Postponed Proceeding resumed on Amendment to Question,
That this House regrets that the directors of the railway companies have refused to meet the representatives of the men in order to discuss the Report of the Royal Commission appointed to inquire into the Railway Conciliation Agreement of 1907, declares such refusal to be contrary to the public interest and to have no justification, and asks the Government to bring both sides into conference without delay.
§ Which Amendment was, after the word "That," to insert the words "the Report of the Royal Commission being accepted by both parties."
§ Mr. BRADY
(resuming): I suggest that, so far from the principle of recognition carrying on the unfortunate disputes which exist in the railway world at present, it would make for lasting peace, and I would suggest to hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway hot to adopt this non pos-sumus attitude in reference to the principle, but rather to accept it in the spirit in which it has been offered by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, and allow it to get a fair chance. Trade unionism has come to stay, and it is but the logical consequence of trade unionism that in matters of this kind its principal representatives should get an opportunity of putting their views before the railway directors. Of course, in common with this country, we in Ireland had a railway strike, and I am happy to say, and I think I am voicing the opinions of my colleagues in the representation of the city and county of Dublin, that that strike, keen though it was and great as was the injury which it inflicted on both parties to the dispute, went on without any loss of life, or indeed of property, or any injury to person or property, to any appreciable extent. I am happily borne out in that opinion by one whom hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway regard as an important and reliable witness—Sir Horace Plunkett. As was stated in another place recently, Sir Horace Plunkett gave it as his opinion that the Irish strike was singularly free from violence, and had caused less suffering and dislocation of business than had been experienced in other parts of the United Kingdom. It is no part, 1284 of course, of an Irish Nationalist Member's duty to make any apology for the absence of the Chief Secretary whilst the strike was on in Dublin. I can speak with a little personal knowledge of the matter, inasmuch as my colleagues and myself in the representation of the city and county of Dublin were in Ireland throughout the entire struggle, and at no time, at any rate as far as the strike was concerned, was there the least necessity for the presence of the Chief Secretary. Of course hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway, if they believe that his actual physical presence was impossible in Dublin on account of his duty at Balmoral or elsewhere, would like to have sent a telegram to his subordinate, "Do not hesitate to shoot," but happily these days are gone for Ireland and we are rid of that form of resolute government, whilst perhaps we have not yet all realised that we have a Government in office which is a little more sympathetic to Ireland than the Government of which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. M. Campbell) would be an ornament. I should like to look at the question from the standpoint of the Irish railway directors. I remember once hearing it said that the people of Montenegro were such a warlike race that it was regarded as a reproach if one Montenegrin said to another, "Your father died in his bed." We should regard it as a reproach if one Irishman said to another, "Your father was an Irish railway director."
§ Mr. WARDLE
I understand this Amendment was suggested with the object that it might be acceptable to both sides, and indeed to all of us, and that we might get rid of this very troublesome question; but I am afraid there are certain things which stand in the way of the acceptance of the Amendment. The difficulty with regard to it is that it commits the meeting which would then take place really to nothing, and we feel that we cannot agree, so far as we are concerned, 1285 to a meeting to discuss the Report which may arrive at no decision whatever and come to no agreement. The question has been specifically put to us with regard to this Report whether we accept it as the basis of such a discussion. I think the letter which was sent to the Prime Minister makes it perfectly clear that such a meeting is to discuss the Report and the findings of the Commission, accepting that as the basis of an agreement. But to us, to give effect to the full recommendations of the Report leaves no basis at all for negotiations in regard thereto. Unless we know exactly where we are in regard to the wording of this Resolution we may find ourselves in the same difficulty as we have found ourselves in on previous occasions. Declarations have been made to-day that we are running away from the words of the agreement entered into on behalf of the railway workers, but that is only one side of the question. On 19th August a certain agreement was come to between the companies and the men with regard to negotiations in the matter of the conciliation boards which are now in existence. Certain matters were to be remitted to them, amongst others, the question of remuneration. Hitherto in all these conciliation board matters the question of rates of wages has been the only matter that has been allowed to be discussed. The question of the method of remuneration, such as piecework and other matters of that kind, have not been allowed to be discussed at all. On 19th August it was agreed that these matters should be brought within the purview of the conciliation board. At the very first meeting of the London and North-Western Conciliation Board this question was raised, and we found this difficulty, that while the directors said "we will agree to consider the matter of how much remuneration shall be given for a trip rate," they would not agree to consider the question of the method of settling payment by the trip rate, and therefore we feel that we are in this difficulty, that unless we know specifically to what we are bound we cannot agree to such an Amendment as is now before the House.
May I point out that it has been assumed that it is desired to repudiate the whole of the Report? It is not the desire of the unions to do anything of the kind. There are several matters in the Report which, as will be easily seen, require discussion between the parties before it could be accepted. Let me take one 1286 illustration. In paragraph 2 of the proposed new scheme it is said thata petition shall be presented and signed by at least 25 per cent. of those concerned. The petition shall name a suitable number of employés of the company whom the petitioners desire to form a deputation. The company shall receive the deputation and shall give a reply to the petitioners within twenty-eight days of its reception.Here there is evidently a time limit within which the reply must be given to the deputation, but there is no time limit at all to the time when the company shall receive the deputation, and they can go on putting off the deputation week by week and month by month, so that the time limit under this scheme is of absolutely no use at all. There are several other points of the same kind. For instance, take the question of trip payment. The North-Western Company can question whether they shall pay by trip or by ordinary time. That is not a question, in their view, to be discussed by the conciliation board, but one of the questions which come under management or discipline, and is therefore ruled outside the purview of this Report. These are illustrations, and only illustrations, of the kind of thing at stake with regard to this matter. Let me say it is utterly impossible for the men to accept the position that the sectional boards which will be set up under this scheme—there will be 500 or 600 of these sectional boards—should be the means by which agreements should be arrived at as to procedure, and as to the methods of carrying out the board's agreements, because if that were done, instead of having uniformity in the various companies, we might have in the different companies different methods of carrying out the conciliation board's agreement.
The House has listened to statements by various directors of the companies and by some of the representatives of the men. A charge has been made against myself personally with regard to the "Railway Review," of which I have been editor for many years, and I desire to say one or two words upon the matter. The Noble Lord the Member for Kensington (Lord Claud Hamilton) made the charge against me that I had been against the 1907 agreement from the very first, and that the "Railway Review" had from the inception of that agreement done its very best to make it impossible to work. I absolutely deny that charge, and I defy the Noble Lord or any one else to prove that from the columns of the "Railway Review." That agreement was signed in 1907, and any one who will consult the files of the "Railway Review" 1287 will see that the very next week, although the bargain was not liked by the men, it was urged that as honourable men they should abide by it and attempt to carry it out. I believe they intended to carry out the agreement of 1907, but, as the mover of the Motion said, there is not the slightest doubt that on the other side, as well as on our side, there have been suspicions and animosities, because we have felt that the agreement was not being kept on the companies' side, and they have felt that it was not being kept on our side. How can you keep, or undertake to keep, an agreement when you are kept at arms' length all the time. Here we have an illustration. The Noble Lord signed the agreement along with six other railway directors and certain members of the railway trade unions. Their names appear on the agreement, and yet, though they never saw each other, they are expected to carry out the agreement which they did not come to in the presence of each other. Therefore they cannot be expected to understand one another's point of view with regard to the agreement. The same will be true, and must be true, with regard to the present agreement if this system is to be carried out. Sir Guy Granet, and Mr. Gilbert Claughton, chairman of the Railway Companies' Association, met the men and came to this agreement. They met face to face, and no degradation was imposed on them by the fact that they met in the same room and signed the document. Now we are asking simply to have another meeting in order that the terms of that settlement of August 19th may be carried out.
I should like to say a word or two with regard to what was stated by the Noble Lord the Member for Kensington upon the position of the railways as to the question of the recognition of the unions. He said railways were a special business, and that they could not recognise trade unions in the same way as employers in other industries recognised trade unions. What a ridiculous position that is to take up, especially in view of the fact that the railway companies did agree to recognise the unions, provided the Royal Commission reported in favour of such recognition. How can they have it both ways? If they never had any right to enter into any such agreement as they did enter into, if it is their view that it is not in the public interest, and if they think that recognition of the unions is fatal to the carrying on of their business, we say that it is this high 1288 and dry old-fashioned way of looking at the matter which is at the root of the trouble. I say honestly and frankly, for myself and my friends, that we want to get rid of this atmosphere of suspicion. We want to get rid of this disagreement, in order that we may bring about a system of collective bargaining on railways. We are told, "We cannot bargain with you, because you do not represent a majority of the men."
It does not matter whether we represent a majority of the men or not. Our position is that if there are 5,000 or 10,000 men who are members of a union, we want to negotiate for those men, and not for the others. We do not say we represent the whole of men. All we ask is that we shall negotiate for the members of the union we represent. We do not say we represent the whole of the men. We represent the men who are members of our unions. I am sure if any individual has the right to represent his case to the company, when it comes to the case of 5,000 individuals they have the right to ask that they shall have their representative, and that their representative shall, if necessary, be a man whom they pay. The Noble Lord said there were two parties to the bargain in 1907, and that there are two parties to this bargain, and the trouble, according to him, is that we do not keep our part of the bargain. I want to say frankly that as far as we are concerned we are as ready as they are to keep bargains which are entered into and signed, sealed, and delivered. But we want to know the bargain we are entering into, and we want it down in black and white.
