§ 11. "That a sum, not exceeding £11,821,531, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1909, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Post Office, including Telegraphs, and Telephones."
§ First two Resolutions read a second time, and postponed.
§ Third Resolution read a second time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."
§ MR. WALTER LONG (Dublin, S.)
said he desired to address to the President of the Local Government Board two or three questions, not in any unfriendly spirit, but partly because there was a general desire that some information should be conveyed to the country, and partly because he desired to press on his attention what he believed to be a very desirable question. He first desired to ask in what stage was the consideration of the status of the Local Government Board, the Board of Trade, and the Board of Agriculture. From what took place earlier in the session, many of them were in hopes that before now it would have been possible for the Government to announce their decision to raise the status of these Departments, and the position of the occupants of those offices, and to bring them into nearer, if net complete, equality with other great Departments of the State. This was a question which aroused a great deal of interest amongst local authorities throughout the country. He was certainly among the last persons in that House to attach any undue importance to status and to distinction of title, or to salary, but any common-sense person must realise that if they made a 1520 distinction between different Ministers people outside would call for the reasons of that distinction, and would draw from the fact inferences which were not always satisfactory or gratifying to the existing occupants of the offices. There was, he thought, a general consensus of opinion at the time to which he had referred that the Departments ought now to be raised, and he ventured to say then that he hoped the Government would deal with the question, which was not a very difficult one, and that they would deal also with the redistribution of the duties as between the Home Office and the Local Government Board, for instance, and he expressed the earnest hope that the present occupants of the offices concerned would not feel themselves bound, by a sense of false modesty, if he might say so, to refuse themselves a distinction which was given, not to them, but to their offices. In this particular case, he gladly repeated in the House what he had said outside, viz., that, politics apart, he was glad to testify to the courage, ability, and independence with which the present President of the Local Government Board had discharged his duties. As an old President of that Department he would rejoice to see that Department raised, and he would be glad indeed that the first occupant of the office in its improved conditions should be the right hon. Gentleman who now presided over the Local Government Board. He was convinced that anyone who followed the working of that House would find that the Local Government Board was one of the most important offices in the State. It was concerned not only with those great questions which affected the well-being of the poorer classes, the administration of the Poor Law, and other cognate subjects, but also with the public-health of the country; and any Department charged, as that was charged, with the supervision of public health, although it was true that the Local Government Board had no very great control over the work done by the subordinate local health bodies, had immense power and influence which could be well exercised in the direction of good government, and he believed it had been so exercised without interruption, whatever might have been the politics of the presiding Minister for the time being. If anyone were to examine the work done by the chief permanent officials or the subordinate 1521 permanent officials of the Local Government Board, they would find it at least equal to that of any other department in the State and considerably heavier than that of some Departments. He would be very glad to hear that the inquiry had reached a conclusion and that the Government would be prepared before very long to announce their decision on the question. There was some discussion in the House on the previous day, or between three in the afternoon and breakfast-time, with regard to the Motor Car Act, and he wanted to offer a suggestion to the President of the Local Government Board. It was idle to pretend that they were going by legislation or by regulations, or by speeches, to interfere with the rapid development of motor traffic in this country. Whether they liked it or not, it had come to stay, and it was a very important factor in all business at the present moment. There could be no doubt that motors as at present used, whether the motors of luxury or of business, constituted in many eases not only a great discomfort to the public, but a source of danger, and he believed that a great deal might be done to check that if the Local Government Board, in conjunction with the Home Office, would issue instructions to the police. When the Motor Car Bill was passing through the House, he was responsible for it in its original form, and it included no limitation in regard to speed. That limitation was imposed on the then Government against his wishes, and against the wishes, he thought, of most of his party, but it was the manifest opinion of the House at that time, and to that opinion they bowed, as they were bound to do and, he thought, as they were justified in doing. But he had never changed his opinion, and he had been a close observer in London, in some of the large towns, and in the country, of the effect of that Act on motor traffic. If the House then had been content to rely on Section 1 of that Act they would not have thrown on the police the duty they now had to perform of everlastingly trying to arrive at the pace of motors, instead of asking themselves the simple question of whether the driver of the vehicle was driving to the public danger or not. Under Section 1 there were ample powers, and he did not hesitate to say that the pace at which a car was proceeding had very little to do with the possible results in regard to the 1522 public. The pace at which it was going, say on Salisbury Plain, might be sixty miles an hour without the smallest danger to the public, but in a town four miles an hour might be as dangerous as twenty-five or thirty elsewhere. At present the whole attention of the police was concentrated on the speed at which the, vehicle was proceeding, their efforts being devoted to proving that the man was going beyond the statutory limit of twenty miles an hour, and that had led to what he regarded as a most undesirable practice, known as the police trap, which was contrary to British methods. They did not lay traps for evil-doers; they took them openly and fairly, and they knew from experience that if they said it was in the interests of justice to lay traps they brought as a consequence similar action on the part of those they were trying to trap, in order to avoid detection. In this country we had a system which was absolutely ridiculous. The roads were covered with men who acted as scouts, whose duty it was to warn the driver of a motor car that there was a police trap in the neighbourhood. Sometimes they succeeded, and sometimes they failed, but the consequence was that they had motor policemen trying to catch the driver and motor scouts warning the driver that the motor policeman was near. Could there be anything more ridiculous and more calculated to destroy the foundation of justice? If the police, instead of being occupied in this stupid practice, this waste of time and of public money, were engaged on their ordinary road patrol, and were advised by the Local Government Board and the Home Office that their duty was to protect the safety of the public, and that they would be supported if they summoned the drivers for driving to the public danger, regardless of the pace at which they were going, he ventured to say the Motor Car Act would be much more effective than it was now. He believed that until the Government Departments took action in the matter the police would not abandon the practice of looking to the pace rather than to the effect of what the man was doing. If the Local Government Board and the Home Office would work together and send a letter to the local authorities, calling the attention of the joint committee and chief constables to the fact that there was throughout the country a 1523 strong sense of injustice to the community at large by the dangerous use of motors and that they could check it by the full exercise of the powers in Section 1 of the Act, he believed that a great improvement would ensue. There was another suggestion he had to make to the President of the Local Government Board. Under the Motor Act the local authorities were charged with the duty of posting on their roads at certain places signboards indicating that there was danger on account of some sharp turn or for some other reason, and that the speed of the motor ought to be reduced. It was quite obvious that they could not go outside that clear definition to a large extent; but he ventured to suggest that the right hon. Gentleman might in conjunction with the Home Office issue a circular to the local authorities saying that they would be well advised to put up signposts on the roads at places where there was no danger on account of the state of the road, but where, owing to a cluster of cottages occupied by the peasantry, the dust raised by the motors caused a nuisance. At present the dust raised by motors on many roads was so abominable that life in the cottages became impossible. It might be said that this was a class suggestion. He did not care in the least for that kind of criticism. It was quite true that the dust was as great a nuisance to a big house as to a small house, but it must be remembered that the big house was generally some distance off the road, while the cottages were generally right alongside the road. His suggestion applied to where there were two or three cottages, or a cluster, or a small hamlet. All those who lived in the country knew the infinite love which many cottagers had for their gardens and the great amount of labour they bestowed on them, and what a beautiful feature those gardens were in the country landscape. The gardens which lay alongside the road were too often smothered in dust raised by motors, and their most beautiful flowers came to naught. He had had an experiment made of instructing the motor driver to drive at a reduced speed past cottages of that kind, with the result that the dust raised was practically nil. That implied, of course, that the motor should be driven at a reduced speed for 300 or 400 yards; but what on earth did that matter to the driver? They all liked to go fast—he knew 1524 that he did when he was in a hurry—with safety; but surely when travelling on the public roads of the country which were intended for vehicles drawn by horses, for equestrians and for foot passengers, and were also the necessary places for so many dwelling places of poor people, they should not be used like railway lines, but with some regard for the safety of the public and the general convenience and comfort of the people living alongside. Ho believed that the issue of some such circular suggestion as he had made by the two Government Departments would have much effect on the local authorities, that it would lessen the dangerous use of motors, and also that the hostility to motors now existing would disappear. There was another subject to which he wished to direct attention. It was one of the most important which the House of Commons could be called upon to consider in regard to the administration of Acts relating to public health. When he was at the Local Government Board he was intensely interested in the discovery made by Professor Koch with regard to tuberculosis. He thought that that threw a wonderful new light on certain diseases. Though Dr. Koch was so confident that his first discovery justified his greater conclusion, that eminent scientist wont on to hold that it must not necessarily be assumed that the tuberculosis which was developed in the lower animals became a danger to man. It was that theory which induced him to appoint the Tuberculosis Commission, and that was the first field of investigation which the Commission were asked to cover. The Commission had now been six years in existence, and he ventured to say that anyone who had followed their work, even in the most elementary manner, must admit that their labours had been of enormous benefit to the country. Already the knowledge possessed by the country with reference to tuberculosis was of immense value and the proper use of that knowledge had led to the prolongation of human life. It had also disposed effectually of Koch's theory that there was no danger of the transmission of tuberculosis from the lower animals to man. There were rumours that the labours of that Commission could no longer lie justly continued. He might pay a passing tribute, honest and sincere, to the work done on that Commission by Sir W. H. Power, who 1525 had had an honour conferred upon him by His Majesty in recognition of his scientific attainments. It was impossible to exaggerate the value of the work he did or the energy and devotion with which he laboured on this and other subjects. At the time of the appointment of the Commission, he had the same difficulty which every Minister had to face. He had to go to the Treasury to get the necessary money for the expenses of the Commission. The Treasury was not very much different then from what it was now. He had heard hard things said about the Treasury in that regard, but he must confess he had always found them very ready to listen to what he had to say and to do what they could in the way of giving a share of the funds at their disposal. But they were the guardians of the public purse and had to cut down expenditure as much as they could. There were some characters in this country of which they could not be too proud—namely, those good people who, when public money failed, came forward with some generous provision for carrying on a good purpose. In this case the Treasury found the money, but he had to find a suitable place in which the Commission could carry on its investigations. Sir James Blyth, now Lord Myth, came to his assistance, and the Department were able to provide the necessary farm where the experiments were conducted. This entailed loss to Lord Blyth, but it had been borne out of a generous desire to serve the public. It was impossible to ignore the fact that even with that co-operation the labours of the Commission could not end with inquiry into one subject. It was no doubt true that scientific opinion did not now dispute the conclusions at which the Commission had arrived. Dr. Koch's theory of the non-susceptibility of man to tuberculosis from the lower animals had been entirely disproved. It was now admitted that there was a danger of man being infected by disease from the lower animals. But a good deal more had yet to be done in that regard. He knew little or nothing of the degree of risk to be run, either through milk or meat. He knew little of how that risk was to be dealt with. Everybody acquainted with the conditions of an ordinary farm must know that a great deal more know- 1526 ledge had yet to be attained by investigations made in the interests of the public at large. He earnestly hoped that the Government would not check these inquiries. Apart from the question of milk and meat, there was another subject which required investigation, namely, how far it was safe to allow tuberculous cows to be retained in dairies for ordinary purposes. A good deal had to be done in that direction, partly because our knowledge on the subject had not been brought to a sufficiently high level, and partly owing to the fact that however much we know of the application of the laws of health, the more accurate knowledge we could get the easier it would be to secure a proper administration of those laws. A great part of the difficulties that had arisen between the Local Government Board who were the pioneers in sanitary knowledge, and the Board of Agriculture and the local authorities, was that they were not all equally fortified with the results of scientific investigations. He hoped that nothing would be done to stay the progress of those investigations which wore of the utmost importance to the lives of the people of this country. He did not say that it was absolutely necessary to continue the Commission as it was now constituted. He knew that Lord Blyth, whose heart was in this work, would make almost any sacrifice to continue the investigations, and if the present system was not altogether satisfactory—he had no authority to speak in Lord Blyth's name, but he believed his Lordship would be ready to meet the Government more than halfway if they had any suggestions to make. He repeated that this was a question above all others; at any rate, none was more important. It was a question vitally affecting the poorer classes of the country. The growth of the tuberculous diseases had been very serious. He did not know whether it was an actual growth, or whether it was owing to the fact that we knew more about them, and that their existence was made more public than formerly, but wherever one went, and asked the doctors what was the prevailing difficulty they had to meet, the answer was that it was tuberculous disease. Its effects were bad; it caused fearful suffering, and it frequently ended in death. The rich could surround themselves with every precaution; they could avail themselves of every possible 1527 remedy; but in the case of the poor that was impossible. They could not secure the separation which was essential in that kind of disease. The House would agree with him that only fifteen or sixteen years ago it was believed, not only by uninformed laymen, but by the medical profession, that tuberculous diseases were hereditary and not infectious. But it was now known beyond dispute, and he believed that no eminent scientist would deny it, that these diseases were communicable by individuals, arid were not hereditary, except in this sense, that where an individual was affected with tuberculous disease—for instance a mother, the infant child which slept with her and breathed the same atmosphere as she, the unfortunate, suffering parent, might become infected, though it had not the disease hereditarily. If this fact was not known fifteen or sixteen years ago, so far as scientific knowledge went, how much more might they not possibly learn by patient investigation about this, one of the most terrible scourges of the human race? The total cost of the Commission was about £5,000 a year. He was the last to look upon that as a small or contemptible sum; he recognised that it was a considerable sum; but even if the amount were only £500, he held that not one penny of it should be spent save wisely, carefully, and in the public interest. But the £5,000 spent in continuing these investigations was money well spent in the interests of the people at large. A disease of this peculiar character affected not only one or two members of the family, but the whole of it, the mother and half-a-dozen children, who might become helpless members of society, unable to maintain themselves, unable to do their duty as citizens—a curse laid upon them, a curse which Parliament might help to remove. With the aid of science, which, in its turn, would lead to better administration, they might be able to reduce the disease to infinitesimal proportions. It was because he believed this to be no dream, but a practical work, which, if only smiled upon those in authority, might be carried on with immense advantage to the community, that he earnestly urged the Government to press on the work of investigation, at all events for a year or two more, in the hope that they might add to their store of knowledge, and in the belief that they would be doing something real and sub- 1528 stantial in the interests of the health of the community at large, especially of its poorer classes.
*MR. HERBERT (Buckinghamshire, Wycombe)
said he had listened, as he presumed other Members had done, with great satisfaction to the greater part of the observations of the right hon. Gentleman in regard to motor car traffic. The right hon. Gentleman was thoroughly well acquainted with the conditions of country life, and he was sure that all dwellers in the country owed him a deep debt of gratitude for raising the question in such a courageous way. He would press upon the President of the Local Government Board the view that the time had indeed arrived when he ought to take action in the direction pointed out by the right hon. Gentleman. He quite agreed that motor traffic was very useful, he had no desire to suppress it or interfere with it unduly. But it had been, and was being increasingly abused. The roads of this country were not suitable for express trains. As the representative of a country constituency which suffered very largely from the abuses of this traffic, he urged the President of the Local Government Board to exercise the undoubted powers which he possessed. He hoped the authorities of the Motor Union and kindred associations would note the declaration made on the authority of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin, who thoroughly knew the conditions of the case in the country, that something which had always been denied on behalf of the motor interest, namely, that scouts were used to defeat the police, was the fact, and that the function of scouts was to act as conspirators to circumvent the police in the discharge of their duty. The right hon. Gentleman had said, on his great authority, that his experience showed him that this was absolutely true. He hoped that this observation would be taken note of by the motor authorities. He quite agreed that something might be done upon the lines of the regulations which bad been pointed out by the right hon. Gentleman. But there was an obligation upon the President of the Local Government Board to do something much more than that. The situation was very simple. Parliament in its wisdom had thought it right to lay down in the Motor Car Act of 1903 that no person should 1529 under any circumstances drive a motor upon the public highway at a greater speed than twenty miles an hour. Anybody who knew anything about the conditions of country life knew that there was not one motorist in a hundred who paid any attention to that limit. There was not one motorist in a hundred who had the slightest intention of paying any regard to it; and it was idle in face of the experience we had had to suggest that the police could enforce that statutory obligation, and still more idle to suggest that they could enforce the conditions of Clause I. of the Motor Car Act against driving to the danger of the public if the speed-limit were taken away. Therefore, although he thought that the regulations suggested by the right hon. Gentleman would be very useful as far as they went, he hoped that the regulations would be made within the maximum speed-limit of twenty miles an hour, and that their operation would be to reduce the limit below twenty miles, and not below fifty or sixty miles, which was the present limit.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
said he had perhaps not made himself clear. What he meant was that in addition to the powers given to local authorities, it should be made plain that their first duty was to check driving, at whatever speed, when there was ground for saying that it was dangerous to the public. That should be done without any regard to speed at all.
said the right hon. Gentleman seemed to be more in accord with him than he had thought. He wanted to take this other point, namely, that the Local Government Board ought to fulfil a duty in the matter which it had hitherto entirely failed to carry out. The duty was imposed upon the Department by Parliament of seeing that the speed-limit of twenty miles was, in fact, carried out. How could they do that? The Local Government Board was given express powers under the Locomotives (Highways) Act, 1896, and under the Motor Car Act, to see that it was done. It was given powers to make regulations as to the construction of a car, its registration, and the particulars to be furnished before it was allowed to be on the roads, and therefore it was perfectly easy for the Local Government Board to carry out its duties 1530 by means of a regulation that no car which was geared—for it was not the question of power but the question of gearing—to go at a greater pace on the level than twenty miles an hour should be allowed to be registered or receive a licence from the county council. Why had the Local Government Board up to now failed to fulfil this duty? It was a duty clearly imposed upon it by the Act of Parliament. There was a speed-limit clearly laid down, and the duty was laid on the Local Government Board to see that the provisions of the Act of Parliament wore carried out. They had never had any explanation from the Department as to why it had entirely failed to exercise its powers in this respect. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman whom they now saw with great satisfaction occupying the post of President of the Local Government Board would not be comforted by the thought that people, when in future they were covered with dust raised by a motor car going at excessive speed, might reflect that it was due to his failure to carry out his duty, or that, when children were run down, as they were very frequently in the villages of his constituency, and when his constituents were knocked over in large numbers in those villages, every one of them would be able to call down curses on his head because of the failure of his Department to perform its duty, and to make it absolutely certain that no car should go more than twenty miles an hour. For these reasons he supported what had been said by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and he hoped the President of the Local Government Board would see to it that the regulations were made and carried out.
