HC Deb 14 December 1908 vol 198 cc1285-361

Order for Third Reading read.


A very few words are necessary from me on this occasion. I must remind the House at the outset that we have not rushed the Bill through its various stages. It is entirely innocent of the guillotine. For eighteen months the Bill has been before the country, and on eighteen days the Bill has been under discussion. I will say one or two final Words as regards two of the principal points in connection with the Bill. First of all, as regards the question of safety, which was one of the main points submitted in the Committee examination, I maintain that we have provided against all those dangers which in some quarters were anticipated as likely to result from the Bill. We have introduced safeguards against these dangers, first of all by excluding the second winding for a period of five years, which will certainly reduce any tendency to haste in the Working of a coal mine under the Bill; in the second place, we have provided for securing a safe period of winding the men up and down; in the third place, we have exempted firemen and other special classes of men upon whom the safety of the mine more immediately depends; and in the fourth place we have excluded general workmen underground whose continued presence in the mine may be necessitated by apprehended danger. I say now that, having regard to these safeguards, there is no reason at all to fear the effects of this Bill with respect to any increase of danger in coalmining. The second point on which I have to say something is the economic side. I admit now, and I have never used different language, that it is not possible to forecast precisely what the amount of disturbance may be in the working of a mine when this Bill comes into operation, or what the precise increase in the cost of production may be, but let the House remember this, that whatever may be said in regard to some districts, this Bill cannot be an element of disturbance in no inconsiderable number of the mines of the country, and in that number I include some of the very greatest mines which are now being worked. Those mines which are now worked in two or three shifts on the eight hours basis will not be affected at all. There are other single shift mines which are now practically working eight hours a day, and there are a considerable number of mines which are worked only slightly in excess of eight hours a day, where the effect of this Bill in any case will be immaterial and not appreciable. On the other hand I admit that in Durham and Northumberland something like complete reorganisation of most of the mines will be necessitated, and on a scale and at a cost which justifies the extension of the preparatory period which we have now given them in the Bill. I am confident that mine owners in other parts of the country will not grudge this small concession to Durham and Northumberland, in view of the better facilities which they have in conforming to the provisions of the Bill. I agree that there may be some difficulties such as were pointed out by my hon. friend the Member for Mansfield, but I do not believe that he, when he considers it wholly, will really grudge this benefit, such as it is, to Durham and Northumberland. Then I come to the South Wales and Lancashire mines, and here again I admit that for a time the Bill may put these mining districts to some inconvenience; but I am not to be told that the skill and resource of the managers and the owners in Lancashire and South Wales will not be amply sufficient to effect changes which are necessary either by the establishment of double shifts or in any other way by reorganisation which may be necessary. So, Sir, though I say that the transition period may involve some rise in price, still I maintain it is by no means improbable that in a very short time, because of the increased power of production which this Bill in operation will bring about, consumers will gain and not lose by the Bill. That is not very material to the argument, but I make bold to say that, and in time we shall see who is right and who is wrong. Though the reception of the Bill was not altogether friendly, yet I wish to thank the House for its patient and considerate attention. I do not think it is necessary for me at the outset to go into the substance of the case. I have spoken over and over again until I am tired of the sound of my own voice on this subject, and I therefore leave any further statements or arguments which may have to be made in reply to the speeches on the Third Reading to my right hon. colleague. I thank the House for its consideration, and I thank in particular my hon. friend the Member for Hanley and his colleagues for their zeal and their restraint in this matter, which were equally helpful to me. I wish to say that in the course they pursued they were not merely discharging a political obligation. For twenty years many of us have voted or spoken in this House consistently in support of the principle of this Bill. Twenty years ago perhaps the support of the miners might not have been so necessary as some hon. Members take it to be now, but, at any rate, the events of twenty years go to show that those who consistently, year after year, voted for the Bill have not done so out of a mere wish to get votes. I have not any miners' votes in my own constituency, but it was because we expected the change which we were proposing was really going to confer very considerable benefit that we supported it. Therefore, I say we have not brought in the Bill and worked it up to this stage for the purpose of securing the votes of miners, though I admit those votes in most parts of the country have been very friendly to the party to which I belong. But that is not so all over the country. There is the great mining county of Lancashire, where certainly the miners are not more friendly to the Liberal party than to the Conservative party. However that may be, I present this Bill to the House for Third Reading as something which through its agency will give to a large section of the country fresh hope and confidence in life. We hope to close a long controversy between employers and employed which threatened to develop, and, indeed, might easily develop, danger and loss. We believe that this Bill will establish a great national industry on a rational and permanent basis, and that it will help to render the hard lives of miners less arduous and to increase the sum total of contentment and prosperity.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."—(Mr. Gladstone.)

LORD R. CECIL (Marylebone, E.)

, in moving that the Bill be read the third time upon that day three months, said there was one observation of the right hon. Gentleman with which he found himself in complete accord. The right hon. Gentleman congratulated the House on the fact that the Bill had not been passed by means of the guillotine. It was indeed a matter of congratulation that any Bill in this Parliament should not be passed by that means. While according all the praise they deserved to the Government for their self restraint in the matter, he thought that a considerable meed of praise was due to the Opposition for the extreme moderation with which they exercised their rights on Thursday and Friday last in the discussion of important details. They had, so far as the House of Commons were concerned, reached the last stage of the controversy, and it was not his purpose to attempt any complete survey of the field occupied by the Bill. He merely desired to draw attention to a few topics which had become familiar to the House during the discussion of the Bill in its various stages. One thing that struck him in almost all the discussions was the attitude of the Government. He did not believe that a Government Bill had ever been recommended to the House with less confidence, or indeed with less argument. The speech to which they had just listened was a fair example of the general tone which the Government had adopted in reference to the matter—a few perfunctory phrases about benefit to the country, always undefined, and the rest of the speech, as indeed was the case with all the right hon. Gentleman's speeches, occupied by explaining to the Opposition that, bad as the Bill was it was not so bad as they thought. The right hon. Gentleman took great credit to himself that he had provided against the dangers which would be caused by the change of system, that he had excluded winding and firemen, and in other ways taken steps to diminish the injury it was likely to cause. He had added that it was impossible for anyone to forecast the amount of disturbance or the precise amount of the increase in the cost of the material which might be caused thereby. He did not think anyone had ever heard a responsible Government put forward, a measure to be defended by an argument of that description. The right hon. Gentleman could not afford to himself the melancholy consolation of Touchstone in the play. Undoubtedly it was a poor thing, but the right hon. Gentleman would hardly venture to add: "It is my own." No one really supposed that the Bill was brought forward by the Government of their own motion. They all knew the authors of the Bill. There was no secret about the matter. They were the hon. Members below the gangway, familiarly known as the Labour Party. Therefore, in examining the arguments by which this Bill had been recommended, he thought he would more usefully occupy the time of the House by examining the arguments used by the hon. Members below the gangway than in dealing with those put forward by the Government. The first thing that would strike everyone was the change of ground which had taken place even in the advocacy of the hon. Gentlemen below the gangway. Hon. Members were quite familiar with the well-known passage in the speech of the hon. Member for the Wansbeck division in the House on 27th February, 1901, in which he pointed out that the original advocacy of this Bill was put on an absolutely different ground from that now relied upon. The hon. Member said— My hon. friend has said that it is not the object of this measure to limit the output of coal, but this was really the object with which the agitation began. At the Bradford Trade Union Congress in 1888, it was distinctly stated that it was to restrict the output of coal, which was about 20,000,000 tons more than was necessary, but when it was found that the British consumer would have something to say to any limitation of the output, then the promoters took another line, and said that if the hours of labour were reduced employment would be found for a greater number. When the weakness of that was pointed out the promoters fell back on a third line, that the Bill would increase the safety of the miners. That was no doubt the argument mainly put forward by hon. Members below the gangway. It was clear in the first place that they were entitled to say that that was something of an argument, and that in itself the Government did not very much believe in it, for the Home Secretary had explained how many precautions he had taken with the view to avoid increasing the danger in mines by the Bill. His anticipation was not that the Bill would increase the safety in mines, but rather that unless it was carefully guarded it would increase the danger.


No, Sir. The safeguards we put in were to meet special points brought to my knowledge by experts, but I have never thought, and I do not think, that this Bill is going largely, or very materially, to increase the danger of coal-mining in any part of the country. I quite agree that danger ought to be met and provided against if possible.


said that was exactly what he stated. The right hon. Gentleman, being of an optimistic or sanguine disposition did not think that the Bill was going materially to increase the danger of mines. That was very modified praise for the Government to give of the measure. But the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil, being still more sanguine, said that it was going positively to diminish the danger, and it was on that argument he desired to say a word. The hon. Member said, in the first place, that a priori and in itself it was likely to increase safety because if men were not so long below ground, they were likely to be more at their best for the time they were there, and not so likely to do careless or dangerous things. As to that, they had had the other opinion—an opinion expressed, and so far as he knew not withdrawn—by the hon. Member for Wansbeck that there was at least equal danger that if they confined by rigid rules the hours below ground, miners, being human, would work more quickly, and, therefore, less carefully than if they were allowed a longer time to earn their money. Therefore, so far as the a priori ground was concerned, the matter was one on which he was not in a position to form any independent judgment of his own. He must leave that matter to be discussed and determined by such experts as the hon. Member for Merthyr and the hon. Member for Wansbeck. The hon. Member for Merthyr did not confine himself to mere theory. The other night he gave figures which he said showed as a matter of fact that the decrease of the hours worked meant an increase of safety, and he cited three particular districts in support of his view. He had not been able to see a report of the hon. Member's speech, but he thought he was accurate in saying that the hon. Member stated that in Scotland the hours were lowest, and that there mining was safest; that in Northumberland and Durham the hours were rather greater, and that there the proportion of fatal accidents was rather larger.


What I said was that in Durham and Northumberland the hours are shorter.


said if the figures which the hon. Member gave showed that the hours were shorter there than in Scotland, the illustration fell to the ground immediately. Then the hon. Gentleman went on to say that in South Wales the hours were still longer and the danger still greater. He left out of consideration all questions of the relative difficulties in working the mines. He knew very little of the subject, but he thought it was admitted that in South Wales they had the most dangerous mines in the country, both in regard to explosions and falls of stones from the roof. He wanted to test the figures of the hon. Gentleman. He was not taking three selected mining industries, but he had tried to see what was the result of an examination of the general statistics of labour as to accidents; and he found this. In the last ten years, from 1897 to 1907, the number of fatal accidents per 1,000 of the population was practically the same. In 1897 they were 1.34; in 1907 they were 1.32. In the intervening years they had fallen to 1.24 and had risen to 1.36, but they remained practically the same during the ten years. That he presumed was a fair test which showed that there had been no change at all in the safety of the working of the mine. But it was not true that there had been no change in the hours of labour. He could not give the details, but the net result of the change was that there had been a very decided reduction in the hours of labour in the mines, taking the whole of the districts of the country in the same way. Therefore, they had this broad fact, that, whereas the hours of labour had diminished, the Safety was just where it was ten years ago. He thought that was quite a good commentary upon the figures of the hon. Member for Merthyr. But it did not stop there. That was only a very small part of the argument. He thought what was much more important was the conclusion to which the Departmental Committee arrived. They examined all the figures, and what did they say? They said in the plainest possible way that they disagreed with the hon. Member. Here were their words— We may remark that we have failed to obtain any evidence which would associate the number of accidents in any disproportionate degree with the hours in excess of eight spent underground by the men, or with the districts in which the longest hours are worked. Therefore, that Departmental Committee had, having an opportunity of examining all the figures, arrived at a conclusion directly opposed to that at which the hon. Member for Merthyr arrived. He felt that in the face of that, the argument from safety was really utterly unsound. And when they were asked, as they were by the hon. Member for Glamorgan, to look at the human side of the question, was not that a clear intimation to everyone who was opposed to the Bill that he was guilty of inhumanity? He was not surprised that that observation was greeted with a certain amount of impatience by his hon. friends. For what did it amount to? Putting aside the question of safety, what other ground for humanity was there in the Bill? Something was said on that side of the House as to the good health of the miner, and the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had suggested that really the conclusion which the Departmental Committee had arrived at as to the health of the miner, was not altogether sound. But the right hon. Gentleman never suggested that the Bill was likely to make—he would not say the slightest, but a material difference in the health of the miners, at their work. There was no support for that view, and certainly the Departmental Committee arrived at precisely the contrary conclusion. The Departmental Committee, which was an absolutely impartial Committee, took all the evidence possible on this point, and they distinctly said that the health of miners stood exceedingly high compared with the health of those engaged in other trades, and that they saw no reason to suppose that the Bill would increase the healthiness of the coal miner. What else was there to be considered? There was no question of sweating in the case. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Bill would put fresh hope and confidence in the miners. That was very appropriate language when they were dealing with labourers in other industries who were being sweated. But had the coal miners been sweated? Here they had on the one side no doubt a very powerful body of employers, and on the other side an equally powerful body, of employees. These latter were grown men, banded together in the most powerful organisation in the country, possessed of great wealth, and as they all knew, to their cost, possessed of great political strength. It was really absurd to ask the House to interfere to save these men from the oppression of their employers. The hon. Member asked them to take a human view of the subject. He quite agreed. He assured him that they above the gangway were not less humanitarian on this subject than hon. Members below the gangway. In his view, if they were to take a human view of the question they must take a larger view. No one doubted that it would be a good thing, and generally it sounded a good thing, if everyone was able to have more money with less work, and in a sense any Bill that proposed to accomplish that object was a human Bill; but they must consider not only the immediate purpose of the measure but its total effect—the effect of the Bill not only on the coal miners but on all the other industrial and domestic interests of the country. It really came to this: would the Bill cause a diminution of output of coal? That was the essential question on the Bill; and here he wished to challenge the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil. That hon. Gentleman, with his usual courage, had gone as far as to say that it would not diminish, but rather increase the output per miner; and he cited in support of his view, the case of the East of Scotland. He had given some figures from a relatively small mining district to show that in the past ten years, though the hours worked by miners had become less, the output per miner was greater. But if he had extended his investigations further he would have found that that rule did not apply to other districts of the country. In the West of Scotland, where the hours of work had also been reduced, in 1897, 22,000,000 tons of coal were raised; in 1907, 25,000,000 tons. As to the men employed, in 1897, they numbered 62,000, and in 1907," 77,000. If hon. Members would do a little sum in arithmetic, unless he was much mistaken, they would find that whereas in 1897 the output per miner was something between 350 and 360 tons, in 1907 the output had fallen to between 310 and 320. So that, again, the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil's figures did not appear to stand detailed examination. His hon. friend the Member for Dulwich, who was unable to be present that day cited the case of Lanarkshire last week. In that county the output had fallen per man, according to the figures given to him. In 1896, when the coal miners worked a nine hours winding day, the output was 483 tons per man; in 1901, when only eight hours work per day was registered, the output fell to 405 tons per man, or a diminution of rather more than 16 per cent. as opposed to a reduction in the hours of work of 11 per cent. He might go on citing figures for ever without arriving at a perfectly certain conclusion; but he believed that the hon. Member and his friends in their view that the Bill would not diminish output were mistaken. Moreover, there was no question that the whole of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, indicated that in his view the Bill would, for a fact, diminish the output per miner, because he talked of the benefit he was going to confer on the miners of Durham and Northumberland by excluding them from the Bill for six months. That also was distinctly the view of the Departmental Committee. He quite agreed that the Departmental Committee did not take the figures that were put before them by the Coal Owners' Association. But the hon. Member for Mansfield on Friday spoke of the great effect which, he said, the Bill would have on the mines in the North. He said that if they excluded Durham and Northumberland for six months from the Bill they would throw the whole coal trade into confusion, because those districts would be able to undersell others in every market. The hon. Member said the difference of 6d. or 4d. per ton Was a small amount, but he himself gathered from the evidence of the supporters of the Bill that the change, whatever it was, was going to be enough to give an important commercial advantage to those who were not submitted to the provisions of the Bill. Then, what was the burden of the speech of the hon. Member for Gloucester on Friday? He said they were not dealing with an ordinary trade, but with a trade that had the characteristic of being exceedingly inelastic. What did that mean? It meant that the ordinary influences which caused an increase or a diminution in production in a particular trade did not operate in any slight degree in the case of the coal trade but remained very much the same. In spite of depression the output remained very much the same, but he knew, and they all knew, that although the output remained the same the price varied very considerably. And what Was the inference that he drew from that? It meant an enormous alteration in the trade; whether it was in the direction of cutting down demand or reducing output it would produce an enormous effect upon the price of the article produced. That seemed to him to be all the more valuable because it was an opinion given by an hon. Gentleman whose opinion on this subject was second to none in the House, and an hon. Gentleman who was favourable to the Bill. What was the conclusion from that that any impartial man must draw? Why, that the Bill would diminish the output and increase the cost of production. Using to the full the observation of the hon. Member for Gloucester, he said boldly—he was not going to prophesy what the exact rise of price would be, he did not think anyone could do that—but he did say with great confidence that in a trade of this kind an increase in the cost of production might mean a rise in price altogether out of proportion to the increase of cost of production. That seemed to him, if they had any knowledge of economic science, to be the conclusion that they could safely come to. The hon. Member for Hanley, who was in a position of great responsibility with regard to this Bill, said they were told that if they got an Eight Hours Bill they would get a rise in the price of coal of 5s. a ton. That was on 6th October; he said he did not know how much that rise of price would be, and another thing, he did not care. He had not met anybody yet who was sufficiently informed to tell them what might be the increase. The hon. Member said he did not care. That was the attitude of hon. Members below the gangway. Supposing they were dealing not with the case of coal, but with the case of bread, and supposing, in passing some measure, a statesman were told that the effect of his proposal would be greatly to raise the price of bread, and he were to reply: "I don't know whether it will, and I don't very greatly care," what an outcry there would be from the benches opposite. How they would say: "Look at this reckless plutocrat who cares nothing for the sufferings of the poor, and who has only in view the gains and the earnings of one particular class." Yes, but if a Labour Leader said that, they were not allowed to make those comments; they were told that he was acting from the highest and most disinterested motives. There could be no question, let them not conceal it from themselves for a moment, that if the phrase was applicable to any Bill at all, this Bill might be defined as class legislation. They heard a great deal in the last Parliament of doles to classes, but if there ever was a dole to a class this was one. He confessed that, holding that view about the Bill, his difficulty had been to assign any respectable reason why a responsible Government should have brought forward such a measure. The Home Secretary, with more than his usual pathos, said the presentment of this Bill was not merely a discharge of a political obligation, by which delicate words he understood him to mean that he was not merely attempting to catch votes; but if he was not doing that he did not know what he was doing. Did anyone suppose that the Bill would have been brought forward or pressed forward by the Government if the Miners' Federation did not command a large electoral force? It was not a Bill to protect a small and struggling class; it was not a Bill to save some wretched workers from the oppression of their employers; it was a Bill to confer a benefit upon people who were perfectly well able to protect themselves. The only reason why the Bill was brought forward, and this absolute disregard of the industrial interests of the country had been shown, and the harm which the Bill might inflict put on one side, was that the Government knew that if the Bill did not pass it would not have the least hope of retaining the votes given to it by the mining constituencies. It was for that reason, and because he regarded the Bill as a degradation of the legislative work of this Parliament, that he ventured to move that it be read a third time that day three months.