Here we have the position so far as I am concerned. I have made the declaration on a public platform, by which I am prepared to stand, that I recognise so far as the railway companies are concerned that in accepting the findings of this Commission they are carrying out their part of the bargain on which they entered. The whole question that remains is what is the position of the men? I have just seen two of the signatories to the agreement come to on the 19th of August. You have already heard one of the signatories. There is a conflict of evidence undoubtedly on this point as to what took place at the Board of Trade with regard to the so-called reading of a statement which was issued to the Press. What we say in regard to that is that the men did not sign that statement. They say they never heard it, and if it was read out it was read in the excitement of parties, and they did not notice its significance nor understand what was being read to them at all. I 1289 quite agree that in ordinary circumstances when two people sign a settlement, and as a result there is a certain commission issued, they would both be bound by the result of that commission. But in this case it must be remembered that pressure was brought to bear upon the men to sign, and that they did not understand at the time of signing. It is quite clear from the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in this House before they met, and from the proposals which were put before the men, when they entered into negotiations, that they were not expected to sign. I have here the basis of the conference, held at the Board of Trade, and it says that the Commission is to proceed with its inquiries as expeditiously as possible, and the Government is to take the Report into consideration forthwith. The Government through the Board of Trade is to use its good offices with the parties to secure the adoption of the recommendations of the Commission appointed by the Government. Should these good offices fail, and legislation be necessary Parliament would be specially convened, if requisite, to deal with this matter.
So now the whole responsibility for carrying out the recommendations of the Commission and bringing the sides together rests with the Government. The Government undertook when they got this settlement on 19th August, if necessary, to propose legislation to Parliament in order that a settlement might be brought about. I can say frankly to the House that the railway men have tried without recognition of the union. They have done everything they possibly could individually to improve their conditions and better their lot, and I could give this House illustrations of the tragic fate of many a man who has tried to improve his lot on railways. I could give many cases where because the men have joined the union and have been very active with the union they have been discharged from the employment of the company for practically no other reason. What we say is this. The railway men in the country are determined so far as they are concerned now or in the future, more probably now, that they will not be outlaws any longer as they have been, and remain deprived of their rights of collective bargaining, but that their union shall be recognised by the company, and that the men shall have the same rights and privileges as other citizens of this country. It is to achieve this that they set out, and it is to carry this finally that they will continue, whether this Division goes against them 1290 or not, or whether the Government on this occasion stands by their own word or not. Whatever this House may say or do I frankly say that the men on the railways will never be satisfied until they have won the same rights as other citizens, the rights to have collective bargaining and to have the representatives of the union as negotiators in whatever negotiations take place.
§ Mr. WATSON RUTHERFORD
I am entirely out of sympathy with the Amendment which has been suggested from this Bench, and if it went to a Division I should vote against it. At the same time I regret that the Report which we are now discussing should on very important points have been silent, and on other very important points, particularly the one now before us, should have been ambiguous. I listened with great interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Barnard Castle (Mr. A. Henderson), and was sorry he sat down without stating definitely whether the men would or would not be bound by this Report if a meeting took place. I was very sorry to hear the wording of the suggested Resolutions from the Government Benches, because it appeared to me that that again was going to be ambiguous. But, of course, when the Prime Minister makes suggestions we always expect any suggestion he makes to be ambiguous, because it is the business of a Prime Minister when mating a suggestion to be as ambiguous as possible. I would only make this suggestion, that both sides wish to proceed on the basis of the Report.
We have had some wording suggested to us by the Prime Minister as to a meeting taking place between the parties. Why not add there the simple words "both sides agree to be bound by the terms of the Report"? That would comply with the suggestion that is made from the Front Opposition Bench, and if the Prime Minister's speech is to be really taken seriously, that ought to meet with the approval of the Prime Minister. I should like to see some words inserted in this Resolution that both parties would agree to be bound by the Report, and are now about to meet together to discuss the best means of carrying it out. I believe that it is the bounden duty of every man in this House on every possible occasion to do all in his power to put an end to industrial unrest, and to avoid any strike. But I also believe that we should all try to do justice between the parties that are at 1291 issue. The great drawback that has been in all these matters is that the public have not been able to get the whole of the facts. I am a believer in the commonsense and the power of educated public opinion when the facts are properly elicited. It is for that reason that I would support any scheme which would have the effect, when an industrial dispute takes place, of eliciting the facts and putting them plainly and simply before the public.
That brings me to this statement, as regards the merits of the real position brought about in this discussion to-night, and the attitude in this dispute that I am assuming, I happened to know of my own knowledge that there are 500 men employed by the London and North-Western Railway at the Grid Iron at Liverpool, where they work day and night, sorting goods, for wages which do not exceed £1 a week. Having regard to the fact that in the place where they live the cost of living has increased by 2s. in the £ during the last ten years, although I am a member of the party on this side of the House, I say this is not an adequate wage. These men do not belong to the union; they are too poor to belong to the union. It is a terrible and disgraceful stale of affairs, and you may depend upon it that where you can still see smoke there is a fire smouldering, and unless something is done to extinguish it, it will inevitably break out again, and it will be the fault of the railway companies, in my opinion, if it does. I have just one word to say on the subject of recognition. Who are directors of these companies? [An HON. MEMBER: "Tory Members."] I, who know something of them, often wonder how on earth any body of shareholders appointed them. They are the paid servants of the shareholders themselves. They are supposed to be paid as experts. It may be that they fulfil the requirement of receiving payments, but I do not know whether they fulfil the other requirement.
What is the position they have taken up? Their attitude is that they will not meet the paid experts who represent the men. These directors are only paid and expert representatives themselves, and they sit with the advantage of their paid secretary and solicitor in the board room. Why should they deny to the men representation by paid experts, who can make a statement in their behalf? I have always contended that the attitude of railway companies in regard to recognition 1292 is absolutely illogical; I go a step further and I say now, almost at the end of the year 1911, that such an attitude has become practically senseless. I believe the railway companies would be wise if they fell in with the reasonable suggestion that the panties, who have been at arm's length for many years, should be able to meet and settle disputes in a friendly way. There is only one reason against the accomplishment of that object. It is that the directors will say, "Oh, if you do that, we shall have a person coming in here as an expert representing a trade union, and he does not represent seven-eighths of the men we employ." That may be perfectly true, but if he represents the other eighth he has a right to discuss the matter with the paid servants of the shareholders. I do hope that when the air is clearer, and when the public find out that the great majority of the men in the employment of the great railway companies in England are paid an inadequate living wage, and that really they have grievances which ought to be set right—I do hope, I say, when once that is realised, that there will be less hesitation on the part of the public to say, "Let us hear, at all events, what these men have got to say." There are, I believe, even directors who do not know the true facts, because the permanent officials may not have stated them, but I think that with the true facts before them the railway directors will be ready to listen to reason, and put these matters right.
§ Mr. JOHN WARD
I must say that I listened with great interest to the speech of the hon. Gentleman, more especially in view of the fact that it is the only crumb of comfort we have got from the other side of the House or from the party to which the hon. Member belongs. So far as I am concerned, the speech of the hon. Gentleman shows that there are some Conservatives who sympathise with the poor working man in his endeavour to maintain wife, family, and home in decency on less than £1 a week. What terrible conditions that simple fact discloses. It is only men who have been through the mill who thoroughly understand the causes and effects of the present system. I want to say a word or two that may not be altogether palatable to the other side of the House. I go back to the beginning of the dispute, to the 17th August last. On that date the circumstances were such that either a strike amongst railway men ought not to have taken place or certainly never ought 1293 to have been settled until absolute recognition had been granted. I do not know whether that is the opinion of most men, but it is my opinion. What is it proposed we should do? It is proposed that at the present time this House should absolutely stultify itself by accepting holus-bolus the Commission's Report. That is the proposition. Once having done that, we should have to make some provision to see how it is going to be interpreted, otherwise we should land ourselves in a very serious difficulty. I can remember being a member of the committee of inquiry into the Post Office service, and after two years of taking evidence, and another year considering the report as big and voluminous as a Bible, we thought our decisions would be pretty plain.
Everybody knows, however, that, while the Government declared that they were prepared to put it into force, there have been thousands of questions put in this House, and hundreds of deputations from the different sections of various departments of the Post Office, disputing the interpretation put upon the Committee's report by the Post Office officials themselves. Similarly, to declare in the House of Commons that we accept the Report, and then leave such Gentlemen as have addressed us here this afternoon as the sole interpreters of that Report, seems to me to be an absolutely futile and ridiculous position. Therefore I welcome the speech of the hon. Member (Mr. Watson Rutherford). It is said that the Resolution would mean recognition. It means nothing of the kind, and even railway directors—and there are railway directors on the other side, I notice—will be able to tell you whether my interpretation of the Amendment is not the correct one. If this Amendment were carried, and even if the directors agreed to meet the representatives of the men to interpret the scheme, and to devise, as it were, a scheme out of the general recommendations of the Commission, then, as I understand it, that would only be a temporary or momentary sort of arrangement, that would end the moment the scheme became operative. The moment it was understood what the recommendations amounted to, and that the joint meeting decided what the clauses of the agreement amounted to, recognition would cease at that moment. Therefore, this is only a very miserable attempt to get over a difficulty, and I venture to say that the House and, I think, everybody concerned, had better face the difficulties 1294 instead of trying to plaster them over and imagine they have met them. They had better seek and understand what is the fundamental difference between the parties.
