§ Mr. PETO
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, to leave out the words,Your Majesty's Gracious Speech contains no specific mention of legislation securing a minimum living wage and for preventing a continuance of such unequal division of the fruits of industry by the nationalisation of railways, mines, and other monopolies,and to insert instead thereof the words,Your Majesty's Ministers are not taking steps to forward the fair and equitable division between capital and labour of the profits of industry by co-partnership which would unite their interests and enormously add to the productive capacity of the country, cheapen the cost of commodities, increase this country's power of competing in all other markets, and give to wage-earners a human interest in life and work and place them on a moral equality with every other class.I hope the hon. Member for East St. Pancras (Mr. Martin) will excuse me if I do not follow him through the whole of his speech. I would like, however, to say one word with regard to the speech he has 99 made. There is one point in which I find myself in sympathy with him. He drew a comparison between the railway rates charged in this country and those charged in other countries to bring Foreign and Colonial produce to our shores. There I entirely agree with him; there is something which very much wants looking into; but when he says there are these fabulous millions to be saved and enormous reductions in the rates to be obtained simply by nationalisation of the railways, I part company with him. Two hon. Members who addressed the House earlier in the Debate—I think the hon. Member for the Montrose Burghs (Mr. R. Harcourt) and the hon. Member for Walsall (Mr. Cooper)—speaking from opposite sides of the House, said they were in sympathy with what I may term the premises underlying the Amendment before the House, but they did not agree with the remedy the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay MacDonald) and his Friends proposed to apply. I find myself in the same position. Both those hon. Members said they would like to move an Amendment, and the hon. Member for the Montrose Burghs read out the Amendment he would have proposed. I am afraid I do not find myself very much in agreement with him, but I hope when I have the honour of moving the Amendment to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Leicester, of which I have given notice, both those hon. Members will find themselves more in agreement with me than I find myself in agreement with the hon. Member for the Montrose Burghs. I have listened to the speeches which have been made, and before I proceed with my Amendment I should like to say a word or two with regard to one or two of the things those speeches contained. It struck me as rather curious that the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) should have used almost the exact phrase with which the Amendment I shall have the honour of proposing terminates. He spoke ofthe equal value of each human life and the right to a full life.I do not think, however, his argument went to meet that contention. It seemed to me that most of his arguments, and most of the arguments that underlie the whole question of the minimum wage referred to in this Amendment, rather ask for a reasonably full stomach, and nothing more. They do not touch the moral question in any kind of way, or the question of the equality 100 of all people in this country and their equal right to have an equal interest in their life and their life's work. He also mentioned two or three cases of family budgets where it was perfectly impossible to provide, and where nothing was provided, for milk at all. I am entirely in agreement with the hon. Member when he asked how we can hope to raise an Imperial race when we have children whose parents are so poor that they are unable to provide that which is absolutely necessary for bringing up a healthy human being. All those things touch what I call the premises which underlie this Amendment. They do not deal with the remedy at all, the remedy of the nationalisation of land and of all monopolies.
I would like to say a word or two with regard to the speech of the hon. Member for Leicester. He said the higher the protection the worse was the condition of labour. Surely a generalisation of that kind comes rather curiously at the present time, when we have had a Report, not of a Tariff Reform Commission, but of a Government Commission, to inquire into the cost of living and labour in the United States of America. It is admitted in that Report that although the cost of living is much higher—it is reported to be something like 50 per cent. higher—than in this country, yet the wages in the most protected country in the world, a country that originated the term of "American Protection" to which one hon. Member referred, are two and a half times as high as in this country. That means that on the average every man there can save as much every week as every man can earn in this country. Yet the hon. Member tells us that the higher the protection the worse the condition of the labour. Then he said it was one of the primary tenets of the Tariff Report party that whenever prices were raised wages were raised. I beg to submit with all respect that the hon. Member was really confusing cause and effect. We never say anything of the kind. What we do say is that under reasonable conditions of employment, and under reasonable conditions of carrying on the trade of the country, such as are common to every other country in the world, wages will rise. It has been said if we had had Tariff Reform in 1906 prices would have been higher than now. I think that is not so. I think the contrary is the case. That leaves out the whole of the other part of the question. The hon. Member did not touch on the question whether, if prices had been 101 higher, the wages would have been higher to meet those prices.
The hon. Member for North-East Manchester (Mr. Clynes) said that if the wage-earning classes could not get justice by argument and peaceful means they naturally took steps to get advantages by other and forcible means. With regard to that point, in the Amendment which I have on the Paper I suggest an alternative. After all, wages like profit, depend entirely upon what is to be got out of industry. You cannot get out of an egg more than it contains, and a fair division between capital and labour will not involve any complicated methods of conciliation boards nor will it require any resort to force. I should like to say one word with regard to the terms of the Amendment. It suggests a minimum living wage and preventing a continuance of the unequal division of the fruits of industry by the nationalisation of railways, mines, and other monopolies. I should like to know why the term "fruits of industries" is used? Why does not the hon. Member call a spade a spade? Why does he not refer to the profits of industry? After all the fruits of industry are the profits of industry. I wonder whether the hon. Member had in his mind, when referring to the fruits of industry, the idea that the labouring classes in this country were to get something unknown out of the lucky bag without any effort on their part. On this question of the unequal division of profits, I ask how is it going to be met by the nationalisation of the railways and coal mines? The whole underlying basis of the argument for nationalisation is the abolition of profit. The hon. Member for Bow and Bromley said he would like to see profits done away with. He hopes the tramways will, at any rate, become national property. [An. HON. MEMBER: "Municipal property."] Well, municipal property, and the hon. Member expressed the hope that there would be no occasion to pay anything whatever in connection with them. How, under a system of nationalisation, are you going to arrive at a more equitable division of profits?
I come next to the question of the minimum wage. What is asked for? Is it the high ideal of the wage-earning classes? It is now over a century since the abolition of slavery, yet we are still in a condition in this country where there are people who do not get adequate food for themselves and their families in 102 return for their labour! I would ask whether under the old conditions of slavery, which this country did so much to abolish, it was not wise policy on the part of the slave owners to give adequate food to those who belonged to them. What do the Labour party ask for as a practical thing? They ask for a minimum wage. Why? In order that there may be enough money to provide a modicum of food for their families. But the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley went on to say that he was in receipt of £400 a year and would like to fix the minimum wage at that figure. I would remind the hon. Member on the basis of figures which I think are more than questionable as to the whole of the national income, it was only the other day pointed out by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that if the whole of the national income, amounting to £1,800,000,000, were divided among the families of this country, it would produce only about £200 per family per year, yet the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley is asking for £400 a year. I do not think he meant that seriously.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
The hon. Member forgets that there is a multitude of people who are not allowed to work.
§ Mr. PETO
I am taking the total number of families and dividing among them the estimated national income of £1,800,000,000 a year. Why do hon. Members think it necessary to term coal mines a monopoly and talk about nationalising them? There is a better and much simpler way of dealing with the question. There are plenty of coal mines open for sale, and there is no reason whatever why hon. Members opposite, in direct touch with the great trade unions, if they think the coalowners are earning an unfair amount of profit, should not acquire coal mines for themselves and make the profit for themselves. They would see then exactly how much profit is made with the present wage scales.
I propose to refer next to the Amendment which I wish to move to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Leicester. I entirely agree with the hon. Member's Amendment so far as it refers to the considerable increase in the cost of living, 103 and I propose to insert words expressing regret that His Majesty's Government are not taking steps to forward the principle of a fair and equitable division between capital and labour of the profits of industry by co-partnership in view of the enormous addition that would ensue therefrom to the productive capacity of the country, the consequent cheapening of the cost of commodities, and the increase in the country's power of competing in all other markets, and give wage-earners a human interest in their life and work, and place them on a moral equality with every other class. That is what I honestly believe, from the bottom of my heart, to be the true solution of this difficulty. If every industry in the country were carried on under this scheme it would mean a livelihood for all. It would enable men to decently support themselves and those dependent on them. If it is carried on for profit now it will have to be carried on for profit always. If we want to do away with this incessant friction between capital and labour we must do something to see that whatever profit is earned over and above what are the fair wages of labour and a fair return for capital is equally divided between those who work with their hands and those who work with their heads in the conduct and management of the business.
I would indicate to the House what would be the advantages of such a proposal as is contained in my Amendment being generally adopted as a principle of trade in this or in any other country. First of all there would be an increased earning. That is the simplest question of all. The hon. Members opposite ask in their Amendment for the principle of a minimum wage. Instead of a minimum wage I suggest a fair division of profit, and labour would thereby get an increased wage and many other things beside. The next enormous advantage would be that then you would have two natural partners in every industry working for a common purpose, and there would be reconciliation between the interests of capital and labour. I wonder whether the House will think it a far-fetched simile if I describe the present condition of affairs by what would happen supposing anyone in charge of a great engine driving machinery in any works were every morning to put in a dose of sand and grit instead of lubricating oil. Yet that is the present state of affairs in the industry of this country. There is 104 constant friction. I do not wish to specially blame any class for it. But there is constant difficulty, and the cause of friction is that you do not put in lubricating oil to make your machine work smoothly.
Then there is the question of increased efficiency involving the lower cost of commodities. I do not think that anyone who has ever had anything to do with the productive industries of this country will question—if they think the matter over for a minute or two—the statement that there has been an enormous loss in efficiency. One hon. Member described what had taken place by the gradual diminution of output through one man trying to work down to another man's level. Whatever industry a man is engaged in you are bound to have a feeling that it is no good doing too much for a fixed wage that cannot possibly be increased by any exertion on the part of the worker. As long as there is unemployment in the country I know from personal experience, particularly in the building trade, there is a very natural feeling on the part of men, especially in winter time, that as there are a great number of people out of work the smaller the individual output the better it will be. In other words, there is very little butter to be spread on the bread, and they therefore spread it as thinly as they can, so that everybody may have a share. I do not say that that is not a generous impulse. But the result of that is a reduction in the output of commodities, and the absence of the incentive to do an honest day's work is perfectly disastrous both on the cost of production and on the cost of the articles produced.
Then there is what I think is one of the most important of all the points with regard to this question of co-partnership: there is the interest in life and work. People who are in the fortunate position—I frankly admit it is a fortunate position, of which I have always had the advantage myself—of managing and working with the head and not with the hand, have got an enormous advantage, quite apart from the advantage received over the wage-earner under existing conditions. You have the one great incentive to work, the one great thing that makes the dullest work interesting and that makes life worth living, if it is a life of toil. I asked the House a few minutes ago to look back nearly one hundred years, to the slavery days. I ask 105 them now to carry their minds back the same distance and to consider the conditions under which work was carried on then in this country. You had not these enormous aggregations of workmen and of capital or the enormous and minute subdivisions of trade. You hard then a few men, perhaps working in partnership or employing two or three hands apiece. In the great majority of cases the shipwright, the carpenter or joiner, and the man who made boots, purchased their own raw materials. They were capital and labour combined. They started and they finished their job and they had every satisfaction, both in the result from the moral point of view and the result from the economic point of view, that could be possibly got out of the work. What have we got now? I will only give one illustration. Take the man who built a ship 150 years ago. He had all the pride of the designer and of the man who could carry out every part of the small ship until it was finally launched. That was work which was not dull and of a routine character. Contrast that with the work to-day. One man from morning till night will be heating rivets; another will be holding them in position, and this on every day of the week, and week in and week out, with no interest in the result of the work, but for the wage. I ask the House to consider the enormous growth of trade which would result to this country, or to any country, which first generally adopts this principle. It would result from the increase of trade in the market of every other country which did not adopt this principle. We have had some reference to the question of Tariff Reform, but very few of them. I am an ardent Tariff Reformer, while hon. Members opposite, or most of them, are the reverse. We believe on our side of the House that the present commercial system of this country is a great handicap to our industry and is a drag upon the wage-earners. On the other hand, Members opposite believe that if we adopted the principle of an Imperial commercial policy it would be an enormous detriment to our trade, and perhaps that it would destroy our trade. I made the frank admission, strong Tariff Reformer as I am, that if under Free Trade this country generally adopted in all its industries the principle of co-operation it would so enormously lower the cost of production and increase its productive energy that we should be better off under Free Trade than other countries under the Protective 106 system, who had still this friction going on between capital and labour.
There is only one more thing I wish to say. It may be said it is idle to propose a sort of pious Amendment in favour of something to which neither this Government nor any Government could give effective force. I am all for dealing with something which I believe is a practical solution of this difficulty, which I believe is the only practical solution, and which I believe inevitably will come whether Governments move in the matter or not. The reason I am confident is that in every single case where a fair co-partnership scheme has been given fair play and a chance by those who are opposed to it, it has succeeded beyond the bounds of ambition and almost beyond the dreams of avarice. The hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) asked just now under what private employer could we possibly find an increase in wages at 20 per cent. I believe there are hon. Members in this House—I believe there is one hon. Member at any rate who will address the House on this subject—who can assure the hon. Member that not only is a 20 per cent. increase in wages possible under co-operation or co-partnership, but something infinitely better than that, something which means an increase far above 20 per cent. and which turns every wage-earner into a capitalist and compels every capitalist to be a wage-earner as well. It may be asked, What can any Government do? I say there are two things they can do. The Government have one enormous power in their hands—the power of taxation. I say it is perfectly possible, provided that any Government were convinced that it is in the interests of the country to do all in their power to forward this great principle of true partnership, for them to temper the wind to the shorn lamb, and they can say, where a fair and equitable system of profit-sharing is adopted, that they will make their Income Tax and all other direct taxes fall more lightly on those concerned. There is even a more direct way in which the Government can help. The Government are probably the largest employers of labour in this country, and just as they have it in their power to say that no firm shall be able to compete for a Government contract that does not pay a fair wage, so they can say they will only give the contracts for all public and national work to those firms who have adopted the great principle which is the only solution of the friction 107 between capital and labour. I feel most strongly about this. I do not say anything about feeling great responsibility in addressing the House. I should feel that at any time, but I should feel a still greater responsibility if, either by not voting or by returning a direct negative, to the proposal of the hon. Member for Leicester, I tacitly and silently admitted that the remedy which he proposes is in any sense a true remedy, and could in any way assist the cause which I believe he has at heart, when I know there is another principle which has been all too little adopted in this country the general adoption of which will solve once and for all all questions of labour disputes.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
I beg to second the Amendment to the proposed Amendment.
We are all quite conscious of the strength of the case that is put forward from the Labour Benches as to the hardships that fall on many most deserving working men and the tremendous struggle many poor families go through in endeavouring to make two ends meet on the wages that alone are obtainable under existing industrial conditions. It is not—and I think the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) acknowledges this—it is not because we on this side are in the slightest degree indifferent to the sorrows of the workpeople, or to their sufferings, or that we deny the existence of those sufferings or sorrows, that we differ from the hon. Member for Leicester and desire to offer another remedy. We are all like persons in the sick-room of a sufferer. Some believe that one drug will cure and some believe that another drug will cure. It would be misrepresenting the feelings of any person present to say that they were heartless or unfeeling because they rejected some particular proposal for a remedy.
