§ Motion made, and Question proposed,
§ 2. "That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £3,750, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1913, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Committee of Privy Council for Trade and Subordinate Departments."
§ Sir F. BANBURY
moved that the Vote be reduced by £500.
I should like to have some explanation with regard to this Vote. First of all, I should like to know how much of this money has already been spent, and then I should also like to know why it is we have this Vote at all. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that in the Act no provision is made for the expenditure of money, and I should like to know how it is that the expenditure of money which was not contemplated when the Act was passed has arisen. It is evident when the Act was passed the contemplation of the Government was that the expenses of the arbitration should be paid by the losing party, or at any rate be divided between the two-parties to the arbitration. For some unknown reason that has been departed from, and now apparently the country are asked to pay the expenses of an arbitration between individuals in a particular trade. It must be evident to the House the proper people to pay these expenses are the people who benefit from the arbitration, and the people who benefit from, the arbitration are the coal owners and trade unions. I see no reason why in a case of plaintiff and defendant the State should pay all the expenses arising under the Act. I do not know whether originally it was contemplated that the arbitrators might undertake this work without any fee at all. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will inform me what fees are paid to the arbitrators themselves and how this amount has been made up. This Vote is of the same unsatisfactory kind as that to which the hon. and learned Gentleman was just now alluding. The Government did not even propose to take a Supplementary Estimate for it at all; they proposed to use the surplus of one item in the Vote. 1721 When it was pointed out that was a most illegal thing to do, they presented this Supplementary Estimate. The amount does not matter; it is the principle. It seems to me two principles are involved. First of all, there should have been in the Act itself a Clause authorising this expenditure, so that when we were discussing the Act we should have known what we were doing. As it is, we have passed the Act, and this Supplementary Estimate is brought forward when the Act is in operation. That is my first objection. My second objection is that the taxpayer ought not to pay the expenses at all; they ought to be paid by the parties concerned in the dispute.
§ Mr. JOHN WARD
I am sure that whatever we may decide with reference to the Vote now before the Committee the observations of the hon. Baronet, the Member for the City of London, as to the way in which it should be charged will not be accepted by anyone in any quarter of the House. It will be generally admitted that this Act which has made this expense necessary was not asked for by the miners of the country. It was passed in an emergency with a view to settling a great labour dispute, and the whole of the miners' representatives in the House, for one reason or another, voted against it. Therefore, to suggest that the cost of administering an Act of Parliament which was forced on one side for the convenience of the State should be charged to that one side is entirely unjustifiable. I wonder if it would be possible for the Board of Trade, in submitting an Estimate of this description, to give the Committee some idea as to how this Act has worked. I do not know whether it is possible to do that on a Supplementary Estimate. This is put down as a new service. I am not competent to decide the matter, and I will therefore proceed until I am called to order, and then I shall know exactly what the situation is. I again ask, is it not possible for the representative of the Board of Trade to give us some idea how this expense of £3,700 has been incurred, what arbitrations it refers to, and whether the arbitrations have been satisfactory. It seems to me, considering what an innovation in industrial life the Minimum Wage Act was, and in view of the fact that this is the first time on which we have a chance of discussing it, some indication ought to be given to the Committee by the representative of the Department concerned of how the Department views 1722 the working of the Act. Had it not been for the intervention of the hon. Baronet opposite, this Vote might have been passed without any discussion at all, and it is significant bearing in mind the controversy which the Act aroused, not only in this House but in the country, at the time it was passed, that we should now appear to have forgotten all about it, and should tacitly accept this provision without a word of explanation. Surely we ought to be told whether the Act has been a success or a failure. Bearing in mind the fact that the Government are making inquiry at the present time as to whether the principle of the Act should not be still further extended, one would have thought we should not have had an Estimate merely presented, and the Vote taken without any discussion; but, in view of the enormous innovation the Act has proved to be, and in view of the fact that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade himself in writing on philosophic and economic subjects—
The hon. Member is not entitled to discuss the merits of the Act. He can only discuss its administration so far as it is covered by the Vote.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
Is it possible to discuss whether the Act in its working has been a success or a failure? This does not stand in the position of a Supplementary Estimate. It is a new Estimate for a new service, and I submit that the whole policy of the payment of the money is open to discussion.
