HC Deb 31 March 1927 vol 204 cc1513-58

We make no apology for returning once again to the Washington Convention on hours of labour. On 28th February this House listened to a long discussion on the same question; but we are determined to raise this issue again and again, until the Government is pressed to do its duty. We have very special reasons for bringing this matter before the House once again; one of the most important is the statement made by the Parliamentary Secretary in the speech he delivered on 28th February, in which he said: On this issue of the Washington Hours Convention the Government have set up a Cabinet Committee which at this moment is charged with the duty of examining the whole position with a view to arriving at a definite conclusion. That was a very much more definite and clear declaration than the Parliamentary Secretary's chief made in a speech the same evening. I pay tribute to the hon. Member for being very much more clear than his chief on that occasion. I happened to say then, and I think it might as well be repeated now, that the Minister of Labour was very unhappy in the position in which he found himself; and I feel sure that the events which have transpired since that Debate have not made him any more comfortable.

The next point which gives me a. reason for raising this issue to-night is the statement in the "Times" of 8th March, to the following effect: It is understood that Lord Cecil has been appointed Chairman of the Cabinet Committee which is considering the whole question of the Washington 48 Hours Week Convention. The "Times" is not by any means inclined towards the Labour movement; but it is a very fair journal on this issue, and it goes on to say: It is hoped as a result of this inquiry that the decision of the Government on the question of ratification will be announced soon after Lord Cecil's return from Geneva. Lord Cecil has obviously returned from Geneva since then, and I think we are entitled therefore to ask what has been done. The statement of the hon. Gentleman that a Cabinet Committee has been appointed, and was actually sitting when the hon. Member spoke, and the fact that Lord Cecil has returned from Geneva, compel us to ask what is the result of all these deliberations. The hon. Member for Wallsend (Miss Bondfield) put a question on 23rd March, when she asked— Whether the Government had examined the Report of the Committee appointed to examine the position in relation to the Washington Hours Convention, and whether the right hon. Gentleman can state the policy of the Government with regard to the ratification of this Convention. The Prime Minister replied: I am not yet in a position to make any statement on the subject. A similar question was put to the Prime Minister yesterday to which he replied by using exactly the same words; he stated that he had nothing further to say on the subject. I think the time has arrived when we ought to have some decision from the Government on this important matter. We are getting tired of appealing to the Government; and we are also getting tired of something else. The situation on the Continent of Europe is becoming very serious. We are being pressed by labour organisations in other countries, particularly by Belgium, where they have ratified this Convention. These organisations are rightly asking what are we doing to bring our own country up to the level of Belgium. We are in honour bound, therefore, as labour representatives, to stand up in this House to urge the Government to do its duty in this connection.

I have a very serious complaint to make against Ministers of the Crown in this respect. I have here a list of the meetings of the Governing Body of the International Labour Organisation. It was customary up to the advent of this Government for Ministers to pay attention to, and, in fact, did attend, the meetings of the Governing Body and conferences of the International Labour Organisation. I do not know what that body has done to offend the hon. Gentleman who sits at the Box to-night, or the Minister of Labour, because I find that out of 15 meetings the hon. Gentleman has not attended more than about two. One was a meeting of the Governing Body and the other was the conference itself. Those two meetings were held in May, 1925. I know the Civil Service is an honourable body of men, and quite capable of representing this country in any conference, but I say that the Minister of Labour and his assistant ought themselves to attend the conferences at Geneva and the meetings of the Governing Body, because they cannot possibly know, even through the beat officials they send, the real opinions of the representatives of other Governments who meet at Geneva. I think it an insult to the League of Nations that Ministers of this great country do not attend those meetings. The Minister for Foreign Affairs attends the meetings of the League of Nations regularly: and I pay my tribute to him by saying that I do not know of any occasion when he has neglected his duty. But in relation to questions affecting labour and working people generally, and the employment of women and children, this Government, through its Labour Minister and his assistant, appear to take no notice whatever of these important organisations. We are entitled to complain of the inactivities and inattention of the Minister of Labour and his assistant on this particular question.

