§ Order for second reading read.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ Mr. JOHN HODGE
The Bill, which I now have the privilege of moving, although it is entitled the Unemployed Workmen Bill, is commonly known as the "Right to Work Bill" May I say that this Bill has the approval of the whole of the organised trade unionists in the country, and that it also has behind it the General Federation of Trade Unions, and the Trades Congress, and in this House it is supported by the great trade unionist group as well as by the Labour party. The Bill, in addition, is backed by various Members on the other side of the House, and I believe it will be within the knowledge of hon. Gentlemen and right hon. Gentlemen that at various special conferences which have been held the principle contained in this Bill has received approval. I believe I am also right in stating that at various meetings of Nonconformist bodies resolutions have also been passed and forwarded to hon. Members of this House in support of this principle. May I also add that a great meeting was held in Drury Lane Theatre on Wednesday last when this Bill, with the exception of about six dissentients, received the approval of that great meeting.
634 The problem of unemployment is recognised as one of a very serious character. It is, I think, further recognised, as the years roll by, that this problem becomes more and more acute, and this House may rest assured that so long as the problem remains unsolved Parliament will be kept face to face with it, and, so far as those who are directly interested in the question in this House are concerned, we shall confront hon. Members with it upon every opportunity we get in this House and also in the country. So far as we are concerned, we have given the Members of this House, and more particularly hon. Gentlemen opposite, the opportunity of fulfilling the pledges which they made to their constituencies on this subject during the course of the General Election. I venture to say that, without any exaggeration, at any rate 90 per cent. of hon. Members opposite denounced the Act of Mr. Balfour's Government as being altogether inadequate; in fact, they went almost as far as to say that it was simply a measure of a fraudulent character, and promises were held out that if the party opposite were returned to power they would clothe this skeleton. That this problem is one of extreme urgency will at once be allowed, but if any doubt exists on this point perhaps I may be allowed to remind the House that on the second reading of the Bill of last year the Prime Minister said:—The problem is one of the greatest magnitude and the greatest urgency.I am afraid that the Government have not given effect to their own opinion as to the urgency of this matter, otherwise we should have had some legislation brought forward before now. I think in the face of a declaration so grave lies the justification of my colleagues in seeking for every possible opportunity of keeping the House aware of its responsibilities. The ever-increasing need of a solution of this problem is due to the changing industrial conditions. To trade unionists in particular during the past two years unemployment has been a harassing and anxious matter, especially to the chief officials of trade unions. If during the next two or three years we have the same problem to face with respect to the unemployed benefits as we have had during the last two years, then bankruptcy stares us in the face.
It must be apparent that the greater the percentage of members of trade unions for whom unemployed benefits have to be provided the greater will be the tax placed upon those who are in work. Those 635 in work are not at all times fully employed, so that the tax for the purpose of doing something for the benefit of those who are less fortunate than themselves presses very heavily upon them. I venture to think that neither the Members of this House nor the public at large have appreciated to the fullest extent the communal good which has resulted from the unemployed benefit distributed by our trade unions during the past two years. I took the trouble of looking up one of the statistical volumes published by the Board of Trade, and when one realises how much has been done in this respect by trade unions we can see how far short the Government have come of their duty towards those who are unemployed and have no unemployed benefit to look forward to. If we take the trade unions of all trades we find that during the ten years since 1896 £3,874,257 were distributed in unemployed benefits, or 21.5 per cent. of their total income. To show the state of unemployment, if we take the first five years of that period, we find that the percentage of income paid on unemployed benefit was 17.2 as against 25.8 in the latter five years, a sure proof of the ever-increasing burden upon trade unions, a burden that will increase. I will give you one or two examples of this to the House. We are often told that the interests of capital and labour are identical. That is a statement in which I do not believe. There is no shadow of foundation for it. But there are exceptions to every rule, and you may get a particularly good employer who recognises his obligations to his employees. In the West of Scotland the steel makers have a syndicate whereby they fixed a price below which none of them could sell. Not contented with that they realised that they could control bad times by keeping a certain number of shops going full time. They entered into an arrangement whereby a certain number of firms were subsidised for the purpose of laying their plant absolutely idle for a period of over 18 months. That is one of the reasons why the burden of unemployed benefit becomes a more serious factor to trade unions than under the old conditions, because had this arrangement not been entered into these men would probably during the whole period of depression get three-quarter time.
In the North of England we had three iron works governed by independent companies, and, presumably for increased dividends, these concerns were amalga- 636 mated. When, therefore, there came a period of depression, out of the three works one of the works was entirely idle. Here, again, you have exactly the same result, although in a different form. It appears to me that if capital is going to be so unconscious of the workman it is time this. House did something to remedy a condition of things such as that. Had it not been that the men were in trade unions which paid unemployed benefit the general community would have been burdened as a consequence, through the operation of the poor law. Why should the community keep a reserve of workmen for these employers, who are going to make profit out of them? I think they realise that the sacred rights of property always come first. There is no consideration for the human machine. In the works which remain idle the machinery is looked after and dividends paid on the capital, but no consideration is shown towards the workmen concerned.
On the second reading of the Bill last year the Prime Minister said that the real issue raised was whether the third clause did or did not meet with the approval of the House. I do not see the Prime Minister in his place, but the President of the Local Government Board is on the Treasury Bench, and I ask him if he is prepared to leave the issue to the unfettered approval of the House? Last year the considered opinion of the House was not given. Take the Government Whips off, and then we shall have the opportunity of knowing whether the considered opinion of the House approves of the Bill or not. Right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench have in the past ridiculed the Bill. They have ridiculed its provisions. They have indulged in flights of rhetoric as to its bad draftsmanship. May I remind the right hon. Gentleman of the fact that, notwithstanding that he had all the capable Government draftsmen at his disposal for his House and Town Planning Bill, it was anything but perfect. The late Sir Wilfrid Lawson once said that over the doors of the House of Lords there should be inscribed "Mangling done here." The right hon. Gentleman's Bill was pretty well mangled upstairs, and the Government did not go any further with it, and the right hon. Gentleman has introduced an improved Bill. Why not do the same with our Bill? We have not the resources of the Government behind us in the drafting of the measure. Let it go upstairs. Let it undergo the same process as the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman. 637 I have a vivid recollection that when the Minister for Education introduced the Elementary Education Bill No. 2 he asked the House in almost pathetic tones to accept the principle of the Bill, and alter the details in any manner it liked.
That is what we say. Alter the details as much as you like, but leave the principle, and if you do this we shall be satisfied. Might I further say with respect to the Elementary Education Bill that the Minister for Education in one of his speeches said that Members on his side of the House and Members below the Gangway on this side of the House had made their pledges with respect to the question of education, and that the Government, so long as these pledges were maintained, so far as the Bill was concerned, did not care how much it was altered. Why are they not equally anxious to permit Gentlemen behind them the opportunity of fulfilling their pledges with respect to this problem of unemployment? Yesterday the Chancellor of the Exchequer foreshadowed certain proposed legislation which will do something to help this question of unemployment, and, so far as it goes, we appreciate it, but at best it will not solve the problem. The only thing which can and will solve this problem of unemployment is the granting of the right to work. The principle of the right to work is one which we insist upon. It is hardly necessary that I should deal with the details of the Bill, because a Memorandum has been issued to every Member of the House giving particulars as to the alterations which have been made in the Bill, making it more clear than last year, and which will probably prevent hon. and right hon. Gentlemen from giving vent to their imagination with respect to its provisions. And in that connection might I say that we appreciate the fact that we in the past, and more particularly my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydvil, have been described as wild visionaries and dreamers of dreams. The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil was so described when he placed before the House this question of unemployment in years gone past, and suggested that one palliative would be afforestation. Now we find that that wild vision of his has come within the range of practical politics, as demonstrated in the proposals of the Chancellor of the Exchequer yesterday. Might I also suggest to the House that if hon. Members will take the trouble to read "Hansard" between 1880 and 1895 they will find that while in those years 638 nothing could be done for the unemployed, £10,000,000 of the nation's money was spent to cope with the ravages of swine fever.
§ Mr. HODGE
Yes; £10,000,000. I believe that is correct. We think that a surplus of social wealth ought to be available for the workers who make it—for the men who during busy times are overworked and underpaid, and in slack times are underfed and underworked, and find no demand for their labour. I have had placed in my hands, as showing the evils of the present system, a letter received from a carpenter who has just come out of prison.It reads:—I have just come out of prison this morning. I received 21 days for simply trying to sell some bootlaces and collar studs. I had no licence and no money to buy one. They won't let you do anything nowadays; you must not beg; you must not steal; they will not find you work, and now here I am again—no money, no food, no home, no work. I suppose it will be prison again.What a prospect! But is this only one instance? Why, it could be multiplied many times over, and it is, I think, a shame and a disgrace that in a so-called Christian and civilised country the penning of such a depressing epistle should be possible. As I said at the beginning of my speech, we will never remain satisfied until this question of unemployment, with its appalling misery and abject hopelessness, becomes a thing of the past. I beg to move.
§ Mr. JOHN WARD
I have the greatest possible pleasure in rising to second the proposition that this Bill be read the second time. I think that the speech of the hon. Member for the Garton Division, of Lancashire has already clearly demonstrated that we have a very serious problem to deal with here, and that we should not divide ourselves on strictly party lines on such an important matter as this. I do not suppose that anyone connected with any of the parties in this House who is acquainted in any way whatever with the industrial life of our country doubts the seriousness of the problem which it is attempted to deal with by this Bill. Even apart altogether from the question and periodical depression of trade—apart altogether from the ordinary depressions of trade—the figures of the 100 trade unions selected by the Board of Trade for the purposes of comparison show that we have a continuous problem and not a periodical problem. The oscillations of trade merely accentuate the 639 difficulty which is constantly with us every year, both in good trade and bad trade—or whatever the conditions may be. The regular permanent proportion has been fixed at, I believe, the moderate estimate of an average of 5 per cent. You may dispute that figure, but I think at any rate for ten years the proportion, as tabulated by the Statistical Department of the Board of Trade, is over 4 per cent; but regularly, in good and bad trade, there is an average of about 5 per cent. of the workmen continuously unemployed. This will give us, among the skilled workmen, a proportion of about as near as possible 250,000 skilled workmen regularly out of work. If we only take the same proportion in reference to the rest of the workers of the country, without exaggerating, without attempting to show, as is sometimes suggested, and may be true, that the proportion would be considerably higher amongst the unskilled and unorganised trades of the country—without even attempting to prove that, but only assuming that the same difficulty, in the same proportion, attacks the unskilled casual workers of the country, as in the best skilled trades, then you will see what a formidable problem we are dealing with to-day. There must he, under these circumstances, on the most moderate estimate, and averaging it over the working classes generally, as the figures turn out from the regular statistical reports of the Board of Trade—there must be continuously unemployed in this country at least some 750,000 workers of one sort or another. I do not think that anyone who understands the conditions under which industrial life is carried on in this country will dispute that that is a fairly moderate estimate. Those who attempt to dispute that must be in a position to prove that these trade unions regularly reporting to the Board of Trade, that they have during the last ten years a proportion of over 4 per cent. unemployed, are the worst, and that they have the difficulty in its most acute form; but any student of modern industry knows that as a matter of fact their proportion of unemployment must be considerably lower than that of many other trades and many of the other callings which are called unskilled or semi-unskilled, and therefore we may say that this is a most terrible problem. Seven hundred and fifty thousand men in normal times, permanently, chronically unemployed, with all their wives and families dependent upon them, is, after all, a subject that a House 640 of Commons that calls itself democratic and progressive, at least should take some reasonable cognisance of. As a preamble to my statement in support of the second reading of this Bill I may say that that is the reason why all the leaders of the trade union movement in this country are so persistent in forcing those whose especial business it is to represent the interests of Labour in this House of Commons—why it is that they persist in putting forward this question of unemployment as the most important problem that can be considered.
Having made that statement, I would now like to say just one or two words connected with the Bill itself. I know that in the Bill that was presented on the last occasion, in the last Session of Parliament, very serious blemishes were pointed out—blemishes that we ourselves recognised and have done our best to modify and to meet on this occasion, but, of course, not at the point where principle is involved. We cannot do that; that is utterly impossible. The man who says that human society is a mere jungle, and that after all the principles that apply in the forest and to the savage also apply to civilised workers, we have no answer to give him—none whatever. Consequently taking, as I say, and recognising the main principle of the Bill, we have done the best we possibly could, although we may not have succeeded in meeting the objections of those who criticised the measure on the last occasion. For instance, as you will see in clause 2, we there refer to the registration of unemployed persons. On the last occasion the criticism mostly devoted to our Bill was, that it would be possible, if the authority were compelled immediately to register a man who was unemployed and to proceed to do something towards finding him work, and we had no reason to suppose that there would not be workmen, who merely on account of the management or discipline in a factory or workshop of any description, would leave their employment, go and register and insist on being employed on public works of the description contemplated. We have attempted to meet that, as that was not our intention in the slightest degree, but we are not experts. I do not profess to be an expert in drafting Bills, though I think there were not many more blemishes in our first Bill than there are in some of the Bills drafted by experts. Therefore we have attempted to define what it is we mean, and I think you will find in clause 16 a definition of the term 641 "unemployed person," and that alters the whole character of this Bill, that is assuming that on the last occasion that we had intended to carry out and to give the power to the workman to leave under any circumstances his employment and immediately go and register on the unemployed authority's books of his locality, and demand at once to secure work or that work should be found for him by the authority. We have denned "unemployed person" in this clause as follows:—'Unemployed person' shall mean any person who, during a period of six weeks previous to making application to be registered as unemployed, has been employed for less than one-third of the normal hours of labour in the area.This makes it clear that there must have been chronic and hopeless poverty so far as the man is concerned. He must have been either actually out of employment or working for such a time as to make it utterly impossible for him to maintain himself in anything like decency and working insufficiently, and we have limited the operation of this clause by the definition I have quoted. You will also see that a clear definition of "dependents," members of families and so on, has been included in that clause to which I immediately refer, clause 16, which I would ask hon. Members to peruse at least before they begin to discuss this subject. I also wish to direct attention to the last section of clause 3, providing that "where such person has been offered and has refused reasonable work upon one of the schemes hereinafter mentioned, or has been offered and has refused other employment upon conditions with regard to wages and hours of labour not lower than those that are standard to the work in the area, the local unemployment authority shall be released of its duties under this section towards that person."
On the occasion of the last introduction of this Bill a great deal was made of this claim that a standard rate of wages was to be paid to these workers. I think the change would be much worse if it could be proved, and I think hon. Members who are opposed to our principle would also be thoroughly entitled to declaim and condemn us if it were suggested that we were to establish by these unemployed authorities a lower type of labour with" a lower standard of remuneration, and consequently of comfort. That of itself will be a far greater blemish upon the Bill than 642 insisting that at least during the time— which may not be the whole working time—under which the man is employed he shall at least receive the standard wage of the locality, and that he shall not be used for the purpose of reducing the general status of labour in the district where he is employed.