said he desired to second the Motion so ably brought forward by the noble Lord behind him, and from the comprehensive manner in which he had covered the field he felt that there was no need for him to go into those details which they had discussed in the House to such a great extent, and he would confine himself to the principles of the Bill. They had reached the closing stage of this measure, and he supposed it would go to another place for acceptance or rejection. What he should like to know were the recommendations with which it would go up to that House. They would be told that it had been received by the united support of the great majority of the representatives of the people of the country. He ventured to disagree with that suggestion entirely. This measure had been passed by an alliance between the Government and hon. Gentlemen below the gangway. An enormous majority would follow the Government into the lobby knowing nothing of the merits of the Bill. They would then see two right hon. Gentlemen on the front bench opposite and very few behind them, and he thought, it was pretty obvious that the all unwilling dog was being wagged by the all powerful tail, and when hon. Gentlemen went into the lobby they would go absolutely regardless of the effects of the measure. Hon. Members below the gangway, however, knew exactly what they were about, and they were looking upon the Bill with the greatest possible pleasure for the purpose of bringing about that eight-hours day for which they had been working for twenty-one years, and perhaps it was a curious thing that the entry of the measure into Parliament was coincident with the birth of that new trade unionism which they knew had been dominated throughout by the Socialistic idea. It was also true that a great many of the Labour leaders were entirely opposed to the measure, and there were Labour leaders in the House, who had spoken and fought against it. What was the hypnotic influence by which they had been induced — he could not think to alter their opinions, but certainly to vote contrary to those opinions which they had always held up to now? This measure had been passed through the House accompanied by academic discussions, and he for one looked with great suspicion upon debates of that character, because if they were carried on often enough, as in this case, they saw a measure carried by the persistence of hon. Gentlemen below the gangway, He ha been found fault with by the Home Secretary for an assertion to the effect that this was the first real measure that had been brought into the House for the purpose of curtailing male adult labour in this country. He ventured to repeat that assertion, and he would establish its correctness by saying that the two measures relied on by hon. Gentlemen opposite, the Coal Mines Regulation Act of 1803 and the Shop Hours Act of 1904, offered no analogy whatsoever. Let him take the Coal Mines Regulation Act of 1893. He knew perfectly well that hours were curtailed there, and for what reason? For the purpose of safeguarding the lives of passengers who travelled by railway. Could that measure be brought forward as an analogy when they knew perfectly well that these men, signalmen and engine-drivers, were engaged at work holding the lives of persons travelling in express trains especially in the hollow of their hands? Could this measure be brought into comparison in any sense of the word with the case of miners working underground and under no mental strain? [Cries of "Oh!"] Would hon. Members say that a miner who hewed coal was for a great part of the time exercising his brain in that way? [Cries of "Yes."] He ventured to disagree. Then he would take the Shop Hours Bill of 1904. That was voluntary and was limited to closing shops, and had no regard to the hours of employment. It was possible under it for the employer to keep men at work after his shop had closed. Therefore, neither of those measures could be looked upon as a precedent for curtailing the hours of adult labour in this country. What was actually the object of the Bill? And this was what he wanted to bring before hon. Members opposite. The object of the Bill was to lay the foundation by precedent for enforcing by legislative action an eight-hours day in every industry in the country. He thought too, they must attach the greatest significance to this—that it was noticeable that there had been far greater interest outside the House in this measure during the time that it had been before them in Committee and on the Report stage, and it was obvious that people were beginning to understand the aim and object of this unwarrantable interference with the rights of a portion of the people. He thought the argument which the noble Lord had put forward in regard to what they might call the humanitarian point of view had been convincing, and they might claim that that point of view had fallen to the ground even if there was anything to be said for it in times gone by. This was probably due to the fact that improvements had been brought about in appliances in mines through which the workman was exhausted less than before. At the present moment he ventured to say that there was not a single Member opposite would dare to go down to his constituency and put forward the humanitarian argument which was advanced in the House of Commons and repeated from Radical platforms for the purpose of furnishing perorations to speeches in the country. They knew very well that the health of the miners compared very favourably with the health of those engaged in other industries. Surely the provisions that had been brought into the Bill for the purpose of avoiding evasions were very significant. They were a very striking feature of this Bill. The men whom the Bill was to benefit, they understood, were to be hounded out of the mine whenever they should stay a few minutes more than they ought to stay in the opinion of their friends in the House of Commons; and if those men did stay a few minutes longer, and their employer could be proved to be cognisant of the fact, then he was to be guilty of an indictable offence. The idea that the Bill was put forward on humanitarian grounds was an absolute fallacy. The argument had been put to the miners in quite a different way. It had been put to them that they would have a higher rate of wages and do less work. There was such a thing as human nature, and although it might not be a very laudable characteristic of mankind there were very few who would be able to withstand the temptation to support the Bill if they were told that they would do less work and get more money for it. But if the Bill was made the subject of a referendum to the miners and it was put to them that there was to be less work and therefore they would earn less wages, it would be found that there was a very large majority in favour of continuing as they were now going on. With regard to the conspiracy of silence to which they had been subjected by hon. Members below the gangway during the debates on the Bill, he would like to ask: was that conspiracy of silence to be broken that afternoon? If it was, let him put one or two specific questions to which he would like a reply. The first question was this: was it only on humanitarian grounds that they were pressing this Bill forward? The second was: had they ever informed the miners that they were going to do less work and receive a higher wage? And the third, whether they would support the proposition that all labour in this country should be reduced to working only eight hours a day. There might be some argument in favour of working five days a week, but he did not think that hon. Members below the gangway would support such a suggestion as that, because that would necessitate some latitude being given, and they had opposed any latitude whatever or any departure from the rigidity of the Bill. But he submitted that five days a week for mining would be a far better condition of work than a rigid eight-hours day. A good deal of time was lost going to and fro, and surely it was better when a man was at his work that he should be allowed to work a few hours longer than to be stopped at the end of eight hours. He had one good authority for that suggestion. It was well-known that at the Tredegar Mines a resolution was passed by the miners for the purpose of forwarding a petition to the employer to allow them to work a quarter of an hour extra on four days a week with the condition that on one day of the week their work should be reduced by one hour. That was considered by the employers, and they refused to accede to it, because they believed that this Bill would pass, and that the days the miners proposed to lengthen would be shortened, and the day they proposed to shorten would be lengthened.


said he was interested in the Tredegar Collieries and he could only say that there was absolutely no proof for the latter part of the statement the hon. Member had just made.


was glad the hon. Member had spoken. He would have an opportunity of giving his views later. He could only say that he believed everything he had said was absolutely correct. He would like to draw the attention of hon. Members opposite to the provision for postponing the full operation of the Bill for five years, and enacting that during those five years two windings should be excluded. This was done by the right hon. Gentleman, as he said, in the interests of safety. It was certainly a novel form of legislation to enact that the successors of the right hon. Gentleman—and he presumed he would have successors in the next five years—should be bound to carry forward what this House has laid down. Surely it must be an object of speculation, but the right hon. Gentleman was convinced that the march of invention would be so great that appliances would be invented during this period that would justify the provisions of the Bill. There was one other point to which he would like to refer. There was the individual who owned two pits and the individual who owned two scams in one pit. Surely it was very hard that the individual who owned two pits should have an extension of sixty hours in each pit and he who owned two seams in one pit should only have the extension of sixty hours divided between the two seams. He had not touched on the measure from the economic point of view. If it was true that the work was injurious or even deleterious to the health of the miners underground he would be the first to say that no work should go on underground at all. But that had never been and could not be proved, and if it was not injurious or deleterious to the health of the miners to work in the mines under present conditions then no condemnation could be strong enough to be meted out to the Government who brought in such a Bill as this. The output would be decreased, that was admitted, and every individual industry in the country would be hampered and handicapped in the competition of the world, and every consumer would be put to inconvenience and expense. That being so he did not think the Government was justified in inflicting such a hardship on the community. He had ventured to make his protest, and would now make an appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite. He appealed to them to consider the Bill on its merits and before going into the Lobby to consider exactly what they were voting for. They were establishing a precedent which was bound to be acted on as years went by. He believed that hon. Members opposite were all returned to Parliament as free traders. Was it a free trade argument that they should hamper and handicap the source of all our industries and hinder them in their competition with foreigners over the seas? He should like to ask whether Mr. Cobden, the patron saint, of hon. Gentlemen opposite, would have supported this measure? He thought not. He ventured to think that he would have been consistent and would have opposed it in every possible way. He did not know whether it was any use making an appeal to the most subservient majority that ever answered the summons of a party whip, and he would, therefore, content himself by seconding the noble Lord's Motion for the rejection of the Bill.

Amendment proposed— To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words 'upon this day three months.'"—(Lord Robert Cecil).

Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

* MR. E. EDWARDS (Hanley)

raid that on Friday he ventured to put the views of the Miners' Federation before the House upon this question. He had listened with considerable interest to the noble Lord who moved the rejection of the Bill, and had noted that the noble Lord had honoured him by quoting a speech which he had delivered at Chester in connection with the increased price of coal. If the noble Lord had had before him the addresses which he had continuously delivered upon this subject, he would have observed that he had continuously dissociated himself from those who said that there would be no increase in cost as the result of the Bill. He had always endeavoured to make it plain that in his opinion there must be some increase in the cost. But it was nonsense to say that the increase would be 4s. or 5s. a ton. That he absolutely denied. As a matter of fact, he had been engaged for some time in meeting the objections to the increased cost. They now heard that the great objection was the increased cost, and many of those who had urged that objection were gentlemen not familiar with mining though they might have been prompted by those who had knowledge on the matter. Many mistakes had in consequence been made which he would like to correct lest they should remain on the minds of those who had taken an interest in the debates of last week. Those objections had been urged, as he had said, by hon. Members knowing nothing about mining or the methods by which the work was carried on in the mines. They had been asked, Why not allow a man to work as long as he liked, or as short hours as he liked. That was where the ignorance of hon. Members was shown. When they were dealing with a coal mine and with people working underground they must deal with the men in one block. Mines had a general set of rules. A coal mine was not a factory to which a man might go to work at any time or come away at any time. The collier must observe the rules, and he could not either go down the pit or leave the pit save at stated times under the rules. Hon. Members must be aware that the arrangements of a colliery had to be made with due regard to the regulations imposed by the law, and that this was done in the interests and the safety of the men's lives. Therefore, it would readily be seen that a miner could not go down the mine or leave the mine at any time he chose, and it was for this reason that for years miners had been asking for a Bill which should not require, their being underground for more than eight hours a day. The noble Lord opposite suggested that this Bill asking for a miners' eight hours day was preliminary to a demand for a general eight hours day all over the country. So far as he knew, this was a miners' Bill and a miners' Bill only. It was the Bill for which miners had been asking for twenty years, and in all that time there had been no suggestion for a general eight-hours day. The claim made now under this Bill was very much what it was when brought forward twenty years ago. It might be said that there was nothing new in it compared with the first demands. The miners asked for this eight-hours day because they were miners, and because, being miners, they worked under conditions unknown to any other trade of the country. The miner lived the greater part of his life buried away from the world and from what went on in it, and considering the conditions under which he had to labour, he ought not to be asked to spend the greater part of his life underground, away from the surroundings of daily life. The sacrifices the miner was called upon to make were very great, and it was on that ground that there was a strong feeling in support of this Eight Hours Bill. When they came to realise all the dangers which beset the calling of the miner they would see that eight hours underground was long enough for any person to work. So far as the miner was concerned, as he had already said, they had for many years urged that eight hours from bank to bank was quite long enough. They had been reminded of the difference on this question which existed between Northumberland and Durham and the Midlands, South Wales, and Scotland. Everybody knew that it had not been necessary to refer to the speeches of the hon. Member for Morpeth or the hon. Member for Wansbeck, for they all knew that at one time they entered the division lobby in opposition to the Eight Hours Bill. He did not dispute that there was this difference, and that the representatives of the Northumberland and Durham miners did record their votes against the previous Bill; but they would not vote against the Third Reading to-day; they would go into the division lobby in favour of it, because the miners in the north of England were members of the Miners' Federation. [Opposition cheers.] He was pleased to hear those cheers, because they marked the fact that they were now a friendly combination, and they knew that the miners of the North of England, through their representatives, would show their loyalty on this question. He would like to remind hon. Members on the opposite side of the House, who had had so much to say in regard to the speeches of his right hon. friend the Member for Morpeth, that those speeches had not gone, he thought, to the length of some of the speeches made by hon. Members in that House in opposition to the Eight Hours Bill. His right hon. friend the Member for Morpeth had already felt, as many of them had felt, that the unfortunate position taken up by the miners of the North of England in regard to the eight hours question was largely caused by the number of boys who were kept underground for long hours, day in and day out. The miners' conference and the miners of the country desired to reduce those hours for boys from one end of the kingdom to another, and it was because of that position that the Miners' Federation undertook to press this Bill upon the House in season and out of season. During the last twenty years some of the best of hon. Members on the other side of the House had given their support to the Bill, and he expected they would find a number of them supporting the Third Reading to-night. During the discussion it had been said that no effort had been made by the workmen to settle the question of an eight-hours day between themselves and their employers. He might say that during seventeen or eighteen years several efforts had been made to bring about a general agreement between the coal owners and themselves. They had never been able, so far as he knew, to include in those interviews the coal owners from Durham and Northumberland. Otherwise the rest of the United Kingdom and Scotland and Wales in the early part of this year had a settlement offered by the coal owners, but in that case, and at no time, had they the support of the North of England. Then the question was asked, and it was one of those questions which he had never been able to understand, and he had not met anybody in the House or out of it who did understand it, namely, what would be the increased cost of coal caused by an eight-hours day? He did not know, and he had not found anybody who thought he knew. He realised there might be a higher price after the Bill came into operation, but when they considered in these days the improved facilities for getting coal to bank, and the numerous means of expediting the operations in the mines, he personally did not anticipate that there was going to be any serious difference in the price. Looking at the Bill now as it stood, he found that there were in it limitations which were rather dangerous. Although they loyally supported the Bill, he suggested that there were limitations in it of which the miners had never been enamoured. Nevertheless, they accepted the Bill, which affirmed the principle of an eight-hours day from bank to bank. The proposals of this measure came very near those in the modified Bill which they introduced, and he hoped that the present Bill would go through the House, and also through another place, without serious alteration or serious opposition. He believed when the Bill came into operation they would find a very cordial desire on the part of the federated and non-federated districts and the coal owners to make this Bill effective and practicable. It might arouse some opposition, and he was satisfied that the concentrated wisdom that was manifested in those great gatherings between employers and employed would find a solution which would enable the Bill to be carried out without damaging the interests of any other trade in the country, and it would be welcomed by the miners throughout the land as one of the best steps ever taken by Parliament in the interests of that class.

MR. RUSSELL REA (Gloucester)

congratulated those hon. Members who represented the miners on the completeness of their victory in passing this Bill through the House. The Bill, when it came into full operation, would establish, not a nominal, but a real and actual eight-hours day from bank to bank for the average individual miner. From the moment he stepped into the cage to descend into the dark under-world, to the moment he stepped out of the cage into the sunshine on the pit brow, would be neither more nor less than eight hours. He was surprised to find that this was not clearly understood even yet outside the House, and by some Members of it. He had carefully defined such a day in the Report as a day with one winding of men included, and one winding excluded. Under it the first man to descend would descend half an hour before the statutory eight hours began, for the first winding was excluded; if he was the first man to ascend, he would ascend half an hour before the statutory eight hours ended, for the second winding was included. If he was the last man to descend, he would descend at the stroke of the beginning of the eight hours period; and if he was also the last to ascend he would ascend at the stroke of the end of that period. The middle man would descend a quarter of an hour earlier than the beginning, and ascend a quarter of an hour before the end. It was true the first man down, if the last man up, might be down eight and a half hours. It was also true that the last man down, if the first up, would be down only seven and a half hours. If it were possible, as it was not possible, for the men to come up in the same order in which they went down, every individual man would have been under ground from bank to bank for eight hours, neither more nor less. And that was as near to the ideal of a perfect eight-hours day as could be reached so long as men had to descend into coal pits by shafts. This was the eight-hours day he had always supported, and would again support by his vote that day. But in so doing he was expressing his own individual opinion on the principle of the Bill. He did not profess to be expressing the opinion of the Committee. But their opinion on the merits of the question was not asked, and it was not given. Had this question been submitted to them, he was bound to say their Report would not have been a unanimous one. But although the object and ultimate effect of the Bill were what he desired, and for that reason he should vote for the Third Reading, yet he did not profess to be satisfied with all its provisions. However beneficent the revolution might be, it was a revolution; and a revolution might be either a peaceful and orderly revolution, or a violent and destructive revolution. They all desired that this revolution should be of the first kind, and not only that opposing forces should not enter into conflict, but that non-combatants should not suffer. He could not but think the Government had been over-sanguine in its estimate of the difficulties of the period of transition, and rash in not providing a more carefully graduated scheme. It would be useless to repeat now the arguments he had used in the House and out of it in favour of a more cautious procedure. He might be forgiven it he said of himself that he did not speak as an armchair chairman of a Committee, but from a life-long commercial experience, not as a coal owner or miner, but as a coal distributor on a tolerably extensive scale, and as a member of a firm which hour by hour, tide by tide, had its finger upon the pulse of production and demand, especially in the districts of South Wales and Lancashire. And if the Bill became law in the precise form in which it left the House, he should watch the earlier stages of its operation with considerable anxiety and apprehension.

MR. LAMBTON (Durham, S.E.)

said the support that the hon. Member who had just spoken had given to the Bill did not seem to him to be a very hearty one. He looked with anxiety on its effects, even in the coalfields of Wales and Lancashire. He told them he objected to the exemption for six months of Northumberland and Durham, although he told them the Bill would produce a revolution and reorganisation of the coal trade from top to bottom, and that it would mean a re-shuffling of the cards. In fact, he looked with a light heart on this gamble with the coal of Northumberland and Durham. But he had some misapprehension in the case of Liverpool where they used Welsh coal. A great many hon. Members opposite seemed to object to the exemption of Durham and Northumberland for six months, and the hon. Member for Hanley rather upbraided some of the coalmining Members for Durham and Northumberland, who had in the past opposed the Bill, and said he was quite certain they would be loyal to the Federation and support the measure. He was sure they would be loyal, and they were going to vote for the Bill simply out of loyalty to the Federation, and not because they liked the Bill, or because the miners in Northumberland and Durham desired them to vote for it. That was, he thought, a well-known fact. He would not taunt his hon. friends with any change of opinion. They were quite capable of expressing their opinions in that House, and they were highly respected there. When the hon. Member for Hanley told them the Federation had always had this Eight-Hours Bill before their minds, they were federated to mines in other parts of the country, and they would have been able to arrange with their employers for an eight-hours day if it had not been that the employers of Northumberland and Durham, stood out, why could not they make their own arrangements without bothering about Northumberland and Durham? It simply meant that an eight-hours day, if arranged on voluntary terms instead of being enforced by Act of Parliament, would so reduce their output and increase their cost that they would not have been able to compete successfully in the markets of the world with Northumberland and Durham. That was the reason why the hon. Member for Mansfield was so hostile to the claims of Northumberland and Durham. He let the cat out of the bag the other day. He said the coal owner of Yorkshire would have to compete on disadvantageous terms with Northumberland and Durham. It was well known to the House that the men there worked less than eight hours a day and the boys longer. That was always held up as a most inhumane arangement, but after all, the boys in Durham and Northumberland did not work longer hours than boys in other parts of the country. If they did work too long hours—he did not know whether all hon. Members opposite thought these boys of Northumberland and Durham were so badly treated—it was the business of Parliament to step in and protect them. Was the Home Secretary of opinion that the boys in Northumberland and Durham worked too long, and that their hours ought to be restricted by Act of Parliament, and had he been long of that opinion? He had been in office three years. Why had he not brought in a Bill in those three years respecting the hours of boy labour in mines? Why did he wait to bring in a Bill to restrict adult labour? He shook his head, but he (Mr. Lambton) had been taunted with belonging to a class which was inhumane towards the boys of Northumberland and Durham. He should like to see all the boys work less than eight hours. When hon. Members taunted them with inhumanity why had not they brought in a Bill long before to restrict the labour of juveniles in the mines? The only answer was that the boys had not votes, and they did not think it worth while. He hoped they had heard the last of inhumanity. On the question of diminishing boy labour, it was not such a simple matter as it appeared to be. He thought the hon. Members for Morpeth and Wansbeck would like to see the hours of boys shortened, but they did not think they had done them any particular harm. He thought at present, about 11 per cent. of the boys in these districts were under sixteen. If they had three shifts of eight hours and two of ten, he presumed a greater number of boys would have to be employed. Would they all be able to rise to the position of hewers in a few years as they did now, or would they when they had served to the age of seventeen or eighteen be cast adrift in the world with no employment at all? That seemed to him a considerable danger. If the hon. Member for Leicester was there he would ask him what his opinion on that point was, because he noticed a communication in The Times that morning signed by him, pointing out the extreme danger of bringing up boys in casual employment and turning them adrift at about seventeen or eighteen. He would like the right hon. Gentleman to be sure that he was not going to introduce that danger into the coalfields of Durham and Northumberland. But he objected altogether to interference with adult labour. If they objected to boys working long hours let them bring in a Boys Bill, but what right had they to dictate to a man the hours he should work? Why should they tell him he must make his living in six days of eight hours instead of four or five of longer hours? It was absolutely absurd to interfere with the right of grown-up men to dispose of their labour. If they wanted to make the Bill a reality, and he did not believe the ostensible supporters of the Bill were in favour of it, they ought to give the miners of the country the choice of adopting or rejecting the Bill. They ought to accept some contracting-out clause. The hon. Member for Mansfield did not like that much. It would take away some of the profit he would make.


That is not quite fair. You are going to put a burden on Yorkshire, Derbyshire, and Nottingham coalowners. It should apply all round.


I have no wish to be at all unfair.


I said the argument was unfair. I did not say the hon. Member was unfair.


said he did not want to put a burden on anyone, but the Bill would impose a burden all round, and he wanted to prevent, as far as he could, his own constituency suffering under the burden. But this must be a burden. He dared say it would not be a burden to the coalowner or the collier, because they could put the increased cost of the measure upon the consumer, And perhaps the manufacturer would not suffer; he also would be able to pass his cost on to the consumer. But what would be the case of the unhappy consumer himself? He would not be able to pass it on to anyone; he would have to pay an immensely enhanced price for his coal, and would receive no Benefit whatever. The Bill is one of the most protective measures that had been introduced. Pure protection was what the hon. Member for Mansfield asked. He said he could not compete with the free trade of Northumberland and Durham, and must have protection, and he was an orthodox free trader. That was not his sort of free trade. He had endeavoured to point out the extreme danger of the handicap they were placing upon the industries of the country in regard to the export trade. Manufacturers for the home market might pass their extra cost on to the unfortunate consumer. But what about the export coal trade of Northumberland, and what, about the manufacturers who would produce at an enhanced cost for export? Would they be able to hold their own in the markets of the world? They would have the strongest case in the world for demanding protection, and they would demand it, and yet a free trade Government brought in a measure of this sort. It was one of the most anomalous Bills he had ever seen brought into Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman smiled. He had told them himself he did not know what the cost would be. He had acknowledged that in a few years it would be very great. Now he shook his head and said "No," but in the speech he had made less than an hour ago he said there would be a reorganisation in the first five years, and the hon. Member for Gloucester said it meant a re-shuffling and re-organisation of the trade from top to bottom. There was not the slightest doubt, more especially after the speech to which they had just listened, that the effect of the Bill would be greatly to increase the price of coal. It had already been pointed out that this powerful federation desired to increase its force because it knew it was dealing with a weak-kneed Government. He hoped the House did not imagine that this was going to be the last Eight Hours Bill. Not one single argument of any weight had yet been advanced by the Government in support of the Bill; they were working quite in the dark. During its passage through the House the Bill had never been adequately defended. Surely before such a measure was passed there ought to have been some much more powerful advocacy of the real reasons for its introduction He had no hesitation in saying that not one of the arguments used in favour of this Bill would hold water. He wondered why the hon. Member for the Mansfield division had not introduced into his own collieries this system of eight hours without coming into Parliament to force men to work eight hours who desired to work longer. The Bill was a form of tyranny which he hoped would not be repeated.

* MR. WALSH (Lancashire, Ince)

An appeal was made by the noble Lord who seconded the Motion suggesting that those sitting on the Labour bench might break the conspiracy of silence into which he imagined a number of hon. Members below the gangway had entered. He was quite sure that the noble Lord knew the reason for their silence, namely, that they desired to save this measure, and to be free from any responsibility for strangling it themselves. Consequently it was absolutely necessary for them to remain silent, as the procedure in the House was calculated to hasten the death of Bills unless they knew the golden value of silence. The noble Lord the Member for Marylebone made one statement in which he said the central question was, would this Bill diminish the output of coal. He did not believe that the central question was the economic question at all. His opinion was that the central question was a great moral and social one. Notwithstanding what hon. Members who were opposed to this measure had stated he claimed that the Bill had always been put forward by the Miners' Federation, and for many years before that federation was formed, upon the broad ground of the moral and social betterment of the people engaged in the mines. So great were the material considerations, so vast was the number of people employed, so great was the amount of capital invested, and so enormous were the number of people dependent directly and indirectly upon the fruits of this industry, that, of course, the economic question must be one of very great importance and they could not under-rate its importance. He would assume for the moment that the noble Lord was right in saying that the central question was, would the Bill diminish the output of coal. He said emphatically that it would not diminish the output, and he said that because every mining engineer in the country knew that the resources of the mines were not by any means utilised to their fullest capacity, and by a better manipulation of the resources of the mines, by better transit arrangements in the mines, they were confident that the output of the mines would not be diminished by the operation of the Bill.

