HC Deb 08 March 1910 vol 14 cc1317-49

Order read for resuming adjourned Debate on Amendment to Question (7th March), "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—[Mr. Haldane.]—

Which Amendment was to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add instead thereof the words

"In the opinion of this House the conditions of service of Government employés should be in every respect at least equal to those observed by the best private employers or by local public authorities doing similar work, and that, in interpreting the Fair Wage Clause in assigning contracts responsible officers should be instructed to see that the spirit of the Clause is properly carried out when the actual wording gives room for some doubt."—[Mr Ramsay Macdonald.]

Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question." Debate resumed.

Colonel WARNER

The object of the Amendment is one that this House has agreed with in principle several times, and it has been extended on the other side of the House, and I have no doubt on this side by representatives of Government employés bringing forward the usual arguments, that we always hear, from Members for dockyard constituencies. We always know that when an hon. Gentleman is returned for a dockyard constituency he has to lay the grievances of the labourers in that constituency before us, and they are thoroughly thrashed out on the floor of this House in great detail. I do not think that that is the idea or the object of the Amendment which is brought forward. I think its object is to reassert the Resolution which this House has continually thought right to pass, and which most of us have sympathy with. But what was it that was immediately afterwards asked for by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Colonel Lockwood), who demanded that the workmen at Waltham Abbey should receive the same wages as the workmen at Woolwich. I remember the Debate in regard to Woolwich very well, and the great claim there was that because their rent was so much higher than in other places, it was impossible that what was a living wage elsewhere should be a living wage in Woolwich. Therefore, this House considered, and it was conceded by the Government of the time, that a minimum wage for Woolwich should be fixed, but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping forgets that.


Forgets what?

Colonel WARNER

He forgets that the wages were put up because the rents were so high.


So they are at Waltham Abbey.

Colonel WARNER

But they are not so high as at Woolwich. You can get a house at Waltham Abbey for 6s. a week which you have to pay 9s. or 10s. for at Woolwich, and therefore it would be ridiculous to put the minimum wage on the same footing there as at Woolwich. Then the hon. Member for Woolwich (Major Adam) gets up and says the minimum wage is quite inadequate, and instead of being what it is now it should be 30s. a week. A great many of us would wish that there should be a minimum wage all over the country of 30s. a week, and hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House jump to the conclusion that if the Government is going to be a model employer it must raise the rate of wages. But no Government could possibly raise the minimum wage in Government employment all over the country to 30s. a week, and I think that puts a completely different aspect on the position.


The hon. Gentleman mistakes my argument. It was not a case of rent, but that a man employed in the danger zone had no right to be paid at less than 30s. a week.

Colonel WARNER

It is quite true that the right hon. Gentleman said that 30s. a week should be paid to men in the danger zone, but surely he must know that there must be some consideration in dealing with the minimum wage, which is the question at issue, some weight must be given to the rents in the place. I understood him to demand 28s. a week last night, as Woolwich stood at that figure, but as Woolwich has raised its demand to 30s., he asks for 30s. too. But the point that he has put with regard to wages in danger zones is quite different from that originally put in this Motion, and though I am in sympathy with the Mover and Seconder of the Motion, and have voted repeatedly for the substance of this Resolution, when these other subjects and what I may call dockyard grievances are dragged into it—and no doubt we shall have dockyard representatives putting the case of the men in their constituencies—I cannot vote to support these various grievances coming in different forms from all parts of the House.


I rise to discuss the Motion on two grounds, one of general principle and the other of local necessity. I am very familiar with the conditions obtaining in the borough of Woolwich and the neighbouring borough of Greenwich, having been connected with that district for very many years, and I am convinced that the Government does not hold that position of model employer which it is so generally admitted it should hold. I consider it lags behind, not only local authorities, but also the best of private employers in the district. The minimum rate of wage on which a man can live decently must, of course, be a matter of controversy, because it depends largely upon local conditions, which vary with the locality, but as a member of the Greenwich Council for a great many years I have had to study this question on the spot, and I am convinced that 23s. a week is not a living wage for the workers in Greenwich and Woolwich. We have many subjects, of course, to consider, and I quite understand that the Government is beset with many difficulties. It is not like a local authority which is merely employing men for its own service, but it is in the position of a manufacturer who has to show results for work done. The present Government are in a particularly difficult situation in this matter, because they are wedded to the policy of buying in the cheapest market irrespective of conditions. Many years of business experience have proved to me that cheap labour is not always true economy. I think the great railway contractors, many years ago, during the railway boom, made experiments for the feeding of the men in their employ, and they found, what we have found in connection with our forest operations in Canada, that the best fed men were the cheapest men to employ because they certainly did the best and the largest amount of work. But low wages are the result of competition either through the over supply of labour of the kind employed or else of the cutting of the price of the goods produced by their labour. Do those conditions apply here, and if so is the Government justified in taking advantage of those conditions? I would give an emphatic "No" to the last question. I do not consider that the Government has the right to take advantage of the particular conditions which that circumstance involves. In regard to the first question it is not so easy to answer, because you have to consider the general circumstances. There is no doubt a large amount of labour in and near London seeking employment, and the reasons for that are well understood by many of the electors. If conditions remain as they are at present I can see that if the Mover of this Amendment were to secure his object, and wages were raised throughout the Government factories, the condition of the worker might afterwards be worse than now, because if through the raising of the wages the cost of the article manufactured is increased the Secretary of State would feel compelled by his principles to buy in the cheapest market, which might be a foreign market, and therefore the labourer in Woolwich or in the other Government factories might suffer by being thrown out of employment, and we should see a renewal of those discharges with which we have been so familiar in the past. Nevertheless, I intend to support the Amendment because I believe before long we shall see a change in those conditions, and we shall also see the hon. Member (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) looking after the true interests of labour by safeguarding the products of labour.


I was not present last night, but I rise on a point of Order. I understand that the Secretary of State technically exhausted his right to speak last night, and my right hon. Friend (Mr. Wyndham) did the same. Under these circumstances I rise to ask whether, if the House accords the Secretary of State permission to disregard the point of Order, the House will accord the same privilege to my right hon. Friend near me?


No doubt the right hon. Gentlemen, if they did not speak at great length, did exhaust their right to speak, but doubtless the House will accord them both a moderate time.

4.0 P.M.

The SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Mr. Haldane)