§ MR. SUMMERBELL (Sunderland),
in reference to motor traffic, desired to support the hon. Member for the Wycombe Division in urging that something should be done and done quickly. It was very unfair that the inhabitants of villages should be endangered, and that the inside of houses alongside the roadways should be filled with dust raised by motor traffic. If some of those who owned motor cars were compelled to live in roadside residences, or in the villages by the wayside, they would soon have a demand for early and vigorous legislation for the reduction of the existing motor nuisance on the 1531 highways. Again, in regard to the question of speed, during the last year or two there had been some very disgraceful cases of fully-grown adults having been knocked down on the highway and left there to die, the motorist passing on without giving the least assistance or taking the least notice. When, men of that character drove motor cars it was time for the law to step in to prevent such occurrences. He had not himself seen anyone knocked down, but he had witnessed the running over of several very fine dogs, valued by their owners, without the drivers paying the least attention. If that was to be the standard of conduct on the highways then he endorsed all that had been said. He wished to call attention to the question of the milk supply and tuberculosis. Milk seemed to be a source of disease in this country. According to his information there could be no question that medical experts regarded the milk supply as a source from which this disease spread. He asked the President of the Local Government Board whether it was not a fact that on 5th March two private Bills with clauses to give powers for the better regulation of the milk supply had been promoted by one of the hon. members for Lancashire, and by the hon. Members for Blackburn and Widnes, and that the right hon. Gentleman had opposed them and promised to bring in a Government Bill to deal with the question. On 5th May he said the Bill was being prepared. Why was it that the measure was still in a state of preparation? There could be no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman himself admitted the importance of the question. Children were being sacrificed to an enormous extent, doubtless owing to the spread of disease through the milk supply; therefore, he appealed to the right hon. Gentleman to press the matter forward in order that legislation might be passed at an early date with a view to grappling with the question. Another question, and to his mind the most important of the questions occupying the attention of Members, was the administration of the Unemployed Act. There could be no sight more sad than that of an unemployed worker seeking employment. During the past year he had seen, not once but often, some 1532 respectable unemployed worker who had turned out before six o'clock in the morning to go the round of the workshops in search of work, and repeating the process at nine o'clock in the morning to see whether at breakfast time there was any possibility of obtaining a job. He returned home depressed and sad, with the same sorrowful story to tell his wife and children—no work, no money, the cupboard empty. It was indeed a sad spectacle. And, let it be noted, there were thousands of these respectable workers out of employment to-day. There were 500,000 of these men, putting it at the lowest, who, if they had the opportunity, were ready to do an honest day's work for an honest day's pay, instead of having to depend upon the Poor Law. It might be urged by the right hon. Gentleman that it was quite sufficient to take the experience of the two previous years, inasmuch as they were only going to have another £200,000 in order to meet the distress arising from unemployment. So far as he was concerned he would be sadly disappointed if that was to be the only provision to deal with distress from unemployment during the coming winter. In reading the newspaper yesterday he saw that the Local Government Board inspector had been visiting Sunderland, and had remarked that the distress due to unemployment there was less at present than it had been some time ago. He could only say that the number of men registered by the local distress committee last month was greater than in the corresponding month last year, and that the general indications showed that the distress was more keen than it was twelve months ago. The man who had saved something had got to the end of his small resources, and had to part with pieces of furniture and other articles in order that he might carry on a little longer. Only a fortnight ago there was the case of an unemployed worker which he put with all seriousness to Members of that House. The unemployed had their sympathy, but some persons were apt to look upon them as men who were not prepared to work even if they had the opportunity. Let them take the particular case which had occurred a fortnight ago. There they had an instance 1533 of a worker who had been unemployed for months. He got up at four o'clock in the morning to seek work. There was only a crust of bread in the house, and that he left for the children. He walked several miles, and gathered a sack of coals. He turned towards his home, carrying his load, and dropped by the wayside, where he died from sheer starvation. A spectacle of that kind in a wealthy country like England, with its boasted Christianity, certainly ought not to be possible. The right hon. Gentleman turned round to him and said—"Of course, he could have got Poor Law relief." He could only reply that the workhouses of the district were full to overflowing, and it was not always such an easy matter to get Poor Law relief as some people imagined. A large number of men—and in this he had the greatest possible sympathy with them—had a great repugnance to seeking Poor Law relief, and a still greater repugnance to entering the workhouse. They were the best of the unemployed workers who took up that position. So far as his information went, the outlook for next winter was very sad indeed, and the £200,000 they were to get would not in any way meet the demands of the distress committees in the various towns of the country to provide for the unemployed. He remembered that two years ago the right hon. Gentleman had said that—Hollesley Bay Colony was an experiment, and that he intended it to go on with a view to its fair trial in order to see whether they were justified in leaving it to time to ascertain whether it was successful, meanwhile maintaining an energetic and firm administration. He hoped to be able to go into this question during the next two or three months and see what could be done to distinguish between the criminal and the chronic vagrant and the honest labourer and the genuine unemployed.But he did not think that these experiments in regard to unemployment had received a fair trial. He did not think that they had been allowed that freedom which they might have had to deal with the unemployed in the manner in which those who sat on the Labour benches would like to see them dealt with. He had in his possession a copy of the correspondence which had taken place between the Hollesley Bay managers and the Local Government Board, and 1534 certainly its tone, to his mind, was not of that sympathetic character which one would have expected from the right hon. Gentleman, especially when one carried one's mind back to times gone by. Of course, he knew that the right hon. Gentleman felt just as keenly about the unemployment problem as they did themselves, and understood it just as well. Therefore, the tone and character of the letter were not such as they expected, particularly after the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman two years ago. Here was the letter—I am sure you do not wish that your subsidised industry—That was hardly a respectful way in which to speak of it—Should be used to ruin the local gardeners, who have their own battle to fight.He thought from the tone of that communication that at all events Hollesley Bay was not getting that opportunity to do its best which had been indicated by the right hon. Gentleman two years ago. To his mind the case as regarded Hollesley Bay had never been fairly put before the House. He himself looked upon it as a genuine attempt to set the unemployed worker upon his legs and to make a man of him. In tackling the unemployed problem this would have to be taken into serious consideration. The idea in promoting Hollesley Bay was to acquire land with a view to placing men upon it permanently. What was the position? A man could not stay at Hollesley Bay longer than sixteen weeks, in which period he was to learn fruit-growing, or dairy farming, or whatever the branch might be. At the end of the sixteen weeks he must walk and make room for another. The instruction given him was thrown away. They had applied to the Local Government Board for permission to acquire several acres of land to which to transfer these men—a scheme to which the Government were favourable in view of their Small Holdings Act; but the Local Government Board had stepped in and said "No." For sixteen weeks a man at Hollesley Bay was taught, fed, and brought into an efficient condition to do work. That was time wasted, and the money spent ought not to be placed 1535 against Hollesley Bay, so far as a beneficial return was concerned. Let them take a part he knew well, where the scheme had been carried out through the agency of the Local Government Board, and what applied in that case applied to almost every case in the land. They took a man who had been out of work for six or nine months, and who was, from privation, physically unfit to do a hard day's work. Probably he had lived on tea and bread, They put that man to a hard labourer's job with pick or shovel, and because he collapsed and was unable to do the work that an ordinary, well-fed labourer would do, they said the experiments with regard to unemployment were a failure, and this was urged as an excuse for not continuing them. They would have to look at the unemployed problem from an altogether different standpoint. They would have to recognise that in eight cases out of ten the unemployed worker was physically run down, and that he should be nursed for a week or a fortnight before they could expect him to do the work necessary to provide the satisfactory results required by some Members of the House. When the right hon. Gentleman said he would give them 50 per cent, more to make up any deficiency, that was not altogether satisfactory so far as dealing with this problem generally was concerned. He wanted the right hon. Gentleman to give a lead, and to deal with the unemployment problem from the standpoint he had indicated. So far as he had been able to tell from the financial standpoint and from the general result in regard to labour, there was every reason to be pleased at the results at Hollesley Bay; all that was wanted was a little more generous consideration by the Local Government Board, and he felt sure that if they would give it, Hollesley Bay would be before long an example of what might result from a somewhat generous treatment of the unemployed. He knew the statement was made that they were competing against local gardeners, and so forth, but the correspondence indicated that they were quite prepared for the Local Government Board to inspect the books and go fully into the matter, and they defied them to prove that they had competed with local gardeners or anyone 1536 else to their detriment. That being so, unless the Local Government Board were prepared to accept the invitation and go down to prove what they asserted, they ought not to continue to make the assertion. In regard to cost, he had figures which went to demonstrate that to maintain in that colony 1,597 persons for over twelve weeks, the cost worked out at something like £10s. 7d. per head. He knew it had been contended that it was considerably more, but he contended that the charges put forward by the President of the Local Government Board in regard to the upkeep of the place ought not to be included. If it was treated on fair and proper lines that was something like the sum which went to keep a man and his family of five. It cost 14s. a week now in London to keep a pauper, and he was only a pauper at the end of the year. He had given no beneficial result to the nation. If they viewed it from the standpoint that they had to keep a man and his family at the rate of 14s. a week each, and they could get the result he had indicated at Hollesley Bay by the employment of unemployed labour at a cost of a little over £1, it was certainly to the benefit of the nation that they should spend the money in that direction rather than that they should continue to waste it on Poor Law administration. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give fair consideration and a fair trial to Hollesley Bay and allow the promoters of the experiment to demonstrate what might be done with the unemployed, and that he would be able to tell them that in addition to the £200,000 that he set aside for dealing with unemployment during the coming winter, legislation would be promoted which would indicate that they were beginning to view this question of unemployment in the light in which it ought to be viewed, and that there was some prospect of something like a permanent settlement of the question. He could not imagine that Members were prepared to continue spending the money they were spending in useless and temporary experiments. Instead of that he asked that they should endeavour to give the unemployed worker some security in regard to employment and give him some heart in his work. If they did that the results would be 1537 different and they would have more satisfaction.
§ MR. LUPTON (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)
said he wished to say a few words in regard to tuberculosis in cows. The quasi-scientific experiments which were made were altogether useless for the purpose of demonstrating that there was any danger to human beings from the consumption of the milk of tuberculous cows. They had taken the spittle of tuberculous persons and stuffed little animals full of it, and when the little animals had been ill they said they had transmitted tubercle from a human being to an animal, and, therefore, they were able to transmit tubercle from an animal to a human being. But that was no proof at all. It was the greatest possible mistake. If they took a large demonstration such as was to be got every day they found the reverse. They had cases where children and other people consumed as much milk as they wanted, and to a great extent there was comparative freedom from disease of that kind. In the East End of London where milk was very sparsely consumed, and where ½d. a day was considered a large expenditure on milk, there was a great deal of tubercle. There was no proof of connection between tuberculous milk and consumption at all. He had read most carefully all the information he could get on the subject, and he failed to see any connection. In regard to the question of the vaccine matter as supplied by the Local Government Board, they were continually having cases of children being killed by putting vaccine matter into the skin and so into the blood; then the Local Government Board sent down an inspector who made a secret inquiry and a secret report which was not shown to Members, and on the evidence of the secret report they made accusations against the mother as to her treatment of the child, and said it was from the smells of her back yard that the child died, although the doctor who had attended the case from beginning to end had certified that death was due to vaccination. It was really monstrous that the public should be fobbed off with secret reports in cases of this sort. Everyone who had studied the question knew that the stuff 1538 they got from these calves was full of dangerous germs. The reports of the Local Government Board medical men said that it was possible to mitigate the poisonous effect of these dangerous germs, but it was not done. They put the stuff into the child and the child got very ill and died, and then they said it was due to want of care after vaccination. It appeared then that vaccination was an operation which required the care of a trained nurse and the constant attention of a medical man every day, because if there happened to be a dirty back yard and anybody came from it into the room where the baby was, the baby was going to be poisoned. If this vaccine matter was to be put into little children, the children must be removed to a sanatorium and a proper hospital nurse put in attendance on them until they had entirely recovered. He had called the attention of the Department the other day to a case of death after vaccination. The doctor who vaccinated the child certified that he died of vaccination and then the inspector made accusations against the mother for not attending to the wound properly. But the report would not be brought forward. The inspector who made the report knew very well why it was to be kept secret. It was because if it was exposed to the light of day the whole ridiculous rubbish that they put into these reports would be exposed. If they were not ashamed of the report, let it be brought forward. He was sure the President of the Local Government Board would have no particular wish to keep the thing secret. It could only be done for the sake of the inspector who made the report. He hoped on these two subjects they would have some enlightenment from the President of the Local Government Board.
§ MR. SUMMERBELL
said he desired to make a correction in fairness to the right hon. Gentleman. He had referred to the expression "subsidised industry" as emanating from his Department. He wished to withdraw it. It emanated from a Member of the House, and he apologised.
§ MR. EVERETT (Suffolk, Woodbridge)
said the Hollesley Bay Colony, to which, the hon. Member for Sunderland had just referred, was in the constituency 1539 he had the privilege to represent. He did not wish to say a word to discourage the work being done there to help the unemployed. On the contrary he admired the efforts being made there to educate and help those who temporarily resided at the place. It was a place in itself, both in character and in situation, admirably suitable for the purpose for which it was being used. And it had as superintendent a gentleman very specially qualified for the very difficult work. But many complaints came to him from time to time—some had come quite recently—from gardeners in the division of the injury they believed they sustained in their trade through the competition of Hollesley Bay produce at Ipswich and Felixstowe, the chief towns in the district. He believed the President of the Local Government Board had used his influence to have the great bulk of the produce now sent to London to sell. But, undoubtedly, there was still a strong feeling among the local gardeners and small cultivators, a very deserving class of men, that they were prejudiced in their struggle to get bread and pay their way by the sale of such produce as was still sent to local markets from the colony.
§ MR. CHAPLIN (Surrey, Wimbledon)
said that as a former President of the Local Government Board perhaps he would be permitted to say a few words. In everything that fell from his right hon. friend in regard to the status of the office, the question of tuberculosis and the continued efforts that ought to be made to extirpate it, and if that was impossible, to diminish the disease, and also with regard to motor cars, he did not think there was a word with which he did not most absolutely and cordially agree. It had always seemed to him they ought to diminish the great annoyances which were constantly inflicted on the public by reckless drivers of motor cars. With regard to the security of the public, what was wanted was not so much a restriction of the speed-limit as a more strict enforcement of the law against driving to the danger of the public. As his right hon. friend had pointed out, he thought that that could be carried out without wasting go much time and without trying to catch 1540 people under the trap system. If that were done he believed that to all intents and purposes the security of the public would be assured. He thought some more careful attention to the amenities of the roads was also necessary. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to the intolerable annoyance inflicted on every house near the roadside by the clouds of dust which were raised by the enormous pace of motor cars. If more careful attention was paid to the amenities of the road those intolerable annoyances could be done away with. He could not see that there would be any great difficulty in putting this suggestion into effect by circulars from the Local Government Board, and if that were done they would hear very much less of this nuisance, and there would be an immediate diminution of the hardships inflicted upon those who were compelled to live by the side of the road and who now saw their little gardens ruined and the comfort of their homes suffer by these vehicles. This could easily be done by slackening the speed for a short time when motor cars were passing houses or cottages alongside the public roads. He agreed with what had been said in regard to the changes foreshadowed by Ministers at an earlier part of the session, and he shared the hope that before the debate was concluded they would hear something definite on the subject from the Government. He did not believe anyone who had not occupied the position of head of the Local Government Board could realise the enormous amount of work which fell upon that Department and upon the officials, who, for many years, were very insufficient in number compared with the work they had to do. He would give the House an instance which would carry absolute conviction upon that point. When he was first appointed to the Local Government Board it was no exaggeration for him to state that he found that Department to a large extent in a state of chaos and absolute confusion. Before he had been in that Department a month or six weeks he found instance after instance showing that there were letters which had not been answered for as long as eighteen months or more, and this was due to no fault of the officials but simply to the fact that the Department was insufficiently staffed. 1541 So much was that the case that he had to make immediate representations to the Treasury on the subject. He did not, of course, meet with the response which he desired, but after taking the trouble to make the case perfectly clear, and getting a Departmental Committee to investigate the question in order to bring home conviction to the Treasury, the result was that no less than 118 additional appointments to the staff were made. He did not think that such a thing had happened in any other Department and he only quoted it as showing the importance of the work done by the Local Government Board. He hoped they would hear a definite statement on the subject from the right hon. Gentleman. That was not an occasion for long speeches and he would not detain the House any further. If, however, these should be the last words he would utter this Session he wished to say that it would add to the pleasure of his holidays to state that in regard to the kindly observations which had been made by his right hon. friend concerning the present holder of the office he shared to the full everything he had said.