I would go a step further in my agreement with hon. Members opposite. A great deal has been said about the evils of the competitive system. I think it is true that the great sufferings and sorrows of which we are hearing so much are the fruit of the competitive system. I think it is also true that the competitive system depends upon a side of human nature which is fundamentally unchristian, and appeals to and is animated by those motives of self-interest which are essentially inconsistent with the profession of 108 Christianity. But it is worthy of notice that the operation of competition is universal in the industrial and commercial world. I mean that it does not only operate in the region of hiring and letting labour. It operates in the buying and selling of any commodity. We none of us go into a shop, we none of us take part in the simplest industrial or commercial transaction without also taking part in the machinery of competition. We all of us try to get whatever we can as cheaply as we can get it, and try to sell whatever we have to sell as dearly as we can sell it. Therefore as things are competition is universal. When hon. Members say a labourer ought to get so much for his work, and describe the sufferings that are involved, the true answer is that it is not a question of an "ought" at all. If people act on the principle of everyone selling what they have got as dearly as they can and buying what they want as cheaply as they can, that is only one illustration of many of the operations of that "ought," and it is no more reasonable to say that they ought to have such low wages than it is to say that a person ought to be able to buy cheaper at one shop or sell dearer at another. The thing is the fruit of what is called economic law. It is the fruit of a systematic operation of the human disposition to get as much and to give as little as possible, that no doubt belonging to the lower side of human nature. How does the hon. Member for Leicester propose to deal with that problem? He proposes to deal with it in two ways, as I understand. In some respects he proposes to supersede competition altogether by nationalising certain human enterprises. What will be the effect? Will he get rid of competition altogether, as he thinks he would, by nationalisation? He would not change, he does not, of course, contemplate changing, human nature. Human nature will remain as it is. I suppose any number of enterprising people would still want to get as good terms as they could. Workmen in the widest sense, all the persons employed, whether manual workmen or managers or clerks, would all wish to get as much as they could under the national system. They would still, therefore, prefer their own interests to other people's. I do not think competition would be at an end, but it would change its arena of battle. They would still seek to get higher wages for themselves. They do so wherever we have a national enterprise like the Post Office or the dockyard. We 109 are perfectly familiar with this very phenomenon that pressure is constantly brought on Members of Parliament and the Government in order to raise the wages of those whom they employ. But suppose you have a much wider scheme of national industrial commercial enterprise, it would be not merely impossible to raise the wages of a particular class above the wages of someone else, but it would become apparent to the stupidest man that it was impossible, therefore there would come the most violent competition, not as now, between one individual and another, but between classes, and voting employés would use their vote to get better wages, and therefore depress the wages of someone else. They would only become better off by making someone else worse off. You cannot really get rid of competition by substituting socialistic for individualistic organisation. What you would do would be to change the arena in which the competition is carried on. People would compete at the polling booth instead of in the market. The only way to get rid of competition, which I believe to be a morally low system, is by changing the human heart and human nature. That is not a thing we can do in this House. It is not done by Act of Parliament, but by the slow development of moral teaching. Very gradually, very slowly, society may be raised to a higher level. It will certainly not be done by anything that Parliament or a Government can do. I pass to the much less extreme proposal of a minimum wage. Surely it is clear that if nationalisation would not work a minimum wage is a still more evidently hopeless method of interfering, because there you will have the competitive system in full working, just as it is now, subject to this one restriction, that wages are to be by law fixed at a particular level.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
You often hear the words "minimum" and "living wage" used, as if they were interchangeable; but that is not true. It is perfectly evident that less than a living wage cannot be paid. It is obvious that if the workmen died there would be no more workmen. An actual strict living wage is a certainty. There must always be that. An artificial minimum, one above the strict subsistence wage, would only result in this, that the capitalist would say, "I can get better terms than I do now." It is evident that if he found in every English industry there was this share taken out of his normal 110 profits and put artificially into the pockets of the wage-earners he would take his capital out of the country which was so handicapped and take it to some other country where the rules did not apply. I cannot conceive that anyone in these days of extreme fluidity of capital can really suggest that a minimum wage could be applied by law to a single commercial community without disastrous results immediately following. The essential thing to bear in mind is that the remuneration of labour is determined by precisely the same forces of what are called supply and demand as the price of any commodity in the world. People are not paid what they deserve. We often hear it asked, "Is it fair or just that deserving men should receive so little?" People, are not paid in the least, neither those who are paid well, nor those who are paid badly—the Parliamentary barrister who earns a large fee for half-an-hour's work, or the agricultural labourer who earns a minute wage for very hard work—no class of person who works or sells what he possesses gets what in any sense he deserves. He gets what the rarity and desirability of what he has to sell will bring him. He is acting in an absolutely non-ethical region. There is nothing to do with deserving in the matter. One may multiply instances of how little people get their deserts in selling their labour.
Take something which will be less controversial, the labour of literary men. What can be more striking than the contrast between the deserts of some laborious student who is really learned, really profoundly unselfish, really intensely painstaking, who spends his life in a very true sense in the highest interests of mankind, and gets quite a bare subsistence out of it, if he gets that, if he does not find his work absolutely unsaleable, so little is it desired by the great mass of people, and, on the other side, some cheap, trashy novel which appeals perhaps to the lowest instincts of mankind, which costs very little to produce but sells magnificently and brings in a large sum of money? One can go on for ever. Desert has nothing to do with it. People do not get what they deserve, but what they are able to get in view of the rarity and desirability of what they have. In that situation we present another remedy, another mitigation, another palliation of the evil which we all recognise. We say the competitive system is there; you will never change it for good except by the slow process of changing human nature, but you might 111 do this. You might say, seeing that the competitive system now works very favourably to capital and much less favourably to labour, that the individuals who are now poor shall, so far as possible, remain not only labourers, but capitalists as well. The competitive system would work still, but instead of only the comparatively wealthy man getting the benefit of it as now, the comparatively poor man, who is also a workman, would get the advantage of being a capitalist. By taking the workman out of the economic category of labour and putting him into the economic category of capital, you get round the difficulty that the competitive system now works too hardly at his expense. That is, in abstract terms, what is proposed by the remedy of co-partnership. I will not go over the many advantages which come from the practical working of co-partnership, but I will draw attention to one—I mean the bearing on unemployment. One of the most serious causes of unemployment at present is the practice, partly introduced by the trade unions and partly by public opinion, of paying what is called a standard wage—that is, a tolerably uniform wage for the same class of labour. It is perfectly easy to understand why hon. Members opposite are in favour of that system, and I am not arguing on the merits of the case, as things stand, whether they are wise or not in that respect. But it is indisputable that if you lay down a fixed price for any article, or for labour, the effect will be that a certain quantity of that article will be found to be unsaleable, unless, of course, the price is so low that even the lowest kind of labour for which you charge that price is dear. Take books for example. I was the other day in a book shop and was taken to see the second-hand department. I saw a vast number of books, many of which seemed to me to be utterly unsaleable, out of date, and not very interesting even when they were new. I said, "How is it you never sell these?" He said, "It is merely a question of price," and that is the truth of all these difficulties. You can sell almost anything at a price, and there is almost no labour unemployable at a certain wage. If you exact a standard wage, what you will do is to give rather less than the best workman could get and you will throw out of employment the worst class of workman—perhaps only in a particular grade of labour and he will sink to the next grade, 112 where a similar law will operate, but in the result you will find at the bottom of the labour market there is a residuum of unemployed people who are unemployed, not because they are vicious or criminal, or anything of that kind, but because, as a matter of fact, their labour is not worth the price which custom and trade unions and public opinion expect to charge for that class of labour. That I believe to be one of the most fruitful causes of unemployment.
But why cannot you have an elastic system of reward—a varying system of reward for different classes of industry—a higher wage for prosperity and a lower wage for depression, operating rapidly and directly? Consider how important that is. If wages could go up and down with absolute elasticity as trade improved or became depressed, wages would, on the whole, be much higher, because the total earnings of industry would be much higher and there would be much more therefore in the end for the labourer's pocket, and unemployment, even temporary unemployment, would almost be done away with. But now, of course, all these things are impossible, for the obvious reason that though we know wages will come down, we do not know that they will go up again. Your elasticity will be one-sided, because the capitalist knows how industry is moving up and down, his eye is on the pulse of industry, he knows when it gets-quick or slow; but we do not know nearly quickly enough to enable us to take advantage of the variation, and, what is more, when we do know and try to take advantage it is a long process and it means long negotiation and giving notice and perhaps a strike before we get wages up again. We do not desire an elastic system of wages, because it would fall so much more easily than it would rise, but supposing you have co-partnership, all that is got round. The labourer is then a sharer in the capital. In well managed copartnership businesses he is represented on the board of management. He knows as well as anyone else the exact condition of the business. He actually receives increased profits as his share of the profits when the business is doing better. Therefore his remuneration goes up automatically and falls automatically. If that system prevailed what would in time happen would be that what are called wages would be smaller, and a larger share of the remuneration of the labourer would be called a share of the 113 profits. But he would be very much better off than he is now. His remuneration would fall and rise quite rapidly and easily in good times and in bad times, businesses which are now closed in bad times would be kept open, the general wealth of the country would increase, and all the classes who are interested in productive enterprise would be very much better off. Therefore, I am persuaded that co-partnership is a real mitigation. It does not overthrow the competitive system. It does not run the ramrod into the midst of the competitive system, but accepts it and makes the poor man's position within that system much better than it is now. It would smooth in every respect the relations of capital and labour, and it is because, in the words of Burke, we are persuaded we are laying the foundations of the temple of peace that with so much confidence we are moving this Amendment to-day.
§ Mr. THEODORE TAYLOR
I should like to state in a few words my practical experience on this question of co-partnership and profit sharing. It is not profit sharing to sell shares to workmen and give only dividends on their own shares. It is not profit sharing to give them lower wages. It is not profit sharing to keep back part of what they should receive. Profit sharing is only real profit sharing, and co-partnership is only real co-partnership under conditions in which the workman is at least as well off in addition to his share of the profits as he was before the system was adopted. Profit sharing, which is started in antagonism to trade unions, although done from the very best of motives, is not the profit sharing I believe in. To be real, profit sharing must mean an employer giving to his workpeople part of the profits which he now appropriates to himself. Profit sharing has a scientific basis. The theory on which it is based is that the profits of business are the joint product of capital and labour. In the term labour I include for brevity sake brain as well as manual labour. Labour of all kinds is paid for as the year goes along. At the end of a particular year when stock is taken and a balance sheet is prepared, if there are no profits capital gets no wages. If there are profits, under a profit-sharing system, capital first takes a moderate percentage. In my case it is 5 per cent. The total amount paid in wages for human labour is added to the capital account for the purpose of further distribution. Let me 114 give an illustration. Suppose in any given business the capital is £120,000. On that amount 5 per cent., representing £6,000 would be a first charge. If the profit for the year were £16,000, the £6,000 would be deducted, and the remaining £10,000 would be divided between capital and labour at the same rate per cent., varying of course with the relative amounts of the capital and labour. If the capital were £120,000 and the total amount paid for labour wages were £80,000 you would then add the £80,000 and make up the sum of £200,000, and pay a further 5 per cent. on the capital and 5 per cent. on the wages as well. That is profit sharing.
Co-partnership is giving the workpeople shares in the business—not selling them, but giving them shares out of the profits of the business, which carry cash dividends in future. Perhaps the House may be interested if I state what have been the results in my own business as a woollen manufacturer. I am very much in earnest in this matter, and indeed I have told my Constituents that I care more about this movement than I care for the great honour of representing them in this House. For twenty years the firm with which I am connected have shared our profits as woollen manufacturers in the West Riding. Including two years in which there were no dividends at all, our dividends averaged about 11 per cent. Like most first-class private businesses we have nothing down for goodwill. We have neither wind nor water in our capital account. Last Saturday the management and the 1,400 workpeople met and declared a dividend of 15 per cent. on the capital. We declared further a bonus of 10 per cent. to all who have been with us for one year and 20 per cent. to all who have been with us five years and fulfilled further conditions. About half of the shares in the business belong to the workers, and much more than half of the profits paid for 1911 has gone to the workers. There are quack doctors in business as in other things. There are people who are always claiming that their particular nostrum is a panacea for everything. Though profit sharing will not make a bad business a good one, it will make a good business an infinitely better one. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment struck the right note when he introduced the word "human" into this Amendment. It is the human element that we have been wanting all these years. How is it to be done? It is by the heads of concerns showing human interest in their people, by being willing to sacrifice 115 something which they have a perfect right to themselves, and by inspiring the managers and foremen with the consciousness that they are the true employers of the workpeople. No man can employ 1,400 workers in the same way as my grandfather employed thirty weavers. He knew all his workers, and when they were ill he cared for them. It is utterly impossible to do the same thing now, but we can show the same spirit and impress our foremen that they are the real employers, and we can show that we are genuine by giving up some of the financial interest we now have.
I have no hesitation in saying that this system combines the best points of both Socialism and Individualism. It will not hinder any political advance. It will not cripple any trade-union action if properly carried out. Properly carried out, it will stimulate the total production of wealth. What we are too much losing sight of in our eagerness to apportion the proportions of wealth that fall to capital and labour is that the stimulation of production means more wealth for all classes. It is only by the principle of co-operation applied with unselfish motive that we can help each other. I commend the system to those who believe in human nature at all, and to employers who desire to get the best out of their workpeople, even in their own interest, though I do not commend the system to any employer simply in his own interest. If he has not a grain of unselfishness in his composition he had better leave it alone, for otherwise he will only do the cause harm. It has often been urged against the system of profit - sharing that it makes the workpeople into little tyrants. I have not found that to be the case. I am proud to be here to represent, not only my Constituency, but my workpeople as well. By the loyalty of my workpeople I am allowed to come here away from my business. I draw a modest salary, and my workpeople desire me to speak for this movement here and everywhere and on every occasion. I was recently in Australia and New Zealand, and found the labour conditions there very exacerbated. They feel that they want something better there. I say this system has proved itself a success wherever it has been honestly tried. I defy contradiction of that. If employers admit we are in a serious state of things industrially, but say that there is no good in this system, I ask them, Have you anything better to put in its place?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. J. M Robertson)
I shall endeavour, with the kind indulgence of the House, to fulfil the not quite easy task of indicating the answers to the divergent lines of argument that have been brought forward in this very interesting Debate. It is hardly for me to hold the balance between the Amendment before the House and the Amendment to that Amendment, seeing that the Government can accept neither, but taking the two propositions on their merits I should say that it would be very difficult for the most impartial to come to a conclusion in favour of the one as against the other. Even without the earnest and moving speech of my hon. Friend (Mr. T. Taylor), who has just sat down—a speech which I am sure deeply interested the whole House, and which, I trust, will have an effect in calling very wide attention to the cause which my hon. Friend has so much at heart and carried so far—even without that speech I take it we were all of us already in sympathy with the principle of profit sharing, and the Noble Lord (Lord Hugh Cecil) made a most interesting speech in support of that principle. If, however, I had been one of those who had inclined to support the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald), I think I should have been disposed to argue that, however valuable profit-sharing might be, and however desirable the system might be, the Noble Lord's argument scarcely amounts to proving that it was in any way a substitute for the proposal made by my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester from his point of view. In facing the old difficulty in regard to profit-sharing, my hon. Friend (Mr. T. Taylor) is rather better able to speak on that head. He is satisfied that there is practically no limit to the success of this system. It is, however, well known with regard to a number of industries, especially with regard to new industries, that there would always be arising the fatal dilemma that the workmen must have a wage scale, and in certain cases profit-sharing is only a secondary development to that. In fact, you cannot in the present state of industry hope to see it substituted over the whole industrial field. So, I suppose, those who support the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester will be entitled to argue that a case had not been made out for the Amendment to it to the extent of showing that profit-sharing can reasonably be expected to do 117 what its supporters claim that their proposal would do.
