§ Again considered in Committee.
§ [Captain FITZROY in the Chair.]
§ Question again proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ Mr. R. YOUNG
When I was interrupted, I was questioning the Government as to what they expected to attain by the introduction of this Bill. I was saying that, in our opinion—at least, in 1210 my own opinion—the Government appeared to fail to realise that there was in existence a Report of a Royal Commission which they themselves had appointed, and that a responsible Government would have recognised that there had been an inquiry into the mining industry and that the Royal Commission had reported along certain lines. I suggested that it would have been well if the Government had taken action on the lines of the Report rather than take action that led away from the Report. In fact, my own view is that it would have been much better if the Government had insisted upon the status quo being maintained, and had invited both parties together and told them plainly that on the points on which they were agreed they could consult with the Government as to which way action should lie, and that upon points where they were disagreed the Government themselves should indicate theft view, and inquire what they were prepared mutually to leave out, and that perhaps the Government might make some concessions along those lines. That seems to me to have been the proper line the Government should have taken, for in this matter the interests of the country transcend, not only the interest of the miner, but also the interests of the coalowner, and, indeed, both combined. Therefore, the Royal Commission's Report ought to have been made the basis of some arrangement whereby in the end the mining industry could have been carried on.
Speaking the other day, an hon. Member referred to the Report as having in it ambiguities and obscurities. If there were such ambiguities and obscurities in the Report surely the Government should have asked the Commission to elucidate them and in that way provide a basis for going forward! Legislation of this kind will not succeed. Legislation which seeks to put back the workers is in the long rum sure to fail in its object. This legislation is not, as has been indicated, permissive. It is obvious that it is not temporary. If the Government had come to the House and said that here was a provision in the 1908 Act, and that the miners and mineowners had agreed to work eight hours a day, 60 days in the year, but as that was not sufficient they proposed legislation, it would have been different. Why have not the Government realised that the provisions of the 1908 1211 Act are there, and that if the miners were agreed to work, and the mineowners were prepared to meet them, that could have been done without this legislation. The fact that you cannot get this 60 days work is proof positive that the miners will not undertake to work under new conditions, namely, the eight-hours day the whole year through. I think they are justified in their opposition to this proposal. The country is behind them. The only result of this legislation will be that in the near future the Government will experience what a stronger Conservative administration experienced in the past in relation to the Taff Vale decision. In that great question the workers realised that an attack was being made upon them. Generally, the position is the same here. It is admitted on all sides that the workers in the mining industry work under arduous conditions; that the occupation is as laborious as any in the land. It is admitted that the miner runs the most serious risk to his body, and it is not only a question of the risk of accidents, but of daily risk to his life.
The Government have already been found out in this matter. This Measure will place the men engaged in this arduous occupation in a worse position than all other industrial occupations; than even people in shops, for many of these nowadays only work an eight-hours day. Yet we are going to force the miners to work a longer day. It is admitted that these are men who have rendered yeoman service to the country in the past. They were men who were essential to digging trenches, as well as to digging coal, and now they are being forced back, after all the promises made to them to this lengthened working period. Hon. Members would be astonished to know the opinion amongst the miners on some of these points. Some of them have been asking: Was it worth winning the War to arrive at this position? Would it not have been better digging reparation coal rather than accept the conditions imposed upon us under this Bill?"
This is, I believe, the first time in the history of the country that a Government has introduced a Bill for lengthening hours of labour. Bills have been brought forward before now to alleviate conditions of work, and I would pay due 1212 honour to those pioneers of the party on the other side of the House who came forward in those early days and did what they did, and placed matters on a basis that enabled these forward movements to go on from strength to strength. No legislation of this kind will succeed in the long run. You may say it is permissive. We believe your intention is to make it permanent. We believe that employers at all events will regard it as permanent legislation. It has been admitted by one hon. Member that a certain employer said that the only fault in this matter was that the Government had not been brave or courageous enough to make the hours permanent, because he believed had they been made permanent it would have saved some reduction in wages! It is only temporary so far as the Government is concerned, but the mineowners of the country will seek to maintain its permanence. Five years is a long time to talk of the temporary nature of this Measure.
The progress that has been made in the past will continue in spite of this Measure. Just as the workers from time to time have come from slavery to serfdom, from serfdom to free labour, and then on from free labour to organised labour, so that movement will continue, and the struggle will go on till the workers get a share of the control of industry. [A laugh.] The hon. Member may laugh at that suggestion, but why should they not seek to have some control, some share in the control of an industry to which they give their lives rather than those who come in merely for profit? I was somewhat astonished the other day at the argument put forward by an hon. Member opposite behind the Front Bench in difference of the proposal of the Government. I remember speaking to the late Lord Kitchener in the early stages of the War, and he told me he was then responsible for directing several wars at the same time. Later, however, the whole organisation practically, or at all events the command of the whole of the armies in the field were in the hands of one man. I suggest that with proper legislation what could be done during the Great War under proper conditions could be done by the people who are running this industry: that it could be run in the interests of the country, and in such a way that there would be peace as well as profit.
1213 What I fear is that this introduction of the eight-hours day is going to create discontent, deep-rooted discontent, in the minds of those on whom you are imposing it. If you are going to put the mines under an eight-hours day, there is no guarantee that in the pit the men will respond to it. You cannot make them work eight hours, or give increased production, if they labour under a sense of injustice, as they undoubtedly will under these circumstances. That sense of injustice will rankle in their breasts and will be a bar to any good understanding with their employers. Those of us who have laboured for better relations between employer and employed begin to realise, if the Government can take up a position of this kind, that we had better adapt our struggle accordingly. What is the use of the efforts of men like myself who for years have been endeavouring to create better relationship between employers and workmen? We do not believe in strikes or lock-outs. We should like to see them obviated. What is the good of men like myself trying to arrive at various amicable relationships if we are going to get this kind of legislation? When we ask for these better relationships in the future, our men will turn round and point to this sort of thing as their reward. The Government are not helping in these matters. We have in fact to-day in several instances better relations between employers and employed, but industry will have to be run in the interest of the whole community in the interests of those who should reap the benefit, and in all this men ought to be able to realise the promises that were made to them during the War were being made good.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Major PRICE
From a purely general public point of view, I should like to say a few words, because it seems to me that the general public are the last people who are thought of in this matter. I should welcome more expressions of opinion in the tone of the hon. Member for the Broxtowe Division of Nottingham (Mr. Spencer) who addressed the Committee just now. I venture to think that if such speeches as his had been made in these Debates a little oftener, some sort of settlement would have been arrived at. Is it the real desire of hon. Gentlemen opposite to attain to that? Have they really a desire for a settlement in order 1214 that the industry may succeed? If it be their wish, why, in the name of Heaven, do they not give it expression on every possible occasion? It is up to them, not to find fault constantly, but to find a means of settlement. To blame the Government, even if the Government is to blame, is not a way to go about it. Only by seeking a means to attain agreement, being desirous to create goodwill on every side, to pour oil on troubled waters, and not to stir up strife in any way, only in that way will you get a settlement; not otherwise. Can hon. Gentlemen say if the Coal Report is accepted in its entirety, they will on behalf of the miners agree to it and abide by it? Can a single Member of the Front Opposition Bench come forward and say he will use all his endeavours and the endeavours of his party to put the Report into operation if the Government will agree to it The Government have already said that they are prepared to do so. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I am certain that I am speaking for Members on this side of the House when I say that, if such an offer were made from that side, we would accept it.
§ Major PRICE
The coal owners would be forced to accept it, if you on your side accepted it. The main objection urged to this Bill is that it prevents future negotiations for a settlement of this dispute. In what way does it prevent you now, or at any time, or when the Bill passes, putting forward a settlement?[Interruption.]
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Captain FitzRoy)
I must ask hon. Members to remember that freedom of expression cannot be confined to one side.
§ Mr. PALING
When the hon. Member puts his speech in the form of questions, surely we may reply to it?
§ Major PRICE
With regard to this Bill preventing a settlement of the dispute, it is said that this is a compulsory Eight Hours Bill. We are told that, when we say that the Bill is a permissive and temporary Measure, we are entirely wrong, and that, although in form it is permissive, yet in practice it will mean compul- 1215 sion. An hon. Member from Durham told us that the Durham miners bad enjoyed a seven-hours day for many years, long before there was any legislation compelling it. There is nothing whatever to prevent the Miners' Federation insisting in any district, or in every district, that a seven-hours day shall be worked. All these are purely quibbles. Has there been a single suggestion which will lead to a settlement of this dispute? I am perfectly aware that, if you take the miners' leaders, nobody can honestly say that they have from the beginning sought a settlement. Why, the very opinions expressed time out of number by Mr. Cook during and before this dispute shows that, instead of trying to create a state of affairs under which the industry could progress, his one desire has been to kill the industry on its present lines. [HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish!"] You may say it is rubbish, but I would refer you to Mr. Cook's own speeches, and you will see it there. [HON. MEMBERS: "Quote!"] You know far better than I do where he said it.
§ Major PRICE
It has been suggested by the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Spencer) that we shall create an army of disgruntled miners if this Bill is put into force. We can only create that army if the propaganda which is at work misrepresents the whole purpose of the Bill. So long as our object is to pave the way to a settlement of the dispute, so long should the miners give us a fair hearing, just as we give their representatives a fair hearing. Of all the points put forward in regard to a settlement of this dispute, that which is most likely to lead to a settlement is that there should be consideration given to the appointment of a committee, with a chairman, which would settle the question of hours and wages. That may be done although the Bill becomes law. There is nothing that this Bill does which prevents any further points in the Coal Commission's Report, which are likely to lead to a settlement, from being put into operation if there is the slightest chance of the miners accepting it in the spirit in which it is put forward. Undoubtedly we will never have a settlement of the dispute between the two parties unless there is a desire for 1216 a settlement on the part of both parties. I have no doubt whatever that my hon. Friend, who represents the miners in Glamorgan, knows that an effort of goodwill on the part of both parties would bring about a settlement. I ask hon. Members opposite to use every effort and every influence that they have got in order that the atmosphere of good will may be created, and in order that the country may be saved from this great suffering, which may be prevented if that spirit of good will prevails on both sides.
§ Mr. JOHN
The hon. and gallant Member for Pembroke (Major Price), in his closing remarks, made an appeal for a spirit of good will to prevail. It is very difficult to create that atmosphere of good will, while one is at the same time making a deliberate travesty of the truth. I challenge the hon. and gallant Member to produce in any speech which Mr. Cook, the Secretary of the Miners' Federation, has made, anything to the effect that he is organising this stoppage in order to ruin the mining industry.
§ Major PRICE
What I said was that the leader of the miners had shown in speeches, before the strike and during the strike, that the existing system was one which he was not in favour of.
§ Mr. JOHN
We can prove that, so far as the leaders of the hon. Member are concerned, they are assisting the coalowners in order to ruin and kill the miners. You cannot get a spirit of good will whilst introducing a Bill of this kind. The right hon. Member for Carmarthen (Sir A. Mond) stated that we were no nearer settlement to-day than we were eight or nine weeks ago, and that it was wrong to argue that this Bill was a compulsory Bill. A large number of Members have argued in that sense. The right hon. Member said that 1217 the miners should get a ballot taken upon it, that they should ballot as to whether they should accept this particular Bill or not. If it is to be a question of the miners balloting as to whether they would accept this particular Bill, why not have a ballot of the whole country as to the right of the Government to introduce this Bill? During the period of the general strike this party and the Trade Union Congress were taunted with calling a general strike without a ballot of the men. Here is a principle, which affects over a million miners and their dependants, and which is going to affect the liberties of all the industrial workers of the country. The Government have got no right to do this. They have violated all traditions and they have violated the Constitution in introducing this Bill. If it was a question of acting on democratic ideals, then surely, in order to make that democratic ideal practical, they ought to submit this to a General Election. It is quite true that we are farther away from a settlement, and the reason is that the Government have not attempted to solve this problem of the mining industry. They have not looked at it in a broad, comprehensive, and statesmanlike manner. They have ranged themselves behind the coalowners, and taken their marching orders from the coalowners, and the Bill which is introduced at the present time is introduced at the instigation of the coalowners. On 15th June, the Prime Minister said, in a speech in this House:I have received positive assurances from the owners that on the basis of an eight-hours day—I have not received them myself, but one or two of my colleagues received them."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th June, 1926; col. 2152, Vol. 196.]He said that he had received assurances from the coalowners that, if the Government would introduce an Eight Hours Bill, the coalowners then would not introduce very harsh measures in regard to reduction in wages. Yet the coalowners in South Wales are prepared, according to the Welsh Press, notwithstanding the assurances given to the Government that they were not going to give such terms to offer terms to the South Wales miners under which the wages for the first three months, July, August and September, would be the same rate of wages as pre stoppage rates, but after September a reduction in wages down to the standard 1218 of 1921 would take place. That would mean that the lowest paid man would receive 6s. 7d. a day or less than £2 per week.
Captain ARTHUR EVANS
The Secretary said it would come down to the level of 1921, but it would not be lower.
§ Mr. JOHN
It would not be lower than the level of 1921 or the ascertainments whichever was the lowest, and it would be possible to go down to 1921, which would be a wage of less than £2 a week. The education authorities at the present time are feeding the school children at the expense of 3d. a meal. Suppose you take the same basis for a family of five, then five meals at 3d. makes 1s. 3d. and four times a day makes 5s. The miners feed every day like other people so that makes 35s. a week simply for food on the basis of 3d. a meal, and there is 5s. balance.
Why did the Prime Minister send his colleagues to the coalowners? Or was it the coalowners that came to the colleagues of the Prime Minister in order to instruct them what to do? How were these assurances got or given? What was the position last year? Then the coalowners wanted the miners to work with a reduction in wages. The miners said that they could not accept a reduction of wages. A stoppage was imminent. The Government stepped in and said that they could not afford a stoppage just then and were prepared in order to tide over the difficulty to pay a subsidy and to appoint a Commission in the meantime in order to make full investigation as to the real difficulties of the industry. That Commission brought in its Report, not a report to the coalowners, not a report to the miners, but a report to the Government who had appointed them, and in that particular inquiry the coalowners gave evidence. The coalowners said: "We require one fundamental thing, and that is a change of hours. We believe the best medicine to cure the illness of the mining industry is the eight-hours day." The Coal Commission stated in their Report that the eight-hours day would not cure the illness of the mining industry. The Government, in going to the coalowners to get their assurances, or in accepting assurances from the coalowners, throw over the Coal Commission and want to prescribe the medicine suggested by the coalowners. That is a very 1219 strange way of doing business—to appoint a Commission to make investigations and then to ignore the findings of that Commission and go to the coalowners, who had already given evidence opposed to the findings of the Commission, in order to ascertain the best course to be adopted.