I am very much obliged to hon. Members. What I said last night was merely ejaculatory, and so I think was what was said by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. I wish to explain a point over which there has been a good deal of misunderstanding. I do not mean the topics referred to by the hon. Member (Mr. Hamilton Benn). With much of what he said I agree. The War Department is bound, both by its promises and by general considerations, to aim at being a model employer. The War Department ought to pay the wages which are paid by employers in the neighbourhood, and we have not only laid down that principle but we amended the old Fair Wages Resolution which was found to be rather too technical in its terms. As it stood up to last March it did not provide for cases where the organisation of labour in particular districts was not as distinct as in other districts, and by the Amendment made last year the House of Commons laid down that you are not to adhere too strictly to the technical standard, but that you are to take other considerations into account. Not only is the Resolution wider, but an advisory committee has been appointed to see that it is properly carried out. That advisory committee is not either the War Office or the Admiralty, and the Board of Trade is powerfully represented on it. Speaking for the War Office, I have to say that an attempt has always been made, whatever price that committee recommends, to see that it is paid, feeling that we are bound to give the price if what we propose to pay is said to be unfair. Take the case of labourers, to whom we pay 23s. a week only, and to whom we give certain privileges which they do not enjoy in private employment. These may amount to another 1s. per week. That may appear small when compared with what is done in other cases, or it may appear large compared with certain other cases; but whether it is large or small depends on considerations relating to the district, which cannot be reviewed by taking isolated instances. It is essentially the province of the Board of Trade Committee to inquire into these matters. They may estimate what the value of these privileges is, as has been done in every case, and add the amount to the wages. Whether that is good for the workman or not I should not like to pronounce off-hand; but the advisory committee is the proper body to advise us, with its wide survey of the conditions not only in the neighbourhood of Woolwich but elsewhere. I come to the point raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Epping Division (Colonel Lockwood) in regard to work in dangerous zones. The hon. Member contended that wherever a man works in a danger zone he ought to receive higher pay. That sounds very plausible, and if the words meant what they said—or, rather, if they said what they ought to mean—the contention would be well founded, but that is not a proper statement of the case. I have had to do with this question of danger buildings and dangerous places for some years past, and I am in a position to tell the House what it means. After all the War Office and other Departments of the Government are trying to do what is right. We are not merely military and naval officials who take no interest in these things. If my military coat were stripped off there would be found underneath the vest the form of an old-fashioned, respectable tradesman. I will tell the House the reason that the War Department is not like other Departments. It cannot buy in the cheapest market. It has to buy always with a view to preparations for war. We have to manufacture materials at home which are requisite for war—things which we cannot manufacture on mobilisation, and therefore we have to pay more than otherwise we would have to pay. We have to arrange our prices on account of the reserve we have to keep up. That is what makes the War Department different from other Departments. We have to deal under conditions which compel us to buy and sell at a dearer rate than would otherwise be the case. We have to keep the machinery in order to be able to expand the production in time of war, and we have to keep reserve men ready for war. I have more men at Woolwich than I can employ properly in time of peace. I do not merely manufacture for myself. I manufacture for other Departments the Admiralty, India, and other places, which buy through us, and unfortunately they will not buy if I charge high prices. I am in a twofold position. I cannot manufacture cheaply, and I cannot keep people employed at high wages unless I make the figures at which I sell higher than the buyers are willing to pay. What is the consequence? Recognising the obligation of the good employer, I have to look closely into these matters to see what is justifiable. My standard on the one hand is what I am advised by the Board of Trade Committee as fair and right in the district, and on the other hand I try to make prices at which other people will buy from me.

That brings me to the question of piecework in danger zones. That work consists of various things. Some of the occupations are dangerous and others are not dangerous at all. The meaning of the word "danger" on a building is not that everything done there is dangerous, but that nothing is dangerous if the regulations are properly observed. Buildings which are "danger buildings" are places in which the work is so fenced round by conditions that the work can be done perfectly safely. Take, for instance, the filling of cartridges with cordite. It is really, under certain conditions, a dangerous process, but if proper precautions are taken, it is not a dangerous occupation at all. These operations are all carried on in buildings marked danger buildings. The workmen employed go there with special shoes lest there should be the slightest risk or accident. The filling of shells with lyddite is also a dangerous operation, and therefore, in that case, we introduce special conditions in regard to the payment of the work. That means that there are certain articles in the manufacture of which the co-operation of a certain number of workmen is required, each making a different part or applying a different process, but all working together. They can produce the thing at a price at which we can dispose of it to the people who come to us. We allocate what we believe to be a good wage for piecework and distribute it among the various workers in a certain fashion. We are quite willing that those workers, if they think our distribution is not a just one, should make a different distribution themselves. If they submit any other mode of dealing with the matter, we are willing to consider it. Well, I have stated the process as applied to work which may be perfectly safe in the filling of cartridges with cordite, but it is not a thing you can do with regard to the filling of lyddite shells. Two or three years ago there was an accident which made us abolish the filling of shells with picric acid. There are many processes which are not dangerous at all—not more dangerous than making a speech at this box. When the right hon. Gentleman asked us to abolish piecework at Waltham I think he was under a misapprehension.


That is not what I asked.


I am glad to hear it. I will confine myself to what are called dangerous operations in and around danger buildings. Wherever we have dangerous work we pay special rates of wages. The fallacy of the right hon. Gentleman is in thinking that because the work is done in a "danger building" it is dangerous. For instance, the filling of cartridges with nitro-glycerine is work which we do not pay, and rightly refuse to pay, at special rates, although the work is done in buildings with the word "danger" on them. I hope I have made it perfectly clear.


Would the right hon. Gentleman kindly explain to me how it is, if certain of these buildings are not dangerous, an explosion took place somewhere about 1904, where all these extraordinary precautions were taken, and four or five of my Constituents were blown to smithereens, and nothing was found on them at all to account for the explosion?


I did not say that there was no danger. What I said was that in a danger zone there are some processes which are dangerous and others which are perfectly safe. Danger comes from disobeying regulations and through people straying into parts of a building where dangerous operations are carried on. When the processes are not dangerous we treat them as ordinary workers. I know that there is dangerous work done in our factories. I myself have stood by a man who was stirring glycerine and nitric and sulphuric acid with a wooden spoon, and a very dangerous work it was. In those cases we pay special rates.

What I want to impress upon the right hon. Gentleman is this, if we label a building or a district dangerous it does not therefore follow that all the work done there is dangerous. I hope I have made that point clear. I only wish to say, in conclusion, that we do all we can to find out where processes are really dangerous and where they ought to be specially guarded I believe that the wages paid by the Government, whether at Woolwich or at Pimlico, compare favourably with those paid by private employers. But our business and occupation is a complicated one, and I daresay we make mistakes from time to time. Some of them may require redress, and all I have to say is that if they are brought to my notice we will consult the advisory committee of the Board of Trade in order that we may be sure of arriving at the truth.

There is one other thing I wish to say on a point of procedure. Hon. Members may wish to discuss this particular Question further, but if they do, it would be convenient to do so on Vote A. It would be, I think, convenient to get Mr. Speaker out of the Chair and bring the Chairman in. The Debate could then go on with the same latitude as on the present Motion. The only point is that the convenience of getting into Committee is considerable to those concerned.


I can assure the Minister for War that I shall not take up much of the time of the House. Hon. Members in all quarters of the House are in general agreement with the Amendment of the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald). I believe that many of my hon. Friends are bound by their convictions to support that Amendment, and that they will properly and naturally vote in accordance with their convictions. At the same time, as one who in years gone by had the honour of presenting Army Estimates in this House, I deem it my duty to explain to the House why I feel not at liberty to vote for the Amendment, though I am in sympathy with its general spirit quite as warmly as any of the hon. Members on these benches. It has nothing to do with the merits of the Amendment, though I will say a word upon them. The reason I respectfully submit for the consideration of some of my right hon. Friends and hon. Members who are at liberty with regard to voting is based upon the wording of the original Motion to which the hon. Member has moved his Amendment. It is that you, Sir, do leave the Chair on the Army Estimates. That is a necessary preliminary to Vote A. I cannot myself be a party to delaying the issue of the authority to the Government of the day for raising the men of the Army. I am convinced that it is unconstitutional to proceed with recruiting for the Army unless Vote A has been passed. It is true we are this year, owing to a number of extraordinary circumstances, dealing with the Army Estimates without being free to discuss them at proper length. But I well recollect an occasion when the Government of the day, of which I was then a Member, had to use the most drastic forms of closure in order to get authority to raise the men. And that having been the case, and feeling, as I do, that we ought to have a larger establishment, then I am sure that we ought to fill up the establishment which the House is prepared to vote. That is a somewhat technical argument, but it is one which binds me in this matter.