I was not treating it as a Supplementary Estimate at all. The Act has been passed, and this is not the time to argue whether it is a good or a bad one. It is perfectly in order to ask about its administration, as far as money is required.
§ Mr. JOHN WARD
I am delighted that I got over the border line and transgressed the rules of the Chair, for it has enabled me to ascertain that the object I have in view can be secured within the ruling now given. I want to find out what the Department thinks of this innovation in our industrial life. When we consider we have just recently had foreshadowed the possibility of an extension of similar legislation, naturally one would like to know how the Department views the working of the Act at the present time. There is not the 1723 slightest doubt that at the time of the passing of the Act the country was taken entirely unawares. It acted in an emergency, and it would be most interesting to many of us to learn how the Act has operated.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. J. M. Robertson)
I do not know how far I can within the rules of order, satisfy the hon. Member for Stoke, who wants to know the opinion of the Department on the working of this Act. But I think I shall be within the confines of order if I state that the Department holds that in general it has given satisfaction. I do not think I can be allowed to state anything beyond that. This Vote is for the payment of fees and out-of-pocket expenses of the various gentlemen who have been acting on the Boards. The President of the Board of Trade, in reply to a question some time ago, expressed his opinion that the charges here incurred ought to fall upon the nation, and, if I recollect rightly, the Prime Minister outside this House gave voice to a similar view. The hon. Baronet opposite argued that the cost of a service of this sort should be charged on those who benefit by it. I suppose he means that in the cases where the award is supposed to be substantially to the benefit of the men, the men ought to pay the costs; and where it is substantially in favour of the masters, the masters should pay.
§ Mr. ROBERTSON
It is totally impossible to settle who are the gainers in regard to many of the awards. The question is whether both sides are not the gainers.
§ Mr. ROBERTSON
This Act was passed in order to secure the closing of a great national strike, and the cost of it ought therefore to be a national charge. The hon. Baronet asked a question as to the fees paid.
§ Mr. ROBERTSON
I cannot give the exact sum at the moment. Certain cases have not yet been cleared up. Some 1724 awards have not been completed and the payments have not been made. Of course, the payments vary in the different cases according to the number of days on which the Chairmen were employed.
§ Mr. ROBERTSON
I can only say that the bulk has been spent. I have not the figures here, but I can get them.
§ Mr. ROBERTSON
That is a question of technique which I am not going into now. I am simply explaining, on behalf of the Department, how the money has been or is to be spent, and I have pointed out that the expenditure naturally varies in different cases. In two cases the award of the Chairman was not required. In some cases the investigation was quite short, and an agreement was quickly arrived at. In other cases the proceedings were protracted over a certain number of days; but I repeat that the bulk of the money has been spent. There is a little more to be spent in the way of providing for the interpretation of the awards, but I think these details should satisfy the hon. Baronet. If, however, he desires further information in regard to any particular case, I have no doubt it can be procured.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I do not think I ever listened to a more astonishing pronouncement than that we have just heard. Here is a Minister who comes down and says, "We have been spending a lot of money—I do not know how much—without any authority from Parliament at all, and we do not propose to ask for any indemnity or to put ourselves right: we only propose to ask the House of Commons to pass an Estimate which will give us power to spend money we have already spent." He stood there between the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary to the Treasury. I thought I should have seen one of those right hon. Gentlemen faint; but apparently they regard the matter as of no importance. I do not believe the present Government regards the control of the House of Commons as of the slightest importance. Having committed a grave breach of the law, the Minister replies, when it is pointed out to him, "I am not going into the technique of the matter. I 1725 am merely here to say"—well, I do not know what he was here to say. All he did tell us was that they had not quite spent all the money, but that there was some more to be spent on some rather obscure question connected with the arbitrations. We and this Committee, at this time of day, should make some protest against action of that kind. I do not know what will ultimately happen to the hon. Gentleman. I suppose the Comptroller and Auditor-General will surcharge him, at any rate I hope so. There are still some Courts of Law which can exercise control over the Ministry of the day, and I hope they will in this case. A few centuries ago the hon. Gentleman would probably have been impeached. I hope we shall have some explanation from the financial Members of this Administration as to what has been the cause of and the defence for this extraordinary action.