When we dealt with this Convention in February last, the main argument used against its ratification was that no other country where they had adopted the Convention—Belgium, in particular—and no great industrial country in competition with us, enforced their labour laws as effectively as we do in this country. I have since taken the trouble to find out what is the actual practice in countries on the Continent who are in competition industrially with ourselves. The only measurement of the enforcement of labour legislation in any country is the number of inspectors that they appoint, the number of inspections of factories and workshops, and the number of convictions for contraventions of the law. Let me deal with the last factor. After all, the number of convictions for contravention of factory legislation is surely a fair guide as to what is happening by way of enforcing the laws of any country. I will give the House some figures. Let it be remembered that the allegation is that, when we pass a piece of legislation in this House, that Act of Parliament is pursued and enforced very much more effect tively than is the case in any other country in the world.

Strong arguments can be adduced in support of that point of view. But I would ask hon. Gentlemen who took part in the discussion on the last occasion, and who threw that point against our argument, to note the figures I am about to give. The convictions in Belgium in 1925 for the violation of factory and workshop legislation were 650. In Czechoslovakia there were 1,054, and in France, where we were told they are more lax than in any other country in the world, the number was 6,596. In Germany there were 615 convictions. In Great Britain, however, where the enforcement of these laws is supposed to be more stringent than anywhere else, the figure, as against 6,596 in France, was just over 1,000. That is to say, for a smaller number of working people, a smaller number of factories and workshops, for every six convictions against persons violating these laws in France, there was only one in our own country. I say, therefore, that the point made by hon. Gentlemen, that we should not ratify the Convention because other industrial countries do not pursue their laws as we do, falls to the ground in view of the figures I have given.

As I have said, we are, as a country, placed in a very difficult position because of the non-ratification of this Convention. It is understood that Belgium has ratified unconditionally; France and Germany will ratify conditionally. I have here a copy of the Bill which is now before the German Reichstag; and, so far as I understand its provisions, there is nothing to prevent the German Government ratifying this Convention provided they get the guarantee that Great Britain ratifies it as well. We are determined that no stone shall be left unturned to try to induce this Government to ratify the Convention. as they are in honour bound to do. I know some of the arguments that are used against doing this. I have stated a few of them. I do not want to dwell unduly on that subject, because I want to pass on to something else, but, before I leave this issue, I want finally to emphasise two. points. I want, to know what has become of the deliberations of the Cabinet Committee to which the hon. Gentlemanl referred in his speech on the 28th February, and, also, what is the connection between the meeting which Lord Cecil attended and the Cabinet Committee to which the hon. Gentleman referred. I think we are now entitled to know exactly what has transpired in this connection.

The speech delivered by the Minister of Labour on that occasion was not hopeful at all. As a matter of fact, I characterised some of his statements as simply ridiculous. One of them was sufficient to indicate that the Government is absolutely undecided in the matter. It has no mind at all on this subject, even if it has a mind on anything whatsoever. It has obviously failed to come to a decision. When we dealt with the issue on the last occasion, the Minister of Labour simply floundered through his speech; but I was pleased that his assistant, as is very often the case, did better than his chief. He was very much more clear on the subject. I am pleased that the hon. Gentleman is in charge of the Debate to-night, and I feel sure that he will now be able to tell us something which will help us to understand exactly the position the Government takes up on this fundamental issue.

There is another point that I want to bring before the House—the failure of the Government to ratify another Convention, namely, that relating to the prohibition of the use of white lead in paint. It is not necessary to go over all the details which led up to the adoption of this Convention, but two events have transpired since which compel us to bring this subject once again before the notice of the House. One of them is the resignation—and I want to congratulate that gentleman on his courage—of the Chief Medical Inspector of Factories in the Home Office. It was he who helped to draft the Convention, and who supported the British Government in bringing pressure to bear upon other countries to get the Convention adopted. He went further; he represented the Government, and signed his name, so I understand, to this Convention. But when he found later that this Government, instead of ratifying the Convention, issued Regulations instead of prohibition, he resigned his position in the Home Office. I pay him tribute here and now for his honourable action. That is one event that has transpired in connection with the failure of the Government to ratify the Lead Paint Convention.

