HC Deb 04 June 1930 vol 239 cc2317-36

Lords Amendment: In page 20, line 32, at the end, insert: Provided that—

  1. (a) the substitution of the words 'half an hour' for the words 'one hour' in section three of the Coal Mines Regulation Act, 1908, shall not apply as respects any mine at which, by agreement between representatives of employers and workmen, the daily hours below ground on an average taken over the twelve weekdays in any fortnight do not exceed the daily hours permissible under section one of the Coal Mines Regulation Act, 1908, as amended by the Coal Mines Act, 1919, by more than the extension of half an hour made under section three of the Coal Mines Regulation Act, 1908, as amended by the Coal Mines Act, 1926, and this section.
  2. 2318
  3. (b) at any mine where an extension of time is in any week made under the said section three, the workmen, by agreement between representatives of employers and workmen, may, notwithstanding anything in the Coal Mines Act, 1908, as amended by any subsequent enactment, begin their period of work on the Saturday of that week before twenty-four hours have elapsed since the beginning of their last period of work, so long as at least eight hours have elapsed since the termination thereof."


I beg to move, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This brings us to the last Amendment of importance. The House will recollect that with the Bill we propose to reduce, as from a date which is fixed, the working time per day by half an hour. The effect of that is that during the currency of this Bill the working time will be reduced to 7½ hours per day, plus one winding time, and that in July of next year, when the Act of 1926 expires, the industry will revert to the seven hours per day, plus one winding time. The matter was argued at very great length in the Committee stage. It is perfectly plain that we were, as a Government, committed to a reduction of the working hours in the coalfields, and for a variety of reasons. We thought the change could be made without any injustice, so far as the miners' wages were concerned, although we gave no guarantee or pledge on this point. At that time hon. Members opposite suggested what was called the "spread-over" and that proposal has been inserted in another place in the form of words which appears on the Paper. I ask hon. Members to notice the terms of these two long paragraphs. In the first, the. House will see that it is provided that if there is agreement—it is admitted that there must be agreement between the parties—the hours may be spread over a fortnight, but that provision in paragraph (a) is related to "any mine." That, as I understand it, means that in any colliery where there is an agreement to that effect the "spread-over" may come into operation. In most of the discussions of this matter up to this point the proposal has been applied to districts or to some unit very much wider than the individual mine and, from that point of view, the proposal is quite hopeless because if, by any chance, a device of that kind came to be applied, there would be a perfectly chaotic position of affairs with regard to hours in the coalfields of this country.

That raises the wider issue which I stressed at an early stage in our proceedings. As the House knows, the Yorkshire area and certain other areas are now working on a seven-and-a-half hours basis, together with certain sections of workers in Northumberland and Durham, and it has always been part of our case that it was desirable that the hours should be uniform throughout the country. The Bill achieves uniformity in hours because it means that in all the other districts, outside those which I have mentioned, seven-and-a-half hour day plus one winding time will become applicable. The suggestion is that in the second paragraph of the Amendment regarding the Saturday short working day there would be some kind of safeguard in reference to wages reductions when this part of the legislation came into force, but the House—certainly the Government and hon. Members on the Liberal Benches, and, also, I believe, a good many hon. Members of the Conservative Opposition—felt that it was perfectly idle to make any proposal of this kind unless it was jointly requested by the two sides of the industry.

I have always been, I trust, quite frank with my colleagues on this side of the House, particularly those who represent mining constituencies. I clearly indicated that our policy as a Government was to reduce the working day; that we proposed to do it in the terms of this Clause as it stands, and that we would never be prepared to consider any question of a "spread-over" until the representatives of the miners and the representatives of the owners made a joint request to us to that effect. Up to this point there has been no request of that kind. On the contrary, the Miners' Federation officials and the miners' Members of Parliament have indicated that they are opposed to this proposal, and accordingly they have always had the full benefit of the pledge which I have given. That is exactly the position to-night, and it is for those reasons that I ask the House to disagree with this Amendment.