If I may say a word about the Resolution itself, it seems to fall into two parts. The first part is a re-enactment of the policy, to which both parties are committed, namely, that the Government is to be a model employer in its Government factories. Nobody can have a word to say against that, or have any question to ask upon it; but I confess that the second part of the Resolution is to me obscure, and I should be very glad if the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Barnes), when he comes to speak, would explain what the second part of the Resolution means. It runs as follows: "That in interpreting the Fair Wages Clause, in assigning contracts, responsible officers should be instructed to see that the spirit of the Clause is properly carried out when the actual wording gives room for any doubt."

Who assigns these contracts? The Financial Secretary to the War Office. Are responsible officers to govern the Financial Secretary in the assigning of contracts? I think that is what the words mean. If the hon. Member for Glasgow will give me his attention I will be very glad if he will tell me what they do mean. It says that in assigning contracts responsible officers are to take some action, though it is the Financial Secretary who assigns contracts. Are the responsible officers, whoever they may be, of another Department to be brought in to control the Financial Secretary of the War Office? If it means that we can have nothing to say to any proposition of that character. But it may mean something else. It may mean that when, say, contracts are given to a British or Irish firm then officials of the Government are to impose restrictions on those firms while the Government of the day feels itself perfectly at liberty to purchase materials at less than the cost of production from manufacturers who live abroad. As an ardent advocate of a larger policy, which would protect all our manufactures, whether in Government or private factories, I cannot see my way to vote for any smaller policy which handicaps the British manufacturer without taking necessary precautions to make that policy otherwise than illusory. On those two grounds I do not support the Amendment. The first ground is that I would not be a party to withholding the constitutional sanction which is needed to proceed with recruiting, and to get all the men who will be voted by this House, and, on the second ground, that I am not very much tempted to put a handicap on British employers under the Government of the day, which glories in purchasing Army materials from foreign employers. I submit those two grounds with all respect to the consideration of my right hon. Friends who are not bound by their convictions and declaration to support it.


I may preface what I wish to say by the expression of a hope that we shall learn something more and something more satisfactory from the Front Government Benches before the Vote is taken. There is also another word of preface. We welcome very heartily the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Colonel Lockwood) and others on his side who have come over to us as recruits to the principle of the standard rate of wages. The standard rate of wages is a principle which has long been accepted and carried out so far as the higher branches of the Government service are concerned. There is no question of the payment of a standard rate of wages to those who get on to the Front Government Bench. Although I dare say the competition for those positions is keen, and that sometimes there are heartburnings on the part of those who do not get them, nevertheless the competition does not lower the wages. There are certain rates of wages which are recognised and paid. The same also applies in regard to Civil servants. We find that the Government make no bones about paying proper rates of wages to Civil servants, and we find also certain increments accruing from year to year, and men being recognised as more efficient servants with advancing years and with growing responsibilities. It is only when the bottom dog is reached that this miserable system of competitive wages and of starvation wages applies. I am glad that we are having an increasing number of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House—I do not doubt their sincerity or honesty for one single moment—who are supporting the stan- dard rate of wages. It is when we get into the application of the principle that difficulties arise.

For my part, I cannot but express, with every desire to be reasonable, our sincere and keen astonishment and regret that the speeches we have heard from the Front Government Bench are not more satisfactory in character. The speeches made here by my hon. Friends beside me (Mr. J. Ramsay Macdonald and Mr. C. Duncan) last night, were extremely modest and moderate—in fact, if there is any complaint to be made at all it is that they were too modest and moderate. My hon. Friend the Member for Leicester put forward two principles: first of all that the Government should pay at least as much as the best employers, either public or private, and, secondly, that the conditions for contract work should be all that a generous view of the Resolution adopted last year by this House would require. There was nothing in these principles in any way inconsistent with or outside principles to which the Government were pledged up to the hilt. I need not remind the House of the statement made by the late Prime Minister that the Government should be in the first line of employers. That is many years old. But there is a statement made by the present Prime Minister which seems to me even more satisfactory from my point of view. In reply to a deputation of trade unionists, who waited upon him some years ago, he laid down that the duty of Governments, whether directly or indirectly, was to reach the highest standard which is attainable in any particular industry. I want to apply that to the points raised last night by my hon. Friends the Members for Leicester and Barrow-in-Furness. First, let me express my regret at the speech of the Financial Secretary to the War Office last night, who actually said that the War Office were not pledged to and did not intend to pay trade union rates of wages at all. That is a statement which astonished me greatly.


I did not say that we did not intend to pay trade union rates. I said we were not pledged to pay trade union rates as such, but only to pay not less than the current rates that were paid by employers in the district.


I accept it as that. It seems to me, even giving it that interpretation, that that is not in accordance with the Resolution adopted by this House last year. The spirit of that Resolution is that rates of wages shall be observed not less than those commonly recognised by employers and trade societies, and it was only when there were no employers' associations or trade societies laying down standard rates—which I interpret to be trade union rates—that the conditions then were to be laid down on the best wages paid outside; and I am extremely sorry that the Government has not seen fit to accept that principle and to observe it loyally. I take this principle laid down by the Prime Minister recently as to the standard rate being the best standard obtainable, being that to which the Government are pledged. I take that as applying first of all to the women workers and to the other workers at Pimlico. We had a great deal said by the Secretary for War about the danger zone, in which I am not particularly concerned, being quite content to leave that with the right hon. Member for Epping Division; but I was rather surprised to find that the Secretary for War had nothing to say about what was put forward last night in regard to the conditions of work at Pimlico.