SIR F. BANBURY (City of London)

Does the hon. Member remember a speech which he made on this question in 1908?


said he would come to that point a little later on if the hon. Baronet would remain silent. The fear that the output would be diminished had been constantly put forward and had been as constantly falsified; for the last twenty-five years the production of the mines had increased year after year in unbroken succession, and inasmuch as the ingenuity of the people engaged in the management of mines was day after day engaged in putting down stronger plant, larger engines, wider shafts, developing the resources inside and outside of the mines, there was not the slightest fear that human ingenuity and skill would find itself more than able to cope with any slight decrease in the output caused by the passing of the Bill. It was said that there would be great danger to life involved because of the increased hurry that would result from the passing of this measure. He desired to point out that the districts with the shortest hours not only possessed the greatest winding capacity, but they also had the credit of having the smallest ratio of accidents to life and limb. Take, for example, the counties of Durham and Northumberland. Taking Durham alone, which was the greatest mining county in the kingdom, they found there the greatest productive capacity for winding and the greatest amount of coal produced of any county in the kingdom, and yet there they had the shortest hours of labour and the cleanest accident record. [An HON. MEMBER: Yes, and that without an Act of Parliament.] Yes, he was aware of that, and he was simply speaking of the fact that there they had a great mining county, the greatest in the kingdom, which put out the greatest amount of mineral, and yet had the shortest hours of work and the cleanest accident bill of any mining district in the kingdom. Now if there was any real force in the objection that greater accidents would result from this measure, they certainly ought to think once, twice, and more than thrice even, before those who were, after all, directly responsible for the men and their welfare, thought of pressing such a measure as this upon the attention of Parliament. If they thought this would lead to an increase of danger to human life, could it be imagined that they would press forward such a proposal at all, especially in view of the fact that some of them were in the direct pay of the men, and that they were in close contact with them day after day. But leaving out altogether the individual argument as to what they would or would not do, the facts themelves told against the contention that shorter hours of labour meant a greater number of accidents to life and limb. Again it was said that if it did not increase the number of accidents to life and limb, it would undoubtedly lessen the individual output. Here again the concrete fact was testified to by every mining county in the kingdom that where the shorter hours of labour existed there the individual output was the greatest. [OPPOSITION cries of "No" and "Quote."] He was not going to quote figures now, because he quoted them last year and they had been frequently quoted in the debate. What was more, the Blue-books were at the disposal of every hon. Member, and he again asserted that the figures proved that the result of increased efficiency within the mines, and the greater human efficiency of the men, was that shorter hours not only did not lessen the output, but substantially increased it. Again he took up this argument that accidents would increase and the output diminish. He said that those two contentions were completely demolished by the facts as they existed to-day. He would like to point out that in this case not only had the miners a good claim for shorter hours of labour, but in many counties, notwithstanding the great increase in the productive capacity of the mines and those employed in the mines, not only had that productive capacity not brought a corresponding relaxation in the hours of labour, but in some cases the pits were working a longer working day than ever before. In Lancashire it was perfectly true that in some parts of the south-west and south-east of that county many of the youths and the men employed in winter hardly ever saw the light of day. He had never been quite able to understand why it was perfectly proper for Parliament to legislate for a boy up to the age of sixteen, but the very day after he reached that age he had to be left to his own individual resources. Between the age of sixteen and twenty-one was the time, above all others, during which that young fellow's career should be guided, because incidentally the fortune of the State of which he formed an individual part was affected. It was their duty to develop the physical qualities of these youths and see that their intellectual prospects did not suffer. They had a right to have a fair opportunity of shaping and carving out their own future. That was certainly their right. When these youths were engaged in the mines, as they often were, soon after five o'clock in the morning until between five and six at night, what possible opportunity could there be for those young lives becoming that valuable factor in the assets of the nation which they were all desirous of making them? It was on those grounds that they pressed forward this Bill. He had never spoken at any meeting which he had addressed for the last twenty-five years without insisting that these were the broad grounds on which such a Bill as this ought to be argued. There was the argument of fear which had been put forward by the noble Lord that this was only the beginning, so to speak, of a long succession of calamities. Fear did possess the minds of most of them some time or other, but he thought that in connection with this measure it might be banished. Hon. Members who opposed the Bill said that it ought not to pass the Third Reading, and that if it did it ought to meet with a miserable fate elsewhere, because of some Socialistic bogey which was to uprear its head. Their attitude reminded him of the lines of Coleridge— Like one who in an entry dark Doth fear to turn his head, Because he thinks a frightful fiend Doth close behind him tread. There was no frightful fiend going to follow the passing of this Bill. Not at all. It had for its purpose the amelioration of a class who as a whole were, he thought, as deserving as any other class in the nation—a class who were subjected to conditions of labour which were utterly unknown in any other industry. It was for them he and his friends asked the House to pass this Bill. They believed that employers and employed, when once the State had expressed its mind, would combine in introducing for the benefit of the people directly engaged in the industry those changes which were required, and they believed that the best results would be brought out of the Bill. They were certain that nothing serious could happen to the State, and that the poor consumer had nothing to fear. Reference had been made to a speech which he delivered six or eight months ago at the conference of the Miners' Federation. There were reporters present at the meeting, and no doubt they took down as quickly as they could the words which he used on that occasion. He wanted to get away from the statement which the papers represented him as having made. First of all, let it be remembered that they were dealing with a furious and violent agitation, and that a body had just come upon the field armed cap-à-pie called the Coal Consumers' League. At that time a distinguished member of this Government experienced some change and vicissitude of fortune at a particular election. It was said by the representatives of that league that if the Eight Hours Bill were passed coal would not only cost the consumer more, but that it would cost 5s. per ton extra. At the conference which was held after that statement was made he took out the figures for the actual hewing rates paid to colliers and their mates—the men engaged in hewing coal and in drawing it. He took the actual tonnage rates paid at forty-eight of the best-paid collieries in South-West Lancashire. The actual tonnage rate paid at the time came to 2s. 8d. per ton, and that was a time when wages were at their highest and when the average working day was about nine hours and a half. Supposing broadly that the collier would receive 1s. 6d. per ton, and the drawer 1s. 2d. per ton, here was the point which he wished to emphasise to the conference. If the average working day in a large portion of South-West Lancashire was nine and a half hours, the collier was receiving something like two-pence per ton, and if they knocked an hour and a half per day off the working hours the effect would be to increase the actual hewing cost by anything from 4d. to 6d. per ton, taking all classes of labour underground. He put that forward at the conference in order to show how utterly hollow and insincere, or, if not hollow and insincere, how utterly ignorant of the facts, must be those who were engaged in the agitation against the Bill when they put forward the contention that 5s. would be the probable increase in the cost to the poor consumer. He went on to remark that the increase in the cost which he had indicated was estimated on the assumption that there were no changes underground or on the surface and that neither the workmen nor the employers would set themselves to deal with the new condition of things. But to assume that the men working in the mines would take that course was to assume that the men were not careful of their own interests, and that they were simply vacuous. He did not think anyone would put forward that argument. He said that both employers and employed would set themselves to face the new conditions and that the industry would be regulated with due regard to their economic effects. There was to-day constant abstention from work. A man who had worked a long day often abstained from working altogether on the following day, but if the hours of labour were so regulated that a man need not leave his work one day in the last stage of physical exhaustion and, therefore, be incapable of work the following day—if by this measure his hours of labour were so regulated that he would be able to work with greater regularity than had hitherto been the case, a great advantage would be gained.


What the hon. Member said was, that if the Bill becomes law the cost of production will be raised an eighth or a ninth, and that a higher rate per ton would be charged to the consumer in order to compensate for the limitation of hours.


said he did not see anything in that. He might remind the hon. Member of the latter part of his speech which he had not read out at all. He stated that the estimate which he gave to the conference was based on the assumption that neither the workmen nor the employers did anything to introduce altered conditions in the working of the mines. Surely there would be notice taken of the altered conditions brought about by this Bill. What was an eighth of 2s. 8d.? Well, it was 4d. The noble Lord, the Member for East Marylebone, said he was not much of an arithmetician, but even he could manage that point. What he wished to impress upon the public at the time was the danger of being misled by the wild, whirling agitation which was being brought against this measure. The arguments against the Bill had been reasoned out in Committee upstairs and in the House, but amongst the arguments which had been adduced in opposition to the measure the statement which was made by the Coal Consumers' League as to the cost being increased by 5s. per ton had not been put forward. No one had dared to repeat that argument here. He hoped this Bill would pass the Third Reading. He believed it was a measure which would make for the great moral and social betterment of an enormous number of His Majesty's subjects. It would not only give great satisfaction to the people who were to receive immediate and direct benefit, but he believed that if the Bill passed every man who had given his vote for it would in years not far ahead look back with satisfaction to the vote he gave as one of the best actions he had ever performed in the House. He believed that a brighter day ought to dawn for the miners of the country. They would be better able to take advantage of the intellectual and physical advantages which would then be within their reach. They appealed to parents to allow their children to attend continuation schools and evening classes in order that they might obtain wider knowledge of trades and handicrafts so that they might not become unemployed in after-years. If their youths were down in the mines for long hours, the evening classes would remain the absolute failure they were at the present moment. It might be said that they were not kept down in the mines. Every colliery manager knew that that was not the case. Every colliery manager knew perfectly well that the men must be kept down in the mines a definite number of hours per day, and that they must be dealt with not individually but en bloc. It was especially in the interests of the young that they made this appeal, and he sincerely hoped that the House would give a Third Reading to the Bill by an enormous majority.

* MR. BECK (Cambridgeshire, Wisbech)

said the speech to which they had listened might be taken as representative of the arguments which had been used in favour of the Bill. It was more eloquent than some of the speeches they had listened to, but not more logical. His hon. friend closed his speech with an appeal on behalf of the young lives in the mines. For his part, if the Bill had been produced to regulate the hours of those under twenty-one years of age he would have been quite willing to support it. [An HON. MEMBER: This Bill does so.] The hon. Member said this Bill did so. This was a Bill to regulate and deal with the hours of adult male labour, and for the first time in the history of the country, except upon grounds of public safety, they were going to regulate the hours of adult males. What he would venture to point out to the House was the inconsistency underlying all these arguments. The hon. Member talked about continuation schools, the benefits of daylight, and so on, and yet a few sentences before he said that they wished to put an end to the state of affairs under which a man worked ten hours one day and did not go down the mines on the following day. Surely, if a man wished to enjoy a modicum of daylight, it was better to remain above ground from morning to night on one day than that he should go into the mine on two days, and get his hours of labour reduced by an hour or half an hour each day. He had never heard that the evening air was so salubrious that two eveaings above ground were better then one whole day above. That was the kind of argument to which they had listened from those who had been advocating the passing of this Bill. He personally knew nothing about coal mines. He only knew about the coal merchant, and he knew that they were asked to pay an intolerable deal of gold for very little coal. He was on the Committee upstairs, and he did his best as a Member of the House to balance the arguments for and against the Bill. He would point out that the arguments which the hon. Member had used as to no reduction in output resulting from reduction in the hours of labour were directly opposed to the arguments used not only by hon. Members opposite but by the friends of the Bill. The Home Secretary had said that there would be a reduction in the output. The hon. Member for Gloucester, whose valuable speeches on this subject were listened to with so much pleasure, had expressed his grave misgiving in regard to the effect of the measure on the price of coal. The hon. Member for Ince did not seem to have ever weighed the evidence which was given by the noble Lord who moved the Amendment. He wished very heartily to protest against the Bill. He protested against it not only because it would inflict hardships upon consumers of coal throughout the country, but because it would handicap our commerce and the great trades of the country. It had two very great defects. One was that it would tie the hands of future Parliaments, in regard to the time-limit of five years. And he protested against it, in the second place, because of its tyrannical character. Notwithstanding all the talk about humanitarism, this Bill would coerce grown-up men into doing what they did not wish to do. No hon. Member opposite denied that. No friend of the Bill had ventured to defend it in any way with enthusiasm, except hon. Members below the gangway. He would as soon expect farmers to oppose in argument a corn tax as hon. Members below the gangway to offer argument against this Bill. As he had said on the Report stage, and throughout the session, hon. Members below the gangway, he knew, were in touch with their fellow workmen who went below ground and who were exposed to the dangers attaching to a miner's life; but what they did not realise was the hardships which the Bill would entail on every other class of the community—upon men who worked as long as miners did, upon men who lived harder lives even than those of the men whom they represented. It was for these reasons that he would give his vote in favour of the Amendment of the noble Lord opposite. He believed that they had entered upon a course which it would be very difficult to retrace. His only hope was that the operation of this Act, and Acts of this character, would open the eyes of the people of the country to the dangers of this kind of legislation. He was convinced that ever-growing numbers of persons in the country were feeling a violent reaction against Bills of this kind. As he had said, he intended to vote for the Amendment of the noble Lord opposite, and as a loyal supporter of the Liberal Party he must say that he was afraid that the Government had done much to destroy their chances of success at the polls at the next general election by proceeding with a measure of this dangerous and mischievous character.