Beyond that, I have only to say, indeed there is no need to say it, that the Government is of course warmly in sympathy with the profit-sharing movement. But the one thing that we have no evidence of is that the Government can do anything in the matter. The hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Peto) did make one very interesting suggestion, I think it was the only suggestion he made, that went to show that the Government could be blamed for not promoting, as he urged it should, the development of the profit-sharing system. That suggestion was that the Government might give a preference in matters of public contracts to firms which went in for profit-sharing. That is a practical suggestion. I think it is the only practical suggestion that has been made in support of the practical censure of the Government for not having brought forward measures for promoting profit-sharing. I shall not pretend to say that that suggestion would never be adopted, but I will say with every confidence that I can imagine some very strong objections being put to it. I can imagine those objections coming very forcibly from that side of the House if this Government were to adopt such a course. I think the hon. Member for Devizes will at least admit that if the Government were to offer in matters of public contract a preference to firms which divide profits there would have to be the most minute inquiry and investigation as to how the wages stood as apart from profits, and there would need to be very careful and competent administration of the different profit-sharing schemes. Though I do not pretend to say that some such course may not one day be taken, I think I may safely say that we are very far from the stage in which that can be put as practically a competent suggestion from this House. So with the expression of sympathy with the profit-sharing idea I shall seek to say a few words on the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester.
It will be granted that that Amendment has a very wide scope. My hon. Friend complimented the right hon. Gentleman, the Leader of the Opposition, ironically, of course, on having shown what he called an ancestral discretion—that is a discretion which was partly a racial quality, in omitting to introduce the suggestion of Tariff Reform in his speech on the Address. What I would say with regard to that, as a Member of the same oft maligned but illustrious race, is that perhaps I may 118 extend the compliment to my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester himself and congratulate him on the discretion with which, in moving this very wide Amendment, he restricted his argument on the main issues. The Amendment is to the effect that the Government ought, in view of the industrial unrest, to have adopted a policy which would remove that unrest, and that a desirable policy is one of nationalisation of mines, railways and other monopolies. I do not know if the intention is to include all other monopolies. For a policy so sweeping as that my hon. Friend's advocacy was surely singularly limited. Both my hon. Friend, and my hon. Friend who seconded him, gave us moving and impressive speeches on the subject of the inadequacy of the remuneration of great masses of labour in this country; and everyone must have been impressed with the sincerity of their speeches under that head. The hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) gave us a still more eloquent speech to the same effect. Nobody is disposed to dispute the essential proposition in those speeches, but the putting of those propositions is an extremely inadequate way of justifying the demand for the nationalisation of railways, mines, and other monopolies. That is of course the point which the Government must consider at this time. My hon. Friends below the Gangway will not, I hope, need from me any assurance of the sympathy felt throughout the whole House with their case, both in the past and now, as regards the inadequacy of the remuneration of a great deal of the labour in the country. Even if we had been hard-hearted on the subject their speeches might reach our hearts, but as to that there is no dispute in question between my hon. Friends below the Gangway and us.
At such a time as this how is the Government surely and practically to act with the hope or expectation of bettering the remuneration of labour? My hon. Friend who moved the Amendment plainly indicated that we had no evidence to show that the nationalisation of railways would make an end of unrest, and still less that it would make an end of any remuneration problem. My hon. Friend told us truly enough that wages were still some way from overtaking the rise in prices. Within the past six months they have been recovering and are doing so at the present moment; but he said all this by way of opposition to strikes. I understood him to imply that you 119 must do anything rather than rely on the strike as the sole or the main instrument for the betterment of the position of labour. The argument seems to me rather than face the industrial evil of a strike, which appeared to be the only alternative to this bad remuneration, let us try the experiment of nationalisation of railways, mines, and other monopolies. Railways have been nationalised in other countries. My hon. Friend will not suggest that the nationalisation of railways in France has secured adequate remuneration of labour there. There is plenty of industrial unrest.
§ Mr. CLYNES
Is not the hon. Gentleman overlooking the first suggestion made in the Amendment, that is the establishment by law of a minimum wage?
§ Mr. ROBERTSON
I am going to come to the minimum wage later. Possibly my hon. Friend thinks that I should have come to that first, but I take it that that is a point in connection with the suggestion for the nationalisation of mines and railways. It is either in connection with, or as an alternative to, these things. The fact is you have nationalised railways in certain Continental countries. You have not approached the ideal which my hon. friends hope will be realised. You have no alleviation of labour unrest. Some of the very worst strikes we have had on the Continent have been in connection with the State railways there. Surely my hon. Friends are aware that I am not speaking in opposition to the idea of railway nationalisation—an ideal very widely held on this side of the House, and which hay been associated for nearly half a century with Liberal views in politics. I am not seeking to discourage that ideal, but I merely say that at this point it cannot be shown that the working out of such a scheme is likely to get rid of the very evils that my hon. Friends point to as the justification of the nationalisation of railways. Take the case of New Zealand and Australia. There the railways are State railways, and have been so from the start. As my hon. Friends are aware, the industrial unrest in New Zealand and Australia is very acute. Reports which we have had from New Zealand at the end of the year are to the effect that even the machinery of arbitration is regarded as outworn and no longer capable of meeting the needs of the workers, and that the workers are disposed to throw it over, and are talking of a universal strike., and that a number of 120 the employers are saying that the sooner it comes the better. That state of things exists in New Zealand, with an absolute nationalisation of railways. Surely my hon. Friends are hardly entitled to urge upon this Government the policy, among other things, of nationalising railways as a policy that is warranted to get rid of those evils. Similarly in regard to the nationalisation of mines. As I have said, a great deal of opinion in this House and on this side of the House is very sympathetic towards the nationalisation of railways. In that connection, however, my hon. Friends will pardon me for recalling that there have been considerable doubts even in their own party as to the policy of railway nationalisation. One recollects when the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil pointed out that railway nationalization might not be very valuable. That was said at a time that the mono-rail scheme was coming before the country, and the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil very reasonably argued that with such possibilities arising the nationalisation of railways—
§ Mr. ROBERTSON
I have been taking the argument all along that my hon. Friend proposed nationalisation of railways by purchase. If he considers that a negligible consideration or a quite supererogatory course—
§ Mr. CLYNES
The argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydvil was that, instead of buying up old railway stock, the other course should be taken of establishing a new railway system.
§ Mr. ROBERTSON
I should put it that such a suggestion would not be nationalisation, but the creation of a new railway system.
§ Mr. ROBERTSON
I only want to suggest that from the point of view of my hon. Friend the question of railway nationalisation is far from simple. The hon. Baronet has suggested that as a financial transaction it would be practically impossible. It is a very large financial transaction, and I would suggest as a reason that, on the heels of the very large transactions of the Government within a few years, such as the establishment of old age pensions and of such a system as that set up by the Insurance Act, at such a time it is a little extravagant to propose 121 the adoption of a yet vaster system. It is quite possible that the railways in this country, as in other countries, may be nationalised; the matter has been considered by many business men, who have approved of it as a business scheme. But the hon. Members who are supporting this particular Amendment, not only urge it as a scheme which is financially sound, but as one that will make an end of railway troubles to a very large extent, and they urge the nationalisation of railways by way of paying better wages. I take it that fair wages would be paid if railways were nationalised, but I very much doubt whether my hon. Friend will win much support for a railway nationalisation scheme if the payment of higher wages is the primary object. On that basis I think they would find that a large amount of distrust would exist on the business side. The hon. Member for St. Pancras proposed not only to pay higher wages, but at the same time to lower the railway rates. If you hold out these as first conditions of the scheme, I doubt whether you will find that the large amount of sympathy with railway nationalisation which always existed on this side of the House would continue sufficiently to give an amount of support which would carry it into law.
As regards the nationalisation of mines—whatever may be thought in regard to the nationalisation of railways—surely of all schemes of nationalisation of so-called monopolies, the nationalisation of mines is the most difficult, the most precarious, and the most formidable. That was the conclusion come to by many of us long ago, when we considered these schemes with a dispassionateness which perhaps cannot always be attained in this House—I mean in economic discussions outside. The nationalisation of mines is a more difficult, a more precarious, and a more speculative undertaking than the nationalisation of railways. You would nationalise not merely the good mines, but the bad mines, and you would be faced by the problem of having to work the worst mines as well as the best, and to work the system on the plan of employing as many men as possible at a given time; and, on the other hand, to work the mines from the point of view of producing as much coal as industries want at the lowest rate. All these problems face us in the nationalisation of mines, and I take it that they are problems not to be solved. The nationalisation of mines is a long way further off, I think, 122 than the nationalisation of railways. As regards the other monopolies, the names o[...] which are only left to the imagination of the House, I am a little at a loss to infer what the hon. Member is driving at. Such things as patent medicines are monopolies. As a mere business concern it might pay better to nationalise vaseline which might be more popular than the nationalisation of some mines. My hon. Friend has not indicated the other monopolies, and I fancy I need not dwell on the question save in relation to the monopolies named.
Alongside the nationalisation of railways and mines there is the proposition of a minimum wage. I assume my hon. Friend thinks that if we nationalise the railways and mines there would certainly be a minimum wage for those employed. I will assume, however, that the proposition is to apply to the payment of a minimum wage to those employed in industries generally—all over the field of industry. It is interesting to note that my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester admitted, I think, that he was distinctly hostile to the scheme of a Wages Board, which really by moderate, cautious and tentative steps has done something towards a minimum wage in certain sweated industries. My hon. Friend was opposed to that, but he is now, on a very slender basis, after the small experience we have had in working the Trade Boards Act, so satisfied that he is prepared to call upon the Government to apply the principle over the whole of the industries of the country. I have some difficulty in following so complete a conversion as that. The Wages Board are at work in regard to four scheduled industries. In one case we have enforced a minimum wage; in another we are about to enforce it; and in the other two cases we are dealing with the subject. In the case of the chain makers the result seems to be wholly good, and I hear no complaints from the other side. But it is very important to know that in that business you have got an absolutely localised industry in which you can fix a minimum, and where, the industry being in one district, the problem of dealing with the case is simpler. But in other industries that would come within the scope of a scheme, you would have differences of conditions, and you would be faced by a multitude of difficulties in regard to which you could not be hopeful of equal success as in the case of a localised industry. If hon. Members think it practical to impose 123 a minimum wage in this country for all industries, I should just like to call attention to the differences in living conditions in different towns.
Take rents, and take an index number for London, 100. You have got 177 towns out of 252 in which, taking the London index number of 100, the figures run from 50 to 79. In 67 towns the figures run down from 49 to 32. Taking the index number as to food prices, you have 64 towns where the figures are 105 to 115; 56 from 100 to 104, 76 from 95 to 99, 51 from 90 to 94, and 5 from 88 to 89. I think these are very marked differences in the living conditions, and they reveal the absolute impracticability of a minimum wage in this country. Hon. Members, of course, will distinguish between the use of the phrase "minimum wage" as used in this discussion and as applied to the wages of miners. On the question of the minimum wage of miners, it is the duty of the Department which I have the honour to represent to maintain an absolutely neutral position. I am not to be supposed to make any suggestion as to the merits of either side as regards the discussion of the minimum wage in the mining industry. What I referred to as an impracticable suggestion was the fixing of a minimum wage for all the industries of the country. I have only to repeat my expression of sympathy with my hon. Friend, but from our point of view the task of bettering the conditions of labour is not to be carried out by the methods which I think have been somewhat hastily laid down in the Amendment. I think my hon. Friend would admit that to propose such an Amendment by way of adding to the legislative task of this Session is not a practical legislative proposal. Hon. Members opposite could bring forward Amendments suggesting courses in substitution for the measures which the Government have undertaken. They could urge upon the Government to drop the measures which they have proposed and to adopt other measures instead.
But my hon. Friends who are in agreement with the Government as to most of the items of policy this Session are urging upon us, in addition to Home Rule and Welsh Disestablishment and a number of other things, that we should undertake these little tasks as to the nationalisation of railways and mines and other monopolies. That is not exactly a practical proposal. But I understand my hon. Friends have taken this course as a means of enforcing 124 their doctrines on the attention of the House. They say that this is a constructive policy which we should like to see carried through. I do not at all suggest that the nationalisation of railways may not one day be realised, but it is certainly not within the practical scope of the Government at this time. They take too little account of the forces which are actually at work. My hon. Friend takes too pessimistic a view of the utility of conciliation. No doubt he has had one or two disturbing experiences, but let me remind him that all the year round the machinery of conciliation is at work in a hundred unknown ways. In many cases the wasteful arbitrament of the strike, which I agree with my hon. Friend in deploring, has been avoided by conciliation, and disputes have been settled and I hope will continue to be settled. Surely the perception of the wastefulness of a strike both by employers and employed will have the effect of minimising that waste. If masters and men, with the experience they have had in recent years of the machinery of conciliation, could not attain to a better measure of national agreement than they have it is extremely fantastic to hope that they would be able to manage things more rationally by the process of the nationalisation of railways and mines. I myself should expect to see, as the result of embarking on such new undertakings, a new outbreak of industrial unrest, and if workmen have in general the desires that my hon. Friend ascribes to them in regard to the attitude of employers, does he suggest they will suddenly pass into a different state, even about the railways, if they were nationalised. I should have no security myself that they in that temper would not be desirous of striking in regard to railway matters as in regard to others. I do venture to hope that my hon. Friend will, when he weighs the matter afresh, think with me that there are great possibilities and developing possibilities on the lines of that machinery of conciliation in regard to which some of them have latterly become distrustful and even hostile. We have seen a number of disputes softened, we have had crises averted, and in view of the dangers that have been faced by the country, and the economy that arises from the ability to settle disputes in that way, I am one of those who continue to hope for the progressive amelioration of the relations of capital and labour in virtue of the growing common sense and judgment of both masters and men. At least 125 I would ask my hon. Friend does he not agree with me and give the Government credit for having made efforts in many ways for the betterment of the position of the workers. The hon. Member, in support of his nationalising Amendment, spoke of the need for sanitary improvements and of the need for feeding children, needs to which most of us subscribe, and needs which I think the Government has, in some degree, sought to fulfil. I could not quite see the relevance of those needs to the special proposal as to nationalisation, but no doubt the hon. Member suggested that we do not sufficiently realise a good deal of the amount of suffering that afflicts industry. I have only to say that during the past half-dozen years the Government have produced a number of schemes and measures which, as they consider, tended very greatly to alleviate the distress that falls upon industry, and to countervail some of the afflictions to which my hon. Friend alluded.
I think my hon. Friends will agree that the scheme of old age pensions does, to some extent, countervail even the rise in prices, though it was not put forward with that idea. I think they will agree that the Workmen's Compensation Act was a contribution to the betterment of labour conditions in general. My hon. Friend made an attack on the Government in regard to a particular item of the policy of the War Office, though I remember cases, and notably one case, in which my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade when at the Post Office greatly improved the contract conditions of that department. I think the hon. Member will agree that in this and many other cases the Government have not been slack in their efforts to improve the conditions of labour in public offices. I may say in regard to the point about which the hon. Member for Leicester specially complained that my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the War Office is about to receive a deputation in regard to that special grievance, and I hope some measure of satisfaction will be given. It only remains for me to refer to one or two remarks made by hon. Members opposite in incidental support of their panacea, the proposal, namely, of Tariff Reform. The hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Peto) who, I understand, is a devoted adherent to that cause, expressed himself to the effect that profit-sharing is so admirable and expedient that if it were adopted in England we should be far better off than any protectionist country in the world. I recommend 126 that suggestion to the attention of Tariff Reformers. I have only to say that the propositions put forward by one or two hon. Members opposite in opposition to what was said by the hon. Member for Leicester on the state of labour in tariff countries, were very inaccurate indeed. The hon. Member for Devizes seemed to suppose that the wages in all industries in the United States are two and a-half times, as much as those in this country throughout the whole of the industrial world, and that being so the workpeople in the United States are able to save tremendously. If he will investigate he will find that in New York, while the wage is two and a-half times that in London, it is still just about the poverty line, and he will find that the trades in which the higher wages are paid in the United States are the trades which can gain nothing whatever from Protection such as the building trade.
