§ Postponed Proceeding on Question proposed on consideration of Question, "That a sum, not exceeding £12,277,930, 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, 1910, for the salaries and expenses of the Post Office, including telegraphs and telephones," which Question was, "That Item A (Chief Offices) be reduced by £500"—[Sir Edward Sassoon]—resumed.
I will resume at the point at which I left off [at a quarter past eight of the clock]. What I wish to point out is that at Erdington, which is a large suburb of Birmingham, in the constituency I represent, with a population of something like 43,000, the postmen are only paid at the rate of 25s. per week, whereas in the neighbouring places of Selby Oak, Moseley, and Harborne, which are equally sub- 264 post offices, they are paid at the rate of 27s. per week. There is practically no difference in the cost of living in those places with the cost of living in Erdington. It cannot be said the difference in wages is due to population, because one of the places I have mentioned has a population of only a little over ten thousand. In Birmingham, which is only two or three miles distant, the postmen are paid 30s. per week. What is more extraordinary still is that in one of the wards of Erdington the postmen are paid 30s. per week. I have turned up the pages of the Hobhouse Committee's Report, and have tried to find out if there is any reason for this differential treatment, but I cannot discover that there is. There is one other matter I should like to mention, and touched on by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire. That is the question of the postal telegraph clerks in Birmingham. It is considered a hardship by those clerks in Birmingham that they should receive a maximum pay fixed in 1890 at 56s. per week, whereas in London the same class of clerks receive 62s. per week. There is a good deal of dissatisfaction with that, as the rate of living has increased in Birmingham in later years. It is a question of mystery to know why from time to time clerks in Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, and Edinburgh should not be paid as well as telegraph clerks in London. The figures I have given as to the postmen I have not had time to verify for myself. They were sent to me by the Secretary of the Postmen's Federation of the district, and I think the Committee will agree if there are those divergences of payment in so small an area those grievances ought to be remedied as soon as possible. I feel certain, from the very sympathetic manner in which the Postmaster-General spoke on the subject of the Post Office service generally, and from the attention which the hon. and gallant Member has taken to my figures, I feel certain that this will have the attention of the Government, and that a grievance of this kind may be redressed.
§ Mr. C. E. PRICE
I wish to ask what is the present position of the underground telegraph system in Scotland. This to us is a very important matter. Last year, when I brought the matter forward, the Postmaster-General said that Edinburgh had been a stumbling block, owing to the difficulty of getting wayleaves. I understand that this difficulty has now been 265 overcome, and I shall be glad to know what is the intention of the Post Office with regard to the extension of the system. There are times in Scotland when, in the course of the very severe weather which we suffer, there is practically a block in business, and it is exceedingly difficult to get telegrams through. I myself have been snowed up in a town for three days, with no communication by railway, telegraph, or anything else; and in some cases railways have been blocked for a fortnight. It is, therefore, very essential that this system should be extended as speedily as possible, and I shall be glad if I can get some information on the point before the Debate closes. Reference has been made to the grievances of the men in the National Telephone Company's service. I have had communications from some of these men in Edinburgh, and, after going into the question very thoroughly with them, I am satisfied that the present arrangement is not what I should call common sense. Practical working arrangements perhaps cannot be entered into for a year or two, but it is essential that the Post Office should anticipate the time so that those who are employed may have some security, and feel that their interests are not being overlooked. It is necessary that they should be kept on now, and that arrangements should be made for continuing the service in a satisfactory manner. Another point I should like to bring to the notice of the right hon. Gentleman is the employment of sub-postmasters in country districts. The time that these officials are kept at their posts is in some cases hardly credible. In many cases sub-postmasters have to take charge of the telegraph system, and they are obliged to be on duty on Sunday mornings. One way in which I think relief might be given is on Bank Holidays. In country districts many of the people go into the towns on Bank Holidays, so that these men are really not required, and if some arrangement could be made whereby they could have a holiday the same as other people it would give very great satisfaction indeed. Reference has also been made to a subject arising out of a circular calling attention to the fact that in the London district there has been an increase of 3s. in the maximum rate of wage of telegraphists, while in the principal towns of the United Kingdom no increase has been made. It will probably surprise many Members to know that in seven out of the 266 10 principal towns in Scotland the price of food and the cost of living are actually higher than in London, and yet the rate of wages is considerably lower. I think there should be some revision of the differences in the rates of wages in regard to these large towns. Edinburgh is classified with Leith, but anybody acquainted with Edinburgh knows perfectly well that the cost of living there is vastly in excess of the cost in Leith. On the basis of comparison which is taken, London comes out at 100, whilst Edinburgh and Leith together come out at 99; but if Edinburgh were taken apart from Leith it would come out higher than London, and yet the rates of wages of Civil servants, particularly in the Post Office, are very much lower in Edinburgh than in London. That, I think, is a matter which should be gone into. Reference has been made to the telegraph boys. There is nothing worse than that you should start boys in a position in which they are unable to continue as they grow up, and that you should keep lads up to 16 or 17 years of age in the telegraph service and then send them adrift, when during those years they might have been learning a proper trade. You are thereby feeding the ranks of the men who become unemployed in middle life. I certainly think the House should strongly condemn that system; it is a disgraceful system, and I trust the right hon. Gentleman will give serious consideration to it. I should like to commend the right hon. Gentleman for the care and attention he has devoted to many matters which I have brought to his attention. I called his attention in particular to a district which is excluded from the night delivery of telegrams. He went into the matter carefully, and I wish most sincerely to thank him for having extended the system to that district.
§ Mr. J. SEDDON
I echo the statement made by the Postmaster-General when he said he was sorry that the Estimates had been brought forward so early, because I understood him to say that he had been making inquiries in pursuance of a promise made last year. I had a vivid recollection of that promise, but in order not to be unfair to him I have looked up the speech delivered last year, when he said that he was open to argument in regard to any particular town—that was with regard to the classification and the cost of living. On that occasion I gave him the names of two towns, St. Helens and Newton. Since then nothing has been done. I take it that the inquiry is still proceeding, and that these two towns will come under his 267 review. I wish to direct attention to the cheese-paring policy of the Hobhouse Committee. The sense of injustice in the minds of those who are suffering reduction is keen and widespread. Last year I called the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the fact that in several cases reductions had taken place without any inquiry at all. This year the position is even worse. Out of 900 cases, in something like 800 there has been a reduction without there being any inquiry whatever, and the result is that the men, rightly I think, feel a sense of injustice. Whatever may have been the finding of the Hobhouse Committee, proposals for reductions ought to rest upon inquiry, and not having had the advantage of inquiry the men feel a grievance against the Postmaster-General. I sincerely trust that for the sake of the public service and for the sake of contentment in the postal Department, the right hon. Gentleman will see his way speedily to give attention to the particular districts where there have been reductions without inquiry. In the course of his observations the right hon. Gentleman said that the Treasury had treated him generously, but that at this time, particularly with the prospect of the Budget, with a declining revenue and greater calls on the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he did not feel called upon to make any further demand. I wish the same sentiment had been in the minds of the occupants of the Front Bench before they decided to give 150 per cent. increase to men who are getting £40 a week. The men who are receiving from a guinea to 25s. per week are far more worthy of consideration, especially considering the important duties they have to discharge. These men often carry valuables. Frequently the low return in wages from labour is a temptation for a man to become dishonest. I think we can compliment ourselves that the great army of postmen, a large army, are so scrupulously honest, and that there are so few cases of peculation or robbery. But I think, so far as possible, temptation ought to be put beyond their reach. We are now compelling them to live in districts on a low wage, and from my observation and from my own inquiry—I have taken the trouble to make purchases in the districts of St. Helens, Earlstown, and the neighbourhood of Liverpool, where they are on a higher scale—I find, generally speaking, that, including everything, rent, clothing, food, etc., the men of 268 Liverpool can live, if not cheaper, quite as cheaply as those in these particular cases. If that be so, I think the case for inquiry has been made out, so that inquiry should precede reduction. Again, I have a strong complaint against the haphazard way in which the Board of Trade carried out their investigations. I know something of the retail trade of the country. I have made inquiries as to how it was done, and I was amused, if not disgusted, to find that some superior officer presented himself at some private trader, or some shop where commodities were sold. He made sundry inquiries, and upon these he based the average of the cost of living. He might by accident be in a shop that is known as a cutting shop, who did not sell the best grade of article. Because of this, these men are to suffer a reduction. Because a man, who has been sent out to make inquiries, simply hit upon a haphazard method—by good luck might get the right information in some districts—by want—I will not say ability—but want of training, and probably time, he did not make an extended inquiry—I say, because he happened to hit upon a trader who was known as a cutter in the trade, selling second-rate articles, the postmen must suffer in this direction. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to allay this unrest. For all that we demand, and what we have a right to expect, is a certain contentment among a body of public servants, and it is a rankling sense of injustice that it is creating all the protests that are reaching hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on each side of the House. From these 800 districts, I say reasonable grievances exist among the postmen where there has been no inquiry, and until inquiry takes place there ought to be no reduction in their wages.