That is not the only matter. I seldom have the honour of agreeing with the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. John Ward), but I do on this occasion. He asked for some account of the working of this Act, what had been done in the arbitrations, and whether they fulfilled expectations and have met with approval. Not a word of answer has been given by the Minister himself. He said he thought that the hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) only wanted to ask some question, and he did not think it was worth while to answer the hon. Member for Stoke. That is really treating the Committee with the grossest disrespect. The hon. Member, as a Minister, is here to answer to the Committee for the Department he represents. This is a very serious matter. The hon. Member for Stoke was quite right in saying that the Act set up an entirely new precedent—the establishment of what is called a minimum wage by Act of Parliament. The other day the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in an interesting speech, foreshadowed a very grave extension of that principle—something in the nature of compulsory arbitration. What exactly it was we do not know, because when we questioned the Prime Minister he said that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had spoken in much more general terms. That was quite true, but it did not help us to know what the proposal was. When we ask what has been the result of the first preliminary experiment we get no reply at all.
I read a very interesting article the other day by a Gentleman of very great influence, particularly in South Wales—Mr. 1726 Victor Hartshorn. I do not know what influence he still possesses, but he was at one time a man of great influence. He says that the Act has been a complete failure; that it has failed to fulfil the expectations of those who supported it; that, so far from securing a minimum of 5s., it has secured a minimum of far less; that the arbitrators have not proceeded on the principle which was foreshadowed in the Bill, and that they have not established what was the minimum wage that the men might fairly expect to gain, having regard to the standard of comfort which prevails; but have proceeded—no doubt quite rightly—on a different principle, which has produced a result he did not at all foresee, and which he says must lead to grave controversies in the future. I think that he added, in so many words, that it must lead to a national strike on a far larger scale and of a much more determined character than that which troubled the whole community earlier in the year. All these things are very serious. We ought to have a detailed exposition of what has been done under the Act, and of how far it has met with approval, and we ought to be put in a position to decide whether what was an experiment should be carried further, or whether it is one of those failures which we should wipe off the slate of legislation as soon as we can. We are still in Committee, and the hon. Gentleman can speak again. I suppose the President of the Board of Trade can, if necessary, be secured from some retreat, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer is present. He says that the Government are in the immediate future going to deal with the whole subject. No doubt they have observed the working of this Act, and he can tell us what has happened under it. I invite the hon. or right hon. Gentleman to do so, and to explain how it is that the money has been spent without the authority of this House.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The Noble Lord has invited us to enter on a very wide field of discussion with regard to the administration of this Act. He complains that my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade did not respond to the invitation which was given by the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. J. Ward) to enter into it at great length and deal with its administration; its results generally; what the effect would be upon legislation of the same character, and upon the settlement of disputes of a kindred character. But the Noble Lord is not aware that this Vote 1727 was put down upon the distinct understanding that it was purely to raise a technical point, with which I will deal presently. I certainly objected to the arrangement on the ground that I understood that the question of the Insurance Act was coming on, and that hon. Gentlemen opposite were anxious to discuss it. I was told that this Vote would only take ten minutes, and that the only point which would be raised by the Opposition was a purely technical one. If we had received any information that there was a desire to raise the whole question of the administration—
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I did not raise the question. The question was raised by the hon. Member for Stoke. I simply complained that no answer had been given to the hon. Member.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I am only dealing with the point of the Noble Lord that we are not prepared to enter into the question of the whole administration of the Minimum Wage Act. If we had known that it was desired to discuss the whole administration, my hon. Friend would have been better equipped for the purpose than he is now. It is now only 7.30. I am not complaining of the question put, but when the hon. Member for Stoke raises questions between a quarter past and half past seven it is difficult to get all the facts. This Vote was put down in order to raise a technical question. I think the hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbuary) will bear me out in that. I was assured it would only take ten minutes. That was the reason why my hon. Friend is not better equipped to answer the whole of the questions put by my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke. It would involve giving figures as to awards in each particular district, as to the effect upon the various demands put forward by the miners, the 5s., the 2s., the minimum wage, and the schedules. All that involves a considerable array of figures, and if my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary had had the slightest idea, or had received any warning from any part of the Committee, that questions of that kind would be asked, we should have known, and the arrangements