A great deal has been said about provocation. Speeches were made at the outset on the opposite side that no word should be used during the Debate this afternoon that would in any way be provocative. I must confess that the speeches that have been delivered under Labour Benches have been the mildest mannered sort of speeches that it is possible for one to imagine. There is no doubt about that. The only provocative speeches have been delivered by two railway directors opposite. What did they say? As a matter of fact, I venture to suggest if one were to compare the speeches of those two railway directors which they addressed to the meeting—I mean the House—although I thought when I heard them I was at a meeting, and I thought of Tower Hill when I was listening to them, I venture to say that there has been nothing more provocative of industrial unrest and difficulty than those two speeches. What did the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London say? "We are," he says, "to leave the interpretation of the recommendations of the Commission to such as him and his friend behind him." To this the most ancient legislative assembly in the world, he said, "You can pass your resolution, you may represent public opinion outside, you may represent all the best interests of the country who wish for industrial peace and for industrial and social harmony, but we defy you; you can pass as many resolutions as you like, me and my directors will simply put them into the waste-paper basket and take no notice of them as if you had never passed them." Is that the kind of language, is that the sort of language, I wonder, that those railway directors employ. If that is the kind of language which those railway directors employ when addressing the Members of the House of Commons, what sort of language would they employ when recognition is not granted and they get an eighteen "bob" a week porter before them? One looking at the psychology of the moment saw today in this Debate in the attitude of those two Gentlemen the causes, and one began to get, as it were, at the inside of the whole trouble from beginning to end. You cannot flout men and treat men as though they were cyphers in the way suggested by the hon. Baronet that he means to treat 1295 the decision of the House of Commons and then expect that the men will submit to your dictation, and your impudence, for it is nothing else. Let us take the speech of the Noble Lord the Member for Kensington (Lord C. Hamilton). He said: "I greatly regret, in spite of the social difficulty, in spite of the fact that the nation might have had international trouble which made it impossible to carry on internal and domestic difficulties at the same time, and I only wish, in spite of all that, the Government had just allowed us and we would have smashed those men's unions—we would have defied the whole of their authority, we would have laid them in the dust, and you would never have heard of this question of recognition again." That really amounts to the speech we heard this afternoon.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Mr. J. WARD
This afternoon the Noble Lord the Member for Kensington, said: "If you only allowed us to go on in four days we would have smashed the whole of the opposition of the unions."
§ Mr. J. WARD
I am within the knowledge of the House, and I say that the speech meant nothing else but what I have just now said. Those were the two Gentlemen, the Noble Lord and the Noble Baronet, those are the kind of Gentlemen for whom we are to pass a pious resolution accepting the decisions of this Commission, and those are the sort of Gentlemen to whom we are to give the opportunity of fairly interpreting and settling the clauses of the Commission Report. Nothing more grotesque has ever been suggested in this House. I venture to say that the two speeches that have been delivered by the two hon. Gentlemen whose constituencies I have mentioned, have done more to injure any chance of industrial peace, so far as the railways of the country are concerned, than anything that has been said by any of the men's representatives during the whole of the agitation. Talk about Tower Hill! Why Tower Hill is a mere moderate flapdoodle sort of business compared with the speeches of those Gentlemen, because the men on Tower Hill have at least this excuse, that they are not men who have had a college education. They are very rough in their ordinary methods of language, but those Gentlemen are supposed to be polished, to understand the 1296 fine social distinction, and policy, and conditions of contact with one person and another, and yet they use language which, is really a menace to any possible industrial peace so long as they have any control of either side of negotiation. If they are the illustration, luckily we had an exception of a slightly different kind in the hon. Baronet the Member for the Epping Division (Colonel Lockwood). If he was the type of director, I think we could do without recognition, but one can quite see how necessary it is to have recognition from the powerful company to protect the interest of the poor in negotiations conducted with those Gentlemen to whom I referred a little while ago. I do not think that we can afford to surrender a single item of the Resolution. Although there was all this talk of a conciliatory character, and it looked as if we were going to do something that would be of benefit in removing the friction between the different sections that are causing the trouble at the present time, the speeches of these two Members have made it absolutely necessary that we, even though there were only a dozen of us representing labour, should stick to the entire Resolution as it appears on the Paper. We cannot do other than regret that the Government have not used their good offices to compel the directors to meet the representatives of the men. I can quite understand that they would not like to meet me in a discussion at a round table. This is the whole inner meaning of the business. A poor fellow, who is not a week in front of poverty and the workhouse, with a family dependent upon him, afraid to say a word in defence of his position lest he should be dismissed—that is the sort of man with whom the directors want to negotiate. They do not want to meet a man like myself or any of the railwaymen's representatives in this House, who are paid by the men, who are experts at their business, who can meet the directors on their own ground, and who are not afraid of being victimised by them. One can understand why recognition is so long delayed, and this condition of affairs, in which the directors are able to do just as they like and to treat people how they like, is maintained as though it were a fetish. If the Government took the opinions of the majority of the working people of the country, they would do nothing to assist the railway directors in maintaining what is, after all, one of the most unjust systems of negotiation and bargaining imaginable. There can be fair 1297 bargaining in the ordinary market only when two people meet on equal terms, one wanting to purchase and the other wanting to sell; but the one in a position to refuse to purchase and the other in a position to refuse to sell. That is not the position between the wealthy railway directors, backed up by all their influence, power, and money, and too often by the State, and the poor porters and the poor platelayers, who, I understand, sometimes get 15s. or 16s. a week. It is nearly time either that we had definite recognition or that we decided that these people are absolutely incompetent to maintain and control such an enormous social service as the railway undertakings of the country. One of the two is certain: either there must be recognition, where the union conies in to protect the interests of the men, or the State must take the place of those who have proved themselves utterly callous of the best interests of the country.
I should like to bring the House back to the subject of our discussion. The speaker who preceded the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. J. Ward) said that they wanted the bargain in black and white. That is exactly the meaning of the Amendment before the House. We on this side want inserted in the Motion the words, "the Report of the Commission being accepted by both parties." The Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer say that we have practically got that; that everybody admits that the Report is accepted. Then why not put it in black and white? The directors have a very good reason for wishing to have it in black and white, in that they have been through the same kind of thing before. The hon. Member for Stockport, the editor of the "Railway Review," said that they would not accept these words as they would be put in a difficult position; they would not know what they were bound to. But the directors, if the words are not inserted, will be in the same position, only more so, because they have been through a similar experience before, not only in 1907, but in August of this year. The hon. Member for Stoke said that he wanted to face the difficulties and not plaster them over. He then proceeded to deal with the speeches of two railway directors, the hon. Baronet, the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury), and the Noble Lord, the Member for Kensington (Lord C. Hamilton). I have listened to nearly the whole of the Debate, and the speeches 1298 delivered by those two railway directors are about the only speeches that have really faced the difficulties at all. From the hon. Member for Kingston (Mr. Cave) and the hon. Member for Wycombe (Sir A. Cripps) we had speeches which were very nicely delivered, very calm, sweet, and tender, and all that sort of thing, but they did not face the real difficulty, namely, that Members on the Labour Benches are out definitely for recognition, and the railway directors are out dead against it. The hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) had the courage to get up after a very mild speech by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and say exactly what he meant, and that is what not a single other Member of the House has done. They were apparently trying to save their faces. The Leader of the House said that he was trying to save the faces of the hon. Member for Leicester and the other labour Members. But the railway directors do not want to save their faces; they want the thing definitely in black and white. They have been "had" before.
Let me speak not as a railway director or as a railway shareholder, but purely as a member of the ordinary public, who do not get much attention nowadays. You had unrest in 1907, and the matter was then supposed to be settled until the year 1914. Both parties were bound by the agreement. The directors thought the men were bound by it, and the men for a certain number of years thought they were bound by it. Then came agitation, and the men were going to drive straight through the 1907 agreement. Another agreement was come to. The companies and the men came face to face for a second time in August last, and everybody came out of the meeting believing they were to be bound by the Report of the Royal Commission. It was stated in the papers at the time that both parties had agreed to be so bound. The hon. Member for Barnard Castle (Mr. A. Henderson), according to the papers, said the same thing the next day. Now we have the leader of the Labour party saying, "It all took place about twelve o'clock; we were all so tired that we did not hear what was said; we wanted to get away; we had had enough of it; we did not really know what was going on." That is supposed to be sufficient for saying that the men are not bound by the agreement. That is the sort of thing the directors wish to guard themselves against this 1299 time, and therefore they would prefer to have it in black and white. The Prime Minister said, "You have practically got it as good as in black and white; we all know what it is; I have made as plain a statement as I could." But the directors having gone through these two experiences say that they would prefer now to have it in black and white.
That is the whole point of this Amendment. What is there in this Amendment with which hon. Members on the Labour Benches cannot agree? "The Report of the Royal Commission being accepted by both parties"! Are we to make out that hon. Members opposite below the Gangway do not accept the Report? When that Commission was appointed by the Government both sides agreed, as far as any words could bind anybody, to accept the findings of the Commission. That is the whole point of this Amendment, and that is what the words of the Prime Minister practically amount to. I do not speak for the railway directors, but I imagine that hon. Members on this side of the House would like to say, if those words mean what I say, that they would like to see them in black and white. It is not worth while travelling over the whole railway system to see whether the men are or are not penalised as outlaws. That is not the point. I hope the House will see the reasonableness of our attitude.
