§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [29th January], "That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, as followeth:—
§ Most Gracious Sovereign,
§ We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."—(Mr. Lehmann.)
§ Question again proposed.247
§ MR. AMSAY MACDONALD (Leicester)
, said he was sure the House would not be at all surprised that he should rise to move an Amendment expressing regret that, that in view of the distress arising from lack of employment, His Majesty's advisers had not seen fit to recommend any legislation dealing with the subject. The figures of unemployment, according to the latest official returns, had now reached the somewhat alarming proportion of 6.1 per cent., and according to the newspapers, in every industrial town in the country at the present moment the Distress Committees were beginning to consider new schemes for unemployment. They were informed that an army of unemployed was marching from Manchester, and had got as far as the Midlands, upon a visit to this city. Immediately after the trade boom, at a time when they would imagine they would have been relieved of the troubles of the unemployed problem, they had it raised at once in its simplest and most complicated forms. The Patronage Secretary, had recently made certain observations about the practical capacity of bankers and employers of labour in politics, and he would like to ask why it was, with such an exceedingly simple problem as this, that in one house they had a baker wanting shoes, and in another house a shoemaker wanting bread, and that the baker was told that his labour was not required, and the boot and shoe operative that his labour was not required—in spite of the practical capacity of the bankers and employers of labour, that exceedingly simple problem of exchange had not yet been solved.
§ MR. RAMSAY MACDONALD
said he would not go out of the way to injure the feelings of his right hon. friend, but with all due deference to the Patronage Secretary, he thought those remarks were most germane to the present circumstances of the case. The point he wanted to develop was that it was time they had a new point of view, a new enthusiasm, and a new set of interests controlling the destinies of this country, and he hoped he had not unnecessarily dragged in the speech of his right hon. 248 friend. The signs were really most alarming. The figures supplied by the Central Unemployed Body in London showed that 17,000 unemployed persons registered themselves in 1906, and 21,000 in 1907, and upon making inquiries that morning he was informed that the numbers who had already been registered this year were much greater than were registered in a similar period last year. From the 14th October to 28th January, 1908, the Holborn Distress Committee registered 239 persons as unemployed, and for the same period ending January 28th, 1907, they only registered 221 persons. At Poplar the figures were even more striking. According to information placed in his hands, he learnt from the Poplar Distress Committee that the registrations this year exceeded those of last year by 1,049, in their case the total number of registrations being 2,421 since the end of October, 1907. This latter figure also represented 3567 children under the age of fourteen. If they turned to pauperism, they found the same thing going on. Last year the President of the Local Government Board, in dealing with this subject, congratulated himself upon the fact that pauperism was on the decrease, but he was afraid that the same thing could not be said to-day, at any rate so far as London was concerned. The Southwark and Camberwell workhouses were actually full, and some districts were advertising asking for Boards of Guardians to make contracts with them to take their paupers and board and lodge them. He felt perfectly certain that there was not a Member of that House, to whatever side he belonged, or to whatever political party he owed allegiance, who would deny that that was a most appalling state of things. He thought also that there was not a single Member but had come to the conclusion that the problem was not a personal but a social problem. Even if every person in the country had the ideal virtues that the working classes were asked by certain rather thin skinned and somewhat stilted critics of theirs to possess, and the capacity to turn his attention to every skilled trade in the country, and the very finest technical skill at his command, so long as they had the present system of industrial anarchy, when demand was never gauged by those controlling supply, when overproduction was a feature of one series of 249 years and under-consumption a feature of another, they would have to face the unemployed problem. If that were so, it became a matter for the State to settle. The time had come to banish for ever from their thoughts the old-fashioned heresy that unemployment was merely the expression of individual shortcomings. Unemployment was the expression of the failure of social organisation, and so it became the duty of the State to protect the unemployed men from the awful horrors that attended unemployment. The most remarkable feature of the present agitation was that it had trodden close upon the heels of an exceedingly busy time. They found this extraordinary thing, than no sooner did the whirr of the busy machine of industry cease than the tramp of the unemployed took its place in the great industrial centres. The Board of Trade published the other day a set of figures about wages and hours of employment. These figures showed that £1,500,000 more were being paid in wages in 1906 than in 1905, and they showed that that benefit was distributed over a million people. What did that mean? It meant that at a time of booming trade only one million of the sum total of the wage-earners of this country had been benefited by an increased wage, and the insignificant increase—for it was only insignificant when divided up per head—came to thirty shillings per year. But the people who were always living upon the verge of poverty actually suffered decreases in wages during that period. At the same time, the cost of living went up in some respects between twenty and thirty per cent., so that if they took everything into account they had this extraordinary condition to face, that the mass of the people of the country emerged from the boom in a worse condition than they entered it. He hoped hon. Members would take a sympathetic view of this question. They had to face the problem as legislators and not merely as philanthropists or the givers of charity. No one in the House offered more commiseration on account of the troubles of his office than he would like to offer to the President of the Local Government Board. Unemployment was one of the most difficult questions that any man had been doomed to deal with. If they touched it in one direction they might 250 simply increase it in another, and there was nobody in that House more anxious that the matter should be approached calmly, carefully, coolly, and in a scientific frame of mind than the hon. Members with whom he had the honour to be associated in that chamber, but at the same time it was pressing. Whilst they were thinking and waiting and postponing, those figures mounted up, and the awful toll of human suffering and distress became more and more grievous. They were bound to take the very first opportunity of challenging the House to face the problem and the responsibility in connection with it. The present machinery was a very simple one. It was provided by the right hon. Member for South Dublin. The act was one of the most courageous pieces of statesmanship that they had seen, at any rate in their generation. It was drafted in a hurry, and it bore upon its face the stress under which it was drafted, but it was no discredit to its authors. It was drafted as an attempt to face an exceedingly pressing situation. No man knew the effect it would have, and he was not going to criticise that Act with his knowledge acquired between 1905 and 1908. The Act afforded a most excellent foundation for future experiments and developments. He dared say that the President of the Local Government Board would tell them that he had an inquiry on foot at the present time, that there was a Poor Law Commission sitting, and he dared say some hon. Members had received, as he had received, certain inquiries from that Commission dealing with the problem of unemployment; but surely the Government was not unaware that there was a Royal Commission on Unemployment sitting in 1906, and in 1906 the Government informed them in the King's Speech that it was going to introduce an amending Unemployed Act. If the excuse was valid now that there was a Poor Law Commission sitting, then it was valid in 1906, and the Government had no business in 1906 to create expectations of a development of the present law if in 1908 it was going to fall back on the fact that a Commission was inquiring into the whole subject. When was that Commission going to report? Last year they were told that a report was going to be presented this year, but surely that report was only 251 to be a partial report. The Poor Law Commission was not going to present its report as a whole this year; he ventured to say that two or three years would elapse before they were in possession of its final report. This year it could only report upon this one question of unemployment, but he understood that the Government's contention was that when the new machinery to deal with unemployment was created it ought to be created as a whole and dovetailed into the complete machinery dealing with poverty. If that was going to be done they would have to wait for three years. So far as he and his colleagues were concerned, they were not going to do that. They objected with all their hearts and energy to mixing up the propositions for dealing with the unemployed with ordinary Poor Law proposals. The Poor Law Commission was not the Commission to investigate, deal with, and recommend in matters relative to unemployment. The Local Government Board had all the information that was necessary. It had been accumulating information for the last three years about the work of the Distress Committees. There was not a single problem that had presented itself to a Distress Committee from John-o'-Groat's to Land's End but the Local Government Board had information about it; there was not a single successful experiment made but the Local Government Board in its pigeon-holes had the explanation why it was successful; there was not a single experiment that had been a failure but the President of the Local Government Board could get up and say why it had failed. What more did any man want? The information which the Poor Law Commission was now collecting about unemployment was already in the hands of the Local Government Board in a very much more definite way than could be obtained by theoretical investigation; and he ventured to say that if the Local Government Board had itself drawn up the series of questions that had been presented by this Commission about the problem of unemployment they would have been drawn up better. He wanted to stand by the Local Government Board and to say that there was absolutely no reason why the President of the Local Government Board should not draft a Bill this year and push it through amongst other measures. The 252 right hon. Gentleman had been making replies to requests to develop the work of the Distress Committees, and these replies had been in many cases that he had no power under the existing law. Let them take the Hollesley Bay experiment. When that land was first acquired by the predecessor of the existing Central Unemployed Body, certain negotiations were conducted with the then President of the Local Government Board. He had the result of those experiments before him, and it was perfectly clear from the printed documents that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin contemplated Hollesley Bay as an adjunct to a small holdings scheme. In due course the Hollesley Bay Committee approached the Local Government Board, asking its sanction to build houses at Hollesley Bay, and to develop the experiment into a small holdings experiment. The Committee had been carefully selecting men to be planted on the land at Hollesley Bay, and up to a certain date in 1907 it had selected fifty-six men for that purpose. As soon as it approached the Local Government Board it was informed that the experiment was not such an experiment at all, and that the Board could not sanction any idea that the men should be planted out in small holdings under the auspices of the Hollesley Bay Committee. His point was not a charge against the Local Government Board, although it might be pushed to that, but he said that they had the Hollesley Bay Committee training men for farm work, and opportunities for extending the experiment into small holdings, for building houses, for planting families, and taking the most advantage of the magnificent chances that Hollesley Bay had given to a great many people, but under the existing law there was no power to do it. If that was so, why should not the existing law be altered now? There was another point. Those of them who had been members of distress committees knew that the great difficulty had been, not so much one of money, but of work. When they had got their money, they had to submit a scheme of work, and recently before they got the money they had to submit a scheme of work. He did not object at all. The work was defined as having to be of actual and substantial utility. They did not allow training in 253 that work; they could not use that work for educational purposes. If the President of the Local Government Board were not present, he would say that they had used it for training purposes, not quite knowing what was going to happen when their delinquencies were discovered. They did use the money for training purposes, but they did it knowing perfectly well that they were acting outside their proper power. Why could they not have the law changed so that training was really possible? It stood to reason that that was the proper way of using the £200,000 which the House voted year after year. There was another difficulty. How could the local distress committees, operating within a narrow area of power, discover work of actual and substantial utility? It could not be done. If they tried to pave a street they were told that that would be done in two years time in the ordinary way, and that if they did it now they were only anticipating the demand for labour that would be made two years hence. That was perfectly sound economy, but when they examined the work possible to a committee working in a narrow area, it was practically impossible for the committee to discover work of actual and substantial utility which was not anticipating some work which would require to be done in a short space of time. The Central Unemployed Body had rejected a large scheme presented by the Battersea Council relative to the making of roads, on that ground, and they were right in rejecting the scheme. The Central Body, however, should be not only critical but suggestive. This mine of information was now sufficiently great to enable the Local Government Board to take active steps in dealing with the matter.
Again, he thought everybody who had had experience in distress committees would admit that the constitution of those committees had been very faulty. They were constituted in such a way as to make it impossible to dovetail their work into the general municipal work carried on in their area. He appealed to the experience of men who had been on those committees, and he felt certain that he carried with him the President of the Local Government Board himself. Why could not they have an alteration of the law in that respect? If he wanted a text for his speech he would have found 254 it in a speech made by the right hon. Gentleman himself. On March 27th last year the right hon. Gentleman said in this House that the Distress Committees had broken down in the administration of finance, and if they had broken down in that, he did not know in what they had not broken down. The distress committees, he admitted, had shown the greatest incompetence, and few had done their work well. That was the judgment of the President of the Local Government Board upon these distress committees whom he has been keeping going by those grants of £200,000 for the last throe years. Yet those committees, which had found work for only about 36,000 people out of 60,000 approved applicants who had stood the test of thorough investigation and inquiry, who had never had Poor Law relief and were independent, were going to be continued for another year or two until some Commission reported. As the Act of 1905 came to an end this year, he wished to make out that it was not sufficient for the Government merely to add it to the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill; it required amendment. He had suggested one or two directions in which it might be amended, and in moving his Amendment, he asked the House to show perfectly clearly that it was not willing to continue the existence of this machinery, which, the right hon. Gentleman himself had confessed had broken down—committees whose powers circumscribed them so that they could only find work for a little over 50 per cent. of the applicants, and whose areas were so small that they could not use the small opportunities which they had of providing work. Consequently, he had much pleasure in moving the Resolution in his name.
MR. CUBRAN (Jarrow)
said his only justification for seconding the Amendment was to be found-in the fact that he had an intimate association from a trade union point of view with some of the people who were to-day suffering from lack of employment. The statistics placed before the House on the previous day by the hon. Member for Barnard Castle, and quoted that day by the mover of the Amendment, were absolutely correct, but he ventured to say there were no statistics which could possibly be placed before the House from any source whatever that 255 could give an accurate idea of the number of people suffering from lack of employment. There was a large fluctuating mass of general labour, particularly in the unskilled world, which was not registered through any trade or labour organisation or in any other manner, and therefore in his opinion the figures which had been quoted by his colleagues were not an exaggeration but actually an under estimate of the amounnt of suffering. We had unfortunately, owing to the system of landed proprietorship in the United Kingdom, a rapid influx of peasantry from rural districts into the already congested industrial centres, and these people, as a rule, had to seek employment in the unskilled labour world. They had another, and in his judgment a most important, agency contributing to the difficulty of unemployment and that was the development of mechanical appliances. The rapid displacement of labour by the development of mechanical science was to-day one of the greatest agencies for the manufacture of unemployed workers who were willing to work if they only had the opportunity of doing so. He did not want the House to misunderstand him in bringing forward this as an agency which was creating poverty and destitution in the large industrial centres. The Labour Party were not against the development of mechanical science. Those with whom he was associated in that House believed in the development of all science that could be used for the human welfare, for human physical and intellectual advancement. But what they were against and what they would continue to protest against was the use of that mechanical science for the aggrandisement of a mere handful of the population to the absolute detriment of those who were creating the wealth of the country. The question of unemployment in his judgment had never been seriously dealt with by any Government within his memory. They were not asking on behalf of those for whom they had a right to speak for any charitable doles from any Government. They wanted the present Government to introduce scientific productive methods whereby men and women who were willing and anxious to work should have facilities for working, even to the detriment of private enterprise. He recollected before he had the privilege of sitting in that House, going before the late Prime 256 Minister prior to the introduction of the Unemployed Bill, 1905, and the body with which he was then associated placed before the right hon. Gentleman certain forms of employment that might be entered into immediately by the expenditure of some of the nation's wealth. The late Prime Minister politely informed the deputation that no Government had any right to interfere with the general operations of private enterprise. But some of his hon. friends on those benches believed it was in the interest of the population as a whole, and if the Government of the country had the interest of the population at heart, it was their business to open up useful channels of employment, irrespective of whether they interfered with private-enterprise or otherwise. There were a good many business men on all sides of the House—excluding the Labour Party, the members of which were often told that they possessed no business capacity—who had, during the recess, been criticising their policy. Their critics had largely been those who were to be found among promoters of successful companies for the introduction of mechanical appliances for the rapid production of wealth, and for sharing out the profits among the investors, to the detriment of those who were engaged in the various operations. That might be business, but it was not always humanity, and until they found a Government prepared to tackle this problem seriously, he very much feared that the Labour Party would have to make this a front rank question both inside and outside the House of Commons. They might be excused for asking the House to consider this question from a non-party point of view. In introducing this Amendment it was not the desire of the Labour Party to score off the Government or anybody else. Their business was to draw the attention of the House and of the country to the widespread and deep rooted problem of unemployment. The hon. Member for Waterford, on the preceding day, made reference to cattle driving in Ireland, and they had recently heard a good deal about that nefarious system. But if hon. Gentlemen who regarded it as a ruthless method on the part of certain politicians would accompany him and the hon. Member for Woolwich down to the Victoria and Albert Docks when a ship came in, and 257 if they would watch willing workers clamouring for the work of discharging or lading the vessel, and see the way in which, to prevent them injuring one another, the police had to drive back these human cattle, it would open their eyes. Driving the human cattle—where? Back to look at the wives who had not had a square meal for perhaps three or four days, back to look at children, naked and hungry, who by the law of the country were driven to school with empty stomachs. Could they expect Labour Members to be prepared to sit quietly and wait for that piece-meal philanthropic charitable legislation that had been doled out to them up to the present? He submitted that the £200,000 per annum now granted was a mere drop in the ocean, so far as the relief of unemployment was concerned. And yet £70,000 out of that was handed back into the Treasury, by way of economising the taxation of the country, while our best men and women were starving ! Had they not a right under such circumstances to enter a determined and deliberate protest in that House against such a policy. They were only asking for justice for the people. They were told to discriminate between the unemployed and the unemployable—the wastrels of society. They admitted on those benches that there were men and women in the lower strata of society who could not perform a fair day's work for a fair day's wage. But he, personally, resented the efforts of any statesman, either on public platforms or in that House, to place the responsibility for that on the shoulders of those unfortunate individuals. They were society's outcasts—the victims of the mechanical science that was going on in their beautiful capitalistic world. They were driven from the land, from the home of their fathers in the country, and they had become wastrels of society, and often the very men thus driven out when they committed a petty larceny were tried before a tribunal consisting of men who were partly responsible for making these people what they were. He wanted to submit to the House that this was a humanitarian question. The rights of humanity were more than the sacred rights of property so-called. He fancied some of the hon. Members above the gangway would be declaring shortly that they had a cure for all these evils that 258 afflicted society. But unfortunately for them these evils were not confined to the metropolis of this country; the same conditions obtained in New York and in Berlin. The solution of the problem did not lie in in the taxation of imported commodities. It did not lie in any revision of our fiscal conditions. It lay in the checking of monopoly, and in the prevention of the development of that form of—should he call it greed?—which to-day was driving the best manhood and womanhood of the country out of the industrial system, out of the possibility of producing wealth. If the Government would only recognise the evils of the present system of wealth production and distribution, if they would only recognise what the law of competition—might he add, inhuman competition—was doing for our commercial industries, surely then, they would realise their responsibility for opening out facilities for employment for the starving men and women of our industrial centres in the rural districts of the country. He might be told that this was rank Socialistic heresy. They had had many definitions of Socialism during the Recess. The late Prime Minister, the present Leader of the Opposition, stated at Birmingham, while denouncing Socialistic doctrines, that a man had a right to what he earned. Well, that was exactly what the Socialists said, and if the late Prime Minister had taken that principle seriously to heart, they might hope to see him take his place among them on those Benches at the earliest possible-opportunity. The definitions of Socialism by leading Members of the Opposition and by leading Members of the Government varied very slightly. They were unanimous in their denunciation of theories that were alleged to be put forward. He had been anxiously awaiting a definition of Socialism from the President of the Local Government Board, and he could only say that, if that right hon. Gentleman would define Socialism as he used to in the old days, he would give his present colleagues such a shock that they would have many sleepless nights. He appealed to all Members of the House to consider this problem, not from the standpoint of Party, but from that of humanity. Human welfare was more to him and his colleagues than scoring in debate in that House. They 259 were determined to make this question the first plank in their platform, and they desired to get the assistance of hon. Members in all parts of the House to prevent a revolution in this matter. It was not always so-called agitators who produced revolution. Very often it was brought about by the cool and callous indifference of people in authority. Not long ago, in Russia, there was an internal revolution, at a time when that country was in difficulty with other Powers, and the cause of that revolution was to be found in the ignoring by the autocratic powers of the country of all appeals from the democracy and the suffering peasantry. The Labour Party earnestly appealed to this democratic assembly and to the Government to tackle this problem fearlessly and courageously. If they did so they would have the people and the working classes behind them, and even if the Government lost place and power they would have the satisfaction of knowing that they had only gone down in their efforts to remove from British civilisation the stigma of compelling its best manhood and womanhood to starve.
At the end of the Question, to add the words, and further we desire humbly to express our regret that, in view of the distress arising from lack of employment, Your Majesty's advisers have not seen fit to recommend any legislation dealing with the subject.'"—(Mr. Ramsay Macdonald.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ MR. MASTERMAN ( West Ham, N.)
congratulated the members of the Labour Party both upon the promptitude with which they had brought this question before Parliament and upon the admirable tone and temper displayed in the speeches of the mover and seconder of the Amendment. He recognised that the raising of this question in the House was not only desirable, but inevitable, but he would have liked to have had from the seconder a little more indication of what he proposed. The criticisms of the Unemployed Act which they had had from the hon. Member for Leicester and the suggestions for modifications of its provisions did not carry them very far, being criticisms of rather minute detail.