MR. W. E. HARVEY (Derbyshire, N.E.)

said he supported this Bill on the Second Reading, and throughout the Committee stage, but some statements had been made in regard to it to which he wanted to refer. It was stated in Committee, and they had heard a remark that afternoon from the noble Lord, the Member for Maidstone, that if a referendum were taken on this Bill it would not be passed. It seemed strange, after those remarks from hon. Members opposite, to remember that the Bill had been carried twice through the House of Commons by a Conservative Government. [HON. MEMBERS on the OPPOSITION benches: "No," "Private Bill," "Second Reading."] That was what he was about to say. The Bill was brought in year after year, and the Second Reading was carried by a large majority when a Conservative Government was in power. On 2nd February, 1901, the Second Reading was carried through this House by 212 against 199, a majority of 13. On May 3rd, 1903, the Second Reading was carried by 279 against 201, a majority of 78, and a Conservative Government was then in power. If Conservatives had not voted on those occasions in favour of the Bill the Second Reading could not have been passed. It was said that on those occasions the Bill was a private Member's Bill. That might be, but there was great log-rolling among the Conservatives on those occasions when they voted for the Second Reading of the Mines Eight Hours Bill. But Conservatives who had fought mining constituencies had also asserted that they were very staunch and loyal supporters of the Eight Hours Bill. He wondered how many hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite there were who had not supported the Bill in the mining counties! At the bye-election for North-East Derbyshire the Conservative candidate made that Bill the leading item in his programme; and at no meeting in the constituency was there a member from the Conservative Party who dissociated himself from the policy of the Conservative candidate. Was there not some logrolling there? And now they found that, although the Conservative Party when in power, allowed an Eight Hours Bill to pass its Second Reading, they now came and said when there was a chance of the Bill passing into law that it was going to destroy the trade of the country. Of all the audacities he had even heard of, the present opposition on the part of Conservatives was the biggest; because they had been fighting for these twenty years past for an Eight-Hours Bill, and at every election, at any rate in Derbyshire, the Conservative candidates had always put the Eight-Hours Bill in the front of their programme. Where was all their sincerity now? Why, the prognostications he had listened to in the House during the discussions of this Bill were the most startling that he had ever heard. It was curious what strange acts politics would lead some men to do. He should like to know who were financing the Coal Consumers' League. He wanted to ask if the present secretary of the Coal Consumers' League, Mr. Raynes, was the same gentleman who fought the Holmfirth division of Yorkshire at the general election. [MINISTERIAL cries of "Yes."] If he was, the Eight-Hours Bill was the most prominent part of his election address. All this was rather interesting for some of them who knew a little of these men who were going about the country changing their coats so often that they did not know where they were. The reason why this secretary of the Coal Consumers' League, which was being financed by nobody knew whom, and other Conservative candidates put the Eight-Hours Bill for miners in the forefront of their programme was that they were in mining constituencies, and that they knew that the miners wanted it. Were there not four hon. Members opposite, including the noble Lord the Member for the Chorley Division of Lancashire, who formerly went into the lobby in favour of the Eight-Hours Bill for miners? And why did they do so? It was because they knew that their constituents wanted it, and that they would not have been elected unless they had agreed to support what the miners wished. Again, this was an illustration of what strange acts politics would lead some men to do. He challenged any hon. Member to bring forward the case of any great reform in this country and he would prove the assertions that were made to prevent its passing and the prophecies which were uttered as to its ultimate failure. Now he had a word to say to his hon. friend on that side of the House, who had said that if a Bill were brought in to limit the hours of persons under twenty-one years of age he would have supported it. It would have had just the same effect as this Bill had now, because he would prove to him that his reasoning was fallacious if he understood coalmining at all. He would take the 1872 Coal Mines Regulation Act. He had been careful to overlook that debate and to find out what the House was told in the course of it. It was told that the measure would ruin the trade, that it would cause foreign competition, and that it would close the old pits. Yet the House passed the Bill to reduce the hours not of men but of boys to fifty-four per week. The men were working sixty, sixty-two, and sixty-five hours a week, and that Act of 1872 brought, the men's hours down to fifty-four. Why? Because men could not work without boys and boys could not work without men, and legislation, whether it was for men or boys, affected the whole body of workers. On that ground, therefore, he thought his hon. friend ought to go into the lobby for this Bill, because he had said if they had a measure before them limiting the hours of persons under twenty-one, he would vote for it. This Bill would do it, and in the interests of that young, developing life his hon. friend ought to support it. In regard to the Act of 1872 it was said that it would increase the cost of inspection, which already involved an expenditure of between £12,000 or £13,000 a year on the public. The prophecy was that the public would have to pay an enhanced price for their coal and also for an increased number of inspectors. That was in 1872, but none of these predictions came off. [An HON. MEMBER: The price of coal rose in 1873 and 1874 by several shillings.] Yes, and he would tell the House why. It was because of the Franco-German War. Everybody knew that it was not the Bill that did it. Then they had the Employers' Liability Act, which was not for reducing the hours, but for protecting men from being injured and slaughtered by bad machinery and other things. There was the same cry against that, and everything was going to be ruined because it was passed. Mr. Knowles, a colliery proprietor, said that it would render it difficult, if not impossible, to compete with foreign nations, and all coal in the country would be largely depreciated in value. Another colliery proprietor stated that it frequently happened that men exhausted their capital in opening up mines, and only little capital was required afterwards, but the result of this Bill might be to absolutely ruin men in that position. Down to 1907 they had the same doleful cry. The pages of Hansard showed that every great reform for the betterment of the lives of the people had been met—as this Bill had been—with dismal predictions of the approaching ruin of trade. That was the cry of many in the House, but he ventured to say that their case stood on as firm a foundation to-day as twenty years ago; they had looked upon this question from every standpoint and found it to be sound. He would not be sentimental, and did not want to talk about the great humanitarian idea, but he did want to say as emphatically as he could a word on a subject they had not heard much of in the House, and that was the people's health. The naked light had gone out of date, and the men worked in a very dim light. It was proved that they had a larger percentage of men going out week by week in consequence of nystagmus and night blindness. The miners' health suffered, because they had now to work at a much higher temperature and great oculists said that the diseases he had mentioned were caused by the poor light which the men had when they were lying in a cramped position. He had had night blindness himself, and he had been led by his wife when he could not see his way through disease of the eye, and because he had worked in the mine with this little dim light and had had to peer at his work through it. He had suffered agonies through it, and he told the House seriously that when they had the naked lights they knew little of it. They contended that a man should not be compelled to work so long in a mine that he should go blind. Even the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham supported the Second Reading of an Eight-Hours Bill, and he remembered when he was not a Member sitting under the gallery and hearing the right hon. Gentleman speak very favourably in regard to that Bill. It was true he spoke with a proviso, but he also made reference to this hard-working and deserving class of men. As a man who had had twenty-five years of a miner's life, working through all the grades, and as a practical man, he ventured to say that this Bill was required by the men in consequence of the conditions under which they worked, and the increasing tax which was put upon them by the higher temperatures, and there would be tens of thousands of miners and their wives who would thank the House when it had carried the Bill to a successful issue.

MR. A. J. BALFOUR (City of London)

Of course, it is unnecessary for me to say that I do not endeavour to compete with the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down in practical knowledge of mining. He has just told us that he has spent the best years of his life in actual mining operations, and he is, therefore, necessarily seized with a practical knowledge to which only those who have been similarly circumstanced can pretend. But he will forgive me for saying that the particular class of arguments on which he at the end of his speech laid great stress, have not figured largely, or at all, I think, in the speeches of the official authors of the Bill, and that they have received no confirmation from the Departmental Committee appointed by the Government to look into this question. You may search in vain through the very able Report which that Committee presented to find anything which would confirm the very gloomy picture which the hon. Gentleman drew of the results on miners of modern conditions of work in coal mines. I think there was, no adequate and substantial basis dependent upon a wide survey of varied conditions of all the coal mines in the country for the contentions with which he concluded his speech. I think we ought to have heard them before, and that they ought to have been relied upon by those who are responsible for bringing this Bill before the House of Commons. The hon. Gentleman and his friends ought to have taken adequate precaution that those views were brought before the Departmental Committee and were sifted by inquiry. Nothing of that sort was done, and I must honestly say that to ask us now to approve a Bill upon that class of argument at this, the very latest stage of our discussion is hardly to deal very fairly with the House, and is to ask us to come to a conclusion upon evidence which is diametrically opposed to most of that which has been put before us by those who are best qualified to give it. The last part of the hon. Gentleman's speech I admit to be perfectly relevant to the Bill and of great importance if it is to be considered of general application, but the earlier parts of his speech I confess I do not consider so relevant. He dwelt at great length upon the fact that this Bill had passed the Second Reading when introduced by a private Member. It sometimes passed, and sometimes, I think, it was rejected, but he did not mention that fact. The hon. Gentleman must know, however, that it is really not legitimate to take, as indicating the settled opinion of this House, the passing of a private Member's Bill in the absence of the inquiry and full consideration which attends a Bill when it is brought forward by responsible Ministers of the Crown. It is not because the Bill has often passed a Second Reading in a thin House on a Friday afternoon that it deserves the respectful attention of this House. The reason it deserves the respectful attention of this House is really, as I understand it, because this is a Bill which is put forward as a model of what the Government are prepared to do in this particular field of their favourite operations for social reform. I say it is their favourite field because much was said about social reform in the Licensing Bill; in that measure itself social reform was put off for some fourteen or fifteen years. The Licensing Bill was to prepare the way for some plan by which Parliament was to deal with the drink traffic in the future. Here the Government are not leaving it to future Parliament to determine how this social reform is to be carried out. On the contrary, not only do they embody the proposals which appear in the Bill, but they actually have the foresight to anticipate what is going to happen at the end of five years when this Bill is to reach its mature and ultimate stage. It is a remarkable power of prophecy on the part of the Government—I admire the boldness of their prophecy—which is the more remarkable because right hon. Gentlemen themselves in the discussion on this Bill have used certain arguments which certainly lead me to think that it is very doubtful whether in five years the extension of the principle embodied in this Bill is one which ought to be permitted to take place. What does the full extension at the end of three years amount to? I ask the House to remember two things. In the first place, the extension will only be legitimate in the views of right hon. Gentlemen opposite if it is preceded by certain improvements and inventions for carrying on the mining industry which will enable to be done safely in five years time what cannot be done safely now. By what gift of prophecy does the Government know what course invention is going to take during the next quinquennial period? By what powers of prophecy do they so pierce the future as to know what methods will be in vogue for winding up and down the shaft, bringing men up out of the mine or lowering them into the mine, which will enable things to be done in 1913 which cannot safely be done now? But that is not all. The Government, sharing to a certain extent the fears of the Chairman of the Departments' Committee, are clearly of opinion that in consequence of this Bill there may be a rise in the price of coal which may greatly embarrass industries if it comes into operation at a time of crisis or rising prices. Therefore, the Bill is to come into operation in the summer months. Why do the Government choose the summer months? They choose the summer months because they say that it would be most dangerous to choose the winter—this is the point—it would be very dangerous to bring this Bill into operation in the winter months, and they will not take the risk of there being a diminution in the supply of coal in the winter when, owing to the inelastic character of the coal supply, a momentary decrease in the supply with the consequent increase in the price might bring on a crisis which would be a national misfortune. That is the Government's view. How do they know whether in five years prices will rise or fall? By what means can they forecast that the extension of this Bill will not come into operation during one of those times of crisis? It is not for this strange peculiarity of the present measure that I think it is specially deserving of respect as an effort of social reform.. It is a very curious Bill if you take it in connection with other views which His Majesty's Government have held at other times. In the first place I will ask how the Government reconcile a Bill of this kind with their views upon the question of employment. It is quite true that in one sense this Bill may increase the demand for labour. There may be an increased demand for labour in a certain class of mines, but is it not absolutely certain that in many old mines, and in mines where a long interval takes place before the men can get from the bottom of the shaft to their place of work this Bill may cause something approaching a disaster to the owners, and is it to be contended that such disaster affecting the owners will not react upon the workers in that mine? It is vain to say that somewhere else there are other mines where a larger number of men will find employment. I do not know that there will be this increased demand, but there certainly will be the risk of a certain number of men being thrown out of employment, a certain fraction—I do not know how large it may be—of the men engaged in this particular class of mine. Therefore it is ludicrous to come forward and start work at the cost of the ratepayers in order to employ people upon work which they cannot do, when, I at that very moment, you are bringing in a Bill to prevent people doing a particular kind of work that they can do under existing circumstances. This is not inconsistent with what the hon. Member who has just sat down has said. He has said, and said quite truly, that all the miners want it. No doubt those who want the miner's vote had to introduce this Bill, but I do not know that that means anything except that the miners generally want the Bill, and that I am quite ready to accept. I do not know any test that I could apply to the proposition that would lead me to a different conclusion, but it does not in the least prove that there are no sections of the mining population who will be injured by this measure. But, rightly or wrongly, the miners think it is to their advantage, and the truth of the statement of the hon. Gentleman that all would like to see this Bill brought into operation is incontrovertible. But upon that may I say one word with regard to the position of another hon. Member representing a miners' constituency? The hon. Member for Hanley, in dealing with the objection that the Bill interferes with the flexibility of labour, preventing a man from working longer hours on some days and taking a day's holiday, said that that objection showed ignorance of mining life, that miners must be dealt with en bloc, that they must go down and come up together, and all conform to the general rule. That is true enough within its limits; but would the hon. Member say that under the existing system a man could not, if he chose, earn as much by working longer hours and taking an occasional day's leisure as he would under the new system.

MR. BRACE (Glamorganshire, S.)

No, he cannot arrange his time.


He cannot arrange his time in the same way as, say, a small holder, can arrange his. That I quite agree, but surely the hon. Member will not tell me that he cannot arrange his time so as to give him days of harder work with longer periods of rest.

MR. THOMAS RICHARDS (Monmouthshire, W.)

If I may explain I would say that in very many mines the men of the shift have to leave together, whether some of them have had a holiday the day before or not. The men can only work for a certain time. They have to leave at a stipulated time whether they like it or not, because at four or five o'clock, as the case may be, a shot is going to be fired and they have to come out of the mine.


I do not deny that, but a man confined to an eight-hours shift each day will have to work each day and will lose the right to do the same amount of work in five days and take a holiday on one day in the week. Legislation of this kind must interfere at all times and in all circumstances with the personal liberty of the individual man, and with his power of arranging his own time in his own way. In addition to these inevitable trammels which are the result of the character of the industry, you are now introducing a new trammel due not to the character of the industry but to the deliberate will of Parliament. This is an interference with liberty, great or small, which ought not, I venture to say, to be undertaken unless very serious reasons can be urged in its support. That really brings me to another strange inconsistency, as it seems to me, between the principles which we are told are animating the Government and the doctrines which they proclaim at the top of their voice on every seasonable and unseasonable occasion from one end of the country to the other. I should have thought this was an impossible Bill for a free trade Government, or that it was the last Bill that a free trade Government would have introduced. Certainly I know that the fathers of free trade orthodoxy would have regarded this interference with production as almost the grossest conceivable interference with that kind of general free trade which they admire and which they desire to see adopted. I cannot believe that this is a proposal which Adam Smith would not have opposed—this kind of interference with the arrangements of labour. Arguments are used of the most extravagant and violent form against protection as it is now practised, say, in the United States of America, or in some other countries where protection in its extremest form is the accepted system. What are the arguments? The first argument is that this opens the way to every sort of pressure upon the Legislature by the interests affected. If anybody doubts that this Bill is due to pressure upon the Legislature of interests affected, they have only to listen to the eloquent speech of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. The first threequarters of an hour of his oration was a pæan of triumph because of the pressure put on Members of this House by the particular interest which he represented. Nothing could be more clear or a more striking example of the power which a highly organised interest can exercise upon the proceedings of the Imperial Parliament than the pressure brought to bear by one interest in connection with this Bill. Then the next argument we have always heard against the extreme or any form of protection to which hon. Gentlemen object is: "Oh, the consumer!" Though a protected interest may gain or appear to gain by the procedure, and the public as a whole, as consumer, suffers; yet as far as the public in its position as consumer is concerned, you must not allow yourselves to be misled by the apparent advantage to one particular industry to do an injury to the community as a whole. That is the argument. I would like to ask whether there is any case in which by fiscal arrangement you do a more obvious injury to the consumer than you do in this case by direct legislation. That is not denied. We get now and again casual and sporadic denials from gentlemen who support the Bill, but people in authority do not deny it. The hon. Gentleman, the Member for Ince, in the speech which he made on the subject explained that wages would have to be raised 6d. a ton in order to make up for the loss of hours.


