Under this Amendment, as he understood it, the eight hours bank to bank law would still remain unless the workmen in any mine took the trouble themselves on their own initiative to call a meeting and decide among themselves that it would be better for the men in that particular mine to work for longer hours on some of the days in a week. Neither the manager nor the mine owner would have anything to do with it. As he understood it the law would not be altered unless the majority of the men who actually worked in the mine voted in favour of longer hours. It would not depend upon the number of the men who voted, but on the number of the men in the mine. The working of the mines was so very different in many parts of the country that he certainly could not think that it would be right to compel every miner in every mine to be tied down to exactly the same time every day, especially when they remembered that the hours of work 890 would be much shorter than those which men were compelled to work in a great many other industries where the work was also arduous. The miners in his division were very much in favour of the Eight Hours Bill, and their reasons for being in favour of it were very definite—one was that now in these mines the owners and managers compelled them to take one hour for their mid-day meal, and that did not suit them, because they found that, owing to the atmosphere in the mine, directly they had had their food they were quite unable to keep themselves awake, the consequence was that they went to sleep for about three quarters of an hour, and when they woke up they were so stupid from being asleep in that atmosphere that they were unable to work properly for about another half-hour. Many of these men desired the Eight Hours Bill because they wanted, and he thought rightly, to be able to take their food in ten minutes or a quarter of an hour and go straight back to their work and lose no time. But it was quite different in other mines even in the same county. In the adjoining division he might say that to his certain knowledge a good many of the miners in the last bye-election, although they were Liberal colours, so as not to offend their leaders, voted for the Conservative candidate for the sole reason—
§ * MR. HUNT
was very sorry that Mr. Speaker had had to call him to order. The owner of the largest mine said practically the same thing. He said that it would make no difference to the output whether the miners worked on the eight hours principle or whether they worked as they did now. If they were not allowed to stand out if they wanted to, and if this Bill was passed in its present form, it would deprive the miners of their freedom and prevent them from making up for time lost by illness or for any other reason. After all, the miners were grown up men, and had a very good idea of looking after themselves. Some of the old mines which had narrow 891 and often difficult seams to work would become absolutely unprofitable if this compulsory bank-to-bank law was insisted upon, and the effect of that would be to throw a good many men out of employment, and probably make coal dearer by reducing the supply, with the possible result that many men engaged in industries in which coal was largely used would also be thrown out of employment. It should also be remembered that year by year more and more men even under the present conditions were being driven out of the skilled trade into the coal mines by unfair foreign competition.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
pointed out that the hon. Member had not yet even approached the question under discussion.
§ * MR. HUNT
did not know whether he would be in order in saying that it seemed to him if none of the miners were allowed to contract out that the older and more difficult mines would be given up. The Bill would take away the means of livelihood of those who desired to work half a day longer, and they would be obliged to leave their work and have to tramp the roads with very little prospect of finding employment elsewhere. He thought that until the supply of employment in this country was very much better than it was at present, it could not be a good thing that grown-up men should be tied down to work only seven hours and even less in some cases by what was practically State compulsion, and from this cause be obliged to run the risk of being unnecessarily deprived of their work or of having their weekly wages reduced. He therefore thought the Bill should not be allowed to pass without some Amendment on these lines, which would give the men a chance of some freedom to work the number of hours that suited them best.