§ Sir ALFRED MOND
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has certainly seized on the kind of technical points which we have been discussing in this House more or less all day. When he says that is the only other real point, I think he is entirely mistaken. The only other real point is very much larger. This House has been discussing this matter this afternoon in a most curiously unreal manner. What are the real facts? The real facts are that you have outside this House hundreds of thousands of railway men in a state of dissatisfaction. There are very large bodies of these men dissatisfied with their conditions of labour, with their wages, dissatisfied that they have no recognition, and threatening in a short time to come out on strike again. Those are the actual facts. Those are the facts that we must bear in mind if we want to do any good here at all. It is curious that in our discussion to day we have had a great many arguments about what has happened and about what has not happened in the past. We have not had sufficient 1300 recognition, I think, in the House of the actual facts as they are to-day outside the House. Why are we discussing this matter at all? We are discussing it surely because we all know that a railway strike is a very disastrous thing, not only for the railway men themselves and the companies, but for all the inhabitants of the country in every way, and for every trade in the country.
We know that a short time ago this country was placed in a most serious position. Most lamentable occurrences took place which everyone regretted. We want, as Members of this House, to find a method of trying to avoid a similar conflict taking place. It is not a question of putting a few words into the Amendment. It is not a question of what the railway directors want at all. It is a question of what we, the representatives of the electors of the country, want. I am tired of being told that the railway directors want to do this or that. The railway companies are the children of Parliament. They are there in pursuance of the statutory powers given to them, and I say most strongly that what we consider is in the public interest is what they must do or must not do. That lies at the bottom of the whole position. The Noble Lord the Member for Kensington argued at one moment the railway companies were in a different position to private concerns, that they were carrying out a great public trust. To a certain extent I agree. But if they are carrying out a great public trust under Parliamentary control, it is also the duty of Parliament to exercise that control, and not to leave it to the sweet will of a certain body of gentlemen, however estimable, to say whether or not they will give recognition to the trade unions or starve the population of the country for weeks.
On the question of recognition I listened very carefully to the speeches of the Noble Lord the Member for Kensington. I read all the evidence of the railway managers before the Royal Commission, and I must honestly confess, as one who has had some experience of the employment of labour, who has had negotiations with trade union representatives, as one who has had practical experience of this question, that I cannot for the life of me see the difference between a railway company and any other undertaking in negotiating with trade union representatives. The Noble Lord, the Member for Kensington, argued on the curious assumption: firstly, that the result of recognition would be that all the men would join a 1301 union. Well, I have not found that to be the case in works which I am interested in. Secondly, he argued, if that took place, then circumstances would arise which would make it quite impossible for them to conduct their business. Why would it be impossible for them to conduct their business? Other industries do so.
Take the great cotton industry of Lancashire. Practically the whole cotton trade of Lancashire is a trade union industry worked by conciliation boards, and certainly they have no trouble in managing that industry. The railway directors say they are responsible for the life and limb of the public. That is a mere phrase. The fact that they meet members of trade unions, that they have trade union delegates with them to discuss questions of service or hours, or terms of employment, does not in the least interfere, and should not be allowed to interfere with their conduct of the railways. Take the public tramway system of this country. Tramways are also public trusts. Tramways are also responsible for the safe carrying of the people. Yet I would venture to say that a very, very large proportion of the men engaged on the tramways of this country are trade union men. No people who run the tramways, no corporation, would refuse to meet the representatives of the tramway unions on the plea that it was a danger to the discipline on the tramways. The fact is that those arguments arise from an absolutely old - fashioned superstition and a perfectly ridiculous fear that those hon. Gentlemen with whom hon. Members opposite talk courteously across the floor of the House would, if they met them in a room somewhere to talk over this business, behave otherwise. No, say the directors, we must have the railway men represented at one end of the room and we at the other. If we were to sit down at one table the railway system of the country would come to an end. Is it not time that these childish expressions ceased? These ideas are not held by all the railway companies.
Take the North-Eastern Railway Company. They certainly had grievances in the late strike. For all that the North-Eastern Railway is one of the most efficient, one of the best-managed, and one of the most profitable companies in the country. I know the general manager, Mr. Butterworth, one of the ablest of railway men that ever I had the pleasure of meeting or of having conference with. That 1302 company has given recognition to the trade unions, and none of the terrible results that have been prophesied have happened on the North-Eastern. Why should they happen on the Great Western? We have been given certain figures. I must really point out to the House that the figures which have been used are not quite fair. Because certain railway men at Swansea or on the South-Eastern Railway are not trade unionists, that is no answer to those trade unionists who want "recognition."
It is no answer to people who have what they regard as a definite grievance, and although we may find it difficult to realise that it is a grievance, it is all the same a real grievance, giving rise to a feeling that they are being treated differently and are being treated with insult, when compared with other people amongst whom they are working. That is one of the points that has been impressed upon me most strongly by reasonable and moderate men. The Noble Lord, the Member for Oxford, cannot understand the object there is in having recognition, and he cannot see what it to be gained by it. That shows he has very little experience of trade union work. He went on to say that there was great difference between a national strike and a private strike, and that the railway men should not go on strike because that would create a great calamity. Under his conditions of railway management the men would never be entitled to strike, because the strike would create a national calamity, but if the men do not strike they get nothing. The great point is to avert this calamity, and the way to avert it is to procure compulsory arbitration in railway disputes or else to establish State ownership. That must be obvious to everyone, and it is becoming increasingly obvious to other traders, who are quite tired of seeing their business threatened and their workmen thrown out in the street owing to such strikes. It is quite clear that the present state of things cannot continue.
After all, the resolution of the railway men is extremely moderate. All they ask is to be admitted to a conference upon the basis of representation, and now we are asked to go into elaborate kinds of verbal niceties as to what this conference is to do. I suggest as a practical person that this conference should meet and discuss matters. Suppose they come to no conclusion they will be no worse off. The railway companies will not be damnified. I believe conferences of this kind must do good. I am a great believer in people 1303 coming together and talking matters over. The hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Lockwood) made a most moderate speech, and he admitted he would not be against talking matters over with trade union leaders. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman could by blood transfusion inoculate the hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury), and the Noble Lord (Lord Claud Hamilton), a surgical operation of that kind, would settle the whole question.
§ Sir A. MOND
I should be sorry the hon. Gentleman should fail in such a good cause. One thing that struck me immensely in reading the evidence of the railway managers was that they admitted that on various occasions they had benefited and got through a lot of difficulties by consultation under the conciliation scheme and discussion with Mr. Richard Bell in regard to matters that had arisen in connection with the interpretation of awards. If that was the case then, why not expand it. I do not think it is quite fully realised, that in one clause of the Commission's Report recognition is advocated, at any rate in relation to conciliation. If you take the procedure recommended by the Commission in regard to 25 per cent. of signatures to the petition, there the men go to the directors, and if they do not agree they go to the conciliation board. At the conciliation board the trade union representative can attend but he cannot attend in the first instance. Is that not really a very small point over which the railway directors are quarrelling? It is very difficult for a man to take up negotiations in the middle after the men have presented their cases. The men may advance very foolish and unjustifiable arguments, and they may give away their whole case. Then you come to the conciliation board. Suddenly the trade union representative comes in and finds himself weighted with all the statements made upon the previous occasion when he was not present, and this puts him in the difficult position of either repudiating them or accepting them. If he were there from the beginning and had the handling of the case from the outset, it would be more easy for him and more satisfactory for all, and would save time in the long run.
It is somewhat like the difficulty that occurs in having a solicitor in the Lower Court and a counsel in the Higher Court 1304 on appeal. It would be much better to have counsel from the beginning, and the same applies to the trade union representative who finds himself placed in a difficulty of this kind. Once this was agreed to, the whole of these quarrels would be pretty well settled. You have these men at the conciliation board; you agree to that, but you say that the railway system would come to an end if the directors received trade unionists on deputations. When you say that, are you not really fining things down to a point which no workman or business man outside this House can possibly understand? I feel sure that this concession, which, after all, is a very small concession, ought to be made. I hold no brief for trade unions, I do not say they are always wise, or that their leaders are always reasonable, or their followers always sagacious, but I say the time is passed when any big organisation can stand out by itself and say, "We will not do what everyone else does." After all the Post Office and the Postmaster-General have given recognition. The Post Office is a great public department with more duties to the public than the railway companies, and they have found it possible to carry on the Post Office after giving recognition. Of course they have different arrangements to railway companies, and possibly we may have different arrangements for railway companies if recognition was allowed.
The Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir A. Cripps) is very ingeniously worded, and it is because it is so ingeniously worded that I find hon. Members below the Gangway are loath to accept it. Gentlemen learned in the law are very ingenious in their language, and we often have to get others to tell us what it means. Hon. Members on the Labour Benches are not at the moment able to say to what point they bind themselves by accepting this Amendment, I think these matters might well form, the subject of friendly conversations. It is surely not our business to lay down the exact terms or conditions under which these conferences should take place. The Prime Minister said he would only use his good offices on certain terms for the conferences to meet, and if the conferences do meet he will see these terms are applied, and otherwise he will not support the conferences. It is not the duty of the House of Commons in the course of a Debate and an interchange of notes across the floor of the House to settle the question as to what this conference has to be exactly bound to. 1305 It is our duty to settle the principle, which is that a conference should take place, and the wider the terms of the conference the better. We wish to do everything we can to induce both parties to take every step humanly conceivable to avoid a repetition of the days we went through last August. As members of the general public we have a vital interest in doing everything we can and using what power or influence we have in order to prevent a strike coming about, and I shall certainly support the Resolution of the hon. Member for Leicester.