This Bill is intended to assist the coal-mining industry, but when we consider it alongside the Bill introduced last week we find a complete absence of co-ordination and no continuity of policy. The Bill last week was intended to reorganise the industry; this Bill is going to disorganise the industry. If it be a question of increasing production, the best way to increase production always is to reduce hours. Not only in the mining industry, but in any other industry, a reduction of hours has always resulted in increased production. One is consequential on the other. [An HON. MEMBER: "Question!"] I will give proofs. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ogmore (Mr. Hartshorn), in discussing the reorganisation Bill the other evening gave figures showing the electrical and mechanical revolution which had been made in the industry. He showed the tremendous increase in the number of conveyors and coal-cutters in use, and said that as a result of this revolution in the industry—or, at any rate, in parts of the industry, in the coalfields that were responsible for 40 per cent. of the output—there had been increased efficiency. I think it can be shown that the increasing use of machinery in mines has come about since the change from the eight to seven-hours day. The reduction in hours has meant that the coalowners have concentrated upon the technique of the industry. The Government now attempt to reverse this. Instead of concentrating on the technique of the industry, they are attempting to exploit human material. Instead of increasing the use of machinery, they are depending on the brawn and the muscle of the miner; they are limiting the life of the miner in order to meet the requirements of the industry, instead of expanding the industry to meet the requirements and the needs of the miner. The miner was not created for the mining industry. The mining industry was developed in the interests and for the sake of the miner.
1220 Let us see for a moment whether the use of machinery has got any practical bearing on this particular question? The information I propose to give does not come from the Miners' Federation. It was given at a meeting at Cardiff of the South Wales Miners' Engineers' Institute in connection with the Treforest School of Mines. An expert was delivering a lecture there on the practical effects of machinery upon output and upon costs. He said that in one seam in a district in which he was agent the output per man before the conveyor had been introduced as 1.66 tons a day; when they introduced the conveyor the output per man was increased to 2.75 tons, that is, an increase of three-quarters of a ton a day. The cost of a ton of coal without the conveyor was 4s. 1.95d.; the cost with the conveyor was 3s. 0.2d. The introduction of this machinery had increased the efficiency of the mine by increasing output and by reducing costs to the extent of 1s. 1d. per ton. A conveyor was introduced into another seam. The average daily output of the miner without the conveyor was 1.74 tons, the output with the conveyor was 3.04 tons. The average cost per ton of the coal without the conveyor was 9s. 2.01d.; the average cost with the conveyor was 5s. 5.36d., a reduction of 3s. 8.65d. per ton. Accompanying this there was a decrease in the face costs ranging from 48 per cent. to 58 per cent. All this has been going on as the result of the change from eight to seven hours and the concentration of the employers on the economic needs of the industry. Instead of increasing the hours of the miners they have brought about a revolution by the introduction of machinery. Instead of going on with the methods of 50 years ago we ought to get up-to-date methods in the industry.
During the general strike the Prime Minister made an appeal, and in that appeal he asked whether the miners could not trust him to give them a fair deal. I am very sorry for the standard of fairness of the Prime Minister. His standard of fairness is to increase the hours, accompanying it with a reduction in wages. What was the standard of fairness of the late Mr. Bonar Law? When the hon. Member for Morpeth (Mr. Smillie) was discussing with him the reduction of hours from eight to seven a day, he said "We do not want 1221 a reduction in wages, we want the same wages for working seven hours as we were receiving for working eight hours," and Mr. Bonar Law said, in reply to that, that getting the same wages was quite legitimate and fair. That was the standard of fairness of the late Mr. Bonar Law; but the standard of fairness of the present Prime Minister is to increase the hours and to reduce the wages. We cannot depend upon the Prime Minister to give the miners a fair deal if that is his standard of fairness. Reference has been made to the effects of fatigue among the miners upon the number of accidents and upon their health. The hon. Member for Broxstowe (Mr. Spencer), whose speech has been eulogised, showed the effects of increased hours upon the social, the physical and the mental conditions of the miner. The Bill introduced last week contains a provision for taking 5 per cent. from royalty owners in order to make provision for pithead baths, and a certain sum of money was also to come from the welfare scheme. While in that Bill we are providing amenities for the miner, in this Bill we are increasing his hours and curtailing his opportunities for enjoyment.
On several occasions we have had arguments based on a comparison of wages, output and hours of the British miner, the German miner, and the French miner. It was argued that to enable this country to compete with Continental countries it is necessary to get a, reduction in costs, in order to bring about a reduction in the price of coal, and that the only way in which that can be effected is by reducing wages and increasing hours. We ought not to forget that there is as much intelligence among the German coalowners as there is among the British coalowners. They will apply precisely the same arguments in their own country. Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that increased hours will bring about a reduction in the price of coal and puts this country on a better basis than Germany and the other countries for competing in the world markets. Whose markets are we going to take? The markets at present held by the Germans. To that extent the German miners and the German coalowners will find themselves in difficulty. The owners will go to the German miners and say, "Look here, if you want to reduce your unemployment, if you wish 1222 for regular employment, if you want wages in order to maintain yourselves and your families, it is necessary for us to get markets in order to sell the coal you produce. Our markets are being constricted because the British coalowners are stealing them, and they are enabled to steal them because the British miner is working increased hours. If you want work and wages you will have to follow the methods of the British miner."
Arguments were used last night based on the standard of living among the Germans. During the War speakers went round our country imploring the miners and other industrial workers to join up in the Army in order to prevent the Germans from coming here. They were told that the Germans, if they came here, would curtail liberty and reduce the standard of living. Now the conditions of the German miners and the standard of living among them are taken as a basis to decide the standard for the British miner. If it is good enough for the German miner it is good enough for the British miner, is what is being said. During the War the miners were used for military purposes, and now the miners of the different nations are being used for economic war. This particular Bill is not going to solve the problem of the coal industry. We shall not get goodwill by the introduction of this Bill. It is argued that it is permissive—that the miners can take it if they so desire or they can leave it. We say it is compulsory, and that the difference between this Bill and last week's Bill is this: the Bill last week left the initiative to the coalowners, it is a voluntary Bill for three years; the Bill affecting miners' hours is compulsory, obligatory and immediate. [An HON. MEMBER: "In what way?"] If the Press reports are correct with regard to the meeting of the Mining Association, then there is not a single mineowner ready to take back any miner unless he is prepared to accept their terms. That is the position taken up by the Mining Association, and, under these circumstances, how can that be said to be giving an equal chance to the miner who has been out of work for eight weeks, and has had no wages during that time? How can it be argued under these circumstances that this Bill is permissive? On the contrary, it is going to be obligatory. We shall be told that the present dispute is a strike 1223 against the Constitution, and we shall, no doubt, have a Press campaign in that direction. Politicians will be saying that this is not an industrial dispute but an attack upon the Constitution. In my view, good-will between the parties can only be brought about by the withdrawal of this Measure, and the only way to bring about a lasting settlement is by giving the workmen a decent standard of life.
§ Viscount SANDON
The hon. Member who has just sat down has been repeating what has been said so frequently by hon. Gentlemen opposite—namely, that there is no good to be found in this Eight Hours Bill. Exception has been taken to some remarks made about Mr. Cook and other members of the Miners' Federation. I think the remarks made by many of those people compared with the remarks of Members such as the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Spencer), who are anxious to find a solution, show by the reception that is given to the latter on this side that there is a difference in the point of view expressed by some hon. Members opposite and those who lead the Miners' Federation. Hon. Members say it is the same on our side but like breeds like. We have been repeatedly told that this Bill cannot possibly solve the mining difficulties, and I share that view. I agree that it is retrograde. I have always felt the force of the suggestion that whereas in good times wages can go up, and can vary according to trade conditions, this cannot be done with hours. What I say, however, is that if eight weeks ago the Miners' Federation had been prepared to face the Report of the Royal Commission the question of hours would never have arisen at all.
This difficulty has been very much aggravated as a result of the stoppage, and the situation which has arisen in consequence has made these steps necessary. This Bill would never have arisen if the Report had been accepted eight weeks ago. A good deal has been said about the assurances given by the Prime Minister, and we are told that he has now come down on the side of the owners. Surely it is necessary that there should be an assurance as to what will be the action of the owners if this Bill is passed. Were it not so, I can well imagine hon. 1224 Members opposite asking, what are the owners going to do if this Bill becomes law? It is true that the Report of the Commission did not recommend an extension of hours, but it should be remembered that their recommendations were based on the fact that what they recommended should be carried out at once without any delay, and we have since had a long stoppage which has very much altered the situation. It is now a very much stiffer proposition. A good deal has been said about the promise of the Prime Minister that the miners would have "a square deal." I am sure the Prime Minister will not go back upon that pledge, but I would like to point out that a square deal is bound to bear a very different interpretation on the 1st of May than it can possibly do at the end of June, and it is bound to be worse as the stoppage goes on. What so many of us resent on this side of the House is that hon. Members opposite seem to think that all the points they are able to make against the owners are arguments against the Government. I do not say that a case cannot be made out against the action of the coalowners during the negotiations and since the stoppage, but hon. Members opposite have referred to Sir Adam Nimmo; he is a Liberal, and a large proportion of coal-owners are of that party, and in those circumstances is it likely that the Government would be on the side of the owners when they have landed them in all this trouble, and ready to stand by people who belong to another party altogether? A night or two ago the hon. Member for Aberdare (Mr. Hall) quoted some remarks I had written from the point of view of the public and the coalowners on this question. I have always felt that it is a matter of great consequence that people in responsible positions in this country should maintain the same ideals and spirit in their public life which they maintain as a rule in private life, and I do not go back on that for one moment. I went on to write, however, that:So many of these people label themselves as members of a party whose policy is remote from that which they profess.In my view the Government have shown themselves absolutely impartial in this controversy and they have tried to do the best they can for the industry. Hon. Gentlemen opposite say that to find a solution the Government had to come 1225 back to hours and wages and nothing else, but from the start the Government have accepted the Royal Commission Report, and they have accepted the proposals in regard to reorganisation, the hours and wages being only temporary. I have strong sympathy with the plea that the Government should be spurred up by hon. Members on all sides of the House to carry out those recommendations to the fullest extent. I think, however, it should be fully realised that those recommendations were made before the stoppage took place, and every day that has gone by since has made it far more difficult to put those recommendations into operation owing to financial reasons due to the stoppage than would have been the case if a settlement had been arrived at about the end of April. At that time all those recommendations would have been put before the House if they had been accepted by all parties, although I agree that some of them would have taken some time to table owing to departmental preparation.
We are now, however, up against a very different proposition and I am amazed when I hear hon. Members speak of the value they attach to the nationalisation of royalties and municipal competition in the coal trade—not that I have any belief in that in itself, but value it for its competition—that they should have thrown that all over eight weeks ago when they could have had the whole of these things by merely agreeing with the Report. The Report involved no sacrifice in principle on my part. I welcomed it all including nationalisation of royalties, but what was the Report sacrificed for by the miners? Instead of it we have now got an eight-hours Bill which no one likes, but which has been forced upon us by the situation which has come upon us as a result of the stoppage.
With the question of hours, is the very crucial one which we have to take into consideration about the third-class pits. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ogmore (Mr. Hartshorn) gave some interesting statistics grading the pits as to profits and losses. But though we hear on this side many complaints as to scrapping these pits, we do not have to go to Mr. Cook or the leaders of the Miners' Federation for the endorsement of this policy, but to Mr. Evan Williams 1226 himself, the owners' president. On 12th January, giving evidence before the Royal Commission he said:There is no getting away from the fact that it is hopeless, quite hopeless, to maintain the coal industry in existence, except on a very reduced scale.The Coal Commission Report really deals and is needed only for the second-class pits. The first-class pits are in clover, and need no Report. I think everyone will agree that they are not involved in this question, and it is a great pity the Miners' Federation did not allow them to be kept out of the dispute altogether. Equally, the question of the third-class pits, if it does arise, ought not to arise, as they are hopeless anyhow. The Report is essentially for the second-class pits which will pay in good times, but not in bad times, and we cannot afford to allow these second-class pits to go bankrupt, and thus sacrifice the immense amount of coal which is produced in them, when we know they can pay for a large part of their career. Some 500,000 to 600,000 extra men would be involved—a degree of unemployment we could not cope with—though we might manage the 200,000 or so involved in the third-class pits. These pits depress the wages and conditions throughout the industry and act as a drag. They should not be there. Furthermore, their absence will, by lack of that competition, make it easier for these second-class pits to carry on and pay.
In conclusion, I only wish to deal with one other point, and that is the question of the Bill being permissive. There is nothing whatever in this Bill to prevent the Miners' Federation, if they like, negotiating with the coalowners on the question of wages instead of on the question of hours. The only thing is that in regard to wages some extra sacrifices will have to be made owing to the stoppage. It is desirable that the negotiations should be able to take place on the question of hours as on the question of wages on equal terms, so that they may be able to bargain one way or the other as they wish.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Mr. SUTTON
I have been surprised at hon. Members on the opposite side of the Committee saying that this increase in hours is not going to solve the problem in the coal industry, while, on the other hand, everyone who has made that statement during the last few days 1227 has decided to vote for this Bill. It is said that in the House of Commons you can never make a convert. It is not very often that I speak in this Chamber, but, being connected with the miners, I could not allow this opportunity to go by, if it were at all possible for me to be called upon, without entering my protest against the Bill which is now under discussion. I have had 46 years' experience of industrial disputes, and have been connected with the mines for 49 years, so that I know the position of the miner today. It is said that this Bill is only to be in operation for five years, but I am afraid that if it should come into operation—God forbid that it should!—many of us, even the younger ones, will be below before it reverts to a working day of seven hours and 35 minutes.
I remember taking a deputation of black-faced miners to the present Lord Balfour in 1892, to ask him at that time to support the Mines (Eight Hours) Bill, and he put the question to me and to the miners, "Could you not arrange an eight-hour day with the colliery owners, without its being introduced into the House of Commons?" I told him it was an impossibility to do that, because the firemen and under-managers would be constantly going round to the work-people in their working places begging of them to work more than eight hours daily, and, naturally, men are afraid when they are intimidated by the officials of the mines. I am of the opinion that, once this Bill is passed, and if it is put into operation, we shall never be able to go back again to the working hours that obtained previous to the stoppage. Therefore, so far from its being a temporary Bill, I am strongly of opinion that it is a permanent Measure. And it is a retrogressive Measure, too. The policy in this country, as far as I know it—and I have taken some little interest in public affairs—has always been to be progressive, but here we are going back. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Ince (Mr. Walsh) said on Monday, never before during the last 100 years has there been an attempt to adopt a retrogressive policy such as this present Government is adopting.
The Sankey Commission, after hearing evidence on both sides, decided that the miners were then working, on an average 1228 all over the country, eight hours and 35 minutes daily. They came to the conclusion that seven hours and 35 minutes was sufficient, and that in a certain time, if the industry guaranteed it, they should go to a working day of six hours and 35 minutes. I admit that the industry has not allowed that to take place, but that should be the policy, not only in the mining industry, but in all industries. In Lancashire we have collieries, as was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Farnworth (Mr. Greenall) last night, where the winding time is one hour, with the large number of men that are engaged in certain collieries. That means that it takes one hour to go down the pit, and another hour to ascend. Therefore, even with the present working day of seven hours and 35 minutes, there are thousands of men who are down the mine for eight and eight and a half hours. In fact, they are working longer than men who work in the cotton mills or in engineering shops, because these people get to their workshop and commence their eight hours' work at once.
My hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker), speaking in his own Division, said that he was as physically fit as any man in that town, and I believe he is. He, however, visited a pit where he had to travel two miles to the working places, doubled in two almost, because the seam was only 2 feet 6 inches thick. He had to travel also two miles back, and, although he never struck a blow with the pick, he was exhausted when he got back to the shaft. I visited a mine in Burnley for an inspection a short time ago, where we could not even walk to the working places doubled up; we had to push ourselves along on little trolleys on lines—it was impossible to get along without them. While, therefore, many on the opposite side of the Committee may say that when men are travelling to their working place and travelling back again they are not working, I say, knowing something of the mines and the miners, that it is harder work to travel to their working place than it is when they get to the coal face. When a man is getting on in middle age especially it is a terrible job to him. Therefore, I want to appeal quite honestly to the Government. The Minister of Labour is here. I have known him for many years, having been a Member of the House since 1910, except for a short time, and I want him, if he can, to 1229 appeal to the Prime Minister to withdraw this Bill. The Prime Minister has a big job on hand, and a big man is needed to tackle this question, but he could do it if he would. Therefore, I hope he will do something in the direction of withdrawing this Bill.
We have 1,200,000 mine workers in this country. It is said that by increasing the working time by one hour per day the coal getter may be able to make up what he is losing in reduction in wages, but, of the 1,200,000 mine workers in this country, there are not above 400,000 coal getters at the coal face; the other 800,000 have to be kept, and their wages have to be found, by one-third of the mining population. Therefore, these 800,000 mine workers would have to work an additional hour and would have to suffer a reduction in their wages as well. Is that a system that should operate in 1926? The miners of this country would be working far longer than the miners in any mine in Europe, with the exception, as has been said, of those in Upper Silesia. [HON. MEMBERS: "Even than they!"] Yes, even than they. The Government have not done what they ought to have done. I was a Member of the House when we had the strike for the minimum wage. The Government of that day brushed aside the coalowner, they brushed aside the miner, and they introduced a Minimum Wage Bill. It is true that we did not get the minimum wage we wanted all over the country, but, at least, it was an improvement on what had been happening previous to the strike. Therefore, I say that the Government, seeing that they have paid over £20,000,000 in subsidy, ought to try to get at the true facts of the position in the coal industry.
When they got the Report of the Royal Commission, they ought to have brushed aside the coalowner and the mine worker, and ought to have introduced their Bill in accordance with Sir Herbert Samuel's Report. But they hesitated; they qualified their acceptance of that Report by saying that, if the miners would accept it and if the coalowners would accept it, then the Government would accept it. If either the coalowners or the coal miners rejected it, the Government, after paying that large sum of money in subsidy and appointing their Commission, ought to have introduced legislation in accord- 1230 ance with the recommendations of that Commission. If they had done that, if they had shown the miners of this country that they were in earnest in doing something and had gone into the question of reorganisation, I believe there would have been no necessity for any increase in hours or reduction in wages. Even the Prime Minister came to the House a few weeks ago and told the Members of the House that the Government had come to the conclusion that this matter would never be settled by the coalowners and the miners, and that they, as a Government, would have to settle it. He said at that time that he was going to send his proposals to the two sides. His proposals meant at once a reduction in wages, but no increase in hours; but now, as was said by an hon. Member a short time ago, because the dispute has gone on for eight weeks, an increase in hours must take place. Well, rather than see an increase in hours, I hope it goes on for another five or six weeks, and then, perhaps, we shall have the Government coming along and introducing a Ten Hours Bill in connection with the mining industry.
This question is not going to be settled either by an eight-hours working day or by a reduction in wages. Let legislation be introduced in accordance with the Commission's Report. Five million people are starving through the blundering of the Government at the present time. The question can never be settled by the miners and the coalowners, as I have said from the very commencement. Therefore, the Government, as custodians of the people of this country, ought to take their courage in their hands and do something for a reasonable settlement. This is not a reasonable settlement; it is giving way to the coalowners all the time; it is giving them what they wanted. When they rejected the Government's first proposals, even with the reduction in wages, the reply that they sent to the Prime Minister was, "Give us freedom; keep your hands out of this industry altogether; leave the miners to us; we will teach them a lesson." That was their attitude then, it has been their attitude all along, and I am sorry to say that the Government have taken up that attitude on behalf of the coalowners. I want to make an earnest appeal, because I can assure the Committee that, if many Members of the opposite side had to go down 1231 some of the pits and work in them, they would hold different opinions from those which they hold to-day. I was on a Government inspection a few weeks ago, as the Secretary for Mines will know, down a colliery in Lancashire, which I look after. Six men had been killed there. Six men were also killed there on the 4th November last, and five other men were killed in the same working places two years previously. We had a Government inspection. That pit had been sunk 80 years. The shaft is eight feet in diameter, and there are two cages in the shaft. The men have to double themselves up to get into the cage, and after getting down the shaft we have to go down an engine way a mile long that dips one yard in every three, and then we have to travel to the working place, and in that mine men have frequently been brought out with cramp through heat. The heat varies from 96 to 100 degrees. Professors from different universities have been there to see how the cramp can be overcome and they have suggested that the men should drink salt water. I wish hon. Members who talk so glibly about working for eight hours and thirty-five minutes had to go down collieries of that kind. We went down. We visited the working place where the men were killed and when I went there I met with a slight accident. I do not go down there very often, but every time I do go down.I come to the conclusion that I would never be a collier again if they paid me £20 a week. Some people say they like it. They like it because they are compelled to do it to support their wives and families. They do not do it from choice. If some hon. Members had to do this kind of work they would come to a different conclusion.
I want to appeal to the Government to withdraw the Bill, because the feeling of the miner is such that he will not work this extra hour, or if he is compelled by starvation to work, I believe you will never get peace in the industry, because the miners believe they are working long enough. We were told, during the War, of the good work the miners did. They were praised in this House. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs gave them the greatest praise for the work they did. Now they have to suffer. The only little bit of good 1232 they got out of the War was the shorter working day granted to them by Mr. Justice Sankey. Now it is going to be taken from them. Therefore I appeal to the Government not to allow the Bill to pass. If they would only introduce legislation on the lines of the Royal Commission, I believe a settlement is possible. The Prime Minister said he was not out to reduce anyone's wages. It is rather inconsistent to make a statement of that kind and only a week or two afterwards to ask for a reduction in wages. Because the men would not accept it at that time he now asks for an additional hour per day and a reduction in wages as well. If the Government are going to persist in this, I shall never again accept any statement made by the Prime Minister and shall never believe again that he is in earnest. I appeal to the House when the vote is taken to give us their assistance. I believe this is not a party question. It is a question for both sides to settle and we ought not to take party advantage of it. If it was a party question, I should go so far as to say the Government, by their action, are playing into the hands of the Labour party and they will be doomed at the next election, but I do not want even to go as far as that. I want them to do the right thing so that these men shall work reasonable hours.
Captain ARTHUR EVANS
One would imagine from the speeches we have heard from that side that this is a Bill which the Government and their supporters support with the greatest possible enthusiasm. The facts are these: The Prime Minister said quite frankly, "We much prefer that all three parties should accept the Royal Commission's Report, although there are many features in it with which we do not agree." But that was their original position. They exerted every endeavour, they explored every channel to bring about an agreement on those lines. Unfortunately, it failed, and the next thing to be considered was the adoption of another policy which would, and must, have an immediate effect on the situation. Therefore, with great reluctance it introduced, as I understand it, the Eight Hours Bill. The hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Spencer), in a very moving and, I am sure, a very sincere speech, threw out a suggestion which, if he has any authority for so doing, would be very significant in settling 1233 this problem. If I correctly understood him, he asked, "Why do not the Government consult the miners by ballot as to whether they prefer to work eight hours a day or have their wages reduced?"
§ Mr. SPENCER
What I said was that if a ballot were taken with regard to the eight-hours question, 95 per cent would vote against it. I did not couple wages with it.
I apologise. Let us take the hon. Member on his own statement, because it is a very significant statement. It means that, in the first instance, the miners' representatives have realised that this is not a question that commends itself to this side of the House, but is dictated solely by economic facts. I hope, if the hon. Member has any authority for it from the Miners' Federation, the Government will seriously and carefully consider the suggestion, because I think if the miners were consulted by secret ballot on a question of that kind, the Government would be in a more favourable position to introduce any legislation that might be necessary to settle this dispute. What is the real opposition of the Socialist party to this proposal? As I understand it, it amounts to this, that if you follow this policy, if your Bill becomes law, the natural consequences will be that your foreign competitors, in order to retain those markets which they hold at present, will immediately take steps to increase their working day by one hour. If that is a logical conclusion to arrive at, it is equally logical to say that in consequence of the Sankey Commisson Report and the seven-hours day operating in this country, the trade union movement in the foreign countries would have taken immediate steps to agitate for a working day one hour less than they had before. But what are the facts? The trade unions, even the miners' representatives in Germany and France, took no steps whatever to agitate for a decreased working day. The other opposition put forward to the Bill is that the Government have no mandate, either from the Royal Commission or from any source whatever, to introduce this Eight Hours Bill. To be quite frank, I think it is true to say that, but we must not lose sight of the fact that the Government have already made proposals in an 1234 entirely opposite direction. It is not fair to lead people to believe that this, after all, is the considered policy of the Government in the first place. The contrary is true, because the Government made every endeavour, although they disliked it, to secure agreement on the Report of the Royal Commission.
The hon. Member for Broxtowe, in a most moving speech, told us that this was not a permissive Bill at all, that you were saying to the miners, "Unless you work eight hours a day you will not be able to work at all." I do not think the cause of the Government is in any way injured by admitting that fact, because economic conditions dictated that course. Many speakers have pointed out that eight weeks have passed since the stoppage started. Many considerations which weighed with the Government and those responsible for a settlement in the first instant cannot, in view of the financial position which is necessarily involved, weigh with the authorities to-day, and therefore this is not really a permissive Measure because you say to the miner, "We are not in the least desirous of your working eight-hours a day. If the economic conditions of international competition permit it, we should like to see you work six hours a day if it were possible, but all economists know that that is not practical politics." It is all very well to make speeches of that nature and state, as the, hon. Member did, that the way to become a hero after the Bill is passed is to go to one's constituents and say, "I do not believe in the eight-hour Measure. I believe in a seven-hour Measure," because if you measure heroism by that standard I am afraid to think what kind of hero a man would be who went to a mining area, as some Socialist Members do to-day, and said he wanted to see them work not seven but six or five hours a day. That is a very nice state of affairs to contemplate. After all, I think Members on all sides of the House, even if you look at it from the very low level of political propaganda desire in every way they possibly can to improve the standard of living and the wages of the working people. But it is not only unfair to the House, it is unfair to the workpeople themselves to lead them astray and not point out to them what is evident to the Members their selves, that economic conditions and com- 1235 petition throughout the world do not permit conditions which all of us sympathise with. In view of these facts, and in view of the fact that 95 per cent. of our basic industries in this country are being starved for want of coal to-day, I hope that if the Government press forward with this Bill and a secret ballot were held as to whether the miners desire to work eight hours a day, instead of having their wages reduced, that the miners will immediately realise the true aspect of the case and return to work, in the hope and in the sincere belief that when those markets are recaptured which we have already lost, the Government would see to it, as I believe they would, that any benefit which was derived by any action of that kind would be recognised when the conditions of the industry permitted.
§ Mr. RITSON
The last speaker has dealt with the last eight weeks, and he said that the stoppage of the last eight weeks had thrown such a burden upon industry that the Government considered that this Bill was necessary. Who is to blame for this Bill? Mr. Garvin said that we had a wonderful Prime Minister, whose fault was that he could not make up his mind until somebody made it up for him. The result has been that although the Prime Minister said at the beginning of this trouble, "I cannot interfere; it is a question between master and man, and my Government are not allowing me to deal with this question, and to sit as an independent chairman," he comes along eight weeks later and tells us that the only solution is this Bill for the introduction of a working day of eight hours. He has made the greatest mistake, politically and industrially, that he ever made in his life.
We have been told that this is a permissive Bill. Hon. Members might as well argue that the public executioner is not compelled to hang a man, because the law does not compel him to do it; but the right hon. Member for Carmarthen (Sir A. Mond) would be the last man to walk confidently to the scaffold with the Rabbi whispering in his ear, "Have courage, my son. This man has a permissive option as to whether he hangs you or not." Under such circumstances a man might go to the scaffold feeling certain that the bolt would be drawn. That is 1236 the position we are in. Hon. Members may call the Bill permissive or use any language they like in describing it, but it all means the same thing. I did not understand the phrase "permissive," and when I made inquiries as to what "permissive" meant, I came to the conclusion that it was only another word for compulsion. That was why the Bill received such a large majority last night on its Second Reading.
I wish to deal with another aspect of the question. In Durham we have three shifts of coal hewers. We have another shift called the tubloading or fourth shift for the purpose of filling empty tubs in order that the pit may be ready for the first shift of men next day. Apart from the work of examining the roads, how are we to get three shifts of coal hewers of eight hours a day into some of these old collieries in Durham, which are 80 to 100 years old, and to get them properly prepared? Every hewer who goes down these pits carries 4½ men and boys. The question is to find places to be prepared. I have here an official sheet of the time at which the men go down. They begin at four a.m. That fact has not been mentioned. Others begin at three a.m. in other collieries in the county of Durham. A man is entitled, surely, to six hours off. He would have to be awakened at two o'clock to turn out and go to work. Is that a natural time for a man to get up and go out to do a hard day's work? We are compelled to do that, under the three shift system.
The question for us is, how will this Bill affect us not only in regard to hours and wages, but how many men will be dismissed? The owners may say that they would rather have two shifts of eight hours for hewers than three shifts, on the ground that they could not possibly manage to get the old workings ready and keep the place right for three shifts of eight hours. If we are to have one-third of our hewers struck off, it means that 4½ men and boys will be dismissed with every hewer who is dismissed, because of the introduction of this eight-hours Bill. You are not going to get any more production from that. We are entitled to have the places examined, according to the Mines Act. Where will there be the opportunity to examine a mine where you have as in mines in 1237 Durham, 600 ponies, in addition to the miners, running through all the miles and miles of alleys?
What about the effect of the increased working day upon the health of the miners? Hon. Members can tell by my face what has been the effect upon me. I do not like to make a personal reference, but I must. Any man who has worked in a deep colliery on the East coast of Durham, where there is lack of oxygen, can be recognised anywhere. I could identify such a man if I met him in Edinburgh. The faces of these men are as white and bleached as it is possible to be. Yet the Government is saying to these men, "Go and work another hour." I would ask hon. Members whether they have ever seen these men coming up from the pits, as I have seen them, or whether they have seen them working down in these deep pits, as I have seen them? I have been present on occasions when, owing to shortage of oxygen, a pony has had to be taken out of a place where there has been a pressure of heat of 90 odd degrees. The pony has used up the oxygen, and it has had to be removed in order that the men could breathe. I remember sending back a lad with a pony, so that I could get my breath, so limited was the supply of oxygen. Notwithstanding, this House is asked practically to ridicule the work of these men and to say that they must work another hour, and then expect the last hour to be as good as the first. We shall fight this thing to the bitter end.
In the time-sheet to which I referred, there are 18 different times in each shift for going down the pit. I ask.any hon. or right hon. Member, who talks so glibly on this question, to try to work out a sheet, showing how to get the men to the face of the coal to do their work, under an eight-hour day in the pits to which I have referred, and to give the requisite opportunities for examination, preparing the places properly, and the other things necessary in accordance with the Mines Regulation Act. I can assure the Government that they have never united the miners more than they have done by the introduction of this Bill. They have united the women as well as the men. The women delight in having the companionship of their husbands and menfolk, but by this Bill the Government are going to destroy the home life of 1238 which we are very proud, and which has been possible during the operation of the Seven Hours Act. Under the existing Act, we have been able to get a better share of domestic happiness and the companionship of our wives and children, who, naturally, are anxious from day to day as to whether or not the miner is going to return home.
