§ Dr. SALTER
I beg to move,That, in view of the practically universal acceptance of the principal that a living wage for all workers should be the first charge on industry, and in view of the large measure of agreement with respect to the advisability of fixing legal minimum time rates of wages reached at the National Industrial Conference, this House urges the Government to proceed without delay with the Bill introduced by the Government of the day in 1919 constituting a Commission to inquire into and report upon legal minimum time rates of wages.I think every Member of this House will admit that in a civilised society every worker has a right to a living wage. That is a principle which has been accepted by every section of thought in the country or accepted at any rate in theory. You have had Church Congresses, National Free Church Councils, non-political conferences and committees of every description endorsing that principle, and Parliament itself has, so far as the limited number of trades and industries are concerned, enacted legislation to give effect to the principle of a minimum wage if not a living wage to many classes of the poorly-paid workers. The direct intervention of the State in the determination of wage rates was practically forced on this House by the revelations during the period 1900–06 when the great agitation against sweating was being conducted and when various anti-sweating exhibi- 628 tions were being run by various newspapers up and down this country. The evidence which was forthcoming at that time showing that a large section of workers, particularly women, were receiving rates of wages which only enabled them to live below the level of subsistence was so overwhelming that the conscience of the nation was struck, and this House was practically forced to deal with the matter. The Board of Trade Census in 1906 showed that in certain textile trades more than one-half of the adult women employed were receiving less than 10s. a week, and between 20 and 25 per cent. of those women were receiving actually less than 5s. per week for full-time employment. Consequently in 1909 this House passed the first Trade Boards Act which applied to four specific industries, namely, wholesale tailoring, matchbox making, lace making, and chain making. In 1918 the Act was extended to other trades and in 1917 Parliament provided for the inclusion of agricultural workers under the Corn Production Act. In 1912 a minimum wage was fixed for coal miners which affected highly organised sections of workers. The operation of that Act is based upon a different principle from that of the Trade Boards Acts. Throughout the War you had various Munitions of War Acts in 1915, 1916 and 1917 which, while not actually fixing a minimum wage, did make all agreed or awarded rates of wages binding not only on the persons concerned, hut practically on al employers and workers in a similar occupation. I think it is correct to say that by the end of the War such an improvement of wage rates generally had been registered, that one can say that practically every worker in the country war; receiving a living wage. In 1919 after the War the then Government published a pamphlet called "The State Regulation of Wages." and referring to the improvement in wage sates generally and looking forward to the future the pamphlet said:One thing is certain. The question of wages will never he allowed to return to the position of ten years ago. when the Government had no concern in it. A policy will he pursued of stimulating production and at the same time of securing to the worker a fair share of the product. A reasonable standard of wages must he a first charge, perhaps the first charge.Unfortunately the question of wages has returned to the position of ten years ago 629 with a vengeance, and there is a larger number of workers at the present moment in receipt of less than a living wage for fur-time labour than in the days when the first Trade Boards Act was passed. You have even got the extraordinary spectacle of able-bodied men in full employment doing work which is not only useful to their employers and essential to the nation and yet they are receiving wages at such a low level that they are obliged to have recourse to the Poor Law. We have at this particular moment almost returned to the days of pre-1834 when the Poor Law Amendment Act was passed. It is a most astounding state of things.
The facts about wages are so notorious that I need not labour them. The question of agricultural wages has been before this House recently, and it is known to everyone that there are counties in this country in which the accepted rate of wages for agricultural labourers is only £1s. or 22s. per week. In Norfolk notices have been served bringing the rate down below per week for a man doing 54 hours' work per week. I need not dwell upon the condition of things in the mining industry. Engineers' labourers to-day are receiving 40s. 5d. per week, shipbuilders labourers 40s., workers in His Majesty's Dockyards 41s., and workers in India rubber factories 40s. In a great many of these cases men with families out of a wage of 40s. a week are obliged to pay one half in rent. We could cite innumerable instances of men receiving 40s. a week who are paying 13s., 14s., 16s. and 1.8s. a week in rent, leaving only midi a margin that under-nourishment and semi-starvation of their children is inevitable. It may be urged that the plight of these people is due to foreign competition, and that their employers are perfectly helpless.
I will not argue that point now, but even if that is the case it does not apply to the distributing trades and the catering trades, and in those trades to-day the rates of wages are positively lower than in any other industries of this country which are most exposed to foreign competition. Some time ago the Cave Committee took evidence on the question of the working of the Trade Boards Act, and a great deal of evidence was given by the National Union of 630 Shop Assistants, and hon. Members who desire facts on the subject can refer to the evidence given before that Committee, and there they will find that here in London adult male assistants in the grocery trade were getting 20s. a w eek, adult women clerks 18s. a week, shop assistants in the drapery trade, aged 18, receiving 5s. a week, and a number of adult women employés were receiving 9s. for a 70-hour week. In the catering trades, waitresses, barhands, kitchen hands, serving maids, dairy assistants were getting from 5s. to 12s. a week, very often for a seven-day week and working 10 or 12 hours a day. They were living out, not living in. On these benches our position is that wages have now sunk for millions of our people below the subsistence level, and the claim we put forward is that a national minimum wage shall be definitely secured to the workers of this country either by Statute or by legal administrative process. We do not ask for a universal, flat rate minimum applicable to all industries and all districts alike. We recognise that that is impracticable under present conditions, more especially as the cost of living varies within wide limits between area and area and rural and urban districts especially. The suggestion which we put forward is that there shall be a national rate for each trade with zonal or district variations. As to the method of securing that, we suggest that there shall be established by law Wages Boards on the same principle as Trades Boards, which Boards, after proper inquiry, shall have power to fix rates which will he binding on the employers in the trade with, of course, certain zonal and district variations fixed after further inquiry. So far as regards trades where both employers on the one side and workmen on the other are properly organised, and by negotiation have come to agreement as to a minimum wage figure, we ask that such agreement, by the fact of registration, shall have the force of law and be binding on all concerned.
This proposal for a national minimum wage on these lines is by no means a wild or reckless scheme lacking in backing from responsible quarters. I would like to call attention to what has taken place in this House during the last two or three years. On 27th February, 1919, the late Government summoned a National Industrial Conference, which 631 was held at the Central Hall, Westminster. According to a report in "The Times," there were some 800 persons present, representing equally employers and employed in practically every staple trade in the country. That Conference set up a Joint Committee composed equally of representatives of the work-people and of the employers. The Chairman of the Committee (Sir Thomas Munro) was nominated by the Government. The Committee sat for sonic time and then issued a Report, which said:The Committee have agreed that minimum time rates should he established by legal enactment and that they ought to be of universal applicability. The Committee took full cognizance of the difficulties of determining particular rates and of dealing with exceptional cases.They made the following recommendations to the Government:That a Commission should be appointed immediately upon the passing of the Act to report within three months as to what these rates should be and by what methods and what successive steps they should he brought into operation.That the Commission should advise on the means of carrying out the necessary administrative work.Finally, they suggested that where an agreement was arrived at between respective organisations of employers and trade unions in any trade laying down a minimum rate of wages, the Minister of Labour should have power to apply such minimum rates to all employés engaged in the trade. I may mention that the Committee which drew up these recommendations were absolutely unanimous, and that every single employer represented on it agreed with these recommendations. They represented every staple trade in the country. These recommendations were put before a further meeting of the National Industrial Conference on 4th April. At that Conference, which was presided over by the then Minister of Labour (Sir Robert. Horne), there was on the platform the right lion. Member for North Camberwell and several other Members of the Government giving the gathering their benison. Sir Robert Horne read a letter from the Prime Minister strongly recommending the Report and concluding as follows:
If the recommendations of the Committee receive the approval of the Conference the Government will give them their immediate and sympathetic consideration.
The Report was adopted by the Conference, and as a result on 18th August, 1919, the Minister of Labour from the Government Benches introduced to the House the Minimum Rates of Wages Commission Bill for the purpose of constituting a Commission of Inquiry into the whole subject and to early out the recommendations of the Conference. The preamble of the Bill was as follows:
Whereas it is expedient that minimum time rates of wages should be fixed for all persons of the age of 15 years and upwards and should in the ease of persons of 18 years and upwards be fixed at such amounts that all such persons whether employed at a time rate or otherwise will he afforded an adequate living wage, that a Commission should be appointed to inquire into and decide what these rates should be and the manner in which they should be brought into operation.
The Clauses of the Bill provided for the appointment of Commissioner with a Chairman, and the Commission was directed to inquire into what these minimum time-rates should be, having regard to the cost of living in various districts, and they were instructed to make recommendations as to the steps by which these minimum time-rates should be brought into operation. They were to make recommendations as to how exemptions from such case, in the case of infirm and other workers, might be granted, and they were given extensive powers to examine, by means of an accountant, wages sheets, books and trade accounts, so as to ascertain what wages the particular trade could bear. The Bill proposes to set up complete preliminary machinery for giving legislative effect to the proposals. Its backers were Sir Robert Horne, Sir A. Geddes and Mr. Wardle. The War had been over at that time for more than a year. The late Prime Minister, speaking after the introduction of the Bill, laid great emphasis on the fact that it was an agreed Bill and that all sections had accepted it. Quoting from the OFFICIAL REPORT, may I remind the House of what the right hon. Gentleman said:
This Bill represents the agreement arrived at between employers and workmen on this important council (the Industrial Council). They have taken weeks, I might even say months to consider it. They have examined it in every detail.&It provides a living wage for those who are engaged in industry in this country.&These Measures will be in the hands of hon. Members to-morrow, and they are, I think,
the most important Measures dealing with labour problems which have ever been submitted to the judgment of this House. An opportunity will be given during the vacation for employers and workmen to examine them thoroughly and by the time the House resume they will be in a position to give us an opinion on the provisions."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th August, 1919; col. 1996, Vol 119.]
§ That was on 18th August, 1919. The Minister of Labour moved that the Bill be read a Second time the next day, hut the next day the House adjourned until 22nd October, and, so far as I can discover, that Bill has never seen the light of day since. It is that very Bill that we are now asking the Government to reintroduce and pass into law. We recognise, of course, that it is quite impossible to set up Minimum Wage Boards to determine rates of wages in each trade without a great deal of preliminary inquiry, and without the accumulation of a great deal of data, in order to enable the Hoards to function, and the object of the Bill is to establish the necessary machinery for collecting and accumulating that information. I believe that if that is done, and if legislative effect can be given to the proposal for a minimum wage, this House will be meeting the desire of very large numbers of people of all sections of thought in the country, people of good will, who desire to see the scandal of this gross underpayment of large sections of their fellow citizens abolished for ever.