§ Mr. E. CECIL
I think several points have been made during this Debate which require answering. The hon. Member for Barnard Castle earlier in the evening referred to Clause 53 of the Commissioners' Report, and said that they were advocating recognition because that Clause had been inserted. If that Clause is carefully read it is perfectly obvious that the suggestion was limited by a paragraph in Clause 54, which shows that the Commissioners were disposed to accept recognition, so far as it was found in the subsequent paragraphs. I cannot believe that any extended interpretation can be put on that Clause or that the mind of the Commissioners can have been otherwise than that the limitation was to be strictly confined to what was stated in the Report itself. The hon. Baronet who has just spoken (Sir A. Mond) has certainly brought a good many misconceptions into this matter, and he studiously ignored the history of this dispute. It is all very well to come forward and say that this is a reasonable request, and why not enter into a conference because the parties are thoroughly agreed. If we both began with a clean slate no doubt it would be perfectly reasonable, but this is not the case. I do not wish to put the case unfairly, but certainly the trade union representatives are open to the allegation and the charge that two whole months elapsed without their contradicting the official statement that both sides were to be bound by the Report of the Royal Commission, and it was only when the Report was published that any suggestion was made that the men were not to be bound by it, although the railway directors were to be bound by it. You cannot ignore that history of the question, and naturally it has produced some mistrust between the two parties.
It cannot be supposed that the railway companies will go into a conference of this kind, bound to accept in all respects the Report of the Royal Commission, while the 1306 men's representatives are enabled to throw open the whole quarrel again and have the right to rediscuss a large number of questions. It is really asking the railway companies to agree, in a new conference, that there shall be no concession by the trade union leaders, whereas the railway companies are to be pressed to give what the Railway Commission did not grant. Even if the trade union leaders did by any chance agree to a concession they have not sufficient control over the men to insure that that concession will be carried out. I cannot help feeling that much of this unfortunate situation is due to matters of somewhat long standing. I do not know why in cases where friendly relations have long subsisted, as is the case in a great portion of the railway world, they are to be interfered with merely because the question of recognition is to be raised. After all, recognition has become a sort of election fetish, and I wish there was a more clear definition of it. The Commissioners' Report itself complains that there is no sufficient definition of recognition. I do not know whether it is very rash of me to rush in where others have failed, but I would say that recognition is really the admittance of a third and biassed party as a permanent intermediary between employers and employed. I think that is a fair definition, and, that being so, it is perfectly intelligible why one party does not altogether appreciate it. Is recognition, after all, very useful, and does it do any great amount of good? Look at the North-Eastern Railway. They have had recognition, and have they escaped the strike? It did not produce peace in that case. Has it increased the goodwill between the different grades on that railway? It is general public information that there has been continuous trouble on that railway ever since recognition was granted. I do not see the advantage of recognition.
If you turn to the South-Western Railway they have no recognition and there was no strike, and it is equally well known that they are on excellent terms with the men. [Laughter.] I thought I heard a sneer from hon. Members below the Gangway opposite. [An HON. MEMBER: "We laughed."] I do not know what hon. Members laughed at. Is it suggested that the South-Western Railway Company is not on good terms with its employés?
§ Mr. E. CECIL
There is no discontent, but when outside agitators came into the 1307 district two men struck work out of 27,000 employés. Not only was there no discontent, but in the case of one of those men who struck he made a statement that he was perfectly happy in his position and perfectly contented with his wages, but he said that he had been ordered to come out and he did so. With such evidence it cannot be denied that much of this recognition and this pressure of trade union leaders is tending to create discontent and to foment dissatisfaction to the detriment of the public interest. Nobody wants to treat the men unfairly. In the words of the last paragraph of the Royal Commission Report it is stated that any case fairly put ought to be fairly considered, and that when a grievance is disclosed it ought to be remedied, and with any proper spirit existing between the management and the men I feel convinced it would be remedied. It is most unfortunate that where mutual cordiality exists it should be sought to bring in a remedy which certainly produces less cordiality and which I believe is wholly unnecessary really in the interests of the men themselves. With a fair and considerate management such as I know exists on the London and South-Western Railway, the men are encouraged to come direct to the management, state their grievances, talk the whole matter over, and time after time during many years past those grievances have been remedied to the satisfaction of the men.
The suggestion has been made to-night by one of the speakers that the men are afraid to speak out because they will be victimised. I have had opportunities of listening to the advocacy of the men, I have warmly appreciated its excellence, and I can say of my own knowledge that on more than one occasion, men who have disclosed so great ability in stating their case have been recommended for promotion and have been promoted. I should have thought hon. Members sitting on the benches below the Gangway opposite would have appreciated that attitude, and would indeed have cheered it. I think it is an attitude that ought to be encouraged. It is one which makes for a good understanding between all classes concerned, and it is certainly to the public interest. One cannot but remember, again quoting the London and South-Western Railway, that when the last conciliation scheme was voted upon only two-thirds of the men entitled to vote did vote, and at least one-third, being something over 4,000, did not 1308 record their votes at all. It does not look, if that may be taken as evidence, as if there was any great dissatisfaction among the men, or as if there was any great enthusiam about the institution of the conciliation scheme. At the same time, I do not want to attach too great importance to any facts these figures disclose, but I do think they go far to point out that a great deal of the dissatisfaction which is supposed to exist does not exist, and that but for other influences—influences perhaps connected with increasing the membership of the trade unions, and so getting greater subscriptions—there would not be much of the discontent that is alleged. After all, there are serious objections to recognition. If in the case to which I have referred there are only 10 per cent. of the men who belong to the union, it is hardly true or just to urge that the leaders of those unions are the representatives of the men. That is an argument against recognition.
§ Mr. E. CECIL
Not a single man gets 16s. a week. Surely if the railway directors are to be responsible for the safety of the travelling public they must be masters in their own house. We hear sometimes of a national programme. I do not think those who advocate it fully realise what it really entails, or I can hardly believe they would, as practical men, advocate it. They suggest an expenditure which anyone would think reckless in an ordinary business concern, and it is perhaps particularly reckless in the kind of business in which railways are specially engaged. If further concessions are granted to leaders, it is known only too well they have no adequate control over the men to get those concessions accepted. That, to my mind, is a reason against recognition. We know that the men of the North-Eastern Railway would not go back to work when they were told to do so by their leaders. That does not look as if their control was so complete that the leaders could be accepted and recognition could be granted. There is 1309 no certainty the men would follow their lead. It is far wiser to try and bring the two sides together by a mutual spirit of good understanding than to introduce recognition, which necessarily brings in greater bitterness, and which is more open to the suspicion of unreasonableness. I hope the House will allow the words of the Amendment to be inserted. It is really desirable we should know exactly where we are, and that we should start working together, accepting the Report of the Commission as a whole, and not making it merely the basis for further concession, and therefore greater friction and greater public misfortune. I think if both sides recognise their duty to the
§ public and to themselves, they will take this Report as it stands, make it work to the utmost of their ability, and so do a great public service all round.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I do not rise to continue the Debate, but rather to suggest that the discussion upon this particular Amendment should now come to a termination. It has been discussed very fully, and I do not think any useful purpose would be served by prolonging it.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 74; Noes, 218.1311
|Division No. 401.]||AYES.||[9.55 P.m.|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Astor, Waldorf||Foster, Philip Staveley||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.|
|Baird, J. L.||Gardner, Ernest||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Balcarres, Lord||Gilmour, Captain J.||Rawson, Col. Richard H.|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Goldman, C. S.||Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilton)||Goldsmith, Frank||Sanders, Robert A.|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Goulding, E. A.||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Hamersley, A. St. George||Stanier, Beville|
|Bigland, Alfred||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington)||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid)||Harris, Henry Percy||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||Swift, Rigby|
|Burn, Col. C. R.||Hickman, Col. Thomas E.||Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Ingleby, Holcombe||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Cator, John||Kerry, Earl of||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Larmor, Sir J.||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, N.)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r)||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Cooper, Richard Ashmole||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End)||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Waring, Walter|
|Craik, Sir Henry||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)|
|Eyres-Monsell, B. M.||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Sir A. Cripps and Mr. Cave.|
|Fell, Arthur||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Fleming, Valentine||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Cawley, Harold T. (Heywood)||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)|
|Abraham, Rt. Hon. William (Rhondda)||Chapple, Dr. W. A.||Essex, Richard Walter|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Clough, William||Esslemont, George Birnie|
|Adamson, William||Clynes, John R.||Falconer, J.|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Collins, G. P. (Greenock)||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Ferens, T. R.|
|Anderson, A. M.||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward|
|Armitage, Robert||Cotton, William Francis||Furness, Stephen|
|Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn A.||Cowan, W. H.||Gelder, Sir William Alfred|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Crooks, William||Gibson, Sir James P.|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Crumley, Patrick||Gill, A. H.|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford|
|Barton, William||Davies, E. William (Eifion)||Goldstone, Frank|
|Benn, W. W. (T. H'mts., St. George)||Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Griffith, Ellis Jones|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Dawes, J. A.||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)|
|Bethell, Sir John Henry||De Forest, Baron||Gulland, John William|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Hackett, J.|
|Black, Arthur W.||Devlin, Joseph||Hall, Frederick (Normanton)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Donelan, Captain A.||Hancock, J. G.|
|Brace, William||Doris, W.||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)|
|Brunner, J. F. L.||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Hardie, J. Keir|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds.)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar)||Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Elverstoh, Sir Harold||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)|
|Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Middlebrook, William||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Millar, James Duncan||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Mond, Sir Alfred Moritz||Seely, Colonel Rt. Hon. J. E. B.|
|Hayward, Evan||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Henry, Sir Charles||Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. A. C.||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Herbert, Sir Ivor||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Snowden, P.|
|Higham, John Sharp||Neilson, Francis||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Hinds, John||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster)||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Nolan, Joseph||Summers, James Woolley|
|Hodge, John||Norman, Sir Henry||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Hope, John Deans (Haddington)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Sutton, John E.|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Hudson, Walter||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Hunter, W. (Govan)||O'Grady, James||Terrell, H. (Gloucester)|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||O'Shee, James John||Thomas, J. H. (Derby)|
|Jardine, Sir John (Roxburghshire)||O'Sullivan, Timothy||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|John, Edward Thomas||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Wadsworth, J.|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Pollard, Sir George H.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Jones, W. S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Jowett, Frederick William||Power, Patrick Joseph||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Kellaway, Frederick George||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Wardle, George J.|
|Kilbride, Denis||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|King, J.||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Lambert, George (Devon, S. Molton)||Pringle, William M. R.||Webb, H.|
|Lansbury, George||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Reddy, Michael||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Rendall, Athelstan||Whyte, A. F.|
|Logan, John William||Richards, Thomas||Wiles, Thomas|
|Lynch, A. A.||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Macpherson, James Ian||Robinson, Sidney||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|M'Callum, John M.||Roche, Augustine (Louth)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Roche, John (Galway, E.)||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|M'Laren, Hon H. D. (Leics.)||Roe, Sir Thomas||Young, Samuel (Cavan, E.)|
|Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Rowntree, Arnold||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Marks, Sir George Croydon||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Martin, Joseph||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.|
|Masterman, C. F. G.||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. C. Duncan and Mr. J. Parker.|
|Meagher, Michael||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.)||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
§ Prosposed words added.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
I now beg to move to leave out of the Resolution the words "declares such refusal to be contrary to the public interest and to have no justification."