We are told that we are talking sob-stuff when we make reference to these things. Let me give the authority of one who was an honoured Member of this House for many years. I refer to the late Dr. John Wilson, who could not be charged with being of our political faith. Had he been here he would have fought this Bill with all the power of which he was capable. He would have been strongly against any extension of hours. In connection with a trade dispute for wages, he said:These men are at the face of the coal in a cramped position. They are in the most dangerous parts of the occupation. A large number of our hewers are working in seams below three feet in thickness and down to two feet and even lower. It will need strength of imagination to picture a man of fair and average size lying in a place where there is only two feet or less or, say, 2½ feet between the floor of his working place and the roof. He cannot sit. There is no possible working position except lying on his side.We are not making this appeal on the grounds of sentiment alone, but because we as practical men find that it will be impossible to increase the output to the extent suggested. The hon. Member who spoke last said that a ballot should be taken of the men as to whether they would accept it or not, and I see that some of the Press of the country are putting forward the same view. They are saying that if this Bill is hurried through and the owners then put up their conditions at the pithead, the men will flock back to work. Already in Durham we have been notified of a, 10 per cent. reduction, and the stone man, the most important man in the mines, is to have his wages reduced under the new conditions which will be put up by the owners to 4s. 8d. per shift, or by 33 per cent. Will that encourage the men to vote for it? I want to warn the Press of this country as to what will happen when the owners do put up their conditions at the pitheads. You say that the subsistence wage will still go on. We say, Yes, we 1239 have been told that the subsistence wage must go on because it is statutory law, but the owners who have been able to secure the removal of the Seven Hours Act so easily will be able to remove the subsistence wage too and we shall always have our doubts as to the conditions under which we are to work.
Appeals have been made to us for better behaviour. We have been appealed to on many occasions and for various things. We have been prayed for for the first time in our lives. The Archbishops and all the rest set apart a day for prayer for the mining population, and most of them prayed that we would accept the conditions of the owners. We refuse to have prayers answered in that way. If you want a better feeling to exist between the two parties you must, in the first instance, muzzle some of your Press who misrepresent and slander the miners. If you want to make a man a hero to-day the best way to do it is to set the "Daily Mail" on his track; he will immediately become the greatest man in the land. If a man owes his present position to anything, our friend Cook owes his present position to the "Daily Mail," because it misrepresented him and slandered him before ever he got into the saddle. Now that he is in the saddle, he can look down at the "Daily Mail" with disdain. But we have something else besides the Press. We have a very heavy burden to carry with the Bishops. Unfortunately Durham has to carry two—and such Bishops! I object to the Bishops and such persons coming into the fray and backing up the owners on this question. These people are supposed to lead us in spiritual things, in brotherhood and love, but they are always batting with the owners whenever there is an opportunity. Dean Welldon last summer was batting on a wet wicket and was very nearly in the River Wear.
I want to make this public appeal, and I am at least sincere when I say that I am anxious this struggle should cease. I hate strikes, but there are times when we have to use the strike as a last weapon. I am anxious that these things should cease and that our people should have an opportunity of living decent lives. I am anxious that when this 1240 struggle is settled it will be settled in a permanent way. But do you think that if you end this struggle by starvation, by forcing the miners to accept the new conditions—do you think that their acceptance in these circumstances will last long? Do you think that the spirit of the men who went to the front in the War is going to submit to a tyranny like that? Do you not think that class feeling will be aroused again and again, and indeed intensified ten times over? I heard a working-class woman say only last Sunday night,"I have five of them who go down the pit, and God help me if I have five hours added to my day's anxiety, in addition to my own work." Think of the position of a woman like that if you change the seven hours and make it eight. The man goes down the pit at 4 o'clock in the morning and does not come back until after 12. One lad may go down at 6, and not come back until after 3, a second lad may go down about 3 o'clock and not come back until 10.30 or 11 o'clock at night. Think of the home life of a family under such conditions as that.
We look after our aged poor in the County of Durham. We have subscribed £250,000 for homes for our old people. We have done our best. We have not thrown them on the rates, and we are not going to be charged with being neglectful. We are fighting the battle of our womenfolk as well as our own. This Government must remember, and they shall remember, that they have done the best thing they could have done in order to continue this strike, and the sooner the Prime Minister reverses his opinion the better for the nation and the whole community. The only reason the Government have adopted their present policy is because the mineowners said that if they did not give them the eight-hours day they would stop their contributions to their political fund. That is the opinion which we hold in Durham. We are going to hold out, but if the strike is broken by starvation and the power of the Government we are going to say, and we are determined to say, that we shall fight again at the first opportunity.
§ Mr. T. SHAW
I am not a miner but the son of a miner and shall certainly vote against this mineowners' Bill at 1241 every stage of its progress. I am one of those who believe that this Bill is not the result of necessity but the result of blundering, and very bad blundering, on the part of the Government. It is an extraordinary thing that whilst in every country in Europe working hours are becoming shorter and labour legislation getting more in favour of the workers this country of ours is the country where labour legislation is getting worse, where reaction is in the saddle, and where the workers are feeling the pinch. What has become of all the talk of young Conservative reformers who were going to show the country that the Conservative party was not a reactionary party, that it was a party which could move forward, that it was a party which meant reform, that it was a party which meant stability and progress? Where is the reform, where is the stability, where is the progress?
We have had a constant beggar's march since the Government came into office. Wages have gone down. Now hours are to be increased. There is no progress; there is retrogression in every stage of our national life. We who represent the Labour party are in the humiliating position that, while every country is progressing, from North to South and from East to West, we are the only country which is going backward. On the question of hours the record of this Government is a record of miserable failure. We are the one great industrial country in the world which has absolutely prevented an improvement in the hours of labour. All along the line we see the same stupid blundering and incapacity. Could anyone opposite dream of a Government which, knowing that at least two Commissions, after careful inquiry, had reported that mining could never be prosperous without reorganisation, would give £20,000,000 of public money to that industry without making the slightest request for any re-organisation? I deny that any decent ordinary common-sense working men or men from anywhere could be found who would be so stupid as to pay over £20,000,000 of public money to an industry, when it has been said over and over again that reorganisation was necessary, and do it without demanding that anything at all should be done in return.
This money has been thrown into the gutter. Everybody knew that at the end 1242 the conditions would be just as bad as at the beginning. Yet this Government of all the talents, which owes it position to misrepresentation, has not only added to its misrepresentations an absolute failure to carry out its programme, but has made the country ten times worse than it was before the Conservatives took office. What has been the Government performance? In the nine months of the Labour Government, with all its faults and failings, wages went up. But wages have consistently gone done since the present Government came into office. Now we are to have an attack on the hours. During the discussions no one has argued that seven hours' work is not enough for a miner. Nobody dare argue that, at any rate not anybody who has ever seen a miner at work and was prepared himself to take off his clothes and handle a pick. No one has ever tried to argue that an eight-hours day in the mines, even if it materialised, is an extra hour of actual production and that it will solve the problem. No one has ever contended that this hour's work is necessary because of the longer hours worked by other nations. No; we are in the humiliating position of being the only industrial country in the world where the workers are going backward instead of forward.
We have had several speeches about other countries and how they are lax in their administration in comparison with our noble selves. I am speaking with some knowledge when I say that if you take this country and compare it with any other European country, every country in Europe during the last 10 or 15 years has made infinitely more progress than ourselves. If it be a question of keeping their word, I know no country which has less claim to talk about people keeping their word than our own. We have had this question of hours before. We had it under discussion at the Washington Convention. Who is it that has kept that Convention from being ratified in the principal industrial countries of Europe? This country, the country that boasted that it was in the van of progress. It was in the van of progress until recently. It is precisely this Government, with its great majority of energetic young Conservatives, who were going to show everyone how they would reform this country when they got to work. They have reformed it. Another 18 months of 1243 reform and the country will be ruined beyond repair. With a colossal majority, and the Prime Minister who makes saintly speeches, the Government produces an Eight Hours Bill for the miners! We have got into the position where our industries are in a state of chaos, where there is no peace and no stability, and no sign of peace or stability.
No one will say that if the miners are starved into submission—I do not think they will be—it means peace and stability. On this question of hours the record of the Government is not only a bad one but a desperately bad one. What has become of all the fine statements of the Prime Minister— "We are not going to reduce the miners' conditions; we are not going to make things worse; we are going to help things on and are going to try to get 'Peace in our time, O Lord!'" Does the Prime Minister or any member of the Government think that "Peace in our time, O Lord!" is to come by making the British miner worse than the French miner and worse than the Belgian miner? Is peace to come by making the British workman, who for half a century and more has been absolutely in the van of progress in the world—does anyone think that peace is to come from a Measure that will set the best part of our working population below the general average of Europe? When one comes to think of the conditions that have existed during the last 10 or 15 years, and of the progress that has been made in other countries, and we see ourselves slipping back and back behind other countries, one is ashamed even for his nation.
If there had been the slightest idea of common sense in this Government, there would have been no £20,000,000 paid to the mineowners without a demand for a quid pro quo. We can fiddle away with minor things. We can stop men from coming into the country. We can lie about the Communists and the Labour party. But we cannot do the work. That is the position of affairs in this country. Instead of getting better, we are getting worse. There is no man who can look with satisfaction at the condition of this country to-day. There is no Englishman, proud of his race and of the progress of his race, who can look upon the position with anything but a deep sense of humiliation. We are humiliated in the eyes of the world. What 1244 is worse, we are coming to the conclusion—some of us have been driven to the conclusion—that there is no longer a Government in this country, that the real Government of this country is not the group of right hon. Gentlemen who sit opposite, but the members of the respective employers' associations. This Bill is a mineowners' Bill. What did they demand at the beginning? The whole country was deeply shocked when the mineowners' president demanded a reduction of wages and an increase of hours. That is precisely the policy of the Government to-day.
What the Prime Minister has been doing I cannot tell. Certainly, no one can square his pledges with his actions. It is impossible for any of us to believe, in the future, when the Prime Minister is speaking of "Peace in our time, O Lord," and of the desire of the Government not to reduce the conditions of anyone—it is impossible to believe when Bills like this are presented to the House, after those speeches, that the Prime Minister either has the wish or the power to put into operation the statements he makes. It is quite evident that you cannot square the ethical declarations with the actual facts. The voice is the voice of the Prime Minister, but the hand is the hand of the President of the Mineowners' Association. I congratulate the Government, with its huge majority of young Conservatives who were going to reform the country, bring about peace and stability and improve the conditions of the workers, on having had tremendous success in one respect, and that is in proving that everything they said at the Election was unjustified and unwarranted. They fought with the "Red Letter" last time; next time they will fight with lower wages, increased working hours, economic chaos, and, instead of reform, the very opposite of reform. We are slipping back in every direction. We are slipping from the path of progress, in education—
§ Mr. SHAW
I am sorry if I have strayed from the mark, and I will try to get back to it at once. I say we are slipping from the path of progress, so far as hours in the mining industry are 1245 concerned. Every other body of miners in Europe, since the War, has made enormous progress. We are the one country which is going back. Imagine the humiliation which it is to our miners to be asked to work longer hours than the Germans, the French, or the Belgians. Can hon. Members imagine what that must he to the British miner, proud as he has been all his working life that, whatever were his conditions, at any rate he worked shorter hours and more efficiently during those shorter hours, than any other miner in Europe. Now the British miner, proud of his craft, his strength and his skill, is to be told that he must work longer than the German, the Belgian or the Frenchman. That is the result of the magnificent victory of the Conservative party at the polls. All I have to say is that if the Conservative party is proud of a record like that, I cannot understand them. If they are proud of the fact that they have thrown away £23,000,000 of public money without demanding the slightest reconstruction, I congratulate them on their pride. It is a pride in which I do not share, but in the present position some shred of comfort ought to be left to them. One thing is certain. They can claim for themselves that in this Bill they have shown that of all Governments in Europe they are the most incompetent to advance the prosperity of their country. They have shown that they are more reactionary than any other Government in Europe. They have shown that all the benefits we were promised by them have vanished into thin air. They have shown that they have no care for the health of the miner. If they had cared for the health of the miner they would not propose this Bill. They have shown that the miners does not appeal to them so much as profit.
The policy of the Government is plain. It is that a profit should be made by even the most inefficient part of the industry, and that a fabulous profit should be made by the efficient part of the industry. It is the policy of the Government all the way through, to make every commercial concern profitable, whether it is efficient or inefficient, and to make the efficient industry so profitable that wealth may be earned beyond the dreams of avarice. That is what the Bill means. There is little or no thought for the miner. One 1246 of the worst excuses I have heard on behalf of the Government is this. "We were in favour of the Report if you had agreed to it. Neither side would agree, consequently we had to take our own course." They took the course of one of the two parties to the dispute. In my opinion, the majority of mineowners would be far more generous in this matter than the Government. I question whether a majority of the mineowners would have the assurance to propose an eight-hour day in the industry. They leave it to the Government. With its tremendous majority, it will carry its way; it will put another injustice on the top of those it has already inflicted on the workers; it will reduce another set of workers below the level of the European average; it will take to itself the credit of saying, "We with our majority could not restore prosperity to your industry or improve your conditions, but we could make your conditions worse"—and that is what they are doing in this Bill.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Mr. PALING
It seems amazing that the Government should be following this course in trying to rectify the trouble in the mining industry. In 1919 the Sankey Commission took evidence from the best experts in the country, and after fully sifting it came to the unanimous conclusion that a seven-hour day should be put into operation. The result of Lord Buck-master's inquiry was almost the same. There was another inquiry under the chairmanship of Mr. Macmillan, and the result was again the same. There has been another Commission, the Report of which we are now discussing, and all four have come down emphatically against the eight-hour day. The first reduced the hours from eight to seven, and the other three and—the last one in particular—have been unanimously in favour of retaining the seven hours. All came to the conclusion that the illness of the industry was due, generally speaking, to the inefficient methods under which it had been carried on, and all have said that the wrong way to cure the illness is to put an eight-hour day into operation. Two Commissions and two inquiries have come to the conclusion that, as the miners have no say in the control or management of the industry, no blame for its state can be laid upon them. Yet the very people on whom no blame can be laid are being asked to make all the sacrifice in order 1247 to bring the industry back to economic prosperity. It is the most unfair thing I have ever known, and it passes my comprehension why a Conservative Government, with a majority like the present Government's, could use its power to inflict an eight-hour day on the miners.
I wish to speak particularly on the question of accidents and the effect which the eight-hour day is likely to have in that respect. I have been careful to get as much evidence as I could from the best possible source. I read through the Report and did not find what I wanted. A day or two ago, I put down a question in this House, asking the Secretary for Mines if he would state the number of fatal and other accidents occurring in the mines of this country in each complete year immediately before and after the introduction of the Eight Hours Act and the Seven Hours Act respectively, and the number of persons engaged in the mining industry during each of such years. The question has been answered to-day, but not orally, because it was in tabular form. Since then, however, I have had the figures put in my hand, and they are amazing. Nine years are given under the Eight Hours Act, 1910 to 1918 inclusive, and the number of fatal accidents in each of those years is given in the first column I have totalled them up, and I find that they come to 12,669 in the nine years, the average over the nine years being 1,407 for each year. For the purposes of comparison, I asked also for the fatal accidents under the Seven Hours Act, and the same table gives the figures for the years 1920 to 1925 inclusive. In the year 1921 there was a three months stoppage, or just over, and I have allowed for that. The total of fatal accidents in those years was 6,597. I have divided that total again, and I find that the average killed each year, after allowing for the three months off in 1921 in those six years under the Seven Hours Act was 1,147. The figures were 1,407 under the Eight Hours Act and 1,147 under the Seven Hours Act, or 260 fatal accidents more per yea[...] under the Eight Hours Act than under the Seven Hours Act.
