§ Mr. O'GRADY
I beg to move as an Amendment, to add at the end of the Address—But humbly regret that no promise has been made of a Bill establishing the right to work by placing upon the State the responsibility of directly providing employment or maintenance for the genuine unemployed.In moving this Amendment I beg to say I am doing so on behalf of the Labour Party with whom I am associated, and we take this course for three reasons. The first of these reasons is that in the Gracious Speech from the Throne there is reference made to a measure of insurance against unemployment. With that we have no fault to find except that it is rather partial in its character, and above all, we think it does not touch that most deserving class of the unemployed—that large section of the community made up of unskilled labourers. We read in the public Press that the principle of contribution is to be incorporated in that Bill, but when I remind the House that there are a large section of unskilled workmen who are only casually employed, many of them not employed at all during the whole twelve months, I think the House will agree that that Bill in no sense touches the large and deserving class I have mentioned. May I put one case? I have been associated all my life with the class of workers known as Dock labourers, and the figures in connection with unemployment among them are: 25 per cent are always out of employment, and another 25 per cent. work only six months in the year altogether. So the House will readily see we are constrained to move an Amendment of this character, not that we object to the proposals in the Gracious Speech from the Throne, but in order that this question may be broadly considered by the House in all its bearings.
Our second reason for moving the Amendment is that, unfortunately, we have been unlucky in the Ballot; had we not been unlucky in the Ballot probably this Amendment would not be moved.
587 My third reason for moving this Amendment is that we have received a direct mandate from our Congress which met at Leicester this day week, that is to say the Labour Party were instructed to proceed in the direction of getting the House to consider the principles of the measure referred to in my Amendment. What are those principles? That the State should take the responsibility directly of providing employment or maintenance for the unemployed. In moving this resolution it naturally becomes my duty to move it upon broader lines than those I have just mentioned. The one feature in connection with this problem of unemployment that would strike a student of the matter is that in modern industrial development and production unemployment is no mere passing phenomena, but it has been a permanent feature of our present industrial organisation for a long time. As the hon. Member for Leicester said in 1907, when speaking on the Right to Work Bill, "As soon as the fact that unemployment is a permanent feature of our industrial system is intellectually grasped we are certain that the principles underlying this motion will be incorporated in some Statute which will deal with the problem of unemployment." The student of modern production will agree that a very curious thing is happening. The present system is concentrating capital in fewer hands as years go on, and as industries develop. That, of course, creates a monopoly, in fact it can be said that the unit of capital that refuses to co-operate with other units for purposes of production is absolutely thrown out of production. Then we have to consider the introduction of labour-saving machinery, involving more particularly in my own trade a very scientific organisation of the workmen making the work of the old-time craftsmen a mere mechanical operation. The net result is that you get cheaper production and less manual labour required. If such skilled workmen are thrown on the labour market there is often no possibility of employment for them no matter what is the condition of trade. The figures during a trade boom show that there is at least five per cent. of skilled workers with no possibility of employment at all.
Then we get a large percentage of what is known as the surplusage of labour. That fact has been recognised even by the representatives of federated and organised capital. About three years ago the editor 588 of "The Engineer" published some statistics showing that every works manager knows it is impossible to tender for contracts unless he is certain that there is at least 2½ per cent. of skilled labour unemployed. If you are bound to have this surplusage of labour, if it is essential according to the orthodox economist, do not let that surplusage suffer all the agony, despair, and hopelessness which accompanies unemployment. I have just been reading a paragraph in a paper which emphasizes very much this point. It says:—Trade is booming, and families are out of work,I am quoting from the "Westminster Gazette," 9th February, 1911.Trade is booming although we notice the London Salvation Army officers report a great increase in distress. The 'War Cry' speaks of thousands of families who have reached their last extremity. Families of six, eight, and ten children are found crowded into one room without light, fire, food, or bedding, and with too little clothing. The man is probably out on tramp looking for work, but when at home "he often appears to be a capable fellow in the prime of life and the master of a trade, and simply broken-hearted because he cannot find employment.Those who have made the wealth of the country ought not to be made to suffer in this way, and the State itself should take over the obligation of finding employment for men and women of this character. The other point raised in the motion before the House is that if you cannot find employment directly for the workless you should at least provide them with maintenance, I know that political economists hold up their hands in holy horror at the awful cost involved, but I do not think there would be any very great cost in this matter. Let there be no mistake about this question. At the present time we have got to keep the unemployed whether we like it or not, and I maintain that the brutal logic of refusing to accept the two points put forward in our motion means that if you will not find work for the unemployed, and you refuse to maintain them, the best way is to put them in the lethal chamber out of their misery I know the House would not assent to such a brutal course as that. I know that every single member of this House is as sympathetic towards the unemployed as we are ourselves, and I am sure that this Motion will be considered not merely with sympathy, but with fairness. Upon former occasions I regret that a certain amount of bitterness has crept in, but I feel certain that will not be the case to-day. We have now to keep the unemployed either by means of the workhouse, outdoor re- 589 lief, or private charity, and I know of no system that has burned despair and hopelessness more in the hearts of our people than the present workhouse system. I know the question of cost is bound to come up. I have been told by the hon. Member for Woolwich that if a workman and his wife and children are allowed to enter the workhouse it will cost the ratepayers at least £2 per week to keep them there. I do not profess to be a financial expert, but I suggest that, in view of the fact that our own Right to Work Bill simply says if work cannot be found maintenance shall be found—that is, merely the necessaries of life—after all, the question of cost ought not to be a barrier to the acceptance of principles of this kind. I am sure if hon. Members had experienced the miseries arising from unemployment there would be no doubt about the acceptance of this motion. Take a typical case of a skilled workman out of employment. He walks about from factory to factory, knowing his own skill, but driven away every time because his labour is not wanted. The wife has probably gone into the factory. Think of the degradation of the man's manhood that his own wife should become the breadwinner instead of himself ! This is my own experience. There is the question in the woman's eye every time he comes home: "Any luck?" "Nay lass, no luck." What is patriotism to a man like that? You talk about Imperialism. Why the man in the deep despair of his heart and mind begins to ask the awful question, "What is religion to me?" Let me leave those points because they are rather painful, being my own experience.
The practical aspect of the question is whether work can really be found for these men, useful work at which they can expect to receive decent wages. I know my hon. Friend on the opposite side of the House is very sympathetic and broad-minded in these matters, but I suppose he has in his mind the subject we have been discussing this last two days. I would remind him, however, that this is not only a national problem, it is universal. It is a feature of modern industrial organisation, whether here or in France, Germany, or America. If he thinks that tariffs will directly affect the question of unemployment, I would point to the fact that in all these protectionist countries the problem of unemployment is growing. As a matter of fact, I think it is more pronounced in the 590 United States of America than here. However, I do not want to enter into controversial matters this afternoon, and I come back to the practical question: Can these workless men be absorbed? All the proposals at present for dealing with unemployment lack vitality and do not go down directly to the root of the problem by finding work. There is, however, upon the Statute Book one of the finest pieces of legislation in any civilised community in the world, and if it were put into operation it would effect the purposes contained in our motion. I speak of the Development Act. That Act contains every proposal of the Labour and Socialist movement for the last twenty and twenty-five years, proposals about afforestation, erosion of the coast, building of light railways, and reclamation of land. We are to get £500,000 this year to promote the proposals contained in that Act and £500,000 each year for the next three years, making a total of £2,000,000, but the Act will be a dead, letter until it receives the vitality of the two direct propositions contained in our motion. I have read the Act very carefully. It is an excellent thing, but it is loose. There is no machinery to put the Act into operation. You want to compel the State and the municipalities to recognise their obligations, to draft schemes and proposals, and to put the Act into operation. It would then, I maintain, be possible in the next four or five years to place no less than a quarter of a million of the skilled and unskilled workmen of the unemployed labour market in work. If these are actual facts, do not be afraid of accepting the propositions contained in our motion. I want to conclude by once more appealing to the House.
§ Mr. O'GRADY
I am quite ready to deal with that aspect of the question. We believe the man who will not work should be made to work by some means or he is no use to any of us, and we would apply that to whichever end of the social ladder or scale the man belongs.
§ Mr. O'GRADY
I want to conclude by asking the House not to be led away by old and mistaken ideas as to what are the main causes of unemployment. I think we are all agreed now that the consumption of alcoholic liquors by the working 591 class is not the cause of unemployment. Let me prove that point. Speaking recently at a conference on the question of unemployment, one of the bishops again said that drunkenness among the working class was one of the main causes of unemployment. I remember reading, before I came into this House, of the Chancellor of the Exchequer getting up in his place here on Budget days and not lamenting but declaring the fact that there was a diminishing revenue from the consumption of alcohol. We have had it spoken about on a thousand public platforms. You are getting a more sober nation year by year, and yet the problem of unemployment is developing and increasing. You cannot have it both ways. I hope then that will not be again introduced into this discussion. My second point has to do with the case of the skilled workman. I am supposed to be a skilled workman myself, and I know that that point does not in any way touch the problem. The most highly-skilled workman, when he is over the age of forty, has to face the possibility—the almost certainty of unemployment. I am not going to declaim against our boys being trained to a trade. My point is that no increase in the technical skill of a workman or boy will touch the problem I am dealing with, and if hon. Members will only consider it in that light the House will come to the same conclusion. Let me make this final appeal. Here is a great mass of poverty-stricken suffering humanity. There is no hell I can picture so horrible as that which the great submerged tenth of our population are to-day suffering. That is a grave danger to the community at large. Charles Booth has told us that 33 per cent. of the working population cannot earn a sufficient wage to keep them in a state of physical and mental efficiency; many more do not earn enough to keep themselves on the standard of workhouse comfort. I appeal to the House to approach this question with a generous spirit, with sympathy, and with a determination that this stain shall no longer rest upon our Christianity, and that this menace to our civilisation shall be wiped out. I think it may be done by accepting the principles contained in my Motion.
§ Mr. CLYNES
I readily associate myself with the Amendment, and I ask the attention of the House, in view of the interpretation which has been placed on it, to 592 note that we have confined it to the genuine unemployed. We are not here as defenders of the "won't works." They may be classified; their position is well understood, and they are both rich and poor. But we say that from statistics and experience we know there is a very large number of men who even in times of trade prosperity are in a state of genuine unemployment. We regard that as a great waste not only of the wealth which work makes, but a great waste of character and of all that we hold dear in the form of human life. It is not merely the country and the men that are losing money: there is a loss of another kind, and that loss is not provided for by anything foreshadowed in the King's Speech. What does that Speech say? It tells us that measures will be presented for insurance against the unemployment of those who are engaged in trades especially liable to it ! Our view is that the foreshadowed State insurance cannot and will not touch the class which is more specially liable to unemployment than any other. Turn to the columns of the "Labour Gazette," now to be found in the Library. Look at the figures there which show the extent of unemployment, and you will find that more than 100,000 workmen have at present their names on the books of our Labour Exchanges. And not one workless man in half-a-dozen uses these books. The little experience we have so far had of these Exchanges shows us it is not the wastrel, not the idler or the sponger who puts his name on that list: it is that class of workman who is driven by stress of necessity, and who has exhausted all other resources and chances of finding work, who feels he must take advantage of whatever avenues of State aid that may be open to him.
I find, too, in the "Labour Gazette" that of three quarters of a million of workmen whose unions made returns last month, five per cent. were declared to be unemployed. It is this class for whom we speak. Something may be and can be done to reform and reclaim both the rich and poor idler who are to be regarded as a menace and a danger to Society, but that should not be set up as an argument against effective State provision which we feel can be made for the genuinely unemployed. I have here the last returns from the Distress Committee of West Ham, and they show that 2,360 persons registered themselves as applying for work in that borough during the quarter ending 31st 593 December last. Of that number, 334 were dock labourers and 131 carmen, so that a fifth of the total number registered were of a class which is not provided for by anything foreshadowed in the way of legislation in the Speech from the Throne. There is an Amendment on the Paper to that of my hon. Friend, and I confess that after wandering through its eloquent phraseology I have been unable to discover in what way it differs from the Amendment now under discussion. This Amendment to the proposed Amendment declares:—That the general question of unemployment should engage the attention of Your Majesty's Ministers at the earliest possible opportunity, and be dealt with by suitable legislation while trade conditions are favourable.In substance, that is really what we mean. We want the genuinely unemployed to be provided for. We want legislation as early as possible that will make suitable provision for attaining that end. I think, therefore, the hon. Member for East Northamptonshire might refrain from any semblance of hostility to us and aid us in presenting the matter unitedly to His Majesty's Government. May I say that even the prospects of better trade offer us no hope of a cure for this difficulty. The problem is not soluble in the extension of the field of manufactured articles; there will still be unemployed at the very best of times; there will always be a margin, even in a period of good trade, of capable workers who are the victims of enforced idleness. Remembering what that means to so many thousands of families, and to wives and children, the problem is to us the greatest social question which this House can be called upon to consider. I might, in this connection, quote a declaration of the Prime Minister a little more than two years ago when he referred to this matter. His words were:—The problem is one of the greatest magnitude and of the greatest urgency.That again is our plea; no one questions the importance and urgency of the problem. Our contention, when we are ceaselessly urging this problem upon you, is that it is urgent, and the case of the men and women who are suffering from the consequences of unemployment cannot wait for any of the other great measures which from time to time come before us. Since the declaration of the urgency of the question, we have had little from the Government except certain money grants and the 594 Labour Exchanges. The money grants have not gone beyond the offer of temporary relief, but temporary relief cannot really meet a permanent evil in our industrial system, and it is in a time of good trade that wise Ministers could well provide for the bad periods that will come later on. We might at a later period have some further spasmodic action or some panic movement which would appeal to the howling mobs of men driven into a menacing attitude because of their condition, but now is the time—a time of good trade—that measures could be devised for dealing with this condition. I think we may find in the experience of the Labour Exchanges a proof of this particular argument I believe that if Labour Exchanges had been established on more gradual lines, instead of being opened out so dramatically and in such large numbers all at once, they might have served their purpose better. But whether that is true or not, I think it does hold good that if you try to provide for unemployment when there are fewer unemployed rather than at a period of great depression, you can most surely complete the task to the satisfaction of all concerned. The discussion of this Amendment is not the occasion for debating the details of a Bill. Let me remind the House that we have not shrank from seeking opportunities to discuss the details of a Bill in order to settle this question. We are not here as the mouthpieces of a general statement. We have on several occasions appealed to the House to give us the opportunity of thrashing out in Committee the various details by which we can, I think, put before the House constructive and acceptable proposals for dealing with the question we have raised. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Burns) has on previous occasions poured quite a wealth of invective upon what he calls relief measures. It is not relief measures we want here. We are not asking for colonies to which you can send men who have reached the lowest level of destitution, and who are driven out of their circle of daily conditions to any kind of relief work they can secure. Instead of charging us with setting up this demand for relief works, the charge should be made against those who have resisted the proposals to set up any permanent machinery for the effective settlement of the question. Work such as the larger portion of the unemployed class could best perform is plentiful and it is at hand.