entered into would perhaps have been entered into in a different spirit and in a different way. On the technical point we did receive notice that it was the intention of the hon. Baronet to raise the question. I will tell 1728 the Committee quite frankly what the position is. The Treasury were advised that the Board of Trade could pay this sum under the general heading of their Votes. The general heading is:—Estimate of the amount required for the year ending 31st March, 1913, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Committee of Privy Council for Trade and Subordinate Departments.They were advised that under that general heading, if there were any savings in the Board of Trade Department, they were entitled to use those savings for the purpose of paying these umpires. That is still their view. Then we were pressed—I think by the hon. Baronet especially, I am not sure whether there were others—to put this Vote down as a separate Estimate, and the Treasury decided to do so. They have not altered their opinion, and they have had no ruling from anyone that makes it necessary to do so; but in deference to the wishes expressed by the hon. Baronet and his friends they have put it down as a separate item. They still think that the money could be paid under Vote 8. They have paid the money under Vote 8, and they think they are entitled to pay it under Vote 8, and until the Public Accounts Committee come to a different conclusion they will still hold that view. They will still press that view before the Public Accounts Committee, but they have put it down here because it was desired to discuss the matter. We were informed that there was no desire to debate this question, that it was only desired to raise a technical point, and that the whole matter would not take more than ten minutes. I assure the Noble Lord that the Treasury would not spend money which Parliament had not voted. They were under the impression, and are still under the impression, that they are entitled to spend the money out of the Board of Trade savings. They will contend that before the Public Accounts Committee. If the Public Accounts Committee take the Noble Lord's view, then the Treasury will be in the wrong, but that is their view.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I only wish to deal with the excuse the right hon. Gentleman has just given for the spending of public money without any authority from Parliament. What is it he says? He says that they were advised—I do not know by whom—that any savings under the Board of Trade Vote could be used in other services by the Board of Trade. Does he not see that that means that the Government could, if they chose, undertake any new 1729 expense—this is a new expense—and, provided there were some savings in the Department, which incurred that expense, there is no need to come to the House of Commons at all. That is the whole case that we put before the Committee. To contend that until somebody points out to the Treasury that two and two make four they are entitled to say they make five, seems to me a very unreasonable contention.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
It is nothing of the kind. It is expenditure purely of a kind they have been incurring for years; which was incurred even during the years when the right hon. Gentleman was in the position of Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade. They are constantly paying sums of money—they were while I was there, and I believe while the right hon. Gentleman was there—to arbitrators and others to settle disputes. The mere fact that there was a special Act of Parliament dealing with the miners was not a disabling Act. It did not deprive them of the power vested in them already.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
Surely there were some statutory powers which authorised those payments when I was at the Board of Trade?
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Certainly, and it is under that statutory power that we are incurring this expenditure. I have looked the matter up this afternoon. Almost the last Section of the Act of 1896 specifically authorises them to spend public money for the purposes of that Act. Under that Act they are entitled to spend public money for umpires and arbitrators in settlement of trade disputes. It is perfectly true that the Coal Mines (Minimum Wage) Act laid down principles with regard to the settlement of disputes in mines, but that was not a disabling Act. It did not deprive the Board of Trade of powers they already had; it only gave them additional powers. Under that Act they are entitled to spend money upon arbitrators for any trade dispute; they are entitled to spend it, and they have been spending it. The right hon. Gentleman himself spent money for this purpose. They are entitled to spend money in bringing any industrial disputes to a settlement. They have done so, and we shall contend that when we come before the Public Accounts Committee. That is our contention, that the Minimum Wage Act is not a disabling Act and does not deprive 1730 us of power which we already have, but gives us additional powers.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
It is perfectly true that money was spent by the Board of Trade for the purpose the right hon. Gentleman names, but it was spent in accordance with direct statutory power given by the Act of 1896 in connection with that Act. The right hon. Gentleman does not contend that what has been done now could have been done under the Act of 1896. It could only have been done under this new Act. There was, therefore, no power given to spend a penny by the previous Act, and the Government had no right to spend a single penny without getting from this House a Resolution authorising them to do so.
I have been listening this afternoon to a good deal of discussion on financial purity, and we have had cheers from most unexpected quarters. Financial purity is all right if the purists will agree amongst themselves. The hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury), however, disagrees entirely with the Noble Lord (Lord Robert Cecil). The Noble Lord says, "This will be all right if you provide for it properly"; but the hon. Baronet says, "No, this ought not to be provided out of public funds; it ought to be put on the employers and workmen alike."