Presumably, therefore, when we go back to the eight-hours day, it is fair to imagine that the accidents will jump up again to the neighbourhood in which they were before the Seven Hours Act 1248 operated, and presumably the Prime Minister, with his honesty and his reputation for being a big, generous-hearted man, by imposing the Eight. Hours Act on the mining community, is bringing it about that 260 more men and boys are going to be killed in the first year it is in operation than would have been killed if the Seven Hours Act had been kept in operation. I wonder how a man with a reputation of the present Prime Minister will view the result of putting this Bill into operation when he is faced with a fact of that description. It means 260 extra widows of men or mothers of boys killed in one year, in order to put into operation an Eight Hours Act which his own Commission, set up by his own Government, has condemned. That is not all. I was careful to ask, in addition, in order to make the comparison as fair as possible, the number of men working in that industry in those particular years, and I find that in the nine years under the Eight Hours Act the average number of men working was 1,057,000, and in the six years under the Seven Hours Act 1,187,000, so that there are more men actually working under the Seven Hours Act than under the Eight Hours Act, which makes the figures all the worse from my point of view, and the comparison all the worse from the Government's point of view. There is a second column also, and it is almost equally enlightening. I asked for the number of serious accidents, and the number of such accidents in the nine years under the Eight Hours Act was 5,096. By "serious accidents" is meant accidents causing fracture of head or limb or dislocation of limb or any other serious personal injury. Over the same period of six years, again allowing for the short year in 1921, there were 4,597 serious accidents, or about 500 less per year under the Seven Hours Act than under the Eight Hours Act; that is to say, 260 fatal and 500 serious accidents less, or a total of nearly 800 less, with nearly 150,000 more men working in the mines in the seven-hours period than in the eight-hours period.
§ Brigadier-General Sir HENRY CROFT
Is the hon. Member not aware that the number of fatal accidents in mines for 1249 the 10 years previous to the figures he has quoted were consistently declining under the eight hours day?
§ Mr. PALING
It may be, but they were not declining at anything like the rate I have mentioned. The point I am making is the terrific drop between the eight hours period and the seven hours period.
§ Sir H. CROFT
I think the hon. Member will find that the drop was just as great in the previous 10 years.
§ Mr. PALING
Certainly it was not. It was not nearly as great, and the natural decline to which the hon. and gallant Member refers has been going on, not only in the period before the Eight Hours Act, but during the Eight Hours Act and also during the Seven Hours Act. It was pointed out yesterday, in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, that there is such a thing as industrial psychology, and it has been proved up to the hilt that the number of accidents in the last hour of the day is always likely to be greater than in any other preceding hour, because of the fact that the men are tired. An expert in this particular science gave evidence to this effect before the Royal Commission, and everybody who knows anything about it will agree almost without dissension that that is the case, and the figures I have quoted bear that out. I have gone to the trouble of getting the percentage, and I find that the percentage drop from the eight hours to the seven hours is 19 per cent. in the last hour, which bears out what was said yesterday, that, as the hours increase, the chart showing the number of accidents rises very steeply in the last hour in particular. I think these figures prove conclusively that if the Government are successful, as no doubt they will be, with their majority, in passing this Bill, and supposing that circumstances compel the miners to accept it—I am only supposing it, because I do not think for a moment they will, and if I know anything of their temper they are almost prepared to eat grass before they will accept this, but supposing the Government were successful in their attempt to impose this on the mining community—the result is going to be 260 extra killed each year and 500 extra seriously injured each year. In addition, 170 other people meet with accidents of a more or less minor character each year.
1250 I do not know whether the Prime Minister and the Cabinet have looked at it from this point of view, and have seen the evidence. If they have not, I think they ought to have had it before deciding to put this Eight Hours Bill into operation. They had facilities to get this evidence, and I think they will agree it is from the best possible source. I suggest that to put this into operation, in face of these figures, is to be guilty of what the hon. Member for Rothwell (Mr. Lunn) said is sheer murder of the miners of this country. Trouble cropped up here last night by virtue of the fact that certain accusations were made against the Prime Minister for holding shares in mines. I am not going to make any accusation against the Prime Minister that he is doing this to increase his profits, or anything of that kind, but what I want to say emphatically is that the Prime Minister, the Secretary for Mines, or any Cabinet Minister with shares in mines or owning royalties ought to put himself above suspicion by refusing to have anything to do with this.
After all, most of the colliery owners are hoping that the result of this Bill is going to increase their profits, or, if you like, to bring them profits where there are none at present, and, in spite of the fact that it might not have been the intention or the thought of the Prime Minister that an eight-hours Act would have that result as far as his shares are concerned, if it does have that result, he will benefit by it, and ought to be the last man to touch this unholy thing. The same applies to the Secretary for Mines as a royalty owner. The best. thing they can do is to put themselves above criticism by having nothing to do with this, and, in any event, every argument advanced from these benches, and the Commission's evidence, is of a kind which shows that an eight-hours Act is not necessary in order to achieve the result which hon. Members opposite deem so desirable, and, from the miners' point of view, it is sheer murder for the Government to bring it into operation.
The principle underlying this Bill has already been dealt with by some of my colleagues, very much better, probably, than I could express it, but I do want to say a word with regard to the appeal which was made 1251 by the hon. and gallant Member for Pembroke (Major Price), who, I am sorry, is not now in his place. I think the burden of his remarks was that a better atmosphere could be created, and more good will engendered between employers and workmen, and that no effort at all had been made from these benches, especially among the miners' leaders, in order to try to foster that condition of things. I, myself, and at least one or two of my colleagues, can modestly claim that, during the last 15 or 20 years, we have done our share to keep the peace, and fought to obtain good will between the employers of labour and the workmen, and to improve the atmosphere with regard to conditions of employment and wages. In fact, some of us upon some occasions have been assaulted, and even mobbed in the past for trying to preserve that atmosphere of good will. But, as one of my colleagues on the Front Bench said, after the action of the Government, having regard to what has transpired during the last 18 months, especially in the coal trade, it will make it impossible for us to try to attempt to carry that out, in view of what the Government are trying to force upon the miners with regard to the extension of hours in this Bill.
Reproaches have been levelled at us for not having attempted to bring about a settlement. I think it has been abundantly proved by my colleague from Rhondda West that it is impossible for us to do anything in face of the attitude of the Government. The Leader of the Opposition last night asked the question —and we are waiting for an answer—as to the origin of this Bill and whence it emanated, and that question will be asked of those who later on go into the Division Lobby in support of this Bill. Does it not strike the supporters of the Government as being very peculiar, and more than a coincidence, that the Government, in the last two weeks especially, have been employing themselves solely with the two outstanding questions which the employers put to the Coal Commission, namely, the extension of hours and reduction of wages. It is more than a coincidence—it is strange, to say the least of it, that we find the Government now the champions in bringing forward those two main pro- 1252 posals which were made by the President of the Coalowners' Association before the Commission.
The hon. Member for Shrewsbury (Viscount Sandon) pointed out that if the Report of the Commission had been adopted by the miners, we would have avoided all the trouble we are in at the present moment, as a settlement would have been arrived at very quickly. I would remind those Members who are supporting the Government that the Prime Minister himself has made an admission that for five weeks prior to the 30th April, he was engaged in trying to persuade the owners to bring a proposal to him and to the miners' representatives, which would enable him to get a joint meeting, and the coalowners' representatives refused during the whole of those five weeks, until 15 minutes past one o'clock on Friday, 30th April, to bring a proposal down which the Prime Minister could put before the representatives of the men with any hope of a settlement being found on those lines at all. And the right hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) pointed out during former Debates with regard to the unfortunate stoppage, that nearly the whole of the men, especially as far as South Wales and various other districts were concerned, had terminated their notices which had been issued by the employers, and finished their employment before any proposal was ever made by the employers on the lines of the Commission's Report in respect of this matter.
I am not concerned to ladle out any of the sob-stuff with which we have been charged. I am not going to claim more credit than is right for the miners for their conduct during the War. I am not going to dwell upon that or claim that the miners should get any special consideration in this matter with regard to it. Their services in the War were recognised; but I do want hon. Members, having regard to the description that has been given of the miners' lives, not to forget that the miner is in the trenches every day. Not only during the War was he in the trenches, but, so far as his occupation is concerned, he is in the trenches every day that he is following his employment underground. I ask hon. Members to make that a consideration with men who are facing the dangers and difficulties of the mines. I am 1253 not concerned either, so far as this Debate is concerned, with whether this Bill is temporary or permissive. The miners are opposed to it. As was pointed out by the Leader of the Opposition and other speakers yesterday, they were opposing the principle of the Bill. It does not matter whether it is for five days, five months, or five years—they are opposing it on principle. The miners do not think they should be called upon at all at the present time to do what is asked of them.
There was, I remember, a great fight between employers and the miners 31 or 32 years ago. Some of my colleagues here will remember that the owners were saying then what is being said to-day about the economic facts of the situation, and that the miners were to be called upon for an extra hour in consequence. I remember a very able leader, the late Mr. Edward Cowey, telling the mine-owners here in London at this time of great trouble in the mining situation and in the coalfields that "if the money is not there the wages cannot be paid, but it must be put in the books." This position ought to have been taken in hand two, three or fours years ago. If it had been taken in hand only nine months ago, several of our collieries would have been put into condition, and would have been able to produce coal and put it on the market, and we should not be in the position in which we are in to-day in that regard.
My concluding word is that I hope Britain is not going to be the leading nation to force, not only the miners of Great Britain—if we are going to have a fight—but the miners of other countries backward, so far as hours are concerned. I think the Government are making a mistake, a very big mistake, and a big blunder indeed. You may force the miner, though not for some time to come —for I have been at home during the last week-end, and the, week-end before, and I want to tell hon. Members that, so far as I can find out, the miners are as strong and as determined to-day as they were when we commenced the fight nine weeks ago—you may be able to force them in some instances to work these hours, but you can only do so by starving the men, the women, and the children. As a miner's agent, actively engaged with the miners in the Rhondda Valley for the 1254 last 30 years, I have never known a very much worse time than the last three or four years. And that is in a valley producing the best class of steam coal in the world. The men are barely able to eke out a living on the wages paid. Notwithstanding their sad conditions, I subscribe to every word of Mr. Smith, that rather than the men should work an additional hour underground, as this Bill proposes, I would rather they received less wages, because I know we should be able in the future to rectify the wages; once, however, our hours are increased, we shall have the same fight before us in order to bring us back to where we are to-day.
§ Mr. CAPE
In intervening in this Debate there is just the danger of having to repeat sentences that have already been said. I want, however, to direct the attention of hon. Members to the words that fell from the Secretary for Mines yesterday when he opened the Debate. His words were something to this effect: that the Debate of the day before was unreal and lifeless, and that those on this side offered no alternative, that this was a permissive Bill. He also read extracts from a letter that he was supposed to have received from the Miners' Federation. I want to tell hon. Members, and especially the Secretary for Mines and Members on the other side, that so far as we on this side are concerned this Debate has not been unreal. A large number of us have experienced the eight hours in the mines, and also other conditions; therefore, when we speak on this question we speak from our own personal and practical experience At the present time a large number of us on these benches have sons and relatives in the mines. We are prepared to fight to the bitter end to prevent them having to go back to the times we went through when we were in the mines. Therefore, when we speak of this question we speak from reality, and in reality, and everything we say we absolutely mean.
We have been asked time and again by hon. Members on the other side what alternatives we have to put up against the proposals put forward by the Government. As a matter of fact, I am one of those who cannot understand why we have been asked to suggest any alternative.
1255 We do not want to alter that which we have. We have an Act of Parliament, which gives us seven hours a day for the mines, and that is working in a constitutional manner; therefore, there is no obligation on us to offer up any alternative or suggest why there should be a change. During the last three days we have been trying to show why the present law should not be altered. Consequently, I am not prepared to offer any alternative; I want to remain under the Act as it is to-day. That is a position I am going to defend for all I am worth.
We are told that this is a permissive Bill. I have heard a good many Members express their opinion that it is permissive. I am prepared to listen if they are talking about something of which they know, but I was amazed that a man like the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carmarthen (Sir A. Mond), who thoroughly understands the situation, should talk about this Bill as he did. Where does the permissiveness of this Bill come in? We have been told that certain words will be deleted from the original Act by this Bill, which means that the right to work an extra hour per day for a period of 60 days will now be extended during the next five years. There is no permissiveness in that, nor is there any option. If it had been permissive or optional, then the people engaged in the industry ought to have the right to ballot as to whether they accept it or not, but there has been no oppotunity of that kind given to them. I want to suggest that this Bill, instead of being permissive, is a coercive Bill, and is a weapon given to the coalowners to beat the miners to their knees.
We have been told by a good many speakers on the other side that the Government are not to blame for the position and are not responsible for this Bill, yet when a good many of my colleagues have charged the Government with being in the hands of the colliery owners, the Government has repudiated that position Who is responsible for the Bill? The miners did not ask for it, and we are told that the owners did not ask for it and that this has been done spontaneously by the Government themselves to put the industry on its feet economically. I suggest that the first attempt made to bring the Eight Hours Bill into operation 1256 was made by the coalowners of this country. We have been told by hon. Members on the opposite side that if the terms of the Commission had been accepted at the outset, this dispute would not have arisen. As my hon. Friend who spoke just in front of me said, the coal owners were asked by the Government to make proposals for a national settlement on national lines. That was received on 15th April of this year and it was definitely stated that they ought to have a temporary suspension of the Seven Hours Act for at least three years.
The Government and, if I am not mistaken, the Prime Minister sent a letter to the Miners' Federation indicating that he agreed with the proposals set out by the owners in that document. Therefore, first of all, we had an application made for the suspension of the Seven Hours Act for three years, and now the Government go even further than the coalowners and say: "No, it is not wise to suspend that for three years, but for your benefit we will suspend it for five years." The Secretary for Mines also read a portion of what he called a letter from the Miners' Federation, and, I believe, with the intention of trying to mislead the House. In that letter of the Miners' Federation, which he read, they said:We are largely in agreement with the legislative and administrative proposals set forth, and are prepared to render every assistance possible to ensure their success, but see no reason why such measures should be first reviewed by the Coal Advisory Committee.That was a resolution passed at the conference held in London and sent in reply to the Prime Minister and to the proposals which he put to the Miners' Federation on 14th May. In those proposals there were five Bills proposed or suggested and six committees to be set up to make certain inquiries and in those proposals there was no intimation of any Bill being introduced to extend the hours from seven to eight. What we said in our resolution we are prepared to carry out to-day, but alongside those proposals came this proviso, that those Bills and those committees could only be introduced and set up on the understanding that the miners first of all suffered a 10 per cent. reduction before they resumed work. Notwithstanding that, the Miners' Federation put those 1257 words in the resolution that the Secretary for Mines read out in Committee yesterday. I want to put that before the House so that they may understand the reason why and in what circumstances the Federation sent that reply.