The most sinister of all is the one to which I referred in a question to the Under-Secretary of State for India last Monday. The Federation of British Industries does its work sometimes in the open, though at other times it works in devious and dark ways. What it has done in this connection is very interesting to the House of Commons, and particularly to those who sit on this side. I found in the official journal of the federation the other day that they had communicated with the India Office, asking that Office to send to the Bombay Government a communication to the effect, that, as the British Government had decided not to prohibit the use of white lead in paint, but to regulate it, the federation asked the Bombay Government to follow the lead of the British Government and destroy the provisions for prohibition that it had already set up. That is an appalling state of affairs. The British Government—it does not matter what its political colour may be—goes to an international Conference and signs a document in favour of prohibiting the use of white lead in paint. The tragedy connected with the use of white paint is very well known. It is not necessary to repeat the figures that we have given here before, but approximately they are these: About 50 operative painters die annually in this country from lead poisoning through the use of white lead in paint. There are over 200 operative painters always suffering from lead poisoning. That in itself, I should imagine, ought to induce any Government, of any political colour, to help to ratify this Convention; but the Government defy the Convention; they defy all expert opinion; they do not intend to Help the working classes to a better state in life. [Interruption.] When the history of this Government is written, it will be found without any hesitation—and I do not generally use strong words—that it is the most callous towards the working classes that has ever governed. Their action last year, when they adopted that piece of legislation in connection with the mining industry—


The House must not criticise its own acts, and especially on a Supply day. That is a matter of legisla- tion, which is not open to discussion in connection with Supply.


I bow to your ruling, Sir; I was led away. It is very seldom that a Welshman is led away by an Englishman. The point I was trying to make was that, the Government having failed to ratify this Convention, the utilisation of the machinery of the India Office to convey an invitation of this kind to the Bombay Government to destroy the Convention in that country, is, in my view, an awful thing to contemplate, and I want to raise my protest against it. I feel very keenly on this subject, because, when I put a supplementary question to the Under-Secretary of State for India, his reply destroyed every argument used in favour of regulation in this country. See what he says: As regards the question of the Convention generally, I would point out that the difficulty the Government of India feel in putting it into operation is that it is impossible for any Government to control the hundreds of thousands of small painters who have been working in the past."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th March, 1927; col. 834, Vol. 204.] That is exactly the argument we have used against regulating the use of white lead in paint—because no Government can accomplish the task. Now, a Tory Minister of State comes forth, because it suits his purpose, because it suits the purpose of the Federation of British Industries, and uses a Labour argument in favour of his action. They generally do that when it fits their case.

I do not want to take up too much of the time of the House on this issue, but I want to ask the hon. Gentleman who represents the Home Office whether he will be good enough to give me information on one other very important point. The Home Office on this question of lead paint, has issued a Circular, No. 503342, and I am informed on credible authority that this circular, although issued in December last, uses words to the effect that certain Conferences have been held. These Conferences were, in fact, held many years ago; and it is unfair to include in this circular any words relating to those Conferences, because they would imply that they were held just prior to the issue of the circular. I think that point ought to be cleared up at once by the repre- sentative of the Home office. I do not want to detain the House too long, but the issues are really fundamental to those on this side of the House. I have been a trade union official, in some capacity or other, for over 20 years. The one thing that I heard talk of most, that I have heard most agitation about, and the claim, above all, of the working people of this country for the last half-century, by resolution and otherwise, has been in favour of the 48-hour week. This Government, when it came into office, had an opportunity of doing something on those lines. They have failed; they stand condemned; and, when they are weighed in the balance of justice before the public tribunal at the next General Election, they will be condemned for their inaction in this as on other important issues.


The hon. Member for West-houghton (Mr. Rhys Davies), quite properly, if I may say so respectfully, did not reopen the question which we discussed at such great length only a month ago. If I gathered his object rightly, it was merely to ask one or two perfectly specific questions, to which I am quite prepared, and, indeed, anxious, to give an equally specific reply. The first question he asked was about the action of the Cabinet Committee to which I referred in my speech of a month ago, in which I said: The Government have set up a Cabinet Committee which at this moment is charged with the duty of examining the whole position with a view to arriving at an early conclusion."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th February, 1927; col. 162, Vol. 203.] 7.0 p.m.