We have now reached the discussion of a subject on which I believe the whole House would like to see, if possible, an agreement not only in Parliament, but in the industry. I agree with what the right hon. Gentleman said, that if there is to be an arrangement of this kind, it must be an arrangement which is arrived at by agreement, that whatever may be said of the precise form of the Amendment—and I do not want to wed anybody to the detailed form of the Amendment, because it is the broad principle which we want to consider—it is common ground between us all that it is only if you get agreement between the parties that this spread-over would operate. I think I should probably agree with the President of the Board of Trade that the agreement could not be an agreement pit by pit, but that the natural thing in all these matters is that you should have district negotiations and an agreement arrived at between both sides in a district. When we discussed this matter before in the House, as far as I recollect, there was no question then of an agreement pit by pit, but that what was contemplated was that there would be the fullest and frankest negotiations in the districts, and that it was only if you got an agreement of that kind that the proposal would operate. Therefore, the first point I was making was that a genuine agreement in the industry is a condition precedent to a spread-over; and the President said that if the parties to-day were agreed, the Government, as any Government would, would be only too glad to put that agreement into their Act of Parliament. Therefore, there is a good deal of common ground between us all in principle up to that point.

The President has said, and again with truth, that if you allow the spread-over on a given day some men would be working eight hours, and that under the flat rate of this Bill they would be working seven-and-a-half hours. That is quite true, and it varies from district to district. In some districts there would be no difference of hours of work, as in my own district in Yorkshire, but if a difference comes, it comes by agreement. [Interruption.] I regard this matter as far too serious, and I regard it as far too important, to try for a settlement to make any debating or dialectical point. In some districts it may make a difference of a quarter of an hour, and in others a difference of half an hour in the day, but this is no doubt true, that when you come to the aggregate of hours worked, if you allow the spread-over, you will in no case get a greater aggregate of hours worked than under the flat rate in the Bill. Indeed, as I understand it, in not a few cases you will probably get a rather smaller aggregate of hours worked than you will under a flat rate of seven-and-a-half hours, because it may well be that while seven-and-a-half hours would give you a fortnight of 90 hours, when that work is spread over, the aggregate might be 88, or in some districts 86 hours. Therefore, the aggregate of hours worked under the spread-over could never be greater than the aggregate of hours worked under the flat rate in the Bill, and might well be less, so there is no question of principle involved in the Amendment. It is a matter of social and economic convenience; and there are a good many reasons why it should be in the interests of both the parties and in the public interest as well that there should be a power to agree upon a spread-over. Inevitably, when this Bill goes through, in whatever form it goes through, there will be four months between its passing and its coming into operation, during which the parties on both sides will have to conduct their negotiations, to face up to the conditions which the Bill has created, and to see what are the best conditions which can be settled in which to work the industry in future.

May I put to the House certain facts, none of which are in dispute, and all of which are probably to be taken from the speeches of the President of the Board of Trade, or from the returns which the Board of Trade has issued, and all of them facts which the industry will have to consider. Indeed, they are facts upon which they will have to conduct their business after this Bill passes. The first is this. There can be no doubt that a seven-and-a-half-hour flat rate must increase the cost, at any rate for some time. It may be as much as 1s. 6d. a ton. I am not committing myself to a figure, but I am quoting the President of the Board of Trade. He said that in some districts it was alleged that it might be as much as that. I do nut think that he thinks it will be as much as that, and I hope that it will not, but it will vary from district to district, and I would not put it higher than this, that undoubtedly there must be a considerable increase in cost. It is alleged that in some districts it may mean as much as 1s. 6d., but even if it be in the region of 1s., it is a very considerable amount. Let me not take a figure; let me merely say that undoubtedly in every district there must be a considerable increase in costs under the flat rate.

Let me take the next point which follows from that. It is admitted on all sides that the industry as it stands to-day cannot afford to pay that increase in cost. That, as the President has said quite frankly, is the need for many of the Clauses in this Bill. That was plainly stated by him when he introduced the Bill. When he introduced the Bill last December, the coal industry was in a very much better position that it is to-day. There is no doubt—I wish it were otherwise—that the outlook to-day and the prospect of getting orders, are far worse than they were last September. That is true on the home side, and I think that it is much truer on the foreign side. Those who are acquainted with the export trade will bear me out that to-day, if you take Durham, Northumberland, and I think South Wales, whether you look at the ships which are under charter or the ships which are seeking charter, and the orders on hand and coming forward, the prospects in the export trade are far worse than when the Bill was introduced. That is common ground between us. The industry could not pay it when the Bill was introduced, and it is still less in a position to pay to-day.