We were told by the hon. Member for Leicester that the women workers at Pimlico are working for wages which are very considerably less than the wages paid by the best employers outside. We were told that the wages average about 17s. to 17s. 6d. a week. That figure was made a little higher by the Financial Secretary to the War Office, but even then he did not in any way endeavour to put up a case for the Government about paying rates of wages at Pimlico and applying a standard such as that laid down by the Prime Minister. He simply said that these wages were comparable with the wages paid outside for a similar class of work. That is not my point. My point is that if the Government are going to apply a standard such as that mentioned by the Prime Minister, the highest standard attainable in any particular industry, they must have regard in laying down that standard not to comparisons with general rates of wages outside, but with what is paid by firms paying trade union rates of wages outside, I have a statement here drawn up by Government workers—the Army Clothing Department Employés Union. They say that in the factory at Pimlico the wages are fixed according to some assumption of the officials that the women ought to earn from about 12s. to 15s. a week, and that the pieceworkers are allowed to earn a little more than that. That I say, most emphatically, as not at all satisfactory, and does not conform to the principle laid down by the Prime Minister and embodied in the Resolution of last year. Let me remind the Secretary for War of the principle, to which I gather, at all events, he assented a year or two ago, in regard to the payment of workmen at Woolwich, Enfield, and elsewhere. What did he say then? He said that when men were on piecework he thought it was not unreasonable that pieceworkers' earnings should be about one-third more than the standard day rate of wage. I agree that is a fair and reasonable principle. It implies that the total earnings of the pieceworkers are never to be allowed to slide down, as I am afraid they are at Pimlico, where they are simply at the standard day wage, and sometimes even below it. In regard to this particular matter, I ask him, in reference to women's wages, whether we shall have that time-and-a-third principle applied to them, and that they shall be in a position to earn what might be called the day rate of wage outside, plus one-third, or about that, for piecework. I know well that this is an ex parte statement of the Government Employés Union, but I find here that they are willing to assent to the appointment of a committee. They say that these matters are extremely technical, but that a great deal might be settled as to what is the rate of wage outside to trade unionists, and, in view of that, they say:— We ask for the appointment of a Committee, including business men, and we have no fear but that we can convince them of the justice of our demands. I associate myself with the request of the Government Workers' Union for that committee, but now I come to the men workers. We were told by the Financial Secretary to the War Office that there are 344 men out of 390 who are earning 23s. per week, except that under special conditions a number of them, I think he said about 100, earned more than 23s. per week, when they are on piecework, or when they are doing special work, or when they are making overtime. Then we have the men at Weedon who are earning the miserable sum of 19s. per Week. Some satisfaction was expressed by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mallet) that this rate, low as it was, had been increased from the year 1893 or 1891, I forget which, but somewhere about twenty years ago, when the rate of pay was 16s. per week. Knowing, as we do, that rents and the cost of living have very considerably gone up since 1891 or 1893, I doubt very much whether or not the cost of living at Weedon has not gone up more than the difference between 16s. and 19s. per week. However that may be, I am told that at this place the cost of living is very high. House rent, and even cottage rent, amounts to 6s. 6d. per week, and no one can accept as in any sense satisfactory that any man anywhere should be working for the Government at the miserable wage of 19s. per week. I associate myself to the full with the plea put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Barrow (Mr. Charles Duncan) last night when he urged the Government to accept the principle that there should be no adult men, at all events, working for this Government or any other Government in this country at a less wage than 6d. per hour. For my own part, I think that 6d. per hour is far too little in the London area, and I am glad to find that hon. Gentlemen opposite are adopting the wage of 30s. per week, which in all conscience is low enough. The hon. Member for Barrow last night gave the list of local authorities in London—I think nearly a dozen—that are actually paying 30s. per week minimum. He drew attention to the fact that this wage of 30s. a week was paid in the poorer districts of London. The Financial Secretary last night seemed to think that he detracted from the importance of this fact when he said that it was owing to popular election or to the pressure the electors brought to bear at the elections to obtain 30s. per week. Very likely that is so, but it seems to me that it takes away nothing from the significance of the fact that the poorest people in London are willing themselves in their capacity of employers to pay 30s. per week, because they know that it is little enough to cover the ordinary decencies and comforts of life. Therefore, they are ready to pay that rate of wages, even though they themselves may not be earning it, because they know that the setting up of that standard enables them to use it as a means of bettering themselves and of putting themselves into a higher economic position. My hon. Friend the Member for Barrow very reasonably asked—though that is not what we are demanding now—that the Government should give sympathetic consideration to the acceptance of the principle of a 30s. a week minimum, and that, having done so, they should bring up the 19s. a week to 24s. a week as speedily as possible, and the 23s. per week paid at Pimlico, Woolwich, and elsewhere, as quickly as possible up to 30s. per week rate.

I come now to the question of privileges, and I think it was the most extraordinary part of the hon. Gentleman's speech last night in which he dealt with that matter. He actually put in the forefront of his speech that the better sanitation of the Government workshops was included as one of the privileges of Government workers. Sir, workmen cannot live on sanitation; and, even on this point, let me say that, having some considerable knowledge of the sanitation of Government workshops as compared with some of our modern workshops in half the towns throughout the length and breadth of this country, the Government workshops are very far behind. I have not the slightest doubt about it. I may mention the shops of such firms as those of Westinghouse Company at Manchester, and many others, where I know that the sanitation and all that pertains to the comfort and convenience of employés, is infinitely better than obtains either at Woolwich or any other Government factory or workshop with which I am acquainted. I protest, however, against this nice little adjusting, and weighing and balancing, and measuring of these so-called privileges to a 1d. or 2d. per week, of whatever is the precise value. A privilege is some benefit or advantage enjoyed by somebody over and above the actual terms of the money bargain, and a privilege ceases to be a privilege when its value is ascertained, weighed, and balanced, and deducted from the ordinary weekly wage of the workpeople. For my part, I shall not be at all sorry to find all these so-called privileges abolished, because they all tend to take the backbone out of the workpeople. Besides, some of them never reach the workpeople. Take this question of the bonus. My hon. Friend the Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald), or my hon. Friend the Member for Barrow, put forward what I think is a rightful grievance, that in many cases the bonus to which a man is entitled under certain circumstances is not paid to the widow. I may go further, and say that nobody is entitled to the bonus at all unless he has served seven years under Government employment. Hundreds of men recently discharged from Woolwich Arsenal had less than seven years' service, and they received no bonus at all. It is all very well to tell us about averages, and what those privileges work out at per week. It is no consolation to a man who has six years and eleven months' service, when he gets no bonus, to be told that the value of this bonus is worth something on the average per week. Therefore, I think something more ought to be said in regard to these privileges, and I welcome that part of the Secretary for War's statement in which he said that the matter was coming up for reconsideration. I would leave the lyddite and cordite buildings and the danger zone to the right hon. Gentleman opposite, excepting that I would express not only my satisfaction that he has put in a claim for 30s. per week in the danger zone buildings, but the hope that in his capacity as a railway director he will see that those men who are working at little railway stations in the country, or where they may be employed in shunting, and are also certainly in the danger zone, will also receive consideration. I am sure no one is more sincere than the right hon. Gentleman in wishing to better the condition of the class to which I belong, and I hope that in future he will see that these workers obtain the 30s. minimum per week, not only those in the Government employ, but in the employ of railway companies, There is one other point about boys. I know the difficulty with regard to boys at Woolwich. I know that many boys are employed in work of a repetitive character, extremely simple and light work, for which I suppose boys are very suitable. It is not my business to point out to the Government in what way they can get out of their difficulty, but I will lay down this principle without the slightest hesitation, that no Government and no employer of labour has a right to employ boys in large numbers, knowing that those boys, under the circumstances of their employment, will have to be discharged at nineteen or twenty years of age; and if there is no other way out of the difficulty, I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he should employ men, simple as the work may be.


We are considering that.


I am glad to hear it. The Government ought not to employ large numbers of boys and discharge them when they become old enough to demand a man's wage, and put them into the streets to drift there with so many others.


was understood to say that it was the intention to employ men.


I am very glad to hear that. The last point on which I desire to touch has reference to the Fair Wage Clause. Last year we read the latter Clause of the Resolution as referring to the trade union rate of wages, and that reading was strengthened by the speeches then made, especially by the speech of the then Postmaster-General. The point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester last night has not yet been met. He pointed to a practice which is still going on, and cited one case where a manufacturer went right away out of the town where the contracts had been made to a place where there were no other employers in his particular industry, and he made a rate for himself. That rate might be a penny an hour for anything I know, or for anything imposed upon him by the conditions laid down by the Government. We do say that the Government in such a case ought to have regard not to the rates paid by a particular employer and made for himself, but ought to have regard to the rates paid in the nearest place. I found that claim upon the Resolution unanimously adopted, if my memory serves me aright, by this House only last year. This is all I have got to say upon the matter except to express regret that we have not been met so fairly as I think we ought to have been met. I trust we will have a still further statement from the Government that they will pay better rates of wages at Pimlico, or, failing the adoption of such a course, that the Government will set up a Committee.


There is no question that at Pimlico we try to pay fair wages in all cases, and if the hon. Member says we do not do so then the matter can be taken to the Board of Trade Committee, which is the tribunal to decide.