§ Sir F. BANBURY
What I said was that there are two points. One is the point I have been raising and fighting for a considerable time, that the money had not been properly spent; the other is as to whether or not the State should provide this money or the parties to the dispute. The two things are totally different.
It does not in any way go against the statement I have already made that the hon. Baronet distinctly stated that this particular expenditure ought to have been saddled upon the two parties to the dispute. I am quite sure the hon. Baronet is so fair-minded that if he knew what the Act contained he would not have used that argument. First of all, the Board of Trade is given compulsory powers of appointing these independent chairmen at the very beginning. If the two sides did not come together, the Board of Trade was given power by this House not only to appoint the Board, but to appoint the chairman, and compulsion had to be exercised within a definite period and a very short period—not more than five weeks— 1731 and so, as a matter of fact, we have this House agreeing by a very large majority, first of all that the Board of Trade shall have compulsory powers to compel people to administer an Act which they have never asked for, but have had thrust upon them; and secondly, giving them powers to appoint compulsorily a chairman whom the working people are to be called upon to pay.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
In the Act, which the hon. Member says was passed by a large majority, there was no power of payment at all.
I am speaking now of the fact of compulsion. Chairmen are to be compulsorily appointed by the Board of Trade, whom the workmen do not want, to administer an Act for which they have never asked and then the whole cost is to be saddled upon the workmen and the employers. I have been with the hon. Baronet often in Committees, and I know his general fairness is such that if he had been aware of that fact he would not have spoken in the way he had. I am not going to speak on the point as to whether the money ought or ought not to have been voted, but there is one little point about which we are entitled to complain. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Robertson) remarked that from the information received by his Department the administration has given general satisfaction. That is a very nice phrase; it sounds very well and like the blessed word "Mesopotamia" is very soothing. I wonder where the hon. Gentleman obtains his information. Only this very day there is power given to a very large body of miners in Nottinghamshire to hand in their notices. I think the notices will probably number more than a thousand. There has been intense dissatisfaction in Northumberland and Durham. That there is widespread dissatisfaction in South Wales, everyone knows. That many of the pits in Staffordshire have been stopped, every person who knows anything about the administration is perfectly aware, and how anyone speaking on behalf of a Department such as the Board of Trade can say that the Act is giving general satisfaction, I cannot possibly imagine. It is not giving general satisfaction; it is giving general dissatisfaction. When this Vote is put down, a Vote having reference to the payment of officials appointed to administer one of the most important Acts that ever has been 1732 passed, it is not quite fair to these benches to make an arrangement with people on the other side that ten minutes shall see the whole thing through.
§ Lord BALCARRES
The right hon. Gentleman was quite correct in saying I assured the Patronage Secretary that, so far as I knew, hon. Members on this side of the House meant to deal with the technical and financial question; but he is mistaken in thinking I gave any guarantee that my hon. Friend (Sir F. Banbury) would confine his remarks to ten minutes.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I objected to this being interposed between the two Votes, and my hon. Friend had some conversation with the Noble Lord, and I was told it would only take ten minutes. If the hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) undertook that, he has kept well within his promise, as he always does.
I do not complain at all about the length of the speech or about the multiplicity of the speeches. What we have a right to complain about is that when a Vote of this character is put down there shall be an arrangement made between the two sides that about ten minutes will see the whole thing through. There was not a single word of consultation with the people here, and the whole matter is really looked upon rather as a party matter, and that the people who are specially interested, who are dealing with the matter every day of their lives, and who have to pay a big debt of responsibility to hundreds of people outside, should not be given the honour of a minute's consultation. That is the point I am trying to urge, and that is absolutely inequitable.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I do not want the hon. Member to run away with the idea that we were trying to shirk discussion. If he and those with whom he is associated had shown the slightest disposition or anxiety to debate the working of the Act most certainly time would have been found, and even now we will find time on the Second Reading of the Appropriation Bill, but we received no intimation from any quarter. My hon. Friend, who was under the impression that there would only be a Debate on the technical point, is now faced with a Debate upon the working of the Act, and naturally at this stage he is not prepared for it. If there is a desire to debate the working of the Act the hon. Member and those associated with 1733 him are entitled to an opportunity. It is an important Act, affecting hundreds of thousands of people directly and millions indirectly, and it is a great experiment. An opportunity will be given, if there is a general desire, on Thursday, when we shall be prepared to answer questions.
