§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ Viscount WOLMER
It is my privilege to move the Second Reading of this Bill, and I hope the House will find that it is so simple and non-contentious that it will not occupy many hours in discussion, and that it will be allowed to be sent to a Standing Committee so that the House will be able to proceed to the other important matters on the Paper. This Session has witnessed, I think, remarkable unanimity in regard to the measures of social reform which have been discussed. Hon. Members will agree with me when I say that the problems of reform which have been brought forward on the benches opposite have not been met by Members on this side of the House in an unreasonable or carping spirit, and I beg that they will extend to us who are proposing this measure the same sympathetic consideration which, I maintain, we have extended towards the measures which they have recently brought forward. This Bill is on behalf of a limited class of our fellow-subjects, and although sufficiently numerous—I believe there are about 30,000 affected by this Bill—to make the subject an important one, they are yet not sufficiently numerous to be able to bring any great pressure upon the House of Commons. Therefore I plead that Members ought to deal in a chivalrous spirit towards the class affected by the Bill, if only for that particular reason, but more especially on account of the extremely arduous, responsible, and distasteful duties which they frequently have to perform. The objects of this Bill are as follows: All the Clauses with the exception of the first Clause, are intended to remedy minor defects which experience has shown to exist in the Asylum Officers Superannuation Act of 1909. Although excellent in its object, during the eighteen months it has been in operation weaknesses have already begun to manifest themselves in it. The Clauses which deal with those minor Amendments of the Act of 1909 are not very important.
The important part of this Bill lies in the first Clause, and it is to that I should like to direct the attention of hon. Members. Clause 1 limits the hours of duty of Asylum Officers and Nurses to sixty per 1272 week. I admit that that is an important proposal which may need a great deal of careful examination and criticism before it is readily accepted. But I would like to put forward these few considerations. In the first place the Clause rests upon the principle of limiting the hours of labour. That principle has been endorsed by this House on several occasions, but more especially it has been unanimously endorsed only a few days ago. I for one believe that this principle of the limitation of hours of labour is one that has come to stay in our social system as we know it. That principle denies the assumptions of the theory of the enconomic man. It claims for our fellow-subjects that they are not machines, but citizens, and that every man, however humble he may be, however hard-working, has a certain right against society that he shall be allowed opportunity to have the leisure to retain his bodily health, to have some sort of enjoyment of the society of his family, and to have, perhaps, the opportunity for cultivating or broadening his mind or devoting his attention to subject" other than that by which he earns his daily bread. That right I admit is a vague one. It is not one that can be enforced immediately. It is not, perhaps, strictly within the ordinary meaning of the term right as we understand it. Perhaps it would be more accurate to describe it as an ideal, but I believe it is an ideal which is shared by all Members of this House, and it is the goal at which we are aiming in the greater part of the social legislation which has born passed or is in contemplation for improving the conditions of the workers of this country.
When we attempt to apply the principle of the limitation of hours to different trades, we are confronted with various difficulties. We know by experience it is" almost impossible to benefit the condition of the producers without throwing some corresponding burden on the poorest classes of consumers. But in this particular case these difficulties do not apply. If we are to make efficient progress in our ideas of limiting to a reasonable extent hours of labour we must surely commence by regulating the hours of persons who are not subject to that competition which is so dominant a factor in the industrial situation at the present moment, and which is in the way of so many reforms that we would like to carry out. No profession can be found in which the claim for legislative interference can more reasonably 1273 be put forward, and no class of our fellow-subjects are more entitled to consideration in this respect than those whose duty it is to attend perpetually inside our lunatic asylums. This House, under the guidance of the Home Secretary, has unanimously endorsed the principle of the Shop Hours Bill. There is not a single argument that can be put forward in support of the Shop Hours Bill—excellent and overwhelming as those arguments are—that cannot be put forward with much greater force when you propose to apply the principle to those whom this Bill is intended to benefit. Asylum attendants and nurses are called upon to have intimate charge of those of our fellow-subjects who are unfortunately insane. They have got a tremendous responsibility in looking after those unfortunate people drawn from families in every part of the country. Obviously, it is difficult to exaggerate the importance of getting the very best class of people to look after and attend lunatics in our asylums. The recovery of the patients themselves depends upon it. Those patients cannot be expected to recover unless they are attended by men and women who are in every way fitted for their position, not only from their own character, but also from long experience of the duties involved.
In existing conditions it is difficult to get the right sort of men and women to consent to enter the service of our asylums. I believe I am correct in saying that the greater part of our asylums in this country are at present short of attendants and nurses. Not only that, but there is a frequent change of attendants because the duties are so hard, and the conditions are so insupportable that only an extraordinarily small percentage can ever afford to stay their full time at their duties. Obviously all these conditions militate very greatly against the efficiency of our lunatic asylum system, and anything we can do to improve the conditions of attendants and nurses and put them upon a more reasonable basis will also affect the health and prospects of the unfortunate inmates and patients in those asylums. Consider the condition under which the attendants work. They are employed in an atmosphere of continuous danger and even of horror. They are exposed to infection from the most appalling diseases. They run constant danger of murderous attack upon their lives. They are called upon to perform sometimes the most loathsome 1274 duties. Under those circumstances I submit they deserve greater consideration than any other class of workers in this country. They witness daily scenes that would be sufficient to unnerve an ordinary person, and the whole time they are on duty it is impossible for them to relax their attention from their occupation, because they never know when some attack will be made upon them. I can only compare it with the strain that is on a man who is driving a motor-car at a very high speed. These nurses and attendants are in the position of a man driving many motor-cars. They have many patients to look after. Every one of these is to a certain extent an unknown factor. The nurses and attendants never know for a moment when an attack may be made or when a patient may be doing something which will require their active interference. I have gone carefully into the matter of hours of attendants at the present moment, and I have found that the average hours of work of asylum attendants works out at about thirteen hours a day. I say it is immoral and wrong that men and women should be compelled to work thirteen hours a day on an average under conditions which are as arduous, if not more arduous, than any other that exist in our civilisation. Therefore I do beg of this House the most sympathetic consideration of the position of asylum attendants and nurses. Clause 1 of the Bill limits the hours of duty for asylum attendants to sixty hours a week.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I cannot be constantly counting the House every half hour. It is only just half an hour since I counted it.
§ Viscount WOLMER
I think every Member here will agree with me that it is not an unreasonable proposal that the hours should be limited to ten hours a day, and that every attendant and nurse should have one day's rest in seven; but we have not gone to that length; we have only provided that there shall be a working week of sixty hours. Considering the conditions 1275 under which the nurses and attendants have to work, we think that we can with perfect safety take that as our general rule. I am prepared to admit that emergencies may arise in an asylum, where it is impossible that this rule could be adhered to, and where overtime has to be worked on account of the illness of attendants. There is a great deal of illness among them. Emergencies may arise causing the necessity of extra work by the attendants and nurses. If hon. Members will look at the Clause they will see there is ample provision for perfect elasticity, and there is nothing to prevent any medical superintendent of an asylum from employing a subordinate to work overtime on an emergency; but this Bill lays down that any man so employed on overtime work shall be entitled to special remuneration for such overtime work. That, I submit without further argument, is a very reasonable proposal. The rest of this Bill, as I have said, is really to amend some admitted defects in the Asylums Officers (Superannuation) Act, 1909. If hon. Members will glance through the Clauses they will see what they provide. Clause 2, they will find, merely substitutes a service of twenty-five years in order to entitle the man to a pension, for the provision in the Act of 1909, which lays down that the qualification for a pension is to be twenty years' service and fifty-five years of age. I was not a Member of this House when that Act was passed, and I am not quite aware why the arrangement was arrived at. But it does seem to me that pensions ought to be given for service rendered, and ought not to depend upon the age of the recipient. This alteration which we are proposing appears to me to be one which is eminently reasonable, and far more satisfactory for the attendants themselves. In future, if this Bill passes into law, they will be entitled to their pensions after twenty-five years' service, whether they entered the asylum when they were young or when they were old. The question of age to my mind ought not to apply. The only consideration that ought to prevail is whether or not the attendant has terminated a certain number of years' service. In Clause 3 Members will see that there is a provision which enables the Visiting Committee of an asylum to grant a pension to any man in their employ who has had an accident not due to his own fault. At the present moment the Visiting Committee is allowed to grant a pension 1276 if the man has suffered an accident in the course of his duty, but if the accident does not ocur in the course of his duty they have not the power to grant him a pension. I submit that an ordinarily good employer, if an old servant who has been with him for a number of years sustains an accident, no matter how that accident may have arisen, always gives him money in order that he may not spend the rest of his days in want. The object of this Clause is simply to give the Visiting Committee the authority to act as a good employer would act. This House has appointed the Visiting Committee as the authority. We must trust the authority that has been set up. As the Visiting Committee are responsible to the County Council and to the ratepayers we need not fear that they will be unduly generous in the pensions that they give to old servants who have sustained an accident; but I do think that we ought to give them the power of handsomely helping old servants who have given years of service to the County Council. We are simply giving them the power and trusting to their discretion, and I submit that there is nothing unreasonable or improper in the proposal.
§ In Clause 4 Members will find a declaration to the effect that no attendant can be permanently dismissed without having had an opportunity of bringing his case before the Visiting Committee. As a matter of fact, I believe that in ninety-nine cases out of 100 this would not be required, but there is a widely-expressed feeling on the part of attendants, that they would like to have some plain declaration in the Act of Parliament to which they could point if ever the need arose. It hon. Members examine this Clause carefully, they will see that there is nothing in it to prevent a man from being dismissed at a moment's notice by the medical superintendent; it simply says-that the next time the Visiting Committee-meets the man shall have the opportunity to come forward and demand an explanation of his dismissal. I think that also is a thoroughly reasonable proposal. The power which the medical superintendent has over some 200 subordinates is an immense one, and I am glad to say that it is nearly always exercised in the most satisfactory manner. I do think, however, that there ought to be some appeal from the decision of merely one man. When the whole future life of these attendants is at stake if they are dismissed, they ought to have the opportunity of attending 1277 the next meeting of the Visiting Committee in order to lay their case before its members and to get an explanation of why they were dismissed. I do not think that hon. Members on either side of the House can possibly find any objection to the proposal. In Clause 5 you will find that the Asylum officers are allowed to count all the years they have served when they are calculating for pensions, although they may have been transferred from one asylum to another. In the Asylums Officers (Superannuation) Act, 1909, a provision was inserted to this effect, that if an attendant is transferred from one asylum to another ho should be allowed to count his period of service in the first asylum together with his period of service in the second when the time came to calculate for pension; but the proviso was put in that he should not be allowed to do so in respect of his service in the first asylum if it did not exceed two years. Why that proviso was put in I do not know. It seems to me to be quite unnecessary and altogether unfortunate. It is a very small point, and the only effect of this Clause would be to entitle asylum attendants who transfer from one asylum to another to count every month and every day's work they had done on behalf of the county council when the time came for I hem to claim their pensions. That, I think, is only fair and just, and a proposal against which no reasonable objection can be taken. Clause 6 allows the attendant to calculate the rate of his pension from the average of the last three years of his term of service. In the Asylum Act of 1909 it was provided that he had to calculate his average emoluments over the last ten years of his period of service. That docs not appear to me to be a reasonable proposal, because if you are going to give a man a pension why not give it to him on the position to which he has worked his way up. If you make him take such a lengthy period as ten years, you make him bring down his average by the lower salary which he had when he held subordinate positions. That appears to be rather a mean attempt to take away with one hand what the State is giving with the other. If we are going to give a pension at all let us give fair pensions and reasonable pensions and sufficient pensions, and let those pensions be calculated according to the position which the man had been able to carve out for himself. The present state of the law does not really allow that. I hope the House will not find anything to quarrel with in that proposal. Clause 7 merely includes 1278 two Scottish asylums which, owing to peculiar circumstances, were left out of the Act of 1909. I am sure that no reasonable objection can be taken to their inclusion.