I am glad to hear that. I do not know that it is altogether satisfactory, though I know no reason why it should not be satisfactory as far as Pimlico is concerned. I can only express the hope that the matter may be placed before that or some other equally impartial committee. In regard to the points raised by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, I can only say that the latter interpretation is the one put on the clause of last year. But I want to go a little further, and say that I have every sympathy with him in regard to goods imported from abroad and made under sweated conditions. I do not want hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite to read more into that than I mean. I gather that Tariff Reform is not to distinguish as between one class of goods and another, and, as I gather their position is to lump them all in as sweated goods. We do not accept that principle. What we do accept is another principle, and we have carried it out so far as we can. Let me give an instance which is very often quoted from the other side. We have been told about imported joinery in this country. The case has been much over-stated, for, as a matter of fact, imported joinery is on the decrease. I think that during the last twenty years it has gone down 50 per cent. or more.


Is it in order to raise the question of foreign contracts?


On the point of Order. May I say that this deals with contracts given to British employers. The question has been raised of the Government reserving to themselves the right to put on restrictions on British employers and at the same time claiming to buy cheap products of foreign employers, which, I submit, brings in the question as germane.


I thought yesterday this Amendment referred solely to contracts made at home, and I think so today. The Question of the purchase of foreign-made articles may be raised later on. Consequently I do not think that the hon. Member for the Blackfriars Division ought to go into that matter now.


I had no intention of going into the matter but for the question addressed to me, and I wanted to set our position right However, I dare say there will be other opportunities, when we shall be very glad to state our position in regard to this matter. I will conclude by asking the Government to still further consider this matter before we come to vote, with the view of getting a rectification of those grievances at Pimlico, and with a view to giving us some more satisfactory assurances as to the rates of wages at Weedon and elsewhere, being raised up to a more reasonable rate, and to one more conformable to the principles laid down by the Prime Minister and others. I do hope that matters will be better adjusted before we proceed to take our votes on this Resolution.


I should not venture to address the House on this occasion, which is my first time, had I not felt that the question brought up by the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) has not been dealt with quite as sympathetically by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War as it should have been. The position of the right hon. Gentleman, who has been doing his best during the year to be a model employer, is difficult here in this House, where he is shot at from the front and shot at from the flank. And because I have considerable sympathy with him I rise to speak upon this question. I may also state how much I admire the moderation and fairness with which the hon. Member for Leicester approached this question. We are all agreed that the Government should be model employers. I would go further than the hon. Member for Leicester, and state that the Government should not only pay as high wages as any other employer, but should pay higher wages, and that the conditions should be better than they are elsewhere. But it is not sufficient to be a model employer, to pay a higher rate of wages and give the greatest degree of comfort. To be a model employer to the country it is necessary also that this higher paid worker should also give the highest degree of efficiency. Mention has been made of the female labour at Pimlico and as to the poor pay. The figures that were given by the hon. Member for Leicester showed that the pay at Pimlico for certain garments and for certain work was 3s. 4½d., whereas it could be done outside by contractors at 1s. 4½d. That shows that the efficiency at Pimlico is not altogether what might be desired.

The hon. Member brought up one question on which, although I look at it from an entirely different standpoint, I agree with him, and I hope that the Secretary of State will in his wisdom see fit to alter it. There are three well-known ways of paying workers. There is piecework, day work, and the bonus system. Piecework, as the hon. Member for Leicester said, gives the best result to the employer. Day work is excellent; but the method adopted by the Government, I am sure all employers in the House, and I believe the Labour Members, will agree with me, that is piecework with a restricted amount permitted to be earned, is the very worst possible method of all. It is well known where the amount of earnings is restricted that the worker, out of goodfellowship and with the desire not to hurt his or her fellows, however skilful that worker may be, will decline to do more work than will give that worker the maximum wage. The system the War Department have of having nominally piecework, but restricting the worker as to the amount of earnings, cannot but produce undesirable and unsatisfactory results to the worker, have demoralising effects on the worker, who will not do his or her best, and is a costly method to the Government that employs labour of that kind. I would urge upon the Secretary of State not to accept any advice as to any restriction that is to be put on the wage that is to be earned. Let the rate be fixed, and let the worker have the full benefit of any great and special effort that that worker puts forward, and guarantee to those workers that the rate shall not be altered save for a period of three years. I have no hesitation in saying if that were done at Pimlico, without improving the rates of wages, those pieceworkers there would be earning within a few months 50 per cent. more wages than they are earning to-day, and the result would be a cheaper article to the Government, because they would have a greater output for the same amount of space. A question was brought up by an hon. Member as to boys, and there was a sort of implication that the War Office, as well as the employer generally, was responsible for taking boys from school and paying them a rather high rate of wage, and then throwing them out of employment as soon as they arrive at manhood. I am sorry to say that it is not the fault of the Government, it is not the fault of the employer, but it is the fault of the present-day parent, who will not make the present sacrifice for the child's future welfare. It is extremely difficult to get boys who will go through a regular physical and mental training to make them alert and good citizens. The parents want the very highest amount that the child can be made to earn. The parent takes it, and the future of the child is neglected and spoiled, and the child becomes, when grown up, a labourer instead of a skilled worker.

One other point mentioned by the hon. Member for Leicester was as to the Fair Wages Clause. The Financial Secretary said that it would be difficult to control the outlying districts, because the conditions of wages were different to what they were in the great towns. I understood him to suggest that the only way to get over it would be to fix the same rate of pay for the whole of the United Kingdom. As representating an agricultural constituency where the little towns are steadily but surely decaying, we feel there that we must have industries implanted in those towns to take up the surplus labour and the natural increase in labour. I would like to assure hon. Members below the Gangway that any employer who takes an industry into an agricultural district, into a country town, where skilled labour is required, that such an employer is not getting cheap labour although he may be getting low-priced labour. The result of the labour is that for years and years it will cost him more than in the highly skilled and highly paid cities. Therefore, I would urge upon the War Minister not to pass any ordinance or any rules which will compel the whole of the country to pay the same price for a given article, because if they do, it will prevent that expansion and that overflowing from the crowded cities into the country, which we all desire and which is so necessary for an improvement in the physique of our people. I recognise how easy it is for hon. Gentlemen who are not, as is the case with the War Minister, employers of labour, how generous and how easy it is for them to give away what is not their money but the tax-payers' money, and how ready they are to make suggestions that wages should be increased and increased. I am sure we all must recognise that the Secretary of State would be only too pleased if he could, not only because he is a good man, but because it would be better for his party to give to the right and left, and to increase wages not by 5s. a week, but by 10s. per week. I am sure we ought to sympathise with him, and I ask the hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House to sympathise with him, and help to strengthen him in continuing the good work which he is doing at the War Office, and to help him in spending the money in what is, taking all things into consideration, the best way of spending the taxpayers' money for the good of the community. In any case, I feel that he has done so well that if there is a Division I shall support him in the Lobby.