§ Sir FREDERICK CAWLEY
The Postmaster-General seems to be under no delusion that there is very great dissatisfaction and heartburning in a great many districts all over the country on account of the differentiation which has been made in the postmen's wages, without any apparent reason for that differentiation being made. I happen to represent a district that lies between Manchester and other large towns, and the postmen in my Constituency—which is composed of a number of large urban districts—are suffering a reduction in their wages. They are being given less wages than the postmen in the large towns close by. In a place called Failsworth, which lies between Oldham 269 and Manchester, wages have been reduced from 24s. to 23s. I believe, as a matter of fact, that the expenses of postmen are greater in that district than they would be in either Manchester or Oldham, because the people of Failsworth, if they want to shop at any of the large shops, have to go to either Manchester or Oldham. Therefore they consider, and I consider, that they are rather arbitrarily treated in not having as large wages as their neighbours. The Postmaster-General is probably sure, after the testimony he has had from everybody on both sides of the House—I think he ought to assure us if he can in this matter.
Another point I wish to mention is in regard to telephone construction and the staff. The Postmaster-General is in a very difficult position. A state of affairs has arisen which it is very difficult to cope with. On the one hand, the Telephone Company decline to go on with further construction unless they get certain terms, and the Government do not feel quite inclined to give them those terms. If the Postmaster - General were to accede to the exorbitant terms asked for by the National Telephone Company I daresay there are people in this House and outside who would blame him as a very poor negotiator. On the other hand, if he declines to deal with the National Telephone Company, in 1911 he will be blamed for being the cause of several thousand hands being thrown out of work. It is a very difficult position for him to be in. We all know sufficient of the Postmaster-General to know that he will really do his best to obviate any great dislocation of labour, whilst making the best bargain he can for the country. I would myself appeal to the Telephone Company, as well as to the Postmaster-General, to try and be reasonable in this matter. I hope the Telephone Company, who have an enormous reserve—their shares stand at a very high price—will be reasonable in their demands, so that the Postmaster-General may come to terms with them, and that the Telephone Company will be taken over sooner, or there will be some such arrangement made by which any dislocation of labour may be obviated. But I wish particularly to make that appeal from these Benches to the Telephone Company, as well as to the Postmaster-General. Another point: I mentioned it to the Postmaster-General privately. That is this: That people in Spain are complaining that the parcels post rate to 270 Spain is very considerably in excess of the parcels post rate from Germany to Spain, with the result that Germany is increasing her trade by goods which are sent by parcels post very much to the detriment of the trade of the people of this country. I believe that difference obtains between England and other countries, as well as between Germany and Spain. If the Postmaster-General can say that he will look into the matter, and see if he can give such terms to people sending parcels by post to Spain as will put them on an equality with people sending parcels from Germany to Spain, I think it will be a very good thing for the trade of this country.
§ Mr. ASHLEY
In the first place, may I join many other hon. Members in thanking the Postmaster-General for his unvarying courtesy and close attention to any matters I have brought before him? Several times in this Debate a remark has been made as to the unfortunate case of the telegraph boys, who have to give up their work as telegraph boys when they reach the age of 16; are taken on as auxiliary postmen till 19; and then are thrown upon the world with no provision, with no trade, not knowing how to gain a livelihood, and therefore joining the ranks of the unemployed. It is very much easier to draw attention to those kind of things—this most unsatisfactory state of things—than to suggest a remedy. It seems to me that this question of the employment of boys in after-life is very intimately bound up with the employment of old soldiers in the Post Office after they have done their work in the Army. We shall never have a satisfactory solution of this problem till we have in the infantry, as we have in the cavalry and artillery, short service concurrent with long service. If we got short service in the infantry we should have more old soldiers demanding employment in the Post Office, and nearly all of them would be able to get employment in the Post Office. And then we should be able to see that the boy who joins as a telegraph messenger, and then becomes an auxiliary postman, when he joins the Army for seven years at the age of 26 able to go back to the Government Department in which he first started to work in the Post Office service with his Army pension and his Post Office pay both turned to good account. Of course it is out of the power of the Postmaster-General himself to do this, but he might approach the Secretary of State 271 for War with a view to bringing about some such arrangement. There is only one other point I wish to bring forward, and that is with regard to the wages of certain postmen in my district. I think the postmen of the town of Fleetwood are not receiving as good terms as they should under the Hobhouse Report. The maximum is 23s., the average rate paid by these postmen for house rent is 7s. per week, the poor rates are 7s. 3d. in the £, and if we take all these facts into consideration, and also that the rate of living in Fleetwood is abnormally high, and likely to remain so on account of the increase of the fishing population, I think the case of Fleetwood postmen should receive the attention which the right hon. Gentleman promised in his opening speech. If we look at the district we have three or four towns—Blackpool, Fleetwood, Lytham, and St. Anne's; in St. Anne's and Blackpool the minimum is 25s., but in the other two, Fleetwood and Lytham, where the scale is on exactly the same footing, they have only 23s., and the Lytham people have been reduced from 24s. to 23s. I hope, having brought these facts before the right hon. Gentleman, he will take the case of Lytham and Fleetwood postmen into consideration. Finally, I have been asked by the postmen who live in the Constituency next to mine, namely, Chorley, to bring their case before the right hon. Gentleman. Something the same has to be said here as in the case of Lytham. It is well known that there is an extremely efficient staff in the town and district of Chorley, but that their maximum also has been reduced from 24s. to 23s. No inquiry was made, so far as I can ascertain, into the facts of the case as regards the Chorley postmen. May I take it that the right hon. Gentleman will inquire into the case of these postmen? I understood him, in his speech this afternoon, to say that all cases where reductions were made would be again inquired into. In the case of the Chorley postmen there has been no inquiry; they have been arbitrarily reduced without any inquiry, and, therefore, I hope that these facts which I and the Noble Lord who represents the Constituency have brought before the Postmaster-General, will lead to a fresh inquiry in regard to these matters.
§ Mr. TOULMIN
As I hold office with one of the largest customers of the right hon. Gentleman, and I am also a Member of the 272 Press Committee, which keeps its eye upon the Post Office, perhaps he will permit me to express our obligation to him as having found him a very progressive Postmaster-General. We have had to approach him on several matters with regard to the careless manner in which Press messages were sent to the newspapers, and also with regard to the arrangements we desire, if possible, for expediting Press messages, and on every subject on which we approached him we found him most sympathetic. Indeed, the sympathy he has shown to us will encourage us to approach him still more often, and to endeavour to induce him to give still further favours to the Press, to whom a few minutes quicker delivery of Press telegrams is becoming more and more important, in view of the earlier hours at which they have to go to press. I am rather sorry that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire did not remain in the House to hear the remarks made upon the speech which he delivered. He made the one intervention in the Debate which really raised a great question of principle, and which put this Debate upon national rather than upon mere parochial lines. I am sure the House heard with great pleasure his very careful statement of the problem which faces us all. It is our desire to have some tribunal or other which would relieve Members from having to discuss questions of local detail and from having to trouble the Postmaster-General with them. I am quite sure the plan he foreshadowed is well worthy of examination, and I feel all the more sympathetic towards it, inasmuch as I myself have to say a word or two on local matters, seeing there is no tribunal before which these complaints may be brought. One has to do this, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire has stated, without having access to all the comparative information which the Hobhouse Committee had and the Postmaster-General has. I should like to give another reason for some such plan as that which he foreshadowed being adopted, and that is, that I believe all these local questions of detail, of wages, and hours of labour set up a feeling of official irritation in the Government Departments which prevents the establishment of other classes of workers in other Departments for fear of increasing the number in the employ of public departments. I am not sure the real reason why this House is not allowed to print its own Debates does not lie in 273 that very fact. It arises really from a fear of getting more workmen, and that, as a result, the amount of these questions would be increased in the House.
Returning to the work of the Department I have to bring before the right hon. Gentleman a question of the status of the postmen of Bury. The right hon. Gentleman has spoken of the influence of his Department upon the labour market as being good or bad. I am quite sure that many towns in which a reduction has taken place have found the influence of the Department upon the labour market were rather bad. In Bury the postman's minimum has been reduced from 18s. to 17s. and the maximum from 26s. to 25s. This is not a question of 62s. or 63s. on which one Member appealed to the right hon. Gentleman; it is a question of 17s. or 18s., and I feel more concerned with the small minimum initial wage than with the larger wage which can be eventually obtained. I do not think there was any inquiry held in Bury with regard to the cost of living. Certainly this initial wage gives no opportunity for what the Member for Bolton spoke of as living high. He said they encouraged living high at Bolton and that the particular minimum there was rather difficult; so it is at Bury. In fact, I think the Lancashire towns appear specially to have suffered by this strict adherence to the scale of the Hobhouse Report when it suggested rather a lowering than an increasing of the rates. I do not think sufficient account is taken of the competition for houses in these Lancashire urban areas. I might point out that these Lancashire towns and seaside towns, which are filled by the holiday flow from other towns, are not like towns situated in the centre of an agricultural area. A place like Bury, which is surrounded by larger towns, is actually prejudiced by that condition in the fact that there are big markets in the large towns, and the produce naturally goes to the larger markets; and this has an unfavourable influence upon the smaller markets. I am actually assured that the cost of living is claimed to be quite as great at Bury as at Bolton, or even at Manchester, although those places are from three to ten times the size of Bury. Owing to the cost of living, the rent, and the class of house which a person in the position of the postman ought to occupy, it was expected in Bury that there would be a rise from 18s., and not a drop to 17s. I do not wish to be unfair in quoting the figure of 17s. or 18s. as the 274 minimum, and I recognise the point of the Postmaster-General when he stated that the postman with 13 years' service got other emoluments, which came to about 10s. 2d.