§ Viscount WOLMER
I believe that those two asylums during the passing of the Act of 1909 were in course of transference from the parish to the county authority. They were in quite a different position from that of any other asylums in Scotland. Therefore, with the assistance of the Scottish Office and the hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. M'Callum), we drafted a Clause which simply put right a small un foreseen defect in the Act of 1909, and put those asylums in the same position as all other similar asylums in Scotland. Those are the main provisions of the Bill, and the question will naturally arise in the minds of hon. Members of this House, will it increase the rates? That question, of course, must be faced. As regards the pension part, I do not think it will increase the rates. The pension part of the Superannuation Act of 1909 was very carefully worked out, and is upon a commercial basis. It is a contributory pension scheme, as hon. Members know, and the amounts contributed so far have more than provided for the amounts given out under the Act. As far as I can see, that will be even more so in the future, because even supposing we do limit the hours of labour to sixty hours per week, yet the strain upon the attendants is so great that very few of them can stand that strain for twenty-five years when they could claim their pension. So the scheme is upon a commercial basis, and I do not anything in those proposals likely to be a charge on the rates. Of course, Clause 1, which limits the hours of work to sixty hours per week, is bound to lead to some slight increase in the rates of the county. We must just face the fact, and ask whether it is worth while. However keen we may be for economy, I do not think we ought to practice economy at the expense of the livelihood and the flesh and blood of our employés. When you see such a state of affairs as exists at present, when men and women are forced to work on an average for over thirteen hours a day among lunatics, and sometimes a great deal more than that—I have had a case brought before me where a nurse had to work thirty-six hours at a stretch, when 1279 you see that sort of thing going on, I say it is a wrong which ought to be put an end to, even if it does mean a slight increase to the rates of the country. I venture to submit that the increase to the rates will not be large, but that it will be a very small thing compared with the benefit that will be secured to those men and women, and which will be everything in their lives. It will change them from the position of drudgery in which they are at the present moment and give them some opportunity of enjoying the same rights and the same privileges which ordinary citizens of this country enjoy. Although we may have to pay a little for that reform I submit to this House that the money will be very well spent indeed.
§ Viscount WOLMER
I have not been able to give an estimate, because it differs in every county, and it is not possible within the limits of a Second Heading speech to examine the different charges in every particular county. That, I think, the hon. Member will agree, is a question to be threshed out in Committee. And when you are dealing with fifty-two different counties and fifty-two slightly different conditions it is not quite possible to make an estimate. Those who were bringing forward this Bill do not pretend that it is perfect, perhaps, in every respect. It may go too far in some directions, and it may not go far enough in others. But I do submit that we have made out a case for the Bill being sent to a Standing Committee, and that we have made out a case to the House to grant the Second Reading of this Bill. Whatever may be the objections to it in detail, I think the hon. Members will agree with me when I say that no man who has a sympathetic interest in the lives of his fellow-countrymen can object to this Bill in principle. If the House endorses the principle of this Bill, it will only be following its own footsteps in endorsing a principle which it has already endorsed in cases where the arguments in favour were not stronger. I would particularly submit to His Majesty's Government, when they have initiated so much legislation for the limiting of hours, to give this measure their active co-operation and assistance, because I believe if it were placed upon the Statute Book the benefits it would bring 1280 would far outweigh any difficulties it might cause, and the improvement it would bring in the condition of 30,000 of our fellow-subjects would be such as to entitle the measure to rank among the most useful and the most generous that this House has ever passed. I beg to move.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I rise to support the proposal of my Noble Friend. This Bill is urgently requested by, I believe, all the asylum attendants throughout the country. Certainly I know that the asylum attendants in my constituency are most urgent in hoping the House will give it a Second Beading.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I cannot give the exact figures, or the hours which they work in the asylum in my Constituency; but I shall deal with the point of hours later. The question is one which will have to be considered very carefully in Committee, and I quite admit that the Bill as it at present stands may encounter some little opposition. Let me deal with the general principle of the Bill, as should be done in a Second Reading speech, because we have been led to expect opposition from the other side of the House, namely, from the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Booth). He said that the Police Bill which has just passed was the last instance of class legislation which he would support. He regretted it, and also by his continual attempt to obstruct the proceedings of this House during the consideration of measures of social reform he has shown his hostility to this kind of legislation. The case made out by my Noble Friend, who has devoted so much time and care to this question, is that asylum attendants have special work to do, and that they are not a large organised body, like shop assistants and miners, who can bring pressure to bear on public opinion in order to get measures regulating their employment brought before the attention of this House; but that they are a small body with exceptionally trying work to perform under exceptionally difficult circumstances. He has brought forward cases of considerable hardship and very long hours. I think it will be admitted that in cases where there is special work and where there is evidence of evils arising the State should step in and regulate the hours of labour in some sort of way. I quite admit that we have to deal with a large number of varying conditions 1281 in different asylums. Personally, I know that the asylum in my Constituency is admirably managed, and I do not think many evils arise; but there are undoubetdly some places where that is not the case. All these differences have to be taken into consideration when dealing with the question of the limitation of hours. Possibly my Noble Friend would be perfectly willing to consider some elasticity in regard to the sixty hours per week. To bring forward a Bill suddenly altering and regulating in a hard and fast manner hitherto unregulated conditions may lead to difficulties of a temporary if not of a permanent character in the adjustment of existing conditions to future requirements. The object of this Bill is to secure that in all asylums there shall prevail the conditions which prevail in the best asylums today and that there shall not be any undue laxity or any undue prolongation of the hours of work.
The second part of the Bill deals with the question of superannuation. Here again there is the difficult question of the increasing rates. I think it is highly desirable, if the House sees fit, to give the Bill a Second Reading, that there should be a considerable interval before it is considered in Committee, so that all local authorities and other persons concerned may have sufficient time to prepare any objections they may have to the scheme. The House will probably agree that in all these questions of social reform, what we wish to do is to adjust the conditions without imposing any great hardship or difficulty upon those who have to conform to the new conditions. With regard to cost, the Bill will possibly entail the appointment of a considerable number of additional asylum attendants. My Noble Friend has pointed out that there is to-day considerable difficulty in obtaining a sufficient number. If this Bill passes there will not be the same difficulty in future, as it will enable the authorities to get the best class of men and more of them, because under present conditions, the calling, being unregulated or not sufficiently regulated, is not an attractive one, and the grievances of existing asylum attendants prejudice the obtaining of an adequate number of men. Our main point in supporting the Second Reading is that the Bill may go to a Committee so that its provisions, and especially the financial questions involved, may be considered in detail, and we urge that the time is overdue when the hours of persons working under the conditions under 1282 which asylums attendants have to work, which are of a specially arduous character, should be regulated by statute.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I beg to move, as an Amendment, to leave out the word "now," and to add at the end of the Question the words "upon this day six months."
I am sorry that I have to differ from my hon. Friends who have moved the Second Reading of this Bill, but, after all, in these days we are getting on so fast towards the regulation and limitation of the hours of adult male labour, that it would be impossible for me, holding the views I do, to avoid saying something to justify the opinion which I hold so strongly. My hon. Friend the Seconder of the Motion appeared to set down and to commit himself to what seems to me to be an extraordinarily large proposition. I understood him to say that the time has come when the hours of labour must be regulated for all those people who are engaged in arduous work.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I do not wish to interrupt the hon. Baronet, but I said in "specially arduous" work of such a character as this. I did not say all work of an arduous character. There is no intention on the part of anybody, I think, to limit the hours of work, for instance, of Members of this House, who do very arduous work.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
"Specially arduous"! I do not know what that means, or how you are going to decide whether work is "arduous "or "specially arduous." I would point out to my hon. Friend that he is rather falling into a pit when he said that he is going to put a limit to work of this character. We started on this downward road about three years ago, when for the first time in the history of this country a limitation was put on the hours of work of adult male labour. I say that advisedly, because it has been held in this House that there was a limitation put upon the hours of adult male labour before the Mines Act, in some laws dealing with railway companies. That is a great mistake. The Board of Trade have power to take notice and to compel the railway companies to report to them where a man works more than a certain number of hours. But there is no regulation which says that that man shall work a certain number of hours. They do on the railway work more than twelve hours—sometimes thirteen and fourteen. 1283 But these cases are extremely isolated, and, speaking as a railway director, we do all we can to avoid this. But there is no compulsion on us by any Act of Parliament that we shall not employ the men who work on the railway for more than a given number of hours. Therefore I say that for the first time in the history of this country a limitation was put upon the hours of adult male labour in the Mines Act of three or four years ago.
The reasons that were advanced for that measure were the very same reasons which my hon. Friend has just advanced: that was that the work was specially arduous, and of a specially grievous character; that the men were compelled to work underground; that the legislation was an entirely exceptional thing which would not be carried any further, and that it was necessary in the interests of these people who were exposed to very exceptional duties. When I opposed that Bill I pointed out to the House that it was certain that if a commencement was made in the limitation of the hours of adult male labour in the case of the miners that it would be followed by limitation in other pursuits. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway have been perfectly candid over this matter. They have never stated that limitation should be confined to mines or to work of a specially arduous nature, but consistently they have stated that, in their opinion, there should be limitation of the hours of all labour. Personally I do not agree with them, but, if they will permit me to say so, I think they take up a much better and move sincere position than do my hon. Friends the Proposer and Seconder of this Motion. They state openly that they are in favour of the hours of ordinary adult male labour being limited, whereas my hon. Friends endeavour to make a case for it on the ground that the work is exceptional—exceptionally and specially arduous. This contention will not for a moment hold water.
If you are beginning to limit the hours of adult male labour you are not going to stop at asylums or anything else. The proof of that is that only a short time ago we had a Bill before us for limiting the hours of shop assistants. It has passed its Second Reading but has not yet become law, and I hope it will not. Because that Bill is in process of passing there is no reason whatever for following up, or making, a bad precedent in 1284 another direction. I remember the late Sir Charles Dilke making a speech on one occasion in opposition to a certain Bill. He was told that there was a precedent or more than one precedent for the Bill. His reply was that the fact that there was a bad precedent in favour of the Bill he was opposing did not influence his opinion. On the contrary, it rather strengthened his opinion, because he was desirous of not making any more bad precedents, and of putting a stop to those precedents which already existed. I am in the same position. I think that the time has come when this House, at any rate, should put down its foot and say, "We are not going to allow anybody who happens to have a certain number of people in his constituency who like to work rather shorter hours for the same pay to come down and secure a few votes by putting forward a measure," which I venture to say most humbly and sincerely will ultimately ruin all enterprise in this country. Arguments in support of the Bill have been based upon the fact that the Mover and Seconder only wished the principle to be extended to this particular Bill.
I have endeavoured to show that it is absolutely certain if this Bill is carried that eventually, and within a very short period, the result will be that everybody's labour in this country will be limited. I want to show that that result will be bad, not only for the people whose labour is limited, but bad for the whole country. This country has been built up upon the hard work and ability of the individual members of it. Even in my time I can remember that the rage for holidays, going to football matches, and all that sort of thing did not exist. Everybody worked hard, and did his best to improve the condition of life to which he had been called. Go back beyond that to the days when the merchants and bankers of the City of London lived over their banks and offices, and only went away from their businesses, if at all, for two or three days. It was those days when the prosperity of this country was made. Nowadays apparently the chief object of everybody—except Members of the House of Commons—is to do as little as they possibly can for as much as they can possibly get. The result will and only can be that the commercial supremacy which we have retained for so many years by hard work and struggle will be lost. I was reading the other day a speech of Sir Christopher Furness, who has, I believe, become a member of another 1285 place; if so, I hope ho will excuse me if I still call him by the title under which I knew him best. He said, speaking at a company meeting of which he is a director, that the man who is always in favour of doing as little as possible, could never hope to succeed in any walk of life. I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman in this particular opinion, and one of the objections which I offer to this Bill is that it tends to stereotype the efforts of all persons, and to put everybody, be they hardworking or lazy, industrious and clever, or stupid and dull, upon the same dead level. A man may be blessed with a very sound constitution, and the soundness of his constitution may enable him to work harder than somebody else, but under all these Bills, people would be put on the same level.