In page 1, line 9, at end, to insert the words 'The workmen in any mine may, by a majority of them signing a declaration to that effect, contract themselves out of this Act. Such declaration must be notified to the Secretary of State for the Home Department, and, one month after such notification, the provisions of this Act shall not apply in that mine.'"—(Mr. Ridsdale.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ SIR S. EVANS
I am afraid the Government cannot accept this Amendment, because it goes dead against the principles of the Bill and would allow contracting out in the case of mines being worked by the same employers, mines which were absolutely contiguous, and which, but for the Act of 1878, would be the same mine. That should be a sufficient answer to this Amendment, but I might perhaps be allowed to point out one or two matters with regard to it, to show how difficult the working of the Amendment would be in itself. The hon. Member proposes that in any mine the majority of the men should be able to bind the other men to contract out. Fifty-one per cent. could bind 49 per cent. to contract out. Then again, how often could they determine whether they should contract out or not. Could they do it every month? Could they do it periodically? Again, there is no machinery for finding out what the majority of the miners thought, and the consequence would be that the majority not always being the same majority there would be a sort of in-and-out process of contracting out. I am afraid, therefore, we cannot accept the Amendment. With regard to the personal observations of which my friend complained, I can assure him I did not make them in any bad spirit at all, and was far from accusing him of any disloyalty to the Government, a thing which I should never do. What I said had reference to the arguments he used.
§ MR. RENWICK (Newcastle-on-Tyne)
said he had listened to the whole of the debate on this Bill, both yesterday and to-day, and particularly with regard to this important matter—important to the district he represented, important to the cities and counties of Durham and Northumberland, of which Newcastle very properly was called the metropolis—and this was the first time he had attempted to speak upon the matter. It was the first time that he had seen the slightest chance of anything that would help to get Northumberland and Durham out of a difficulty in which they were at the present time. The hon. Member who 893 moved the Amendment said he might be accused of wrecking the Bill. If he himself had to choose between wrecking the Bill and wrecking this great industry in the North of England, he should not have any hesitation in doing his best to wreck the Bill. During the whole course of the debate he had listened in vain for anything from the miners' representatives from either Northumberland or Durham to assist those counties in the matter. He certainly did expect, from what he knew of the miners and their representatives in the House, that they would have had the courage to have told the House whether or not they were in favour of the views which they had expressed time and again when these Bills had been before the House. He remembered on a former occasion when he was a Member of the House he was asked at the express recommendation of Northumberland and Durham not only to speak on similar measures but to do his best to help them out of the difficulty in which those measures involved them. Since then a change had taken place, the members of the Minors' Union of Northumberland and Durham had joined the Miners' Federation. The political situation had changed but the economic reasons against the Bill remained, and there was the greatest uneasiness in the city of Newcastle and the surrounding district, which was an important district, upon the matter. He had had innumerable letters and telegrams from various organisations in Newcastle, urging him to do his best to oppose the Bill, but he had not received any resolution from the other side. He wished to keep as strictly as possibly to the Amendment, and he was going, out of the mouths of the miners' representatives of Northumberland and Durham in the House, to give reasons why the House should take this opportunity to support the contracting-out principle being incorporated in the Bill. In 1902 the hon. Member for the Wansbeck division, speaking on an Eight Hours Bill, said—I sincerely hope this House will not be induced to pass such legislation, but if it does I trust in Committee the same justice will be granted to us as was granted in 1894 by accepting a local option clause.894 At that time, the hon. Member recognised the importance of the local option clause to protect the coal industry of Northumberland and Durham. The same necessity was present now, and they ought to have an opportunity to contract out. The Home Secretary had told them that it was acknowledged that Northumberland and Durham were entitled to exceptional treatment, but the right hon. Gentleman had failed to tell them what that exceptional treatment should be, and how he was prepared to deal with the difficulty with which they were faced. They had been told over and over again by miners' representatives of these two counties that it would be an impossibility under such a Bill as this to carry on their industry. The hon. Member for Wansbeck said—The House may pass the Second Reading, but I ask the House to hesitate before they inflict, as this Bill would inflict, a much greater hardship than they perhaps have realised, on the miners.Those were weighty arguments coming from men who knew what they were talking about. Could anyone be surprised that the heads of the great industrial works and consumers generally throughout the north of England paid attention to the warnings of experienced men such as the hon. Member for Wansbeck and others undoubtedly were? As they had not had the courage