§ *SIR FRANCIS CHANNING (Northamptonshire, E.)
said he wished to refer to two or three topics in the briefest way. The hon. Member for Sunderland had brought before the House and the President of the Local Government Board the administration of the Unemployed Act. He put a question a few days ago inviting his right hon. friend's friendly consideration of various suggestions as to improvement in its administration which he would not now enter upon in detail. What he did press upon the Government was the extreme desirability of reconsidering the regulations and circulars relating to the administration of this Act before the coming winter. They were all painfully aware that the pressure would be extremely great in the industrial districts during the coming winter, and he ventured to suggest and to press in the strongest possible way the desirability of introducing such changes in the regulations as would enable the Local Government Board and the Distress Committees all over the country to deal with deserving cases of men who desired work and could not 1542 obtain it. He hoped that there would be greater elasticity permitted in the treatment of such cases under the Unemployed Act, and that a larger number of those who really needed work might have suitable work provided for them during the coming winter than had previously been the case. He urged the adoption of a wider and broader policy with regard to the administration of this Act. He had thought the subject was left in the most unsatisfactory position by the debate on the Unemployed Bill last March. It seemed to him that the most striking feature of that debate was the statement of the very large number of deserving cases which could not be dealt with under the Act, and which were not covered by the existing administration. He specially appealed to the President of the Local Government Board on this point. He was absolutely at one with his right hon. friend in insisting on sound economical lines of working, and sympathised with the firmness with which he kept local authorities to the strictest policy of avoiding waste of public money and insuring strict probity. He asked him, while maintaining that wise policy, to consider whether by issuing fresh circulars to local authorities or by some alteration of the existing regulations he could not cover this point effectively in the interests of the larger number of unemployed which they would have to consider and deal with during the coming year. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin in a most interesting and useful speech had referred to the Report of the Commission on Tuberculosis. The subject of phthisis in our industrial towns was a most urgent question. As his right hon. friend knew he represented one of the most progressive districts in England in regard to this question. All through that industrial area there was the keenest possible demand amongst the working people for the compulsory notification of phthisis in order that the most effective machinery might be available for the elimination and extirpation of this disease. Whatever might be the case elsewhere it was found in the boot and shoe factories that infection was easily spread, and that stringent measures were necessary. 1543 He would urge this consideration upon his right hon. friend. When this was insisted on, not by well-to-do people with large houses, who could easily isolate members of their families who were diseased, but by people in humble circumstances living in houses perhaps of two or three rooms, who were willing to submit themselves and the members of their families to all the disabilities and inconveniences of a strict regulation of their daily habits when disease came to a member of the family, and when they were willing to make these great sacrifices to protect their families and for the good of the community, he thought that it was time for the Local Government Board to bestir themselves and, in the interest of the health of the community, to help them and to show a bold and progressive spirit in dealing with this great evil. The right hon. Gentleman opposite had referred to the work of the Commission on Tuberculosis. He had paid attention to this matter for many years, and he wished to see this Commission hurried in its work. He did not wish that the work should be done inefficiently, but he thought it was time that the results of that great inquiry should be brought to bear on the problem to which he had alluded—one of the greatest problems which was facing the public at the present time. Sir Herbert Maxwell, a distinguished member of the party opposite, formerly a Member of that House, went to the Continent and studied, this question, and he presented a Report which came before Parliament and the Board of Agriculture twelve years ago, and upon that Report not one stroke of work had been done. He thought it was a scandal that Parliament had not dealt with the question on the bold and strong lines which had been adopted in Denmark. That line of action was urged upon this country by Sir Herbert Maxwell, and if it had been adopted it might long ago have begun to help to eliminate tuberculosis from the herds of this country, and at the same time to remove the curse of tuberculosis from the human race. Referring to the question of motor traffic, he urged that the Local Government Board and the Home Office should combine in having more 1544 uniform instructions and more uniform practice imposed upon the police in the discharge of their duties. He thought the present state of things was absolutely ludicrous. In coming to the House the other day in a "taxi" the driver reduced the speed in St. James Park until the motor seemed almost to be arrested in its progress. He asked the man if there was anything wrong. "Not at all," he replied, "the only thing is that they are extremely strict here in St. James' Park." Motor vehicles were now in practice allowed often to go from fifteen to twenty miles an hour in crowded thoroughfares, while thus forcibly restricted to a very low speed in the parks. The present state of things was neither safe to the public nor creditable to the police of the metropolis. There ought to be something like uniformity for the protection of the public. He did not agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin, and other speakers, that they ought to get rid of the speed limit. Nor was there any rational ground for complaining of the police for marking out certain areas, and timing motors as they passed along the roads within those limits. He would like to ask any commonsense man how the police could bring offenders against public safety to book except by means of what were called "police traps." It was an absurd title for that method of detection. It was quite right that they should use stop-watches and marked-out areas, and so obtain evidence with the view to the punishment of the offenders. A speed-limit was absolutely necessary, and, having regard to the fact that the public roads were used by every class of the community—they were the natural resort of children, old people, and other pedestrians, who had just as much right to the roads as motorists—he thought there ought to be a stringent reduction of the speed-limit. Motoring was an exhilarating delight which he enjoyed, but it was a scandal that it should be carried on as at present. He thought his right hon. friend would do well to take his courage in his hands and face the few small groups of rich and interested men who indulged in this delightful pastime in a way which was not consistent 1545 with the public safety. He would cut down the speed-limit considerably. He thought a limit of fifteen miles an hour was quite enough, and no motor car constructed so as to be capable of going beyond that speed should be allowed on roads frequented by the public. He did not believe that there was any real remedy for the evil except by that method, and by, if necessary on certain occasions and for certain purposes, marking off portions of roads. Let them, if possible, do what was done in Florida and elsewhere, take large areas or districts where the special speed-limits might be removed in order that motorists might enjoy greater freedom in the pursuit of this pastime. He thought, with regard to the Metropolis and other crowded areas, and also in regard to a great many country lanes which were frequented by children, the dangers connected with motoring were such that it was high time for the Government to take action in cutting down the speed-limit. He ventured to think that the two suggestions which he had made were practical, namely, to have a speed-limit of fifteen miles an hour, and to have motors so constructed as to be incapable of running above that speed.
§ *SIR PHILIP MAGNUS (London University)
said he desired to support the strong appeal made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin to the President of the Local Government Board to take no steps which would at present dissolve the Royal Commission which had been at work for some time on the question of tuberculosis. The hon. Member for East Northamptonshire had complained that the Commission had not yet been able to publish the results of its investigations. He need scarcely remind the hon. Member of the extraordinary difficulty of the investigation in which the Commission had been, engaged and how very unwise it would have been on their part to have published any conclusions before they were quite certain that those conclusions were logically true. In this connection he somewhat regretted the speech made by the hon. Member for Sleaford, who, under the influence of his extreme views on the question of vacci- 1546 nation, was unable to realise the value of the investigation and the character of the deductions from those investigations which had been made by the Members of the Commission. The Commission was appointed seven years ago, and they issued their first report in 1904. When that Report was issued, the late Sir Michael Foster was still Chairman of the Commission. He need scarcely say how deeply indebted the members of the Commission were to him for the valuable work he did and for the able Report which he presented. It was no small result when the first Report was issued that the Commissioners were able satisfactorily and entirely to disprove the assertion which the whole of the scientific world had been led to believe that there was no connection between human and bovine tuberculosis. That assertion was made on the authority of Dr. Koch, who possibly had not verified the conclusions to which he came as thoroughly as the members of the Commission had verified theirs. In that respect one of the objects of the reference to the Commission might be said to have been already achieved, and an important point had been gained, because it had rendered necessary what would otherwise not have been necessary, namely, the careful inspection of all animals that were used for food and a careful analysis of our milk supply. In spite of what the hon. Member for Sleaford had stated he thought he might say it was absolutely proved to demonstration that tuberculosis might be communicated through the milk of an infected cow. It had not yet been so fully proved that the consumption of the flesh of an animal suffering from tuberculosis could communicate tuberculosis to human beings who had partaken of it. That was one of the many subjects which were still unsettled and which would receive much careful consideration if this Commission continued its labours. Another reason why the Commission should be continued, or that some other body of scientific experts should be appointed to carry on the work so well begun by this Commission, was that laboratories had been fitted up for the express purpose of making these investigations, and the farm which Lord Blyth had hitherto placed at the 1547 disposal of the Commission, they hoped would still continue to be placed at the disposal of the Government at the expiration of the term of years for which the Commission at present existed. Apart from the scientific experiments with which the Commission dealt, there were several questions within the reference to that Commission which were not yet settled, and which were more or less of an administrative character. These related to the arrangements for the inspection of animals and also for the examination of our milk supply and the conditions under which that milk was distributed. Into those questions the Commission had not yet had time to enter, but their recommendations, as the result of their scientific investigations, should have the effect of influencing the action of the Local Government Board. He ventured, therefore, very sincerely to express the hope that at any rate for two or three years this Commission might be allowed to continue to exist. It was said that the cost of the Commission was £5,000 a year, but having regard to the important results which they have already undoubtedly achieved and which the eminent men of which it was composed would be able to achieve in the next few years, and the bearing of those results on the health of all classes in the community, he did not think that £5,000 a year devoted to scientific investigations of this importance was money ill-spent. He therefore ventured to support the appeal of his right hon. friend.
§ MR. CURRAN (Durham, Jarrow)
said that three questions had occupied the time of the House—the regulation of the speed of motor cars, the endeavour to prevent the spread of that terrible disease tuberculosis, and the provision of better facilities for our fellow-citizens who were unable to obtain employment to secure it. He made no apology for stating that in his opinion the last-named question was the most important to the Labour Members. He had no desire to conceal that they were taking advantage of the Vote for the Local Government Board for the purpose of once more placing before the 1548 House the condition of a large number of the population, and the necessity there was for the Department doing something more than had been done up to now with regard to unemployment. He had no desire to enter into the discussion with any spirit of rancour or for the purpose of introducing personalities. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of that Department would clearly understand the reason why they were desirous of taking advantage of every opportunity of bringing this question before the House and the country. He was not going to say that some valuable work had not been accomplished by the Local Government Board. A great deal of distress in the various centres of industry was partially alleviated last winter by the donations of the Local Government Board in combination with local contributions; but he was bound to say that while it was alleviated to a considerable extent, the facilities which were held out to local public bodies were hopelessly inadequate to meet the distress. They wanted an extension of those facilities, and he was sure the right hon. Gentleman would not misunderstand him when he said that he had received numerous letters of application from various industrial centres to which he replied briefly and very curtly that those places had not been ear-marked in accordance with the scheme of distribution of the money to be granted by the Local Government Board. In his judgment that restriction should be removed quickly and facilities should be given to those people to enjoy what it was possible for the Local Government Board to give them by opening up useful employment. The Committee was engaged the previous night in voting quite a lot of money. He took part in seven or eight divisions, and so far as he could gather they voted away a total of £20,000,000 in five or six minutes. [An HON. MEMBER: More than that.] More than that, said an hon. Gentleman behind him; and before the House adjourned that night they would vote away more than that for defensive purposes and to prevent the possible invasion of this country by the forces of a foreign Power. To vote £200,000 for the sustenance of the men and women 1549 who helped to build up this nation and Empire was, in his judgment, hopelessly out of the question to meet the case. They desired that Parliament should give power to the Local Government Board to spend not only £200,000 but all that the President of the Board could persuade his colleagues to sanction for the purpose of at least alleviating partially the distress in the country. He recollected that prior to his coming into the House, during the term of the late Government, he had occasion in his capacity as a trade union official, to go with some of his colleagues before the then President of the Local Government Board and the late Prime Minister in order to lay before them suggestions of what they considered to be a practical character, for works which might be carried out without further legislation. On that occasion they mentioned the fact, which was then being inquired into by a Commission, of the rapid encroachments of the sea on valuable land, especially on the East coast. These encroachments, they said, could be arrested and the reclaimed land made a valuable asset to the country. That could be done, they said, through the agency of the Local Government Board if the Department were prepared to spend the money. The suggestion met with the sympathy of the late President of the Local Government Board and of the late Prime Minister; but the deputation did not go before them for sympathy but to ask them to put into operation something on the lines they put forward. They also placed before them the possibility of introducing a comparatively large scheme of afforestation. It was pointed Out by men who had expert knowledge on the matter, that if a scheme of afforestation were put into operation it would give employment to a large number of people capable and willing to carry out that kind of work, which work in the course of thirty or forty years would become a valuable asset to the country. Further, they pointed out the possibility of a general reduction in the hours of labour, though that did not come under the Local Government Board Vote. There were put before the late. Prime Minister and late President of the Local Government Board other suggestions of a practical character that required no legislation but only that the Department should 1550 spend money in putting them into operation at the earliest possible date. When the present Government came into power many of them expected great things from them with regard to unemployment. As a young man in a hurry and not knowing all the intricacies of the House, he was one of those who expected much; but candidly they had not received what they had anticipated from one with whom they had been long associated. They had no desire unnecessarily to carp at the operations of the Local Government Board, but he would remind the House that though the problem of unemployment was not so evidently before the public to-day as it was in the months of December and January last, it was still there if hidden by the good weather we were enjoying. He was quite within the points of logic and legitimacy when he said that there were at the present moment 12,000,000 of people at the lowest estimate, below the submerged tenth. That was a condition of affairs that the Department should seriously consider, and accordingly he hoped that during the coming autumn some of the hints thrown out in the discussion would have the necessary effect on those who were in control of the Department. A point had been raised by his hon. friend who opened the discussion with regard to certain misstatements which had been made with reference to operations that had gone on under the guidance of certain unemployed bodies. They had read in the newspapers that when the women's department of the Central Unemployed Body tendered for clothing, the tenders were so high as compared with ordinary private enterprise tenders that it was impossible to carry out the work. And in order to givethe House an illustration of what he meant, he would read a quotation from a communication which appeared in the Morning Post. In the Morning Post of 22nd July there appeared a statement by an expert whom evidently the Local Government Board relied on. The Poplar Board of Guardians was supposed to have invited tenders for certain articles, and the expert declared that the lowest tenderfor men's flannelette vests was 1s. 9d., and that that of the Women's Department of the Unemployed Body was 2s. 11d., which left a margin of 1551 1s. 2d. between the tenders of the private contractor and the Central Unemployed Body. What were the facts? The forewoman of the Women's Department had written to the Chairman of the Central Unemployed Board, who happened to be Mrs. Tennant, the wife of an hon. Member of this House, and said—With regard to the Poplar guardians' contract commented on by the Morning Post on 22nd July, the first paragraph re prices as to one item is quite incorrect. The Central Unemployed Board did not tender for men's flannelette vests at all, but for flannel, and at the price of 2s. 1d., and not 2s. 11d.That showed that the expert had misled the public to the extent of 1s. 2d. That applied also to the money expended on other matters. If the Local Government Board was misled to that extent by its expert knowledge with regard to the cost of the work turned out by private contract and that turned out by the Central Body of Unemployed it meant that many people in the country must regard as useless all the efforts and experiments that were being made in this direction. In the past great efforts were made by the late Robert Owen who tried many experiments on the communal, co-operative principle in the midst of competition, but they were failures because he was surrounded by private competitors who made such sacrifices as to swamp him. Everything done up to the present time was of the most meagre description, and no opportunity had been given to show that big work could be promoted by these bodies. He trusted that greater efforts would be made in the future on genuine democratic lines by the expenditure of mere money. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would consider in the near future the advisability of greater facilities being given for afforestration, the reclamation of the foreshores of the country, and other matters to which he had referred and provide the money for the purpose of carrying out in times of depression those forms of useful work which were necessary to every industrial centre in the country. He did not believe that under our competitive system it was possible to absorb the unemployed at the present moment. All they could suggest and all they could ask for were these paliatives which would tend to reduce the evil to some extent. That was all they could claim, but there were 1552 many in the House who believed they would be able by taking a more comprehensive view of the wealth production of the country to bring about a system which should absorb unemployment once and for all. However, while the grass was growing the horse was starving, and they were there to ask the right hon. Gentleman to utilise all the power of the Local Government Board for the purposes of doing everything within the scope of present legislation that could be done for unemployment. Unemployment was with us to-day. When the winter months came it would be seen more clearly, but when poverty was parading itself was not the time when the House should discuss the problem. It was now, and they asked the right hon. Gentleman to discuss it now.
MR. STANLEY WILSON (Yorkshire, E.R., Holderness)
quite agreed with the right hon. Member for Wimbledon that everybody who lived in villages through which motor cars passed suffered very great hardship, and that Parliament ought to do its best to ameliorate their condition. He was in favour of reducing the speed-limit through villages to ten miles an hour. But when it came to the question of speed on the highroads, what was the use of a law which could not be enforced, a law which was broken by every Member of the House, from the Prime Minister downwards, who owned a motor car capable of going more than thirty miles an hour? With regard to the question raised by the hon. Member for Sunderland, and also by the hon. Member who had just spoken, the question of unemployed, he believed it was one of the most important questions this country had to face. Statistics showed that at present there was a far larger number of men out of work than probably was ever known for a similar period in modern times. They would be faced with a most urgent crisis during the coming winter, and it threw a responsibility upon the Government which entitled the House to some explanation as to their intentions. Judging from the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer delivered on Tuesday, it seemed that it was the deliberate policy of the Government to add to the number of.