§ Mr. ROBERTSON
I will just say that the general proposition as to the superiority of the position of labour in the United States will not be borne out by any examination of the wage figures in regard to the trades which are expressly protected from competition. It is precisely there you see the least superiority in point of money wages to the wages in this country. When you pass from money wages to real wages you will once more find what has been so often said that the gain to the protected workman is something like a vanishing quantity. The hon. Member for East Somerset (Mr. E. Jardine) incidentally argued in this connection that wages in this country must be low so long as we admitted foreign goods, because in that case the limit of wages here is set by the limit of the wages of the foreigner, and that under our Free Trade system we are committed to let into this country goods made at the lowest wages paid on earth. That is the proposition. Those lowest wages paid on earth in the terms of the case are in protected countries. It is needless to carry the argument as to the tariff beyond that point. In regard to the statement that foreign goods made by low-paid labour are the best able to undersell our goods, I have to answer that the economic facts and the statistical facts are exactly opposite to that statement. No one would pretend for a moment that the 127 main competition comes from the country where wages are at the lowest or where labour is worst paid. The main competition always comes from the country where the wages most nearly approximate to our own, on the general principle that well-paid labour is efficient. By comparison we still have maintained under our system, and the policy for which this Government stands, a higher level of efficiency and comfort for the workmen in this than in any other country.
§ Sir FORTESCUE FLANNERY
I regret that in the very able speech just made by the representative of the Government he should have dealt so slightly with the subject referred to by the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Peto), namely, that of profit-sharing. I have not risen with any intention of saying a single word about Conciliation or about Tariff Reform. Those may well be the subjects of exhaustive debate. I do feel that the most important subject which comes within the scope of this Amendment is that of profit-sharing, which the hon. Gentleman dismissed with almost contempt in a very few sentences. I desire to testify, in the same manner as the hon. Member opposite who spoke before the Member on the Front Bench testified, from personal experience upon the question of profit-sharing. I happen to be a director of one of the gas companies of South London, into which was introduced the system of co-partnership by the late Sir George Livesey. I have therefore had practical experience, and I should be very sorry if I lost the opportunity of testifying to my unbiassed observation and experience of that system. The system, as begun by Sir George Livesey, was begun under the name of profit-sharing, his first idea being that there should be simply a division of the profits between employer and employé, and no further developments. The basis of the profit-sharing arrangements is first of all that standard wages shall be paid. If there were any reduction in the rate of wage of the worker because of the possible share which he might have at the end of the year in the profit, then the whole system would be liable to attack, such as I know it is the basis of attack from many who sympathise, as I do myself, with the trades unions.
The first basis, the very foundation of this system of co-partnership, is that wages shall be full standard wages, and the system now developed after all these years 128 of experience amounts to something like this. When the wage-earner is taken on in the first instance, he does not enter into the class of those who are profit sharers. Profit-sharing is dealt with as a privilege to be gained only by those who have demonstrated by steadiness in their work, by ability and by industry, that they are fit to be taken into co-partnership with the great body of the workers as well as shareholders. If the worker has proved himself fit to be treated as a permanent member of the organisation, then he is given an agreement, which binds him to work steadily for the co-partnery, and binds the co-partnery to give him a share in the profits. At the end of the year the profits are shared in proportion regarded as fair by the workers and all concerned, and the man who takes his bonus, amounting sometimes to as much as £10 or £20, takes it in cash, and is able to spend it or invest it in any way he likes. It is, however, regarded as contrary to the principle of co-partnership if a man who has received such a bonus does not avail himself of the opportunity of reinvesting the money in the concern where he is employed. It is believed to be part of the principle of co-partnership that the workers should become permanent shareholders. This principle having been accepted, and this practice established, we find invested in the South Metropolitan Gas Company, where the system has been at work for about a dozen years, nearly £500,000 belonging to the 5,000 workers in the co-partnery. We also find that during the labour agitation, which have been so wisely deplored by the hon. Member opposite, there has never been the least danger or fear on the part of employers or employed that those agitations would affect or reach the precincts of the establishment where this system has been set up.
But that is not all. It is not sufficient that the wage-earner shall be a partner in the concern where he is employed, or that his wages shall be standard wages, or that he shall have permanent employment. For the completion of this co-partnership system it is necessary that the wage-earner shall have a share in the management of the concern, an actual voice in the everyday affairs of the co-partnery. How is that attained? In the South Metropolitan Gas Company there are three directors who are employed in the daily occupation of the company. Those employés are elected by the free vote of 129 every worker in the co-partnery. If in course of time one of those directors has to go out of the employment by reason of age or infirmity, he must of necessity retire from the management, because it is of the essence of the system that the man who represents the workers on the board of directors shall be a daily employé. So you have established there this system by which the workers have these advantages, namely, a standard daily wage, a share in the profits with all the other shareholders, steadiness and regularity of employment, and an actual share in the management, dealing with wages as well as all other questions. For eight years I have sat with working-men directors, and I can testify that no more level-headed men sit on that board or any other board of which I have experience. No men approach their duties—and I speak not of one or two or of three or four, but of more, of whom I have had experience—with a less desire to favour unfairly any particular class, or with a greater desire to act fairly and reasonably in the common enterprise in which all are engaged.
At the time of the recent strike, when there was bloodshed at Liverpool and elsewhere, when the police and military were being called out, when the hon. Member for Leicester was getting material for an attack on the Government in regard to the use of the military, there was no murmur in these co-partnery organisations. The very night of the outrage in Liverpool, when lives were lost, the whole of the workers in one of these companies were assembled for the purpose of establishing a memorial to the great man, Sir George Livesey, who founded the system. From the bottom of my heart I believe—perhaps not after the same amount of careful study of these economic subjects which I know the hon. Member opposite has given, but still with some knowledge of them and of the workers from practical experience, and with as much sympathy with the wage-earners as is possessed by any hon. Member opposite—that the solution of these questions of industrial difficulty and industrial strife lies in the common sharing of the results of the common enterprise and in the common management by employers and employed of the business which brings them together and forms their joint livelihood. I commend that apparently despised portion of this great subject to the attention of the Government, believing that if they do not give it consideration and seek to find in it the solution of all our industrial difficulties, an attempt will be 130 made from this side of the House when the opportunity serves, and made with success.
§ Mr. DENMAN
We are discussing an Amendment which in form is in the nature of a vote of censure upon the Government. We are not discussing practical legislative proposals; in fact, in the Debate on the Amendment to the proposed Amendment there has been no suggestion whatever of any legislation. On the contrary, the two very interesting examples of successful co-partnership were carried out without any intervention of the State, and purely by the good sense of the employers and workmen themselves. Under these circumstances it is surely singular that the Government should be charged with neglect of duty, because there does not appear in the King's Speech any mention of the subject of co-partnership.
This Debate is very extraordinary because this Amendment is put before the House, at any rate by the Seconder, as the antithesis of the original Amendment of the Labour party. The two speakers who have spoken from practical experience of co-partnership both asserted that the basis of the co-partnership scheme is a standard wage. It is a standard wage that the Labour party Amendment demand as a basis upon which these other schemes may ultimately be erected. Also it is conceivable that co-partnership should replace the necessity for some minimum wage. The Noble Lord (Lord Hugh Cecil) advanced the theory that there was always a demand for the labour of any man provided a low enough wage was forthcoming for that particular person, assuming him to be relatively incompetent. From that he deducted that the unemployment existing is the result of the standard wage system. Does anybody really think that a great wage system can be based on the principle that the person is simply to get what he is worth, no matter how inefficient he may be? If a person is maimed and only capable of doing a partial amount of work, you are, it seems, to say to him, "You are to have a penny per hour," and that shall be deemed to be a proper wage. I do not believe in any part of this House it is seriously argued that anything other than a minimum wage is the real theoretic basis upon which we must try to build up the industrial system. How it will be obtained by the force of the trade unions, or the good sense of the employers, remains to be seen. But the idea that co-partnership can be a substitute for the necessity for a minimum wage is wholly fallacious.
131 After all there comes the central fact: how are you to start a co-partnership system in the case of dockers, when the docker perhaps works only three days a week? His wages do not depend in any way upon the prosperity of the port. There is a fixed wage for dockers at the port of Liverpool. If the trade happens to be busy, all are employed. If trade happens not to be busy fewer are employed. A profit-sharing scheme in these circumstances would be surely removed from actual facts. To come to the particular industries mentioned in the Labour party's Amendment. Take the railway industry. What is to be the basis of the calculation of wages in an industry of that kind? Clearly there is no fixed ideal wage for railway servants. It is perfectly possible to increase wages indefinitely, and to put up the rates of those who use the railways. But there is a point at which no one will use the railways. Obviously in a profit-sharing scheme you would have perpetual friction between the workpeople who wanted to increase the rate of wages and the general public who wanted their travelling facilities reasonably cheap. We all have sympathy with the account of co-partnership which has been presented to us, but to put it forward as a panacea, and the non-adoption of it as a subject on which to criticise the Government, seems to me rather ridiculous.
The Amendment of the Labour party refers to the existing industrial unrest arising from "a deplorable insufficiency of wages." When it is pointed out that the miners who at the present moment happen to be in a state of unrest have a higher level of wages than most industries, the Labour party reply: "Oh, but it is in respect of those who happen to have too little." That, I think, is a perfectly good argument. But I venture to think that that is not the impression that the Amendment will give to the country by suggesting that "deplorable insufficiency" is a general feature of our present industrial system. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Then it is not fair to attribute industrial unrest to it, because there is the fact that industrial unrest arises in cases where the men are better paid. That shows that the mere fact of the insufficiency of wages, from the point of view of the Labour party, is not the primary cause of the industrial unrest. If my hon. Friends intend to argue that insufficient wages is a general feature of industry, I am not prepared 132 to dispute it, simply because you cannot say whether a £5 wage is too high or too low in a given case. I have no reason to suppose that £400 a year for Members of Parliament is under-pay or over-pay. All wages in our country are bad by comparison with even the wages in other countries. There is invariably coupled with the phrase I have quoted the assertion that wages have been falling recently. My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary agreed that that was the case. I ventured to think that the figures given by the Board of Trade are rather a conclusive answer to the contrary. The hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) says wages have gone down recently, and that that was directly the result of the socialistic legislation of the Government. I think in these circumstances the facts as to wages in so far as they are available from the Board of Trade Returns should be given. It is true that in the period from 1901 to 1906 there was a fall, but from 1906 to the present time on the balance there has been an appreciable rise. Of course, that has happened in periods with a certain political significance, but I have no desire to suggest there was any possible connection between the fact that there were a fall in wages up to 1906 and rise in wages after. Ever since 1906 on the balance wages have risen about £170,000 a week, and in the last year, if we take the last figures available for 1911, they rose £2,000 a week, and that excludes wages of railway servants. So I do not think it is fair to argue that wages are falling at the present time.
§ Mr. DENMAN
No, the rise does not relate to precisely the same numbers, but taking the most important years when the rise is most marked, the number of people affected is the largest. In 1906 and 1907, for instance, the rise affected over 1,000,000 people in each case. We are invited to accept as a remedy for the very varied assortment of peoples and trades affected the principle of minimum wages and the nationalisation of railways and other monopolies. The principle of the minimum wage is, I believe, universally accepted, but our friends of the Labour party will not expect us to vote in favour of legislation to be introduced for these purposes in this Session. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] Partly because there is obviously no time for such legislation, and 133 partly because I do not believe legislation is necessarily the best way. I think the method is to take each case where there is a special case shown for dealing with it and gradually to extend the scope of the Trade Boards Act to deal with it. That seems to me the easiest and most satisfactory method rather than the reasons which I think the Under-Secretary to the Board of Trade has given. I think they are not feasible for a general law. I cannot wholly agree with my hon. Friend as to his argument with reference to railway nationalisation. He judges from foreign examples that nationalisation is not a remedy for industrial unrest. I cannot always deal with foreign examples, and I would prefer domestic examples.
Take the case of the Post Office. Nobody really thinks that the Post Office employés are likely to strike. As a matter of fact, they have a much better weapon, referred to by the Noble Lord who seconded the Amendment to the Amendment. They have the weapon of Parliamentary pressure, which is as capable of effect as a strike, and is, in point of fact, so much fairer and much more efficient as to take the weapon of strike quite out of date to those workers. There is also the fundamental difference that when a man is an employé of the whole community we are all interested in the rate of wages paid. Whereas the House will be responsible for them in that case. In the case of a dispute, such, for example, as the railway dispute, how are we to judge whether the grievances are real, whether the wages are adequate or not: there is no recognised tribunal to look into those wages or to fix them. There is no method by which this House can satisfy itself finally as to the rights and wrongs of the matter. If, on the other hand, this House is itself responsible for the rates of wages, as it would be under a scheme of nationalisation, a strike against these rates would be a deliberate attack upon the community. I believe in these circumstances the community is in a much better position to take care of itself than when it is a mere spectator of a dispute between employers and employed, in which it has no responsibility. For that reason, and for the reason that in fact the Post Office does not strike—there was an attempt once, but it was hardly worth being called an attempt, it was such a miserable failure—I think we can learn that nationalisation would be a very distinct amelioration of industrial unrest. It is obvious one sympathises with the general view of the Amendment, in so far 134 as they are expressions of ideals of the Labour party, at which we might arrive by legislation or other means; but I fear it is not possible for me to vote with them this evening, for the simple reason there is no single ground for condemning the Government for not undertaking, in this Session, legislation that would necessarily be very lengthy, and would be out of place in the scheme of our business this year.
§ Mr. GEORGE ROBERTS
The hon. Gentleman who preceded me states that we have no reason to condemn the Government for having failed to carry out what we have embodied in the form of this Amendment. Our position is that the Government ought ere now to have given greater consideration to the causes of unrest in the country, and ought to have promoted measures whereby these causes might have been removed. It is remarkable that we have now almost unanimous agreement amongst the members of the Liberal party respecting the claims of the workers. I suggest that but for the fact that the Labour party seize every opportunity of forcing upon the attention of Parliament these conditions, supplemented by the fact that labour outside has agitated, we should not have had this general acquiescence and agreement. All must agree that it is eminently desirable in the history of any country that the people should be assured of a state of physical and mental efficiency. We know that there are large groups in our own country who have not a reasonable standard of living, and we claim that it is the duty of any Government to so order things as to enable every member of the population to have the wherewithal to live. During recent times we have found that some of those who have hitherto refrained from joining in the upheaval have made manifest their desire for these improvements. This is evidence of the fact that the spirit of education is opening the eyes of the general population to the real circumstances of wealth production and its distribution. They are generally observing now that poverty is not due to any lack of productivity, but that it is the inevitable result of a most inequitable form of wealth distribution.
The Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil), in an extremely interesting and impressive speech, sought to argue that you could not possibly elevate wages in one direction without depressing them in another. That certainly is a doctrine to which I cannot 135 possibly subscribe, and experience itself goes to prove quite the contrary. Nevertheless we have to recognise that if it is not possible to raise the wages of some workers without causing detriment to others the outlook of this country is very dark indeed. The supposition of the Noble Lord is that there are certain fixed and immutable economic laws that cannot possibly be altered and which will inevitably have the effect he indicated. Our view is that economic laws are capable of adaptation—in fact, the very illustrations the Noble Lord gave show that economic laws are constantly being diverted when particular interests can be served. The monopolies of which he spoke are constantly adapting economic laws to their own particular advantage. In fact, our view is that economic laws in the last resort are made by men and can be guided and altered by men just as may be proved desirable. We lay down the claim in our Amendment that the bases of all industries must be a living reward for those engaged in them. That is a human claim which no one in this House will deny, but nevertheless nearly all seem to be unable or unwilling to take measures in order to insure its application. We insist that the right of every worker in the country to what we call a living or a minimum wage shall be established, and in our opinion it is the duty of the Legislature to establish that right. We are told that it is utterly impossible to determine what is the requisite amount to constitute a living wage, but I respectfully submit that there is not that doubt and apprehension in the minds of the people on this particular point. Private investigations are constantly being pursued showing what is absolutely essential in order to allow a man and his wife and family to be maintained in a state of physical efficiency, and when Parliament makes up its mind that this standard ought to be established then I apprehend there will be very little difficulty in arriving at some amount which, at any rate, will approximate to the standard we desire to establish.