With reference to clause 4, and the suggestions which we make—with reference to what these Committees may do in the framing of the schemes and so on, this seems almost like the preamble of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's statement which was generally accepted by the House yesterday. It merely is an attempt to give legislative effect to the Budget preamble, and those who support the Budget and condemn the scheme scheduled in clause 4 may have some claim to consistency, but certainly they would not be logical in supporting one and opposing the other. There is also a clause which has an important bearing upon the whole subject, probably the most important clause of all—clause 11. You will see there that the absolute right of a man to demand employment only operates when over 4 per cent. of men are unemployed:—
"The President of the Local Government Board, after taking the advice of the central unemployment committee appointed under this Act, shall prepare in advance such a scheme or schemes as shall admit of the employment of unemployed persons on works of national utility; and may at all times, and shall during all periods when the Board of Trade Returns show that the number of unemployed persons exceed 4 per cent. of the employés reported upon, or when the registers of the registration authorities created by this Act show exceptional unemployment to exist, carry into execution such scheme or schemes by offering employment to unemployed persons from any local area or areas."
That, I think, is a very stringent safeguard with reference to the indiscriminate application of the principles of this Bill, and with these safeguards which I have enumerated, providing you agree with the principle that the State's duty to the unemployed is not a mere visionary duty, something to be talked about, something to form the perorations of politicians on public platforms, but something which has a real meaning and should be given legislative effect to, then the Bill has every safeguard and all the blemishes to which 643 attention was called on the last occasion have been, as far as human ingenuity could invent, to the best of our ability removed. On the last occasion extreme doubt was thrown upon the origin of this Bill, and it was suggested that it was not the Bill of the Trade Unionists of the country, that organised labour had not considered the principle, and that we had no right to put it forward as the proposition, after full discussion, of some 2,000,000 organised workmen in this country. Whatever might have been the justification for that on the last occasion, it is morally certain that no such argument can be used on this occasion. The principles of the Bill have been thoroughly discussed at all the branch meetings of the different trade unions. It has been discussed at the great annual conference, at the federation meetings, and so on, and in addition to that, sub-committees have been appointed to investigate all the pros and cons of the situation, so that we should certainly be justified in any proposals that we make, and therefore whatever truth there may have been in that argument on the last occasion there can be no suggestion of that description now. Whether the principle is right or wrong it is the recognised and adopted principle of the organised workers of the country. The federation of trade unions, representing some 776,000 trade unionists, has appointed a committee to inquire into this business purely as a trade union question, and it has issued certain recommendations. I am quoting from the report of this sub-committee to show that the principles contained in this Bill are the recommendations of the committees appointed by the trade unions. The recommendation reads:—We urge the immediate employment of surplus labour by the reclamation of waste lands, the provision of additional recreation grounds, the protection of foreshores and riversides from the encroachment of sea or stream, the development of harbour facilities, afforestation, the acquirement of land, and the building or rebuilding of houses for the workers on improved sanitary principles, the encouragement of municipal and co-operative farms, the systematic co-ordination of municipal and govermental regulations and machinery for unemployment, the acquisition by the State of the canal and railway systems throughout the United Kingdom, and the full development of the Small Holdings Act with the State as proprietor.Then, after other recommendations, it ends:—
We recommend also the endorsement of the action of the Labour party in moving the Unemployment Bill, and urge the immediate reintroduction in Parliament of this measure.It is in accordance with these recommendations of the trade unions after full 644 inquiry that we are moving the Bill today. When I came to work to-day—[laughter]— that is a slip. [Cries of "No."] I do not know whether I ought to stick to the original statement, but when I came to the House to-day I found the hon. Member for Gorton referring to a letter he had handed to him with reference to the terrible plight of a certain gentleman. As I came to the House today I met my brother at East Hill—a man who has followed the building trade in London for the last 20 years—I saw him and a gang of other men connected with the building trade, and I know thoroughly well that they are capable workmen. They were waiting outside a site at East Hill, where it is proposed to erect a skating rink. The other men had been there for several mornings, but I do not think that he had attended there before. I called him out from the crowd and asked him how he was getting on, and he told me that the condition of London, so far as the building trade was concerned, was simply terrible. He had had for years fairly regular employment, but although he had walked the streets of this City now for six weeks looking for work, he had not found it possible to get work. When one comes to consider the hopeless condition of a man in that state there is no one but a workman who can thoroughly appreciate this unemployed problem. Perhaps some of the leaders of the Tariff Reform movement also appreciate it; at least they are using it most skilfully for the bolstering up of a position which, instead of improving the situation, would make it infinitely worse. I can quite understand why certain politicians may make use for political purposes of this unfortunate position of affairs. No one can understand the position better than those who have walked the streets of the great towns looking for employment. I myself in London have walked about the streets for days, a fortnight, a month, two months, or three months. Just imagine the condition of affairs to a man who has been a saving man. He may have saved a few shillings or a few pounds, but he at last finds himself in that position, because after all there are not many men with families, especially among the ordinary working class, who can put by much for the rainy day. After his resources are exhausted, and after walking about the streets every day looking for a job, he returns home footsore and tired, without the prospect of being able to supply the means, I will not say of com- 645 fort, but of subsistence. You want to have been in that position to thoroughly appreciate it. To throw the laws of supply and demand or the antiquated principles of a dying political economy at a man in that condition is much crueller than if you shoved him into the lethal chamber. I have read, "If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? It is infinitely more cruel than hurling a stone at him if you refuse work to a man who wants work and cannot find it. I hope those who discuss the subject to-day will attempt, if they possibly can, to face the problem from our point of view. Stand on the workless man's ground and see his condition and his outlook. I read in the "Pall Mall Gazette" last night that this was merely a Bill to support idlers and incapables. We have nothing to do with idlers here—neither at the top nor at the bottom. But I might remind hon. Members that idleness is not the exclusive right and privilege of the working class. I remember reading some years ago a dry-as-dust book by Professor Caird on political economy, in which he said that often those who have wealth insist on grinding the faces of the poor for the last cent of profit. I do not know whether I can quote the exact words, but they were to the effect: By all means give men their legal rights of property as they are written in the bond, but let them take their places as drones in the hive, gorging themselves on produce to which they have contributed nothing. Hence you see that idleness is not the exclusive privilege of the working people. I am here to-day to say that the working people who cannot under present conditions find employment demand at least that there shall be found for them within the constitution somewhere the right to live of every citizen born in the State. You may attempt to hurl us back to conditions of savagery, to refer us to the laws of supply and demand, and to the doctrine of the survival of the fittest, which often means the unfittest—you may attempt to hurl us back to that elementary condition of affairs, but we declare that in a civilised community every citizen born within it is entitled to share at least in the prosperity as well as in the wealth created by labour.
Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—[Mr, Hodge.]
§ Mr. FREDERICK MADDISON
moved to leave out the word "now" and to in- 646 sert instead thereof, "this day six months."
In rising to move the rejection of this Bill I have to say that I take this course with the increasingly firm conviction that I am acting in the best interests of the working classes. We have heard two interesting speeches in which some claim is made, quite moderately, and in a form to which I offer no objection, that the hon. Members speak for labour. I do not deny it is possible they speak for a section of labour. The hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent said that the leaders of the organised trades were behind the Bill. I absolutely deny that the rank and file are behind it. If the rank and file were behind it, some very different results might have followed from recent elections. But I say candidly here to-day that if every trade unionist were in favour of this Bill, I would oppose it. I am not a delegate in this House. I am a representative of certain opinions which I quite represent, and neither on the side of labour or of capital will I be a delegate. I have had the pleasure of knowing the hon. Member for Gorton for many years, and I often wonder whether he is not losing some of his faith in that trade unionism of which he is a leader; but he has twitted Members on this side of the House with not being free to express an opinion. I move this rejection on my own authority without any pressure from anyone. The policy pursued by the Government is a Government policy—I think it a right one—but it is one quite uninfluenced by me, and I would suggest to him that party ties are not confined to one side of the House. There are party ties on the other side of the House; and I do not think that independence always is very liberal in the way it has to be exercised, and I think, therefore, that we had better assume that the verdict of the House is the verdict of the matured and considered judgment of the House. I regret very much that both of the hon. Members who have spoken occupied most of their speeches with what did not need more than a sentence, and that is to admit the gravity and the seriousness of unemployment. But the hon. Member said there was no need to go into principles, because it had all been expressed by the Memorandum that had been issued.
§ Mr. MADDISON
That there was no necessity to go into details because this 647 Memorandum explained them. If it does, then there is one hon. Member who has not read the Memorandum, and that is the hon. Member for Stoke.
§ Mr. MADDISON
The hon. Member for Stoke is under the impression that the Bill, which evidently he has not read very much, really stipulates for trade union rate of wages and hours to be paid upon the public works provided by these local authorities. Now, the hon. Member said that if we could prove that trade union rates of wages were not insisted on in the public work then we should be justified in our opposition. The very Memorandum on which the hon. Member for Gorton placed so much reliance, and which I imagine is quite accurate, as it contains the name of the hon. Member for Stoke contains a clause to which I ask the attention of the hon. Member for Stoke, because he has really got to reconsider his position now. The fourth paragraph says: "The proviso attached (clause 3) was widely misconstrued last year, and it has now been re-drafted so as to make it quite clear that the condition requiring wages and hours not to be lower than those that are the standard of work in the area applies only to work offered in the open market." Hon. Members say hear, hear. At any rate they will have an opportunity of responding to my challenge. In fact I am really surprised at my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke. I have read any amount of analyses of this Bill. The hon. Member for Leicester made it perfectly plain last year that the Bill did not stipulate for trade union rate of wages upon the public work as distinguished from, as it is called, the open market. A man cannot be disqualified if the rate offered him is not that of the standard; but when he comes to the public work then there is nothing in this Bill to stipulate that he should have trade union conditions; so it is quite evident that my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke is actually mistaken in what he himself has declared to be a vital principle in the Bill. The hon. Member for Stoke has tried to exaggerate, as I believe, the extent of unemployment. He went at great length to show that there were at least 5 per cent. of unemployed workers in normal times.
§ Mr. J. WARD
Between 4 and 5 per cent. I think the average over 10 years taken by the Board of Trade is 4.1 per cent.
§ Mr. MADDISON
If he will look at the Bill he will find that the exceptional employment in clause 9, sub-section 3, is put at 4 per cent. Here is the Seconder of the Bill declaring that the normal condition of the country is what the Bill evidently indicates is exceptional; and I want to say this at once. I think hon. Members will credit me with this, that I have never made a point against them on account of any little drafting defects. I could not draft a Bill if anybody were to give me £100. Therefore, I am bound to have sympathy with hon. Members opposite or with Private Members who attempt to draft a Bill; but I would suggest when the hon. Member for Stoke and the hon. Member for Gorton, both of them, thought they had got such a splendid hare to hunt, namely, the defects in Government Bills, and went at some length to show that the Local Government Board Bill and the Education Bill were defective. The conclusion I was coming to in my own mind was that the less complexity you have the better, and there will be the less danger of these mistakes. I am not going into any details whatever to controvert what has been said as to the extent of unemployment. The minority report places it at from 100,000 to 1,000,000. Whichever of those figures it may be, and whatever the average may be, the lowest figure is quite enough to satisfy me as to our duty, both as Members of this House and as citizens, to do all we can to mitigate such a serious evil. I notice that the hon. Member for Merthyr the other night said that there was a time in England when there was no one out of work, and when everyone had land. We heard something about perorations. There is not the slightest doubt that that was a peroration. A man stuffs into his peroration the things he cannot prove by argument. [Laughter.] Well, I am sure I do not know, but one excludes my hon. Friend the Member for Preston, because he has always a few arguments for which he cannot find room. When was this time of which the hon. Member for Merthyr spoke in addressing a popular audience? Let us get to close quarters. We have heard something about astute politicians; I think there are also astute platform orators. When was this blissful time when every man had employment and a piece of land? Was it in the Saxon times? I have been consulting one or two statistical sources as to the number of the population in Saxon times, and I have utterly failed up to the present. I believe 649 that at the time of Harold there would not be more than two millions of people in this country. ["No."] Well, if I am wrong, a little charity is required. As I said, I do not know. I have put it at two millions. ["A million."] I am quite willing to stand corrected, and you may have it at just what you will. We will put it at a million. But there are now in England and Wales over 35 millions. I submit to the House that this is more serious than appears on the surface. There are people who for various reasons are apt to follow the hon. Member for Merthyr, and they tell everybody that there was a time when nobody was out of work and everybody had a piece of land; but at that time there were only a million people in the country. Let us get rid of such nonsense; it means nothing; it has no bearing whatever on the problem we have to deal with. It may be desirable for a moment or two, as we are all agreed about the seriousness of this problem, to inquire into what are the causes of unemployment. A cardinal error of those hon. Members opposite who are Socialists is that they treat the problem as simple, though it is really the most complex of all problems. They fail to see that there is underneath the problem, in proportions that no man can assess, economic and it may be political elements. I should say that land monopoly is one of the root causes of unemployment. Of course, I should not be in order in discussing land reform on this Bill, but I would merely say that it must not be thought that we are opposing merely negatives to this Bill, for the full-blooded programme of the Government can hardly be termed negative. I doubt whether, if hon. Gentlemen opposite were in power, they would attempt half as much. [An HON. MEMBER: "Give us the chance."] No, I think too much of my own country. It is a very current fallacy that unemployment is caused by the wicked employers, who, it is said, live to some extent upon the margin of unemployment; that unemployment is necessary to the capitalist system, that it is part and parcel of the capitalist system, that the capitalist system cannot do without it, and, therefore, you really cannot cure unemployment until you get rid of the capitalist system. Of course, that is not said in this House by hon. Members; they say it outside; but I wish some of them would say it in the House, then there would be a better chance of enlightenment. I want to quote these words from 650 "The Liberal Leader," contained in an editorial:—The view that unemployment is not of itself necessary to capitalism is confirmed by the fact that unemployment varies greatly at different times and in different countries, and that capitalism flourishes most when unemployment is least, as during the cotton boom two years ago. It is well that Socialists should not base Socialist arguments on doubtful premises.What is the use of telling us that capitalism under the present system is practically the one source of unemployment? Then we are always told that we ought to produce for use and not for profit. What does that mean? Will some hon. Member inform the House what that means? Does it mean that there is to be no competition? I imagine that competition and profit go together. I have been sitting here now for nearly four years to hear a Socialist speech from the other side of the House, and I thought that we should at least have got one from the hon. Member for Blackburn. I am still disappointed. If competition and profit are united and inseparable, then listen to an oracle on this point, Mr. Sydney Webb. It will be a guide to hon. Members opposite, who might otherwise get lost in a maze:—Competition can no more be abolished than graviation can.I am not so sure whether there are not some hon. Members opposite who would not try to upset gravitation, only I think the average hon. Member opposite, certainly the trade union Members, would not embark on that course. Leaving this part of my speech, I venture to say that if England could have not a single unemployed man in it, that would be the best time for the employers in this country. You have got to face it one way or the other. If that proposition is right, let us hear no more of the fallacy that unemployment is merely the result of producing for profit instead of for use. If they will use these tags of speeches on some occasions, then I ask hon. Members to tell us what they mean. We may be very poor students, but we shall be better for being told. The remedy proposed in this Bill is an expression of the method of extreme Socialism, but it lacks courage. It makes the State responsible without endowing the State with the means of carrying out that responsibility. Why do we not hear in this House about the nationalisation of all the means of production, distribution, and exchange? They are as a chorus of sweet music in my ears, morning, noon and night. Why have we not got it here?
651 The hon. Member said it was a shame that men should be cast off by what he called Morganised interests. I suppose that is meant for Pierpont Morgan. Why should they be cast off, he asked, and have to be kept by the trade unions? But why should they be cast off and have to be kept by the community? Surely if you are trying to trace someone that you should make responsible for them, it should not be the community containing a majority, unfortunately, of poor people. Would you say it is wrong to place the burden on a rich body like the Society of Engineers, and that it is quite right to place it on a community in which there will be all sorts of people, rich and poor, many of them never having the slightest connection with either the employers or the employed in the particular work affected?