1553 unemployed. The right hon. Gentleman foreshadowed in the near future reductions in the national defences. That would be not only a danger to the Empire, but must add largely to the number of unemployed. He wished to know how the Government were going to provide for the thousands of men who would be thrown out of work by the passing of the Licensing Bill and the Miners (Eight Hours) Bill. He would suggest that a means of increasing employment could be found in preventing the dumping in this country of manufactured goods by the foreigner. He knew that the Government were pledged to free trade, but he could not understand the Labour Party fixing the standard of wages that should be paid to trade unionists, and at the same time allowing thousands of pounds worth of foreign goods to come into this country with the result of keeping down or destroying employment.
§ *MR. DOBSON (Plymouth)
said he had not intended to take part in the debate and did not decide to do so until he heard complaints from certain hon. Members that there had not been a sufficiently hearty response on the part of the President of the Local Government Board to the demands they had made on behalf of unemployment. He supposed the right hon. Gentleman had been in office sufficiently long to be able to resist any of the attacks made on him. It was only fair, however, experiences having been given by certain Members after failure to obtain satisfaction from the right hon. Gentleman, that he should say that so far as his own experience went he had every reason to be satisfied. It fell to his lot to appeal to the right hon.Gentleman for a further vote from the Unemployment Fund for relief of the distress which existed in the constituency which he represented. Despite the fact that they already had been most liberally dealt with when he was able to prove that the money was wanted not for some charity or in relief of the poor rates, but for carrying out work of a useful and practical kind, he had no difficulty in inducing the right hon. Gentleman to give another large instalment, notwithstanding that an adjoining district where useful, practical 1554 work could not be shown they had received refusals from the right hon. Gentleman. He could state half-a-dozen cases which would show that the right hon. Gentleman was fully alive to the question and was always willing to help distress when he could conscientiously do so. As far as business-like aptitude was concerned, he would say that in the early part of last winter when the borough of Croydon resolved to erect a large swimming-bath, it was pointed out that if the work could be put in hand, a considerable amount of work could be given to the unemployed in the town during the winter months. The idea was at first scouted because it was supposed that many months must elapse before the Local Government Board would hold their inquiry and sanction the loan. The mayor and corporation, therefore, asked him to intercede with the right hon. Gentleman, and he called upon him at his office and represented the case, pointing out the great amount of distress that existed in the building trade at Croydon, and stating that if the right hon. Gentleman could expedite the matter it would be of great assistance in reducing unemployment. Within three weeks of that time an inspector had been sent down, the inquiry made, and the sanction of the Local Government Board given to the loan, and within five weeks of the original application the work was put into the hands of the contractors and fifty or sixty men were given useful employment who otherwise would have been without work. Hon. Members had accused the right hon. Gentleman of being indifferent to the unemployment demand of the country, and therefore he thought it right to get up and say that there were two sides to the question, and that if the facts were fairly and squarely put before the right hon. Gentleman he was always willing to do his best to assist them.
§ MR. HARMOOD - BANNER (Liverpool, Everton)
called attention to the administration of the Local Government Board in connection with matters in relation to municipal and county boroughs. He did not wish to say a word against the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board, who was regarded 1555 by the municipalities as a most benevolent despot. The right hon. Gentleman did not always concur with their views or accept their conclusions, but on the whole, in all matters of administration except in the matter of finance, they had his ready concurrence and most useful advice. The first question he desired to raise was the position the right hon. Gentleman had taken with regard to the payment of wages to workmen out of borrowed moneys. During the last two years the Local Government Board when sanctioning a loan for the carrying out of public works had imposed a condition that the wages of any permanent workmen who might be engaged on such work should not be defrayed out of the loan so sanctioned. It might be a good condition, but it was a serious thing for the municipalities, and it had on one occasion resulted in the increase of one half-penny in the rates. It was not, however, a question of the incidence of taxation but of the fairness or unfairness of the action of the Local Government Board in relation to such work. Most local authorities objected to this new departure on the part of the Local Government Board. To show how injuriously this condition worked, he pointed out that the municipalities were not allowed to transfer their best men to the capital expenditure department for any new work that was being carried on, and the work had to be left to men who were employed by the contractor, who might not be so good. He could not see that it was a question of men being employed permanently or on contract at all; the question was whether the work on which they were employed was a capital expesditure work. If it was, the men employed upon it should be paid out of capital expenditure, and not out of revenue. The work of repairing a road should be paid out of revenue. If the men engaged upon that work were put on to making a new road they should be paid out of capital, but it was said that they must be paid out of revenue because they were employed permanently. Of course, that could be remedied by taking the men out of the permanent employment and putting them on to the contract job. The view of the municipalities was that the men 1556 engaged on these works ought to be permanent men of ability. They would far sooner have permanent men than contractors' men whom they had constantly to supervise in the conduct of the work. They often found that in contract work it was considered right to scamp it in some way and not to render work which the nature of the undertaking required. In the case of sewage disposal a large amount of casual labour was employed, but it was necessary to use gangs of overseers who were familiar with the work. Those men again could not be paid out of capital expenditure. In other matters where large amounts of casual labour were employed, the use of permanent men had a tendency to increase the cost of the structural work, which much discouraged the employment of permanent labour by the municipal authorities. It also resulted in the work being given out to contract and the importation of a large number of casual labourers instead of the work being done by the permanent staff. To the use of so much of casual labour was due the amount of unemployment that existed, and it was desirable to prevent the increase of casual labour by this system which was bound to employ many men for short and irregular periods. He failed to understand on what principle the President of the Local Government Board had taken up this stand as regarded these loans; it was only possible on one condition, namely, that he had no trust in the administration of the municipality. If he had he could not see why this question should be raised. But undoubtedly there was this in it, that with a large municipality the work was likely to be properly carried out and the allocation to be complete, and also there was not at all likely to be the taking of the men unnecessarily which might occur in smaller towns where they did not have a large amount of work going on and where they might take on a staff, and, allocating them improperly to capital work when they were engaged on revenue purposes, increase the cost of the work and relieve the rates improperly from the payments that ought to be made. While that was quite possible in the smaller localities where they only had a small expenditure on public works and did not have a large expenditure on repairs, it was absolutely 1557 impossible in big places like Birmingham, Manchester, or Liverpool, and it was a great hardship on larger cities that it should be impossible for them to use their permanent men on capital works without having to charge that expenditure to revenue and not to capital. It meant a very large increase in rates, and it introduced what was so objectionable—the employment of casual labour and contracting for work when it would be so much better done by the employment of a permanent staft. The next point he wished to raise was the question of the sinking fund on waterworks, which were fairly permanent works. They were not built for the purposes of a day, but for centuries, and they had evidence of what they could be in the great waterworks of Rome, Italy, and Spain as well as in many of more modern date in this country. What was the action of the Local Government Board as regards waterworks? The most serious case was that of the Halifax Corporation. In March, 1906, the Local Government Board were approached in reference to these waterworks and were asked to permit the sinking fund to run for a period of fifty years. The Local Government Board refused and fixed it at a shorter period which raised the rate by 7½d. in the £. That was a very serious matter, and there were many other instances of a similar nature. Resolutions had been forwarded to the Prime Minister from time to time by the corporation, and a deputation had been asked for though they had not been received. The Local Government Board had referred to a Select Committee's Report in which the reasons in favour of short periods for loans were set out, but so far as waterworks were concerned the reasons given were decidedly weak, indefensible, and contradictory. It might be right to have a short period for gasworks, tramways, electric works, or sewage disposal works, but, as regards waterworks, he failed to see the principle on which it applied. So far as regards the borough of Halifax, some of their waterworks were constructed in 1820, some in 1851 and some in 1870, and all these were as good as new and the cost had been absolutely written off at the expense of previous generations. The term of sixty years was by no means 1558 unreasonable, but the President of the Local Government Board gave them thirty years, which was entirely insufficient for such works as these. The burden of rates was constantly increasing, and while it was quite right that matters of short life should bear a short period, matters of long life should be so adjusted as to bear a long period and relieve the rates leaving the future generation to bear their share. In the Housing of the Working Classes Act, 1903, eighty years had been substituted for sixty years, and in the Housing and Town Planning Bill, which he congratulated himself he was associated with the light hon. Gentleman in attempting to pass, and he hoped they would get it through very speedily—it was one of the best Bills ever brought before the House—eighty years was the period. He had every confidence in the right hon. Gentleman's judgment, but he hoped that the education and the growing resources of civilisation would make the inhabitants eighty years hence indisposed to accept as comfortable dwellings the dwellings they were now putting up to last eighty years. He questioned as a matter of comparison why eighty years should be allowed for these cottages and only thirty years for school buildings, thus adding enormously to the education rate. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to be the dictator of the Cabinet. The matter was brought before the late Prime Minister and the then Minister for Education, and they accepted the principle that eighty years was the proper period to give for school buildings, and school buildings of the present day would last that period. When it came to an application for a loan in order to raise these buildings, the President of the Local Government Board intervened and refused to accept the view of the Prime Minister and only gave them thirty years in which to repay the sinking fund. The result was that the education rate had increased and the cost of the buildings to the community was enormously put up. The present Prime Minister said in an interview last year that it seemed an anomaly that the period for repayment in this particular case should be, in. consequence of recent legislation, as short as thirty years, and in the case of 1559 other buildings which were not prima facie more durable in character it should be as long as fifty years and in some cases sixty. It was strange that two leading lights should be absolutely satisfied that the longer period was sufficient for these education buildings, and that the President of the Local Government Board should override them and say the education buildings were rubbish, badly constructed, and unfit for the purpose—that they were jerry buildings upon which he could only allow a period of thirty years for sinking fund. It raised the question in the mind of the municipality "Where are we? Who is the head of the Cabinet,the President of the Local Government Board, or the Prime Minister?" They obtained approval and went away very cheerful from interviews with the Prime Minister and the Minister for Education, and were depressed shortly afterwards by a communication from the Local Government Board which overrode all their cheerful anticipations. Matters affecting the municipality in every possible way had increased the burden of rates, and prevented the municipality from being so willing as they would have been to expend money upon new waterworks and new capital expenditure because of the very excessive cost to the ratepayer. He failed to see how it could be right to give cottages for the working, classes eighty years in which to survive while waterworks which would last centuries and schools which would last 100 years were only allowed thirty years within which the ratepayers should pay for them. He did not intend to join in any effort to reduce the right hon. Gentleman's salary, because he felt grateful to him for many things he had done in regard to municipal administration. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would consider this matter favourably with a view to seeing whether he could not place the Sinking Fund in relation to municipalities on a better basis.
§ MR. G. A. HARDY (Suffolk, Stowmarket)
said he wished to associate himself with what had been said by the hon. Member for Plymouth as to the thorough manner in which the right hon. Gentleman had carried out the Act about which they were speaking. Perhaps they had never 1560 had a Minister who had controlled this great Department more sympathetically than the present President of the Local Government Board. There was one thing, however, he hoped the President would remember throughout the coining winter, and it was that they were going to be visited with an unusual crisis, an intimation of which had only just been brought to their notice. They had, in fact, only realised it that day, because the London County Council had decided to close down its Works Department, with the result that there would be thousands of men thrown out of employment. With that fact in front of them it might be well for the President of the Local Government Board to consider carefully what he could do to help the people of London who would be ruthlessly thrown out of employment by the action of the London County Council. Like many other hon. Members of the House he had received letters from his constituents with regard to the excessive speed of motor cars, and in the particular constituency which he had the honour to represent he was told that on account of the police not being active they were unable to obtain convictions. They had brought actions against the scouts, but they had failed. He had a letter only yesterday in which it was stated that in Stowmarket the police were not properly controlling the speed of motor-cars. He felt that the lead in this matter which had been given them by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin, was one for which the whole House felt grateful. They had lost the liberty of the road and they all desired to recover it, and they believed that only through the instrumentality of the President of the Local Government Board and his power could they possibly recover that liberty which had been the right of the people of England for so long.
§ *THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. JOHN BURNS,) Battersea
said the House had listened to an interesting discussion upon he estimates of the Local Government Board, and they had heard from various peakers of the wide range of duties which came within that Department. 1561 With regard to the duties of that Department and the present status, he had been asked by the late President of the Local Government Board the Member for South Dublin directly to say a word or two before he dealt with other points. He had been asked to state with regard to the future status of the Board of Trade and the Local Government Board what the Government were doing in connection with both those offices. In reply to that kind question, put with so much sympathy and appreciation of the officers of the Local Government Board and himself, he could only say that the subject of the status of the Local Government Board and the Board of Trade was immediately before the Government. It was now before the Cabinet and he trusted that before long some of, and perhaps all, the desires and hopes that the right hon. Gentleman opposite had so sympathetically expressed might be realised by a recommendation of the Government. In the event of the status of the Local Government Board being raised, as he thought it ought to be raised, as co-equal with the Board of Trade, and even to the level of a Secretaryship of State, he could assure the right hon. Gentleman that if that consolation was secured and they enjoyed a wider sphere of activity, a larger status, and perhaps, as occasionally came from both, an extended remuneration, there was no one to whom they would be more indebted than to the right hon. Gentleman and his generous questions to-day and his more generous speech when last this subject came within the purview of Parliament. He might add on this subject that concurrently with considering such exalted things as status and such sordid things as salaries, they were also considering whether the time had not arrived when there might safely be carried out an interchange of duty from several of the Departments which were now doing work which other Departments could more cheaply and more efficiently carry out. There ought to be an interchange of duties and a readjustment of powers and functions, and he was glad to say that the various offices whose status and salaries were being considered were in the most frank and friendly way, without any consideration for their own particular sphere of duty, undertaking 1562 investigations as to how this could best be done with the simple object of serving the public through better organised Departments with exchange of duties more efficiently than they now could. He trusted that when the result of the action of the Government was brought before the House of Commons their recommendations would be as unanimously received as the desire for them had been sympathetically expressed that afternoon. Turning from that subject, the right hon. Gentleman opposite and other hon. Members had raised the question of the administraton of the Motor Car Acts. He did not think it was necessary so soon after they had had an important discusson at an all-night sitting to deal at any great length or in any detail with this particular subject, because on that occasion he laid before the House what was being done and what they hoped to do in the future. The right hon. Gentleman had addressed to him this practical point. He suggested that the Local Government Board might consider the advisability of issuing a circular pointing out to the local authorities their powers and duties and liabilities in regard to motor car and vehicular traffic. The right hon. Gentleman was not to blame for raising this question, but as a matter of fact he had promised the House of Commons over a week ago that he would issue a circular not only upon the particular subject referred to by the right hon. Gentleman, but upon a number of other subjects akin to the point which the right hon. Gentleman had mentioned. That circular was under consideration, and he believed it would comply with the wishes not only of the right hon. Gentleman but also of others who had expressed their opinions upon the question. He agreed in the main that they ought to make Section 1 of the Motor Car Acts the basis of nearly all their actions in dealing with this subject. He believed that where a man drove any vehicle, whether horse-drawn or propelled by mechanical means, to the danger of the public and to the risk of the lives of foot passengers passing across or using the roads, whether driving at one, five, fifteen, or twenty miles an hour, the driver should be held liable and fined and, in extreme cases, imprisoned. He shared the view that it detracted from the efficient and 1563 proper discharge of the duties of a policeman engaged in controlling the roads to be watched by motor scouts, and that was a form of supervision which in his opinion the sooner they got rid of the better. He thought the Motor Association would be well advised to withdraw the motor scouts who watched the police, because he was perfectly convinced that the policemen could not do their duty as fairly and impartially as they ought to do, because both scouts and policemen were only human, and they could not get that impartial exercise of the duties of a policeman when he was supervised and spied upon by an army of unemployed scouts employed by motorists. With regard to sign posts, he had issued a circular on that particular subject and perhaps the right hon. Gentleman who raised the question and motorists generally would be glad to know that in the last few years nearly 10,000 sign posts had been put up by local authorities warning all sections of the public as to the dangerous conditions of certain roads. He had also issued another circular as to local authorities and private owners of land contiguous to the roadways so to co-operate with the local authority and the police and district surveyors that corners of roads should be rounded off, that hedges should be reduced in height at the cross roads, and generally speaking that the police, the local authorities, and others affected should co-operate in order to remove some of the dangerous places which existed upon many of our roads. He would deal with the various points in the circular which he contemplated issuing, and with some of the mechanical points suggested to him. As an engineer himself he did not attach much importance to mechanical contrivances, however skilfully designed, with the object of applying to a motor car any mechanical governors for preventing a vehicle going over fifteen miles an hour. He knew how governors could be manipulated. A large number of engines had governors, but there were methods of dealing with them and with safety valves which were known to engineers and which were not always approved of by inspectors. With regard to the question of the roads the Department had had an opportunity in co-operation with the local authorities of doing something; and he was sending 1564 an inspector, an engineer who knew the subject very well, to Paris, where the various cities of the Continent were holding an international conference on the question of road construction and maintenance and the adoption of reasonable and practical methods for the prevention of dust and the improvement of roads both in town and country. He had also asked the Motor Associations to consider seriously, not only in their own interest, but in the interest of the public who maintained the roads, whether I they could not abandon the armoured, studded tires that were now general. He thought motorists would be well advised if they realised that public opinion was hardening considerably against the man who owned a motor-car and drove it under conditions and at a speed which were not in accordance with the neighbourly and kindly amenities that ought to exist among all travellers on the roads. They would be well advised if they recognised how public opinion was moving, and did not provoke the Department to go to the extreme length anti-motorists had advised them to go, which he would be very reluctant to do. They had to be told and, if necessary, compelled to put their house in order, and, if they did not, he would see that they were kept decently in order. He believed that the result of the circulars that had been issued, of the action now being taken, and of the hints he had given that afternoon to the motorists, would be that they would be able to allow a great industry to be developed consistently with a reasonable regard for life, and with a reasonable amount of safety.