The question of a minimum wage is not a new one, because the principle has been accepted by this House in the Trade Boards Act. Although that Act has been in operation some time, and has effected quite enormous increases in wages, I have yet to learn that it has resulted in the destruction of the industries to which it has been applied. On the contrary, I am informed that those particular trades and 136 industries affected by this measure are still in a state of prosperity, and all this goes to prove full well that those industries throughout might have borne a living wage. We believe that a living wage will never be established except by the intervention of this House. That principle has been applied in many other forms of industry, in fact, wherever organised labour is strong enough the principle is invariably accepted. Many of my colleagues, as well as myself, have constantly been engaged in negotiating this principle of a minimum wage, and we find that invariably it is alleged that it is impossible for the industry to stand it; and yet, when we have succeeded in imposing this principle, we find that the particular industry affected still prospered, and that, after all, that particular industry invariably is the better for it.
We have been told that unless we are prepared to accept certain proposals put forward by hon. Gentlemen opposite it will never be possible to establish high wages in this country. The hon. Member who submitted this Amendment sought to make the point that in the protected States of America this problem of low wages has been solved, presumably because of the fiscal system there prevailing. The hon. Gentleman who responded for the Government did well to point out that the claim of the hon. Gentleman opposite was in no way consonant with the facts of the case. He stated that wages in the United States of America were two and a-half times more than they were here. Recently I have had the privilege and pleasure of making some slight acquaintance with the industrial conditions of that country, and I know that my hon. Frend the Member for Leicester was perfectly justified in saying that the form of unrest prevalent in that protected country is much more acute than it is here. As a matter of fact, capital and labour there seem to be almost like two armed camps. The same theory, of course, seems to guide both of them, and you have quite a number of extremely important manifestations which I do not propose to argue here to-night, but which demonstrate that Tariff Reform, as it prevails in the United States of America, is no solvent of social evils.
The trade in which I am engaged happens to be one of the best organised industries in the United States. It is quite true for instance that I find in New York the rate of wages for printers established there is just double what it is for printers working in London. My investigations also 137 went to bear out the reply made on behalf of the Government here that when we come to compare real values there is not a great difference between the two. That is to say, £2, as I was informed, in these United States cities was a little better perhaps than £1 in an English city. After all, we have got beyond the stage of being merely confused by the face value of wages. We want to know what sort of standard of living is assured by a given wage, and, if you apply that standard, I respectfully submit you will not adduce much of advantage to your Tariff Reform propaganda. On the other hand, I found where trades were less well organised or completely disorganised, that the condition of the workers was quite as bad as anything with which we are acquainted in this country. In fact, my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester was perfectly correct in putting this argument. If unemployment prevails in a protected country, necessarily the lot of those people is even harder than in this country, because a considerable enhancement in prices means that if they have a small benefit out of a trade union or a friendly society that benefit is worth considerably less than what it would be in this country. It is, therefore, quite true to say that the lot of the unfortunate workman under a Protectionist system is even worse than it is under our Free Trade system.
There are quite a number of illustrations of industrial conditions in America which are never referred to by the advocates of Protection in this country. During my stay I made the acquaintance of the Committee of the Federal Council of the Churches in America, a body that pursues social investigations; and they presented me with a number of reports of the work they had undertaken. I remember some of the illustrations and facts they gave me of the conditions prevalent at Pittsburg, a place very largely under the control of a huge Trust that has been made all the more effective because of being protected by tariff walls. Here one would expect to find a paradise for the workers if the proposals of the Tariff Reformers of this country have any meaning at all, but I was assured by the reverend gentleman on this committee that a twelve-hour day was the prevailing system, that 30 per cent. of the people had to engage twelve hours a day for seven days in the week, and that 85 per cent. of the people employed had less than a living wage. If that be true, and I have no reason whatever to doubt it, I say such illustrations 138 as that are not likely to convince the British workpeople of the advisability of embarking on Tariff Reform. At any rate, it seems to me to be absolutely a positive result of Tariff Reform that prices must rise. I know it has been stated to-day that the Tariff Reform party have not constantly advanced the argument that a rise in prices is invariably accompanied by an increase in wages. We recognise, whether it is under Free Trade or Protection, that the worker gets just that amount that his organisation enables him to wring from the employer, and so it would be with the enhancement that would ensue under Protection. The worker would get just that amount of wage that the strength of his trade-union combination enabled him to command. We therefore submit it is not along that line that we are able to effect any reasonable alleviation in the lot of our people. We claim, as statistics prove, that British trade will bear a living wage for the worker. After all it is mainly a question of the more equitable distribution of labour's produce. We feel we are perfectly entitled to ask the House of Commons to lay down the principle that wherever a man is found working he should at least receive in return for that work sufficient to enable him to maintain himself and his family in a state of physical and mental efficiency.
The hon. Gentleman who submitted the Amendment placed before the House a proposal which I think is entitled to some consideration. He claims that one of the direct results from this proposal would be enormously increased efficiency on the part of the working classes. I agree that anything that makes for increased efficiency is a very desirable thing, but I want him to observe that despite the constantly increasing efficiency of the working classes you do not get rid of the poverty problem. You can, in fact, have increased production with less situations. We have the fact to-day that with the enormously extended use of machinery and scientific processes we are turning out a great deal more wealth than ever, but there are comparatively less people being employed. He did not convince me that his proposal would do anything to solve this aspect of the problem. I do not think he went so far as to claim that co-partnership would do anything to solve unemployment. I do not think he went so far as to claim that it would realise the ultimate aim of absorbing national labour in order to supply national means. He argued that to those 139 people who are engaged in a co-partnership enterprise some slight individual advantage would ensue, but, if he had gone on to admit that advantage would only ensue to the detriment of other people he would have been very much nearer the truth.
§ Mr. G. H. ROBERTS
It is quite competent for employers to adopt the principle and to prove its possibilities without the intervention of Parliament. The point I want to make is that it would not get rid of that ever-present reserve of labour, and its fatal objection seems to me to be that it does not make for the organisation and regularisation of industry. How are you going to absorb the casual labour in a co-partnership undertaking? The hon. Gentleman stated that when you have co-partnership you necessarily get rid of short time and that sort of thing, and that the people would continue working. I have never found that experience even when co-partnership has been adopted. What I have found has been this, that those who have promoted co-partnership have practically done so, not from any sentimental considerations whatever, but with a view to increasing the profits of the undertaking. As far as my experience has gone, under a co-partnership undertaking, the men do not get a larger share of the profits. I may, in fact, use the illustration of the Metropolitan Gas Works. When that scheme was promoted it was really begun to destroy trade unions. At the time the eight-hour day, or forty-eight-hour week, was generally prevalent, but as soon as the gentlemen who embarked on this policy had succeeded in their object of destroying trade unionism there was a general reversion to the twelve-hour day; and, having regard to the number of hours worked, the men, with all the advantages of co-partnership, found themselves comparatively worse off than in their previous state. I may carry the point a stage further, and say that if the principle is universally applied, and if you induce or compel workpeople, as you may do if you destroy their organisation—and that is very largely the motive behind these co-partnership projects—if you destroy their trade unions by inducing workers to go into a co-partnership scheme, you enormously extend the hours of labour, you increase 140 the margin of labour, and you thereby decrease the general consuming power of the working classes and add very largely to the unemployed problem. I candidly acknowledge the hon. Gentleman opposite submitted something entitled to consideration. I have neither the time nor desire at this juncture to pursue the matter further, but I have to say on behalf of those with whom I am associated that we view his proposal of co-partnership with grave suspicion, and would point out that if employers generally are willing to adopt it they need not wait on Parliament, as each case can be dealt with on its own merits.
We are asking at the conclusion of our Amendment, and as supplementary to the establishment of a minimum wage, that certain monopolies should be nationalised. The wisdom of this is questioned, particularly by those who happen to be the fortunate possessors of stock in some of these undertakings. But, nevertheless, I believe that business people will admit that British trade and commerce suffer badly under the present administration of our railway system. For eighteen months I was engaged on a Departmental inquiry into the result of railway amalgamation. I am not going to refer to that in detail. I wish simply to state that representative business men, irrespective of political or speculative views, stated that existing conditions were quite intolerable. They declared that competition, so far as our railway undertakings are concerned, had exhausted itself. As a matter of fact we have a huge monopoly in our midst at the present time. The whole of the railways of the country are practically under a single administration, and, consequently, not only the livelihood of the workers, but the whole interests of trade and commerce are entirely at the mercy of the people who control our railways. The witnesses invariably admitted that this was a state of affairs which could not possibly be tolerated much longer. I pressed them for a solution, and they had to acknowledge there was only one possible solution of the difficulty, and that was for the State to assume the ownership of these undertakings and to run them for their primary object, the transmission of goods and passengers over the country. By that method we might ultimately, I do not say immediately, but at any rate we might ultimately solve the problem.
As has been pointed out, in connection with your Post Office undertaking, everybody is concerned in the remuneration and 141 condition of postal servants. I am not going to say we are simply animated by a desire to get their political support. I am pleased to acknowledge there is an element of danger in that. But I would like to see a system evolved which would minimise the influence that a well-organised group might exercise in a small constituency. Irrespective of political influence, we are all concerned in the condition of these people, because we are directly brought into touch with them as our workpeople, and that I submit is a sentiment which should be universally extended. The extension of this responsibility would further awaken the social conscience, and that is what we want to foster throughout the country. Our contention is that some portion of the profits now diverted into private pockets might be devoted to extending and developing facilities and to improving the conditions of the workpeople in these undertakings. We think there is nothing immoderate or impracticable in this demand. The principle has been applied in other countries, and while it has not proved a perfect solution of social ills, we say it does place within the power of the community the possibility of acting more justly towards the workpeople than is possible in the case of undertakings in private ownership. We feel, whether you agree with it as a speculative aim or not, business people must adopt that principle as the solution as one of the great problems affecting our commercial stability.
I am one of those who believe that by easing railway rates and extending facilities we may do something to promote trade and employment in this country. The more you extend railway facilities the more you stimulate trade and commerce, the more you add to the demand for labour. I agree there is a considerable amount of inter-dependence of interests in these various questions. But these proposals are not hair-brained schemes. We have evidence from other parts of the world that they are practical in operation. We have evidence that the operation of this principle in municipal undertakings has been productive of good. We are burdened with £1,300,000,000 of invested capital in our undertakings, much of it watered and much which was never invested in them. We are indefinitely burdened with that, but under our proposal there is some hope that, after a reasonable lapse of years you will have got rid of the whole of that 142 burden, and you will have a system free and unhampered, enabling it to be devoted for the purpose of insuring to those engaged in it reasonble wages and working conditions, while it can also be used for the stimulation of national trade and commerce.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
It is not my intention to make a controversial speech, and all I would say about the controversial part of the last speech is that there is no hon. Member on this side who wishes to set up the American system. The only controversial thing I will say about Pittsburg is that it is a whimsical thing that the man who reaped above all others the benefit is a man who is most prominent and most generous in promoting Free Trade at home. I want to come back to the question of co-partnership. I would say, with regard to what the hon. Member (Mr. George Roberts) said, that all those who advocate co-partnership must, I think, be at pains to show that they have no motive behind, that they do not wish to destroy trade unions or hamper the freedom of the workpeople from combining. I think the history of co-partnership, so far as it has gone, does not tend to support the conclusions of the hon. Member. I know the circumstances in which the South Metropolitan Gas Company's scheme was evolved, but that is by no means the only one. There are the schemes of the hon. Member for Radcliffe (Mr. Theodore Taylor), Lord Furness, and Sir W. H. Lever, and it will not be said that their object is to smash trade unions. I agree we should have to show that the scheme could be propounded for gradual adoption, and that there should be a kind of adoptive act for co-partnership. It has been borne in upon mo very strongly in the course of my comparatively limited political experience that there is a great mischief afoot, and that it ought to be met. It is undoubtedly a startling thing that, after so much has been done by Factory Acts, free education, workmen's compensation, old age pensions, and the rest, we do not seem to have got to the heart of the problem at all. That is borne in very much upon me by all that I have seen of industrial and political life. I do not think it is entirely a matter of wages; in fact, I am sure it is not a matter of wages. I believe the hon. Member for Radcliffe touched the right point when he said that in the industrial life of the country as generally practised there is a want of human feeling. It is evident that with a multiplication of new discoveries and a 143 specialisation of industry the separation between employer and employed must continually be growing greater. That is, I am afraid, a necessity of modern conditions. That must be a very great mischief which cannot be over-estimated.
I dare say it has been the experience of most of us that before coming into this House we had the idea that many of our opponents were people it would be impossible to have any dealings with, and that it was necessary to fight them, but entrance into this House has shattered that idea, and the man who by his speeches you thought it must be impossible to work with, when you came to know him, you found, first of all, that he was human, and if you served with him on Committee you found he was reasonable; and I have not the least doubt that if you were shipwrecked with him on a desert island for a fortnight you would be friends with him for life. Under modern conditions it is impossible for employers to get to know their men and for men to get to know their employers. Under former conditions it was different. There might be friction and wrong-headedness on both sides, but the employer knew his men and the men knew their employer. If they did not like him, at any rate they understood him, and they made allowances for his idiosyncrasies and he for theirs. That was one great point gained. Besides that, the employer, when asked for a concession, could talk it over with them, for he himself was responsible, and he had not others behind him to whom he had to look and whose consent he had to obtain. That under present conditions is impossible. My hon. Friend made a great point about the specialisation of labour. The man who, under old conditions, was an artist and could follow his work from start to finish has to a great extent disappeared. That is a necessary consequence of the specialisation in labour which forces one man to be employed continually upon one item in a long process, very often of a monotonous character.
Take the present conditions. I regard the development of joint-stock companies and big amalgamations, whatever their economic advantages, as an unmitigated social curse. They make real contact between employers and employed impossible. The men have to look to the foremen, the foremen to the managing director, the managing director to the whole of the scattered board, and the board, again, have to look to the shareholders, who are 144 equally scattered; they may be persons and they may be trustees. I know by experience how very often the best-meaning managing director and the best-meaning board of directors may suffer from the wrong-headedness or perhaps the misunderstanding of an incompetent foreman. I am afraid we cannot return to the old conditions. There is a physical impossibility in renewing them, but the evil is very great, and I can well understand a man engaged in an arduous and monotonous employment saying to himself, "Who am I working for?" In truth he is working for distant shareholders whom he does not know and whom he never sees, and who, if they think of him at all, regard him as one item in the wheel of civilisation which leads him perhaps to live an easier life than he otherwise would. It does not follow, however, that nothing can be done, and I believe what can be done is to give every man, so far as possible, an interest in the work he is doing. It is rather gratifying to find from the speech of the hon. Member for Radcliffe that what I had intended to work out in theory has been so long adopted by him in practice. I admit that co-partnership does not touch the minimum wage. The minimum wage will have to be settled by a process of contract in the future, as it has been done in the past. That is a safeguard against the imputation that co-partnership would destroy trade unions, because the unions will have to exist as bodies to look after the welfare of their people, and there will have to be collective bargaining in the future as in the past. When once you have a standard wage you have this great advantage, that the wages of the men would rise automatically with the profits of the capital. Supposing you take 5 per cent. as what you might call the standard return on the capital. In that case the standard wage would correspond with the standard return of 5 per cent., and if more than 5 per cent. was earned the wages would automatically rise with the greater earnings, as I understand it. Then every man would feel that the concern of the capital and the enterprise was his own concern and he would enter into his work in a spirit of co-operation knowing that what was for the good of the whole enterprise would be for the good of himself as well.