to tell the House their opinion had changed, and they had no reason to alter it from an economic point of view, the House was justified in believing they held this opinion still. The hon. Member for Mid-Durham in 1903 said the miners in the north of England only asked to be left to themselves. He asked now on behalf of the miners of Northumberland and Durham that they might be left to themselves, and allowed to work out their own salvation. The hon. Member for Gateshead, the sister borough of Newcastle and a prominent Member of the Durham Miners' Federation, said that if this Bill passed, he believed it would be the worst day's work that the House of Commons had ever done, so far as the miners were concerned. Surely if the hon. Member believed that, he should now have the courage to rise and tell them why he made that statement, and whether it was on a false assumption or 895 not. Until he told them that he had had reason to alter it, he was afraid he was justified in keeping the hon. Member to that assertion, and in believing that if the House passed this Bill now, it would be the worst day's work that the House of Commons had ever done for the miners. The hon. Member said that in 1904. What had happened since 1904? Not very much. The same hon. Member opposed the Eight Hours Miners Bill only last year. In April last the hon. Member said that rightly or wrongly the miners thought that if that Bill passed, it would be detrimental to the miners themselves. That showed that as recently as last year the hon. Member still held to his opinion. He would give some other weighty arguments in support of his contention that Northumberland and Durham were entitled to the right to contract themselves out of this Bill. There was a ballot taken of the Durham Miners' Union in 1902, and in that ballot 12,684 miners voted for the Bill and 28,127 against it. That was in 1902, and since then something else happened. In 1903 another ballot was taken and less than 13,000 out of 80,000 voted in favour of the Bill. In Northumberland recently a ballot was taken in connection with this Bill, when, out of 28,275 members of the Northumberland Miners' Union, only 30 per cent. voted in favour of it. Those were most weighty arguments, but he had even more weighty arguments in favour of contracting-out. He had there the Report of the Departmental Committee which stated that the system of liberty at present prevailing in the mines of Durham and Northumberland was one of inconceivable efficiency and one to which both the managers and the miners, the workers and the employers, appeared to be attached. Further, they said that the problem was one of an exceedingly difficult character to solve, and they found that it was the opinion of all that the remedy could not be accomplished without some increase in the under-ground labour. They had the statement of the Miners Union of Northumberland and Durham that it would be impossible to work their industries in these circumstances. Therefore, he maintained that they were justified in asking for power to contract out of 896 the Bill. What was the difficulty that they had in Northumberland? They had there a deeply rooted objection on the part of the miners to work night shifts. They did not work themselves on an average anything like eight hours, but they had two relays of hewers served by one set of boys, and they had it upon the authority of the hon. Member for Wansbeck that it was an absolute impossibility, with the number of boys that they had at present, to work under any different conditions. Here were some of the words he used. He said—Let the House understand that we have a full complement of hewers. Every place is full. We want no more.And yet the only condition under which they could work three shifts, if the men themselves would agree to it, would be by calling in a larger number of boys who, when they had reached a certain age, would not be able to find employment as hewers. If that was not exploiting boy-labour, which right hon. Gentlemen had recently condemned, he did not know what was. Therefore, he thought he was justified in appealing to the House on behalf of the great coal industry of Northumberland and Durham to give them that power which the leaders of the miners had over and over again told them it was absolutely necessary that they should have. He appealed to the leaders of the miners' party in Northumberland and Durham to have a little of that courage which they knew they possessed, to speak out like men and tell them that which they were entitled to know, whether the result of the Bill was going to be, as they had told them it was, an increase in the cost of the production of coal which would make it almost an impossibility to carry on the coal industry in Northumberland and Durham.
§ * MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
I intervene only for a moment in reply to one passage of the hon. Member's speech. He has given the House the impression that the Departmental Committee which considered the matter came to the conclusion that the problem was specially difficult in Northumberland and Durham, and that for that reason contracting-out 897 arrangements should be allowed if only for the sake of those two counties. Precisely the opposite was the conclusion of the Committee. They say on page 39 that the problem in Northumberland and Durham is easier than elsewhere. And in another passage, which the hon. Member carefully omitted to quote, although he quoted passages just before and after it, they say—We are convinced that whether, by the institution of three shifts of hewers, or two uniform shifts of eight hours for all classes, or by some other arrangement, the same organising ability and the same co-operation between the employers and workers which has evolved the present system, would succeed in evolving a satisfactory substitute for it should the necessity arise.