§ Mr. ROWNTREE
I rise to second the Amendment, and I would like to reply to two statements made by the hon. Member for Aston Manor (Mr. Evelyn Cecil). The hon. Member said it was impossible to have recognition if the railway companies were to be responsible for the discipline of the company. But the North-Eastern Company have recognised the men's union, and have not found any insuperable difficulty on that point. I want to refer to this fact, that the general manager of the North-Eastern Railway Company said that he was perfectly satisfied to go on in the future as they had done in the past. I agree that it is not with the past that we have to deal, but with the future. What we have to do to-night is to find out whether there is any way in which this House can practically by a 1312 unanimous vote exercise its great authority in the cause of peace.
§ Mr. ROWNTREE
I am anxious that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should explain this Amendment further to the House, and I will therefore second the Amendment.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
It was certainly my intention to move the insertion of the words referred to, but I ascertained through the usual channels that they were not acceptable to either the party opposite or to the party below the Gangway. In those conditions we came to the conclusion that it would be a great mistake for us to press them upon the House. If they had been acceptable to either of the two parties we 1313 should have certainly moved the Amendment. I am of opinion that it would have been perhaps the best form of words, but we could not in these conditions press them upon the House, inasmuch as they would not have been an agreement even on this side. If we had had the support of hon. Gentlemen opposite we might have proposed them. [HON. MEMBERS: "Try it now."]
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I was certainly under the impression that having tried to carry the much stronger words suggested by hon. Members opposite and having failed, they would accept as a second best the words of the Government. I have been in communication with the right hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench opposite on this subject, and I have tried to ascertain their views. If we had an assurance of their support on the subject it would have been worth our while to move. [HON. MEMBERS: "Try it now."] If anybody with authority is in a position to say so I shall be glad to hear it. But I am afraid it is too late, because there is a question of order.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
We are only anxious to try and carry something which as far as possible will reach agreement in the House. We are not going to press this thing as a party matter. That would have been the effect if we had moved these words without any support from hon. Gentlemen opposite or from hon. Members below the Gangway. We were assured that that support would not be forthcoming, and under those conditions we have to fall back on what we think is the second best, that is this Amendment.
§ Mr. CAVE
I am not a person of authority, and have no right to speak for anybody but myself, but I think what I am going to say is also held by many of my hon. Friends on this side of the House. After the speech of the Prime Minister, and the suggestion made by the right hon. Gentleman, I think I am right in saying that the whole tone of the Debate has changed, and that we should welcome the Amendment which was to be proposed by the Government as a great improvement in the Motion on the Paper, even with the Amendment now moved to 1314 it. That being so, I should regret very much if the Amendment suggested by the Government were not moved. I say with all the strength I can that the Motion as proposed to be amended by the Government is much more likely to tend to peace than the Motion as it is now proposed to be amended, and would be much more likely to lead to a meeting between both sides, with a chance of bringing things to a reasonable conclusion, than if the Amendment was dropped. I was not aware of any discussion upon it. I am certain of this, that if the Government will adhere to that proposal they will receive a very large amount of support from this side of the House, certainly including my own, I shall look upon it not only as a disappointment, but something more, if the Government recede from the position they took up. I think it would be quite possible for them to move their own Amendment if this Amendment were now with drawn.
§ Mr. BRACE
The Debate has changed more than once to-day, and we have had considerable difficulty in following it from stage to stage, but I think we have now reached a point in which, if I understand the position of the Government, we, the representatives of the Labour party, will be able to accept the Amendment proposed by the hon. Member (Mr. Leif Jones), which I understand the Chancellor of the Exchequer accepts. The Motion will then read with the words "declares such refusal to be contrary to the public interest and to have no justification" deleted. May I tell the House—and I say this with much confidence—that we stand as the spokesmen on behalf of labour exactly where my distinguished Friend, the Leader of the party, put us this afternoon. We have no desire to withdraw from a position which has been so clearly laid down. Therefore, when we invite the House of Commons to be the medium through which the directors shall meet the representatives of labour in conference, it is on the understanding that they are to meet in conference on the distinct issue of interpreting the Commission's Report. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] This is not a time for hilarity. May I express the sincere hope that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen in this House will understand that the position is a serious one. There are only two ways of settling labour troubles. One is by negotiation and conciliation, and the other is by strike. It is because, as the representatives of labour, that we 1315 think the public has much to gain, as well as ourselves and the employers, that we welcome the introduction of a proposition that we hope will mean the settling of the trouble on the railways of this country by negotiation and conciliation rather than by war. We are living in rather unsettling days. The right hon. Gentleman has spoken with some misgiving about the capacity of Labour leaders to lead their men. If the House of Commons would understand the serious position that Labour leaders are in they would not expect more from us than that we should do our level best to be loyal to the agreements that we enter into. Unless some such Resolution were carried as it now stands the position would be seriously jeopardised. May I say to the railway directors that I do not understand their opposition. I have for more than twenty years been a recognised trade union leader, with no difficulty at all in coming into direct contact with the employers and their representatives, and a member of a conciliation board for more years than I care to remember, and I am certain that if these employers were asked they would not go back to the old days, when we had to fight out our troubles by guerilla warfare rather than by negotiation.
The hon. Gentleman (Sir A. Mond) talked something about compulsory arbitration. I am not in favour of compulsory arbitration. The genius of the British people is based largely upon voluntaryism, and we have agreed in practice on conciliation boards based upon a voluntary basis plus mutual confidence by the representatives of capital and the representatives of labour as being by far the best means for settling disputes between capital and labour. What is the attitude adopted by railway directors? I have been at a loss to understand the arrogant claim that they set up that they ought not to be called upon to meet the representatives of labour. What are the railway directors other than representatives of capital? In principle there is no difference whatsoever, and if the workmen's representatives are not to be recognised, by what principle of equity and fairplay are the representatives of capital to be recognised? I put exactly the same position in connection with the managers of the railway companies. They are simply the representatives of their employers as we are the representatives of our employers, therefore when we ask that the railway directors shall go into conference to 1316 argue the terms of the Commissioners' Report, we feel that we are going in the direction that is best open to us to provide a peaceful means for the settlement of the grievances and the disputes which exist at present. The Government could not resist this proposition. The Government itself has established precedents in connection with all its great State Departments which would compel them to recognise this proposition. If there had been a dispute in connection with the War Office, or the Education Department, or the Board of Trade there would be no trouble whatever. We should have a free course for negotiation and conciliation. How, therefore, could the Government resist this proposition that we are making in connection with the meeting of the directors and the workmen's representatives to interpret this Report? I take my stand broadly upon the terms of our Motion. We infinitely prefer our Motion as it stands upon the Paper, but for the sake of peace, for the sake of a better understanding, for the purpose of bringing through negotiations with the mutual confidence which is essential between capital and labour if disruptions are to be prevented, we are ready to recognise the reasonableness of the proposition to delete the words. I hope the House of Commons will unanimously record its vote in favour of this. It will be an earnest to the men who are now taking a ballot on this great question, and who are looking with more than anxiety upon the decision of Parliament in connection with this matter. If they find that the House of Commons has by a unanimous vote recorded the fact that the directors and themselves are to go into conference, I am certain it will have a great influence on how that vote shall be cast in the ballot. If a conference can take place without the shadow of the ballot-box decision calling upon the railway workers to come to a standstill on a given day, assuredly when the representatives of the companies and the men come face to face their experience will be the same as the experience of others when they meet round a table to discuss matters in dispute. I hope that the Motion will be carried unanimously, that the conference will settle these matters once and for all, that we shall have swept out of the way all those difficulties, and that the railway men will have the same recognition of their organisations as is given in connection with the other staple industries of the country.