260 He would like to join most heartily with the two preceding speakers in declaring that this was no party question. Every party had assumed responsibility in the matter and no party could profess unconcern. He had very often thanked the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin for his Act dealing with the question. Although that Act was in many respects a failure, he believed that the experimental work being done under it would show the way for future developments. No Government could shelve this problem; if they tried, the problem would shelve them. The hon. Member for Jarrow had uttered some remarks as to what was fantastically called Tariff Reform being looked upon as a remedy for unemployment. He would not attempt to develop that point; he would only say that in so far as tariff reform had made any progress at all in the country, it was making it out of this question alone. Its supporters promised employment to all—a promise that was very freely and liberally offered in Mid Devon and elsewhere. He had heard a story, partly ludicrous and partly pathetic. One of his friends had recently investigated the case of the unfortunate men at Hollesley Bay, and asked their opinion as to the cause of unemployment, and what remedy they proposed. The great majority had come to the conclusion that the only remedy was to keep out the goods of foreigners. That might be useful perhaps to certain forms of skilled labour, but there was about as much hope of its serving the cause of the unemployed as of the conversion of millionaires on this subject. It was not because people believed the complicated or simple financial argument, but it was the fact that the unemployed were offered an alternative by one Party, while no alternative was offered by anyone else, which led them undoubtedly to declare that these people at least were probably trying to do their best for them, and would give them a chance of work. If he ventured to address the House on this subject, it was because he had given some kind of intimate consideration to the various experiments which had been tried, which consideration had necessarily been forced upon him by his responsibility as representing a district where unemployment was not sporadic 261 but chronic, and where they have such a contrast as 18 per 1,000 of the population out of employment in contradistinction to less than 1 in Manchester and other large northern towns. The distress committee of his district had been compelled to adopt almost every kind of expedient which was possible under the law, though not with entire success, and therefore he thought the experience gained under such conditions might be useful to Members of the House in forming up their opinions as to future legislation. He had said that the distress committees had failed, and he repeated that statement to-day. As one who had been a member of local bodies he had the natural hatred and contempt of all local bodies for the Central Executive. Certainly there was no desire on his part to defend the Local Government Board, which personally he thought needed severe cleansing from top to bottom. But if Members, instead of indulging in rather vague discussion, took the trouble to investigate the actual course and development of the subject, they would find that if there was any criminal responsibility in this matter, in the neglect of a great opportunity, in the return of a great part of the money which had been voted, it rested far more with the apathy and indifference and sometimes contempt of the local authority represented by the distress committee than with the Local Government Board. He knew that it had been exceedingly difficult to find work of a satisfactory kind under the definitions of the Act. He believed, however, that it would be as difficult to find satisfactory work if those definitions were enlarged, and he must confess that he had the profoundest distrust of any kind of organisation of skilled unemployed labour in either municipal or national concerns. He was perfectly willing to listen to any kind of argument as to the organisation of State cotton mills, jute factories, docks, or anything they liked, but in the name of all that was sane in Socialism, they were not going to start national industries out of unemployed labour—labour which had been squeezed outside the ordinary demand. But that did not mean that they could do nothing for the unemployed. He believed that development was possible along three lines, and he 262 could not see any other lines save those three. They had tried the rather heartbreaking experiment of local relief work. The sole idea of most distress committees was to level a bit of land that did not want levelling, or sweep what did not want sweeping. But he could not believe that they were not making progress in this particular matter. These so-called relief works had steadily improved from year to year. Whereas they had at one time reckoned the work under these experiments at something like 800 per cent. more than it would have been with ordinary labour, they had now reduced that difference to something like 40 per cent. more than the normal value. What exactly did the experiments mean? They meant that the perpetual presence of casual labour, owing to the scandalous system described by the hon. Member for Jarrow, and the low grade factories, had developed a parasitic industry. They had a population along the riverside, and elsewhere in similar circumstances, which was the product of these industrial conditions—a population which had got out of the habit of regular work, which was accustomed to work two or three days a week, and which competed every day outside the docks when work could not be obtained there. He strongly pleaded with the House or the Government, in any kind of organisation which they might see fit to adopt for the utilisation of labour squeezed out of the ordinary demand, that they should take very great precautions that the labour should not consist of a system of industry which ought to be got rid of—a system such as the casual employment of men and women by private firms. They had been offered already a Bill to deal with the Port of London, and they had been told that it was not a Bill for philanthropy but for business. Philanthropy was business, and the only rational business. They should ask respectfully that whatever new dock arrangements were made on the river there should be some definite effort to get rid of this system of casual employment. The dock companies had already got rid of it; it was the shipping companies who were to blame and not the dock companies. If no attempt in that direction was made, he thought he could promise that the Bill would not be so 263 uncontroversial as might be expected. The second attempt made was the land colonies. They had tried with some difficulty to break through the limitations which were in the Small Holdings Bill of last year in order to give a chance to the unemployed, if they wished, to get on to the land, but they had failed. Anyone not familiar with the conditions at Hollesley Bay, who thought that a large proportion of the men were willing to go on to the land, would be met with a grievous disappointment. Only 5 per cent. of the men had volunteered, according to the figures given by the distress committee, and of those it was conside ed that half would collapse altogether. This being the one industry in which there was an unlimited demand for labour, they had at least a right to demand that this experiment should be tried. The third alternative was emigration. Against that a very strong protest was made by many, especially among the working classes of this country. They had been for long years resisting the idea, but he had come reluctantly to the conclusion that migration in England, as in Ireland, was the only remedy in the case of certain congested areas. When he found that some thousands of registered unemployed in his district were anxious to have a new chance, even in a new country if they could not get it in their own, and when he found, despite the sensational statements about the starving unemployed in Canada, that the great majority of those already sent out had made a new start and done well, then he continued undisturbed his importunity of the President of the Local Government Board to relieve the congestion of some of these thousands of people who caused the prevalence of unskilled labour round the docks, and who now competed for two days work a week instead of having enough to give employment for six days. He would not indulge in the moving and eloquent rhetoric which he had heard from some of his friends, for he had not, like some of them, personal experience, or he might be betrayed into words not convenient in the debates of that House in recounting the stories of his friends. He would merely say that they had a very great anxiety to hear what the Government proposals were in this matter. They recognised that whatever 264 those proposals might be, they must be experimental in the present stage. It was in very sincere conviction they asked the Government not to adhere blindly to academic, à priori arguments which were sometimes unanswerable in debate but often entirely disproved by practice and experience, but that they would adopt pertinacious and unwearying action in the endeavour to discover the true pathway to reform.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Dr. MACNAMARA,) Camberwell, N.
I advance the plea at once that the problem of unemployment is one to which every social reformer is bound to give a great deal of anxious care. I congratulate the hon. Member for North West Ham on the way in which he has dealt with this question, and I congratulate the hon. Members opposite also. I have sorrowfully to admit that in hard times and severe weather, particularly in the great towns, this problem which is before us means suffering, more especially to women and children. The question is, what can the State do in this matter? There are two things the State can do. The State can be ready with immediate palliatives to meet urgent d stress, always taking care in the application of the palliatives not to create evils greater than those it seeks to remove. In the second place I think that all members are agreed that this ought not to be a party question, but that members of all parties, in season and out of season, have got to seek to enact such schemes of social reform as may strike at the root causes of unemployment, perchance sensibly to reduce its permanent proportions. Now this question of the application of immediate palliatives has been before the House for the last twenty years, in the form of circulars from the Local Government Board to the local authorities, the first of which was I think issued by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, an admirable document. Down to 1905 things remained there, but, as the House knows, in 1905, Parliament passed the first statutory enactment for dealing with unemployment. The terms of that Act are so familiar to hon. Members that I need not refer to them. I would like to point out, in reply to the hon. Member 265 for Leicester, that in 1905, under the Workmen's Unemployed Act, there were 110,835 applications to distress committees, of which 73,817 were entertained, and work was found in 41,321 cases. In the winter of 1906–7 there were only 87,000 applications, of which 60,416 were entertained, and work was found in 36,280 cases. As to the ages of the applicants whose cases were entertained, in the winter of 1905–6 as many as 27.3 per cent. were under 30 and 56.6 per cent. were under 40 years of age. In the winter of 1906–7 the proportion was 30.2 per cent. under 30 and 58.6 per cent. under 40 years of age. As to occupations, in the winter 1905–6 of the applicants whose cases were entertained 51.5 per cent. were general or casual labourers, and 22.6 per cent., were engaged in the building trades. In the winter 1906–7, of the applicants whose cases were entertained, 52.5 per cent. were general or casual labourers and 17.7 per cent. were connected with the building trades. There were a number of unskilled persons in that category, and also a number of skilled persons; at any rate three-fourths of the applicants in both those years were either general labourers or connected with the building trade. The criticism of the Act of 1905 was pretty general because of the fact that it contained no provision for aid from the National Exchequer in order to set up a machinery to deal with the unemployed. As the ton. Gentleman the mover remarked, the problem of the unemployed was referred to in the King's Speech in 1906, when it was proposed to deal with it. It is quite true that the question was not dealt with, but I must remind the hon. Member that Parliament, no doubt as the result of the criticism of the Act of 1905, placed at the disposal of the Local Government Boards for England, Scotland, and Ireland, a sum of £200,000, covering the period up to the end of March, 1907. Of that amount, my right hon. friend has had at his disposal £170,000; and he has granted to the London Unemployed Body £48,865; to the extra-metropolitan areas, £41,215 of which West Ham got £25,000; and to the provincial committees, £15,000. Thus, down to 31st March, 1907, £105,420 out of the £170,000 at disposal has been dispensed. It has been a matter of criticism that my right hon. friend did 266 not dispense the whole of the money. I am bound to say that I do not think that that criticism is either well informed or wise. I have been filled with admiration at the daily care and industry which my right hon. friend has given to this problem. He has investigated every application with the closest scrutiny, and few men could have worked, as he has done. When the time came for my right hon. friend's holiday he went straight to Germany to study the method of dealing with unemployment there. In the first place, the policy of the Local Government Board has been (and I hope that it will receive the endorsement of this House irrespective of Party) to assist the unemployed in such a manner as to enable them to be more ready to assist themselves. In the second place, we have tried to get the grants spent on work of actual and substantial utility; and thirdly, our object has been to help the unemployed man into work without putting some already employed man out of work. It would have been the simplest thing to spend the whole £200,000 at once, or even £2,000,000; but that would have created greater evils than those which it was desired to remove. The whole problem involves grave social and economic issues; and any one who says he has an instant and sovereign remedy is a very superficial observer. With regard to the criticism that all the grant was not spent, I may say that of the thirty-one provincial distress committees who received grants at the end of the last financial year, nine had balances in hand of over £500, and five of over £100. The London Central Body had a balance in hand of £15,483. Possibly part of those balances were ear-marked for work in course of execution, but at the end of the financial year there were the balances. In the present year the Local Government Board has dispensed over £50,000 provisionally—£38,000 in and around London and £12,000 in the provinces. But my right hon. friend has so speeded up the administration of the Board that no fewer than sixty-two loans for housing schemes involving an expenditure of £333,000 have been granted in the last two years. As so many of the unemployed belong to the building trade, that must have a sensible effect. As to existing machinery, the whole thing is in an experimental stage. And I am bound to 267 point out that the Royal Commission on the Poor Law had included in its reference this great question of unemployment. Its reference said—To inquire—(1) Into the working of the laws relating to the relief of poor persons in the United Kingdom. (2) Into the various means which have been adopted outside the Poor Law for meeting distress arising from want of employment, particularly during periods of severe industrial depression; and to consider and report whether any, and if so what, modifications of the Poor Law or changes in their administration, or fresh legislation for dealing with distress are advisable.I hope that we shall get their report—I shall be disappointed if we do not—this year. I shall be disappointed if we do not get the Report of that Commission this year, and we are bound, I think, to consider what will be the expert view of the people who have been very carefully considering this matter before we embark on further legislation, in the present experimental stage of the whole problem. Turning to the more serious problem: how can we strike permanently at the root cause of unemployment?—although this is not a Party problem, I must refer to two different schools of thought, each of which thinks it has a magic solvent. There is first the Socialist. He says: "Reconstitute society on an entirely new economic basis and abolish private ownership of wealth, the means of production and exchange." I am referring to the views of the Seconder of the Resolution who the other day at the Hull Conference said they were prepared to submit that it was impossible ultimately to solve or completely to solve the unemployed problem until the development of public ownership took a proper grasp of the people of this country, and until that public ownership was put into operation to a certain extent so as to bring the great national concerns right under the supervision and control of a Democratic Government. This sounds all right, but there is only one small difficulty. This solution is not-likely to come to pass just yet; and as a practical man desiring to do something for the unemployed, I am obliged to put that proposition aside as hopelessly chimerical. Then there is the tariff reformer who also has his magic solvent, and who proclaims it vigorously and loudly from the housetops. He says: "Vote for Tariff Reform, and work for all." 268 He says: "Keep out the foreigner, give higher wages and more work for all" I will take two extracts. In a recent speech of the hon. Member for the Walton Division of Liverpool, he said on 9th January—Five per cent. of our skilled artisans were out of work to-day, while Germany could find work for every man who wanted it.Then the hon. Member for the Ludlow Division of Shropshire whom I quote from The Times, said—If English industries had fair play we should not have as at present two workmen running after one employer, but two employers running after one workman.These printed assurances fall a long way short, so far as I can gather, of those that are heard from street corners. On this subject I would like to make a frank confession. If this proposal to keep out the foreigner is really to give employment to our workpeople out of work, if I honestly thought this tariff reform proposal would promote the permanent well-being of the working classes I would take it up like a shot—[An HON. MEMBER: "Give it a trial."] for we must all be concerned for their permanent welfare; but I am bound to say from all the examination I have been able to make, that notwithstanding grave social shortcomings in this country—I do not deny that they exist, and that we are here to remove them—I am irresistibly driven to the conclusion that whether we take the percentage of unemployment at normal times, hours of labour, rates of wages in particular industries, or the purchasing powers of those wages, the amount of money the workman's wife has to spend on rent, food or clothing, week by week, the people of this Free Trade country are better off than those of any of the Protectionist countries. Germany is a Tariff Reform paradise, yet they have from 30,000 to 60,000 people in Berlin marching through the streets as unemployed.
§ DR. MACNAMARA
The Morning Post Special Correspondent. They have these 30,000 to 60,000 marching in procession through the streets of Berlin 269 to make this simple plea that all duties on food stuffs should be abolished. Hon. Gentlemen know that according to the reports the reply in the interests of law and order is a threat of the revolver and the sabre. I understand that America is another Tariff Reform paradise, and hon. Members have read how the processions of unemployed in Chicago are dispersed with club and whip. I am very sorry but I am bound to put the Tariff Reformer and his nostrums entirely on one side. What are some of the root causes of unemployment, and what can be done? I entirely agree with my hon. friend that one considerable cause is the influx of the labouring classes from the countryside into the towns. It is a fact that in the 1881 Census there were 983,919 agricultural labourers and twenty years after there were 689,292. Therefore in the twenty years about one-third had either emigrated, particularly to Canada, or had migrated to the towns. In the winter of 1905, an examination was made into the cases of 10,000 unemployed in London, and it appeared that from 86 to 91 per cent. of them were town-bred men pushed out of employment by stalwart villagers from the countryside. I will not put very high any single remedy for this involved problem. It is so complex that it must be dealt with in many ways.
§ MR. CURRAN
said the hon. Gentleman was in error in stating that they were pushed out by men from the countryside. They were out because of the development of mechanical appliances.
§ DR. MACNAMARA
My point is that from 86 to 94 per cent. of these unemployed men were town bred men, and that since the 1881 Census, there has been a great influx of country bred men, so that it is a reasonable conclusion that some of them at any rate have been pushed out by the stalwart villagers. We can sensibly affect the unemployed problem if we can stop that influx. I believe we will do that by the Small Holdings Act of last year. I do not say it will be done largely, but I believe the Housing Bill, by securing much more attention to the public health and sanitation in the village areas and better 270 cottage provision, will stimulate the movement set up already by the passing of the Small Holdings Act. Then, I do not think that any man is honest who does not frankly tell the working classes in dealing with this question that a good deal of unemployment, with its concomitant misery for the child and the woman, is due to the excessive drinking habits of a section of the people. The effective revision of our liquor laws with happier and brighter environment will be to lay a good deal of unemployment by the heels. Then again it is a fact that every year there go out from the public elementary schools of the country some 200,000 small boys who have passed the 5th, 6th, and 7th standards. They are bright and intelligent, and as far as their education has gone, it is the most thorough given in any civilised country in the world. If they could be taken at that moment, and if there could be superimposed on that education instruction in skilled handicrafts a great reform would be carried out without overloading the highly skilled labour market. But these boys, as the results of the exigencies of home life have to-become wage earners at once. They get 5s., 6s., or 7s., a week as errand-boys, or by similar employment, and after a few years their places are taken by the succession of similar small victims. Being wholly unskilled, and having no handicraft, they drift about trying to find work. They find it very difficult. Nothing is more deteriorating than to be unemployed; and the result of that atmosphere is that many of them drift into the ranks of the unemployable. Thus, under twenty years of age, you have at any one time a steadily recruited army of 1,000,000 young fellows whom our present system heads straight for the hopeless army of the unemployed and unemployable. I do not want to overload the skilled labour market; but I say that if we could send these youths to trade schools and industrialise many scholarships, exhibitions, and bursaries, under proper restrictions and limitations of course, we might do something to meet this unemployed problem which is, I admit again and again a very complex one. Again, the, problem might in some measure be affected if married women whose husbands are in a 271 position to maintain them, were to stay at home and look after their children instead of underselling adult male labour. In many cases they go into the factory or workshop, and the care of the children is not what it ought to be. In regard to the children themselves, many of them go far too early to work. To-day factory and workshop half-time is legal at twelve years of age, and there are some 40,000 of these half-timers. In agriculture half-time is legal at eleven years of age, and there are some 40,000 half-timers. It would be not only an enormous benefit to the children themselves if the half-time age were extended, but it would react upon the question of children underselling their fathers in the labour market. There may be an economic necessity for child labour, but we have got to do our best to deal with it. I hold, however, that there would be less unemployment of adults if there were not so much juvenile labour. I do not say that I have touched on all the reforms necessary in dealing with this problem of the unemployed; but I hold, finally, that some reform is imperative in our treatment of the casual labourer and the tramp. The incorrigible loafer is always with us. He is an eager applicant for work to the Distress Committees, but often he cannot do the work when it is offered to him. He has lost the habit of work if ever he had it, and too often he is too physically infirm to do it. Take the case of the scheme of work to plant trees in the Washburn Valley upon land belonging to the Corporation of Leeds adjacent to their water reservoirs. In November, 1906, the Local Government Board made a grant of £1,000 to the Leeds Distress Committee in aid of the wages of the unemployed to be engaged on the work. The Distress Committee estimated that the scheme would give employment to fifty men for twenty weeks at a weekly cost of £60. But early in February, 1907, the Board ascertained that, although eleven weeks had elapsed since the grant of £1,000 was made, only £154 had been spent by the Distress Committee. The explanation was that, of 293 men who were offered employment on the work, only 139 accepted the offer, and that of these 102 men presented themselves for work. Of the 102 men who actually commenced work, fifty-six men afterwards gave it up 272 and only two of the remainder obtained other situations. I saw these men myself trying on a bleak November day to work out in Washburn Valley, and I noticed their physical condition. I confess that to me it was a wonder that some of them were able to stick so long at the work. A considerable percentage of them ought to be looked upon as physically and morally infirm and quite unable to do a full day's work right off the reel. I quote a newspaper report of a meeting, held in the Guildhall on 20th December, 1907, of the Central Body for dealing with the unemployed in London:—The Rev. J. H. Anderson complained that in connection with the London County Council scheme to employ 700 men during the winter in the parks, only 487 of the unemployed had applied for work. No fewer than 213 men registered as unemployed had actually refused work.I daresay some of them were incorrigible loafers; but some of them were unable to do much work. Now, what are we to do with those men? They go into the tramps' ward in the workhouse. They get their bath—I am sorry to say not always in clean water. They get half a pound of bread and water for supper, and then go to a cell or to an associated ward where they sleep. They get up in the morning, receive half a pound of bread and water for breakfast, and then do their labour task breaking stones, cutting wood, or working out in the workhouse grounds. At the end of their task they go into the house, are given bread and a little cheese and water or a dish of thin skilly, again go into a small dark gloomy cell in many instances much inferior to the ordinary prison cell. At night they get another half a pound of bread and water, and in the morning they are told in effect:—" You go away, and do not come back here again." That is, they are pushed on to the next local authority. That is a silly system, because it does nothing to regenerate the men, and I have seen scores of them during the last few months. I think that that system of treating casuals and tramps is another phase of a very serious and complex problem. In the case of the really honest man who wants work and is willing to work—and I have met some, though not 273 many—I am bound to say that that system is not only silly; it is brutal. I do not dogmatise; I am not sure. But I fancy if we were to take these men for a period and build them up physically in a scientific manner and make them fit for regular habits of work, we might save some of them as permanent honest men, and enable them to go some sort of work for a living. When we get a full Report on the subject from the Poor Law Commission it may be well worthy of consideration whether something of that kind would not be preferable to the system we are now pursuing in the casual ward. I admit, even when I have rehearsed these abiding causes of unemployment, and when we have considered all the difficulties to be encountered, that I have no magic solution for the problem. I am aware that there are forces working against us in regard to this problem which it will be well-nigh impossible for us to control. The law is now in its experimental stage. We shall do well if we score an occasional success in the face of many failures. All we can do is that all of us, of all parties, should consider that day ill-spent indeed upon which we did not devote some thought to the task of devising means whereby we may be able to remove these evils which press with so much severity on our poorer folk.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN (Worcestershire, E.)