I was not imputing conscious unfairness, but I was saying it seemed to me that only two sides, the old orthodox parties, are ever to be taken into consultation. This is really an important matter, which wants the most open and full discussion, because we are all of us desirous of saving the nation from a similar experience to that through which it passed some few months ago, and it is only by having the fullest publicity thrown upon the working of the Act that such a calamity can be prevented. We thank the right hon. Gentleman for the offer he has made, and we will fully utilise it.
I will not anticipate the verdict of the Public Accounts Committee on the case presented to it, but I would remind the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the Act is not one for the settlement of disputes at all; it is an Act to fix a minimum wage, and whether a dispute is raised or not is entirely beside the point. The Act itself was brought into force within a few weeks after it was passed. I think the right hon. Gentleman said the Treasury state that they have a right to apply savings up till 31st March, 1912, for the payment of these arbitrators.
You will not know until March, 1913, whether there are any large savings or not. I very much doubt whether the Treasury has power to earmark any savings, and there may be many legitimate things which will leave nothing at all for this. I think on both points the Chancellor's speech is an excuse and no reason.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON
I do not know which of the two speechs was the more remarkable, that of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Robertson) or that of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Whatever may be the arrangements under which a Vote is put down, when a Vote is put down on the Paper and is going to be moved, it is perfectly obvious that there is an opportunity for any Member in any quarter of the House to raise the whole administra- 1734 tion of the Vote. When the Financial Secretary to the Treasury puts down his name opposite a Motion on the Paper, he knows that the Committee has an opportunity of raising the whole subject. After all, you are asking this Committee, on the last day on which it can grant money, to grant to His Majesty a certain sum, and you ought to be able to say why you want to grant it. With regard to the technical point on which the right hon. Gentleman says he has notice, I do not think that even with that notice he has contrived to make a very good case. His answer is simply this: "It is quite true that Parliament has not given us leave to spend £3,750, but in spite of that we have spent a considerable amount of that sum." What is the excuse? The right hon. Gentleman says, "Oh, that is going to be paid for out of savings under Vote 8." I ask the Committee to note that there are no savings under Vote 8. There may be anticipated savings, but, if there are, I suppose the right hon. Gentleman has considered the matter, and is able to state under which head of Vote 8 he anticipates that these savings are going to occur. I presume he knows the amount under some particular head. Let the Committee notice what is proposed. This is for expenditure which has never been sanctioned—expenditure not on the existing services, but on a new service, which is to be paid for out of savings not realised, and which may never be realised, but which the Department think is going to be realised before 31st March next year. That is a new and preposterous doctrine. The suggestion is that it is warranted by something which was done under the Act of 1896. That is so remote from the fact as to be almost absurd. The Minimum Wage Act, under which this expenditure is to be incurred, contains no Clause which has any reference to expenditure which may be incurred. The right hon. Gentleman compared the Minimum Wage Act of this year with the Act of 1896. He said that these are both Acts to settle disputes, and that my right hon. Friend when at the head of the Department did use savings for the purposes of the 1896 Act. What is the difference between the two Acts? The last Clause of the 1896 Act says:—
"The expenses incurred by the Board of Trade in the execution of this Act shall be defrayed out of moneys provided by Parliament."
1735 Where is the parallel Clause in the Minimum Wage Act1? The only excuse which the right hon. Gentleman, after full notice, has been able to bring forward breaks down the moment it is examined. This being the last day of Supply, I suppose it is impossible to move to report Progress, and I confess that I consider it very unfortunate under the circumstances. Had it been possible to do so, I should have been ready to take that course. It is treating the House of Commons with the grossest levity for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to come forward and make the excuse he has made.
§ Mr. W. E. HARVEY
The hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) suggested that the costs incurred under the Minimum Wage Act should be borne by the men on these Boards. I would point out that neither the employers nor the workmen asked for the Act. We never came to the House, or approached any Minister, or asked for any favour. The Minimum Wage Act was forced upon us. To suggest then that the men who have had this Act forced upon them should pay for the cost of working it, as the hon. Baronet has done is, I think, a little bit hard.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I asked the question why suitors under the Act should not pay the amount of money incurred for costs, just as suitors have to pay in other Courts. I rather agree that as compulsion is brought into the matter there is something to be said for the statement the hon. Member has made. With regard to the other point, it is so serious that I shall divide the Committee upon it.