§ MR. RENWICK
I distinctly stated that miners of Northumberland and Durham were opposed to the three-shift system. I mentioned that particularly.
§ VISCOUNT CASTLEREAGH
said the Solicitor-General told them it was contrary to the spirit of the Bill that contracting-out rather than local option should be allowed. He thought the House would recognise that it was not contrary to the spirit of all the Government Bills that local option should be allowed. But he did not want to comment on the remarks of the hon. and learned Gentleman. He wanted to ask the representatives of labour what was their considered attitude with regard to this Amendment. Were they disposed to accept it or to reject it? He should like one of them to rise in his place and give the reasons why he was going to reject it. They had heard a great deal of "trust the people." He did not think any hon. Gentleman below the gangway would say that if a poll was taken of the miners of Durham, there would not be a very large majority for allowing them to contract out of the Bill. He sincerely hoped one of those hon. Gentlemen below the gangway would follow him and give the reasons why they were proposing to reject the Amendment. Was it that they believed that by contracting-out some benefit would accrue to that community who were desirous of contracting-out? Did they think there would be a larger output of coal, and that the community which put out the larger amount, the Durham miners, would be in 898 a better position than those who were hampered by the restriction put upon them by this Bill; or did they think that this large and important and well educated community were a misguided people who were desirous of injuring their health by working longer hours, and that it was the duty of the House to stop them doing what was obviously injurious to their health? He had observed in the debate a conspiracy of silence among Gentlemen below the gangway. What was the reason for it? Had they a bargain with right hon. Gentlemen on the front bench opposite that if the Bill passed, they were going to assist them to put another measure on the Statute-book? They had been singularly unfortunate. He had no doubt, that by hook or by crook, by going back on all they had said on local option on other Bills they were going to pass this measure contrary to every principle which they had put forward in the past. He challenged any hon. Gentleman who sat below the gangway to rise in his place and give him some conclusive answer to the questions he had put forward.
§ MR. MARKHAM
said the acceptance of this Amendment or of any contracting-out clause whatever would be absolutely destructive of the Bill, and he could conclusively prove that in a few minutes. Some eight or nine years ago, if local option had been accepted by the miners, and no one knew this better than the hon. Baronet on the front bench, it was agreed that this Bill would be passed by both Houses, but the miners' representatives showed that it would have proved absolutely destructive to the coal trade. What would happen if any contracting-out clause was introduced? There was the keenest competition between Yorkshire and Northumberland and Durham. The exports of coal from Hull and Newcastle entered into the keenest competition. If they laid an obligation on employers of labour that they were not to work more than a limited number of hours it would be manifestly unjust that they should say that the Yorkshire miners should work eight hours a day while their competitors were allowed to contract themselves out. If Parliament in its wisdom chose to limit the hours of labour 899 they must regulate the conditions under which the men worked having regard to that limitation. If Parliament placed no statutory obligations on employers and employed that they were not to work more than a limited number of hours they would be keeping the door open to free competition, but if they restricted in some counties the hours which men might work and allowed other districts to contract out, they would simply be taking trade from one district to another.
§ MR. BOWLES
said that the hon. Member appeared to have omitted to observe that the power of contracting out was not raised exclusively, if the Amendment were carried, in Northumberland and Durham, but would be equally given to all districts.