§ If the House will allow me, I should like for a moment or two to deal with one or two of the objections that we hear urged against the principle of a statutory minimum wage for all. The first objection is, that the whole thing is impossible, but I think that that objection goes by the hoard at ones, because of the fact that a minimum rate of wages—a living wage—is already secured by Statute and is in actual operation not only in a good many of our Colonies, but in other countries as well at the present time. In the Colony of Victoria there has been a Wages Board system ever since 1896, and I believe that that system, beginning with one or two specified trades, has gradually become extended until it has covered practically all the trades in the country. In South Australia in 1900, in New South Wales in 1901, in Western Australia in 1902, in the Commonwealth in 1904, in 634 Queensland in 1908, and in Tasmania in 1911, similar Measures were introduced, and are at present in full operation. In New Zealand there is also a minimum wage secured, though on principles rather different from those which are in operation in Australia; and in Canada, nine provinces have adopted the principle—the first law having been passed in 1917 of a minimum wage for working women only, leaving adult men out of consideration. In the United States of America, 12 States now, including Massachusetts, Oregan, Utah, Washington, California, Wisconsin, all have similar Acts, and in Ohio the Legislature actually went so far as to pass an amendment to the Constitution, in order to allow a minimum wage law to be adopted. Embryonic or initial legislation of a similar character is now actually the law of the Lind in France, Norway, Sweden, and the Argentine.
In New South Wales, and also in other parts of Australia, but particularly in New South Wales, the minimum wage rates fixed by the Board are very high indeed, having regard to the usual standards in this country, and if they were suggested here they would probably make the hair stand on end, not only of many employers, but of many Members of this House. It is quite clear, I think, that it is useless to urge that such a scheme is impossible, because, as I have said, it is already in actual operation. It is said that the experience of the working of the Trade Boards Act has demonstrated that the fixing of a minimum wage is prejudicial to trade and industry and, reflexly, hurts working people themselves. But, whatever objection may be urged on those lines in respect of an individual industry or an individual employer here and there, speaking generally, that view was not held by the Cave Committee itself. The Cave Committee reported as follows:
The Committee think it is established that the system lies had beneficial effects. Speaking generally, Trade Boards have succeeded in abolishing the grosser forms of under-payment, and in regularising wage conditions in trades covered by the Acts. Moreover, in establishing statutory minima. Trade Boards have afforded protection to the good employer and secured him against unserupulous competitors, and the Committee is satisfied that the operation of the system has contributed, on the whole, to the improvement of industrial relations.
§ The Committee recommended, as the House knows, certain small modifications to which the Government announced that it was going to give effect in their Bill. Speaking generally, the Report of the Commission was clearly in favour of the operation of the Trade Boards Acts. In regard to the particular charge that legal minima fixed by Trade Boards have injured industry, damaged trade and contributed to unemployment, a very effectual answer has been supplied by Professor Henry Clay, professor of economics in Manchester University. In a letter to the "Times" on the 26th September last, he analysed the unemployment statistics of the country and showed that, of the 12,000,000 persons who would come under the working of the Unemployment Insurance Acts at that time, 13.15 per cent. were out of work, but in occupational groups covered by the Trade Boards Act barely 8 per cent. were out of work. These figures demonstrate quite conclusively that the operation of Trade Boards does not contribute to unemployment.
It may be asked what we mean exactly by the expression "minimum wage." The usual definition adopted by such authorities as Charles Booth and Seebohm Rowntree is as follows: It is the minimum income necessary to maintain physical efficiency for an average family of five—father, mother and three children; it being assumed that the wage is expended on necessaries only and on the most scientific methods. Mere physical efficiency and the expenditure of the wage to the very best possible advantage! Surely, in a civilised and Christian country, that is not too much to ask for every worker in the whole country. The definition which is given in America is contained in the Official Bulletin of the United States Bureau of Statistics, and is as follows:
The basis for determining a minimum wage in all the States, with the exception of Utah, which has a uniform flat rate, is the average necessary cost of living for a family, and it is fixed in every instance by a preliminary investigation by a Commission.
In New South Wales the Wages Boards are guided by the following statutory principle—again I quote the exact words:
The standard of living shall be such as to provide a worker of the said class and his said dependent family with the normal requirements of a member of a civilised
community, and the Board shall from year to year, after public inquiry as to the increase or decrease in the average cost of living, declare what shall be the living wage to be paid to adult male employés in the State or definite areas thereof.
§ We suggest that these definitions which have been arrived at, and are actually in use at the present time, should be adopted for the purposes of the Measure which we are now asking the Government to introduce. We say that a method which has been found to work with smoothness, simplicity and efficiency in our colonies and elsewhere could he and should be adopted here. It is obviously quite possible to ascertain on scientific lines the wage necessary in given areas to purchase from time to time a standard minimum of living, that is to say, the necessary amount for housing, clothing and food. The business of the Commission which we suggest would he to ascertain the minimum for each trade and to convert the values of those human necessities into wage rates; and as of course money wages have not equal purchasing value all over the country, and particularly as between rural and urban districts, local or zonal variations would be introduced by the Commission.
§ I have to refer to what I gather is the stock argument from discussions I have heard in the Lobby and elsewhere, and what is regarded as a conclusive argument, against the establishment of a minimum wage board, namely, that the trade cannot afford such an inflation and that, as a matter of fact, the country cannot afford it. Let it be granted that as the result of the War, as the result of the peace, as the result of the disorganisation of the exchanges, as the result of the collapse of European trade, and generally the interference with our own trade, that this country as a whole is bound to accept for a time, at any rate, a lower standard of living. We say it is grossly unfair that the whole burden of that depreciation of the standard of life should be borne, as it is, by one class, and that the most helpless and the weakest class. If the country has to submit to a reduction of the standard of living, that should be universally applicable. It should apply to all classes, and all classes should have to bear their share. We further say that if that were so, and if workmen felt that the other classes, the employing class and the dividend and 637 profit-receiving class, equally bore their share in this burden, and they could be persuaded that it was so, the working classes would accept their share in the reduction in the standard of living as cheerfully as they did during the War.
§ Lieut.-Colonel CROFT
Is it not a fact that those classes in this country are contributing more than any other country in the world towards the sharing of that burden?
§ Dr. SALTER
I am coming to that point, and am proposing to submit figures dealing with the matter. So far as workmen are concerned, the Board of Trade Returns show that wages were cut during 1921 by a net amount of £6,041,000 per week, and in 1922 by another £4,206,000 per week—that is to say, by £10,500,000 per week during the last two years, and, of course, these figures do not include large numbers of the working population. They do riot include agricultural labourers, clerks, railwaymen, municipal employés, and n umbers of other sections, and I do not think it is disputed that the working classes as a whole have had during the last two years to submit to a reduction in wages amounting to ever £12,000,000 per week at the very least, or over £600,000,000 per year.
I come to the point raised by the hon. arid gallant Gentleman opposite. The average rate of dividend of the capitalist and owning classes as a whole has riot diminished, and I propose to submit certain figures which I think are conclusive. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman will refer to the last issue but one of the "Economist" he will see an analysis of the dividends paid by a certain number of companies—319—which that paper analyses every quarter. It is a standing feature of the paper. It says definitely that in the last quarter of 1922 the average dividend of all those companies was 86 per cent., as compared with 7.6 in the corresponding quarter of 1921. This important series, including the most representative industries—hotels and restaurants, iron, coal and steel, land mortgages, motor and cycle companies, nitrates, oil, rubber, shipping, shops and stores, telegraphs, textiles, tramways, and other miscellaneous companies—do not include banking statistics. They do not include the figures of banks, which alone, if they were introduced, would raise the 638 average dividends to between 10½ and 12 per cent. of all the companies analysed. They do not include railway companies, and their dividends, as just recently announced, show that in practically every case the shareholders are receiving better rates this year than last year, and much better rates than in pre-War time. Let roe quote one or two for the satisfaction of the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite. Great Western ordinary, 8 per cent. in 1922, 7¼ per cent. in 1921, 6¼ per cent. in 1913. London and North-Western, 8½ per cent. in 1922, 7½ per cent. in 1921, 7 per cent. in 1913. Great Central, 4½ per cent. in 1922, 2½ per cent. in 1921, 2 per cent. in 1913. London and South-Western, 8 per cent. in 1922, 6 per cent. in 1921, and 5¼ per cent. in 1913. London, Chatham and Dover, 4½ per cent. in 1922. 4 per cent. in 1921, 1½ per cent. in 1913. South-Eastern Railway deferred, 5 per cent. in 1922, 2½; per cent. in 1921, and 2 per cent. in 1913. Those figures are absolutely conclusive. They do not include the dividends of the great brewery companies, which are even more striking. More than a dozen of the great brewing companies of the country for this last year declared dividends of over 20 per cent' free of Income Tax. You have Ind Coope's with 25 per cent., Guinness's 29 per cent. Watney, Coombe and Reid, 32 per cent., and Noakes's, 75 per cent., and this in spite of the fact that the consumption of beer has been reduced by nearly half.
§ Dr. SALTER
Let us come to some of the trades which have been uttering wails and lamentations about their position. Take textiles. In spite of the shocking, almost criminal, watering of stock which took place pretty universally during the boom time of 1920—I quote from the "Investors' Chronicle" of a fortnight ago—there has been a most extraordinary burst of activity. The actual paragraph referred to is as follows:
As has been reported in this column from week to week recently, textiles have been showing considerable activity, but on Tuesday they burst into a blaze on the extremely fine showing made by the Bradford Dyers' report which, covering a period of two years, announced a profit of £1,800,000 and a dividend of 35 per cent. for the year. This, together with Courtaulds, showing a profit of over £3,000,000, led to an outburst of buying which sent the prices of leading textile shares up with
a bound. Courtaulds' dividend is 25 per cent., Fine Cotton Spinners is expected to be at least 12½ per cent. and Bleachers' Association will be well above the 12½ per cent. returned last year.
§ It is only a few weeks ago that I listened to the Prime Minister telling this House that there was scarcely a business in this country which was showing a profit at present. We all know what a remarkable and astonishing memory the Prime Minister possesses. With great admiration we watch him delivering speeches in which he replies to large numbers of intricate queries from all corners of the House without a note. I can only imagine that on this occasion his amazing memory must have played him false, or else he must somehow or other have mixed up and transposed wages and profits. I could go on, for the benefit of the hon. and gallant Gentleman if time permitted, by the hour giving figures like these, showing the dividends which have been paid.