§ Mr. HARRY LAWSON
I hope the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Brace) will forgive me if I do not follow him into the general disposition of capital and labour. I believe the Resolution, as we have it now, makes not for peace, but for war, and I think the House of Commons has reason to complain of the manner in which it has been treated by the Government this evening. We had from the Prime Minister a considered Resolution framed with the skill of which he is a master and without prejudice. Personally, I do not think it differed much from the Amendment moved toy my hon. and learned Friend (Sir Alfred Cripps). Now the House is asked to adopt the Resolution as amended, framed with prejudice and directed against the railway companies. The words are still left in, "We regret the attitude of the railway directors." Hon. Gentlemen opposite do not contradict me, and therefore I say this Resolution is framed with prejudice, and is meant as a demonstration against the railway companies by those who vote for it. I do not mean to take sides in this dispute. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer might have had the courage of his opinions, and the Government might have stuck to the words they themselves proposed. What reason is there for modifying their attitude since the words were read out at the Table? There are many of us—I can speak for myself and I think for others also—who would have voted with the Government if they had pursued their Resolution—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—yes certainly, if they had pursued their Resolution and allowed us to take a vote on the words of the Amendment as read out by the Prime Minister. I do not suppose they will be able to vote for the Resolution as proposed now. It has become a party Resolution, and is likely to lead to disturbance rather than settlement.
After all, this is a matter not to be settled here, and although the railway companies have had a great deal of abuse tonight, especially in one very violent speech by an hon. Member below the Gangway, nobody will wish that they should enter into conference with anything but goodwill. The Government should look at this matter not from a party point of view, but in the interest of industrial peace in the country. The Government have most at stake, but they will recollect the event of last August. They ought to stick to their own Resolution. They ought to have the courage of their opinions, and not change their words at the eleventh hour in order there was not the same reason for moving 1318 Gangway, some of whom at least are out for blood.
§ Mr. HARRY LAWSON
I was only using the phrase figuratively and not literally. I meant that they wished for sharp industrial conflict, and the hon. Gentleman knows that perfectly well. I was using a phrase of common talk. I hope that the Government, now that they have an assurance of considerable support from this side of the House, will propose the Amendment, and I am sure that we shall be glad to support it.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I said quite distinctly I would have preferred the words we read out to the House, but if we moved them and went to a Division with only the support of our own party, surely that would have made them more party than ever. I could not consult all the hon. Gentlemen opposite. That would be out of the question, but I did consult those who, I think hon. Gentlemen opposite will admit, are in authority on the other side, and distinctly stated that if I had an assurance that these words would be accepted, not as the best, but as the second best after the hon. and learned Gentleman's, I should certainly move them. After consultation among hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench I got a reply that they could not consent to them on behalf of the Opposition. I then said that being the case, we could not accept the responsibility of moving them, because we would only get the support of our own immediate Friends. That would make it purely a sectional Resolution which would not carry the authority that it would carry if the whole of the Members on this side were to support it. The only object we had in suggesting it was to get some kind of common feeling of the House. Even if my hon. Friends below the Gangway voted against it, still I would have accepted the responsibility of moving it if Members on the other side of the House were prepared to support it. But I got; no assurance of the kind—quite the reverse. Therefore we were in the position to say we must fall back on the original position taken up by the Prime Minister when he opened the Debate. That was a suggestion made in the course of the proceedings when we were feeling our way towards getting a Resolution that would unite all parties in the House. The moment it became evident that it would not even unite these two parties, there was not the same reason for moving 1319 it, and we therefore very regretfully and very reluctantly were forced to fall back on the Amendment now before the House.
§ Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON
It is true that a number of us on this side of the House practically felt that we really could not accept the Chancellor's words as they stood, because they left it, as he would say, to be implicitly understood that this agreement was accepted by both parties. Our words made it perfectly clear that the agreement was accepted by both parties. One was an implicit expression of opinion that the agreement was accepted; the other was explicit. Had a number of us known and realised that the Chancellor was going to take the course of withdrawing his Amendment, we should then have been in the position of having to decide between voting for the Chancellor's Amendment and voting for the original Resolution.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I said so. I do not mean that I said it across the floor of the House, but I did explain that unless I got the support of hon. Members on the other side, as I knew that my hon. Friends below the Gangway would vote against it, I would not undertake the responsibility of moving it. I made this perfectly clear.
§ Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON
I will try to make our position, right or wrong, perfectly clear. Between the Chancellor's Amendment and my hon. and learned Friend's Amendment we prefer my hon. and learned Friend's. Between the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Amendment and the Resolution we much prefer the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Amendment. The Resolution of the Labour Members contains the word "regret," which implies a certain amount of censure. It is a common phrase in this House, "We regret that the Government has done so and so," and it is tantamount to censure. The Government Amendment does nothing of that kind, and of the two we much prefer the proposal of the Government. I regret very much that they have not given us an opportunity to express an opinion upon it.
§ Mr. HUDSON
I think it would be well that we should finish this debate in the same spirit in which it was begun. I should be sorry to say a single word that would cause bitterness of feeling, or would in any degree be a hindrance to the two sides coming together and discussing with the greatest freedom how to work the system of conciliation boards. The hon. 1320 Member for Ashton Manor said it would be a good thing if we had a clean slate. I think so too. But we have been forcibly reminded during this Debate of certain matters which have caused mischief and discord in the relations between the employers and the workmen, though I think they are more imaginary than real. Several speakers have made reference to the position of the North-Eastern Railway Company, and I happen to be secretary to the men's side of the conciliation board in connection with that company. I do not want to give my opinion, which to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite might appear somewhat biased, but I will draw a picture in the case of the North-Eastern Company and the award known as the Sir James Wodehouse award of the 1st December, 1909. That award took effect on the same date as the award of the Great Northern Company's, of which the hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) is a director. In the first case I met in conference at York a number of men, sitting on the Conciliation Board, for the interpretation and application by mutual agreement of the Wodehouse Award. I had been advocate in the case of the Great Northern men. I approached the Great Northern Company, and eventually I secured a meeting with the general manager of that company. I tried to induce him to sit down and talk about the various differences that had arisen through misunderstanding. This is the picture I want to draw: One day I would meet him in perfect harmony and perfect good will; the North-Eastern Railway Company having the general manager as chief spokesman on one side and I as chief spokesman on the other. The next day I go to the manager of the Great Northern Railway Company and I ask him to sit down and as a sensible man see if we cannot arrange the difference there is between us in a matter of interpretation. He says, "No, if I do it will be said to-morrow that I have given you recognition." I want the House just to see the ridiculousness of the situation. I think an hon. Member on the other side some time ago said, "Look at the difficulty that the North-Eastern Company had as the result of recognition." I do not want the House to take my view, but to take that of the general manager. What does he say. He says with regard to strikes, and I am reading from the evidence he gave before the Royal Commission:—Then with regard to strikes of course there one must confess to a certain disappointment. I think the 1321 most has been made of our trouble. When you get London gentlemen talking about the North-Eastern as being in a state of 'chaos and confusion,' I am glad to say that our north-country friends laugh, and they rather wonder what Noah's Ark those gentlemen have come out of, and would like them to come up and spend a few weeks in the North.Again, he says in another part of his evidence in answer to questions:—As regards the gentlemen who talk of 'chaos and confusion' on the North-Eastern, one would like to ask them to study the Stock Exchange lists and see whether North-Eastern stocks and North-Eastern dividends have gone down in a very different ratio from those of other companies who do not recognise.I would ask the House to consider the statement of the general manager of one of the best managed railways in this country, and I also desire to emphasise the point made by one of my hon. Friends, that the question of discipline is clearly defined under our rules as not one of the matters the men could raise. I ask the House to support us in this Motion in order, if we possibly can, to convince the directors of the railway companies, in perfect good will, that if they would only be wise enough to meet the men that this pending difficulty would be got over.