§ MR. MARKHAM
said that the hon. Member had not read the Amendment. The Amendment gave no power to the employers whatever. It was entirely left in the hands of the men. It would be manifestly unjust to lay a statutory obligation on him to work his men for a limited number of hours if they give the right to the men in the North of England to work more than that number of hours. He had stated, and he believed the future would show that he was not wrong, that in the federated areas the production of coal would not be decreased by the Bill for the reason that the number of play days would be increased, and the men would work longer hours in the summer time than they had in the past. But the Amendment was whether they were to allow contracting out under the Bill, and the matter was one of such vital importance that the miners' representatives, especially the late Mr. Pickard, recognised well that if the contracting-out principle was established, great injustice would be done to different colliery districts by the trade being taken from one district to another. Then they heard all this talk about Durham. He had asked earlier in the evening why it was that the Durham representatives came to the House and told them—and it was the only district in the world, he believed, where two sets of hewers had the coal taken away by one lot of boys—that the coal-fields in Northumberland 900 and Durham could not be worked except under these conditions. He said, with the experience he had of mines in all parts of America and the Continent, there was not a single case in this country or anywhere in the world where this system of coal-getting existed. He did not believe it could be denied that coal would be got just as economically under the new system as at the present time. He asked the House to reject this Amendment, which would cause grievous injury by taking trade away from one locality to another, and would destroy the whole purport of the Bill.
§ LORD R. CECIL
said surely they must know where they stood. The defence of the hon. Member for Merthyr yesterday was quite simple and short. He said that so far from reducing the output and inflicting any injury on the coal trade whatever, it would increase the output and do nothing but good to the health of the workmen. Coal owners and miners alike would benefit by it, and it would be a great advantage to them. The only thing was that Parliament in its wisdom must show them which way the advantage lay. Now came the hon. Member for Mansfield who said exactly the contrary.
§ LORD R. CECIL
said they wanted to know which was the truth. Was it going to reduce the output or increase it? Hon. Members opposite could not have it both ways. They must make up their minds whether it was going to increase or reduce the output. If it was going to reduce it the whole argument they had always urged against the Bill was perfectly sound and just, and they were running a great risk of dislocating the coal industry of the country. If they were not really going to reduce but increase the output there would be no injustice in allowing each district to decide whether they would take advantage of this Amendment or not.
§ MR. BOWLES
said he should like to express to the House the complete confusion in which the speech of the hon. Member for the Mansfield Division had landed him. The Bill had been recommended to the House as a measure conferring undoubted advantages upon the whole of the mining industry of the country, more especially as far as the miners were concerned. The hon. Member for Glamorgan told them that the miners stood as a solid body in favour of the Bill. If that were true, upon what earthly grounds did the hon. Members below the gangway resist this Amendment? If this was a Bill for conferring undoubted advantages on the mining community, why were they afraid of letting the workmen say, after a trial of those advantages, whether in their opinion they were real or not. But on the top of that they had the hon. member for the Mansfield Division saying that in his opinion if any district took advantage of the Amendment that district would have a gigantic advantage over other districts. Under those circumstances he asked the House seriously as reasonable men to consider whether it was possible any longer for hon. Gentlemen opposite to take the view which they had taken upon the question. The only argument which had been used by the Government against the Amendment was one which the Government always used when they had no other. The Solicitor-General said he could not accept the Amendment because it was not the Bill. Of course it was not the Bill. If it were the Bill it would be impossible to move it as an Amendment. It was ridiculous to say the Government could not accept the Amendment because it differed from what was contained in the Bill. The question was whether the principle of the Amendment was more just and sound than the principle contained in the Bill. Hon. Gentlemen below the gangway owed the House a duty in regard to this matter, and they ought to inform them what their real opinion upon the Bill was. Instead of doing that they sat in complete silence, and putting that silence to the kind of speech they had just listened to from the hon. Member from Mansfield, he was forced to the conclusion that 902 the only way of making the Bill work justly and fairly with a reasonable amount of elasticity among the miners was to adopt an Amendment which would give a reasonable amount of liberty to the miners in regard to their hours of work.