That means that the extra cost of a flat seven-and-a-half hour day has to be borne either at the expense of wages, or at the expense of the consumer, or at the expense of both. If it is at the expense of the consumer, it is necessarily at the expense of the British consumer, because we shall not be able, try as we will, to put up the price of foreign sales at a time when stocks in the Ruhr and other places are piling up, and we are going to meet increased competition in open markets where we have to sell at the world price. I say that in no polemical spirit, but this is the worst time at which the coal trade could try to get more, or substantially more, out of British industry, because margins are so narrow that people will not undertake new ventures unless they can know for certain what their costs will be.

I would like to state the position in the light of the official figures of the Board of Trade, which have been quoted before in debate and have not been challenged. The eight-hour day undoubtedly reduced costs in the coal industry. The costs in the last quarter of 1929 were reduced over the whole country by 3s. 11d. a ton, as compared with 1926; and in South Wales the reduction was 5s. 3d. a ton. That was not, at the expense of wages, or very largely it was not, because although earnings were somewhat reduced they were not reduced by anything like the general reduction in costs. The earnings in South Wales were reduced by 1s. 4d., and over the whole of the country they fell by 1s. 2d. a shift, as compared with 1926. In taking 1926 I am taking a year which is very disadvantageous to my own argument, because in March, 1926 the subvention was still in operation, and that meant an adventitious aid of as much as 4s. a ton in some districts. Therefore even making such a comparison, which is one unfavourable to my own argument and unduly favourable to the trade, the costs other than wages under the eight-hour day fell by 2s. 9d. over the whole country and by 3s. 10d. in South Wales. Let me take another point which is common ground. The spread-over is the more important in those districts where a large amount of coal-cutting machinery is being used.

My last point is this. A permanent settlement of hours must be international. I think that is common ground. You have already been trying to negotiate a permanent settlement of hours. What has been the result of the long negotiations which the Parliamentary Secretary of the Board of Trade conducted with such great ability at Geneva? There was a large amount of disagreement; there was agreement on only one thing, and that was that you could not come to any international arrangement on the basis of hours per day; you would only be able to get it on the basis of the aggregate hours worked in a fortnight. I need not quote chapter and verse for that, because it has often been stated that there was a practically unanimous vote for the principle, although the Conference was able to agree to little or nothing else. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] That shows that when you come to make an international agreement—and it is an international agreement that will have to be made—it will be made on the basis of something like the spread-over, or nothing at all. I want to state the case as moderately as I can. The only proposition for which there was a substantial majority was that for an aggregate of a fortnight. I think the right hon. Gentleman said that there were 18 for and seven against. As regards the other propositions, there was a very large measure of disagreement. Those are facts which no one will dispute and which the industry will have to face. If I have stated a single fact which is not accurate, I invite the President of the Board of Trade to correct me.

Those are the factors which the industry will have to consider and upon which the negotiations will have to be conducted and agreements will have to be made. It is common knowledge that in this matter the miners are certainly not unanimous. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes, they are."] In the period between the passing of the Bill and its coming into operation, the industry will have to have regard to these factors. It is the common interest of everybody that these negotiations should take place in an atmosphere and in conditions which will yield the best results. I know the Government are as anxious as I am that there should be agreement. I make this appeal to the right hon. Gentleman: If the Government are not in a position to accept this Amendment as it stands, I make two propositions. Firstly, if they find in the four months in which the negotiations take place that the parties get together and that there is agreement in a district and if the spread-over should be approved, they should at any rate give an undertaking to the industry that, if the parties come together and ask for this Amendment to be made, they will agree to introduce an amending Bill for that purpose. I am sure, if such a proposal were made to this House when the parties were in agreement in a district, the House would be only too anxious to do it.