§ Mr. BUXTON
I took a postman of 13 years' service as an average period, and that includes a certain number of stripes; but they have advantages now at five years, and they will in future have them at four years. He gets sick leave and medical attendance upon the actual wage scale which represents about 10s. 2d. In addition, as he gets stripes, his wages go up to the scale rate.
§ Mr. TOULMIN
I was going to ask a question as to the details. I thought the House would be interested to know what the conditions meant after five years, 10 years, and up to 20 or 30 years' service. I took the sum of 10s. 2d. mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman really as an average. I quite recognise his other point. It is not always made clear by those who are complaining of his action that no postman has been reduced. Nevertheless there are postmen who have been in the service some years who find their fellow workmen working by their side whose status is reduced by these conditions. I cannot help feeling that there will be a continued demand that the right hon. Gentleman should review these cases where the minimum and the maximum have been reduced. I think it is a pity that this step was taken. I do not say that there might not have been a claim for it in some few cases, but I believe the sum saved is comparatively small, and yet it is producing in a very large number of districts a very great feeling of injustice. I believe that the amount saved by the Department does not come to more than £15,000 when all these reductions have taken place, and to save this sum all this irritation is being produced. The influence of these reductions in the smaller towns is not only disappointing to the postmen, but it has an injurious effect upon the status of labour generally in those towns, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will decide to review those cases where the figure has been reduced.
Mr. J. S.HARMOOD BANNER
I heard with considerable satisfaction that it is intended as soon as possible to acquire the business of the National Telephone Company, because all towns and cities in the Kingdom will be very glad to come under the Post Office. That is a very 275 good thing in its way, but there are one or two matters in connection with that acquisition which make it desirable to expedite it as much as possible. In the first place, there is the question of the position of the employés. We all sympathise with them in their change of masters, and we hope they will find themselves in a better position than they were before. In addition to that there is the question of the purchase of the instruments and the plant. Speaking from my own experience, I know that the Postmaster-General and his officials adhere very strictly to the rule of acquiring as far as possible English plant and English instruments for the purpose of the telephone business of the Post Office. In the case of the National Telephone Company there is not the same adherence to this rule, and I know that a very great number of instruments have been purchased by this company from foreign firms very freely. When the acquisition of this company by the Post Office takes place it will be found that the State is acquiring a large number of foreign instruments which will have to be worked along with British instruments. For this reason I venture to say that the sooner we put an end to the purchase of foreign material, especially in a big British industry like the telephones, the better it will be for the users of these instruments when they come into general use. This is a very important matter, because during the next two years, unless some arrangement is made, purchases may be made to a greater extent from foreign makers instead of from British makers.
There is another matter which the people in Liverpool are very greatly interested in, and which has caused a very strong feeling there. I am not going to say much about it, because I know an hon. Member opposite desires to raise the question—I allude to the calling at Queenstown for mails. The Liverpool Chamber of Commerce and the merchants of the districts all round feel this to be a very great grievance. They now possess the speediest flyers in the world for carrying the mails to America, and the calling at Queenstown takes away the advantages which would otherwise arise, from the speedy locomotion and the quick delivery and receipt of letters. I have heard this called an Irish job to satisfy the Irish people, and on this account the interests of Lancashire in the large towns and the general mail delivery to America are being sacrificed for the 276 purpose of keeping open Queenstown and for the smaller interests that arise from it. If that is the case it is very much better to pay the Irishmen so much money—
§ Mr. HARMOOD-BANNER
I should not mind giving them a little further boon if it would obtain the removal of what is a distinct disadvantage to the general trade of this country. It must be obvious that we want the mails forwarded as speedily as possible, but how much time is lost in carrying them first by boat and then by rail to Queenstown. That delay must be got rid of as speedily as possible. A system should be adopted by which full use should be made of the speedy steamers which now carry the mails. I cannot help feeling that the expression of opinion which has come from several hon. Members is fully justified. An hon. Member stated that he congratulated the Member for East Worcestershire in having said that he dealt with some of these matters under discussion in a national way. I do not consider it a national way to give postal telegraph clerks in London higher pay than telegraph postal clerks in Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, and elsewhere.
§ Mr. TOULMIN
The hon. Member has not caught correctly what I said. What I said was that the hon. Member for East Worcestershire had raised this Debate from a parochial to a national level.
§ Mr. HARMOOD-BANNER
With that I thoroughly agree, and I am sure other Members of the House will be glad to have a Committee appointed to go into the questions, but at the same time there is the fact that the Hobhouse Committee has dealt with London in a different way from that in which it has dealt with other large towns. I am quite aware that this does not affect Scotland so much as English towns. They eat porridge in Scotland, and can live there very cheaply, but they do not eat porridge in Liverpool.
§ An HON. MEMBER: They do not eat porridge in Scotland.
§ Mr. HARMOOD-BANNER
I have been there, and I always found that they did. The living in Birmingham and Liverpool is quite as dear as in London, the only difference being the cost of rent and locomotion. There is the fact that 3s. are added to the payment of the men in certain parts of 277 London, and I understand that the right hon. Gentleman is likely to extend that 3s. to other districts round London. There is a preference in favour of London. It may be that only 2s. ought to go to Birmingham and Liverpool, but there is no question that it is inconsistent to extend an increase to one class of men without giving it to the others. There is nothing in which men feel a sense of oppression und injustice more than the granting of preference to one of their class over the others. There has been no alteration made in the maximum for 19 years, although undoubtedly the cost of living has increased in Liverpool and other towns. There are many officials of the Post Office who are satisfied with the Hobhouse recommendations, but it is clearly impossible to satisfy all the men when you give a class in London an advantage in wages over similar classes in other large towns, while the men in other large towns get no increase in the maximum of pay, notwithstanding their length of time. I feel that I should not have done my duty as one of the Members for Liverpool if I had not brought forward this subject, and I maintain that it is just as important for the officials in the large towns to have an increase on the maximum as it is in London, and I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to do something in the matter.
§ Mr. A. C. MORTON
With regard to the proposition made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire I think this is hardly the time to consider a great alteration of that sort by which it is proposed to deprive the House of its position as the grand inquest of the nation. No doubt there might be boards of conciliation to assist the Postmaster-General to settle some of these questions, but, as far as I am personally concerned, I should protest against an effort to take from this House its position as grand inquest of the nation in all these affairs. Does anyone suppose that the Dick case would have been settled as it was if we had not had the opportunity of bringing it forward in this House? The Post Office have had the matter before them for two or three years.
§ Mr. BUXTON
The imputation is that if it had not been for the House of Commons 278 I should not have endeavoured to do justice to Mr. Dick, and I must ask the hon. Member to accept my word in the matter.
§ Mr. MORTON
I am, of course, quite willing to do that, but the right hon Gentleman does not understand my point. Unless there is some way of bringing cases like that before this House I do not suppose that he will have the opportunity of hearing anything about them. That is a question of great importance to individuals. Unless such cases are brought forward by Members of Parliament they can never come to the knowledge of the right hon. Gentleman. I am not condemning him. The point is that if we did not bring them forward he would not otherwise hear of them at all. He cannot be expected to know everything about the great army of men which he has to look after. He must to a large extent trust to officials under him. I do not wish to blame him in the matter. Having gone so far, I wish to say that if he is going to inquire into the case, I hope that when he finds the official who has broken the Regulations, he will, as an example to other officials, see that he is properly dealt with, so that these things in the future may not occur. Now I wanted to take the opportunity of saying that what the right hon. Gentleman for East Worcestershire said a short time ago is what is generally understood to be the official view of the affair, namely, to keep everything out of the House you possibly can. That is all very well perhaps from the right hon. Gentleman's point of view, but not from our point of view. While we do not wish to condemn generally, we desire to keep the power to criticise everybody and everything in connection with the Government of this country. We desire to represent the people against all comers, and it is well to bear in mind that everybody, from the Prime Minister downward, is an official under us, their masters. I am only anxious to do justice to them. Somebody said something about the postmen. I wish to acknowledge that he is an excellent official. He is courteous, and he endeavours in every possible way to carry out his duty. I am unaware that there is any complaint whatever against the postmen in this country. I never met anybody who did not acknowledge what a good set of fellows they were, and how anxious they were to do their duty and to please everybody. And there is no official to whom we are more willing to give 279 a Christmas box than to the postman. Wherever that custom has been done away with I am more sorry than otherwise. Notwithstanding that the Postmaster-General deems it that I want to make an attack upon him, I say I want to freely acknowledge that this is the only Department which I have been able to get anything out of. Although he commenced in rather a bad temper to-night—
§ Mr. MORTON
I am speaking of tonight. I want to freely assure him that he has done his best to carry out the business better than any other Postmaster-General I know of, and especially in districts like Sutherlandshire, which have been greatly neglected, and in which there are a great many improvements wanted which other Postmaster-Generals have failed to carry out. I know they give as reasons that in a district like Sutherlandshire it does not pay. A system of penny or twopenny post always implies that the better districts—I mean the more largely-populated districts—pay better than other districts which are not so great, and, therefore, it is not a bad argument in connection with the postal service to say we cannot do so and so because it does not pay like in other districts. I am greatly indebted to the right hon. Gentleman for the way in which he has listened to many complaints which I have brought forward on account of the services in Sutherlandshire, and he has tried to remedy a great many of them. He has not done all I wanted, and I do not know that he will do all I want in this Parliament, but I admit freely that he has acted very fairly and reasonably and generously so far as I have placed representations before him from my Constituents. Now, my attention has been called to this reduction of wages in future. Some time ago I brought before the right hon. Gentleman the question of the wages of the postmen and their position under this Hobhouse Commission at Brora, and I presented a petition on the matter. I understood the right hon. Gentleman at that time to say that he was going to reconsider the matter with regard to Brora. I have since had information—in fact, today—that they have settled the question of Brora without any reconsideration whatever, and they have reduced the maximum from 22s. to 21s., and it is held in at least three districts—Brora, Golspie, and Dornoch—that the cost of living there 280 is even greater than in Glasgow, where the maximum is 29s. against 21s. in these other places. Therefore I would like to ask whether the right hon. Gentleman will consider or reconsider this question? After all, a guinea a week is not much, and it is very difficult indeed for a man anywhere, I should think, to keep himself and family decently on 21s. a week. And I think my right hon. Friend ought to reconsider this case, because it was never intended by the Hobhouse Committee that wages should be reduced. The idea was, if possible, to increase them, and to give a living wage, but now it appears they are making a great diminution in some places at any rate. Now, I should also like to ask the right hon. Gentleman when he is going to give us the penny post between this country and France and Germany and some other countries? A little while ago he was good enough to arrange for a penny post to the United States, and a very little while after the German Government came to a similar arrangement with regard to the United States. While you give a penny post to India, to all parts of Canada, and to all parts of the United States, it does seem absurd that you should keep up the 2½d. post between this country and Germany and France and some other countries. I suppose the right hon. Gentleman thinks it will cost money. The opinion of those who know a great deal about the postal business is that, even if there was a loss in the first year, that would soon be made up. The same thing was said of the Colonial penny post, but as far as I have been able to make out there has been no actual loss at all.