He now came to the question of tuberculosis. The right hon. Gentleman opposite very properly referred to the Commission which he appointed. That Commission was appointed some six years ago, and it had been presided over by two gentlemen of great distinction, and the doctors and officers who served on it deserved the praise of the community. The final Report was in preparation, and he had been pressed by doctors and by some of the Commissioners to extend the reference and scope of the inquiry. That he was disinclined to do, because he thought that the £50,000 or £60,000 it had cost and the six or seven years of 1565 time it had taken were almost enough for the particular subject. He was, however, prepared to consider whether the present farm and laboratory so generously placed at the disposal of the nation at considerable cost and some inconvenience by Lord Blyth might not be carried on. On the general question of infectivity, both in men and in animals, of tuberculosis he need not dwell, because in connection with the Milk Bill, which ho had promised., which he had in draft, and which he hoped to let the House have as soon as he could obtain from the Board of Agriculture their views on the question of tubercular cows, they would be able to discuss it at greater length. Serious though the scourge of consumption was, he did not hope for its discontinuance and final abatement so much from medical or laboratory work, as from other and better causes and remedies. Speaking broadly and generally, he regarded consumption, the world over, as a social disease, due to low wages, bad and insufficient food, and bad house accommodation. It connoted, as a rule, a low standard of comfort, and synchronised with bad economic and social conditions, and until we rose to a higher standard we could never hope to get rid of consumption wholly. It was satisfactory to know as Britons, that in this regard, as in many other aspects of public health, we were leading the world. In London one and a quarter persons died of consumption to two in Berlin and two and a half to three in Paris. To put it in a better form, in the last thirty years the death-rate from consumption had diminished from twenty-five to ten per 10,000. That had occurred since the Education Act of 1870 was passed, and the improvement had been accelerated during the past ten or fifteen years as the result of better public health legislation, and by cheap food which this nation commanded for its poorer people to a greater extent, perhaps, than any other nation in the world. The hon. Member for Liverpool had spoken about the restrictions of the Local Government Board with regard to the periods of loans to local authorities. They granted eighty years for land, sixty years for houses under the Housing Acts, and only thirty years for other buildings including school 1566 buildings. That was in no sense inconsistent or illogical. There was a great deal of difference in these objects. Houses paid rent and were self-supporting, but there was nothing financially self-supporting in education, though the expenditure upon it was one which it was beneficial to the nation to incur. It might not be realised how quickly designs in schools changed and how quickly things altered. He would take the case of the London County Council. In the last three or four years the London County Council had been in a position to spend £140,000 on the repair of schools before the loan period of thirty years became exhausted. That in itself was an argument for the policy which the Local Government Board pursued, and so long as he occupied his present post he would do his best to inculcate on local authorities that the present generation should bear, roughly speaking, its own burdens, and that loans should not be granted for too long a period. Considering how taste changed in regard to the designs of school buildings, and how rapidly other things altered, it seemed to him that a capricious generation which spent a great deal in the improvement of schools should bear the responsibility for payment. Complaint had been made that it was unfair to local authorities to refuse to allow salaried officers to be paid out of loaned money. He was not a banker, but he knew sufficient of good finance to know that this was in the interest of local authorities. It was essential that they should be noted for their credit because they had to get their money in markets that were very susceptible to unbusinesslike habits on the part of those to whom they lent money. Nobody in his position would allow salaried officers to be paid out of lent money. What was the hardship? Supposing a loan was granted of £10,000 for a sewer, £5,000 was for material and £4,500 for wages. It was not fair that the surveyor, the engineer, and the superintendent of works, who ought to be salaried officers regularly employed, should have a portion of their salaries paid out of lent money. It was bad finance which he did not intend to run the risk of promoting. One of the chief difficulties in the unemployed problem in this country was the extent to which local authorities, and even 1567 Government departments, had borrowed money and spent it in a way which took no notice of the regular employment of a smaller number of men on work while it was being carried out. The process the Department had adopted of allowing no salary to be paid out of a loan had decasualised labour. Instead of interfering with direct employment, it had enabled local authorities to take a wider view of their duties, and to employ men more regularly than they otherwise would have done. Therefore, for financial reasons, he asked the House to support him. The hon. Member for Sunderland had raised the important question of the unemployed. It was only right that before he dealt with the speech of the hon. Member that he should congratulate the House on the absence of criticism, especially querulous criticism of his Department, and that the House should have the opportunity of knowing the facts in regard to the operations of the Local Government Board on the unemployed question. They had eighty-nine Distress Committees in England and Wales, of which thirty had received grants from the Local Government Board. England and Wales had received £124,000, of which £62,000 had gone to London alone, or £104,000 to London and district, which included West Ham, Walthamstow, Leyton, East Ham, and Tottenham. Scotland, with which, technically, he had nothing to do, had received over £19,000. Ireland had received £4,500. Whatever might be the outlook for Scotland and England and Wales—and he did not endorse the pessimistic outlook which had been uttered in the columns of The Times by a gentleman who ought to know better— he was glad to say that Ireland, this last winter, had not been so badly off as the year before, and, judging from what he heard, Ireland was not likely to share in the depression this coming winter in England and Wales—a depression which, in his judgment, was exaggerated. For the money expended, 90,000 men were registered, and 3,000 women. These figures must be taken with many qualifications, because registration was very frequently loose and indulged in by men who were only unemployed for a short time, but were not out of work in 1568 the ordinary sense of that phrase. Of those 90,000 registered, 54,000 were qualified, and of the 54,000 qualified 37,000 received work; or over 60 per cent. It was interesting to know that of the men qualified and registered, 5,469 refused work, he hoped because after registering they had got work through the ordinary channels of their own trade, which was much better than relief work. 80 per cent, of the total number of men registered were between the ages of twenty and fifty—rather a surprising, thing; whereas, 26 per cent, were of the ages of thirty and forty. These figures indicated that the theory of "too old at forty" for many forms of work had in the past been exaggerated. Another interesting fact which he learnt from these figures was that 53 per cent, of the total number of men who were qualified and received work were general or casual labourers. 19 per cent, of the total were from the building trades, in which a large proportion of them would be general labourers, more skilled than casual, but still not mechanics, In other words, 72 per cent. of the total number who were registered, qualified, and received work were either general or casual labourers, or from the building trades. The men received from one and three quarters to sixteen weeks work; the women, he was glad to say, from twelve to thirteen and a half weeks' work. The men received an average of £3 10s. for the work they did on the relief works, whilst labour colony men received £6 8s. on an average for the period they were at the various colonies. Six thousand people were emigrated through the agency of the local authorities and a new form of relief, perhaps in many ways the best form that had come to light, migration from one part of the country to another was resorted to in the case of 776 men. He had given this summary of the work of the distress's committees because he thought it would be as well for the House to have a conspectus of the facts before he dealt with the criticisms of hon. Members. He rejoiced to notice that not in one single instance had he received either outside the House or from Members of the House who represented distressed areas, a single complaint or criticism as to lack of promptitude on the part of the 1569 Local Government Board in dealing with this problem of the unemployed during the past year. He thought that men who knew him would credit him with no lack of sympathy with this particular subject. It was true that at times one had to be more firm, or appear to be more firm, than one really was; but it was impossible to govern an Empire with a Cabinet of Sunny Jims. One could not administer an unemployed grant so as to satisfy a number of sentimentalists, who, if they were in his office and had uncontrolled power over £200,000 would give much of the money at their disposal to their own district, to the wrong people, and at the wrong time, with the most disastrous results. In so far as he had been able to do so he had spent this money with a due regard for work done, and every consideration for the claims of the local authority. That was demonstrated by the fact that he had received many votes of thanks which he had handed over to his colleagues. In fact, he was almost becoming more hardened to the votes of thanks which he had received from local authorities for the way in which the Department had carried on their work, than to votes of censure. He approached nexts winter, not with the gloomy expectation of some hon. Members. The hon. Member for Holderness had asked him, what the Local Government Board was going to do. He would toll him and he thought the hon. Member would approve. As soon as the Commission on Afforestation and Coast Erosion, of which the hon. Member himself was a useful Member, reported, which he hoped they would do in the early autumn, the Government were prepared to consider that report, to take the whole of it within their purview and, if possible, to be prompt and practical in interpreting the Report. But, as far as he was concerned he was not going to lose his head; or to be driven into foolish action at the instance of panic-mongers, political mischiefmakers, and people in certain quarters who, he did not hesitate to say, were putting forward uneconomic ideas, and using the unemployed to an extent which he hoped would not be continued. He intended to approach the winter with a golden heart but not with a head of quicksilver; and if the hon. Member would leave this problem 1570 to him to deal with through the winter, he hoped to do his duty sympathetically and promptly up to the highest level. The hon. Member for Sunderland, who had a perfect right to speak on this subject, and whom he understood very well, had asked him if he would deal with the exceptional distress in his area. The hon. Member had said, and it was echoed by other Members, that the Department should show a little more freedom in dealing with the subject, and a little more laxity in its treatment. The hon. Member had no complaint to make but thanked the President of the Local Government Board and his officers for the kindness with which they had treated the exceptional distress in Sunderland. He would tell the hon. Member why he should not be so depressed. The Local Government Board gave Sunderland £6,500, for which Sunderland was grateful, and when the local authority asked if it wanted more money, the reply was in the negative. The £6,500 in no sense represented what Sunderland received last winter; it was only the nucleus of contributions from other sources, and no less than £22,000 was available altogether last winter to meet the Exceptional distress in that district. If Sunderland was as reasonable next winter, and its citizens as public spirited as the rich engineers and shipbuilders of that district ought to be in giving out of their plenty to their poor fellow-citizens who had made their great fortunes and had placed many of them in an extraordinarily wealthy position, then the district and the Local Government Board together would be able to tide over any distress which might occur. The hon. Member could safely leave his own district in his own hands.
§ *MR. JOHN BURNS
said that the hon. Member had made a reference to one or two things which he would have been well advised if he had left alone. He was much indebted to him for withdrawing the statement that any of the officers of the Local Government Board had written letters to the effect that Hollesley Bay was a place in which a subsidised industry was being carried on. He had said that he would be fair and 1571 even generous to Hollesley Bay during the experimental period. How had he shown it? Apart from the purchase money, £43,475, the gross cost of management for Hollesley Bay for less than three years was £62,000. The receipts from sales of produce were £13,976. The net cost—he would not say loss, so as not to offend susceptibilities—was £48,391. How could anybody say he had been stern and unbending? For this large sum 2,513 men had passed through the colony; they had from eight to sixteen weeks' residence there on the average. The net cost per week per man was between 30s. and 31s.; including loan charges it was 33s. For that they received board and lodging and 6d. per week pocket-money. The wife and children in London received maintenance up to 17s. 6d. per week. When an agricultural labourer who worked sixty and seventy hours per week, had to pay rent and maintain wife and children on an average of 2s. or 3s. a week less than what the man's wife and children received in London alone, no one could accuse him of harshness. What were the results? Of the 2,513, 148 had emigrated. Some people were under the impression that this was to be a school for training emigrants for America and Canada and the Colonies generally. He had been through America and Canada twice, and he had been told in both countries the farming was so different in those countries that the less a man knew of the British methods of intensive cultivation the better. There was a great deal of difference between market gardening near a town and work on a ranch or prairie farm in America and Canada, and he found that the town man who had been to the training colony was worse off when he went out there than he would have been if he had gone straight to the ranch or prairie farm with an energetic and adaptable mind. How many men had returned to the land? Thirty-seven only, and it was very significant that out of the 37, more than one-third were agricultural labourers before they went to Hollesley Bay. Only 18 per cent of the men had found work after they had left the colony, as far as could be ascertained. The settlement of the men in ordinary farm situations or in market gardens or in ordinary occupations had proved in most cases impossible; consequently the only considerable outlet 1572 for men trained at Hollesley Bay had been by emigration.
The hon. Member for Jarrow had appealed to him to spend in the forthcoming winter all the £200,000. He did not wish to misrepresent the hon. Gentleman, but if by that he meant that he was to spend this £200,000 without any regard to economic conditions he could assure the hon. member that, being Scotch, he was not likely to throw other people's money away without getting value for it. The hon. member thought progress in this matter should be quicker. They all learnt experience by responsibility. The hon. member was of an adaptable nature and could readily assimilate himself to his environment, and he congratulated him on the way he was doing it. If ever the hon. gentleman found himself in the position of President of the Local Government Board he could assure himself that the same kind of criticisms would be levelled at him. The difficulty in dealing with unemployment was not so much to get money or to spend it, but how it could be spent for the employment of unemployed-people without concurrently damaging better men than those they employed. The difficulty at Hollesley Bay was not how to employ the men, but how to get rid of the produce. And that was-particularly true of women's workrooms. They had to be very careful in providing State or municipal work for unemployed women that they were not providing opportunities for loafing husbands or sons to exploit their sisters, wives, and mothers to the permanent undoing of the workman and demoralisation of the wife and children. He was now going to quote the testimony of one of the ablest and best-informed women workers in the best of causes, the cause of her poorer sisters, whom we had in this country. He referred to Mrs. Tennant of whom ho had always had the greatest admiration and respect. Mrs. Tennant said—The years working has shown the present system of employment to be but transitorily helpful. Limited as it has been to satisfying the requirements of the Emigration and Working Colonies Committees, chiefly by plain needlework, it provides no industrial equipment of permanent value. There is little market for needlework of the character required in the Poplar and Camberwell Workrooms; and though the women leave the workrooms in nearly every case considerably improved in. 1573 industrial capacity, they have not, owing to the poorness of the outside market, appreciably improved their wage-earning position.In the St. Pancras Tailoring Workroom, … the women can learn a skilled trade under the guidance of an experienced tailoress; and for those women the future holds more hope But, unfortunately, that market is at the moment well provided with workers, and though I hope individual women, previously unskilled, may now obtain the skilled employment for which their training in the workrooms has fitted them (especially where the period has been extended), I cannot feel that the present system contributes to a solution of the problem.At the same time he must refer to the fact that the Central Unemployed Body for London had expressed the opinion—That the Women's Work Department had possibilities of usefulness, but that there was a danger of women becoming the principal wage earners in families where the men are merely loafers, and also of their leaving other employment to enter the workroom because of the better rate of pay and conditions.The difficulty of the Local Government Board had not been to spend money and to provide women with work, but to see that the work was done under conditions which would not damage other women who were equally entitled to their sympathy. His last point was this. What else could the Local Government Board do administratively, because they were not now dealing with legislation? They could not deal with the matter by legislation to-day, but only by administration. He could assure the House that they could rely on his facilitating every loan subject to the rules of sound finance, to the work being properly carried out, and to its being thrown into the winter months. He had given the departmental officers a standing order that no loan should be kept back, and that even it should be accelerated in order that work might be given from November to March that otherwise might be done from March to October. All inquiries would be facilitated, and he was now in personal communication with officers, surveyors, engineers, railway managers, and the owners of docks and other large works to do everything in their power to diminish casual labour, and to diminish overtime, and to see that their commercial house was in order so that the amount of work, without having overtime, might be spread over the largest number of men possible. And what was the Govern- 1574 ment doing in the direction of administration and in the direction of palliation? He did not want to have too much palliation in connection with the unemployed. He did not believe that any single administration in the course of three or four years was going to solve the unemployed problem. He believed that no single Act of Parliament, except in conjunction with other economic and social forces, could do the good that some people expected. On this subject what were the Government confronted with? First, they were confronted with the Unemployed Act, and it was not he who had asked the House to pass it. To be perfectly frank, he did not think much of that Act, from which he had never expected much. When he came into office not only had he this Unemployed Act, but he had not the money necessary to make it reasonably efficient. The Government had supplemented it with a grant which he had done his best to apply reasonably. As to any other legislative proposal or any other serious administrative change he had been unable to carry it out because the Unemployed Act, plus the grant, was accompanied by something which, had tied his hands many times and in many directions. A Royal Commission was appointed to go into that special subject of the Poor Law. He hoped that their Report would be ready in October or November. Whether or not it was going to be as revolutionary as had been indicated in some quarters he did not know; he was not in the Commission's counsels and very properly so; but it might probably do as much harm in some directions as it might attempt to do good in others. But whatever it might do he was not going to prejudge it; he should duly consider it when it appeared. But beyond the Royal Commission on the Poor Law, this Government had thought it right to consider the question of coast erosion and afforestation, from which much had been expected. They had immediately appointed a Special Committee to deal with coast erosion and afforestation, and they had so arranged that the Reports on coast erosion and afforestation should be concurrent with the production of the Royal Commission's Report on the Poor Law. Beyond that 1575 the Government, by dealing with the small holdings question, housing, legislation for children, old-age pensions, by stimulating the building trade, and by other measures had done their best by legislation, by cash down, and by administration to discharge their duty towards the unemployed. He was convinced that the House was so satisfied with their administration and their conduct that it would pass these Estimates. He believed that they would do so mainly because they, the Department, had administered the Unemployed Act with sympathy and reasonable moral courage, and had never turned aside any good work that would benefit the community by giving it an unsympathetic ear or an unkind thought. Personally, it was not only with perfect confidence that he asked the House of Commons to endorse their action with regard to motor cars, vaccination, tuberculosis and many other matters that had been discussed, but he claimed his salary on the broad ground that he had earned and deserved it, and that the Government as a whole had done their duty to the unemployed.