The peculiarity of this debate is that all those who have spoken have found a certain amount of common ground as to the facts of unemployment, but they are not in agreement as to the remedy for it. I agree with most of what hon. Gentlemen have said as to the gravity of this question. I think it is one of increasing gravity and importance, and one which is becoming more serious; and I cannot conceal that in a matter of this kind everyone is entitled to bring, and bound to bring, whatever help he can towards its solution. I think it would have been impossible for me to avoid taking part in the discussion after the references made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade and by the seconder of the resolution, to the views expresssed by many of us who are interested in Tariff Reform. The 274 hon. Gentleman who moved the resolution did not suggest any permanent solution of the question. In a few opening sentences he suggested that there was at the back of his mind a conviction that there might be such a reconstruction of our industrial and social system as was more particularly adumbrated by the seconder, and that that was the only cure for the evils which we deplore. So far, however, his suggestions were confined to certain small changes in the Act for which we, sitting on this side of the House, were primarily responsible. I think that some of his suggestions were good ones and worthy of consideration. I do not wish to criticise them, nor to criticise the general observations of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board as to the cause of the unfitness for work of some of the unemployed and their unsuitability for work when work is going. I quite agree that, in spite of everything you do, extravagant expenditure on drink produces physical deterioration which keeps certain people from being reclaimable for useful employment. But so far as the reduction of that expenditure can be expected to remove the evils which confront us, it ought to have produced some effect already. No one can doubt that our people are very much more sober than they were twenty-five, fifty, or 100 years ago. Without waiting for legislation, thanks partly to the general growth, shall I say, of the sense of responsibility, to the sense of decency, and partly to philanthophic and religious work done by devoted individuals, great progress has been made in the matter of temperance; but the problem of unemployment, as has been admitted on all sides, is present with us in as aggravated a form as it ever was. I think we cannot overestimate the magnitude of the seriousness of the problem, which in my opinion is of a dangerous character to the well-being of the people of the State. The hon. Gentleman who introduced the Motion said he did not rise from these benches to propose Tariff Reform as a cure for all the evils from which the State suffers. I did not suppose that he would do anything of the kind. I do not suppose that anyone will do anything of the kind, and certainly I am not here to make any such claim, but 275 after the challenge that has been thrown out. I think I may repeat what I have said in the country, and call the attention of the House to it. I think the trouble in this country is becoming more serious, but no action the Government can take, fiscal or administrative, can maintain trade always at the same level or always at an ascending scale. Whatever fiscal system, whatever laws you have in force, there will be fluctuations of trade, and these fluctuations of trade, aggravated as they sometimes are and sometimes caused by changes in weather and hard seasons, will throw people out of employment spasmodically and seasonally from time to time, and nothing that we or any Parliament can do will prevent it, That kind of lack of employment always has been with us and we shall always be liable to it whatever kind of measure we may adopt. But what we have now to consider and what I beg to call the attention of the House to, is not that spasmodic or seasonal unemployment, but that there has been at a time of boom, when the Board of Trade returns are all that a President of the Board would desire—that at such a period as that when we have had year after year an unemployed scheme in existence and funds voted to find work for the unemployed, we are confronted with a state of things which shows that good trade has not sensibly reduced the amount of unemployment, but has left it as high in those good years as it was for the preceding ten years. We are confronted with that as a state of things which has existed during a boom, and we dread to think what we may expect when the inevitable reaction from the boom falls with its full force upon us. I venture then to submit to the House, and this is my first point, that we are face to face with a new problem here, quite different from the spasmodic or seasonal unemployment which we had before—we are face to face with a chronic unemployment which we may expect to grow even in good times and to increase largely in bad. Now why is it? It is not because our people drink more; they drink less. It is not because they are less educated; they are more educated. I do not think it is to be explained by the introduction of machinery, though no doubt with 276 machinery you require more work in order to find employment for the same number of people. Let me say in passing that the reason for the introduction of machinery is that you may produce more cheaply. That does not mean a reduction of wages. It may do in a given case, but it does not necessarily mean the reduction of the wages paid to the operative. Again, it may not mean, and constantly has not meant, judged over a period of years, any restriction in the number of people employed; on the contrary, it has led in very many cases to a very much greater employment. But at any rate, those whose god is cheapness cannot hold out the idea that the introduction of machinery is a bad thing, or is a thing which ought to be checked if the legislature can check it. I do not myself attribute it to that circumstance. I think a wider movement has been at work I noticed some time ago in The Times an article by an occasional correspondent who draws attention to an aspect of this question which, I think, has not received the consideration it deserves. He set himself to consider to what we owe this growth of chronic unemployment, as distinguished from the merely periodical and seasonal. He examined the Census Returns of 1881, contrasting them with those of 1901, the last available, and he arrived at some results which, he said, were a surprise to himself, and which, I think, may be a surprise to some if embers of the House, and certainly have a great bearing on this question. After making allowances for certain groups of employed people who could not well be classified under one or other of the two heads I am going to mention, he divided the working population into those who were engaged in non-productive work and those who were engaged in the service of their fellows in one form or another. That includes all Government officials Police, the Army, the Navy, and it includes distributors, carriers, and the like. What did he find? Why, that after making allowances for certain groups which he could not allot to either of those two heads, the Census enabled him to deal with, I think, 90 per cent. of the working population. He found that, although the Census of 1901 shows an increase over that of 1881 of 19 per cent. 277 amongst those engaged in productive labour, it shows an increase of 41.2 per cent. of those engaged in non-productive labour. Here I come into accord with the hon. Gentleman the Parliamentary Secretary. I think it is a very grave feature of our existing system that so many of our people are led into unproductive instead of productive labour. Unproductive labour is unskilled labour. ["No."] I do not think that the hon. Member would dispute my statement if he understood the words that I am using. I do not call agricultural labour unskilled labour. People sometimes talk of it as unskilled, but a good agricultural labourer is a skilled man, and there are far too few of them. [An HON. MEMBER: "An engine-driver is unproductive."] Oh, I see the point that is made, but I say that an agricultural labourer who has drifted out of his own work and drifted into a town, may become an unskilled man. The hon. Member challenges the opposite side of my statement, and what he contends is that many of the people engaged in distribution and so on, are skilled labourers. That is quite true, but an enormous number of them are not skilled, or their skill is very limited and of a very special character, which causes them to find great difficulty in getting further employment if they once lose the' particular work they have in hand. Take, for instance, carmen and carriers; of course, among carmen there is a certain amount of skilled labour in the sense that the man has a horse and must have some powers of driving it. But the general increase for twenty years among the productive labourers being 19 per cent., that amongst carmen and carriers was 117 per cent; among the dockers, of the terrible conditions of whose employment the hon. Member for North West Ham spoke, the increase has been 134 per cent. and over. Why is it? Here is a general movement which is turning off people from productive work into distributing work; from manufacturing industries to trade distribution and service. I believe that that is responsible, in part, for the new aspect which the problem of unemployment has taken; that it is responsible, in part, and a large part, for the fact that the unemployment has become chronic instead of merely spasmodic and seasonal; and if you want to go to the 278 root of the matter you must increase the amount of productive labour for which the country can find occupation. I said just now that I was not one of those who pretended to have a universal panacea which would keep our trade always good and do away with all unemployment. I have never said anything on any platform to give colour to that statement. But I have said this, that our present fiscal system, in my opinion, aggravates the lack of employment in bad times, and restricts our expansion and increase of wealth in good times, and if I am at all right in my diagnosis, that one of the most essential reforms at which you must aim, if you are to deal with this growing question of unemployment, is that you ought to increase productive employment, then fiscal reform is the means by which you must do it. I would have been content to leave this matter there, had it not been for the remarks that the seconder and the Parliamentary Secretary made in regard to Berlin and Chicago as a conclusive argument in claiming that no fiscal system can beneficially affect the state of employment in this country. The hon. Gentleman is a member of a Government Department and has access to official returns. Who is his authority for the statement that there were 60,000 men unemployed in Berlin? Apparently, it was a newspaper statement.
§ DR. MACNAMARA (handing paper across the Table)
No, it is the Morning Post, from their own correspondent.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I see that the statement by the correspondent of this paper is that the number of unemployed is already estimated at 60,000 in Berlin and the suburbs and is causing grave anxiety. I venture to hope that the Local Government Board will try and get some better figures. I do not know whether there are any available officially, but it would be interesting for 279 us to know if there are. If I am rightly informed, this statement is not an official statement but one which originated in an article in a Berlin Socialistic paper, which took various statistics not one of which pretended to be statistics of the number of unemployed in any particular trade, but statistics which were adjusted and multiplied as the writer of the article thought proper in order to make them correspond with the population of Berlin so as to get the 60,000. But however that may be, 60,000 unemployed appears to me to be a very unlikely figure for a town like Berlin with a population of only 2,000,000. I am not prepared to admit that any case is upset by a figure relating to a single month. For the result of the working of the two systems you must take the average over a period of years, and when you have made any allowance which you like in favour of each system the fact remains that there has been less unemployment in Germany than there has been here. The hon. Member for West Ham is very pessimistic as to any legislative panacea for unemployment. He did not believe in the Act now in force or in any Amendment to that Act, and the only remedy for unemployment that he could suggest was emigration. That is my recollection. The hon. Member is not now present in the House and if when he returns he tells me I am mistaken, well and good. His principal remedy is emigration. I do not think he put forward farm colonies as a general remedy. I understood him to say they were limited and that the only permanent remedy was emigration. I do not wish to do anything to discourage the Government from lending its assistance to organise and direct emigration, but as compared with Germany we have already a gigantic scheme of emigration. You must go back more than twenty years—to 1881—to find Germany heading the list of emigration. For many years past our yearly emigration has been very large, whilst that of Germany is decreasing. The last figures I saw of this country were forty for every 10,000 of the population. Those for Germany were four for every 10,000. What we do see is that Germany, not with the very moderate measure of tariff reform which we advocate but with a high protectionist tariff, has been enabled 280 to absorb the bulk of her emigrants As to America, she has very few emigrants. Some may leave America to return after a time, but vast numbers of emigrants from other countries are absorbed by her industries. We have not any figures for America which can be trusted or are fit to quote for any purpose or to prove anything by anybody; yet we know by the statements of our Consuls and by the reports of the labour bureaux that practically all who are in want of work and who are fit for work can find it, and that this gigantic influx of population has been absorbed in the industrial population. If all our unemployed had been absorbed in the same way unemployment would have ceased to exist. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen go about the country saying that our exports are larger than ever, but the Board of Trade gives us returns to show that that is not so. Hon. Members-below the gangway talk about the boom, I think the boom has been exaggerated I Outside the two great trades of this country, the textile trade and coal mining, very little advantage has been got out of the so called boom by either the employers or the employed. And as to the work-people, how are the statements with regard to the increase of wages borne out by the Labour Gazette? I do not believe that the home markets for our goods have been growing as the German market has been growing, in the last few years. If we are to beat the Germans out of the field it must be by the foreign trade. I will not trouble-the House with many figures but with just one or two of the latest returns of the Board of Trade. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade has issued a return of the net exports of the United Kingdom and of Germany. It is arranged in periods of five years and begins with the five years ending 1886. It shows that at that time we had the lead of Germany by the average rate of £85,000,000 a year. In the next five years our lead had fallen to £81,000,000; in the next to £53,000,000 in the next to £33,000,000, and in the last five years ending 1906 it had fallen to £25,000,000. So that whereas twenty years ago we averaged an export of £85,000,000 a year more than Germany, last year our average exports were only 281 £25,000,000 more than theirs. I will not say that our system is wrong and that theirs is right, but I do say that these statistics are conclusive evidence that their system is not a bad one and has produced marvellous results. I do not desire on this occasion to say anything more. I have but re-stated here what I have stated in the country before and mean to state again, namely, that we believe that our proposed reform of our fiscal system is the only cure which Parliament can apply—the only means by which the legislature can stimulate and increase the amount of work available in this country.
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH (Liverpool, Walton)
rose, he said, not to take part in the debate but merely to put himself right with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board. The hon. Gentleman had referred to a speech which he had delivered at Newport on tariff reform, and had naturally quoted The Times report of a speech which took an hour and a half to deliver, and which quite properly could not have much space devoted to it. Since that time he had had an opportunity of refreshing his memory from a fuller report in a local paper, and so far as any figures he gave were concerned he took them and quoted them exactly as they appeared in the Labour Gazette. The statement he made with regard to employment in Germany was "employment in Germany is undoubtedly very good, there is as much work to do as there are people to do it." He did not even make that statement of himself, but quoted it and proposed to quote it again. The words were those of the President of the Board of Trade, and were used by that right hon. Gentleman at the recent Colonial Conference. He had found that argument very useful, and he proposed to continue to use it.
§ MR. HAROLD COX (Preston)
said he ventured to oppose this Motion because it called upon the Government to do something which was certainly mischievious. This was, as the Parliamentary Secretary had said, an extremely difficult question and required great thought. Hon. Members opposite 282 were asking the Government to tackle the question without giving them a tithe of the time required. But he opposed the Motion for far deeper reasons. He opposed it because underlying it was an idea which was fundamentally unsound. The truth of his contention was shown by the request which had been made to his right hon. friend to spend the whole £200,000 placed at his disposal on the unemployed. Personally, he thought it was a great pity that the right hon. Gentleman had spent any of it, for the reason that money could not be spent for the benefit of the unemployed without others being thrown out of employment. The matter rested fundamentally on the truism that one sovereign would not pay two sets of wages. If they took £200,000 from the taxpayer and spent it in the way suggested the only effect would be that some people would be thrown out of employment in order to bring others into employment. By that policy they did nothing to solve the problem of unemployment, all they did was to redistribute employment. He agreed that this might be desirable under certain circumstances, but he denied that they were in any way solving the problem of the unemployed. What good purpose was served in employing people to plant trees where they would not grow, or reclaiming land which would be worthless after it had been reclaimed? It would be just as profitable to spend such money in the employment of powdered flunkeys as upon worthless reclamation work. He held that unless they could show that the work they wanted the unemployed to do was going to be nationally useful, it was a mistake to spend money upon it. Hon. Members opposite simply asked for money to provide work as an excuse for paying wages. If the work were useful they would of course start it at once and say "This thing has to be done." But the Members of the Labour Party did not say that-What they said was, "We want to find work for the unemployed, therefore let us invent some job that will excuse us in paying wages." [Cries of "No, no."] What they really wanted was some excuse for paying wages to the unemployed instead of bringing them 283 under the ordinary Poor Law. The hon. Member for Leicester had spoken of the iniquities of the present social system, but he would venture to remind the hon. Member that it was much more easy to show the iniquities of a system than to invent a new one. Let them take the case, for example, of a baker who wanted shoes and a shoemaker who who wanted bread. The hon. Member for Leicester said it was a monstrous thing that those two people could not be brought together. Yet the only solution of the problem proposed by the Labour Party was to take both men and set them to work planting trees on the top of a Scottish mountain. The seconder of this Motion did not make it quite clear whether he believed in the use of machinery or not. So far from machinery being the cause of unemployment, it was the cause of employment. In the whole of the great county of Lancashire there were some 5,000,000 people who practically lived upon machinery. What was the result of the practical application of the Socialists' doctrine when administered by local authorities? In the East End of London a local authority desired to find work for the unemployed. They resolved to give up the sweeping of the roads by machines, and they employed hand labour with the result that work which by machinery cost £486 actually cost by hand labour £3,569. He contended that that was a sheer waste of national wealth, and by destroying national wealth they destroyed the means of paying labour. The whole idea of those who supported unemployment schemes was that they should provide comfortable work for the unemployed which would be something better than the Poor Law, and how was it being done? He ventured to direct the attent on of the House to a case where a labourer, with an excellent character, was discharged from employment in the parks in London because his work was going to be done by the unemployed. The Socialistic right to work simply meant the right of one man to take another man's job from him. This must be so, unless they increased the sum total of the national wealth, which was the only store out of which they could pay wages. Were they going to provide work for all 284 the unemployed at the expense of the British taxpayer? One authority had put down the number of unemployed at 500,000, and to provide all those with work at 30s. per week would involve an expenditure of £40,000,000 per annum. That would only be the beginning, for directly they had laid down that every man who chose to ask the State for work was to have it found for him at 30s. a week there would be a great many more than 500,000 to provide for, and the £40,000,000 would have to be greatly increased. Then it should be remembered that the people doing this work at 30s. per week would be doing work that was not wanted. It was very easy to say that what people wanted was work, but that was not so; what they wanted was wages, and work was the only means of getting wages. Unless they increased the means out of which wages were paid they could not possibly increase employment. Socialism would not increase the funds out of which wages were paid, neither would Tariff Reform. How could they possibly increase the supply of commodities which were the real wages of labour by shutting out the good things that foreign countries were willing to send us? He was aware that some hon. Members opposite believed that Tariff Reform was going to make work for everybody. Did they believe for a moment that they could increase employment by shutting out foreign goods from this country? If so, how was it that not a single hon. Member opposite had ever had the courage to propose to shut out foreign goods by absolute prohibition? Hon. Members opposite boasted of their moderation in this matter. They contended that the working classes were being ruined by the importation of foreign goods, and what did they propose? Simply a miserable 10 per cent. tariff. That was their remedy. What would the whole effect of such a tariff be? It would merely enable the home producer to sell at a higher price than he would otherwise have been able to command. It was clear that there would be no protection unless the home producer was put into a better position. In other words, it meant enabling the home producer to get a better price, 285 not necessarily better than he was getting to-day, but a better price than he would get without protection. The home producer's customers would have to pay that better price, therefore, they would have to part with more of their money, and they would he left with less money to spend upon other things. In other words, they would have less money to spend in giving employment to British industries. It was a great mistake to discuss this question of unemployment as a question apart. It was part of the broader question of poverty. The rich did not mind being unemployed. They could only approach the solution of this great problem very gradually on the broad general lines which the world had hitherto followed. He did not think any hon. Member opposite would contend that this country was poorer now than it was, say, 100 or 200 years ago. [An HON. MEMBER: "Yes."] This nation and most other nations had enormously advanced in wealth during the last twenty, 100 or 1,000 years. Their policy, therefore, should be to continue on the same lines, and instead of destroying those fundamental institutions which had enabled them to make so much progress in the past, they should utilise those institutions to secure still greater progress in the future.
§ MR. KETTLE (Tyrone, E.)
said he had never before listened to a debate in the House which had so convinced him of the inability of the House of Commons to grapple with any of the characteristic economic problems which affected Ireland. Certain nostrums had been put forward for the solution of the unemployment problem. With reference to Tariff Reform, if it could be directed from Dublin and made to operate in favour of Irish products, probably they would be able to coincide with some of the Tariff Reformer's ideas, but the present Tariff Reform proposals would only have the effect of benefiting certain unemployed politicians sitting on the Front Opposition Bench. It had been said that Socialism would be an effective cure, but he did not want to discuss that. He agreed with everything in Socialism except the theory upon which it was based. The solution he would 286 venture to put forward for unemployment was Home Rule. The economic differences between Ireland and England were of such an organic character that practically none of the discussion which had taken place upon this Motion had any reference to Ireland. In England they had to deal with a population 65 per cent. of which was urban and industrial, whilst in Ireland 65 per cent. of the population was rural and agricultural. In England they had started some people upon small holdings and in Ireland they were making a systematic effort to develop other industries beside agriculture. But the differences between the two countries were so marked that the greater part of the discussion which had taken place was entirely irrelevant to Ireland. The problem of un-employment in Ireland was more familiarly known as the problem of emigration. No less than 46,000 people emigrated from Ireland every year because they could not find employment. Last year the figures showed a marked increase over the previous year. In Ireland they had a very simple way of dealing with unemployment, viz., exporting the population to the United States. Those 40,000 to 50,000 emigrants were not the wounded soldiers of industry, they were not men and women broken in strength and spirit by circumstances against which they were not able to cope, but the very flower of the young manhood and womanhood of Ireland. That was the characteristic problem of unemployment in Ireland and how were they going to solve it? They could only solve it by accepting and carrying into operation the programme of the cattle-drivers. The state of things in Ireland was due to the misuse of Irish land by the Irish ranchers. Although the preservation of peace in Ireland, he agreed, was an important thing, in his opinion the preservation of the people was a good deal more important. He did not propose to say one word more about the great problem connected with the land beyond stating that the only way to solve the question of unemployment in Ireland was to split up the great ranches and put them in possession of men who would till them. There were, however, one or two subsidiary points. With 287 regard to what the Secretary to the Local Government Board had said about education, he wished to point out that in Ireland there were scores of boys and girls going through a literary curriculum in the schools which was having no effect upon them except to enable them to read the daily papers. In his opinion at least two-thirds of those boys and girls would be far better served if they had better opportunities of industrial training and technical instruction. The emigration returns showed an enormous predominance of what was called the unskilled labourer, as far as Ireland was concerned. Complaint had been made that legislation affecting these matters was enormously behind in England, but he wished to point out that in Ireland they had not got an Unemployed Act, and they had no machinery of any kind whatever for dealing with the problem outside the Poor Law. There was no man in Ireland who had had any personal experience who would disagree with him when he said that the system in existence did nothing but degrade and incapacitate everybody who took refuge within its portals. The Poor Law Commission had investigated this question thoroughly and had reported upon it, but their recommendations had not been acted upon although approved by everybody in Ireland who understood the problem. And what was the reason for this? Simply because a Commission in England had been entrusted with some powers as far as Ireland was concerned, and Irishmen were being compelled to wait for a reform of the Irish Poor Law system until a report had been made, which could not possibly give them one fresh fact affecting the solution of the problem in Ireland. The real thing which lay at the basis of a solution of this question in Ireland was the land problem. That problem must be tackled before very long in a courageous and radical manner. If the Government would only do that they would deprive hon. Members sitting on the Front Opposition Bench of an opportunity of engaging in platitudes and diatribes relating to law and order in Ireland.
§ MR. H. J. TENNANT (Berwickshire)
said the House had listened with interest 288 to the speech of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, and more specially to that part in which he called attention to the fact that Ireland sent from her shores a large proportion of her sons, not as the wounded soldiers of industry, but as young men just beginning life, full of youth and health and strength—men who might be most capable citizens of the country. If he felt that the money expended by the State in endeavouring to deal with the question of unemployment were thrown away, he would say, and he thought the House would agree with him, that no more should be spent. As the Parliamentary Secretary had pointed out, the money expended had been devoted to schemes which were largely experimental. It was true that some of the money had been most disadvantageously spent; he concurred with the hon. Member for Preston that some of it had been wasted. But it had not been all wasted. Experiments had been made in providing work in some parts of England, and in providing workrooms in London for women, which were of the greatest value. The President of the Local Government Board and the Parliamentary Secretary were ever ready to listen to the cry of women and children, and he would appeal to them to use the powers placed in their hands to put women upon the land for the cultivation of fruit, and more particularly the preserving of fruit, and the establishment of model laundries in which the work could be carried on by women, who would in this way be rescued with their children from the terrors surrounding town life. He controverted the statement of the hon. Member for the Walton Division of Liverpool that employment in Germany was all that could be desired. That might have been true in the month of June last. He remembered that a debate took place in the Reichstag in which the Minister for the Interior said that he viewed with great alarm the conditions of unemployment in Germany. He was pleased to hear the speech of his hon. friend the Parliamentary Secretary. The Local Government Board was paying great attention to these matters. The Parliamentary Secretary had spent his holidays in trying to come to some decision as to the 289 best means of spending the money, and he had arrived at the conclusion at which one and all, he supposed, had arrived, that there was no one nostrum which would be an absolute cure for the present condition of things. He was pleased moreover to know that in the view of the Parliamentary Secretary unemployment was to a certain extent created not by the system of capitalism, but to the system under which capitalism was worked by parties employing children, who competed against parents, and by bringing into factories married women who ought to be attending to their homes and to the comforts of their children. That was what led to the bringing up of sickly children who, when they grew up, filled the ranks of the unemployed. He had seen enough of the dangerous trades to know how they conduced to unemployment. If parents suffered from lead poisoning, the results were bound to be felt by the children. He believed that the Hollesley Bay experiment had done the greatest possible good. It had shown that people unacquainted with agriculture could be trained to work upon the land, and that their labours could produce the best possible results. He did not concur with what was said by the hon. Member for West Ham as to the percentage of persons who became qualified in this way for agricultural work. He believed that a very large proportion of the people at Hollesley Bay were able to undertake agriculture upon their own resources at this moment. The late Chancellor of the Exchequer had pointed out that we had been living in booming times, and that our trade had shown extraordinary expansion. The right hon. Gentleman had also stated that the unemployed were increasing in number. He believed that to be true, and a number of the causes and remedies had already been indicated. There was yet another matter which he would ask the Government and all who were interested in the problem to take into serious consideration. If we were now, as he believed we were, upon a downward curve in our commercial prosperity, it behoved each and all, and more particularly the Government, to consider seriously whether there were those experiments which might be tried, and on which eventually they might be able to promote 290 a scheme, not of an experimental kind, but one which would overcome the great evils with which they had to deal.