Then the hon. Gentleman referred to a statement in the "Times," which I accept from him, though I do not for a moment recollect it, that Lord Cecil was the chairman of this Committee. It is quite true that Lord Cecil is, if not the chairman, at any rate a prominent member of the Committee. It is also true that Lord Cecil was at that time it-Geneva. The Committee was set up about five weeks ago, and for the last fortnight Lord Cecil has been, and is now, at Geneva, engaged on a matter which I am sure is at least as interesting, not only to the hon. Member but to the whole House, as the matter under discussion, the Disarmament Conference which is now going on there. For the last fortnight then the advantage of his presence on that matter has not been enjoyed.

The second point to which I wish to draw attention is this. I am not, of course, entitled, nor do I wish, to discuss legislation, but I am entitled to point out that ratification of this Convention is not to be obtained merely by registering ratification at Geneva or merely by passing a Resolution of this House to that effect. To ratify involves, in the first place, the bringing of the legislation of this country into conformity with the Convention which it is proposed to ratify. That, of course, involves a Bill, and a Bill needs very careful preparation before it is presented. Before you present a Bill on any subject, if you are well advised, you consider very carefully what you put in it. I am sure the hon. Gentleman would be the last to desire that important points, particularly when they are points raised by himself should not receive adequate consideration. May I mention one point which he himself raised a month ago? He said, in the course of his speech, complaining of the Government: Where the Convention meant something substantial and was going to cost this country something to put it into operation, to and behold, as in the White Lead case, they gave us a Bill which did not ratify the Convention at all. I say, therefore, that there is no virtue at all in the fact that this country has ratified more Conventions, as the Minister has told us, than any other country in the world, because those Conventions did not cost the country anything at all."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th February,) 1927; col. 150. Vol. 203.] I do not deny that this country should ratify the Eight Hours Convention if it is right that it should do so, but, when the hon. Member points out that such ratification should cost the country something, it is at least right that the Government should know what the cost would be and what the effect would be if the ratification were carried into force. As I have said, I do not pretend to discuss the merits of the case, which was gone into so fully only a month ago, but I am pointing out that there are matters which have to be most carefully considered before a final decision is come to. One hon. Gentleman, the right hon. Member for West Swansea (Mr. Runciman), referred to the importance of international agreement, and said: International cartels without uniform labour regulations are going to give an unfair advantage to the producers in the least progressive States. He also said about these questions: We have been doing it piecemeal, and it has done us no harm up to now, but if we could get international agreement, how much better it would be."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th February, 1927; col. 106, Vol. 203.] So, therefore, it is idle to dismiss the value and importance of getting international agreement, because it is perfectly obvious,, as the right hon. Gentleman pointed out, that if you ratify this Convention without international agreement, you lose a very large portion of the benefit that you get if you succeed in securing international agreement.


Belgium has done it.


Yes, it is perfectly-true Belgium has ratified the Convention. Then the hon. Member referred to Germany, and said that Germany has introduced a Bill for that purpose. What, in fact, Germany has done—I only-mention this not in criticism of the hon. Member, but to point out some of the matters we have to consider—is to circulate a Bill for the purpose of discussion. It is stated that under no circumstances will that Bill be introduced this session. I do not say that that Bill, if passed,, would not have the effect the hon. Gentleman says it will have, but it is quite a different thing to say that Germany has definitely introduced a Bill for the purpose of ratification. There is only one other point I wish to mention. I did not know the hon. Member was going to raise it. He seemed to complain that I had not myself attended at Geneva as often as I should like to have attended. I say at once that my substitute, who represents the Government at Geneva, is a gentleman of very great experience, in whom we have the most complete confidence, and he has represented the views of Great Britain very clearly and forcibly on every occasion when he has been en trusted with their expression. But when the hon. Gentleman goes on to say that the fact that I or some Minister has not on every occasion represented this Government at the meetings of the governing body at Geneva is a sign of inattention and incivility and even, as he said, an insult to the League of Nations, I must point out that there is no other Government represented on the governing body which has at any time been represented by a Minister at all. They have always been represented by someone qualified, by a civil servant of high standing, or some other gentleman who, in fact, is not a Minister. It is, therefore, quite unfair to say that the fact that I myself have not been there can be in any way regarded as an insult to that body or as not treating it with civility.