§ Mr. MORTON
That is not in accordance with the information I have. At any rate the right hon. Gentleman does not propose, and has not proposed, to go back to the old state of things, and I do not think he is likely to. I do think if we can send letters 10,000 or 12,000 miles for a penny, we might send them 60 or 70 miles for a penny instead of twopence-halfpenny. I am sure it would go far towards creating a better feeling altogether between this and other countries the more communication that we had by post or otherwise. The same thing applies to the charge for telegrams. It is twopence to France, and it should be a penny a word. I beg the right hon. Gentleman that having done al- 281 ready a good deal in this direction, he will endeavour to do a little more, and give us, at all events, between this country and France and Germany and other countries the penny postage that we have now got with the United States. I am very sorry to have apparently offended my right hon. Friend a little in the course of the discussion in the first part of the day, but I want to assure him, both on behalf of myself and my Constituency, I am extremely anxious to thank him for the services he has rendered to the county of Sutherland. I am sure he will agree with me that that fact should not prevent me from criticising any other matters in a reasonable way, and in any remarks I made, there was no intention to reflect upon the right hon. Gentleman in any shape or form whatever. I trust that he will be good enough to look into these questions in Sutherland, and do the best he can to give these men a decent opportunity of earning a living. Last night we agreed to the increase of ministers' salaries from £2,000 to £5,000, and I think we can reasonably believe that the Government can afford to give an extra shilling to the poor postmen.
§ Mr. J. McKEAN
The hon. Member for Liverpool suggested that the maintenance of the Queenstown route was a job on the part of the Government, but if that is so it is a job to which the Opposition have been a party for several years. The hon. Member for Liverpool suggested that instead of this, we in Ireland should get some money, but the hon. Member for the City of London said that we got sufficient money. Evidently the hon. Member for the City of London is very easily satisfied when it is a question of paying his just and lawful debts. It has been proved to demonstration that although the cessation to call at Queenstown and the direct passage from Liverpool to New York might convenience Liverpool and some of the adjacent districts, it has been proved to demonstration by the people who know that for the convenience of the City of London, and for the convenience of England and Wales generally, the present route is by far the superior route. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will, therefore, resist all the advances and suggestions made to him to make any alteration in the existing state of affairs. The subjects I rose to speak about are local matters, and I should like to call attention to the fact that in Carrickmacross the status of the Post Office has been reduced, involving, as it does, a reduction in the scale of payment 282 of those very deserving officials the postmen. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will let me know whether it is a fact that this change has been made in a town in which the population is increasing. I hear also from Ballybay that it is complained that the postmen of Monaghan and Castle-blayney have got an increase of 1s. a week and the Ballybay postmen have not got this increase. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will try to equalise matters as between these towns.
I wish also to say a word on the salaries of women clerks in Ireland. In London and Dublin they enter the service through the same open competition and by the same examination. They perform the very same duties in London and Dublin and serve the same hours, and enjoy the same privileges, yet the London woman clerk has a higher scale of salary than her Dublin colleague. I do not think that is fair. I said the work of the two was identical, but, as a matter of fact, the work in Dublin is more onerous than that in London. The clerk in London is commonly employed on one branch of work, she becomes expert at it, and it becomes easy to her, whereas in Dublin, the amount of work being less, the sub-division of labour is not required there, and the women clerks in Dublin have to perform a variety of duties, so that, if anything, I submit the pay in Ireland should be higher. I also drew the attention of the right hon. Gentleman some time ago to the case of the assistant postal officials in Kingstown. They are paid at a much lower rate than in Dublin, and the facilities for bettering their position are considerably lower than those who perform exactly the same work in Dublin. The right hon. Gentleman before said that the amount of work they do in Kingstown is less, but that is not their fault, and they would willingly perform the amount of work which is done by their Dublin colleagues if they had it to do. I respectfully submit that the Hobhouse Committee, who are responsible for these changes, can hardly be congratulated on the result of the steps that have been taken. I have a few matters to speak about with reference to the Post Office Savings Bank in Ireland. I am sure, by the way, that the right hon. Gentleman is a Home Ruler, at all events if he is like his colleagues he is very ardent and strong in his profession of Home Rule, but when it comes to practice we find that they are not quite so strong or so practical in applying as they are in professing it. Take a case in point where we ask for Home 283 Rule in Ireland. I am sure the Members of the Government, who have made no pledges against giving us this instalment of Home Rule, will be able to see their way to grant it. All the work of the Post Office Savings Bank is transacted in Kensington. The Postmaster-General will not deny that some of the principal and most trusted officials in the Post Office in Dublin are opposed to this system. The work ought to be done in Ireland. It can be done in Ireland. The officials in Ireland are not less efficient and not less hard-working or trustworthy than the men in London. It stands to common-sense the maintenance of buildings in Dublin is less than in London. The transactions in Ireland mainly relate to accounts opened in Irish offices, and, therefore, the alleged delays in communicating with the head office, if there was one in Dublin, would only affect depositors residing in England with accounts opened in Ireland. The Irish depositor has to wait until the matter is referred to London before the business is transacted. I would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman the appointment of a small Committee to inquire and report upon this important question. For years it was contended in this House by the right hon. Gentleman's predecessors in office that the head office work of dealing with postal orders could not be transferred from London to Dublin. Yet this change has been made, I think, by the right hon. Gentleman himself. Within the past two years the impossible and impracticable transfer, as it was called, was accomplished, and a staff of women clerks are now working in Dublin duties previously done in London. The Hobhouse Committee unanimously favoured the policy of decentralisation in the Post Office. Here in a matter concerning Ireland depositors have to wait for days to recover their money from the bank owing to its administrative staff being centred in London. These are not wildly revolutionary suggestions, and I would respectfully suggest to the right hon. Gentleman, if he is not too much of a slave of the permanent officials and of tradition, that he would consider whether they could be carried out or not.
I wish also to say one or two words on the subject of the franking of letters. I think a Government which professes to be in favour of payment of Members of Parliament, and a Government, some, if not all, of whose Members made speeches 284 declaring that they were in favour of the payment of Members of Parliament, might concede the very natural and the very reasonable right or privilege of having letters on public matters on the part of Members of the House franked. Ministers are paid very good salaries, though not any too high. I am sure every Minister earns his salary, and I am sure the right hon. Gentleman the Postmaster-General earns his salary perhaps better than any other Minister. I do not think there is any more hard-worked or more attentive, and, at the same time, more courteous Minister than the Postmaster-General. I remember well in that connection when right hon. Gentlemen were in Opposition they were very friendly, very courteous, and very affable. They used even to speak to myself. A lot of them do not see me now. They do not know me since they got on the Treasury Bench. [An HON. MEMBEB: "Name."] The hon. Gentleman wants to know too much. He is never satisfied with moderate information. Ministers are paid very handsome salaries for performing their duties, and, in addition to this, they have the right or the privilege of having their letters sent post free. A fortiori, ordinary Members, who are not paid, should have their letters sent post free to those who write to them on public business. It is not a very great matter A thousand pounds a year would cover the whole thing, and it would be a considerable advantage to Members. But not even that concession would this Liberal Government make to Members of the House. One Member of the Government made a strong speech in favour of payment of Members of Parliament some four years ago. The hon. Member for Barnard Castle brought forward the subject in a Resolution, and the present Minister for Foreign Affairs delivered a speech which meant, if words or actions mean anything, that when they came back to office they would do something practical in that matter. But people feel differently, or if they do not they talk differently when they get into office from what they do when they are in the cold shades of opposition.