§ MR. WALTEE LONG (Dublin, S.)
I do not propose to detain the House more than a short time, but I think it would not be respectful on my part if I were to allow the debate to close without saying a few words with reference to my share of the responsibility for the legislation to which such constant allusion has been made. This debate has made more than one thing clear. I entirely agree with many of those who have spoken that this question is above the level of mere party questions. But I cannot forgot that the Party which criticised so severely the Act of 1905 when it was brought forward has not during two years of office been able to elaborate anything better. It is only fair that when we have the opportunity we should remind them that when they were in our position on this side of the House they indulged in criticism which now they cannot translate into action. Only two suggestions for dealing with this problem have been made in the course of the debate. The first is that of Socialism, recommended by the seconder of the Amendment. His argument, used as it was by him, makes it perfectly clear that those of us who do not share his views, and who do not believe that the advocates of Socialism have ever shown how they are going to remove the causes of unemployment, find it impossible to vote for the Amendment. That Amendment, whatever the arguments used in support of it, clearly leads to the inference, if not the absolute conclusion, that it is only by an entire change in our social system—an entire change root and branch—a remedy is to be found for the difficulty which we are now engaged in discussing. Therefore, although I have one or two small suggestions to make, I do not make them as one who is prepared to support the Amendment. I deeply deplore, as everyone must, that unemployment is so serious an evil and that it does not tend to diminish but is actually increasing, as has been eloquently pointed out, in a time of great trade boom and proclaimed by all as a time of great prosperity. I am not sure whether the praise the hon. Member for Leicester has been good enough to bestow on me as responsible for the Act of 1905 is due so much to its enactments 291 as to the fact that the hon. Member, capable as he is of making the fullest possible use of any advantage that comes in his way, has found it useful to him in advocating his own policy. I have never been other than clear with the House as to the objects of that Act, and the reasons which influenced the Government of which I was a member in passing it into law. Although it has been criticised to-day and on previous occasions and some have described it as useful, I do not think the Minister now at the Local Government Board will deny that, if this Act had not been on the Statute-book, and if it had not been for the experience gained from its administration, although it has not done all that was expected of it, this debate would not have been so interesting, and we should have been deprived of much accurate and useful knowledge on the subject. The Act is worth a little more commendation than some hon. gentlemen are prepared to give it. The mover of the Amendment said there had been 60,000 selected applicants for work before the Act came into force. That may be so; but we had no means of knowing whether the men were capable or not. If some public money has been wasted, it was wasted much more prodigally before. It does not matter whether the money comes out of the poor rate for the maintenance of roads or from grants from the Local Government Board to find work for the unemployed—the money comes from the pockets of the people. The real object of the Act is to enable authorities to deal with unemployment in a more practical way, and in that respect it has been justified by results. I should be glad if it were possible to enable the central authority to carry the Hollesley Bay experiment somewhat further, though that was not the basis of my scheme, and I think we are much indebted to Mr. Fels for the experiment being made; but when I say that, I wish frankly to add that I am very loth to urge upon the President of the Local Government Board any precise or definite step in regard to the existing Act for this reason. It was well said by the proposer of the Amendment that in our desire to deal with this problem in a sympathetic and humane fashion we might actually do more harm than good by the steps we took. The Local Government Board must have information at their disposal which is not at the disposal of the House, and 292 we will have to trust to that Department more and more. They must be the best judges of the way in which experiment could be extended or some fresh effort made. When the hon. Member for Preston put the question whether the condition of the people of this country would be improved by checking the introduction of foreign-made articles, I could not help asking myself whether that argument was always going to prevail with those who now, in the streets of our seaport towns, seek work which they cannot get and who see every day on the quays of those ports multitudes of articles brought in which they can make. We have not got the powers of purchase of which the hon. Member spoke. The right hon. Member for East Worcestershire has spoken not merely for himself, but for his colleagues. We have never said that work for all would be found by any change, but we believe that by the change of which he spoke more work would be found. Looking for the present at the problem from the narrower standpoint, I would urge that efforts ought to be made to prevent the unemployed being so long out of work as to become unemployable. This can be done by machinery of the kind set up by the Unemployed Act. That Act may want amendment; its machinery may want to be extended. I have not before considered the question of the widening of the area; but I do not see why that should not be a suggestion worth considering, although I do not quite follow how it is going to confer the benefit suggested. Other Amendments may be introduced to strengthen the Act. If these Amendments followed the principle of the Act, they would receive from the Opposition favourable consideration. By the changes the Government are not prepared to make they would largely lessen the pressure which led to the creation of the unemployed. The temporary problem can be dealt with without adopting the policy of hon. gentlemen who have tonight taken a totally different view from ours. Although I remember the criticisms of hon. and right hon. Members opposite when I and my colleagues were in their places, I will not retaliate. I do not wish to play the part of critic or of active enemy. While I have the most hearty sympathy with the movement which has for its object the lessening of the evils arising out of unemployment, I 293 cannot myself vote for an Amendment which I believe would carry with it the inevitable consequence of committing my Party to a change of a character we do not approve, and for which, if we were in the places of Ministers, we could not be personally responsible.
§ MR. CROOKS (Woolwich)
said that he was delighted that the right hon. Member for S. Dublin had intervened in the debate, but he thought that the right hon. Gentleman would admit, so far as his first observations were concerned, that his references to the criticism of his Act did not apply to hon. Members below the gangway. The Charity Organization Society, which was a society of organization and of no charity, said that there would have been no Bill—that it would never gone through the House—but for Poplar.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
said he did not complain of the criticisms of the Labour Party. He admitted that they had given very valuable assistance, but they had also shared the criticism of hon. gentlemen opposite.
§ MR. CROOKS
said that if they had had the original Bill as proposed by the right hon. Gentleman instead of as it was redrafted after he went to Ireland, he would have been satisfied, but that was not the Act they had before them. They regretted very much that the right hon. Gentleman went away to Ireland at that time, because if he had not they would have had a much better Act than they had now. The President of the Local Government Board had said, and he believed that he would agree with these words at that moment, as he did not see why he should have changed his mind, that it was time that this question was taken out of the hands of amateurs and put into the hands of those who were paid to deal with it.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. JOHN BURNS,) Battersea
That is what happened.
§ MR. CROOKS
Very well, then, they were all right. Now it had become his turn to deal with it, and of course he was paid to do it. But the difficulties of the whole Act—and he wanted to claim the 294 sympathy of the whole House, which was undoubtedly interested at present in dealing with the unemployed question—in regard to this were created in a very large measure by the official tendency to crush the problem and not to deal with it. The administrative methods had accentuated the trouble, and the worst cases of destitution were sent to the central body with the result that the real workers were on the street waiting for work which never came. What they complained of was that the Local Government Board under this Act had power to hinder but were under no obligation to suggest schemes of work, and the remarkable schemes of administration such as Hollesley Bay, training colonies, and workshops for women, made the position almost hopeless. The principle they had always wished to establish was work and not relief for the unemployed, and to make this possible they should have the power of organization and the intention to put it in force, which had not been attempted in the slightest degree up to the present moment. The very training of the Local Government Board was against doing anything for the honest unemployed, because everything that the Department did was on a Poor Law basis. The officials could not help it, it was the training of the Department, and he would probably be as harsh and foolish as the Local Government Board if he had been trained in that school. He had been studying Poor Law administration. What had been done with regard to Hollesley Bay, which to his mind was a glorified workhouse, and not a method of dealing with the unemployed? They had always attempted to make the authorities understand that while the first duty of the central authority was to organise work, they had never attempted to do anything of the kind. They had been saying all the time "Produce to me a complete scheme which shall have my approval, and then I will consider whether I can give you a grant or not "What had been evolved out of the great Poor Law since 1839? All it had ever evolved was stone work, oakum picking, and grinding corn, work which could be very much better done elsewhere. Had hon. gentlemen over considered that that was a waste public of money? He remembered a great outcry in 1895, when a number of people were crying 295 for bread. They with whom he was connected opened a stone-yard. They could not get any advice from the Local Government Board in those days; they said "You must give the men a task such as they are able to perform," and the result was that they broke stones at a cost of £3 12s. 6d. a yard, when the trade union price was 2s. 6d. If a man had to pick his four pounds of oakum, they paid someone to bring him the oakum to pick, and it cost £10 or £12 a ton, and then they sold it for 10s. It was very much the same with grinding corn. Then there was a modified test for the workhouse; the loafer could always find an excuse for doing nothing. The loafer, he might say, was not confined to a class. It might be a rich loafer who had got a lot of money and would not pay it out in wages—he was loafing about spending his time in idleness, and they could not make him work or spend his money. It showed how very common human nature was, whether it was in wealth or in poverty. It was said that the wealthy man, if you gave him a job, would not stop at it. He knew that; they were the pioneers of the Empire, pushing about in all directions to find something soft, instead of something hard. Such pioneers were not often of the poorer class. They might run a Jameson Raid, or do things like that. They were not doing anything useful, but they were doing the public out of a good deal. After all, there was much of a muchness about this world. They asked the Department what they were going to do with the starving men now? Do not let them toll him that they had not a plan, or that it was not yet settled. The problem was that of to-day, and they wanted to know what the Government were going to do now. No doubt the Local Government Board would make inquiries, and the President could tell a great many good stories about inquiries. The right hon. Gentleman knew that the poor had been inquired into in every portion of their class, by one Department of the State or another. They had, indeed, sent the son of a lord to inquire, and he had a great respect for the sons of lords, because they dodged the work somehow. He was sent down to the East End to make a private inquiry as to the conditions of casual labour. Would he go to the dock gates to-morrow morning if there 296 was a ship up, and would he see in the dark misty cold hundreds of men waving their hands in the passage-way praying to be taken on? Would he report that to the Local Government Board as a reason why they should do something, or would he make the stereotyped report that having made the necessary investigations he had to report so-and so? The halfhearted and indifferent administration of this Act had made matters infinitely worse. The Bill of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin was a foundation stone on which they might have built good things, but they had not got it. The distress committees wanted a man to be in destitution before they interfered. Here again the Local Government Board's cloven hoof applied—they could not do anything for a man who was just out of work and wanted to be saved. The standard was absolute destitution before they could look at him. That was the wickedest thing in all Poor Law administration, that it could not deal with persons until they were destitute. He knew of a case of an aged woman going and offering £25 to the board of guardians as she was old and did not know how she was to go on, but she was told she had better go and spend the money as she was not yet destitute. Would the hon. Member for Preston think over that when he was pondering about thrift? The distress committees registered thousands of names and made inquiries which were distasteful to decent and honest folk. This might have been an advantage at first, but not later on. A man was asked to declare that he had not received parochial relief within a given time, and yet the Act came into operation after an exceedingly bad period, and there were a lot of decent men who had been obliged to apply for relief. A year was to elapse if a man had received relief, and if he had received it within two mouths he had to wait ten months and then he was told they would see what they could do. That was true, and not to be laughed at. It was a fact. There were many decent clean homes with six children in them, which men had tried to preserve, and if one of these men wont just before Christmas and applied for a little bread he had to wait twelve months before he got anything under the Act, which nobody would deny needed amendment and there was no reason why it should not be amended. 297 They had been told and would be told many times, not perhaps by politicians who could be questioned in the House, but by others, that Tariff Reform was going to do it all. The references to Tariff Reform that day had been very guarded. It had been said that it would not solve this problem, but the gramaphone said it would, and they could not argue with a gramaphone. He remembered being in the country recently and walking down a country road with a friend to whom a farmer had sold a dog. They ran up against the farmer, who said, "How is the dog going on? His friend replied," Oh, the dog is a very good dog. If anybody comes into the place' at nights I have only to toll him to bark and he barks." That was what they did with the gramaphone. They spoke into it and sent it out into the country to bark. They said that the Government was a wretched Government, and did not the workers think a fair-sized loaf was dear at Id. if they had not the penny to pay for it? Lot them come over to the Tariff Reform and pay 1½d. for the loaf and give themselves a chance. But what was being done for the people who were waiting for their chance? Not half enough ! Unfortunately these men's greatest anxiety was their next meal. Those who were half way up the ladder and who thought they had made themselves secure against poverty, and those who were up at the top of the ladder and who believed they were absolutely safe, would do well to remember that there were multitudes of hungry men at the bottom who might some day become dangerous and pull the ladder down. The House had capacity to think and to act, and were under an obligation from the Imperial standpoint to do their best for those who were ready and willing to work unless, indeed, they were left so long that they did not care whether they worked or not. The man who came in October and implored them to get him a job, in December was a little harder in his demand; meet him in February and he said, "Have you got a job for us now. No ! You are like all politicians, you can tell a good tale in election times, but you can't do anything for us." When they met that man a little later he insulted them. If they asked him then if he had found a job yet his reply was, "No, I don't want a job, I can do without it, and I can do without you too." Let 298 the House think what that meant. The man who in October was a valuable asset, had lost his manhood in February. He had been made to crawl and cringe to distress committees; to men who in point of manhood were not fit to unlace his shoes. The hon. Member for West Ham had seemed to speak in most pessimistic terms and to think that nothing could be done, and that if left alone the whole thing would come right. Their remedy, on the other hand, was to bring into operation a Department which should find out what work could and ought to be done in times of distress; which should get out a schedule of work in afforestation, coast erosion, river reclamation, main road repairing, and even think about making a military road round the Kingdom; a department which could obtain from every local authority throughout the land a statement as to what work they had which could be put in operation in times of commercial depression. All the work should be tabulated and sent to the proper office, so that in time of distress they could apply for a grant from the Exchequer or for permission to raise a loan. Then an inspector could be sent down with the schedule, prepared perhaps six months before, and could decide when on the spot whether the work to be done should be done at the local or national expense. It could not be wondered at that those who had to hear these awful tales of want and see the hearts of brave men and women broken in this way should be impatient. The curse on man was that he should earn his bread in the sweat of his brow. Men were beseeching permission so to earn their bread, and it was denied them. How many times had not their hearts bled when they looked at the little children trying to eke out art existence selling papers or flowers or matches. Had hon. Members ever thought of those little children and compared them with their own? Had they ever thought of the life they lived with all the sweet innocence of childhood lost to them? Had they ever got into conversation with those little children of the streets: the children of the unemployed, or, if they pleased, the unemployable? They had been robbed of all their sweet innocence, their souls had been taken out of them, and in their place had been put the souls of little old 299 cunning men and women. Wealth there was in abundance, wealth beyond the dreams of avarice—More than would for all sufficeEarth from her full bosom bears,Yet in cities wolfish eyesHaunt the windows and the doors.Would this House never be stirred to a sense of its responsibility? Would it never be moved to live up to a sense of its obligations? Let it try to offer to willing workers work, and to unwilling workers work even of the strongest disciplinary character. For the discipline of the man meant glory for the woman and happy and contented lives for the little children.
§ MR. ALDEN (Middlesex, Tottenham)
said the speech to which the House had just listened was an extremely interesting one, and the point to which he would like first to refer was that at which the hon. Member had hinted in his concluding sentences, namely, the case of those who were not willing to work. They had already had a report recommending immediate legislation on that subject, and he was in accord with that report. It was high time the House did deal with that subject, which was perplexing not only all social reformers but everybody who had anything to do with the administration of the Poor Law, especially in the rural districts. He, however, wished to ask this question of the House. All were in favour of dealing with those who refused to work and of dealing with them in a most drastic fashion, but where was the logic of compelling an unwilling man to do useful work and leaving the willing man without the necessary employment? It seemed to him that they had no sound ground for dealing with vagrants and wastrels until, and unless, they undertook at the same time to deal with those who honestly desired to be employed and were unable to find work. He confessed he did not see how that question was to be answered. If they all agreed that they must compel to work those who would not labour then they must also agree that those who were willing to work must have employment found for them. He did, however, quarrel with a phrase now very much in vogue, he meant "the right to work." It was an unfortunate phrase. Rather would he speak of the duties both of the community and of the individual. It was the 300 duty of the community to find work, and it was the duty of the individual to do the work when it was found. How far was this very large and big principle to be carried out? First, on grounds of expediency. Surely it was better that they should deal with the men who wanted, work, not through the Poor Law, but by some other agency. He did not think that anyone disputed the fact—the Secretary to the Local Government Board had emphasised the point—that the treatment of the unemployed by the Poor Law was a failure. If that were so, then there was no other remedy left than that of dealing with the unemployed through local administration and through some central department. They who thought with him, contended that it would be better to pay men to do some work, even though that work could not be fully discharged, owing to physical weakness, than to leave them to the tender mercies of charity or the treatment of the poor Law. He did not agree with many of the schemes which had been brought forward for dealing with the unemployed. He had had a fair amount of experience in dealing with this question for fifteen or twenty years, having studied it in most countries of the world. He was convinced that many of the remedies suggested were futile. They did not prevent and they did not cure. He had discovered in the records of the House of Commons a reference which dated back to the year 1698. In that year petitions were presented to the House of Commons by various felt-makers' companies in the North of England, praying that women and men of "inferior quality" might be compelled to wear felt hats, and declaring that many poor who had not got work had become subjects of charity. A Committee of the House of Commons recommended the adoption of this remedy, and it was lost by only two votes in the House. The Committee said it would set to work 100,000 poor people more than were already employed, and that a great part of those to be employed were "men, women and children such as are now relieved by charity." Some of the remedies for unemployment suggested were just about as wise as that of the felt-makers. He confessed he disliked relief works, but they were bound to have them. As the hon. Member for Woolwich had pointed out, they were dealing with an abnormal state of affairs, 301 which he was sorry to say, bid fair to become normal. At any rate, they were dealing with a state of society which was transitional, and therefore, they must have recourse to expedients of which they would not approve if society were organised upon such a basis as all of them would wish to see. Society was not now on an ethical basis. No one could deny, whether he was a socialist or individualist, that society was not founded on righteousness, for it was admitted that the severe competition which was necessary under present conditions, bore most harshly on a poor and deserving portion of the community. That meant that the present system of society was unethical, and they could not wholly approve of it. He believed that they all in their hearts condemned it and would like to see it changed. If they started from that point of view, then, he contended, they must be prepared to make many concessions and do things which, in another state of society, they would not be ready or willing to do. In regard to most of the relief works, their desire was to tide over the present distress. His first test of relief works would be that they could honestly say, when the undertakings were completed, that something had been contributed to the well-being of the community, something which would make life more pleasant or more endurable, whether it was in the form of a beautiful park or the reclamation of waste ground for useful or recreative purposes. He did not share the view of those who threw cold water on such works. He would rather spend money in that way than in almost any other way, especially in poor districts where there was nothing beautiful to look upon. They could reclaim waste land for the purpose of a park with the money which had been placed at the disposal of the Local Government Board. Another test he would apply was that such works should give an opportunity to people who were most in need. He admitted that none of the relief works for the moment had helped the skilled man, except perhaps at the Alexandra Palace, where plumbers, glaziers, and carpenters and others to a very small extent had been employed. Within the test he proposed, it would be possible to help the large majority of those who were out of work, and who, as the Secretary of the Local Government Board had pointed out, were 302 unskilled workmen. If they looked at the relief works which were going on all over the country it would be found that for the most part they did help the unskilled men by giving them useful work. He confessed he could not see the reason of the objection to these works, which assuredly would not be carried out under ordinary circumstances. In many districts they could not afford to do these works out of the rates, and they would never have been set on foot under ordinary circumstances, because of the additional burdens which would be placed on the ratepayers. The improvements effected in Tottenham and other places, where there were large numbers of unemployed, had been effected with the money at the disposal of the Local Government Board, which works would have remained unexecuted had they depended on the rates, because they were in the districts where the population was poorest that the rates were highest. Provided these two tests were applied, namely, that the work was useful and really did help the men who most needed it, the unskilled labourers, he contended that relief works properly and economically administered were not a bad thing. He wished that the distress committees and those who had charge of these works would make an attempt to choose better men when they could be found. They should pick the men who were willing to work, and send away those who were unwilling. There should be a manager in full charge and control of the work, and he should be able to dismiss the men who would not do the work. Some work had been discredited not because there was a want of good men to do it, but because bad men were taken on and were not turned off when they failed to do the work. The result was that a good man did not get work when he ought to have an opportunity to do it. One word on behalf of the skilled worker. Nothing had been done for him. There were not many who could suggest how to find work for skilled men, but he would venture to make one suggestion, namely, that the President of the Local Government Board should subsidise out of the public funds the out-of-work pay given to their members by trades unions. Whether the men were skilled or unskilled did not matter, because he would like to see the unskilled unionist receive out-of-work pay. He would like to see 303 the example of Denmark copied in this respect, the only country in the world up to the present which had done what he suggested, though only on a small scale. There they had voted 36,000 to subsidise out-of-work trade unionist pay. Supposing the Government gave a grant of one-third of the money paid by trade unions as out-of-work pay during the previous year, that would be a satisfactory beginning. He would like to quote, as throwing light on this subject, figures of what had actually been done by trade unions. During the last ten years the trade unions paying out-of-work benefit pay had paid on an average £387,000 per annum. In the year 1903 they paid £500,000 in out-of-work benefit; in 1904, £652,000; 1905, over £500,000: and in 1906, £421,000. As a matter of fact, in ten years those unions spent over 22 per cent. of all the money they raised on unemployed benefits. By doing this he considered that the trade unions had made a valuable contribution, he did not say to the solution, but to the amelioration of the conditions which were the result of unemployment. He would like to see a State Department formed to deal with the unemployed problem, or at any rate there should be a sub-department to give its whole attention to devising ways and means of helping the unemployed. He would like to see those trade unions which gave out-of-work benefits subsidised, and as he suggested the amount should be one-third of what the trade unions paid away in assisting the unemployed. That would not be a bad experiment, and it would have the advantage of inducing men to join trade unions which was a good thing in itself. In any case it would encourage thrift of the right sort. Although this was a new suggestion, and had not been tried before except on a small scale in Denmark, he trusted that the Members of the House, and particularly the representatives of trade unions, would take the matter into their serious consideration. He thought that an experiment of that sort ought to be made, for he was convinced that it would be found both wise and economic. With regard to labour colonies and reclamation work, after all they were not giving work to the unemployed specifically, but what they were doing was undertaking the training 304 of men and making them fit to do that work in the future. A labour colony did not pretend to give men work-, but what it did pretend to do was to train men and make them physically fit to do such work in the future. That was what was accomplished by labour colonies in Germany. He did not think there was any labour colony in existence which showed an adequate economic return for the money spent upon it. That was not the consideration, although they hoped to get a reward in the renewed health, strength, and vigour of the men who entered those colonies in a weak state. Labour colonies were intended to restore men once more to the ranks of useful citizens. He was quite aware of the difficulty in regard to Government works. That was a frightfully complex question, and it was often open to doubt whether they would not do more harm than good by starting such works. The discussion which had already taken place showed clearly how many hon. Members hesitated in regard to this or that particular proposal. Personally, he shared that doubt and hesitation to some extent. It had been pointed out, however, that there were Government works which might be started which the community needed and the State required, and which no private individual was able to do or undertake. For it stance, there was afforestation. No private individual could be expected to afforest his land, because it would take a good many years, and it would not be a profitable experiment for a long time. Nevertheless, every estate which had tried it, the owner of which had been willing to wait a good many years, had found the work profitable. Where Germany had succeeded in this respect this country ought to be able to succeed, and at any rate he thought it was worth while making the attempt. They did not wish to make experiments which were unnecessary, and they did not desire that trees should be planted upon bleak moors where no trees would grow. Under the Woods and Forests Commissioners' jurisdiction there were large tracts of land which had been put aside for afforestation work, and one of those tracts had been chosen in Scotland. Many other areas had been inspected by Government experts and might very well be purchased by the Government. If he 305 had had control of the surplus held by the President of the Local Government Board amounting to £70,000, he would have invested it in land, which later on might have been afforested or prepared for afforestation. There were in this country from forty to fifty small harbours upon which £40,000 or £50,000 might have been spent with great advantage to the community. It was such schemes as he had outlined that he suggested the Government should keep in reserve for the men who were out of work for comparatively long periods. He was not so pessimistic upon this question as some of those who had spoken, but his contention was that if he could only get one man in a Government Department to give all his time to this problem a great deal might be accomplished. The President of the Local Government Board was engaged in work of different kinds all over the country and it was impossible for him to devote sufficient time to what ought to be a most important part of the work of the Local Government Board. There ought to be one man whose business it should be to study and work at this question. If that were done schemes from all parts of the country could then be carefully considered, analysed and weighed, and they might be able to do a great deal to ameliorate the hardships of the unenployed question and gradually absorb the unemployed into regular channels of work, and in that way they would be doing a great work for the health, the life, and the happiness of their fellow men.