That is the total cost.


The hon. Gentleman will correct me if I am wrong when I say that he gave us figures which seemed to lead to the conclusion that the men would have to earn so much per ton in order that their wages under this Bill would equal their wages at present. I think he put it at 4d. or 6d., and he assumed most frankly that this rise in the price of coal would be the only rise that would take place in consequence of this measure. But he must know perfectly well that if the output is diminished the rise in the price of coal does not depend upon the additional cost of production. I think the hon. Member for Gloucester was perfectly right in what he said, that this Bill probably will, to a certain extent, and may to a dangerous extent in certain contingencies, raise the price of coal on the consumer. I want to know what more evidence of the worst protection you want. But that is not all the arguments we hear against protection. What has become of the poorest of the poor? Where have the poorest of the poor who figured in every peroration in the last Parliament upon the fiscal question gone to? Why are not the poorest of the poor referred to on this occasion? Are there no poor under a Liberal Administration? I hardly think that in these days of unemployment that this can be maintained. Is it alleged that the poorest of the poor do not burn coal? It is quite evident that of all the necessaries of life fuel is really the most universal. Fuel is as fundamental as any of the necessaries that can be named. I should have thought that a Bill which raised the price of a supreme necessary of life to the poorest of the poor, would not have any support from the party or the Government who are never tired of saying that their system is the only system under which the poor can really have more cheaply the primary necessaries of life. They have gone about the country talking about the big loaf and the little loaf, but I Would suggest that there should be something said about the big scuttle and the little scuttle, which is as emphatic a commentary upon the policy of this free trade Government as any other symbolic expression that could be invented. There is only one more point to which I wish to refer, and it is one which is always being rubbed in by the free trade party, and that is the question of raw material. I am not going into any refinements on the subject of raw material, but I think it will be universally admitted that if there is one thing which is necessary more than any other in our industries, in any part of the country, it is coal. You are going to raise the price of this universal raw material. I cannot understand this attitude on the part of free traders. The Prime Minister gives, as he tells us, a fair lead in respect to two great subjects round which revolves the policy of the present Government. One is the House of Lords, about which it would not be relevant to speak here, and the other is free trade. On what principle can you defend free trade which actually does not condemn this Bill? The Member for Gloucester, who has not, I am sorry to say returned to his place, is one of the ablest of the extreme free traders, and one of the ablest advocates of this Bill, and I shall be very glad to know how he defends the support of this Bill in view of his speeches on the other and rival policy. It is quite true that the crudest and worst form of protection does differ from the protection under this Bill; but, after all, the duties which Americans put on importations from this country do increase the output of the particular industry in their own country which those imports affect, but in this country the output is going to be diminished. In a highly protected country like America the duties act between the industries equally, but this form of protection would act most unequally between the different lands of industry in this country. One hon. Gentleman very competent to speak on the subject, informed us that the result of the Bill will be to cause certain mineowners to make fortunes while other mineowners would be ruined. Those who have new mines or are about to sink new shafts will gain enormously in consequence of this Bill. Those who have old mines where the management could not be brought into harmony with this Bill will be entirely destroyed. One other point, and only one which seems to me to differentiate this form of protection. After all, protection does bring in revenue, though it may be in a very costly way. Therefore, if you survey the whole field, if you examine every one of the familiar arguments upon the point of free trade, the Government's main policy, there is no condemnation which can be brought against even the most extravagant, and I think, absurd form of protection, which cannot be brought with double force against this Bill. For these reasons, I do not think this experiment of the Government in social legislation is a very felicitous one. They have brought it in avowedly in obedience to the great interest, so admirably organised, which has expressed its views with such vigour from below the gangway. They have supported it steadily, though hardly enthusiastically. They expressed many doubts about the immediate future—I do not say about the remote future—but all these things sink into insignificance beside the fact that so little do they attempt to bring their political views into some organic coherence, so little do they attempt to look at the great social problems of our time in the light of one body of consistent doctrine, that they actually bring in a Bill which carries with it every offence and every defect which the most extreme form of contemporary protection has ever shown, and is without the advantage which modern free traders freely admit may attach even to extreme protection. They bring it in without the smallest apparent idea that they are defending at one and the same time two totally inconsistent bodies of political doctrine, which no ingenuity will really fundamentally reconcile. For these reasons I shall give my vote as I have always given it, whether I had miners in my constituency or not, against this measure. It is not, and never has been, regarded as a party Bill, and I do not speak for more than myself, but the opposition which I have consistently offered to it for all these years I offer to it now, and I am bound to say with a much greater feeling of confidence when I see how utterly unable its true sponsors are to give any rational defence of the plans which they have adopted from others, and which they apparently do not care very greatly to defend.


I am not quite sure whether the right hon. Gentleman has been opposing this Bill because he is a free trader, or because he is a fiscal reformer, or whether he disregards his own attitude and is only anxious to convict the present Government of inconsistency. I will assume the latter. He attacks us for bringing in a Bill of this kind, while we hold free trade doctrines, on the ground that we are inflicting deliberately an injury upon the consumer, who has hitherto been our special care, and are deliberately raising the price of raw material when we have loudly declared that raw materials should be as cheap as they can be obtained. But he is assuming that we are contemplating that there will be an appreciable and a permanent burden on the consumer, and that there will be a permanent and appreciable increase in the price of raw material. That assumption is wholly unfounded. If we thought for a moment that the consumer was likely to have imposed upon him by this Bill a burden which could be long and seriously felt, we should have hesitated long before we asked the consent of Parliament to its provisions. The right hon. Gentleman's chief argument was the principle that interference with the hours of labour was contrary to the pure milk of the word of free trade doctrine, that the two questions are inextricably entwined, that if we believe in no State interference with trade, therefore, we must believe in no State interference with the conditions of employment. But where does that doctrine lead him to? If it applies to one side it applies to the other. If, because we are opposed to tariffs, we are obliged to oppose this Bill, then, if you support a tariff you are obliged to support this Bill. If the right hon. Gentleman in any degree believes in his own argument he is in this dilemma. He must either declare himself a free trader, about which there is still some uncertainty, or else he must vote for the Bill. Since he has declared that he is going to oppose this Bill one must suppose that he must necessarily be a free trader, and so, perhaps, the incidents of to-day may throw a light on this somewhat obscure topic. But, of course, as a matter of fact, it does not in the least follow that, because you support this Bill, therefore, you must support a tariff, nor does it follow that because you oppose a tariff you must oppose the regulation of the hours of labour. The right limit that is to be put on State action is, of course, one of the most difficult and the most important problems which can face any Legislature. But all researches lead to this conclusion, that each case or each group of cases must be judged on its own merits. You do not ask free traders to vote for the repeal of the Factory Acts because they are free traders. There is nothing in any extension of the Factory Acts which is inconsistent with free trade. There is nothing, again, in extending the Education Acts, interfering with liberty by compelling parents to send their children to school, and regulating the lives of the young people of the country—interference of that kind is in no way inconsistent with the doctrines of free trade; and so it is in this particular question. There is no more reason why free trade should lead us to complete individualism in all things than why tariff reform should lead Members opposite to complete Socialism in all things. So far with regard to this somewhat academic question of the relation between free trade and the doctrines of State interference with labour.

I do not think anyone who has listened to the right hon. Gentleman's speech and to his declaration that that speech will be followed by a hostile vote against the Bill, or anyone who has listened to the speeches to-day and on previous days against the Bill from hon. Members opposite, will have fully realised that a Miners Eight Hours Bill not many years ago formed one of the chief items of a Unionist programme, that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham whose authority in his party the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken will not disavow, made the proposal of an experimental eight hours day one of the chief planks of his programme at the general election of 1895, and that that programme was given the authority of the sanction of Lord Salisbury, then Leader of that party. It is a remarkable thing that with the recollection of the immediate past hon. Members opposite should still denounce a proposal of one of their most valued leaders as a monstrous interference with the liberty of the subject. But hon. Members opposite do not limit their efforts at making the most of both worlds, to at one time supporting a measure of this character in order to win votes, and at another time opposing it in order to win votes; but they carry those efforts even further, and at one and the same time, those Members of the front Opposition bench who represent mining constituencies steadily vote for the Government on this Bill, while hon. Members behind and around them are left free to denounce their action as most injurious to the country as a whole, and as likely to cause increased poverty and greater suffering to our poorer classes. The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken admits the fact that his own colleagues voting for this Bill, as they do day by day, conclusively proves that the miners of the country do want this Bill. His saying that to-day has wiped out as by a sponge a great deal of the arguments which were addressed to us on the Committee stage. We were told that if only the miners were not coerced by their leaders, if we could take a referendum, if they were free to express their unfettered desires, we should see that a very different state of things is the fact from that which has been represented. The right hon. Gentleman disavows all that and says that since even Members of his own party who sit for mining constituencies are obliged to be supporters of the Bill, the fact proves conclusively that the mining population of the country as a whole desire this measure.

But the right hon. Gentleman's chief attack upon the Bill was upon the five years period which finds a place in it. Anything in the nature of a time-limit—I suppose it is force of habit—seems to arouse his special condemnation. He speaks of this as an extension of the Bill at the end of five years. It is not an extension of the Bill at the end of five years. The Bill, as we have always intended it to be, was an Eight Hours Bill from bank to bank. That Bill will come into full operation at the end of five years.


No it will not, one winding is excluded.


That is an eight hours day from bank to bank. An eight hours day from bank to bank means that each man, on an average, shall be below ground for eight hours. It does not mean an average of seven and a half hours as it would be if both windings were included. It means that each individual miner throughout the country shall be below ground on an average for eight hours, and that will be the case when the Bill comes into full operation at the end of five years. The first man down, if he is the first man up, will be below ground for eight hours, the last man down if he is the last man up, will be below ground eight hours, and the middle man down, if he is the middle man up, will be below ground eight hours. Every man on the average will be below ground eight hours. If you were to include both windings in the eight-hours period, then the average man would be below ground only seven and a half hours. That was never intended. It would not be an eight-hours Bill. The Bill which we now propose, as it will come into full operation after five years, is an eight-hours bank to bank Bill, properly speaking. At the end of five years we shall have not an extension of the Bill but the Bill itself, and the intervening period is a period of delay when the Bill is brought into partial operation, a period introduced mainly for economic reasons. The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken quoted the hon. Member for Gloucester and the fears which he expressed to-day as though they were hostile to the five-year period, and had regard to the state of things to come into operation at the end of five years. That was not so. My hon. friend the Member for Gloucester, said very little to-day about what is to happen at the end of five years. What he said was that when the Bill first came into operation there might be a period of economic stress, and on that ground he criticised the precise method of bringing the Bill into operation, and urged the proposal that it should be brought into operation not in two stages but in three. But the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition himself only two or three days ago completely showed to the House that it was neither necessary, practicable, nor desirable to carry out the proposal of my hon. friend and adopt the three-stage method of bringing the Bill into effect.