§ Mr. McKEAN
My argument is that since they do not pay Members of Parliament directly, they ought to make this concession, which comes relevantly and naturally under the Post Office Vote, and 285 it is to show that they are bound by their pledges, and their promises and their professions to do this that I introduced the question of payment of Members of Parliament. I have never met a more courteous class of men than the postal officials. There is no detail that they will not enter into. They are the pink of courtesy and politeness. The same remark applies with an equal force to the principal officials in Dublin, most of whom I have the pleasure of knowing. There are two whom I should like to mention by name. One is Mr. Egerton, the Secretary of the General Post Office, and I think the public service does not contain a more hard working or a more attentive, or a more courteous official than Mr. Egerton, and the same remarks apply with equal force to the head of the Accountants' Department, Mr. James MacMahon. I wish all officials were like these two in particular, and like the officials of the Post Office in general. The right hon. Gentleman to whose attention I have often brought various matters has never been able to do one single thing that I wished him to do, but he has always extended to me unlimited quantities of that commodity which is so plentiful on the Liberal Benches, and that is sympathy. I want to ask him where the Liberal Government keep their sympathy, because I would like to spend two or three days walking about the apartment. It must be a very large place. I hope that in future the right hon. Gentleman will be able to give us something more practical and consoling than mere sympathy.
Mr. CHARLES FENWICK
My main object in rising is because I think the voice of Northumberland should not be silent in a general appeal made to the Postmaster-General. I never cared much about intervening in Debates of this description, because I share the view expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester when he said that more can be obtained from Ministers behind the Speaker's chair than by challenge on the floor of the House. I admit that there is a great deal of force in that observation, and hence I prefer to do a great deal of the work I have to do behind the Speaker's chair. If nobody speaks from Northumberland my right hon. Friend will think that we are perfectly satisfied with what he has done for us. He has done something, and we appreciate very highly what he has done. There has been in four of the centres an 286 increase of the standard, and for that I am personally grateful, and I am sure that those who have obtained the benefit of the change are equally grateful. There are some places where the standard has been reduced, and the members of the staff whom I have consulted fail to see on what ground an increase has been given in some places when a reduction under similar circumstances has taken place in others. We were assured that no reduction would take place until full and careful inquiry had been made both as to the cost of living, and as to the units of work. I defy any person to show that either the cost of living is greater in those centres where an advance has taken place or that the units of labour there are at all different or in any essential degree different from those in the places where the reduction has taken place. I take the case of Cramlington in my own Division, where the standard has been reduced from 24s. to 23s. per week. I take also the case of Seaton Delaval, a large centre of industry. In these two centres of industry I should imagine you have anywhere from 12,000 to 15,000 inhabitants, and the cost of living is not less in either of these places than in the neighbouring districts where an advance has been given. All those districts lie within a radius of ten or a dozen males of each other, and I venture to suggest to my right hon. Friend that in the case of Blythe probably the cost of living is greater because house rents are higher than in some places where the standard has been increased from 23s. to 24s. per week. What I am particularly anxious to emphasise on this occasion is the observation made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bury. I am one of those who from the very first when this change took place believed that it was a step in the wrong direction. I cannot think it will ultimately lead either to peace within the Department or to efficiency. There is nothing that workmen dislike more than to feel that they are called upon to perform similar duties in every respect, and to discharge similar responsibilities, and yet not be entitled to receive the same remuneration for their labour as their fellow-workmen are receiving. Nothing, it seems to me, is more calculated to endanger the peaceful cooperation of the members of the Postal service with the heads of the various Departments than this disparity of wages. It is perfectly true that the reduction which has taken place does not affect that portion of the staff in existence when the 287 change was made, but to introduce a lower standard of pay seems to me to be one of the worst things you can do from the point of view of the peaceful relationship between the Postal servants and the heads of the various departments. It is a totally different thing to reward a man for long service or for efficient service where exactly similar duties and similar responsibilities are to be borne by the rest of the staff. I cannot help emphasising the force of the observation which was made by my hon. Friend. I do hope—and this is my main point—that some further inquiry will be made where this reduction or alteration has taken place. So far as the county of Northumberland is concerned, we have not been able to ascertain from any authoritative source that any inquiry, except the most cursory inquiry indeed, was made before this change was brought into operation. In order that you may have good relationship existing between the Postal servants and the heads of departments I think you ought to take every precaution so as to ensure that a careful inquiry will be made in every detail before such great changes are introduced. I have a case in my mind where a man, 18 years of age, is in receipt of 17s. per week. He is a single man. That is his total income, and out of that he has to pay 13s. per week for his board and lodging. What is there left after that for the young man to clothe and educate himself if he is anxious at all to cultivate the faculties of his mind? I say such a salary is too low, and I hope that careful and thorough investigation will be instituted by the Postmaster-General with a view to remedying these cases of hardship wherever it is possible to do so.
Mr. CATHCART WASON
As I listened to the Debate this afternoon the feeling in my mind was that I wished I had got only the same things to complain of as other places. I represent a Constituency which I will not say has been persistently neglected by the Post Office, because the Postmaster-General who now fills that office has done more for us than his predecessors, and in giving us a weekly mail for the Shetland Islands has conferred a very great boon on the whole of the inhabitants of that country. It makes a great difference to the people on these islands, especially during the winter months, and has improved their position very materially. But with regard to telegraphic communication our difficulties are just where they were. We have large and important islands abso- 288 lutely destitute of telegraphic communication at the present moment. Some of these islands with running up to 400 to 500 inhabitants have only a limited mail service of once a week or fortnight, and have no telegraphic communication. Some of these islands have no doctor and no nurse. Those people are cut off entirely from the outside world. Only a short time ago a very serious wreck occurred there, in which all the lives were lost, and it is credibly asserted, and I believe, that if they had been able to communicate with the mainland a very considerable number of lives would have been able to be saved, and probably the ship. The Postmaster-General told us some time ago he was inquiring into the matter, to see if he cannot establish wireless telegraphy with those islands. I can assure him it is a matter of the utmost need in these days when something should be done to prevent people from going to foreign countries and induce them to stay in their own country. The people of these islands are willing to pay a considerable sum themselves, and the Congested Districts Board for Scotland has also adopted a very sympathetic attitude, so that I sincerely trust that the Postmaster-General will see his way to put the people in those islands in a very much better position than they are at present with reference to the outside world. It will not cost very much money—a mere bagatelle of a few hundred a year—and the Postmaster-General could still effect a great saving by economies on the extravagant generosity under which £9,000 a year is spent on the mail service between Aden and Mombassa.
The answers which the right hon. Gentleman have given me in the House will prove what I say. This service costs over £9,000 a year, and we only receive about £2,000, so that there is a loss of £7,000 a year; and then everyone I have met in that part of the world is extremely dissatisfied with the service. For whose benefit it is carried on no one possibly knows unless it is for the direct benefit of the steamship company itself. It does not connect with anybody; it does not connect with our country; it does not benefit the trade of the nation, and it is not of the least use. There is £7,000 a year which the Postmaster-General could quite well save, and which would go a very long way towards providing the islands and highlands of Scotland with much more satisfactory communication than they have at the present moment, and do something to relieve the disability under which we labour in 289 that respect. Another large saving might be effected by the Post Office in reference to the Sunday service. It is a question which I have often brought before the right hon. Gentleman, especially as to Scotland, and I wish to reiterate to-day the remarks I have made before on this matter. At the present time in Scotland you have got many deliveries on Sunday which could well be done without in country districts. We do not have them in town districts; we do not have them in London here, and we get on perfectly well without the Sunday Post Office service here; but in Scotland, above all places, where the observance of Sunday is supposed to prevail, we have those services in various parts of the country. In addition to the postmen who are employed, there is the question of the people in the Post Offices, who almost never get a Sunday holiday in the year, and if they wish to go to service in a church or in the open air they are compelled to wait until certain hours of the day to attend those services. In those two respects alone you can save far more money than the trifling amount which we are asking for in respect of the improved telegraphic and mail service to these islands.