The other day, in seconding the rejection of the Shop Hours Bill, I called the attention of the House to the fact that our great judges worked for a great number of hours, and lived to very old ages. The work of the lawyers of these days, and the lawyers of other days, is far more trying than the work of an asylum attendant, and occupies far more hours. The work of the Solicitor and Attorney-Generals, especially if they happen in a Liberal administration, involve very long hours; they are kept up late at night, and they have to come back to work again early in the morning. Most of these hon. and learned Gentlemen live to a great age. I believe that hard work never did a man any harm, and never will do, and that all those attempts on the part of this House to prevent a man doing the best he can do, which after all concerns him in his own life, are a mistake. I fail to see if I choose to work for ten hours, why anybody should come down and say "you are not to do that." What business of anybody else's is it if I choose to work hard or choose to do little? It is entirely my own affair. If I take an interest in my work, or if I am ambitious in this life, and wish to get on, and can get on by doing a little more than my fellows in my calling, why on earth should not I do so? Why should anybody come along and say, "I am so concerned in the way you conduct your life, that you must not do that which you desire to do?" I can see no reason on earth for interference of that description.
It must be remembered that in this particular Bill we are dealing with the rates and with local authorities. I unfortunately did not hear the whole of the 1286 interesting speech of the hon. Gentleman who moved the Second Reading, and therefore I cannot say whether he has had any communication with the various local authorities who have control of these asylums or whether or not they are in favour of this Bill. So far as I can remember this particular Bill has only been printed in the last two or three weeks. I remember seeing a notice about it in the papers, and I asked for it at the Vote Office, and my recollection is that it was not then printed, though I do not know that I asked for it a second time. I know it has not been printed for anything like a considerable period, and therefore I do not see how the local authorities could have been consulted. I should think this House is taking a good deal upon itself if it attempts by a private Member's Bill, brought in at short notice, to put those large burdens upon the ratepayers, who are already seriously burdened with the weight of the rates. My hon. Friend who seconded, talked about this Bill going to a Grand Committee, by which I presume he meant one of the Grand Committees upstairs, where he said matters could be threshed out. There is very little threshing out at most of the Grand Committees on which I serve. The difficulty is to get a quorum, and once a quorum is got, instead of things being threshed out, the promoters are as anxious as possible to get the provisions of the Bill through with as little discussion as possible less they may not be able to keep their quorum. If the promoters of this Bill really want that it should be properly considered, and the opinion of the local authorities obtained, as to whether there is any necessity for the Bill, the best place to send it is to a Select Committee, where evidence can be heard, where asylum officers can appear, and where the question can really be fully discussed and some reasonable arrangements arrived at.
This Bill goes very much further in the direction of socialism than the Mines (Eight Hours) Act. Whereas under the provisions of this Bill there is actually a Clause which says that so much must be paid to attendants in asylums if they work over sixty hours. I do not know whether the promoters of the Bill insist upon this provision, but it is a most dangerous Clause. We know perfectly well that hon. Members below the Gangway opposite are extremely desirous of introducing a minimum wage. Is it to be said that the Conservative party is going to make the first step and going to lay down in an Act of 1287 Parliament that for under certain conditions certain wages are to be paid? I am afraid I cannot accept that.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Come over! I am afraid the frying pan is as bad as the fire. Some of my hon. Friends on this side of the House are in the vigour of youth, and are inclined to go a little bit further than I think it is advisable to go. I feel certain that after a few more years in this House and a better acquaintance with hon. Members opposite they will come to the conclusion that their youthful energy has taken them a little further than they intended to go. Later on I think I shall find my hon. Friends ranged on my side on most of these questions. I should now like to say a few words upon the Bill itself. My hon. Friend said that in his Constituency the men and women attendants in the asylums had to work for a very great number of hours, and in response to an interruption by hon. Gentlemen opposite he said he could not say what the actual number of hours was. I think it would have been better if my Noble Friend had found the actual number of hours before he introduced this Bill. He has proceeded in a hurry, and he really does not know how long these people have to work.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
What we are now doing is to pass an extremely bad law in order to meet a few bad cases. That is not a good way to proceed. I think the great influence of my Noble Friend and the hon. Member who seconded this Motion should be brought to bear on those asylums which are badly managed, and by persuasion they should be requested to carry on their asylums in a proper manner. This Bill is supposed to extend to men and women. Subsection (1) of Clause 1 says:—A person shall not be employed in an asylum in the capacity of male attendant or nurse for more than sixty hours, exclusive of meal times, in any week.I have read the Bill very carefully, and I cannot find anything defining the particular provision which I have quoted. In my opinion, the male attendant or nurse means a male attendant or male nurse, and no woman would come under the provisions of this Bill. If that is so, it is an extremely hard thing. The Conservative party, to which I believe my Noble Friend 1288 belongs, has always said that, as far as regards women and children, they were prepared to support legislation which they would not support if it were applied to adult males. My Noble Friend is now bringing in legislation which is going to leave the women out.
§ Viscount WOLMER
This Bill was drafted by a gentleman who has drafted a great many Government Bills, and the term used covers attendants and nurses of both sexes.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I am surprised to hear that my Noble Friend is so much in the confidence of the Government that he goes to them to draft his Bills. I think he will find, after more experience, that it is not advisable to employ a Radical of any sort or kind. No doubt the gentleman who has drafted this Bill is accustomed to the sloppiness adopted in Government Bills, and he has apparently drafted this Bill in a careless manner. I think it is only right to call attention to the fact that as this Bill now stands apparently the intention of it is to confine it to males. There are in an asylum a very large number of servants and other people who minister to the needs and wants of those in the asylum. Apparently they are not to come under the provisions of this Bill at all. What about the servants who have to wait upon the attendants? They have to do a very great deal of hard work. They have to get up very early in the morning to light the fires and all that sort of thing, and what will they say when they find that the male attendant has been treated in this way? The paid attendant may not get up for two or three hours after the servants have been at work, and they may have to sit up and see to his supper and clean and tidy up everything after this particular male attendant has gone to bed. What will happen? Will there not be an agitation amongst those servants in favour of every servant in the asylum not working more than sixty hours I fail to see the distinction between male or female nurses and attendants in this matter and the male or female servants. In all probability there are many people employed in the asylum who do just as hard and exacting work as the male or female nurses.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I do not know whether my hon. Friend thinks every lunatic is a troublesome person who has 1289 to he watched for tear he is going to hit the attendant over the head if he turns his back. The vast majority of lunatics are really harmless people suffering from a delusion, as so many hon. Members opposite suffer. If the delusion is not put before them, they are not a very bad sort of people. I think the life of a nurse in a sick room is more arduous than the life of the average attendant in an asylum. With regard to the question of expense the Noble Lord who introduced this Bill said it would lead to a little more expense. My hon. Friend said this Bill will entail the appointment of many more attendants. To me that sounds as though a little expense would prove in the end to be a very large one. My hon. Friend went on to say that there was some difficulty in obtaining attendants for asylums, but under this Bill the difficulty would disappear. I am not quite so certain about that, and, if there were any difficulty in obtaining the men and women required, very serious complications might arise. Supposing it were found impossible to engage a sufficent number of people to comply with the provisions of this Bill, would everybody be fined £5, or what would happen? I can conceive considerable trouble arising. People may try to do their best to carry out the provisions of the Bill, and yet be unable to find the people to do it. I do not know whether my hon. Friend would be willing to come to the assistance of these unfortunate people under those circumstances, and to give them something out of his salary as a Member of Parliament when he gets it. The question of superannuation is a very important one, and here we are in the same position as we were in regard to the last Bill. The Asylums Act of 1909 went through this House, if I may say so, with my assistance. I do not think it would have gone through if I had not assisted it. It was brought in by Sir William Collins, who was then a Member of this House. I thought he made out a very good case, and I did my best to get that Bill through. This is my reward, and it only shows how foolish one is to assist any legislation. I remember asking Sir William Collins if the Bill of 1909 would satisfy people, and I was told it would. That is only some eighteen months ago, and now there is this Bill to amend it. These Amendments are extremely bad. The age limit of fifty-five is to be repealed, and twenty-five years' service is to be substituted for twenty. Therefore, a man or a woman who commences to 1290 work in an asylum at the age of twenty will, if he or she works for twenty-five years, be entitled to a pension at the age of forty-five, whereas under the Act of 1909 they have to continue until they are fifty-five years of age. I have had some considerable experience with regard to the Old Age Pension Funds in operation amongst the great railway companies, and the operation of those superannuation funds has been so heavy that after a very short time most of them have become insolvent, and the railway companies have had to increase their subscriptions in order to make them solvent. The age in the case of the railway companies is sixty, and, if we are going to do away altogether with the age limit of fifty-five and substitute merely a time limit of twenty-five years' Service, I think it will be found it will entail an enormous expenditure upon the rates.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I am glad the hon. Member agrees with that, A man or a woman is very lucky if he or she gets a pension at 55. A large number of hon. Members who will never see 55 or anything near it again are able to take their part in a more or less effective manner in this House, and I myself shall never see 60 again. This is really going to have a very big effect upon the burdens which will be put upon the rates. I should say this would be a very much greater burden than the mere appointment of extra officers. It is going to have an enormous effect, and it is going to be enhanced by Clause 5, which, I understand, practically does away with the Clause in the Act of 1909, which limits the aggregation of service to cases where the officer has been employed for two years in the asylum for which he claims. That provision was put into the Act after a good deal of consultation. I had a good deal of discussion with Sir William Collins about it. I pointed out that the man who moved from one asylum to another generally moved in order to benefit his position, and it was rather hard to make the ratepayers pay because he moved of his own freewill in order to improve his position. Sir William Collins then put in the Clause, and now it is going to be practically done away with altogether. A man may be employed for two or three months at one asylum, and the authorities may find he is not doing very well. They intimate to him he had better resign, because in large undertakings one is very loath to dismiss 1291 a person. It militates so much against his getting another job, and the general tendency is, unless something serious has been done, to say, "You had better send in your resignation." Under this Bill, an unsatisfactory officer may be moved about from one asylum to another, and yet all the time counts towards his pension. I think that is a very bad provision, and I hope, if this Bill goes any further, as I sincerely trust it will not, this provision will be altered. The Bill, I understand, also proposes that a pension shall be calculated on the average salary or wage for the last three years and not for the last ten years. That adds enormously to the cost. I know we found in connection with one of the railway companies that, when something of this sort was done, the cost was seriously increased.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
In that case the cost was something enormous. But if you put in three years what would it mean? A man would be working for twenty-two years at £100 a year; he might suddenly get a rise of £500 in his salary, and his pension would have to be calculated on the increased amount. This is a very serious question. Superannuation funds are extremely difficult matters to deal with; they want to be handled very carefully, and I do not think they can be properly dealt with in a Bill like this. There is a proivsion somewhere in the Bill which says that no officers shall be dismissed without an appeal to the visiting committee. I am not sure whether my Noble Friend was not once in the service, or had some idea of going into it. I would, however, ask him how on earth is discipline going to be maintained if the authorities in the asylum cannot dismiss a man when they deem it necessary?
§ Viscount WOLMER
The hon. Baronet does not appear to have read the Bill very carefully. There is in it nothing to prevent a man being dismissed at a moment's notice. But when he has been dismissed he has a right to have his case heard at the next meeting of the visiting committee.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Surely that is the same thing. If the authorities of the asylum dismiss a man he can go to the visiting committee, and they can keep him on. In what position does that place the authorities. They may have dismissed 1292 the man because they did not believe he was doing his duty properly. The visiting committee would know nothing about that, but it might be composed of large-hearted gentlemen who might come to the conclusion that the man had been very harshly treated. They might, indeed, be misled and deluded into putting him back into his position, and the authorities would be helpless. I venture to say the Noble Lord, by his interruption, has confirmed everything I have said. I should be sorry to undertake the management of an establishment where such a course of procedure obtained. If you are going to carry on any business or undertaking, I say it is quite impossible to conduct it properly unless the people in authority, who are responsible for the management of affairs, have the power of dismissal. It seems to me that those who are responsible for this Bill have taken every possible grievance which some officer imagines he might be subjected to, and have put the whole hotch-potch into the Bill and brought it here for consideration. The more I look into the Bill, the more I discuss, the more I am forced to the conclusion that it is an extremely bad Bill, and I therefore propose to conclude my speech by moving that it be read a second time this day six months.