I believe there is a simpler way in which the Government could do it without in the least prejudicing the position. It would be quite possible for the Government—not on this Amendment, because that would be out of order—in another place to propose, as an alternative, an Amendment taking power by Order in Council to sanction an arrangement of this kind if the parties come to them and ask for it. Nothing could be fairer than that. It would not prejudice the issue either way. It is saying quite frankly to the parties that seven-and-a-half hours is the basis of the position, and, if there is no agreement to the contrary, seven-and-a-half hours stands, but that, if they get together and find, in the light of all the circumstances which they have to face in the negotiations in the months between the passing of this Bill and its operation, that it is not good business for them and that it is to the common interest of both owners and men in the district that this spread-over should operate, then it will be sanctioned. I beg the right hon. Gentleman not to close the door on that suggestion, but to have the power to carry it into operation. If agreement existed now, the Government would put it in the Bill, and they should have the power to put it in operation if it is desired, in the light of experience, by the parties. I put it to the right hon. Gentleman that we ought not to deprive ourselves or the parties of the possibility of something which in a few months' time may prove to be a very valuable Amendment.


Will the right hon. Gentleman tell the House in what way this spread-over is going to work?


I think it is quite plain from my figures that if you have a spread-over the men will work eight hours a day. [Interruption.] Surely, hon. Members opposite realise that, and there is no mystery about it. The spread-over means that on certain days of the week eight hours will be worked, but the men will get a clear day off on Saturday. [Interruption.] I am answering the question which was put to me by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ogmore (Mr. Hartshorn), The result of the spread-over is that you get the advantage of an eight-hour day costs as compared with a seven-and-a-half-hour day cost. An influential miners' representative has asked me a very proper question, and I say that an eight-hour day for the whole country has meant a reduction in the cost of coal of 3s. 11d. per ton. It is obvious that if the men work eight hours on five days a week as against seven-and-a-half hours on six days a week you get a lower working cost. The President of the Board of Trade has admitted that you must have a much higher cost of production with a seven-and-a-half-hour day. I am proposing that that which I have suggested should be done by agreement, and, of course, there would not be any agreement unless the miners were satisfied that it paid them to adopt my suggestion.


This Amendment raises a question of vital importance in view of the alarming condition of British industries which has become very much worse during the past few months. The President of the Board of Trade did not refer to the great change which has come over the state of the coal industry since this question was discussed some few months ago. The advantage of the debates which have taken place on this subject has been that we have now got all the facts before us. One of the main facts is that a seven-and-a-half-hour day will increase the cost of the production of coal by varying amounts up to 10 per cent.—


How does the hon. Member arrive at that figure?

12 m.


It is quite obvious that the seven-and-a-half hour day will increase the cost, and it has been estimated that the amount will be something approaching an additional 10 per cent. on the cost of coal. Another main factor is that the reorganisation of the industry will not work out very quickly and that during the period between October this year and July next year you cannot secure any effective reduction in the cost of production through reorganisation. If we pass this Measure which provides for a seven-and-a-half hour day it is obvious that we shall have to face an increased cost in the coal-exporting districts approaching something like 10 per cent. during the nine months period which I have just mentioned. The reason why I feel so strongly on this question is because conditions have changed very much for the worse during the last three or four months. In the debates on the unemployment problem hon. Members on all sides of the House have deplored the increasing unemployment figures, and we have been told that the total of the unemployed on the register is likely to reach 2,000,000. Of course, we are ready to take almost any step to improve the position if we can agree as to what ought to be done. In the cotton trade of Lancashire, unemployment has reached the appalling figure of 36 per cent., and in one town it is 58 per cent. Almost all our export trades are considerably worse than they were a few months ago, and an increase of 10 per cent. in the cost of coal will increase the depression in our export trade still further. That is the reason why it seems to me that this is a most unfortunate moment to put an extra 10 per cent. on the cost of coal.