In regard to the Seven Hours Act, one found out yesterday in the Debate that a large number of Members on the other side did not understand the ratifications of that Act. As a matter of fact, one coal-owner did express himself rather astonished when he found what happened under the Seven Hours Act from the time of the first man going down the pit on the shift till the last man comes up. What really happens is this. I will take the case of a colliery I am well acquainted with in the county I come from. The winding time there is 40 minutes, so that that colliery is open at twenty past five for the men to descend to work. The pit starts to wind coal at 6 o'clock, and the men begin to come back out of the mine at one o'clock, so that the last man may come up at twenty minutes to two and still be within the Seven Hours Act.
These times are not settled by the miners or by the owners, but the inspector in that particular district, who is the law on this point, can settle the times of descending and ascending the mines and the men and the employers have to comply. If you take the instance I have given, you find that at this colliery which is within two miles of where I live, the men are down for perhaps something approaching eight and a half hours and still they have complied with the Seven Hours Act. If you add another hour you will still have the same conditions as regards descending and ascending, and it means for the wives of the miners absolute slavery from one week-end to another. There is a great deal of sentiment expressed in these things, and I think that hon. Members will agree that we who have experienced these things cannot help ourselves from giving expression to sentimental ideas. Let us take the miner's wife. There are plenty of pits where collieries work three shifts. I think in Durham, and in the county I come from, and in other counties the three-shift system is prevalent to a very large extent, and the miner's wife rises daily somewhere about four o'clock, and if she has members of her household working on all three shifts she is a very fortunate 1258 woman if she gets to bed by 11.30 at night. We have some regard for our own women, and we want to see them have a reasonable chance of enjoying some of the small pleasures of life than can be obtained by the workers.
I do not want to deal so much with the economic side of the question, for that has been dealt with more ably than I can do it by previous speakers, but it would be interesting to know, if we have a reply from the Minister of Labour, when for the first time the Government gave any intimation of their desire for the eight hours to be inaugurated. First of all, the suggestion was that it should be for three years, and then we find now they bring in a Bill that they say, if it is to be done, it ought to be done for five years.
The Commission's Report also says that once the hours are increased it will be a matter of far greater difficulty for the industry to retrace its steps. One could give a lot of quotations from the Commission's Report, but I want to turn to another point which has already been explained by some of my hon. Friends, but which I want to put before the House. The miner has been charged with being selfish and avaricious and generally making certain demands for certain things he ought not to have. I want it to be remembered that the miner asked for nothing but to be left as he was in regard to hours of employment, and if possible to retain the wages paid on 30th April. I want it to be thoroughly understood that the attack came from the other side and not from the miners themselves. Again, we have been told of the Government being prepared to accept the Commission's Report. The Government set up the Commission, and it was their business to accept the Report. But did they accept it, and if they did, what were the conditions on which they accepted it? The very first intimation they gave was they were prepared to accept the Report to a certain extent, although there were items in it which they did not like, but only on the understanding that both the miners and the owners accepted the Report in full. The people who set up the Commission and who ought to have been the first to give a lead to the others in their attitude to the Commission, were only prepared to do certain things on the condition that 1259 the other parties gave a definite promise that they would agree to everything the Commission had said.
In regard to what has been said about the miners, I am delighted to say that in my district I have not yet found a man who has given any indication of any willingness to go back to an eight-hours day. The miners simply laugh at the idea of the Government trying to enforce this legislation. They are not looking at things so much from the economic point of view. I agree with what my colleagues have said, that there cannot be an increase of wages, because, first of all, the miner will have to face a reduction of 14.2 per cent., and in all probability another 10 per cent., making 24.2 per cent. in all, and he would have to be a pretty good miner to reimburse himself even with the additional hour. But, as I say, in the county I come from, the miners are not looking at it so much from the economic point of view as from the human point of view. The miner has as much right to have some regard for his life as we have regard for our lives. As Members of this House we complain sometimes about the lack of ventilation making us feel a little bit drowsy, or making our heads ache. We make those complaints with the object of trying to maintain our health; and the miner has as much right to try to avoid conditions which may destroy his life, or probably disable him for the rest of his life.
According to statistics I have been able to gather, every working day—taken on a seven-hours basis—five persons lose their lives in the mines of this country and 850 are injured. One does not need to be very well advanced in mathematics to see what the eight-hours day is going to mean so far as additional loss of life and injuries are concerned. The reason why the miner's wife stands so firmly beside her husband on this issue is that she wants to safeguard the life of her husband, and wants some alleviation of the suspense and the anxiety she feels when her man is not at home. And there is something more! She thinks about her lad. When she has to send her lad of 14 years into this dreadful danger zone, it is quite natural that her feelings of mother-love should come out to protect that lad so far as it lies in her power to do so; and 1260 when she knows that last year 79 boys below the age of 16 were killed in the mines of this country and 15,241 injured, one can understand her bitterness against any extension of hours.
If the Government believe this Bill is going to settle this strike they are labouring under a delusion. I believe a lot of hon. Members opposite sincerely believe that this Bill, when it becomes law, will have settled the miners' dispute. Let there be no mistake on that point. They never made a bigger mistake in their lives than in thinking that. To my mind, it is going to prolong the dispute. It is embittering it; and when it comes to trying to obtain a settlement in another way it will be found that the miner is not prepared to do anything until the eight-hours menace is removed from his path. All the facts in the Royal Commission's Report show that it would be a fatal mistake to increase the hours of labour—that it would not only be a mistake on the Government's part, but it would be a fatal error on the men's part to agree with the employers to work longer hours. Those who set up the Commission, who were responsible for its constitution, who put down the terms of reference, and who should have made themselves responsible for trying to give full effect to its Report, are the very people who first deliberately violated its recommendations.
Like others who have spoken, I am anxious for peace. As a miners' agent I carried on a district—not a big district—for a great number of years under what was called a Conciliation Board for the settlement of disputes that arose. We tried the spirit of good will and harmony successfully for many years. After a time, however, we found that, unless we were prepared to make sacrifice after sacrifice, good will could not be maintained, and in the end we were asked to make so many sacrifices that good will could not be preserved, and then the miners were blamed for not being prepared to maintain good will and harmony in the industry. I am as anxious for peace as any other miners' Member in this House, but I am not prepared to advise the men I represent to accept this Bill. I want to be frank and candid with the House. I shall go out and use all the power I possess to prevent my men accepting, or giving any countenance to, a Measure 1261 of this kind, Even after the Bill becomes law we shall only get the miners to accept it and put it into operation when they have been bent and beaten to their knees. This Bill is one of the finest weapons for the colliery owners. They know perfectly well that they cannot beat us into accepting longer hours, but now the Government have said to them: "We know you could not put your eight-hours scheme into operation, because the Statutes said the miners were to work only seven hours, but this Bill says"—in so many words, for it means this— "Beat the miners down, and when the miners come to make a settlement with you, you make it imperative on them to work an eight-hours day. We have left the door open by which you can do it. This Act will be the best negotiating weapon you have got." That is the reason why the Government have brought in this Bill—to give the owners more power and a better weapon with which to thrash the miners; but I am as positive as I stand here that if the miners accept it it will have to be through sheer force of starvation. Therefore, anxious as I am to have peace in the coalfield, I am not going to accept peace with dishonour. There must be peace with honour when I sign a declaration that is to bring peace to the men I represent.
§ Sir WILFRID SUGDEN
I want to-night to strike a note of appeal to the organised leaders of the miners in respect of the position in which we find ourselves, I do not think there is any man with whom I have had the honour of friendship or acquaintanceship who will accuse me at any rate or at any time, either publicly or privately, of stressing the desire of permissibility to the lengthening of hours of labour in any single work-a-day walk of life. I have very carefully read and considered, not only the speeches of the leaders of the miners, but also of those who represent the managerial interests and the capitalists' interests in the mines of this country. I have also taken the trouble to obtain the speeches and the pronouncements of the leaders of the miners and the owners of the mines in the United States of America—the soft coalgetters—also the miners' leaders in Germany and France, and I say here, carefully and deliberately, on the Floor of the House to-night, that while, forsooth, we are given to understand that there is a direct and practical sympathy being 1262 shown to the miners of this country by miners, aye, and it is suggested by those who own the mines in the United States and in France and Germany, I am prepared to say emphatically to-night—as a result of my reading of that which is expressed in the Press of Europe and the United States—that we are being befooled and hoodwinked in respect to practical sympathy in our great and tremendous national trouble, because that is what it is, and the whole industry of our land is being exploited.
I am constrained to-night to make my appeal to the miners from the standpoint of the workers in other industries, who rely entirely for their opportunity of work and of getting work upon the hazardous work of the miner. It may be suggested to me to-night that I have knowledge only of the easy side of life, but I do not think it is necessary to enter into personal details as to what one's practical acquaintanceship of craftmanship and industrial participations may be. All I want to say is that I have had the privilege of knowing, and I was going to say of living among, miners, because I have been connected with the mining industry for some time in a subordinate capacity, and I know it is one of the most dangerous employments that we have in our land. Just as the miners have accepted these risks in every walk of life and as they accepted them in the great War trouble of 1914 to 1918, just as they then accepted their great responsibility, so to-night I plead with them with some distinct and it may be some qualifying appreciation of what their talents may be worth financially, I plead with them to remember those who are suffering in the engineering, steel-rolling and blast-furnace trades, the textile trades and the other great trades of this country, who will continue to suffer and starve if it be that the miners with that magnificent heroism that they have shown in regard to national and industrial life of this country are not prepared to come somewhere nearer the closing of the breach between themselves and the mineowners which is vitally essential at this time. What is the great problem? I am not prepared to say that in regard to the report of the Commission either its acceptance or application is going to solve the problem. In fact I know it is not, because the problem is much bigger 1263 than that. To-day the breadth of our land and the inter-communications of industry, whether managerial, capitalistic or connected with craftsmanship has compelled and is further compelling the broadening of the aspect of other industries from national to international. Coal is the first industry thus expanding and only shows one of the immensities of this problem, which is also operating in other parts of Europe and I have no doubt the time will come very soon when they will be connected also with America. The time will no doubt come when both the miners and the mineowners will have zollvereins in connection with Europe and America. Consequently the time has come when there must be give and take and live and let live for every section of industry in our land as there must be in this our great national industry.
What is the problem? It is a fact that certain industries and trades are for good or for ill being paid at certain prices which in connection with their unit of production and their hazard of risk are greater and more remuneratively paid than those industries which carry greater hazard and which pay a toll of life and blood like the mining industry. I say that the policeman plays a very proper and useful part in life, but when I remember his remuneration and his payment for the risk he carries in his job, and compare it-with the hazard and the productive capacity of the miner, I say the comparison is against the miner. I think in this connection it is also necessary to mention many other sheltered trades, but when I mention the engineers, when I mention the man who guides the engines of a ship in the stoke-hole, when I mention the fireman who sweats and takes his hazard equal to that of the miner, when I remember his remuneration I plead with the miner to help here also.
§ Sir W. SUGDEN
The argument I want to make is that this Bill, with its question of permissibility, has been made necessary by the refusal of agreement of miners and employers, and this Bill is one to make legal the permissibility of eight-hours work. The argument I am endeavouring to make is that while it may have some tentative capacity of 1264 helping us in our difficulty at the present time, and helping us to compete in other industries, I want to affirm again that it will not cover the ground entirely, and I suggest that if by the help of trade unions and the miners we could have a round table conference and a re-adjustment of the correct payment for the units of labour and produce in every walk of life, then we should get more at the fundamentals and have decent conditions of life, in all trades as well as the miners, than at the present time we are able to do. Be that as it. may, I want to suggest most definitely and distinctly that, so long as there is a cul de sac, so long as organised labour in coal mining—even, for the first time, with the help of the international organisation in that industry—cannot function with the employers in the coal trade, as has to be done in every other industry, then, even if it be only as a temporary palliative, we are doing right in giving some support to the Bill which the Government have produced.
Let us remember the great textile industries, with their special craftsmanship, the blast furnaces and other hard industries in which the men who work by the sweat of their brow have been brought to a standstill, the engineering and many other trades which rest on the coal industry, and which are also struggling in competition with the low-priced labour in their own trades in Europe. If nothing can be produced from the trade itself, whether by organised labour or by the owners of the pits, then we have a right to make trial with this Measure, and I, for one, support it, much as I regret lengthening hours, as I said at the beginning of my speech; for the very essence of progress in industry in this or any other country is to endeavour, by means of the magnificent research organisations in our industries, to get production at less hours and with a less toll of human fibre and blood, so that we may be able to compete economically and yet preserve our individualism of craftsmanship, so that the British Empire can lead, as it has led in the past, in every walk of industrial life. I appeal, therefore, to hon. Members on the Labour Benches either to produce their solution or to help us in regard to this trial Measure. I promise them that, if they do, there are many of us on this side of the House 1265 who are as keen in regard to comradeship and fraternisation with our workers as they are, and who will help all we can. Let us have the opportunity of showing that not only the miners but every section of workers in all industries shall be able to breathe God's air and strive for higher ideals, not only in the industrial life of this nation, but in the greater life of Imperialism and nationalism throughout the world.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Mr. TINKER
We have listened to a very curious speech, which is very hard to analyse. I think the hon. Member meant to say that the miners were enjoying a rather better standard of life than other grades of workers, and that they should in the national interest accept a lower standard of living. That is just the argument that we expected. If we have the example of the miners working longer hours for lower wages, immediately our hon. Friend and others will go to other grades of workmen and say, "Here are the miners working a longer day than any of you. Look at the hard conditions under which they work; look at the low wages they get. Surely, you can accept conditions more like the miners' conditions." That is what we are afraid of in this matter. We are taking this stand against any lowering of the present conditions of the miners, believing that by doing so we shall prevent other grades of workers from being brought down also. That is the argument that has been used all the evening on the other side, and we were told earlier in the Debate that many of our arguments were following on similar lines. I agree, but in our arguments there is a ring of sincerity that cannot be detected in those used on the other side. I will tell the Committee why. We on these benches every weekend go among our people—
§ Lieut.-Commander ASTBURY
On this side of the House we also visit our constituents. I have personally been into 300 miners' houses in West Salford during the last month.
§ Mr. TINKER
If the hon. Member has been amongst the miners, and comes 1266 from the Manchester district, he will be able to bear out what I say. I have been amongst the miners every week-end and there is a solidarity among them that I have never seen before, against any attempt at reduction of wages or longer hours. On the question of longer hours, whatever else may happen, I can promise this, that you will not get the miners back in six months' time on that question.
§ Lieut.-Commander ASTBURY
May I tell the hon. Member that in 300 miners' houses in which I have been during the last month—and I may say I have been feeding 100 miners' children during the last month—there was only one man against going back on an eight-hours day from bank to bank without a reduction.
§ Mr. TINKER
Let the Committee take notice of what the hon. Member says—from bank to bank. I will clinch that argument, and say we are prepared to accept that position. I have here the figures relating to a large number of mines where I have been going this week-end and where they have been working eight hours from bank to bank. Here are some of the figures for the winding times. These are the figures for the time in one direction only, so they have to be repeated twice each day. The figures are, 60 minutes, 70 minutes, 50 minutes, 60 minutes, 60 minutes, 45 minutes, 60 minutes, and so on. I have the figures for 13 collieries where the average winding time is 56 minutes, and the number of men employed is over 7,000. In those cases the proposal which the hon. Member puts forward as to eight hours from bank to bank would not make the position any worse than it is at present. If he went to the miners in his constituency, he would get agreement as to that, so I hope he will take it from me that eight hours from bank to bank is no worse than they are doing now.