§ Mr. WILLIAM REDMOND rose.
Mr. WILLIAM REDMOND
Yes. The hon. Baronet is quite oblivious of the flight of time when he is himself speaking, but that is not the case with us. He has been speaking for considerably over an hour. He has delivered to us a most interesting speech, ranging over a variety of topics. He told us, at the commencement, that if this Bill were given a Second Reading it would certainly destroy the commercial supremacy of this Empire. He has been extremely entertaining and amusing. He always is so, but really it is a question whether he should treat a subject of this character in the way he did.
Mr. WILLIAM REDMOND
And it is a very serious matter. The hon. Baronet would, perhaps, have more reason to realise that if he represented some of the people who may be concerned about this l-ill. I am told that in the hon. Baronet's constituency there is no asylum at all.
Mr. WILLIAM REDMOND
But on the other hand, I am told by a great many people, that there ought to be. Whether that be so or not I am sure the hon. Baronet would be the last man to deny that these assistants are a class of public servants who have to perform duties of a wholly exceptional and extremely arduous character. The hon. Baronet has referred to other classes whose hours of work have been limited. I venture to put it to him with all respect that there is not a class of people in the whole country who are in the same position as the asylum attendants. They have arduous work, and tremendous responsibilities. I do not say for a single moment that this Bill, as it stands, is in every respect a measure which ought to be passed, and I think it is quite likely the local authorities may desire to express their opinion upon it. If so, that is evidently a reason why all fair-minded men should agree to read it a second time, and to send it upstairs to the Grand Committee for consideration. I fail to see how the hon. Baronet can object to that course being taken. I assume, of course, that this Bill is intended to apply to Ireland. If that is so, it is an additional reason why opportunity should be given to a Grand Committee for its careful consideration. I am not going here to enter upon any discussion as to the position of asylum attendants in Ireland. I am sure that they have a good many grievances to complain of, which they would wish to have carefully considered by a Committee of this House. Therefore, I for one am prepared to give this Bill a Second Reading. The hon. Baronet has laid great stress on the fact that this Bill might in all probability bring about an increase of rates. That is a matter which I frankly admit the local authorities are entitled to give an opinion upon. I do not know how the local authorities of this country may regard it, but as far as Ireland is concerned I venture to say with some confidence, and I think some of my hon. Friends will agree with me, that whilst there is among the local 1294 authorities the strongest desire that all due economy should be exercised, there is not the slightest intention or wish to allow any false idea of economy to interfere with the proper interests of a class of people who are regarded in Ireland as the most to be pitied of any people—the unfortunate inmates of asylums. And if it be necessary for their efficient and proper care and for the proper discharge of the duties of asylum attendants that there should be some further cost, I do not think that under the circumstances it will be objected to.
At the same time it is a matter which must be considered, and I appeal to the hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) to allow this Bill to go upstairs and be considered. The hon. Gentleman has for a very lengthened period opposed himself to this Bill. As I listened to him going on minute after minute, and quarter of an hour after quarter of an hour, I marvelled at the deep intensity of his interest in this measure, until by chance I took up the Order Paper and found that this is not the only Bill down for consideration this after noon. Then the wicked thought occurred to me that the hon. Baronet, whose tenderness and kindness of heart are well known to old Members of this House, in taking this objection was not entirely devoting himself to this measure but to some of the other Bills which are on the Paper and which might be considered if this Bill were read a second time in a fair space and sent up to the Grand Committee. I see that there is a Licensing Bill and other measures of an interesting character which might be discussed if the Debate on this matter were somewhat curtailed. The hon. Baronet's interest in this particular subject, however, is, I am perfectly certain, quite sincere. He has consumed most interestingly considerably over an hour, and I think in common justice he ought to consider that a fair amount, and put forth no further opposition to this Bill. I am sure the promoters of the Bill, if it would in any way soften the opposition of the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London, would be quite prepared to give him an absolute undertaking here and now that, although there may be measures in the future for the curtailment of the hours of labour of certain classes of the community, such as miners, shop assistants, asylum attendants, and the rest, nobody will ever be inclined to introduce a Bill which would have for its ultimate object the curtailment of the hours of labour of 1295 the indefatigable Gentleman who sits above the Gangway, and to whom I an: alluding.
§ 3.0 P.M.
§ Mr. CHARLES ROBERTS
The hon. Baronet opposite began, as we knew he would begin, by developing the old Tory individualistic doctrine as strongly as possible. He detected a weakness in this measure, and he thought he detected the Noble Lord opposite in a lapse into a glaring kind of socialism. But I would like to commend to the hon. Baronet's consideration this point: that, if he finds socialism everywhere—if he finds socialism in proposals however innocent and practicable, he may perhaps in time come to make us believe that all good measures are socialistic, and so possibly he may thereby spread the dangerous fallacies of socialism which seem to have invaded the benches upon which he sits. He might, indeed, whitewash the doctrine to which he is always referring and give a credit which it does not possess to this dangerous propaganda which he is always detecting in the most unlikely places. I will not follow his attack upon the doctrine of State regulation of the hours of labour, but I should like to deal with the practical problem which this Bill brings before us. I have some qualifications for dealing with such a measure, for I was closely associated with the Superannuation Bill which we suceeded in carrying in 1909. This Bill falls into two parts, one as an Amending Bill of the Superannuation Act and the other dealing with the question of the regulation of the hours of labour. In so far as the Bill deals with the amendment of the Superannuation Act there is nothing in it which is beyond the power of the Grand Committee to consider. They are all Committee points which are raised. On Clause 2 I think there is a real case to be made out for the elimination of the age of fifty-five in the case of women. I do not feel it so strongly in the case of men, but I think if a woman has given twenty-five years of service in attendance upon the insane there is a case there for a pension. Very few women, as a matter of fact, give as long service as that. I think there is a strong case for the elimination of that age in the case of women.
I do not wish to go through the other details at length because they are in fact mainly details. I think if we calculate the pension on a period of three years instead 1296 of on a period of ten years it is not an unfair proposal on the whole. These were points which we considered when the Superannuation Act was passed into law. That Act was passed as a private Member's Bill, and various points had to be thrown to the wolves in the efforts to get it through the two Houses. There are some points of difference which are open to criticism, but as far as they are concerned the Bill might very well go upstairs and be considered in the Grand Committee. I think the House would wish to deal generously with the class of asylum attendants who are engaged in a specially arduous and difficult occupation. It is true that it does not appear on the facts that they are specially liable to lapse into insanity—they do not become more insane it is found on the facts than the average of the rest of the population. But they are, of course, chosen for their special mental and physical fitness, and they ought, therefore, to have a less severe rate than the rest of the population. They are engaged in a specially trying occupation, and we are, I am sure, anxious that the conditions of their service should be as good as we can secure. In Ireland their wages are very low, in some cases only 10s. a week, and the conditions and hours of work are none too good. One of the reasons why we were anxious to pass the Superannuation Act of 1909, was that we thought we could improve the conditions of service and secure a better class of attendants, and secure a longer and more continuous attendance in the various asylums, and that was one of the reasons why we did not think it was fair to aggregate attendance at the asylums unless there had been a period of two years in one asylum in order that there should be an encouragement to continuous service. On the general principle I do not think there will be any doubt. Then comes the question of the regulation of the hours of labour. The hon. Baronet threw out the suggestion that the Bill might go to a Select Committee. I think that suggestion was not wholly friendly to the Rill, but the promoters might be doing well in the interests of their cause if they acted on that suggestion. I certainly believe there is a case for dealing with the hours of asylum attendants. The movers of the Bill did not give us any very full information as to the exact conditions, or as to the number of hours worked, nor as to the extra cost which this Bill will impose, but we 1297 have got some returns. The Lunacy Commission, of which I am a member, made an inquiry in 1906, and this is what they said:—From these returns it appears that the almost universal hours of active duty for day attendants and nurses are fourteen hours, and for night attendants and nurses ten hours.In the City of London Asylum the ordinary hours are fourteen for day attendants and ten and a quarter for night attendants, and that seems to be the average. There is a good deal of miscellaneous information as to periods of leave which it is difficult to summarise, and which must be taken into account in arriving at the average hours. On that information so collected the report went on to say:—There is a general agreement amongst the medical superintendents that the hours of duty, especially in the case of head and charge attendants and nurses, whose responsibility is greater, are long, but they point out that, except in the acute and infirmary wards, the duties are more tedious than arduous, most of the time being spent in mere supervision in the open air and in recreation with the patients.On these facts it is very hard, indeed, for anyone to say there is not a ease for inquiry and possibly for interference. It is hard to hold that thirteen hours on an average is not a very excessive period when one considers the nature of the occupation and the strain involved. So that, so far as the general principle goes, I think a case might be made out, but the promoters have not explained how the asylums are to be run. It is true that the Clause which they have proposed is singularly defective. The omission of women is very serious, and, further, the Clause as drawn only applies to county and borough asylums, and not to licensed houses. Surely, when you are dealing with the regulation of hours of that kind, it is just as important to deal with the hours of labour in licensed houses run for profit as to deal with them in the case of county and borough asylums which are not run for profit. Therefore, I think the Clause is seriously open to criticism as it stands, and I think also that the promoters of the Bill should have told us how they meant these institutions to be carried on.
When you are dealing with coal mines you can run the mines on three shifts, and the extra output will compensate for the extra cost. When you are dealing with shops you can shut up the shop after sixty hours a week, and no harm is done. But you cannot shut up asylums, and you ought to have a body of attendants there to look after the ordinary normal service, and you 1298 ought further to have a reserve supply in case of a dangerous outbreak such as has at times occurred. Is then the only way to secure these things to run the asylums on three shifts of eight hours instead of, as at present, two shifts of fourteen and ten hours? In that case it will appear to require three attendants for every two at present. That is an increase of 50 per cent., and it is a decidedly serious addition. Further, I think the whole problem requires much more investigation than the promoters have been able to give the Bill. We want to have the opinions and the views of the employés and of those who are managing institutions, and it is for that reason that I think we should be far more likely to make progress and to secure real improvement in the conditions of service if the Noble Lord will accept the suggestion that the Bill might be referred to a Select Committee. I do not believe anything would be lost. It is with a real sense that there is a case to which the Noble Lord has directed attention that I make this suggestion, and I believe that it is far the best way of meeting the case, that we should have a fuller inquiry and full information so that we should get a detailed practical scheme in order to deal with the difficulty.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
The Noble Lord drew a very harrowing picture of the condition of things at our public asylums. They are institutions carried on under the supervision of medical superintendents, and under the close inspection of visiting committees appointed by local bodies. If the story he has laid before us is true, it is a crying and scandalous disgrace to our local authorities. To this extent I agree with the hon. Member (Mr. Charles Roberts) that charges of that kind should be inquired into. Personally I feel very grave doubts as to whether my Noble Friend has not, unintentionally, grossly exaggerated the state of affairs. I hope I shall not make the hon. Member unduly nervous when I say I am very nearly agreeing with most of his speech on this occasion, though we differ on other occasions on most conceivable topics. As far as my position in the matter is concerned, I should feel that the suggestions made by my Noble Friend in the Bill are of a nature which I should expect to come from hon. Members sitting opposite, and which, even though they come from him, I should deal with in the same way by suggesting that they should be referred 1299 to a Select Committee for more careful inquiry before the House attempts to legislate on such a matter.