Why, then, do we not have a clear statement made of what this Bill is really after? Everybody knows that this Bill represents the demand of organised Socialism in this country. We do not have those statements made in this House. The hon. Member for Leicester, for instance, has never been so rude as to talk of the nationalisation of all the means of production, distribution, and exchange. He gives you Socialism in as an attractive form as it can be given, but I always find the pill. The hon. Member for Jarrow is usually more bold, out of this House. Thus the other night he spoke at a meeting, and, I believe, he meant what he said. I assume these are his words, as reported in the Press. I compared two reports, and I had them confirmed by a personal friend of mine who happened to be at that particular meeting at Drury Lane on Wednesday. The hon. Member for Jarrow there said:—This Bill was only a meagre instalment of the Bill that would be introduced at a later stage.I would like someone with the prophetic vision of hon. Members opposite to take this House into their confidence. We are a body of English gentlemen from whatever class we come. We are the representatives of the nation. We have to do with some most serious things in this House. We make laws that matter very little to us, who will soon pass to the time unknown. To us they will make little difference, but there are little children toddling about in our streets that are going to be made better or worse, it may be by the legislation we pass. And if this is only an instalment we ought to know something at any rate of what the ulti- 652 mate is going to be. Not a whisper on those Benches, and if the hon. Member himself had not the spirit and candour he had at that meeting no doubt we should have it this afternoon. I have been trying to see what the ultimate might be. I go to prime sources when I want to know about any school of thought. I have gone to Herr Bebel, and this is what that great—and no man will deny that he is—that great leader of Socialism, not only in Germany but in Europe, says, this is the ultimate towards which the Member for Jarrow and his friends are working. He says:—But as in the new community there will be nothing-to bequeath, unless we choose to regard household furniture as a legacy of any importance, compulsory marriage becomes unnecessary from this standpoint as from all others. This also settles the question of the right of inheritance, which Socialism will have no need to abolish formallyI declare to this House the effect of this Bill is the denial of the right of private property, absolutely the denial of the right of private property. The hon. Member for Clitheroe does not support it on those grounds. I do not want to do him an injustice—I tried and failed to discuss this thing in a good-tempered way, but surely we want to get at the truth. I venture to say that the truth will be found in the direction which I have suggested. A word or two further on the Bill. There is only one clause in this Bill; what does it matter about the others? The hon. Member for Barnard Castle indicates to me that I am right. He went at some length into clause 16 of the Bill. While clause 3 is in this Bill I shall fight it, whether Government tellers were on or off, whether I lose my seat or gain it—that is a very small thing. It is the right to work, which is just as sensible as the right to fly. They both stand on the same footing. It is not rights, it is opportunities to work, the ability to work, we have to talk about. You cannot live on rights. What I am desirous of doing is to find opportunities by which men can work. If you said the "right of opportunity" then there might be something in it.
There are some clauses in this Bill that I think might be useful. There is the registration of the unemployed. That would be a very useful thing. An hon. Member last year made some very pertinent remarks about the lack of information upon this and kindred questions. If we got information about this in the sense of the register of numbers it would be useful. Then there is the census of wage earners. As to the detention colo- 653 nies, putting a poor, wretched fellow into prison, for it is nothing else, by the summary jurisdiction of two justices of the peace in country districts or elsewhere, I tried, but I cannot get up any enthusiasm about that proposal. It does not strike me as the sort of thing that will, without much more consideration, be accepted by the people of the country. What is clause 3, or the Bill, as I call it? It compels local authorities or the State to provide work for everyone, unless they refuse to work, at jobs in the open market at trade union rate of wages, or on the schemes provided by the local authorities. If the local authority cannot provide that work, then they are to be maintained. The Bill is a little vague as to the kind of maintenance. I notice that it is fairly explicit about the people who are called dependents, but as to the, kind and extent of maintenance it is certainly not very clear. We have been told in this Memorandum that the Bill is in keeping with the spirit of the minority Report of the Poor Law Commission. I deny it. As far as I have been able to read it, which is not very exhaustively as yet, but I have tried to read especially this part, I fail to find anywhere the demand for what is called the right to work recognised. As to the method, the minority Report discards altogether local authorities, and, assuming they are right in their premises, I think their conclusion is right. They rely upon a national department rather than the local authorities. Therefore hon. Members must not be misled by the statement that this Bill is in any sort of way in keeping with or suggested by the minority Report of the Poor Law Commission. There is one vital difference, and I am surprised that my trade union Friends have not insisted on the Bill containing the provision upon which the minority Report insists. The Report lays down, I think with great wisdom, that all work for the ordinary able-bodied unemployed shall be treated as of an ordinary character, where trade union rates of wages shall prevail. But this Bill does nothing of the sort. It provides for a national department, but it does not exclusively confine it to a national department, and when it deals with local authorities it absolutely leaves the question of wages, without any security that trade union rates shall be paid. I put this question to my hon. Friends. Is your work productive or not? Is it relief works that this Bill is after? If it is, the Minority Report describes them as the policy of despair. 654 If they are relief works there is obviously some justification for no trade union rate of wages. I should like those who follow me to take this as my second point. What are your works intended to be—relief works or works of public utility? If they are intended to be relief works, you have the minority Report right against you. If they are intended to be works of public utility, your action actually violates the most important condition of trade unionism, and the Bill leaves all these public works open to sweating and to all that will depress the wages rate. The minority Report absolutely warns hon. Members about the dangers of their Bill. I hope those who follow will be able to show that I am wrong in this, and that my quotations are not connected. I have purposely not taken isolated quotations. The following is from page 1233:—That the work at wages provided by local authorities, is, in practice, either diverted from the ordinary employés of the local authorities, or else abstracted from what would otherwise have gone to regular employés of contractors for public works; with the result, in either case, of creating, sooner or later, as much unemployment as it relieves, and of thus throwing the cost of relieving distress upon other wage-earners.The House of Commons is asked on a Friday afternoon, by a party which is constantly claiming a monopolist right to represent labour, to read a second time a Bill the provisions of which are declared not only to be no remedy, but to be a direct injury to other workers. Remember this is the minority Report. I am not sure that I do not agree with the majority Report, but I should not like to commit myself to that. They are both great State documents. But over the minority Report there is the office stamp of the Fabian Society on almost every page; it is an excellent piece of Fabian Society literature. These are things that want attending to. Hon. Gentlemen ask me to deal with the Bill, and I hope to satisfy them. I am trying to deal with the Bill. We come to the old question which we put last year over and over again, but failed to get a single reply: What is your work going to be? The hon. Member for Stoke, with somewhat concealed humour, referred me to the definition clause. What is the definition clause? Who is an unemployed person? An unemployed person is any person who has been out of work for six weeks, or has not had more than one-third of the normal hours of labour. Whom will that include? A facetious friend of mine suggests that it will include barristers, and that if the hon. Member for 655 Reading happened to have a slackness of briefs, and was less than one-third of the time employéd, he would be able to go to the local authority. He would be an expensive luxury! But I do not care to take these exaggerated illustrations; I want to take something more apropos.Here is a man in the city—I do not mean city with a big "C," but a clerk, or a printer, or a weaver—out of work. You cannot start weaving sheds, or offices, or engineering shops. What can you do? There is nothing left but the land. I believe that the land might give far more employment to land workers; but what on earth is the use of sending to it a weaver or a clerk? They will not go unless they are driven to the most extreme lengths. There is another point with which, perhaps, the hon. Member for Stoke will deal. What schemes other than land schemes are you likely to have under this Bill? There is generally some digging to be done in land schemes, as far as I understand. The hon. Member for Stoke does not, it is true, represent navvies in this House; he represents Stoke; but he is secretary of the Navvies' Union. When the clerk, or the engineer, or the printer, or the carpenter is sent to this work— or it might be the man referred to in the case quoted by the hon. Member opposite, the pathetic character of which appealed to us all, although before I came to any conclusion I should want more particulars, because people who are sent to prison for selling laces without a licence are sometimes the very best of men, but sometimes they are not. And it is just as well to know before you come to a conclusion to put these people, craftsmen and others, on the land. What about my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke? He has got a standard rate. A finely-built navvy comes along and says, "I can dig." The foreman says, "The people I have got on cannot, but I have to have them because this is a local authority scheme." So the weaver, the engineer, and the poor clerk go digging at 10 per cent. or 20 per cent. below the standard rate, while the navvy tramps along—because the hon. Gentleman does not claim that these should be productive works. That is one reason why I am not afraid to face the trade unionists of Burnley, although I have, I am sorry to say, the bulk of the labour leaders against me. If you inquire closely into this you will see, although it 656 is not the sort of question that goes very well into a peroration; it requires a good deal of thinking about. I would not be afraid even to take a vote from the hon. Member's navvies if the question was put to them fairly. I venture to make this proposition: that the more special your provision is for the unemployed the less you do for them. I invite the hon. Member for Jarrow to analyse that proposition. Afforestation has been mentioned. I should be the last to wish to take away any of the credit claimed by hon. Members for having supported it, but I may say that afforestation was advocated before hon. Members were born. But get your afforestation scheme as perfect as you like; get your experts, land surveyors, and foresters, and all the rest of it, and I undertake to say, if you label it "unemployed" the life would go out of it before five years are over. You are creating a different atmosphere, and that is what some of my hon. Friends will not see. They do not see that you do not make an individual any different, except for the worse; by putting him in a crowd. Dr. Butler, of Columbia University, defines this sort of treatment as "primarily an attempt to overcome the mass of individual imperfections by adding them together in the hope that they will cancel each other." Unfortunately they do not cancel each other. Instead of doing so they often accentuate the bad side.
This Bill would bring worse chaos than at present exists in our industrial system. It would crowd localities—I am bearing in mind the six months—where the conditions were best—the men knowing this right to work existed—and those very local authorities touched most with human sympathy would find themselves confronted with such an overwhelming mass of rates that they would be paralysed. Hon. Members opposite cheered to the echo the Chancellor of the Exchequer last night when he said that local burdens fell more heavily upon the working classes in proportion to other classes than Imperial burdens did. They cheered that. [An HON. MEMBER: "I did not."] Well, the hon. Member for Blackfriars was perhaps the only one that did not cheer from those Benches. This Bill would accentuate the burdens. It would also lower the wage rate by the absolute and entire abandonment of the trade union standard for work that professed to be work of public utility. It would create nothing. If I liked to be uncharitable, I could say what it would 657 create. It would create no productive work, but would lessen remunerative employment by the waste of capital and work which would have to be altogether unproductive, or not so productive as under other conditions. In spite of the Labour party, this Bill has no force behind it The Member for Merthyr so far forgot himself last month as to say this at Merthyr:—There was a very large majority against the Right to Work Bill last year, but it would be much smaller this Session, because the General Election was a year nearer.Then the foolish people laughed. Those remarks were not very complimentary to his colleagues in this House. The hon. Member for Salford says it is not true. Well, he is perfectly right to speak for himself. I was speaking generally. It is hardly complimentary to hon. Members of this House, barring the hon. Member for Salford. He stands on a pedestal of his own.
It was more than that. It was a foolish remark—an absolutely foolish remark. Now there has been two significant bye-elections since this Right to Work Bill was introduced. One was Newcastle. It is worth thinking about. There had been two disastrous strikes, in which the men had taken the bit between their teeth, and disregarded the very wise advice given to them by their leaders, some of whom I am glad to see in this House. At the end of the period the men were feeling savage. There were two candidates of the capitalistic parties that the Socialists always tell us are united against labour and the well-being of the people. Now was the opportunity. A very sincere Socialist, Mr. Fred Hartley, stood too. He belongs to the Social Democratic Federation, which just now is not popular with the hon. Member for Blackburn. But it stands for something very rigid—bedrock—and represents a force as against the two political parties. What was the result? Out of an electorate of about 30,000 less than 4,000—about 3,700, I believe—voted for the champion of the Eight to Work. Then we had Croydon. Mr. Frank Smith is secretary to the Right to Work Committee—I am open to correction if I am wrong in that. He was the apostle of Socialism. Mr. Hartley might have been too Marxian— he might have been a man that all Socialists might not have been able to vote for, but at Croydon we had Mr. Frank Smith, secretary to the Right to Work Committee, and sup- 658 ported by, I think, the Members of the Labour party opposite. What was the effect? Mr. Frank Smith dropped, if I remember rightly, 3,000 votes. The Liberal candidate did not manage to get back to this House, but he increased his poll. The supporters and advocates of the right to work—that ultra pura—I am always a bit mixed as to whether that means anything—had an opportunity of supporting Mr. Frank Smith; he was everything that was right; but the people did not do so. It is said that this Bill is the only one that holds the field. On the contrary, it blocks it. If this is what hon. Members mean by social reform, I tell them candidly the country will have none of it. We are told we only have a negative policy. I am really surprised that any hon. Member of the Labour party opposite, whatever be their view of failings here and there, can talk of this Government as having a negative policy. What do hon. Members mean when they talk like that, and especially on the day after the Budget—and such a Budget, such an excellent Budget.
§ Mr. MADDISON
The Noble Lord just illustrates my point. I am sure he will not object to be an illustration for once. The Noble Lord, I imagine, does not like this Budget. He has a great objection to this Budget. What are the forces of progress to do? Are they going to fight the Budget upon a Bill like this? Surely that is impossible. It is in the interests of those who do want social reform that I oppose this Bill. Is the Small Holdings Act evidence of a negative policy? Is the Old Age Pensions Act negative policy? I think hon. Members will agree that the problem of unemployment is only part of the problem of poverty, and are not old Age pensions a contribution towards reform? The reforms of the Government have been positive. This Bill is quite unsound and quite uneconomic. It contains nothing that grapples with ordinary unemployment, and is really a reversion to the old bad poor-law system. It is in the belief that this Bill, with all the phases of reform about it, is stark reaction that I move this Motion.
§ Sir MAURICE LEVY
In rising to second the Motion for the rejection of this Bill I desire to assure my hon. Friends opposite we realise to the full the seriousness of this Question of unemployment. The picture painted by the Member for 659 Stoke is one that has been before our eyes for many years. We feel that it is our duty to do something to solve this Question, and we know it can be solved on lines other than those suggested by this Bill. I was sorry to hear the hon. Member state that there was no identity between capital and labour. I think he makes a mistake, because most people realise that the development of the commerce of this country is due to the united work of capital and labour. Why do we oppose this Bill? Not because we are not as anxious as hon. Members opposite are to see this Question solved, but because we think that the principles involved in this Bill are likely to create more injury to the working classes than the remedies suggested are calculated to do good. We believe that the principles involved in this Bill would throw the responsibility on the State and on to the municipalities to provide work for all classes. I think my hon. Friend who moved the rejection of the Bill thought the Bill applied only to relief works, but if he takes clause 3 and reads it with clause 7 he will come to the conclusion that it means works other than relief works.