Now let me say a few words on the economic aspect of this Bill, and they shall be very few, because the matter has been so thoroughly discussed and completely argued that there is very little left to be said. My first observation is that we are continually told that this Bill, by its rigid regulations, will press hardly on old men and on old mines, and apparently it is assumed that under present; conditions discrimination is made in the case of old men and old mines. As a matter of fact, there is no such discrimination, because in any given district, whether it is an eight-hour, or a nine-hour, district, the old men go down at the same time as the young men, they start to get to their places of work at the same period as the young men. And there is no discrimination whether the mines be well equipped or badly equipped, whether the working places be remote or close to the shaft, in each district uniform hours are worked throughout the district. Therefore, the whole of the arguments we have heard with regard to old miners and old mines would apply equally to the present conditions of things, and it has been found that no hardship in that respect occurs. With reference to the case of the Forest of Dean, often quoted as a special case, I would point out first—and I do not say this is a conclusive argument—that the Forest of Dean is a very small area. There are nearly 1,000,000 miners—the correct number is 900,000—employed above and below ground in this country, and in the Forest of Dean there are only 5,000, so that it is obviously a very small part of the total number engaged in this industry which is affected in the Forest of Dean. The question is comparatively a minute one. At the present time the Forest of Dean mines are working an eight-hours winding day under precisely the same conditions which we propose should prevail all over the country for the next five years. Therefore the Forest of Dean district will be in no way affected by our Bill for a period of five years, and when that period comes to an end, I wish to point out that by the overtime provision it will get a large advantage. The Forest of Dean district is a place of seasonal trade whore they work busily during the winter months and sleekly during the summer months. The overtime provision will allow in that district one hour extra on sixty days, equal to one hour on five days a week for twelve weeks, so that for three months in the year under our Bill, even after the period of five years, the mines in that district will be able to work longer than they do to-day. So much with reference to the Forest of Dean. There is a further point of some importance from the economic point of view which I should like to mention. It is assumed that the coal nines of the country are working up to their utmost capacity, and that any diminution of the hours, of labour must, unless there is some readjustment of conditions of working or more arduous labour on the part of the men, lead to a diminution of production. I have made inquiries through the mine inspectors in the various mining districts of the country, and I am informed by the Chief Inspector of Mines that at the present time 44 per cent. of the mines—the number is not necessarily exact, but it is about 44 per cent. in round figures—are now working slack time. I will read a few extracts from the Reports. I will take first of all East Scotland where, according to the Report, about 80 per cent. of the mines are now working from three and a half to four days per week. In the York and Lincoln districts there are 130 collieries employing about 30,000 persons, working only four days per week, whilst in the West Lancashire district one-fourth of the collieries only are working full time, and three-fourths of them are working half a day or one day short per week. In the Midland districts not more than twelve collieries out of 286 are working full time, whilst in Staffordshire only 10 per cent. of the large collieries are working full time. I know there are certain districts where full time is being worked, but about half the mines of the country are working far less than their full capacity, and, therefore, the argument that when this Bill comes into operation—supposing the existing conditions of trade continue?—there must necessarily be a great restriction of output completely falls to the ground. And now what shall we say of the gross exaggerations, the deliberate misrepresentations of the economic effects of this Bill which have been spread broadcast in the country? Hon. Members opposite have referred more than once to the Coal Consumers' League. I hold in my hand a leaflet which has been distributed by that league, and I have already quoted from it. Nevertheless, I do not think it amiss to recall it to the attention of the House, because some people think there is a genuine movement amongst certain classes of the population against this Bill, and I will quote to the House from this leaflet just to show the kind of argument which has been used to stimulate opposition to this measure. Here is the leaflet circulated at bye-elections by this mendacious league, and it says that the probable effect of the passing of this Bill will be, not temporarily but permanently, a rise in the price of coal of 5s. per ton. Now, is there any hon. Member opposite who will say this leaflet tells the truth? [An HON. MEMBER: Why not?] Is there a single hon. Member opposite who will get up in his place and say that in his view it is true to say that the probable effect of the passing of this Bill will be a permanent increase in the price of coal to the extent of 5s. a ton? It is impossible for any hon. Member to make himself responsible for such a statement as that. They say in this leaflet that the probable effect, not temporary but permanent, will be that you will have to pay strike prices for your coal, always, and strike prices always for your gas; strike prices for everything you want by machinery always, and work will be as scarce as it always is at strike times and so forth. This pamphlet further states that this Bill will increase the cost of the poor man's coal by 3d. per cwt., which is 5s. per ton, as a very simple calculation will show. After the methods of this league have been so completely exposed in the country from various sources, it is not surprising to find Lord Newton, the Chairman of the League, saying at an emergency meeting a few days ago, at which he presided, that "he was surprised that the objectionable character of the Bill had not been realised throughout the country." As has already been said by other hon. Members, we are accustomed to these prophecies when a measure of social reform, of industrial legislation is introduced. On the Second Reading of this Bill I quoted a well-known precedent, the Workmen's Compensation Bill of 1897, when the Mining Association—the very body who are now actively opposing this Bill—went in deputation, headed, I think, by Lord Londonderry, to the right hon. Gentleman himself, and said that the effect of the Workmen's Compensation Bill would be to raise the price of coal 2d. or 3d. a ton. An inquiry subsequently held by a Departmental Committee showed that that deputation was out in its estimate by 80 per cent., and that the actual effect of the Workmen's Compensation Bill on the coal trade had been one-fifth of what they asserted would be the case. There have been, during the short time I have been a Member of this House, many discussions in which I have taken a keen interest in which similar prophecies have been made of ruin and disaster, sometimes in large matters and sometimes in small ones. Take, for example, the question of Chinese labour, a controversy in which I took the very greatest interest. We were told that if we stopped Chinese labour the result would be inevitable ruin to South African mines because it was totally impossible, with the best will in the world, for the mine owners on the Rand to get more black labourers than they were getting, because they had reached the maximum number obtainable. We were confronted with Blue-books, and bombarded with reports of Commissions. But what have proved to be the facts? The number of black labourers employed when those statements were made was 70,000, to-day there are over 150,000 black labourers employed in the mines. When the Workmen's Compensation Bill of 1906 was introduced we were told by those interested in sailing ships that the effect of the passing of the Bill would be to destroy the sailing ship industry of our country. I have made inquiries since, and I have been informed by one of those gentlemen who formed part of a deputation on that subject that the actual result in that industry has been a charge of one third or one-fourth of what they represented would be the case. I will turn for a moment to a very small matter, although it is a very interesting example—I refer to a little Bill introduced by the Home Office dealing with the question of privileged cabs in the Metropolis. We were then told on the authority of railway directors, and on the authority of the hon. Baronet who represents the City of London, that if we insisted on passing such a mischievous Bill the effect would be that no traveller, late at night, or in cases of emergency, would be able to get a cab at a railway station, and that the whole population of London under our Bill would be subjected to the greatest it possible inconvenience. Since that Bill has come into operation, far from having a storm of protests, not a single whisper of a complaint has been made with regard to the supply of cabs at railway stations. Nevertheless, hon. Members opposite are in no way abashed. They go on repeating the same arguments in regard to each Bill as it is brought forward, and on each measure they prophesy ruin and disaster to the country with the utmost glee. This kind of thing has gone on generation after generation and century after century. Individual spokesmen may come and go, but these forecasts go on for ever. I believe that if 100 years hence our spirits could revisit these walls, we should still find here the descendants of hon. Members opposite telling the House that the proposals then being made meant ruin and disaster to industries, and above all injury to the workpeople themselves, and we should find probably the Minister of that day standing in my place answering in the words I am using the same arguments which have been put forward to-day. I ask, why should we believe to-day the forecasts of those who have been proved so often to be false prophets?

Lastly, I come to the question whether it is legitimate to interfere in this way with male adult labour. I notice that the right hon. Gentleman did not lay the greatest stress on that argument; he did not lay down the doctrine that under no circumstances was it legitimate to interfere with the hours of male adult labour. The right hon. Gentleman said this ought only to be done when there was a clear case, and when the advantage of doing it was obvious. Hon. Members opposite and some hon. Members behind me have, however, laid down in un-compromising terms the doctrine of the complete individualist that you must never prevent a man from "working what hours he pleases." But that is just what the man does not do now. If he was able to work what hours he pleased there would be no case for legislation. It certainly seems an extraordinary perversion, a topsy-turvy argument to say that if you help a man to work the hours he wants to work it is tyranny, but if he is left to the mercies of our industrial system and compelled to work long hours which he does not wish to work, that is liberty. I have never been able to understand that argument. I suppose there must be some force in it, because it has been advanced by so many able men, but at any rate I have never been able to understand it. If you help the miners by the force of a statute to do that which by their express declaration they desire, then you are extending liberty and not decreasing it. Nor do I understand the argument that whatever is is natural, and that whatever legislation effects is artificial. I have never been able to see the force of that. Were the long hours worked before the Factory Acts natural? Are the hours which are now being worked in the mills of Lancashire artificial? It seems to me that the one is as artificial or as natural as the other. When children of six or seven years were being worked in mills under the lash of overseers, was that natural? I should say that the restrictions imposed by legislation resulted in effects much more in accordance with the dictates of nature. We are told that the present eight-hours day in Scotland is natural, but that if we establish it in Wales it is not natural. We are told again that if the men succeed in establishing what the Bill proposes by a strike, that is natural and no one should complain, and if there is a rise in price we must not quarrel with that; but if precisely the same thing is effected by Act of Parliament, that is unnatural, and should be opposed. I can see no ground of theory which should prevent us from using the powers of the State, so long as it appears that there will be no indirect effect for harm, to facilitate working and to soften the rigour of our harsh industrial system.

The noble Lord who moved the rejection of the Bill said he did not know what the reason was why the Government should have brought in this Bill except to catch votes. I will tell him the reason. We may be wrong or we may be right, but we regard it as our duty here to pass such laws as are practicable to secure better conditions of living for the mass of our population. All our social legislation is of a piece. Our measures with regard to the aged poor, temperance, workmen's compensation, small holdings, this Bill—are all parts of one large policy. When we find that there are in this trade nearly 1,000,000 persons employed, representing a population of 4,000,000, and that about one-eleventh of the whole population of our country will be affected, directly or indirectly, by its benefits; when we find that they are engaged in a specially arduous employment and are subject to greater discomforts than any other part of the population; when we find that they ask for larger leisure; when we believe that that boon can be conferred upon them without injury to the rest of the population, we ask ourselves not why we should introduce the Bill, but why we should not introduce the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman opposite says that these men ought not to be singled out for special consideration because they are a particularly healthy class. [Indications of dissent.] I do not wish to misrepresent the right hon. Gentleman, but he says that they are not specially unhealthy. But these men are not healthy because they are miners; they are miners because they are healthy. There are, as my hon. friend the Member for Derbyshire said in his moving and interesting speech, special conditions which ought to be taken into account, and special ailments that affect them. But the fact has to be remembered that unless a man has a good physique he cannot undertake this arduous employment, and that is the reason why the miners have such good rates of mortality and are not subject to diseases which affect other portions of the population. The main reason for this Bill is not the ground of health, but the immense importance of adequate leisure for our industrial population. As civilisation progresses, as invention develops, as science advances, so industrial processes improve; and the question is: To whom, and in what way is the benefit of that industrial progress to go? There are many directions in which it can go. It may go to increase the value of the mines, in the direction of larger royalties [An HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear]; it may go in higher profits to the coal owners, who may obtain larger remuneration for their enterprise and the use of their capital; it may, in course of time, go in the form of higher wages for the workmen; it may go in the direction of lower prices for the consumer; or it may go in the form of greater leisure for the workmen. It may go in a combination of some of these various methods. But we believe that among all these various directions in which the benefit of improved industrial methods may be spent, an adequate amount of leisure ought to be almost a first charge. Leisure no doubt may be abused, but I think it is true to say with a very distinguished writer that it is only by allowing men to use leisure as they will that they can learn to use leisure as they should. I believe that in the long run this leisure will be used by the miners well and profitably. Certain it is that there can be no full life without it, and that is the essential reason why we ask the House to pass this Bill.

* SIR C. J. CORY (Cornwall, St. Ives)

said it had been stated by the hon. Member for the Rhondda division on Friday that he (Sir C. J. Cory) had ridden into this House by means of promises to support the Eight Hours Bill for miners. In the first place, he had neither before nor during the election ever referred to a miners' Eight Hours Bill in his own constituency, neither had he made any promise respecting it in his own nor any other constituency. On asking the hon. Member where and when it was alleged he had made such a promise, the reply was that it had been made at a meeting which he had addressed on behalf of the hon. Member for the Rhondda division in the latter's constituency. On Friday he had emphatically denied the statement, and to-day he had with him copies of the two local papers which circulate in the hon. Member's constituency giving full reports of his speech at the meeting referred to, and in confirmation of his denial he would say that there was not one word in his speech with reference to the eight hours question, neither was any reference made to it by any one who spoke at the meeting. There were only tin miners in his constituency, and, as the hon. Member for Camborne had stated in this House on Wednesday, they had been able to get an eight-hours day by means of an arrangement with their employers. He contended that there was absolutely no reason for the Government proposing to establish an eight-hours day by legislation, as the miners with their strong organisations could easily obtain it for themselves. He repeated what he had stated before—that the miners had never, through their federation, formally demanded from the associated mine-owners of Great Britain an eight-hours day. It was said by the hon. Member for Hanley, that if there was a shortage in the supply it could be made up by increasing the facilities and by employing extra men. He submitted that if it were possible to make up the shortage caused by the Bill by improved facilities and machinery and by employing extra men—which he very much doubted, as in the new collieries they already had all the latest and most improved machinery, and he feared it would be difficult to get extra men in any very large numbers—it should be remembered that there was year by year an enormous increase in the demand for coal which would not be met as well in the way indicated. It seemed to him that it was not right that the Northumberland and Durham miners should be given the special advantage of having this Bill deferred for six months—that was until January, 1910. In South Wales contracts were from 1st January to 31st December following, and, therefore, if this Bill came into operation in the middle of the year it would cause the greatest inconvenience and embarrassment to the trade there. He stated before that the coal owners' agreement with the men did not terminate until 31st December, 1909, and therefore this Bill would come into operation six months before the agreement ended. That would cause a great deal of trouble and probably disputes, as employers would have to make some fresh arrangements with the miners for the intervening period as well as again at the end of the year. It had been said that in certain districts, if the Bill came into operation in winter, it would cause great inconvenience, because it might increase the price of coal, especially house coal. There was no reason why the advantage given to Northumberland and Durham should not be extended so far as South Wales and Monmouthshire. As regards that, inasmuch as the South Wales and Monmouthshire coal was practically all exported and used for steam purposes, it was said now that the miners in the coalfields of the country were entirely in favour of the Bill, and yet there was no clause nor Amendment proposed, to leave to the men themselves the question whether they wished to remain longer in the mine or to have a little more leisure than they had at present, but it was strenuously opposed by hon. Members representing labour on the grounds that miners might take advantage of such words to evade the Act, and it was said by the Minister in charge of the Bill that they dared not do that, because the men might take advantage of it and remain longer in the mines than the Bill would allow. He could not see why there should be any temptation for the miners to do any such thing if they were so strongly in favour of the Bill as was stated. It had been admitted by every supporter of the Bill that it would increase the cost of working. The hon. Member for the Ince division stated that the increased cost would be 6d. per ton. When the coal tax of 1s. per ton was put on, deputations were formed, including the miners' representatives themselves, to represent the disadvantageous effect which that tax would have on the coal trade of the country, in view of the competition of coal producers in other countries. And yet they were told that this increase in the cost of production, which would be one of the effects of this Bill, would not affect the export trade. So far as South Wales was concerned, there was no coal in the world which they had not to meet in competition, and if they got thrown out of the markets by reason of a difference in the price it might be impossible to recover the trade. The hon. Member for Ince said that Parliament dealt with the hours of labour of persons under sixteen years of ago, and he did not see why they should not regulate the hours of labour of persons over that age, but in all legislation dealing with the hours of labour it had been the custom of Parliament to deal with people under sixteen years of age or of tender age, but it had always been considered that when people arrived at mature age they should look after themselves. The hon. Member for Glamorgan said that the price for cutting coal was 1s. 6d. per ton, and he rather led the House to believe that that was all the collier earned. The collier cut a good many tons a day. He also got paid for cutting bottom and ripping top, and keeping out clod, and putting up timbers, and numbers of other items, on all of which he got the percentage—which in South Wales and Monmouthshire at the present time was 60 per cent.—over and above the standard rates.


The cutting price of 1s. 6d. includes all the dead work such as timbering in a number of collieries in Monmouthshire.


said that on the other hand the cutting price was very much higher than 1s. 6d. in many cases, and the miners got other advantages. It was stated by the hon. Member for Hanley that Mr. Knowles had said in the House, when they were discussing the Employers' Liability Bill, that if it came into operation, on account of the burden which would be thrown on the industry many small colliery owners would be ruined. They knew that in South Wales there were many people who had sunk large amounts of money in collieries which had had to be abandoned and the whole of the capital lost. It was, after all, only the few who had made money in coal-mining over a series of years, the larger number of people in the coal trade having lost money. The hon. Member said that in future they would have deeper pits, and, therefore, higher temperature and closed lamps. So far as temperature was concerned they knew that there were improvements in machinery for ventilation, and that this improved machinery would counteract any higher temperature as compared with the machinery in the past. Then miners' lamps were very much improved, and they would be much further improved, no doubt, in the future. In speaking at a meeting at Cardiff some time ago he had referred to the fact that old men and old collieries would find the pinch of this Bill, and that he understood the miners in the Forest of Dean were opposed to the measure. The hon. Member for the Rhondda had said, at a meeting which he addressed at Barry, in reply, that the Forest of Dean was an old coalfield, they had old collieries and they were old colliers, and that was why they were opposed to an eight-hours day, which exactly proved his contention. In France the eight-hours scheme was practically inoperative; there was a conspiracy among all parties—miners, owners, and the Government, to ignore it; and he believed that something of the same kind would happen in the course of time after this Bill came into full operation in this country.