§ Mr. TINKER
I was trying to point out that the average winding time where I come from is eight hours bank to bank. The Government have no right to introduce this Measure. I have looked up the King's speech and can find no reference to it at all. It is not mentioned in the Commission's finding unless by consent of 1267 the men. I know the function of Parliament. It is that there should be no change in existing legislation unless by general consent of the House or by going to the country and getting a mandate for it. On this Measure there is more than a half of the electorate dead against any change. You certainly have more Members in the House of Commons than we have on this side, but the majority of the Votes belong to the Liberal and Labour parties, so I claim that you have no mandate to make any change and that the Government are doing wrong in this matter. I want to make it known that the fact that the owners are being backed up by the Government is clearly shown by what the Prime Minister has done. He stated recently that he was not going to take any dictatorship from capital or labour. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] If hon. Members can get it into their minds that he is not taking dictatorship from one party now their way of thinking is different from mine. This is clearly dictatorship from capital. There is only one section that has claimed the eight-hours day and that section is capital. Labour has not asked for it, so I think I am right in asserting that it is capital that is dictating to Parliament. If you can dispute that you are of a different way of thinking from myself.
We only have three per cent. of the world's supply of coal, and when you are talking of working eight hours do you think you are doing right by posterity in squandering the mineral wealth of the country? It may be said we want to get trade, but the time will come sooner or later when this House of Commons will regret that it has not paid closer attention to the mineral wealth of the country. Every pound of coal that is wasted is a crime against the future, and that is why I am so keen on reorganisation. If that is done, I think a solution can he arrived at I have said times without number that I am prepared to accept, and recommend to my men acceptance of the Commission's findings in their entirety. I want to put the reorganisation schemes into operation. You cannot expect a body of men who have been deluded time after time on the reorganisation question to accept anything like a half-pledge from the Government. 1268 You have never had the courage to tackle it in earnest. The Prime Minister said he was prepared to put the Commission's Report into operation if both sides would agree. Now he has shifted from that position. If it was statesmanship at the outset it is statesmanship yet to put it into operation. If the Commission's findings were worth putting into operation then, they are worth putting into operation now, whether you agree to them or not. I appeal to the Government to have the courage to make full use of the opportunity they have. They have a majority which has never been equalled. They have no need to pay attention to anyone, but they are playing into the hands of the owners, and there will be no attempt to reorganise if you give them a longer working day. We have been out nearly nine weeks, and this is the time the Government propose to extend the working day. They are intensifying bitterness amongst the men. If they want to malinger there is no one who can do it better than the miners under the conditions in which they work, because you cannot have supervisors everywhere. Can you think, if the men are forced back, you will get the best out of them? Can you expect it? The miners are a most loyal body of men, but turn them the wrong way and you will make them as bitter in the other direction. I appeal to the House to take the matter in hand at once, to drop this Bill and tackle it in another way.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
I should like to say a few words with regard to one or two of the points which have been raised in a long Debate, and the reason I do so will, I hope, meet with approval from all sides of the Committee, because I understand through the usual channels that the desire is that there should be an early Division on this Clause and that we may then take the other two Clauses and finish the Committee stage. The discussion in Committee has ranged, quite naturally, over the same field as was dealt with on the Second Reading, and will be dealt with on the Third Reading. For that reason I am sure hon. Members opposite would prefer not to have a long Debate covering the many subjects that have been raised to-day, but a very few words to-night and then the same subject in effect will be debated to-morrow on the Third Reading, and I am sure care 1269 will be taken to deal with many of the other points which have been raised on which I do not propose to touch to-night. There were one or two points of a rather special character which have been raised to-day, and perhaps I may deal with them. One deals with the number of accidents in the mines, and the effect on the rate of accidents of a seven-hour day or an eight-hour day. The subject was mentioned, I think, by the hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Paling), and it has been mentioned by one or two other hon. Members. I cannot help thinking that there is misconception on the part of those who have raised this subject. They contended that, as with the seven-hour day there were more accidents during the last hour, therefore with an eight-hour day the rate of accidents will be still further increased. I can assure them that no such inference as that can possibly be drawn from the statistics, if they are carefully examined. So far as the statistics yield any inference, the inference is rather to the contrary. [Interruption.] I am giving the facts, and if the hon. Member will verify them himself I shall be only too glad.
As far as the facts yield any inference of that sort, it is this, that always in the last hour of work there has been somewhat of an increase in the accident rate, but that increase, if anything, has been rather greater with a seven-hour day, possibly under greater pressure, than it has been with an eight-hour day. That is the inference, if any, that can be drawn; but I would say at once that it is not wise to lay too much stress on any conclusion of that kind whatsoever. The only conclusion that can quite safely be drawn on the question of accidents is this, that year after year the accident rate has diminished and is diminishing, partly through care, partly through more appliances, partly through general overseeing, and that, little by little, as everyone is glad to see and everyone hopes it will continue, the rate of accidents is growing less.
§ Mr. PALING
Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to say that these statistics bear out the interpretation which he has put upon them? Neither of the interpretations which the right 1270 hon. Gentleman has given is correct, according to the figures. I went through them very carefully before I got out the average, in order to be sure that I was, not drawing a wrong inference.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
I will study them again before to-morrow, and to-morrow if I have anything to withdraw or modify of any sort or kind I will do it, quite frankly, either personally to the hon. Member or before the House.
§ Mr. T. GRIFFITHS
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in. the steel trade the insurance companies asked for a premium which was far higher in connection with a 12-hour day than they did for an eight-hour day when we established it?
§ Mr. RAMSAY MacDONALD
In considering these figures for to-morrow, will the right hon. Gentleman see whether there is any information in the Labour Department which shows the incidence of risk in the last hour, whether it is under a seven-hour day, an eight-hour day or a nine-hour day? That is important.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for making the point clear. The point on which I will endeavour to get such evidence as there may be from the Mines Department, and I will give it freely to the House, is as to the incidence of accidents during the last hour, under a seven-hour day and an eight-hour day respectively. I will endeavour to do that. As far as I can speak from memory, the facts are as I have given them, but I will make sure about them by to-morrow. There are two points on which I wish to dwell; one is the competition with other countries. I frankly admit that I should be exceedingly sorry to see a competition in lengthening of hours or reduction in wages. I say that advisedly, but I put it to the Committee that the question is precisely the same whether you are dealing with an increase of hours in the working day or with a 1271 reduction in the rate of wages. Precisely the same argument can be used in either case. The Report of the Commission is perfectly specific in this, that it suggests a concession, and it indicates quite clearly that it prefers that the concession should be a reduction in the rate of wages rather than an increase in the working day. I admit that at once. On the other hand, it quite clearly demands a concession, and if a comparison is made with ether countries, then the whole argument as regards competition applies alike whether it is a question of a concession in regard to wages or a question as regards hours.
§ Mr. HARNEY
The Commissioners are quite clear that a reduction of wages would have quite a different effect in other countries than a lengthening of hours. They said that a lengthening of hours would at once be neutralised by a lengthening of hours in other countries.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
But precisely the same argument applies in either case. The point on which the Commission laid stress was this, that one way or another there ought to be some reduction for the moment in the matter of labour costs of production. Hon. Members are aware of the position in the coal industry, and I have no doubt it was in the minds of the Commission when they made their recommendation. I find that the cost per ton in this country, quite apart from marketing costs, the cost per ton commercially disposable, other than wages costs, amounts to about 5s. 6d., as against 7s. 9d. in the Ruhr. That means that as regards the costs per. ton, other than wages, that is management, stores and maintenance, we were working at considerably under the cost in the Ruhr. On the other hand, when it comes to the wages costs, in this country they are 13s. 6d. per ton as compared with 8s. 6d. per ton, commercially disposable, in the Ruhr. That was the reason which led the Commission to ask that there should be a concession, and it is perfectly open, as regards competition, to say that whenever a change is made in one country it may possibly lead to competition in the other. I quite agree that it is open to hon. Members to use that argument. But it is equally applicable whether it is a change in wages or a 1272 lengthening of hours. If it applies in the one case, it applies also in the other. The wages cost in England is 13s. 6d. Those are the figures at the end of 1924, and they have not altered very much since then. I think I have a later figure, but it is the same within a few pence.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
I can get the latest figure. I am informed that it was 12s. 4d. in March. The disparity is very great between wages costs in the two countries. With the figure of 12s. 4d, there is a difference between the two of very nearly 50 per cent.
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
Is that not offset to a certain extent by the fact that the output per man employed here is higher than that in Germany?
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
My figure is per ton "commercially disposable." The figure takes that into account.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
It does not invalidate my argument, as the hon. Member knows. If he takes the average of the wages of a hewer per shift in all the big districts of the country, he knows that the figure of the hewer per shift, when you allow for the house allowance of the married person, in Northumberland and Durham, is rather below the average, and in South Wales it is above the average. You get a difference between one district and another. To take the average cost for the country as a whole is perfectly fair. Before I sit down I will deal with one other point, and that is the question of carrying out the Report. The right hon. Member for Newton (Mr. R. Young) criticised us because as a Government, he said, we should not have taken up the attitude that we took up. He said that we took up the attitude of saying that we were willing to carry out the whole of the Report, provided that the other two parties in the industry did the same, and what our attitude should have been was to have said, "Whatever 1273 you do, we will get what agreement we can between the two parties, but we will then by law carry out the whole of the rest of the Report."
That sounds a very easy thing to say by way of criticism. I ask hon. Members opposite to realise that a criticism of that sort, however sincerely meant, comes in actual practice to this: I take the question of the National Board. The Report suggests that there should be a National Board for the industry with a neutral element in it, and it goes on to indicate further characteristics which it thinks should belong to that National Board. What would have happened had we proceeded in the way suggested by the right hon. Gentleman? I think it is advisable in dealings in an industry between one side and another that there should be neutral elements, but, at the same time, I should consider it very inadvisable, from the point of view of the future of the trade, that if the different sides did not agree we should impose upon them by law a constitution which possibly both of them would dislike.
§ Mr. ROBERT YOUNG
I said that what the Government ought to have done was to have brought the two parties together and to have taken their advice as to the course of legislation where they agreed.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
As the right hon. Gentleman knows, I would be the last to misrepresent him, but I understood from what he said—and I withdraw if I did not understand him aright—that he wished us to carry out all these points by law. I take another point. What ought we to have done as regards the crucial question of the reduction in the rates? I do not want to be controversial at this hour of the night, but it was quite clear that the Report advocated this as the one step that could meet the immediate situation. It was perfectly impossible for us to go on and do as many people have suggested we should have done—even if it was not the right hon. Gentleman—and impose on the parties a settlement of that kind. You cannot impose a settlement in that matter on the two parties. As was quite clear, it would not 1274 have been accepted by the Miners' Federation, and to try to impose a settlement by law would have been perfectly futile.
§ Mr. GREENALL
Is not that exactly what you are doing now? You are forcing the miners absolutely against the Report of the Commission. You are doing what the Commission said you ought not to do, and you are doing it in the interests of the coalowners.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
I am led by that remark to one other point with which I had not intended to trouble the Committee. I state quite distinctly I am not acting in the interests of the coalowners or anyone else. We are introducing this Bill—at least I myself so far as. I have a share in it am doing so, simply because I believe in the circumstances it is the right thing to do, and for no other reason. Hon. Members opposite seem to think that we are at once the slaves of the coalowners and—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I thought that statement would produce a cheer from the other side such as I seldom get. Yet the same time, while hon. Members say this about us, one of them earlier in the day produced the fact that one of the coalowners had said: "Why do they not make it permanent. They ought to have made it permanent."[HON. MEMBERS: "So it will be!"] Clearly, we have only made it temporary. Clearly it ought to be tried for a certain time and there should be a fair opportunity of review at the end of that period. There are some other points which I am not going into now, because of an understanding with hon. Members on the opposite side, and I do not want to take up their time further to-night. Some of the other points will be dealt with to-morrow.
§ Mr. MacLAREN
The right hon. Gentleman gave some figures of the wages paid to the miners in Germany and in Great Britain. Can he give us at the same time the amount of taxation that the miners in each of those countries respectively pay out of the wages which they receive?
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
I am not sure that I can. If the hon. Member remembers, two nights ago, in speaking to him, I said I was not quite sure that I could get the figures, and I have not yet been able to ascertain them. The 1275 reason is simply that when one asks for taxation figures it becomes a little more complicated, and the question arises as to whether it is rates or taxes, whether you shall put in social insurance charges, and the rest. I do not propose to take up the time of the Committee further to-night, because I understand that an agreement has been reached, but, as regards the other points, I trust that, whether by myself or by some other speaker on behalf of the Government, they will be dealt with—and I have taken a note of them—when it comes to the Debate ranging over the same field to-morrow on the Third Reading.
§ Mr. EVAN DAVIES
I am sure the Committee will agree with me when I say that the Minister of Labour has made a very ineffective reply to the speeches heard on this side. I do not know that I have ever heard anything more weak, and it is clear his heart is not in his work. There was one point upon which he touched, to which I wish to refer. He wanted to argue that working eight hours a day in a mine made not the slightest difference to the number of accidents that occurred, but I think everyone who understands the question will agree that the longer you work in any employment like working underground in a mine, the larger the number of accidents that will occur. I do not wish to ask the Minister to look up special statistics; common sense tells me that if we get the eight hours imposed.on the miners of this country we shall, of necessity, have a much larger number of accidents than under a seven-hours day.
Then the right hon. Gentleman just touched upon the question of the argument put from this side that the introduction of the eight-hours day would bring about a race between Great Britain and the Continent with regard to hours of labour and wages paid. I suggest that this is the first step in that direction, and I think I can appeal to the ordinary common-sense Member of this House to agree that if eight-hours mining is introduced into this country, it is only natural that the German coal-owner, the Belgian coalowner, and the French coalowner will immediately go to the miners of those countries, suggest that unfair competition is coming from 1276 Great Britain, and ask for an increase of hours in those countries. It must follow as one of the inevitable consequences of the attempt made to impose eight hours on the miners in this country. The hon. and gallant Member for South Cardiff (Captain Evans) pointed out that we expressed from these benches a considerable amount of sentiment. I stand as the Member of Parliament for the particular constituency which I represent, simply and solely because I believe in the quality of sentiment. If I did not believe in sentiment, I do not think I should be in this House at all. I think sentiment, after all, is the greatest virtue in the human race. If individuals or nations have no sentiment, then they are nothing more than empty carcases. Sentiment, I think, was the thing which brought the miners into the War. It was sentiment for the country which inspired them to go forward. Unless we have reasonable sentiment in the conduct of our affairs, I think our lives are very empty indeed.
If the Government intended the Eight Hours Bill to be a sensible proposal in order to meet the economic conditions of the present situation, I think they should have gone as far as to say that they were introducing eight hours to be worked in the uneconomic pits, and allowing the seven hours to be worked in pits which are economic to-day, and are even paying a reasonable profit in very many parts of the country. The introduction of a Measure of that kind would be the sensible thing to do if they wanted to meet the economic situation. I know it is very impracticable, but I think they are neglecting the practical proposal which ought to be put forward to meet the mining situation. But if they were trying to make miners' lives fit in with the economic conditions of the industry, the only sensible proposal to put before the House, that is, if the House is to settle it, is for the eight hours to be applied to the uneconomic pits, and let the others work the seven hours. Everyone knows that is a very impracticable proposition, but it comes to the surface because the Government want to apply the eight-hours day to the collieries which are already paying their way. [HON. MEMBERS: "No" and "Yes"] I do not wish to go into any particular statistics. We have been given a very 1277 lucid explanation of the coal industry of this country, with statistics from Scotland and Wales, showing that there were losses in collieries of 3s. 6d. per ton, and there were collieries paying as much as 7s. 6d. a ton in the same district.