But there are two points which it would be necessary to bear in mind. In the first place there would have to be, as I think there is in these cases, some representation on the board of the workpeople, and 145 in the second place I think some part of the extra wage over the standard wage would have to be placed in the hands of trustees who, of course, would be elected partly by the employer and partly by the workpeople, and I should certainly say that what was put in the hands of these trustees should be invested, if it could be got in the stock of the enterprise itself. That, I believe, has been done before and could be done, I believe, in any of these enterprises. I know very well that it is not very easy to suggest any legislation on this subject, but I think the Government might give a little more practical sympathy than they have done. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. M. Robertson) suggested that nothing could be done. At least I think the Government might listen to what was said by their spokesman in another place yesterday who asked that immediate practical inquiry should be given to these points. I quite admit the difficulty of starting anything of the kind. There are the suspicions which have been alluded to. They would have to be got over. Then there are the questions of private employers and of limited liability companies. Certainly at present it could not be carried out, but I think something might be done in the case of new companies—some scheme might be agreed upon which should be made a condition of legislation. Whatever the exact process, I ask the Government to give, some more practical attention to the subject as they were asked by one of their supporters yesterday, and with goodwill and after inquiry I believe, if not all, the greater part of the present unrest and difficulty which comes from this separation of interest, might be got over and a new and bright era of industrial enterprise might set in.
§ Sir JOHN SPEAR
No Member of this House who has a due sense of responsibility could have listened to the speeches of the hon. Members (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald and Mr. Lansbury) without feeling a sincere desire to co-operate with them as far as possible in providing a remedy for the evils which they depicted. To those who believe that labour is the foundation of all wealth it is painful to realise that some classes of workers have to work for a wage which cannot possibly provide them and their families with the necessaries of life. We have had different suggestions as to the remedy and we all, I am sure, feel anxious, if possible, that the unrest in the labour market may be pacified and capital 146 and labour may go more hand in hand in the future than is at present the case. While we all feel that labour is the foundation of all wealth, after all labour is inoperative without capital and capital is dependent on the worker, and therefore it seems to me that there ought to be a co-operation in settling the due relationships of those two classes of the community in a way which should be just and equitable to both. The suggestion of hon. Members opposite is nationalisation. Nationalisation of railways and nationalisation of land, it seems to me, will do much to destroy that spirit of enterprise and perseverance which has been the main cause of the success of this country as a great commercial nation. We should hesitate before we take such a step.
I gather from hon. Members below the Gangway that none of them propose, in their scheme of the nationalisation of railways, that there should be confiscation of the legitimate interests of those who by enterprise and perseverance have provided our country with a railway system. If they were prepared to make a fair payment for the capital invested in the railways, it would entail such an expenditure of money that it would make it impossible for the State to work the railways in a way which would afford the workers thereon better terms than exist at present. But that is a matter of opinion from which I will pass away just to make this remark with reference to co-partnership. Certainly it is a suggestion which should command our careful consideration, but there is just this difficulty. Co-partnership is right enough as long as the business pays; but when bad years come—two or three in succession—how can the worker live on the dividends that he would secure from a contract of this kind? I quite understand the hon. Member's feeling is that not the whole of the worker's wages should be remunerated by his share in the co-partnership business, but that he should receive remuneration partly in wages and partly in dividends. That is fair enough for all practical purposes, but I ask the House to consider whether the workman's position in that case would not be more precarious than is at present the case?
§ Sir J. SPEAR
With reference to the minimum wage, there is no reasonable man in the House who wants a man to 147 work for less than a living wage, but if you fix too rigid a minimum wage you will, I am afraid, encompass the dismissal of men from their employment when, perhaps from advancing years or perhaps from partial disablement, they become unable to earn a minimum wage. I like the proposal of the Noble Lord (Lord Hugh Cecil) that if you have a minimum wage there should be at least three degrees—one to meet the requirements of the first-class workman, one for the medium, and one for the lower-class workman who, because perhaps of infirmity or lack of opportunity to become skilled in the work in which he is engaged, would not be worth the rigid fixed minimum wage, and the employer in these days of keen competition would be tempted to dismiss that man, whereas if you have a minimum wage that is not too rigid the employer would continue him at his work, which would be very much better than it would be for that poor fellow to be thrown out of work and to live in poverty and privation. I ask hon. Members below the Gangway—I know and admire their enthusiasm in the interests of labour—to consider whether or not the fixing of a rigid minimum wage would not make it very hard, and would not promote bitter feeling for the inferior class of workman who, I submit, by that rule would be thrown out of employment. I do not want to go into the question of Tariff Reform, but I venture to say that, in my own opinion, while you tax the products of the workers of this country 10 per cent. to 25 per cent. when they are sent abroad, while you have no means of retaliation in regard to articles imported into this country, the workers of this country will never enjoy the full fruits of their labours as they are entitled to do. When we are able to secure from foreign countries by Tariff Reform and negotiation a reduction of their unreasonable charges against our goods, we will be enabled to secure more work for our employés and better wages.
I pass from that point to deal with another class of workers in this country who are no less deserving than those who work in factories in great towns. I allude to agricultural labourers and those who work in rural districts. We want the co-operation of hon. Members below the Gangway to secure justice for the dwellers in the rural districts. They will not, I am sure, take offence if I point out to them that in my opinion they, by their mistaken 148 policy, have been opponents of the welfare of the agricultural labourers. I have noticed that when questions of land taxation have arisen in this House hon. Members below the Gangway, with perfect honesty I am certain, have always held up their hands, so to speak, in favour of increased taxation on land. We who are connected with the land do not want favouritism. We want no exception extended to our industry. But I venture to say that, having regard to the difficulty of the cultivation of the land of this country and the unremunerative conditions, by placing upon that raw material, for after all land is the raw material out of which we manufacture food for the people, hon. Gentlemen are, unintentionally, but nevertheless surely, making it less possible for the tillers of the soil to deal with the agricultural labourers in the way they would wish to do if the remuneration of the industry and circumstances would permit. I would remind my hon. Friends below the Gangway that they have a very fallacious idea with reference to the value of land. I submit that the present value of agricultural land in this country is nil—that is to say, that that which is paid as rent for land to-day only represents interest on money in bringing the land from its prairie state into a state fit for food production. I submit that draining, the erection of fences, and the erection of buildings, has caused an outlay of capital in the development of the land to make it suitable for food production which is at least as great as the land is worth to-day. Therefore I submit that the present value of agricultural land is as much the fruit of the labour applied in bringing that land into a state fit for food production as is artisans' wages.
Hon. Members below the Gangway are justly jealous to protect the labour of the artisans, and I appeal to them for fair play in dealing with labour as applied to the cultivation of the land. I do so not only in the interest of those who are tilling the land, but in the interest of the agricultural labourers, because under the Land Clauses of the Budget—and we are threatened with still more drastic legislation in that direction—I venture to say it means less expenditure in draining and developing the land, the reducing of our native food supply, and the curtailing of the demand for agricultural labourers' services. Thereby it means a reduction of their wages. While yielding to no man in the House in sympathy for the workers in the big towns, I do say that the best way, or one 149 of the best ways, to remedy overcrowding in the big towns is to make it better worth while for people to remain in the rural districts. We sometimes hear the cry, "Back to the land." [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear."] An hon. Member opposite says "Hear, hear." I should like to see some of them go back to the land and do a day's work. I venture to say that when they were back on the land their work would be very limited indeed. If a man has left the land, he is of very little use on the land when he goes back. I know that some hon. Members believe that any fool can cultivate the land. I disagree with them entirely. It requires as much intelligence and discrimination both on the part of the farmer and agricultural labourer to successfully cultivate the land as it does to follow successfully any branch of industry that artisans may follow. It is on that ground that I appeal to hon. Members below the Gangway.
I have heard a good deal this afternoon with reference to the increased price of the necessaries of life. Well, that is partly due to the increased taxation of land by the Budget, because every increased burden on the land is an increased tax on the food supply of this country. It seems to me that hon. Members opposite do not care how much they tax the native food supply. They seem to be very indifferent on that point. They do not object to tax the food supply produced at home, but when it is suggested that the foreigner should pay for the use of our markets for his products they say, "We do not want that because it is not Free Trade." [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear."] I know that the hon. Member does not like the fact being told. Not in any impertinent way, I would say to hon. Members below the Gangway that unwittingly, but nevertheless surely, they, by their mistaken idea with reference to the ownership of land and the taxation that ought to be put upon it, are enemies of the agricultural labourers. They are unwittingly, but nevertheless surely, doing what they can to aggravate the movement of the rural population into the towns. I venture to say that is menacing the stability of our race, and it is one of the main features in relation to the labour unrest in our time. It is vexing that so many of our workers have to live under their present conditions. We want to see them better housed and better fed. Hon. Members below the Gangway have been unwittingly the enemies of the better housing of the working classes. We want to see leasehold enfranchisement and to 150 encourage the occupier of a house to own the land on which his house stands. The Land Clauses and the Increment Duty make it more difficult—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. Whitley)
I do not think the hon. Gentleman is entitled to go into these matters, and I would ask him to confine himself to the Amendment now before the House.
§ Sir J. SPEAR
I will yield to your ruling, but the question of housing was raised, and I was endeavouring to show that hon. Members below the Gangway have unwittingly made it more difficult for us to promote the better housing of the agricultural labourer. I think this, has been a most important Debate. Everyone on this side of the House sympathises to a very great extent with the statement as to the conditions of insufficient livelihood under which many of our workers have to carry on their duties. The only question between us is how best to remedy that evil. We on this side are confident that a reform of our fiscal system, securing fair treatment for what our workers produce, and the reduction of hostile tariff charges against what we have to sell, will do much to improve the condition of our workers. We know very well that in this country there are plenty of men who, if a manufacture or trade will pay, will increase and develop it by finding work, and thereby adding to the commonwealth. If we could gain better conditions for the producer then it is the worker in the long run who will secure the greatest benefit from a reform of this description.
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
I think that many on this side of the House, and I am sure on the other side of the House, will not be greatly in sympathy with the Amendment before the House. As to the practicability of the Amendment I would only ask hon. Members on these benches whether it is desirable at this stage, when the best organised workers in the country are about to engage in a great fight for a minimum wage—a principle with which I am in hearty sympathy—to place before the House a purely academic Resolution, because no minimum wage set up in this country could be equal in any shape or form to the various trades engaged in it. This Resolution if carried into effect must inevitably be protective. You cannot set up by Parliament a standard rate of wage in industries in which there is foreign competition of a very grave character without 151 increasing the cost of production of the commodity. Therefore the only way you are meeting certain conditions which would inevitably arise from increased cost of production, I would submit to the House, is the cessation of the production of these articles in this country, with the necessary developments of imports from foreign countries. That must follow as a natural corollary if you increase the cost of production by this general Amendment itself.
I have always been an advocate of the nationalisation of railways, and of all monopolies. [An HON. MEMBER: "Coal."] Coal is not a monopoly. It cannot be said that in any sense coal is a monopoly. However, I am not dealing with coal alone, because I happen to be associated with the coal industry, but what I do say is that the general Amendment itself, which seeks to set up a minimum wage in every trade in the United Kingdom—because that is what is the meaning of the Amendment—is not possible if the people are to have the benefit of Free Trade. You cannot have it both ways. I am a Free Trader, and I believe that it is an immeasurable benefit to the people of this country to have Free Trade; but, at the same time, if you are going to increase the cost of production and allow foreign goods to come in at the same rates, you are going to commit suicide as a nation and with no material advantage to the working classes concerned. The hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. G. Roberts) stated that the nationalisation of railways would be the means of lowering rates in this country; but that is not so, because, after all, in the total expenses of different railways, the total salaries paid to the boards of directors are a mere bagatelle compared with the total cost of working the railways, even on the starvation wages which are paid to the men at present.
And is it not likely that with such wages you are going to have industrial unrest? I have some knowledge of industrial conditions in this country, and of all the strikes which took place last year I do not think that there was one of those strikes that was not fully justified on the part of the men, whose only claim in the majority of cases was not a minimum wage, but a larger remuneration over and above the in many cases, starvation wages paid them. The cost of food and of all commodities of life has increased, in my opinion, more especially with the great increase in 152 the world's production of gold. The working classes are always the last people when there is any disturbance in the monetary value to feel the benefits of increased production, and they are always more hardly hit by the increased price of commodities which comes about. That is a very material hardship on the working classes. Therefore while we have this increased cost, and while we have railway men working twelve hours a day for seven days a week for a wage of 16s., with time and a half wages on Sunday, is not it reasonable that the House should say "that is to be the rate of wage you are going to pay the men who are working for you, and if you cannot afford to pay your men better wages, then the sooner the State takes over the railways the better for the country at large." But I am not going to deceive myself into believing that if the State takes over the railways there are going to be reduced rates, because I am quite certain that if the State pays fair value for the railways, as it will have to pay, those who look for a reduction of rates and tolls throughout the country, do not appreciate the actual conditions which would be occasioned by the new increase of wages.