§ Mr. J. R. CLYNES
In reference to the question of sub-postmasters, I have received a communication in which I think a very serious grievance is expressed. It is stated that though in all other sections of the service where an increase is shown to be due the increase was antedated, from 1st January this year in this section no such antedating has been allowed, in spite of the Postmaster-General's direct statement that no officer of the Post Office would suffer loss because of the calculation of the increment when this Report was being made. In consequence of this they say that some of the sub-postmasters will lose nearly two years of their increase, just because their offices were among the last batch to be revised. If the statements in that communication are statements of fact, and if the Postmaster-General is correctly quoted, I think that that is a matter for his further attention. They point out that they were formerly paid upon what they term volume, and that the change of payment, which now rests upon the number of arrivals and despatches of mails, has been greatly to their detriment, and many of them are losing, or will lose, money which they can ill afford to lose. Much has been said in the course of the Debate in contrasting 290 two places where the same work is differently paid for. I am given to understand that comparisons could be drawn not only from two different towns, but from two different quarters of the same town. I am assured that Eltham is part of the borough of Woolwich, and that it can be proved that the cost of living in the two places is substantially the same, and yet the postmen are paid differently in the two places. I cannot understand why, and I agree with a previous speaker who has pointed out that although there might be some fine departmental reason, or, perhaps, some technical point that would justify differentiation, yet you cannot impress that kind of thing on the ordinary postman of to-day. I do not think you ought to try. The Postmaster-General in his speech this afternoon referred to the telephone transference question. Recently a meeting was held in Manchester in connection with the complaints of the men now employed by the Telephone Company. I attended that meeting. It was not a party meeting; indeed it was not a Labour meeting in the ordinary sense of the term; it was a meeting of employés who feared very much from some little experience, and from what they had heard, that this transference meant the dismissal of a large number. The right hon. Gentleman this afternoon said, as showing how little cause there was for fear, that there had been only one man dismissed during the present year. It was pointed out, however, later in the Debate that there was a cause for that. There was a sort of understanding that during the winter season these dismissals would not be continued. I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether in connection with this matter he has heard a rumour which has possessed these men with a sense of fear, to the effect that a large body of them are to be dismissed about Whitsuntide. I am assured by these men that many of them believe that when that time of the year arrives their services will be terminated, and they will have to take their chance of being re-engaged when the telephone service becomes State property. We have heard much in connection with unemployment discussions of the necessity of avoiding unemployment by giving men technical training and by teaching them, as it were, a trade. These telephone men are capable of performing with a high degree of skill valuable service, and it is not only the individual loss we have to contemplate, but also the loss to 291 the State which may arise if these men are thrown aside on the offchance of their being taken on again at the beginning of 1912, should the State require the benefit of their useful labour. The right hon. Gentleman the Postmaster-General has been justly congratulated already upon various matters, but there is one point which I think is new. When we were discussing some weeks ago the Fair Wage Clause, and also this afternoon in the course of the discussion of this Post Office Vote, the right hon. Gentleman gave the House on the previous and on this occasion a piece of information which I think must have escaped the notice of such hon. Gentlemen, at least, as the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London. We hear a good deal about economic law, about the folly of tampering with the indisputable regulations and laws of industry, trade and commerce. We are told that we cannot wisely interfere with what must be the ordinary operation of supply and demand. But the right hon. Gentleman has swept aside all these considerations, and, without consulting this House, he has wisely and humanly settled that there shall be a minimum rate of wage given to the lowly paid workers in connection with the making of the uniforms and clothing of certain Civil servants. I am glad to think that the House has reached the point of being able to receive a decision like that, not only cheerfully but evidently with approval, and I hope this very good example and very good step taken administratively on the high responsibility, I assume, of the right hon. Gentleman, will be wisely followed by the House in general when it is called upon to give its approval to a measure which will have a similar end in view with regard to the workers in other trades.
§ Mr. FREDERICK MADDISON
Some few years ago I supported to the best of my ability the demand of the postal employés for a Parliamentary inquiry, and I am bound to say that it is very disappointing to hear that the complaints which now exist seem to be as wide and as strong and sometimes as bitter as they were when we endeavoured to get that Parliamentary inquiry. We had the Hobhouse Committee, whose inquiry lasted a long time, and great care appears to have been taken I am bound to say, however, that the Committee attempted an almost impossible task. They tried to lay down some- 292 thing which in theory may appear to be all right, but in practice is almost impossible. The hon. Member for Wansbeek, in approaching this question from the standpoint of a trade union leader having to do with these matters, I think put his finger on the weak spot. After all, you could not possibly get a scientific remuneration on the dual basis of the cost of living and the unit of work. They are too complicated, and even if they were not quite so complicated, how on earth could you get as to workmen or anybody else—for in this matter it is always the workmen who are referred to, but it applies also to anybody else—this fine discrimination between this particular district and the other. I am not going to raise the question of Burnley. I always endeavour to resist with all my strength bringing sectionalism into this question; but the Postmaster-General may take it from me that as there is going to be a reduction in Burnley they will have a grievance there, and they will continue to have a grievance because of the mere fact that they are about to be reduced. The difficulty which the Committee experienced, or, as I think, the impossible task they attempted to impose on someone, was made still worse by the data which the Department had to go upon, namely, the inquiry that was held by the Board of Trade as to the cost of living in various towns. We had placed before us last year, and, I think, upon this occasion, where the standard of rent had been taken of the kind of houses you would not expect postmen to live in. It would be the easiest thing in the world for me—nothing could be easier—to get hold of some of the cheap rents in London, but they would not represent the average London rents? And when the Postmaster-General had to depend entirely for his information on that side of the dual basis upon the work of another Department, there you got a difficulty that was almost impossible to get over; because if there is one thing which prevails it is that one Department likes to accept loyally and at once the findings and investigations of another Department. There is that loyalty between them that works out, I suppose, in the main well, but, on a question like this, works out very ill. I was saying that the Postmaster-General, without going into details, has to make up his mind to this: that he has not had reliable information in the fixing of the cost of living. He may take that for granted. I would tell him that he must not shelter 293 himself behind this case or the other case that he could bring forward to upset certain statements made. Practically speaking, I feel convinced that sooner or later he must have a revision, and from not only the sympathetic way in which he has administered the affairs of his office, but as well the broad statesmanship with which he has dealt with these questions, I feel sure he will do so. It must have been a source of pride to hon. Members to know that in the recent trouble in France that actually in all of the speeches one could read they stated they were trying to get up to English models so far as combination was concerned, and that they despaired of doing so, but were trying to get as near as possible. The Parliamentary way has not been entirely successful, and you could not do anything that would satisfy all those tens of thousands of people. That would be humanly impossible. All that we can get is something that will take out of the domain of political influence the great broad question of wages, and the major labour conditions.
The right hon. Gentleman the member for East Worcestershire I certainly thought proclaimed a piece of high state policy, not new, but none the worse for that, namely, that there should be some means devised by which these larger questions should be dealt with by a body such as a Conciliation Board that is outside the membership of this House. To talk about a Standing Committee of this House being entrusted with it would be absurd. Why, nothing was more deplorable to me than the treatment which some members of the Hobhouse Committee received in certain quarters. There is the case of the hon. Member for Stockport. I unfortunately disagree with him on many economic matters, but I read with the greatest pain attacks upon him in certain sets of newspapers—where his connection with the Labour party, his "professional Socialism" and a hundred and one ulterior things were brought in, and the hon. Member subjected to the sort of intimidation—for it was nothing else—that would make men hesitate to be on a Standing Committee which had to run the gauntlet on every occasion that they happened to revise wages.
Therefore I do think that the right hon. Gentleman ought to seriously consider, and that he ought to press on the Prime Minister, the necessity for having a Com- 294 mittee of Inquiry to try and devise some sort of conciliation board or other tribunal by which those things could be dealt with. I want two things to be borne in mind, namely the supreme authority of the Postmaster-General in all matters of discipline to be maintained, and I also want the Treasury point of view not to be neglected. I quite understand a board of conciliation might, thinking it had to deal with the public purse, settle some of the questions in a way they would not do in a conciliation board that had to deal with railway companies. As to the great mass of people employed by the State, I think it is time that they should have some sort of right to a real effective method of dealing with disputes which have not lent themselves to ordinary treatment. The hon. Member for Sutherland talks of this being the "grand inquest of the nation." That is a splendid phrase, but does any hon. Member tell me that we ever have really dealt with questions of detail on the floor of this House? The majority cannot understand half the detailed oases given. This evening the hon. Member for the College Green Division of Dublin gave a list of details, and I would venture to say there is not 5 per cent. can remember one quarter of them, and therefore know nothing about them at all. Therefore I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see whether some better means cannot be devised.
Then one word about another subject. I believe that one of the most serious elements in our economic condition at the present moment is the profligate waste of boy and youth labour, and those hon. Members who spoke on the subject of boy labour and telegraph messengers placed before the right hon. Gentleman a question—not a new one, and one he has under consideration—of the gravest importance. You take intelligent boys and give them only two, three, or four years' employment in a great Government Department, and then cast them aside, too old for apprenticeship, not men, and just in such a condition that unless they are very, careful they run to seed and form those from whom the ranks of the unemployed are recruited. The right hon. Gentleman must really understand that it is no use the Government bringing in a Bill or taking steps to deal "with boy labour if his Department does not even more than it is doing now. I have not a word to say against the ex-soldier; he is a man and a brother, and has every right to be treated properly; 295 but when it takes boys into its employment let the Post Office recognise the sort of duty that a decent employer would perform.
§ Mr. BUXTON
I desire to thank hon. Members for the very kind words—in many cases too kind—they have used in reference to myself, and especially do I thank those hon. Members who have made reference to the Gentlemen with whom I have the honour to serve—I mean my permanent officials. I will take the smaller points shortly, before I deal with the questions which, I think, have really interested the Committee, namely, the question of classification and the suggestion of the right hon. Member for East Worcestershire. The hon. Member who moved the reduction of my salary—I hope he will not persist in his Motion, and that he will let me off more cheaply than that—and the hon. Member for Sutherland raised the question of French postage. The question is really one of money. At the present moment, when we shall have unfortunately to impose a considerable burden of taxation on the taxpayers, I do not think it would be fair to ask the Treasury to grant a very considerable sum for this particular purpose. It must be recollected by the Committee that this question necessarily carries with it penny postage to the rest of the Continent, which represents a sum of nearly £400,000. If I am sufficiently long at the Post Office, and if the Post Office finances—which I regret to say are not very flourishing just now—improve, not only shall I not hesitate to put the question before the Treasury, for it has my entire sympathy, but I shall point out that I have been very kind to them in not urging it at this time of pressure. I hope that I or my successor will be able to carry out this proposal, which I consider a very great postal improvement and reform. Then a question has been raised on various occasions by various Members. I referred to it in my opening remarks, namely, the position of the Post Office and the National Telephone Company. I really do not think I have anything to add to what I said except this: That the best solution probably of this problem, subject to certain conditions, would be to antedate the time when the Post Office takes over the company. I take that as endorsed by various Members, and I shall certainly now proceed, so far as I can, in the negotiations with the Telephone Company. Of course I do not at all know whether it 296 is possible to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion before the lease runs out.