Is it not a fact that the Government are represented by a Minister at their annual Conference? Is it the intention of the Government to send a Minister to the next Conference in May?


With regard to the next Conference in May, I cannot say until the time comes. I may say that, with the exception of the Conference last May, I have always attended as a representative of the Government whenever I held the office I do hold. If the hon. Member will recall the facts of last May, he will realise at once that the situation here was such and the burden of responsibility cast upon the Minister was such, that it would not have been right for me to have gone at that time. That was not out of any discourtesy to the International Labour Office or to the League of Nations. It was entirely due to the fact—it may sound egotistical—that my right hon. Friend felt I ought to be here rather than there. Without going into the merits of this question, I have dealt, I hope clearly, with the points which the hon. Gentleman raised, and I will leave my hon. Friend beside me to deal with the rest.


Will he tell us whether the Government intend to ratify this Convention at all and, if so, when?


I have already tried to explain to the hon. Gentleman that that is the very matter under the consideration of the Cabinet Committee to which he quite rightly attaches so much importance.

The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the WAR OFFICE (Captain Douglas King)

I only want to say a few words on the points raised by the hon. Member with regard to lead paint. He referred to the resignation of Sir Thomas Lane, but that point has been answered in the House several times by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. I would only point out that Sir Thomas Lane had reached the pensionable age nearly four years before resigning, and that for three years before his resignation he could have resigned at any time. Had he not retired at the moment that he did, he would have been compulsorily retired, on reaching the age of 65, early next year. With regard to ratification of the draft Convention, I think there is some misunderstanding as to the status of this International Labour Conference. The members on this Conference are not plenipotentiaries sent over to exercise the sovereign powers of the countries they represent. They are there merely to put forward recommendations or to make draft Conventions. That is made perfectly clear in the terms of the actual Peace Treaty. I would like to call the attention of the House very shortly to paragraph 405 of the Peace Treaty: Each of the Members undertakes that it will, within the period—bring the recommendation or draft convention before the authority or authorities within whose competence the matter lies, for the enactment of legislation or other action. That clearly recognises that it is only a recommendation which is to be made before the Legislature or sovereign body in the country to which the members belong. In the same Article it says: If on a recommendation no legislative or other action is taken to make a recommendation effective, or if the draft convention fails to obtain the consent of the authority or authorities within whose competence the matter lies, no if father obligation shall rest upon the Member. It is quite clear that there is no obligation upon this Government or any other Government represented there to ratify that draft Convention. It was laid before this House in 1923. It has since been considered and, as has been explained by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary on the Second Reading of the Act, since the draft Convention was passed a new process was brought to light, the wet rubbing down process, by which it was hoped that many of the dangers—


That is just why I intervened earlier in the Debate. We are now criticising Acts passed last year. The only question on which lead paint can arise is the question arising out of the matter dealt with by the Government of Bombay.

Captain KING

I am afraid I am not competent to answer for the India Office or the Bombay Government. I shall only try to explain to the hon. Member the reason for the Regulations being brought in. I hope I am in order in replying to the criticisms which the hon. Member made in regard to the actual Order issued by the Home Office to the trade issuing these Regulations, because the hon. Member insinuated that we were making a false representation in issuing that Order. The actual words of the Order were: The terms of the regulation to 'be made by the Secretary of State have been discussed at a series of conferences held between the Home Office and various Departments. There is nothing in that to suggest that those conferences had taken place recently. It is true the conferences there referred to had taken plaice some considerable time before the Regulations were issued. On the other hand, since they have been issued there has been a further conference with the appropriate trade joint council, and I am informed agreement has been reached with that council, and the Regulations have been agreed with certain very small alterations which will be adopted by the Home Office.


Which is that trade joint council?

Captain KING

I hope the hon. Member will allow me to quote it as the appropriate one. The Conferences held previously were with the Painters and Decorators Joint Industrial Council. I could ascertain, but I only know that it has been discussed quite recently by the appropriate Trade Joint Council, and agreement has been reached except on certain minor points which will be adjusted. The Home Secretary said the Regulations were on trial. It is hoped that we shall be able to remove the danger from the use of lead paint. If that is. not so he will have to come to the House for further powers.