5.0 P.M.

The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Sydney Buxton)

I listened with great attention to all of the speeches, and with especial attention to the speech of the hon. Member for the Blackfriars Division (Mr. Barnes), and the impression left on my mind was a two-fold one. In the first place, I thought whenever we have discussions of this character we have really a general feeling, and I do not think there is any difference amongst any section from that of the Government. In the second place, the impression left was that the House themselves are very anxious to come to some agreement as they have been on former occasions with regard to the Fair Wages Resolution. That will assist them and equally assist the Government in arriving at a conclusion which I think we all desire to come to. I should not have intervened in this Debate if it had been one solely affecting the War Office, because naturally I have no power or knowledge which would warrant me in interposing in a matter concerning the War Office alone. If, a short time ago, it had been a question of labour in connection with the Post Office, I should have been willing to discuss the matter in full detail, and to defend the Post Office if necessary. The House will recognise, however, that I am not in a position, nor, indeed, would it be proper for me to go into those questions of detail which have been raised in reference to certain matters connected with War Office employment. At the request of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State I propose rather to make a general proposition which, if it gives the House satisfaction, can clearly not be confined to the War Office, but must be extended to all Departments of the State which are employers of labour. The hon. Member for the Blackfriars Division (Mr. Barnes) quoted the declaration of the present Prime Minister to the effect that the Government as an employer of labour ought to be a good employer. The late Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman laid down a similar proposition when he said that the Government ought to be in the first flight of employers. I desire, on the part of the Government, to endorse and emphasise those statements of the present Prime Minister and his predecessor. We certainly have no desire in any sense to go back on them.

The allegation made against the War Office has been twofold. I put aside the question of dangerous work and things of that sort, which, after all, are matters of details, and which, I am sure, the War Office will take into consideration. The two main lines of attack have been in regard to the Pimlico workshops and the wages paid in certain places, such as Weedon. The position of the War Office, I understand, is that they consider that they are already paying the rates of wages which would be paid by good employers outside the War Office for similar work, while as regards Pimlico, although on paper the wages may appear low, they compare very favourably with those paid outside by good employers in that line of work. The War Office are doing their best, through their contracts and in other ways, to raise the rate of wages for that particular work outside, and they believe that the wages paid at the Pimlico workshops set a good example to other employers of labour. At Weedon, I understand, the War Office are paying what they believe to be practically the current rate, and the rate which would be paid by good employers in that particular district. I do not desire to go into these cases in detail, or necessarily to defend the rate which the War Office are paying. I desire rather to make a suggestion, which I hope will meet with general acceptance, because, after all, we all have the same object in view. In consequence of the acceptance by the House of Commons last March of a Resolution which I moved, considerably extending and defining the Fair Wages Clause, we have instituted, and it is working most satisfactorily, a committee on which the various spending Departments are represented, under the chairmanship of Mr. Askwith, of the Board of Trade. I may mention his name because he will give confidence, and because the Board of Trade generally is recognised as being fair-minded in these matters, and as really endeavouring to arrive at the facts. That committee has had a good deal to do with wages questions and with the Fair Wages Resolutions. The suggestion that I make on behalf of my right hon. Friend is that, if complaint is made that wages directly paid by the War Office at Pimlico, Weedon, or elsewhere, are not what they ought to be in comparison with the wages paid outside, he is prepared to refer the matter to this committee, and to take their advice into consideration with a view to placing matters on a satisfactory basis. As regards the concrete case of Weedon, after what has passed here he is prepared to go into that matter himself, or to send the question to this committee, and hear what they say in regard to it. That is a considerable step in advance of the position so far taken up. One of the difficulties in regard to this question of Government employment in the past has been that each Department has been, so to speak, in a watertight compartment, and the wages paid by one Department have not affected other Departments. It will be a great advantage to have greater uniformity in this respect, and I am sure that the result will be that where wages are unduly low they will be brought up to a proper level. I hope the suggestion I have made will meet with the approval of hon. Members below the Gangway and of the House generally.

Other observations have been made in reference to the Fair Wages Resolution. The hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) brought forward cases in which he said the spirit of the Fair Wages Resolution had not been carried out, but they were cases under the old Resolution. I am the first to admit that the wording of the Resolution was vague, and gave considerable loophole for difficulties to arise. The working of the new Fair Wages Resolution, which deals with the two points of the recognised rate and the nearest district, especially under the auspices of this advisory committee, has been satisfactory, and we may hope that the new Resolution will work better than the old Fair Wages Clause. Whatever may have been the case in the past, every department of the Government is now, at all events, extremely anxious to carry out the Fair Wages Clause, not only in the letter, but in the spirit. Having passed that Clause I am sure that the House of Commons would not wish that it should become in any way a dead letter. We have always in the past been able to arrive at a more or less unanimous conclusion in regard to these matters, and I hope the suggestion I have made in reference to the advisory committee will meet with the general approval of the House.


I desire to say a word on this subject, not because I differ in any way from the cogent observations made by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Wyndham), but because the Pimlico works are in my Constituency, and I have given, at any rate, one pledge in connection with them, which I should like the Government to take up. The pledge which the Pimlico workers asked from me was that I should vote for a 30s. wage for the unskilled workers in the factory. I told them frankly that I was quite unable to do that, but I did say that in my opinion the Government ought to be model employers. That, I believe, is what we have always held on this side of the House. I also hold strongly that the Government ought to pay the wages which the best employers in the neighbourhood pay. To those two propositions the Government have definitely pledged their adherence, and they are perfectly right in doing so. It is a good business, proposition to pay workers well, because by so doing you get the best workers and the best work. Moreover, it is inconsistent with the dignity of a great State to fall behind the best employers in the treatment of their workpeople.

I have read carefully the speech made by the Financial Secretary last night, and I am not quite satisfied in regard to some of the matters dealt with. He admitted, I understand, that there were no less than 300 employés at Pimlico receiving only 23s. a week, although about 100 of those might make some small addition to their wages by overtime and piecework. I do not pretend to have the close and intimate knowledge possessed by hon. Members opposite of the conditions of life in London, but, at any rate, I know something about them, and I do not think that 23s. a week for a married man living in London is a wage that the Government ought to pay. Probably 10s. a week has to be paid for the rent of two or three rooms, leaving 13s. for all the other expenses of the man and his family. I do not think that that is an adequate amount, and I hesitate to believe that it is the rate paid in similar employment by the best employers. I think that many hon. Gentlemen who are connected with joint-stock companies do not treat their employés worse than private employers. I think they treat them better, and I think the Government ought to take its standard from them. Be that as it may, and speaking for myself alone, and feeling the difficulty—as many of us, I am sure, do feel—in informing ourselves upon these very minute technical matters, yet I do feel very strongly that the case of the Pimlico workers, that they shall receive the wages that is paid by the best employers of labour in like matters, and that this should be submitted to the strong, fair, and impartial tribunal, has been made out. I should be very loth to say that a tribunal which was presided over by Mr. Askwith, of the Board of Trade, does not satisfy these conditions. Personally, if I distinctly understand from the Government that they are willing to submit to this advisory committee any questions of fact about which there is a dispute between those who are working under them—and in regard to the point which I mentioned, namely, as to whether the Goveriment are paying the standard wages paid by the best employers in the neighbourhood, I should be prepared to accept that. I think that is at present as far as the agreement of the whole House goes, and I think it would be well to have the agreement of this House on this point. I do not for a moment suggest that many of my hon. Friends behind me who gave pledges lately which bound them in honour to deal with this matter, and under circumstances which I cannot judge of—I do not suggest that that which satisfies me will necessarily satisfy them.


I think the House understands that we are dealing with what may be called industrial wages, and not the question of wages generally.


indicated assent.