§ Dr. SALTER
It is interesting, because it would appear that the capitalist classes to-day are having a larger profit out of the slump than they did out of the boom. And while, at one end of the scale you have wage cuts down to the very bone, until millions of our people in full work are forced down to practical destitution and to a standard of living considerably below the subsistence level, you have, on the other hand, these fabulous dividends and you have, as everyone knows who goes about the West End, ostentation, luxury, extravagance, and waste of every description, which is being paid for by the blood and sweat of the workers. It is said that the country cannot afford a living wage for all its workers. It can afford a very large number of people, rich and super-rich people, who contribute absolutely nothing by their labour to the community. I quote the words of Russell Lowell—Have ye built your thrones and altars then, On the bodies and souls of living men. And think ye that building shall endure Which shelters the noble and crushes the poor?We say that that, building cannot endure say it is bound to fall. We hope, 640 frankly, on this side ultimately to pull down that building, and to erect a better and nobler edifice in its place. We are not here to-night to demand a revolution in our social affairs. We are here to put forward an exceedingly modest and exceedingly moderate request. We ask that the Government shall reintroduce the Bill of 1919, which only proposes to establish the necessary machinery and accumulate the necessary information for, ultimately, at a later stage, giving effect to the almost universal desire of this country for a minimum living wage for all its workers.
§ Mr. SITCH
I beg to second the Motion, and in doing so I wish to congratulate the hon. Member on his successful maiden speech. That speech has made my task somewhat easy, because he has made out an unanswerable case for the House to adopt the Resolution, which merely asks, first, that this House shall endorse the decision of the late Government, and also the decision of the Joint Industrial Conference of 1919, and apply legal minimum rates to every industry, Secondly, the Resolution asks the House to agree to the appointment of a Commission for the purpose of examining the methods and steps to be adopted to bring those rates into operation. When the Industrial Conference met in 1919 there was a great deal of unrest in the country. The sole object of the Prime Minister in summoning that industrial conference was to try and promote what he termed harmony and goodwill in industry. There is just as much need for the promotion of harmony and goodwill in industry to-day as there was then.
In the past we have always had people who have objected to any kind of State interference in industry. They belong to that school of thought who ask, as they put it, for free labour in a free market. That school of thought has opposed almost every social reform that has ever been introduced. They opposed the Education Act on the ground that education would increase the cost of production. They were against the prevention of child labour, the fencing of dangerous machinery, and against all trade combinations of workers; in short, against the whole trend of modern industrial legislation. More particularly, did they oppose the fixing of any kind of minimum 641 wage by Act of Parliament. It was written a few years ago by the hon. Member for Colne Valley that the cash relation between employer and employed was so sacred that to interfere with it by law was to commit the unpardonable economic sin, and that to increase wages would increase the cost of production and must ruin industry.
These arguments are based on the assumption that the industries referred to can only exist by the employment of sweated labour. If that argument be sound, then I say, and I know that my colleagues will endorse this view, that it is best for those industries to perish, rather than they should continue at the expense of the life and blood of the workers. Experience proves that that argument is fallacious. It can be proved that increases in wages have not actually increased the cost of production. For example, if we take the period from 1850 to 1900, there have been considerable increases in wages, but the cost of production was not as great in 1900 as it was in 1850. Again, when the first trade board was established in this country, in the chain industry, when the women were receiving the miserable pittance of 4s. to 5s. per week, for 60 hours' work, we were told by the employers in that trade, or, at any rate, by some of the employers, that if the workers' wages were increased, we should ruin that trade. The first trade board established a legal minimum wage of 11s. 3d. per week, and within 12 months of those rates being in operation there were nearly double the number of people in that industry. That conclusively proves that the workers begin to concentrate on efficiency, immediately you make them a little more satisfied.
There has never been any legislation introduced in this House which has proved so successful as the legislation establishing trade boards. Never was a report issued which was so much out of gear with the evidence given than the Report of the Cave Committee on the working and effects of trade boards. If the hon. Members will read the evidence as well as the conclusions they will see that there is an unanswerable case made out for the extension of trade boards, because very few instances were proved, with any degree of accuracy, that trade boards have been responsible for curtail- 642 ing employment. We have about 60 trade boards covering something like 3,000,000 of workers, and I believe that if we test the amount. of unemployment in these trades with the amount of unemployment existing in those trades which do not come within the Schedule of the Trade Boards Act, we shall find that there is equally as much employment in the trades covered by trade boards as in those that are not.
Why do we ask for the extension of the legal minimum wage? Precisely for the same reason that was advanced when the Trade Boards Act, 1909, was introduced; simply on the ground of the low wages prevailing in general industry to-day. The late Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, speaking at Perth on the 5th June, 1903, made this statement:In this country we know, thanks to the painstaking investigations of Mr. Rowntrce and Mr. Charles Booth, that there is about 30 per cent. of our population underfed, on the verge of hunger and doubtful from day to day of the sufficiency of their food. 30 per cent.? What is the population of the United Kingdom? 41,000,000. That means 12,000,000 of people on the verge of starvation.That condition of things is substantially true to-day. The Member for Taunton (Mr. Hope Simpson), speaking in the House on Monday night, quoted the agricultural rates of wages in some districts as 21s. a week. In some places he admitted that 25s. was being paid. Then ho quoted the case of a man, with a wife and four children, who, after a full week's work, received the miserable pittance of 20s. Even the Minister of Agriculture (Sir R. Sanders), speaking in the same Debate, said that so far as he could ascertain the average wage of the agricultural labourer was 27s. 9d. That figure represented an increase of 54 per cent. on the pre-War wages of the agricultural labourer. But the increase in the cost of living stands at 77 per cent. to-day, so that the agricultural labourers' wages are 25 per cent. less than they were in pm-War days. In the Black Country to-day the miner, after doing six days' work, receives the sum of £2 3s. There are thousands of labourers in the Black Country receiving 31s. for a full week's work, and thousands of women workers, not covered by trade boards, who are receiving 17s. a week. In the Midlands in 1912 we fought for 23s. To-day 31s. is being paid in many industries, while the 643 cost of living is 77 per cent. more than in pre-War days. There is a certain degree of well-being which it should be the main object of all statesmen to secure, and as the tendency of our wage system has always been to reduce the wages of the worker to the lowest level of life, this House should make it impossible for any employer to employ any man or any woman at less than a full living wage.
§ Mr. GEORGE BALFOUR
I entered this House this evening intending to listen, to gain some enlightenment in connection with what I have always regarded as a most interesting and a most difficult question. I have listened to the two speeches which have been delivered, and have not heard much that will advance me towards a solution of the problem. Before I proceed to deal with any of the points raised by the two hon. Members, allow me to join with the hon. Member for Kingswinford (Mr. Sitch) in congratulating the hon. Member for Bermondsey (Dr. Salter) on his most admirable and able maiden speech. I have said that I have gathered little which adds to my store of knowledge and enlightenment towards a solution of this problem. I will add, and the hon. Member for Bermondsey will credit me when I say, that I do believe that he has put before the House all that can be said in favour of a minimum wage. I think that towards the end of his speech the hon. Gentleman said that in a civilised and Christian country it. is not too much to ask for a minimum wage. I entirely agree. I am sure that on this side of the House there is not a single Member who yields an inch of ground to hon. Gentlemen opposite in their desire to see a minimum wage established. But on what conditions can you establish a minimum wage?
I am ready to do it now, so far as I am concerned, in my industry, but what is the test, what is the effect upon the employment of the great mass of the people of this country? What is the use of establishing a minimum wage if the result is, first, that a great many people go out of employment, and, second, that the State soon runs dry of the funds which will enable it to make the necessary contribution to produce the minimum wage for all the people thrown out of 644 employment? Are you not going to consider it from that point of view? If you say "No," you bury your head in the sand. You will not consider the problem in all its bearings. The hon. Member for Bermondsey quoted the ease of Wages Boards in Australia. I remember following with close interest the introduction of Wages Boards in Australia. It was a very interesting experiment. I said at the time that there was no reason in the world why Australia should not have minimum wages, or why she should not be able to keep her people fully employed, because her conditions were vitally different from ours.
Is it not a fact worth the recollection of hon. Gentlemen opposite that Australia, in the very early days, whenever a trade was not busy, put an embargo upon the entry into that country of the various people engaged in that particular type of industry? If plumbers were not fully occupied, plumbers were not allowed into Australia. If carpenters were not fully occupied, carpenters were not admitted into Australia. Of course, you can have a minimum wage in those conditions. But in this country, which is the great entrepot depôt for the labour of the world, it is an impossible proposition. Reference has been made to the United States of America. There again, though there are conditions totally different from those in Australia, you can do it, to a certain extent, because there you have a vast territory with great untapped resources and continually expanding trades. We have got a population of 45,000,000 on, what is little more, comparatively speaking, than a great mud patch. We have opened our gates to all the workers of the world. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I think that I am substantially correct, making allowance for the temporary bar at the moment. We have had to receive the workers of the world into this country. The hon. Member for Bermondsey spoke about a reduction in the total of wages paid this year, compared with 1920–21. How do they compare with the total paid in 1914? I am not interested in disputing every point with hon. Members opposite. I am only interested in getting down to the truth of the thing. I have to find employment, whether we make or lose. It is not a question of looking at this matter from a selfish point of view. 645 The hon. Gentleman referred—in contradistinction to the drop in the total wages paid—to what he called the increase in dividends. Yes, Sir, but what about the difference in the price of money? What about the years during which no dividends were paid, while the wages had to be paid I [HON. MEMBERS: "Which years?"] I am not carrying the figures with me, but I think I could give to hon. Gentlemen opposite information on that point.
§ Mr. G. BALFOUR
If hon. Gentlemen opposite like to have it, I can provide them with a long list of businesses—of manufacturing businesses which give a large volume of employment—in which no dividends have been paid.