595 There would be no difficulty in finding suitable work to put a very large number—something more than half—of these men to. That is clear from the figures issued this year by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board, which show that more than half of the unemployed class belong to the unskilled and labouring population. They are just the men for whom municipalities and the State could best provide work. If you have a quarter of a million tailors, or watchmakers, or men of that class, out of work, you would have a great difficulty in finding them suitable employment, but when the greater number, as is shown by the figures, are just the men who can be easiest put to that class of work which public bodies can provide the difficulty is not so great. I mean the work of reclaiming waste lands, foreshore and riverside reclamation, the construction of recreation grounds, and of larger harbour facilities, and work in that department of afforestation which has so often been advocated upon party platforms as a means whereby some of the large numbers of unemployed might be found useful work. Finally, I think one might add to the list, especially when addressing the right hon. Gentleman, the great openings that are offered in connection with the development of the housing schemes and the construction of better homes for the masses of the wage-earning population. All these classes of labour are just those to which you can easiest put that class of man whom it is most necessary to help. We assume that the more you can employ that class of manual worker—the class of man who soils his hands and body by his labour—the more surely will you prevent the unemployment of the watchmaker, the tailor, or the cabinet-maker, and all the rest of the skilled trades which are now in difficulties, just because so many others are unemployed and have no means to purchase their products. In other words we settle the unemployed problem for the skilled worker when we see that the unskilled worker is kept in employment. The employment of the latter would transform him from a parasite upon society—from a dependent upon charity and public aid—from one producing nothing and earning and spending no wages, into a wage earner and a wage spender, and the spending of his money would stimulate other trades and industries and call for the products and commodities of the skilled worker. My hon. 596 Friend touched slightly upon the question of money, and I repeat that the constantly increasing wealth of the nation is sufficient to put out of court entirely any plea that there is no money for this purpose. A man in a state of idleness must be kept in one form or the other. If you do not find him an opportunity to make wealth by his labour he must somehow be living upon, the labour of other people. The more you can fit him into some system of productiveness the more you enrich not only the worker himself but the country at large. Anyone will find a simple solution of where to get the money from the pages of any Chancellor of the Exchequer's speech. There is only one place really that the money can come from and that is where it is. A very slight additional tax if need be upon those who have not only enough, but to spare, would provide our Ministers with sufficient money to begin, and the work thus provided would make more work. It has been alleged against us that we have simple plans for putting men to dig holes and getting other men to fill them up again. Really these are the lines others have proceeded upon to a great extent. We have had in times of great distress and depression panic movement on the part of local authorities, and work undertaken which has not been profitable. It is beyond even the skill of the captains of industry to efficiently organise at a little notice men who are not specially fitted for the particular classes of work to which they are driven. We are therefore against these rush remedies, which are no remedies at all, and which only tend to demoralise the men who for the time being are assisted by organised charity in that manner.
May I mention how much trade unions have done in meeting the consequences and the distress of loss of employment in recent years? Briefly, I find that in ten years the funds of trade unions have been used to the extent of £4,000,000 in relieving the distress of unemployment. That surely does something to prove the desirability of organised labour to provide by its own inner resources against the evils that naturally flow from unemployment. There are many who oppose our views upon this question, on the ground that they would undermine the industrial and social structure on which the prosperity of this country depends. Hon. Members who have had, like myself, but a few years of experience in this House have seen in those few years how these old doctrines have had to give way to new 597 ideas, and to the new necessities. The Wages Boards Bill demolished the last remaining fragment of the old idea of not interfering with the free play of competition and with the ordinary forces of supply and demand. That measure is not as completely satisfactory as many of us would like, but it does certainly provide a guaranteed minimum below which an employer dare not pay a worker for his services. Then we had quite recently, despite doleful forecasts, a Bill fixing the hours of labour for men, so that we have reached a point now where wages and hours are fixed by law. Everyone knows that these are only beginnings. These measures were not the end of this class of legislation but only the first step. We have done something to provide even food for children who were formerly thrown upon the resources of distressed parents. The whole tendency of our legislation has been to make inroads into the old accepted ideas of economic doctrine. Now we ask that the principle of legislative interference should be applied to the able bodied genuine unemployed in order that thereby we should transform him from a useless burden upon society into a helpful instrument to enlarge the prosperity of the nation and improve his own condition.
May I further refer to what I conceive to be in essence this measure of Insurance foreshadowed in the King's Speech. As I understand it certain parties, whom I conceive to be the employer, the workman, and the State, will contribute to some fund which will be used to provide money for the workman during the state of unemployment. Reduced to plain homely terms, it means that you are going to give a man money to keep out of work, or if not that, at any rate, because he is out of work. It would be far better to use your money so that that man by his work should make wealth than that you should pay him to remain idle. You are driven into these measures' of mere relief by the force of circumstances. You can better and more wisely spend your money by providing work than by relieving men in any way. My hon. Friend (Mr. O'Grady) correctly anticipated the remedy for this difficulty in the minds of many Members of this House, In view of yesterday's debate and the frequent and pointed references to those who sit on these benches I will explain what our view is on that matter. We do not oppose any of the many branches of Tariff Reform because of any economic prejudices, because we 598 have any accepted set of principles or beliefs upon this question. We offer against all the hopes and arguments of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite the plain facts of experience and experience is summed up in the statement of my hon. Friend who told you that this is not an English question. It is not merely an Empire question. It is a world-wide question. It applies to Protectionist and to Free Trade countries alike. An hon. Gentleman speaking for the opposite side last night questioned the accuracy of the figures which have been given upon these benches as to the extent of unemployment in New York. It has been stated from this side of the House on the authority of the New York papers that 4,000,000 workers were unemployed in the whole of the United States. If these figures are not accepted, may I give the House the figures compiled by the New York Labour Bureau for the month of June—a period of the year when there should not be any exceptional reason for unemployment? By the unions making returns to that bureau it was shown that 16 per cent. of the members were unemployed at a time when there were less than 6 per cent. in this country. I folio-wed with interest the proceedings of the International Socialist Congress which met last year, and I find that an interesting document was supplied to the delegates. The document was presented from Germany in the name of the organised workers and dealt with the question of unemployment in that country. I have not the terms of it here, but if any gentlemen will get the document he will find a most tearful account of the sufferings of the working classes because of unemployment. It also contains proposals as to measures of relief, so that provision should be made for the unemployed. There is, therefore, no prospect of the unemployed being found work by any re-arrangement of our fiscal system or by any method of dealing with our tariffs. If there were a certain belief behind these proposals, we should not have introduced a measure which will, I assume, get some portion of our time this session. That Bill, brought in by an hon. Gentleman on the Conservative Benches who was lucky in the ballot, provides for preventing the introduction of foreign sweated goods into this country. I conceive that where you have sweating you have low wages, bad conditions of employment, and long hours, and there you are sure to have unemployment. Indeed the two 599 are closely linked together. It is from the pressure of the large body of unemployed that these other conditions flow. If employers observed proper conditions of labour, they could not sweat the workers. They would be compelled to pay good wages, and to allow good conditions. Therefore, the presence of sweating in foreign countries is to us conclusive proof that no artificial arrangements in connection with our fiscal system can rid us of these troubles.
The remedy is, we believe to be found in a statesmanlike organisation that will provide work for those who cannot find work m the ordinary labour market. I put it that one function of the employing class in this country, strictly speaking, is to provide for the demand for work; but they fail to effectively and completely fulfil that condition as witness the presence of a great many people who cannot find work. Our plea is that the shortage of employment should be made up by State intervention. In other words the fact that a man is excluded from work because the private employer is unable to employ him is not a good reason for keeping that man in a state of idleness and his family in a state of starvation. On these grounds we say that it is the duty of His Majesty's Ministers to lose no time in dealing with this greatest of all problems, for you cannot get the ordinary man to remain interested in the larger questions of Empire—you cannot get him to be really an efficient part of the Empire itself—so long as you keep him in the position of being dependent on an employer for the opportunity to live and for the right to work. A man cannot live well unless he works. The present Home Secretary on a previous occasion stated that there were two ways of getting a living—you could live by production or by plunder. The class for whom we plead are legally disqualified from trying the one course, and therefore they are brought down to the one other method of producing in order to live by it. It is, I say, the business of Ministers, whose genius I believe will rise to the occasion, to so organise the unemployed classes as to make effective use of the great wastage of available labour which now goes on. Whatever may be the ideas of other Members as to the principle of a man's right to work, so long as it is legally recognised that a man has a right to live we will welcome, and I hope the House will 600 welcome, the opportunity of discussing in detail word by word and line by line the methods by which legislative effect may be given to our demand. I beg to second the Amendment.
§ Mr. PICKERSGILL
In a previous Parliament I gave a vote in favour of what is colloquially called the Right to Work Bill, and in that Parliament, also in the Debate on the Address, I believe I voted for an Amendment which did not substantially differ from the Amendment now before the House. On the present occasion I propose to support the Government, and I wish to explain why I do so. In order to do that I must go back a little. In January, 1906, the Liberal party was returned with an overwhelming majority deeply pledged up to the eyes to deal effectively with the problem of unemployment, and for three years the Government did nothing. We could not get anything out of my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea (Mr. Burns) except an inadequate fund to work the Act of Parliament, which was passed by the Conservative Government, and which my right hon. Friend was never tired of sneering at and condemning, Under those circumstances it was hardly likely that the administration of the Act of Parliament could be a success. Three years passed, during which nothing was done on this all-important question. The Government was losing caste. That kind of political state which we call dry rot was setting in when what I think I may call a political miracle happened, and the first time, I believe, in our political history, a Government three years in office which was rapidly going down hill re-established its position in public favour at a single bound, as everybody knows, by the Budget of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. And why was this Budget hailed with such acclamation in the country? Simply because of the promise which it contained, and the means which it supplied, for carrying out great schemes of labour and social reform. On the 19th May, 1909, I brought forward in this House my motion asking the Government to give effect to the recommendations of the minority of the Royal Commission on Poor Law. Upon that occasion the right hon. Gentleman who is now Home Secretary made a remarkable speech, and developed a remarkable programme. May I just read two or three lines from that remarkable, and I think I 601 am not using the language of exaggeration when I say epoch-making, speech:—The bill for Labour Exchanges must not be misjudged, as if it stood by itself and was not part of a considered co-ordinated and connected scheme to grasp this hideous crushing evil which has oppressed for so long the mind of everyone who cares about social reform.The right hon. Gentleman did not stop there, and he said he was going to effect reforms in the labour department of the Board of Trade, and that there were to be three sections in future in the labour department. Then he proceeded thus, and I ask the attention of the House, and particularly the attention of the Members of the Labour party, to this statement:—One of the functions of the last section will be to act as a kind of intelligence bureau, watching the continual changes of the labour market here and abroad, and suggesting any measure which may be practicable, such as co-ordinating and distribution of government contracts and municipal work, so as to act as a counterpoise to the unemployment of the labour market, and it will also we trust be able to conduct examinations of schemes of public utility, so that such schemes, if decided upon by the Government and the Treasury, can be set on foot at any time with knowledge and consideration beforehand, instead of the haphazard hand to mouth manner in which we try to deal with these emergencies at the present time.That was the speech, and that was the programme. How was it received by my hon. Friends below the Gangway? They almost tumbled one over the other in their eagerness to express their thanks to the present Home Secretary. To speak the truth they were far more satisfied than I was. I hope that I have the instinct of diplomacy sufficiently developed not to exhibit too exuberantly my gratitude for any concession. I take what I can get, but it does not satisfy me. It is not the business of a Radical to be satisfied. If he is satisfied he ceases to be a Radical. I do not know whether the House will desire me to establish what I have stated with regard to the attitude of the Labour party by quoting. I could quote several extracts. Perhaps it is better to quote a few lines from some distinguished Members of the Labour party. Not only did the Members of the Labour party applaud the present Home Secretary, but they said that he had appropriated their programme. This is what the hon. Member for Barnard Castle (Mr. Henderson) said:—I think we may feel almost ready to congratulate ourselves that at last the Government have made a beginning in taking out—I will put it in a very rough form—the Right to Work Bill in penny numbers. I know that the President"——that is the Home Secretary, I think, or, perhaps, the right hon. Member for Battersea (Mr. John Burns)—I am not sure which, but it does not matter in the least— 602would not admit that. It would scarcely do for him to make such an admission, having regard to the attitude which the Government has always taken up when this Bill of ours has been before the House, but I think our Bill contained labour exchanges. It contained a form of maintenance in the absence of work. I think our Bill made some reference to insurance, and we are gratified to find that at last a beginning is to be made, if not in the adoption of the complete scheme, one which goes a long way in the direction that we have suggested for some time past.Then Mr. Shackleton was almost more exuberant. He said we had had a good Labour night, and he was proud to be present, and he went on—We have heard for the first time schemes given forth to us which hold out some hope to us as Labour men, that we are going to do something in this Parliament for the relief of the oppressed worker who is unfortunately thrown on his own beam ends without the slightest chance.That was the attitude of the Labour party towards the programme which the present Home Secretary set forth on 19th May, 1909. I will not say it dished the Labour party. I am sure my hon. Friends were only too glad to see their own ideas realised no matter who was to effect it. My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds (Mr. O'Grady) I noticed cheered those words "in this Parliament." It is perfectly true that the programme was not carried out in that Parliament. There has been delay, but the delay cannot be placed on the shoulders of the Government. No one can say that I am unwilling to criticise the Government when occasion arises; but it cannot be blamed here. It was the action— I need not refer to it more specifically—taken in another place which prevented the immediate carrying out of the programme, and my hon. Friends, who are reasonable men, would see, I am sure, that it would be most unfair and unreasonable to lay the blame of that delay on the Government. But if at the earliest practicable moment the Government do not proceed to redeem the pledge expressed in their name and on their behalf by the present Secretary of State for Home Affairs, then I shall be happy to revert to my alliance with the Labour party, and I will vote for any scheme they suggest however fantastic it may be in order to bring the requisite stimulus to bear upon the Government. At the present moment, recognising that the delay which has occurred is not the fault of the Government, and having regard to the active part which I took in bringing about the setting forth of that programme, it would obviously be most impolitic on my part not to support the Government to-day, and, as a matter of fact, I mean to support them.
§ Mr. E. JARDINE
May I congratulate the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment on the moderation of the language with which they brought forward this extremely Socialistic proposition. This Amendment regrets that no promise has been made of a Bill to deal with unemployment, of which they paint for us dreadful pictures. Though unemployment is dreadful, Members of the Labour party in the last two days' Debate did not suggest any real remedy such as we on this side of the House offer in order to deal with the ever-running sore of unemployment. There was a direct challenge from a Member on this side of the House, whose voice sounded somewhat unusual coming from this quarter, to the Mover of the Amendment, as to what he would do for the "workshy," if the Labour party or the Socialist party were willing to bring forward a measure for dealing with those pests of society. If they cannot live on the community they live on their wives and children. Although the hon. Gentleman was challenged to bring forward, or to state a remedy, he had to plead want of time. Yet he had plenty of time to give us a short lecture on Tariff Reform. I should like to hear some clear statement from the Labour Benches as to how they will deal with that difficult problem. I am afraid that we shall get nothing definite from them, because a definite proposition to punish the idle would not be popular with a section of the Socialist party. I would also ask the Mover and Seconder for a definite statement as to how they propose to deal with those unemployed who for conscientious objections will not submit to the dictation and tyranny of trade union officials. Is it their desire that these men who are driven from their employment should be maintained permanently at the expense of the Stated I presume it is the intention of the Labour party—I believe it is admitted—to exclude them permanently from work in their trade unless they will contribute to the funds and obey the orders of the Labour leaders.
We had yesterday the most powerful arguments in favour of the remedy which we propose on this side to deal with this chronic evil—a remedy which has been adopted by all civilised nations and by the trade unionists of other countries. We have had some interesting figures, but in spite of this boom year of the Chancellor of the Exchequer we have skilled workers out of employment and seeking work, as so ably and touchingly described—going from 604 door to door, factory to factory, and returning in the evening heartbroken to their wives: "No luck, lass; no work." A dreadful and very sad picture. And that is what is happening in this boom year in spite of the remedy we offer. The remedy which hon. Members opposite asked for would still further degrade a large portion of our people. We have had submitted to us some figures which we are asked to believe. They have evidently been obtained from some document—I am not suggesting for one moment that they are improperly collected—but in the United States last night the Ministerial statement was frankly enough made that, man for man, wealth there was greater than in any other country. We are here asked to believe, in spite of the fact that a million of our workers go to America year by year, that there is 16 per cent. of unemployment in certain parts of the States. Is it reasonable to suppose that one million of our workers would go year by year to a country where 16 per cent. are unemployed? I was studying the labour problem in the United States only last year, and I found that good men in America can, and do, obtain employment at double the wages that a man makes here.