§ Sir MAURICE LEVY
My hon. Friend agrees that it means other than relief work. Taking clause 3 and clause 7, I think I am justified in saying the responsibility would rest upon the State to find work for all, no matter to what trade the people may belong. We, on the other hand, say we ought to rely more on the cherished aspiration of self-reliance and self-responsibility. We recognise the State has responsibilities, but I believe it is the duty of all classes to accept their own responsibility and to try and rely upon themselves. If these questions were to be dealt with by relief works alone there would be great injustice done to the people of this country. Relief works have become fewer in number every year and more costly every year. In proof of that I refer to the report of the West Ham Distress Committee. There they have relief works, and what do they say—every year the possible work becomes more limited in range. A large part of the expenditure is but a concession to the demand for relief labour, while the relief given is not nearly equal to the demand. The permanent ratepayer is heavily taxed, and the result is not commensurate with the expenditure. There 660 it is clearly shown that the setting up of relief works acts as a magnet to attract people to those works. That proves that it is a vicious principle to try and solve a great question of this description by setting up unproductive and un-remunerative works, the cost of which falls very heavily upon the ratepayers. I object to this Bill because I believe it uproots at its very foundation the industrial system of this country and heads straight for the State control of all the means of production and distribution. Hon. Members may not agree with me in that, but when we examine this Bill we are forced to the conclusion that that is the aim of the Bill and ambition of many of those who are supporting this Bill. I know they object to the capitalistic system of this country, but I would remind them that the prosperity of this and every other civilised country has been built up upon the capitalistic system and the prosperity of our nation is increasing to-day upon that principle. Therefore, I think I am justified in saying that the Socialistic theory of working only for our own needs and requirements will take us back to the dark ages, and will not solve this problem, but will aggravate and intensify it.
It has been said that the opponents of this Bill favour a surplusage of labour in this country in order that manufacturers may conduct to their own satisfaction their business on the capitalistic system, but I deny absolutely that statement. I know manufacturers never do so well as when the whole of the labour of this country is employed and employed on useful and productive work. I know that it is the contention of many of those who support this Bill that manufacturers want a surplusage of labour, but as a manufacturer myself I deny that statement in toto. I say that manufacturers are never so prosperous as when the whole of the labour engaged in their industry is fully and well occupied. [A LABOUR MEMBER "For how long?"]
§ Sir MAURICE LEVY
I am not speaking about booms. I am referring to work year in and year out, when there is not a surplusage of labour, and I think many of the leaders of trade unions will bear me out in that contention. The great majority of the manufacturers of this country are not desirous that there should be a surplusage of labour from which they may draw during periods of boom, such as 661 has been suggested by the hon. Member for Salford. To solve this question of the surplusage of labour I think we must look to the leaders of the trade unionists. I am ready to admit that great praise is due to them for the action they have taken in recent years in the promotion of more cordial relations between capital and labour, although it has been stated to-day that there is no identity between the two. They can by their wisdom and discretion guide people as to the trade they shall put their children to as they grow up, and if they will place clearly and definitely before the parents of the workers that they have a parental responsibility to see that their children are trained to some industry they will do much to relieve the unfortunate condition of things that we see around us to-day. I believe that parental control can do much to relieve this problem of unemployment. Everyone knows that no matter what may be the percentage of unemployed it invariably happens that the larger percentage of it relates to unskilled labour, and why is that? Much of it is due to the fact that in their early days, in order that they may earn two or three shillings a week more at the start, parents, instead of apprenticing their children to be taught some trade, hurry them into some unskilled occupation. I know there are difficulties, such as those which are met with in season trades. There again the relationship of capital and labour is an important factor. I know from experience that if there is a good feeling existing between capital and labour the manufacturer feels that it is his bounden duty in. times when there is trade depression to do his utmost to make stock in order that his workpeople may be employed. That is very largely done at the present time, and will be done to a much greater extent as those cordial relations expand between capital and labour. I recognise that there is a difficulty in the building trade and other trades which are affected by the weather, but these difficulties would not be solved even with the Bill which we have before us to-day.
Let us consider for a moment how the workers would be affected by this Bill in districts like those represented by the hon. Member for Leicester, the hon. Member for Clitheroe, and myself. If in those districts you establish relief works, how are you going to relieve those workpeople? In the case of the textile and the non-textile trades, if it is only relief 662 works that you intend to set up by this Bill, then no relief can possibly be given to those workpeople. Under clause 7 it says, "Work which is suitable to the needs of the individual applicant." I take it that that means that the local authorities shall provide work for men and women such as they have been engaged in before, or similar to that which they have been engaged, in. There seems to be some confusion as to what rate of wages they are to be paid. Some say they are to be paid the standard rate of wages. If they are paid the standard rate of wages then they will at once compete with those who are already engaged in the same industry, and competition will be made keener than ever in that trade. In any case, I think I am justified in saying that you are going to set up a subsidised form of competition in manufactured goods which are not required, and you are going to throw out of employment almost an equal number of people as you put into employment.
Then I would like to know how you are going to dispose of the product of their labour. That, to my mind, is a question of some importance, because, after all, it can only intensify competition. How are you going to deal with this question in the case of the staple trade in the division of the hon. Member for Clitheroe? Under this Bill the people out of employment in his district are to have similar employment found for them. If you are going to throw the unemployed on the market you are going to create further unemployment than at present exists. You are throwing out of employment those who have found employment on their own initiative, and you are going to place upon them the cost of employing those who are placed on the relief works. Everybody must admit that under this Bill you are going to set up a vast number of officials who will cause a heavy cost. If you are going to solve this question on a lasting and enduring basis, I myself would not count the cost. But when I believe that you are not going to solve the question, and that you are going by this Bill to intensify the evil, the cost will have to be counted. What you are asked to do is to remove large sums from productive purposes in order to find a solution which will not be lasting or permanent. Men with low wages themselves will be asked to contribute to the employment of men who would be in receipt of wages in excess of what they themselves have been receiving. To that there can surely be no justification. It is a serious 663 blot on the Bill, and I am convinced that the great majority of the working classes in the country will not support it. We admit that the problem of unemployment is complex. There is no short cut to the solution of it. The report of the West Ham Relief Works Committee states that relief works are as various in their efforts AS the localities which are interested, and that the acute problem of casual labour remained unsolved. We want sound social legislation which will mitigate the unemployed evil, and prevent men and women from becoming unemployed. The workers themselves and the State can contribute without in any way infringing the principle of individual responsibility. They can help further by bringing about shorter hours of labour. They can further help by not taking their children from the schools at an early age, but by keeping them at school until they are thoroughly educated, and by inculcating in them ideas of thrift and placing a considerably greater restrain on over indulgence of alcoholic drink.
The State can also help. It was shown last night by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his extraordinary and splendid financial statement, that in our legislation means can be found to do much to solve the question of unemployment. The State can further help by seeing that the Small Holdings Act is vigorously put into operation, and I believe that at the present time the Government are taking steps in that direction. Afforestation and land reclamation can employ a large amount of surplus labour. Although I oppose the second reading of this Bill, I desire to say that its promoters have my deep sympathy, and also the unemployed. I realise the mental anguish and physical suffering of the unemployed. I know the heart-breaking effect on mankind caused by the condition of the people. We do not want the unemployed man to go so low down the gutter that we cannot raise him up again. I am justified in saying that the evils which exist at the present time will be remedied by common-sense social legislation, and not by fantastic legislation or by such revolutionary proposals as are to be found in the Bill.
§ Mr. D. SHACKLETON
I think the hon. Member for Burnley ought to thank us for giving him an opportunity for an afternoon's parade. He has been really criticising certain Members of the Labour party, and not the Bill at all. I am not 664 at all a pessimist in dealing with the Question of the unemployed. I am perfectly satisfied with the public sentiment on the subject. I believe that it realises its responsibility in the matter, and that it is more alive to it than it ever was. The Labour party is proud in having done something to raise this Question to its present position. The hon. Member for Stoke referred to the normal rate, and I think he made one slight mistake with regard to the provisions of the Bill on the question of the normal rate. What the Bill proposes is that up to 4 per cent. the charge for dealing with the unemployed shall be on the locality or on the area in which the people reside; but in regard to that part over 4 per cent., that shall be a national charge, both in regard to providing work and maintenance.
§ Mr. SHACKLETON
I say that the locality should deal with the normal state of things, but the nation should come to the rescue of the locality when the unemployment is over four per cent. Take the case of Poplar: that should not be a local charge. We provide in this Bill that four per cent. is a normal rate. We are told by the hon. Member for Burnley that it is going to be a case of the employed workman bearing the cost of the expenditure necessary to deal with the unemployed under this Bill. What is the position today? We are not changing anything there. As a matter of fact, if this Bill passes the employed workman will be in a better position than under the present law. The present charge is almost wholly on the rates, except what is done by way of grant. I am glad to admit that the Budget of yesterday is meeting the incidence of taxation in that direction, and the present Budget and this Bill working together will cause the workman to be in a better position from that point of view. I do not think the hon. Member for Burnley is doing a good turn to his fellow trade unionists when he gets up so often and assumes that he is the only man in this House who represents trade union opinion.
§ Mr. SHACKLETON
I wonder whether the hon. Member is prepared to put the same construction on this Bill as he did on the Trades Disputes Bill. On every stage of the Bill the hon. Member stood side 665 by side with us and said that was the opinion of the trade union movement. This Bill is just as much the opinion of the trade union movement, in so far as it is possible to ascertain it, as the Trades Disputes Bill that was introduced the first Session.
§ Mr. SHACKLETON
If it happens to be wrong from the hon. Member's point of view, then he would have us think it is wrong, and that we are not representing the trade union movement or trade union opinion. Surely the hon. Member must admit that if we are entitled to represent trade union opinion through our congresses and branch meetings and other meetings on the Trades Disputes Bill we are equally entitled to speak for trade union opinion on this particular Bill. And I think the sooner the hon. Member drops that line the more consistent he will be with his past action as an official of a trade union.
§ Mr. SHACKLETON
You have been an official to some extent. I think you were at one time editor of a trade union paper. The hon. Member also referred to elections. The hon. Member made some capital out of the first election to which he referred. I am not going into detail about that. We had no responsibility for that election. With regard to the Croydon election I should really like to ask whether the hon. Member is going to take that election as indicating the view of the democrarcy of this country on the German scare. If so, he has a very poor case in face of the arguments on the cost of increased armaments. The hon. Member should be careful where his logic leads him to. Now I want to refer to the question of trade union rates. With regard to those, I would say that whatever kind of clause was put in this Bill we should be told it was wrong. Whichever policy we adopted some would think it was wrong. If we put in the Bill that trade union rates should be paid we should be told that it was impossible; if we leave it out we are told that we are endeavouring to undersell trade union labour. So we have decided to adopt the medium course, and to leave it out entirely. In other sections of the Bill we provide that on the Central (Unemployed) Committee, which is going to be asked to give advice to the Department on these matters, the trade unionists shall have a voice. They shall be duly repre- 666 sented, and we are quite willing to leave that matter to a board on which we have representation, but not a majority. It is impossible to put in the Bill that trade union rates shall be paid for every kind of trade, for in some districts there is no trade union rate, and not even a trade union. So we prefer that in the management of any work undertaken under this scheme that it shall be left to this committee, and we can raise our protest if an undue preference is given to disorganised labour. One passing remark as to what the hon. Member said about the speech of the hon. Member for Merthyr at Drury-lane the other night. He answered that by talking about the number of people in the country. Surely the obvious reply to that, if his statement is true, is, Have you ever thought about wealth? Is the wealth of the country anything like it was when there were a million people here? And should there not be some provision for those who are not required in the making of that wealth? If those responsible for the affairs of the country realised their responsibility in this case, if they were prepared to carry forward a policy of labour regulation and regulation of the hours of labour, there would be no need for a Bill like this, but it is because we are in the dilemma that the employers resist all our attempts to secure changes that we are compelled again to bring the employers to the State in order that they may have imposed upon them the responsibility which is theirs. There is one little provision in this Bill about providing not only work, but maintenance; and I tell the House frankly that I attach more importance to that provision of this Bill than some of the other portions of it. I want to see the genuine unemployed given another option than that of the poor law. If hon. Members of this House had been through a period of unemployment I feel sure that they would think that it was an evil alternative to put to our working chaps—the workhouse and poor law relief. That is the only alternative that we have to put to them now. We agree with much that the Government are doing in this matter, and we are not going to fight this Bill against their Budget, and it is absurd to think that we should do so. There was a suggestion that we should go to the country and fight this Bill against this Budget, but the Budget contains things that we wish to see achieved. In regard to parents giving their children training in certain trades—proper industrial training—no one is going 667 to hear me deprecate the value of education of a useful character to the youth of this country; but here again, whilst the State is doing a fair share of its work towards the industries of the country, are the employers doing their fair share, or is their tendency to make a man part of a machine, and to make his brains not needed for the work he has to do? What is the use of sending a lad to a technical school at night if the only thing he has to do is to turn one wheel, and produce one article, from the first day he is employed until he is entitled to his old age pension? The whole thing is absurd, and when we are told to put our children to learn the details of their employment the employers snatch them back again the first thing. I say that to a young man, who has any idea of education and improvement, if he is put to that work it will dull his energies and make him discontented with his lot, and object to his surroundings. While I sympathise with education, unless the employers follow it up in their own mills and workshops there is not much in the suggestion.
Then as to whether there is a reservoir or not. How would the cotton trade have made 24 per cent. increase in spindles and looms during the last four years unless there was a reservoir? The trade could not get on without a reservoir. They brought out the mothers, who had left the mills, and the children of 12, who would not have been there ordinarily till 13 or 14. It was admitted that there was a reservoir, and that the trade could not have done without it. Without the reservoir you have overtime, which is injurious to the workman and bad for the trade. With the reservoir there is less overtime, and what we want to do is to abolish this systematic overtime. I know the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board is sympathetic with us, but unless we put upon the State and the employer through the State some responsibility for his refusal to meet our demands in regard to overtime, there is not going to be much chance that we shall ever get our demands. As to the idea of the weaver being put on to digging, if you take the last returns of the distress committees as compiled by the Local Government Board, the percentage of textile workers applying for relief to the distress committees was less than ½per cent. If we had been able to meet with farm work or afforestation and other public works for relief work, not for these 668 workmen, but for the 53 per cent. of casual labourers—men who can be put to almost any kind of work, because of their general adaptability in changing from one casual kind of work to another, it would have relieved the labour market in regard to the few skilled labourers who are seriously affected. The only skilled trades seriously affected in the returns are the building trade with 19 per cent., the engineering trade with 8.6 and the boot and shoe trade with 2 or 3 per cent. Everybody admits the situation in the boot and shoe trade. Surely this House will realise that in an industry expanding as it is, improved by machinery, there are thousands of willing workers who cannot find work, especially as there are girls doing the work that three or four men did a very few years ago. Surely the House will realise what is their duty when thousands of men are left without any choice at all except the workhouse. If the State recognises its responsibility and the employers theirs, surely they must be called on under the second section of clause 3 to provide maintenence on a reasonable basis to maintain these men in a state of reasonable, physical efficiency. They are assets of the State, and for the State to allow them to drift would be fatal. I have gone through seventeen weeks of it. I do not know what would have happened to me and to hundreds besides had there not been some steadying force behind them, and someone able to hold their heads a little above water. If my time had been four years later than it was I should have gone to the bottom. I could not have resisted the cry of starving children, but I had no children at the time, and I was able to maintain myself through it with the help of my wife. That is the position of thousands of our workmen, and we should not be too hard in this matter and too hard on others. There should be some sympathy and some desire for an organised method instead of simply the poor law. I think I have replied to nearly all the points raised.