All I want to say is that the inference to be drawn from these particular statistics is that if you want to apply the Eight Hours Bill without making the rich richer, you should apply the eight hours to the collieries not now Paying, and allow the seven hours to remain in the collieries already paying. I know it is an impracticable proposition, because the Government will not face the practical solution of the economic difficulty of the industry, which is, that in order to make the industry a paying proposition throughout the country, it should be unified. Hon. Members may smile, but I venture to predict here and now, that the time is not far distant, when even a proposal will come before this House, not for unification, but nationalisation as a practical proposition, and I believe that unless the Government will face the issue as it should be faced, and deal with it by unification, it is impossible, owing to the economic condition of the industry, to carry the thing through with any success.
It has been said here that an eight-hours day will probably settle the coal mining situation in this country. If hon. Members will only go into the mining areas, and test the sentiments of the people in those areas as a result of the Government action in regard to this Bill, they would find—and I speak, I hope, quite practically, and I do not want to exaggerate the situation nor to express unnecessary alarm—but I think they will find that the result of Government intervention in this Eight Hours Bill has actually extended the dispute further into the year, without any hope of a settlement in the mining industry. If a settlement does come by the application of the eight hours, it will come by the actual starving of the people into submission, and then there would be no rest in the industry until that particular Measure has been removed altogether from the Statute Book.
I should like hon. Members opposite to appreciate exactly what is the position. Let us take the position at the beginning. First of all the Government 1278 attempted to deal with the economic position in the industry by a subsidy. In the meantime they set up a Commission which made certain recommendations. There were some things to which the Commission was obstinately opposed, and they said why they were against putting forward the eight hours again. Yet the Government come along, after a nine weeks' stoppage, and ignoring the recommendations of the Commission that they themselves appointed, and after the Prime Minister stating in the country over and over again that they were prepared to accept all the proposals in toto of the Commission—at the end of so many weeks' struggle they come forward and propose to the House of Commons, not what the Commission recommended, but what they consider to be a solution of the mining difficulty. Everybody knows it is no solution. Every intelligent person knows it will only aggravate the situation, not only nationally but internationally. Everybody knows it will mean more hours being worked on the Continent. Everybody knows there will be the same position in the neutral markets as now. No solution can be found in this particular respect. But the Government come forward now, and say they do not come forward at the behest of the coalowners.
Will the Government tell us, and tell us in plain, simple language why it is that nine weeks ago, before the struggle started—because they ought to have known where they stood nine weeks ago—why they did not come forward and say than an eight-hours day in the coalfields was a solution of the economic difficulties of the industry? If they knew this, then they were guilty of criminal conduct in coming to the industry, after nine weeks, and putting forward what would have been from their standpoint the practical application to remedy this state of affairs in the country. I want to say that I have myself come to the conclusion that the Government have allowed this struggle to go on for nine weeks because they know, naturally, that the people are getting to feel that they are going below the poverty line, and the Government hope that this legislation at the very last moment will demoralise and degenerate the working classes, and that ultimately they will drift in one after another, until the whole thing has settled itself in that particular form. I want to warn the 1279 Government that I do not think that that would take place for a considerable time. It is just possible that a great upheaval will take place before that particular solution will be applied effectively to the mining industry. The Government are really guilty of wilful conduct in allowing this legislation to be brought in, knowing
§ well it is against the wishes of the community.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 283; Noes, 148.1281
|Division No. 307.]||AYES.||[10.50 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Crooke, J. Smedley (Derltend)||Holland, Sir Arthur|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Holt, Captain H. P.|
|Albery, Irving James||Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Ganisbro)||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Cunliffe, Sir Herbert||Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities)|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Davies, Dr. Vernon||Howard, Captain Hon. Donald|
|Apsley, Lord||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Hume, Sir G. H.|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Dawson, Sir Philip||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer|
|Astor, Viscountess||Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Drewe, C.||Hurst, Gerald B.|
|Atkinson, C.||Duckworth, John||Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Eden, Captain Anthony||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Jacob, A. E.|
|Balniel, Lord||Elliot, Major Walter E.||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Elveden, Viscount||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||England, Colonel A.||King, Captain Henry Douglas|
|Beamish, Captain T. P. H.||Erskine Lord (Somerset Weston-s.-M.)||Lamb, J. Q.|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Everard, W. Lindsay||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)|
|Berry, Sir George||Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)|
|Bethel, A.||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Lord, Walter Greaves-|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Fanshawe, Commander G. D.||Lougher, L.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Fielden, E. B.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Finburgh, S.||Luce, Major-Gen, Sir Richard Harman|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Ford, Sir P. J.||Lumley, L. R.|
|Blundell, F. N.||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Forrest, W||McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Macintyre, Ian|
|Bowater, Sir T. Vanslttart||Fraser, caption lan||McLean, Major A.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Frece, sir Walter de||Macmillan, Captain H.|
|Braithwaite, A. N.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm|
|Brass, Captain W.||Gadie, Lieut.-Colonel Anthony||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Ganzoni, Sir John||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Gates, Percy||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Meller, R. J.|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Merriman, F. B.|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Meyer, Sir Frank|
|Brown, Maj. D.C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Goff, Sir Park||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Gower, Sir Robert||Mirchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.|
|Burman, J. B.||Gretton, Colonel John||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Grotrian, H. Brent||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Morden, Col. W. Grant|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive|
|Campbell, E. T.||Harland, A.||Nall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph|
|Cassels, J. D.||Harrison, G. J. C.||Nelson, Sir Frank|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Hartington, Marquess of||Neville, R. J.|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W.G.(Ptrsf'ld.)|
|Chilcott, Sir Warden||Haslam, Henry C.||Nuttall, Ellis|
|Christie, J A.||Hawke, John Anthony||Oakley, T.|
|Clayton, G. C.||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley)||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Henderson, Lieut.-Col, V. L. (Bootle)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hennessy, Major.J. R. G.||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Hills, Major John Waller||Perring, Sir William George|
|Cope. Major William||Hilton, Cecil||Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Philipson, Mabel|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Pielou, D. P.|
|Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Shepperson, E. W.||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Preston, William||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W|
|Price, Major C. W. M.||Skelton, A. N.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Radford, E. A.||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Raine, W.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Ramsden, E.||Smithers, Waldron||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Rawson, Sir Alfred Cooper||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)||Sprat, Sir Alexander||Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.|
|Reid, D. D. (County Down)||Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.)||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Rice, Sir Frederick||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)||Steel, Major Samuel Strang||Wilson, M. J. (York, N. R., Richm'd)|
|Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)||Storry-Deans, R.||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Ropner, Major L.||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.||Streatfeild, Captain S. R.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Rye, F. G.||Strickland, Sir Gerald||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Salmon, Major I.||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.||Withers, John James|
|Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser||Womersley, W. J.|
|Sandeman, A. Stewart||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'ge & Hyde)|
|Sanders, Sir Robert A.||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.).|
|Sanderson, Sir Frank||Templeton, W. P.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Sandon, Lord||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)||Wragg, Herbert|
|Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Savery, S. S.||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-|
|Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W. R., Sowerby)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement||Captain Margesson and Captain|
|Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)||Turton, Edmund Russborough||Bowyer.|
|Sheffield, Sir Berkeley||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro)||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hardie, George D.||Scurr, John|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Harney, E. A.||Sexton, James|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhamton, Bilston)||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Shaw, Rt. Han. Thomas (Preston)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hayday, Arthur||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Barnes, A.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Barr, J.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Batey, Joseph||Hirst, G. H.||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Bann, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hirst, W (Bradford, South)||Smillie, Robert|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Briant, Frank||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)|
|Broad, F. A.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Smith, Rennle (Penistone)|
|Bromfield, William||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Snell, Harry|
|Bromley, J.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)|
|Buchanan, G.||Jones, T. I, Mardy (Pontypridd)||Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Kelly, W. T.||Stamford, T. W.|
|Cape, Thomas||Kennedy, T.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Charleton, H. C.||Lansbury, George||Stewart, J (St. Rollox)|
|Clowes, S.||Lawrence, Susan||Sullivan, J.|
|Cruse, W. S.||Lawson, John James||Sutton, J. E.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Lee, F.||Taylor, R. A.|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Lindley, F. W.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Compton, Joseph||Livingstone, A. M.||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Connolly, M.||Lowth, T.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E|
|Cove, W. G.||Lunn, William||Thurtle, E.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Dalton, Hugh||Mackinder, W.||Townend, A. E.|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||MacLaren, Andrew||Valley, Frank B.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Wellhead, Richard C.|
|Day, Colonel Harry||March, S.||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Dennison, R.||Montague, Frederick||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Duncan, C.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Dunnico, H.||Murnin, H.||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Fenby, T. D.||Naylor, T. E.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Oliver, George Harold||Westwood, J.|
|Gardner, J. P.||Owen, Major G.||Whiteley, W.|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Palin, John Henry||Wiggins, William Martin|
|Gillett, George M.||Paling, W.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Gosling, Harry||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Ponsonby, Arthur||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Lianelly)|
|Greenall, T.||Potts, John S.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Purcell, A. A.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Gl morgan)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Windsor, Walter|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Riley, Ben||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Groves, T.||Ritson, J.|
|Grundy, T. W.||Rose, Frank H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Saklatvala, Shapurji)||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. Hayes.|
§ Question put accordingly, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."1284
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 283; Noes, 143.1285
|Division No. 308.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Drewe, C.||Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman|
|Albery, Irving James||Eden, Captain Anthony||Lumley, L. R.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Elliot, Major Walter E.||McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus|
|Applln, Col. R. V. K.||Elveden, Viscount||Macintyre, Ian|
|Apsley, Lord||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||McLean, Major A.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||Macmillan, Captain H.|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Everard, W. Lindsay||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-|
|Atkinson, C.||Faile, Sir Bertram G.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Fanshawe, Commander G. D.||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Fielden, E. B.||Margesson, Capt. D.|
|Balniel, Lord||Finburgh, S.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Ford, Sir P. J.||Meller, R. J.|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Merriman, F. B.|
|Beamish, Captain T. P. H.||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Meyer, Sir Frank|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Fraser, Captain Ian||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Frece, Sir Walter de||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)|
|Berry, Sir George||Fremantle, Lt. Col. Francis E.||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)|
|Bethel, A.||Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Ganzoni, Sir John||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Gates, Percy||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Morden, Col. W. Grant|
|Blundell, F. N.||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Goff, Sir Park||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Gower, Sir Robert||Nall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph|
|Bowater, Sir T. Vansittart||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Nelson, Sir Frank|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Neville, R. J.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Braithwaite, A. N.||Gretton, Colonel John||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hon. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.)|
|Brass, Captain W.||Grotrlan, H. Brent||Nuttall, Ellis|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Oakley, T.|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Harland, A.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Brocklebank, C. E R.||Harrison, G. J. C.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. J.||Hartington, Marquess of||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Peering, Sir William George|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Haslam, Henry C.||Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Hawke, John Anthony||Pete, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Pielou, D. P|
|Burgoyne, Lieut.-colonel Sir Alan||Henderson, Capt. R.R.(Oxf'd, Henley)||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Burman, J. B.||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)||Preston, William|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.||Price, Major C. W. M.|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Radford, E. A.|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Hills, Major John Waller||Ralne, W.|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Hliton, Cecll||Ramsden, E.|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S.J. G.||Rawson, Sir Alfred Cooper|
|Cassels, J. D.||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Reid, Captain A. S. C. (Warrington)|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R.(Prtsmth.S.)||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Cecil. Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Holland, Sir Arthur||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Holt, Captain H. P.||Rice, Sir Frederick|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'is'y)|
|Chilcott, Sir Warden||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)|
|Christie, J. A.||Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities)||Ropner, Major L.|
|Clayton, G. C.||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Howard, Captain Hon. Donald||Rye, F. G.|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Salmon, Major I.|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Hume, Sir G. H.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Colfax, Major Wm. Phillips||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Hurd, Percy A.||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Cope, Major William||Hurst, Gerald B.||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. Sir George L.||Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's)||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Sandon, Lord|
|Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Jacob, A. E.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Savery, S. S.|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W.R., Sowerby)|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Lamb, J. Q.||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W.)|
|Cunliffe, Sir Herbert||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Little, Dr. E. Graham||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)||Locker-Lampsan, G. (Wood Green)||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Lord, Walter Greases-||Skelton, A. N.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Lougher, L.||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dlne, C.)|
|Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Smatters, Waldron||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)||Wilson, M. J. (York, N. R., Richm'd)|
|Spender-Clay, Colonel H.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Sprat, Sir Alexander||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F.(Will'sden, E.)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Stanley, Lord (Fyide)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement||Withers, John James|
|Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)||Turton, Edmund Russborough||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Steel, Major Samuel Strang||Wallace, Captain D. E.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Storry-Deans, R.||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L.(Kingston-on-Hull)||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)|
|Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.||Warner Brigadier-General W. W.||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.).|
|Streatfeild, Captain S. R.||Warrender, Sir Victor||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Strickland, Sir Gerald||Waterhouse, Captain Charles||Wragg, Herbert|
|Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser||Watts, Dr. T.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES —|
|Sugden, Sir Wilfrid||Wheler. Major Sir Granville C. H.||Colonel Gibbs and Major|
|Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)||Hennessy.|
|Templeton, W. P.||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hardie, George D.||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Harney, E. A.||Scurr, John|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Sexton, James|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Hayday, Arthur||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Barnes, A.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Barr, J.||Hirst, G. H.||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Batey, Joseph||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hors-Belisha, Leslie||Smillie, Robert|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Briant, Frank||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)|
|Broad, F. A.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Snell, Harry|
|Bromfield, William||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Bromley, J.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles|
|Buchanan, G.||Kelly, W. T.||Stamford, T. W.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Kennedy, T.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Cape, Thomas||Lansbury, George||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Charlelon, H. C.||Lawrence, Susan||Sullivan, J.|
|Clowes, S.||Lawson, John James||Sutton, J E.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Lee, F.||Taylor, R. A.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Lindley, F. W.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Livingstone, A. M.||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Compton, Joseph||Lowth, T.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Connolly, M.||Lunn, William||Thurtle, E.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J.R.(Aberavon)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Dalton, Hugh||Mackinder, W.||Townend, A. E.|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||MacLaren, Andrew||Varley, Frank B.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Day, Colonel Harry||March, S.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Duncan, C.||Montague, Frederick||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Dunnico, H.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Fenby, T. D.||Murnin, H.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Naylor, T. E.||Westwood, J.|
|Gardner, J. P.||Oliver, George Harold||Whiteley, W.|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Owen, Major G.||Wiggins, William Martin|
|Gillett, George M.||Palin, John Henry||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Gosling, Harry||Paling, W.||Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Lianelly)|
|Greenall, T.||Ponsonby, Arthur||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Calne)||Potts, John S.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Purcell, A. A.||Windsor, Walter|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Groves, T.||Riley, Ben|
|Grundy, T. W.||Ritson, J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Rose, Frank H.||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr.|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Saklatvala, Shapurji||Hayes.|