There is another question: We want not only employment for our people, but employment of the best kind. We want particularly to keep our agricultural population on the land. Something should be done for these people to make their employment more profitable and more attractive. We hear very little of their happenings, but they have a much harder time and much more laborious work with less pleasure and less practical possibility of ever improving their position than any of the workers of whom we hear so much from the Labour benches. In the case of such a measure as this, what is to be done for the people of our countryside? What will happen to these people with their poorly-paid labour when we have—assuming we are ever mad enough to pass it—Socialistic legislation by which people may go to the highest paid work-centre, selected because of its highest wages with the shortest hours? If a man cannot find employment there, is he, with his family, to be maintained in comfort? What is to happen to the poorly-paid workers? There is an Amendment to the Address, I believe, to the effect that the Government workers are to have 30s. per week of forty-eight hours. Are they to be a privileged class? Are my 605 friends, the agricultural labourers, to participate in the 30s. for forty-eight hours? Cannot they come here to demand work, with their superior physique, their devotion to industry, their high citizenship at the rate of 30s. a week for forty-eight hours? What is to be the gain to them? Are they to have the job, or are they and their families to be permanently paid by the State. The position is an absolutely impossible one. There are Members in this House who are willing to try any socialistic, any wild measure, untried by any civilised or any intelligent people, whilst they utterly oppose the simple remedies which we on this side support, remedies that have been tested, that have been tried, and that have succeeded in elevating the masses of the people.
In Germany, where they eat offal and black bread. I am sure there are hon. Members opposite who have been to Germany, and who will admit that the conditions there under Protection have risen by leaps and bounds until to-day, and I am speaking as an employer, labour is as well paid in Germany, and employment is more permanent than it is here to-day. I have given you one example of America where wages, for less effort and considerably more independence on the part of the workers, are double what they are here. Those are your remedies, and I appeal to the Labour Members in spite of the alliance that they have for the moment with the Liberal party; and I advise them to seriously consider the only true remedy, to drop socialistic wild schemes which will drive capital away, which will drive employment out of our country, and come to some steady, some reasoned, some tried measure which will bring greater happiness and greater welfare to the whole of our people, give them a higher sense of independence, give them the opportunity of rising from the working classes to the middle classes and the upper classes, and that is Tariff Reform.
§ Mr. CHIOZZA MONEY
I am exceedingly sorry the hon. Member who has just spoken has dragged the King Charles's head of Tariff Reform into the discussion. As he referred to the question of unemployment in the United States, I should like to give a few facts bearing on that particular case. I have here the original American authorities dealing with the question of unemployment in the United 606 States, and as the hon. Member has challenged the statement that unemployment exists in that favoured country—
§ Mr. CHIOZZA MONEY
The hon. Member is interrupting, but if he will be kind enough to listen he will see that this has a direct bearing on the statements that he made. I have here the Report of the Labour Department of the State of Massachusetts of the United States. The Report refers to trade unionists and the official reporter, I take it, is as well acquainted with the affairs of his own country as the hon. Gentleman. He says on 30th September, 1910:—The principal cause of idleness was as usual lack of work or material.He proceeds to give figures. It appears-that on 30th September, 1910, unemployment and lack of work was four per cent. In June of the same year it was over five per cent. That is the case of Massachusetts. I have also here the original Report of New York State, which covers a longer period, and in this case the figures are undoubtedly larger than in the case of the other State, because of the number of trade unionists and the large number of persons who are engaged in building and other trades that are taken into account. The figures are remarkable. The official figures for unemployment vary from 7.6 per cent. in 1906 to 33 per cent. in 1908.
§ Mr. CHIOZZA MONEY
This only refers to trade unions. It is stated here officially that they represent the entire organised labour of the State. In 1910 there was 14 per cent.; in 1909, 19 per cent.; and in 1908, 33 per cent. The last year given is 1906, in which it was 7.6 per cent. I am sure that will be enough to satisfy the hon. Member that he will never again make the particular statement which he has put before the House to-day. I am glad that the hon. Member who moved this Amendment did not claim a monopoly of sympathy for the unemployed from the hon. Gentlemen who sit on this side. I hope such a claim will never be made by any hon. Member, because an accusation of want of sympathy with unemployed would be an accusation of inhumanity. That is not the danger that lies before the House of Commons. If I may indulge in a little economic reminiscence I may mention that in the early days 607 of the last century, when the first Factory Bill, which never became an Act, was introduced into this House in. 1818, what happened? It was received with sympathy here and even in the other place. Why, then, did it die in the other place, and only emerge from this House with the greatest difficulty? It was not through lack of sympathy, not through lack of heart, not because the men of that time were any more wanting in feeling than the men of to-day. It was for the reason that they had before them fixed false economic ideals, they had before them the ideal of liberty carried to the extreme. That Bill was rejected by Parliament, although numerous petitions were presented on its behalf by Peel. It was rejected because hon. Members who sat in the House at that time, like the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, were too much afraid of legislative change.
The hon. Member who seconded this Amendment said that he could not see any difference between it and certain language which I have put on the Paper. May I remind him that there is a very great difference, and it is this He and his friends, I understand, are going to a Division on an Amendment which, if carried, would turn the present Government out of office. That is the difference. They must have the knowledge, and they must know the responsibility which attaches to moving this Amendment. They must know that presently, when they challenge a Division, that if they carry a sufficient number of Members with them that the Government go out of office. That is why my hon. Friends and myself put on the Paper certain words which we hoped would express our thorough sympathy with the desire for legislation on the out of work question. While we express support, it is not our duty to vote against the Government. That is the whole difference between us. I submit it is a very great difference indeed. I did not happen to be a Member during the last Session, but I am credibly informed that my hon. Friends below the Gangway hesitated last Session either to introduce a Right to Work Bill or even to move an Amendment to this Address. Why did they hesitate? They hesitated for a very proper reason, which they explained outside the House, namely, the responsibility which attached to that particular movement. They knew that a great constitutional question was in process of settlement, and they did 608 not think it advisable to interfere. I certainly think that to-day there is less reason for interference than there was then. I may mention another reason. I believe that what is called the Right to Work Bill has been very seriously amended by my hon. Friends. I have always sympathised with that Bill, not because I believe in all its provisions; I have never disguised my opinion on that point; but because I felt it was high time that this House regarded unemployment as a great national problem to be attacked in a national way. For that reason I have always been glad to associate myself with the main principle. I notice that one of my hon. Friends who put down his name in connection with this particular Amendment is responsible with others for signing the Minority Report of the Poor Law Commission. What does that Report do? It traverses the Right to Work Bill in one of its most important particulars. It says that there is an overwhelming opinion that the task of dealing with distress from want of employment is one altogether beyond the capacity of local authorities. But the Right to Work Bill pins its faith very largely to local authorities, and where it does not do so, it makes the local authorities merely the agents of a central authority. In that and other particulars the Right to Work Bill must be seriously amended, and I have no doubt that it will be. That being the case, I quite understand the reluctance of my hon. friends to bring the Bill forward last year.
The mover of the Amendment stated, I think very fairly, the position with regard to unemployment in this country. It is perfectly true that unemployment is inherent in the competitive system. I take it that no one, whether he calls himself an economist or not, doubts that proposition. It is perfectly true that a comparatively few people own what may be called the tools by which alone work can be done under modern conditions, and that the great mass of the people are dependent for employment upon that limited number of people. That being the case, it really requires very little thought to see that there must be a very large number of loose ends in an industrial system organised upon that basis. The great danger in which we find ourselves in approaching a solution of the problem is that of thinking that we can take the loose ends of the unemployed and very easily weave them into a fine fabric by means of State interference. It is impossible to perform that semi-industrial operation. You cannot 609 take the loose ends of the labour market and with them carry on economic work. Production runs considerably ahead of consumption. We have the continual multiplication of new processes and new machinery, enabling us in the case of the building trade, for example, to produce great buildings with less labour and greater economy of effort than ever before. The ferro-concrete process in building is at the present moment the cause of the unemployment of tens of thousands of people in this country. Another thing which arises out of the competitive system and out of the want of correlation of supply and demand throughout the world is that you get these alternative elevations and depressions—booms and slumps, to use the slang expression—which mean from time to time the most terrible distress in industrial centres.
That and many other things are all expressions of want of organisation; they are expressions of the fact that mankind is in the making, that the industries of man are still in the making, that they have not yet reached their final state of development. That is well known to us all. I am afraid the hon. Member opposite (Mr. E. Jardine) is under the impression that, by introducing new industries or by stimulating new industries, you can cure unemployment. That is a complete misapprehension. Every new industry introduced has its own unemployment. Each new industry has to go through these changes; each new industry has its development, each industry has to stand the brunt of these alternate elevations and depressions. Therefore the mere introduction of new industries is no solution of the problem. Undoubtedly industry will work itself into a condition of greater organisation, and it is doing so at the present time. The process is going on from day to day from year to year. It is going on clumsily, almost unconsciously, but still it is going on, and in the end the great peoples of the world will have to settle for themselves whether the great combinations which are the result of that organisation are to be tolerated as private institutions or whether the State will have to seek to control them, and to use them for its own ends.
In the meantime, while we are waiting for this process to work itself out, we have to formulate an interim policy. That interim policy is largely concerned not so much with organising industry, properly so understood, as with organising labour to meet the vicissitudes of industries which are not yet properly organised. That is a 610 very different problem. It has been suggested, and no doubt it is largely true, that the Labour Exchange is a great foundation for the working out of that problem. I believe myself that it does serve to work out a considerable part of it. But we must not shut our eyes to the fact that a Labour Exchange cannot be used suddenly to change the conditions of the labour market. If it were so used the resultant conditions would be cruel in the extreme. If, for example, in a particular town where you had twenty or fifty master builders, employing, say, 1,000 workers in the building trade, you compelled them, through the use of the Labour Exchange, to squeeze out the men who were not wanted to do the amount of work there, you would employ, perhaps, 800 men fully, while 200 would be squeezed out and left to the mercies of the Poor Law. You cannot possibly do that. The Labour Exchange can only be used gradually. That has been found out in Germany. Labour Exchanges have been at work in Germany for ten, fifteen, and, in some places, twenty years; but they have not been used deliberately to decasualise labour, for the reason I have mentioned—namely, that it would do a great cruelty to the men concerned. But you may use the Labour Exchange as the basis of other efforts—and that brings me to the legislation which the Government is about to introduce. I think we may congratulate ourselves that the Government is about to put its hand to one of the broadest, greatest, and most generous experiments ever made in connection with unemployment. It will be an attempt to apply the principle of unemployment insurance on a scale which has never, been attempted before. I do not disguise from myself the fact that many difficulties attach to these problems, difficulties which seemed so large to the Germans. Still, the German people certainly have done more than any other nation to work on these lines of social insurance. They have never yet organised insurance, at least, on a national or State scale, with regard to unemployment. If, happily, in trying this experiment, it should prove to be successful, we shall have done something not merely for our own country, but for the world. I think that the hon. Gentleman who seconded this Amendment did not attach enough importance to the fact that, while it is true the scheme of unemployment insurance is at first only to be tried in connection with a limited number of trades, those trades are among the most fluctuating in the country. For 611 example, the building trade was referred to. It will be covered by the scheme. There are a number of difficulties which will need to be worked out, but what are we here for if it is not to deal with difficulties with regard to all these economic problems? I think the Legislature in the past has been rather too afraid to try experiments. In any other sphere of effort, in the science of engineering, for instance, the man of action is continually facing difficulties. If you merely take such a question as the working out of a turbine engine, you will know that the principle of the turbine is the simplest thing in the world, just as the principle of unemployment is the simplest thing in the world. But when you come to work out the matter in detail you meet the difficulties. If these have been worked out in the one case, they can be worked out in the other, for these matters of detail, when approached, are not so difficult as they seem on paper. I should be sorry to think that unemployment insurance was the only thing to which we can look as a means of solution in regard to some parts of this problem. Unemployment is a many-sided problem, which has accordingly to be approached from many sides. I think it is rather a fault of the Eight to Work Bill that it assumes that the Bill contains within its covers a solution of the entire problem. [An HON. MEMBER: "No, no."] Perhaps I am going too far in saying that. I am glad to think that that claim is not made. I do not think we should lose sight of the fact that a great deal can be done in this connection in regard to the point of regularising the labour market, first with regard to existing public orders, and, secondly, with regard to the economic Development Bill. With regard to the first of these points, perhaps, exaggerated hopes are being entertained. I do not think, indeed, it will ever be possible to do more than very slightly fill up the gulf of the years of bad trade by regularising existing contracts given out by the State and local authorities. In reference to the economic Development Bill, there is in connection with it a possibility of putting in hand works which, while they are of public necessity and of public importance, while they may be called economic works, are yet works which need not be carried on regularly as between one year and another. When this is once recognised we shall set up from time to time public works, and by carrying them oh to a greater 612 extent in the bad years of trade than in the good years of trade, do something seriously to fill up the gulfs to meet the stress of the waves of depression. The economic Development Bill certainly affords us in this connection the best escape from relief works. What is the essential vice in relief works? I am afraid it is rather difficult to argue that the works suggested by the Eight to Work Bill are not works of that character, for they are works put in hand in order to employ men who would be registered as unemployed. On the other hand, work which would be undertaken under the average scheme of the Development Bill would be work the labour for which would be drawn from the labour market in the ordinary way. When the work was put into hand in a year of bad trade we could go out into the labour market, and, just as a contractor, engage labour. We should be drawing, it is true, from the ranks of the unemployed, but we should not be engaging them as is done by local authorities in connection with relief works.
Another and perhaps a more important means of prevention still is to cut oft the supply of juvenile labour in this country. If it comes to making an expression of the desire of His Majesty's Government that they should legislate, I do most earnestly hope they will give consideration to this question in the near future. At present we have, at thirteen years of age, what can only be described as a stampede from the schools of our country. If you go into Elementary schools and examine the children in point of age, you will not find many of them over the age of thirteen. The greater number, as is well known, stampede from the schools and go into industries. Surely the time has arrived when the school age should be raised to at least fourteen years. I fully agree with Mr. Sidney Webb that the age might even go to fifteen. However that may be, we have got to raise the school age and to go further still. We have to consider that the period of adolescence shall be safeguarded, and that the entrance of the boy and the girl to the serious business of life shall only be partial as between the age of thirteen, and, say, the age of seventeen or eighteen. That we can do by setting up continuation schools, causing these continuation schools to be carried on in the daytime, and by withdrawing the boys and the girls from their employment in the daytime for a certain number of hours in the week, in order that they may undergo 613 a training at the continuation schools—training which will not merely be a technical training, but will have regard to general culture. If we do that, we should further have regard to those many widows in the country, aye, and deserving wives, who at the present time have to sustain families on outdoor relief combined with partial wages. If we do these things, we shall certainly diminish the margin of unemployed labour by calling upon adults to do what ought to be the work of adults. In the meantime it will undoubtedly be found that under any social system we could set up work is inherently irregular. We can never hope by any legislative scheme to make the industrial work go with perfect smoothness. Such work is naturally irregular. A long time ago it was pointed out by Thomas Carlyle that no man possessing a horse turned it out to starve because he had not a job to give it at a particular moment. We do with men which we should not dream of doing with horses. That point of view will be recognised more and more in time to come. We shall come to see this, that because work is inherently irregular, that it is not necessary that maintenance or payment should be irregular too. Take the case of a brickworks. A brickworks is an example of the irregularity of employment. Look at the figures in the census of production. Hon. Members will see there as that as between one season and another, that as between one part of the year and another, the amount of employment in a brickworks varies considerably. What about the clerical staff of the brickworks—does that vary? No ! because with regard to that particular part of employment, it is recognised that the pay has to be regular, that the maintenance has to be regular, that the human being has to be kept in a regular condition of respectability. That principle which we apply to ourselves whenever we can, and which we apply in large part to the working population already, that principle in time to come will have to be extended to the whole population. That undoubtedly will be the final solution—the recognition that work is irregular, but pay must be regular. That brings me back to the Government programme. My view of unemployment insurance is that it is an approach to that principle, that it is a partial recognition of that idea. We group men into trades; we club them together; we cause them to contribute a certain amount of their earnings to an insurance fund; we cause the em- 614 ployer to do his duty by contributing, and we ask the general taxpayer to contribute to the fund in his turn with a view to setting up a way to maintain a man while work is irregular, while trade is depressed. I submit to the House that this is a partial recognition of that great principle of uniform payment and maintenance in spite of the normal and inherent irregularity of work. I therefore welcome very heartily indeed the legislation to which the Government has now put its hand, while I do not disguise the difficulties inherent in other branches of this problem.