§ *SIR CHARLES W. DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
said he could not grudge the time that the Local Government Board Vote had very properly occupied that afternoon, and a longer time might have been occupied in the dissection of some of the remarks of his right hon. friend who had just sat down. The right hon. Gentleman had voted himself his own salary without a division, the circumstances being such that the House had no option but to give him his salary without a division, for the form of supply before them to-day was most inconvenient and without precedent. On former occasions when an arrangement had been come to such as that of to-day the step was taken to propose the Vote to be discussed as a separate Vote from its class, and then the Report being separate they were enabled to take it in the ordinary way. To-day, of course, there had been no question before the House when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin rose, and therefore his speech had the effect, it being necessary for Mr. Speaker to put a Question to the House, of 1576 allowing the President of the Local Government Board to vote his own salary. No division was then possible. The Home Office Vote on which he desired to speak, had to be put into a comparatively short period that night, and the effect of that, he was afraid, must be that those who had general confidence in the administration of his right hon. friend must cut out any praise which they might be disposed to give him—and he should be disposed to give a great deal—in order to save time by confining themselves only to points of criticism. If they did that, he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would understand that the criticism was offered to save time, without praise. The Home Office Vote, although, it had less time for its discussion, was more important this year than it had been for a long time past, because of the extraordinary consensus of opinion among inspectors in all parts of the country as to the immense, increase in the employment of young girls and children in factory work. This was connected, he believed, with an illegality, that was to say with the admission that the employment was under circumstances distinctly not contemplated by the present law, the mere enforcement of which would put an end to many of the evils of which the inspectors complained. The House was aware of the extraordinary difficulties of inspection which were caused by the exceptional hours in certain trades, exceptional hours which had been the subject of frequent debate in that House. The exempted processes had often been the subject of attack on the Homo Office in past years by the Christian Social Union Committee, and by many others. The exempted processes, such as fish curing, bottling or preserving fruit, and—also laundries—were specimens of the danger which that House incurred when it tried to treat individual cases by exceptional hours, or where there was a total absence of the regulation of hours which it was unable to treat. Last year he had made a strong attempt to obtain for the House the Reports on the fish-curing industry made by Health Officers to the Scottish Local Government Board. The Home Office had referred him to the 1577 Scottish Office, and the Scottish Office refused to give them. They gave the reason that, for a few years past, had teen given on several occasions, but to none of which it was applicable, that the papers were so bulky it would be too costly to print them. They might of course have been placed in the Library, but they had failed to do even that. In the Report laid before Parliament, Miss Paterson, one of the inspectors, stated that she had had an opportunity of perusing these Reports, and she had called marked attention to them. Might he complain that the lateness of the Home Office Vote was due partly to the lateness of the issue of the Report? In the time of the late Government they got the Report at the end of May, and over and over again they had the Home Office Vote six weeks before the end of the session, and in the first week of July. The result was that they had not on this occasion had an opportunity of eliciting many of the facts which earlier issue of the Report would have enabled them to ascertain. Miss Paterson said that she had had an opportunity of reading these Reports as to the fish-curing industry, and she had quoted them. Last year he had asked the Undersecretary about this matter, and he had replied that a portion of the Reports would be incorporated in a special Report. It was quite true that the chief inspector had given up his well-deserved holiday to investigating the facts of this industry, but they had not had this Report. He had asked for it the other day, and he was told that it was incorporated in the inspector's principal Report. In the principal Report there was only a series of proposals with regard to hours, leading up to suggestions for further relaxation of the law in Scotland. It was entirely opposed to every other Report, of the inspectors in every other portion of the Blue-book. Miss Paterson in her Report pointed out the lack of water supply, defective structural arrangements, absence of scavenging, and insufficient sanitary accommodation, and she hoped that the publication of the Scottish Reports would lead to some improvement. These Reports had never been placed before the House. She called attention, as did many of the other inspectors, to the impossibility 1578 of enforcing the law so far as hours went in these emergency processes, and to the extent to which exemptions were fraudulently used, not for the purposes stated in the Act of Parliament, but for the purpose of evading regulation of hours altogether—in the fish trade, for example, to catch a particular market, and in the jam trade in the same way. Here came in the first of these numerous allusions to the enormous increase this year in the employment of young girls in factory work, and in work of the heaviest and most straining kind. Miss Paterson said—Girls are taking to this work at an earlier age than formerly. The young girl feels the strain of long spells…The irregularity of the hours is a heavy drawback, as well as the low standard of housing accommodation.Miss Paterson's Report did not stand alone in this respect. At Great Yarmouth the inspector pointed out that the Home Office was far from having secured adherence to the standard which they had prescribed by order. For instance, he found one day working at Yarmouth 1,079 women, for whom there was only accommodation of twenty-four conveniences, which was far below the number required by the order. At Lowestoft there were 129 women on one plot, and 156 on another, with only three conveniences in each case, again far below the standard of the order. But in spite of these facts the chief inspector's words only appeared to point to further proposals for relaxation of hours, whereas the House had always viewed with the greatest jealousy all these exempted processes and knew from these Reports that the exemptions were invariably abused. There was a Report by Miss Vines, dealing with the other exempted process primarily, but who mentioned both together in words which ought to have the attention of the House. On page 175 of the Report Miss Vines, showing that the exemption was again fraudulently misused, said—It cannot be too strongly impressed that exemptions should involve special care in seeing that the Factory Act is strictly carried out in the non-exempted processes. Special legal licence in one process should accompany strict compliance with the law in the other processes not exempted as far as hours go.Miss Anderson, Principal Lady Inspector, dealt with the larger question in her 1579 Report, and pointed out on page 147 the industrial change that was now taking place in the employment of young workers. She said that several inspectors noted the increased employment of little girls in factory work and in attending to machinery, and that four inspectors pointed out the need for increased watchfulness over the health and safety of young girls in factories who had just left school, not half-timers, but whole-timers, under fourteen years of age. Miss Squire went so far as to say that she had inspected, in the year, a number of factories which looked like schools, filled with girls in short frocks and long hair, and attention was drawn over and over again to the marked increase of the employment of young girls, notably in the pen trade, in work formerly done by women. The villages round Bradford were noted for the large proportion of persons under thirteen who were now employed. In seven mills there were 243 full-timers under thirteen years old, and Miss Lovibond stated that the strain of working in weaving was very great on children of that tender age. These were rather startling facts, because this kind of child slavery in the case of boys they thought they had got rid of a great many years ago, and it was undoubtedly rapidly increasing in the case of girls in factory and machinery work. The statement from Belfast no doubt concerned cases where prosecutions were attempted but under the wrong law. There they found very young children now working after ten at night. On Good Friday three children of twelve, nine, and seven years of age worked from nine o'clock in the morning till 8.45 p.m. In that case the magistrates decided by a majority that the place was not a workshop, and was exempted under Section 114 of the Consolidated Factory Act. It was admitted that the employment was injurious to the children, and the inspector stated that there was a distinct deterioration in physiqe caused by this increase of young employment, the children being "pressed into service" as he said. There was another case on page 178 where there was a prosecution which also seemed to him to have been taken under the wrong statute. Belfast was mentioned again 1580 there by another inspector, and the heat and moisture were distinctly stated to be worse in that particular set of mills than was the case even in Lancashire, and these were full-timers, girls under fourteen years of age. The conditions were particularly dangerous for children, the inspector said, and Miss Martindale, another inspector, continued on the same line. She pointed out that the effect of working ten hours a day on a child twelve years of age, underfed and unsuitably clothed, was most serious. She pointed out how she had come across cases of children being worked who were "quite unfit" for the work. She explained that in some of these cases the children had passed the certifying surgeon, but they were unfit for their work, in one case suffering from ophthalmia and in another from mill fever, and several of the family had died. All these children, she said, had been certified. One certifying surgeon complained to her that it was impossible for him to say at the time of the first employment that the child was unfit for work, but he referred certain doubtful cases to the inspector. Then there was suspension for re-examination under Section 67 of the Factory Act. Then came a case where the details were perfectly frightful—a child of thirteen so ill-developed as to be an average child of nine and quite unfit. There were most distressing details, and in this case it was specifically alleged that the child was working as a eager, and having to lift very heavy weights, and the results were pointed out in Miss Martin-dale's terrible words. Then Miss Squire had similar cases of the increased employment of young girls in machinery processes. In Leeds, little girls aged thirteen were, she reported, employed in the ironing work, which those who were familiar with the Pimlico factory knew was very heavy work, in a high temperature and where the weights which would have to be lifted with an effort would cause a strain to which girls of that age certainly ought not to be exposed. The certifying surgeon agreed with the inspector as to the unsuitability of the employment for small and undersized girls, spoke of spinal curvature, and declared it to be an employment for which children were 1581 quite unfit. Miss Squire went on to say—Unfortunately the work to which girls are put is frequently not disclosed to the certifying surgeon, and the certificate is not given with any reference whatever to the class of employment in which the little girls should be employed. My colleagues and I have drawn the attention of the certifying surgeon to individual cases of girls who are unfi for the work, and processes which seem harmful.There was a law recently passed for the purpose of dealing with employment of this kind, but that law was not enforced, and so far as he was aware no prosecutions had been taken under it. The Employment of Children Act, 1903, contained a general section called "General Restrictions," and there were two subsections which had been put in for the purpose of dealing with cases of this kind. In two or three of the most frightful of these instances the lifting of weights was one of the matters dealt with. Subsection 4 of Section 3, which was the general clause, had these words—A child shall not be employed to lift, carry, or move anything likely to cause injury to the child.Subsection 5 used these words—A child shall not be employed in any occupation likely to be injurious to the health or safety of the child.Why were prosecutions not taken under that law? Why was that clause a dead letter? When the employment of children under fourteen was increasing so rapidly, prosecutions ought to be taken in all cases where there was a reasonable chance of success. A very closely connected subject was that of infant mortality in certain trades, such as that of potting, in which a large number of mothers were employed and where the rate of infant mortality was very high. Miss Vines, on page 187 of the Report dealt with that question. Last year the Report gave an enormously high infant mortality for the Potteries as a whole. The medical officers, in their Reports for last year, said the rate of infant mortality for England was the lowest ever recorded, and the Potteries showed a fair proportion of that decline. The decrease was wholly due to summer diarrhœa. Miss Vine's Report on page 187 dealt with that subject. After pointing out that it was a very good year as far as infant 1582 mortality was concerned, she said that nevertheless at Longton she investigated certain cases which seemed to account for the extraordinary high rate of mortality in the Potteries. She gave some frightful cases of the illegal employment of women and girls and children on Sundays for long hours. At Longton a girl of fourteen was employed in transferring on a Sunday. A woman was told to come to work on the same Sunday, and because she excused herself on the ground that her baby was ill she was dismissed without notice. There were other cases of that kind. He had this year been able to obtain the Reports of medical officers of health for each of these localities where the mortality among working mothers was exceptionally high. Miss Vine's Report dealt with Longton, where the death-rate the year before was the highest in the country. The medical officer of Longton, in his Report this year, said the rate was the lowest ever recorded in the borough, and he went on to say that—Although this is very pleasant, I must call attention to the fact that infantile mortality all over England was exceptionally low in 1907.He further pointed out that the decrease was wholly due to summer diarrhœa, because there had only been twenty-three deaths in Longton from that cause, whereas the year before the number was 120. The figures given by the medical officer for Longton were very interesting, because he followed each case and showed the infant death-rate in the cases of employed mothers. It was a very terrible table which showed that in Longton of the cases examined 281 mothers were employed in the potting industry and twenty-seven "otherwise." Through the courtesy of the Staffordshire authorities he had seen the forthcoming report of Dr. Reid, the medical officer for the county, on infant mortality in the potting towns. He told them this terribly sad fact, that "in Longton … among infants artificially fed the mortality is increased four and a half times" Although there was not a very large proportion of mothers employed in the potting trade the mortality among their infants who were brought up by hand in the 1583 absence of the mothers was so frightfully high that it accounted for the preeminence of the potting towns, taken as a group, in infant mortality. He would not go through all the figures he had regarding other towns. In Tunstall, in spite of the decline in diarrhœa, there, as everywhere, the mortality was still frightfully high—a rate of 188, and the medical officer in reporting this "excessively high" rate said the cause was the "baneful factory employment of married women." In Fenton, although deaths from diarrhœa were sixteen as against forty-two in previous years, yet the rate had actually risen this year to 164, including sixty-two deaths from atrophy. The medical officer advised legislation against employment of mothers in potting, but of course it was outside that debate to discuss that. A larger number of mothers were employed in dusty processes and were exposed to fibroid tuberculosis. The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, who had given so much attention to the dusty processes, knew what the probable effect of dusty employment was upon the mothers. Dr. Oliver, who was supported by scientific evidence from other countries, said—Where both parents were working in lead the children, if born alive, died shortly after birth, as it had a peculiarly baneful influence in causing still-birth, short life or imbecility.A comparison between, the potting wards and the non-potting wards of the urban and rural districts which were around the potting boroughs proved that to be the case. In the potting ward of Fenton, although part of Fenton was rural, "nearly one-fifth of the total number of children born had died before one year." Hanley figures were rather better this year. The Stoke medical officer said although it was below the local average it was still "very unsatisfactory when compared with even the rate for the seventy-six large towns." In the Wolstanton, potting ward the same thing was to be found, a rate of 172, and and the medical officer said—This high infant mortality was no doubt due in a great measure to the greater number of women who are working.The pressure which was constantly being exercised on the Home Office in regard to the use of lead was now more willingly 1584 received than it was a few years ago. He had cause to complain of a speech by Mr. Cunynghame of the Home Office some time ago, but he made a speech at Hanley last autumn, on November 22nd, to which he could take no possible exception, and it was what everyone would wish him to say. Mr. Cunynghame said, on that occasion—The Home Office believed the use of lead must always be a source of danger.and he recommended continued scientific research on the subject. Last year there was an increase of fatal cases and there had been an increase of cases in the last half-year. They had not got back to the same condition they were in when his friends started the agitation in the time of the right hon. Gentleman opposite who did so much to try and meet their views, but the cases were rising enormously fast again. He knew this must give some anxiety to the Home Office. In the first half of the present year the cases were seventy of lead poisoning in the potting trade as against thirty-eight in the corresponding six months last year and although the deaths were fewer, in the last month or two they had been rising again very fast. Last year he complained of some retrogression on the part of the Government Departments in regard to the example they set in the use of leadless glaze, and he was glad this year there were some signs of improvement. In the last large contract placed by the Postmaster-General for insulators there was a large proportion of leadless glaze, and there were some signs of a fresh attempt to induce the great offices outside the ordinary ken of the Office of Works and the Home Office to come into the general scheme. He believed it was the case that a conference was agreed to in principle at which the War Office, the Admiralty, and other Departments should be represented and that that conference only wanted the formal assent of the Secretary for War and the First Lord of the Admiralty, which no doubt would be immediately given. They were sometimes taunted with having "leadless glaze" not up to the official standard. Last week there was laid before the House the Official Report of Dr. Thorpe, the Government analyst, and he was glad to 1585 find from that Report that it was clear that all of the 1 per cent, or 2 per cent, standards which he investigated were all right and came within the margin, and were all they professed to be. But when they came to the five per cent, standard, there he found a great excess, and it was quite clear the old 5 per cent, standard was of very little use. The only other subject he wished to mention was that labour legislation was falling into arrear. There was a hope that the subject of truck might have been dealt with, and also that the larger question of general insurance for workman's compensation would have been the subject of the inquiry which was promised two years ago. He would say nothing on the second subject, because an answer had already been given. In regard to truck he might say that the appointment of the Committee was the result of a Motion carried on the first private Members' day of this Parliament. No doubt the subject was very difficult, but the Report was definitely promised for Easter. It was now put off till "November," and they saw the chance of legislation receding every day. The Annual Report was full of evidence of the necessity of dealing once more with this difficult subject, and, therefore, it was well to recognise fully the desire of his right hon. friend to initiate legislation as the result of the inquiries—inquiries themselves in arrear—and lie was sure the right hon. Gentleman would be pleased if the House would help him forward in the matter.