To what does Clause 1 really come? It proposes that "a person shall not be employed in an asylum in the capacity of male attendant or nurse for more than sixty hours, exclusive of meal times, in any week." The Noble Lord (Viscount Wolmer) has told us that a large portion of the work of an asylum attendant has a very bad effect on the nerves. No doubt that is so. There are certain occasions when, with a bad case under treatment, an attendant has to undergo an exceedingly heavy strain. I would point out that there is no definition in the Bill of "male attendant." A large part of the work in any asylum consists not in looking after serious cases, but in being, if I may so say, in reserve, ready to be called upon in case of emergency. Take, for instance, the time when patients are having recreation. That is an excellent part of asylum routine, and the attendants have then to take part in the games or to exorcise supervision. That part of their work cannot be described as very trying to the nerves or of an exceedingly serious nature. A large portion of what I call the reserve duty cannot be described as a serious strain at any particular time. I submit that, under this Clause, those liable for that reserve work would come under the definition of persons employed in an asylum who should not work more than sixty hours a week.
Is the term "male attendant" intended to include the resident medical officer. I do not know whether the Noble Lord intends to include him, but if anybody has a strain upon his nerves I should say it is the resident medical officer. What are the conditions of his employment? It is most necessary that he should sleep on the premises, and during that time is he to be regarded as employed in the asylum? He is there more than sixty hours a week, and I wish to know whether the time he is actually on the premises is to be counted or not. He is liable to be rung up at any hour of the night. If the Noble Lord had ever had to fight his way up in a profession he would have found that he could not get very far unless he had worked more than sixty hours a week unless he had considerable backing behind him. Some of the hardest working people in England are in the medical profession, and I do not know how far many of them would have 1300 got if they had confined themselves to sixty hours' work per week. That is an example of the crudeness of the Bill. In my younger days, when I had the pleasure of presiding at a working men's debating society, a question which was discussed was whether, in regard to the hours of labour, the law should make not only the employer a criminal for causing a man to work longer than certain legal hours, but also the man who worked the longer hours. This is the first time, so far as I am aware, that that principle has appeared in an English Bill. My hon. Friend beside me informs me that it is in the Mines Act. It is certainly not in the Shop Hours Bill that a man who works more than a certain number of hours should be made a criminal. That is a detail, and I do not wish to make too much of it. My hon. Friend may say that the only way to make the Act operate is to make the man who dares to work more than sixty hours per week a criminal unless he is able to give some valid excuse for working longer. I support most heartily the suggestion of the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. C. Roberts). I have not been able to communicate with the members of any visiting committee in order to ascertain their experience on the point, but I am quite willing to take my Noble Friend's view that there is something to be inquired into as regards the conditions of employment in asylums. I oppose the sending of (his Bill to a Committee upstairs in its present form, because I believe it is in far too crude a condition to be the basis of legislation.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
I do not rise for the purpose of criticising the doctrines laid down apparently by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Rawlinson) and the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) as to the hours worked by professional men. I have no doubt they are quite admirable, and I hope that the Noble Lord will take them to heart. It might be useful if at this stage I were to inform the House as to the attitude which the Government take on the question. I think the Noble Lord has certainly made out a case at least for investigation in connection with the particular class which he so admirably championed in his opening speech. There is no doubt that they are a class which have particularly trying duties to perform. They are a class of public servants, whether in asylums under the control of local authorities, or in quasi-public 1301 institutions run under Government licence as private asylums. It is a little incorrect to compare that class with other classes concerning which this House has legislated, or is about to legislate, as regards the limitation of the hours of labour. The hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University quite rightly pointed out that a good deal of the work done by asylum attendants bears no kind of relationship to the work which the miner is doing or the shop assistant is doing—men who are at work in one place for more than sixty hours per week. There is some trying work to be done, and there is continual responsibility in the case of asylum attendants, but there is considerable opportunity for getting fresh air and recreation during their hours of labour which the workers in shops and coal mines have not got. On the other hand, the Noble Lord has in support of his proposal a certain amount of official evidence. My hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln, in quoting the reports of the Lunacy Commission, gave figures which show that, as regards the hours of asylum attendants a case for consideration has been made out. Allowing for the partial stretches for recreation or relaxation, those hours are really too long. He has shown, also from the report of the Lunacy Commission, that on the whole the average is fourteen hours for day work and ten hours for night work. It will seem to most Members of this House that these hours, if they can be reduced without undue expenditure to the local authority, should certainly be reduced. But when we go beyond general affirmations of that kind we find that we are dealing with matters upon which this House has really no data on which to make up its mind. I was anxious to see if the Noble Lord, and those who are advising him, had any kind of information as to the cost of the changes which are proposed; but I find that he has been unable to supply such information.
Our policy therefore is this. We are being asked to impose on the local authorities—for not one farthing of this expenditure will come out of the National Exchequer—an indefinite amount of increased expenditure under conditions where they have not been heard either in support or rejection of the proposition, and where they themselves have not at present much information as to what the amount of that increase may be. The only suggestion that the Lunacy Commission were able to make when this question was last raised in 1906 was that anything like a provision of sixty 1302 hours a week would mean a cost in their opinion absolutely prohibitive. The only way they could see that it could be worked was, as my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln has said, by the substitution of three shifts for two shifts in the work. That means an enormous increase in the staff. I am not sure whether the trained staff could be obtained in reasonable time to make that increase, and consequently there would be an enormous increase in the expenditure. There may, however, be other means whereby the hours might be reduced besides the inclusion of a certain number of supplementary attendants or the readjustment of hours, and if there are any means by which these hours can be reduced it is certainly desirable that this House should ascertain if that is so by a Select Committee.
I agree with the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University that we should not be justified in sending this Bill to an ordinary Standing Committee, where no evidence is taken but the evidence which we have at our disposal, in order that it might rapidly pass, and after it passes perhaps cause more dislocation and injury to asylum attendants than anyone contemplates at the present moment, least of all the suporters of the Bill. I have asked the House specially to fix its attention on Clause 1 because that is the essential and really operative part of the Bill. The Noble Lord's great desire is to decrease the number of hours which these attendants work at present. But there is considerable criticism, some of which has been advanced this afternoon, concerning some of the other Clauses of the Bill. I doubt, for instance, if it would be desirable that the change which is proposed in Clause 2 should be adopted, at least without serious discussion on it, to reduce the term of life at which a pension is possible, so that a very large number of those who go into this service—and it is mostly a life service—perhaps at the age of twenty or twenty-one, would be found retiring with a pension for life at the age of forty-five or forty-six.
Even the police do not possess that privilege, and I do not think that their work is less exhausting than that of the asylum attendants. As to the later clauses making alterations in the Asylums Superannuation Act, I find myself for once, and I am glad to acknowledge it, in agreement with the hon. Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury). The Act, as we know, was largely passed 1303 through his support, or perhaps I had better say that it would have been impossible to pass it if he had opposed it, and when I say that about the hon. Member for the City of London, it means a good deal. This Act has not been in operation for much more than a year. It came into force on the 1st April, 1910, and now we are asked to make considerable alterations in it. It is rather a strong step to take, to begin once more grubbing at a measure which has been in force only a few days over a year. The points which the Noble Lord raised in connection with this Act have been dealt with by my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln. They were fully discussed in the various Amendments which were proposed in the last Parliament, and had been deliberately in some eases rejected after discussion by the House of Commons.
I do not think it altogether fair to ask the House of Commons to go back on their decision so soon, and under these conditions. Therefore I would strongly urge the Noble Lord to accept the suggestions which have been made from all quarters to have this Bill sent to a Select Committee. I do not think he will lose anything by doing so because I doubt if he will be able to get it through Grand Committee, and also through the House afterwards. I think it would be very desirable that the attention of those who are interested in this problem might be fixed during this summer on the whole question, that the evidence might be taken, and that we might see in the end what the attitude of the local authorities would be, whether any modification of the Bill is desired, and whether without this hard and fast line being laid down about sixty hours, some general effort might not be made to reduce the hours of these most hard-working and deserving servants of the community. If he sees the way to accept that proposition certainly the Government will be ready to support the Second Reading.
§ Mr. SWIFT
As one of those who have been associated with the Noble Lord in the preparation of this Bill, I feel I can speak with his authority when I say he will quite cheerfully accept the proposition which has just been put before him by the Under-Secretary for the Home Department (Mr. Masterman). Before the Bill is dealt with in that way I should like to make one or two observations upon the subject matter of it. The hon. Member 1304 for Cambridge University spoke of the Noble Lord who introduced this Bill as having made grave charges against local authorities. I listened very carefully to what the Noble Lord had to say, and I have had opportunities of considering this matter with him, and neither in this House nor out of it have I ever heard him make the slightest suggestion against the local authorities at all except in so far as this may be considered a suggestion against them that the attendants in asylums are being worked too long. I do not say that this is a thing for which local authorities are to be blamed. It may be their misfortune quite as much as their fault. I venture to think now the time has come for the House to endeavour, whatever may be the cause of this, to see that it may not happen again.
It is generally agreed on all sides of the House that there is something special about the work of attendants in asylums. I do not want to try to follow the hon. Baronet through the review which he gave us of the growth of the policy of limiting the hours of labour. I am not concerned with the general proposition as to whether it is right or not right to limit the hours of adult male labour. I am convinced that, under certain circumstances, the hours of adult male labour ought to be limited, and the time, I venture to think, they ought to be limited is when the safety, health, comfort, or well-being of other people is dependent upon the work which is being done. When persons are called upon to perform work which, if they suffer from strain or over-work, may result in injury to other persons, then the legislature ought to step in and interfere with the hours of work. The hon. Baronet tells us that the hours of railway servants are not limited. I feel very much inclined to say, then it is time that they were. The comfort and the safety of over 130,000 people in this country, through their afflictions and their mental state, are dependent upon the attitude which is adopted towards them by the persons who are in charge of them. It is admitted that the work of those attendants is very severe. There must be—I do not care whether they are in a cricket field or taking open-air walks—a constant watch and supervision kept by the attendants upon the patients, and the well being of those patients, as well as their safety, is dependent upon the tact and temper, upon the strength and energy of those attendants, and anything which would unduly 1305 strain that tact and temper, or would place a burden upon that energy and strength, is a matter in which, not for the benefit of the attendants themselves alone, nor for the their benefit mainly, but for the benefit of thousands of people who are committed to their charge. In such circumstances, I submit that we ought to limit the hours of their labour. In regard to the various Clauses of the Bill I wish to say very little. The main principle of the measure is what my Noble Friend and I contend for, namely, that some steps should be taken in order that the system which has gone on up till now should be prevented in the future. But I cannot help referring, quite briefly', to one or two remarks which has been made about the various Clauses. The hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Rawlinson) denounced the drafting of this Bill. Had we not been told by the hon. Baronet, the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury), that the hon. and learned Member is a very eminent and distinguished lawyer, I should have said that he really had not read the legislation which led up to this Bill. This measure is really not the first attempt to deal with lunatic asylums or attendants in lunatic asylums. If hon. Members will refer to the last Clause of the Bill, they will see it is only to form part of the main and larger Act. It also refers to the Lunacy Act of 1890. It is perfectly true that we have not defined again in this Bill the term "male attendant," but all these things were done years ago.
§ Mr. SWIFT
A male attendant is a person of the male sex, and I should have thought that did not require an Act of Parliament to define it. I should have thought that the hon. and learned Member for the University of Cambridge would have understood what a male attendant was without requiring the aid of a Section in an Act of Parliament.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
What I said was that there was no definition in this Act, and so far as I am aware in any other Act, of the words "male attendant," or whether the term included such a person as the resident medical officer, for example. Can the hon. Member point to any definition of the words "male attendant" in the Act of Parliament?