§ Mr. W. E. HARVEY
As to the working of the Act, to go into it thoroughly would take a very long time. Take my own county (Derbyshire) by way of illustration. For fifteen whole days a committee consisting of twenty-four members—twelve on each side—was engaged going through applications under the Minimum Wage Act. I have the judge's award in my hand. I suppose there would be twenty mining districts. There would be twenty awards differing considerably, just as wages differed previous to the Board being created. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for the Ince Division (Mr. Walsh) with regard to the answer given by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade. I think he was not 1736 sufficiently informed when he made that statement to the House. I think it is a long way off being correct, because in every district where you have a Minimum Wage Board the men are not altogether so dissatisfied with the award as they are dissatisfied with the way the employers are ignoring the award. In the Minimum Wage Act it is clearly stated that the wage under the award should be paid from the day a strike ceases, or from the day work commences. But there are hundreds of employers who are ignoring it. The employers of this country are as much responsible for the unrest which exists today among the miners—more responsible, if I may say so—as anybody else. There is nothing which would give us greater pleasure on this side of the House and the men connected with this industry, than to give information to the House with regard to the establishment of the Boards and how the Act is working. We would try to put on the proper shoulders the responsibility for the unrest and dissatisfaction prevailing at the present time. I trust that will be gone into thoroughly in this House, so as to prevent a repetition of what has taken place this year by a general stoppage. The men are not going to be put off with Acts of Parliament if Acts of Parliament do not mean fair wages and agreements being honourably carried out. You cannot fool the men today. They say, "We are going to have a minimum wage, and that there must be provided a fair means of existence." Unless you do that, you will have a repetition of what took place early this year.
§ Mr. CASSEL
As a new Member, I speak with some diffidence on matters affecting procedure. I have never listened with more amazement to anything than to the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, more particularly as it came from the right hon. Gentleman who is supposed to be the guardian of the finances of the country. What is the use of having Estimates at all, and what is the use of having an Appropriation Act if the principles which the Chancellor of the Exchequer advanced are to apply? We have passed certain items of expenditure under Vote 8, but, according to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the President of the Board of Trade can say, "I hope there will be some saving under one item or another in that Vote. I propose, instead of spending the money on the purpose for which it is voted, to spend it on 1737 a purpose which Parliament has never agreed should be paid for out of public funds." What is the use of a Committee of Supply or an Appropriation Act at all? It is quite true that this is merely a small amount of £3,750, but the principle would equally apply to a larger amount. No more unfair doctrine has ever been introduced into the House than that any Department should be able to say, "We anticipate a saving on the whole of our Vote, and therefore we are going to apply it to a new service to which Parliament has never given its sanction." The hon. Baronet says he is going to divide the Committee on this subject. I certainly would support the Motion for paying this
§ expenditure out of public funds, because I think it is right that it should be so paid. But at the same time there is a question of principle involved which is of much greater importance, and I find it a matter of extreme difficulty to decide how I shall vote. If we vote against this Estimate, it might be said that we are voting against the money being paid out of public funds. I make the strongest protest I possibly can against this new doctrine.