§ *MR. JESSE COLLINGS (Birmingham, Bordesley)
said he wanted to call the attention of the Home Secretary to a matter in connection with the brass-founding industry which was of pressing importance to every district in which that important industry existed. He would state the facts as shortly as possible. In June of last year there were draft regulations issued affecting the factories where brass-casting was carried on. There were numerous objections raised to some of those recommendations by trade associations and chambers of commerce, with the result that the Home Secretary ordered a public inquiry to be held. The inquiry was held in Birmingham, Glasgow, and other places. It lasted six days. Expert and general 1586 evidence was given against certain details of the regulations. The manufacturers, while making objections, showed themselves most conciliatory and in agreement with the principle that the conditions of the workers should be made as favourable as possible. The expenses of the inquiry were heavy for providing evidence, counsel, and so forth, amounting in Birmingham alone to several hundreds of pounds. The Home Office then made a very wise suggestion in order to cut the inquiry short and save expense. Seeing that the Home Office and the manufacturers were not widely apart in their views, it was suggested that a conference should be held in order to come to some satisfactory agreement. It was agreed by the representatives of all parties concerned—including Mr. W. J. Davis, the representative of the National Society of Brassworkers and Metal Mechanics, an able man who, while keeping a jealous watch over the interests of the workers, was always ready to consider the reasonable requirements of the manufacturers—that certain modifications should be made in the regulations. Though the manufacturers were not satisfied with the concessions they received, they were prepared to accept them as a settlement of the matter. It was agreed to submit these modifications to the Commissioner. Seeing that a general agreement was arrived at by the conference and others concerned, the manufacturers naturally expected that the modifications agreed to by the parties would be embodied in the revised regulations. Evidently there had been a misunderstanding at the Home Office such as might easily happen in connection with a large Department like that, and he hoped the Home Secretary would be able to correct it. The Commissioner's Report to the Home Secretary was dated 21st March, this year. The recommendations made by the Commissioner were contained in the appendix to the Report. In those recommendations one important concession arrived at by the conference was granted, but there were other two equally important which, though also agreed to at the conference, were rejected. That Report, though dated 21st March, did not appear to have been published until 26th June. It was noticed in the 1587 Press on 27th June. As soon as they saw it, the manufacturers met and made communications to the Home Office urging the Home Secretary, notwithstanding the recommendations of the Commissioner, to accept the modifications which his own advisers recommended at the conference—advisers who had more knowledge of the trade, and of the subject generally, than any Commissioner who was a lawyer could have. Shortly after that communication was made to the Home Office it was discovered that the regulations were actually signed on 20th June—six days before they were published, and seven days before those interested in them could obtain a copy. It appeared that no notification to the Chambers of Commerce was given until Friday, the 24th inst., and further that up till now there had been no public notification that the regulations had been agreed on and feigned. With the exception of one point conceded, these regulations were word for word taken from the regulations contained in the appendix to the Commissioner's Report. The manufacturers naturally felt that they had been somewhat unfairly treated, especially after the manner in which they had shown their willingness to help the Home Office in every way, and after the unanimous decision which had been arrived at at the conference. He was far from blaming the Home Secretary in the matter. He thought it would be found that when the right hon. Gentleman signed the regulations he was under the impression that the recommendations arrived at unanimously at the conference were included in the final draft of the regulations. But he did very much blame the Commissioner for acting in such an arbitrary manner, and taking no notice of two of the most important recommendations of the conference. He supposed that the Commissioner was not inclined to be overridden in regard to the recommendations he had himself made. Under the Act of 1901 the regulations had to be placed on the Table of both Houses of Parliament for forty days. He had referred to the list, and it appeared that they were laid on the Table on June 29th—three days after the Report was published, so that there were thirty of the forty days gone. As the Session was practically ended, there would be no time or opportunity for raising a discussion in Parliament, al-though the object of laying regulations 1588 on the Table was that there should be an opportunity for discussion. He would respectfully suggest to the Home Secretary that, seeing there had been a misunderstanding or error—he was casting no reflection on anybody—he should withdraw the regulations and re-lay them on the Table at some time after he had considered whether or not they should be corrected in accordance with the unanimous recommendations of his own conference. Another reason why this should be done was that the draft regulations were originally issued after an interview with the representatives of trade unions, and that the manufacturers had no opportunity of expressing their views. It was afterwards found that there was one important point in the regulations which was absolutely impracticable. With regard to one section of the trade, if that regulation had been enforced it would have been disastrous, for it would have been impossible to make good castings at all. If the regulations as they now stood were carried out, they would involve thousands of pounds to the manufacturers, but if the concessions which were recommended to be made were adopted, the expenditure would be considerably lessened. Looking to the importance of the matter, he hoped the Home Secretary would lie able to give some assurance upon it. The brass-founding trade in Birmingham was in a deplorable state. There was hardly a manufacturer who was making any money in that vast industry, which employed thousands of people. A large number in the trade were considerable losers. He trusted that his right hon. friend would give the assurance that those modifications which had been recommended, not only by his own advisers but by the representatives of all sections of the trade, would be adopted.
§ MR. GILL (Bolton)
said that no one could read the Report of the Factory and Workshops' Inspectors without being struck with the magnitude of our industrial position. It appeared to him and to those with, whom he acted, that it was a pity they could not have had this Report issued much earlier in the year; because there had been too little time since its issue to study it carefully. There were no fewer than 257,193 factories and workshops in the country, 1589 and these were increasing every year. Last year the number added was no less than 2,000. To cope with this large number, there were only 165 inspectors of all classes; and no one could say that that number could deal adequately with the work of inspection. He was, however, glad to know that the Home Secretary was now increasing the number to something like 200, and he ventured to express the hope that a considerable number of the new inspectors would be practical men who had a knowledge of machinery. In the cotton trade they had had to complain of a mean practice which was known as "time cribbing,"—a practice which, so far as he knew, did not prevail in other trades. That practice consisted of taking a few minutes of the operatives' time at different meal hours. Complaints of this had been made for several years, and he thought that at last they had found a Home Secretary who was sympathetic to the workers, and was trying to do something to stop this particular grievance. During the past year the inspectors had been more active than previously. He found that 886 cases were reported in 1906, and penalties inflicted to the amount of £1,149, while last year 1,062 cases were reported, and in every one a conviction followed, with penalties amounting to £1,741. There had been difficulty in getting the magistrates to inflict penalties formerly, but that practice had been stopped, owing to the special efforts of the Home Secretary. The assistant inspectors had helped in obtaining convictions; and he asked the right hon. Gentleman whether the suggestion which had been made to him of employing the police in regard to violations of the Factory Act had been carried out, and with what success? The practice of "time cribbing" was still going on, and it was more active in some districts than in others, and he thought that every effort should be made to have the practice still further reduced. The number of accidents was increasing enormously. The total number of accidents in factories and workshops had increased from 111,904 in 1906 to 124,325 in 1907. That was at the rate of 400 accidents for every working day of the year. Out of that number 1,179 were 1590 fatal; which simply meant that on every working day in the year four persons were killed while following their occupation. In regard to card rooms in the cotton mills, a deputation had waited upon the right hon. Gentleman and had shown him certain models which, if adopted, would certainly reduce the number of accidents very much. Mr. Crabtree, inspector for the Old-ham District, had favourably reported on the models for improved fencing in the card rooms, and he thought there was no excuse whatever for the Home Secretary's not insisting that this improved fencing should be put in operation, seeing that the appliances could be adopted without great cost. There had also been improvements in the spinning department, but there was room for still further improvements in the fencing there, as the number of accidents had increased during the past year. It had been said that there was now a Compensation Act in operation, but no amount of compensation was adequate for the less of a limb. With regard to the ventilation in card-rooms, much remained to be done. The deputation had also submitted to the Home Secretary models for improving the ventilation. Lancashire operatives took care that they did not complain of what was going on in cotton mills unless they had some justification, and they also tried to find means for overcoming the difficulties by submitting models of improved apparatus. Mr. Crabtree, the inspector, referred in his Report to the exceedingly dirty condition of some of the card-rooms, and said that the only ventilation was by open windows, which only blew the dust more effectually on the workers. There was great improvement in the ventilation in some of the new mills. Anyone acquainted with the cotton trade knew that raw cotton was, much charged with dust; and that dust had to be cleared before the cotton was spun into yarn. He gave credit to many of the employers for what they had done to improve the ventilation. Fans were in use for drawing out the dust and letting in the fresh air, but the appliances were still far from perfect. He believed that these could be improved at little cost, and the operatives were entitled to ask that something should be done in this 1591 respect. Chest diseases were very numerous in the carding-rooms, caused by the dust. He had a Report issued by the Amalgamated Association of Card and Blowing Room Operatives, containing fifty medical certificates relating to the illness of workers in the card-rooms caused by the dust. He would read one or two in proof of the case he was making.I hereby certify that J. C., aged thirty-two years, suffers from bronchitis, and that the nature of his occupation in blowing-room of a cotton mill is conducive to the development of this complaint, owing to dust produced in the processes of manufacture.That was signed by H. Ashton, Medical Officer of Health, Chadderton. Another certificate stated that—J.J.B, thirty-four years of age, suffers from chronic bonchitis and emehysema of some years' duration, after nineteen years' work in the card-room of a. cotton mill, and that, in my opinion, the disease is due largely to the dust amongst which he has worked.The great bulk of these fifty certificates were of the same character. Seeing that there was so much suffering at an early age on the part of those engaged in this occupation, he asked the Home Secretary to push this matter forward and compel the employers to adopt the very best system of dust removal and ventilation. A deputation had also brought before the Home Secretary the conditions of employment in bleaching and dye works. The Act of Parliament of 1901 provided that women could work for five hours without an interval for meals; but that was only intended to be put in operation in exceptional circumstances. Latterly some of the firms had been trying to make the rule permanent. Women, had to leave home at six o'clock in order to begin work at seven in the bleaching and dyeing works. They got nothing to eat until twelve o'clock at noon, and then had to resume work at one o'clock, and continue at it until six, probably not reaching home till after seven o'clock. That was too long for women and young persons to be without a meal, especially in such employment as they were engaged in in bleaching and dye works. The right hon. Gentleman had promised to make inquiry into the matter, and he wanted to know the result. He was glad that 1592 a Humidity Commission had been appointed, and the weavers were hoping for an improvement in that respect. He desired to thank the right hon. Gentleman for the sympathy he had shown to the textile trades. They had pegged away at these questions for a long time, and he trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would continue to show his sympathy and do his best to remove these grievances.
§ MR. ATHERLEY-JONES (Durham, N.W.)
said that that was the first time, during the twenty-two years he had been a Member of the House, that he had known the Home Office Vote occupy the position of second Order of the day, and be given only a fragment of the evening for its discussion. The Home Office dealt with the administration of justice, of the police of the kingdom and notably of the Metropolis; with the administration of factories, mines and workshops, and a variety of other matters, and that was the first time during tin session that they had had an opportunity to criticise the work of that Department, to submit suggestions to the right hon. Gentleman or to interrogate him as to the work done by the various subordinate bodies which he controlled or had created. They were now at the fag end of the session. It was a most deplorable thing, it was unprecedented, and he hoped it would never happen again. He wished to refer to the question of the Police Commission. They had taken a long time over their Report, but they had shown most remarkable skill in investigating the details of a number of undoubtedly difficult matters in connection with the administration of the police force. With one result of that Commission everyone was gratified, although it was a matter that was known without the intervention of the Commission. The moral, physical, and intellectual character of the police force as a body was worthy of Metropolitan public confidence, and compared favourably with that of any police force in the country. But although that was true, the Report gave cause for grave disquietude. It presented a state of things of which the public at large was wholly unaware, and for which a considerable measure of responsibility attached to 1593 the Home Office for its lack of administrative control over the Metropolitan police force. The Commission found that of eighteen cases which they investigated, some trifling and some grave, seven were substantiated, a rather large proportion In one out of the remaining eleven cases a serious matter, the bribery of the police by bookmakers, no acquittal was given to the officer concerned other than that the Commission found the case not proved—a very significant finding In two others of the remainder, the censure applied to the superior officers as well as the officer concerned. During a period of ten years there were in the aggregate nearly 1,000 cases of misconduct, under three heads, charged against the police. There were 548 cases of complaint of improper relations between the police and bookmakers. was perfectly true that only twenty of those cases which were complaints by private persons, were established but concurrently with that, there were twelve complaints by superior officers which were all substantiated. There were ninety-two cases of improper conduct on the part of the police in regard to prostitutes and brothels, of which some, they were not told how many, were substantiated, whilst there were thirteen complaints by superior officers which were all substantiated. There were 215 cases of improper relations with publicans, of which some were substantiated, and nineteen complaints by superior officers which were all substantiated. He did not wish to exaggerate the effect of these figures on his mind, but although these complaints extended over a period of ten years they were sufficiently numerous to show that a higher standard should be if possible created in the Metropolitan police. The Commissioners' Report said—The Force cannot, as a whole, be absolved from the charge of receiving money from bookmakers.If those words meant anything they meant that the practice of bribery of the police by the bookmakers largely prevailed in the Force. In a body of 10,000 men it was of course impossible to secure immunity from improper conduct on the part of a constable, and on the whole they were satisfied that the 1594 police were well conducted, but these were matters that could not be lightly passed over. The Home Office was the Watch Committee of the Metropolitan Police, and how did it do its duty? He found from the evidence given by the head permanent official of the Home Office that the usual course when complaints came in from the public was to hand them over to the Chief Commissioner of the Police. That was to say that the Home Office, whose duty was to protect and vindicate the public, abrogated its duty and handed it over to one it was supposed to supervise, and the entire investigation was left to the Chief Commissioner. He was glad to say that that was a system that did not obtain in any foreign country or any town or county of Great Britain. Such supervision on the part of the Home Office was less than nil. It was easy to understand how it was that all complaints of the superior officers were substantiated while only a fragment of the public complaints were substantiated. The Chief Commissioner was a man most desirous of doing his duty. He was absolutely without control. He was an irresponsible officer in absolute control of the Metropolitan police. The Home Office had abrogated its function, not merely during the present administration, but also during previous administrations, and excused itself on the ground that there was no machinery in the Department for the purpose. Machinery, however, might very readily be arranged. What was the method, of dealing with complaints made against individual members of the police? There ought to be some remedy for a wronged man, and the cases were sufficiently numerous to require proper methods of indication. If he went to the Home Office, they referred him to Scotland Yard, and the chief there sent the complaint on to the superintendent or inspector of the station to which the officer complained of was attached. Chat officer asked the accused constable o make his report, and, when the constable had made it, either alone or in collaboration with his comrades, he handed it to the inspector, a mere petty functionary, who, if he chose, wrote is comments upon it and then forwarded 1595 it to the Chief Commissioner. The Chief Commissioner thereupon formed his judgment upon the ex parte statement of the accused constable. He was not, of course, speaking of cases which excited public interest, when perhaps the Home Office requested the Chief Commissioner to send one of the higher officials to investigate the matter. Another method adopted was to send the complaint to the superintendent or inspector who held an inquiry, calling before him the complainant and the constable complained of. These proceedings, however, were so grotesque that the complainant was not allowed to address questions by way of examination to the constable except by the grace and favour of that exalted functionary the inspector of police, and then only through his lips. The inspector adjudicated, and, upon his report the Chief Commissioner acted. Such was the ludicrous procedure. It would by serious if there were only a few cases of alleged police misconduct; but, although the police magistrates paid a high tribute to the police as a body, they said—and everybody knew—that complaints of the conduct of the police were fairly frequent. Whether they were frequent or not, however, an aggrieved member of the public had a right to go to the Home Office, and the Home Office should be bound to appoint a proper tribunal for the purpose of investigating such complaints and giving satisfaction.
§ *THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. GLADSTONE,) Leeds, W.
May I ask what kind of tribunal the hon. Member suggests?
§ MR. ATHERLEY-JONES
said there should be the same kind of inquiry as took place in the case of Continental police forces. There was there a high official appointed independent of the police. He heard and investigated the complaint and adjudicated upon it. The right hon. Gentleman asked him what remedy could be suggested; but, when the thing was investigated by petty officers of the police immediately in contact with the accused constable, 1596 he should have thought any alternative would have been considered preferable to the present system. The absurdity of the thing did not end there. If the complaint was of such a grave character that it might be made the subject of a criminal charge, what, forsooth, the Home Office or Scotland Yard, with the approval of the Home Office, did was to say to the complainant: "Your remedy is by action." He, therefore, could not get the constable punished without he went to the trouble and expense of bringing an action against him. The whole thing read like a fairy tale, but anything more monstrous could not be conceived. These complaints were mostly in connection with night charges. The false charges were made at a time and under conditions when and in a locality where they could be made with impunity, and very often there were no witnesses who could appear on behalf of the person wrongfully arrested. Most of the cases were noxious and sordid cases of drunkenness and assault. When a man who was falsely charged with drunkenness challenged the charge and asked to see a doctor, the doctor he was allowed to have was the paid official of the police. He was far from passing any aspersions upon a highly honourable body of professional men, but it was notorious that the police surgeons had every inducement offered to them to report favourably to the police. The Commission recognised that, and said it was desirable that there should be a list of independent medical men placed at the disposal of the man complaining. These were matters in the administration of the Metropolitan police which required attention, and there were other matters with which time did not permit him to deal. It was a glaring injustice that there should not be any independent tribunal for the purpose of investigating these complaints. He had the greatest respect for the Metropolitan magistrates. There was no more painstaking body of men, but they told him that the amount of work imposed upon them was so heavy that it was absolutely prohibitive of any full and patient investigation of the night charges brought before them. It was, he thought, due to the parsimony of the Treasury that there was not a considerable 1597 increase in the number of police magistrates in the Metropolis. They were very hard worked, they were not overpaid, their occupation was certainly not very cheerful, and it was only natural they should follow the lines of least resistance and endeavour to dispose of their work with as great dispatch as possible. He was very much afraid that this general verdict of acquittal of the police force would cause the Home Office to be absolutely supinely indifferent to the investigation and removal of grievances to some of which he had referred. He should continue to press the matter upon the right hon. Gentleman, and he hoped he would pay attention to the recommendations addressed to him by the Commission. He admitted the difficulty of improving the supervision of the police and of affording proper facilities to persons who were accused of drunkenness of demonstrating that they were not in that state; but, if the right hon. Gentleman set up a proper tribunal to whom persons who felt themselves aggrieved might apply, he would satisfy every legitimate demand of the public. There was a tendency to over-pamper the police. They were very highly paid as compared with men of their class [Cries of "No."] Hon. Members were not perhaps acquainted with the comparison of the industrial classes.
§ MR. ATHERLEY-JONES
said he did not agree. The policeman, after serving a period of a little over twenty years, received a pension of about £1, and where could the hon. Member point to any other occupation, civil, military, or naval, where a similar pension was given? He admitted the high standard and efficiency of the force and that the present chief was discharging his duty with ability, tact, and discernment; but he certainly thought it was necessary to have something like a rational system of administration.