I welcome the Government proposals because they are the greatest and most earnest attempts ever made, not merely in this country, but in the world, to deal with one of the most difficult problems. And if I have any reproach to bring against my hon. Friends below me it is because I think it strange that at the very time and in the very year that the British Government is setting its hand to this particular task they should move an Amendment to the Address which compels their own friends and many men in this House who, they do not deny, have as much sympathy with the unemployed problem as they have themselves to vote against a proposition which expresses sympathy with unemployment. We of the Liberal party claim that we are not wanting in sympathy in that respect, that we are not lacking in any conception of the urgency of the problem. On the proper occasion we shall do everything that lies in our power, as we did in the past, towards urging this problem upon His Majesty's Government, but at this particular moment we hold the Government is doing its duty in present circumstances, and therefore it is our duty to vote against the Amendment now before the House.
§ Mr. WALTER GUINNESS
With very much of what fell from the mover and seconder of the original Amendment I feel quite certain that those who sit upon this side of the House will agree. Most of their speeches were devoted to proving what we all know that unemployment is the most fertile soil of that social canker which so far has baffled the efforts of reformers in this country. But the Amendment to which they were speaking deals with a definite proposal—" The Eight to Work Bill"—and I think a great deal of what they said, true as it may be, cannot in any way be said to support that particular means of dealing with the difficulty. One hon. Member pointed out that we had got to keep the unemployed in some form 615 or another. We all agree with that, but we must make sure that "The Right to Work Bill" is the most economical way of doing so before we give it our support. We must bear the burden, and the great objection to my mind to "The Right to Work Bill" is it would aggravate the disease which it is intended to cure, whereas if the problem is approached from the point of view of insurance it will not encourage unemployment, and will not put upon the State the whole burden of this recurring unemployment which is caused, as the last speaker pointed out, by the variations and fluctuations of trade. Hon. Members who began the Debate professed not to be satisfied with the Government programme, because it did not deal with the whole question of unemployment, but dealt only with certain trades in which there are the greatest fluctuations. If you can deal with these most difficult trades in the first instance, surely it would be easy to extend the same principle to other trades where the fluctuations are less once the system is put upon a permanent footing.
We have heard, so far, very little arguments about "The Right to Work Bill." A Bill of that kind cannot be raised from the visionary realms of private Member's proposals to practical politics, except by facing hard facts, and these hard facts have not yet been faced by the supporters of the Bill. This afternoon we have been given to understand that the Bill has been modified in certain details since it was brought before the House in a former Session. We were particularly told by the seconder that he did not propose to deal with the details of the Bill, but the Amendment is directed to that Bill, and that Bill only. The Bill, I might remind the House, proposed that any man who is out of employment shall be entitled to go to the local authority and demand work at the trades union rate of wages. It is a very easy calculation to see what that would cost. The hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald), in an explanatory memorandum on "the Right to Work Bill" a couple of years ago, said that half a million of the workmen of this country find their labour an unsaleable commodity. Some of the hon. Members opposite put the figure higher. That means that half a million of men will, in the first instance, be likely to go to the local authorities and demand work. The trades union minimum wage is 30s. for an unskilled labourer, so that works out about 616 £40,000,000, on the assumption that this half million are to be paid only the wages for unskilled labour.
We were told by the Seconder of the Amendment that it was not worth while troubling about financial details; he did mention the Development Fund, and he pointed out that half a million a year or so was to be devoted for paying wages from that fund. Half a million a year is a mere drop in the ocean to what would be needed if you once attempted to put the obligation on the State of finding work for anyone out of employment. The hon. Member for North-East Manchester (Mr. Clynes) spoke of the various openings for this kind of labour. He talked about waste land and other work that could profitably be undertaken. If this work could be profitably done it would have already been done, as it would have attracted investments, and it seems to me that so far hon. Members supporting this proposal seem to have forgotten the fact that if you raise the rates by putting this obligation of employing people at unremunerative work upon the local authorities, you are taking away money from other objects which would have given proper employment. One of the speakers this afternoon asked,—Where is the money to come from? The money which the Exchequer would take would be drawn away from the productive industries of the country, and in that case the remedy would be far worse than the disease. But quite apart from the burden on the rates it is inevitable that many of our industries would be absolutely strangled if you were to lay down that in the case of industrial disputes one party is to be subsidised at the expense of the State. Under such conditions it would be quite natural for workmen to go to their employers and say they could get the trade union rate of wages from the State for probably far lighter work, and therefore, if the private employer wishes to keep them, he must give them a higher scale of wage than is the present custom. As long as human nature remains what it is the offer of an indefinite amount of public work must inevitably prove irresistible. It has been tried before, and it has always met with the same result. I do not know whether hon. Members have read the Report of the Poor Law Commission of 1834, but at the beginning of that report, on pages 21 and 24, there are some very interesting remarks. The Commissioners point out that:—The Act of 43 Elizabeth does not authorise relief to be afforded to any but the impotent, except in return 617 for work, nevertheless, in the year ending March, 1835, out of £7,036,000 expended in poor relief, less than £354,000, or scarcely one-twentieth was paid for work.They go on to give the reasons for that, and the chief among them was:—(1.) Gratuitous relief was less troublesome to parochial authorities. (2.) Collecting men into gangs was found more immediately injurious than even allowances or relief without requiring work.You will find that theory worked out in the Board of Trade report for 1893, where it is stated that the cotton famine relief works proved that same principle. Is it not certain that if you have State means for giving work that danger will be very much greater than it was in the past, because under the old system there was hardly any political pressure used to raise wages. By these proposals wages would be raised for public work higher than private industry could ever offer. In these days you would have tremendous political pressure used to raise wages to an uneconomical figure. We have all felt in our Constituencies the influences which public employés can wield, and it is not certain that, under a Bill of this kind, if the recipients are to have the franchise, it will be quite impossible for local authorities to keep down the scale of wages to a figure which is economically justified by the work done. The theory of the right to work has been put into practice, not only in this but in other countries, and it has always broken down hopelessly. Before the House can endorse this principle, those who are putting it forward should devote themselves to showing us a way out of these particular difficulties which have always arisen. As at present proposed, it would mean employment of the few at the cost of the means of livelihood of the many. Two forms of employment public and private could not possibly exist side by side. The theory on which the Amendment is founded can only work if you can communize all industries. I believe a majority of this House has realised that this result is unattainable. It has been shown, I think, that even the first steps in this direction would dislocate industry, and only aggravate the evils which they are meant to cure.
The Seconder of the Motion jeered at the idea that other measures might effectively deal with the problem, and he dealt very briefly with Tariff Reform. I was very glad to hear the admission made by the hon. Member for East Northamptonshire that production runs continually ahead of consumption, and he admitted that we are not producing up to our full capacity. Surely trade activity must de- 618 pend upon the demand of the consumer, and if only we can increase this demand and make it more permanent and less fluctuating a great deal will be done to solve this unemployment difficulty. On this side of the House we would begin at the other end, and instead of crippling individual employment we would give a fair chance to private enterprise by encouraging the demand for the products of British labour both at home and in the Colonies.
§ Mr. ROBERT HARCOURT
There was one important observation fell from the hon. Member for East Leeds in his very moderate and friendly speech. He said that if the party with which he is associated had had the opportunity in a private Bill of bringing forward a specific proposal on this question we should never have heard of the Amendment before the House.
§ Mr. ROBERT HARCOURT
I think I may deduce from the general tenor of the hon. Member's speech that the Labour party do not desire to bring a vote of censure against the Government for their inactivity at the present time. I thoroughly agree with the remarks of the hon. Gentleman who spoke last that there is too much airiness about arguments as to the lack of necessity for considering the details of a Bill. After all, we are entitled to demand what their Bill is. We know what the Government are doing. They have established a system of co-ordinated Labour Exchanges. On this point I do not think the country is being given nearly a sufficient opportunity of knowing how they are working. We do not merely want a list of figures of the number of situations filled, but we ought to have an opportunity of seeing the reports made by the officers of the Labour Exchanges, something like the system under which medical officers of health make reports of their work, so that we can see the very important sociological results of this experiment. Then there is insurance. We have been told in the past by the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Macdonald) that insurance represents the demand of hon. Members for maintenance. But the hon. Member for North East Manchester was rather arguing against insurance, because he said that in their view it was more desirable to provide work than to assist some form of trade union provision. I think, therefore, we require a clearer declaration of policy on one of the essential points affecting their own Bill. We have got the Development 619 Act, specifically brought in for the benefit of the unskilled worker, which, in the remarkable words of the hon. Member for Leeds, "contains every proposition made by the Labour and Socialist movement for the last twenty years." I really do not see, if we have done that, why we should have this Amendment to the Address at the present time. My main charge—I hope a friendly charge—against hon. Gentlemen below me is on the subject of what they are continually calling the Right to Work Bill of the Labour party. The only Bill we have before us is the Unemployed Workmen Bill of 1909, introduced by the hon. Member for Gorton (Mr. Hodge). I remember on that occasion I ventured to address the House against it. I do not intend to re-inflict upon it the arguments I then used, but I was threatened with all kinds of electoral disaster, though I was able to increase my majority by 50 per cent. What became of the Bill? I think it is not taking up an unfriendly attitude when I ask what became of that Bill during the whole of the last Parliament? What became of it in 1910? Let the House remember that in 1909 hon. Gentlemen already had the advantage of having the Poor Law Commission Report before them, though I think they made very insufficient use of it in their 1909 Bill. In 1910 they were very properly perusing the Poor Law Reports, and reconsidering a Bill which never even got into print. That did not prevent one Labour speaker after another getting up and referring to the Right to Work Bill of the Labour party, and, in particular, I remember one prominent speaker, if he was not misreported, calling down wrath upon a capitalist Government because they did not grant facilities for a Bill which had never been introduced.
I want to refer to the Resolution moved by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Barnard Castle (Mr. Arthur Henderson) at the Leicester Conference of the Labour party a few days ago. It calls upon the Government to deal with the causes (and I wish in their Amendment to-day there had been some reference to these causes) and the evil effects of unemployment on the lines of the Labour party's Right to Work Bill, which, ex hypothesi, did not exist, and to this end—and I want to call attention to this—these are the things they want done. I think I agree with nearly every one. They demand the establishment of a Minister of Labour. I do not think the Minister of Labour ever appeared in 620 their Right to Work Bill. Is the Minister of Labour in the fresh draft of the Bill? That is one of the propositions of the Minority Report of the Poor Law Commission which I heartily support. At the present time I have got in this House a Bill which I and one or two of my hon. Friends have drafted to give effect to that recommendation. Then their Resolution goes on to ask for the provision of State insurance. I have never been able to discover that in the actual text of their Bill, though I know the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) disagrees with me. The Resolution further demands the maintenance of the regularisation of casual labour and the establishment of a forty-eight hours' maximum working week. They were never introduced, I think, in the Bill they submitted to Parliament. It is clear from their own Conference's resolution that there are an enormous number of things with which you must deal before you effectively solve this problem, but they are certainly not contained in any Bill which they have ever submitted to Parliament. All these things were contained, not as questions of vague principle, but by specific clauses, in the Prevention of Destitution Bill, which was considered in the last Parliament, and which last Session provided the only opportunity the House of Commons had of considering the subject of unemployment. That Bill was introduced, not by a Labour Member, but by a Liberal Member of tried respectability sitting for an agricultural constituency. I think I may say with all sincerity and truth that that Bill, though it was frankly never intended to pass and was only introduced to give the House of Commons an opportunity of debating the matter, received very general and encouraging support on all sides of the House of Commons. It is perfectly true that its rejection was moved by two hon. Gentlemen opposite, budding statesmen, but it was seconded by one of the most extreme confederates of the Tory party, and I think the two hon. Gentlemen who moved the rejection must have regretted their courageous enthusiasm when the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition got up and made what I believe, though I was unfortunately absent from the House through illness, was one of the most sympathetic, if not the most sympathetic speech which was delivered from either Front Bench in the course of the discussion.
§ Mr. R. HARCOURT
I know my hon. Friend believes there is only one possible remedy for all human ills, which is the taxation of land values, but even if it were in order, I do not think that can be usefully discussed on an Amendment, which, after all, is intended to raise the question of the machinery for dealing with the situation as if it exists. During the whole course of that debate, in the speech of the mover, a Liberal Member, in the speech of the Seconder, a Unionist Confederate, in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, in the speech of the Prime Minister, and I think in almost every speech except that of the President of the Local Government Board, who seems to have shown more than his usual content with his own reforming zeal and more than his usual intolerance of other people's, there was a general desire to drop polemical claptrap and to agree upon the broad lines of a great measure. I thoroughly agree if the Prevention of Destitution Bill had furnished merely a debating society discussion, and if the Motion raised by the hon. Member for Bethnal Green had equally remained without effect, then hon. Gentlemen, even in this busy Session, would have had full justification for their action, but surely the fact that you have got an Insurance and Invalidity Bill in this busy Session should have been sufficient to have prevented them from bringing this Motion forward. The implication of the Amendment is that unemployment is necessarily incident to a competitive industrial system. As the hon. Member for Leicester has said, the capitalist employer wants his 4 per cent. or his 10 per cent. surplus sometimes, but his 2 per cent. always. It seems to me to be an essential vice of the Eight to Work Bill that it asserts that the State should step in to maintain the labour surplus for the employers benefit, and even the Ghent system merely provides in addition that the workman's money-box should be levied upon. In the scheme outlined by the Home Secretary in 1909 we have for the first time a specific contribution exacted from the employer. I am glad to recognise from the tone of the hon. Members on the Labour benches that they admit our agreement as to the importance of this most momentous question. You cannot deal with it by the Right to Work Bill, tinkering with the situation as it is, leaving the Boards of Guardians in their places, super- 622 adding authorities worse than themselves, and making life one long labour test. You cannot shut off able-bodied unemployment in a water-tight compartment; unless you deal with the whole subject of public health you are re-creating the difficulty every day. The evidence which one medical member of the Boards after another who come before the Poor Law Commissioners gave is a striking testimony to this fact. For instance, the Medical Commissioner of the Local Government Board for Ireland said:—I think it was unfortunate that Public Health did not precede Poor Law, and (hat the medical relief of the poor, both indoor and outdoor, was not organised as a Public Health Service. A health service having for its first and great aim the prevention of disease, embracing the present Public Health, Medical Charities and Poor Law Hospital Services, and, in fact, charged with the prevention and treatment of disease among the poor would, I consider, particularly if managed as a State Service, be a forward step of immense benefit to the public health and poor of the country. Everything points to the fact that the future of all medicine, but particularly of poor law medicine, lies in the adoption of preventive measures; the time has passed when the principal function of the poor law medical officer is merely to dispense drugs.I only quote that in order to make this contention that if you approach the whole question from the public health standpoint—if you co-ordinate—that blessed word—your hopelessly overlapping wasteful services and obtain a unified medical service on preventive lines dealing with a tuberculosis patient because he is consumptive and not because he is a pauper, and remembering that one-third of our pauperism is due to sickness, you will largely have removed a proportion of the able-bodied problem you might have to deal with in future generations. The Government are dealing with it—though we do not know the details of their scheme for invalidity insurance. I want to associate myself with the observations that fell from the hon. Member for North-East Manchester when he said that insurance could only be paid to men for having become unemployed, to this extent that it seems to me an essential vice of the scheme of invalidity insurance that you are going to reward a man who succeeds in becoming sick. So far as we understand the scheme adumbrated in the papers, it is a 5s. unconditional and inadequate relief because a man is unfit to work. But why should you not, besides the friendly societies, subsidise your public health authority and place on it indeed the obligation to assist in sickness, but encourage it at the same time to prevent it and save the occurrence of sickness and unemployment by more effective prophylactics I regret 623 that the hon. Member for East Leeds has—for the second time—poured cold water on the necessity of industrial training. He spoke of a man becoming unemployable at forty years of age. Yes, but why have unemployment at twenty? Take the case of boy labour. The van boy according to the report of the Skilled Employment Association, works from 90 to 100 hours per week, and yet 50 per cent. are out of work and back on the streets as permanent loafers within two or three years. I was glad to see yesterday the "Westminster Gazette," an organ of moderate Liberal opinion, agrees that the only way in which you can deal with this subject is to shorten the hours of boy labour so that the lads may have time to attend classes. I want to associate myself with that view, and I confess to a feeling of dissatisfaction at the way in which the matter is being delayed.