§ Mr. SWIFT
My impression is, since I am challenged on the point by the hon. 1306 and learned Member, though I will not be positive about it, that the words "male attendant "are defined in the Lunacy Act of 1890, and denned so as to exclude the the medical superintendent. [An HON. MEMBER: "What Clause?"] I do not pretend to be able to give the Clause. I have not looked into the matter for present purposes, and I cannot pretend offhand to say. There are two Lunacy Acts, and that of 1890 contains over 300 Sections, and I cannot pretend to remember them all. A suggestion was made that it is unnecessary to alter the Asylums Officers (Superannuation) Act of 1990 by this Bill, but the alterations which are proposed have been generally admitted by the hon. Member for Lincoln, who had considerable experience in the passing of that Act, to be of a desirable character. But after all, these are matters which can be discussed in Committee, and it is hardly necessary to deal with them now. Clause 4, which excited the wrath of the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London, is, I think, a most important one from the point of view of the asylum attendant, because it puts him beyond the possibility of a mistake, of a caprice, or of an act of spite, committed by some person suddenly and without proper reflection probably, and which would have the effect of depriving him of his pension, and his savings which go to make up the pension. All we ask is that before his rights are sacrificed he may have an opportunity of putting his case before the visiting committee. I imagine that now, at any rate, after what the Under-Secretary has said, we shall have an opportunity of further ventilating this matter before the Committee, where all the facts which at present may be obscure will be made plain, and where there may be an opportunity of doing away with what we venture to regard as a long-standing grievance which ought to be remedied.
§ Dr. ADDISON
I am afraid that I agree with the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University in what he said with regard to the drafting of this Bill. One of the most important points in the measure is that it includes the men who work on the farm or in the garden, and it would also certainly include the medical officer of the asylum. In regard to the first Clause, as a matter of drafting, I think the onus which it places upon the employ who happens to work more than sixty hours per week is exceedingly unfair to the employé, who, as a matter of fact, 1307 would have no option whatever, and it would be a very cruel thing that he should suffer for being compelled to obey the orders of his superior officer. That seems to me a monstrous proposal to put in this Bill, and I feel very certain that the Select Committee will delete it. We recognise, I am sure, that a large number of these institutions have a very trying task; but a considerable number of the attendants or those employed in the asylums are engaged in the gardens and other places upon work which can hardly be fairly described as being of a very trying kind. The work of the attendants depends on the class of patients they have in their charge. A considerable number of them are employed in wards where there are intractable patients, and no doubt the hours during which many of them are engaged are exceedingly onerous and bad, both for the patients and the attendants. But a serious omission in this Bill is that it does not include licensed houses, and I think, when the Select Committee gets to work they will find that the injustices in licensed houses and in places which are not under authority are in very much more need of attention than those which exist in large public asylums.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Can the hon. Gentleman say whether it would be possible to include licensed houses?
§ Dr. ADDISON
I am afraid I am not able to answer that question off-hand; my impression is that it would not. That, of course, is a very serious defect in the Bill, and it is one that will be brought out at once before the Select Committee.
I would like to take the opportunity of criticising the remarks of the hon. Baronet the Member for the City. He went on to say that it would follow from this Bill that we were to limit the hours of labour of a considerable section of workers of the community, and that, so far as he knew, that hard work did no one any harm. I think the recognition of the falsity of that statement is shown by the fact that he could not find a seconder for his Motion in regard to this Bill. The fact is that millions of our fellow-countrymen have suffered, and do suffer daily, from very onerous conditions of employment and far too long hours of labour. The result is that this Bill, and others of a kindred nature, are brought forward. I think the time has gone past when it is possible to deny that statement, although we recognise that a 1308 large number of people would not have succeeded much in life, and amongst them Members of Parliament, if they had not worked a good many more hours than sixty per week. At the same time the hon. Baronet went too far in comparing the labour of attendants in asylums with that of his Majesty's Judges.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I did not do that. I instanced the labour of His Majesty's Judges to show that hard work did no injury.
§ Dr. ADDISON
I think the hon. Baronet overlooked a very considerable distinction, because attendants do not have the long vacations of His Majesty's Judges. Although, no doubt, the judges have to work sometimes after the Courts are closed, yet I think one can say that their hours of employment are entirely different, and not at all comparable to those of asylum attendants. I confess I think the hon. Baronet selected his illustration somewhat unfortunately. Nevertheless I would like to give a hearty support to the general principle of the Bill. I think that particularly in small asylums, and many that are not as closely inspected perhaps as we would like, the conditions of employment are unsatisfactory in very many respects, and that a useful purpose will be served if this matter is inquired into by a Select Committee. I think that a Committee of this House upstairs in the ordinary way would be an entirely inappropriate body to which to send a Bill of this character which is exceedingly crude, and, if I may say so, very badly drafted. I quite recognise that the supporters of this Bill are willing that it should go to a Select Committee the labours of which I hope will lead to considerable public benefit to this class of workman.
§ Mr. GEORGE ROBERTS
The fact that there seems to be a general understanding that this Bill should be referred to a Select Committee necessarily narrows the limit of the criticism one desires to offer upon it. Nevertheless, I am free to say that even had it been carried to a Grand Committee, I would have given my support to the Second Reading, because I believe that before that Committee the Bill might have been made a practicable measure. I quite contemplated when the two hon. Gentlemen were introducing this measure that they would encounter the hostility of the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London. In that he is in 1309 no way inconsistent, because it is in accord with his frank statement of opinion, which everybody knows, that he is always opposed to legislation of this class. In reference to his speech, delivered on the Second Reading of the Shops Bill, I offered one or two observations in reply to one or two of his remarks. The hon. Baronet very correctly says that only those people succeed in any sphere of life who are prepared to work hard. That I acknowledged on that occasion. No working man acquires education or becomes in any way cultured unless he is prepared to work after he has earned his daily bread, but I hardly think that the analogy goes quite so far as the hon. Baronet generally carries it. After all, when a man works alone as an individual there can be no objection to the individual action, but when it involves other members of the community I think we are carrying the doctrine of individual labour too far when it is bringing in the labour of the larger mass. Sixty hours per week, I think, is plenty long enough for any workpeople, however light may be their form of employment. It may be perfectly correct to say that in some asylums the work of the attendant is not of a particularly onerous or arduous character, but it must be remembered the men are on duty the whole of the while. The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department referred to the fact that the attendants participate in the games and recreations of the inmates of the asylums, but though that is so, the men are on duty. They are working at high tension the whole of their time; it is simply a form of duty, and it is not quite correct to characterise it as a method of recreation in which the attendant engages at his own inclination and for his own benefit. Therefore it is perfectly true to affirm that the attendants are on duty for these long hours. We of the Labour party have had submitted to us much evidence in respect of this matter, showing that long hours do prevail in many cases, and we are convinced that the mental strain upon the men is of a somewhat exceptional character. I am not in a position to say that all the information which has come to hand is of a reliable or of an authoritative character, and I had hoped that the promoters of the Bill would have been able to give us that information in a way which would have justified us in giving a unanimous vote for the reference of the Bill to a Grand Committee. It is their omission to do that which has brought me round to recognise 1310 that there is a great force in the contention that, having regard to the unsatisfactory state of the information submitted to us this afternoon, we ought to make an exception in this case, and not send the Bill automatically to a Grand Committee, but set up a Select Committee, in the course of whose inquiry the necessary information may be elicited.
This class of legislation is not novel, but nevertheless its being embraced by hon. Gentlemen opposite certainly marks a departure from the traditions and practices of the Conservative party, I appreciate with the hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) that when we have Members of the Conservative party endorsing principles like the limitation of the hours of adult labour, even in this modified fashion, there is no logical halting place between that and the general application of the principle. The most pleasing sign in my view is that the Conservative party is becoming more and more susceptible to public opinion. The advent of the Labour party into politics has done a great deal to create a public opinion and a demand for this class of social reform. Members even of the Conservative party are now beginning to recognise that, this social conscience having been awakened as a result of this education and propaganda, these questions are now potent political factors, and we have them in this House subscribing to opinions which, in times gone by, have been regarded as the heresies of Socialism. I certainly never expected when I first entered Parliament that I should find myself responsible members of the Conservative Party introducing this class of legislation. I offer no objection to it; I do not mind who do things so long as they are accomplished. We shall support the principle of this measure, because it is a principle which we have consistently advocated, and we regard the acceptance of that principle by hon. Gentlemen opposite as a mark of the success of our propaganda and advocacy. I view with considerable alarm, however, the proposal to make it a penal act for an attendant to work more than sixty hours. To fine a man £5 because he has violated the provisions of this measure seems to me something which cannot be justified. The proposal seems to embrace the whole fallacy that is in the mind of the hon. Baronet opposite. He seems to regard everybody as being as free as himself. But such is not the case. A man in a factory is not free; and an attendant in an asylum is not free. If 1311 the superintendent informs him that he is to work longer, he has got to obey orders or forfeit his situation, and the contemplation of what may happen to those dependent upon him, may compel him to acquiesce in those orders, even though he knows that he is violating the law. Therefore I feel that the promoters of the Bill will have to remove that liability from the individual attendant, and place it upon the shoulders of those who are responsible.
There is another point which the promoters seem to have overlooked. In all this class of legislation provision has to be made to see that the enactments are carried out. That involves some amount of inspection. I do not know whether the promoters have contemplated any particular method of inspection in this case. The danger is exaggerated here because in a large number of instances the attendants live on the asylum premises, or in cottages adjacent to the grounds. Therefore the possibility of detecting infractions of the law would be extremely difficult. That is one point which I apprehend will have to be thoroughly thrashed out in Committee. There is one innovation to which reference has already been made, namely, the serious introduction into a Bill submitted by members of the Conservative Party, and presumably with the support of the major portion of that party, of the principle of fixing a statutory rate of payment for hours of work. I have been engaged for a number of years, both unofficially and officially, in trade union negotiations, and I shall certainly support the enactment of this principle, because if Parliament gives sanction to the idea that overtime shall be paid for at the rate of 25 per cent. in excess of the ordinary rate of remuneration, the mere fact that trade union officials are able to point to such an enactment ought to make their work much easier in this direction than it has been.
With the aim and general principles of the Bill we on these benches find ourselves in hearty agreement. The Bill deals with a very worthy and deserving section of the community, but I regret that its ambit does not embrace private enterprise asylums, because I believe that investigation will prove that the conditions under local authorities are somewhat better than those in asylums which do not at present come within the scope of the measure. We also 1312 feel from our investigations that the proposals dealing with superannuation will require careful consideration. I do not say that we oppose the suggestion, but we rather fear that it has been submitted without full regard to the extent of the extra liability that will be imposed upon superannuation funds, and as to whether the actuarial condition of those funds will warrant this burden. But as all these matters can be thoroughly investigated and sifted by the Select Committee, before which all parties interested will be able to give evidence and cross-examine witnesses, I feel that the best thing that can be done, having regard to the great principles involved, and the somewhat irresponsible way in which those principles have been submitted to the House, is that it should be sent to a Select Committee instead of to a Grand Committee. I hope, however, that that will not have the effect of arresting legislation altogether. I have previously regarded with great suspicion the reference of any measure to a Select Committee, but I believe that there is sufficient force behind this Bill to ensure that the adoption of that course will not mean the stifling of all legislation of this character, and that when we have reliable data to work upon, a practicable measure will be framed which will have the effect of carrying into the lives of these attendants all that is desirable and all that it is proposed to effect.
§ Mr. HELME
Hon. Members on this side of the House are accustomed to look upon questions of the conditions and circumstances of the workers with a degree of interest which naturally predisposes them to look favourably upon a Bill such as this. But may I congratulate the Noble Lord, who so early in his Parlamentary career has shown his generous impulses by turning his attention to these social questions, and express the hope that after further study of these questions he will feel himself compelled to continue his journey, ultimately to find himself on this side of the House. To-day we are asked to consider the question of the employment of asylum workers. I am only sorry that this Bill has come up without so many who are interested in the question being aware that it was put down for to-day. The representatives of the London Asylums Board are not here and it was quite by accident that I heard of the Bill coming on. Otherwise I should have been in a position to put before the House certain data that was lacking in the presentation 1313 of the case by the Noble Lord. May 1, however, speaking as Chairman of the Lancashire Asylums Board, under which we have some thousands of patients to deal with, to bear my testimony to the care and skill with which the workers in these asylums have carried out the difficult task entrusted to them. As a representative of the local authorities I can also say that we are desirous to meet the opportunity of ameliorating the conditions of the workers, to the limit of practicability, being in full sympathy with the desire that our attendants should at any rate work under conditions that are healthful to the successful treatment of the patients that are committed to their care. As this Bill is being referred to a Select Committee I need not go into its details, but I may say that there is a very strong feeling in Lancashire against the increased cost of local government. I was glad to hear the Noble Lord say in regard to the important question of limiting employment to sixty hours that he was prepared that that matter, when it came before the Committee, should be dealt with in an elastic spirit. I think in order that we may deal fairly with the interests of the workers and also the cost of management we must differentiate the classes of employment. Those who are employed in certain branches of the work which are more strenuous and dangerous should have the necessary support and sympathy in regard to the conditions and the hours under which they work, and those who are employed under less exacting conditions should be treated accordingly. Where a considerable portion of the time of the patients is spent in the open-air—in the game of cricket, for instance—the strain when joining in the game is not so great upon the attendants as when they are occupied in dealing in the wards with severe and acute cases.