§ MR. BRACE (Glamorganshire, S.)
said he rose to express regret that the King's Speech contained no direct provision for dealing with the problem of the unemployed. He did not believe that this question could be dealt with by one comprehensive, measure, and he was rather inclined to the view that they would have to depend somewhat upon such measures as the Small Holdings Act and the Housing Act, which had been promised by the President of the Local Government Board. He did not think, however, that to promise one or two measures of this kind really met the problem at a time like the present, when it was so acute. At the present moment they wanted a proposal which gave 306 promise of some relief pending the carrying into operation of the greater schemes which it was proposed to embody in the Housing and other Bills. He was far from believing that the proposals of the tariff reformers were likely to give them any relief. Hon. Members on the Opposition side invited them to give their schemes a trial, but, in his opinion, it was much too dangerous an experiment. When they were called upon to alter the fiscal system of the country, they must make sure that the last state would not be worse than the first. He was convinced that if this country adopted tariff reform the workers would be infinitely worse off, and he had no hesitation in declining any such proposals as offering any solution of the unemployed problem. Had not protectionist countries the same problem to face? One would imagine, to hear the arguments which had been put forward, that in protectionist countries they had no unemployed problem at all. He was an affiliated member, and the society he represented was also affiliated, with a great international movement, which had representatives from Germany, Austria, France, Belgium and America. What had they been told by those colleagues upon the question of fiscal reform? They had been told that one of the chief reasons why, in those foreign countries he had mentioned, they were so anxious to build up great and powerful trade unions, was that they desired to alter the fiscal system of their country, and they were pressing forward that alteration with all the power and influence and resource they possessed. They desired to alter their protectionist system, and to adopt a system like that in vogue in this country. If the leaders of the great labouring classes had been forced to the conclusion that protection gave them no relief, surely they ought not now to allow themselves to be jockeyed into accepting a system which would leave them in an infinitely worse position than they were in at the present time. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board had asked the House to co-operate with the Government in promoting schemes that would not drive other men out of employment. Personally, he was strongly in favour of a large scheme of afforestation to be undertaken 307 under the auspices of the Government, and at the nation's expense. The problem of the unemployed was a national question, and it ought to be dealt with in a comprehensive way by the State. He recently addressed a large meeting at Barry, and he was told that in that town there were a large number of skilled workmen out of employment who were appealing to the municipality for relief. On the following night he addressed a meeting of the miners whom he represented. In the neighbourhood of the collieries where they worked there were barren hillsides, and he could not resist the conclusion that there at their own hands was a method for dealing with the problem of the unemployed in a very practical way. Throughout the United Kingdom, and in Wales in particular, enormous quantities of pit-wood were used, and that wood was imported from abroad. Why should not the barren hillsides be used for afforestation and the employment of the unemployed? Timber might be grown there, and a market would be found at the very door. The cost of transit would be saved. If Germany, Norway, and Sweden could undertake great schemes of afforestation and send their timber to Great Britain, paying all the cost of carriage, surely it was not impossible for us in the United Kingdom to promote such a scheme by using the waste lands in Wales and Scotland to grow the timber near to the collieries in order to supply the pits with wood, and to use the unemployed labour that was crying out for help. Unemployment occurred most in the winter months, and he was told that that was the time of year when timber could be best planted and grown. That, then, was the time of the year when the question of afforestation could be best faced, and he knew no man to whom he would sooner entrust the initiation of such a scheme than the President of the Local Government Board, who, by his sympathy and knowledge of the working classes, was admirably equipped for the supervision of such a State undertaking. If the Government could not find the money, then the House of Commons must bring pressure to bear for the purpose. He had often thought how pleasant it would be if they could 308 do without money altogether. It appeared that money could not be found for great schemes affecting the social conditions of the people, while enormous expenditure was continued upon the Army and Navy. There were only two ways of finding the money for dealing with social problems. Expenditure must be reduced in certain directions, or taxation must be increased. The expenditure on the Army and Navy had increased from £40,376,000 in 1897–8 to £59,179,000 in 1907–8. What justification could there be for that enormous increase in days of peace? Surely the time had come when they might safely face the question of the reduction of expenditure on the Army and Navy. It was not many years since the late Lord Randolph Churchill resigned the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer as a protest against the expenditure on the Army and Navy of £31,000,000. We had entered into mutual arrangements with other nations, and, so far as he knew, there was not a cloud on the horizon. If ever there was a time when we could reduce expenditure to a peace footing it was now. He and his friends sincerely regretted that there was no direct reference to the question of unemployment in the King's Speech. He could only hope that the debate would bring home to the House of Commons, and to the mind of the President of the Local Government Board, that the problem called for a settlement which should be final, permanent, and successful.
§ MR. WEDGWOOD (Newcastle-under-Lyme)
said he only intervened in the debate for the purpose of replying to some remarks that fell from the hon. Member for Preston. There was a good deal in the hon. Member's speech with which he absolutely agreed, but at the same time he thought that, even accepting the doctrines of laissez faire, the hon. Member did not carry them far' enough. The hon. Member had shown with admirable clearness that the money spent on farm colonies, and sweeping the streets, involved a loss to the community as a whole. When the unemployed built a wall one day and pulled it down the next, the community as a-whole lost by the process. That 309 was a side of the question which was too often lost sight of. It might, indeed, be possible to look upon the money so used as spent for educational purposes, because people were taught some new employment; and there was the question of keeping a man's head above water. But this was at best useless work, and the question was, could not productive and useful work be given instead of useless work. They would all agree that whether it came from the Government or ordinary sources it was infinitely better that productive work should be done than that useless and unproductive work should be found. He agreed with the Parliamentary Secretary that it was better to prevent unemployment than to cure it after it arose. He quoted "Brit in for tie British" to show how the productive workers supported not only the idlers but also the unproductive workers working uselessly for the idlers. There were two ways in which they could improve the condition of the productive workers, namely, by lightening the load put upon the productive workers and by increasing the number of the productive workers and the amount of the productive work. If a solution of the unemployed problem involved an increase of useless work, they were only making the position worse than it was before for the productive worker. What was productive work? It was nothing more than the application of labour to land. It was the working up of raw materials into shapes calculated to gratify human wants—getting land to cultivate or to build upon, clay to work up into cups and saucers, timber from forests for building purposes, coal from the earth to make fire wherewith to prepare our dinners. What was the best way to increase this productive work? It was to make it easier for labour to gain access to the raw materials, instead of allowing private owners to allow access to these raw materials entirely at their own will. He advocated a complete change in the present rating system. By the present rating system a man who did not use his land properly was let off his rates; if an owner left his houses empty and unused he was let off his rates. So that everybody who used his property badly was exempted from the burdens which other people had to bear, 310 and thereby actually increased the burdens of those other people. What all land taxers wanted to do was to base the rates on unimproved land values instead of on buildings and improvements. That would force the raw materials into the market—give labour access to them—and the simultaneous reduction of taxation on improvements and buildings would make things cheaper and better for the community. In this way they would increase productive work and cure unemployment. He would conclude with a quotation from his leader Henry George—Suppose when thousands are out of work-and there are hard times everywhere, we could send a deputation to the High Court of Heaven to represent the misery on earth due to people not being able to find work. Why, what answer could we get? 'Are your lands all in use? Are your mines worked out? Are there no natural opportunities for the employment of labour? 'What could we ask Him for that He has not given us already in abundance? He has given us the earth stocked with raw materials. He has given us the power to work up these raw materials into shapes calculated to satisfy our wants. If there seems to be scarcity, if there is want, if there are thousands walking the streets in search of employment is it not because what He intended for all has been made the private property of a few?
§ MR. J. WARD (Stoke-on-Trent)
said that the problem of unemployment was one of the most important questions which could be brought before the House. The hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme had argued that the evil of unemployment could be met by new industries being brought into existence by the development of natural resources at present undeveloped. His contention was that that would not provide a solution for this question unless it were accompanied by some better means of organising labour than existed at the present time, when there was a chronic amount of surplus labour on the market. He believed that it had been worked out that that surplus labour in skilled trades amounted to 5 per cent., and in unskilled trades to four or five times that amount. The Federation of Trade Unions, of which the hon. Member for Jarrow was Chairman, appointed a subcommittee some time ago to inquire into the difficulties of unemployment, and after two years' investigation that subcommittee issued a very valuable report, 311 which was worthy of the attention of politicians, because the trade unions had been obliged to take into consideration a question of this kind in a way which no other body had done. The Government of the country thought that they had done well in devoting something like £200,000 from the Exchequer for the purpose of meeting the distress caused by unemployment. The registered trade unions in the country numbered over 800, and they had expended £500 or £600 each per annum in relief of unemployment, which was a very considerable drain on their funds. The sub-committee he had referred to had arrived at conclusions which entirely controverted the position taken up by the hon. Member for New-castle-under-Lyme. They believed that it was not necessary to create more labour, but that the problem was the better distribution of the labour already available. He believed that that was really the crux of the whole business. True, there were certain speculative political philosophers who thought that they could not organise industry under the competitive conditions which prevailed to-day without a certain proportion of unemployed labour being thrown on the market; but at any rate, trade unionists had come to the conclusion that the problem was not to provide more work but to distribute that which already existed. That was the answer which seemed such a peculiar conundrum to the hon. Member for Preston. Although machinery pushed a certain number of men into the streets workless, trade unionists did not condemn machinery. The hon. Member for Preston seemed to be on the point of grasping the fact that while machines were used for the purpose of cheapening the article which they produced, they were not used for the purpose of providing labour to the operatives. In other words, if machines produced by, the labour of eighty men, articles which had formerly given employment to 100 men, instead of the 100 men obtaining some advantage from the development of science and invention, it only cheapened the price of the article produced, and sent twenty men into the streets to starve or get work wherever 312 they could. The report of the committee to which he had referred stated that as machinery advanced in any given trade, some automatic method should be devised by which, before the dismissal of workmen was involved, there should be a reduction of the hours of labour of all engaged. Trade unionists were not so fond of relief works as many supposed. They were only a painful necessity of the situation, and might be of some use to men who were starving, and those depending upon them No permanent solution of the problem would be arrived at, therefore, until labour was organised in a sensible manner. Recently the proprietor of a certain boot factory in a provincial town decided that it was necessary to discharge twenty of his workmen. Then the employer's attention was drawn by a very clever and acute manager to the fact that it was only necessary to stop the machinery to meet the difficulty, the reduction of men having been suggested because there was a redaction of orders. The manager pointed out that it was only necessary to run the machines for so many minutes per day less than was previously the case to give all the men an opportunity of earning a living instead of dismissing any of them. So the employer called all his workmen together and submitted the question to them, and—he supposed it was because none of them knew who were the twenty men who would be dismissed,—they unanimously decided that the machinery should be stopped for a few minutes a day and that they should suffer a corresponding reduction in wage. By that means twenty odd men who would have been dismissed were enabled to get a living for themselves and their families. If they could only get that principle applied to industry generally, it would be a good thing, but unfortunately they had no means of regulating industry altogether. It was in private hands, and was conducted indiscriminately without any guidance at all, and unless the Government were to make very drastic proposals with regard to the regulation of factory life and industrial institutions generally, such a suggestion as the trade unions had made in their report would not be possible of 313 adoption. One could, however, see in the proposals of the Government, especiaally in the Miners Eight Hours Bill, an indication of the direction in which the most conservative body of men would have to travel, and, like the coal miners who acted under the guidance of his hon. friend the Member for the Wansbeck Division of Northumberland, they were at last beginning to see that the reduction of the hours of labour was one of the best means of providing greater stability of employment to the men who were at work, quite apart from other advantages secured by short hours such as safety from accidents, etc., etc. There was one thing that the Government might well do. While they might not be able to interfere to regulate the stoppage of workmen in ordinary private employment, they might at least regulate their own departments. 7,000 men were dismissed at Woolwich and there was no attempt to regulate the hours made by the great Government department. Naturally the men would have objected to being placed on half time, but the mere fact that they were on half time, would probably suggest to some of them the idea of trying to get somewhere where they could be employed whole-time, and gradually they would have discharged themselves until such time as those who were left would come back to their ordinary normal average of wage. As he had said, 7,000 men had been dismissed from Woolwich, and the latest report was that, while they were there discussing how they could give employment to surplus labour and while, they might expect the Government to do its best to regulate the work they had to perform, so that it might be distributed over as many hands as possible, there were some seven or eight hundred men in His Majesty's yards at Devonport working between two and three hours overtime. Was it not time that the Government set about putting their house in order? If, instead of dismissing men, they were to apply to Government work this principle of the regulation of hours to the requirements of the department, it would have a remarkable influence. It would be a great example to the private traders of the country to regulate their business in such a way that a reduction of the working time in factories could be 314 effected in preference to the dismissal of men. That was their policy and it was one which throughout the discussion had not been stated. He had listened to every speech which had been delivered expecting the trade union position in regard to the restriction of hours to be clearly stated, but so far it had not been stated, and that was his excuse for encroaching upon the time of the House.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
said that every speaker who had spoken in the debate had either urged or admitted that the condition of unemployment was such as to call for the immediate attention of the Government. It was true that they had an Unemployed Workmen's Act, but it was admitted on all hands that the result of that Act had been neither satisfactory nor adequate. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board last year blamed the distress committees. He said they were incompetent and that very few had done their work well, and he included the Central Body in that condemnation. He thought that some of those committees submitted to the right hon. Gentleman schemes of which he did not approve, and it seemed to him that a portion of the blame might apply not unfairly to the right hon. Gentleman. If the right hon. Gentleman would not allow the committees to spend their grant in the way which they desired, why was he not good enough to suggest an alternative? Assuming that these committees were incompetent and insufficient, that very fact seemed to him only to lay a stronger obligation upon the Local Government Board. Let the House consider what the facts were. The Government came to the House and asked for a grant of £200,000. There were many of them who welcomed that grant mainly because it was a recognition that the making of some provision for the unemployed was a national duty. By that he meant not that the State might not use the local bodies, representative of each locality, nor, necessarily that the whole of the cost should be defrayed out of the National Exchequer, but that by encouragement and stimulation, by the exercise of control and regulation by the Government, any 315 really necessitous area might be included, whilst on the other hand, this central control would be at all events some security against the creeping in of abuses. The case of the small holdings seemed to him to present an instructive instance. There, if the local authority was lax in providing small holdings, the State intervened. That was a case precisely in point, and it was a precedent which he thought might be definitely and thoroughly followed. He desired to refer to one class of institution which had recently been brought into existence. He meant labour exchanges. He believed that they were already doing some good, and he was sure that they might be made to play a very considerable part in working out, at all events, some mitigation of the evil of unemployment. He had said the evil of unemployment, but after all the real evil was not so much absolute unemployment as under employment. It was that men were not employed the whole time, and that we had adult half-timers and quarter-timers and that there was over a large area no continuity and no security of labour in the East End. Carmen, horse keepers, sawmill labourers and many others got only from one to four days' work per week, and the railway companies were more and more becoming great offenders in this respect. He instanced the case of the London and North Western Railway Company which relied to a very large extent upon casual labour. They employed men not even by the day, but only for a few hours at a time. At their goods depôts they had what they called "a call." At six o'clock in the morning, eight o'clock, twelve o'clock, six p.m., and nine p.m., the men who were on their casual list were obliged to attend at each call on the chance of getting work. One man told him that he had attended all of the calls and received only 9s. in wages in the week. It seemed to him that this amount of under employment might be very considerably reduced. The railway companies were not all busy at the same time, and continuous employment might be given to a man by his being at one time with one company and at another time with another. Then there was the case of the master 316 carmen. The superintendent of an employment exchange had told him that they were quite willing to entertain some co-operative plan such as he had indicated, by which the number of those whom they casually employed might be very considerably reduced. He thought the State, through a Government Department, might well apply itself to the organisation of labour upon these lines. The remedy was to make employment regular in a group of similar employers, so that a man was not tied to one of them alone. No doubt it might be said that the effect of making employment more regular for some people might be, at first at all events, to turn other casual employees out of employment altogether. Well, that was a result which he personally would be prepared to face. There was nothing more demoralising than casual employment, and it was far better that 500 men should be fully employed than that 1,000 should be employed only part of their time without any security that if employed to day they would be re-employed tomorrow. This organisation of labour could not, of course, stand alone. It would require to be supported by other schemes of which they had heard many discussed in that debate. As to the development of the labour colonies he thought that anyone who considered what had taken place at Hollesley Bay would acknowledge that the experiment had been on the whole encouraging. It was just on the financial point that Hollesley Bay had broken down. He noticed that the unemployed boards had recently issued an appeal to the public for funds in order to develop this part of their work, which would have the happy effect, not of sending those who had done well back into the abyss of unemployment in London, but of providing them with permanent employment upon the land. He also would make an appeal to the President of the Local Government Board. He did not know what the result of the appeal to private benevolence had been, but he did not suppose it had been adequate, and he submitted that the using of the Hollesley Bay Farm Colony for the purpose of training men and enabling them to earn their own living was an object that came well 317 within the scope which Parliament entertained when the grant of £200,000 was made. He therefore respectfully asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he would apply some portion at all events of the residue of that sum to this purpose. This Parliament had been returned very deeply pledged on the question of unemployment. The enormous majority of those supporting the Government were so pledged and no one rejoiced more than he did that the Government had already carried into law some measures, and would shortly propose others, designed to produce the effect, as he sincerely believed and devoutly hoped, of preventing to a large extent the growth of a new-generation of unemployed and unemployable. They would support such schemes with energy and enthusiasm, but it would be idle to suggest that those schemes, admirable as they might be, would redeem the pledges given by the Members or satisfy the expectations which they had raised in the hearts of the people at the last general election for dealing with the problem of the unemployed. Those pledges would need a long time to bring to fruition, but in the meantime there was an enormous amount of unemployed in this country and he would ask the Government to apply their mind to this important question to which their attention must have been directed by the dictates, not only of policy, but humanity.