§ Mr. BALFOUR
Yes, with pleasure. The wages bill is a first charge upon industry, and you cannot close your doors because trade is not prospering. I remember taking out some figures which have a relation to this matter, for a particular reason in connection with the Tariff Reform controversy. I was not then connected with politics, but I took out the figures for, I think, the years 1908–9 for the whole of the electrical manufacturing industry of this country, in which I was not interested except as a buyer—a prospective purchaser. I think I am right in saying that in 1908–9, out of the total share capital and loan capital, the whole of the money employed yielded, in the aggregates little more than 15s. per £100, but the wages had to be paid. These businesses were absolutely bankrupt, and employment in those trades was declining instead of expanding. I am not going to enter into the reasons, because that would be controversial, and it would be out of order, but there is the fact that under the capitalist system at that time the yield on capital in those particular industries was under 15s. per £100. Could any State support a system of that kind, and how is it possible in such circumstances to introduce a minimum wage? I submit that no case has been made out, on the arguments of hon. Members opposite, for the introduction of the minimum wage, 646 but I say, with deep sincerity, that when hon. Gentlemen opposite tackle this problem from the point of view of the requirements of the country, when they work out for us a system and show that it is stable and commercial and will make for the peace, health, contentment, and prosperity of the great mass of the workers of this country, they will have my wholehearted support. for any scheme of that kind.
§ Mr. G. THORNE
I should like to be permitted in the first instance to associate myself with the remarks which have been made in reference to the very remarkable and effective maiden speech to which we listened a little while ago. Very few maiden efforts have been equal to that we had the pleasure of hearing from the hon. Member for Bermondsey (Dr. Salter). The hon. Member made it in introducing what seemed to me one of the most reasonable proposals imaginable. I do not think the hon. Gentleman who has just professedly replied to it really recognised what are the terms of the Resolution. If he reads it he will realise that the proposition it contains is very different from that which he attempted to overthrow. It is a curious coincidence that the very interesting Debate initiated from the same benches last night, and the Debate of to-night, should be so immediately associated with the year 1919. That was the year of large hopes and great expectations. The hopes have all proved to be vain and none of the expectations have been realised.
§ Mr. THORNE
Some of us did want them to be, and I, for one, deeply regret that they have not been realised. I ask the House to look at the terms of the Resolution. It commences by saying:In view of the practically universal acceptance of the principle that a living wage for all workers should he the first charge on industry—.I thought that was a very generally accepted proposition. Then it goes on to say, and this is the immediate point of the Resolution, not that here and now, we should decide upon a definite form of minimum wage all round, but that we should proceed with what the Government in 1919 proposed to carry into operation.
§ Mr. THORNE
Yes, you have got rid of the late Government, but I understand the present Government does not desire to be called "reactionary." I am going to put before the House what the late Government actually proposed, and to ask whether this Government accepts the proposition which was then laid down. If they do not accept it, I respectfully submit they will have to be regarded as a reactionary Government whether they like it or not, because in that year we had reached a definite stage. The Mover of the Resolution quoted the Preamble to the Bill which was then introduced and which he now desires to be reintroduced. It is a very remarkable Preamble and I venture to read it again to the House because many hon. Members are here who were not present when the Mover brought it before us. The Bill, I admit, was not passed into law but it distinctly represented the views of the then Government. It was introduced by very responsible men, one of them being still a very distinguished Member of this House, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Hillhead Division of Glasgow (Sir R. Home) and another being Sir Auckland Geddes, a man who was held in the very highest esteen. Their names are on the back of this Bill which was a Government Measure submitted with all the responsibility of the Government after careful conference and report and with wonderful unanimity. These are the words of the Preamble:Whereas it is expedient that minimum time rates of wages should be fixed for all persons of the age of 15 years and upwards, and should in the case of persons of the age of 18 years and upwards, be fixed at such amounts that all such persons whether employed at a time rate or according to any other method of remuneration will be afforded an adequate living wage.I ask whether the statement of opinion comprised in that Preamble, which evidently represented the view of the late Government, is the view now held by the present Government. We are entitled to know what is the view of the Government on a matter of such vital importance to the workers of the country. Surely the Government desire to make perfectly clear what they do stand for. Recent elections show that the people of this country are not at all sure what those views are. In regard to this particular 648 matter, I want to give the Government an opportunity of expressly stating what is their view. We have it here declared what the view of the Members of the Government was—I have read it out in that Preamble—and I ask the Parliamentary Secretary who, I believe, is going to speak in a few moments, to say whether the view then expressed by the late Government is the view now held by tie present Government. If it is not the view held by the present Government, then we are bound to accept it as a reactionary Government, going back on what has been accepted as a very important basis by the previous Government. If, on the other hand, the present Government do accept this proposal, I ask them why they should not accept the Motion before the House? That Motion is simply to ask them to re-introduce this Bill, which is to appoint a Commission to inquire into and decide what these rates should be, and the manner in which they should be brought into operation. That is all the proposal asks. We are not committed to anything whatever, except to the appointment of a Commission to consider this very vital question, and to submit its Report to the House for its decision in regard to the particular and precise proposals.
In conclusion, this seems to me one of the most moderate and reasonable proposals that any body of men could bring before the House. It is suggested that hon. Gentlemen behind me are making constantly wild and absurd proposals; but when these hon. Gentlemen actually only propose, for the present consideration of the House, the very thing which the previous Government, with all its responsibility and authority, submitted to the House, I fail to see any ground for that charge against them. That Measure was introduced after that wonderful Conference to which reference has already been made. It was one of the most marvellous conferences, probably, ever held in this country. It raised hopes which many of us earnestly desired might have great fulfilment. If they had been fulfilled, the amount of unrest to-day would certainly have been very much less. This Bill was submitted to the House in August, 1919, and was withdrawn in December, 1919. I do not think we have ever heard of it since. If so soon to be done for, why was it begun? Why did 649 we have such a Measure, heralded as it was by the words of the Prime Minister, who was going about the country, as being one of the greatest Measures that the country was going to consider? Why was ail that done, if nothing was to follow? Therefore, I ask the hon. Member who is going to speak for the Government to answer the question I submit to him. Do they accept the opinion, agreed to and approved by the late Government, as set out in the Preamble I have read? If they do accept it, are they going to accept the Motion, and reintroduce, the Bill? If they do not accept this opinion, on this basis of action, I ask them to explain why they have gone back on a view previously held, and to tell us clearly and straightly what the Government attitude is going to be in regard to this important and vital matter of the minimum wage.
§ Mr. WILLIAM GRAHAM
My hon. Friend who has just addressed the House has quite properly reminded us that this Motion is directed to a comparatively narrow point. The case for a Motion of this kind is in every way unanswerable. We have to keep in mind, first of all, the very serious cost which is involved to the State in low or utterly inadequate remuneration. Most hon. Members who have been brought into touch with the first effects of very low wages in this country will agree that it is very easy indeed to cross the border line into the arms of the Poor Law, on one side, and, on the other side, to do much to lower the level of remuneration as a whole. Those are two of the great dangers, from which we have suffered very seriously indeed. I think in all the circumstances, and particularly in industrial matters, as the investigation of the Industrial Fatigue Research Board has indicated, that the existence of a low rate of wages forms, in the aggregate, taking a long view of the problem, a very substantial burden in ill-health and lack of efficiency and earning capacity which the State cannot afford.
I do not in any way accuse hon. Members opposite of desiring individually, or even generally, to maintain low rates of wages in this country; but I do quarrel very seriously with some of the arguments which they employ against a Motion of this kind. It is very often suggested, first of all, that we are not likely 650 to do anything to safeguard wages by a mere Act of Parliament; that the tendency, in fixing any minimum, will be to drive a certain number of people out of employment; or so to increase the cost of production in those trades in this country that the total volume of business to be done will be ultimately lowered, and the community as a whole will suffer. On that point we have already had very substantial evidence in regard to the regulation of sweated and other industries. A few years ago, Mr. R. H. Tawney, a very distinguished member of our party, who was, I think, a candidate on two occasions for election to this House, made an inquiry into the results of minimum-wage scales in certain trades in the Midlands and elsewhere. He proved that not, only had the health of the workers very greatly improved, and not only had their remuneration been increased, but the cost of production, and the general efficiency of the industry as a whole, had been very greatly improved. In other words, we are simply founding our arguments on the well-known economic truth, that cheap labour is, in the long run, the dearest of all, and that is the strong point behind our case now.
Other hon. Members have suggested that this is the wrong way to tackle the problem. They have said that this is only adding another device to wage regulation in Great Britain, and that we are not getting nearer to that day when remuneration will be related strictly and closely to what the industry, as a whole, is actually turning out or doing. I entirely agree that a great deal of our wage regulation at the present time is in very serious chaos. Many hon. Members, I am afraid in all parts of the House, take the view, for example, that we have solved the wages problem, temporarily at least, when we adjust wages to the cost of living. I confess I have never been satisfied with that basis in any shape or form. There is, no doubt, a rough and immediate justice in the system; but quite obviously the defect is this, that we are seeking to relate wages to some set of general conditions which may be influenced by conditions in other countries, and by international problems—a set of conditions in the cost of living which, in an individual industry, may have very little to do with the strength or weakness of the industry at all. 651 While I agree, of course, that adjustment must take place comparatively soon, there is no doubt that in the process much hardship and wrong will be involved.
There is another criticism of that method of fixing wages which I think is far more important. If we take the ordinary process of fixing wages on the basis of cost of living and review that over a fair period several things will stand out. In the first place, the wages have generally toiled laboriously after the increases in the cost of living; in the second place, in many cases they have never been in keeping with the increase in the cost of living; and, in the third place, they have introduced a fixed or static element into British remuneration because the wage has just fluctuated with the change in the cost of living, and in many cases there has been no appreciable gain in the sums available for saving, or whatever the case may be, as far as large numbers of people are concerned. That is nothing more than a temporary solution of the problem. I wish to urge what I believe to be a very important part of the basis of a better wage system, not only as applied to this problem we are discussing to-night, but as applied to the wage system as a whole. The hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. G. Balfour), in the course of his speech against the Motion, referred to the United States of America, and said that there you had vast areas and, I presume, large-scale industry and other forces such as we have not, and he seemed to indicate that it was a little difficult to compare conditions in the United States with conditions in Great Britain.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
Taking even natural resources into account, let me give what I think is the reply. With all their faults in the United States, they have made a very definite effort in many departments of industry to introduce what is called, by I think an unnecessarily high-sounding title, scientific management. I dare not discuss that on this Motion cave to indicate that unless we as a country bend our minds to efficiency methods in industry there is no proper 652 way of safeguarding remuneration at all. That would be just as important if we had another economic order, because under a collectivist order it would be necessary to get the best from the whole of the people in the common interest just as I believe it is necessary that we should get the best to-day.