At the time when this Bill was introduced it was hoped that by the quota the owners would be able to arrange matters in such a way as not to reduce wages, but, so far as I understand the matter, the coalowners now say that, if this Bill necessitates a seven-and-a-half hour day for miners, they will be forced to reduce wages. A few days ago Sir David Llewellyn, a well-known member of the Welsh Coalowners' Association, stated that if the seven-and-a-half hour day came into force the only possible way of continuing working the mines would be by adopting a drastic reduction in wages. It was hoped when this Bill was introduced that that kind of thing would be avoided. That hope has now to be given up. I was very interested to read a long correspondence between Sir David Llewellyn and a very able Member of the House discussing whether Sir David's figures and facts were correct. The answer given by the hon. Gentleman practically amounted to this. If it costs 1s. 6d. a ton more on coal in South Wales, why cannot we get that back by a levy on the richer collieries in England? Surely that would have an even more deleterious effect on the export trade and on unemployment. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the Government consulted the Economic Advisory Committee as to the effect of the Bill on the coal industry and, through the coal industry, on unemployment. I predict that, if they have, they will have received a very chilling answer. It is a common practice of trade unions, when they desire to raise wages or to shorten hours, to select a time when the industry is doing well and there are profits, but here is the Government selecting a time when the industry is more depressed than it has ever been before and trying to increase costs at that very moment. I should like to press the right hon. Gentleman as to the opinion of a Economic Advisory Committee, appointed by themselves, on this very extraordinary procedure.

It is generally rumoured that the main opposition to this proposal of the spread-over comes from hon. Members opposite who represent mining constituencies rather than from the Miners' Federation, which is reported to be more inclined to negotiate than they are. I have also heard from a great many people that many of the men rather take the view of the Miners' Federation than of hon. Members opposite. One can perfectly understand it. The party opposite was pledge to introduce a Seven Hours Bill as soon as it came into office. They found it was impracticable, and they had to compromise. I freely recognise that to ask them to give way further and to accept a 90-hour fortnight is to ask a good deal from them, and I would only take this line in view of what seems to be a grave national emergency. The unemployment situation is graver than it has even been for the last 50 years. I appeal to the Government to reconsider the question. I appeal to the miners' Members to see whether they cannot reach some compromise, not necessarily this Amendment, not necessarily 90 hours, but possibly an 88 or 86 hours spread-over, to see whether something cannot be done to reduce the added burden of 10 per cent. on the cost of coal. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman not to wait and see whether the Miners' Federation and the owners reach agreement, but to call them together and see whether he cannot persuade them to come to an agreement and arrive at some compromise which will avoid any of this extra burden on a declining and depressed industry.


I have listened throughout the whole of this debate to what has been said on the reduction of costs which would result from the spread-over as compared with the application of a flat seven-and-a-half-hour day. I have not heard a word from any Member, either in this House or in another place—I have listened to the debates in both Houses—in support or in explanation of how there is going to be a lower cost by the spread-over than by the flat seven-and-a-half-hour day. I asked the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hendon (Sir P. Cunliffe-Lister) a question about this matter, and he gave figures which were a comparison between a seven-hour day and an eight-hour day, and not a comparison between a seven-and-a-half-hour day and 90 hours in a fortnight. We have had no answer to that question. When I asked the hon. Gentleman the Member for Withington (Mr. Simon) to explain the position, all that he could say was that some coal-owners had been saying what would be the effect of the proposal. I am going to tell the House why we would infinitely prefer to have this Bill defeated and bear the consequences than to have the spread-over. The hon. Member has just said that the opposition is coming from the miners' Members of this House and not from miners' members outside The miners' national executive have unanimously decided against the spread-over, and at every meeting of miners which I have addressed in the country, the miners have been absolutely united. If the case were put to the miners of this country, there would not be one miner in the land who would support the spread-over.

The President of the Board of Trade said that this was the last of the important Amendments put down for consideration to-night. It is a vital Amendment, and it is because the coal-owners know that it is a good method of destroying the whole usefulness of the Bill that they have introduced it. The Bill, when it was originally introduced and as it left this House, would not have affected in any shape or form one-third of the miners in this country. Already, the hewers in Northumberland and in Durham, the whole of the mine workers in Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Kent, and North Derbyshire have a seven-and-a-half-hour working day. The Bill, if it had been passed in the form in which it was originally introduced, would not have affected these coalfields one iota. It does not matter if you pass the Bill as it now is or whether you make the spread-over, unless some change is made in these coalfields, they will not be affected in any way. These coalfields represent one-third of the whole of the mining industry. With regard to the other two-thirds, and as far as the workmen employed underground are concerned, if the Bill is passed the men will get a reduction of two-and-a-half hours per week in their working time, practically half-an-hour on five days a week.