§ MR. RIDSDALE (Brighton)
said that this had perhaps been the most important debate, so far as the people of this country were concerned, that it had ever been his lot to take part in—the problem of how to deal with people who were anxious and willing to work but unable to get the opportunity of working, because the land from which they might, in a state of savagery, have wrung a livelihood, was held away from them, and because other property was in the hands of other people. Such a dreadful state of things so far as that individual was concerned could not help impressing itself upon the minds of all thinking persons. He quite agreed with one statement which he had heard made in the course of the evening—that this question of unemployment ought not to be a Party question. Yet he was sorry to say that 318 he thought it was what gave vitality both to tariff reform and the views which were held by the Socialist Party. If it were not that there were some strong underlying truth of this nature he did not believe either of those policies could stand before the country for one moment. That being so, and the figure of unemployment, after a boom of trade where our imports and exports had passed the colossal total of £1,000,000,000 sterling, still standing at 6.1 per cent., there must be some yet undiscovered cause at the back of this very serious state of things. It behoved everybody to give their best abilities to getting a proper grasp of the subject. He had listened to the reasons given by the hon. Member opposite, and, although one of his reasons was socialistic he thoroughly agreed with it. He did think that one of the reasons of unemployment, though perhaps not the main reason, was the use of machinery. What was it that every business man sought to do? When he was met by competition, and even when he was not met by competition, for the sake of his own pocket he sought to cut down expenses and to get rid of expensive forms of labour. If he could he introduced labour-saving machinery. What did this mean but that an individual was turned adrift by an employer and his place was taken by machinery? He believed that that process was steadily going on throughout the country, but he did not believe it was the only, or even the main cause of unemployment. He admitted that labour-saving machinery displaced unskilled, probably, and some skilled labour, possibly; but ultimately, if not in a very little time, some other form of human want would absorb that labour to fulfil the wishes and demands of other persons. Therefore, though labour would change its vocation there would not be any real or permanent loss of labour. There would be temporary loss, as labour-saving machinery threw out the labourer, but as new human wants arose so would that surplus labour be reabsorbed. There was one factor necessary to the re-absorption of that labour, and that was that there should be the money to pay the labourer. He did not think any 319 serious observer of the present condition of our financial affairs could fail to note that, not only was there a great deal of unemployment, but there was very little money about. The reason was, he believed, that for the last twenty years we had, not only in national, but also in local government, pursued a wasteful course of expenditure. We had run into debt and had not only added to our National Debt through the War, but had added millions to our local indebtedness. [AN HON. MEMBER: What about your aristocracy.] He did not see that our aristocracy had added to our debt, though he agreed with the Labour Party that possibly by means of the income-tax their unearned increments might be made use of to make up the deficiency. But that did not influence his argument. The point he was coming to was that local expenditure which in 1875 was £42,000,000, and which in 1894–5 had got to £70,000,000 odd, had in the year 1904–5 reached £143,000,000 odd. That was the local expenditure raised by rates in England and Wales alone, and if they added to it the increase that had taken place in our national expenditure they would see that the money that would have gone to employ the surplus labour pushed out by labour-saving machinery, was now being paid away to the Government and local authorities. The National Debt had enormously increased and the debt incurred by the local authorities of the United Kingdom was at present some £550,000,000. That was a huge sum; it was about five-sevenths of the National Debt; and only about one-half of it had been expended in enterprises that could be reasonably expected to make a return on the capital spent. The money that would go to pay the unemployed was being absorbed to pay the interest on that local debt and the interest on the money required by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If there was at the present time one need more pressing than another it was that the control of local expenditure should be co-ordinated with that of national expenditure, and that one man responsible to the House of Commons should be able to control the money that was expended for either local or national purposes. After all, what 320 was true of individuals was true of a nation. If a man and his wife were each to spend money irrespective of each other without any one of the two having control over the expenditure of both, they knew perfectly well the end would be bankruptcy, and if they allowed—as we were allowing—local authorities to spend money wherever they wished (except for the authority of the Local Government Board) without the consent of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, there could only be one end, and that was that employment instead of getting better would get markedly worse. He seriously commended to Members opposite who thought that in Socialism or in tariff reform they would get remedies for unemployment what was a very harsh, unpleasant, and he knew anything but a popular fact, viz. that the only real cure for this problem of unemployment was economy, economy, economy.
§ MR. SNOWDEN (Blackburn)
said there were two points in the speech of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, but before referring to them he would just remark that he had been wondering why they had not heard an argument, which they had heard so frequently ten years ago, introduced into these debates; but a moment or two later the hon. Member had put forward that argument. It used to be regarded as an axiom of the Manchester school that machine invention created quite as much additional labour as it might actually displace. He believed that was true fifty, sixty, or eighty years ago. It was not true to-day. The truth of that was represented by the hard logical fact disclosed in the Report of the Home Office, that in every one of our manufacturing industries the number of people in proportion to the output was in every case getting less and less. He knew this himself, that in the most important of our industries, particularly the textile trades, the actual number of persons employed was less than it was at some former decade. The Lancashire trade in the last three or four years had been enjoying exceptional prosperity. The raw cotton handled was enormously greater than at any time in the last fifty years, yet there had been no increase whatever in 321 the number of hands dealing with that larger volume of raw material. As regarded the second point, the hon. Member had drawn no distinction between the two forms of indebtedness—the municipal debt and the national debt. We had no assets in the national debt except the millions of graves in different parts of the world. In regard to the municipal debt, if the assets were not exactly reproductive they were indirectly reproductive. It was a misuse of terms to attempt to draw a parallel between the National Debt and the municipal debt. The municipal debt incurred for water works, a lighting system, or in sewering and paving, or works which conduced to the public health, increased the working capacity of the community which depended on its health. But a great part of the debt incurred by municipalities in recent years had been directly productive. Tramways, instead of increasing the municipal indebtedness, had afforded extra employment and had very considerably increased its volume. His hon. friend the mover of the Amendment had appealed to the Government to deal with this question like statesmen. He noticed that the appeal met with a very sympathetic response from the President of the Local Government Board, and particularly the Secretary to that Department. He had heard the speech of the Parliamentary Secretary, and he must confess to a disappointment that none of the expectations which he had entertained from the acceptance of that appeal had been responded to by him. He certainly could not share the eulogy passed upon the speech of the Parliamentary Secretary. He had heard a good many disappointing speeches from the Government Bench during the last few years, but he could not remember a speech which was so completely disappointing as was the speech of the Parliamentary Secretary. But before dealing with some points raised by that speech, he would first say that he had never heard a debate in that House where the standard of excellence had been sustained throughout at so high a point as in the debate of that afternoon. It was no detraction from that statement to say that on a few occasions he had felt as though some 322 Members had taken too narrow a view of the problem. Some Members seemed to labour under the idea that the debate had been raised for the purpose of discussing the administration of the Unemployed Workmen Act and the distribution of the Unemployed Fund. He cared very little, if at all, about the administration of the Unemployed Fund or the distribution of the £200,000 or £300,000. He was concerned in not so much what had been done as what remained to be done, and which it was impossible for a measure of the character of the Unemployed Workmen Act to touch. Much of the discussion that afternoon appeared to him to have been founded on the assumption that this unemployed problem was merely a question of finding work for unskilled labour. He had not heard during the debate the question of skilled labour touched on at all. The hon. Member for North West Ham had said that he would not introduce sentiment into the debate, and had appealed to the Government for practical proposals. The hon. Gentleman had the courage of his convictions and had put forward his own proposals. They were three. First of all, as to riverside employment. It was a very desirable thing that riverside labour should be organised, but that organisation was not going to increase the amount of employment. It was going to give more employment to a certain number of men, but it was going to drive a number of men who were now getting a few days work out of the occupation into competition with men engaged in some other kind of work. They must dismiss that proposal as altogether ineffective to deal with the question about which they were all so anxious. The hon. Member's second point war or he hoped at all events, that something might be done by the working of the Small Holdings Act. He would say no more upon that point than this. The hon. Member who spoke in that debate on behalf of the Irish Party had mentioned the fact that in his country something like three-quarters of the population were engaged on the land. Very much the same thing applied to Germany, where they had a population numbering about four millions directly or indirectly employed in the forests. Germany, though not to the same extent 323 as Ireland, was more an agricultural country than England, but if so much was expected from the operation of the Small Holdings Act in this country, how was it that in Ireland, which was almost purely an agricultural country, within the last two or three generations the population had declined by something like 50 per cent.? How was it that in Germany where they had small holdings in operation to an extent that we in this country under the present system could not hope to rival within the next two or three generations, had, no less than we, an unemployed problem? The Daily Telegraph stated recently that there were 60,000 unemployed in Berlin. So much for the second proposal of the hon. Member. His third was emigration. The President of the Local Government Board, speaking something like twelve months ago in that House upon the unemployed question, mentioned that in the preceding twelve months 200,000 had left these shores. In the last ten years, 2,000,000 must have emigrated. Were they expecting that anything that House was likely to do under the provisions of the Unemployed Workmen Act would enable them to emigrate 200,000 a year? What was the effect of the emigration of 2,000,000 from this country in the last ten years in lessening unemployment? So much for the proposals of the hon. Member for West Ham. He would now turn to the speech made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board, who appeared to be one of those who did not seem to realise the gravity of this question, for he had spoken of it as being merely a question of hard times. In answer to that argument he would like to quote an authority which the Parliamentary Secretary would readily accept as being much higher than his own. The President of the Local Government Board said upon this subject upon a previous occasion—Whether there are 10,000 or 100,000 men does not affect, except in degree, the responsibility of society for meeting their demands.In the very best times and during the relatively good times of the last few years there could never have been less than 250,000 men out of work His point was that if there was 324 only one man in this land willing and anxious to work and starving for want of work, that single man's cast demanded the immediate attention of the House. This was not merely a question of bad times. The unemployed problem was part of the present system, and again he would venture to quote the authority of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. Speaking of the causes of the unemployed problem, the President of the Local Government Board said—In fact the commercial classes must be told that to a great extent the existence of a great number of unemployed is due to the unrestricted competitive system in which production for profit by a class is carried on irrespective of the consequences to the community.
§ MR. SNOWDEN
said he was glad the right hon. Gentleman still held that economic faith. The Parliamentary Secretary further stated that he was not so anxious to apply palliatives as to get at the root causes. He also desired to get at the root causes. The hon. Gentleman put these causes under three heads: (1) migration from the country into the towns; (2) the drinking habits of the working classes; and (3) the want of technical education. With regard to the first, that was not a cause at all, it was only a result. One of the chief causes of the great influx from the country to the towns was the system of private landlordism. The second root cause put forward by the hon. Gentleman he approached with great hesitancy, because when one ventured to express heterodoxy on this question he was liable to be misunderstood. The point was that a considerable proportion of unemployment was due to drink. He would be very sorry indeed if any words of his could be construed as in any sense either a condonation or an encouragement of the unfortunate drinking habits of the working people. He seldom missed an opportunity of appealing to working men to give up drinking, because he recognised it as one of the greatest hindrances they had at the present moment in the way of progress. Drink destroyed physical health and fogged the brain, and the drink traffic he looked upon as being one of the greatest buttresses the privileged classes possessed. 325 With that explanation he wished to state that the drinking habits of the people, or rather the amount of working class incomes spent in drink, was not a cause of poverty but only a great aggravation of it. It might be the cause in individual cases, but the cause of poverty was an economic cause; and universal abstinence, although he agreed it was so desirable, would not materially affect the question of poverty at all. Again he appealed to the authority of the right hon. Gentleman, and he would quote words spoken in his other days. Upon a former occasion the right hon. Gentleman the President. of the Local Government Board said as to the relation between drink and poverty—They lie in their teeth when they say that the unemployed are drunkards and improvident. I, a highly skilled mechanic, a teetotaller, a vegetarian, a non-smoker, a malthusian, have been without food for twenty-four hours. There stands my wife who has turned the ribbons of her bonnet over and over again in order to look respectable. I have been out of work for four months. If this is my fate, what must it be for men who are not mechanics and have got families to support?He would leave the two representatives of the Local Government Board to reconcile their own opinions. With regard to the third of the hon. Member's root causes, just as they increased the number qualified to do one particular kind of work, the probability was that the remuneration of that class of work would decline. Under present economic conditions the effect of technical education was to enable employers of labour to get skilled labour at the price of unskilled labour. Modern industrial tendency was in the direction of requiring, in the great majority of callings, less skill than formerly, and higher skill in the minority of cases. Let them apply all the root causes suggested by the Parliamentary Secretary and they had not touched at all the root cause of unemployment, which, as the President of the Local Government Board had said, was deep down in our capitalistic system. Upon this point John Stuart Mill said:—The deep root of the evils which fill the industrial world is the subjection of labour to monopoly and the enormous share which the possessors of the instruments of production are able to take from the produce.326 He thoroughly agreed with the hon. Member for Preston when he said that this was a question of poverty. Even old-age qensions was a question of poverty. He would venture to describe it also as a question of the unequal distribution of wealth. The hon. Member for Preston had said they could not increase wages without increasing the amount of the country's wealth. In his opinion, the root cause of unemployment was monopoly. It was a question of the standard of living and the purchasing power of money. He did not expect a solution of the unemployed question from one or from a hundred Acts of Parliament, but it was important to understand the nature of the problem to avoid by blunders aggravation of the situation. Any proposal which in its result would add to the amount of wealth at the disposal of the working-class population would increase the volume of employment. A time of bad trade followed a period of good trade, but the purchasing power of the people during the late period of good trade was less than it had been in preceding years. In the Lancashire weaving trade the rate of wages was the same as in 1859, the cost of living had increased, but there had been no corresponding increase in wages. The Board of Trade returns showed that in each year, from 1901 to 1905, the wages of the people went down, and yet during the whole time the cost of living was going up. Each succeeding year the workers were able to buy a less proportion of the production, and yet the production in creased. No wonder, then, that in a short time we were confronted with that curious phenomenon of modern cvilization, over-production—too much of cotton goods and men without shirts, too many boots and children with bare feet. It was really a question of under-consumption, not of over-production. It was not for himself and his hon. friends to put forward proposals to reform the present economic conditions. They were not the Executive Government of the country. The devising of the plan of campaign lay with the men who were paid for it. A right hon. Gentleman speaking from the front Opposition Bench had said that Socialists had never 327 put their proposals into definite and practical forms. They were not there to defend Socialism. It was not Socialism but capitalism which was on its trial. It was for others to defend a system under which the men who did not work grew richer day by day, and the harder a man worked the poorer he was. Some reforms a Government might introduce and carry into law in a comparatively short time. The shortening of the hours of labour had been advocated as a means of increasing employment, but economic students had given up that point. The improved efficiency of workmen would in a short time bring up the output of the shorter to that of the longer day. He drew a distinction between productive and non-productive occupations. The shortening of the hours of labour on railways would require the employment of 100,000 additional men and have a far-reaching effect. It would reduce dividends, but it would increase the spending power of those engaged in the industry. It would not only add to the purchasing power of the 100,000 workers directly employed, but their increased purchasing power would stimulate other trades as well. So with the case of the mines and other industries ripe for public control. They could only increase the amount of employment, as the hon. Member for Preston said, by increasing the demand for labour and increasing consumption. He believed that public management of the railways would enable economies to be effected by which the cost of transit would be considerably reduced, and that would have its effect on every trade which used the railways. The thing to keep in mind was that they must effect a more equal and just distribution of wealth. They must carry out reforms which would add to the purchasing power of the people, for, after all, it was on their spending power that trade relied. He looked forward with considerable interest to the reply of the President of the Local Government Board. He hoped that, as in in the old days of the red flag, the right hon. Gentleman still had those gifts of statesmanship which were such a marked feature of his orations when he held a position of less responsibility and greater freedom. The Labour Party had sometimes found it necessary to criticize the 328 actions of the right hon. Gentleman. They had been charged with being actuated by motives not quite creditable to their hearts and intentions. He wanted to deny that charge. It could be easily understood that their position in relation to the right hon. Gentleman was a very difficult one.
§ MR. SNOWDEN
said he wanted to assure the right hon. Gentleman that there was no part of that House that would be more highly gratified—more delighted—if the right hon. Gentleman's tenure of his responsible office should be signalized by a really valuable contribution to this question, which they all recognised to be exceedingly difficult.
§ MR. CHAPLIN (Surrey, Wimbledon)
I thought that one of the measures by which the hardships and difficulties complained of in connection with unemployment would, to some extent, be mitigated, would have been mentioned in the Gracious Speech from the Throne. The views which I entertain in regard to the causes of unemployment, have been controverted by many speakers to-night, and I hope, as I am always anxious to defend in this House measures which I have maintained elsewhere. I may be permitted to make a few observations before we come to a decision. I should like to begin by saying that while I think there is probably no person in this House who sympathises more warmly than I do myself with the desire of the hon. Member who has just sat down to relieve distress from non-employment, I am totally unable to agree with him in his description of the root cause of the evil of unemployment in this country. When the hon. Gentleman represents that the only means of dealing with this question is the equal and just distribution of wealth in this country, he is bound to show how that equal and just distribution is to be accomplished—how wealth legitimately belonging to one class is to be taken from them and put into the hands of others. On that crucial point the hon. Member had nothing to say. I share the surprise of other hon. Members that no mention of this evil is made in the 329 gracious Speech from the Throne. Nothing is more painful to any right-thinking man or woman than the sufferings of those who, being perfectly willing and anxious to work, are unable to obtain employment. The hon. Member for West Ham who objected to work for the State being carried out by the inefficient and squeezed-out unemployed, went on with some inconsistency to recommend, amongst other things, that these unemployed should, if possible, be put back on the land. We are agreed on all sides, I believe, on that point, so long as it can be effected with fairness and justice to all, and with advantage to those it is expressly intended to benefit; but in my opinion there can be nothing more foolish than to look to this as a solution of the question. For the successful accomplishment of a policy like this certain conditions must be fulfilled. The localities chosen must be suitable both in their position and in the actual soil. There must be easy means of transport and a first-rate soil. With these conditions, provided the land were put into the hands of men who knew how to use it, the happiest results might be expected; but if they were not fulfilled, there would be great difficulties in the future. My experience is that where these conditions are found, the land is being used for the particular purpose at present. As to the proposal that employment should be provided by public authorities by mean of public works, I agree that if afforestation is carried out effectively it would be an admirable thing, but I would point out that employment is especially wanted during long frosts, and how is afforestation to be used with advantage with frost a foot deep in the ground? Then it was proposed that a new Department of the Local Government Board should be formed. If any Department is to be enlarged, I agree that there is none more entitled to it than the Local Government Board, seeing the enormous amount of work it has to do. It was again suggested that a solution is to be found, at all events so far as Ireland is concerned, in Home Rule. I am delighted to hear that if that is adopted the views I hold on tariff reform may be carried into effect in Ireland; but even if that temptation were held out to me, the hon. Gentleman who proposed this solution would not get the 330 slightest support from me. Then there is the question of public ownership. That question has been most effectively dealt with by the Parliamentary Secretary when he said that whatever its merits it was not going to come along just yet. There remains then the question of tariff reform, and perhaps the same answer would be given to that. Upon that, for a moment my hopes were raised high to-night, because the Parliamentary Secretary for the Local Government Board said—If I really believed that this was going to do good in regard to the question of unemployment and to provide more work for the workers of this country then I should be glad to adopt it.I am not at all certain that we may not have some day a very distinguished recruit on this question—not now, no doubt, but after further study. For the moment however he will have nothing to do with it; he will not touch the accursed thing, because he has told us and because he believes, that in all the protected countries in the world the position of the workers is infinitely worse than it is here. But there is a good deal to be said on the other side, and I should like to ask whether the hon. Gentleman is acquainted with the Reports of the Moseley Commission and of the Gainsborough Commission. [Cries of "Who was Moseley" and "It was a Chamberlain Commission."] The great body of the members of that Commission, as hon. Members must be aware, were working-men of this country, selected by their brother working-men. [Cries of "No, no."] I remember one who is a Member of this House and is one of the Members for Manchester, a gentleman with whom I have been acquainted for years, and there was also the hon. Member for Glasgow. Nobody will deny that the drift of the Report is this, that notwithstanding the high prices in America the position of the working-men there is better than it is here. Of course I am speaking of a time before the financial crisis which has just happened. I did not intend to speak to-night, and therefore I am not armed with these Reports, but I understand, and until I am convinced to the contrary I shall continue to believe, that the members of the Moseley Commission were thoroughly representative of the working classes of 331 this country. Now I come to another Commission—the Gainsborough Commission, and that I do happen to know something about because it came from my own county. That Commission was founded in this way. I will tell the House all I know on the subject. A gentleman who was at that time a candidate for Gainsborough and enormously interested in this question, made an offer to the working men of Gainsborough, in which place there are some of the largest and most successful agricultural implement manufacturers in the United Kingdom, to go and see for themselves the condition of the workers in Germany, and they readily said they were willing to go. The gentleman por-posed to send them out and all expenses were to be paid for them, the workers were themselves to choose their own representatives exactly as they liked, and they did so. That Commission went out and they had every opportunity of comparing the position of workers in this country and that of the workers in Germany. That was only two or three years ago, not more than that, and the general result of their report was very far indeed from being unfavourable to the position of the workers in Germany, as compared with the workers in this country. At all events I think I have given some grounds which justify me in differing from the statement of the Secretary of the Local Government Board, that the workers in all protectionist countries are worse off than they are here. Then the hon. Member for Preston entered upon the scene and he said, "Does anybody in the world imagine that the condition of the working classes in this country can be improved by tariff reform?" Yes, sir, my answer is that there are such people; I am foolish enough to be one of them myself, and my views are shared by hundreds and thousands of people in this country and by hundreds and thousands of the working classes, and these opinions are growing from day to day, and week to week, and month to month all over the country. And why not? I will meet the hon. Member for Preston's question by asking him another question. Supposing as, we believe is quite possible we obtain a far larger share of foreign markets than we 332 have now, certainly a far larger share of colonial markets, in that event, who will tell me that these increased markets will not increase employment in England? We have not free trade, and to say that we have is the veriest rubbish that ever was talked. When my opponents talk to me about the blessings of free trade I ask them, as I asked the President of the Local Government Board the last time we had a discussion on this subject in this House, if I was incorrect in saying that not one considerable country in the world pursued the same system as ourselves. He said he would answer that later on, and as he did not refer to it he made it considerably later on. Can anyone suppose that, if we fail with foreign countries, we shall not obtain a far larger share of the markets of our Colonies than we enjoy at present? Who is going to tell me that if we get these increased manufactures we are not going to increase employment in England? The question will not bear examination for a moment. [Ironical cheers.] Not even by hon. Gentlemen on the other side who cheer so gleefully. Not one of them can deny that. If you do not get increased employment by increased markets why not shut up all the markets in the world? It will not bear examination for one moment except by one "who is prepared to shut his eyes to the truth. If what I have been saying in connection with the Colonies is true, it is more than ever important to us, when you remember what the capacity of our Colonies is, not only to-day but more especially in the future, for taking goods from this country. Look at Canada alone. I remember Canada when the whole of that now fertile country was nothing but prairie, inhabited by Red Indians. The City of Winnipeg consisted of only eight wooden huts when I was there. It is now one of the largest cities in the world, and the whole of that great country through which I travelled is now devoted to growing corn. Canada has very great resources and no one can deny it. It has 160,000,000 acres of land, the finest and best land for corn growing to be found in any country in the world. It has timber to any extent, minerals, coal, and iron, and the precious metals besides. If you 333 judge the progress of Canada and its advance in the future by that progress, there are no bounds to the markets which Canada might afford to the manufactures of this country. After all, we have come to the question put by my hon. friend the Member for Poplar to the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board. "What are you going to do with the starving people now." It is not a very easy question to answer I admit. I heard every word of the speech of my right hon. friend the member for South Dublin and I agree with every word of it. I thought he made an extremely able and sympathetic speech in defence of the Act for which he is responsible. I have no proposal to make to-night except to agree with my right hon. friend. For the moment I do not think there is anything that even the most advanced person in this House, would say would be of immediate benefit to the persons who are unemployed, other than to urge upon the President of the Local Government Board whose sympathies are entirely with them, to do everything in his power within the limits of this Act, to give these poor people help and assistance always provided that in doing that, as my right hon. friend pointed out, you do not do more harm than good, by putting out of employment those who are already in work. All we can do is to urge upon him, to do everything in his power, to help and support these people, and if necessary, even to strengthen the Act, and in any course he may take in that direction, I can only tell him he will have no more cordial supporter than myself.