I have no desire to prolong this discussion, but I have listened very carefully to the speeches and the references to the danger zone. It does appear to me that the main point put forward by the men and their representatives has been missed. It is not so much a question—in fact it is not a question at all—of dealing with higher wages in these works. What the men desire is that they should be released from piecework, and from the danger of piecework in a dangerous factory, and that they should be put on what is known as time-work or establishment wages. That is the point which has been urged for five years running before the War Minister and his predecessor. It has been put forward on behalf of the men, and yet we have never been able to get a satisfactory answer. I venture to suggest what is a most reasonable proposition, and that is that the piecework in this particular part of the factory has an added risk and danger. If the, men are put on time-work there will not be that pressure upon them to work with so much expedition, and, that being so, there will be less risk of explosion and less danger generally.


Where the work is dangerous that is done, but a great deal of work that is called dangerous is not dangerous.


That is what the right hon. Gentleman said when he was carrying about a walking stick made of cordite—that there was no danger in that kind of thing—but I venture to say that if the right hon. Gentleman was working in that particular part of the factory he would take an entirely different view. With regard to this 23s. wage, no hon. Member will say either inside or outside this House that is a sufficient wage for any person over the age of nineteen or twenty. I was very glad to hear the hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich say that he had given some study to this question—I do not know what that quite means—and that he has come to the conclusion that 23s. was an insufficient wage for an adult labourer. If in the opinion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich it would be insufficient to maintain him, I would put it to the War Minister whether he thinks 23s. a week would be sufficient to maintain him either in comfort or luxury—especially if he happened to be married.

With regard to Weedon, a place that has loomed rather largely in this discussion, I want to give an illustration of the Fair Wage Resolution and of a particular Order. Army Order 39, Departmental Order 85, of 18th August, 1908, says: "That a man….must cease to belong to the Army Ordnance Department Employés Union." I venture to suggest that that is a flagrant violation of the Fair Wages Resolution of this House. I can only express my astonishment that a precedent of this kind should be created by the Government, or in a factory doing Government work. I call the attention of the War Minister to this matter in the hope that he will see that it is rectified. With regard to the suggestion made by the President of the Board of Trade, it is, I think, our desire that this matter should not be shelved, and that the Committee should not only suggest that if there are any complaints that they should be forwarded, and that they will be considered. I think we should go a stage beyond that. This is an old standing grievance which does not apply more to the present War Minister or to the present Government than to their predecessors. If we are to understand by the suggestion of the President of the Board of Trade that the advisory committee is prepared to take up the whole question and inquire into it, and if, in addition to the members of that advisory committee the Government will be prepared to appoint two, three, or four Members of this House to co-operate with that committee, then I think, after consultation with my hon. Friend on my left, we shall be prepared to accept that as a satisfactory termination to the discussion. But without the addition of three or four Members we feel that the committee will not quite retain the confidence that we and those we represent would like to place in it.


Having had the honour, some years ago, to represent Woolwich, I hope the House will permit me to intervene for a short time in this Debate. The point, as it presents itself to me, is the hard-featured and practical fact that the unskilled labourers in the Government employ are receiving 23s. a week, and that men outside, as described by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Woolwich—those who are sweeping and cleaning the streets—are getting 30s. a week. According to the Amendment moved by the hon. Gentleman opposite, he wishes that the wages and conditions "should be in every respect at least equal to those observed by the best private employers, or by local public authorities doing similar work." What appears to me is that the whole question is being shelved. As the hon. Gentleman said just now, what the working men want in this case are not promises and speeches such as the right hon. Gentleman made opposite—which was one of the most beguiling speeches I ever heard in my life, for it was very much like syrup without its soothing qualities. But it will not settle the question. Here we are in the House of Commons, and there is not a man in this House—I do not care to what party he belongs—but was not promising the labour men what they were going to do in the House of Commons. We are talking of a Division and a committee. Why can we not settle this thing right off? Is it, or is it not, a fact that men at Woolwich are getting 23s. a week and that men outside are getting 30s.? Why can we not settle that without a Division, without a committee, and without giving all sorts of promises? What we are going to do is not to do the thing in a practical way. Why not settle it now? As I said before, the working men want the right wages to be paid, as they are promised by Act of Parliament or by the Fair Wages Clause that was put in in the year 1891. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman, suppose a contractor under the Government violates that Fair Wages Clause as the Government are violating it, how long would he keep him on the list? You would take him off at once in the most drastic manner. I think the other side take rather more credit to themselves than this side that they watch over that which benefits the workmen. Here is the first chance we have got since this Parliament met, and the working man will not get 1s. extra this year, or the next, or the year after. He is always put off. Both Front Benches are the same. When you come to hard, practical fact the matter is put off. "It is not in the public interest." "We will take it into our consideration." "We will have a committee." Without being disrespectful, I think that both Front Benches in that sort of way are rather flatcatching in their arguments. We want to have the thing settled. I am not speaking about my own Constituency, but I was the Member for Woolwich, and I know it very well. I know the Woolwich wages were raised some time ago, but the point I want to raise is this: is it true, or is it not true, that men are working under conditions which are against the Fair Wages Clause? If it is true, why on earth cannot the thing be settled at once. I do not want to go to a Division on the question, but if there is a Division I shall certainly vote for the hon. Gentleman.


I only rise to ask a question. As I understand the Front Bench they accept in principle this Amendment, but the reason they cannot accept it formally is the technical reason that it will prevent Mr. Speaker from leaving the chair. There is not a single word in this Resolution that any Minister quarrels with, so far as the spirit and the intention of the Resolution is concerned. If we agree to let the Amendment drop they will, as I understand it, give practical application to the intention and spirit of it by agreeing that the details, laid before the House by my hon. Friend the Member for Blackfriars, shall, as far as possible, be submitted to this Committee which has been set up for the purpose, and that the Front Bench or the Government, or those responsible, will, in effect, abide by the decision of that Committee. The vote that some of us may give on this Resolution will really depend upon that being made perfectly clear.


I do not think that in substance there is any difference between us. The wording of the Resolution is not, I think, quite clear; the substance is quite clear. What we propose is this, that the new Fair Wages Resolution adopted by the House, and which we apply to contractors, should apply to ourselves, and if anyone says, "You are not acting up to the spirit of that Resolution," we shall refer the matter to the same tribunal as we would refer it to in the case of contractors.

Question put "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided: 152. Ayes, 215; Noes,