§ Mr. SHACKLETON
I think I have just explained that the numerical condition with regard to those particular trades is so infinitesimal, that if you deal with the great bulk of one class—50 per cent. of casual labourers—you would relieve the pressure to such an extent that they would not be affected. That is my answer. I am not going to suggest that it is possible 669 to set up competition with skilled trades. That cannot be done. I want to be reasonable. We want to deal with those who are least able, those who for three or four months out of the year have absolutely nothing to do. The standing trades, like cotton, hosiery, and other things, which are are going year in and year out, get through fairly well, but it is the casual labourer, the dock labourer. What a picture it is to see thousands of these men every morning waiting for their turn to be taken on. Surely something could be done to relieve the tension in these trades. I ask the right hon. Gentleman, with regard to the hours of labour, which he has so often commended, and with regard to the proposal to deal with the regulation of trade which he has so often commended, have we his support and the support of the Cabinet if we Table in this House Bills to regulate the hours of labour in other industries besides mining? Will he give his support to a Bill for regulating the hours of labour in the textile industry to eight per day? If the party opposite and the party on this side are willing to assist us in bringing about this change and relief in our trades by reducing the hours of labour we will try the plan quickly. But we have no absolute guarantee that a friendly reception will be given to us in the cotton trade. We have the right hon. Gentleman's sympathy. I will not say a word against him. I know his heart is right. He differs from us, but I do not believe he has the less sympathy with the cause we are advocating. But I ask him to do what is possible in regard to regulation. He knows as well as I know that to bring about regulation by trade union methods alone is a costly, a wearying, and almost a warlike process, and we do not want to adopt that policy. We prefer to put before the House Bills to deal with these things, and we ask the right hon. Gentleman if he is willing to give us that sympathy and practical support which we think we are entitled to.
§ Mr. ROBERT HARCOURT
I will not go into the various subsidiary matters which were raised first of all by my hon. Friend the Member for Burnley. I will not go, for instance, into the question whether the 2,771 votes polled by Mr. Hartley at Newcastle were a small proportion, or whether the 1,900 votes polled by Joseph Burgess in Montrose Burghs were a large proportion. I no more venture to attribute to hon. Gentlemen responsibility 670 for Mr. Hartley's candidature than I should endeavour to attribute to them responsibility for Mr. Burgess's fiscal views. I hope the hon. Member for Clitheroe will not take in bad part anything I may have to say, as I shall oppose this Bill. He has always treated me with the greatest kindness before and since I came into the House. He referred to the question of hours. I represent a partly textile Constituency, and I should not venture to pledge myself to an eight-hour day for the textile trades, but I think we all recollect the remarkable phrase in the speech of the President of the Board of Trade on the Miners' Eight Hours Bill. He said:—We are asked why we are to stop there. Whoever said we were going to stop there?I think there is a substantial recommendation in the Minority Report of the Poor Law Commission which should be taken into consideration for regulation of hours in the transport industry, not for a 48, but for a 60-hour week. I have listened very carefully to the speeches of the Mover and Seconder, and I think there is a substantial difference in their attitude upon the subject. The hon. Member for Gorton, referring to the financial statement yesterday, said some of the constructive proposals of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, though very excellent in themselves, did not go very far. The hon. Member for Stoke said these proposals were so revolutionary that we had already accepted the Right to Work Bill. I should like to ask hon. Gentlemen which leg they are going to stand on. My general proposition would be that there are certain measures of industrial reorganisation which are not actually in the Bill, but which must be made before we can properly be asked to consider a clause like clause 3, and that when these measures are adopted, if they are inefficient, the clause we should consider is not the present clause 3, but one of an entirely different kind.
I will not refer to those things which are supposed to have an indirect bearing upon unemployment—for instance, the proposition that if the working man was invariably thrifty and was a convinced non-drinker and a confirmed non-smoker, if his sole recreation was the perusal in a free library of the works of Mr. Smiles on self-help, he would be continually employed at good wages. I do not think for a moment that he would. I should like to touch, by way of illustration, on two measures which I have already specified. I listened very carefully to the Debate on 671 the Address on unemployment, and I was a little surprised at the odium and ridicule which was cast by hon. Gentlemen opposite upon the Government proposal for labour exchanges. It is true that they are approved of by the hon. Member for Preston, but there is no actual harm in that. I think some of my Collectivist Friends on this side are a little unduly self-conscious about the hon. Member for Preston. Hon. Members go into the Division Lobby and see my hon. Friend there, and say to themselves, "Good Lord! Let us get out of the lobby, or we shall lose the Labour vote in our Constituencies." An hon. Gentleman opposite said the Bill was in general accord with the recommendations of the minority Report of the Poor Law Commission. I absolutely deny that proposition. The minority Report, under their heading of "Proposals for Reform," not merely recommend labour exchanges, but say specifically it is the first requisite in reform. I imagine this is a matter of common agreement. Mr. Beveridge and Mr. Schloss point out, what is an obvious fact, that it is the first essential preliminary to any scheme of insurance. I think this is a matter which is a little more disputed. I should like to make a citation from the minority Report in support of the view that labour exchanges may actually increase employment. That, I think, is a proposition—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Caldwell)
The hon. Member must have regard to the contents of the Bill. He is not entitled to discuss alternative measures.
§ Mr. ROBERT HARCOURT
I bow to your ruling. I referred to that matter because an hon. Member who preceded me alluded to it. I should like to allude for a moment to the system of half-time. I do not mean the system of half-time in Lancashire, though I should be very glad if hon. Gentlemen who have the confidence of the working class would get half-time abolished. But I mean another system of half-time, namely, that between 14 and 18 boys should receive a general industrial training, and their hours of work should be shortened. There is a controversial point comes in here. The hon. Member for Clitheroe said he was all in favour of the system of increased industrial training. I noticed in the Debate on the Address, and I have noticed more than once outside of this House, that hon. Gentlemen have thrown too much cold 672 water on the question of increased industrial training, even on the proposition endorsed by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade in regard to shortening boy labour. In the Debate on the Address the hon. Member for East Leeds made a very able Speech, in which he said it was not by having more highly skilled men that we were going to solve this problem. I delivered a speech to my constituents last autumn, long before the Report of the minority Commissioners appeared, and I dealt at great length with the subject. At the end of the speech a local Socialist asked, How are you going to help the unemployed by making them more efficient? Is it not the fact that the pressure is caused by workers being too efficient and producing too much? I submit that to the Labour leaders as a proposition which is worth considering. If they think, as many of them do think, that it is a problem not of production, but of distribution, why do not they bring in a Bill, which would be just as easy to draft and I think almost as easy to pass, to Socialise land and industrial capital? Then, at any rate, we should know where we were. I should like to say that I am a student of Socialist principles. I read the Socialist newspapers every week.
§ Mr. ROBERT HARCOURT
I would say with all humbleness that I am following the line taken by several of the speakers who preceded me. I would like to refer to a matter which is directly in the Bill— namely, the suggestion to regularise the national demand for labour. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, speaking at Dundee, suggested "averaging machinery to regulate and even up the general course of the labour market in the same way as the Bank of England by bank rate regulates and corrects the flow of business enterprise." The moment we go into detail here I suppose we should be in violent disagreement. There is an almost perfect example of "production for use, and not for profit," in industry, in the direct employment in State workshops out of public funds, and that is in the construction of "Dreadnoughts" in the Government dockyards. I suppose the fact is that there is violent disagreement on that point. I think it is obvious that there are a large number of useful works, such as post offices, telegraph and telephone 673 extensions, new schools, and the like where useful national works, not actually urgent, and not justified in normal times, is quite justifiable in times of distress. Here I want to make one distinct point, and that is that clauses 4, 7, 9, and 11 of the Bill seem to square with a very interesting portion of the minority Report where they refer to the evidence of the well-known economist, Mr. Bowley, who recommends some sort of scheme for national works should be set on foot when unemployment has reached 4 per cent. I hope it recognises the vital distinction between the languages of clauses 4 and 11, which speaks of the framing of schemes for unemployed persons and the offering of employment to the unemployed, and, on the other hand, of increasing the area of general employment by widening the labour demand and taking on men in the ordinary way. This is what the minority Commissioners recommend:—It is vital ….that there should be no attempt to employ unemployed as such. The work of planting trees can best be done by agriculturists out of work, not a heterogeneous crowd of men drawn from those who have applied for relief in the towns. To start making embankments and seawalls with distressed tailors, bricklayers and clerks when there are navvies looking for employment is as great a wrong to the navvies and as uneconomical as it would be to take on the navvies at the Army Clothing Factory or put them to build a new school.The Commissioners ask why the advocates of work for the unemployed in all trades never see anything objectionable in depriving navvies of some of the jobs on which they would otherwise be employed. Reference has been made to the fact that the Bill is recommended by the whole of the organised labour of the country. If that is so they certainly do not organise their demonstrations very well. The only request I have received from a representative body asking me to support the measure is from Montrose parish council, who desire me to do so on the condition that it imposes no charge on the local rates. I will make one brief quotation again from the minority Report of the Commission with regard to what is generally called "Relief Work." They say:—Question arises whether if financial considerations alone were regarded it would not be found to be cheaper to give the men their wages without allowing them to spoil the material, wastefully use the plant, and necessitate the engagement of foremen and overlookers for the execution of work, possibly not undesirable in itself but of no commercial value. We are obliged to conclude with the committee of the Norwich Town Council that the work on the whole has been unsatisfactory, and the payments are in some cases scarcely worth calling payments for work, but merely a mask for charity.What do you get after all the various measures which I am not in order in re- 674 ferring to? I am not optimistic, and I think it is quite possible that you may have a permanent residuum left. I venture to think that when you have reached it—you will not reach it for some time—the ultimate remedy, as the minority Commissioners say, should be not work for wages, but maintenance in return for training. I think that the hon. Gentlemen supporting this Bill would show far more courage if they dealt with maintenance alone. Able-bodied maintenance is going on naturally under the poor law at the present moment; it is going on in English workhouses, and it is going on in Scottish workhouses, though, as is well known, it is in defiance of the law which forbids able-bodied relief in Scotland. I think we should all agree that the present system is clumsy, demoralising, and dishonest. I believe that some time hence it will be necessary for Members of this House to take their courage in both their hands and ask themselves whether it is not worth while to have some maintenance for that residuum—not maintenance of the clumsy kind that is going on at the present moment, but some kind of maintenance in return for training. What I said to my constituents last October is confirmed in the minority Report. We should have maintenance in return for training, such as Mr. Beveridge—an authority who, I imagine, is sympathetic with the hon. Gentlemen opposite—shows would be necessarily educational. I do not see that that kind of maintenance for training is provided in this Bill in clause 7, sub-section 2. The minority Report recommends what are practically adult schools, not necessarily in the district and not necessarily administered by the local authority. They say in support of that proposal:—It escapes the demoralising element of pretence that the men are earning their own livelihood, and have therefore the right to receive wages and to spend them as they choose. It avoids the economic dilemma of how to 'set to work' the unemployed in productive labour without taking away other men's jobs.It is that very element of pretence that I seem to find in the Bill as at present drafted, and that I so cordially dislike. I fully accept many of the general statements of policy that have been put forward by hon. Gentlemen opposite, but I do not believe in this Bill, which I believe is calculated to impede and not to forward the continued progress of a self respecting democracy.
§ Mr. W. P. BEALE
When this Bill was before the House last time, we had not the advantage that we have now of the Reports of the Poor Law Commission. A 675 great deal has been said about the differences between the minority Report of the Commission and the propositions embodied in this Bill. There may be differences, but none that I find that I would say were vital ones. They both contain the main proposition: that in the case of the able-bodied and the willing-to-work, it is imperative to substitute for the present poor-law methods a method of finding the alternative of work for maintenance which some Members of the Commission think, and certainly I think myself, is defensible and desirable as a method of economy as well as for the other merits which everybody will appreciate, after having realised the pictures drawn by the mover and seconder of the Bill. I thought last year that the consideration in Committee of a similar Bill—somewhat more crude than this—might be a useful attempt in pointing the way to that economic change. That is my position now. Now that I have got the two Reports, my opinion is rather strengthened than weakened in that respect. I think it a pity that such phrases as "The Right to Work Bill" have been used in connection with this Bill and these propositions. I do not say that it is inapplicable, but when you begin to use expressions like "the right to work" or "the right to live," you get into abstract propositions of social statics, and get away from the practical point of seeing whether these are reasonable propositions and how best they could be carried out. I want to take this Bill and look at it and see if it does not present any possible way of grappling with an admitted evil. A great deal of the opposition to this Bill comes from that very frame of mind that I have referred to.
When you begin to talk about the right to work it is very much easier to talk about Socialism in general as an objection to the Bill than to go into details. We ask for a definition of what they mean by Socialism, such a definition as will point out which of the evils—and we know, of course, that there are a great many evils—attributed to what is popularly called Socialism are apprehended, and what this Bill has in common with that kind of Socialism which has been condemned. I notice that a very considerable authority in this House denounced the other day the Bill for feeding school children as Socialism, and referred to the alternative of the poor law. But the poor law itself is 676 Socialism. So we want a definition of what is meant by those who object to this Bill as Socialism. I am happy to say that the House will bear with me for a moment when I say that I have found one which may be controverted by the hon. Member for Burnley. Speaking at Birmingham on November 15th, 1907, the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition said:—Socialism has one meaning and one meaning only—Socialism means, and can mean nothing else, than that the community or the State is to take all the means of production into its own hands, that private enterprise and private property are to come to an end, and all that private enterprise and private property carry with them. That is Socialism, and nothing else is Socialism.He went on:—Social reform is when the State, based upon private enterprise, recognising that the best productive result can only be obtained by respecting private property and encouraging private enterprise, asks them to contribute towards great national social and public objects.If we stick to that definition, I think we should not have so many objections to this Bill by merely calling it Socialism. This Bill, at all events, according to that definition, is not Socialism—it is social reform. But whatever name it is given it does not attack the social compact upon which private property is based. It does not ask us to substitute State ownership, but it does ask us for a contribution towards a great national and social object. That great object is already partially recognised by the admitted obligation to keep our citizens from destitution and starvation; it is done at present in a clumsy way by the poor law. You may, if you like, call that establishing the right to live, apart from the abstract theory. This Bill goes a step further. It says that you recognise the obligation to keep a man alive, and that it is more sensible to keep him alive and make of him a useful citizen, with the right to work. Objection is taken to this Bill on the ground that if you tell a man that work shall be found for him or he shall be maintained if work cannot be found, you will weaken his self-reliance and discourage his energy. You might as well say that it will discourage energy if labour exchanges are established. It is further said that the fear of pauperism is salutary. But if you analyse that proposition it comes to very little. It postulates that there is a demand for work before it can come into operation at all, and the result of the poor law shows that fear is no deterrent at all. Let us keep that question out of the way. Postulating that no work is to be found, the question really comes to this: Is the State 677 to make some effort of this kind to find work? We are not concerned with the question whether on this subject we are incurring the objections to past Socialistic schemes. I do not think that we are concerned with anything like the proposal of Louis Blanc, whose scheme was travestied in 1848. We need not discuss whether those schemes were right or wrong. We need only refer to what the Bill proposes, and I put it in the crudest and most unpalatable form for the purpose of considering it. Take shortly such a proposition as this: "The State must find work or maintain the able-bodied and willing." We have got before us the minority Report, and there is nothing to prevent our grafting on to it recommendations, a great many of the recommendations, of the majority Report. Without going into details, I admit that the Bill is of a very crude description, and I hope my hon. Friends will pardon me when I say that I do not think as it stands that it is at all workable. I do not think that it would be possible to find anyone who would be willing to act on these local employment authorities with the present wide mandate which is proposed. I am one of those who think that it is financially impracticable on the same grounds as the hon. Member for Birkenhead adduced. There are a great many propositions going about which I do not endorse, but as an hon. Member has said, there is room enough for the consideration of many things, and that being so, what harm is there in considering the question of a better method of relief than that of the poor law. I cannot see what is to be gained by refusing to tone down crudities, and give the proposal a workable form. There is the consideration that the Bill is not necessarily opposed to true economy, and that the employment given in these industries need not be unprofitable to the State if you set off the per contrapoor law cost. It is asked: What about the right to maintenance, and what about the trade union rate of wages? All I can say is that when you have the alternative to provide either work or maintenance—maintenance being the standard by which you will keep a man just above the line to which you do not wish him to sink—it would be very easy to find a means by which one would practically cover the other. No difficulty would occur in that respect. I think this Bill is too pressing to be thrown aside, as long as there is a germ for development into a practical shape, so that it will be the 678 beginning of a change in the direction of dealing with the able-bodied unemployed. I think that if this Bill, crude as are its propositions, were placed in the hands of a Committee with the minority and majority Reports in their hands, they could evolve something for dealing with this subject. I am sure hon. Members will not infer from what I have said that I am actuated by any friendliness to what is commonly called "Socialism," when people talk about that subject. At all events, I may say that I have never advocated a change of this sort, or any other change, unless convinced that it was for the good of the working classes. I believe that this is some remedy against the causes of unemployment, and will be of benefit to every class in the community, and that a vote for the second reading means that we recognise the paramount importance of the subject, and that there should be no delay in considering this proposition in connection with the Reports of the Poor Law Commission.