During my first session of Parliament I was present at a very important deputation to the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary on this very subject, when the Prime Minister referred to it as the most hopeful non-controversial subject the Government had to deal with. I hope that one of the results of this Debate will be that we shall deal with the question in these good years of trade when the parents could not say that they wanted the miserably few shillings extra which the lads earned. It is time to regularise the ordinary national Government demand for labour, and to consider each year which among the various works and services to be provided in the ordinary way need not be proceeded with at an equal rate in each successive year, and each Department can exercise that power. We hear now of a boom in the shipbuilding trade: there is scarcely a rivetter or a plater to be obtained on the Clyde; while to add to the congestion, the Government are about to lay down the usual half-dozen "Dreadnoughts," and is it not conceivable that some of the necessary fitments could be put into stock from time to time, and more ordered in bad years? Take the woollen industrial products which are largely patronised by the Army, or take the duck and canvas used in the Navy, a product which is made in my own Constituency. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh."] Hon. Gentlemen are mistaken, I am not asking the Government for an order, 624 but I am only suggesting that their orders should not be given as was once the case in a time of boom and prosperity, when it was almost impossible to get the necessary workers, but that they should be placed in quieter times. I think that is a business proposition which would appeal to the business government of my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. Bottomley).
In conclusion, in regard to the tactics which are involved in this Amendment, may I point out that, after all, this is a repetition of what took place, or rather, what did not take place, but was anticipated in the last Parliament. I have read this morning the report of the Independent Labour Conference in London in 1910. At that Conference, the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydfil (Mr. Keir Hardie), referring to the action or inaction of his party, said:It so happened that Messrs. Thorne and O'Grady each had put down Amendments to the Address dealing with unemployment, but the party decided that neither of these should he moved. The reason for this, he understood, was that the Tory party would very likely vote with the Labour party and thereby bring about the defeat of the Government. Mr. O'Grady's Amendment boldly declared for the Right to Work, and if the Tory party had voted with the Labour party and thereby defeated the Government on such an issue, it would have been the crowning glory of their work.I am afraid I must join issue with my hon. Friend in regard to his statement that if the Tory party had voted with the Labour party on the Right to Work and turned the Government out before they had had an opportunity of introducing the Parliament Bill it would have been so regarded. I have had some experience of elections, and I do not think that the workmen throughout the country would think that in that event the Labour party would have effected their crowning work. I hope I have said nothing unsympathetic in regard to the main, real, and underlying contention of this Amendment, that if real and effective progress is not made with social as distinguished from constitutional questions, the Government will forfeit the support of enough members, whether they obey the Liberal or the Labour Whips to turn the Government out. But I believe that this change of front—if I may say so without offence—this lack of self-control on the part of the Labour party, in a Session which is an exact reproduction of the last, is, if pushed to an extremity—as I hope it will not be—an unfair and unnecessary blow at the ordered progress of the many causes which we have equally at heart.
§ Mr. KEBTY-FLETCHER
I sympathise very much with the Motion, but I do not 625 think it should be passed until we have helped the unskilled labourer to obtain regular, well-paid work. Our fiscal system at present, firstly, drives our manufacturers abroad; and, secondly, it allows £140,000,000 worth of manufactured goods to come into this country untaxed, and then, forsooth, hon. Members belonging to the Labour party are astonished that there are men who are unemployed. The Right to Work ! Yes, but you cannot obtain a good workable Bill so long as you are always looking after the consumer. Hon. Members opposite feel that the consumer must buy all goods at the lowest possible price, notwithstanding the state of trade; but we Tariff Reformers say that the producer must be looked after and the selfish consumer must look after himself. In that we differ from the laisser faire school of thought which the Labour party adopt on the fiscal question, which is everyone for themselves and the devil take the hindmost. You cannot prevent the problems of want and starvation arising by any Bill while they have 13,000,000 of our own flesh and blood by the leg. I heard a good deal from the Benches opposite about re-afforestation of the hilltops and reclamation of the foreshores; but as a commercial man it does not strike me as likely to be a very successful experiment to take men from Cheshire or Lancashire and put them out in this weather upon the hilltops of Scotland to plant trees. Neither do I think that it is either common-sense nor good business to take men from the South to the East coast to push back the sea and reclaim the foreshore.
It does not seem to me to be very sensible, and I say this, that casual labour is no good to this or any country. If hon. Members belonging to the Labour party had lived, as I have done all my life, in Liverpool, and seen the deplorable results of casual labour, I think they would show some sympathy with our efforts to obtain work for British workmen and not let it be given to the foreigner, on the ground that the consumer must buy cheaply, irrespective of where the goods are produced or under what conditions of sweated labour. Take the case of the strikes proceeding at the present moment, it is only necessary to cable or wire abroad and a strike can be broken up, because the produce of the foreign manufacturer comes into this country unfettered. Hon. Members speak, I suppose, as trade unionists. I was the trustee of a very large trade union for many years, and I disagree with the Labour party, who have set up the god 626 of cheapness and bow the knee to it, because I say that the nation that worships the god of cheapness worships the god of ruin. In the last Parliament we were told on high authority that the wealthiest men in this House were on the Benches opposite, and I can quite believe it because Free Trade makes a paradise of a country for the rich man while it makes the other thing for the poor man. Free Trade takes the work from our men and gives it to the foreigner, and then, when our men are down, the Labour Members vote for taxing their tea, sugar, and other necessities of life. I say that is wrong in principle. The hon. Member for the West Toxteth Division (Mr. Houston) yesterday gave an instance of the working of our present system and how it injured this country, and to-day a Member on the Irish Benches described how people in Belfast were sweated in making blouses for the wives of the wealthy inhabitants and manufacturers. That is the result, of course, of Free Trade, the inevitable result. Labour Members laugh, but in no country in the world, and I have been a great traveller, will you see destitution and degradation in the streets as you will in our large towns. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, Oh."] Labour Members must read the writing on the wall. We men of Lancashire taught them a lesson at the last election. Hon. Members, who in 1906, obtained large majorities, have had them reduced by thousands. The working people are getting tired of being misrepresented on this question. [Laughter.] "He who laughs best laughs last." We want to set our house in order. When the Prime Minister says it is a good thing for us to export capital so that we can get back our interest, I say again to the Labour Members that it does not appeal to the hard-headedness of the men of the North. I will give an illustration. A manufacturer would not lend another manufacturer £1,000 to improve his machinery in order to be able to compete with him in his own market, but that is what we are doing. We are exporting our capital in order to assist manufacturers in America, the Argentine, and Japan, and Labour Members are astonished that we have the destitution and degradation that we now have in the country. In Ireland we see the same thing, and you talk about the reclamation of the foreshore. It appears to me, as has been said, that what they want is to dig a hole in the earth and then let someone else fill it up again. The present state of affairs is the fault of the Liberal 627 party and of hon. Gentlemen opposite. I have full sympathy with the Right to Work Bill, but we should ameliorate our own fiscal conditions before we introduce it. Suppose the Right to Work Bill passes. What is going to happen to all the aliens who come into this country? They are taking the bread and butter out of our own working people's mouths. If you are going to give them the right to work will they not flock in here from all the slums of the Continent? Are you going to propose to give them work? Of course, you cannot exclude them, and I presume that is what will happen. The right to work cannot be divorced from the right to eat and as we know that you cannot work unless you have food, hon. Gentlemen opposite are to be blamed for not doing what they can to bring to this country cheap and wholesome food. It is entirely the fault of the Labour and the Liberal party that food has been so dear to our own people during the last five years. You cannot bang, bar and bolt the door against your own Colonies without affecting the price of food here. It is not disputed that there are a great number of unemployed, but who has made them? The Government paralysed the building trade, and they were backed up in that by the Labour party. It is about time that the Labour party took an interest in the democracy of this country. When the McCann case was brought forward and the story was told how the baby was torn from the mother's breast the Labour Members should have taken an interest in this poor woman, and they should support the efforts of the men of Ulster to find the child. When a great case stirs the conscience of the country you will always find the Labour party against the true interests of democracy.
§ The PRESIDENT of the LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. John Burns)
The Amendment before the House expresses regret that no promise has been made of a Bill to establish the right to work by placing upon the State the responsibility of directly providing the employment or maintenance for the unemployed, and we have been asked to advance a reason why this principle of the right to work and the Bill at the back of the principle cannot be endorsed by the Government. The unemployed problem to-day, as raised in this House, is considerably different from what it was in 1906, 1907, 628 and 1908, and it is true that the attitude both of the Labour party and of a number of others has changed in important details upon this particular measure. But it is best, instead of referring to details, which, after all, are not material, that we should confine ourselves to the main principle in the Amendment which, if accepted, would be embodied in the Right to Work Bill. The Government cannot accept this Amendment because it asks them to accept a palliative that does not prevent and to endorse a panacea that does not remedy. Those who put forward the principle of the right to work assume that unemployment is a single and simple issue to be met by a single principle applicable to the complex evils of unemployment, and it is because we think this remedy would be dangerous to individuals and disastrous to the nation if adopted that we object to this wholesale method of applying a wrong principle in a vicious way. Instead of helping the unemployed it would do them more harm than good.
The Amendment suggests that the State should provide employment or maintenance for all the genuine unemployed who apply. I take this view of the Right to Work Bill. It means first and last relief works. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] If we recognise by the Right to Work Bill, that it is the duty of the State to provide employment for the genuine unemployed, and failing that, I suppose, equivalent maintenance, it means first and last relief works. No one has said a single word today in favour of relief works. No one has asked for them. On the contrary, everybody condemns them. The intelligent unemployed avoid them wherever they can. The casual unemployed are made more casual by the process of demoralisation that relief works invariably impose upon those who, reluctantly or voluntarily, take part in them. What is more they stereotype for a higher weekly wage, at the cost of the community, inferior work on behalf of men who as a rule are not the most efficient or competent workmen in their trades, and they put very often on the best in our industries the necessity of supporting the less efficient. Relief works are like opiates; the more you take the more you want. The patient dies of the remedies quicker than of the disease, and, speaking as one who has been a consulting physician to 220,000 unemployed, I ask the attention of the House to these figures. In the last four years I have had the unique ex- 629 perience of superintending the largest number of persons engaged on relief works in this country for a century, with the exception of the period of the Lancashire cotton famine, and I can say that I know of no advantage gained by the unemployed, the nation, or the community; on the contrary, I know no more serious danger, morally, physically, and economically, than would result from the relief works which would be a consequence of the adoption of this Amendment. I put that strongly because I have had experience.
I now come to another aspect of the case. There has not been a practical suggestion made by means of which the principle of this Amendment could be applied. There has not been one single effective remedy suggested. No organisation has been outlined and no machinery advanced, but we have had expressions of the general sympathy which we all feel for the unemployed, and to which for the last four years I have done my best to give a practical interpretation, and for these efforts, I am glad to say, I have received the thanks of the distress committees. All past precedents have been ignored, universal experience has been avoided, and any reference to recent attempts to carry into effect the principle which is at the bottom of this Amendment have been most discreetly avoided. While the cost has not been estimated, the consequences have been left to sentimental speculation, and the effects upon industry have not even been referred to. I now pass from the absence of suggestion of remedies to deal with the kind of trades which, if this method were adopted, would have to be selected for providing work or maintenance for the unemployed. What are the trades that lend themselves to it? Obviously, not ship-building, engineering, tailoring, or bootmaking. There is, as a matter of fact, and as the history of the world has demonstrated, only one calling that can be used for municipal or State relief works. What trade is that? It is the building trade. It is a seasonal trade, and it is carried on under fluctuating conditions. In recent years what have we seen? We have seen that there was only one trade in which those of all other trades, when unemployed, could secure perfunctory employment either at the standard rate of wages or at a lower rate. It is a fluctuating trade, because it is subject to conditions of climate which 630 affect employment, and I believe it would be more degraded if the principle of the right to work were applied to it, and it is the only trade to which it can be applied. I can only say, speaking as to bricklayers, masons, navvies and men engaged in excavating and general ground work, their claim is to be saved from what this Amendment would mean if adopted, and not only so, but many of them say: "For Heaven's sake, do not allow our trade to be selected to be still farther the rendezvous of the unemployed, to our undoing." But it will be said that I cannot alter the seasonal character of the building trade. I do believe that the building trade ought to be more stable and less fluctuating. I believe the seasonal element in it has been exaggerated. I do believe that the State or the muncipalities or even private individuals, can still farther regularise the building trade, that is to say, when private trade is slack, large blocks of municipal public works should be put in hand, so as to tide the building trade over the slack time. That ought to be done, and in and out of season we have advised the municipalities and the Government Departments to put that system into operation as soon as possible, and I am glad to say that to a great extent the municipalities have done it and are doing it. I believe that the 1,220,000 men engaged in the building trade whose work is irregular, whose wages are too often casual, would find that there is really one remedy for them—namely, that the members of the trade in combination with the employers, and probably in combination with the State—that all three combined should follow the example of the engineers, shipwrights, pat-tern makers, and plumbers, and organise a system of insurance by means of which seasonal fluctuations could be considerably minimised, and they would incidentally have the means of providing sustenance for themselves at their own expense, or at the cost of the trade, plus a contribution from the community. I mean such an insurance scheme as the engineers have adopted.
I was surprised to hear the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Clynes) say that he did not look so sympathetically upon insurance as we had been led to believe the Labour party would look upon it. I dissent from his view. I believe that insurance is the only means by which certain trades can meet the evils of unemployment. 631 I believe that an investment by an engineer of 6d. per week in his Trade Union returning 10s. a week when out of work is like the savings at a bank of a rich man, or the contribution made to a friendly society. It is one of the best investments he can make. It secures a minimum when out of work, and it is a stimulus to higher wages, out of which the contribution to secure the insurance should be taken. The defect of all right-to-work schemes is that they are a premium against insurance. They are a premium against the organisation of workmen into trade unions or friendly societies. They are an inducement to let other people do the saving for the community, to provide the work, and for the whole nation to bear the burden which the individual, the community, and the profit of the capitalist should, perhaps, contribute an equal share.
§ Mr. CLYNES
May I explain that the right hon. Gentleman has not represented adequately my attitude in the matter. My point was that insurance could not and would not meet the class that was most concerned.
§ Mr. BURNS
That is an argument for raising the wages of the unskilled labourer to a level at which he can secure an insurance. It is not an argument for placing a premium on low wages by providing him with the worst form of employment at other people's expense. That is the old pauperism under a new name, and just as the old Poor Law paid in part the wages of the farmers, just as it contributed it in some cases to higher rents, so if the universal scheme embodied in this Amendment were adopted we should have precisely the same results secured as we had then—namely, the rates and taxes spent would be a dole to lower wages and be a premium upon thriftlessness and improvidence. Let us assume that something like the outline of the right to work in this Amendment were embodied in our legislation. Immediately it was adopted what incentive would there be to employers to keep men on when trade warranted their dismissal? What encouragement would there be to induce men to follow the example of Lancashire and to give three or four or five days' work for all in lieu of dismissing 5 or 10 or 15 per cent. of the hands? In the Eight to Work Bill you give employment or maintenance by the municipality 632 or the State, and the employer will ask himself why should he trouble to have short time to keep elderly men on, as, to their credit, many do. He would say to himself, "I pay for it through rates and taxes." In the result, in my judgment, we should still further embitter the diminishing personal relationship between employer and employed, which I am not anxious, in the factory or workshop, to see lessened much further.