A point has been raised by one or two Members, by the Member for Liverpool and by one of the Irish Members—an important point. I refer to what is termed the Queenstown call. The hon. Member for Liverpool—perhaps I had better just say that the suggested proposal of the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce is that I should facilitate, if I can, by dropping the call at Queenstown, and by allowing the Cunard steamers to start earlier, the delivery of letters in America. The difficulty about that is, as I said in answer to a question yesterday, that with the exception of Liverpool and the immediate neighbourhood—which are naturally in favour of the suggestion—what would be the gain on the American side would be a loss on this side, and this loss would include London and other parts of the country. Therefore, under existing conditions, I am afraid I cannot consider the proposal. Well, my hon. Friend who spoke last, and other Members, the Member for Dublin included, referred to a question which I can assure them is one I have very much at heart, that is the question of the boy messengers of the Post Office. This is a matter to which I have given the greatest possible attention and anxiety during the three and a half years I have been at the Post Office. I have, I think, expressed this on a former occasion in this way: It is a real blot on the escutcheon of the Post Office. It is not our fault, because for many years past, under the arrangement of the Government of that time, every other postman's place was to be allotted to an ex-soldier. That was looked at from the point of view of the Government as a whole, for they felt that the Government, having employed the soldier for a good many years, ought not to throw him out if they could find some place for him. If it were not for this arrangement we should have no difficulty whatever in finding places for every good, well-conducted boy that we took into our service. But unfortunately that is not so now. The Committee must not think I am casting any reflection on the ex-soldier. I am simply dealing with the conditions as they exist at present. What I have endeavoured to do is this: In the first place, I have made an arrangement with the War Office—they pressed me rather hard to take more ex-soldiers—but I said I could not really allow a larger proportion of 297 ex-soldiers to come into the service. I asked them—and they were good enough to agree—that Instead of necessarily putting an ex-soldier into a postman's place, that I might be able to put them to other branches of the service. That, to a certain extent, we have been able to do, thus setting free postmen's places for the boys. Further, we have endeavoured, so far as we could, to take some of these boys into the engineering branches, and so on; and we have so far as we can also endeavoured to provide within the service itself for a larger proportion of those boys than what was the case a few years ago. I think my right hen. Friend will think, at all events, that while we are not neglecting the old soldiers, we are doing all we can to meet the difficulty of a really serious problem which confronts us with regard to boy labour. In addition to that we do our very best, if we have to part with the services of these boys, to find situations for them. So far as my inquiries go, I am glad to state that we are able to find employment for them, or, by our assistance, they are, in the majority of cases, able to find employment for themselves. It is not the Post Office boy messenger who adds to the number of unemployed and casual and unemployable boys who unfortunately come upon the streets. That is a matter I have very much at heart, and I shall be very glad to have any suggestion that my hon. Friend or others can make to enable me to deal more effectually with it. I repeat that it is not a case of turning these boys out of our service so much as it is due to the fact that we are limited to a very large extent by what would be the alternative if we did not deal with the boy messengers in this way, namely, that a very large number of ex-soldiers would be turned into the streets. My hon. Friend the Member for Islington raised two or three questions to which he wanted an answer. One was with reference to the early attendance of postmen. I regret very much that these early attendances should be necessary, but unfortunately the pressure of work and the large increase in correspondence in the City necessitates earlier attendance on the part of a certain number of postmen, but they are only a small proportion of the whole of the postmen. We are making inquiries, and seeing how far we can improve the conditions of service, and I can assure my hon. Friend we shall do our best to make what I admit is a serious burden upon them as easy as we can. The hon. Member for Orkney and 298 Shetland and the hon. Member for Islington pressed upon me the advisability, as far as possible, of reducing Sunday labour. I am with them in the desire, as far as possible to do so, and as my hon. Friend knows, when any district is itself willing to dispense with Sunday labour we are only too glad to meet its wishes and to cease to give a Sunday delivery. I am glad to say that not long ago I represented to the great city of Glasgow that the number of persons who called for their letters at certain hours on Sundays did not seem to be very great, and that the delivery to callers on Sundays should be abolished. I am glad to say that the Corporation of Glasgow, the Lord Provost, and others met me in the matter, and at the present time Glasgow is in the same happy position as London in having no Sunday delivery. I am glad to say also that, with regard to Sunday delivery in Aberdeen, they have met us to some extent. The hon. Member for North-East Manchester mentioned the question of sub-postmasters. I understand him to say that they complain that their revisions were somewhat delayed. That is in strict accordance with the distinct recommendation of the Parliamentary Committee in paragraph 533, which was founded on the fact that that would necessarily take some time. I can assure the hon. Member we have, as far as we could, hurried on the revisions, so that the improved scale of pay—in a very large proportion of cases there is an increase of pay for sub-postmasters—should come into force at the earliest possible moment. I think those are all the minor points which hon. Members have referred to.
§ Mr. BUXTON
At the present moment, as I have already stated, we are extending underground telegraph works. I wish to point out to my hon. Friend that every additional mile of underground telegraph wire is an advantage to every part of the Kingdom It really is not a local question, because to a large extent the work is carried out in connection with our submarine cables. We desire to bring the underground protective wire as near as we can to the place of landing of the submarine cable. With regard to the argument that some particular underground line ought to be taken in hand before another we have to decide the question from what I may 299 perhaps be allowed to call the Post Office strategic point of view.
I will now deal with "classification"— a question which has exercised the minds of a large number of hon. Members, and I will deal with it shortly, because I have discussed it on more than one occasion in this House, and I have endeavoured to put forward the reasons and the grounds which have actuated myself and the Post Office in this connection. I quite appreciate what has been said by those hon. Members who have raised the case of their own particular constituencies in which there will, in the future, be a slight reduction in the maximum pay. I think they ought to recollect that in this matter I am in a very difficult position. A Parliamentary Committee was appointed at the desire of the staff, and it gave the greatest possible care and trouble to this question, and made certain recommendations which I believe I have carried out both in the spirit and the letter. Without discussing the actual merits of it, the recommendation was that the classification ought to be based on units of work and the cost of living. That, at all events, was the recommendation of the Committee after careful consideration, and a good many hon. Members who have spoken in regard to it have not, I think, studied the question as much as the Committee did in regard to that point. I am not going to enter into the question whether the classification ought to be put upon that basis, but that was the recommendation of the Committee, and I felt bound to carry it out. They also recommended the system of classification which was to combine the existing systems. It is obvious that if you have two existing systems of classification which are not the same, and you combine them into one, it must cause an adverse effect in some places and give an advantage in other offices which come under those classifications, and the Committee recognised that that must be so. I regret that the endeavour to carry out a uniform classification should have involved a certain number of reductions in a limited number of cases, but I think this question should be considered as a whole, and not as it affects individual cases. In no less than 4,400 cases postmen receive an immediate increase in the maximum, whereas in the other cases, if there is a diminution, none of the existing officers suffer from that diminution. I do not think that the hon. 300 Member who has referred to the Irish figures could have been properly informed, because in Ireland there are an infinitesimal number of cases of reduction, while there are many cases of increase, because the Committee felt that the scale in Ireland was unduly low. That is the position. Various Members have appealed to me with regard to their constituents. I can only say if it can be shown that the basis is unjust between one town as against another the matter shall receive my consideration. As regards the remarks of the hon. Member for Burnley with reference to the cost of living, the cost of living is a matter over which I have no control. No one at the Post Office knows what the cost of living is in any particular town. I should say as a general proposition that every Member represents the dearest town in the Kingdom, and speaking in my own case I may say that the cost of living is much higher than I should like it to be. I understand that the Board of Trade take the towns as a whole with regard to rent and compare one town with other towns. They do not profess to take—
§ Mr. JOHN WARD
In a case with which I am acquainted they selected the worst streets of the district for the purpose of calculating what is the cost of the living of the working classes. If they have adopted that system throughout the country they have not carried out the intentions of the Committee.