§ *SIR HENRY CRAIK (Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities)
said he would 1598 not follow the example of the hon. and learned Gentleman in speaking for thirty-five minutes when the opportunities open to all other Members of the House were so shore. He had listened with astonishment to the verdict which the hon. and learned Gentleman had passed on the Report of the Police Commission. However opinions might have varied before the appointment of the Commission it would be a matter of surprise if sifter the Report there should be any other verdict than that it had fully established the high character which many of them attached to the Metropolitan police—a character above suspicion—which was not altered by anything, to his mind, that the hon. and learned Gentleman had adduced.
§ MR. ATHERLEY-JONES
said he hoped the hon. Member would not misinterpret and impute to him the utterance of opinions which were entirely contrary to what he had said. He had said he had the highest opinion of the police force in London and he entirely agreed with the Report.
§ SIR HENRY CRAIK
thought that most of those who had heard the hon. and learned Member's speech would come to the conclusion that it was wanting in that generosity which was the fair meed of the police after the Report—a generous verdict which he was certain few in the House or outside it would have any difficulty in accepting. He wished to bring before the House a matter of the first importance with regard to the Metropolis. The object of his criticism was to bring to the no ice of the Home Secretary points in which he thought his administration of the present law relating to motor 'buses had been defective. There were a great many important bodies concerned in that matter. There were the Home Office, the Board of Trade, the Local Government Board, the County Council, the Borough Councils, and the City Corporation. The right hon. Gentleman was too apt in meeting various deputations and in answering questions to try to suggest that the duties which now rested upon him should be laid upon some of these other bodies. But he regarded the right hon. Gentleman as 1599 the chief sinner under the present legislative conditions. He had allowed opportunities which might have checked this evil to pass by, and he seemed to place upon each statute which he had to administer the interpretation which would most limit his own powers. He would like to point out a certain inconsistency in the suggestions which the right hon. Gentleman had made. In an answer to himself as to whether some authority might not be entrusted with the prescribing of routes and the checking of the grossest anomalies and nuisances created by these motor 'buses, he answered that it would be impossible to confer the necessary powers on the London County Council or any other local authority, and, in fact, that no municipal authority could have such duties laid upon it. To a deputation from the City on 14th July the right hon. Gentleman said—Under the law as it stood there was not the power to direct the traffic from one street to another. That to his mind was much more a municipal question, and it should be dealt with by the municipal authorities.The very course that he deprecated in his answer to him was the course which he suggested to the deputation. The right hon. Gentleman asked what were the powers which he might make use of and had not used. That which he had chiefly in mind was the Metropolitan Streets Act, which in Section 11 perfectly clearly provided that the Chief Commissioner of Police might make regulations subject to the approval of the Home Secretary with respect to the route to be taken by all carts, carriages, and other vehicles. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that this section was practically inoperative because of the proviso that—This section shall not authorise the Commissioner of Police or the Secretary of State to limit the number of Metropolitan stage carriages which may pass down any street.But how was that inconsistent with the original provisions of the clause? What was the meaning of the section as a whole? It must have some rational meaning, and if the fact that they could not prevent fair competition between different licensed vehicles was to be extended to the further point that they could not exercise the power of prescribing the 1600 route which was distinctly laid down in the earlier part of the section, what was the use of enacting the section at all? What meaning did the right hon. Gentleman draw from the section? It seemed to be perfectly clear. It meant that if they opened a certain route to these Metropolitan stage carriages they must not by any arbitrary restriction prevent fair competition amongst different stage carriages. It did not mean that they relinquished the power conferred upon the police by the earlier part of the section. As a matter of fact that power was assumed in various other instances, in all the larger municipal boroughs in Scotland, and in many boroughs-throughout England. The view that made the section inoperative was only adopted on certain legal advice. It had never been the subject of any judicial decision. But even supposing this restriction on his powers to exist, had the Home Secretary no other powers? He had the power of licensing vehicles, and he contended that that power had not been sufficiently or properly exercised. There were some 1,037 licensed motor buses, and there had been 8,500 reported as defective. That meant that each existing motor bus had been reported as defective on more than eight occasions. Could he contend that the licence in the hands of the police was anything but inefficient when it was exercised with such undue laxity that vehicles were allowed to run which had no proper place upon the streets? It was this undue ease and laxity in licensing vehicles that had produced all the evils—over-weight, defective machinery, and difficulties as to vibration, noise, and smell. Those were the things that had introduced a number of vehicles in the streets of London which were unfit for traffic and wore rendering the life of the people almost intolerable. It was impossible in the time at his disposal properly to elaborate the argument, but it was one of the first importance to the inhabitants of the Metropolis who were exposed by the laxity of licensing to added trouble and danger to life.
§ *MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS (Kent, St. Augustine's)
said he wished first of all to take issue with the hon. Member for 1601 Durham with regard to the comments he had made upon the Metropolitan Police and upon the Report of the Commissioners. The hon. Member said the Report gave rise to great disquietude. After considering it very carefully, he had come to exactly the contrary conclusion. He certainly thought the Report had given great confidence to the public who now knew that they had not only an efficient, but a perfectly properly conducted police force. The Commission was to inquire into and report upon the duties of the Metropolitan Police especially in dealing with cases of drunkenness, disorder, and solicitation in the streets, and the manner in which these duties were discharged. The result the Commission, he thought, must be most satisfactory, and their finding practically welcomed by all dwellers in the Metropolis, and those inhabitant of the country who valued the due administration of law and order. The Metropolitan Police had extremely dim cult duties to perform, and they performed them, not only as the Commission had shown, but in the knowledge of all those who had had anything to do with the administration of justice in London, in an extremely able manner and with very great tact. They had some very delicate duties to perform, and they had shown that they were a force to be proud of. On this question he dissociated himself altogether from the remarks of the hon. Member for Durham. An important recommendation was made in the Report of the Police Commission in regard to complaints as to the misbehaviour of constables made by private persons to the Commissioner, of Police. It was to the effect that a proper officer should be appointed who had had great experience of law as well as of administration to deal with such complaints. He wished to ask the Home Secretary whether he proposed to carry out that recommendation. He was certain that if he did he would give great satisfaction to the public and to the police themselves. The House should remember that the members of the Metropolitan Police Force welcomed the appointment of the Police Commission, and they would equally welcome the carrying out of 1602 their recommendations. He would also like to know when the Report of the Vivisection Commission was likely to be presented to Parliament. Although he was one of those who did not agree with the views of those who desired to put an end to vivisection, at the same time he thought a great deal of unnecessary criticism would be put an end to when the Report of that Commission was laid on the Table of the House. The time was so limited that evening that it was almost impossible for him to take any further part in the debate on the subject which had been raised by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean, who always took up these factory questions. It was no fault of the Home Office that this Vote was put down so late. While they all wanted to have the Report earlier they could not take it until they had received the Report of the factory inspectors. If in future years it was impossible for this hard-working official to make his Report earlier they might, if the Home Office Vote had beer, put down on an earlier date, discuss those questions which did not deal with the Factory Report and on another occasion later discuss factory questions.
§ *MR. GLADSTONE
said he would like first of all to say a word or two upon the lateness of the debate. Nobody had greater sympathy with the complaints of hon. Members on this point than he had himself; it was just as inconvenient to the Home Secretary as to hon. Members that this debate should take place at so late a period of the session, but it did so by force of circumstances. He quite appreciated the difficulty which always arose on account of the Report of the Chief Inspector not being available earlier, and he could assure the House hat he would make a determined effort to secure an improvement in this matter next year even at the cost of some curtailment in the Report. He would consider the matter very carefully arid he would try to secure that the debate on this subject should take place somewhat earlier in the session in future. His right hon. friend had asked him a question with regard to the Vivisection Commission, but he was afraid he could 1603 not answer him definitely. He had been informed some time ago that the Commission had ceased to take evidence, and they were considering their Report. He had good reason for assuming that in the course of a month or two the Report of that Commission would be presented to the House. The right hon. Gentleman opposite had also asked him a question about one of the recommendations of the Metropolitan Police Commission relating to the appointment of an independent police officer to deal with complaints made by private persons against the police. He was taking that matter at once into consideration, and he thought he might say that the Government would give effect to that recommendation. He quite agreed with his right hon. friend's criticism of the speech of the hon. and learned Member for North-West Durham. The hon. and learned Member brought several charges against the police administration in conjunction with the Home Office, but as the hon. and learned Member had left the House, perhaps it was not necessary o deal with them. But he would like to say one or two words about the Police Commission. So far as he was concerned he would never have consented to the appointment of the Royal Commission on the Metropolitan Police had it not been for the fact that its appointment was strongly pressed upon him by the Commissioner of Police himself. He had the fullest faith in the Metropolitan Police. When things were being said about them he was quite prepared to stand by them, because he always felt sure that he had a strong case to defend; but so persistent were the attacks on the police in the House and in the Press that the Police Commissioner himself came to him and said that in the interests of the force he thought there should be an inquiry. As the Commissioner himself had made that request the Government came to the conclusion that it ought to be granted. He wished to emphasise the fact that the Commission was never appointed because the Government had any doubt as to the efficiency of the Metropolitan Police. To the many services rendered by the present Commissioner of the Police during his admirable administration, should be added the setting up of this Commission. The Report of the Police 1604 Commission had given universal satisfaction, especially to the Metropolis, which was proud to have such striking testimony to the character and efficiency of this famous civil force. On the careful and exhaustive judgment of the hon. Member for Swansea and his colleagues he would only say that to officers and men alike it would prove a splendid and a permanent encouragement to them in the discharge of their difficult and trying duties. The recommendations which the Commission had made would receive the most careful consideration. As regarded the evils which were alleged by his hon. friend to exist now he would remind the House that they were the very matters which the Commission were appointed to inquire into and report upon. They had the Report, and let the House remember the effect of it. During the years 1903, 1904, and 1905, which were under review, the arrests for drunkenness and prosecutions for disorderly conduct numbered 210,000. The Commission only found it necessary to inquire into nineteen cases of arrest out of that vast number. They found that there were only five cases of arrests which were not justified, and only nine members of the force were found guilty of misconduct. That in a force of 17,000 men and covering a period of three years was the most remarkable record of any police force in the history of modern times. With regard to the subject of motor omnibuses he had not the time to deal with the whole of it. He had already stated his views, but he wished to remind the hon. Member who had attacked him for not putting into force the Metropolitan Street Act that he was only inheriting the condition of things which prevented, the police from directing the omnibus traffic. The hon. Member seemed to think that he had suddenly refused to put the law into operation, but the Law Officers of the Crown some time ago advised his predecessors that under the statute to which he had referred authority was not given to divert omnibus traffic. The deputation which he had received the other day from the City authorities stated that they had themselves been advised by their own local legal authority that no such power existed, and they impressed upon him that it was advisable that they should have such power, and he quite agreed with them. This was not 1605 a difficulty of his own creation! Hon. Members appeared to think that the authorities were satisfied with the present type of motor bus. On the contrary, with hon. Members, the Government desired to have effective improvement, and nothing would please him better than to find some speedy method of producing an improvement if it was only to defend themselves against these constant attacks. He could assure the House that the police had, as a matter of fact, been doing all they could under their powers to deal with this question, short of prohibiting these motor omnibuses from using the streets.
§ *MR. GLADSTONE
said that with regard to licensing he was considering whether as a condition of granting a licence he should not reduce the speed to twelve miles an hour.
§ *MR. GLADSTONE
said that there again the hon. Member would find that the matter would rectify itself with a little patience. To-day they were running some motor omnibuses carrying a full complement of passengers which were three-quarters of a ton lighter than the old type. They were getting gradually to a better type of vehicle, and as regarded speed he was now considering as an alternative whether they should not require every motor omnibus to affix an automatic regulator which would come into action as soon as the vehicle reached a speed of twelve miles an hour.
§ *MR. GLADSTONE
said he had to answer a variety of questions—weight, vibration, speed, smell, and oil-droppings. Speed had to be considered in relation to weight. As regarded the dropping of oil, and smoke emission, a number of prosecutions had been undertaken and some convictions had been secured. He thanked his right hon. friend the 1606 Member for the Forest of Dean for his speech. It was throughout expressed in terms which would be most helpful to his Department. In regard to fish-curing, his right hon. friend would agree with him that it was a most difficult question. The Chief Inspector had shown that that was the case, and he had made certain suggestions which were deserving of consideration, He had only come into possession of the Report in the last few days. The attention of the Department would certainly be directed to the matter with the view to effecting an improvement. He would send the Chief Inspector to the Scottish Office, and he would suggest that extracts from the Scottish Reports should be published. The question of the employment of young girls was a most important point. His right hon. friend had shown from the quotations which he read what was going on, and there was certainly necessity for something being done to bring about an improvement. He had been asked why the Employment of Children Act had not been used. He was unable to say at present, but he assured his right hon. friend that he would go closely into the matter in order to see if more effective action could be taken under that Act. He reminded his right hon. friend that a Committee was now sitting on lead poisoning, and it would inquire into the subject of infant mortality in the pottery towns. Last November a Conference of Medical Officers had been held at the Home Office, and a statistical inquiry was proceeding in a number of towns with a view of ascertaining the relation between infant mortality and factory employment. The results of the inquiry were being tabulated, and he hoped they would get some useful information in that way. As regarded Government Departments and the use of lead a conference would be held in the course of the next few months. His right hon. friend had referred to legislation. There were already some arrears of legislation regarding matters coming within the scope of the Home Office work. That was not their fault. They had been pretty busy with legislation. They had this session the Children Bill, the Mines (Eight Hours) Bill, the Prevention of Crime Bill, and the 1607 Licensing Bill. All he could say was that they would do their best to deal with the Reports which came to them, and notably with the Report on sweating. They would consider the Report of the Truck Committee as soon as it was received. There was also the question of Shop Hours. They were increasing the strength of the lady inspectors by 40 per cent., and it was important that the House should have some intimation in regard to any changes which might attend this increase of strength. The divisional system was to be extended. The time had come when the demands of the country for the services of more lady inspectors could rot be resisted. The main strength of the lady inspectors had hitherto been concentrated in London. A large new division was to be established with its centre at Manchester. Other divisions would follow at Birmingham and Leeds, but it was impossible to go ahead quickly with this formation of divisions. The strength of the lady inspectors was too low, and it would be futile to increase that strength beyond the capacity of the senior ladies for the effective training of probationers. There was going to be no change in the character of the excellent work done by the lady inspectors. Part of their work, as now, would consist of special inquires, but regular duties would be allotted to them similar to those they were now doing in London, Scotland, and elsewhere. He referred to inspection and reports in connection with laundries, dressmaking, fruit-preserving, fish-curing, infant mortality, lead poisoning, accidents in certain industries, and generally all those questions which specially related to the industrial requirements of women and girls. A conference between the superintending inspector and senior lady inspectors would be held, and a scheme of work would be submitted for the approval of headquarters The special sphere and functions of lady inspectors would be maintained, care being taken to give as much elasticity as possible to the new organisations. He thanked the hon. Member for Bolton for his appreciation of the work done in regard to time-cribbing. They had not yet had much success through the agency 1608 of the police in regard to prosecutions, but what they had done was to strengthen public opinion, and to form it in condemnation of this very reprehensible practice, and therefore all these matters were, so to speak, "weighing in" to secure that desirable object. In regard to the Regulations for brass works to which his right hon. friend the Member for the Bordesley Division had called attention, he would like to say that the usual practice in regard to inquiry had been followed in this matter. In 1907, draft Regulations were drawn up affecting the brass industry. There was an inquiry ordered under the Act, and; a gentleman of great experience was directed to inquire into the subject on behalf of the Home Office. Before the completion of the evidence there was the informal conference to which the right hon. Gentleman had alluded, and some arrangement, also informal, was come to with regard to the recommendation of certain modifications. He wished to remind the right hon. Gentleman, however, that this conference was for the purpose of laying suggestions before the Commissioner who had gone to Birmingham to hear both sides. He had all the evidence in front of him and upon that information he made his decision. In the usual course the Report came before himself, and it was signed on 20th June. It had been lying on the Table for thirty days, no objection had been taken to it, and he could hardly think, therefore, that, there was anything in it to which serious exception could be taken. The right hon. Gentleman had not told him the precise point to which exception was taken by the Chamber of Commerce. He promised the right hon. Gentleman, however, that he would look into the matter and find out what had really happened, but he could assure him that there had been no departure from the usual practice of inquiry in this particular case.
§ *MR. JESSE COLLINGS
Will the right hon. Gentleman say why he did not accept the unanimous recommendations of a very strong conference held on the subject?
§ *MR. GLADSTONE
said that the parties concerned in the question met together in order to submit views to 1609 the Commissioner, and these parties apparently had a friendly and entirely informal conference. The Home Office was not concerned in it.
§ *MR. GLADSTONE
said that what they agreed about were certain points which they decided to submit to the Commissioner. These points were submitted to the Commissioner, who, upon his own discretion, took the course now complained of.
§ MR. H. J. TENNANT (Berwickshire)
asked whether there would be an opportunity in the autumn session of continuing this discussion.
§ *MR. GLADSTONE
said he was not responsible for the lateness of the debate. He would suggest that hon. Members had themselves been a little lax in not taking steps in the usual form to have the Vote discussed earlier.
§ And, it being Ten of the Clock, Mr. SPEAKER, in pursuance of Standing Order No. 15, proceeded to put forthwith the Question necessary to dispose of the Report of the Resolution then under consideration.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
then proceeded, in pursuance of Standing Order No. 15, to put forthwith the Questions, That this House doth agree with the Committee in the outstanding Resolutions reported in respect of each Class of the Civil Services Estimates, the Navy Estimates, the Army Estimates, and the Revenue Departments Estimates.