§ MR. STANLEY WILSON
appealed to the front bench to give them some information in regard to the important questions which had been raised by the noble Lord. He wanted to know which was the correct view, that given by the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil or the one presented by the hon. Member for the Mansfield Division. He found himself in a position of some considerable difficulty. He had on various occasions recorded his vote against local option, because that was a thing which he did not like and did not approve of in any way. He gathered from the speeches of hon. Members who had already spoken, and particularly from those who represented Northumberland and Durham, that the conditions of labour in those counties were of a peculiar character, and varied considerably. The Amendment would be of assistance to those counties. In this matter he appealed for some direction to hon. Members below the gangway who represented those counties. He saw the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Morpeth, in his place, and he was one whose voice they had not have heard in this debate, and they were always ready to hear his views. He was sure if he would give them his opinion he would be able to direct them upon the right road. He appealed to him to give them some direction as to the way they ought to vote, and as to whether they ought to support this Amendment.
§ MR. HARMOOD-BANNER (Liverpool, Everton)
said he did not think the House ought to consider this question merely as a dispute between the miners of Northumberland and Durham and other places. Under the operation of contracting-out a preference was going to be given to one district over another. On this occasion he was sorry he should be bound to vote against the proposal made by his hon. friend. This matter was not a matter between the Northumberland and Durham miners and 903 their representatives, though he agreed with his hon. friends around him that it was singularly unfortunate that they had not had any enlightenment from the representatives of those districts as to what their opinion was, for such an expression of opinion might have been useful in other matters connected with the Bill. It would be idle for the House to accept the conclusion, however, of either Northumberland or Durham upon this matter, and to take it as a basis of their opinion as to whether they could accept a clause which would be injurious to the whole trade. On the contrary, he hoped the hon. Member who proposed the Amendment would withdraw it, seeing that it was absolutely impossibly to accept it in the interests of the whole community.
§ MR. J. F. MASON
said his hon. friend who had just addressed the House spoke entirely from the coal-owners' point of view, but the proposal now before the House was designed not for the benefit of the coal-owners but for the coal miners. He could quite understand, as his hon. friend and the hon. Member for Mansfield could see, that if one particular
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hn. Sir Alex, F.||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Mason, James F. (Windsor)|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Faber, George Denison (York)||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Fell, Arthur||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Baring, Capt. Hn. G. (Winchester||Fletcher, J. S.||Nield, Herbert|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Gardner, Ernest||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Beauchamp, E.||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Gretton, John||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston)||Renwick, George|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Guinness, W. E. (Bury S. Edm.)||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Bull, Sir William James||Harris, Frederick Leverton||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Starkey, John R.|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Houston, Robert Paterson||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ.|
|Cave, George||Hunt, Rowland||Valentia, Viscount|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Joynson-Hicks, William||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Kerry, Earl of|
|Clive, Percy Archer||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Win.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Ridsdale and Mr. Beck.|
|Coates, Major E. F. (Lewisham)||Lupton, Arnold|
|Cross, Alexander||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Brace, William|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Barnes, G. N.||Branch, James|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Beale, W. P.||Brigg, John|
|Agnew, George William||Benn, Sir J. Williams (Devonp'rt||Brodie, H. C.|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Benn, W. (T'w'r Hamlets, S. Geo.||Brooke, Stopford|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Bennett, E. N.||Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry||Berridge, T. H. D.||Bryce, J. Annan|
|Balcarres, Lord||Bowerman, C. W.||Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn|
§ mine had the advantage of contracting out under this Bill, it would be against the interests of others in a better position, but that was no reason why they should deprive these miners of an opportunity to contract out. It was suggested that it would not be right to allow a bare majority to deprive the remainder of the advantages of this Bill, but it was quite possible to alter that by saying that the majority should not be a bare majority but a two-thirds or a three-fourths majority, although at the same time he would remind the House that for the time being even a bare majority would faithfully represent the preponderance of fouling among the miners.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