Taking the question of remuneration, what is happening in many industries now? We are squandering millions of money every year in wasteful and unnecessary processes. Some of our recent investigations have shown that by the adoption of a mere rearrangement of tools, an adjustment of certain classes of machinery, of better methods of using raw materials, you can get far more out of industry and give the workers better remuneration. That is only one part of the problem, but there are others much more important. I take the view, however unpopular it may be in some quarters—I do not think on the whole it is when properly understood—that we must get remuneration down to the actual facts of industry itself. On that head we require far more publicity than we have at the present day. No doubt there has been an increase in the amount of light thrown on the actual position between profit and remuneration and what is set aside for the replenishment of plant, but a very great deal of our difficulty in Great Britain turns on the simple fact that we do not actually know what is happening in important departments of industry at the present day. I think we must get the facts. Both sides, as long as the existing order lasts, are entitled to the facts, and, what is more important, the community as a whole is entitled to the facts.
Many hon. Members have attacked us because in all wage discussions, they say, for the most part we have opposed any method of payments by results, or scientific management, or any device which was going to place remuneration strictly on what industry was doing. The reply to that is, I think, comparatively simple, and perhaps to a large extent the opposition is justified. Even if we agree that these scientific methods must come, look at the experience of many of them in the past. The offer has been made to working men and women to adopt a certain system. They have been promised a 653 basic rate. They were offered a return over and above the basic rate in respect of any extra effort they made. They made the response, they did their very best, the production was increased, and in many cases the rates were immediately cut. That tended to a large extent to knock the heart out of any co-operation in this matter. In the second place, it has been urged that such a system goes a long way to undermine the organisation which working people have built up, and, above all, the collective bargaining on which they depend. My reply is that many of these schemes have concentrated far too much on the individual workman or work-woman, and that far greater efforts should have been made to try to work a collective or overhead system which was more democratic, and which approached more closely to that team-work which I believe to be an essential and important part of industrial progress. These things are worthy at the present time of the very closest investigation, but I agree it is impossible to get the co-operation of many men and women in the preliminary inquiry because they have no guarantee that this will not be used to their disadvantage.
My suggestion is, in any wages problem, that if you can arrive at an understanding with the masses and say to them, "There will flow to you a full and adequate participation in the fruits of every improvement brought about," you have changed the situation. But it must not he a mere promise; it must be a firm guarantee. Let me add that, having regard to the developments that are taking place in the United States of America, to the changes which have come in industrial organisation on the Continent, and to the greater changes still when we have patched up the European situation, I think the trade of this country will be exposed to still keener competition. I do not want to see the remuneration of the masses decline; I want to see it largely increased. I am hound to add, however, honestly and frankly, that I do not think it is going to be safeguarded and increased until they get a fair show in the introduction of the efficiency methods I have tried to explain.
§ Sir MARTIN CONWAY
My hon. Friend the Member for East Wolver-hampton (Mr. C. Thorne) stated what is 654 a fact, that hon. Members opposite are often accused of constantly raising, on behalf of the poorer classes of the people, complaints of their conditions and their troubles, and not suggesting remedies. I hold that it is no business of hon. Members opposite, or of any of us, to suggest remedies. We are sent to this House, primarily to state grievances, and it is for the Government of the day to devise remedies. Hon. Members opposite are perfectly fulfilling their function when they bring before us repeatedly, as they do, the condition of the people whom they represent. They are there to tell where the shoe pinches, and that is the purpose of Parliamentary discussion. I therefore hold that this subject, which has been raised for discussion this evening, is one which they were eminently right to raise. It is certainly true that we ought, if we can, to find some method of providing a minimum wage for every person engaged in industry. That is the ideal at which we ought to aim, but consider the logical result of that. Let us take the whole life-history of a working man. If he be the offspring of parents who are very poor, he, is born partly at the expense of the State, he is nurtured partly at the expense of the State, he is educated at the expense of the State; it is claimed that when he cannot find work he should be maintained at the expense of the State, and that when he reaches old age he should still be maintained at the expense of the State
That is a very good and admirable ideal, and I say nothing against it as an idea!. But what does it involve? It involves that the State should have something to say to his coming into the world [HON. MEMBERS: Oh!"] If the State is to be responsible for all its citizens from the cradle to the grave, it must have something to say to their coining into the world, and that is rather a difficult proposition, but it is logically involved in all these assumptions. At the present time we are often told—we have been told it to-night—that there are 45,000,000 people in these islands. I understand that last year the population of this country increased by 500,000. I have been told that for every 125,000 workmen who by age or death pass out of industry in a given year, 250,000 come in. It is obvious that that process cannot be continued 655 without limit, and at the same time this other ideal be maintained. You cannot do it. It happens that we inhabit, not a mud-bank, as my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead (Mr. Balfour) described it, but a very admirable, and charming, and in many places exceedingly beautiful country, but it is a small country, and I am told that the utmost population that it could maintain without importation from abroad is something like 20,000,000. The remainder must be maintained by foreign trade, by our exports sent out to pay for the necessary imports for raw materials and food, without which we cannot live, and there is an obvious limit to what Can be done in that way under present conditions.
After the Napoleonic wars the condition of England was, I think, worse, if possible, than it. is now, and it continued very bad for several years. What was it that ultimately put us again on our feet? It was mainly the introduction of railways, it was the enormous amount of work that was involved in covering this country with a network of railways, it was that great revolution in transport, and we have got to have some similar great addition to our resources in order to bring us through the present time. Our present industrial systems, inventions, knowledge, science, organisation, are practically, I think, doing all they can. They are being worked in the best possible manner that we have devised for the support of our people. It is not enough. We want greater wealth. It is easy to say that there is wealth to spare at the top and that there is poverty at the bottom. That is certainly true. In every society there is a scum and also some dregs. If we could get off the scum and employ what we have got to dissolving the dregs it would be a good thing, but unfortunately it is a process that passes the skill of man to-day. [An HON. MEMBER: "Try Socialism!"] That would not do it either. We have got, in some way or another, to increase the wealth of the country. How can that be done? There is only one way in which it can be done. I am tired always of hearing in this House and outside about capital and labour—capital, capital, capital, and labour, labour, labour—as though that were the whole business. The thing that makes capital of any 656 value and that enables labour to have any worth is intelligence.
§ Sir M. CONWAY
You cannot waste it. You cannot get enough of it, and when you have got it, you cannot waste it. It will not be wasted. It is one thing that will always find a use and always bring a return. What we have to arrive at is a greater power of invention, a greater skill, a greater number of fully educated men of science, and, if possible, to find geniuses in that line. It is only by that method that you can add quickly to the wealth of the country. Industry stands, not on two legs, but on three. It stands, not on the two legs of capital arid labour, but on the three legs of capital, intelligence, and labour. Capital and labour without guiding and governing intelligence, without a continually increasing invention, without continually increasing discoveries, without continually increasing organisation, directed always by increasing skill—if you let that process drop for a single year, back you go, instead of forward.
We are a nation that depends as no other country in the world depends upon the co-operation of those three legs for our position. We depend upon having the co-operation, not of capital with labour, but of capital and labour with intelligence, with discovery, with science. Everything that you can do to increase the highest—not the average, but the very highest—inventive skill tends to increase the wealth of the country and brings nearer the time when we should not merely have a minimum wage, but a very much bigger minimum wage than anybody can dream of now. The possibilities of wealth, the possibilities of production, which lie before us, which the intelligence of man is capable of arriving at when thoroughly elaborated and directed, are without limits. Just as in the past, in the 19th century, the discoveries and inventions of our highest and most intelligent class—a very small number—dragged us out of the rut and misery that followed the Napoleonic Wars, so I make no doubt that in the next 20 years, if we pursue the course of favoring and assisting the development of science, science will be our saviour, and will bring us to a more happy and prosperous position than we can dream of now.
§ Mr. LINFIELD
I can associate myself in very few words with the Motion so ably moved by the hon. Member for Bermondscy (Dr. Salter). I do not think there will be any objection to the terms of this Motion even on the other side of the House.
§ Mr. LINFIELD
Up to now there has been no serious objection to the terms of the Motion. All criticism has been directed to the view that trade will be worse rather than better if a Motion of this kind can be brought into effect. Precisely the same arguments were used when the question of child labour was before this House. Precisely the same arguments were used when the question of the reduction of hours was before this House. Precisely the same arguments were used when any question of increase of wages was before this House. Yet it seems passing strange that the late Government made a proposal of this sort, which, I have no doubt, was received with cheers by hon. Gentlemen opposite—a proposal that had attached to it the names of the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer and Sir Auckland Geddes. At that time hon. Gentlemen opposite recognised the need for some such step to be taken. Why this marvellous change of attitude? The change in Government surely cannot account for it. Many of the Members of the Government to-day were Members of the Government at that time when the Government brought in those proposals, so that; it cannot be a question of change of Government. I am very much afraid that it is the quarter whence these proposals come that frighten hon. Gentlemen opposite, and yet I cannot help but think that if the Government had listened morn sympathetically to proposals made by Members on this side of the House, they would not be in the position they are to-day. It is becoming increasingly evident in one respect on one matter at all events, that the Government are listening very intently, and will probably move in the direction of suggestions made on this side of the House.
I really rose for the purpose of calling attention to the case of the agricultural labourer. Before the War the wage of the agricultural labourer was 17s. 6d. a week, inclusive. The late Mr. Will Crooks brought a Motion before the House 658 before the War for a minimum wage of 30s., and a corresponding wage in the rural areas. The wage of the agricultural labourer to-day is being reduced to 21s. a week. [HON. MEMBERS: "Where"] In Bedfordshire and in Norfolk, where there is a strike raging against a reduction from 24s. to 21s. a week. I say with great respect—and I am hoping to see hon. Members opposite agree with me—that that is a scandal. I do not want to raise any antagonism on the benches opposite, where, no doubt, Members have as much humanity as Members on this side, but I do respectfully suggest that they are too ready to approach the question from a party point of view rather than from the humanitarian point of view. Agriculture is undoubtedly bad. The Government have suggested an inquiry into it. I want to suggest that that inquiry should begin at the bottom and not at the top, and that the first charge on the land should be the wage of the worker. The farmer, undoubtedly, would come next. There is another point of view, and that point of view is the future of this country. We cannot afford that our working-classes should be underpaid, underfed, and badly housed. We cannot build up a great Empire—if that is what hon. Members opposite want—in such conditions as these. The great British Empire does not depend on armies and navies or vast possessions. The greatness of an empire depends on a contented peasantry and contented workers, and I invite hon. Members opposite to co-operate in a matter of this kind. I have no doubt that on the election platform, if not here, we all have the well-being of the worker at heart—at all events, we say we do. Let hon. Members put these principles into practice. The Motion of my hon. Friend is merely asking the House to do exactly what their own Government proposed to do in 1919, and I ask hon. Members how they can possibly go into the Lobby and vote against a Motion that has received the assent of eminent men whom they would like to see sitting on the Front Bench to-day.