§ Mr. BUXTON
I cannot go into that. The Board of Trade has no interest in the cost of living, and whether the cost be high or low it does not affect the Board of Trade. The member for Stockport wants to know whether the matter is as unchangeable as the laws of the Medes and Persians? No one would contend that it was. Alterations are made from time to time in the ordinary way, and to that extent so far as alterations are made, of course the alteration in classification will follow. But I venture to say that what has occurred this afternoon and this evening, and what occurred last year, very much leads up to and emphasises what fell from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire. I thought his speech a singularly interesting one, but he, of course, in his proposals was dealing with the general Civil Service. Speaking only for the Post Office, it would not be right or proper that I should make any pronouncement with regard 301 to this question; but I venture to agree with him and with the hon. Member for Stockport that this is a question of great moment to Members of this House, and it is a matter on which if there was general agreement that there would be something substantial to the advantage of both employer and employed, something should be done. I think it is quite clear that it is a matter which can only be dealt with by general consent. I think the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman met with approval in all quarters of the House. There was one proposal made in the course of the Debate. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire, as I understand, suggested—and it was endorsed by the hon. Member for Stockport—something in the nature of an arbitration or conciliation board on which both sides would be represented. That was to deal with the questions of hours and wages. But another suggestion was made that there should be a Standing Committee of this House appointed for the purpose of assisting the Postmaster-General. I think that would prove an impossible proposal. In the first place, I do not think it would be easy to find Members to serve on such a Committee. If Members suffer at the present moment through the letters and communications they receive, what would be the life of an unfortunate Member of such a Standing Committee of the House of Commons? Besides, I agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire, that no self-respecting Postmaster-General—and I hope I am one myself—could serve as Chairman of such a Parliamentary Committee, which would attend to and interfere in his administration. I think there is in addition to that a really fatal objection to it. After all, fortunately at present the House of Commons does not sit the whole 12 months round. There is a certain time when the House of Commons is not sitting, and during that time the House of Commons Committees cease to exist, and I can only say, as representing the Post Office, that the Post Office never ceases, and there are only about nine days a year when the office is shut and the Postmaster-General free of work. How is he then to get along during the three or four months when the House is not sitting and when this Committee would have closed its doors? A Committee of the House of Commons is outside the question. The proposal of the right hon. Member 302 was very different. It was somewhat on the lines of the Railway Conciliation Boards, dealing with the questions of wages and hours of labour. I think he carefully excluded from such a Committee all questions of administration. I do not think it is possible for anybody except the Minister to have charge of the administration of his own Department. All I can say with regard to the matter is that I have no authority whatever for giving an opinion in regard to it. It obviously is a matter not for my Department, but for the Government, but I shall certainly convey to the Prime Minister and to my colleagues what has fallen in the course of this Debate, and the obvious feeling which exists in this House, that if something in the nature of an arbitration or conciliation board, or something of that sort could be set up it would certainly relieve this House from personal difficulty to a very large extent, it would be fair not only to the Government, but to the employés, and if some such proposal could be accepted and met with approval, in my opinion it would be of advantage to all parties concerned. I thank the Committee for allowing me to make these various remarks in answer to the various points raised.
§ Mr. BUXTON
I thought the hon. Member was not here. I had some notes as to what he said, but I had passed the point. The position is this: We have not seen our way, nor has the Treasury seen their way, to adopt the full proposal of the Committee, as contained in that clause to which the hon. Gentleman referred, but we do find that periodical meetings with the Office of Works, and so on, and the fact that we now have an architectural adviser of our own, for "half-crown" offices, as they are called, we are enabled to get rid of the difficulty and delay which occurred before, and upon which the Committee remarked quite rightly and strongly. We have the matter under consideration as to whether we should extend the proposal, but we have not so far been able to adopt the whole of the recommendations of the Committee.
§ Mr. BUXTON
We have been in communication with the Treasury and considered the matter very carefully with the Treasury, but we have not seen our way at the present moment, and we do not think it would be an advantage to carry out that particular recommendation of the Committee. We have done so much in other directions that we think we have succeeded in obtaining the result which the Committee wished us to obtain.
§ Mr. SEDDON
Did I correctly understand the right hon. Gentleman when he was making his former observations that he had calculated that a man who is on the 28s. maximum receives, in other things the
§ equivalent of 10s. 1d. per week? What does that 10s. 1d. include? Is there something more besides doctor and boots?
§ Mr. BUXTON
I have the Paper, but I cannot lay my hands upon it at present. What I said was that, taking the average postman of 13 years' service, with his stripes, with boot money and uniform and sick pay and pension and allowances for holidays, for doctors and one or two other small items, the addition to his maximum in cash, or its equivalent, is about 10s. 1d. I think that covers the various points, though there may be one or two other minor matters.
§ Question put: "That Item A (Chief Offices) be reduced by £500."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 61; Noes, 204.305
|Division No. 75.]||AYES.||[10.58 p.m.|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F.||Gill, A. H.||Renwick, George|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Glover, Thomas||Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton, W.)|
|Ashley, W. W.||Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston)||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Balcarres, Lord||Hamilton, Marquess of||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Barnes, G. N.||Harrlson-Broadley, H. B.||Smith, F. E. (Liverpool, Walton)|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Stanier, Beville|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Helmsley, Viscount||Starkey, John R.|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hodge, John||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire)|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Hodge, Sir Robert Hermon-||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Cave, George||Kerry, Earl of||Talbot, Rt. Hon. G. J. (Oxford Univ.)|
|Clive, Percy Archer||Keswick, William||Valentia, Viscount|
|Coates, Major E. F. (Lewisham)||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A, R;||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thomas H. A. E.||Macpherson, J. T||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||M'Arthur, Charles||Wiles, Thomas|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott-||Morpeth, Viscount||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Newdegate, F. A.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Du Cros, Arthur||O'Grady, J.|
|Duncan, C (Barrow-in-Furness)||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan)||Pretyman, E. G.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Sir E. Sassoon and Mr. Harmood-Banner.|
|Felt, Arthur||Ratcliff, Major R. F.|
|Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Abraham, W. (Cork, N.E.)||Causton, Rt. Hon. Richard Knight||Elibank, Master of|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Cawley, Sir Frederick||Esmonde, Sir Thomas|
|Agnew, George William||Chance, Frederick William||Essex, R. W.|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Cheetham, John Frederick||Esslemont, George Birnie|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Evans, Sir Samuel T.|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Everett, R. Lacey|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Clough, William||Falconer, J.|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Clynes, J. R.||Fenwick, Charles|
|Barran, Sir John Nicholson||Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Ferens, T. R.|
|Beale, W. P.||Collins, Sir Wm. J. (St. Pancras, W.)||Findlay, Alexander|
|Beauchamp, E.||Compton-Rickett, Sir J.||Fuller, John Michael F.|
|Beck, A. Cecil||Cooper, G. J.||Fullerton, Hugh|
|Bell, Richard||Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead)||Glen-Coats, Sir T. (Renfrew, W.)|
|Bellairs, Canyon||Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Gooch, George Peabody (Bath)|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Cowan, W. H.||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)|
|Bennett, E. N.||Crooks, William||Gulland, John W.|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Curran, Peter Francis||Hall, Frederick|
|Bramsdon, T. A.||Davies, Ellis William (Eiflon)||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)|
|Brigg, John||Devlin, Joseph||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)|
|Bright, J. A.||Dewar, Sir J. A. (Inverness-sh.)||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)|
|Brooke, Stopford||Dobson, Thomas W.||Haworth, Arthur A.|
|Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Duckworth, Sir James||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Duffy, William J.||Hedges, A. Paget|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall)||Helme, Norval Watson|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney Charles||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Henderson, J. McD. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Henry, Charles S.|
|Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Hon. S.)||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Seely, Colonel|
|Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)||Mooney, J. J.||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Higham, John Sharp||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Simon, John Allsebrook|
|Hobart, Sir Robert||Murray, Capt. Hon. A. C. (Kincard)||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Hobhouse, Charles E. H.||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Hogan, Michael||Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Holland, Sir William Henry||Nicholls, George||Stanley, Albert (Staffs., N.W.)|
|Hooper, A. G.||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster)||Stanley, Hon. A. Lyulph (Cheshire)|
|Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)||Nolan, Joseph||Stoadman, W. C.|
|Hope, W. H. B. (Somerset, N.)||Norman, Sir Henry||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Horniman, Emslie John||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Hutton, Alfred Eddison||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Hyde, Clarendon G.||Nuttall, Harry||Tennant, Sir Edward (Salisbury)|
|Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||O'Dowd, John||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.).|
|Kearley, Sir Hudson E.||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)||Tomkinson, James|
|Kekewich, Sir George||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Toulmln, George|
|Kelley, George D.||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Kilbride, Denis||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|King, Alfred John (Knutstord)||Pollard, Dr. G. H.||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Lambert, George||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Vivian, Henry|
|Lamont, Norman||Price, C. E, (Edinburgh, Central)||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Layland-Barrett, Sir Francis||Rainy, A. Holland||Wardle, George J.|
|Lehmann, R. C.||Redmond, William (Clare)||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)||Rendall, Athelstan||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Richardson, A.||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Ridsdale, E. A.||Watt, Henry A.|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Whitbread, S. Howard|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|M'Callum, John M.||Robinson, S.||White, Sir Luke (York, E.R.)|
|M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester)||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Maddison, Frederick||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Williams, W. Llewelyn (Car'th'n)|
|Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Roe, Sir Thomas||Williamson, A.|
|Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Rogers, F. E. Newman||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Marnham, F. J.||Rowlands, J.||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)|
|Massie, J.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Russell, Rt. Hon. T. W.||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Menzies, Walter||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Micklem, Nathaniel||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Winfrey, R.|
|Middlebrook, William||Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Seaverns, J. H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Joseph Pease and Mr. Herbert Lewis.|
|Money, L. G. Chiozza||Seddon, J.|
Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ And it being after Eleven of the clock, the Chairman left the chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Resolution to be reported to-morrow; to sit again to-morrow.