The other day I was out with the soldiers over Salisbury Plain. A mist came over the plain, and I lost my way. While endeavouring to find it the mist lifted partially, and I came across a man who was behind a little screen of hurdles and who was getting 12s. a week wages. He was working from sixty to seventy hours a week for from 12s. to 13s. He had a wife and three children and had to pay 2s, a week rent out of his lowly wage. With six months' residence in Reading, where the standard rate is 24s., or in Devizes, where it is 24s., or in Battersea with only 30s. as the qualification, do hon. Members mean to tell me that that man would not go to Devizes and Reading, drawn by the temptation of double wages for half the daily number of hours and one-third the actual labour? The effect of it would be that the townward trend would be still further accentuated, the condition of the urban unemployed would be considerably worsened and the last state of the unemployed in our big towns would be infinitely worse than the first. The hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Kebty-Fletcher), who has just sat down, suggested to my mind a thing which is in the minds of all of us, and which this Bill will not cure, namely, the tendency to casual labour. Unfortunately, the poor casual labourer often likes his 5s., or 6s. a day for three or four days of the week better than the regular 4s. or 5s. a day taking the year through. One of the sad features of casual labour in Liverpool and elsewhere is that we find, as I have found when I have tried to get employers to abolish casual labour, the men most against it are the casual labourers themselves. Under the proposal now made, what is not often comparatively regular work would be made more casual, because in depressed times, either by the State or the municipality, a premium would be placed on irregularity to an extent which does not now prevail.
I have a right to speak for the London dock labourers, because I was one of their 633 leaders twenty years ago. The raising of their wages from 5d. to 6d. per hour was not what brought me into the movement. Man does not live either by bread or money alone. What was more important was that the men should have regular work. That was the reason which induced me to go into that movement. I am glad to say, thanks in no small measure to what has been done by this Government during the last four or five years, a great change has been brought about as regards casual labour in the London Docks. When I led the Dock Strike in 1889 only 16 per cent. of the labour employed at the Dock was permanent, and the wages were 6d. an hour and the weekly wage 20s. I am glad to say that instead of 16 per cent. 72 per cent. are permanent at this moment. The 20s. has risen to 24s., and the average earnings approximate to 30s. or 32s. It is in that direction rather than by a scheme like this that we can bring about those changes that we all wish to secure for the casually employed and for the genuinely unemployed, whose condition, in my judgment, would be made much worse than it is at present by this particular plan. Why is it all at once, almost in the twinkling of an eye, we find the responsibility of providing for the unemployed suddenly shifted from the municipality on whom it was put, six, five, three, or even two years ago, and vested in the State? There is a simple reason for it. This proposal has been submitted to the local authorities who have the agency and the means of providing work much better than a State Department, and who have local knowledge and organisation. Out of 2,468 county, borough, and urban councils only twenty-four expressed themselves in favour of the Right to Work Bill of 1908. If the municipalities do not want, as evidently they do not, municipal relief works, surely you are not going to simplify the problem by transferring them from the municipality to the State. I can only say on behalf of the Department whose representative I have been for the last four or five years in this particular matter, that we should manage it worse through the agency of a Government Department than by means of a municipality, the State contributing some instalment of the cost. I ask the House to support the Government in not accepting the vicious principle which is at the bottom of this Amendment, for the general reasons I have advanced. My last reason against this proposition, and for a wiser and better plan is this. Hon. Members below the 634 gangway think they have only to mention unemployment and the Right to Work Bill, talk about finding the money necessary and the machinery required, that they have only to bring those four elements into conjunction, and the problem is solved. The unemployment problem is a serious, complex, and very difficult one; it has many sides. Five years, or six years ago, we said we could not accept the Right to Work Bill, but the rejection of that Bill only justified our devising a more excellent and a wiser all-round plan. The hon. Member for Bethnal Green (Mr. Pickers-gill) made a reference to me, and I propose to give him the outline of the more excellent and wiser alternatives, which, in his innocence, he thought were all mentioned in the speech made by my distinguished Friend the Home Secretary (Mr. Churchill) last year. The late Prime Minister was confronted with a condition of unemployment, like the present Prime Minister, who continues his work. We regarded it as a complex problem to which multiform remedies should be applied. We thought the first thing to do was to tide over the existing condition of things with the solvent of a Parliamentary grant of £200,000 or £300,000, which we have done our best to administer. But we said that was not sufficient: it was a palliative, and we should be very thankful if it succeeded, but that we had to do something better. The Labour Bureaux did the right work in the wrong way. We decided, instead of Bureaux, which were a part of a systematic dealing with the question of unemployment as a whole, to substitute Labour Exchanges. Their first year's work more than justified their institution: 450,000 vacancies were notified and no less than 370,000 applicants were provided with situations, 60,000 of these applicants being women. That is a sensible, practical and direct contribution to the solving of the problem of unemployment. The next point had reference to a very dangerous trade in some sections of the country, one which was overworked—the mining industry. It is a big trade; it employs over a million men, and I think we are right in regard to that particular trade in establishing a legislative maximum of working hours. I am very glad to say that, though this legislation when first applied caused some friction, it is now working much more smoothly, and the net result, so far as unemployment is concerned, must mean that the work will be spread over a larger number of men; and to that extent 635 the class of unemployed will receive additional aid. I put it to the Labour party, supposing we had the Right to Work Bill, what compulsion would there be on a man in the Rhondda Valley to work at the dangerous and unpleasant occupation which these brave fellows so heroically follow, earning from 4s. to 6s. per day or per shift, when he can go into Merthyr or Cardiff or some adjoining urban area where the principle of the Right to Work Bill would be applied, and get 4s. or 5s. a day in levelling fields, making parks, or at other kinds of work available for relief employment.
More than that, we decided to stiffen up the railway hours, and both the last and present Governments decided that the maximum hours in that particular industry should not go beyond what was reasonable and safe, both for the men and the public. Unemployment is not only a condition of lack of work or a lack of opportunity; very frequently unemployment and unemployability is due to a condition of physique or to mental and moral incapacity; and, therefore, we were right to take into our consideration the public health conditions which may predispose to unemployment. We wisely decided to raise the age at which employment should begin. It has been done twice since I have been a Member of the House of Commons, and I believe it may be done this year again. I should like to see it put at fourteen years. As regards public health, I do not think that the greatest enemy of the Local Government Board, even if he employed Sam Weller's double million magnifier, can do otherwise than admit that the Department in its dealings with those public economic and social questions on which unemployment impinges, has done its best by reducing infant mortality, which has fallen forty-five per cent. in London and all over the country in the last five years. The general death rate has been considerably lowered, and its efforts have also caused tuberculosis to decline. Housing has improved, overcrowding is rapidly diminishing, and all these minor but very important contributions to ameliorating the condition of the working classes are telling in the right direction. From what I heard said by the hon. Member for North-East Manchester (Mr. Clynes) to-day, I was really as gratified as I was surprised. Though he did not thank us in words for our contribution 636 towards the solution of the unemployed problem, yet he was sheltering himself behind what the Government had done. He referred to the Wages Boards, housing, afforestation, reclamation, railway hours, and so forth. These are the Government's contributions—without eight or nine others—towards this particular problem. Instead of turning us out of office while we are only twenty-five per cent. on the road, should they not secure that the other seventy-five per cent. of the road should be travelled by the same people. Every year since the 1907 Amendment of the Workmen's Compensation Act £2,000,000 per annum more for injuries have been received than four or five years ago. That is a considerable contribution to the unemployment problem, and the position has been considerably improved by Acts of that kind.
Another thing to which I had expected greater attention from the Labour party was the question of unemployed insurance. My Friend, the President of the Board of Trade will, I believe this year, submit to the House the beginnings of his unemployed insurance and insurance for invalidity. I can only say as an engineer who belongs to the largest of the unions in the country, which gives its workmen, for small contributions relatively to wages, ten shillings unemployed benefit, ten shillings when they are sick, and a number of other substantial benefits, that we shall welcome with pleasure any proposal that must cost the State in the first year from one to two millions of money. We shall welcome that as being more practical, direct, and sympathetic for the unemployed than any of the will-o'-the-wisp schemes that may be submitted for giving employment to everybody at other people's expense. We propose then to pay invalidity and unemployment insurance. We are, as well, face to face with the fact that there are comparatively few men unemployed in rural areas. The obligation is put upon us not only to deal with urban workmen and urban unemployed, but we have got to deal with rural unemployment. Hon. Members on the other side of the House sometimes criticise my Friend the President of the Board of Agriculture for the slowness with which he has proceeded with the introduction of small holdings. Anything that was ever worth having was never done too quickly. I think it is a great triumph that in two years 100,000 acres have been secured, on which nearly 7,000 small holders have been placed 637 at a cost of something like £2,000,000. That is a great contribution towards easing the unemployed problem in the towns by removing from the urban area the most serious form of competition for work in the labour market. The hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. R. V. Harcourt) spoke about the regularisation of the total demand for labour. The hon. Member knows that I have never lost an opportunity of bringing that particular subject before all the municipalities, who, to their credit, are doing more in this direction than many people think. Government Departments are also doing similar work. My hon. Friend the Member for East Manchester (Mr. Sutton) spoke of the close relationship there is between healthy houses and the condition of the unemployed. The Irish Secretary has during the last five years spent over five millions of money in providing 20,000 cottages for housing the Irish labourers. That is under a special Act, while in the same period the Local Government Board have been able to do the same in England and Wales to the extent of a million and a quarter.
I go from that to one or two suggestions that have been made for the treatment of this problem. Some Members say, "Oh, why cannot you put into operation large schemes of coast erosion, reclamation road work and development work?" But the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been blamed by many because he has had the courage to take from the taxes two or three hundred thousand per year and place it at the disposal of the Road Board to carry out important main road extensions. I assure the House that if the Road Board were crippled in their work by having to give employment to everybody who applied for work under this proposal, and who would have to receive maintenance if they could not secure work, the Road Board would break down in the first few months. By the Development Act the Government have taken half a million for this year, and for the next two or three years a sum of two millions of money to enable them to go on with the work of reclamation and afforestation. Migration, which is a very important element in the work of the Labour Exchanges, has been considerably helped, and many people have had greater facilities for voluntary emigration. I mention those fifteen or sixteen instances in which the Government has done a great deal in some of the directions that have been demanded by the Labour party. What does that mean in 638 cash? And here I have an answer from a number of the Departments in a sentence or two. In the last year upon pensions for the aged, upon Labour Exchanges, upon the Road Board, upon the Development Board, and upon several of the other things which I have mentioned, the Government have spent, and will spend subsequently, fifteen millions more of public money per annum than when they entered office. That is upon social reform, industrial amelioration, improvement in the public health, and in the regularisation and improvement of the standard of living of the average workman. That is a great and solid contribution to the cause of Social Reform.
We say that that instalment is better than this particular scheme that has been submitted to us to-day, and we ask permission to be allowed to go on with this work, we ask to be allowed not to weary in well-doing. We ask you to enable us to-do those things that are the first to hand, and to do the best things by the instalment process I have suggested. Why do I, as one who has been in this unemployed movement for five-and-twenty years as leader, workman, councillor, and Minister, why do I resist the Amendment, personally as well as Ministerially, submitted to to the House. I will tell you why. You may alter the constitution of the House of Lords, you may dissolve the House of Commons, you may do away with many of your existing institutions, and we may have our differences, but the nation will go on. But there is one thing you cannot do, and that you ought not to attempt to do, and that is you have no right to break the proud spirit of the poor. You have no right to undermine their sense of industry, you have no right to make inroads on their industry and on their manly independence. And it is because I believe industrially this would be a blunder for the unemployed, it is because economically I believe it would be a disaster to the nation, it is because I believe that if at came into operation it would break down in six months, and the nation would condemn us for embarking on such a wild and dangerous experiment, it is because of these things that I ask this House not to accept this Amendment, and to allow this, or even succeeding Governments, to go on with the scientific gradual process of abolishing casual labour, raising wages, and in so doing retaining the industrial morale and independence of character that this Amendment would destroy.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I have to ask the indulgence of the House on this occasion, the first on which it has been my privilege to address them. I would not have intruded in this Debate but for the fact that I, too, have had some little experience in the matter we are discussing. I represent in this House one of the very poorest districts of this great Metropolis, a district which is afflicted, in good times and in bad, with this great problem of unemployment. It is perfectly true, as the right hon. Gentleman says, that this is a very complex and difficult problem, and one which will take a considerable amount of time to work out. But if we are to work it out successfully we must start at the very beginning and on right lines. Excellent as are Labour Exchanges, excellent as to some extent State insurance may be, we who sit on these benches still hold that it is starting entirely at the wrong end of the problem; that this problem of unemployment is very much a problem of the State organisation of industry, and not necessarily organisation of industry by the State itself, but by the State taking such action that all industry should be regulated in such a manner as to secure work for all citizens willing to work.
The right hon. Gentleman has told us that the Labour party's attitude on the subject has changed. If that were true it would not matter very much if they had changed their attitude because of further knowledge or of further experience. No one in the House has any business to grumble at people taking a different view from that which they have previously held, if they honestly find it better to do so. The right hon. Gentleman is a shining example of that. I am not at all certain that we have changed our minds. I think that, in the last resort, we have always held that the real responsibility for dealing with this question and for enforcing the right of every willing citizen to earn his daily bread lay with this House as representing the entire people. We may wish to administer through municipalities or other local authorities, but I am certain that as a party we have never really departed from the principle that in the last resort the State as represented by the House of Commons is the place where the principle we stand for must be established. Although I am a new Member, I believe I am speaking for every man on these benches in declaring that we have never at any time said that relief works were a panacea for or a settlement of the unemployed problem. I 640 myself have always said, as the right hon. Gentleman says, that mere relief works perpetuate the evil. It is very easy in this House, however, to talk political economy, and to point out the great evils that come from relief work; but when a municipality, or a Board of Guardians, or even a Government, are face to face with large masses of people in a starving condition, they must take uneconomic measures to deal with these people and to help them out of their difficulties. When we have advocated that certain works should be put in hand, we have only done so because we have not been able to put our own principles and propositions into effect. If we had been so able, we should say quite clearly that we agree that the mere sending of men to dig or to do work to which they are not accustomed is demoralising to the men and to the nation.
But there is something very much worse than even that, and that is to leave children, women, and men, hungry. I have in mind a speech made some years ago, in which a gentleman said he had a vision of hungry children, of homeless men, of women driven to prostitution and shame, because of the want of employment, and he said it was that which had driven him into revolt against society. That is practically what was said by the right hon. Gentleman some years ago. I am in that position this afternoon. I am in revolt against these conditions. I say deliberately that, if you deny men the right to work, if you take from them by your capitalist and landlord system the means of earning their daily bread, you cannot at the same time deny their claim to maintenance at the hands of the State. You cannot say, on the one hand, that you will protect the capitalist in turning men out from their employment, that you would protect the landlord in clearing men off the land, that you will allow your police and soldiers to back them up in so doing, and, at the same time, leave these women and children to starve. They have the inherent rights of humanity. If you and your soldiers prevent them coming to close quarters with the landlords and capitalists, if the landlords and capitalists deny these men the right to earn their daily bread, in the last resort the people have an inherent claim upon you. With society organised as it is, if you will not give them work or allow them to exercise their labour power, the only thing you can do is to maintain them in the way we suggest.