I regret that a representative of the Home Office is not present, because I appreciate the difficulty with which the hon. and gallant Gentleman is confronted in deputising for the Department. The draft of these Regulations was issued on 31st December, and there is no disputing the fact that the Circular that was sent out was misleading in that it led those into whose hands it got to believe that these conferences were of recent date.

Captain KING

There is nothing to say so.


No, that is where it is misleading. That is where the danger arises. A Government Department, when issuing Regulations of this character which are likely to affect the well-being of operators in the industry, ought not to consider it to be any light affair. This Circular created the impression that the Convention was going to be ratified, and that these Regulations were to apply to external and not to internal work. It would have been more honest to the industry had the Home Office convened another conference and taken into consideration the developments which have taken place as the result of the passing of the Act of last December. The industry was not consulted in the least. It issued these draft Regulations, and I should have thought the Home Office would have convened a special conference to consider the criticisms which had been levelled at the Regulations from this side of the House. But the Home Office did more than deal unwisely with the Regulations. Those who are engaged in the industry are very much concerned as to the developments which have taken place as the result of the issuing of these suggested Regulations. It has meant the resignation of a valued expert in she Home Office. I refer to Sir Thomas Legge. A question was put in the House asking the reasons for his resignation, and the House was led to believe that it was due to the fact that he had arrived at the pensionable age, and, furthermore, that he was not desirous of working the Regulations. That was grossly unfair, and it was not true. It is true that he had arrived at a pensionable age, but it is no uncommon thing for the term of service of a valued expert in any of our Departments to be extended, and an extended term of service of this valued expert would have been to the advantage of those concerned in the industry. Moreover, Sir Thomas Legge did not refuse to have anything to do with the Regulations. He said he was desirous of honouring the pledge he gave at Geneva, but, apparently, in order to get rid of him they accepted his resignation and led the House to believe that it was because he had arrived at a pensionable age. The letter that appeared in the "Times" on 16th February, signed by a respected Member of this House, the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Ripon (Major Hills), the right hon. G. N. Barnes, and Mr. E. L. Poulton goes to confirm the views held by Sir Thomas Legge.


That, again, is raising a question which was debated at great length last year, the question of prohibition versus regulation. That was settled by the Bill which became an Act last year. We must not debate that question now.


I am desirous of reading this extract in order to prove that the view taken by Sir Thomas Legge was upheld by those who accompanied him as the expert at Geneva.


That was quite a proper point to deal with last year, but it is not now. It was settled for the time being by the Act passed last year. The hon. Member must not reopen it.


Sir Thomas was under the impression, and rightly, I think, that the pledge having been given, as a civil servant he must do his utmost to see that it was kept. In so doing he expressed a desire that he should not be prevailed upon to carry out these Regulations and, as a result, of course, he was compelled to resign. We feel that the whole of the facts were not stated to the House as they should have been by the Home Secretary, and that before anything of this kind occurs again, in the way of issuing Regulations, those concerned should be immediately called into conference, and a circular so misleading as the one issued by the Home Office should on no account be sent out.

With respect to the Eight Hours Convention, the Parliamentary Secretary read a quotation from a speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Swansea (Mr. Rinciman) and he said where cartels were developing it was desirable that we should have international agreement in respect of labour conditions. That is precisely what we desire, because we feel That unless we use the League of Nations at the various offices which may be set up for specific purposes we shall not be treating it as it should be treated, and we shall not be playing the practical part that we should, which will ultimately, I hope, invoke that spirit of confidence among the masses in those things that may be done through the agency of the League of Nations and ultimately arrive at international under- standings which will be for the general wellbeing. We feel the Government is losing a valuable opportunity in not ratifying the Eight Hours Convention and showing at least what can be done by way of levelling up the conditions of labour throughout the world and reducing, as we believe, the unnecessary and unfair competition that prevails at present.