* MR. J. F. MASON (Windsor)

said the speech of the hon. Member for Hanley illustrated very clearly the extraordinary confusion in the minds of some hon. Members in regard to this question. The hon. Member acknowledged that the cost of production would be increased by 3d. per ton, and then he went on to say that there were people who said that the cost of production would be increased by 3s. per ton. They never said that the cost of production would be increased by 3s. per ton. What they had said and still said was that the price might be increased by 3s. a ton. The price had very little to do with the cost of production. The price related to supply and demand, and the question whether the price would be increased depended on whether there would be a shortage in the output or not. The Home Secretary had admitted that if there was an increase in the price of coal by 1s. 6d. per ton it would be a most serious matter to the industries of the country. He could not understand how, in view of all the evidence given before the Departmental Committee, the Home Secretary could still believe that there would be no increase of price if this Bill passed. The right hon. Gentleman said to-day in the course of his remarks on the economic side of the question, that it was impossible to say precisely what the increase in the cost of production could be, but he thought from that remark that the right hon. Gentleman had come to the conclusion at last that there would be a distinct increase in the price of coal. Now, the Departmental Committee reported that— If the price of coal should be doubled, the manufacturer cannot reduce his purchases in any degree except by ceasing to manufacture, consequently, the smallest deficiency causes competition that raises prices out of all proportion to the extent of the deficiency. The history of the trade shows that in the year 1873, and again in 1900, a rise in the latter case to almost double the prices ruling three years earlier, and in the former case a rise still more considerable, was produced by a small and temporary excess of demand beyond the immediate power of the collieries to supply. It is quite conceivable, therefore, that a situation might be created by an enhanced price of coal, following the enactment of an eight-hour law for miners, in which the immediate economic interests of employers and men engaged in the production of coal alike, might be opposed to the economic interests of the country at large. The fact was that this rise in price of coal must always take place when there was a shortage of output. And how was this shortage of output going to be avoided? Hon. Gentlemen below the gangway told them that the men were going to work harder, and that machinery was coming to the aid of the Government in passing this measure by the invention of time-saving applicances. But the miners would have no inducement to work harder under the Bill than they worked under present conditions. In fact, they had no interest in preventing the Bill from having its natural effect in producing a shortage, as wages were dependent on the price of coal. There was nothing exceptional in this fact. They saw the same effect in other commodities. Why was the price of wheat in August 1907, 7s. 5d. more per quarter than in January in the same year? Did anyone suggest that wheat sold in August cost more to produce than that sold in January? It was a mere matter of supply and demand. There might be a suggestion that the number of miners would be increased. But he thought that Rule 39 of the Coal Mines Regulation Act placed a statutory impediment in the way of increasing the number of miners suddenly. That Rule said— No person not now employed as a coal or ironstone getter shall be allowed to work alone as a coal or ironstone getter in the face of the working, until he has had two years experience of such work under the superintendence of skilled workmen, or unless he shall have been previously employed for two years in or about the face of the workings of a mine. So that entirely disposed of the argument that they could quickly increase the number of miners. The argument for shortage was, therefore, absolutely made out. Again, they could not prevent shortage by cutting off the export of coal. The Departmental Committee explicitly declared— We found that in past periods of scarcity the foreign buyer was prepared to pay the high prices current, and to secure his full share of the annual product. In those years the export trade fully maintained its relative position. They were certainly not going to make up the home supply by cutting oft their export trade. He thought there was no doubt whatever that if there was to be a loss of time there would be a reduction of output, although he did not say for a moment that it would be equivalent to the full hours; and if there was a diminution in the output, he could not see why that diminution should not have the same effect as the diminution of demand and supply in other commodities. The enormous increase in the price of coal in 1872–3 was caused by an excess of demand over supply, and that demand was caused by a period of exceedingly good trade. In all other cases the same thing was seen; the price of coal had gone up by the excessive demand over supply, and not from the cost of production; but in this case they proposed to increase the demand, not at the moment of a natural increase of trade, but at the moment that the trade was excessively depressed. The Under-Secretary of State said that there were now a very great number of men working short time, and that they relied on these men working to make good their output shortage; but he also should have stated that these men were working short time because trade was bad and the winter exceptionally warm. He submitted that he had now made good the case that a shortage would occur, and that, as in other cases in the past, a rise of price might be looked for, out of all proportion to the rise in cost of production. And what would be the effect of this rise, whatever it might be, on the various interests involved? The position of the workmen was perfectly clear and consistent. They meant to get the same money for less work. What was the position of the owners? It was admitted that they were divided. There were a certain class of owners who said that they could make large profits during these temporary increases in price. The hon. Member for Bosworth said that the effect of the Bill would be to increase the price by 3d. to 6d. a ton at the pit bank; that it might cost half-a-crown at the end of twelve months, but that none would grudge that. And on the Second Reading of the Bill the hon. Member said that he regarded the effect of the Bill with the utmost equanimity, because the burden would not fall on his shoulders. The hon. Member added that if he shared all the advantages which a Welsh colliery possessed with the men who worked in the pit, he did not see that the increased cost would be any very great misfortune. The men would get better conditions of labour, and it would not necessarily reduce the profits of the producer of the coal. If he got that shilling out of his foreign customer he did not see why he should not cheerfully support the Bill. But other coal owners took a far-seeing view of the matter, like the hon. Member for St. Ives, who saw that the extra shilling would be got out of the British customer too; and that anything like a permanent serious increase in the price of coal would have an effect on the industries of the country. He now came to the third class, the consumer, who apparently had received very scanty consideration at the hands of the House. The hon. Member for Glamorgan said that this was an opportune moment to pass the Bill, because there were thousands of miners out of work. In order to remedy this evil, was it an opportune moment to throw thousands of men out of employment in other industries? He ventured to think that it was a very serious argument against this Bill that a question which the Government found difficult to deal with at present, namely that of the unemployed, was not made easier by it.


said he was not going to make a speech, he only wanted to read a telegram which he had received in the course of the debate. The Home Secretary said that he thought he had exaggerated the case when he stated that if a preference was given to Northumberland and Durham for six months, it would greatly injure the Midland coal trade. He had received from the managing director of the largest colliery company in the Midlands a telegram in which he said— Six months preference to North of England means absolute ruin to Yorkshire and Derby shire shipping trade next year— [Loud cries of "Oh!"]—It was practically correct in his opinion— and should be strongly opposed. The condition of the coal trade was one of extreme depression. He was going down that night to a colliery in South Yorkshire where the men were working three days a week, and he would be asked by the colliers to-morrow: "Why are we not working longer time?" The 4d. or 6d. preference or whatever it was which they were going to give to the North meant that they would be working short time in the Midlands, whereas they would have a fair share of the trade if the preference had not been given. He strongly protested against this preference being given seeing that the North of England had had three years in which to make their arrangements, and if they could not do it in that time they certainly could not do it in six months.

Abraham, William (Cork, N. E) Clough, William Griffith, Ellis J.
Abraham, William (Rhondda). Cobbold, Felix Thornley Gulland, John W.
Acland, Francis Dyke Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E. Hall, Frederick
Ainsworth, John Stirling Collins, Stephen (Lambeth) Harcourt, Rt. Hn. L. (Rossendale
Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch) Compton-Rickett, Sir J. Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)
Ambrose, Robert Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinst'd Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)
Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.) Cotton, Sir H. J. S. Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)
Balcarres, Lord Cowan, W. H. Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r)
Balfour, Robert (Lanark) Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth) Hart-Davies, T.
Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight) Crossfield, A. H. Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.
Barlow, Sir John E. (Somerset) Curran, Peter Francis Haslam, James (Derbyshire)
Barlow, Percy (Bedford) Dalziel, Sir James Henry Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)
Barnard, E. B. Davies, Timothy (Fulhan) Haworth, Arthur A.
Barnes, G. N. Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S. Hay, Hon. Claude George
Barran, Rowland Hirst Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S. Hedges, A. Paget
Beauchamp, E. Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N. Helme, Norval Watson
Beaumont, Hon. Hubert Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Henry, Charles S.
Bell, Richard Duckworth, Sir James Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)
Benn, W. (T'w'r Hamlets, S. Geo. Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness Higham, John Sharp
Berridge, T. H. D. Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne) Holland, Sir William Henry
Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romf'rd Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall Hooper, A. G.
Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon) Edwards, Enoch (Hanley) Horniman, Emslie John
Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Erskine, David C. Howard, Hon. Geoffrey
Boland, John Esslemont, George Birnie Hudson, Walter
Bowerman, C. W. Evans, Sir Samuel T. Hutton, Alfred Eddison
Brace, William Everett, R. Lacey Hyde, Clarendon
Brodie, H. C. Fenwick, Charles Idris, T. H. W.
Brooke, Stopford Ferens, T. R. Illingworth, Percy H.
Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh Field, William Jackson, R. S.
Bryce, J. Annan Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter Jacoby, Sir James Alfred
Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn Fuller, John Michael F. Jardine, Sir J.
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Gibb, James (Harrow) Jenkins, J.
Burnyeat, W. J. D. Ginnell, L. Johnson, John (Gateshead)
Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)
Byles, William Pollard Glendinning, R. G. Jones, Leif (Appleby)
Cameron, Robert Glover, Thomas Jones, William (Carnarvonshire
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford Jowett, F. W.
Cawley, Sir Frederick Gooch, George Peabody (Bath) Joyce, Michael
Channing, Sir Francis Allston Grant, Corrie Kearley, Sir Hudson E.
Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R. Greenwood, G. (Peterborough) Kekewich, Sir George
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S. Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward Kettle, Thomas Michael
MR. SAMUEL ROBERTS (Sheffield, Ecclesall)

said he wished to confirm what the hon. Member had said. He had it from the Secretary of the South Yorkshire Coal Owners' Association that this six months preference which the Government proposed would be most detrimental to the coal trade of South Yorkshire and Derbyshire. He hoped the Under-Secretary would bear in mind this point and in another place see if he could not make the Act commence at one period for all the coal districts in the country. If he could do that and give every district an equal opportunity it would be a great improvement.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayer, 264; Noes, 89. (Division List No. 452.)

Kincaid-Smith, Captain Nussey, Thomas Willans Taylor, John W. (Durham)
King, Alfred John (Knutsford) Nuttall, Harry Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)
Laidlaw, Robert O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)
Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.) Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)
Lambert, George O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth) Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr-
Lamont, Norman O'Grady, J. Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.
Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.) O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N. Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)
Lehmann, R. C. Parker, James (Halifax) Thorne, William (West Ham)
Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich) Paul, Herbert Tomkinson, James
Levy, Sir Maurice Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek) Toulmin, George
Lewis, John Herbert Pickersgill, Edward Hare Trevelyan, Charles Philip
Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David Pollard, Dr. Ure, Alexander
Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H. Verney, F. W.
Lynch, H. B. Power, Patrick Joseph Villiers, Ernest Amherst
Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester) Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.) Vivian, Henry
Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Bghs. Radford, G. H. Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)
Mackarness, Frederic C. Rea, Russell (Gloucester) Walsh, Stephen
Maclean, Donald Richards, Thomas (W. Monm'th Walters, John Tudor
Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J. Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n Walton, Joseph
MacNeill, John Gordon Swift Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln) Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)
Macpherson, J. T. Roberts, G. H. (Norwich) Wardle, George J.
MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S. Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradf'rd Waring, Walter
MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E. Robinson, S. Wasor, Rt. Hn. E. (Clackmannan
M'Crae, Sir George Robson, Sir William Snowdon Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
M'Hugh, Patrick A. Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke) Wedgwood, Josiah C.
M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald Rose, Charles Day White, Sir George (Norfolk)
M'Laren, HD. (Stafford, W.) Rowlands, J. White, J. Dundas (Dumbart'nsh
M'Micking, Major G. Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter White, Sir Luke (York, E. R.)
Mallet, Charles E. Rutherford, John (Lancashire) Whitehead, Rowland
Manfield, Harry (Northants) Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford) Whitley, John, Henry (Halifax)
Markham, Arthur Basil Samuel, Rt. Hn. H. L. (Cleveland Whittaker, Rt. Hn. Sir Thomas P.
Marnham, F. J. Scott, A. H. (Ashton under Lyne Wiles, Thomas
Massie, J. Sears, J. E. Wilkie, Alexander
Masterman, C. F. G. Seddon, J. Williams, J. (Glamorgan)
Micklem, Nathaniel Seely, Colonel Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)
Molteno, Percy Alport Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick B.) Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)
Mond, A. Shipman, Dr. John G. Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)
Morrell, Philip Silcock, Thomas Ball Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)
Morse, L. L. Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)
Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Murphy, John (Kerry, East) Snowden, P. Winfrey, R.
Murray, Capt. Hn. A.C.(Kincard. Spicer, Sir Albert Wood, T. M'Kinnon
Nannetti, Joseph P. Stanley, Albert (Staffs. N. W.) Yoxall, James Henry
Napier, T. B. Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staff'sh.
Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw) Steadman, W. C. TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Joseph Pease and Master of Elibank.
Newnes, Sir George (Swansea) Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)
Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncast'r Strachey, Sir Edward
Nolan, Joseph Straus, B. S. (Mile End)
Norton, Capt. Cecil William Summerbell, T.
Acland-Hood, Rt. Hn. Sir Alex. F. Craik, Sir Henry Hill, Sir Clement
Anstruther-Gray, Major Cross, Alexander Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)
Arkwright, John Stanhope Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred Dixon Houston, Robert Paterson
Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers Hunt, Rowland
Baldwin, Stanley Du Cros, Arthur Philip Joyson-Hicks, William
Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (City Lond) Faber, George Denison (York) Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H.
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.) Kerry, Earl of
Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.) Fell, Arthur King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)
Beck, A. Cecil Fletcher, J. S. Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.
Beckett, Hon. Gervase Forster, Henry William Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)
Bowles, G. Stewart Gardner, Ernest Lee, Arthur H. (Hants, Fareham
Butcher, Samuel Henry Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West) Lockwood, Rt. Hn. Lt.-Col. A. R.
Carlile, E. Hildred Gooch, Henry Cubitt (Peckham) Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham
Cave, George Goulding, Edward Alfred Lonsdale, John Brownlee
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston) Lowe, Sir Francis William
Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey- Guinness, W. E. (Bury S. Edm.) Lupton, Arnold
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Worc. Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashf'rd MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh
Coates, Major E. F. (Lewisham) Harris, Frederick Leverton M'Arthur, Charles
Cory, Sir Clifford John Harrison-Broadley, H. B. Magnus, Sir Philip
Courthope, G. Loyd Helmsley, Viscount Marks, H. H. (Kent)
Mason, James F. (Windsor) Remnant, James Farquharson Valentia, Viscount
Middlemore, John Throgmort'n Renwick, George Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)
Mildmay, Francis Bingham Ridsdale, E. A. Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)
Morrison-Bell, Captain Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall) Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)
Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield) Ronaldshay, Earl of Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm
Nield, Herbert Salter, Arthur Clavell Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart
Oddy, John James Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East) Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington Stanier, Beville
Powell, Sir Francis Sharp Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester) TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Lord R. Cecil and Viscount Castlereagh.
Pretyman, Ernest George Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ.
Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel Thornton, Percy M.