I do not rise to continue the discussion, but merely to make an appeal to the House, that they should now come to a decision one way or the other upon this point. That decision having been come to, I then propose to move the adjournment of the debate.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Aves, 55; Noes, 232. (Division List No. 444.)905
|Burnyeat, W. J. D.||Jacoby, Sir James Alfred||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Jardine, Sir J.||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)|
|Byles, William Pollard||Jenkins, J.||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Rainy, A. Rolland|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Rea, Walter Russell (Searboro')|
|Cleland, J. W.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Clough, William||Joyce, Michael||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Clynes, J. R.||Kearley, Sir Hudson E.||Richards, Thomas (W. Monm'th|
|Cobbold, Fleix Thornley||Kekewich, Sir George||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n,)|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Kilbride, Denis||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Pancras, W.||Kincaid-Smith, Captain||Robinson, S.|
|Compton-Rickett, Sir J.||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Cooper, G. J.||Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster)||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinst'd||Lambert, George||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Lamont, Norman||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Lehmann, R. C.||Samuel, Rt. Hn. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Crean, Eugene||Lever, A. Levy (Essex Harwich)||Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)|
|Crooks, William||Levy, Sir Maurice||Seddon, J.|
|Crosfield, A. H.||Lewis, John Herbert||Seely, Colonel|
|Crossley, William J.||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Sheckleton, David James|
|Curran, Peter Francis||Lyell, Charles Henry||Shaw, Sir Charles Edw. (Stafford|
|Dalziel, Sir James Henry||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick B.)|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs)||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Mackarness, Frederic C.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John|
|Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Macpherson, J. T.||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Dillon, John||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Stanley, Albert (Stalls, N. W.)|
|Dobson, Thomas W.||MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staff'sh.)|
|Duckworth, Sir James||M'Callum, John M.||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Duncan, C. (Burrow-in-Furness)||M'Crae, Sir George||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall||M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Summerbell, T.|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Essex, R. W.||M'Laren, Rt. Hn. Sir C. B. (Leices.||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Evans, Sir Samuel T.||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Everett, R. Lacey||M'Micking, Major G.||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Fenwick, Charles||Maddison, Frederick||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr|
|Ferens, T. R.||Mallet, Charles E.||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.|
|Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Markham, Arthur Basil||Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Lanark)|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Gibb, James (Harrow)||Marnham, F. J.||Tomkinson, James|
|Gill, A. H.||Massie, J.||Toulmin, George|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||Masterman, C. F. G.||Trevelyan Charles, Philips|
|Glendinning, R. G.||Menzies, Walter||Verney, F. W.|
|Glover, Thomas||Micklem, Nathaniel||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Middlebrook, William||Walsh, Stephen|
|Gooch, George Peabody (Bath)||Molteno, Percy Alport||Walton, Joseph|
|Gurdon, Rt. Hn. Sir W. Brampton||Morrell, Philip||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||Morrison-Bell, Captain||Waring, Walter|
|Hall, Frederick||Morse, L. L.||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Murphy, John (Kerry, East)||Wason, Rt. Hn. E. (Clackmannan|
|Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Murray, Capt. Hn. A. C. (Kincard.||Watt, Henry A.|
|Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.||Murray, James (Aberdeen, E.)||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Harwood, George||Myer, Horatio||White, J. Dundas (Dumbart'nsh.|
|Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Napier, T. H.||White, Sir Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Hazel Dr. A. E.||Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Hedges, A. Paget||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncast'r||Whittaker, Rt. Hn. Sir Thomas P.|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Nolan, Joseph||Wiles, Thomas|
|Henry, Charles S.||Norton, Captain Cecil William||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Higham, John Sharp||Nuttall, Harry||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Hodge, John||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Hogan, Michael||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh, N.)|
|Holland, Sir William Henry||O'Dowd, John||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Hooper, A. G.||O'Grady, J.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N.||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Horniman, Emslie John||Partington, Oswald||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Joseph Pease and Master of|
|Hudson, Walter||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Lack)|
|Hutton, Alfred Eddison||Pirie, Duncan V.||Elibank.|
|Hyde, Clarendon||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Illingworth, Percy H.||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
§ Bill, as amended (in the Standing Committee), to be further considered Tomorrow.