§ Mr. E. A. RIDSDALE
I agree with the last speaker inasmuch as I think this subject is one which commands the entire sympathy of everyone in this House. I am afraid I do not agree with him to the extent that one's sympathies should allow our judgment to be carried away so far that we should vote for the second reading. The proposal of this Bill, broadly speaking, is that any workman who is out of work should be able to go to the local authority and demand work at a rate of wages which is fixed at trade union rates. Provided the ratio of unemployment in that part is 4 per cent. the cost shall be borne by the local authorities; but if it exceeds 4 per cent. the cost is to be borne by the State. Any workman who is unemployed may demand this relief, and there is nothing to prevent all the unemployed of the Continent turning into the United Kingdom to obtain the advantage of our rates and taxes. You may say that is a Committee point that may be altered by some fresh clause, and I know the Bill provides that the person to be relieved must have resided not less than six months in the area. But anybody can come from the Continent and stay here six months, and it would be well worth their while. An ounce of fact is worth a ton of theory. So far we have, only had theorising with regard to this matter. I notice amongst politicians there is a considerable tendency for events to move in a cycle. We 679 have the example of hon. Members sitting below the Gangway and of the Conservative party having dug up their old policy which they are introducing under a new name. They dug up Protection, and they are now calling it Tariff Reform. This policy which they are now introducing has been tried in the past and exploded as fully as every protection was exploded in the "hungry forties." If hon. Members opposite would only look up the history of the poor law they would find unemployment is no new state of things. It has been going on since the Conquest. There have been continual Acts of Parliament in order to deal with the question. Those Acts have met with more or less success, and of all the Acts the most important is the one which to the most full extent includes the principles embodied in the hon. Member's present Bill, and that was Gilbert's Act of 1782. By that Act any workman who could not obtain work could call on the community in which he dwelt to provide him with work, not certainly at trade union rate of wages, but at any rate of wages which would keep him alive. He could call on the parish to keep him either in work or else to give him maintenance, exactly the proposal of hon. Members in this Bill. In order to deal with the shirker and the workshy a clause was put in making it penal, and that those men should be punished in exactly the same way as hon. Members propose. Perhaps I may read a section from Gilbert's Act, which is exactly on all fours with this proposal:—That no person shall be sent to such poorhouse except such as are become indigent by old age. sickness, or infirmities, and are unable to acquire a maintenance by their labour; except such orphan children as shall necessarily go there with their mothers thither for maintenance.With respect to the rent of the poor, it is provided by the 32nd section:—That where there shall he in any parish, township, or place any poor person or persons, who shall be able and willing to work, but who cannot get employment, the guardians of the poor of such parish, etc., on application made to him by or on behalf of such poor person, is required to agree for the labour of such poor person or persons, at any work or employment suited to his or her strength and capacity, in any parish or place, near the place of his or her residence, and to maintain, or cause such person or persons to be properly maintained, lodged, and provided for, until such employment shall be procured, and during the time of such work to receive the money to be earned by such work or labour, and apply it to such maintenance as far as the same will go, and make up the deficiency.I think that that clause is in spirit identical with the view now before the House. Then there is another point as to dealing with the workshy, and perhaps I may 680 quote a paragraph from Gilbert's Act which deals with that:—But if it appear that the complainant is an idle or disorderly person, the justice may commit him to the House of Correction for any time not exceeding three months nor less than one.It is likewise provided:—that if any poor person shall refuse to work or remain away from the work provided for him, the Guardian is to make complaint thereof to some Justice of the Peace who shall inquire into the same upon oath, and, on conviction, punish the offenders by imprisonment with hard labour for any time not exceeding three months nor less than one.That Act, which was brought about by much the state of things that now exist, when, owing to a good deal of distress in the country, a great many thoughtful and kind-hearted people wished to do the best they could in order to cure it, that Act was in operation for some years, with the result that the poor rate of the country rose by leaps and bounds. During the time the poor rate in some cases quintupled. This was a most serious state of things, pressing most hardly on the general agriculture and the general industry of the country. In one case, in Bucking hamshire, it went so far that the whole of the tenants had to give up their farms, and farms were thrown back into the hands of the landlords. Then, of course, Parliament had to deal with a case so serious as that. Mr. Scarlett brought in a Bill in order to limit the amount that could be raised by the poor rate. That Bill was finally not passed, but in consequence of the dislocation that was caused by the operation of Gilbert's Act, it be came necessary to have an inquiry into the conditions of the poor. There was a great change in the poor law in the year 1834, based on the Report from that inquiry. The whole result of that reform of the poor law was to produce a very much better state of things in the country, and the main method by which they produced that better state of things was by tearing up and destroying utterly the whole principles on which Gilbert's Act was based. In other words, this Bill, which hon. Members think will be a panacea for unemployment in the country—["No."] If they do not think that, I do not know why it is proposed.
§ Mr. RIDSDALE
As regards mitigation, I hope I have shown that this practical effort, on exactly the same lines, so far from mitigating the evil, made it so extraordinarily bad that other legislation had 681 to be brought in to limit the rates and taxes which resulted from the operation of the principle embodied in this Bill. Just consider what is the result of work being obtainable from a public authority by any man who wants it. He does not need to look about for work himself; he feels, "What does it matter; if I cannot find work I have always got the local authority or the State to fall back upon "; it destroys the individualism and the initiative than which there is no asset in our national life more valuable to the community. I should not have risen to address the House had it not been that last year my name was given in the newspapers as having voted for the Bill, when I really voted against it, and I wished to make it clear to the House that I voted against the Bill, and the reasons for which I voted against it were historical reasons as to the inadequacy of the hon. Members' panacea.
I approach this subject with considerable diffidence, because I recognise to the full the evil which the promoters of this Bill seek to mitigate by the proposals they have submitted to the House. Every man who during the last few years has lived in populous places must recognise the enormous evil of unemployment—unemployment in no sense due to the fault of those who are unable to obtain work, but due to circumstances altogether beyond their control. Every Member of the House must sympathise with those who wish, if possible, to mitigate or remove this evil altogether; but, for my part, I am unable to see anything in the Bill that is good at all. In listening to a great part of the Debate, I have not found the supporters of the Bill at all anxious to come to close quarters with the provisions of the measure. They have spoken a great deal about the evils of unemployment; those we all recognise; and they have talked in general terms about the desirability of mitigating or removing those evils, but they have not addressed themselves at all, or at any rate in much detail, to the actual provisions contained in the Bill which they put forward to bring about the change. For my part, I think the Bill is one which in its title and in its main provisions is altogether unreasonable. Its title is: "A Bill to provide work through public authorities for unemployed persons;" and when we come to look at what the public authorities are, I am surprised to find in a Bill backed by so many Scotsmen, if not Scottish Members, that so little attention has been paid to Scotland. The 682 Bill is presented by the hon. Member for Gorton, and the next name on the back is that of the hon. Member for Barnard Castle, both of them Scotsmen, and there are other Scottish names on the Bill; but reading the Bill itself it apparently applies only to England, although certainly it does not contain the usual observation that "this Bill shall only apply to England." I do not desire to press that too far, because, after all, it is only a drafting point; but when we look at what the public authorities are, this is a Bill to compel town councils and county councils to provide work for unemployed persons. I venture to say that to ask town or county councils to undertake this duty is to place upon them a burden far greater than they are able to bear. Certainly the town councils in Scotland, and I dare say it is also true of the town councils in England, are far too busy with the proper work already entrusted to them; but clause 3 of the Bill says that where an unemployed person, who has resided not less than six months in the area, has registered himself as unemployed, it shall be the duty of the local unemployment authority—that is the town or county council—either to find him work or to provide maintenance for him and his dependants. That in my judgment would make it impossible for the town and county councils to carry out the enormous burden of work they have already in addition to this enormous liability. Several hon. Members who supported this Bill, the hon. Member for Gorton, and the hon. Member for Stoke referred to organised labour. One knows how much organised labour has done; what trade unionism has done to support its unemployed members. They find it to involve a great deal of work and a great deal of money. But to cast both, organised and unorganised alike, upon our town and county councils would be a strain upon local government that it would not bear. You would break down the whole system of local Government. That is the first objection that I take. Take another. Section 3—they are the town and county councils—I prefer to take these terms rather than the phraseology of the Bill, the local unemployed authority, because one is apt to lose grip of what it means—to provide work. It is to be their duty to find work for every unemployed person within their area, or to find maintenance for them and their dependants. Except in exceptional cases, the unemployment fund is to come out of the rates. Well, I 683 should like to know what the working-men members of our councils, who may have none too large wages themselves, think of the proposals to put unemployed people on the rates, and that they are to contribute towards their maintenance? It is putting a burden on our working classes, and also on our middle classes, that they are quite unfit to bear. These to my mind are two serious objections to the Bill. First that you are going to put a burden on the body that is to administer the Act; secondly, that you are going to put a burden on working-class and middle-class ratepayers that they cannot bear. As the hon. Member for Brighton has pointed out there is no limitation except that referring to the six months residence. It would make things a perfect paradise for the unemployed all over the country. They could go and live at any place for the period, and then be registered as unemployed. The Act would not be a very popular one in the country if it were brought into operation. Therefore, for my part, sympathising as I do in this matter; recognising as I do the great evil of unemployment, and the enormous extent to which it prevails, and which I wish we could modify, I think the evils that this Bill would introduce would be greater than those we have at present. I agree with the hon. Member for Brighton in some of his remarks. I do not agree with him in others. I do not agree with the hon. Member for Stoke when he referred to the "astute politician who brought in Tariff Reform." Tariff Reform has nothing to do with this Bill. I say this: that those who spoke for trade unionism, and, disparagingly, of Tariff Reform, are as big Protectionists as any. They afford the best examples in support of the policy of Tariff Reform. That by the way. They knew how to get and keep work for their members. We want to do something on the same lines. This Bill, to my mind, is not founded on sound economic or political principles. On the contrary, it will not mitigate the evil, it will add to unemployment to a great extent. Therefore, I shall vote against the Bill.
Although I venture to intervene at this stage, it is at a great deal of inconvenience. The Bill was moved at a quarter-past 12 o'clock. Members on both sides of the House have taken part in the discussion. Up to this moment we have heard nothing from the Government. The Parliamentary Secre- 684 tary to the Local Government Board voted for this Bill last year. He could have told us whether his view then is the view of the Government now. I think it is about time, and I think it ought to have been the duty of the Government before now, to have intimated the line they were going to take, so that we might understand what was going to be the official position, and make our reply after they had disclosed their hand. However, things have turned out otherwise, and I propose to say what we have to say by way of winding up the Debate, so far as we are concerned. Most of the criticims made against the Bill have been made from the point of view of a third reading Debate. The right hon. Gentleman who has just addressed the House has approached this Bill as though it had gone through Committee, and as if it was now in its final form He spoke of the point about the foreigner, but supposing there was anything substantial in that, surely it is not a point that ought to influence a single Member in giving his vote on this Bill. If the Bill gets a second reading it will go to a Committee, and every one of the points the right hon. Gentleman raised could be discussed and provided for by Amendment. If the Bill had come through Committee in its present form there might be something in the right hon. Gentleman's points. The right hon. Gentleman started by informing us that the Bill was a very unreasonable Bill. But what about the Bill of the Government of which he was a Member? This Bill is but the natural extension of the Bill of the Government of which the right hon. Gentleman was a Member, and for which they were responsible. I was rather unable to follow his arguments about the great difficulties of the town councils. The right hon. Gentleman's own party imposed upon the town councils duties equivalent to those in this proposal, and on the very town councils where the greatest amount of work is done. The only exception to that is London. The town councils of Birmingham, Leicester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, all owing to the Act of the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues, are now vested with precisely those duties which he told us he would never think of imposing upon them.