With regard to the Washington Convention and its proposed ratification, I should like to reiterate what was said in the Debates we had a short time ago and the very strong feeling of hope that the Government would see its way to ratify. The hon. Member who raised this Debate has not altogether done a service to the prospect of ratification. His argument led to the conclusion that you can judge the law-abiding character of people by the number of prosecutions for breach of the law, which did not seem to me altogether a sound argument. To raise this Debate so soon after the other Debate we had on this question is unfortunate. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary and the Government will not fall into the danger of thinking that because this has been a very calm Debate, there is not a very strong feeling in all parts of the House on this question. The Parliamentary Secretary was not able to tell the House when the Cabinet Committee would be able to present its report. I appreciate the peculiar difficulties which surround Lord Cecil's position, with the very important disarmament conference and other important duties at Geneva which he has had to fulfil; but the report and the decision of the Government are very anxiously awaited. I do trust that the Government will remember the Debate which took place not very long ago; one of the most damaging Debates in the history, I should think, of almost any Government, when they received practically no support from any quarter of the House. I hope that the comparatively calm atmosphere of this Debate will not mislead them into thinking that there is not a very strong feeling on the matter. This Debate has come on without hon. Members interested in the subject realising that it was to be taken. I only want to emphasise the very strong opinion which is held by hon. Members in all quarters of the House, not least among the supporters of the Government, who earnestly desire that the Government will come to a rapid decision to ratify and enforce the Washington Eight Hours Convention.


I rise to protest against the use of lead paint. A protest is needed, because it is well known that the operative painters who suffer from the use of lead paint have protested against its continued use and desire its prohibition. In these circumstances, they might have been consulted in regard to the Regulations for the continued use of lead paint. It seems to me that the resignation of Sir Thomas Legge is the most striking condemnation of the Government's policy over this matter that could possibly be conceived. I do not think that these Regulations can be made

effective, and I speak as a practical man. I have heard many views on this matter. I have heard hon. Members speaking of the use of paint in such a way as to show that they did not understand what they are talking about. They described methods which are never practised by painters, and they described methods which no painters ever use or ever devise. I protested in Committee, and I protest once more not only against the Government's Measure which they carried out, but against their action in not allowing the men to discuss the matter with them before the Regulations which the men must put into operation were applied. It is not the employers or the manufacturers who use the lead paint; they do not suffer the danger or run the risk It is the men who suffer and run the risk, and it is the men who know whether or not the Measures will be effective. I prophesy that the Regulations will break down. My knowledge of the technique of painting and the practical method applied tells me that the Regulations will be impracticable as far as the use of lead paint is concerned. I protest against the methods by which these Regulations are put into operation.

Question put, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."

The House divided: Ayes, 213; Noes, 77.