§ MR. JOHN BURNS
There have been many times when I have been proud of being a Member of the House of Commons, but I do not believe that there has been an occasion on which I have felt more respect for this great institution and its Members than I do to-night, because we have had a debate extending from three o'clock this afternoon until this moment, in which sysmpathy has been blended with knowledge, and both with experience of one of the most delicate and complex problems that could engage the attention of the economist, the philosopher, or the statesman. I am 334 particularly pleased that some of my friends below the gangway on the other side have made kindly and generous reference to myself which I reciprocate in the spirit in which they have been offered to me this evening, and in so doing, may I say that notwithstanding the kindness and the knowledge displayed in this debate, there has been revealed by every speaker this fact, that this is a question which if touched unscientifically, if dealt with in a way which has not a guiding policy and fixed principle, is likely to do more harm than good. And it is because I have believed that, and, if I may be allowed to say it, seen that fact two years before some hon. Members, who are now convinced of my prescience, that I have had to disagree with them, when I thought that the permanent interests of the unemployed and the permanent economic foothold of the working classes as a whole, were in danger of being jeopardised by mistaken critics, lachrymose appeals and unstatesmanlike palliatives. We have no right to approach a subject like this with a lack of precise information and clear thinking which the hon. Member for Leicester expressed a desire we should have. The hon. Member made one or two references to the condition of trade at this moment. I have no desire to mitigate the present condition of the labouring classes, but for the clear understanding of the problem it is essential to know how things stand and whether they are as bad as they are represented to be; and knowing how things stand in regard to the condition of the working classes, I am not disposed to take the pessimistic view of which some speakers in the debate have taken of the country's social and industrial position. This I do find—that the returns of the great trades of this country at this moment record the highest number of days work per week for which there is any statistical record. The wages of the five great groups of trade in this country have risen from 1900, the standard year, from 100 to 102. Our exports have jumped, up from £408,000,000 in 1905 to £461,000,000 in 1906 and £518,000,000 in 1907, and our imports for the three years from £505,000,000 to £608,000,000, and to £646,000,000, whilst the railways, am pleased to say have jumped from 335 100 to 104 since the standard year of 1900 to 1907. I mention this fact because the right hon. Member for East Worcester said that the question of the unemployed was getting more serious every day. That is not so. So far as unskilled labour is concerned, it has only recently come within the domain of public observation and sympathy, within the ken of municipalities and Parliament. Not many years ago, forty or fifty years ago, the unskilled labourer might work and live or starve and die, and no one heard a word about it, and to say it is getting more serious is to state what is contrary to the fact. Because there is the cheerful fact that there are from 50,000 to 70,000 fewer unskilled labourers per million of adult males than there were twenty years ago. Our sentiment is growing, our humanity is expanding with our knowledge as to the way in which to make those who are best off help those who are worst off. I am delighted at the progress of the unemployed movement in which for thirty years I have played a prominent, and I hope honourable part, and to see that the unskilled labourers now occupy that platform in public attention which the engineers, gas-fitters, carpenters, and bricklayers occupied thirty or forty years ago. Then I come to another suggestion of the right hon. Member for East Worcestershire that the non-productive labour of the country is increasing, but to me that argument has no force. I am not enamoured of dependents. But in the first place it denotes the growth of national wealth; secondly, from the moral and ethical point of view, it is pitiable to see six feet two inches of humanity employed a footman, and put into a livery, rather than in digging trenches and planting trees. It is a waste of good material, and from that point of view it is regrettable. But that is not an argument for deploring the growth of unproductive labour. It is rather an argument against the non-rating of the luxury of six-feet-two in silk stockings and knee breeches at the expense of the widow with children going bare-footed. Then we are told that pauperism is mounting up, and all sorts of things are happening which really are not happening. What are the facts Apart from trade, we find that taking 336 the country as a whole, pauperism is lower to-day than it was a few years ago. It is true that pauperism in London shows a regrettable increase, and I had that fact in my mind when I gave exceptional treatment to certain London districts such as West Ham, Tottenham, and others, in the distribution of the unemployed fund. But pauperism in London will continue to grow so long as the unemployed movement is exploited by the type of person who comes to London not to seek employment, but to talk about unemployment, and to accept the philanthropic charity which is intended for more worthy people than themselves. When hon. Members below the gangway ask me to take action in this matter in the direction which some of them have indicated they ask me to do a thing which at the right time I shall not be disinclined to do, namely, prevent the streets of London being made, as they are too often made, places where for religious and political advertisement men are exposed who were originally good men out of work, but who have now got past the stage and might be termed the industrial residuum which makes the problem more difficult to deal with than it ought to be. I had the honour of going with my colleagues in the Cabinet to Buckingham Palace on the occasion of my first Court. I got away to my office where I doffed my Court dress and about one o'clock in the morning I thought I would take a walk among these people. I took my place in the long queue of 300 or 100 men who assemble nightly on the Thames Embankment. I mixed with these men for two or three hours, and I am glad to say that they did not recognise me as one who had come fresh from the Palace of His Majesty. I turned up the collar of my coat, pulled my "bowler" over my eyes, and looked as miserable as I could; and at the end of this long queue I, a Minister in receipt of £2,000 a year, held out my hand and received my quart of soup and my pound of bread. Was that a discriminating kind of charity? This City, indeed, is being shamefully exploited, and the movement is being damaged because these things are being done, not in our name, but in the name of sentiment often misplaced. The facilities for this kind 337 of thing are growing to the detriment of the genuine worker. When a man knows that this sort of thing is taking place—and how quickly it is known by means of the freemasonry and telepathy of casual life, can only be known by those who like myself have mixed with them—what kind of incentive can be held out to any sturdy vagrant getting probably 6d., 8d. or 9d. a day from certain sources, with a too indulgent wife or mother, which should prevent him from coming up to London and swelling the ranks of the unemployed? What is the kind of day's history in the life of such a man in search of a day's work? Between nine and ten in the morning he goes to Birdcage-walk and listens to the Minanola March of the Coldstream Guards. After this he walks across the park to Soho or Piccadilly and gets his luncheon at some one else's expense at a cheap restaurant, or from the broken food of a fashionable club. "What shall we do next?" is the question of one companion to another. "Oh, let us walk across the park and see old Burns go to the Levée." At five o'clock comes tea at a cabman's shelter for holding the horses"; at ten o'clock there is not enough money for a lodging, but the night being fine this man and his companions elect to go to the Embankment and get soup and shelter irrespective of worth or need. This course of action is in my judgment a corroding of the morale of men who would have been all the better if kept from this kind of temptation. There is a provision in one of the Bills that will be brought before the House which I can only shortly describe as being "universal pauperism tempered by gaol," and it is, perhaps, a remedy for this kind of thing, but it would not please many of the people who are now talking about the unemployed. Another fact overstated in this debate is in respect of the extent to which pauperism prevails in this country. There has never been so much nonsense uttered about the subject as during the past three or four years. I remember Louise Michel, the great Communist leader, saying to me that if the Continental countries had our workhouse system, our infirmaries, our trade unions, and friendly societies I there would be no Communist comrades 338 for her to inspire. What are the facts? Out of 746,363 persons in the workhouses of England and Wales in July last there were only 6,914 able-bodied men in health. The suggestion has been made that free trade is a mistaken fiscal policy for this country, and that we are worse off than many other countries that have been named. I had the honour recently of going to Germany and to Prance to look into this question, and to see whether this country was either better or worse than they are. I can only find one difference between the German and the English workmen in appearance. The German workman, and he deserves credit for it, when he is out of work, puts on his Sunday clothes to go and look for employment. When the English workman is out of work, he stops in his work clothes, because he wants to get on to the job at once should he obtain it. Apart from that superficial difference, it is not true that the German workman is in any respect better off than, or as well off as his English compeer. If we are a dying race, with a vanishing trade and disappearing industries, what comes of these remarkable figures? I will take 1870, the boom year, and 1906 as tests of our progress or decay. What are these tests of decay? In 1870 our death rate was 22 per 1,000; to-day it is 15 per 1,000. In 1870 our pauperism was 46 per 1,000; it is now 25 per 1,000. In 1870 our able-bodied pauperism was 6.7; to-day it is only 2. In 1870 wheat was 56s. a quarter, to-day it is not more than 30s. Then take disease, poverty, overcrowding. On tuberculosis, the disease of poverty, the sympton of insufficiency of food, one of my officers has given to the public one of the most remarkable documents ever issued. In 1870 where 25 persons per 10,000 died from tuberculosis, 10 per 10,000 died in 1906. Where in 1870, £4 9s. was spent per head on drink, now only £3 16s. is spent. Crime has diminished, and savings have gone up. The hon. Member for Blackburn seems to think that wages have not risen, but all I can say is that, in my own trade, in 1870, the boom year, the figure was 155; in 1904 it was 190, and the figures for 1906–7 will, I believe, reveal nearly 200.
§ MR. SNOWDEN
said he had stated that in each year from 1901 to 1905, 339 according to the Board of Trade Return, the aggregate wages of engineers showed a decline.
§ MR. JOHN BURNS
If the hon. Member will take the admirable charts issued by the Board of Trade, known as the New Zealand Charts, he will find that I am right and that he is wrong. I will go to another test, namely, the length of life. In my own trade, the Amalgamated Society of Engineers fifty years ago had 110,000 members, whose average age at death in the year 1870 was thirty-eight; to-day their average age at death is fifty-four and a half, an enormous increase in that short period. And better still, the average age at death of our old superannuated members in twenty years has risen from sixty-seven years to seventy years in a short period. On all these tests, whether of wages, hours, house accommodation, moral or social well-being the argument is against those hon. Members who have taken a more melancholy view than the facts warrant. I now come to a more direct comparison between London and Berlin. We hear a great deal about Berlin being better than London. Taking the two capitals, the advantages are in favour of Berlin, because apart from its artistic appearance and its being a court centre, Berlin as everybody knows, is comparatively a new city of the last thirty or forty years; while this old London of ours has 1,000 years of continuous and in many ways glorious history. But just as a cathedral city reveals the largest number of public houses and the most poverty, so an old settlement like London must be handicapped. What are the facts? Berlin has 2,000,000 of population in round numbers, while London has 4,500,000. Berlin's 2,000,000 five in 26,400 houses, the 4,500,000 of London live in 571,000 houses. Where 180 persons live per acre in Berlin, their are sixty-two only in London. Where 340 people live seventy-seven per house in-Berlin, the number is less than eight per house in London. And in all the diseases that denote social stress and economic poverty London except in one particular is superior to Berlin. On every test whether of wages, disease, rent, or house accommodation, we find that London in every aspect is superior to the city that is often quoted against it, except in one respect, and that is measles. And why? German life is bureaucratised; you would not stand it here for five minutes-There is too much bureaucracy, method, routine and mistaken discipline in Berlin. Where 207 children in Berlin have measles, in London 366 have it. That is the only point where they beat us. Mark ! In Berlin Fritz and Gretchen, when they leave home for school, put their little knapsacks on and go straight there, and when they leave after lessons are over, they go straight home. It is not so with an English boy or girl, brought up in an atmosphere of free-trade conditions—freedom. What do they do? Why Tommy and Polly start out. Polly has sufficient initiative to get to school without her brother, and Tommy does not trouble much about his sister because he is convinced that she can look after herself, as I am glad to say my wife did this morning with the suffragettes. What happens? On the way to school the English Tommy and Polly make their way up to another boy and girl, and if Tommy has got a piece of toffy, and Polly has got an apple—they have more toffy and apples at cheaper prices in free trade London than they have in protected Berlin—what happens? They share the toffy and apple with each other. The apple goes round, and the result is that the standard of their generosity to each other is the measure of their infectivity. Let us come to the more crucial test, and that is pauperism. What do I find in Berlin from the official documents? The outdoor pauperism of Berlin in 1905 was 25 per 1,000, the indoor 8 per 341 1,000, and the insanes 3 per 1,000, or in all 36 per 1,000. In London the outdoor rate was 10.8 per 1,000, the indoor rate 16.5 per 1,000, and the insane 5.3 per 1,000 of population, including the 5,000 or 6,000 infectious patients of the Metropolitan Asylums Board, who are not paupers in the sense they would be described in Berlin. In all 32.6 per 1,000. I cannot understand how in the face of figures like these the arguments can be urged which have been advanced this evening. How, in face of those figures, can it be urged that the conditions in Berlin are better than in London? If Germany is the industrial paradise, the commercial elysium, that is represented, how is it that a Consular report relating to Bavaria shows that there are in that State 330 places where tramps can obtain shelter and food, and that in two labour colonies there are 8,472 workmen in distress, 5,920 of them being in Bavaria? In this one German State there are more able-bodied paupers than in the whole of this country. I do not wish to elaborate these comparisons, because I desire to see Germany better off than she is. She would then be a better customer to Britain. I do not want America to be worse off than we are, because to the extent they are superior, so is the measure of their trade with us. But how can it be said that these protected countries are better off than we are? In some of them there are squadrons of police hidden at the end of the streets, with clubs drawn, and with troops held in reserve. We have not got the 60,000 unemployed of some American cities, which can only reduce those numbers by approximating the fiscal policy of the country to ours, and adapting the bureaucracy of their institutions to the freedom and democratic character of which this House and the country is a model and example to the whole world. That brings me to the immediate point that I have stood up to address myself to, and that is the attitude of the Govern- 342 ment upon the subject mentioned in the King's Speech to which hon. Members have referred. I make no complaint of the speech of the hon. Member for Leicester, but I wish sometimes that the hon. Member would make the same speech in the same tone on other occasions in other parts of the country. But sufficient for the day is the goodness thereof. The hon. Member now says that there has been a wonderful falling off on the part of the Local Government Board, and he asks what is the present attitude of the Government. The Government expressed their attitude on this subject in July, 1906, when they said that while the Poor Law Commission is sitting, which is specially entrusted to inquire into this question it would be a mistake to amend the Act. [A LABOUR MEMBER: "What did you say in February in the same year?"] One argument of that kind is sufficient for me, and before I have done I think it will be too much for the hon. Member. One reason why we should not amend the Act has been supplied by the hon. Member for North West Ham and other hon. Members who have spoken, who have made quite contradictory suggestions and proposals which defeat each other. I expect the Report of this Commission about September. There has been no complaint received from any authority as to the amount of its grant, and £126,000 has been distributed on the best possible terms for the taxpayer. The distress committees without exception, all had balances; even the worst districts had liberal balances. I have not received from any responsible authority any suggestion that the Act should be altered while this Commission on the Poor Law is still sitting. On the other hand, strong arguments have been advanced in this discussion against such an alteration taking place. The hon. Member for Leicester has friends upon this Commission holding his own economic and 343 Socialist views whom he can safely trust. Surely he can entrust the Socialist views on the Commission to be looked after by Mrs. Webb or Mr. Lansbury, and the trade union view can be left to Mr. Chandler, an able trade union secretary, who enjoys the confidence of the Labour Members. Why should we at the moment when this Commission specially appointed is coming to the end of their labours, forestall and anticipate their conclusions? Let me ask the hon. Member for Leicester to bear with me a moment. He asks me to amend the Bill. What did he say in July, 1906? He said—They might differ from Mr. Burns but not on the broad principles. In his refusal to legislate by amending the existing Act and his proposal to deal with the unemployed administratively as well as in his criticism of relief works, so far as these criticisms went, Mr. Burns had their whole-hearted sympathy He was delighted that there was to be no amendment of the Act, and that the policy which had been adopted was to enable distress committees to carry on their work during the winter.
§ MR. JOHN BURNS
There was greater need for that speech now than then. The hon. Member said in anothers speech—I hold this point to be of the greatest importance for socialism. State interference under commercialism is strictly confined within limits. If we go beyond these our experiments will be failures and like the Paris workshops of 1848 will become bulwarks behind which reactionaries will shelter themselves. Public ownership, which, after all, is socialism, as distinguished from State interference, which is only the path to socialism must not be allowed to be damaged by this kind of thing.He further said at York in 1903 that labour bureaux were an absolute failure. The proposal which is gaining most ground as a remedy for unemployment is the establishment of labour bureaux. On that point all the experts who have no practical knowledge of labour organisations are practically agreed. What do trade unionists 344 think of labour bureaux and labour exchanges? The trade unionists call labour bureaux "blackleg" exchanges, rendezvous for cheap labour, the resorts of inefficient and unskilled workmen who hope to get wages that they are not entitled to receive and which they could not get except out of public funds. And on Tuesday last the town council of Leicester decided by twenty-four votes to nine against the member for Leicester's Bill as being useless where it is not dangerous, and as being a remedy that would be worse than the disease.
§ MR. RAMSAY MACDONALD
Is the right hon. Gentleman quoting the remark made by a private individual, or the opinion of the town council?
§ MR. JOHN BURNS
I am quoting from the Leicester Daily Post of yesterday which contains a report of the proceedings. Hon. Members must not be so hyper-sensitive. A remarkable statement was made by the mayor on January 28th with regard to the Government grant, and which disposes of the suggestion made of lack of sympathy He said that the Local Government Board had allotted all the money asked for, including £30 in connection with the sanitary depot. I prefer in this matter to take the advice of the Association of Municipal Corporations and of the Leicester town council. I shall wait until I get the mature and clear cut views of the Poor Law Commission, and I am determined to act upon them whenever the opportunity arises. I come now to what the Government suggest pending the presentation of the report of the Royal Commission on the Poor Law. We suggest that the present Act should be continued in the meantime, and that I should continue, not to waste money but to give it to those districts that want it most. I think that is the wisest and best policy. In the meantime we can be 345 getting our machinery ready in order to be able to act when the report arrives. I come to the statement made in the Amendment, and in the speech of the hon. Member for the Jarrow Division, as to the absence of any reference in the King's Speech to the question of the unemployed. I congratulate the hon. Member on his excellent speech. He said at Hull there were two important agencies tending to increase the difficulty of the unemployed problem. That is perfectly true in one case. The hon. Member said that one was the migration day by day of the peasantry from the rural districts into the towns, and that it ought to be attended to. The second point he mentioned was with respect to the displacement of labour by machinery. As an engineer I dispute that statement if he intends it to have general application.