That is one of the many reasons for my objection. I do not want the duties of the town councils to be further increased.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
I will not pursue the point further. His second point was that he marvelled that the names of Scotchmen should appear on the back of the Bill in such numbers, and that the Bill should not be quite clear in its application to Scotland. I marvel at the right hon. Gentleman talking so much about the cost which the workers would have to bear if this Bill became law, and apparently not being aware of the large amount of cost that is now placed upon the shoulders of the working-class ratepayers through the poor law. Moreover, the working-class wage-earner has ultimately got to bear the burden of the unemployed workman. There is no greater menace to wages in this country than the existence of a large number of unemployed prepared to take the place of skilled men now earning high wages. Therefore the working men of the country would be gainers if this Bill became the law of the land. I do not propose to enter into all the details of the discussion raised since my hon. Friend the Member for Clitheroe addressed the House. The exceedingly interesting point of the Gilbert Act was raised by the hon. Member for Brighton, but that raises a question which it would take a whole sitting to discuss. I venture to suggest, however, that the hon. Member for Brighton would never suggest that the Act of 1782 was passed under modern conditions. I believe the hon. Member was quoting from Eden's Poor Law.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
Even there the point is made that one of the characteristics of this Act is that it shows a lack of proper safeguards so that there might be no abuse in regard to the expenditure of the money. It is evident to anyone studying the provisions of the Act that its great failure is the lack of proper safeguards against financial mistakes. The very guardians alluded to put the Act into operation in their own personal interests, and the men who tried to supply them with cheap labour were the very men who had to pay the excess of rating in that Buckingham parish. The Gilbert Act was no doubt a most remarkable one, and failed because it was not properly safeguarded. It also failed because it came into operation at a time of social and political disruption, which made social experiments impossible, and the rapid change which took place immediately after that 686 industrial revolution contributed to the failure of all sorts of social legislation. There are a great many people who do not believe that the Act of 1834 was a farsighted piece of legislation, although everything was in favour of the new law. At that time there was an enormous demand for labour, caused by a large extension of the markets of the world and an enormous increase in transport and exchange. Consequently the rapid industrial development of the country was bound to absorb enormous masses of the people. All this is attributable to the ordinary operation of industrial and social evolution, and not to the beneficent operation of the Poor Law of 1834.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
That is the reason why we are not ready to accept the Act of 1834 as being particularly wise, and we have to thank the circumstances under which it had to work much more than its own provisions for the improvements which took place in labour immediately afterwards. So far as this Bill is concerned, and so far as the second reading is concerned, I submit to hon. Members that what they have got to make up their minds on is the general idea and the general principle of the Bill. Is its principle sufficiently sound to justify the Bill being sent to a Select Committee or to an ordinary Standing Committee? So far as the second reading is concerned, that is all the importance which is attached to it. The details of the Bill may not be so bad as is thought by some hon. Members. The more you think over the problem the wiser you will find those details to be. The more you inquire into the problem the more far-seeing you will find the clauses to be. In 1906 we broached the idea of maintenance, and I am perfectly certain that at that time 90 per cent. of hon. Members thought it was an absurd proposal. I say that before many years have passed that many of the proposals of the Bill—modified, it may be, a little—will be found to be the most substantial contributions made in modern times to meet the unemployed difficulty. What has been the character of the Debate this afternoon? There is far more sympathy with what is meant by the idea of maintenance than there was in 1906. I believe that those in favour of the proposal will in the future become more numerous. The town which I represent, owing to the introduction of machinery and the changes 687 in the method of production has been suffering from over-population. A smaller number of men employed in the boot and shoe trade can produce a greater volume of articles than was previously done. Then there is a residuum in the boot and shoe trade. It will cost more money to keep those men in the workhouse than to bring them under the operation of such a Bill as this. Every now and then there is a time of depression in the trade. The men ought to be held in reserve for the time when the market should expand and when there is renewed demand for their labour. The Government will say that they should contribute to an insurance fund. I congratulate them on having adopted our idea of maintenance. The position is perfectly clear. It does not matter whether you impose the insurance premium on trade or upon wages, or whether it ought to be a charge on working class incomes operating in the form of thrift or on the State—a national charge founded upon sound principles of legislation. There are a dozen different ways of doing it. But the idea that you are all beginning to carry into practical effect is our idea of maintenance, which I invite you to take to a Committee and put into shape. There is another point about this Bill, and I venture again to say the more this is considered the more this Parliament, or any other Parliament, is going to come to it as a necessary preliminary. Before we deal with the unemployed we have got to create the machinery for dealing with it. If you ask us to provide work first you are putting the cart before the horse. This Bill, taken from this point of view, simply as a proposal for the creation of machinery for dealing with this matter, is a most valuable Bill, and ought to be considered in detail. Now, the machinery we suggest is not a new method of machinery brought down from our own imaginative intelligence. We have simply taken what is now attached to other Departments of the State. The Education Department has got an advisory committee, on which Members of this House sit. If the Minister for Education was here, and I venture to ask if he would be willing to abandon that Committee, he would tell us immediately, I think, that he would do nothing of the kind, for he had a most useful Committee in regard to the problems of education, which had found information for him and given him the raw material for proposals. As a matter of fact, if our 688 education becomes more effective than it is, and brings itself more into touch with the feeling of the country, then it will be largely owing to the influence of the advisory committee. That is our idea of a committee. We take this, as it were, from the Board of Education and attach it to the Local Government Board. The local committee is modelled upon the local council which used to operate in London—I mean the old technical education board of the London County Council. That committee was charged de novowith establishing a system of technical education. Anybody who has any knowledge of the present state of efficiency of technical schools in London knows that he cannot pay enough tribute to the pioneers of the Technical Education Board. We have lifted that out, so to speak, and applied that idea locally in this case, calling the committee the Local Unemployment Council. It is to organise disorganised industry, and to place men in contact with work. Then, finally, as to the idea of commissioners, hon. Members opposite more especially those representing agricultural constituencies, hardly allow a day to pass without bringing pressure to bear upon the Board of Agriculture to increase the number of commissioners in regard to the small holdings scheme, and they are exceedingly angry because the Board of Agriculture has not met them as generously as they would like. We are applying the idea of the commissioners. The problem of unemployment somebody said was assumed by us to be a simple one. There is no body of men in the House who know its complexity more than we do. More than that, there is no body of men who have shown that they appreciate its complexities more than we do. An hon. Member said that he was very much opposed to relief works, and I heard one hon. Member take up four or five minutes of the time of the House, quoting for our edification some things which we had read half a dozen times over, about the evil of relief works in West Ham. Time after time, in Debate after Debate, we have risen in this House, and if we have charged the right hon. Gentleman with one thing more than another it has been with the fact that his administration—not wittingly at all—had been to turn what we call training colleges into relief works, and my hon. Friend who sits by him charged him with the same thing last year in this Debate. The Labour party, how ever, in its Bills, in its resolutions and in its criticisms—
§ The PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. John Burns)
I do not want to interrupt the hon. Member, but my recollection is that my colleague did not take part at all in this Debate last year.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
My right hon. Friend is quite accurate. He did not take part in the Debate; he interrupted in the Debate when the right hon. Gentleman was speaking. He will find that in the "Parliamentary Debates." The record is as follows:—"Mr. Masterman (West Ham, N.) interrupting: 'Surely that is not the sole object of the colony; you are converting it into a rural workhouse.'" I have only instanced that, not for the purpose of raising the question, but for the purpose of saying that we have always seen the great danger of relief works. We admit it perfectly candidly, we have never concealed it; we have stated that whilst the great pressure of the unemployed comes upon us at certain periods, then you have to do a certain amount of relief work—you cannot help it, you have to do it, indeed, although it is not always economical, and is not always good for the men. We admit all that, but, nevertheless, you have to solve the problem, and we want to construct this machinery—that is the important point. We make this suggestion of machinery, because if you have in operation schemes, knowledge, information, with a body of commissioners ready to move—a sort of mobile force to deal with the unemployed, an intelligence department attached to the Local Government Board, then you will be able to diminish and reduce to a minimum the relief-work feature of your scheme, and increase to a maximum sound, scientific maintenance and training for the work done. That is the essential feature of our scheme—the principle of the State making itself responsible for taking the burden of the necessary margin of unemployed, and, secondly, the creation of the machine—a machinery which would enable our relief to be carried out with the minimum of risk to the community and the maximum of benefits to the individuals who come under it. I should like, before resuming my seat, to refer to a point which has been made several times regarding the Memorandum circulated yesterday in reference to this Bill, and the relation between it and the minority Report. It is perfectly true that in all its details this Bill is not on all fours with the minority Report. It is perfectly true this Bill was drafted 690 before the minority Report. The Poor Law Commission had a good deal of evidence after our Bill was printed. Some of us gave evidence to the Commission before the minority Report was drafted. I am not prepared to say, and none of my colleagues, I am certain, are prepared to say, that the minority Report has not got some suggestions which might very well be embodied in the Bill. As a matter of fact, if the House would only send our Bill to a Select Committee, and I happened to be a member of it, I should only be too glad to see that some of the suggestions of the minority Report were embodied in our Bill. I should also be only too glad to see that some of the proposals of our Bill were modified so as to approach some of the suggestions made by the minority Report. The whole of this Question is still an open question. We have only produced this Bill for the purpose of discussion and for the purpose of detailed consideration. But when hon. Members try to point out to us a discrepancy between our Bill and the minority Report I cannot follow them. The hon. Member for Montrose, whose delightful criticism of the Bill gratified us, even though we were sorry he did not see his way to support us, told us there was no provision for labour exchanges in our Bill.
§ Mr. R. HARCOURT
That was not my contention. I was going to argue that the Government had already dealt with that point.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
I must have misunderstood. I understand the hon. Member's second point was that relief works were of little good, and that it was far better to pay wages. That is a criticism of the observation of the authors of the minority Report. We quite agree, and therefore we have "maintenance" put into our Bill. His third point, as I understood it, was that there was no provision for training in our Bill. I think my hon. Friend must have overlooked the provisions of clause 4. The position is a perfectly simple one. I put it once more to Members not to vote this afternoon as though they were voting upon the third reading of the Bill. They are not. They are voting upon the second reading. They are voting simply as to the intention of the Bill. They are voting regarding the main details of the Bill, the details of machinery, and so on.
The minority Report does suggest central control. I am not in favour of 691 exclusive central control, and I do not think the minority Report means that. I find some of my friends think it does, but if it does I am opposed to that particular proposal of the minority Report. I am absolutely opposed to local authorities spending money provided by the Exchequer without having any responsibility placed upon themselves. If the Exchequer is going to subsidise any local authority for any work, that local authority must find a proportion of the money itself, otherwise there will be nothing but extravagant and careless expenditure, and the last state will be very much worse than the first. What our Bill tries very carefully to do—whether it has succeeded or not again is a mere Committee point—is this: It apportions the financial responsibility between the local authority and the central authority. It admits that the problem is a national problem. Whether this is the most convenient way of securing it or not I do not know. I think it is. I have never heard of a better yet. It says when the unemployed figures shown in the local registers reach a certain point unemployment will cease to be a local charge, and will become a central charge. Up to this it is a local charge. That secures care and economic administration, and it secures that the local unemployment committee will be a business committee, and not merely a committee spending carelessly and recklessly money provided by the central authority. That is the defence of the position taken up in our Bill—the making of the money spent partly a local and partly a national charge, but mainly a national charge. I hope that hon. Members will seriously consider the vote they give this afternoon, remembering both the nature and character of the vote. I feel perfectly sure that if they do that, they will give this Bill their encouragement and warm support. If they do that, the result will be, perhaps, that the, details will be considered, and hon. Members, instead of making merely negative and petty criticisms and taking us back a hundred years and telling us of something that was done then, will face, honestly and manfully, this overwhelming and serious problem of the unemployed.
§ Mr. JOHN BURNS
The Bill proposed by the hon. Member for Gorton is, with a very few modifications, the same Bill that was introduced last year. On that occasion the House of Commons by 265 to 116, a majority of 149, decided that that Bill 692 could not be accepted. I spoke then as I do now on behalf of the Government. The House thought that the inherent defects in that Bill, its political drawbacks, and its serious economic errors, prevented them from giving sanction to a measure of that particular kind. There were other reasons which induced the House of Commons to come to that decisive vote, and the chief of these was that at that particular moment the Royal Commission on the Poor Law, which was specially set up to consider the matter of unemployment and other subjects including distress from unemployment, was considering remedies and palliatives. Therefore, it was not thought desirable that the Commission, which had been sitting for two years and a quarter, should have its labours brushed on one side, together with its verdict and any guidance which we might get from its experience and deliberations and that we should pass the Bill on the claim of a small number of men in this House, as the Division proved. The effects of the Bill, however you may regard them, would strike deep, and I believe hard, at the roots of industrial life in this country, and would seriously affect trade union and friendly society organisations. For that reason the Government asked the House of Commons not to accept the Bill of last year. But since that time, how things have changed! The Royal Commission has reported, and, so far as this particular Bill is concerned, Parliament has a guide, with much philosophy at the back of it, which indicates that this Bill had not a friend either in the majority or the minority of the Royal Commission. I would specially draw the attention of the House to the fact that, on the contrary, the relief works which this Bill would create, the public works which it would set up, and the maintenance, in the absence of work, which it would provide, have never received, in my judgment, more damaging criticism than at the hands, both of the majority and the minority of the Commission, which was specially set up to examine into every aspect of this problem.
Hon. Members will say, "The public works we seek to set up under our Bill are not relief works." That has been said for generations. Outside of direct employment by a local authority at a standard rate under a surveyor or engineer, or by a contractor with a foreman employing men at trade union rates, you cannot institute in this country any form of public work for 693 the relief of distress or destitution, supplemented by maintenance, but it degenerates into relief works of the old dependent pauperising kind. What does the minority Report say in the class of work that we are specially asked to set up under this Bill? It is this:—While the Unemployed Workmen Act has enabled a certain number or respectable workmen to tide over temporary distress without recourse to the poor law, it has demonstrated that as a method of providing for chronic unemployment or under-employment the provision of work at wages by local authorities affords no remedy and tends to intensify the evil.The House will pardon me if I say I speak on this subject with special experience and authority. For three and a half years I have not only been Minister and administrator—I have been in the pillory I admit—but as clerk of works and foreman I visited where these works were being carried on, and nothing has induced me more to persuade—not persuade: the Government does not want persuasion, because on this subject, as yesterday indicates, we have got a more excellent way of dealing with this and similar problems—but the degradation of the worker, the demoralisation of the lowest labourer, the extent to which money has been wasted and character has been marred by relief works that I have had in the name of Parliament to administer, and which I cannot exaggerate if I were inclined to, because any man has only got to take up the Report of every one of the distress committees without exception, whether West Ham, East Ham, Poplar, Leyton, or anywhere else, to see that what the minority Report describes has happened, and will increasingly happen, so long as this means of meeting unemployment is resorted to. I mean by that that trade unionism will be weakened in its claim upon men; thrift will be diminished; the amount of work done will be disproportionate to the wages paid; the wrong men will get the right work, and the best men, who should have the first claim to it, will be excluded, because modesty is a characteristic of good workmanship and craftsmanship, and the worst men are always in the front line when relief works are being instituted. That is the opinion of West Ham, who agree with me in this.
The second point is—I ask the house to realise these words—"That the wages to workers provided by local authorities are in practice either diverted from the ordinary employer of these local authorities, or else are taken from what would otherwise have gone to the regular employer or contractors for public works, with the 694 result in either case of creating, sooner or later, as much unemployment as it relieves, and of thus throwing the cost of relieving distress upon other wage earners." And it is a very remarkable fact that coincidently with the operation of the Unemployed Act in the old county of London, local authorities who before the Unemployed Act were in the habit of putting work into operation at times of depression, as a genuine help to the poor to tide over the winter, diminished that work. In proportion as the State has contributed money to local authorities so the local authorities have diminished the amount of work that they previously put into operation, and they would have done work to a greater extent if this Bill had not become law. It is interesting to read the Socialist paper, "Justice," on this subject:—The Unemployed Workmen Act of 1905 does not diminish the powers of local authorities to provide employment. Its passage enabled local authorities that hitherto reluctantly yielded to pressure from the unemployed to reduce their expenditure on public works, on the ground that other agencies had been established by Parliament for the purpose of providing work for the workless. In London the Municipal Reform party on the County Council and Borough Councils has deliberately pursued this policy in order to save rates imposed by municipal authorities, though it naturally results in the increase of rate taken up by the Guardians and Central Unemployed Body.["Oh."] Yes, sometimes it has lucid intervals, particularly when criticising hon. Members below the Gangway. The Bill with its relief works would make this practice general, to the detriment of the best of the unemployed. In spite of the condemnation of relief works by the minority and majority Reports, we are asked to pass a Bill to-day to set aside the recommendations of both those Reports, and to stand between the House's consideration of this matter and the Government doing something at once to meet the claims of men who are unemployed, and we are asked to pursue this chimera of immature Socialism. I allege that this Bill, if passed, would have a tendency, as experience has demonstrated, to pauperise and make dependent every workman who comes within the sphere of its operation. Its effect will be to sterilise the sense of industry, of honest competition among those temporarily associated with people who are not quite so desirable. By lowering the standard of output, it has, in every case that has come within my knowledge, led to a corruption of character that you can only estimate by coming in contact with these people in a practical form. In face of the universal failure of this type of machinery and of work, we ask 695 the House not to support this Bill. Why should we? The hon. Member for Gorton, who is a trade union leader, and who has done a great deal to organise the steel workers to secure shorter hours and better wages and better conditions—he said with great force: Why should trade unions pay out of their trade union funds for the reserve of labour that the employers in the steel industries always fall back upon whenever they want their labour? My answer to that is that if this Bill were to pass the reserve of labour that the employers now fall back upon will be increased, and they will have less reluctance to enlarge the reserve of labour; they will have less encouragement to diminish overtime, and to make casual labour more regular. Why? Because they will be consoled in their hardness of heart for that particular process by the fact that nothing will come to the men if they are not working for a year or for eight or nine months in the year. Under the Right-to-Work Bill they will be able to get work at a standard rate of wages not at his expense, but at the expense of the ratepayers up to a certain limit, and beyond a certain limit the State will come in. It will keep that reserve of labour in the slack time instead of the employer doing what?—instead of co-operating with the trade union leaders, instead of him putting his house in order, readjusting his business, reorganising so that the men shall have work from January to December, instead of intermittent labour, which this Bill will place a premium upon if it were to be on the Statute Book of this country.