The House has got to decide this. We are asked in this socialistic Amendment, as it stands, to nationalise all the means of production—because this Amendment is not limited to monopolies. The words of the original Amendment before the House were "and other monopolies." I do not know what the Mover of the first Amendment meant. He did not tell the House what he meant, but with regard to "other monopolies" in the sense of a monopoly of gas and water and other like matters, I think there is, and has been a very large public opinion on this side of the House, long before the Labour party came into this House, which wished to see such monopolies nationalised by the State. As to co-partnership I have studied this question, and I have endeavoured in my own business to bring it into effect, but, in the first place, the men are always suspicious. They think that there is some ulterior motive behind it. Instead of hon. Members endeavouring to promote good feeling, they look with suspicion on the objects of every man, whether his intentions are good or bad; but I will lay this down as a general proposition that there can be no system of co-partnership unless the standard rates of wages are paid by the people who seek to set up this co-partner- 153 ship scheme. They have to pay the same rates of wages as their competitors. When they have done that, surely it is not unreasonable that the trade unions should be asked not to raise objections to the men receiving the proceeds at the end of the year where the scheme has been successful. I have heard it remarked that the object of these profit-sharing schemes is to enable the employers to get more work out of the men. We have heard the account given by the hon. Member for Radcliffe of the scheme with which he is associated, and I think the men will give every credit for what is being done in that case. I have no doubt if the views of the men could be voiced here, it would be seen that they regard the scheme as being for their benefit. I hold it to be the duty of the men to join trade unions, and where men refuse to join, it is usually because they do not want to pay, or they do not join purely from selfish reasons. I have met with cases where troubles have arisen, because of the presence of ex-officials of trade unions. I could give the House numerous instances where we have had troubles which arose, it was said, from non-union labour, but an examination of the circumstances showed that the disputes originated with ex-trade union officials who had quarrelled with their own union. So long as employers of labour seek to do what is best for the material interests of the people they employ, every scheme of co-partnership which gives effect to that object should be welcomed by the Labour party. I entirely agree with the observation of the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University, who I believe voiced the opinion of the late Mr. Toynbee, that really in the future we have to look to the passing away of small employers. Great industries, big combinations, and trusts group workmen together in large centres, and in that way they lead, in my humble opinion, to a result the opposite of Socialism. In these large combinations the men are looked upon merely as machines, and that is one of the results of the Socialist policy to which I object. I am an individualist. I believe everyone should do all he can for the good of the State, but the industrial process under trusts and combinations is not going to be for the good of the State I agree with the Noble Lord that you will have to look in future to employers having a higher moral sense of what is their duty in life to the people they employ, and it 154 can only be by the men becoming more educated that they will be able to appreciate that these combinations divide capital from labour, and that the profit-sharing system, of which the hon. Member for Radcliffe spoke, and of which he is one of the pioneers, will be the great movement in the next generation. I am in hearty sympathy with that part of the Amendment which deals with the nationalisation of monopolies, for I think that all monopolies should be in the hands of the people, but on the wider issue it raises I cannot support it, and I must vote against it.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
I think the spirit in which this Amendment is being discussed is worthy of the occasion. Before we go to a Division I should like to notice one or two of the chief objections that have been taken to the proposal contained in the Amendment. For the moment the suggestion seems to be the adoption of the profit-sharing principle, and certainly it marks an advance upon anything that we have heard before in the House that so many Members on both sides have expressed at least academic approval of this method of solving the difficulty. I am one of those who cast no aspersions whatever upon the methods of those who propose profit-sharing as a means of allaying industrial unrest. I can quite see that for a short period, if the method of profit-sharing were universally adopted, it would have its effect in allaying the unrest, but it offers no final solution of the industrial problem. It still leaves profits to be obtained by competition. It still leaves one firm pitted against another. The whole tendency both for capital and labour is to go into ever-increasing groups. We who are Socialists want to direct that tendency into national groups; but be that as it may, the idea of profit-sharing cannot be called the final solution of the problem. But there is one aspect of it that we have not yet heard touched upon. It is that there is a possibility of sweating the public. For example, take a great trust like the Sugar Trust of America, or the Cotton Trust of this country. I can easily conceive the capitalists in the trust and the workmen agreeing on a joint scheme under which profits would be considerably enhanced and shared out between the workers and the employers, but the extra profits would come from the public. That is a condition of things which the public could not long be expected to tolerate. The experiments which have been tried up 155 to the present are only individual. I could not quite gather whether the view which the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Peto) put forward was that profit-sharing should be made compulsory.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
I am afraid that does not carry us very far. In regard to Protection—and I only refer to it now for a minute because it has been propounded by several speakers on the other side and by one from this side, the hon. Baronet who has just sat down, as a means of safeguarding wages—take the United States of America, to which reference has several times been made. It will not be disputed that the iron and steel and tin trades of America are very highly protected, whereas the building trade, as has been pointed out, is not a protected trade. If it is alleged that Protection increases the wealth of a country and thereby leads to more building, to that extent the builder would benefit from Protection, but the materials themselves being obtained within the nation cannot benefit in any way in house building by Protection. In the building trades of America the wages are the very highest paid. In the iron and steel and tinplate industries, and in coalmining, all of which are very highly protected, the very lowest wages are paid. The worst industrial conditions to be found in any civilised State to-day are those which obtain in the Pittsburg iron and steel industry. Some three years ago the Charity Organisation Society of New York conducted an inquiry into the condition of the worker in the Pittsburg area. The disclosures therein made were so alarming that the Government itself appointed a Commission, whose report has just been made public. So great an impression has been produced by the Government report that Dr. Gary, the head of the Steel Trust, has been forced to admit that something is required to be done to remove the inhumane conditions which have grown up in the protected steel and iron industries in the United States of America. If that be so it is obvious that Protection does not protect the workers, and, besides, in certain of the Southern States of America 156 where the textile industry has grown up, child labour is employed to an alarming extent, and at this particular moment the textile operatives of the protected States of America in Laurence and Philadelphia are out on strike trying to obtain a living minimum wage. It is obvious, therefore, that Protection, whatever other effects it might have, would not improve the wages, and it is with that question we are concerned here this afternoon.
I confess I was disappointed with the statement made on behalf of the Government. It is all very well to express sympathy. Everyone has been expressing sympathy with the ideal contained in the Amendment. But sympathy is always very cheap and, so far as wages are concerned, never very effective. Take the question, for example, of the nationalisation of railways, and the effect it might have upon wages. The hon. Baronet the Member for Mansfield (Sir A. Markham), whilst admitting that the time is bound to come, and to come shortly, if I gather his meaning truly, when the State must nationalise the railways, disputed our claim that thereby the rates can be reduced and the wages increased. The fact is that out of one item alone of saving sufficient money could be obtained to pay the increase in wages required to bring the railway workers up to a decent living minimum. When the railways are acquired by the State, as the telephones have been acquired, railway script will be called in and State railway bonds issued, and the difference in the rates of interest that are now being paid and the interest on the State script will be just over £4,000,000 per year. On that one item alone sufficient saving will be effected to meet the claims of the workmen for increased wages. There is one other aspect of the question, which the Parliamentary Secretary for the Board of Trade (Mr. Robertson) also dealt with. He said that the nationalistion of railways would not only not allay unrest, but might conceivably at the beginning lead to an increase of that unrest. I am not prepared to gainsay that. I am quite certain there would be no allayment of the unrest, and it is quite probable there might, be an increase, but see the difference of the circumstances. When the railways become nationalised and unrest obtains among the workers, the battle will have to be fought out on the floor of the House of Commons, where the volume of public opinion can be brought to bear to secure reasonable 157 and fair conditions for the State employé on the railways. We have seen that happening in connection with the Post Office employés. We have seen it happening in connection with municipal employés. At the present time the tide of public opinion dashes itself in vain against the rocks of the directors, who are under no legal obligation or moral obligation in dealing with their employés. But a question discussed here in the full publicity of the public and with the weight of public opinion behind it will stand a much better chance of finding a fair solution than is the case at present when the railways are privately owned.
I come now to the question itself of the living wage. There is a misunderstanding in regard to the Amendment which is to me almost unexplainable. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade himself and most of the other speakers have argued on the assumption that what we were proposing was a uniform hard and fast minimum rate of wages to be paid all round the country in city, town, and country village alike. The Amendment does not say that, and the Amendment does not mean that. What the Amendment says is that the Speech from the Throne contains no specific mention of legislation securing a minimum living wage. A living wage is one thing in a village in the country, where the rents are 2s. 6d. or 3s, a week, and quite another thing in the City of London, where the rents are 8s., 10s., or 12s. a week. The principle we seek to lay down is that whether it be in town or in country the wage shall be such as to secure a minimum of healthy existence for everyone who works for a livelihood. I have been bitterly disappointed that that claim has not been met more sympathetically from the Treasury Bench. If there is one thing which disappoints me more it is the silence on the Front Bench opposite. Already in the course of this Debate the opening speech of the Leader of the Opposition has been quoted to the effect that the greatest of all social reforms would be an increase in wages—not to supplement wages by doles in the form of ninepence for fourpence, or anything else, but to give the workers such a rate of wages as would enable them to live in manly independence, without being called upon to receive aid from outside. It has been said by the hon. Baronet (Sir A. Mark-ham) that if a minimum wage be fixed protection will be required for certain industries.
158 May I remind the House that the universal experience, both at home and abroad, is the higher the rate of wages the lower the cost of production. Low wages lead to slovenly management. Low wages lead to machinery not being introduced. In every industry, from the textile trade down to coal mining—and in coal mining the hon. Baronet ought to be an authority—just as the wages have gone up, so have the profits increased, and the cost of production, apart from charges imposed by legislation, has actually gone down. If that be so, what becomes of the argument for Protection as a necessary corollary to the minimum wage? It goes by the Board. There is no occasion for anything known as Protection to follow the establishment of a minimum wage in this country. It has been suggested that instead of applying for a legal minimum wage the working men should continue to depend upon conciliatory methods. In the coal trade there have been conciliatory methods since 1893 at least, and one cause of the unrest is the breakdown of those conciliatory methods. Arbitration has been tried, and it has failed. The workmen have discovered that, after all, their best friend is a strike. The method that produces most good and produces good the most quickly is the old-fashioned method of striking until the demand has been conceded. Conciliation is practically played out in this country, and to propose it now as a means of settling this question is a bit behind the times.
Is it to go out from here that this House has no word of advice or guidance to give to the working classes in their great struggles? It has been admitted right and left in the most unreserved fashion that there is a tremendous amount of hardship, suffering, and undeserved poverty. What practical suggestion is going from this House as to the means of dealing with that condition of things? We say quite unhesitatingly that it is the business of Parliament to establish a certain minimum of living for everyone who is compelled to work for a livelihood. You say "No"—or from the course of the Debate you are about to say "No." That means that the old unrest is going to continue; that the old interference with the peaceful conduct of industry is going to be carried on. For this much may be relied upon: that far from being at the end of the industrial unrest, we practically are only at the beginning if the cost of living keeps going up and wages do not rise correspondingly. 159 The intelligence of the working classes is developing, and while you may succeed in keeping an ignorant and brutalised class of people in a state of poverty, you are not going to keep an educated and intelligent class of people in that condition for all time to come. They look to the House of Commons and they see no expression of sympathy and they see nothing done. They will therefore fall back upon their own strength and bring about reforms after their own manner and by their own methods.
Before this year is out the Insurance Act will come into effect, and I venture to predict, here and now, that as soon as it comes into effect there will be a universal agitation amongst the working class for an extra 4d. a week to be added to their wages. There are tens of thousands of them who cannot afford to pay out of their present wages the sum which has been imposed upon them. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Hon. Members opposite cheer. If they agree with me in that, I hope they will also agree with the alternative, which is that the rich must pay the whole cost of the Insurance Act. That is the alternative. The last Clause of the Resolution refers to the nationalisation of railways and mines. We frankly say—we "make no bones" about it—that this is but the beginning of what we aim at. We believe that the railways and mines are subjects most ripe for nationalisation. The hon. Member who spoke a few minutes ago referred to the land. Employers, he said, complained about wages being a burden upon land. I would point out to hon. Members a method of relief. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Tavistock said that we were the enemies of the agricultural labourer because we kept imposing burdens upon the land. He forgets that there is a method in our madness. We impose burdens, not upon the land, but upon the landlords. We agree entirely that at the present time it is difficult for the landlord, the farmer, and the labourer to make their living out of the land, and we want to get rid of the useless part of the three of them—the landlord. One of the methods for doing that is to tax land values. The taxes upon them at the present time are a considerable impost upon industries, and employers of labour are crying out against labour, forgetting that they are allowing themselves to be taxed twice over to maintain a perfectly idle, useless class. They are taxed heavily 160 by having to pay ground rents for the land upon which their factories are built, and on which their workshops are established; they allow the landlords to pocket these ground rents, and then these manufacturers are called upon to pay the taxes or rates which ought to be paid from the value of the land. If they are foolish enough to play that game they must not expect that the working classes are going to allow them to recoup themselves for that out of their scanty earnings. We aim, then, at the nationalisation of mines, of land, and of railways as a step towards the final socialisation of industries. There can be no solution of the industrial problem apart from the social. Those who talked to-day about Socialism being destructive of individualism have yet to learn to understand what Socialism means. They conceive Socialism as a system under which the State is to own industry, and they are to be the State. But that is not Socialism. The people who own the land will own the industries, and will fill the House of Commons with their Members. [Laughter.] It is not a joke, but it is a foretaste of what is coming. At the present time most communities own their water supply, and are careful to get the best and cheapest supply possible, because they are supplying themselves. So under Socialism the people who are producers, being also consumers, will want the best supply obtainable, both in quality and in quantity. They will get it without doubt. At present it is assumed that without the brains of the landlord and the brains of the investor industry would come to a standstill. These brains will still be available, but on the understanding of being used, not to exploit the poverty of the poor for individual gain, but they will be used in the interests of the community as a whole, and thereby, not only a higher standard of life will be obtainable, but also a higher standard of happiness.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
The framers of this Amendment have displayed unusual skill in its drafting, and the Amendment seems to me to be a sort of half-way house between Socialism and Individualism, although I do not quite know which is predominant. It begins with the usual Fabian Socialism, the minimum wage. May I point out that the securing of a minimum wage does not put an end to the exploitation of workers, and is only a palliative. Karl Marx or Auguste Bebel would have a short way with "Revisionists" who brought forward this sort of stuff; 161 and I am sorry to see the Member for Leicester pushed up to move this Amendment about the minimum wage. I remember that when the Wages Boards Act was before the House it had not a very enthusiastic supporter in the hon. Member for Leicester. The Amendment goes on to suggest the nationalisation of railways, mines, and other monopolies. Railways and mines are not the only monopolies. So far as this Amendment deals with the destruction of the power of monopolies to rob the community, every Liberal in this House is with the supporters of this proposal. We only urge that when you are dealing with monopolies you should not necessarily nationalise them, because we believe that there are other means of drawing the teeth of monopolies without nationalisation. For instance, if you are dealing with the tramway system of a town you can deal with it in three ways, and by each method you get the benefit of the monopoly for the community. In the first place, you can work the tramway as a municipal undertaking; secondly, you can lease it at a rack rental for a period of years, getting the best rental possible from the private capitalists; and, thirdly, you can fix the charges which the tramway company is allowed to levy. In all these ways you can, if you like, prevent the people who own the monopoly of the tramway service from exploiting the public, and in any of these ways you can prevent monopolies robbing the community. All we want is to stop robbery.
The only method suggested in this Amendment is buying up the monopolies and running them by the State. Liberals want to have individual management, but they wish to prevent individuals from having any means of extracting monopoly taxation from the community. Take the case of the railways, which in England and Wales are by no means such dangerous monopolies as they are in the United States of America, where they have the power of raising not only passenger rates but freight rates to any sum they choose. Here in England the Board of Trade fix certain maximum rates and they can prevent any company exceeding them. Consequently you have a monopoly which is by no means absolute, and the danger of the exploitation which a free railway company could employ in order to tax the community is thereby diminished. When you talk of nationalising the railways it should be borne in mind that you are introducing into this House the terrible question of rates and all those difficulties which we 162 Liberals say would arise from Tariff Reform, because a railway rate is every bit as vital as a tariff, and every locality would be interested in getting preferential rates. Although I recognise that you could borrow the money at a cheaper rate with Government security, there are other things to be taken into account. You have this tremendous setoff of people lobbying for special low rates and for special favourable treatment for different localities. This Amendment deals, it is true, with the monopoly of the railways and the monopoly of the mines, though I do not think it deals with them in the most satisfactory way; but it does not touch in the least the root monopoly of all—the land, the monopoly upon which the mining monopoly is based, and the monopoly upon which the railway monopoly is based. It is the monopoly upon which such an enormous trust as the Steel Trust of America is based. In all cases it is the ownership of the land and the raw materials which enable the people who own shares in these companies to extract taxation from the community. The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Keir Hardie) said that in agricultural land there were three people interested—there was the labourer, the farmer, and the landowner. That is not only true of agricultural land, but it is true of every industry in the whole world. Those three parties are equally participators in the products produced by labour from land. The hon. Member for Mansfield (Sir A. Markham), amongst others, presumed that if wages increase the cost of products must increase too. I do not think it by any means follows. The selling price of your product, it is true, is fixed by competition. The selling price of your product in a Free Trade country depends upon what it costs anywhere in the world to make that product; but, if you have to cut your price, or if the cost of production tends to increase, it is not necessarily labour that will suffer, or capital, because capital can always command its fair rate of interest in the market. The person who will suffer will be the owner of the monopoly and the man who owns the land and takes the rent. There is no competition there. Every landowner is in a specially privileged position. The Noble Lord opposite (Lord Hugh Cecil), in a most interesting speech—however much we may differ from him we always like to hear him speak, more than anybody else on the other side—gave us a most lucid and interesting account of the laws which determine wages in this country. It was 163 merely that a man was entitled to get what he could in a fair bargain with someone else. Yes, but at present the bargain is not fair. The bargain is unfair, for the two parties to it are not in the same position. Wages are governed, as Karl Marx said, bythe iron law of wages,the iron law which says so long as there are more people competing for work than there are jobs to offer wages are bound to sink, or tend to sink, to subsistence level. It is a question of the supply of labour being larger than the demand. It is a question of people competing for work and having no alternative except to demand work from a master, and taking the job at any price offered, or of starving. The whole of that iron law depends upon this one fundamental postulate. He is asking for work, and has no alternative but to ask for work. He shall not be in a position to be able to work for himself. We have artificially deprived him of the opportunity of working. We have so constructed our laws of rating and taxation that a man can own land and minerals and yet not allow them to be used, and he can escape taxation and rates in respect of that land. You have made your laws in such a way that there is a premium on the withholding of land from use. If you want to break down the iron law of wages surely the obvious way to do it is to provide for a man the opportunity of working for himself by leaving free what economists have called the margin of production. At present there is no free margin: there is no land in England where a man can work for himself with security of tenure and security for the full reward of his labour. There is plenty of land which could be so utilised.