§ Mr. ALFRED LYTTELTON
I trust that the House will reconsider the position. We are really not here in order to vindicate our amour propre. We are here to see, if possible, if we can honourably arrive at a settlement which would obviate the possibilities of a general strike, which would be a national calamity, taking place. I consider myself, having listened very carefully to all the earlier part of this Debate, when the main issues between the directors and the men were set forth, that I should not be able, either in honour or in good faith, to take part in any Resolution whatever which voted even a modicum of censure on the directors. That is the opinion which, coming really with an open mind to the speeches, I formed after hearing the full deilvery of both cases. I judge from the report that has reached me of the Government Amendment that that is really the position which the Chancellor of the Exchequer as well as the Prime Minister takes up. That being the case, it is impossible for us on this side to use the word "regret" in the Resolution. It is quite plain to anybody who has been only a year or two a Member of this House, let alone those who have been here a long time, that it is impossible to use the expression "this House regrets" that a certain course of action was pursued, when that course is one which we believe is not open to censure, but is open to fair argument. How does the matter stand? Both 1322 sides—even the Labour party concur in this, as far as I can gather—agree that the findings of the Commission are binding upon both parties. The Labour party think—the hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) especially pointed out—that there are certain matters, such as the methods of enforcing the findings of the Commission, which might lead to friction, and that discussion might obviate that friction. Therefore, I claim that the whole House is, in substance, of opinion that the findings of the Commission should be the basis of future discussion, that that should not be departed from, and that the discussion which this House invites both parties to take part in should be one as to details and as to the methods by which those findings should be carried out. If that is the general feeling, surely the words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer are far more fitting to express the sense of the House than any others that have been produced, except those of my hon. and learned Friend, for which I would gladly have voted. Although it is absolutely beyond my power to give any guarantee, yet, speaking with a sense of responsibility, I believe the words suggested by the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be supported by my hon. Friends as against the Resolution as it stands. Those words, I understand, to be these: "That, in the opinion of this House, a meeting should take place between representatives of both parties to discuss the best mode of giving effect to the Report of the Royal Commission, and the House asks the Government to use its good offices to bring both sides into that conference without delay." Those words would enable both parties without any loss of honour or of self-respect to meet and discuss the question of enforcing the award by which both parties are bound. I trust that that view will be taken by the Government.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I can speak again only by leave of the House. Hon. Members heard the statement of the Government. The only difficulty is one which I have already mentioned. Not only was I not assured of support, but I was assured that there would be no support.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I wish the right hon. Gentleman who took part in the discussion had been present; but I am perfectly prepared to accept the statement of 1323 the Noble Lord. I understand now from the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Alfred Lyttelton) that he and the hon. Members behind him would be prepared to support the words read out by me earlier in the evening. I am prepared still to adhere to those words. I still think they are better. If my hon. Friend (Mr. Ramsay Mac-donald) will withdraw his Amendment—[HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."]—I shall be preferred to move them. May I just say this to my hon. Friend: this is a very grave situation. We want, above everything, to avoid a great national conflict. If this goes out, not so much as an appeal of the House of Commons, but for the moment as an appeal of two or three parties in the House to the railway directors, it will not have the same effect as an appeal which came from the House of Commons as a whole. I think it is vital—if I may say so—that those whom my hon. Friend represents below the Gangway should have an opportunity of meeting the directors to discuss these questions of very important detail. I do not see how the railway directors can possibly refuse—even if some are indisposed to meet—if it came as an invitation from the House as a whole. I earnestly appeal to my hon. Friends, whatever their personal views about the matter may be—and I know that their feelings must necessarily be strong—and nobody appreciates more than I do the special difficulties that they have—that if in substance they get what they are pleading for, that is a meeting of the railway directors, not to stand upon the mere form of the Resolution, but to allow any words to be carried which will enable us to go with much greater force behind us to the railway directors in appealing to them to get a meeting with the men. I appeal to my hon. Friend to withdraw his Amendment, and then I shall move these words.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
In order that the House may have an opportunity of deciding clearly between the Motion and the Amendment which I understand the Chancellor of the Exchequer will move, I would ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I then beg to move these words—and I understand that at any rate I will get the assistance of the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite—That in the opinion of this House a meeting should take place between 1324 representatives of the parties on whose behalf the Railway Agreement of August, 1911, was signed, to discuss the best mode of giving effect to the Report of the Royal Commission, and this House asks the Government to use its good offices to bring both sides into conference without delay.I must again appeal to hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, whatever their views may be upon a particular form of words, not to press the Amendment, so long as they in substance get an appeal from the House of Commons to the directors to meet the men to discuss the details of the Report, it will be infinitely better to get a unanimous vote, because the moral effect of that will be of great assistance. In spite of one or two speeches that have been made to-night, I have every confidence that even those who delivered those speeches will assent to what after all is one of the most powerful appeals that can be made to any body of men in this country—an appeal by the representatives of a united nation. I earnestly appeal that this Resolution may go unanimously from the House of Commons.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
I should like very much, if it was possible, for the House to come to a unanimous decision. So far as the request for a meeting is concerned, on the lines of the speeches delivered to-day, accepting the Report generally as a foundation, and allowing a certain margin for negotiation and discussion and agreement—within those limits—we desire a meeting, and we will support the request for a meeting. We have consulted, not merely our colleagues in this House, but the representatives of the men outside, who are in other parts of the House. They tell us, and our experience bears out what they say, that there is a past behind all this, that Resolutions with veiled formula have been carried time and time again, and the men have been worsened in the negotiations that followed. We tell you quite plainly that when you put lawyers' brains to interpret resolutions like that the common blunt workman is no match for the lawyer. The result is that 1325 we are suspicious, we shall remain suspicious, and we must express our suspicion against such expressions as are in the Amendment. The Government undoubtedly have tried to devise a form of words which will probably meet our intention. That form of words will also meet the intentions of the hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) the Member for the City of London. We cannot forget the speeches that have been delivered, not merely by railway directors, but by highly influential railway directors during this Debate. We regret exceedingly we have to divide the House upon this Amendment, and we divide the House on it simply because we regard that formula about devising how to put the Report into operation as being indefinite, as being capable of a definition that would mean no discussion could take place upon the substance of the Report, and that being so, it is altogether inadequate to meet the situation, and with great regret we shall have to offer it opposition in the Lobby.
§ Lord BALCARRES
I ask to be allowed to say a few words only. I was not present at the conversations to which the right hon. Gentleman alluded, neither was my right hon. Friend the Patronage Secretary. If any misunderstanding has occurred I am very sorry, but I should like to say to the House that neither my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Bonar Law), nor the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Chamberlain) has been unsympathetic in any way towards the proposal of the Government, but they thought that they were not in a position
§ to do what they understood the Chancellor of the Exchequer desired, namely, to give a practical guarantee that hon. Members on this side would vote in the Lobby with the Government. Personally, of course, I shall do so, but they thought it right to say they were not in that position because at a few moments' notice they could not give that guarantee, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer knows, during the last twenty minutes the bulk of the hon. Members on this side of the House have signified that they are willing to support this Motion.
§ Mr. SANDERSON
I am not going to prevent a Division being taken before Eleven o'clock. It is quite obvious that everybody is desirous of obtaining one object, and that is to pass a Resolution which will tend towards peace. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has drawn up a form of words with that one object in view. The Resolution proposed by the hon. Member for Leicester, in the opinion of a great many hon. Members, surely, cannot have that effect, because it involves an indictment against one of the parties, and if we were to adopt that Resolution it would be binding one of the parties guilty of the conduct charged against them. I hope a large majority of the House will adopt the form of words proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Resolution."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 108; Noes, 167.1327
|Division No. 402.]||AYES.||[10.58 p.m.|
|Abraham, Rt. Hon. William (Rhondda)||Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts, Stepney)|
|Adamson, William||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Jowett, Frederick William|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Kellaway, Frederick George|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Essex, Richard Walter||King, Joseph (Somerset, North)|
|Alden, Percy||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||Kyffin-Taylor, G.|
|Allen, A. A. (Dumbartonshire)||Gelder, Sir W. A.||Lansbury, George|
|Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn A.||Gill, A. H.||Logan, John William|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Barton, W.||Goldstone, Frank||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)|
|Bentham, G. J.||Hall, Frederick (Normanton)||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Hancock, John G.||Martin, Joseph|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Mond, Sir Alfred Moritz|
|Brace, William||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Morrell, Philip|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Hayward, Evan||Neilson, Francis|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, N.)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster)|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Henry, Sir Charles S.||O'Grady, James|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Higham, John Sharp||Pointer, Joseph|
|Clynes, John R.||Hinds, John||Pollard, Sir George H.|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Hodge, John||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Hope, John Deans (Haddington)||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Crooks, William||Hudson, Walter||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||John, Edward Thomas||Richards, Thomas|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Dawes, J. A.||Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|De Forest, Baron||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Robinson, Sidney|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Jones, Lelf Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Rowlands, James||Thomas, J. H. (Derby)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Rowntree, Arnold||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)||Thorne, William (West Ham)||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Verney, Sir Harry||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E.||Wadsworth, John||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Sherwell, Arthur James||Walters, John Tudor||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Snowden, Philip||Wardle, George J.|
|Sutherland, John E.||Webb, H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. J. Parker and Mr. C. Duncan.|
|Sutton, John E.||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Taylor, John W. (Durham)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Goldsmith, Frank||Pirie, Duncan Vernon|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Greene, Walter Raymond||Frice, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Aitken, Sir William Max||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradferd, E.)|
|Anderson, Andrew Macbeth||Griffith, Ellis J.||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Anton, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)||Pryce-Jones, Col. E.|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Radford, George Heynes|
|Armitage, Robert||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Astor, Waldorf||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds.)||Robertson, John M (Tyneside)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shirs)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Harris, Henry Percy||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Henderson, Major H. (Berkshire)||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Herbert, Colonel Sir Ivor||Seely, Colonel Rt. Hon. J. E. B.|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Bigland, Alfred||Holt, Richard Durning||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Bird, Alfred||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Hunter, William (Lanark, Govan)||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Black, Arthur W.||Ingleby, Holcombe||Stanier, Beville|
|Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid)||Isaacs, Rt. Hon Sir Rufus||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Jardine, Sir John (Roxburghshire)||Stewart, Gershom|
|Burn, Col. C. R.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Summers, James Woolley|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Lambert, George (Devon, Molton)||Swift, Rigby|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Larmor, Sir J.||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar)||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End)||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld., Cockerm'th)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Cave, George||Lewis, John Herbert||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, N.)|
|Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Lyell, Charles Henry||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (S. Geo. Han. S.)||Touche, George Alexander|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droltwich)||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Macpherson, James Ian||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Clough, William||M'Callum, John M.||Tryon, Capt. George Clement|
|Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Cooper, Richard Ashmole||M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||M'Laren, Hon. F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Cowan, W. H.||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine)||Waring, Walter|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Masterman, C. F. G.||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Middlebrook, William||Whyte, A. F.|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Millar, James Duncan||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Falconer, J.||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Fell, Arthur||Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Ferens, Thomas Robinson||Nolan, Joseph||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Foster, Philip Staveley||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Master of Ellbank and Mr. Gulland.|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Gibson, Sir James Puckering||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolved, "That, in the opinion of this House, a meeting should take place between the representatives of the parties on whose behalf the Railway Agreement 1328 of August, 1911, was signed, to discuss the best mode of giving effect to the Report of the Royal Commission, and this House asks the Government to use its good offices to bring both sides into conference without delay."1329
§ Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER, pursuant to the Order of the House of 24th October, proposed the Question, "That this House do now adjourn."
§ Adjourned accordingly at Nine minutes after Eleven o'clock.