What will happen if the spread-over takes place? Another third will be added to the third already mentioned who will get nothing under the Bill at all. In Scotland, generally speaking, the miners work 11 hours a fortnight in eight-hour shifts. They work 88 hours a fortnight. Now, the owners say: "What we want is a 90 hours' spread. Indeed, we will make it 88 instead of 90." In the other House it was clearly explained that the intention in Scotland is to have six days of eight hours one week and five days of eight hours the next week—11 days of eight hours, making a total of 88 hours, precisely what it is to-day. In South Wales the afternoon and night shift men work five shifts of eight hours per week—40 hours. I worked in the mines in South Wales over 40 years ago, and that system was in operation then as it is in operation to-day. The Welsh coal-owners know that if they can make the hours 45 a week these men who are now working eight hours a shift will not have any reduction. That is why they want the spread-over, so that there will be no change, and so that they can retain the eight-hour day. That is where the reduction of cost is to come in—by keeping things as they are at present. Scotland and South Wales will be unaffected by the Bill if the spread-over is to be adopted. In Northumberland and Durham the hewers already work a seven-and-a-half hours day and, generally speaking, the other workers do 11 days a fortnight, so that there will be no change if there is to be a 90 hours spread. When you have added Northumberland, Durham, Scotland, and the afternoon and night shift men of South Wales, you have added another third to the men who will not benefit. Whereas under the Bill as introduced one-third of the miners were not affected, this spread-over will introduce another third who will not be affected.

Therefore, under the spread-over, two-thirds, instead of one-third will get nothing from the Bill. What about the other third? They will get nothing out of the Bill except a mean insult. In most of the coalfields they have a short Saturday. In Yorkshire they work seven hours, so that they will not be affected in any case; in Nottingham five-and-a-half, in North Derby five-and-a-half, in Kent six-and-a-half, in Leicester five-and-a-quarter, in Cannock Chase five-and-a-half and in Warwick five-and-a-half. In most of these cases the men have given up half of their day's wage on Saturday in order to have a short day. In the bulk of the cases they are working 45 to 46 hours, in some cases 45½—five eight hours and five-and-a-half hours. Under the Bill as it stands they will get five half-hours off in five days, but if you spread-over they will be told: "You are only working 45½ hours. Under the spread you will work 45 hours." They will get half-an-hour off in a week, and in some cases only a quarter of an hour off in a week. That is what will be done for only one-third of the mine workers if the spread is adopted. If we are to have a Bill which will not affect two-thirds of the mine workers, and in respect of the other third will only produce the measly change to which I have referred, we would prefer not to have the Bill. I can understand hon. Members and the general public having apprehensions about the Bill and about adding to the cost of anything; but to talk about giving the mine workers a reduction of hours and then to introduce this spread-over, is pure, unadulterated hypocrisy. Oppose the Bill if you like, on broad general lines, but do not let us have this pretence that you are supporting something in the interests of the miners, while this spread-over is being suggested.

The hon. Member for Withington, having read something which Sir David Llewellyn has stated, said, "That settles it." Whatever hopes there were of retaining wages before that statement proves that they have gone. I can assure the hon. Member and the House that the miners have not given up hope of retaining the miserable wage they are getting with the seven-and-a-half-hour day. Is it not fair that they should? We had a seven-hour day in 1919 as a result—[An HON. MEMBER: "Of the War!"]—of the War if you like—as a result of the recommendation of a Royal Commission appointed by the Coalition Government, in a boom period and at a time when it was easy to get anything through the House. In 1926, another Royal Commission, at a time when the industry was as depressed as it has ever been and when it was receiving a very substantial subsidy, declared that if the miners had an eight-hour day they would be in a worse position than any miners in Europe, and that second Royal Commission decided against increasing the hours. It was done in defiance of that recommendation and in exactly the same way as it is proposed to be done if the Amendment is carried. It is suggested it should be done by agreement; let us get the owners and workmen to agree. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not?"] Simply because they will not agree to anything. They have had 12 months in which to come to an agreement if they wish, and all that would happen if the suggestion of the right hon. Member for Hendon is accepted is that an Order in Council is to be issued subject to agreement between the miners and the owners. The coalowners would say from beginning to end, "You must have a reduction in wages, we will not agree to anything else," and they will talk about closing pits and fighting the men. We shall be faced with the same struggle as we have had in the past. We do not want four months of that atmosphere and negotiations under conditions like that. If the owners wished to come to an agreement on wages and hours and general working conditions they never had a better atmosphere in the miners' executive and among the miners themselves than recently, but they have said that they will not agree to anything except under force majeure. Now they are depending upon the other place to do for them what they might have done themselves if they had adopted a reasonable attitude in the matter.