Now we come to the question of payment. Before we proceed to that question I want to quote one authority in support of our attitude, and that is the hon. Member for Blackburn. What does he say about relief works, public works? It is interesting. This, perhaps, is better either than the majority or minority Reports. He says:—Many of the crude suggestions put forward amount to no more than giving work to the unemployed by taking it from the men who are in employment. The result of such a policy is not merely to effect no actual change; it is to inflict a great social injury. Such action adds to the number of men injured and demoralised by unemployment. It involves an increase of social waste by doing in a more costly and less efficient way, work which in the ordinary course would be done without economic loss. To abstract from the ratepayer or the taxpayer contributions to meet the loss upon public works done by inefficient labour, when efficien 696 labour is available, or shortly would be, is a loss of wealth production and therefore a decrease in the amount available for spending in the employment of labour in other forms.[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]
The hon. Members opposite cover up the weakness of their argument and cover up their economic errors and mistakes by ironically cheering. The argument put forward by the hon. Member for Blackburn is incontestable; the experience evolved from this Act, and therefore one of the additional reasons why the Government cannot accept this Bill. I come to the Central (Unemployed) Body, a body I myself have been in close co-operation with for three years. What do they say? They say:—All relief works are unsatisfactory.They say that relief works as they have been carried out under the Unemployed Workmen Act are unsatisfactory, and, as a temporary expedient, they are demoralising in tendency. They do not agree that this periodic releasing of work, either by local authority or by Government action, as suggested in this Bill. On the contrary, they say: what is better is that all work provided for special emergencies should be thrown upon the labour market, not for a class to be called unemployed, but as an addition to the practical remunerative work of the nation. But it is the very opposite in this Bill. We are to have a special class, and a special set of Commissioners, and, periodically, the work is to be released, with the disastrous results predicted and believed in by the Central (Unemployed) Body.
The next point is, what is the effect of relief work? It is that every year an increasing percentage of men come upon the register for work who were engaged on relief works the year before, and the result in London and elsewhere is that from 37 to 40 per cent. of the men engaged upon relief and public works of this kind are what are known as "repeaters," men who have definitely made relief works their only occupation, and who, between the periods of relief works, namely, from March to October, are dependent upon their wives and families to an extent which, if challenged, I could prove. I come now from the political, moral, and economic defects of the Bill to the Bill itself. What does the Bill do? Time does not permit me to go into the matter at great length, but the Bill sets up 14,150 employment or registration authorities 697 throughout the country; it sets up machinery totally disproportionate to the work to be done; and it seems to me there will be more unemployed clerks and organisers set into permanent work if this Bill becomes law than there will be navvies, labourers, carpenters, or engineers. In addition there is to be a central unemployment committee to be set up by Order in Council, and we have been told by hon. Members below the Gangway that there is a comparable institution in the advisory committee of the Board of Education. But there is a great deal of difference between having an advisory committee to advise on the education of children who have no votes, and who on all the questions affecting them are inarticulate, and setting up an advisory committee to advise a Government Department in regard to men who are voters in and out of work, who will bring pressure to bear upon their Members, upon Ministers, and upon the Government Department, in a way which is not possible in the case of the advisory committee of the Board of Education. What does this Bill seek to do? It says that every unemployed man and woman is to have work provided for him or her by the local authority, or, failing work, maintenance. What is the maintenance to be? Is it to be 10s. a week, the donation of the Amalgamated Engineers? What is to be the amount, the conditions, the length of time it is to last, and so on? Wherever we have had any experience of this particular kind of thing we have found that men prefer maintenance to employment; that, having made the first plunge into dependent perfunctory labour, they would rather have their wives and families supported by other people than work for the authority that provides the relief, or seek for their ordinary work under normal conditions. Wherever we have had the semblance of what is in the Bill put into operation, whether it be at Palace Rigg Colony at a cost of 25s. per man per week, or at Hollesley Bay, at 32s., or at Ockenden, at 33s., the question of work plus maintenance has always ended in disaster to everybody concerned. The Bill provides another thing, namely, that when exceptional unemployment exists local schemes are to be submitted, financed by the State. National schemes are to be set on foot. What is my experience in the last three and a quarter years? That this method of dealing with work for localities encourages local authorities to neglect their local work in the hope that some State assistance will come along. 698 The result is that State assistance does not come in to the extent they apprehended, and the effect of that is that men expecting work from local authorities, paid for by State money, are anchored to, localities longer than they otherwise would be, when, but for this illusory and delusive object which keeps them to the locality, they would have migrated or emigrated where independent labour would have been provided for them. The fact is: How are the proportions to be adjusted? Is it to be 4 per cent. over all the workmen of England and Wales before the Local Government Board comes in? If that is so, it is unjust to special trades at special seasons of the year. I can conceive of a condition of things—it has happened during the last few years—when the general trade of the country was. very very good indeed, there were under four per cent. out of work. The building trade had from 8 per cent. to 11 per cent. out of work, and it would not be fair that the building trade should have to wait till the 4 per cent. was general before they got special relief. So one could go on, and one could find legislative, administrative, and machinery defects in this Bill that it is not necessary for me to enlarge on and to emphasise. Therefore, I am brought to my main point, which is: "What is the attitude of the Government to this Bill and why is that attitude taken up?" The only good things in this Bill are three. The first is labour exchanges. The Government say that labour exchanges are good, but that they cannot be set up in the way suggested by the Bill. They are out of harmony with the general scheme the Government has introduced for dealing, piece by piece, with this problem.
Labour exchanges are promised by a Bill this year which has been submitted, and the money is in the Budget to the extent of £100,000 for a beginning. Therefore the good point of this Bill has been promptly and at once met by the Government proposal. The second point which I would liked to have seen in this Bill is that dealing with the question raised by the Trade Boards Bill of the President of the Board of Trade. I sincerely trust that by means of that Bill we will be able to prevent much brutal overwork, and expand employment for those who have no work at all. The third point is that we hope, in conjunction with labour exchanges, and in conjunction with the Trade Boards Bill, and also in harmony with the administrative changes which we are now carrying out in all 699 Departments—we hope by some system of insurance for unemployment to deal with this problem in a better way than the Bill before the House suggests.
I ask the House, without the least hesitation, to reject this Bill. I ask the House on behalf of the Government to do this. In doing this, I say that if this Bill was passed into law it would prevent many of the things which we are engaged in doing, and more that we intend to do, from being properly and harmoniously adjusted to the total scheme of social reform and industrial amelioration. When we are told that it is late in the day to say this, may I say that it is much better for rural industries that they should have a Small Holdings Bill accelerated and speeded up, which we are now in the process of doing, than that they should have any artificial method of rural labour created under this Bill. It is much better for the miner that he should have his working hours reduced, as the Government did by the Miners Eight Hours Bill, than that we should have any proposals put forward for the employment of unemployed coal miners, which can only be brought about by the under employment of navvies, general labourers, and men engaged in some rural or urban industries. We go further, and say that what we have done as to small holdings, miners' eight hours, reduction of hours on railways, the extension of the housing of the working classes in Ireland and elsewhere, the passing of the Old Age Pensions Act, and the feeding of the Unemployed Act of 1905, with substantial Government grants, are evidences of our intention to deal earnestly with this problem, and for this Ses-
|Division No. 80.]||Ayes||4.59 p.m.|
|Abraham, W. (Cork, N.E.)||Crooks, William||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Alden, Percy||Curran, Peter Francis||Hogan, Michael|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Hudson, Walter|
|Ambrose, Robert||Delany, William||Jacoby, Sir James Alfred|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Devlin, Joseph||Jenkins, J.|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.)||Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)|
|Beale, W. P.||Duffy, William J.||Joyce, Michael|
|Bell, Richard||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Kekewich, Sir George|
|Belloc, Hilaire Joseph Peter R.||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Kelley, George D.|
|Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romford)||Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Kennedy, Vincent Paul|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Fenwick, Charles||Kettle, Thomas Michael|
|Boland, John||Gill, A. H.||Kilbride, Denis|
|Bottomley, Horatio||Ginnell, L.||Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe|
|Branch, James||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Pancras, E.)|
|Brooke, Stopford||Grayson. Albert Victor||Lehmann, R. C|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Greenwood, Hamar (York)||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Halpin, J.||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)|
|Byles, William Pollard||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Mackarness, Frederic C.|
|Cameron, Robert||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Macpherson, J. T.|
|Clynes, J. R.||Hay, Hon. Claude George||M'Kean, John|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Hayden, John Patrick||Meagher, Michael|
|Cooper, G. J.||Hazel, Dr. A. E. W.||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Hazleton, Richard||Money, L. G. Chiozza|
§ sion we ask the House to remember that labour exchanges, trades boards, and insurance for unemployment are three special processes put forward by the Government for dealing in a more scientific and technical way with this problem than this Bill can ever be. Everyone who listened to the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer last night must admit that the proposals he submitted on behalf of the Government for afforestation, coast erosion, for main roads, and for carrying out of work of that kind are infinitely better proposals than those in this Bill. We ask the House, particularly after yesterday's speech, to recognise this fact: that the Government have a policy and a plan; that for the last three and a quarter years it has been pursuing a definite programme of social reform and industrial change, and that what the Government has been doing for the last three and a quarter years is but an earnest of what it intends to do in the near future. We say that the Bill before the House could in no circumstances be welded into, or amalgamated with, the proposals of the Board of Trade, the Home Office, and the Local Government Board. On the contrary, if this Bill were passed, it would render, to a great extent, inoperative, futile, and illusory many of the proposals the Government are now submitting. For these reasons I appeal to the House to reject, by a majority equally decisive, this Bill, which is a replica of the Bill of 1908, which the House rejected by a majority of 149.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."703
|Murphy, John (Kerry, East)||Power, Patrick Joseph||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Murphy, N. J. (Kilkenny, S.)||Richards, Thomas (W. Monmouth)||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Nannetti, Joseph P.||Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Wardle, George J.|
|Nolan, Joseph||Richardson, A.||Watt, Henry A.|
|O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Weir, James Galloway|
|O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.)||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|O'Doherty, Philip||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|O'Dowd, John||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|O'Grady, J.||Rowlands, J.||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)||Williams, W. Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|O'Malley, William||Seddon, J.||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Parker, James (Halifax)||Shackleton, David James||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Philips, John (Longford, S.)||Snowden, P.||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|Pirie, Duncan V.||Steadman, W. C.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Hodge and Mr J. Ward.|
|Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Summerbell, T.|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Faber, G. H. (Boston)||Mallet, Charles E.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major||Falconer, J.||Manfield, Harry (Northants)|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Fardell, Sir T. George||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)|
|Ashley, W. W.||Fell, Arthur||Marnham, F. J.|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Ferens, T. R.||Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Ferguson, R. C. Munro||Mason, James F. (Windsor)|
|Astbury, John Meir||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Massie, J.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Forster, Henry William||Masterman, C. F. G.|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Fuller, John Michael F.||Menzics, Walter|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Gardner, Ernest||Micklem, Nathaniel|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Gibb, James (Harrow)||Middlebrook, William|
|Barker, Sir John||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Glen-Coats, Sir T. (Renfrew, W.)||Molteno, Percy Alport|
|Barran, Sir John Nicholson||Gretton, John||Montagu, Hon. E. S.|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Griffith, Ellis J.||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||Morrison-Bell, Captain|
|Benn, Sir J. Williams (Devonport)||Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston)||Morse, L. L.|
|Bertram, Julius||Hamilton, Marquess of||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Murray, Capt. Hon. A. C. (Kincard.)|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Napier, T. B.|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)|
|Bridegman, W. Clive||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worcester)||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster)|
|Bright, J. A.||Harris, Frederick Leverton||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Nussey, Thomas Willans|
|Brunner, Rt. Hon. Sir J. T. (Cheshire)||Hedges, A. Paget||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Helme, Norval Watson||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Helmsley, Viscount||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Bull, Sir William James||Henderson, J. McD. (Aberdeen, W.)||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Henry, Charles S.||Pease, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Saff. Wald.)|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)||Peel, Hon. W. R. W.|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Hill, Sir Clement||Percy, Earl|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Hobart, Sir Robert||Philipps, Col. Ivor (Southampton)|
|Causton, Rt. Hon. Richard Knight||Holt, Richard Durning||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)|
|Cave, George||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Houston, Robert Paterson||Pretyman, E. G.|
|Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey-||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Hyde, Clarendon G.||Priestley, Arthur (Grantham)|
|Chance, Frederick William||Illingworth, Percy H.||Radford, G. H.|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Isaac, Rufus Daniel||Rainy, A. Rolland|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Jackson, R. S.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Clark, George Smith||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)|
|Clough, William||Joynson-Hicks, William||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Kearley, Sir Hudson E.||Rees, J. D.|
|Compton-Rickett, Sir J.||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H.||Renton, Leslie|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead)||Kerry, Earl of||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)||Roberts, Sir J. H. Denbighs.)|
|Cox, Harold||Lambert, George||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Lamont, Norman||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Layland-Barrett, Sir Francis||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Lee, Arthur H. (Hants, Fareham)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Crossley, William J.||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington)||Russell, Rt. Hon. T. W.|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Lever, A. Levey (Esse, Harwich)||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Levy, Sir Maurice||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham)||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott-||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Seely, Colonel|
|Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred. Dixon||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Dobson, Thomas W.||Lupton, Arnold||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lyell, Charles Henry||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Duckworth, Sir James||Maclean, Donald||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Du Cros, Arthur||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||M'Arthur, Charles||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Evans, Sir Samuel T.||M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)|
|Everett, R. Lacey||M'Micking, Major G.||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Faber, George Denison (York)||Maddison, Frederick||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)||Walrond, Hon. Lionel||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Talbot, Rt. Hon. J. G. (Oxford Univ.)||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)|
|Tennant, Sir Edward (Salisbury)||Warner, Thomas Courtenay, T.||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Thomasson, Franklin||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.)||Wedgwood, Josiah C.||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Trevelyan, Charles Philips||White, Sir Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Tuke, Sir John Batty||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—The Master of Elibank and Mr. J. H. Lewis.|
|Valentia, Viscount||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Verney, F. W.||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Vivian, Henry||Williamson, A.|
§ Whereupon Mr. Speaker adjourned the House without Question put, in pursuance of Standing Order No. 3.
Adjourned at Nine minutes after Five o'clock till Monday next.