HC Deb 02 May 1929 vol 227 cc1876-82

FIRST SCHEDULE.—(Part I: Constitution of the Central Board. Part II: Tenure of office of members of the Central Board and Proceedings of the Board.)


I beg to move, in page 31, line 19, at the end, to insert the words: Two persons to be appointed by the Yorkshire Mineworkers' Association or its successors. It will be seen that there are no representatives of any of the working class on this Board. The county council of the West Riding of Yorkshire, the district boards, the county council of Nottinghamshire and the borough of Doncaster are all represented. There are six persons to be appointed by the Minister, three coalowners, three mineral owners and one person from the Aire and Calder Navigation, but not one from the tens of thousands of people in these areas whose welfare is to be affected if there is lack of drainage. We think these people should have representation. The argument which may be advanced is that the mine workers make no direct contribution to the scheme. If that is advanced, I would say that of the contribution made by the mineowners to the scheme—and we do not object to it—every penny will go into the costs of production, and every penny that increases the cost of production lowers the amount which goes into the pool for wages.

That pool for wages is divided out, for instance in Yorkshire, in the proportion of 85 per cent. wages and 15 per cent. profit. To every penny which goes out of that pool the workers will contribute 85 per cent. We think the workers thus make a contribution to the upkeep of the drainage scheme. There is also the moral argument that, where tens of thousands of workmen are working in a district where there is in operation a Drainage Board, individuals there should represent their point of view. Two out of 28 people on the Drainage Board might represent their point of view and see that the drainage works are made efficient.


The constitution of the Board has been very carefully considered. It has been felt necessary to keep it as small as possible, and the matter of balancing the different interests has not been altogether easy. The case of the miners has been raised by the hon. Member from two points of view. The first is that many of them live on the surface affected by the possibility of subsidence, and they are entitled to be heard on the Board. That case of the miner is identical with all other surface workers, and they are represented through the local authorities. There are 12 representatives of the county councils. One county borough council has five on the District Board, all of whom are connected with the people who dwell on the surface. The other claim of the hon. Member is based on the fact that under the local agreement there is a certain allocation to the miners after expenses have been met. In that matter, the interests of the miners are identical with the owners in the interest of keeping down expendi- ture.There are many other forms of expenditure which come out of the mining receipts before the apportionment takes place—royalties, rents, salaries, pit props. All these are paid for without the miners being consulted. I would remind the hon. Member that there was a member representing the miners on the Commission, and this point was apparently not raised. The membership was worked out by the Commission, and in this respect we are following their recommendation. In view of the very careful balance which has been observed in drawing up the representation, and, in view of the certainty that yielding to this demand would provoke others, I feel obliged to refuse.


I regret to hear that the Minister has refused the most legitimate claim that we have put forward. The point that he submits that the interests of the miner and mineowner are identical in the direction of keeping costs as low as possible may be perfectly correct, but, so far as the mine worker and his family are concerned they live in the area. Very rarely do you find the mineowner living in the area referred to, but there are tens of thousands of miners and their families who will reside in this area; and not only that, but they will be the persons who will provide the whole of the money—100 per cent. of the sums paid by the royalty owners, and 85 per cent. of the pool of the miners' and mineowners' joint fund. That is an added reason why they should have direct representation, not merely for the purpose of limiting the expenditure, but also for the purpose of ensuring that the health and well-being of their families will have some consideration.

May I also submit that, while the Minister makes reference to the elected representatives of the various county councils and the 26 members who it is suggested are to form the Central Board, at least 25 of these representatives may conceivably live outside the area of the proposed Central Board, leaving the one single representative representing the County Borough of Doncaster within the area concerned. I fully appreciate the fact that there has been difficulty in allocating the number of seats, but the fact that you have given to the South Yorkshire Coal Trade Association three members and the Mineral Owners' Association of Great Britain three members entitles the miners to a voice in the Central Board when their health and well-being are concerned. I think we might well appeal to Members on the opposite side for an element of fair play and justice in this case, for all that we ask is that, of 28 members constituting the Board, two shall represent the miners and their families. In seeking for this representation of two members, we are only asking for one-third of the number already given to the royalty owners and the coal owners. Surely that is not an unfair request to make, and, in spite of all the representations that have been made, I think the Minister could have conceded this point instead of thinking that two more would overload the ship. If I had had another Amendment on the Paper, at would have been to add two more, for I would also have given the farmers two representatives. I hope that even now the Minister will concede the point which, after all, is a very legitimate and human one.


If the Minister will carry in his mind the point that so far as the owners are concerned, whatever the cost may be, it is debited to the cost of production, I hope he will reconsider the point. Representation has been given to the owners and royalty owners who do not live there at all. I have been down all these collieries. I would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that there might be reconsideration on this point. The Yorkshire Mine-workers' Association represents all these people. The Doncaster Area comprises nearly 20,000 miners. I have an estimate in which the owners computed that in 25 years there should be 40,000 employés in the locality. I would suggest that the right hon. Gentleman should reconsider the matter and allow the Yorkshire Mine-workers' Association to represent us on that board. Whoever sits on that board and represents the Yorkshire Mine-workers' Association will be as anxious for the well-being of the locality and the people as any of those who sit on the board. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman again to reconsider the position.