We are satisfied that the Amendment, if carried, can only result in very serious trouble during the next four months. As soon as this Bill is passed we have to make agreements in every coalfield in Britain, and the coalowners know that they can hold the threat over the heads of the miners and that unless the miners agree to a reduction of wages they will insist upon an Order in Council changing these hours. There will be not a little bit of hope of getting an agreement entered into. We would rather not have the Bill than have it with this Amendment. I hope the House will reject this Amendment by an overwhelming majority, and that the other place will not attempt to insist upon it. The best interests of the country and the mining industry would not be served by any attempt to insert this Amendment.


It is not my intention to introduce a contentious note into this very serious matter, but I feel that one or two statements by the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken should be answered. He never quoted any figures with regard to the results in these particular coalfields. He mentioned the coalfield of Scotland as working an average of 11 days of eight hours in the fortnight. If the change is made to seven-and-a-half hours there will be a certain increase of cost. The amount has been stated at 1s. 6d. I think it will be

less. The ascertainment for the first three months of this year showed a credit of 7d. per ton, but the ascertainment for April showed a debit of.7 of a penny. The question I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman is how is that going to be made up in order to avoid a reduction of the wages of these men?

I am as anxious as anyone to see a way out. We do not want a repetition of 1926 with its strife and struggle. I earnestly ask that time should be given to look into this matter, to see if agreement cannot be arrived at. You cannot get more out of a pint pot than a pint. If there is not the money in the industry there will be a reduction of the earnings, or the Bill will result in raising the price sufficiently to avoid that. We have always expressed doubts as to the marketing schemes being able to force up prices in a market which will not respond. I have these doubts, knowing the position of the iron and steel trade and the export trade. Does the right hon. Gentleman see any way out of the difficulty in the districts where there is a deficit of ½d. per ton at present? If he cannot see a way out why does not he accept our suggestion, so that an agreement may be arrived at?

Question put, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The House divided: Ayes, 221; Noes, 103.