§ Mr. LINFIELD
If that be the case, surely Members are not going to eat their own words of a year or two ago, and walk into the Lobby against such a reasonable Motion, which merely sets up an inquiry.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of LABOUR (Major Boyd-Carpenter)
For the few moments that, with the permission of the House, I shall have the opportunity of replying to what has already been said, I should like at the outset to say that I suppose all of us, to whatever party we belong, will agree that this particular question of a national minimum wage has been, and is to-day, one of the most absorbingly interesting questions of our modern social life, and whatever difference of opinion there may be, I think we shall, when we come down to consider matters, equally agree that it is not want of will, but the appreciation of many real arid practical difficulties that stand in the way of its realization. Before I say anything about that I would like, with great respect, to congratulate the hon. Member for Bermondsey (Dr. Salter) on the way in which he introduced his Motion. I think we all agree it was a movie; and a very sincere speech. It brought out the tragedies of the position which are well known to us in this House, because we are dealing with it in our different spheres and coming daily in contact with this matter. At the same time I should like to say something about his reference to the establishment of a national minimum usages in the Colonies and in other countries. I do not think that he was entirely accurate. They have had Trade Boards established in the various State Governments of Australia. They had them established in Canada, and no doubt in many other countries. I may, however, remind him that when they tried after the Royal Commission of 1920, to establish in New South Wales a national minimum wage it completely broke down in operation, and it has not again been put into effect because of the practical difficulties which were realised. It has been given up and, so far as I know, they are not even suggesting that it should be brought back into practice.
§ Dr. SALTER
I have not for one moment suggested in this Resolution, nor in my speech, that we were asking for a flat rate.
§ Major BOYD-CARPENTER
If the hon. Member will allow me to continue he will see where I was coming to. Therefore, on the very question of a national minimum wage where it has been attempted it has failed. I venture to suggest that what the hon. Gentleman was referring to was the existence of Trade Boards. The value of Trade Boards has been recognised by hon. Members opposite in the various speeches which they have made. Most of their arguments have been addressed to the value of Trade Boards as affecting wages rather than to the words of the Resolution relating to a national minimum wage. I should like also to refer to some remark which fell from the lips of the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolver-hampton (Mr. G. Thorne). He inquired what had happened, why we really had not carried out the original proposal of the, Government of 18th August when they presented a Bill to this House establishing a Royal Commission of Inquiry into this matter? I have read the speeches of hon. Members on many occasions, the speeches denouncing what they call inheritance, and I have never yet understood that any Government is supposed to accept the inheritance of its predecessors.
§ Major BOYD-CARPENTER
And some people get a fall! But the real thing is this: it is quite absurd to reproach us for not pursuing the action of the late Government in presenting this particular Bill again to Parliament. Why? A good deal of water has run under the Thames bridges since then, and the curious fact is that since 1921 the General Council of the Trade Union Congress themselves having considered this matter of the national minimum wage after the Cardiff Conference, passed a resolution to the effect that the Committee was diametri- 661 cally opposed to the establishment of a national minimum wage. The conclusion was this—I note the hon. Member for Bermondsey shakes his head—I am quoting from the Report of the proceedings of the 54th Annual Trade Union Congress at Cardiff, pages 215–16, which reads as follows:
That in the Committee's view a single national minimum wage is impracticable. Legislation other than for particular industries could not he profitably pursued at the present juncture. A special congress as suggested in the Cardiff resolution is not advisable.
What does that mean? In effect it means this: a recognition of what we say to-day, that the establishment of a Royal Commission to consider this matter is entirely unnecessary, because the Trade Boards, so far as they are in existence to-day, are fulfilling the function for which hon. Members have been pleading. There is the equally curious fact which the hon. Member for Bermondsey did not refer to: I mean the Report of the Cave Committee, which is also diametrically opposed to this. In Clause 51 of that Report, a Report which recognised the value of Trade Boards, and equally recognised the fact that there might be some measure of justification for the accusation that they had affected employment in this country, but equally recognising the value of Trade Boards—that Report, I say, was diametrically opposed—and this was a unanimous Report—to the establishment of a national minimum wage. The words are these:
In some cases proposals for the repeal of the Trade Boards Act wore accompanied by the suggestion that there should be substituted for it legislation providing for a national minimum wage to be payable in all trades alike. The Minister for Labour the right hon. G. H. Roberts, in moving the Second reading of the Bill of 1915, pointed out the grave difficulties which lie in the way of any proposal to fix a national minimum wage for all trades, and the evidence given before us strongly supports the opinion then expressed.
And they thus end:
Recent Australian investigations are understood not to be favourable to the proposal. We, therefore, reject this proposal, and are of opinion that where minimum rates are required they should be determined with reference to the circumstances of each trade affected—.
§ Major BOYD-CARPENTER
Not on a national basis.The Resolution of the hon. Member calls attention to the national minimum wage. I have been attempting to point out, evidently with little effect on hon. Members, that the national minimum wage has been turned down by various bodies of opinion in this country, including the Trades Union Congress General Council, the Cave Committee—[An HON. MEMBER: "And by the whole of us on these Labour benches!"]—and the suggestion of the hon. Member to-day is really that of the recognition of the value of Trade Boards. Instead, however, of asking for a new Trades Boards Bill for the extension of the powers of these Boards and a plea for their establishment in industries where they do not exist, he asks that something else should be done, and that a Bill introduced to establish a Royal Commission for a general consideration of the whole matter. That is a totally different thing. In the opinion of those with whom I am associated for the moment, it is undesirable, in view of the opinions expressed upon the subject in the reference which I have made, and equally because we believe that as regards the existing Trade Boards they are functioning well, and they have met the very points which have been put forward by hon. Members opposite. We do not believe that there is the slightest necessity, when the Trade Boards system is developing, to ask for a Royal Commission to consider from a large and broader aspect something else which we believe to be adequately done by the existing powers under the Trade Boards Act. Hon. Members opposite seem to think that there are no difficulties in this. matter, but I think there are. You can only have a satisfactory solution of this question when you base it upon certain defined principles. If you ate going to have it, is it going to be on the subsistence basis only, or is it to be on the family basis? Are you going to say, for example, that a bachelor is going to be placed in exactly the same position in this matter as a married man with three children? [Interruption.]
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I must ask hon. Members not to continue interrupting. The 663 House cannot come to a reasonable decision on this question if there are continual interruptions.
§ Major BOYD-CARPENTER
I want to know is there to be any consideration in the value of output. A question has been asked as to whether the trade could bear the rate of wages laid down or not, and the hon. Member for Kingswinford (Mr. Sitch) said that if a trade or industry could not bear the rate recognised as a subsistence wage then that industry should perish. I think that is a very severe thing to say, and I do not think it is altogether wise, because if the industry perishes because it is unable to bear the burden of the rate of wages imposed there will be still more unemployed. In this matter we have to be somewhat of a practical nature. We all admit that in many industries the wages paid are not what we should like to see, and we are all animated with the idea that so far as possible, without destroying the industry, wages should be increased up to a level that would be recognised as sufficient to give comfortable conditions and happier surroundings. Some of us on this side of the House do not believe that any attempt to upset existing circumstances in the way suggested would render the lot of these people any better. You would not improve or benefit them, but in our opinion you would be more likely to destroy any opportunity of making things better. Therefore we must look at this matter in that light. After all the hon. Member who introduced the Motion said he was not out for a moment to create a revolution or to destroy the fabric of society. We thank him for that, but at any rate we must look at this question really from the point of view of what can be done with an industry without destroying that industry, and we must arrive at a basis for our calculation upon some defined principle. Is the definition to be subsistence, and if so is it to be the subsistence which one would say a bachelor was entitled to OT that which a married man should have? Is it to be according to age? Is it to be according to occupation? Is it to be according to sex? All these things create difficulties. It would be quite impossible under existing circumstances to arrive at any very sane conclusion as to what should be the basis, however much we may desire that such a basis should be reached.
664 These are practical difficulties which it is useless for those who are really interested in trying to find a solution for this problem to ignore. The Trade Boards to which reference has been made, and Lord Cave's Committee, distinctly contemplated districts for the operation of the existing Trade Board or of any new ones that might be created. That, again, in general application, would be a difficult problem, very difficult indeed, and it is something that would have to be considered when you are talking of a national minimum wage, and when you are asking for a Bill to be brought in to establish a Royal Commission. Whatever there is to be said for such a Royal Commission to make a general inquiry, for the moment it is not regarded as desirable, and we do not believe that in its essence it is entirely necessary. The whole argument of hon. Members opposite has really had reference to the operations of the Trade Boards, and their references to the Dominion have also been in relation to Trade Boards. It is the same in this country. From a practical point of view, what benefit would accrue to anyone in this country, at the moment, when the whole arguments have been directed to the efficacy or efficiency of the work of the Trade Boards all working on a wide scheme of general application, when everyone in this House, and all those interested in social matters, feel that the success or failure of those Boards will be the one factor which will decide as to future operations? It seems to be somewhat unnecessary, and for my own part I think the difficulties—to some of which I have referred—will be found really overwhelming. Hon. Members opposite have referred to the success of the Trade Boards, and I hope in due course we may have a new Trade Boards Bill introduced which will receive the support of hon. Members opposite.
§ Major BOYD-CARPENTER
The question whether the number should be increased or not is hardly the point at issue. Trade Boards have, undoubtedly, as admitted by hon. Members opposite, contributed very largely towards ameliorating the lot of the people. If that is so, and if it has been recognised by hon. Members—if these Boards are in 665 operation to-day and doing good work, and if, as we all admit, their establishment was, in itself, an experiment, which Lord Cave's Committee rightly considered has been a justifiable experiment—why should we do anything more than watch them, as we all hope they may prove in practice a greater success than they have been? It would be perfectly futile to embark upon larger operations, which really can have no material effect in bettering the lot of those whose existence is guided by, and whose wages are governed by, the decisions of the Trade Boards of this country to-day. There is no innate hostility on the part of the Government to inquiries into trade conditions and wages in any sphere throughout this country, because they have far too much sympathy with the needs of the people for that; but they think it is entirely undesirable, as it is unnecessary, in existing circumstances, to bring in a Bill to establish a Royal Commission, giving a larger scope of investigation, it is true, which in normal circumstances might be useful, but which in existing circumstances is unnecessary and premature, and is, from our point of view, to be deplored rather than welcomed.