If the right hon. Gentleman does not accept this Amendment now, he might reconsider the matter between now and the later stages of the Bill and give us some representation in this respect. Regarding those persons to be appointed by the Minister of whom five shall be appointed after consultation with, and to represent the district boards in the Doncaster district does that mean that the five shall actually be members of the district board and controlling authority, or may they be any other people so long as the district board agree to it?


They need not necessarily be members of the district board.


Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the arguments which have been adduced are contradictory. The hon. Member for the Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) suggested that the representatives asked for would be resident in the locality. The hon, Member for Barnsley (Mr. Potts) said the Yorkshire Mineworkers' Association represented the whole county. If two were put on, there is nothing to show that they would have anything to do with the locality in question. What the right hon. Gentleman has said shows that he will safeguard the residents in the area.


There is a great deal of regret on this side of the Commons that the Government have not seen their way to accept this Amendment. There has been a great deal of talk about peace in industry and peace in the coal industry itself. This matter that we have been discussing is just the kind of thing which gets the back up of the workers. Here is a big scheme which is going to have a great deal of effect upon the lives of the workers in the industry, a scheme very largely bound up with the method of awarding wages. If the Government are sincere in what they are saying about peace in industry and letting the workers know as much as they can of the inside of accounts, why, when the mineowners are themselves admitted, should the representatives of the workers in the industry be shut out? I do want to press very strongly upon the Minister that, even if he thinks it necessary to have some further conversations after to-night, he will, if possible, secure further consideration of what we desire between now and the final stages of the Bill.


What I said was intended to strengthen what was said by the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams). I said that there were more than 10,000 resident in that area—that there were 20,000 resident in that area at the present time, and that the Yorkshire Mine-workers' Association represented not only these people but all the county as well, making the reason all the more strong


I beg to move that, in page 32, line 38, to leave out the words "may, if he thinks fit," and to insert instead thereof the word "shall".

I would like to say to the right hon. Gentleman that perhaps these words will not quite give us what we desire. That can be easily remedied. I do not wish to waste the time of the Committee, but I will ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is not willing to concede this point.


I am afraid I cannot go further than the Schedule as it stands. There is power here to allow the local authority to pay these expenses if it thinks fit. The Amendment would compel the Minister to allow them if the local authority applied. These words represent the words of the provisions of the Local Government Acts of this Session, and I do not think I can go further.

why there should be some representatives of the miners. The hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) has misunderstood the whole situation.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 13; Noes, 69.

Division No. 300.] AYES. [12.48 a.m.
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro') Kelly, W. T. Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Barr, J. Lawson, John James
Bellamy, A. Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Pitts, John S. Mr. Parkinson and Mr. Wilfrid Paling.
Griffith, F. Kingsley Taylor, R. A.
Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath) Tinker, John Joseph
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis, E. O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)
Atholl, Duchess of Greene, W. P. Crawford Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. Pilcher, G.
Betterton, Henry B. Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Remer, J. R.
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Harland, A. Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)
Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W. Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington) Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell
Briscoe, Richard George Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. Ross, R. D.
Brittain, Sir Harry Henderson, Lieut.-Col. Sir Vivian Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I. Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Sandeman, N. Stewart
Campbell, E. T. Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar., & Wh'by) Sanders, Sir Robert A.
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Hills, Major John Waller Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. McI. (Rentrew, W.)
Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.) Smithers, Waldron
Cope, Major Sir William Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Courtauld, Major J. S. King, Commodore Henry Douglas Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser
Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crews) Lamb, J. O. Templeton, W. P.
Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, GaInsbro) Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th) Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere Warrender, Sir Victor
Davies, Ma). Geo, F. (Somerset, Yeovil) MacIntyre, Ian Watts, Sir Thomas
Dixey, A. C. McLean, Major A. Wells, S. R.
Edmondson, Major A. J. Margesson, Captain D. Withers, John James
Elliott, Major Walter E. Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M. Womersley, W. J.
Fansnawe, Captain G. D. Moreing, Captain A. H.
Ford, Sir P. J. Neville, Sir Reginald J. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Mr. Penny and Captain Wallace.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it would not be possible, in the Bill as it now stands, to have their expenses paid, assuming the Minister refused to accept the word "shall" instead of the word "may". I do not think we ought to create an anomaly of this description. We ought to make it possible that members of the Central Board should not lose more money than is possible.


Under the Local Government Act the Authority only pays for its own work. It could not pay the expenses incurred by their representatives on another body.


But if the county council is jointly responsible for sending members of this description, surely they might have the power to pay these delegates' travelling expenses.

Amendment negatived.

Schedule agreed to.