Division No. 344]. AYES. [12.29 a.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Burgess, F. G. Gibbins, Joseph
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Burgin, Dr. E. L. Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley)
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Caine, Derwent Hall- Gill, T. H.
Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigie M. Cape, Thomas Gillett, George M.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.) Gossling, A. G.
Alpass, J. H. Charieton, H. C. Gould, F.
Ammon, Charles George Church, Major A. G. Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)
Arnott, John Clarke, J. S. Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)
Aske, Sir Robert Cluse, W. S. Granville, E.
Ayles, Walter Cocks, Frederick Seymour Gray, Milner
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley) Daggar, George Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)
Barnes, Alfred John Dallas, George Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlsbro' W.)
Batey, Joseph Dalton, Hugh Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)
Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham) Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Groves, Thomas E.
Bellamy, Albert Denman, Hon. R. D. Grundy, Thomas W.
Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood Dickson, T. Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)
Benson, G. Dukes, C. Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)
Bentham, Dr. Ethel Duncan, Charles Hall, Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth, C.)
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Ede, James Chuter Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)
Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret Edge, Sir William Harbison, T. J.
Bowen, J. W. Edmunds, J. E. Harbord, A.
Broad, Francis Alfred Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) Hardie, George D.
Bromfield, William Edwards, E. (Morpeth) Harris, Percy A.
Brooke, W. Elmley, Viscount Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts. Mansfield) Foot, Isaac Hastings, Dr. Somerville
Brawn, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire) Freeman, Peter Haycock, A. W.
Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West) Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) Hayday, Arthur
Buchanan, G. George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea) Hayes, John Henry
Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.) Mathers, George Shillaker, J. F.
Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow) Matters, L. W. Shinwell, E.
Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Maxton, James Simmons, C. J.
Herriotts, J. Melville, Sir James Sinkinson, George
Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) Messer, Fred Sitch, Charles H.
Hopkin, Daniel Middleton, G. Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)
Horrabin, J. F. Mills, J. E. Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield) Milner, Major J. Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Hunter, Dr. Joseph Montague, Frederick Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath) Morgan, Dr. H. B. Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
John, William (Rhondda, West) Morley, Ralph Smith, W. R. (Norwich)
Johnston, Thomas Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South) Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)
Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown) Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.) Stamford, Thomas W.
Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Mort, D. L. Stephen, Campbell
Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Moses, J. J. H. Strachey, E. J. St. Loe
Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. Muff, G. Strauss, G. R.
Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A. Naylor, T. E. Sullivan, J.
Kennedy, Thomas Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Sutton, J. E.
Kinley, J. Noel Baker, P. J. Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)
Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Oldfield, J. R. Thurtle, Ernest
Lathan, G. Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston) Tinker, John Joseph
Law, Albert (Bolton) Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley) Tout, W. J.
Law, A. (Rosendale) Owen, H. F. (Hereford) Townend, A. E.
Lawrence, Susan Palin, John Henry Turner, B.
Lawson, John James Palmer, E. T. Vaughan, D. J.
Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Perry, S. F. Walker, J.
Leach, W. Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Wallace, H. W.
Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.) Potts, John S. Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern) Price, M. P. Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Lees, J. Pybus, Percy John Wellock, Wilfred
Lewis, T. (Southampton) Quibell, D. J. K. Welsh, James (Paisley)
Lindley, Fred W. Ramsay, T. B. Wilson Westwood, Joseph
Lloyd, C. Ellis Rathbone, Eleanor White, H. G.
Longbottom, A. W. Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Longden, F. Riley, Ben (Dewsbury) Whiteley, William (Blaydon)
Lovat-Fraser, J. A. Ritson, J. Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Romeril, H. G. Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Rosbotham, D. S. T. Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
McElwee, A. Rowson, Guy Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
McEntee, V. L. Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen) Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
McKinlay, A. Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West) Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)
McShane, John James Sanders, W. S. Wise, E. F.
Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton) Sawyer, G. F. Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Mansfield, W. Scurr, John
Marcus, M. Shepherd, Arthur Lewis TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Markham, S. F. Sherwood, G. H. Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr.
Marley, J. Shield, George William Paling.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel. Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Nicholson, O. (Westminster)
Albery, Irving James Edmondson, Major A. J. Peake, Captain Osbert
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Elliot, Major Walter E. Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Atkinson, C. England, Colonel A. Ramsbotham, H.
Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet) Falle, Sir Bertram G. Remer, John R.
Balniel, Lord Ferguson, Sir John Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Beaumont, M. W. Fermoy, Lord Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Betterton, Sir Henry B. Fielden, E. B. Salmon, Major I.
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Bird, Ernest Roy Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley) Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Glyn, Major R. G. C. Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Boyce, H. L. Gower, Sir Robert Savery, S. S.
Bracken, B. Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome
Brass, Captain Sir William Greene, W. P. Crawford Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Withington)
Briscoe, Richard George Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y) Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Carver, Major W. H. Hartington, Marquess of Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Thomson, Sir F.
Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.) Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Todd, Capt. A. J.
Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.) Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford) Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston) Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Warrender, Sir Victor
Christie, J. A. Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford) Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Colfox, Major William Philip King, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D. Wayland, Sir William A.
Colville, Major D. J. Knox, Sir Alfred Wells, Sydney R.
Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton) Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Crichton-Stuart, Lord C. Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Leighton, Major B. E. P. Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro) Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey Womersley, W. J.
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Long, Major Eric Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)
Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Marjoribanks, E. C. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Dalkeith, Earl of Mond, Hon. Henry Sir George Penny and Captain
Dalrymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B. Wallace.
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford) Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)

Question put, and agreed to.