§ Mr. HELME
An hon. Member suggests dancing. All these things come into the experience of asylum management, in order to assist in the treatment of the patients. I was going to call attention to another important point. We have found an increasing objection on the part of the ratepayers, by their representative on the Asylums Board, to sanction the pensions that are suggested, on the recommendation of the visiting committees, at the discretion of the Board, to asylum attendants on the grounds of being excessive for services rendered. The recent 1314 Act of course puts the payment of pensions upon a contributory basis, and it requires carefully looking at to see whether it is desirable to go as far as the Noble Lord has suggested, namely, twenty years. In the Police Act of 1800, if the police authority fix a limit of age below which the constable cannot retire without a medical certificate, the limit cannot be less than fifty years. If you take the female nurse attendants coming into the service at twenty years of age, and going out after twenty years on pension, that will be considered a too generous arrangement in the opinion of the ratepayers who have to find the money. And consequently we shall have to look into (his matter very carefully. So far as my Board is concerned, we shall be glad to give the fullest information before a Select Committee, in order to advise them upon any of the facts as to the working of our asylums in the past. I have pleasure in recognising the spirit in which the proposals in this Bill are made, but I do feel that it would have been well before bringing the Bill into the House it the promoters had taken counsel with those who are experienced in the working of lunacy laws. I had a letter the other day from Sir William Collins asking for information in connection with certain matters in connection with this Bill, and I am sure that he and others would only be too glad to join in any effort to improve and to make better the curative treatment of those unfortunately afflicted in mind, and to make conditions of employment better and more attractive for the staff in the future.
Attention called to the fact that forty Members were not present. House counted, and forty Members being found present—
§ Mr. ROWLANDS
I should not have intervened in this Debate but for the fact that I have in my constituency a very large number of people who are deeply interested in the principle of the Bill now before the House. I am glad to think that a large portion of this afternoon has been spent debating a subject which is of great interest to the well-being of a large section of the industrial portion of the community. I have had placed before me a large number of the grievances under which attendants at various asylums consider they suffer. Just outside London there is the asylum of the London County Council, the asylum of the Metropolitan Asylums Board, and the asylum of the 1315 Poor Law Union of the City of London. In the case of these asylums the attendants have from time to time put their case before me, and have expressed the desire that something should be done to better their position, both in the direction which this Bill goes in regard to the number of hours, and also in regard to superannuation and an amendment of the pension scheme. Before a Grand Committee this Bill, I think, could have been very much amended and overhauled, but perhaps it is as well that this measure is going to be sent to a Select Committee, where the statements which have been made will have the opportunity of being criticised.
With regard to restriction of the hours of labour, there was a time when it was quite open for the House to take up a position again legislation of this kind affecting adult labour, but, for good or evil, we have gone far beyond that now. We have already burned our boats in regard to this question of the hours of adult labour, and now we have to take each individual case on its merits and say whether in connection with any particular class of labour there are circumstances around it which necessitate that legislative restrictions should be put upon these hours of labour. With regard to the class we are dealing with this afternoon their labour, whether they get a little recreation or not, it a very arduous and responsible one, and in many instances it is the class of labour which many of us would not like to have to devote ourselves to in order to earn our livelihood. The grievances of this class in my opinion are worthy of the serious consideration of this House. It is not necessary now to go into those grievances because they will be threshed out in Committee, I hope, at a very early date if not this year early in the next Session of Parliament. For these reasons I do not think it is necessary now to discuss the matter in detail. There is, however, one point which I have not heard referred to, which I think will have to be brought before the attention of the Select Committee—I refer to the percentage of men which it is necessary to keep inside the building at night time. We have in one institution with which I am acquainted a very large percentage of men, many of them married, who are still kept inside the establishment when they assert that this is not necessary, and they contend that it will be much better for them to be living outside in cottages. That is 1316 a point which has not been referred to previously, and I hope it will receive the consideration of the Committee.
§ Viscount WOLMER
May I appeal to the House to allow this Bill to have a Second Heading now? I think there is no objection in any quarter of the House to its subsequently going to a Select Committee, and, in the event of it being accorded a Second Reading, I shall certainly be prepared to move that it go to a Select Committee.
§ Mr. GEORGE THORNE
I personally am very pleased at the course this discussion has taken. The discussion and the presentation of the Bill to-day represents the great difference which exists between Private Bill legislation and Public Bill legislation. Matters which come from the Government are advertised beforehand, and all persons interested have a full opportunity of discussing them and of ascertaining the views of their constituents, but this has come before the House without those persons chiefly interested having had a full opportunity of giving it consideration. The Bill peculiarly affects local authorities, and it is one therefore which local authorities ought to have had beforehand the fullest opportunity of considering, so that we who are interested in promoting their welfare might have come herewith a knowledge of their views. So far as those views are understood, I have been urged to oppose this measure, but I think that is chiefly because the municipalities, and the various local authorities throughout the country have not had a full opportunity of discussing it first hand. Those-who represent them met yesterday and discussed this Bill so far as they had the opportunity, and they came to a unanimous resolution, I understand, to oppose-it, and to urge hon. Members to be here-and oppose it. I am very glad, in view of the course taken in sending this Bill to a Select Committee, that I for one, being entirely in sympathy with the object of the Bill, am now able not to give it my opposition. I would, however, urge that greater care should be taken in future in matters of this character to see that local authorities have a full opportunity of discussing them in the localities before we consider them in this House.
I can see a great danger in what we are trying to do without local information and local knowledge. We are very often trying to fill up one hole by digging a bigger hole. We have not only to recognise what a thing 1317 costs, but who are going to pay for it. The supreme object of this Bill is one which excites my sympathy and the sympathy of the House generally. We are going to some extent to relieve the burdens which bear too heavily on certain sections of the community; but, in trying to relieve certain burdens on certain sections of the community we do it in a way whereby we increase the burdens of other and already overburdened sections of the community, and we may be doing more harm than good. Looking at the matter from the standpoint of the local ratepayer who is so constantly and increasingly burdened in these matters, I realise we are exposing ourselves to great difficulties in facing this question before we have got a readjustment between Imperial and local finances, but, on the understanding, which I understand is distinctly accepted by the promoters, that the matter is to go to a Select Committee where the local authorities of all descriptions and the institutions concerned will have the fullest opportunity of making their voices heard, and where we can learn what the actual facts are, what the cost is likely to be, and what the result of the incidence of the burden will be, it seems to me that, as we are all agreed on the object and main principle involved, we might allow the Bill to go through the House.
§ Lord ALEXANDER THYNNE
It is very refreshing to find, in the House of Commons to-day, that the welfare and interests of the ratepayers of the country are beginning to find adequate expression. But I do not think that the promoters, either of this Bill or of the Bill which we considered earlier in the afternoon, have any reason at all to complain of the attitude of those Members of the House who are peculiarly interested in municipal activity, because in this instance, as well as in the case of the former Bill, the municipal bodies of this country have had no opportunity at all of considering the details and provisions of measures which closely affect their own province and administration. The Noble Lord who introduced this Bill dwelt at considerable length, and described in graphic terms, the conditions under which employés in the asylums in the country had to work. I certainly agree he has made out a very strong case for their hours being limited to sixty hours a week. But it is travelling a good way from agreeing that the hours should be so limited when he goes on to say it is advisable for this House to 1318 place a statutory limitation on the hours worked by the employés of the great municipalities in this country. I submit that neither the Coal Mines Regulation Act nor the Shop Hours Bill, nor any other measures which have limited the hours of adult labour, are in any way parallel to the proposal which the Noble Lord brings forward to limit the hours of municipal employés.
The House should bear in mind that the great municipalities and county councils of this country are just as representative of the feeling of the country as we are in this House. They drew their sanction for legislative powers just as directly as we do from the constituencies, and therefore I think that on every principle of representative and democratic Government it ought to be left to the directly elected bodies to settle the terms under which those who work for them shall labour. If the Noble Lord wishes to infringe on the principle I have laid down it is incumbent for him to bring forward, not merely evidence but a large body of cogent evidence to show that those who are at present working in the county and municipal asylums in this country are called upon to work unduly long hours. The Noble Lord and the hon. Member who seconded this Bill certainly did mention casual instances within their own knowledge of asylum attendants working in one case, I believe, thirteen hours a day.
§ Lord A. THYNNE
And in another case it was stated that they worked thirty-six hours at a stretch. I do not think that this charge which, after all, is a serious charge, ought to be brought forward in a somewhat general manner. This is a question which should be dealt with by precise statements, and some means should be adopted of informing the House of the localities in which these offenders reside. I should be sorry to see this House asked to generalise from the instances of two such counties as Glamorganshire and Leicestershire. The second point I wish to deal with is what has been called the right of arbitrary dismissal by the medical superintendents of the various asylums. I submit that it is essential that the medical superintendents of these asylums should have considerable power of summary dismissal, because there are cases—happily infrequent—in which it has been necessary to dismiss attendants at our asylums for such grave offences as 1319 drunkenness or striking a patient. I submit that when offences of that kind have been committed inside an asylum you cannot postpone the consideration of and the dealing with a case of that character until you have an opportunity of appealing to the visiting committee. The great point which it is incumbent upon the Noble Lord to make out with regard to this particular right is whether or not this power of summary dismissal has been abused throughout the asylums of this country. I submit that the medical superintendents of the asylums of this country—I can only speak from personal knowledge so far as London is concerned, but I have every reason to believe that the standard of the whole of England is not less high—the medical superintendents of the asylums of this country are not only men of great technical knowledge, but of exceptionally high character, and there is probably no class of men to whom I would sooner entrust this power as regards the subordinate officers than the medical superintendents of some of our asylums.
The last point I wish to deal with is the question of pensions. I quite agree with what the Under-Secretary for the Home Department said earlier in the afternoon. I think it is strongly inadvisable that this House should pass legislation—not merely permissive legislation, but legislation of this character—forcing the municipalities of the country to spend very large sums of money out of the ratepayers' pockets unless the House is at the same time to make good the charge falling upon the municipalities out of the Imperial Exchequer. I think in the particular case of pensions for asylums officers in this country there are probably better grounds for inter-State interference and for interference on the part of this House than there have been in some previous cases, because I think it is desirable that you should have a certain amount of uniformity with regard to the amount of the pensions drawn by the various grades of officials in our asylums, and that there should not be a great diversity as between one district and another. But we have waived our objection and we asked the House to waive their objection to the charge in regard to the previous Bill which we considered this afternoon. I grant that the charge was a very small one and would not create any considerable hardship. In the present case the increased charge upon the municipalities is likely to be an extremely heavy one.