§ MR. JOHN BURNS
I do not admit that, and what is more, the hon. Member will not tell the engineers of Jarrow that labour is being displaced by machinery. It is not true, because the fact is undoubted that the introduction of machinery has diminished the brutality of labour and it has lessened the burden of toil. If that were not so, would women and children be able to do by machinery work from which husbands, fathers and brothers have been displaced? And I wish to see machinery introduced even more rapidly than it has been hitherto, so that the work of those engaged in monotonous occupations shall be done by machinery altogether, and this will be for all labour a permanent boon. The hon. Member asked what there was in the King's Speech which would affect the question of the unemployed. I will deal with that question. I will take the Sessions of 1906 and 1907. The Government has a plan and a method which it is 346 going to prosecute on the line of least resistance, without injury to anybody. Workmen's compensation has given to the workmen injured or disabled relief which, if he had not got it in that way, would have driven him into the workhouse or infirmary sooner. We have reduced the hours of labour in laundries. The Trade Disputes Act, whatever be its merits or defects, has given to the workmen in this country a jumping-off place from which he may obtain higher wages and better conditions of labour. And last, but not least, in the last Session we passed the Small Holdings Act, which ought to be called the Great Holdings Act, which will do something in the direction advocated by the hon. Member for Jarrow, in the way of anchoring to the land the workmen who now came from the country to compete with town artisans, and which, I hope, will do something to induce some of those now in the towns to return to the cultivation of the soil. Further, I trust that by the Housing Bill, which we hope to pass this session with the assent of all parties in the House, we shall supplement those industrial advantages created by the Small Holdings Act. [An HON. MEMBER on the LABOUR BENCHES: What about the King's Speech?] Yes, the hon. Member asks "What about this year's King's Speech?" The hon. Member for Blackburn is to be congratulated on the speech which he delivered; it is the best speech I have heard from him in this House. The hon. Member laid great stress upon the hours of labour, and he gave importance to one of my old remedies which has recently been pushed to the rear by suggestions of municipal and State control of labour and the means of production. In the King's Speech there is the promise of "a Bill to Regulate the Hours of Underground Labour in Coal Mines." That will effect a reduction of the hours of coal miners working underground, who number 347 750,000. It is estimated that the effect of that will be to create a demand for a considerable number of men who are now unemployed. To go to the other end of the human scale, the Under-Secretary for the Home Department has decided to introduce a Bill dealing with the child vagrant—the child tramp. A better Bill than that cannot be imagined, because every vagrant child who is saved from the road cuts off the supply of the unemployable and the casual, and will be given that training which, under present conditions, he does not receive, and for lack of it he perishes. Then we are told to concentrate on the land. We have a Land Bill for Ireland, which, I hope, will arrest the migration of Galway, Clare, and Connaught labourers from their own country to compete with the workers in Liverpool; Glasgow, and Manchester. We have also a Land Bill for Scotland, by means of which the big, brawny fellows who go to Glasgow to supplant the Glasgow workmen will have an opportunity of staying in their own villages and cultivating the soil. And, better still, we have in the King's Speech the promise of old-age pensions for the aged poor who are without provision at the time when they cannot get work. That Bill which the people have asked for, and which the Government will carry, if hon. Members from all parts of the House support it, as I trust they will do, will enable about 1,000,000 people to obtain the relief which has been demanded for them. And then there is the Bill for the Port of London. Hon. Members may say, "What has that Bill got to do with the unemployed?" As one who knows the docks well, I believe that the Bill will do more to give employment to a large number of men at present unemployed than people imagine. The great dock strike which I had the honour to take part in was organised for the purpose of obtaining higher wages and more regular 348 work for the dock labourers. Nothing pleased me more when going through the docks the other day than to find that the dock companies had kept their pledges made during the strike, and the treatment of the men is now much better than it was in the dark days from 1880 to 1889. So much for the measures promised in the King's Speech. But what is the Government doing administratively? Let me give one or two instances. A visit to the shelters and lodging-houses of London would show that from 15 to 30 per cent. of the inmates are men who had been with the colours and whose reserve period has not expired and who are unable to go to the Colonies whilst receiving their reserve pay. The Secretary of State for War and I talked this matter over, and we agreed that this was a condition of things that ought not to be allowed. We have done our best to provide one or two remedies to prevent it. The private soldier is to be better industrially educated during his service with the colours than he is now, and, while this will benefit him, it will not hurt labour. We thought it was a stupid blunder that an Army Reservist who could not get work at home should be debarred by the Army Act from going to any of the Colonies while he was in receipt of his Reserve pay, which might be five, six, or, as in the case of a guardsman, eight or nine years. So the Secretary of State for War slipped into a little Bill in July, 1906, a clause removing that disability. The result has been that, in fifteen months, 7,000 Army Reservists, time-expired men, have availed themselves of this privilege, and are now either in Toronto, Winnipeg, Vancouver, or elsewhere, instead of in lodging-house, casual ward, or on tramp.
§ MR. JOHN BURNS
Well, was there any more remarkable or creditable thing 349 in the history of Tommy Atkins than that, when the South African War broke out, 97 per cent. of the reservist returned to the Colours from a parts, although a great many of them did not agree with the war And then the Secretary of State for War has done another thing; he has decide-that twenty battalions of militia recruit shall have their winter training when seasonable conditions prevail. I come to another matter. The General Pos Office wanted in London 8,000 men a extra postmen and deliverers of letter at Christmas times. Previously these were selected from men who were other wise engaged on night-shift work and in other ways, but we decided to alter that, and to give to him that hath not rather than to him that hath. All these men were employed from four to six weeks, and instead of 20s. which they formerly received they were paid 24s a week. And what was the type of men employed? They were not school masters or Government clerks earning £100 to £150 a year; not retired superintendents of police on pensions of £120 to £150, and so on. These unemployed men included 1,505 painters; 1,261 labourers; 522 porters; 310 clerks; 99 handy-men; 162 carmen; 162 shop assistants; 2,057 miscellaneous 161 paperhangers; 87 plumbers, and 135 carpenters. And what have we done about afforestation? I have been charged with returning £75,000 to the Treasury, but what has come of the money I returned? I returned it because it could not be wisely spent; and what did the Treasury do with it coincidently with my returning the money? I did not want it, the Committees did not ask for it, and I was not going to waste it. I therefore returned it to the Treasury and as fast as the Local Government Board returned the money the Treasury proceeded to release it, and it has been wisely expended on the purchase at a cost of £30,000 of 12,000 or 13,000 acres 350 for State afforestation at Inverhevers in Scotland. We have employed a distinguished official of the Indian Department of Forestry in connection with this step, which is the beginning of a school of State forestry which we are determined to develop. The Irish Government have appointed a committee to develop forestry, and we have tried to help forestry in the Black Country and elsewhere. I have enabled the Leeds corporation, throng Government grants with the unemployed by supporting their experiment, to plant in three years 1,000,000 trees; and in other ways in coast erosion, on which £6,500 has been spent; in farm colonies and by prospecting work, accelerating currents and advancing loans here, there and everywhere we have put forward a good deal of work because we have a plan, a policy, a method, and an intention. It has been suggested that I have been niggardly to Hollesley Bay, but I can assure hon. Members that that is not true. I have never been asked anything in reason in regard to Hollesley Bay which I have not conceded. Hollesley Bay is an estate of 1,300 acres with a capital outlay of £43,000, an average annual expenditure of £25,000. and receipts from sales £4,000, so that you have £21,000 net expended upon an average of 250 men. This means an average cost per man of £84 per annum, including allowances to his wife and family, or 32s. per week per man at Hollesley Bay. There is no lack of generosity there and if you exclude the loan charges of £4,400 per annum it works out at 38s. per week for each bread-winner and dependents relieved. What has been the result? The results are not quite so good as I had hoped, but I will be patient and generous and persevere as long as it is possible. Of 1,037 men there, 157 have found work in towns, fifty-five have emigrated, twelve have migrated and eleven of the twelve were agricultural 351 labourers before they went to Hollesley Bay. It cannot be said that I have been ungenerous to the West Ham Colony, as last year I gave it £25,000, and I hope the House will allow me to exercise my awn discretion in dealing with the residue of the £200,000, which I propose to devote to districts which I will not name, because if I did, it would only attract the people whom we wish to repel. The Ockenden Colony is carried on at a gross cost for maintenance of £8,830. The sales are £814 and the new buildings have cost £8,586 which, without including the loan charges, £700, shows a net expenditure of £6,430. The average number of men is seventy-six and the gross cost per man is £94 and the net cost is £84 12s. And here is a remarkable "act. There is not one single instance up to date of a single man going back to the land notwithstanding this large expenditure. And yet in face of costly acts like these I am asked lightly to embark on an extension of such lavish schemes. It is not necessary for me to go into further details of the way in which we have dealt administratively, with our work and it is needless in my judgment for me to labour the point that we do not intend as a Government to extend the area of pauperising employment, demoralising doles, and State and municipal industries competing with regular trades as happens at Hollesley and elsewhere. The time has arrived to cease adding to a vast amount of in-discriminate charity and pauperising relief and to concentrate, our efforts on root remedies and bed-rock causes, with transient palliatives leading up to permanent reform, and hon. Members below the gangway can rest assured, if they will allow me, as to their credit they show a greater inclination to do than they did some time back, that I shall go on with this work on the safe and generous
§ lines I have indicated. They can rely upon it that my sympathies with the unemployed are keener to-day, since I have risen from their ranks. I have always had a disinterested sympathy with the poor, and because I am in a position to help them I want to help them in such a way as will prevent them coming to the doss-house, the lodging-house—human advertisements for charity that ten or fifteen years hence we hope to be able to dispense with altogether. It is because I have a firmer grip on the unemployed question that I want no more State workshops and no more political expedients which will make the remedy worse than the disease. I believe the House trusts me in this matter, and I believe the country, as appears from the support I have received from it, also trusts me, as I am sure the best of the working classes do. I want faction eliminated from the performance of an economic duty and no partisanship to enter into the methods adopted by the Government. It is because I believe that what the Government have done and intend to do on the lines I have indicated is the best way of solving the unemployed problem that I ask the House to support the King's Speech and reject the Amendment.
MR. JESSE COL LINGS (Birmingham, Bordesley)
rose to move the adjournment of the debate, but
MR. CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 318; Noes, 39. (Division List No. 1.)355
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||I Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Ainsworth, John Stirling|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Agnew, George William||Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)|
|Armitage, R.||Essex, R. W.||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry||Esslemont, George Birnie||Layland-Barratt, Francis|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Farrcll, James Patrick||Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Pancras, E.)|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Ferens, T. R.||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington|
|Barker, John||Ffrench, Peter||Lehmann, R. C.|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Field, William||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich|
|Barnard, E. B.||Findlay, Alexander||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Freeman-Thomas, Freeman||Lloyd-George Rt. Hon. David|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Fuller, John Michael F.||Lough, Thomas|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.||Fullerton, Hugh||Lupton, Arnold|
|Beale, W. P.||Furness, Sir Christopher||Luttrell, Hugh Fownes|
|Beauchamp, E.||Gill, A. H.||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Beaumont, Hon. Hubert||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert Jn.||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)|
|Bell, Richard||Glen-Coats, Sir T. (Renfrew. W||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Glover, Thomas||Maclean, Donald|
|Benn, W. (T'w'r Hamlets, S. Geo.||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Gooch, George Peabody||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift|
|Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romf'rd||Grant, Corrie||Macpherson, J. T.|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Grayson, Albert Victor||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.|
|Boland, John||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.|
|Bottomley, Horatio||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||M'Callum, John M.|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Gulland, John W.||M'Crae, George|
|Brace, William||Gurdon, Rt. Hn. Sir W. Brampton||M'Hugh, Patrick A.|
|Brigg, John||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||M'Kean, John|
|Bright, J. A.||Haldane, Rt. Hn. Richard B.||M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Brodie, H. C.||Hall, Frederick||M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester)|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Halpin, J.||M'Micking, Major G|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis||Mallet, Charles E.|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Wore'r)||Markham, Arthur Basil|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithn'ss-sh||Marnham, F., T.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Chas.||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry)|
|Byles, William Pollard.||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E||Massie, J.|
|Cameron, Robert.||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Micklem, Nathaniel|
|Custon, Rt. Hn. Rich'd Knight||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Money, L. G. Chiozza|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick||Hayden, John Patrick||Montagu, E. S.|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Hazel, Dr. A. E.||Mooney, J. J.|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Hazleton, Richard||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Healy, Timothy Michael||Morley, Rt. Hon. John|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Helme, Norval Watson||Morse, L. L.|
|Clarke, C. Goddard (Peckham)||Hemmerde, Edward George||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Clough, William||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Muldoon, John|
|Clynes, J. R.||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Murnaghan, George|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Henry, Charles S.||Murphy, N. J. (Kilkenny, S.)|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Murray, James|
|Gollins, Sir W. J. (S. Pancras, W.||Higham, John Sharp||Myer, Horatio|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Hobart, Sir Robert||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Cooper G. J.||Hodge, John||Napier, T. B.|
|Corbett, CH (Sussex. E. Grinst'd||Hogan, Michael||Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Holden, E. Hopkinson||Nicholls, George|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Holland, Sir William Henry||Nicholson, Chas. N. (Doncast'r|
|Cowan, W. H.||Holt, Richard Durning||Nolan, Joseph|
|Cox, Harold||Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N)||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Cremer, Sir William Randal||Horridge, Thomas Gardner||Nuttall, Harry|
|Crooks, William||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid|
|Crossley, William J.||Hudson, Walter||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Cullinan, J.||Jacoby, Sir James Alfred||O'Brien, William (Cork)|
|Curran, Peter Francis||Jardine, Sir J.||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.|
|Dalmeny, Lord||Jenkins, J.||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)|
|Delany, William||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||O'Grady, J.|
|Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Jordan, Jeremiah||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)|
|Dillon John||Jowett, F. W.||O'Malley, William|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Joyce, Michael||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Duckworth, James||Kearley, Hudson E.||O'Shee, James John|
|Duffy, William J.||Kekewich, Sir George||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||Kelley, George D.||Partington, Oswald|
|Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan||Kettle, Thomas Michael||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Lambert, George||Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk. Eve|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Lamont, Norman||Philipps, Col. Ivor (S'thampton)|
|Elibank, Master of|
|Philipps, J. Wynford (Pembroke||Seddon, J.||Trevelyan, Charles Phillips|
|Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)||Seely, Colonel||Verney, F. W|
|Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Shackleton, David James||Vivian, Henry|
|Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)||Wads worth, J|
|Power, Patrick Joseph||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick B.)||Walsh Stephen|
|Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent|
|Priestley, W. E. B. (Bradford, E.||Sheehy, David||Wardle, George J.|
|Radford, G. H.||Sherwell, Artuhr James||Waring, Walter|
|Rainy, A. Rolland||Shipman, Dr. John G.||Wason, Rt. Hn. E (Clackmannan|
|Raphael, Herbert H.||Silcock, Thomas Ball||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney|
|Reddy, M.||Simon, John Allsebrook||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John||Watt, Henry A.|
|Rendall, Athelstan||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Richards, Thomas (W. Monmth||Smyth, Thomas E. (Leitrim, S.)||Whitbread, Howard|
|Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n||Snowden, P.||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Richardson, A.||Stanger, H. Y.||White, Luke (York. E. R.)|
|Rickett, Sir J. Compton||Stanley, Albert (Staffs., N. W.)||White, Patrick (Meath North)|
|Ridsdale, E. A.||Strachey, Sir Edward||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)||Whittaker, Sir Thomas Paimer|
|Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Stuart, James (Sunderland)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Robinson, S.||Summerbell, T.||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Roche, Augustine (Cork)||Sutherland, J. E.||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Roche, John (Galway, East)||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarth'n|
|Roe, Sir Thomas||Taylor, John W. (Durham)||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Rogers, F. E. Newman||Tennant, Sir Edward (Salisbury||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Runciman, Walter||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.||Winson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Russell, T. W.||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr||Wilson, W. T. Westhoughton)|
|Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Scarisbrick, T. T. L.||Thorne, William|
|Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)||Tillett, Louis John||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Herbert Lewis.|
|Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Seaverns, J. H.||Toulmin, George|
|Acland-Hood, Rt Hn. Sir Alex. F.||Collings, Rt. Hn. J. (Birminghm||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon Alfred|
|Balcarres, Lord||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||M'Arthur, Charles|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Courthope, G. Loyd||Morrison Bell. Captain|
|Barrie, H. T. (Loudonderry, N||Dalrymple, Viscount||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Douglas, Rt. Hon A. Akers-||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Guinness, Walter Edward||Smith, F. E. (Liverpool, Walton)|
|Brotherton, Edward Allen||Harrington, Timothy||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Harris, Frederick Level ton||Thomson, W. Mitchell (Lanark)|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Hurrison-Broadley. H B.||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Cave, George||Hills, J. W.|
|Cavendish, Rt. Hon. Victor C. W.||Houston, Robert Paterson||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. T. L. Corbett and Mr. Claude Hay.|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Kimber, Sir Henry|
|Coates, E. Feetham (Lewisham||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dalwich)|
§ Question put accordingly, "That those words be there added."356
§ The House dividen:—Ayes, 146; Noes, 195. (Division List No. 2.)359
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Bell, Richard||Byles, William Pollard|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Boland, John||Carlile, E. Hlildred|
|Balcarres, Lord||Bottomley, Horatio||Cave, George|
|Barnard, E. B.||Bowerman, C. W.||Clynes, J. R.|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry. N.)||Boyle, Sir Edward||Cobbold, Felix Thornley|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Brace, William||Collings, Rt. Hn. J. (Birminghm)|
|Beaumont, Hon. Hubert||Bridgeman, W. Clive||Condon, Thomas Joseph|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Burke, E. Haviland||Cooper, G. J.|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Jenkins, J.||O'Shee, James John|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)|
|Cowan, W. H.||Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Crooks, William||Jordan, Jeremiah||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington|
|Cullinan, J.||Jowett, F. W.||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Curran, Peter Francis||Joyce, Michael||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Kelley, George D.||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Delany, William||Kettle, Thomas Michael||Reddy, M.|
|Devlin, Joseph||Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Dillon, John||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)||Richards, Thomas (W. Monm'th|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Pancras, E.||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n|
|Duffy, William J.||Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Richardson, A.|
|Duncan, Robert (Lanark, (Gova.)||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Roche, Augustine (Cork)|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Roche, John (Galway, East)|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Macpherson, J. T.||Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne|
|Farrell, James Patrick||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.||Seddon, J.|
|Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)||Shackleton, David James|
|Ffrench, Peter||M'Arthur, Charles||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Field, William||M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Sheehy, David|
|Gill, A. H.||M'Kean, John||Smith, F. E. (Liverpool, Walton)|
|Glover, Thomas||Markham, Arthur Basil||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Grayson, Albert Victor||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Snowden, P.|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||Mooney, J. J.||Stanley, Albert (Staffs., N. W.)|
|Hall, Frederick||Morrison-Bell, Captain||Summerbell, T.|
|Halpin, J.||Muldoon, John||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Harrington, Timothy||Murnaghan, George||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Harris, Frederick Leverton||Murphy, N. J. (Kilkenny, S.)||Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Lanark)|
|Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Thorne, William|
|Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Nicholls, George||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Hay, Hon. Claude George||Nolan, Joseph||Walsh, Stehpen|
|Hay den, John Patrick||0'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid.||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Hazel, Dr. A. E.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Wardle, George J.|
|Hazleton, Richard||O'Brien, William (Cork)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Healy, Timothy Michael||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.)||Wedgwood, Josiah G.|
|Hemmerde, Edward George||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Higham, John Sharp||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Hills, J. W.||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Hodge, John||O'Grady, J.|
|Hogan, Michael||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||O'Malley, William||Mr. George Roberts and Mr. Charles Duncan.|
|Hudson, Walter||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)|
|Agnew, George William||Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Duckworth, James|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Butcher, Samuel Henry||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Char les||Elibank, Master of|
|Armitage, R.||Cameron, Robert||Essex, R. W.|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry||Causton, Rt. Hn. Rich'd Knight||Esslemont, George Birnie|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Cawley, Sir Frederick||Ferens, T. R.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Findlay, Alexander|
|Baring, Capt. Hn. G (Winchester)||Cheetham, John Frederick||Freeman-Thomas, Freeman|
|Barker, John||Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Fuller, John Michael F.|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Furness, Sir Christopher|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Clarke, C. Goddard (Peckham)||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Clough, William||Glen-Coats, Sir T. (Renfrew, W.|
|Beale, W. P.||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford|
|Beauchamp, E.||Collins, Sir W. J. (S. Pancras, W.||Grant, Corrie|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)|
|Benn, W. (T'w'r Hamlets. S. Geo.||Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinst'd||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Guinness, Walter Edward.|
|Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romf'rd||Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Gulland, John W.|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Cox, Harold||Gurdon, Rt Hn. Sir W. Brampton|
|Brigg, John||Cremer, Sir William Randal||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.|
|Bright, J. A.||Crossley, William J.||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis|
|Brodie, H. C.||Dalmeny, Lord||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r)|
|Brotherton, Edward Allen||Dalziel, James Henry||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithn'ss-sh.|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Micklem, Nathaniel||Simon, John Allsebrook|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Montagu, E. S.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John|
|Helme, Norval Watson||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Morse, L. L.||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Henry, Charles S||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Murray, James||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Hobart, Sir Robert||Myer, Horatio||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)|
|Holden, E. Hopkinson||Napier, T. B.||Stuart, James (Sunderland)|
|Holland, Sir William Henry-||Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Holt, Richard Durning||Nicholson, Charles N. (Donc'st'r||Tonnant, Sir Edward (Salisbury|
|Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N.||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Horridge, Thomas Gardner||Nuttall, Harry||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr)|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Partington, Oswald||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E|
|Jacoby, Sir James Alfred||Paulton, James Mellor||Tillett, Louis John|
|Jardine, Sir J.||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye||Toulmin, George|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Philipps, J. Wynford (Pembroke||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Kearley, Hudson E.||Philipps, Owen G. (Pembroke)||Verney, F. W.|
|Kekewich, Sir George||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central||Vivian, Henry|
|Lambert, George||Priestley, W. E. B. (Brad ford, E||Wads worth, J.|
|Lamont, Norman||Radford, G. H.||Waring, Walter|
|Layland-Barratt, Francis||Rainy, A. Rolland||Wason, Rt. Hn. E. (Clackmannan|
|Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington)||Raphael, Herbert H.||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney|
|Lehmann, R. C.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich||Rickett, Sir J. Compton||Whitbread, Howard|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Ridsdale, E. A.||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Lough, Thomas||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Lupton, Arnold||Robinson, S.||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Roe, Sir Thomas||Whittaker, Sir Thomas Palmer|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Bg'hs)||Rogers, F. E. Newman||Wiles, Thomas|
|Maclean, Donald||Runciman, Walter||Williams, Llewelyn (Carm'rth'n|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Russell, T. W.||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|M'Callum, John M.||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|M'Crae, George||Scarisbrick, T. T. L.||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Seaverns, J. H.||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester)||Seely, Colonel|
|M'Micking, Major G.||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Mallet, Charles E.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick. B.)||Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Herbert Lewis.|
|Marnham, F. J.||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry)||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Massie, J.||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
§ Main Question again proposed.
§ And, it being after Eleven of the Clock, the Debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed to-morrow.
§ On the Motion for the adjournment of the House—
§ MR. SNOWDEN (Blackburn)
asked the Home Secretary whether he was aware that a number of women had been arrested that morning for disturbances at the houses of Cabinet Ministers and had since been sent to prison as second-class. Could they not be made first-class prisoners instead of second-class? It was he said a cruel thing to put them in the second-class.
§ THE SECRETARY Of STATE FOR HOME AFFAIRS (Mr. GLADSTONE, ) Leeds, W.
My only knowledge of the circumstances is obtained from the newspapers. I prefer not to give a definite Answer on that information, but I may remind the hon. Member that the matter is in the discretion of the magistrates.
§ MR. GRAYSON
(Yorkshire, W.R., Colne Valley) reminded the right hon. Gentleman that there were other women in prison connected with the disturbance I in Downing Street. Was it not possible to make the imprisonment for a political offence first-class instead of second-class?
§ Adjourned at sixteen minutes after Eleven o'clock.