HC Deb 18 August 1919 vol 119 cc1990-1

But I wish that were all. It is true that hours of labour have also been reduced. One of the arguments for the reduction of hours of labour that I have heard in this House for the last twenty or thirty years was that you would not, by reason of the reduction, have less production, but, on the contrary, that you might increase it, and that you would certainly improve its quality. I heard it many a time when I used to vote for the. Eight Hours Bill for Miners; I heard it on the Seven Hours Movement. I have heard it whenever there has been any discussion on the reduction of hours. Unfortunately, the fact is that, with that substantial reduction in the hours of labour, you have had a reduction in output almost in mathematical proportion to the diminution in the number of hours.


Do you mean in all trades?


Yes, in most of the trades. As far as I have been able to discover, it is true of almost all the trades where there has been a reduction. It may be merely temporary. Are we quite sure there is not something morel? Is there not an element in some trades, and among a certain number of men engaged in those trades, of deliberate and concerted slowing down? I do not think that that is confined to labour. I have had some evidence of it among employers and among managers. It is a severe charge to bring against employers that they are "ca'ing canny," but in some industries I have had evidence of that. It may be due to trade conditions; it may be due to other reasons which I will not investigate. For the moment I am simply taking the facts. There is evidence of slackness. The effort has got to be quickened, tightened; employers, managers, foremen, workmen, must put their backs into it, to save the country.