1320 I quite sympathise with, and I do not blame, the Noble Lord who introduced this Bill for not having furnished the House with an approximate estimate of the cost, because such an estimate could only be arrived at after very careful investigation and calculation, but it is very patent to everybody who has studied this subject that it would involve a very material increase of that burden which every municipality has to bear. I am not going to oppose the Second Reading of this Bill on that ground, because I submit that a question of this sort is certainly one which can be investigated and gone into by a Select Committee. Therefore, although I have raised these three objections to my Noble Friend's Bill. I am going to support his Motion that it should be committed to a Select Committee, because all these objections which I have raised on behalf of the municipal bodies of the country might, I think, be very well threshed out and considered by such a Committee. I should like to make one passing reference to what was said by the hon. Member (Mr. G. Roberts) when he congratulated hon. Members on this side of the House on the interest they were taking in measures of social reform. I cannot for a moment admit his claim that the advent of the Labour party in this House has stimulated that interest on these benches, and certainly not on the benches opposite, because if he compares the twenty years preceding the advent of the Labour party to this House with the succeeding ten years he will find that a very much larger number of important measures of social reform were carried during the previous twenty years than were carried during the subsequent ten. I need not remind him that it is no new feature to see measures of this character owe their origin to this side of the House. If he will study the history and genesis of great measures like the Housing Acts, the Factory Acts, and those great Local Government Acts which built up the machinery of local administration in this country he will find that they principally emanated from the party to which I belong. Still less can I admit that this principle of the limitation of the hours of adult labour is in any sense a new principle so far as those Members with whom I co-operate are concerned, because the first time this principle received legislative sanction was in respect of what is now generally known as the Ten Hours Act, which was passed by the Conservative party in the face of a very strenuous opposition of Whig manufacturers. I hope now 1321 there will be a general agreement that this measure may be referred to a Select Committee, on which the objections which have been taken by some of the municipal bodies of this country will be adequately considered.
I had not the advantage of listening to the speech of the Noble Lord who introduced the measure, and I have not had an opportunity of studying with any care the provisions of the measure, and consequently I am not in a position to say whether in all its Clauses it JS applicable to Ireland, or would be useful to that country. But at the same time the broad fact remains that we are dealing with a class of officials who are responsible for perhaps the most exacting of all work that officials can be called upon to do, namely, to attend to those poor people who have lost the use of their senses, and I am afraid the long hours during which the attendants are employed has had a most injurious effect on those very officials and has imposed upon them a strain which has done them very often permanent injury. I should be very loth to do anything with regard to officials in Ireland under any popularly elected bodies which would cause them to feel anything like insubordination towards the authorities under which they work. I think I can say of the local authorities ill Ireland that as a rule they are humane, reasonable bodies, and it would be bad policy on the part of the officials for whom this Bill is largely meant, to alienate the support of the governors and those responsible for the institutions. I think the attendants in the institutions will find that the governors are prepared to meet them in a reasonable way, and to rectify as far as they are able the legitimate grievances which they no doubt suffer from. I did not hear the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for East Clare (Mr. William Redmond), but I understand his statement was that these people suffer largely from over hours. Their wages in Ireland are very small, and while not pinning himself to every detail of the Bill he made the suggestion that it was a matter well worthy of consideration, and that the reasonable way to meet it was to refer the Bill to a Committee where the pros and cons could be threshed out. I think my hon. Friend has the support of his colleagues, and, as representing the constituency in which I think the movement sprang up for the reform of the acknowledged grievances which these 1322 people suffer from, I certainly support the line he has taken. I hope that after the Bill passes the Second Reading it will be sent to a Committee where the pros and cons can be considered, and where the measure can be put into a shape to make it applicable to Ireland.
§ Mr. BOOTH
This Bill, I regret to say, contains one of those Clauses which the House will expect me to take strong objection to. When the Copyright Bill was before the House I found that it contained a similar Clause. The point is this: It puts the onus on a man to prove that he is innocent. I speak in the presence of distinguished lawyers, and I say that I have always understood that one of the great safeguards of a British citizen is that unless guilt is clearly proved he always has the benefit of the doubt. Our criminal laws are a model to the whole civilised world. This is one of those things in regard to which no amount of argument and no amount of appeal even by my closest personal friends will ever induce me to yield upon: I find that Sub-section (3) of Clause 1 says:—If any person is employed contrary to the provisions of this Section, that person and the superintendent of the asylum, unless he proves that he did not know and could not with reasonable care have known that the person was so employed, shall be guilty of an offence, and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding five pounds.I do protest most emphatically against that provision, and while I am in the House I shall invariably oppose any Clause of that kind which appears in any Bill, public or private. It is one of the things which go to the root of my nature, and to the foundation of my interest in politics. It is the root of my Liberalism. It forms one of the principal reasons why I now find myself in the House. I would appeal on this matter to my hon. Friends who call themselves Members of the Labour party. This is very convenient for a man with funds, and who is able to engage the services of men like the hon. and learned Member for the Walton Division (Mr. F. E. Smith) or the distinguished Attorney - General (Sir Rufus Isaacs). Rich men, or men with rich relatives, or men with wives having private incomes, will have no difficulty in meeting a Clause like this, but a poor superintendent, that is, a man with no wealth at his back, who may be a very good official, but have little 1323 or no experience of law, may find himself in a tremendous difficulty in trying to prove that he is not guilty. One of the great safeguards of a man brought before the court is, if he knows he is innocent, he has only to keep his mouth shut and he can defy all the ingenuity of opposing lawyers to prove him guilty The man who is innocent has no step to take. He remains passive. This Clause compels him to be active, and therefore gives the preference to those who can command wealth. I am not inclined to pass over some of the advocacy in favour of this Bill which we have heard this afternoon. Surely this is a Socialist Bill.
§ Mr. BOOTH
A distinguished Member of another place, when asked to define a jingo, said he could not do it, but that he knew one when he saw one. Our hon. Friends below the Gangway may not be able to define a Socialist Bill, but they recognise it when they see it to-day. I suppose this is the fourth production of the Socialist Committee that meets in one of the rooms of this House. If this Bill had been brought in by Members of the Labour party, or anyone on this side of the House, no invectives would have been strong enough for the hon. Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil). But he is much more indulgent to his friends than he is to the Home Secretary. I want to say quite candidly we plainly acknowledge the difficulty—I pointed it out in the previous Bill—of the local authorities, because all the cost will come on them. I hear from the hon. Member for Wolverhampton that there was a meeting yesterday of representatives of the Municipal Corporations of England and Wales, in the form of a little committee. There was not time to convene a general committee to consider this Bill, and a sort of emergency meeting of the Legal Committee was held. I am told it unanimously condemned this Bill in the interests of the municipal corporations. I happen to be in the position of representing the most famous and historic borough in this country. It originates from two Latin words which I have no doubt will interest the University Members of this House. [HON. MEMBERS: "Name."] It is Pontefract. The Corporation of that Borough is represented in this association that met yesterday, and my own opinion 1324 is that the municipal borough which I represent would ask me to oppose this Bill if they had time. I am obliged on the spur of the moment to deal with this Bill, though everybody is tired. The hon. Member for Oxford University spoke about our being rather narrow-minded, so that I have to appeal to a narrow-minded House on this question. After all, this is a serious matter. I value the principle of representation to such an intense degree that I can assure you quite candidly that I consider it my first duty to represent the borough from which I come. And I would point out that the first matter which will at once engage the serious attention of the local authorities, or about which they will cry out, will be: Who is to provide all the cash which will be needed for the purposes of this Bill? I should have thought that the Noble Lord (Viscount Wolmer) would have been considerate enough, for he is one of the kindest-hearted Members of the House, to indicate to us, or give some guess at what will be the amount of the cost entailed by this measure. I was chairman of half a parish when I was twenty-one years of age, and I know something about the views of local authorities on money matters. When a member of the local authority brought forward some random proposal for public baths, a town hall, or some such institution which the town could not afford, we had a means of at once striking at the root of his proposition. All we did was to provide a seconder for the motion, on condition that the mover undertook to get out an estimate of the cost of his proposal. We never heard of it again. I wish the Noble Lord could give to those Members who have to go back to their constituents with some explanation of this measure, what exactly its cost will be in pounds, shillings, and pence. The fact that the Bill is to be sent to a Select Committee is advanced as a reason for passing it, and a more extraordinary argument I have never heard. Why should we shirk our obligations in this the first year of a Parliament which is going to last for years. The hon. Baronet cheers that.
§ Mr. BOOTH
In this first Session there is no need for this hasty legislation. If it goes to a Select Committee it cannot be passed into law this year. It seems to me that the first thing necessary is to appoint a Departmental Committee of inquiry, or devise some other means of investigation, in order that we may ascertain all the necessary facts bearing on the matter; and if the information which we obtain goes to show that long hours are being worked by asylum attendants, then next Session, which will take place despite the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London's wish to the contrary, we should offer no opposition to such a measure being brought forward. But this Bill is badly drafted; it has just been put into our hands; we have not had time to send it to the local authorities, and no good object can be attained by passing it into law in this form. Clause 6, for instance, makes a tremendous change. It asks that three years shall be substituted for ten. We all know that the salaries of those men in the last few years will be considerably higher than in the first three years of the ten. That clearly means increased payment. These are very important questions. Clause 4 deals with the dismissal of officers and servants, but I am not at all clear that there will be any satisfactory treatment under such a Clause. It states,The consent in writing of the Visiting Committee shall be obtained as soon as may be.That is a very peculiar phrase. It goes on to say,has had the opportunity of being heard.
§ There is no indication that there will be justice in the case, or that the thing will be in any definite form. I must say that I have no confidence in these Clauses at all. They are calculated to do injustice to poor men. The rich man can take care of himself. Even the poor superintendent with rich friends can take care of himself, but the hard-working man who knows his job, and who has worked himself up to great respect and a fair amount of emolument will be alarmed when he knows of the existence of such a Clause as (his. It does seem to me whether you take one, two, or three, or any of these Clauses, that the conclusion is the same. It will not attain the object hon. Members want, and they have been wasting the time of the House this afternoon by a badly drafted Bill. If they had consulted the proper authorities, or allowed hon. Members to have perused it for forty-eight hours so that we might have the opinion of experts in our constituencies then we could have made suggestions, but as it is this Bill will not work, and I do not think a Select Committee can make it work. It is very awkwardly framed, and it is a thankless task to be sent upstairs to deal with a Bill of the kind. I think I am making a fair appeal to the Noble Lord to withdraw the Bill, and I hope I can speak for the hon. Baronet as well as myself in saying that if ho will do so—
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 105; Noes, 3.1327
|Division No. 167.]||AYES.||[4.58 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin)||Craik, Sir Henry||Hodge, John|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Crawshay-Williams, E.||Holt, Richard Durning|
|Allen Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Crooks, William||Illingworth, Percy H.|
|Allen Charles Peter (Stroud)||Crumley, Patrick||Isaacs, Sir Rufus Daniel|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Dawes, James Arthur||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Delany, William||Jones, Wm. S. Glyn. (Stepney)|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Dillon, John||Joyce, Michael|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Doris, William||Keating, Matthew|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Kebty-Fletcher, J. R.|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Edwards, J. H. (Glam., Mid.)||Kelly, Edward|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of||Kilbride, Denis|
|Brocklehurst, William B.||Elverston, Harold||Lambert, Richard (Cricklade)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Esmonde, Sir T. (Wexford, N.)||Lansbury, George|
|Byles, William Pollard||Ffrench, Peter||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)|
|Cassel, Felix||Fletcher, John S.||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Cawley, Sir Fredk. (Prestwich)||Gardner, Ernest||Lundon, Thomas|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford Univ.)||Gulland, John William||Lyell, C. H.|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Hackett, John||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Hancock, John George||Manfield, Harry|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Hayden, John Patrick||Marshall, Arthur Harold|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Helme, Norval Watson||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Molloy, Michael|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Higham, John Sharp||Nellson, Francis|
|Nolan, Joseph||Pringle, William M. R.||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Radford, George Heynes||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Reddy, Michael||White, Sir Luke (York, E. R.)|
|O'Doherty, Phillip||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|O'Grady, James||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|O'Shee, James John||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Parker, James (Halifax)||Rowlands, James||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Pearce, Robert (Leek)||Scott, A. MacCallum (Bridgeton)||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Sheehy, David|
|Power, Patrick Joseph||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Viscount|
|Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander||Wolmer and Mr. Swift.|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir F. Banbury and Mr. Booth.|
|Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Thynne, Lord Alexander|
Bill read a second time, and committed to a Select Committee.
§ Whereupon, Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 3.
§ Adjourned at Ten minutes after Five o'clock till Monday next, 24th April.