641 For my part I want to emphasize that portion of this Amendment. I am not concerned so much with more work. When I listen to honourable and right hon. Gentlemen who have given up work in the ordinary sense long ago, saying that work is a very blessed thing—I mean digging on the land and nasty uncomfortable work of that sort—I feel that what is meant is that it is excellent for the other fellow, so long as we are not doing it ourselves. There is plenty of work being done, plenty of things being produced, and what we need is to secure a better distribution of the work and what the work produces. I quite agree that we have not only to set up our claim for maintenance and for the right to work. We have also to set up the claim that our little children, the children of the workers, should have a better chance than they have at present. We have had lots of sympathy this afternoon; but sympathy is not of much use to the children who are selling newspapers, or riding behind vans, or sleeping on the Embankment or in workhouses or casual wards. These children are in these conditions mainly (because somebody else is getting the result of the labour of their parents or of working-class parents generally. No one has a right to talk about the unemployable in this connection. Hon. Members have asked what we are going to do with the unemployable. Whenever this question is discussed, somebody asks what is to be done with the loafer. I think I ought to say here what I have said outside, that when I deal with the loafers I will deal with those who canter round Rotten Row for want of any other exercise to obtain an appetite for their meals. If ever the democracy of this country deal with loafers, they will deal with them at both ends of the social scale. We who sit here have no sympathy either with the rich loafer or with the poor loafer. We want all the men of the country to do their share of the work of the community. I never hear people get up and denounce the loafer at this end of London who manages to live riotously and sumptuously every day. For my part I am not so very anxious about the loafer as the hon. Gentleman who sits opposite was at an earlier period this afternoon.
§ Mr. MARKHAM
That is not what I said. I asked the Mover of the Resolution what he was going to do with all that large body of men who never would work; many thousands of whom I know.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I personally know many thousands, too, but they do not all live in the East End of London. I know exactly what the hon. Gentleman means. The men who will not work are loafers. I beg to point out that that is exactly what I mean. Some hon. Gentlemen seem to forget how these people are manufactured. I wonder how the hon. Gentleman or myself would have felt, if at twenty-five years of age, we had been pitch-forked out of a job, or had wandered about for several months unable to get work of any kind; perhaps with a wife and child at home starving? I wonder what we would have become if exposed to that kind of thing? I think his morale, or mine—if we had any—would have been entirely broken by it. You have to come to the cause of this. One of the causes is that you spend thousands of pounds to educate your children, and, in the end you turn them out to be van-boys or newspaper boys, or anything else. I want among the measures dealing with unemployment to take all the children out of the labour market entirely. Hon. Gentlemen here who can afford it, send their boys and their girls from one school to another, and see that they are thoroughly well educated. We, who sit on these benches, are here to claim for the children of the workers all those advantages of education that other people claim for theirs, and give them. We want that little boys and girls should not go into industrial pursuits. Industries that depend upon boy and girl labour are, in my opinion, not worthy to be kept up at all by a civilised nation. We were told that if we bring in our Eight to Work Bill, if we establish the right to work or maintenance for all, that terrible things will happen down in the country. It has been said that we would bring all the labourers to London; that all the people who are now getting 12s. per week will get out of work, wander up to town, and become a burden upon the community. I want to face that proposition. The argument apparently is that at present these old people who are getting 12s. per week, with a two shillings per week cottage, would come to town. I would like to point out that Carlyle told us some time ago:—Somewhere, sometime, there is some rich person, some rich seigneur, who is plucking off a little of that old man's earnings all the time.While you permit the vicious land system of our country to continue you will not need the attraction of Reading or Devizes to bring the people up. They are coming up now, driven by the hideous land system 643 that denies them the right of access to the land. It is all very fine for the right hon. Gentleman to tell us that we must not put these attractive things before the people. He went on to develop a most extraordinary argument; that we were to keep the miners in the Rhondda Valley practically at the point of starvation. Yes, that is the old Poor Law theory. I am afraid he has been mixing up with gentlemen who have been teaching him 1834 Poor Law economics, and this has really mystified the right hon. Gentleman's mind. It is an extraordinary theory for him to have laid down this afternoon—that you have to keep the miner in Rhondda, by not allowing him any other means to live.
I want to tell him something about miners in the Rhondda Valley, though perhaps he has heard it before. I stayed with a collier the other day, one of those who were on strike. He told me that in every skip of coal he filled, the landlord—one of the people whom we are told are chosen of God to inherit the earth—took sixpence—that he earned for an absentee landlord 3s. 6d. per day in addition to dividends for the companies. I suppose right hon. Gentlemen will tell us that we must not remove that state of things because it is a kind of spur to the miners' industry. I want to point out to this House that it is those kinds of iniquities that the Labour party is against. For my part—and I am speaking for myself—I do not want to drive men to work under these kind of conditions. Anything I can do, any effort I can make or energy I can put forth, will be used by me in revolt against keeping idle people on the labour of other people. The Rhondda and other miners carry on their backs, as do the whole industrial population, all those classes which live on rents, profits, etc. In passing, I may say there will he no social salvation at all until these people are off the backs of Labour. [An HON. MEMBER: "Oh."] Yes, till they are thrown off their backs. In this connection the Irish party have shown us a very excellent example of how to do it. We have had £5,000,000 spent on cottages in Ireland. I wonder how soon the Government will spend £5,000,000 on housing in the United Kingdom. The need is as great here as elsewhere.
644 But I want to go into the question more strictly before us. The right hon. Gentleman told us that he had been the careful custodian of the poor, and of the men and women who have been getting assistance under his Department. The answer to him and his cheery optimism—because the right hon. Gentleman is nothing if not an optimist—that the figures he gave me for London the other day—and this is the answer to the Labour Exchange figures too—is that there were 22,554 men registered as unemployed. If you put their average dependents per member, you get nearly one hundred thousand people who are in distress from unemployment. What was the Department of which he is commander-in-chief, which he says is doing everything it can to find work for these men, doing? It has found work for 2,627 men. In the district where the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade and myself represent we registered something like 2,753 persons, who, with dependents, number 4,350. We have passed for work 720. Yet we are told by the optimistic right hon. Gentleman that everything is well now in this best of all possible worlds, because he (Mr. Burns) is at the Local Government Board. It is stated that this is an extraordinary demand of ours. He tells us that labour is being regularised in Government Departments and in municipalities. Why, the First Lord of the Admiralty has only just recently turned out of the Thames Ironworks some thousands of men simply because one day they got some work at the hands of the Government, and the next day they got none. I am not an advocate of building "Dreadnoughts," but if we are stupid enough to build them they ought to be built on the Thames as well as elsewhere. We were told by the right hon. Gentleman that they were regularising employment, and I point out that in one of the Departments of State they so regularise it that there is practically no work in the Thames Ironworks at the present time. And there are hundreds of these men who are now unable to get work. I should like to call attention to this fact. Some people complain that we speak disparagingly of technical education. Every one of us wants all the education we can get. If any set of men in this House feel the need for education it is we who sit upon these benches—at any rate, speaking for myself, I feel it. There is one thing I almost grudge to other hon. Members, and that is their better education. You have 645 at this present moment some thousands of fitters, some thousands of engineers, some thousands of carpenters, and some thousands of other trades who are out of work. What we are appealing for is that these men, while out of employment, should be maintained. I come now to the real crux of the problem, and that is the question of casual labour. There are many men in this House acquainted with shipping. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board spoke about Liverpool, and other Members spoke about Liverpool, and the right hon. Gentleman also spoke about the London Docks. As a matter of fact, it is not true to say that labour in the London Docks has been decasualised; as a matter of fact, be total labour of the Dock Authority is quite a flea-bite when compared with the labour of the whole docks. They have no part in unloading or actually loading ships, and decasualisation has only taken place amongst those men who are employed directly by the Dock Authority, and who handle goods in the warehouses, and therefore to talk of the great importance of the Dock Authority in this matter is absurd. I live within a stone's-throw of the docks, and I have also to administer the poor law in the district affected. My hon. Friend the Member for South-West Ham, sits for a similar district, and I am quite certain that since the London Dock strike and the rise in wages, there has been going on, what always goes on when workmen get an advantage. All kinds of labour-saving machinery is brought in. We are not against machinery. As I said before, work is a blessed thing, but if machinery can do it we are in favour of, machinery, but the old docker is on the street, and fewer regular men to the tonnage of the docks are employed than before the strike, and a great amount of the work of the docks is carried on purely and simply by intermittent labour. What are the facts brought to light by the investigations of the Poor Law Commission? The London docks and wharves employ somewhere about 25,000 men. On the very busiest day of the port there is never work for more than 15,000, and that means that you have always got 10,000 men there for whom there is no work. That kind of thing is spreading over all other industries. Whatever you may think about unemployment, it is not a question of a million of men out of work to-day, because some of those to-morrow may be in work and others will take their places. Con- 646 sequently the area of demoralisation is a much bigger one than the mere million spoken of at the beginning. The right hon. Gentleman complained—I thought very ungenerously—that the dockers at Liverpool were the biggest enemies of decentralisation. If we were all in some occupation which brought us in something every week and Parliament proposed to take away even the chance to earn that little amount without making any provision for us at all, we should oppose it with all our might. A condition precedent to any successful scheme of insurance or decasualisation must be the passing of some Act of Parliament conferring on those you squeeze out of employment the absolute inalienable right either to earn their living by some State organisation, or else maintenance at the hands of the State. You have no right to squeeze these men out, or leave them to the tender mercies of a beneficent Local Government Board. For my part, I would rather be left to the tender mercies of the prison than the Local Government Board workhouse. I want the House to realise that every thinker on the subject, every Member of the Commission, was appalled with the fact that in London and Liverpool you had this problem to face.
That problem is at the bottom of this question, and when you talk of giving us insurance and ask us to accept that as one of the steps along the road, we know very well what that means as interpreted to us. It means that the casual labourer whom you cannot insure is to be squeezed out, and left either to linger and die or taken to the workhouse, or some other such institution. I want this House to organise labour and regularise it, and get rid of those land laws which drive people to London and other great centres. Take the children out of the labour market, and do all those things which hon. Members have spoken of, but we should start where the shoe pinches the most, and give to those men and women at the bottom the right to that maintenance which a capitalistic system denies them at present. We do not want to treat them as spoilt children or give them preferential treatment. I tell this House from actual knowledge that the thing this Empire has to fear the most is that you will not have the men to man your ships or do your work because of the physical deterioration from which many of them suffer through living in our great centres of population. The 647 thing every employer deplores is the lack of initiative amongst men. The one thing which struck members of the Poor Law Commission as they went up and down the country was that every man who gave us any evidence said that foreigners in other countries were better off because of their better education and better mental equipment. You cannot go on even attempting to equip your people and then tumbling them out to casual labour in the fashion you are doing now in the East End of London and other large industrial areas. Now Gentlemen opposite say we should accept their specific of Tariff Reform. Well, I went to Hamburg and various parts of the German Empire quite unbiassed, because, after all, no Socialist can be an apostle of the Manchester School of Political Economy. I got through that long ago, and it appears to me that a large number of hon. Gentlemen on the benches behind me, as represented by their speeches to-day, are a long way from it too. The thing brought home to me in Germany—was that at least in Hamburg—this right for which we are asking is already established. The people in Hamburg either get maintenance or work. There is elaborate machinery bringing the labour exchanges and the Maintenance Department together, with a view to minimising the effects of unemployment. But even m Germany, whose prosperity we were told yesterday is going up by leaps and bounds, the problem of unemployment has to be dealt with in the manner we are proposing to-day. Therefore, whatever the truth or otherwise of the arguments to which we have listened for the last two days, this concrete fact remains, that they have casual labourers in Hamburg in the handling of the ships and in the building trade. Everyone must, I think, agree, that the casual labourer in the docks has an absolute right to demand that if you decasualise him and squeeze him out you must make provision for him, his wife, and family.
We have heard something about the building trade. The right hon. Gentleman told us that the bricklayer and the carpenter were appealing against the operation of our Bill, and that that was the only industry to which we could put the men. The hon. Member for North Hants told us of the effect of ferroconcrete on the building trade as it is carried on at the present time. I want 648 to hear some Tariff Reformer tell us what foreigner has compelled us to put up our buildings in that kind of way: I think they are put up in that way because men have discovered it is a cheaper way of building. After all, that is the root of the whole matter. I quite agree that this question of getting all you can cheap and selling it dear is a very pernicious proposition, but the speech of the right hon. Gentleman was all directed towards supporting that kind of way of living. We are against it in toto. I am bound to say that I did not find workmen in Germany, except in those matters of State action with regard to which I agree they are far ahead of ourselves, living under such splendid conditions, whether bricklayers, carpenters, or any other kind of workmen. I found that there they were subject to exactly the same kind of labour-saving devices as we are afflicted with here—all for the one purpose of cheapening production and saving time. We say that work or maintenance must be secured for all willing workers. I do not suppose hon. Members will concede this proposition in a hurry, but I am quite certain that in the long run they will be driven to accept it because of the economic development that is going on all round us. When I heard the right hon. Gentleman talk of the bricklayer, I wondered how many bricklayers there are to-day employed on the building now going on. During the inquiry by the Commission we started a tiny investigation of our own. We knew it was the building trade that was most affected by unemployment—as apart from the docks. What did we and? That in the period covered by the investigation there were more new buildings assessed to rateable value than at any previous period, and there were many less men employed in the building trade during those operations than in the period immediately preceding it. How are the Tariff Reformers going to get over that problem? When they do. I shall be inclined to listen rather more sympathetically to them than I can to-day.
On this side of the House we have nothing to get from the Government except State insurance, and we are asking the House to pass this Amendment because we feel that the problem of unemployment cannot be settled by insurance. That is not the right place to begin with. You should commence right down at the bottom, and we, who represent the men and women who are penalised and driven 649 to such straits because of the denial of their right to earn their daily bread—we feel, although the Constitutional question may be important, that the bread and butter question which so many of our millions of fellow citizens have to face is of infinitely greater importance. And though, if every one voted according to his conscience, the result might be to put the Government in a minority. I can only say we cannot help it. The business in life of my colleagues and myself is to impress upon this House the importance of the poverty problem; to press on you who believe in Empire the fact that it may be pulled down, not by foreign foes, but by the dead weight of poverty, destitution, and misery to be found in our midst. That is a far greater danger to the State than Germany, and America; and it is because we realise this that we ask the House to carry this Amendment. Hon. Gentlemen say they want to help the poor: will they tell us how they are going to deal with a problem which affects both Germany and ourselves. If they are really honest to themselves, they must vote with us in saying that the men and women who are to-day denied the right to work shall have that right or the right to maintenance granted them at the hands of this House of Commons. In thanking you, Sir, and the rest of the Members for listening to me so patiently, let me say this in conclusion. We are often accused—we were the other day—of being people who cared very little for the Empire, but I care a very great deal for the country in which I was born, and it is because I care for it that I think and feel for the sufferings of this multitude of men and women. It was the late Thomas Hill Green, the Oxford Professor, who told us that Sir Harry Vane on the scaffold said, "The people of England have long been asleep; when they awake they will be hungry." I think the people of England have been long asleep. I believe they are awakening, and that they will find their development, not in any dream of domination of other nations or in the worn out shibboleths of Free Trade, but in that better and more excellent doctrine which teaches all mankind that the one thing to teach in living is that we are all socially interdependent one upon the other, that society should be organised from top to bottom so as to bring every man, woman and child full, free, happy lives. At present you have thirteen millions of people living in destitution. 650 [HON. MEMBERS: "NO."] Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman said so, at any rate. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO."] Whether that is so or not we shall not quarrel about a million or two; if you have only one million of people living on the verge of destitution it is the business of this House, at whatever cost of power and energy, to put an end to it.