Division No. 6.] AYES. [5.32 p.m.
Addison, Dr. Christopher Gulland, John William Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A.
Ainsworth, John Stirling Hackett, John Philipps, Col. Ivor (Southampton)
Alden, Percy Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B. Philipps, Sir O. C. (Pembroke)
Alien, Charles Peter Hall, F. (Yorks, Normanton) Pirie, Duncan V.
Armitage, Robert Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington) Pointer, Joseph
Ashton, Thomas Gair Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale) Pollard, Sir George H.
Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.
Baker, Harold T. (Accrington) Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale) Power, Patrick Joseph
Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.) Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West) Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)
Balfour, Robert (Lanark) Harwood, George Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth) Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)
Barclay, Sir Thomas Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry Primrose, Hon. Neil James
Barlow, Sir John Emmott Hayward, Evan Pringle, William M. R.
Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick B.) Heath, Col. Arthur Howard Radford, George Heynes
Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.) Hemmerde, Edward George Raffan, Peter Wilson
Barton, William Henderson, Arthur (Durham) Rainy, Adam Rolland
Beale, William Phipson Henry, Charles Solomon Redmond, John E. (Waterford)
Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, S. Geo.) Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon. S.) Rees, John David
Bentham, George Jackson Higham, John Sharp Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs.)
Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Hindle, Frederick George Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)
Boland, John Pius Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H. Robinson, Sidney
Bowerman, Charles W. Holt, Richard Durning Robson, Sir William Snowdon
Bowles, Thomas Gibson Hooper, Arthur George Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)
Brigg, Sir John Hope, John Deans (Fife, West) Roe, Sir Thomas
Brunner, John F. I. Home, Charles Silvester (Ipswich) Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Howard, Hon. Geoffrey Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)
Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Hudson, Walter Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Buxton, C. R. (Devon, Mid) Hughes, Spencer Leigh Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)
Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North) Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East) Shackleton, David James
Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar) Jardine, Sir John (Roxburghshire) Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Byles, William Pollard Johnson, William Soares, Ernest Joseph
Cameron, Robert Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea) Spicer, Sir Albert
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil) Stanley, Albert (Staffs. N.W.)
Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich) Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Strachey, Sir Edward
Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood) Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) Summers, James Woolley
Chancellor, Henry George Joyce, Michael Taylor, John W. (Durham)
Chapple, Dr. William Allen Keating, Matthew Tennant, Harold John
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S. King, Joseph (Somerset, North) Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)
Clough, William Lambert, George Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)
Clynes, John R. Layland-Barratt, Sir Francis Toulmin, George
Collins, Stephen (Lambeth) Lehmann, Rudolf C. Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Pancras, W.) Levy, Sir Maurice Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander
Condon, Thomas Joseph Lewis, John Herbert Verney, Frederick William
Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow) Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David Vivian, Henry
Crawshay-Williams, Eliot Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas Wadsworth, John
Crosfield, Arthur H. Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs) Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)
Crossley, William J. Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J. Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)
Cullinan, John M'Callum, John M. Waring, Walter
Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy) M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Davies, Ellis William (Eifion) M'Laren, Rt. Hon. Sir C. B. (Leics) Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)
Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.) M'Laren, F. W. S. (Lines., Spalding) Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan) Mallet, Charles Edward Waterlow, David Sydney
Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas Marks, George Croydon Watt, Henry A.
Dewar, Sir J. A. (Inverness-shire) Martin, Joseph White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)
Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.) Masterman, C. F. G. White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E. R.)
Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne) Menzies, Sir Walter Whitehouse, John Howard
Edwards, Enoch Mond Alfred Moritz Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.
Ellis, Rt. Hon. John Edward Montagu, Hon. E. S. Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)
Falconer, James Mooney, John J Wiles, Thomas
Fenwick, Charles Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall) Wilkie, Alexander
Ferens, Thomas Robinson Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Williams, Aneurin (Plymouth)
France, Gerald Ashburner Murray, Capt. Hon. Arthur C. Williams, John (Glamorgan)
Furness, Sir Christopher Muspratt, Max Wilson, G. G. (Hull, W.)
Gelder, Sir William Alfred Neilson, Francis
Gill, Alfred Henry Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster) Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)
Glover, Thomas Nolan, Joseph Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)
Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford Norton, Capt. Cecil W. Wood, T. M'Kinnon (Glasgow)
Greenwood, Granville George Nuttall, Harry Young, William (Perth, East)
Greig, Colonel James William Ogden, Fred Younger, W. (Peebles and Selkirk)
Grenfell, Cecil Alfred O'Kelly, James Yoxall, Sir James Henry
Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward Palmer, Godfrey Mark TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Master of Elibank and Mr. Fuller.
Guest, Capt. Hon. Frederick E. Pearce, William
Abraham, William Attenborough, Walter Annis Banner, John S. Harmood-
Adam, Major William A. Bagot, Colonel Josceline Barnston, Harry
Arbuthnot, Gerald A. Baird, John Lawrence Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)
Archer-Shee, Major Martin Balcarres, Lord Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)
Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich) Guinness, Hon. Walter Edward Nield, Herbert
Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish- Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne) Norton-Griffiths, J. (Wednesbury)
Beresford, Lord Charles Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight) O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)
Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid) Hambro, Angus Valdemar Orde-Powiett, Hon. W. G. A.
Boyton, James Hamersley, Alfred St. George Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William
Brassey, Capt. R. (Banbury) Harris, H. P. (Paddington, S.) Paget, Almeric Hugh
Bridgeman, William Clive Helmsley, Viscount Peel, Capt. R. F. (Woodbridge)
Burdett-Coutts, William Henderson, H. G. H. (Berkshire) Peel, Hon. William R. W. (Taunton)
Burgoyne, Alan Hughes Hickman, Colonel Thomas E. Perkins, Walter Frank
Butcher, John George (York) Hill, Sir Clement L. (Shrewsbury) Proby, Col. Douglas James
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H. Hillier, Dr. Alfred Peter Quitter, William Eley C.
Cator, John Hoare, Samuel John Gurney Randles, Sir John Scurrah
Cautley, Henry Strother Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy Rawson, Col. Richard H.
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Hope, Harry (Bute) Remnant, James Farquharson
Clay, Captain H. H. Spender Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Rice, Hon. Walter Fltz-Uryan
Clive, Percy Archer Home, Wm. E. (Surrey, Guildford) Richards, Thomas
Colefax, Henry Arthur Horner, Andrew Long Ridley, Samuel Forde
Cooper, Captain Bryan R. (Dublin, S.) Hume-Williams, William Ellis Ronaldshay, Earl of
Cooper, Richard Ashmole (Walsall) Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk. (Bath) Royds, Edmund
Corbett, T. L. (Down, North) Jackson, John A. (Whitehaven) Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)
Courthope, George Loyd Jessel, Captain Herbert M. Sanderson, Lancelot
Craig, Captain James (Down, E.) Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr Sandys, Lt.-Col. T. M. (Bootle)
Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet) Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert
Crean, Eugene Knott, James Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)
Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred Lane-Fox, G. R Stanier, Beville
Croft, Henry Page Lawson, Hon. Harry Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk)
Dalziel, Davidson (Brixton) Lee, Arthur Hamilton Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)
Dixon, Charles Harvey (Boston) Lewisham, Viscount Starkey, John Ralph
Duke, Henry Edward Lloyd, George Ambrose Stewart, Gershom (Ches. Wirral)
Duncannon, Viscount Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury) Stewart, Sir M'T. (Kirkc'dbr'tsh.)
Dunn, Sir W. H. (Southwark, W.) Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsay) Storey, Samuel
Eyres-Monseil, Bolton M. Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Wor. Droitwich) Strauss, Arthur
Falle, Bertram Godfrey Mackinder, Halford J. Thompson, Robert
Fell, Arthur Macmaster, Donald Thorne, William (West Ham)
Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A. M'Arthur, Charles Tobin, Alfred Aspinall
Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue M'Calmont, Colonel James Tryon, Capt. George Clement
Fleming, Valentine Mason, James F. Tullibardine, Marquess of
Fletcher, John Samuel Meysey-Thompson, E. C. Verrall, George Henry
Forster, Henry William Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)
Foster, Harry S. (Lowestoft) Mitchell, William Foot Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)
Foster, John K. (Coventry) Morpeth, Viscount Wheler, Granville C. H.
Gardner, Ernest Morrison, Captain James A. White, Maj. G. D. (Lancs. Southport)
Gastrell, Major W. Houghton Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. Winterton, Earl
Gilmour, Captain John Mount, William Arthur Wood, John (Stalybridge)
Goldman, Charles Sydney Newdegate, F. A. Worthington-Evans, L. (Colchester)
Goldsmith, Frank Newman, John R. P.
Grant, J. A. Newton, Harry Kottingham TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Col. Lockwood and Mr. Goulding.
Greene, Walter Raymond Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Back to
Forward to