§ Mr. ARTHUR HENDERSON
I think I can congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary upon having taken up so much of his speech in giving convincing support in favour of this Motion. Towards the end of his speech he enumerated quite a number of practical difficulties, all, I think, closely related to the subject of the Motion; but, surely, the more of those practical difficulties he enumerates, the stronger is the argument for the inquiry for which the Motion asks. The strong point of the hon. and gallant Gentleman's speech was that it is not desirable to take the step suggested in the Motion at the present moment. What is it that he considers undesirable? First of all, we declare, or we ask the House to declare, that, in view of the practically universal acceptance of the principle, a living wage for all workers should be the first charge on industry. Is it undesirable to make that declaration at this moment? In view of the large measure of agreement with respect. to the advisability of fixing legal minimum time rates of wages, is it undesirable that we should make that declaration?
666 Who are the workers that are most affected if we refuse to make such declaration? May I remind the House that this Motion is not concerned with the great bodies of highly organised workers? They can look after themselves; they have the power of organisation behind them, and sometimes they find it essential, because of the resistance to their most reasonable demands, to use the power of organisation. Many of us wish that Parliament would give them greater assistance, and thus avoid their having to have recourse to the use of the terrible weapon of industrial warfare, It is not these highly organised workers for whom we are pleading in this Motion; it is the vast body of miscellaneous workers, in many cases outside the great trade unions, and I may go further and say, outside the Trade Boards system. It is the vast number of women workers who suffer very often because of the miserable pittance they receive for the work they are called upon to do. Then there is a third very important category, and that is the agricultural workers. It has been declared over and over again from this Front Bench by prominent members ea the late Government that it was well-nigh impossible for the agricultural workers by the power of organisation to obtain anything like a reasonable and living standard of wage, and so we ask that we should make this declaration on behalf of those large categories of workers that I have named, and the only answer we have from the Government is that it is not desirable that we should make this declaration at the present moment. The Parliamentary Secretary, I hope unintentionally, took a very unfair advantage of a quotation from the report of the Trade Union Congress, and he fastened his observations on to the words at the opening of our Resolution. The title is National Minimum Wage—" to call attention to the question of a National Minimum Wage "—and he quoted that in support of his contention that he was justified in quoting the Trade Union Congress report. But he might have read the Resolution. He might have gone into the operative part of the Resolution and not the title. What does the operative part of the Resolution declare in two places? Not for a national minimum wage as ho interpreted it. That is the mere title. It is used in this sense, that it would 667 be a legal wage, but it is not a flat rate, and therefore is not a national minimum wage in the sense that the Parliamentary Secretary interpreted it. It is time rates of wages, and all that we are asking is that a Commission should be appointed to inquire into and report upon legal time rates of wages, an entirely different thing from the national minimum wage that he put forward in his argument.
I should like to refer to another point that the Parliamentary Secretary made. He asked over the Table whether we thought the present Government had to accept the inheritance of the late Government. I am going to try to show that there are many reasons why the public and those of us on this side of the House should expect them to accept a a good share of the responsibility for the late Government. After all, what was the late Government constituted of? We have only to look along that bench and we look into the faces of quite a number of right hon. Gentlemen who held important offices in the old Government—that is, those of them who have been privileged by the electors to get here. [An HON. MEMBER: "How about Widnes?"] I am quite prepared to accept the challenge. I only had one try. Some had two tries, and there is no telling whether they will get here if they have a third try. So the Widnes argument is useless. We have a right to expect them to accept a share of the responsibility. As the Parliamentary Secretary was good enough to quote from a very important Labour document, I am going to quote from a very important document associated with the late Government. I wish we could get all sections of the House back to the position we occupied at the early part of 1919. Some of the old Members will remember that in February, 1919, the late Government set up what was possibly the most important conference on industry ever held in this country. I have here a resolution that was unanimously adopted by 500 trades union and workmen's representatives, and by nearly 500 representatives of employers. It says:This Conference, being of the opinion that any preventable dislocation of industry is always to be deplored, and in the present critical period of reconstruction may be disastrous to the interests of the nation, and thinking that every effort should be 668 made to remove legitimate grievances and to promote harmony and good will, resolves to appoint a joint Committee, consisting of equal numbers of employers and workers, men and women, together with a chairman appointed by the Government, to consider and report to a further meeting of this Conference on the causes of present unrest and the steps necessary to safeguard and promote the best interests of employers, workpeople and the State, and especially to consider (1) Questions relating to hours, wages and general conditions of employment; (2) Unemployment and its prevention; and (3) The best method of promoting cooperation between capital and labour.That committee appointed its joint committee. I happened to be chairman of the workmen's side of the committee. We sat always day by day for some weeks, and then we reported. I have often said that, in my judgment, that joint Report, with its unanimous recommendations, unanimously accepted when presented to the great conference of nearly 1,000, representatives, held in the Central Hall at Westminster, was the most remarkable document that has ever been produced by such a body in this or any other country. I will now quote the ex-Prime Minister, and may I say that the ex-Prime Minister, when the Report was brought to his notice, accepted the same on behalf of the Government.
§ Mr. HENDERSON
My hon. Friend need not be so hasty in telling me that it. was not accepted for this Government. Let me say that the chief lieutenant of the Government for which the Report was accepted is the present Prime Minister, and I believe the present Minister of Labour held a very important office at that time.
§ Mr. HENDERSON
My right hon. Friend says he had not the robe of office at that time. At any rate, he occupies that office now, and he is filling an office which was then occupied by one of the Ministers to whom I shall refer. Let me read the first clause in the very important letter sent to the Conference by the late Prime Minister:I have read the Report of the Committee of the Joint Industrial Council with very great interest. It seems to me to be 669 an excellent piece of work, considering the short time at the disposal of the Committee. I welcome it, especially as it shows what can be done when the representatives of the workers and the employers come together.Now, I am going to quote the then Minister of Labour, who became Chancellor of the Exchequer in the late Government—It was his duty to explain to them—that is, to the Conference—the position of the Government. He had read to them the letter of the Prime Minister, and he had explained the awkward circumstances in which they stood to-day by reason of his absence. It was the most momentous document which had been presented to the country in a long number of years, and so far as he was concerned they might take it he would not be there that day if he did not believe that the principles in the Report would receive without delay the favour of the Government.Again I would remind the House that that included the favour of the present Prime Minister and a large number of his colleagues. He also said, and this is the point which I want the House to note:They made recommendations with regard to Trade Boards. The Ministry of Labour at the present time had been expediting with all the energy in its power the setting up of Trade Boards.The Parliamentary Secretary expressed the hope that when the Government introduced the legislation on trade boards we would give support. If it is going in this direction, yes. If it is departing from the principles laid down in this document I can promise him all the opposition which we are capable of offering. The ex-Prime Minister stated, as I have good reason to know:Your work is being closely watched.Then he went on to say:As regards wages I accept the principle "—This is very importantthat minimum rates of wages in all industries be made applicable by law. The question of the best method of doing this however is complex and full of difficulties "—That is our case. That is why we want the Commission,and I do not think that it would be possible to frame legislation until a scheme for carrying out the principle of minimum rates had been fully worked out. I therefore gladly accept your suggestion that the Government should in the first place set up a Commission with wide terms of reference to report on the whole matter.670 It was opportune—that was the argument we have heard to-night—to make such a declaration in 1919. It is inopportune to put this recommendation into operation in the early part of 1923. The delay in dealing with these recommendations has had a most disastrous effect. In an experience of 40 years of trade unionism I have never known anything to have such a disastrous effect as the failure on the part of the late Government to put its declaration, as recorded in a letter from the late Prime Minister, into operation. On the two main issues to which they definitely committed themselves, first the hours, and second the minimum rate, they have failed to carry their own promise into effect and have disappointed the universal expectations which they themselves created. That is so far as the old Government is concerned. Now we learn from the Parliamentary Secretary that while it is desirable to do these things under different conditions, it is undesirable, in his judgment and in the judgment of the Government, to do them now. All I can say is that when it gets out to-morrow that the new Government is to maintain the indifferent attitude of the old, when it gets out that the present Prime Minister, who was a party to the ex-Prime Minister making these emphatic declarations, is changing his attitude, it will be most disappointing to multitudes of our working people.
Last night we were debating a very important social question. Two weeks ago we were debating a similar question. One of the speakers towards the close of the Debate last night said that he intended to keep a record of all the questions that Labour introduced, and the cost that the schemes entailed. That was the attitude of the representatives of the Government. They said, in effect, "This means £20,000,000," or "This means £25,000,000," or "This means £50,000,000." [HON. MEMBERS" Hear, hear!"] I am glad to have that acknowledgment. What is the objection to-night? Is it a question of millions? We are sometimes charged with bringing in the most costly and most extreme proposals.
§ Mr. HENDERSON
I expected that from the right hon. Baronet. Everything that we do is extreme in his estimation. But in this case I should have thought 671 that he, as a very important employer of labour, would have supported us and would have said: "Yes, after all there is a little sweet reasonableness in the Labour party for once in its lifetime, and because of that I am going into the lobby with the Labour Members." All that we are asking the Government to do is to set up an inquiry with a view to ascertaining, not whether a flat rate is possible, but whether minimum rates in the respective industries are possible, and whether we have in existence proper machinery for applying those rates, and, if not, what machinery is necessary. In view of the fact that there is no expense worthy of the name involved in our proposal, I fail to see why the Government cannot accept the Motion. I hope they will give the House an opportunity, without putting on the Whips, to make a free declaration as to whether this Resolution ought to be put into operation immediately or postponed for an indefinite period.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I have on more than one occasion voted with the Labour party. On those occasions the Labour party were right. But on this occasion the Labour party are wrong, and, therefore, I am unable to repeat the pleasant experiences of the past by voting with them. The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down brought forward a very weak argument in favour of setting up an inquiry. We all know—it is not in any way a party question—what the setting up of an inquiry is. In nine cases out of ten, it means waste of time, and leads to nothing, and in nine cases out of ten it is set up in order to do that very thing. The right hon. Gentleman told us that, in 1919, when extremely foolish things were done, especially by the late Prime Minister, a Committee was set up, over which he presided. That Committee came to a unanimous conclusion, and submitted its Report to the then Government. Its Report was endorsed, with flattery, by the late Prime Minister and the late Chancellor of the Exchequer. What has happened? Nothing at all? Then, why on earth set up another Committee to do exactly the same thing, and to encourage, in the minds of the workers, who do not quite understand Parliamentary procedure, a belief that something is going to be done?