§ Mr. H. W. FORSTER
I will intervene for a very few moments with some reluctance and not a little diffidence in this debate, because the circumstances under which this Amendment is brought forward are involved in a sort of dispute between the Government and hon. Gentlemen opposite. Here is a curious commentary on what the Solicitor General said last night, namely, that the Government were at the head of a great united and composite majority. I think anyone who has listened to the debate must have been struck by the obvious sincerity which has inspired those who have addressed the House. The hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. O'Grady) made what I regard as one of the ablest—one of the most persuasive speeches which have been delivered by Members of the Labour Party on this question. He spoke with personal knowledge of the hardships involved in the lives of those who work with their hands, and I can assure him that the speech which he delivered had a considerable effect, not only upon Gentlemen who sit on that side of the House, but on those who are at present sitting on these benches. Other Gentlemen have spoken with equal sincerity and straightforwardness, and the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board, with robust courage, spoke with his customary straightforward decision that impressed the members of the Labour party no less than it impressed other Members of the House. We have had to deal with this question to-day wholly in the abstract. Everyone who has addressed the House has deplored the fact that unemployment exists, deplored it as a crying evil, urging the necessity for remedy, and expatiating upon the extraordinary difficulty of the problem. We on this side deplore unemployment just as sincerely and as deeply as Gentlemen opposite. They urge on the Government the necessity for the State taking immediate steps to mitigate at any rate the severity of the problem. We go with them as far as that. We also urge 651 upon the Government the necessity of taking steps to mitigate the severity of the problem—to take any remedial measures which can be found without doing harm to the general community as a whole, but we part company when we come to look at the proposals involved in the Amendment. After all, what is the proposal which underlies the Amendment? It is, in a word, that work is to be provided, as I understand, at trade union rates of wages, to any man who cannot find work for himself, and if such work cannot be provided that man is to be maintained out of public funds in a state of idleness, and that is claimed as a right.
I have listened throughout the Debate for some justification of the claim. It is claimed as a right. It has not been justified as a right. Speeches which have been made have been directed more to expediency than to substantiate the claim as a right. The Radical party urge that it is the bounden duty of the Government to bring in a measure carrying out the policy and nothing else than the policy contained in the Amendment. My answer to that is that the Government owes its duty to the community as a whole, and it cannot leave out of consideration the effect upon the whole mass of our people that any such legisla-would have. I believe, if the proposal which is made by Members of the Labour party, and I speak with absolute sincerity, were carried into law you would inflict incalculable damage upon the country as a whole, and you would not benefit those very people whom you seek to benefit. I believe you would damage their cause as you would at the same time damage the great mass of our people. Let the House remember that the steps which the Government are urged to take are not to be exceptional steps dealing with emergency or crisis. It is to be the general practice that men who wish work to be provided for them are to have work found. To pass that into law would destroy at one blow all incentive to thrift, and would shatter that sturdy independence of character which has made the British workman famous throughout the world. The hon. Member (Mr. Lansbury) made a reference to those who will not work, and wandering I think a little, from the narrow path, he deferred his reference to the way in which he desired to deal with the unemployed to state how he desired to deal with the 652 well-to-do classes. I think the proposals of the Bill introduced some years ago were for dealing with those who stood in need of assistance, because they could not get work. The idle rich do not want employment.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I would like to remind the hon. Member that the remarks I made were in answer to a question which was put to me from the opposite side.
§ Mr. FORSTER
I want to remind the House that the question of those who are well-to-do has nothing whatever to do with the matter of the Amendment. It is never contemplated by those who sit around the hon. Member that this Bill should be made applicable to these people, and I do not think he advanced the cause of those on whose behalf the proposal is made when he extended his speech into the domain of those socialistic doctrines which he holds and I do not. He commented on the case of the poor shepherd of Salisbury Plain. [An HON. MEMBER: "Dartmoor."] I am speaking of the less famous one. The President of the Local Government Board asked whether when the proposals were carried into law you could expect men to work long hours for low wages in the country. They would flock into the towns and qualify by six months there for the purpose of getting shorter hours and better wages. The hon. Member took occasion to state his views as to what should be done in the nationalisation of the land. Salisbury Plain is nationalised. It belongs to the Government. He thinks that the nationalisation of the land is going to confer inestimable benefits on the poorer classes of the community. I advise him to enter into even closer relations with the President of the Local Government Board to see if some measures cannot be found to improve the conditions of the shepherd. What is the work suggested by those responsible for this proposal? Is it to be productive? If it is, then you inevitably set up competition with other existing employers who are at present employing labour. The moment you set up competition fed by the rates and taxes you are going to make it increasingly hard for existing employers to employ their men. You will inevitably have more unemployment than you will relieve, while the effect will be that the two will act and react upon one another until the last condition of that locality will be infinitely worse than the first.
653 I have heard it suggested that there are some fields of employment which would be productive, and not competitive with local industries—afforestation and coast erosion and things of that kind. I am the last man in the world to deny that afforestation, carried on in suitable places, with suitable soil and climate, and at suitable times of the year, and carried out by men who understand the work, could be made profitable and productive. But if you are to take men who know nothing of the work and go to localities where the soil is unsuitable and the climate is bad, I say you are wasting public money in a rather ridiculous way. An hon. Member spoke of coast erosion as offering suitable opportunities for employment. Under certain circumstances and within certain narrow limits, coast erosion may offer a field for the employment of unemployed men. But how many places are there where labour of this kind can be profitably carried out? How many men could be employed saying the coast from the ravages of the sea? The number of men who could be employed on that work is as a drop in the bucket compared with the number of unemployed seeking employment throughout the country. You may employ a few, but they would be few indeed. I said productive work must compete with existing employers, and, inevitably, cause more unemployment, and I am fortified in that view by a statement contained in the report of the Poor Law Commission. They say that work and wages provided by the local authorities are in practice either diverted from the ordinary employees in the localities, or extracted from what otherwise would have gone to regular workers, with the result in either case of creating, sooner or later, larger unemployment. Efforts have been made to deal with this question over and over again, not only in this country but in other countries as well, and I have here an account of works which were started in France in 1848. It is Paper No. 7182, which was published in 1893, a report on the agency and methods for dealing with the unemployed. Here is what the French Government set out to do: "The Provisional Government of the French Republic undertakes to guarantee the existence of the workmen by work. It undertakes to guarantee work for every citizen," which is the same object that hon. Gentlemen opposite have in view. Among the works which they started to do were the Paris terminus of one of the railways, the improvement of the navigation of the river, the extension of railways, and 654 the clearing away of earth so as to prepare for the construction of railway stations. All these were works which promised to be productive in due course of time. In six weeks private industry was practically at a standstill, and the net result of the whole affair was that there was far more unemployment than the number of unemployed men they were able to employ. Whatever the scheme may be, it must inevitably cost a great sum of money. No estimates have been furnished, no suggestion has been made as to what the cost will be. It must be obvious to any hon. Member that the cost must be large, and it must come partly on the rates and partly on the taxes. How are you going to help the general community if you collect the money from the pockets of the taxpayers and ratepayers and waste it on wild, unproductive schemes, which only increase unemployment. It seems to me that these proposals are at best mere palliatives. They do not go to the root of the matter; they offer no hope of permanent cure. In my view, we shall never get anything like a permanent cure unless we strike deep at the roots of the disease. In my view, the only way in which you can strike deep at the roots of the disease is to cure unemployment by providing employment under natural and economic conditions. Give capital and labour—and their interests are identical—a fair chance of remunerative employment under conditions which will enable them to meet the unfair competition under which they suffer now. Then you will have done much, not only to relieve existing unemployment, but to lessen unemployment for generations to come.
§ Mr. DENMAN
In addressing the House in the few minutes which remain at our disposal, I desire to examine the meaning of the Amendment we are discussing. The differences of attitude that have been displayed towards this Amendment are perhaps to some extent due to the wording of it and to the different intrepretations which hon. Members have placed on that wording. The President of the Local Government Board said that this Amendment from first to last means relief works. That appears to me an inadequate account of it. It means very much more. Though the words "right to work" appear in the Amendment, it is not the Right to Work Bill that has been before us. The Mover desired, as I understand, to give the House an opportunity of discussing the many aspects of an exceedingly grave 655 problem—the problem of unemployment. This becomes clearer if, instead of fixing attention on the words "right to work," the subsequent phrase explaining what is meant by those words is considered. I generally find it preferable to regard a subject not from the point of view of right, but from the point of view of duty; and if, instead of saying that a man has a right to work, we say that it is the duty of a modern industrial State to see that efficient workmen shall not lack employment or maintenance, and even, if necessary, to provide employment or maintenance directly, we have a general principle which I think the mass of Members in all parts of the House can accept, and which represents the views of the Labour party as expressed in the latter part of the Amendment. Of course, this principle needs cautious application. There are some forms of unemployment which cannot be dealt with on the right-to-work principle, and which, indeed, would only be aggravated were it applied in their case. An example of this is unemployment which is caused by seasonal and cyclical fluctuations of trade, where the giving of employment by the State would only aggravate the bad organisation of a trade. In the furnishing trade, for instance, in January you have something like eight per cent. of unemployment, and in May 2½ per cent. The process of giving public work in January to those only required in their industry in May would be simply a subsidising of a particular industry. For that sort of case the complete remedy is insurance. Insurance is a remedy for certain aspects of this problem, but we know perfectly well that it is not for a large number of other aspects of it. Mention has been made of the decaying industries, and of those industries which, owing to improvements in machinery, require a smaller number of labour forces. For these I freely accept, for my own part, the principle that the State must intervene and provide maintenance to those persons thrown out. By maintenance I do not merely mean the payment of benefit for an unlimited time, but maintenance that shall last while the particular man is being trained at the public expense for another industry. Those principles are, I think, accepted by the whole of the Front Bench. I do not think there can be any doubt about that. We know, on the other hand, that you cannot possibly distinguish 656 between unemployed and unemployable, unless you can first set up a great mass of machinery for the purpose. The Labour Exchange was, I should say, the outer shell of the whole fabric of that machinery. Insurance will be the second step which will also act as machinery for singling out the unemployed from the unemployable. If a man has been out of work for a while and in receipt of insurance money, and is still unable to find work, we are then in the position that he is either unemployable or that he is superfluous in that industry. The Mover of the Amendment has truly said that the question has many aspects, and must be taken from many points of view. With the help of the Board of Education acting in co-operation with the Board of Trade, I hope we shall gradually arrange that one of the most fruitful sources of unemployment will be permanently dried up. The unemployment which arises from defective organisation and training of child-labour, and the habit of unemployment which arises from street-trading and other blind-alley occupations, will, I hope, rapidly be dealt with through the Labour Exchanges. I sincerely hope the Government will not delay to start measures which will practically admit the right to maintenance at the expense of the State while a man is becoming industrially fit again. In that respect I am entirely at one with the Amendment, for which, however, personally I cannot vote, because it is a vote of censure on the Government, which I do not think they deserve. In so far as it is a spur and an encouragement to the Government actively to proceed with the unemployment problem I am heart and soul with my Friends below the Gangway. I recognise the urgency of the problem of unemployment. I know personally in my own Constituency of one case of suicide through it. Hence I am glad to join with my hon. Friends in pressing the Government to deal with it without delay, and to take all possible steps to remove in its earliest stages this blot from our social organism.
§ Question, "That the Question be now put," put, and agreed to.
§ Question put accordingly, "That those words be there added."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 39; Noes, 225.659
|Division No. 5.]||AYES.||[4.59 p.m.|
|Adamson, William||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Alden, Percy||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Smith, Albert (Clitheroe)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Hudson, Walter||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, North-West)|
|Byles, William Pollard||Jowett, F. W.||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Clynes, John R||Lansbury, George||Thomas, James Henry (Derby)|
|Crean, Eugene||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||M'Kean, John||Wadsworth, John|
|Gilhooly, James||O'Brien, William (Cork)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancashire, Ince)|
|Gill, Alfred Henry||O'Grady, James||Wardle, George J.|
|Glanville, Harold James||Parker, James (Halifax)||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|Goldstone, Frank||Pointer, Joseph||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Guiney, Patrick||Pollard, Sir George H.|
|Hall, F. (Yorks, Normanton)||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. George Roberts and Mr. C. Duncan.|
|Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydfil)||Rowlands, James|
|Abraham, William (Dublin)||Fitzgibbon, John||Masterman, C. F. G.|
|Acland, Francis D. (Camborne)||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Mathias, Richard|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Furness, Stephen W.||Meagher, Michael|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Gardner, Ernest||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, North)|
|Anderson, A. M.||Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterboro'.)||Menzies, Sir Walter|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Greig, Colonel James William||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Guest, Major (Pembroke)||Molloy, Michael|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Guest, Hon. F. E. (Dorset, East)||Mond, Sir Alfred Moritz|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, East)||Guinness, Hon. Walter Edward||Money, L. G. Chiozza|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Gulland, John William||Montagu, Hon. E. S.|
|Barlow, Sir John E. (Somerset)||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Morgan, George Hay|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, North)||Hackett, John||Morrison-Bell, Major A. (Honiton)|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Mount, William Arthur|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Munro, Robert|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington)||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Nolan, Joseph|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Harmsworth, R. Leicester||Norman, Sir Henry|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Norton, Capt. C. W. (Newington, W.)|
|Bryce, John Annan||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Burn, Colonel C. R. (Torquay)||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||O'Connor, John (Kildare, North)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John (Battersea)||Haworth, Arthur A.||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool, Scotland)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar)||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Doherty, Phillip|
|Carlile, Edward Hildred||Helme, Norval Watson||O'Dowd, John|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Helmsley, Viscount||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, West)|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, West)||O'Malley, William|
|Cator, John||Henry, Sir Charles||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Higham, John Sharp||O'Shee, James John|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Hinds, John||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Palmer, Godfrey Mark|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Hunter, William (Lanark, Govan)||Pearce, Robert (Leek)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Isaacs, Sir Rufus Daniel||Pearson, Weetman H. M.|
|Clough, William||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)||Pease, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Rotherham)|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Johnson, William||Philipps, Colonel Ivor (Southampton)|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Phillips, John (Longford, South)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydfil)||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Corbett, A. Cameron||Jones, Leif (Rushcilffe)||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, East)|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||Joyce, Michael||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Cotton, William Francis||Keating, Matthew||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Cowan, William Henry||Kellaway, Frederick George||Radford, George Heynes|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Rainy, Adam Rolland|
|Crawshay-Williams, E.||Kilbride, Denis||Raphael, Herbert Henry|
|Crumley, Patrick||Kirkwood, John H. M.||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)|
|Cullinan, John||Lambert, George (South Molton)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Lambert, Richard (Cricklade)||Reddy, Michael|
|Davies, Timothy (Louth)||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Law, Hugh Alexander||Redmond, William (Clare, East)|
|Dawes, James Arthur||Lawson, Sir William (Cockermouth)||Redmond, William A. (Tyrone, East)|
|Delany, William||Levy, Sir Maurice||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Lewis, John Herbert||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)|
|Dillon, John||Lloyd, George Ambrose||Robinson, Sidney|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Lundon, Thomas||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Doris, William||Lynch, Arthur Alfred||Roche, John (Galway, East)|
|Duffy, William J.||MacDonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||MacGhee, Richard||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|Edwards, J. H. (Glamorgan, Mid)||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Esmonde, Dr. J. (Tipperary, North)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||St. Maur, Harold|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||M'Callum, John M.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Farrell, James Patrick||M'Laren, W. S. B. (Crewe)||Scott, A. M'Callum (Bridgeton)|
|Fenwick, Charles||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel|
|Ffrench, Peter||Markham, Arthur Basil||Sheehy, David|
|Field, William||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Fiennes, Hon. E. Edward||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, South)||Verney, Sir H.||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Soares, Ernest Joseph||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claude|
|Spicer, Sir Albert||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T.||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, West)|
|Strachey, Sir Edward||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, West)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Summers, James Woolley||White, Sir George (Norfolk)||Wilson, T. F. (Lanark, North-East)|
|Tennant, Harold John||White, Sir Luke (York, E. R.)||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)|
|Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)||Wood, T. M'Kinnon (Glasgow)|
|Thynne, Lord Alexander||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Trevelyan, Charles Philips||Wiles, Thomas||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Master of Elibank and Mr. Illingworth.|
|Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander||Williams, Llewellyn (Carmarthen)|
§ Main Question again proposed. Debate arising,
§ And, it being after Five of the clock, and objection being taken to further proceeding, the Debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed upon Monday next.
ADJOUKNMENT.—Resolved, "That this House do now adjourn till Monday next." —[Master of Elibank.]
Adjourned accordingly at Ten minutes after Five o'clock, till Monday next, 13th February.