§ Question put, "That a sum, not exceeding £3,250, be granted for the said Service."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 112; Noes, 246.1739
|Division No. 167.]||AYES.||[8.13 P.m.|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Gilmour, Captain John||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Ashley, W. W.||Glazebrook, Capt. Philip K.||Peel, Capt. R. F. (Woodbridge)|
|Astor, Waldorf||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Peel, Hon. W. R. W. (Taunton)|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Greene, Walter Raymond||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Balcarres, Lord||Gretton, John||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.)||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Pretyman, E. G.|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Hall, Fred (Dulwich)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Barrie, H. T.||Hamersley, A. St. George||Rawson, Colonel Richard H.|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Rees, Sir J. D.|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Henderson, Major H. (Abingdon)||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Bird, Alfred||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Rutherford, W. (Liverpool, W. Derby)|
|Boscawen, Sir A. T. Griffith-||Hickman, col. T. E.||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Boyle, W. L. (Norfolk, Mid)||Hill, Sir Clement L.||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell||Hills, J. W.||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Hill-Wood, S.||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Bull, Sir William James||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Smith, Harold Warrington|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Hope, Harry (Bute)||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Burn, Col. C. R.||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Stanier, Beville|
|Butcher, John George||Horner, A. L.||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Houston, Robert Paterson||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Cautley, H. S.||Hume-Williams, W. E.||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, N)|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Jessel, Captain H. M.||Swift, Rigby|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Kimber, Sir Henry||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Knight, Captain Eric Ayshford||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, North)|
|Clyde, James Avon||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Touche, George Alexander|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Dairymple, Viscount||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Dixon, C. H.||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Duke, Henry Edward||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Eyres-Monsell, B. M.||Magnus, Sir Philip||Wright, Henry Fitzherbert|
|Fell, Arthur||Malcolm, Ian||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Mason, James F. (Windsor)|
|Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)|
|Fleming, Valentine||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Sir|
|Fletcher, John Samuel||Newman, John R. P.||F. Banbury and Lord Robert Cecil.|
|Gibbs, George Abraham||Nield, Herbert|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Barton, William||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Benn, W. W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Bethell, Sir J. H.||Byles, Sir William Pollard|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Cameron, Robert|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Black, Arthur W.||Carr-Gomm, H. W.|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Boland, John Pius||Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood)|
|Alden, Percy||Booth, Frederick Handel||Chancellor, H. G.|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Bowerman, Charles W.||Clancy, John Joseph|
|Arnold, Sydney||Boyle, D. (Mayo, N.)||Clough, William|
|Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn A.||Brady, Patrick Joseph||Clynes, John A.|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Brunner, John F. L.||Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Bryce, J. Annan||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Burke, E. Haviland-||Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.|
|Barnes, George N.||Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Condon, Thomas Joseph|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Cotton, William Francis||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Crooks, William||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Crumley, Patrick||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Cullinan, John||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts, Stepney)||Pointer, Joseph|
|Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||Jowett, F. W.||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Joyce, Michael||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs, Louth)||Keating, Matthew||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Delany, William||Kellaway, Frederick George||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Kelly, Edward||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Devlin, Joseph||Kilbride, Denis||Radford, George Heynes|
|Dillon, John||King, Joseph||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S.Molton)||Reddy, Michael|
|Doris, William||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Duffy, William J.||Lansbury, George||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-In-Furness)||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Leach, Charles||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of||Levy, Sir Maurice||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Elverston, Sir Harold||Lewis, John Herbert||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Lundon, Thomas||Rowlands, James|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Lynch, Arthur Alfred||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Essex, Richard Walter||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Falconer, James||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Farrell, James Patrick||McGhee, Richard||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgoton)|
|Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||MacNeill, John G. S. (Donegal, South)||Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.|
|Ffrench, Peter||Macpherson, James Ian||Sheehy, David|
|Flennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Fitzgibbon, John||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|France, G. A.||M'Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lincs., Spalding)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Furness, Stephen||Manfield, Harry||Snowden, Philip|
|Gelder, Sir William Alfred||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Meagher, Michael||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Summers, James Woolley|
|Glanville, Harold James||Middlebrook, William||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Millar, James Duncan||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||Molloy, Michael||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||Mond, Sir Alfred M.||Tennant, Harold John|
|Greig, Colonel J. W.||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Thomas, J. H. (Derby)|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Mooney, John J.||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Hackett, John||Morgan, George Hay||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Hancock, J. G.||Morison, Hector||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Hardie, J. Keir||Muldoon, John||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||Munro, Robert||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||Nannetti, Joseph||Webb, H.|
|Harwood, George||Needham, Christopher T.||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Neilson, Francis||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Nolan, Joseph||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Norman, Sir Henry||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Hayward, Evan||Norton, Capt. Cecil W.||Whyte, Alexander F.|
|Hazleton, Richard (Galway, N.)||Nuttall, Harry||Wiles, Thomas|
|Helme, Sir Norval Watson||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Henry, Sir Charles||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||O'Dowd, John||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Higham, John Sharp||Ogden, Fred||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Hinds, John||O'Grady, James||Winfrey, Richard|
|Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Hodge, John||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Hogge, James Tynte||O'Malley, William||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Holmes, Daniel Turner||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Hope, John Deans (Haddington)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||O'Shee, James John||Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
Original Question put, and agreed to.