Division No. 71.] AYES. [7.36 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Cautley, Sir Henry S. Everard, W. Lindsay
Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T. Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) Fairfax, Captain J. G.
Albery, Irving James Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston) Falle, Sir Bertram G.
Alexander, E. E. (Leyton) Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.) Fanshawe, Commander G. D.
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Chapman, Sir S. Fielden, E. B.
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Charteris, Brigadier-General J. Finburgh, S.
Atholl, Duchess of Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Forrest, W.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Churchman, Sir Arthur C. Foxcroft, Captain C. T.
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Clarry, Reginald George Fraser, Captain Ian
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Cobb, Sir Cyril Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.
Barnett, Major Sir Richard Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Ganzoni, Sir John
Barnston, Major Sir Harry Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir G. K. Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Cohen, Major J. Brunel Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John
Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.) Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips Glyn, Major R. G. C.
Betterton, Henry B. Cope, Major William Goff, Sir Park
Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.) Couper, J. B. Gower, Sir Robert
Boothby, R. J. G. Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islingtn., N.) Grant, Sir J. A.
Bowyer, Captain G. E. W. Crooke, J. Smedley (Derltend) Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.
Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro) Greene, W. P. Crawford
Brittain, Sir Harry Cunliffe, Sir Herbert Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)
Broun-Lindsay, Major H. Curzon, Captain Viscount Gretton, Colonel Rt, Hon. John
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester) Grotrlan, H. Brent
Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James Davies, Dr. Vernon Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.
Burman, J. B. Dean, Arthur Wellesley Gunston, Captain D. W.
Burton, Colonel H. W. Dixey, A. C. Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)
Butler, Sir Geoffrey Edmondson, Major A. J. Hanbury, C.
Campbell, E. T. Elliot, Major Walter E. Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry
Cassels, J. D. Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.) Harland, A.
Hartington, Marquess of Macquisten, F. A. Smithers, Waldron
Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington) macRobert, Alexander M. Sprot, Sir Alexander
Haslam, Henry C. Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel- Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden.E)
Hawke, John Anthony Malone, Major P. B. Stanley, Hon. O. F. G.(Westm'eland)
Headlam, Lieut-Colonel C. M. Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.
Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley} Margesson, Capt. D. Streatfeild, Captain S. R.
Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootie) Marriott, Sir J. A. R. Styles, Captain H. Walter
Heneage, Lieut-Colonel Arthur P. Meller, R. J. Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser
Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Milne, J. S. Wardlaw- Sugden, Sir Wilfrid
Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford) Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark) Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.
Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Tasker, R. Inigo.
Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone) Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. H. Templeton, W. p.
Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy Moore, Sir Newton J. Thorn, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)
Holland, sir Arthur Nall, Colonel Sir Joseph Thomson, F. c (Aberdeen, South)
Holt, Captain H. P. Neville, R. J. Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-
Hopkins, J. W. W. Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Tinne, J. A.
Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley) Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge) Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N. Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn.W.G.(Ptrsf'ld.) Vaaghan-Morgan, Col. K. P.
Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Colonel C. K. Oman, Sir Charles William C. Wallace, Captain D. E.
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney, N.) Owen, Major G. Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Huntingfield, Lord Penny, Frederick George Watts, Dr. T.
Hurd, Percy A. Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings) Wells, S. R.
Hurst, Gerald B. Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.
Hutchison, G.A.Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's) Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome) Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)
Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose) Pilcber, G. Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)
Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H. Pownall, Sir Assheton Wilson, R. R. (Statford, Lichfield)
Jacob, A. E. Price, Major C. W. M. Windsor-dive, Lieut.-Colonel George
James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert Radford, E, A. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Ean
Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington) Rees, Sir Beddoe Wise, Sir Fredric
Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William Reid, D. D. (County Down) Withers, John James
King, Captain Henry Douglas Remer, J. R. Wolmer, Viscount
Lamb, J. Q. Rhys, Hon. C. A. U. Womersley, W. J.
Lister, Cunliffe-. Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Ruggles-Brise. Major E. A. Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)
Little, Dr. E. Graham Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth) Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)
Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley) Salmon, Major I. Woodcock, Colonel H. C.
Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green) Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney) Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Lougher, Lewis Sandeman, N. Stewart Wragg, Herbert
Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman Sanders, Sir Robert A. Young, Rt. Hon. Hilton (Norwich)
Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart) Sancton, Lord
McDonnell, Colonel Hon Angus Shaw, R. G (Yorks, W.R., Sowerby) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Macintyre, Ian Sheffield, Sir Berkeley Colonel Gibbs and Captain Lord
McLean, Major A. Skelton, A. N. Stanley.
Macmillan, Captain H. Smith. R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne) Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro'} Hardie, George D. Slesser, Sir Henry H.
Ammon, Charles George Hayday, Arthur Smillie, Robert
Baker, Walter Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley) Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery) Henderson, T. (Glasgow) Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Bondfield, Margaret Johnston, Thomas (Dundee) Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles
Broad, F. A. Kelly, W. T. Stephen, Campbell
Bromley, J. Kennedy, T. Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute) Lansbury, George Sutton, J. E.
Buchanan. G. Lawson, John James Taylor, R. A.
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel Lee, F. Tinker. John Joseph
Cape, Thomas Lindley, F. W. Townend, A. E.
Charleton, H. C. Lowth, T. Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.
Cluse, W. S. MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J.R. (Aberavon) Viant, S. P.
Connolly, M. Montague, Frederick Wallhead, Richard C.
Dalton, Hugh Morris, R. H. Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale) Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Wellock, Wilfred
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Naylor, T. E. Westwood, J.
Day, Colonel Harry Palin, John Henry Whiteley, W.
Duncan, C. Potts, John S. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Dunnico, H. Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Windsor, Walter
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwelity) Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O.(W.Bromwich) Wright, W.
Garro-Jones, Captain G. M- Robinson, W. C. (Yorks,W.R.,Elland)
Gardner, J. P. Salter, Dr. Alfred TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Gillett, George M. Scurr, John Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr. Hayes
Gosling, Harry Sexton, James

Question put, and agreed to.

Supply accordingly considered in Committee.

[Captain FITZROY in the Chair.]

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