672 It is too late to embark at any length upon the foolishness of the Motion. I think the hon. Member for East Wolver-hampton (Mr. G. Thorne) quoted what was done in 1919. Curiously enough, I have preserved, in a little case that I keep at home, a paper called "The Future," which was issued in 1919. I thought to myself, "Shall I bring it down to the House this evening?" Then I thought, "It is not worth while. I probably shall not have an opportunity of speaking." So I did not bring it, but I remember perfectly well a picture on the face of it. It was a picture of the late Prime Minister—I am sorry he is not in his place. The late Prime Minister, under his picture, said, "The old world must end. The misery which we have suffered in the old world must end, and a new world must be created, in which there will be no misery, no people sweated," etc. Sir Eric Geddes, who was also quoted by the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton, made a startling announcement. I read this to him in the House, with great satisfaction, on the Second Reading of the Railway Bill, in 1921. He informed us that he visualised the future, and this is how he visualised the future.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
They are tarred with the same brush. He visualised the dock labourer in his garden in the country, with a telephone working to the docks, and a special train waiting for him—I am sorry the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) is not here; she would be pleased at this—this was in order to prevent the dock labourer having to wait outside a public house. He would be digging in his garden, cultivating the soil, and he would receive a telephonic message that he was to come to work at the dock, and he would get into his special train and go off to his work. He also visualised factories in the country, and there, he said, the agricultural labourer was not fully employed. He thought the best way would be for him to work half a year on the land and half a year in the factories. There would be factories scattered over the face of the land and not in the towns. They would be in the country, with new lines 673 of railway to get out to them. Can you beat that? What is there in that doctrine which is worthy of consideration?
That, in view of the practically universal acceptance of the principle that a living wage for all workers should be the first charge on industry, and in view of the large measure of agreement with respect to
§ the advisability of fixing legal minimum time rates of wages reached at the National Industrial Conference, this House urges the Government to proceed without delay with the Bill introduced by the Government of the day in 1919 constituting a Commission to inquire into and report upon legal minimum time rates of wages."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 176; Noes, 139.675
|Division No. 28.]||AYES.||[10.55 p.m.|
|Adams, D.||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Potts, John S.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Hancock, John George||Price, E. G.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Harbord, Arthur||Pringle, W. M. R.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hardie, George D.||Richards. R.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hartshorn, Vernon||Richardson, R. (Moughton-le-Spring)|
|Attlee, C. R.||Hastings, Patrick||Riley, Ben|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hay, Captain J. p. (Cathcart)||Ritson, J.|
|Barnes, A.||Hayday. Arthur||Roterts, C. H. (Derby)|
|Batey, Joseph||Hemmerde, E. G.||Roberts, Frederick D. (W. Bromwich)|
|Benn. Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Henderson, Sir T, (Roxburgh)||Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Berkeley, Captain Reginald||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Robinson, W. C. (York, Elland)|
|Bonwick. A.||Herrlotts, J.||Saklatvala, S.|
|Bowdler. W. A.||Hill, A.||Salter, Dr. A.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hinds, John||Sanderson, Sir Frank B.|
|Broad, F. A.||Hirst. G. H.||Scrymgeou, E.|
|Bromfield. William||Hodge, Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston)||Sexton, James|
|Brotherton, J.||Hogge. James Myles||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)|
|Brawn, James (Ayr and Bute)||Jenkins. W. (Glamorgan. Neath)||Shiiivvell. Emanuel|
|Buchanan, G.||Jephcott, A. R.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Buckle, J.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Burgess, S.||Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Simpson, J. Hope|
|Burnie, Major J. (Bootle)||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newlngton)||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Butler, J. R. M. (Cambridge Univ.)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Smith. T. (Pontefract)|
|Buxton, Charles (Accrington)||Jones, R. T. (Carnarvon)||Snell, Harry|
|Biuton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Snowden, Philip|
|Cairns, John||Jowett, F. W. (Bradford, East)||Spencer. George A. (Broxtowe)|
|Cape. Thomas||Jowett, W. A. (The Hartlepools)||Spencer. H. H. (Bradford, S.)|
|Chappie, W. A.||Kenyon, Barnet||Stephen. Campbell|
|Charleton. H. C.||Kirkwood, D.||Stewart J. (St. Rollox)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Lansbury, George||Sullivan, J.|
|Collison, Levi||Lawson, John James||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Leach, W.||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Lee, F.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhamton, E.)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lees-Smith, H. B. (Keighlcy)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Lewis, Thomas A.||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Dudgeon, Major c. R.||Linfreld, F. C.||Trevelyan, C. P.|
|Duffy, T. Gavan||Lort-Wllllams, J.||Turner, Ben|
|Duncan, C.||Lowth, T.||Walsh. Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Dunnico. H,||Lunn. William||Warne, G. H.|
|Ede. James Chuter||MacDonald, J. R. (Aberavon)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Edmonds, G.||M'Entee, V. L.||Watts Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Edwards. C (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||McLaren, Andrew||Webb. Sidney|
|Emlyn-Jones, J. E. (Dorset, N.)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow. Gnvani||Weir, L. M.|
|England, Lieut.-Colonel A,||March, S.||Westwood. J.|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Marshall, Sir Arthur H.||Whentley, J.|
|Evans, Capt. H. Arthur (Leicester, E.)||Maxton, James||White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Foot, Isaac||Millar, J. D.||Whiteley, W.|
|George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)||Morris, Harold||Wignall, James|
|Gosling, Harry||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham. N.)||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Muir. John W.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Murnin, H,||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Gray, Frank (Oxford)||Murray, R. (Renfrew, Western)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Greenall, T.||Nichol. Robert||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Grenfell, D. R, (Glamorgan)||O'Grady, Captain James||Wood. Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Groves, T.||Oliver, George Harold||Wright, W.|
|Grundy. T. W.||Paling, W.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Guest. Hon. C. H. (Bristol, N.)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)||Phillipps. Vivian||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hall, F. (York, W.B., Normanton)||Phllipson, H. H.||Mr. Arthur Henderson and Mr. T. Griffiths.|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Ponsonby, Arthur|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Astor, J. J. (Kent, Dover)||Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Baird, Rt Hon. Sir John Lawerence||Benn, Sir A S. (Plymouth. Drake)|
|Alexander. E. E. (Leyton, East)||Barlow, Rt. Hon. Sir Montague||Bennett. A. J. (Mansfield)|
|Alexander, Col. M, (Southwark)||Barnett, Major Richard W.||Birchall, Major J. Dearman|
|Ashley. Lt.-Col. Wilfrid W.||Barnston. Major Harry||Dlundell. F. N.|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Reaburn, Sir William H.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Harvey, Major S. E.||Raine, W.|
|Brass, Captain W.||Hawke, John Anthony||Rawson, Lieut-Com. A. C.|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Hay, Major T. W. (Norfolk, South)||Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Brown, Major D, C. (Hexham)||Herbert, S. (Scarborough)||Remer, J. R.|
|Brown, Brig-Gen. Clifton (Newbury)||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Rentouf, G. S.|
|Brown, J. w. (Middlesbrough, E.)||Hohler, Gerald Fitzory||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Bruton, Sir James||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Hood, Sir Joseph||Roberts, Rt. Hon. Sir S. (Ecclesall)|
|Burn, Colonel Sir Charles Rosdew||Hopkins, John W. W.||Robertson, J. D. (Islington, W.)|
|Button, H. S.||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Cadogan, Ma|or Edward||Houfion, John Plowright||Ruggles-Brise, Major E.|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Howard, Capt. D. (Cumberland, N.)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Russell, William (Bolton)|
|Chad wick, Sir Robert Burton||Hudson, Capt. A.||Russell-Wells, Sir Sydney|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Hughes, Collingwood||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Hume, G. H.||Sanders, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert A.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Sandon, Lord|
|Clayton, G. C.||Hurd, Percy A.||Simpson-Hinchclifie, W. A.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hutchison, G. A. C. (Midlothian, N.)||Singleton, J. E.|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Hutchison, W. (Kelvingrove)||Skelton, A. N.|
|Colvin, Brig,-General Richard Beale||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Smith, Sir Harold (Wavertree)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Jarrett, G. W. S.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Cope, Major William||Jenkins, W. A. (Brecon and Radnor)||Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-in.Furness)|
|Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff. South)||Johnson. Sir L. (Walthamstow, E.)||Sparkes, H. W.|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Joynson-Hicks, Sir William||Spender-Clay, Lieut-Colonel H. H.|
|Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page||Kennedy, Captain M. S. Nigel||Stanley, Lord|
|Crooke, J. S. (Deritend)||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Steel, Major S. Strana|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Stott, Lt.Col. W. H.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Lamb, J. Q.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Colonel G. R.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid H.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Sutcliffe, T.|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Lloyd-Greame, Rt. Hon. Sir P.||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Lorimer, H. D.||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Ellis, R. G.||Lougher, L.||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Lumley, L. R.||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Fawkes, Major F. H.||McNelll, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Flanagan, W. H.||Margesson, H. D. R.||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Mason, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw||Wallace, Captain E.|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Galbralth, J. F. W.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Waring, Major Walter|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Molloy, Major L. G. S.||Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Gates, Percy||Molson, Major John Eisdale||Wells, S. R.|
|Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R.||Morden, Col. W. Grant||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield|
|Glbbs, Colonel George Abraham||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Gould, James C.||Murchison, C. K.||White, Lt.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Gray, Harold (Cambridge)||Nail, Major Joseph||Whitla, Sir William|
|Greaves-Lord, Walter||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Wilson, Lt.-Col. LeslieO.(P'tsm'th,S.)|
|Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Newson, Sir Percy Wilson||Winterton, Earl|
|Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Wise, Frederick|
|Guinness, Lieut-Col. Hon. W. E.||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Gwynne, Rupert S.||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Yerburgh, R. D. T.|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Paget, T. G.|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwlch)||Pease, William Edwin||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W.(Liv'p'I.W.D'by)||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Sir F. Banbury and Mr. G. Balfour.|
|Halstead, Major D.||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Hamilton, Sir George C. (Altrincham)|