Take the case of certain deer forests in Scotland. In answer to a question in this House it was stated that deer forests were rated on 9¾d. per acre per annum, so that a farm of 160 acres would be rated on an annual value of £8 per year. Yet there are thousands of people leaving Scotland to take up farms in Canada. If they could get these deer forests in Scotland, would they do that? [HON. MEMBERS: "What could they grow there?"] I have lived many years in South Africa, and have there seen land which people make a living out of, and which is very much worse land than the deer forests of Scotland. They could be lived upon before the clearances of 1810; it was men 164 from these lands who fought our battle at Waterloo. I only use this as an illustration, but I do say if people could get security of tenure they could not only make a living, but they could secure themselves the full reward of their laboour, and if you allow them the opportunity of doing that you will enable those who work for masters to get a higher wage because they would no longer be forced to accept a starvation wage; they would prefer to go elsewhere and make more for themselves.
By freeing the margin of production you break down the iron law of wages and you make it quite unnecessary to pass a minimum wage law. You achieve not only decent wages for working men, but, what is far more, you give them freedom and justice. The Liberal policy is to prevent monopoly robbing the community. We have constantly taken steps to prevent that, and our chief objection to Tariff Reform is based on our desire to prevent other monopolies being built up to rob the community. Our land programme is aimed at the same object. We wish to prevent that robbery of the community, which has gone on for so many hundred years, being continued any longer. In so far as Liberal policy confines itself to the destruction of the power of monopoly to rob the community, so long will it command the support of the majority of the people in this country, and go along lines which will make England in the long run a free country.
As to this Amendment itself, I do not think the Labour party will expect much support from the Liberal benches. They have mixed up Fabian Socialism of a very effeminate character with sound Liberalism, but the interference of the State with the individual predominates. I do not think the people of this country want to have much more State interference with the individual than they have got. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I do not think that hon. Members opposite who cheer could have heard, as I have, a certain Tom Mann speaking to 2,000 men in the East India Dock Road. He advised the working men to have nothing to do with the nationalisation of railways. He said that the State was not the friend but the enemy of the workers. That school of labour politicians which is coming on under the influence of syndicalism is not exactly a friend to State interference or a friend to the State. In the eyes of a growing number among the working classes the State is something which protects privilege, which 165 protects monopoly, and does not protect the working classes. The sooner the Conservatives opposite come to recognise that the State and law and order is their friend, and not the friend of the working classes, the more likely we are to get legislation which will lead to the results which this Amendment is intended to bring about.
§ Mr. GEORGE TERRELL
We have listened with great interest to the views expressed from different sides of the House on the questions raised by the Amendment. The last speaker referred to the land question, to nationalisation of the land, and incidentally to deer forests in Scotland. I recently heard a supporter of the Government addressing an audience in Hyde Park. He referred to deer forests in Scotland, and asked why should people in London and in the great manufacturing districts be in want when there were great deer forests which might be felled. That shows the absolute ignorance that exists on this subject. In particular remarks have been made regarding the nationalisation of land. There is a certain amount of nationalisation of land going on at the present moment, under the Small Holdings Act, throughout the country. County councils are acquiring land, and as and when it is acquired so it is becoming nationalised. In my own particular Constituency, a great landlord sold a portion of his estates. The landlord sold his land and the county council ultimately acquired it, so that for all practical purposes that land was nationalised. The result was that the county council gave notice to all the existing occupiers and tenants to turn out, as they wanted the land for their smallholding scheme, and the people who had occupied the land, many of them for generations, have been obliged to go to make room for new comers, in some cases people who have put in applications from different parts of the country. Rightly or wrongly, the county council consider that they should have the land and that that land should be converted into small holdings. The old tenants were turned out, to their bitter disappointment, and it may be to the bitter disappointment of the new occupiers of the land, when they find hereafter, when the county council can probably obtain a higher rent, that they, in their turn, will have to go. But the whole tendency of modern legislation has been to oppress the working classes. By leaps and bounds in all directions the cost of 166 production has increased. The Coal Mines Eight Hours Bill has added to the cost of production in the collieries. You have the Shops Bill, you have a variety of measures. The people's Budget has added to the cost of production. You have the excessive taxation, of land and excessive Income Tax, which has added to the cost of production. Now you are throwing another burden on the shoulders of the people in the shape of the National Insurance Bill, which is going to add enormously to the cost of living of the working classes.
It is not only in that direction that they suffer. Though the cost of production in all directions has increased, it is admitted on all sides that wages have been stationary. In other countries which adopt the policy of looking after their national interests we see wages advancing with the increase in the cost of production. This country alone among the civilised nations of the world has stood still on the wages question. Of course it is a matter of grave concern to everyone who takes a real interest in these problems. One would certainly like to see a measure of profit-sharing though not a compulsory measure. The whole tendency of our fiscal policy is low wages. It induces enormous competition among the workers. The result of that competition means low wages, and in all directions and on all sides one sees that the working classes have the greatest possible difficulty in making both ends meet. I lately noticed in a town adjoining my Constituency a strike. The workers in a big factory were conplaining about their rates of pay—fifty-eight hours of work for 16s. a week. I do not know whether hon. Members opposite are satisfied with that or not. It works out at something like 3¼d. an hour for able-bodied workers in an exceedingly prosperous factory. I took the trouble to inquire, and found that the gentlemen responsible for the management of the factory were ardent advocates of Free Trade, and I also found that the chairman of the company was president of a Radical association in my Constituency. He probably has an interest in advocating the policy of Free Trade, because under Free Trade there is not the slightest doubt that it is an abettor of low wages. I feel that the nationalisation of the railways would mean not increased benefit to the workers, but another burden on the trade and industry of the country. With the nationalisation of railways you would have costly 167 management in every department. I have the strongest opinion that nationalisation is not in the true interests of the working classes.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed posed to be left out stand part of the proposed Amendment."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 45; Noes, 226.169
|Division No. 1.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Abraham, Rt. Hon. William (Rhondda)||Hardie, J. Keir||Sutton, John E.|
|Adamson, William||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Barnes, G. N.||Henderson Arthur (Durham)||Thomas, J. H. (Derby)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||John, Edward Thomas||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Clynes, John R.||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Wadsworth, J.|
|Crooks, William||Jowett, Frederick William||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Lansbury, George||Wardle, George J.|
|De Forest, Baron||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Webb, H.|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Martin, Joseph||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||O'Grady, James||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Parker, James (Halifax)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Gill, Alfred Henry||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|Glanville, Harold James||Robinson, Sidney|
|Goldstone, Frank||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Hancock, J. G.||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)||George Roberts and Mr. Printer.|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Henry, Sir Charles|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Clough, William||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Higham, John Sharp|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Hill-Wood, Samuel|
|Aitken, Sir William Max||Courthope, George Loyd||Hoare, Samuel John Gurney|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles Peter (Stroud||Craik, Sir Henry||Hogge, James Myles|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Holmes, Daniel Thomas|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Holt, Richard Durning|
|Astor, Waldorf||Dawes, James Arthur||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Houston, Robert Paterson|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Dixon, Charles Harvey||Howard, Him. Geoffrey|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Doughty, Sir George||Hughes, Spencer Leigh|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of||Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)|
|Barnston, H.||Elverston, Sir Harold||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)|
|Barran, Sir J. N. (Hawick)||Essex, Richard Walter||Kellaway, Frederick George|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||King, Joseph|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Knight, Captain Eric Ayshford|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Benn, W. W. (T. H'mts, St. George)||Foster, Philip Staveley||Lloyd, G. A.|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||France, G. A.||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)|
|Bentham, G. J.||George, Rt. Hon. David Lioyd||Low, Sir Fredrick (Norwich)|
|Bigland, Alfred||Gibbs, George Abraham||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Gilmour, Captain J.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (S. Geo. Han. S.)|
|Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid)||Gladstone, W. G. C.||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)|
|Boyton, James||Goldman, Charles Sydney||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Goldsmith, Frank||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Macpherson, James Ian|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Greene, Walter Raymond||M'Callum, John M.|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Griffith, Ellis Jones||M'Micking, Major Gilbert|
|Butcher, John George||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, S. Augustine's)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar)||Guinness, Hon. Walter Edward||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Malcolm, Ian|
|Campbell, Capt. Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Hall, Fred (Dulwich)||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil|
|Campion, W. R.||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Marks, Sir George Croydon|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Masterman, C. F. G.|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||Menzies, Sir Walter|
|Cator, John||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Harvey, T. E (Leeds, W.)||Millar, James Duncan|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas|
|Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Haworth, Sir Arthur A.||Money, L. G. Chiozza|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hayward, Evan||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Helme, Norval Watson||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Helmsley, Viscount||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Henderson, Major H. (Berkshire)||Needham, Christopher T.|
|Neville, Reginald J. N.||Roe, Sir Thomas||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Newton, Harry Kottingham||Rose, Sir Charles Day||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||Rowntree, Arnold||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Nield, Herbert||Royds, Edmund||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Norman, Sir Henry||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Nuttall, Harry||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Sanders, Robert Arthur||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Seely, Rt. Hon. Col. J. E. B.||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Pearson, Hon. Weetman H. M.||Smith, Harold (Warrington)||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Scames, Arthur Wellesley||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E. R.)|
|Peel, Capt. R. F. (Woodbridge)||Spear, Sir John Ward||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Peto, Basil Edward||Spicer, Sir Albert||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Pollard, Sir George H.||Stanier, Beville||Williams, Llewellyn (Carmarthen)|
|Pollock, Ernest Murray||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Primrose, Hon. Neil James||Steel-Maitland, A. D.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Pringle, William M. R.||Stewart, Gershom||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Raffan, Peter Wilson||Talbot, Lord Edmund||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Tennant, Harold John||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Rendall, Athelstan||Terrell, George (Wilts, N. W.)|
|Robert, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Thynne, Lord Alexander||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)||Touche, George Alexander|
|Roch, Walter F.||Toulmin, Sir George|
§ Question put "That those words be there added to the proposed Amendment."170
§ The House divided: Ayes, 97; Noes, 195.171
|Division No. 2.]||AYES.||[11.10 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Gibbs, George Abraham||Peel, Captain R. F. (Woodbridge)|
|Aitken, Sir William Max||Gilmour, Captain John||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Goldman, Charles Sydney||Royds, Edmund|
|Astor, Waldorf||Goldsmith, Frank||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, S.)||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Barnston, Harry||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Greene, Walter Raymond||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Guinness, Hon. Walter Edward||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Stanier, Beville|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Hall, Fred (Dulwich)||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Helmsley, Viscount||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Bigland, Alfred||Henderson, Major H. (Berkshire)||Stewart, Gershom|
|Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid)||Hill-Wood, Samuel||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Boyton, James||Hoare, Samuel John Gurney||Terrell, George (Wilts, N. W.)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Hope, James Fitzaian (Sheffield)||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Butcher, John George||Houston, Robert Paterson||Touche, George Alexander|
|Campbell, Capt. Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Knight, Capt. E. A.||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Campion, W. R.||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Lloyd, George Ambrose||Walker, Colonel William Hall|
|Cassel, Felix||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Cator, John||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (S. Geo. Han. S.)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid.)|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Magnus, Sir Philip||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Malcolm, Ian||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Dixon, Charles Harvey||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Doughty, Sir George||Newton, Harry Kottingham|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Nield, Herbert|
|Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Peto and Lord Hugh Cecil.|
|Fletcher, John Samuel||Orde-Powiett, Hon. W. G. A.|
|Foster, Philip Staveley||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Bowerman, C. W.|
|Abraham, Rt. Hon. William (Rhondda)||Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Brady, Patrick Joseph|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Barnes, G. N.||Brunner, John F. L.|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Barran, Sir J. N. (Hawick)||Burns, Rt. Hon. John|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles Peter (Stroud)||Benn, W. W. (T. H'mts, St. George)||Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Bentham, G. J.||Byles, Sir William Pollard|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Boland, John Pius||Carr-Gomm, H. W.|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Booth, Frederick Handel||Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Heywood)||Holt, Richard Durning||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Pointer, Joseph|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Pollard, Sir George H.|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Clough, William||John, Edward Thomas||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Clynes, John R.||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Collins, Godfrey P. (Greencck)||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Reddy, Michael|
|Crooks, William||Jowett, Frederick William||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Crumley, Patrick||Joyce, Michael||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Kellaway, Frederick George||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs, Louth)||Kelly, Edward||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||King, Joseph||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Dawes, J. A.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)|
|De Forest, Baron||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Robinson, Sidney|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Lansbury, George||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Dillon, John||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|Doris, William||Levy, Sir Maurice||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Lyell, Charles Henry||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Lynch, Arthur Alfred||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid.)||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Seely, Rt. Hon. Col. J. E. B.|
|Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Elverston, Sir Harold||McGhee, Richard||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheree)|
|Essex, Richard Walter||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Macpherson, James Ian||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||M'Callum, John M.||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Fitzgibbon, John||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Sutton, John E.|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|France, Gerald Ashburner||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Tennant, Harold John|
|Gill, A. H.||Martin, Joseph||Thomas, J. H. (Derby)|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||Masterman, C. F. G.||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Glanville, Harold James||Menzies, Sir Walter||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Goldstone, Frank||Millar, James Duncan||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Griffith, Ellis James||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Wadsworth, J.|
|Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Muldoon, John||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs, Ince)|
|Hancock, John George||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Needham, Christopher T.||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Neilson, Francis||Wardle, George J.|
|Hardie, J. Keir||Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds.)||Nolan, Joseph||Webb, H.|
|Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Norman, Sir Henry||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds. West)||Nuttall, Harry||White, J. Dundas (Glas., Tradeston)|
|Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E. R.)|
|Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Haworth, Sir Arthur A.||O'Grady, James||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Hayward, Evan||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Whyte, A. F.|
|Helme, Norval Watson||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||O'Sullivan, Timothy||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Henry, Sir Charles||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Parker, James (Halifax)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Higham, John Sharp||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Hogge, James Myles||Pearson, Hon. Weetman H. M.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Holmes, Daniel Thomas||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
Question proposed, "That at the end of the Address, the following words be added,
But humbly represent to Your Majesty that this House regrets that, having regard to the existing industrial unrest arising from a deplorable insufficiency of wages, which has persisted notwithstanding a great expansion of national wealth, and a considerable increase in the cost of living.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
On a point of Order. Is it not the case that when a Motion has been so altered as to be incomplete it lapses of itself?
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Main question again proposed. Debate arising.
§ And, it being after Eleven of the clock, and objection being taken to further Proceeding, the Debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed To-morrow.
§ Adjourned at Eighteen minutes after Eleven o'clock.